Monday, February 25, 2013

On Finecast and Trolls

In the three years since this blog began (not sure where that time went), I have studiously avoided the blunt negativity and implausible bravado that marks the unfortunate end of this semi-anonymous forum, the internet. Previously, whenever I have engaged trolls the experience left me feeling sullied and vaguely diminished. And so I tried very hard to remain focused on the positive to the greatest extent possible.

But I woke this morning to a comment on this blog that finally has me taking the metaphorical bait. Oddly, the peculiar passage in question comes from my very own comments section and thus, in the spirit of Brent’s excellent “comments come lately” series, here goes my first official effort to feed the troll.

You may remember that some day/weeks ago I celebrated some random, wonderful miniatures from Black Scorpion. In that post, I indulged in a digression on the relative merits of Black Scorpion’s resin mixture compared to that of another prominent game company that you may have seen around the blogosphere.

…and from Slysa:
“I like how whenever anyone on the internet says they hate finecast they never say why it's bad it's always just blanket statements which leads me back to the inevitable conclusion that they're living the life of change=bad”

I still do not really understand where he meant to go with that nugget, but here are three moments that caught me a bit flat-footed:
- passive aggression masked as irony: when he says “I like” he means “I dislike.” The literal meaning is the opposite of the intended. It is an old trick to make oneself sound less of a prat for disliking something while not having to take credit for expressing the opinion.  I hate when people on the internet do this.

- an utter lack of self-conscious reflection: there is something really quite delicious in the way he laments how “anyone” will make “blanket statements” and, without even a breath, proceed to the only “inevitable conclusion," which is that  all who dislike finecast suffer from a life philosophy that fundamentally fears change. Period. Astounding. It is a wonderful and staggering accomplishment in just one small sentence.

- funnily enough, I do not mind the condescension. I think condescension is ok when one is moved to indignation (see: this post)… which leads me to the final point in this series of observations. Why the indignation? How can one feign (or worse, feel) said indignation on the merits of a statement of pure opinion? If I said, for example, “I loathe butter pecan ice cream,” would we then ascertain that my outlook on life is fundamentally flawed? How could one contest the validity of such a statement? Imagine the very useful exchange “–no, you are mistaken. You really, really do like butter pecan ice cream. You. Must. Like. Butter. Pecan.” Is that point genuinely arguable? For the record, I cannot stand the taste of butter pecan ice cream. It’s horrid, horrid stuff.

Mind you. I am no fool. I know that all opinions are not created equal, but a statement of pure opinion is not debatable. You may disagree. You may absolutely adore butter pecan, or finecast, or whathaveyou. We can talk about that if you like. Certainly. The simple matter of my opinion, however, should not inspire indignation.

But that last point has merit. I will presume that Slysa is a kindly troll, so here is the solid interrogative that he or she did not make, which would have provided a decent, more civil response to my assertion that finecast is utter rubbish: “what exactly do you dislike about finecast? Are you simply afraid of change or is there a more practical reason you dislike the stuff?”

Thank you for not asking, Slysa. Here is my practical response, which believe supports my opinion and which I am quite happy to offer:

I like change. I believe in it strongly. I like resin, and a post in the very near future is going to feature quite a lot of Forge World’s variety of the stuff. Moreover, a feature of the post in question was a compliment for the quality of  Black Scorpion's formula. I am finding it really quite pleasant to work with. Change is not the issue.

Finecast is.

The quality control on the stuff GW ships out the door here is lamentable. I believe that statement sincerely. I have worked with exactly four finecast models. The first was ok, look right and read below. The second was a mess. That happens. The third was an utter mess. I was disappointed. The fourth model is pictured above. You will have observed the variety of holes in the cloak, hat, boots, and so on. The model is untenable.

By my count (and only by mine) GW is batting 25% on this. I am done. But that is not even the whole story. Let’s revisit my first solid impression.   

Attentive readers will remember that I was once unequivocally positive on finecast based on my first impression. In fact, I was keen to refute the overwhelming negativity of internet wisdom based on the strength of the impression. Click here for the reference of my Necron test model above. I spent hours getting this guy right and I generally felt he was quite good.

And behold the same figure now.

Tragic. Utterly tragic. Note the staff (obviously), the index finger, but also the little trailing piece hanging from his belt. I am heartbroken.

Now. I must also mention that my treatment of this miniature has not been extraordinary. He has played about six games in his time and been in foam only twice. He once (and only once) came off a 3-inch piece of standard GW scenery... and lost the first half of his staff. Sometime after, he lost that finger. The staff might be fixable. The finger really is not. At all. Period. Nor the detail on his belt.

So, again by my reckoning, finecast is 1-for-4 out of the box and 0-for-4 beyond that. My experience only. My opinion only. Given that, I believe what I have said and shown here I would be a fool to feel otherwise about the stuff. But I will certainly entertain contrary opinions.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

AdeptiCon 2013: Tables (1)

Last year, I did not post many photos of the work in progress as the AdeptiCon tables came together. In part, that was because of a peculiar time crunch. In larger part, it was because I presumed that few people cared. And then, quite a number of readers (thank you for reading) approached me during the weekend to ask why not. Funny that. I thought readers would find the slow-motion assemblage and photos of raw lumber rather technical and, well, slow. We live, after all, in an age of immediate and insatiable gratification. I was wrong. It seems there is a real interest in how these monsters come together and so, this year, I intend to correct my error. Here is the first installment in what will be an ongoing and ongoing and ongoing series. Enjoy.

58 days until AdeptiCon – a lifetime.

Ok. Maybe not.

I refuse to panic (and I always know where my towel is), but time is getting rather tight. It doesn’t help that it is -7 F with the wind outside here in Chicago today (-22 C for those who prefer). That is cold. Very. And we are expecting a few inches of snow this weekend.

On the one hand, that is to be expected in the windy city; on the other hand, I sure wouldn’t mind a few days above freezing (just above, that’s all I ask) so that I could get some proper work accomplished.

Still, there has been some movement forward. The foundations for each of the 13 boards have been assembled and we have started proper work on the “shapes” for the Zone Mortalis interiors. I intend, basically, to ape Forge World’s basic approach and compose a variety of modular boards with the added benefit of specific items of interest to make the whole matter a bit more compelling than a jigsaw puzzle. I hope you’ll agree in the end.

The real prize here, and indeed the feature of these very early photos is our new saw blade: el Diablo. She has been working wonders for us thus far. You might also note, tucked behind the action, a series of the old tables –long since sold off but still waiting patiently to be delivered to their rightful owners. We have made arrangements for a handoff at this year’s Con. Later is better than never.

Ok. So there we are. Not much, but the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

For the Love: Wild West

At the outset of the new year, and in an effort to regain some depleted hobby mojo, I set out to paint a bit of this and a bit more of that purely for the love. Amongst these ftl offerings were these resin “Earps” that I picked up some time ago from Black Scorpion Miniatures.

So far. So good.

One: I love the resin they have created. While I have belatedly come to detest beyond measure GW’s Finecast smut (I will never buy another miniature made in that material, ever), Black Scorpion’s resin gives me hope and faith in the future of non-metal minis.

No. Seriously. I loathe Finecast. It’s terrible, terrible stuff -and consider that I almost never spew hate on the internet.

Two: I have no idea what I am going to do with these guys. I do not really have any genuine or manufactured need for these guys. But I like them all the same. Here I find myself in one of those (for me) rare moments when I am completely outside my genre preferences and actively looking for a decent ruleset to justify my excitement for these minis.

Three: the work is cheap and cheerful. I painted these guys in a manner that should only be described as hastily, and it shows. Still, the point of the exercise was to regain hobby mojo –which I might also generally describe as an effort-to-reward ratio. I am trying to build momentum that has been lacking, to get some traction under my painting feet, and to reinvigorate my desire to paint. It's all about that momentum. 

I have some bigger, more ambitious projects on the horizon, and I need to find my stride once again if I am going to be able to achieve the quality I hope from the time that I have: effort-to-reward. In that sense, I would call these miniatures a modest success. They have broken the slow spell and got me back at the desk for some hobby glory.

In fact, I have five more dudes like this to paint and they will almost certainly get attention quite soon.

Next post, I have a real treat from days of yore that have finally made it into the greater blogosphere. More on them after the weekend!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wreck Age Promotion and Giveaway

The following is an invitation from Matt over at Hyacinth Games. The images are of the most recent Wreck Age miniature that I painted in these last few weeks. Glorious. Now to Matt and a wonderful promotion:
"Hello Scavengers,

With the box set production molds rolling in, we could certainly use your help clearing out some shelf space. For the month of February we will be running a fairly simple special- If you purchase one or more miniatures between February 1st and March 1st, we will send you another random miniature of equal value for each painted mini. There are a few stipulations regarding this, and I will be happy to answer any questions on our forum with regard to the giveaway as well (that forum link again).

A picture will be necessary of each miniature you paint. You can either post it to the forums yourselves or we can post it up under an embarrassing pseudonym after you email it to one of us, your choice. Quality is not the mission here, we are just looking to see some of these minis out in the wild and with colors on them. That being said, don't be a jerk and just base coat them canary yellow or something.

Limit 5 per customer- feel free to buy more minis, but we have to put some kind of cap on the giveaway miniatures.

If you purchase one of our blister packs at a brick and mortar store, send us a picture of of your receipt dated in February along with the photo of your painted fig and you will be eligible for the giveaway. We never want to cut out retail operations!

No extensions outside of shipping delays.

Well, I think that covers it! Let me know if I seem to have missed some glaring piece of information so I can run it past our team of lawyers.

Here is the store link again if you need it. Go on!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

AdeptiCon 2013: 10 weeks?

Oh boy. 10 weeks to AdeptiCon 2013. This will be my fourth, and my third as a genuine participant. This year is pushing all boundaries for me, and I am, quite frankly, at my threshold. It’s intense.

But first I should mention that it took a letter from an old friend over at Warhammer 39,999 (Thank you very much for your kindness and support, Rob!) to shake me out of some kind of stupor under which I’ve been suffering for, well, some time now really. The blog has been neglected. I think part of the aforementioned funk stems from the very simple fact that I am not able to discuss at any length most of what I have been working on lately, and I have been working. Believe you me. Working.

But back to AdpetiCon: Here is a taste of what I CAN tell you about.

AdeptiCon Tables x13. Last year, I thought we were pushing the boat out pretty far with 10 3x3 tables. That’s nothing. Although Special Operations: Killzone will not be making an appearance this year, I am still making a boatload of tables for the weekend. Not sure how that happened exactly, but there it is.

In sum, I will be creating 5 3x3 table for Wreck Age: The Battle for TenPike. As ever, the tables will be linked in order to tell the tale of one modest but contentious town in the Resurgence. This is going to be great fun, and very much in the vein of previous efforts. I have some more Hyacinth news coming up here in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Of course, it doesn’t end there. I will also be creating 8 4x4 tables for the Zone Mortalis: The Sin of Alacrity II event. I cannot prove this and will never try to do so, but I have always felt that Zone Mortalis was… inspired… in large part by our efforts with Killzone in some capacity. And so it seemed a natural (but nevertheless conflicting) transition when I was asked to fill the light-hearted void in the AdeptiCon lineup.

As importantly, my decision was informed by my very sincere and profound desire to revisit the Sin of Alacrity.Yes. She’s back! Longtime readers might remember the original Sin of Alacrity from days of yore, and specifically the giveaway that saw her raffled off to pay for the first grand adventure in table-making. Apart from confirmation of receipt, I have never heard word from the fellow that won it. Shame that. And to be candid, I miss that old monstrosity. So what better excuse to create a bigger (far, far bigger), and one hopes better, version Just and FYI: I am making 8 and only intend to keep 2. That means there will be 6 of these tables for sale at AdeptiCon this year.

Enough? Not nearly. I have also committed to participation in two events in-and-around the AdeptiCon weekend.

The first, and more ambitious, is a Badab staff event that will be pressing the Alacrity into double duty. For this event, notable staff contributors and other sundry individuals will each create 1000 points of Badab themed forces. I knew nothing about Badab except that the conflict involved someone named Huron before committing to the project (this happens to me a lot, you might know). Perhaps because of the aforementioned void in my knowledge, I selected from thin air a chapter known as the Star Phantoms. (???) No. Seriously. Now I’ve got to conjure 1000 points of Star Phantoms (???) from thin air. More on them soon.

The second project continues my first modest foray into competitive gaming from last year, but takes that sojourn in an entirely new direction. This year, I will be competing in the March to Mount Doom Madness bracket tournament Thursday night. Yes. LotR… or the Hobbit I suppose. I have not played a game in years, and intend to make a brand new force for this event just because.

I only just saw the new film last weekend. I had low expectations but came away delighted. Currently, I am thinking that my 500 points will be from Mordor… anyone out there know anything about the meta in that game? Is there meta in that game? Would the selection of Mordor be complete folly?

So. 10 weeks to get to grips with all that. And I have a full-time job. And I’m still working with Hyacinth Games (more on that next post). And wife. And children. Dog. etc. It’s going to be a busy season.