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Archive for January, 2014

Grab-It Pack – A Review

01/29/2014 Leave a comment

This seems like a really good idea.

My only problem with the article is there is no photo of Phil modelling it 😉

SILO41

Just before Christmas I managed to organise a games night with The Chaps. Nothing new there. However on this particular occasion I kept losing things. Forgetting where I put a pencil or my tape measure as I moved around the board and went over to check out how the other chaps were doing in their games.

On the way home I started thinking about ways that a gamer could keep all of their gaming essentials about their person without the need for combat trousers or a combat utility vest. Because it can feel that way sometimes. It was partly prompted by the sound of my dice box (a reasonable sized fishing tackle box) slid around the boot having dislodged itself from its spot between the scenery boxes and my figure case.

And so to Google I went (other search engines are available) to try to find something that would keep…

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Infinity – The First Wave

01/21/2014 Leave a comment

It’s always nice to come into work and find something nice waiting for you 🙂

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I’ll do a proper unboxing tomorrow as Tuesday evenings are when my role playing group meet. It’ll be hard not to as these look awesome.

Categories: Infinity Tags: ,

Infinity – Beginning My Journey

01/19/2014 4 comments

I’ve finally settled on collecting a PanOceania force as part of my first foray into Infinity.  It took me a while to choose between PanO, Ariadna and ALEPH and I suspect that eventually I’ll have a models from them all!  But that’s for another day.

As such, I popped over to Element Games‘s website and ordered the following:

PanO Starter Pack

PanO Fusilier Sniper

PanO Knight Hospitaller with Multi Rifle

Before the inevitable deluge of comments informing me that I’ve made a horrific choice I’d like to explain why I chose these three sets.  First of all, I haven’t actually read the rules.  I did this deliberately as I’ve not had the opportunity to experience the innocent joy of buying miniatures simply because I like the look of them since I picked up my first ever wargaming miniature (an Imperial Guard Jetbike and rider) back in 1992.  For a jaded old soul like me, this was a thoroughly enjoyable, freeing, experience.  Secondly, I thought it would make sense to get the starter set and everyone tells me that I’d be foolish not to invest in a sniper of some description.  As for the Knight Hospitaller, I just really like the model and can’t wait to paint it!

With a bit of luck the package will arrive on Tuesday, I can’t wait 🙂

Categories: Infinity Tags: ,

Infinity – New Year, New Game

01/17/2014 Leave a comment

When I arrived at work this morning, this was waiting on my desk.

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I’m looking forward to reading this over the weekend, hopefully by then I’ll have an idea which faction to play 🙂

Categories: Infinity Tags:

My 2014 Hobby Not-Resolutions

01/13/2014 2 comments

Now that things are ever so slowly returning to normal, I think it’s time to run through a few of the ideas I have for the coming few months. I did seriously consider writing a list of ‘Hobby Resolutions’ for 2014 but given my track record, I think I’ll keep things slightly smaller scale to avoid disappointment, dissolution and frustration.

First of all, I need to finish my Hobby Room / Man Cave.

A fancy-pants panorama of the Hobby Cave a couple of weeks ago.

A fancy-pants panorama of the Hobby Cave a couple of weeks ago.

And as it looks today (about twenty minutes ago actually), I managed to fit in an extra bookcase which now holds...

And as it looks today (about twenty minutes ago actually), I managed to fit in an extra bookcase which now holds…

...all my wargaming books.

…all my wargaming books 🙂

As you can see, it’s currently taking shape however it still requires some more light (the ceiling light doesn’t work, thanks previous owners!), a couple more chairs and a gaming table.  Unfortunately the pictures don’t really show how long the room is, it can easily take a 6’x4′ table with enough space to be comfortable.  Most pressingly however it requires to be tidy, that will be my first challenge and one that can be completed without spending any cash. Doing so will also allow me to start painting and building again, something I’ve not done since the middle of December. As for the lighting, chairs and gaming table, that will have to wait until after payday.

Next up are the current projects that need to be completed. Before I started packing up for the move I had the following on my desk.

  • Three push-fit Warriors of Chaos – this is part of my Warmonger Secret Santa gift and Warmonger decency means that I’ll be finishing these first. As it stands they’re basecoated so I think I’ll get them completely finished in about four hours.
  • A Finecast Fabius Bile – the basecoat is almost done but significant work is required. This model is going to be a labour of love as I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to use him in a game. I want to get this model done right; it’ll take as long as it takes.
  • A Khorne Berserker Rhino – this is really close to completion. All I really need do is make the stencil for the icon on the top hatch and tidy up some of the detail. I reckon I can get this done during a weekend.
  • A Forgefiend – this has been built and basecoated using the Maccrage Blue spray. While I don’t want to give it a Fabius-level of attention, it will be a centrepiece of any deployed army so I want it to look good. I think maybe a couple of weeks’ worth of evenings and a solid weekend or two.
  • An Imperial Bastion – basecoat is done and I’ve been adding detail while waiting for other things to dry. That pattern will continue until it’s done, whenever that is!
  • Five Mutated Chaos Marines – all are progressing nicely, their amour is done so I only need to do the mutations. Maybe a couple of evening’s worth of solid work.

I have many other projects on the go, too many. The list above is sufficient to give me some mental clarity; I don’t want to become overwhelmed into inaction again as such things happen too frequently to me. On the back burner right now are my Dark Eldar, Bretonnians, Dark Angels and Imperial Guard, all of whom have half-painted or half-built models requiring attention. I also have a full box of Imperial Sector sprues I’d like to play with sooner rather than later.

Right, onto the not-resolutions.

As you can see from that list, it’s exclusively Warhammer Fantasy and 40K. I’d like this to be the year I explore other game systems. In the late nineties I played a tiny bit of Battletech, I’d like to revisit this is possible however I don’t know how big the scene is in this part of the world so that’s the first thing I need to find out.

I’ve also heard good things about Infinity, given that 40K has more or less abandoned its skirmish routes this game does appeal to me. That said, it would be cheaper for me to dust off my Necromunda gang as my regular gaming group plays this regularly but I fancy something non-GW for a change.

I’d also like to finally take the plunge and get on the Kickstarter bandwagon. There are so many great things to back, the main reason for not doing so up to now is that my wife and I were saving for a house. Now that’s out of the way, and the fact that there are no kids on the horizon, means that I should have a bit more cash to play with.

This year I’d like to try out a few new painting techniques that I’ve been too scared to go near thus far. As such I’m going to make an effort to experiment with Edge Highlighting, Object Source Lighting, and Non-Metallic Metal. I’m also going to try to rely less on washes and glazes, but that might be a step too far!

Finally, I really want to make Ramblings a better, more professional site. I’ve no idea how, but I’ve been doing this for a bit over two years and I think it’s time for me to grow as a blogger and for the site to grow with me too. How’s that for vague?

That’s all for now. Thank you all for reading, commenting and generally supporting the blog, it really means a lot. Here’s to 2014!

Trenchmates – Wild West Exodus – A Review by Tim Chant

01/13/2014 1 comment

A new year and a new Trenchmates article by the ever-reliable Tim Chant.  Here Tim discusses his recent foray into Outlaw Miniatures’ Wild West Exodus.

WWEWild West Exodus Review

Crowdsourcing is a wonderful and dangerous thing. I can get all sorts of interesting, offbeat things (games, miniatures, scenery) offered up at often significant discounts. I can also spend a lot of money without really realising it, and then have to wait for a year or more for my investment to come in (not to mention getting in the bad books of work’s mailroom staff).

I feel confident in stating that Wild West Exodus, the 35mm SF/Steampunk/Western semi-skirmish game by Outlaw Miniatures, was worth the wait.

Wild West Exodus (which I’ll abbreviate to WWE) is set in the Wild West not long after the end of the American Civil War, but in a history that has been radically altered by the discovery (by the dreaded Dr Carpathian – more on him later) of a new energy source – RJ-1027. Without wanting to go into too much detail about the set up and spoiling the prodigious amount of excellent background in the rulebook, a number of factions now vie for dominance in the West using weaponry powered by this new element or other weird and wonderful things, while dark and ancient forces move in the background and the Great Spirit had reawakened to combat evil. There’s a little bit of all sorts of things in there (as a Veteran of the Weird West I couldn’t help but draw some comparison with Deadlands), but a lot of really good original stuff and a good use of twisted history.

Four of us backed a Kickstarter for this last year, picking up the rules, four of the factions and some bits and pieces of scenery. I plumped for the forces of the Union, led by the horribly scarred and driven General Grant and the late President Lincoln, to be pitted against the Outlaws (imagine if the James-Younger Gang got together with Billy the Kid and every other famous outlaw and then got their hands on ray guns…), Dr Carpathian’s wicked Enlightened and the Warrior Nation, which brings together the great Native American heroes with a distinctly spiritual edge. The other faction released so far is the Lawmen (the usual suspects including the Earps), and I gather that a number of good and bad factions are planned.

I’m going to talk about the physical product first, then the game play.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

The Miniatures

These chaps are 35mm, so stand a bit taller than a Space Marine miniature (I had considered dual-purposing them as Imperial Guard but the scale wouldn’t quite work). I’ll focus on the Union as they’re on the mantelpiece next to me.

The design blends classic styles of the period with steampunk/SF edges in the weapons and equipment – the Hired Hands (squaddies) are in the classic 19th Century uniform but with blaster rifles, rocket launchers, hip-fired Gatling guns and hoverbikes instead of horses. General Grant glares out from behind a metal mask while menacing enemy with a hand cannon and energy sabre, and Abe Lincoln swings an axe with a street howitzer built into the handle.

The miniatures look fantastic – I’m really looking forward to painting them and hope I do them justice. They’re single-pose designs, but the poses are dynamic and varied.

Most of the models came in a very familiar plastic and usually came in seven or eight main parts – torso to the knees and shoulder/elbow, head with collar, arms, weapons, and legs. The plastics are nice and clean, and although they took a little while to get used to once I’d worked out to put the heads on the right way round they came together well.

Most of the characters (as well as Grant and Lincoln I got Robert Pinkerton and Agent Lucinda Loveless as well as the Kickstarter exclusive Union Lady of the West) and the heavy support choice I added came in resin. Again, the designs are good and dynamic – Grant and the devastating Agent Loveless in particular. Abe has two potential poses – getting ready to split someone’s head like a log, or pointing the axe like a shotgun to use the… built in shotgun. I personally think that they were let down a little by the production – there was a lot of excess resin to be trimmed off, one or two weren’t easy to cut from the sprue without damaging them, and there are some joins which will need some modelling putty to smooth out. The Locust heavy support vehicle had so much extra resin I broke a nice blade trying to get it off, and will need to make with the putty to even out the attachment points for the skids. One of the other chaps reckons they’re as good if not better than Finecast, so I may just have been unlucky with mine. With all that said, though, they looked great after hours of gluing and cursing – I just hope Outlaw moves over to using plastic for everything.

Buying from new, the models aren’t particularly cheap nor are they exorbitant – a character model will clock in around £10 and a set of ten Hired Hands around £28. A faction starter box (three characters, plenty of Hired hands, light support and one heavy support vehicle) will set you back around £150. These are rough estimates based on current exchange rates. So far I haven’t been able to identify anywhere in the UK that sells them (Outlaw is based in Texas) so there’ll be postage to factor in. As an almost lifelong GW player, though, I’ve come to accept that ours is not a budget hobby and I think the miniatures are worth it, and it definitely helps that you don’t need a lot of models to have a fast, fun, well-balanced game – my first tester I put five models on the table.

The Scenery

We also got some scenery in the pledge – the inevitable mine carts, stacks of barrels etc – these were in resin, but much cleaner and in single pieces so no issues there. The buildings are definitely worth mentioning. These are laser cut HDF kits by Micro Art studios – we picked up the set of houses, the sheriff’s office (obviously) and saloon/hotel kit and have so far assembled the houses (including an outdoor convenience). Again, they took a little working out, but came together very logically, are solid builds and look great. We may be getting them ‘tarted up’ a bit, including turning the saloon into The Gem.

Rulebook and Accessories

The rulebook is a glossy, hardback affair which includes everything you need to know to play the game. The bulk of the book is world building done as a series of short stories/vignettes which introduce the world and why history diverged from our own, as well as giving some background on the factions and key characters. As a fluff/plot driven player I really like the fact that a lot of time and words were spent on the background. My only criticism would be that it needed a better proof read and maybe an index. If you’re not interested in the fluff you’re utterly soulless there are mini books with just the rules

The main book doesn’t include a lot about the individual factions. The miniatures come with cards that have everything you need to play them in a game – stats, weapons and special rules (I believe this is becoming quite common with indie games). A top tip that one of the chaps came up with is to laminate the cards – so far replacement cards haven’t been produced so it’s worth it to protect them from spillage/pets as well as helping with the game play (more on that later).

Personally, I’d like to see a bit more background on the characters. A nice touch, though is that Outlaw have started producing fairly short comics to accompany the game (the pledge came with the first three) that focus on the different characters and include extra scenarios, so I imagine they’ll continue the world building that way as well as through the novels.

Aside from that there’s a nifty multitemplate (different blast and flamer templates in one) and a set of counters, although we shifted to using poker chips for the Influence counters as there weren’t enough in the set.

THE GAME

To the guts of the matter. Three of us got together to test the system out (Union, Enlightened, Outlaws) – we fought Outlaw against Enlightened, Union against Outlaw and then a three-person scrap. I’ll reflect first on the composition of the forces.

Factions and Posses

Each side fields a posse/gang etc to an agreed cost. The game is set up to allow everything from a shoot-out with a handful of miniatures to a full-on war with vehicles and dozens of miniatures aside. Each posse is built around a Boss – you have to take one and can’t take more. Bosses can be backed by limited numbers of Underbosses and Sidekicks, any number of Hired Hands (ranged or close combat), and a handful or light and heavy support units.

By way of an example, for my first $500 game I fielded:

Boss – General Grant ($205)

Underboss – none

Sidekick – Lucinda Loveless ($100)

Hired Hands – Four long-range troops ($35/each)

Heavy Support – Gatling Gun ($50)

As you can see, it’s not a large force. The Union seem to be quite capable in the long-ranged department. The Hired Hands are good and the characters offer some good buffs. Grant, Lincoln and Loveless are good at short range and Grant in particular is devastating in hand to hand.

The different factions offer different styles of play. The Enlightened Hired Hands are essentially Frankenstein’s Monsters but with no free will and heaps of guns. They’re cheap, offer a high volume fire but low accuracy – most entertainingly, they explode if shot or if detonated by Dr Carpathian (and if you knock them over in hand to hand he can still chose to blow them up – so knock ’em down and move on in a hurry). The Sidekicks and Underbosses seem to be larger constructs with an array of heavy weapons. Carpathian himself buffs the constructs, is well-armoured against ranged attacks carried some devastating firepower. We’ve not seen it yet but Gustav Eiffel in his mechanical spider seems quite intimidating.

The Outlaws, to me, offer a more individualist style of play. The characters can do some serious harm in shooting (Billy the Kid in particular can turn into a whirlwind of cascading death, earning actions for each kill he makes while Jesse James can do some serious harm at range), wile their Hired Hands are particularly capable in close combat. I’m going to be interested to see how the Warrior Nation stacks up – they mix shapechangers and mystic power with salvaged weapons.

I like the set up of what you can and can’t take, but one thing I’d like to talk with my gaming group about and playtest would be to adjust the list depending on the size of battle – for instance not having to take a Boss for smaller battles but taking an Underboss instead, and alternatively upping the numbers for the largest battles.

A nice little extra is the selection of mercenaries who can take up slots as Underbosses and Sidekicks, bringing something a bit different to what your faction usually has (although some mercs won’t fight for certain factions). Outlaw do a nice range of mercs based on the crew of a certain sadly short-lived SF Western series.

Several of the characters can be taken by different Factions – one of the Earps, for instance, can be either Union or Lawmen.

The System

Hold on to your hats here – this is a d10 system (luckily, as White Wolf games get played here we have a bucket). We agreed that the game itself was a real pleasure to play – the system is simple, quick once we got the hang of it, and both players are involved all the way through. Without wanting to go into exhaustive detail, every model has a series of stats to test against (Marksmanship for shooting, Physical Ability for close combat and resistance etc) – some you aim to roll under, some over. Marksmanship in particular can be modified (range, cover etc).

Actions are defined by Action Points. Most models with have two, some three or even four. Every action has an associated cost, usually one, so the number of action points will determine how much any model can do (move and shoot, shoot twice, move shoot move if you have enough APs). The game is played by each player taking it in turns to activate a group of 1-3 models (in most circumstances), doing all of their actions and then passing to the other player. I found this particularly satisfying as I’m used to playing Marine against Guard and therefore spending a large amount of time being subjected to mass firepower resolved one after the other. This is a particularly good mechanic for multi-player battles.

The other particularly nice mechanic is Influence. Each posse will have an Influence pool which is generated by the particular characters. Influence is committed by a particular roll (multiple points can be spent) and is then used to get re-rolls if you’re not satisfied with the result. As committed Influence that isn’t spent is lost, it’s a bit of a gamble which adds an element of calculation to the game. As characters are killed off, their Influence contribution is lost to the pool. It can be a real battle changer, but you can also find yourself desperately short at critical moments.

Gameplay

On the whole, we found the rules really straightforward and once we learned them they made for a fast game. Pretty sure that when we’re fully comfortable with the rules a $500 battle could be done in a couple of hours, which would make a good afternoon game. There are a few rules that caused some confusion – the hand to hand system is a little more complex (they usually are) and the cover rules took us a little while to get right (I think we’ve got it right anyway!).

Having each model’s rules on a card in front saved a lot of time that would have been spent leafing through army books. The cards are also used to keep track of damage to each model (the ‘lifeblood’ track), and this is where the laminated cards came in handy as we are were to mark the dots of lifeblood off, confident of being able to clean the cards afterwards.

We gamed on a four-by four table which was just right for a smaller game and allowed us to close the range fast – given that a model could e moving up to 18 inches in an activation you can really get to grips quickly, and the way to put down character seems to be to get into hand to hand with them. I think a six by four will be necessary for larger fights and those using vehicles (we didn’t use vehicles or the optional rules for buildings in the book, to keep things simple).

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Conclusion

I have to say, I enjoyed this game enormously. There’s humour in some of the special rules and the situations we got into, and the simple rules meant there was limited frustration. Personally, I think the Factions are reasonably well balanced – my opponents seemed to find Agent Loveless quite terrifying, particularly for her cost, whereas I thought Carpathian was more than somewhat terrifying!

I think there are a few tweaks to be made to the system that we might consider for house rules, and I’m keen to see how this would work as a campaign using a Necromunda-style gang advancement. I shall look forward to future comics for updates, scenarios and backgrounds.

I’m certainly happy with the investment and will continue to build my Union force and keep an eye on what else is released with a view to a second faction to keep things interesting.

Thanks again to Tim for taking the time to write up this great sounding game.  For more information, head over to Outlaw Minatures’ website and remember, if you’d like to contribute an article you can find all the information you need here.

How to tell recast Forge World miniatures

01/10/2014 Leave a comment

MGM Painting

There are a ton of recast miniatures in circulation, and it seems that most people cannot tell the difference. There just isn’t a lot of information out there about how to tell the difference, so I thought it would be a good idea for me to post about a few things to look for if you suspect you may be dealing with recasts.

1. When purchasing new models on eBay, the models come from Russia or China. Although there certainly can be legitimate Forge World models currently located in these places that the current owner wants to liquidate, most of the time those will be used. These countries have different laws regarding intellectual property, copyright, and counterfeiting, so Forge Word/Games Workshop has been unable to shut these re-casters down.

2. The way the models attach to the sprue could be a clue. As an example, Forge World Chaos Dwarfs come…

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