Thursday, January 12, 2017

Painting Challenge - Star Wars Armada Rebel Freighters

The space battle in the recent Rogue One flick has inflamed my enthusiasm for Star Wars Armada, and reminded me that I have some tiny spaceships that still need to be painted up. I love Fantasy Flight's game pitting Evil Imperial Space Triangles against the noble Fish People Pickles, but the vessels come already painted save for the miniscule starfighters. Still getting the colors and markings on such tiny subjects is a different sort of challenge which is pretty fun.

Han Solo's Millenium Falcon will be recognizable to even casual fans of the Star Wars movies, but the other bugger in the picture is the off-brand knockoff Outrider, created for a story set between "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi"

Just as obscure are the freighters and patrol craft from the animated "Rebels" series. They may not look like much, but the hexagonal ships are able to manipulate the various objective points (sensor buoys, targeting beacons, etc.) within the game while the disc-like vessels are fearsome interceptor bombers.

These were quick paints, and being flying garbage scows they hide mistakes easily. I'm sure these are worth only a pittance in points, but  I was happy to get them painted up in preparation for our upcoming Corellian Campaign Armada battles.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Painting Challenge - Space Marines

This post originally appeared on the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.

Right! For the Armour Theme I knew I wanted to tackle a painting challenge that I'd been putting off for nearly 20 years. I'd always dabbled with Warhammer 40K, but the increasingly grim and humorless turn the game took after Rogue Trader always rubbed me the wrong way. Even in the mid 90's I had an idea to put together a custom chapter to fit in with Games Workshop's Space Wolves and Space Sharks (since renamed to Chapter Charcaradon). A brotherhood of power armored space marines fashioned in the image of the greatest late night talk show host of the mid nineties: Space Ghost.

I'll admit, it's not a great idea. My college roommates and I used to watch Space Ghost religiously, but the show's been off the air for over a decade. And yet, this dumb idea won't leave me alone. Whenever I read a blog post about Oldhammer games, or flip through the latest edition of Warhammer 40K in the game shop, a tiny voice whispers to me, "You should paint some Space Ghosts." Therefore my fellow painters, to exorcise myself of this nagging idea please humor me while I get this out of my system.

I based the paint scheme on the classic Space Ghost uniform, but since I'll likely be putting these on the table against my 8 year old son and he has no idea who or what Space Ghost is, I've tweaked the color scheme a bit closer to something he'll recognizes: Imperial Stormtroopers from Star Wars.

I'm retaining the overall white scheme and black mask/helmet, but only veterans get the red wrist bands. Space Ghost's flashy yellow cape will be reserved for the chapter master himself.

The Space Ghost emblem wasn't really doing it for me as a chapter symbol, so I cooked up one of my own and printed them on decal paper.

I tested the color scheme on three modern figures, but for the most part these are classic Rogue Trader beakie marines I've cobbled together from eBay collections, stripped, repaired and upgraded with current special weapons when they've been missing.

That's a total of 13 space marines for 65 points I believe. And hopefully just under the deadline... the paint is still wet on a few of these!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 End of the Year Wrap Up

The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is helping me clear out this back log of lead!

We're nearly done with 2016 (and good riddance!) but before turning to plans for the new year, I wanted to evaluate what I've accomplished this year. My painting took a slump during the summer, but I still managed to finish up:

  • 117 Foot
  • 12 Mounted
  • 5 Buildings
That's about average for me, although I'm fairly pleased I managed to make some progress on various terrain pieces that had been lingering for far too long.

My gaming over the last year was a bit spotty. I've been playing the FFG Star Wars games at a regular weekly session, but I finally gave up on getting my old game group together. While disappointing, 2017 looks extremely promising for gaming. 

Star Wars Armada

My weekly FFG group is going to start up the new Corellian Conflict Campaign. The regular Armada players are very excited and we're considering starting up a MeetUp group to make sure we have a consistent full 6 player game. We're furiously painting up the last of our squadrons in preparation. Can't wait!

Fantasy and Historicals

To get my fantasy figures out of their boxes I've been playing some Song of Blades and Heroes with another local gamer. We've also talked about giving Congo and Deus Vult a try, and I'm looking forward to teaching him some Lion/Dragon Rampant or Hail Caesar.

Rogue Trader

2017 is the 30th anniversary of Rogue Trader, the first (and only interesting) edition of Warhammer 40K. I've been on a Rogue Trader bender and I'm using the Analogue Painting Challenge to make progress on a number of figures I've picked up over the last few years.

My eight year old also had a blast playing RT and has been asking to try it again. I may be going on a tear to get some figures and terrain finished so we can have some proper battles. The rules may be a bit pants, but a wooly, sci-fi grab bag rules set really appeals to me, which the later editions lost in favor of a grim, standardized, cookie cutter universe that lost a lot of the charm I loved about the first edition. 

Blood and Plunder

We also have pirates and galleons on the way from the Blood and Plunder kickstarter, which I'm also eager to try. 

That is a ton of painting and gaming I'm hoping to do in 2017, and if I even get half of it done I should be happy. How about you? What are you looking to get done next year?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Brigade Games Spanish/Caribbean House and Stable

In preparation for our upcoming "Blood and Plunder"games, we've been gathering terrain for our tiny pirates and colonial Spanish to fight over. I built and painted a pair of resin buildings by Brigade Games and while I did run into some issues with them, but I found two life saving tools that I can't believe I've working without. Pics and thoughts after the jump.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thank the Dice Gods for New Opponents

Outside local gaming conventions, finding fellow wargamers has been pretty tricky since I entered the hobby 10 years ago. I managed to convert some of my friends, roped my family into gaming, and contacted a few other local gamers, but locating opponents is definitely the most challenging part of the hobby for me (well, except for painting pupils on the eyes of 20mm figures). I lucked out when Joe, a visitor of my blog and local resident, contacted me to set up a game. After a flurry of emails we convened at a local comic shop to roll some dice and push some figures. I don't mind painting up both sides of a game, building all the terrain, reading the rules and teaching them.... but I tell ya, it was such a relief to be able to just bring my own figures and some terrain to match my opponent's collection, sit down and play.

Some pics and thoughts on the Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes game we played after the jump.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

2016 Wargame Holiday Deals

Each year I try to compile all of the various wargame related sales and deals for gamers to help the community find the best holiday specials. The fact that my wife invariably picks up a few items from this list to put under the Christmas tree is in no way related. Mere coincidence, I assure you. As always, if you come across any deals let me know and I'll amend the list.

Gift Ideas

The Demogorgon: This is it! THE actual Demogorgon miniature featured in the Netflix series "Stranger Things".  The mold is decades old and currently owned by the Italian manufacturer Mirilton. It's 10 Euros, and their minimum order is 15 (so pick up two I guess?) and with shipping to the US you're looking at $37 bucks for a pair, but still. Demogorgon!

The Grizzly Allied Walker: Konflikt 47 is Warlord Games expansion of Bolt Action. It thrusts the game into a pseudo-historical extension of WWII to the late 40's, finding Axis and Allies waging war with super science mecha, zombies and tesla energy cannons. I'm not sold on the milieu but I fell in love with the Grizzly Walker after seeing an early production model at Historicon. It's a solid, detailed mecha that could be employed in a variety of alt-history, steampunk or sci-fi games.

Frostgrave: Expeditions to the ice locked necropolis show no signs of letting up, and no doubt the wargamer you are shopping for would be eager to launch their own venture to it. I've been reluctant to jump into another game with so many on my plate already, but even I've been eyeing the Cultists, Gnolls and Undead for use in some of the fantasy games I already play. Nick at Northstar just released a pack of sci-fi upgrades to mix and match these into a host of customized space weirdos too. Perfect! Figures also available from Warlord and even Amazon.

Star Wars Rebellion: Everything I've read about Star Wars Rebellion makes it sound like a tense, asymmetric board game that captures the struggle of the Rebels to overthrow the Empire before the might of their Death Star extinguishes the rebellion forever. A bit too long to play at our weekly game nights, but perfect for those lazy holiday and snow days when weather keeps the family cooped up indoors.

Imperial Assault: We've been playing Imperial Assault campaigns pretty regularly at our weekly game nights. Tense, sometimes frustrating but always mentally challenging, the intricate rule mechanics and gorgeous miniatures have won me over.

Author Marc Morris: I recently finished A Great and Terrible King about Edward I by Marc Morris and enthusiastically recommend it. I'm looking forward to picking up his earlier work about King John and I'm sure his book on the Norman Conquest is equally as thorough and engaging.

Tabletop Wargames: I've had this book on my watchlist for ages, and it's finally gone into print. Rick Priestly, gaming luminary, has penned a volume covering his theory behind game design. I love getting into the nitty gritty behind game mechanics and would love to peek into the mindset of Rick's obsession with d6s.

Rogue Stars: Cutting it close to the wire, Rogue Stars (Osprey's latest blue book wargame rules) releases December 20. I enjoy Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant and I'm looking for a new set of rules to cover sci-fi skirmishes. This looks like the ticket!

Best Holiday Wargame Deals

Brexit: Sorry Brits, I know this likely stings, but the pound has dropped in value to near parity with the US dollar. For those of us in the colonies, this is a golden opportunity to take advantage of the increased buying power of the dollar in the UK. And with our own economic situation becoming a bit unpredictable in January, this shopping season offers a window to finally place some big orders with North Star, Foundry and other vendors across the sea.

Black Tree Miniatures: Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday sale. 50% off WWII, Ancient, Roman, Feudal, Dark Ages, HYW, Zulu Wars Infantry, Fantasy Infantry and Cavalry. 25% off Doctor Who.

Foundry: Currently running their Christmas special (buy 8 packs, get 2 free or buy 16 packs get 6 free). Coupled with the increased buying power of the dollar, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for American customers to get their hands on some beautiful Foundry lead. I'm partial to the unreleased Rogue Trader "Liquidation Squad", Ancient Farmers and Townsfolk, Pirates (for the upcoming Blood and Plunder), and Old West (Westworld on HBO has fanned the flames of interest in doing some Western gaming in my game group).

Mantic: Typically offers some great holiday deals (including their Crazy Boxes packed full of a variety of their figures). This year they're also running an event on Black Friday with hourly deals. Who knows what lies in store!

Fantasy Flight: Each year they run a sale on their board, card and miniature games and 2016 is no different. Check this out, our family's favorite Lord of the Rings board game on sale for 20 bucks, Talisman for $20, lots of Game of Thrones and Hobbit games for cheap. And that's just FFG's own games. Plenty more from other publishers available as well. Or try their new Star Wars Destiny card + dice game, my favorite Star Wars Armada (extra dice and new Rebel squadrons make great stocking stuffers), or the ever popular X-Wing.

The War Store: Through Cyber Monday, 5% off with code BF16. Free shipping on Privateer Press orders over $60 (with code PIPSHIP) or $100 of Battlefront (with code BATTLESHIP), FREE STUFF with orders over $50, sales on Games Workshop, Privateer Press, Army Painter, Infinity, random drawings, plus more! Madness!

Warlord Games: 25% off plastic tanks, 20% of resin tanks (looks like they are clearing out stock, supplies are limited), Terminator sets on deep discount, 10% off Pegasus Bridge, La Haye Sainte, Rorke's Drift, Liberty or Death! Armored Fury boxed set at $48 off!

Wargames Illustrated: FREE issue of Wargames Illustrated Prime and an entry to win a Band of Brothers boxed set, 50p off their Giants in Miniature figures with code blackfriday.

Plastic Soldier Company: 25% off tons of PSC, Minairons, Vallejo, and more until midnight Nov 27.

Minairons: Use code TMPR2016 when you order €50 or more to receive 30% off your order through Black Friday Nov 25.  The sales only extends to items on stock, so grab those Renault tanks and biplanes while they're still available!

Northumbrian Tin Soldier: Not specifically a Black Friday sale, but 50% OFF Otherworld Miniatures! Wow! Awesome figs at prices that are at a steal! Supplies limited, so don't buy them all because I want some!

Splintered Light: 20% off from Nov 24 until the end of the year with code XMAS16.

Alternative Armies,, and The Ion Age: Free shipping on orders over £12, free gift on orders over £20 through Cyber Monday.

Victoria Miniatures: Every order, regardless of size, between Nov 23 and Dec 3 receives a free miniature! The free miniature changes each day, check the list here.

Miniature Building Authority: Bucking the trend, MBA has been running a sale that ENDS BEFORE Black Friday. 15mm items are 15% off, some 28mm are between 10 and 25% off.

Osprey: Their Black Friday Sale offers 30% all Osprey books ordered directly from them

Brigade Games: Now through Dec 16, receive 15% off all orders.

Miniature Market: Tons of stuff on sale through Monday Nov 28, including Guild Ball, Warmachine, Infinity plus tons of board, card and role playing games

Critical Mass: 20% off everything in the store until Friday, Dec 2. and free shipping on orders over £50.00 GBP.

Hardwood Games: 20% off everything with code BF20 .

Hydra Miniatures: 20% off everything in the store!

ACW Gamer E-Magazine: 20% off miniatures, subscriptions and back issues.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Medieval Flags and Norman Foot

I finished up some Conquest Games Norman foot (with the addition of some Norman command figures by Crusader Miniatures to give me three full elements of 16 figures) recently, but couldn't consider them completely finished until I figured out how to handle their command banner.

I've got a lot in store for these Normans. I'm hoping to use them for dark age battles against vikings in Saga, big crusades era battles against muslim enemies or in their Italian holdings with Hail Caesar or Too the Strongest, and I'm even hoping to use them as Starks for some Lion Rampant "Game of Thrones" battles.  Sticking with just one banner that would be appropriate for all those theaters wasn't going to cut it, so I cribbed an idea from James Roach and created an interchangeable flag.

I experimented with a variety of different brass tubes, pins and plastic tubes before settling on a system that worked for me. The portion held in the figure's hand is 1/16 brass tube. I cut another length the height of the flag, and then glued a metal wire spear length inside it.

I removed the spear's point and glued it on the other end of this 'upper' portion. After painting both halves spear shaft wood tones I wrapped and glued the flag itself around the upper portion.

I used a crusades era flag from Little Big Man to test the idea out. It's ok, but I also picked up some sample flags at Historicon from Rick O'Brien, "The Flag Dude". I replaced a medieval banner that I had printed out myself with a Flag Dude version, and it blows my humble effort away.

My home printed paper flag is on the left, The Flag Dude's version is on the right

The colors are richer, the animation more pronounced and overall it simply "pops" in a way that my homemade version doesn't. I had some specific sizing requests for this banner and Rick was highly accommodating too. I'm planning on picking up several flags from him just for my Norman foot, plus all my other medievals because they just look so slick. Looking forward to getting these guys on the table. With fancy flags like these, they can't lose! (right?)
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