Saturday, June 27, 2009

Post rant fallout

Well, I've had several responses to my post about the LWC; I've put them all up as I consider it only fair that it be a balanced argument. I'm not looking to make any enemies here, but I would contend, unlike one of the respondents, that I am entitled to my opinion, in public if I so wish it, as that is the point of the blog.

I also accept that what was written in one sitting, based on the experience of a couple of recent visits is probably not representative of the club over a long period of time. I did go overboard, but I still hold to my own opinions; which I did express rather excessively. I also recognise not everyone will agree with them; clearly most of the LWC are perfectly happy with their club. It would seem I should try visiting one of their Sunday games which sound like they'd be more to my expectations.

Still I hope that my post has got both sides thinking, and that is never a bad thing, is it?

As for insulting club members; well yes that certainly could be taken personally. But the 'American Football' fan observation is one you can see at most any gaming club, I've been to 5 different wargames clubs in the last few years and there was at least a couple in each one... Still it was a bit overboard. To that end I've chosen to remove the specific paragraph.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

War is back, and this time it's waargh!

It wasn’t my first game of the year, but the dubious honour of that went to an encounter with Epic Armageddon which was so one sided it was really only an opportunity for me to take my models out of their box briefly before putting most of them away immediately. So my second game of the year with another opponent is what I discuss today.

And a little gem of a game it was too; 40k using my Orks, against a nice young chap called IIRC George and his beautifully painted Tyranids.

It was a close run thing too. I tossed a coin and went for the heavy armour choice of my two army lists. With a Battlewagon, Warbike, Warbuggies, Killa Kans, Nobz, and lots of Boyz. As it turned out, the Tyranids didn’t seem to have any heavy firepower, being geared up instead for close assault. So in a rarity, my Battlewagon rolled around with impunity all game.

Elsewhere I got the drop on the Tyranids very early on, and George later admitted to thinking it was all over. Several of his smaller units were wiped out with ease. But then his big stuff got embroiled in the assaults; my luck seemed to fail at this stage, whilst his rallied, In particular a Hive Tyrant – called Mr Gribbley – survived four turns, eventually routing two units of Orks, despite suffering around ten wounds per turn, it saved all but one!

So after two turns I was up, after four it was fairly even, but when his reserves arrived the gig was soon up. I had no available reserves capable of stopping them seizing their objective. Whilst my reserve – the Nobz – were deadly effective, but simply too far away.

So when it ended I had lost, but it was a darned close run thing, I occupied his objective, though he could contest it; but he had secured mine. It was a great little game though, in which the report was not really important. Here’s to a few more like that.

Elsewhere in the club - The Thursday night one this time, in Leeds - it was a very busy night, with about 8 games of 40k going, along with some Warmachine, Bloodbowl, boardgames and DBMM ancients. Lots of lovely looking 15mm ancients in implausibly perfect lines marching towards one another over geometrically orderly terrain.

In many respects the complete antithesis to games of Warhammer/40k. Though that is no bad thing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Apologies for the rant, but...

This is not what a wargames club should be like is it?

I’ve been to one of my local gaming clubs a couple of times since getting back to the Bradford/Leeds area. I have to be honest; it is not inspiring. One of my old mates goes there regularly, so I don’t see me not going, simply as that is where I can get a game against him. But really, the point of a wargames club, should be to put on wargames; shouldn’t it?

Maybe I’ve been spoilt by the club I used to go to all those years ago, the Grimsby club, I guess the fundamental influence on my gaming. It was not the sort to put on display games, prior to blogging, I doubt it was even that well known; but it was the sort that had high quality scenery, painted figures only on table, and a preference for easy going games that got as many figures on table as was reasonable.

So what is wrong with what they’re doing in Leeds?

Nothing, I guess; if what you want is sports games, out the box system, board games and the like. To me, a Tour De France board game with paper models does in no way make me want to grab the dice, or paint brushes and get joining in. That was the focal point of gaming on Wednesday night; other than that there was an American Football game with a handful of cribbage pins on a board, with all the visual appeal of a 1970’s accounts book, A board game with wooden blocks for pieces (and with two habitual rule quibblers playing, a little tedious to watch), and a game of Warhammer 40k – which at least had nicely painted models, but still had tired old scenery, and attracted no interest from anyone but me.

OK, I have high expectations; true, but the club scene can be a little frustrating to say the least. I don’t see why clubs Like the Leeds Wargames Club, who run a major wargame show for crying out loud, can have such a low opinion of actually having decent games on; it’s as if they’ve convinced themselves that it is impossible to do so in an evening; in fact, I’ve heard as much said in the club. Yet in the past I and others have tried to put on grand games there, with plenty on table and the offer to involve others. Usually to no avail.

I’ve nothing against club games, but in a wargame club, shouldn’t they be, you know ‘War’ games; there’s a board game society in Leeds already, two so far as I know. It’s not a time thing either, as the other main club in Leeds runs for shorter hours on a Thursday and yet its’ members see no problem with playing proper games. Ultimately I think it’s an issue of effort, and who directs it, and in this club in particular those who direct it would rather play quick to set up, low commitment games rather than anything that requires putting brush to figure.

I can level different criticisms at the Nightowls (Thursday club), a place where unpainted figures, fantasy and overly competitive games rule the day, but at least they are wargames; which is what I’m really after! And they are much easier to communicate with too.

So is this a rant with no point, well not entirely; a warning, or a challenge if you will. If you go to a club, or if you want to set on up. Consider how it looks to people; is it welcoming, is there a centrepiece game going on that will make people think ‘cool’? You are very, very unlikely to have people who’ve never played a wargame before come through the door, so if you are going to win someone over nothing beats, welcoming attitudes and a table of glorious scenery with masses of figures.

It’s only my opinion, but I think the point of a club should be for it to offer what you can’t get at home; and that may seem to be just opponents, but for most gamers in this day and age, it is also, the visual impact. Most people can’t build great scenery at home, so a club is the one place they ought to be able to do so. They shouldn’t have to make do with a bit of green chipboard and some scraps of felt; or just be offered a game with cardboard cut outs.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Little men and littler men too...

Well, I've been quiet on the blogging front of late, but at least more painting has been achieved.

The ratio of painting is so rapid in fact, that the blog can’t actually keep up; it is the simple fact that I don’t have the money to anything very much at the moment, no nights out, with the exception of the wargaming club (and that really is not the way it should be, I only get away with it thanks to an understanding and equally skint wife!); so a great deal of time for dipping in to the rapidly diminishing pile of unpainted models.

The American Civil war progresses well, but are not yet photographed, so I’ll save them for another day, but after doing one bunch of Dwarves, I did another.

These were the 20p per figure ex-grenadier models I got from EM4, chunky, but with reasonable detail. The worst part was having to cut down the bases from a pre-moulded 25mm square, down to 20mm. A real chore.

Less bothersome was converting the spearmen figures to a musician (judicious bending of the spear shaft, and some putty – clearly a rush job) and a standard bearer (insert 2cm of rod into spear shaft). Oddly the figures are made from a plastic which though hard, does not respond well to polystyrene cement, superglue is the only solution.

The end result is an awfully cheap unit to buy, but makes a healthy 200 point addition to my Dogs of War army. As for a name for the unit, well in keeping with the food puns of the units so far I'm declaring these are the Dwarven host of Kazak Kuyrdak - that's a Russian (Kazakh) dish of Horse Offal!

Those aside, I also managed a squad of German infantry, destined for eBay. These guys were cobbled together from the many 20mm Valiant Germans left from previous projects.

I’ve painted them based on an illustration of 1st SS division in Belgium/Holland 1944; tasteful huh? Hopefully a few valuable quid into the PayPal account.

So thats another 22 models to the good...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Half a Brigade, and then some...

Well, something like a painting table has now been set up in my new (temporary) home and as a result, I’ve been able to progress on the American Civil War project. The half finished unit of the 27th New York were completed first, and they were followed in short order by the 96th Pennsylvania. Both units are subject to a little variation and experimentation, but the 96th (below) definitely came out the best, having in particular a more gradual shading of the coats and a really good skin tone (achieved by starting with some Cavalry Brown mixed into the Medium Flesh tone).

A close up of the command of the 96th:

As I’d noticed some slight warping on the cavalry I based back in November on 50mm square bases, I opted to use thick black Plasticard for these figures instead. This certainly has several advantages here for these figures; as I could cut it very precisely, and then cement the figures to it very easily with normal plastic cement. Still it is pricier, but it’ll never warp. For reference I used '60 thou.' Card.

So two units finished, two more to go; though not just yet as I need a break from painting all that blue. This brings me neatly to the painting and buying totals for the year so far. Well obviously from the pictures above, I’ve painted 36 American Civil War miniatures, but also in the time between finishing them and updating this blog, I’ve also managed to knock out a unit of Dwarves too.

A simple job for these chaps; who represent one of the militia units in my Dwarven army, hence the mixture of greens on the costumes. This unit benefit from a better skin tone than my old Dwarves (influenced by the experiments on the ACW guys above) but equally suffer from in some cases, caked on layers of glue and enamel paint obscuring the detail (as on the sample chap shown) so are as good a job as I could manage quickly.

I have however, in the same time bought some more figures; two came on the cover of Wargames Titillated whilst I succumbed to buying the other 12, new, for the extortionate price of £4.10 including postage. I picked up a small unit’s worth of the old Grenadier plastic Dwarves from their present distributor EM-4 Miniatures; the figures themselves were only 20 pence each, a bargain! Postage was almost as much, but as the items arrived within 48 hours of ordering, I really can’t complain. The figures themselves are basic but perfectly proportioned to go alongside GW figures, as a budget option for Dwarf or Orc players, the range provides an alternative to trawling eBay and bring & buy tables. Their website even provides suggestions on how to convert the figures. Well worth a look.

So how does this leave the running totals for the year?

Bought: 14
Sold: 0
Painted: 56

A ratio of exactly four to one. Not bad so far!