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Trenchmates – Have you ever absolutely hated painting a miniature?

03/19/2016 Leave a comment

We’ve all been there.  In this article, regular contributor Tim Chant talks about a common problem the hobby presents.

Have you ever absolutely hated painting a miniature? So much so that you’ll only ever get round to finishing it because you absolutely have to for a tournament, and you take the ‘just about tabletop ready’ will do approach?

I have.

I’ve mentioned Wild West Exodus a few times (you may have noticed), and how much I like both the game and the miniatures. I’ve just finished painting the Union Hired Hands (five long range and five close combat) troops I got in the launch Kickstarter, and they’re great models.

I hated painting the buggers, though, and I have no idea why.

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They’re very detailed figures, with a profusion of straps and buckles to hold their armour in place, and well proportioned. Their weapons aren’t OTT in scale or steampunkiness. I think it was the detail that killed them for me – trying to do all of the individuals straps and associated buckles rather than just shrugging and painting over them, plus getting the skin tones and the facial hair right. I think I’ve got them to a reasonable standard to game with (at least when seen from afar) though I was a little disappointed that my attempt to make the tunics and trousers different shades of blue doesn’t seem to have come out. I started with the Vallejo Ultramarine Blue and then drybrushed layers, aiming for slightly lighter blue trousers. I didn’t even try to do the eyes, just shaded the eyesockets with a couple of coats of dark ink and hope no-one notices under the brims of their caps.

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I was a bit stop start with the project, and only really got round to finishing them because I’m going to be showing off the game in the near future and will have a ton more stuff to do before then (a mass of scenery and at least one other faction, possibly one of the news ones I’m waiting on from the second Kickstarter).

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The weird thing is, I’ve found the characters I’ve painted so far pretty (3 Union and one Outlaw) straightforward and an absolute pleasure to paint – I think I did a much better job with them as well. I’m sure a better painter would have handled the Line Troops more effectively than I did. But hey, they’re done and I can get on with other projects…

Thanks again to Tim, I feel my resistance to this game crumbling by the day 😉

Trenchmate contributions are always welcome, for more information just click here.

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Trenchmates – Wild West Exodus: Painting the Minis by Tim Chant

10/28/2015 Leave a comment

You’ve read it right, Trenchmates is back!  Regular contributor, opponent and partner in crime Tim Chant talks about how he’s getting on painting his WWX Union force.

2015-10-25 18.21.22

I’m now a decent way through painting my Union force for Wild West Exodus so thought this might be a good time to offer some reflections on the miniatures from a hobby rather than gaming perspective.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I really like the models. I have a few gripes (lack of posability, some problems with resin quality control which I hope will have been fixed for the main run) but overall they don’t diminish my favourable opinion. I’m writing from the perspective of having assembled the miniatures before painting (I suffered from the usual gamer malaise of throwing myself into assembly without really thinking it through), and also from the perspective of being about competent as a painter.

First up was Lucinda Loveless. There are maybe a few issues with how Agent Loveless is presented in terms of pose and style (I’ve seen far worse though), but she was fairly straightforward and fun to paint. I used the excellent Valejo Army Painter blue coloured primer as the bulk of the model was going to be blue and then built up the blue with a wash and then a series of drybrushes of increasingly lighter shade (I use GW paints after the initial colour primer). I’m particularly pleased with the effect of the hem of the dress and also with her armoured bodice (one of my favourite colour combos is a dark bronze drybrushed with brass). I’m less happy about the flesh tones and her eyes – faces is where I really fall down.

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I also used the blue primer for Robert Pinkerton and I think General Grant. I’ve mentioned using the primers before and will reflect more fully on them in another post, but I cannot overstate how much faster they make a paint job. Both were, again, very straightforward models, though Grant was complicated by my pre-assembly as the positioning of his arms meant getting at his armour carapace harder. The unifying colour of the army is blue, but I went for a darker shade for Grant and made his metal work fairly dull to reflect the grim nature of the character. I had a go at giving him a glowing power sword, with mixed results – mercifully he wears a mask so I didn’t have to worry about his face. I cranked this mini out in about three hours while taking part in an on-line RPG, one of my fastest paint jobs.

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Most recently, I’ve completed Mr Lincoln (there’s backstory here in that he’s faked his death so he can join Grant’s forces and try to keep the general under control). Outlaw have gone full on stove pipe, shovel beard and axe/shotgun combo. The obvious choice would have been to paint everything black (I actually undercoated using Chaos Black for this mini) but in the end I went with a dark blue coat and lighter blue trousers, and a dull iron carapace rather than brass. This makes him fit with the colour theme of the posse and also avoids the cliché. He comes with a choice of poses (holding the axe like a shotgun or over his head, ready to chop lumber or… other things). In the end I think I managed to assemble him somewhere between the two official poses, and was the only mini I painted before finishing assembly. I probably should have used some green stuff to smooth out some joins in the miniatures, but got a little over enthusiastic about getting him finished. His hair and beard was a bit of a struggle, and I gave up try to paint his eyes as they’re mostly shaded by his steampunk stovepipe hat so just shaded the sockets.

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A note on basing. Grant, Loveless and Pinkerton have fairly simple bases – I glued grit to the top of the base and then tried to achieve a sandy look. As Lincoln’s stance means he doesn’t fit onto a standard base, I created a scenic base for him using putty and a Basius mould so I appears he’s standing on a cellar trapdoor.

As these models are resin, I finished the paint job with a coat of varnish (GW Purity Seal) as the paint was rubbing off easily (I had to redo sections more than a few times as my handling while painting took chunks out of the paint).

I think because most of these miniatures are wearing long coats (or in Loveless’ case a dress) they were fairly quick, fun paint jobw. The Line Troops, basically the grunts of the unit, are a whole other issue. These are superbly detailed miniatures, and herein lies the rub. They have a profusion – one might say a plethora – of straps and buckles and details on armour and weapons which has started to do my pan in. I’m too much of a perfectionist just to paint these over, but not yet skilled enough to do a decent job of painting them. These miniatures have gone back into the box for now, though I will dig them out and finish them in due course. With them done and my Locust light support vehicle painted and assembled, I will be up to date with Union forces – hopefully in time for the delivery of the ‘Unfinished Business’ kickstarter which will give me another three factions to paint and a few more bits for the Union to boot…

Currently I’m working on Jesse James for the Outlaw gang. I don’t actually own this gang, my chum and regular opponent [NAME REDACTED BY ORDER OF THE HOLY INQUISITION] does, and I’ve volunteered to paint the gang (because he never will…). I’ve gone with black and brown for this colour scheme, and have upped my game slightly after taking excellent advice from a more experienced miniature painter on edge highlighting on his duster. This chap came apart as I was trying to prize him off his base o I could take a similar approach to Lincoln’s base, which has made the job a lot easier. With him done, I might go back to those blasted Line Troops…

Again, many thanks to Tim for his contribution, it’s getting harder for me not to pick up a small force for this game…

Trenchmate contributions are always welcome, for more information just click here.

Wild West Exodus : Unfinished Business – Final Three Days

03/28/2015 Leave a comment

WWX Logo

Outlaw Studios are currently running a Kickstarter to produce the final four WWX factions, The Confederate Rebellion, Dark Nation, Golden Army and Watchers.  You can view more details and pledge by visiting their Kickstarter page here.

L-R: Confederate Rebellion, Dark Nation, Golden Army & Watchers Factions

L-R: Confederate Rebellion, Dark Nation, Golden Army & Watchers Factions

Why should you pledge?

At time of writing, $138,289 has been pledged, more that matching their $65,000 target so everything should be fine, right?  Well it turns out that crowdfunding trolling is a thing.  Some people seem to get their jollies pledging then withdrawing their support the next day and there is evidence that this is happening with this project.  There has been talk on some forums that the owner of Outlaw Miniatures can be somewhat unpleasant, not having seen evidence for or against this it’s not my place to comment on these, but even if it’s true then just don’t buy from them, don’t deliberately jeopardise a project that a lot of people really want to make happen.

As such, even though I don’t have the time or resources to commit to another game, I am going to pledge $1 in support because these trolls can’t be allowed to speak for the whole community.  I strongly urge others to do the same.

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).

WEE1

WEE2

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.