Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Meridian Miniatures

Yes. Another one. And this is one endeavor that you really should support. 

Andrew May (the heart and soul of Meridian Miniatures) is a top-notch individual. I have had the distinct pleasure of working with him on a new project recently, and can attest singularly that this guy is for real. Ace individual.

… and I am always quite pleased to see Kickstarter used the way that I believe it should be - that is, the way it was intended.

He is a small company (individual really) looking to find a proper foothold and looking for the community’s support to help make his fledgling company happen. Moreover, he is an extremely talented sculptor with quite obvious potential. I would very much like to see more and more from him. He’s got something retro-new to offer with a flexible range that has significant applicability in any number of other venues.

… and I really want to paint those greatcoats. Not to mention I feel quite compelled to try both the Raj and the Bear Hat looks. There’s a lot that can happen here.

I see Imperial Guard here if you are thatway inclined. I see the flexibility of steampunk skirmishes here. I see customizable potential of cool character creation. I see a lot of different possibilities in this heady mix of genres.

Admittedly, you might not be getting the buckets of “free” junk for your money (spend to save!), as you would from companies that rather cynically use kickstarter as a marketing and promotional tool. Still, there is really quite solid value here with a promise of more if we get behind him. I'm in.

Here is a talent that the community should support. Now let’s get out there. Those greatcoats are waiting for me.

Again, check out Andrew’s Kickstarter here.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lord of the Rings: aka The Hobbit at AdeptiCon 2013

You may remember that some time ago I announced out of the blue that I would be embarking upon my second grand misadventure in competitive gaming at this year’s AdeptiCon in the March Madness to Mount Doom event.

safety first
Admittedly, the event might sound like a quirky venue and/or departure for the tentatively competitive hobbyist-gamer such as myself: 500 points,15 model limit, bring the cheese, single elimination event. On the surface, the coordination appears to add up to whack-job heaven. Do not be fooled. I had been assured that the guys running this event were solid, but that is so much an understatement of the experience.

It. Was. Awesome.

To recapitulate: for the day, I managed to paint the Witch King of Angmar, alongside 5 Morgul Knights, 1 Black Marshall to lead them (and bring some extra Might), followed hopelessly by 7 Warg Riders to make up numbers and scare smaller unfortunates.

Game One: v. John Humphreys – Aragorn and his happy band of undead. If the film was any indication, this was going to be fast and rather Deus ex Machinatta, if you know what I mean. [check out John's blog over at Plastic Legions]

In fact, this game represents everything that I want in a gaming experience.
1. cool opponent
2. beautifully painted armies and scenery
3. strong narrative and/or cinematic game
4. solid competition with a genuine atmosphere of fun

check, check, check, check.

The scenario worked toward attrition, and John was keen to form a kind of exploding bubble with Aragorn and the undead king as the juicy center.

I approach hastily but with some modest caution. I had a number of conflicting goals here. I wanted to offer some bait to try and pull the bubble apart slightly before slamming all my forces into the wall. My hope here was to open the shell a bit in order to expand the possible targets and to get more of my knights working toward their charging potential. Unfortunately, I also wanted to keep some of the otherwise rather brittle Warg Riders back in order to keep my force from reaching that perilous scenario break point. In the end, it was a risky bit of balance.

So the trick was in the timing. I wanted all my force (minus bait, minus reserved Wargs) to collapse upon Aragorn and oathbreakers all at once, with the Witch King swooping menacingly into the backfield in order to take a proper stab at the more resilient elements in John's collective. It worked a bit, but I underused the Witch King’s transfix ability (learning) and generally lacked the real punch in the front row needed to break things open properly.

…and so, even though I was the poorer general on the day, I only officially lost according to the scenario objectives on the very last roll of the game! How about that. Again, John was always ahead and by far the better player but, even so, I never felt that I was being trounced.

Great stuff. I believe John went on to win the painting contest, which was extremely well deserved.

Game Two: v Jimmy and his Wood Elf / White Council assortment.
So technically, we were both out of the official single-elimination aspect of the event; however, as I suspected beforehand, there were plenty of people hanging about still quite willing to play some more. With ample space to already set for the proverbial pickup game, we were straight back at it.

This time, I was set against a Jimmy’s very cool Wood Elf army that included Legolas, Saruman (before onset of ring0envy), and Galadriel. That almost sounds like name-dropping. Considering also the capable statlines for Legolas’ cousins, and I had my work cut out for me.

With nothing official at stake, the game was all about glory.

And again it was a close-run thing. This game taught me a bit about the significance of Priority and the importance of considering the sequence of individual combats in a scrum, as one can often look ahead (so to speak) to the next results as bodies begin to pile up.

And again, it was a tightener, as I was only 1 figure from breaking Jimmy’s forces when the With King’s zealous knights were cut out and killed beneath him. Another loss for my evil minions. And another tremendous game of intrigue and strategy.

Unfortunately, that was it for me. The flooding that hit Chicago that weekend landed squarely on my proverbial plate and put in motion of sequence of events from which I’ve been climbing out from underneath since. Alas.

Still, in summation. I have no idea why I have ever worried about competitive gaming. The tournament scene was tremendous and congenial. All the people I met (including a few extremely kind gentlemen who read the blog –Thanks Fellas!) were extraordinarily cool. All the armies I saw were original, compelling, and clearly collected with the best goals of the hobby in mind.  And so on.

Just tremendous. I’ll be back again next year without doubt and encourage those, like myself, who approach the scene with trepidation to give it a bash. I could not be more handily and happily pleased with the decision.

Thanks to the Windy City LoTR folk.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

AdeptiCon: is over… for now

It has been a bit now since AdeptiCon finished, and I am still feeling a rather disconnected with the machinations of the real world. It was an exhausting weekend. Profoundly.

We calculated that Zone Mortalis tables amounted to 128 square feet of gaming mayhem. All three events were extremely well-attended (even moreso than the Killzone events in years past, which is really quite remarkable). And the response was extraordinarily positive. Unfortunately, the flood really made a meal of my weekend, but the convention and events were a very refreshing counterpoint to the brutal storm.

Of course, Zone Mortalis was only the pivot point of the weekend for me. I also brought and additional 70 square feet of tables left over from years past, which the organizers kindly took into their gaming fold. I’m told they will be recycled into open gaming events in years to come. Brilliant.

And then there was the 3 tables for Hyacinth.

In sum, I created about 225 square feet of gaming for the weekend --not meaning to sound the braggadacio, but rather to explain the profundity of my tiredness. This is always the case with AdpetiCon. I leave feeling utterly, truly spent, but also invigorated for more gaming glory, after I recover.

Having said that, I think that I am finally done making these silly tables (well. maybe one more or so for private use only –but only that, and otherwise done). Phew. I’m tired even typing the word “table.”

One thing is missing. I want, and intend, to write a bit more about how much fun I had at the LotR event (tremendous stuff), but I do not really feel like promoting a certain company right now. Still, I will post more on the incredibly kind and cool crowd of LotR players I met when the dust settles a little further.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

AdeptiCon 2013: Tables (8)

If: Busy = people
Then: I = China.
Mathematical fact duly proven.

Blue spots from earlier in the day signify fiddly pieces that need sorting. At the end of the day, I believe we have 128 square feet of playable spaceship. It’s been a challenge. 

Thank you very much for all your support.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

AdeptiCon 2013: Tables (7)




The tables are coming along. I genuinely do not have a second to write more about the process at the moment, as the sprint is fully engaged. gogogogo. These tables will be delivered on Thursday come hell or high water (I’m not even really sure what that means, but I’ve always wanted to write it).

I will say this:
1. The cardstock has been a real challenge to work with. I made a few early blunders and I’ve been stumbling around to fix them since.

2. In absence of all the greater, more ambitious notions that I would have liked to accomplish in this project (no open flames, sorry), I’ve become extraordinarily pragmatic. I’ve also been rediscovering painting techniques that I love.

…for example, chevrons. Love them.

…and highly-weathered, well, everything. I really enjoy making these tables look haggard and worn. So much so, in fact, that I’m not even sure that I could paint cleanly if I wanted anymore. It’s all about layers and layers and layers to make the muck.

Now back to work.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

AdeptiCon 2013: Lord of the Rings

I bet you didn’t see that coming.

The pressure cooker heading in to AdeptiCon just went to 11. It’s one louder ...because it’s not all tables and tables with tables around here.

Last year was my first grand adventure in the world of “competitive” gaming with the relatively gentle pressures of 40K’s Combat Patrol dynamic. Despite what the internet has told me about competitive types, I enjoyed myself tremendously -had an absolute blast, in fact.

Indeed. I enjoyed myself so much so that I wanted to try my hand at it again this year. But I also had an ambitious taste for something a good deal different (to me).

Lord of the Rings was a game that I enjoyed some years ago, and the March (madness) to Mount Doom event appealed to me for several reasons. From a distance, it might seem a quirky bend toward power gaming, but in reality the event is designed, simply, to open the weirder possibilities that the game itself offers but that don’t generally make it to standard gaming opportunities. Honestly, when would one ever actually get to play Sauron without a perfect post-rationalization like this?

March to Mount Doom also fell squarely into one of my few free moments on the weekend. Win. Win.

Furthermore, in conversation with some of the organizers (who I was lucky enough to bump into during one of the recent AdeptiCon organization meetings) I was distinctly assured that the event would be cool, calm, collected, and generally quite sporting. Just the thing for my interests in the “competitive lite” end of the gaming spectrum.

…and, it was the perfect excuse to paint a rather large number of old models, some of whom had even been primed but who otherwise sat patiently for about 10 years. I want this to be a shining example to the teeming horde of other neglected models in my collection. There is always hope for you my little ones.

Anyway, my first idea was to do something with all these old trolls I had sitting around. Then a few weeks back I played a series of test games with Ref Pitmann v. his Gimli assortment and I got absolutely stuffed. My plans changed for the weirder. And now I have the Witch King sitting on my desk looking rather lopsided, alongside a whole gaggle of Morgul Knights. I hope to playtest this crowd at least once before the day, as only 15 or so of these guys will make the tables next Thursday night.

yes. the project has snowballed. Funny how that happens. And I will say this about the tournament scene, it is a tremendous way to get motivated for some painting.

Why do these things always spiral so completely out of control?

Monday, April 8, 2013

AdeptiCon 2013: Tables (6)

This is the part of the table-building process in which blogging about said progress becomes rather difficult. These photos show the table progress as it stood nearly 10+ days ago. I just haven’t had a proper moment to collect the photos and write about it until now because… well, I’ve been building tables. So it goes.

We have had two relatively pleasant stretches of warm weather here in the Chicago, and that means only one thing at this gentleman’s household: table making. Naturally, I had my trust assistants on hand. Longtime readers will note that they have grown considerably, as has their enthusiasm for the project. Or perhaps they were simply happy to be out of doors again after a dark winter.

To recap: I have been charged with the creation of 8 4x4’ Zone Mortalis tables. Glory. At this early stage, they were only being primed, and while the sunshine helped the process, the ambient temperature was also low enough that drying times were unusual.

So I launched directly into the second table endeavor on my plate this season: Wreck Age. I left Hyacinth Games a little over one month ago (which accompanies another exciting bit of news that I’ll share soon enough), but I still wanted to fulfill as much of this task as possible.

Things being what they are, I have reigned in the scope of that project slightly. I am now focusing on 3 tables that describe the exterior of the troubled town of TenPike. As the game is set in a hellish future in which human folly has decimated the environment, I wanted to focus on a kind of swampy sewage outlet into a once robust forested area. The idea, then, is that we will trace said bletch back toward the remnants of civilization in these tables.

At this point, the tables were mashed together with a combination of spackle and then a few layers of a papier mache product called cellu-clay. The latter is quite good, though more ambitious coats of the stuff require extraordinary amounts of drying time. Again, direct sunlight and ambient heat help this process tremendously. So this is where we stood the day before Easter.

More on last week’s progress this week. Wait. What? 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Heroes of Armageddon: revisited

Several posts back, I mentioned (with some chagrin) that after the original Sin of Alacrity raffle-giveaway I had never heard another word from the fellow (in Ohio I believe) who had won.

Well, I still haven’t hear from him. 

But Who cares. Soon after that post Bill (the extraordinary fellow who donated to Doctors Without Borders and took home the best two of the four Heroes of Armageddon tables) wrote me with a very kind note and with these fine photos of the tables in action. 

Brilliant stuff.  

 He included a note saying that the tables were seeing quite a lot of use and that one seam in particular had earned a reputation for its ability to eat pieces in play. 

Apparently, they call it "The Devourer of Dice." Ha. That's totally my bad. 

Well. His letter made my day. There is nothing greater than knowing all of this has contributed some measure of fun and intrigue and general gaming mayhem out there in the real world. 

Thanks, Bill -not only for being a brilliant and kind person, but also for passing this along. Cheers.