Thursday, February 28, 2013

A 'Cheap Brushes' Find

I was tipped off by Trevor over at the Headingley Club about these.  Acrylic paint brushes intended for Nail Art on Ebay:

Having used them, I can report that the three standard brushes are pretty good, my set all arrived in a matter of days, well packaged and with good points.  Far better than the equivalent Javis brushes for example.

I can't figure out how I might use the liner brushes - seldom had the need for a size 00 brush with 1-inch long hairs - but the quality of these also seems good.

The best thing was the price however; the set was only £1.89 in the UK, post-free!  For a couple of quid you can't go wrong!  That said, on Ebay they've now risen to a ludicrous price (hence no link folks); methinks the seller realised there was unusual traffic on the product and has tried to cash in.  Still you can doubtless find a similar product on-line, or in suitable stores if you cast your net widely enough.

It pays to look around.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Other Club Activities...

It's gladdening to note that the Night Owls seems to have found its place once again - after some time in a wilderness of low attendance and disquiet.

Anyway, that seems behind it now, as concerted efforts by both the fantasy and the historical contingent of the club are seeing steady attendance once again.  A point that was discussed at length over the weekend at our annual AGM.  I'm not going to discuss that in detail here, regular readers will know I'm going to be cautious with anything political!

An example of the new healthier club however could be seen with the turn out on the same day as our Greek game. Granted the Yorkshire Open contributed to the turn out, but it wasn't the sole activity, and that's a good thing!

Nice to see the place busy - if anything too busy!  But we have just got use of a second larger room for free in future so it can be handled.

After the Greek game Mark rolled out his latest creation.

An Imperial Star Destroyer game mat for the Star Wars fighter combat game.  Lord only knows where Mark finds the time!

Moreover, barring a couple of bits, it's all made of nothing more than cardboard.  The lads took it to Hammerhead a couple of weeks later to positive reviews.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

At the Pass of Oion

Laurie has begun a campaign at the Night Owls for those of us with Greek Hoplites, that turns out to be a few of us.  The overall theme of the campaign, from what I can understand to be run in a narrative linear fashion, being the Pelopennesian War.

The picking of sides was to be random by draw of lots - shards of pottery, a nice touch - but before the campaign I had insisted that my Spartan army could only fight for Sparta; and so I was handed my own shard and awaited to see who I would have as an ally.

As it was, it was to be me and Laurie against the triumphrate of Mark, Stuart and Andy.  Their objective was to get at least two heavy and two light units through the either of the passes we were guarding.  Ours simply was to stop them.  To add to the period feel, each commander was to draw from the auguries, to see how the fates would treat us.  Hence units had cards attached to them that affected their performance.  In the case of Andy, his commander was so busy consulting the gods, that he wouldn't arrive until turn five; which gave myself and Laurie an opportunity.

Laurie found Stuarts Athenians seriously lacking in backbone, and was able to keep them at bay initially with little more than a handful of arrows fired.  Mark made a slow advance towards Laurie, hoping his peltasts could stop my troops from taking his flank.  Fortunately for him my troops moved no faster initially than any of the Athenians, who moved at only the slowest trudge towards their targets.

Mark made his move against Laurie, and came off badly, with a unit destroyed in moments, Stuart's Hoplites were still unwilling to commit, and so Laurie went on the offensive.

Finally Andy's pious Hoplites arrived, blocking my own force and leaving Laurie to his own devices.  I was able to eliminate some of their light troops in short order, but the nefarious forces of Mark's command were using the diversion to outflank me and make a break for the pass.

 Andy's fresh Hoplites were able to smash through my ranks, whilst his allies escaped to victory.  Laurie found himself out of touch with Stuart's troops, who made a successful run for the exit, and so turned to attack the Rear of Mark and Andy's men.

But by this stage it was too late.

Although in terms of raw losses the Athenians had come off worse, losing Three units each of Hoplites and Peltasts to our two respectively; they had achieved their goal, and a small army of them was now setting off for the Spartan hinterland.

Thus ended the first game of the campaign, its result would impact the nature of the next game, to be played in March.  Hopefully this time the Spartans will have the Gods on their side, against the ignoble and treacherous Athenians.

Why Old School? Steve knows Why...

I don't normally, if ever, go in for referencing other peoples blog posts or articles on gaming.  But I couldn't put my sentiments on this subject better than Steve at 'Steve's Random Musings' does.  Read and enjoy, and see if you spot yourself.

And to you tournament players and dyed-in-the-wool 'Workshop addicts, this is what we get from the hobby that you don't...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thursday Night is Boardgame Night

Well it has been for a while anyway.  I've had little joy organising figure games at the Headingley club over the last six months or so (one game that I can recall); but it isn't really an issue, as I can always score a board game of some sort when I do go.

In the last couple of weeks I've tried games old an new, including a second go at Cosmic Encounter:

The first time I played this I got properly smacked by the sequencing of cards and thus players conspiring against me, and so I didn't enjoy it.  Thankfully my second go was more pleasurable, and a fairer game.  The idea of the game is to gather colonies on other races planets, each player begins with five home worlds and needs to gather five colonies to win.

Each player is a different alien race, and these have their own unique powers.

In your turn, you randomly draw an alien system to interact with, and send forth your ships either in friendship or hostility, though this is not revealed until after you have recruited allies to your cause.  Both primary players may canvass for the support of any of the other players, or may elect not to involve some or all of them.  Below blue leads a crusade against white!

Once allies are decided the main players select a strategy card in secret - usually either a combat card, or a negotiation card.  If both negotiate, it is peaceful and they may trade colonies; otherwise (and more generally) it is combat, and to the victor the spoils.

Destroyed vessels are sent to the warp,  until a reinforcement card or similar rescues them.  And so the game continues until a winner is found.  A large part of the game is in the use and maintenance of alliances, which allow you and possibly your allies to advance at the cost of other players.  How you pick allies will be partly influenced by how you evaluate the value of their racial abilities, and partly by how loyal they are to you during the game.

In the end it produced a close result on this occasion, with my purple fleet coming second to a well organised surge at the end by one of the other players who attacked a weak planet without the use of allies to secure a win.  This is a game that favours four or more players, we ran with seven and it made for a challenging and close race.

The following week, I managed to arrive in time for a go at Fortune and Glory:

Rarely has a game been so easy to summarise; it's Indiana Jones, the game.

Each player takes the role of an Adventurer between the two world wars, in search of mystical artefacts - randomly generated to locations around the world, and up against one another and/or the Nazis and the Mob.

The game was absolutely loaded with components and cards, and the production standards are lavish.  But then the £80 price tag would suggest it should be.

So far as gameplay, it is pretty simple, and without the close adherance to theme it would boil down to little more than 'draw a card, roll some dice, if successful draw another card, if not stop'.

It is nonetheless a fun game, and if you can stand the expense, a good replacement for such family favourites as Monopoly or Cluedo.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

4Ground 28mm Ruins

As part of the work towards the club's next display game, I was handed a pile of the 4Ground 28mm World War Two European scenery to assemble and 'make look nice'.

Which in my opinion was more than necessary, as whilst there is much to say for these models, I do take umbrage with the suggestion that they are the best thing since sliced bread.

They rather are the Apple I-Phone of gaming scenery.  Everybody has taken to them and raves about them, but I'm not convinced they are as good as people tell you they are.

Firstly, compared to a resin model, you've got the build the damned thing, most of the models comprise a DOZEN sprues of flat sheets that need pressing out individually before assembly.  Once you've carried out one build they models make more sense, but it is fair to say that the provided instructions - even with numerous photographs - are not clear enough to make assembly a straight forward procedure.

I've assembled multipart resin ruins with a hot glue gun in a matter of minutes.  Budget two to three hours of your life for one of these kits.  Also you need to allow drying time and elastic bands or clamps are essential to get an effective assembly.

Then the end result is painted, after a fashion and sort of complete:

And if you choose to it does come with the advantage of separate floors.  But it isn't really finished.  It looks like what it is, an MDF box cut out with lasers.  There is a lack of texture, and whilst in some areas the scorch marks of the laser adds to the effect - especially on the ruins, in others it draws real attention to the falseness of the model.  It may be adequate for many gamers, but for my own tastes it looks ugly and unfinished, like a prepainted gaming miniature, it can be improved vastly by taking a brush to it oneself.

And so if you want the models to look really good, expect to spend another two to three hours selectively repainting significant parts of the model:

You finally will have a finished working product you can be proud of.  But the issues may not end there.  Resin models are very tough, and can stand being tossed in a scenery box at a club, sure they'll get chipped, but for the most part they will be durable.  Plastic kits are if well assembled similarly tough, though smaller kits can be delicate.  Scratchbuilds have the advantage of allowing numerous build options and reinforcement.  I reinforced parts of these models, but honestly I cannot see them surviving normal club use.  

Thankfully ours will be kept pristine for the display game, but after that?  These are really for home use in considerate hands.

Then there is the issue of cost.

The ruined semi (of which I assembled two) costs £24, the Terraces £22 each.  The set of four buildings therefore would retail for over £90.

I know I could get a lot more resin buildings for that price, that would look more like real buildings though they would need painting.  However I could probably shop around and get prepainted models for about the same price, either as intact buildins or as ruins.  For £90, or indeed a little less, I could assemble an entire village or town from scratch, in more or less the same 20 hours required to produce these kits.

Ultimately what I expect from a kit, that makes a kit worth assembling in preference to buying a resin model, or other premade sculpt, is a level of detail and reality that the latter doesn't provide.  This is why I prefer plastic kits, even fairly simple ones, of military vehicles.  The time and labour involved in assembly is rewarded with a level of authenticity the resin equivalent generally won't offer.

Here I have a kit that offers none of the Aesthetic benefits, until you've applied so much additional effort it makes you wonder why you invested in the model in the first place.

Whilst these may very well be all some gamers would ever want from their models, to me they are a false trail.  Other alternatives are faster, more realistic, sturdier, simpler, cheaper; or a combination of several of these attributes.

The MDF models are not for me.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

вперед для матушки-России!

Forward for Mother Russia!

54mm Airfix soviet infantry to face my Germans.  rather bare figures, as their from a period when Airfix really scrimped on detail.  But the actual sculpting for what the are is top notch.

Painting was fairly simple as a result, sadly the camera flash has bounced off the varnish, I'm also going to apply a second lighter layer of flock.  I got a bag of dark heather a few months back and having tried it a few times now; I've concluded I don't like it!  it's too dark.