Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Little Progress on Lots of Things

My wife and son are on Spring Break, so I took a few days off to spend time with them and get some things done around the house. In between I managed to squeeze in a little time on wargaming things, but it's been so long since I've had a chance to tackle any projects I've been jumping from one to another.

My son was eager to "paint some little men". I bought some spare figures from Risk Godstorm for him a year ago which he's been painting while I work on my own figures.

I'm looking forward to playing some more multi players games of Hail Caesar but I don't have enough command bases to give each players a general. I got base coats on a few ancient commanders by Crusader and Warlord Games.

Giant Robots

I've also been tinkering with a sci fi game and got a little more done with the figures for it.  I've always had a weak spot for giant robots, having been raised on Transformers and Robotech.  I played quite a bit of Battletech and dabbled with the Clix version, Heavy Gear, Gear Krieg and taken a look every other giant robot game I could find. One of the things I like about "giant robots" was the gradual destruction of the mech. Rather than the more abstract degradation in other genres (an engine hit on a tank or ship for example), losing arms or legs on a robot is more visceral, but avoids the "ick factor" from the same effect if they were Roman gladiators.

I'm also not a fan of the extensive record keeping on separate sheets of paper for miniature games. For this sci fi game I'm working up I was hoping to keep all record keeping on the miniature itself. The larger 10mm and 15mm scale mechs available from the Clix version of Battletech and various sci fi lines are large enough that I think magnetic markers could be applied directly to the figure. Did your mech take a hit to the left arm? Slap a smoke marker on there. Did it get its arm destroyed? Rip off the crippled limb.

I've worked up a few demo figures cobbled together from Clix figures and EM4 generic robots, but after putting together some smoke markers to represent hits I'm not sure my cunning plan is feasible.

I tried a few techniques to turn hamster bedding into smoke markers, but I'm not too thrilled with them. I'm going to try creating some smoke markers from Woodland Scenics clump foliage  but the mechs might be too small to handle multiple markers. The magnetized limbs work pretty well, so there might be a way to make this work, but for now I'm a bit stuck.


With our impending move to a new house, I'm also planning on getting a custom wargame table. I put together a Pinterest board to collect ideas. Other than Geek Chic there don't appear to be any other manufacturers for wargaming specific furniture, so I might need to hire a carpenter to build the table I have in mind. Geek Chic is still good for ideas, and if I had a spare $15,000 I'd probably just buy one of their high end tables.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Death of Google Reader

Wargaming is not a hobby that gets a lot of popular exposure. Certainly there are a handful of magazines that come out on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, and TMP serves up its share of news and grumbling, but I found following blogs the most enjoyable way of getting quick nuggets of the hobby by people who were excited about it. I relied on Google Reader to manage the dozens of feeds I follow, and browsed them via the iphone and ipad app Flipboard. After a stressful day at work, one of my favorite moments of the evening was just sitting down and flipping through the photos and posts in Flipboard.

 And then Google killed reader.

 I've loved Google for a decade. I use Gmail and Blogger, prefer Google+ to Facebook, love their maps, and used Reader daily. Google killed some of their projects before, like Google Wave, but they were never services I did more than dabble with. Google killing Reader was a real watershed moment for me, when Google killed something that was a large part of my life. My love for Google has absolutely soured, much in the same way my love for Netflix evaporated after they tried to separate and kill their DVD mail service. It feels like a betrayal of trust, where the love I had for their product was not reciprocated. I am seriously rethinking how much I want to invest into relying on any one company, especially one that doesn't deliver actual products but only access to their cloud. What's next, Blogger? 

My Flipboard blog feed

Luckily my preferred feed reader, Flipboard, is automatically importing my Google Reader bookmarks, so I should have access to all of my blog feeds after July 1st. I don't want to be left flat footed in case Flipboard pulls a similar stunt, so I've been looking for a backup RSS aggregator to handle all of my blog feeds. A lot of folks are in the same situation, and based on the votes on replacereader . I'm trying out Feedly. I'm not quite sure how to cross pollinate Flipboard and Feedly with new feeds other than adding it manually to each, but hopefully that will work itself out.

 Have you found a Google Reader replacement? Which do you prefer?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Libyan Spearman completed

Whew! What a month! We sold a house, bought a house and squeezed in a trip halfway across the country in between. Haven't had much time for painting, but I did manage to finish off my Libyan Spearmen by Crusader Miniatures.

I enjoyed painting these up. I like Crusader's chunky style, these figures rank up easily, but there's enough variation between their gear to keep things interesting. My one qualm was the pretty vicious amount of flash in their open spear hands that I needed to carve out.

The extra Carthaginians in mail became members of the unit commanders guard. I figure they've picked up some equipment from recent skirmishes with Romans, but upgraded equipment has not filtered down to the rank and file of the rest of the unit.

The shields received LBMS transfers, which look great but didn't grip the shields as tightly as I'd hoped, even with scoring and cutting "pie slices" into their edges to make them conform to the convex dome of the shield. I was also surprised at how heavy each base wound up. That's a lot of lead on each 40mm x 40mm or 80mm x 40mm base, and a few bases slipped from my fingers while finishing these up necessitating some regluing of shields and spears. I'll have to get a movement tray for these guys.

What else has been up? I missed Cold Wars, Google is torpedoing the RSS reader I use to gather feeds for Flipbook, Warlord Releases plastic Caesarians and a new supplement for Hail Caesar, Gripping Beast announces new generic Dark Age plastics... I have a lot of catching up to do!