Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sin City Dispatch #15: Asphyxious has a little head!

Hey everyone and welcome to the latest and greatest issue of the Dispatch!

In this issue, we will start things out with a little bit of a flashback in Incoming!!! as we look at the striders for the Cogs. That's right, back to my roots with some AT-43 though there is a little bit of Warmachine thrown in to keep things current as well. Next we will head to the Workbench as I try a little bit of proxy modification as well as a look at what I did to make the man of the hour get an ego boost. Also from the Workbench, we will take a look at a proxy that has actually turned into more of a conversion, and we aren't talking about Menoth here. So sit down and strap in because we are about to hit the ground running!

Incoming!!!
A Look at Upcoming Releases for AT-43 and Warmachine

Last year, the first pictures of the Cogs came out and though the sculpt of the minis was not bad, the paint job left a lot to be desired. Does anyone else remember the cybernetic construction crew of doom?

Since then, Rackham appeared to reconsider this incredibly bizarre paint scheme and went with a more traditional red for the regular troops while it looked like the leaders would be in black. Recently I found these images of what the Cog striders will look like and just had to share my thoughts.

The smaller strider honestly looks like something right off of a loading dock while the larger one seems to have some kind of a bizarre looking cape kind of thing going on. And they are orange. Grrrr!!! While I admit that I haven't played AT-43 in months now, it is really disappointing to see that this is the direction that Rackham decided to stagger off in. With the release of the Cogs, they really had a chance to create something different for the sci-fi genre but this is just a major disappointment in my opinion.

On the Warmachine front, the big news is the first pictures of the upcoming plastics! First out the door will be the Exemplar Bastions for the Protectorate of Menoth. Here is a picture of one next to a Temple Flamguard to give you an idea of the size.

As you can see, these guys are big! No idea what the are like in the game but the miniature looks pretty sweet, especially considering these will be PP's first real foray into the world of plasic minis (not counting their CMG Monsterpocalypse). I have seen some criticism of the price since these are currently listed as being $44.99 retail for five of them but when you compare to the other medium base mini boxed sets they really aren't that bad. The Trollblood Champions are the same price while the Khador Shocktroopers are $49.99 just for three!

Overall, I think that this will be a good move by Privateer since plastics are easier to work with from a modeling point of view and they have said that they should be able to avoid the price increases that have been plaguing the metal minis lately. Only time will tell, but I have to give credit to PP for breaking out of their heavy metal obsession to keep the game more affordable.

From the Workbench
The Lich Lord says... "I have a little head!",
The Mauler says... "Growl! err..."

This issue we will be looking at two different mini modifications that I have done for Warmachine and Hordes. The first of the two is an easy one but I just don't understand why I had to do it. I recently bought Lich Lord Asphysious for my Cryx army in Warmachine and the first thing that I notice is that his head is ridiculously small. Comparing it to a regular Mechanithrall, the Lich's head was about 2/3 the width! I instantly thought, "This just won't do!" and set to work to fix the problem. Taking the previously mentioned Mechanithrall, I was able to chop off all but the jaw bone of his skull and attach it to the Iron Lich's hood, while the Lich's original head went right onto the Mechnithrall. A nameless steam powered zombie can have a little head, but the Iron Lich? I don't think so.

The other project was a little bit more ambitious. I have some Trollblood minis but not enough to field a full 500 points worth. I wanted to bloster their ranks a little but as I am playing in the League with my Cryx, I decided to see what I could do with proxies instead. I already have Boomhowler and Company (giving me a good Scattergunner proxy) but I really wanted to field something to represent the Dire Troll Mauler. I could just use another heavy mini and call it good but then inspiration struck!

Before his days at Privateer Press, Matt Wilson worked on a sci-fi miniature game called Vor. One of the alien races, the Growlers, actually bear a striking resemblance to the Trolls and I happen to have two of Bull Growlers laying about. I showed them to the guys at Battlezone and I got the impression that they thought I was crazy. If you don't know what miniature I am talking about, here is a picture of one next to a Khador Juggernaut for scale.

As you can see, there are some similarities between the Troll and Growler but there are enough differences to tell the two apart. Still, basic size and build of the figure was pretty close IMO (not to mention the pose; just look at the cover of Hordes Primal), so I decided to convert one of them so that it resembles a Dire Troll a little bit more.

One of the big differences between the two is the row of spikes starting on the forehead of the Growler and running down its back. The one on the head is an easy fix; cut it off. A few seconds with a saw and off it comes. The ones on the back are a little more problematic. When you look at the picture of the Mauler, there is what looks like a spiky mane of hair that runs over its head but I am not sure how far down its back it runs. To make my life easier, I decided to just go ahead and take it right down it's back so that I could cover the spikes on the Growler. At first I had thought about trying to use epoxy to sculpt the hair over them but I quickly decided to just add the hair to it instead, one piece at a time. Crazy, yes, but I really like how it turned out.

The Mauler is also wearing a loincloth while you could say that the Growler is feeling a little bit more free. Some more putty work and BAM! Instant loincloth, complete with a rope tied around his waist.

Next, I took a look at the teeth. The Dire Troll has some very distictive tusks that jut out of his lower jaw while the Growler just has a mouth full of spiky teeth. I had thought about just lengthening a couple of the teeth but the Troll's teeth actually seem to flip down like tusks so I decided that it was time to break out the Dremel. I cut out two of his teeth, drilled a couple of holes where they had been and tried to insert a couple of brass rods to make a solid frame for the tusks to go onto. This didn't quite work out so I decided to just build them up using putty instead and I have to say that I like the result.

And there you have it! While there are still some definite differences, I think that overall this conversion is pretty close and it will definitely work as a stand in Mauler. I'll still be buying the real thing in the future but at least this way I can start giving this beastie a try instead of having to wait until I buy it. After all, you don't have to be afraid of proxying in friendly game. How do you think Privateer playtests their new rules in the first place?

The Parting Shot...

Well, that about wraps up another issue of the Dispatch. In our next issue, I will be taking a look at my latest army for Warmachine/Hordes, the Trollbloods! By then I should have a couple more games under my belt with them, so I figure that I might as well take a look at how they stack up compared to my Cyrx army. Man, talk about night and day... Until next time, may all of your dice come up Dragons!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sin City Dispatch #14: Posting to the power of D'oh!

Hey everybody and welcome to another long overdue issue of the Dispatch!

In this issue, we will start with what has thrown my schedule into such total disarray as we Look Behind the Curtain. Next, we'll head to the Workbench to look at more terrain for Warmachine, specifically a stone circle and watch tower. Finally, we will wrap things up The Parting Shot as we ponder one of the deep, dark questions of the Dispatch. So sit down and strap in, because we are about to hit the ground running!

A Look Behind the Curtain

As people might have noticed, my postings have been getting further and further apart. It has been a very crazy couple of months with my job changing my start time on a very regular basis, plus I have also been caught up with our rapidly growing local Warmachine/Hordes community. We have managed to go from two players to eight or so in just less than a month and now we are finishing up the first week of the 2009 Call to Arms League. This has had me especially busy since I volunteered to build terrain for the League. Here is a WIP pic of some of the stuff for the League.

Still more work to be done for the upcoming week but thankfully most it has either already been built or it is being represented by the wonderful world of cloth templates. You gotta love the green fabric forest!

As for the games themselves, we have modified the rules slightly to make it easier for the new players. Officially, League games start at 500 points and work their way up from there. This would leave a bunch of people hanging out in the wind since they are brand new to the game and what fun would that be? Instead, we are actually allowing 350 point and Warpack games so that everyone can participate. I really feel that this has been one of the big draws for people and has helped us quickly grow a fan base for the game which really makes sense. How much fun would it really be to jump into a game that everyone else already owns a massive army for? Instead people are getting a chance to learn the basics of the game and then start expanding from there which is always a better way to do things.

From the Workbench
Of Stone Circles and Wooden Watchtowers

For this installment of the Workbench, we are once again going to be taking a look at terrain. With the League going on and all, terrain has been in the forefront of my mind these days so I figure we might as well take a look at some of the pieces that I have been working on.

First up is an oldie but a goodie; a large circle of standing stones that I made using 1" blue foam.

I actually built this piece a couple of years ago after reading an article in No Quarter magazine about carving ruins into terrain pieces. The whole idea of creating a centerpiece for a scenario by doing this really hit home with me so I set to work making it. Once I had it assembled, I originally tried to paint it as a black stone to give it an evil and malevolent look but it just didn't quite work. I was also getting out of Warmachine at that time and decided to just set it aside for a while.

Flash forward to the present and I found this piece looking much the worse for wear in our garage and decided to give it a second life. After gluing the stones back onto the base, I repainted the whole thing with a heavy dry brush of medium grey paint and then lighter dry brush of light grey. Since it was already black, dry brushing was the best way to bring out the surface as well as the various etchings. I had originally glued some ballast down onto the piece as well to give it a worn look and this time I painted over these rough spots with some dark green and then highlighted with a lighter shade, giving the effect that moss had grown on this long abandoned edifice. Overall, I really like the effect and I definitely want to do something in the future using this as a centerpiece for a game.

The next piece is something that I am working on for the League. One of the scenarios calls for two 2" diameter watchtowers to be placed on the battlefield. At first I was not sure how to best create these towers. The simplest route would be take the cardboard from a toilet roll and just cut it down to size but I didn't really like how that would look. Given that the League is called "Retaliation of the Wild", it really seemed like these towers would probably be some kind of wooden construction instead of stone so I decided to change my approach. While the piece is supposed to be circular, I decided to make mine square instead just to make it a little easier to build. Next I broke out the materials that I was going to use.

Yes, that's right. Call me crazy but I decided to make my watchtowers out of wood. The larger pieces (which will become the legs for the tower) are 1/4" square while the smaller ones (used for detailing and added support) are 1/8" square. I actually bought these at Michael's in a random bag of basswood cuttings. Just be sure that you buy the one with the small bits in it as they also sell a bag with large blocks of basswood.

The next step is to cut out the base for the tower.

For this, I just used some spare foam core that I had lying around and cut out a 2 1/2" square piece. After I beveled the sides, I also marked off a 2" square on the foam core so that I could see right where the posts would be glued down.

Once this is done, it is time to cut the various pieces of wood to the lengths that you will need.

The 1/4" basswood is cut to a 4" length while the 1/8" basswood is cut so that you have four 2" pieces (for the sides of the tower) and eight 4 3/16" pieces (for the cross supports).

With the pieces cut it is time to start gluing. Using the hot glue gun, glue the four 1/4" pieces onto the foam core to form the supports for the tower.

Try to get these as close to perpendicular to the base as you can but don't worry about getting it perfect as the other pieces will help pull it all together.

Next you are going to attach the 2" pieces to the tops of the supports as shown here.

These pieces will pull the supports so that they are vertical and also mark the edge of the top of the tower.

This gives you the basic shape of the tower but it is not very stable which is why you add the cross supports. To do this, put a spot of hot glue in the corner on the base and another at the top of the opposite pole so that it looks like this.

Then you put a spot of glue on the opposite sides (top and bottom) so that you create an "X" like this.

You continue with this all the way around the tower so that it looks like the picture above. An important thing to note is that as you are gluing these pieces, the first one goes on the "outside" of the support while the next one goes on the "inside". Here is a picture to show you what I am talking about.

Once this is done, it is time to add the top of the platform. For mine, I just used some more of the basswood from the pack but it might be a good idea to glue some supports across the grain if you do this just to give it a little more strength.

Last but not least, I glued this piece onto the top of the tower and voila! A semi-instant wooden watchtower!

This is all well and good, but some of you might remember me saying something about it not being very stable. That was before all of the supports were added which help to make this whole piece much stronger. How strong? Well, I decided to do a little strength test to check it out.

That is a full 12oz glass bottle of Guinness sitting on top of the tower, making me think that it will be more than strong enough for you average gaming. Now it just needs to be finished up with some basing and painting, then it will be ready to roll.

That wraps up another installment of From the Workbench, but if you have any questions or comments I'd love to hear them! Feel free to drop me a line here on the blog or you can email me at sincitydispatch@gmail.com and I'll respond as soon as I can.

The Parting Shot...

So, what is this mysterious question that I was referring to? Why the question of what exactly happened to Dispatch #13 of course! Right now it is sitting here on Blogger in its draft form because I thought that I had already posted it when in fact I never finished it. Once I actually type up the missing article, I will be posting it as well but be warned: some of the information is from a Valentine's Day gaming event and I am not going to go back and change any references to time! So no, you will not have fallen through some gaming blog temporal anomaly, only victim to my refusal to re-type chunks of the blog to fit the real world's perception of "time", aka me being a lazy bastard. That's all for now, but until next time, may all of your dice come up Dragons!