Saturday, December 25, 2010

Looking Back While Moving Forward

Hello everyone and welcome to a retrospectively foresightful Dispatch!

First and foremost, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I hope that your holiday season is full of good friends and great times!

With one year drawing to a close and another beginning, I thought I would take a look at the year past and share some of the things that I'm planning for the Dispatch in the coming months.

The beginning of this year was a desolate wasteland in gaming for me. Changes at work basically made it impossible for me to get any gaming in for months, but now the drought is over! More changes at work have freed me up for gaming again and I'm already taking advantage of it. Right now the focus of my gaming group is on Monsterpocalypse but there are a few other games that I want to bring to the table and I'll be sure to write about them here. That means more battle reports, possibly some game reviews, and more.

In addition to more gaming in the new year, I am also going to make a few changes to the blog. I am going to update and expand some of the older Audio Noise segments and I also want to take a closer look at gaming here in Sin City. There are a few pretty good gaming stores around town not to mention several conventions and games days throughout the year but most of that is hidden behind the glitz of the Strip. Let me tell you, there is definitely more to gaming in Vegas than what you find in the casinos.

I'm also going to put up running totals for the year of minis bought and painted, terrain made, and games played, an idea that I'm taking from another blog, Mik's Minis (if you haven't heard of it, check it out!). Personally I really like this idea as I think it will help keep the gaming and painting blahs away, not to mention I'm interested in seeing what my numbers are like. A little silly? Perhaps, but anything that motivates you in the hobby is a good thing in my book.

That's about all for now so I'm going to get going and enjoy my Christmas. Merry Christmas to all of you and I'll see you in the New Year! Until next time...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bring Out Yer Dead! Bring Out Yer Dead!

Hello everyone and welcome to a very grave installment of the Dispatch.

For this one, we are going to look at a graveyard and someone that might just call it home. So without further ado, let's get to it but make sure that you're quiet. After all, you don't want to wake the dead, right?

I Can Really Dig This Place
Another Malifaux Terrain Project

Another piece of special terrain that I wanted to make for Torments Reach is the graveyard. After all, you can't have a western town without a graveyard, right? In the Malifaux rulebook, they define a graveyard as a piece of terrain covering at least 3"x3". For mine, I decided to go a little larger as it is supposed to be a piece that models can interact with so there's no point in making it too small IMO. So first things first, we need a base. A few quick (and noisy) cuts with my handy Skil saw and voila! Instant MDF base!

Next comes adding a little bit of depth to the graves. It you think of most movies, they always show graves as these raised up section of ground by the marker. Makes sense if you think about it as they did stick something in the hole that would displace some of the dirt. To create a similar effect with my graveyard I grabbed some corrugated cardboard, cut it into roughly man-sized rectangles, and hot glued them onto my MDF base.

Next came the grave markers. There are a number of different ways to do this. There are companies out there that make resin or metal tombstones, not to mention the plaster casts that you can get from Hirst Arts. All of these are well and good but there's two problems that I have with them. Number 1: I don't own any of them already. Number 2: I'm cheap. Instead I decided to make my own markers out of some basswood that I had floating around.

In all honesty, I also prefer how this method looks compared to the other options. If you think about it, I am trying to make a frontier town. Why would they spend the time and expense to ship in stone grave markers? Save your money for the living, the dead won't mind.

Now that you have the markers, it's time to attach them. Liberal amounts of hot glue was the route that I choose so that I wouldn't have to worry about any of them popping off in the middle of a game.

With those little details added, its time to start making it look like terrain. Dump on the glue, pour on the sand, and come back tomorrow!

Once the glue is dry, paint it up with some brown paint, dry brush it with a lighter shade, and add some flock or static grass (whichever suits your fancy). And there you have it!

Not bad for a first attempt at making a graveyard in my opinion, though I think I'll do things a little different for the second one (Remember the first pic? After all, you can't have enough graveyards!). With this one I think that the graves and the pile of dirt are too angular so I'll have to see what I can do to fix that but we'll look at that another time.

Honey, I Thought You Said We Were Having Goulash For Dinner!
Taking A Closer Look At Mantic Games Ghoul Miniatures

For those of you who might not have heard of them, Mantic Games is a fairly new miniature company from England that makes plastic fantasy figures. Basically, think along similar lines to that other mini company across the pond but a lot less expensive. Take one of the most versatile and popular minis you can find out there nowadays, the zombie. The other company charges $35 for twenty multi-part plastic models while Mantic give you thirty for the same price. This is all well and good but just what do these minis look like? For that much less it seems like they would probably take a hit in the quality department. I've always wanted to take a look at them "in the flesh" but never had the chance until I found a promo on the Mantic website.

"Sign up for the Mantic newsletter and an English online store newsletter and receive a sprue of two ghouls for free." That sounds like a heck of a good price to me so I signed up... and then never heard anything. Months went by but I never looked into what had happened. Personally, I figured that there must have been some loophole that I fell into for being international. No worries either way really.

Then I received this package in the mail in the beginning of November. The crazy thing is check out the date that it was shipped!

Six and a half months later and they actually arrive. Talk about crazy! Not that I'm complaining about getting free stuff, it just cracks me up that it took that long. So what do these things actually look like...

As you can see on the sprue, there are two different bodies that you can mix and match the torsos and legs, plus several heads and hand options. Some variety like that is always a plus in my book as it means that you can make a whole unit and not have them looking like gingerbread men straight out of the cookie cutter. The heads, bodies, and legs are all attached with recesses instead of a flat join which I like as well. It seems like this gives a slightly stronger connection over a flat seem. The hands are a different story though. To swap out for the knife or cleaver hand, you need to cut off the current hand and stick the new on onto the flat stump that is left behind. Personally this makes me wonder about durability especially because the proportions on these figures seem to be much closer to realistic instead of the usual heroic. Then again, if you get a even join there you shouldn't have too much trouble as long as you're not throwing the things around between games.

The only other concern for me was the size. At first glance, these minis seem to be a little on the small side as you can see here.

The thing to remember is that these guys are seriously hunched over like they are running forward, which you can definitely see when you turn them to the side.

If he were actually standing up straight he'd probably be close to Sonnia in height which is saying something as Wyrd minis tend to be larger than the norm.

Overall, I have to say that I'm really impressed by Mantic. Not only is detail very crisp but there was almost nothing for me to clean up before I started gluing these guys together. It's worth keeping in mind that the proportions on these figures is more realistic than you normally find but that doesn't strike me as a bad thing, just something to be aware of. They are also continually expanding on their current lines and adding more as well. Currently Mantic produces undead, elves, and dwarves and there are more in the works even now so there's almost something for everyone out there. Combine all of this with their high quality and exceptionally affordable price point and you definitely have a winning combination. If you are looking to make a fantasy army, you should definitely check them out.

Parting Shot...

And there's another one in the books! Thanks for checking out the blog and as always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Plus you can now follow the Dispatch on Facebook by clicking on the like button to the right. Until next time...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Can't See The Forest For The Trees

Hello and welcome to a craft issue of the Dispatch!

After looking at some of the older posts that I'd started and never completed, I found this one about... wait for it... trees! Yes, that's right. The most basic of all terrain pieces, the forest. You find them everywhere but making a good one can be a real pain in the butt. I found an extremely cheap, effective, and not too shabby looking alternative so without further ado, let's head for the trees!

From The Workbench
Looking for the Forest with the Trees

One of the most common pieces of terrain that you see in the real world is also one of the most troublesome to recreate in a game. When you build a forest terrain piece, one of the hardest things is making sure that you can still maneuver miniatures around the trees which not always the easiest thing to do. In fact, I think that one of the more common ways to represent forests is to just use some felt on the table. A quick and easy solution to the problem but visually it is kind of lackluster. Having played several games on some pretty barren tables back when we were getting Warmachine started at Battlezone Comics back in the beginning of 2009, I decided to tackle the forest problem to see if I could find a quick and inexpensive solution to the problem. The first thing I did was hit the craft store.

All of the Michael's store have a section of the store dedicated to fake plants and flowers, and this was where I went to see what I could find. The big problem with this is of course the scale. The plants at Michael's are life size while 28mm mini games are not (thank God 'cause that would make painting them a real pain!). After digging around the greenery, I managed to find these small plants in one of the aisles.

The leaves are out of scale with the minis but small enough that it looked like it would work. The stem was also kind of thin compared to what you would expect to see in the "real world" but since I wanted to make sure that there was room to maneuver, it seemed like this might work out nicely. Now I had a tree, so now it was time to find a base.

I had thought about cutting some MDF into templates but I actually had a quicker and cheaper solution laying around; CDs. Back in the day, companies like AOL used to send out CDs on a what seemed like a monthly if not weekly basis. While this doesn't happen nowadays, it is still easy to get a hold of these for a dirt cheap price making them a quick and easy solution. The problem with them can be getting things to stick to that shiny, smooth plastic surface. The solution that I decided to use was sandpaper to rough things up a bit. Once this was done, it is time to get the "tree" ready to be "planted".

Using a pair of wire cutters, I cut up the length of the stem of the plant so that you split it in half. Rotate the plant and then cut the stem in half again. This will split the base of the so that there are four separate pieces that you can fold out as you can see below.

Once this is done, it is time to break out the hot glue gun so that you can attach the plant to the CD. Once it is nice and hot, apply a liberal amount of glue around the opening on the CD and stick the plant into this glue. Be careful of any glue that comes through the hole; you don't want to burn yourself or accidentally glue your forest to the dining room table! Give this a minute or so to set and then apply some more glue over the any part of the split stem that is still exposed. This will make the bond that much stronger and also gives the appearance of roots.

Once the glue has cooled, it is time to glue some sand to the base. Cover the top of the CD with white glue and cover it with a liberal layer of sand. Gently shake off any excess and then set it aside to dry overnight.

Once the sand is dry, it's time to get to the painting. Give it a coat of brown and then hit it with a dry brush with a lighter shade of brown. Let this dry and then finish it off with some static grass or flock, whichever suits your fancy. I also like to put some felt on the underside of the CD so that it doesn't slide around too easy during the game. Nothing worse than having your forests start to float away when you're trying to hide in them.

And there you have it! Nowadays there are a lot of other options for forests out there (including the very nice looking Citadel Wood produced by Games Workshop) but I think that it's hard to beat this one for the price. The CD can be any old CD or DVD that you have lying around (and don't plan on using again obviously) while the hot glue gun, paint, sand, and flock I already had around the house. The only thing that I actually needed to go out and buy were the plants themselves which cost me less then $2 a piece. Now that's what I call gaming on the cheap!

The Parting Shot...

That's it for now. Thanks for checking out the blog and as always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Plus you can now follow the Dispatch on Facebook by clicking on the like button to the right. Until next time...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Audio Noise: Swinging For The Fences

Hello everyone and welcome to another swinging installment of the Dispatch!

For this issue we are heading back to the Audio Noise as we take a swing at hitting on the high points of another podcast. Who could it be this time? None other than...

Swing And A Miss

Focus: Actual play sessions for various systems along with a few discussion episodes as well.
Audio Quality: three out of five gamers
Content Quality: three swings and a half swings and less than a couple of misses
Average Length: Averages out to about two and a half hours
Language: No more than you'd expect from your typical group of gamers.

The guys at Swing And A Miss started out with the goal of diving into the broader world of RPGs with recorded one shots so they could share their experiences with the world. Oddly enough, after stating this they posted several episodes that featured one or two sessions from more established campaigns that they were involved in. Not a bad thing but a little inconsistent and a slightly disappointing. Some of these early games sounded really interesting but you only get a glimpse at the adventure which in a few cases leaves you wanting more.

Since those early days, they have really focused back onto their original goal and gone back to one shots with new systems. In addition, they also had put out a few discussion episodes dealing with various things you might run into around the table but it has been a long time since they have done any more of those.

They have also not been the more prolific of podcasts for a while now. Averaging about one new episode every two months shortly after they started, there are others that are much more regular out there.

Even with these things going against them, I still think that it is an interesting listen. Some of the sessions are set in very different places then you normally find (like Shadowrun in the new south for example) or feature some of the less common systems (such as 3:16 and Grimm).

I would also recommend that anyone looking to try running a game for the first time should take a listen to the most recent episode (the Nemesis actual play posted on November 23rd) as it features one of the hosts trying to practice for a con game. It is a very rough session as the game runs into a number of problems but I think it could also very educational for new GMs as you get to see several of the pitfalls you could run into during you first few games.

All and all, while Swing And A Miss might not be the best thing since sliced bread but I definitely think it is worth them a listen. It's always good to hear someone else takes on a system.

The Parting Shot

Well, that wraps up another installment of Audio Noise! Thanks for checking out the blog and as always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Plus you can now follow the Dispatch on Facebook by clicking on the like button to the right. Until next time...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!!!

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to take a quick moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Eat some turkey, pass the stuffing, and take a nap 'cause that tryptophan will kick your butt!

There also probably won't be an installment this Saturday due to a lacking in the camera department. Whoopsy! Things will be back on track next week with a new Audio Noise podcast review. Which podcast? Well, you'll have to come back to find out! Can't give away all my secrets.

And the Dispatch is now Facebook as well! Hit the link on the right, click on the like, and you can stay posted about what's happening with the Dispatch.

That's all for now but until next time, eat well and be safe everyone.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Showdown In Smashville

Hello everyone and welcome to a monstrous edition of the Dispatch!

For this installment, we are going to dive into a little bit of kaiju madness! What is this madness I speak of? Read on and find out!

Putting The Monster Into The 'Pocalypse
Taking A Closer Look At Monsterpocalypse

Like a lot of people, I grew up on watching kaiju battle it out on a Saturday afternoon. Godzilla vs Mothra. Godzilla vs King Kong. Godzilla vs... well, pretty much anyone they could dream up! Sure they were cheesy and silly but damn if they weren't fun to watch!

Fast forward to 2008 and Privateer Press, makers of Warmachine and Hordes, release their own pre-painted kaiju miniature game, Monsterpocalype! A giant monster miniature game?!?!? Have I died and gone to heavan? That's aweso... wait... what do you mean it's collectible. Seriously, are you kidding me? Well, so much for that then...

Yeah, that pretty much summed up my feelings about Monsterpocalypse. Tons of potential thrown out the window by making it a collectible game. Sure, you could scour over eBay and online stores, digging threw their singles collections in the hopes of being able to put together an army but even then you probably wouldn't be able to find what you want.

Fast forward again to... well, right now actually. My friend Pat had been singing the praises of Monpoc for a while and I finally decided to give it a try. He has a couple of armies already so no skin off my nose, right? Let me tell you, I'm glad I did.

Dice management is the name of the game in Monpoc. Want to spawn a unit? You need to spend and action die. Move a unit? That will be one more die please. Oh, and now you want to attack as well? Well aren't we feeling ambitious! That will cost you... well, however many die you want to roll. The interesting twist to this is that when you "spend" these action dice, you are actually transferring them over to your monster. This creates an interesting dynamic between the two aspects of the game as you move the dice from one side to the other which can get even more interesting as you get further into the game. The enemy monster is getting close to your own. Do you have enough dice on your monster to take the battle to them or did you move them all over to your units last turn? What about you opponent? Is he holding some dice on his monster or will he be forced to activate his units instead? All of this adds to the game play in Monpoc as you try to out maneuver and out guess your opponents next action.

This might be easy to do if all the units had identical stats but that is definitely not the case here! All of the units basic stats and special rules are clearly marked on the base so you can tell at a glance what a unit can and can't do. It does take a little bit to get used to what all the different icon mean, but once you get the hang of it I can see the game moving along at a pretty good clip.

So the mechanics seem pretty solid and the game play is pretty smooth, but what about the collectible aspect? Well, Privateer finally took steps to address this by releasing a new two player starter set. Unlike their previous offerings which included a random building, monster, and units potentially from all six factions, this new starter comes with six buildings, two monsters, and thirteen units for each of the factions, giving you a very solid foundation to build on right off the bat. Yes, the two factions that are in the box are still random but at least now you will be starting with an army for that faction instead of just a unit or two. Definitely a plus in my book.

And that is Monsterpocalypse! If you haven't checked it out, I definitely recommend giving it a shot. Fun and fast paced, I think this is a good addition to the gaming library of anyone that loves the idea of two giant monsters throwing it down in a city near you. Yes, it's still a collectible game but at least the new two player starter makes the game that much more accessible.

The Parting Shot

And that wraps up another issue of the Dispatch. If you feel like checking out Monsterpocalypse, either pick up the two player starter from your FLGS or see if they have a press ganger that can demo it for you. Normally I would not recommend a CMG but in this I case I gotta make an exception as I think this is definitely a game worth looking into.

As always, thanks for checking out the blog and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can drop me an email at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

From A Howl To A Whisper

Hey everyone and welcome to a conclusive edition of the Dispatch!

In this issue, we are going to wrap up our Song of Blades and Heroes campaign. The Vahgr have decided that the D'Wagurr have defiled their forest for long enough! Will they succeed in closing the D'Wagurr entrance to the Dark Thorn or will the subterranean menace go unchecked? After that, we'll take a quick look at a system that I plan on using for future campaigns to add a little depth to the whole experiece. Intrigued? Then read on!

Cacophony To Silence
A Song of Blades and Heroes Battle Report

After the last fierce battle, the Vahgr were finally able to track down the entrance that the D'Wagurr were using to enter the Dark Thorn. Determined to end the threat to their home, they summon one of the guardians of the Thorn and march forward to seal the D'Wagurr below. Meanwhile, the D'Wagurr have driven more creatures from below to help them secure their gateway to the surface world.

The game opened with the Vaghr arrayed along the left side of the board while the D'Wagurr were clustered around their tunnel opening.

The D'Wagurr won first activation and launched themselves toward the Vaghrr. With the two overseers in the warband, most of them began the game with a quality of 2+ for activation along with the ability to use group activations to really get their little hoard moving. All of the models were able to activate in the turn with one of the minion groups launching itself virtually to the other side of the table.

The Vaghrr responded by moving forward most of their troops though the Guardian, one of the Wardens, and the Hunter kept their positions for the first turn.

The forward group of D'Wagurr minions were able to knock down the guardian that they were clustered around but fell short of getting in the killing blow.

Meanwhile, the brute charged forward and was able to beat down one of the Vaghr warriors with little difficulty.

The victory was short-lived though as the bladeweaver was able to move up and dispatch the brute with relative ease while the rest of the warband looked on.

The D'Wagurr responded by smashing one of the Dark Thorn wardens and attempting to attack another of the Vaghrr warriors, though they proved to be slightly less effective this time.

The Vaghr are able to make the most of the situation though as they eliminated one of the minions and more importantly they managed to surround one of the two overseers.

While the D'Wagurr were able to make the most of the situation by taking down on of the remaining warriors with their Deep Star spider swarm, the situation with the overseer proved to be too much.

In fact once one of the overseers was killed, it was basically over for the D'Wagurr. The death of the first overseer resulted resulted in a morale check that lead to the death of the second overseer. Finally, this was followed up by a final morale roll as over half of the warband had died or fled. With only a spider swarm and a lone minion left on the table, it was effectively game over for the D'Wagurr.

The Dark Thorn guardian and two wardens were able to move forward and seal the tunnels, ending the D'Wagurr threat to the Dark Thorn... at least for now.

The Symphony Of Howls
Wrapping Up The Dark Thorn Campaign

So this battle report wraps up my Song of Blades and Heroes mini campaign. Overall, I really like the game system. It moves quite quickly (at least when you actually have the stats balanced as I learned early on...) and it is very easy to learn. There is also a simple campaign system that is included in the basic rules that I didn't use but I can see how to apply them in the future with a few tweaks that would make things more interesting in my opinion.

In the basic system, both sides start out with a certain size warband. You play through one of the scenarios and once you are done the winner can try to recover any minis that were killed in the fight (in the hopes of gaining experience) and both sides can replace any lost models (to represent word of your exploits attracting new warriors). This is all well and good but I prefer more of an attrition campaign like the one that I had started with Matt for Warmachine/Hordes.

For those of you that don't remember how that had been laid out, you start with a total force that you can draw on throughout the entire campaign. For each mission, you can choose up to a set number of points from the total force that you have available. The important thing is that you can choose up to the point limit which gives you some leeway in force composition. Maybe you don't feel like risking too many troops for this battle so you go way under the limit. Maybe you feel this mission is crucial and max it out. The choice is yours! This decision can win or loss you the battle before the dice are even rolled but there are more long term implications as well.

After the scenario is over the winner can try to recover any casualties and then both sides can recruit new troops. Just how many troops depends on how many points you committed to the battle in the first place and also whether you won or lost. The winner can recruit up to the full value of points they used while the loser can only recruit up to half the value of the points they used. As tales of your victories spread across the land, warriors flock to your banner seeking their own share of the fortunes of war. Or if you were not quite so fortunate then you are forced to recruit whoever you can get your hands on, whether they like it or not!

It is good to have some kind of a flow for the campaign in mind. For example, in the Dark Thorn campaign I wanted to recount the first encounters between the Vaghr and the D'Wagurr. I started out with a small scenario to represent two patrols happening upon one another, which built into a larger battle as the two forces took up arms against one another. This then lead up to the final battle with the Vaghr seeking to drive the D'Wagurr back and seal their tunnel into the Dark Thorn. This is a very basic concept but definitely adds to the whole experience. Without this story, it would just be little battle, medium battle, big battle. Now doesn't that sound exciting? *yawn,,,* By putting even some basic story elements onto this rudimentary framework, the whole campaign takes on a new depth and becomes that much more interesting.

All of this can also act as inspiration for the hobby aspect of the game as well as you might want to built new terrain pieces or paint up special models to fit into the campaign. In the case of this campaign, I didn't have any large forest terrain pieces so it gave me some motivation to make some, not to mention building the tunnel entrance itself for the final battle. Of course none of that was necessary. I could have just throw some felt down for trees and plopped a spare base on the board for the tunnel entrance but that just doesn't feel right to me. If I'm going to do something like this, I'd rather take the time to go all the way with it as I think it makes the whole experience that much better.

The Parting Shot...

And that wraps up another issue of the Dispatch. Hopefully you've enjoyed our look at Song of Blades and Heroes and if you feel like checking it out yourself, you can find it on the Ganesha Games homepage. They also have several other genres based on the same core system used in Song of Blade and Heroes so be sure to take a look around at what they have to offer.

As always, thanks for checking out the blog and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Audio Noise: Trapped Between Wrong And Right

Hey everyone and welcome to a Trap-tastic issue of Audio Noise!

For this installment, we are going to look at another podcast that has gone the way of the fade but it is definitely still worth giving a listen to. Well, as long as you're not looking for some kind of deep intellectual revelations. They are a little short on those but there is lots of rape and pee. That's right, I'm talking about...

Focus: Various aspects of role-playing games with a healthy dose of insanity thrown in as well.
Audio Quality: four out of five golden mics
Content Quality: four out of five laugh out loud moments with a little less for the rest
Average Length: About an hour
Language: They have a knack for being offensive every episode. Not because they try, it just kinda happens.

The Trapcast. Wow. When I read their first review on iTunes, I almost didn't even bother going on. Then I read the next one, and the next one... After I stopped laughing, I knew I had to give them a try.

Starting out as strictly Dungeons and Dragons players, the whole run of the 'cast follows them branching out into newer games, be they indie or other mainstream titles. This gives them a really interesting perspective as they are really seeing these things for the first time.

Then there is the pee.

Their motto is "The perfect blend of random idiocy and RPG podcasting" and do they live up to it in spades! The RPG topics can definitely be an interesting listen but the pure madness of the rest of their antics really keeps you coming back for more. So much so that I've actually listened to the entire series twice and still had laugh out loud moments.

So if you're looking for a little bit of madness, stirred up with a splash of pee, and handful of RPG goodness... well, then the Trapcast is for you. Just look out for George and his burlap sack, okay?

The Parting Shot

And that wraps up another installment of Audio Noise! Thanks for checking out the blog and as always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Time Ta Round Up The Posse An' Do Us A Little Huntin'!

Hey everyone and welcome to a proxious edition of the Dispatch!

For this issue we are going to head to the Workbench to take a look at the Torments Reach Irregulars, members of the Guild that have been stationed at the frontier town to help any Guild officers that might be passing through. Then we are going to look at another piece of special Malifaux terrain that is definitely... unique. But enough chatter! Let's take a closer look at the law in these here parts.

The Workbench
The Torments Reach Irregulars

For the Irregulars I've gone with just a bunch of western style minis that I happened to have on hand. This gives them a more unique feel and it also means that I can expand my crew without duplicating the minis. Plus I already own them which is always a bonus in my book.

Jeremiah Smythe
Convict Gunslinger

Jeremiah appeared in Torments Reach a few months ago and quickly established a fearsome reputation for himself. No one knows anything about his background but the local Guild forces are always willing to accept his help without question. After all, it's better to have a man like Jeremiah standing next to you instead of across from you.

Jeremiah is the only mini of the three that I've done any conversion work on. I used a Warmachine pistol wraith mini that I owned, attempted to add a nose and some eyes to his head (had to make him look a little less skeletal...) and topped him off with a cowboy hat. Personally, I'm really happy with the hat though the face didn't turn out to well. Then again, he is wearing a hat so the brim goes a long way to covering his eyes.

Kyle Swift and Jacob Weaver
Guild guardsmen

Living on the frontier in the real world is dangerous enough. Doing it in Malifaux is like having a death wish. Even with all the dangers that they have to face, Jacob and Kyle wouldn't have it any other way. Fast friends for years, the two law men would march to the gates of Hell itself for a little adventure. Sure they'll slow down sometime but everyone has to die sometime, right?

Both of these miniatures are from the Black Scorpion Tombstone line of minis. These are some of the best looking historical western minis that I've seen so I'm glad I was able to work them into the Irregulars. As an added plus they are even the right scale, coming in at 32mm tall. The only thing that they are lacking is swords but this is a minor point in my book, especially since leaving them as is means no conversion work. Ya gotta love just being able to paint it and get it onto the board.

Since these miniatures are different from the regular Malifaux minis, I really wanted to do something to tie them visually in with the Witch Hunter crew. Kyle and Jacob are both wearing the familiar green jackets of the Guild. Seems like a minor thing but visually it's enough to make the connection. Then there is Jeremiah. Being a mercenary with a mysterious background I wanted to make him look the part so I knew it was time to break out the black paint! Once he was painted up as your stereotypical "man in black", I really didn't like how he looked. After thinking about it a little bit, I decided that it would be better to make the outside of his coat more of a traditional leather duster and I also picked out the collar, cuffs, and the little mini cape thingee with some Thornwood green. This looks a lot better and really gives him more of a connection the rest of the crew so it was a win-win all around in my book.

And there you have the Torments Reach Irregulars! This takes the crew up to a total of 30 soulstones, making it is a much more dynamic crew. This also means that its time to get them onto the table so expect a Malifaux battle report in the near future!

My, Isn't That Just... Mysterious
A Malifaux Terrain Project

That's right, more Malifaux terrain! For this project, we are going to look at some mysterious effigies to see what secrets they may hold. I was really at a loss for how to best portray these pieces. According to Websters, an effigy is described as a crude representation or image that is usually done as a sculpture, typically done to ridicule the subject. I must admit that I don't know how someone native to Malifaux would ridicule someone so I'm just going to focus on the crude sculpture aspect to keep things simple. And as luck would have it, I had the perfect pieces to use just sitting on a shelf!

These thingees were part of a blind pack that I bought from either a Target or a Wal-Mart. Why buy something that looks so completely godawful, you ask? I'm thinking that they must have had a couple pictures of some interesting looking ones on the bag though these were definitely not them. Up until now, I had just left them sitting on a shelf but this is a good chance to put them to use.

The first step is to stick them on bases, something that is easily done with some epoxy and a couple of spare 30mm bases. Then it's time to prime and paint and detail, oh my!

After a quick coat of dupli color sandable black primer (if you don't use this stuff, you should), it is time to start painting. Actually, strike that. First, I'm going to add a little bit of detailing. I know what you're thinking, why do this after I primed it? To be honest, I'm not sure how well it would stick to the slick plastic so I thought I'd try the primed surface instead. For this, I'm just adding some sand to a few spots on the figure. Once these are dry, then it's time to start painting!

I am just going to go for some kind of stone material, so grey it is. A quick base coat followed by some highlighting then then its time to go back over the sand. Odd as it might sound, this was not added to give it a stony texture. Instead, I am going to hit these with some shade of green to create the look of moss on the sculptures.

And there you have the mysterious effigies of Torments Reach! Quick and easy to make, cheap to buy and unique in their appearance. All good things in my book.

The Parting Shot

Well, that about does it for another issue of the Dispatch. As always, thanks for checking out the blog and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Just Hanging Around In The Forest

Hello and welcome to an eco-friendly issue of the Dispatch!

For this issue, we are going green as we look at the next battle in the Dark Thorn. Having encountered the D'Wagurr (aka the Dwellers... finally came up with a name for them!), the Vahgr (aka the Wolfen... didn't feel right just renaming one of them) move to eliminate these foul creatures from the Thorn by calling on the forest to assist them. As the trees themselves rise to the the challenge, the D'Wagurr minions are driven forth from their caverns by one of their cruel overseers and a vicious brute! Who will carry the day as the Vahgr fight to protect their home? Then we'll be taking a look at another terrain project for Malifaux, along with a quick stop at the Roaming Monkey to see how it is shaping up as well. Nope, I still haven't played a game yet but the setting it just too rich and inviting to let that stop me from making some terrain for it! But enough talk. Let's do this thing!

From Whispers To Howls Of Defiance
A Song of Blades and Heroes Battle Report

After killing the D'Wagurr minions, the two hunters took a couple of the carcasses to their pack leader. Upon seeing the bodies, the blade weaver decided that they must act quickly to destroy these creatures and discover how they arrived in the middle of the Dark Thorn. Calling upon the spirit of the Thorn itself, the Vahgr are joined by some of the wardens of the Dark Thorn as they set out to stop the D'Wagurr. Meanwhile, a zealous D'Wagurr overseer has decided that it is time it make a foothold in the Thorn and is leading a group of minions with a brute up to the surface. Something happened to the other scouts and he was not going to risk wasting any more.

The board was quite basic for this battle as it was supposed to be in the Dark Thorn. Makes terrain selection easy; trees, mores trees,... and a hill.

Next, the two forces deployed on opposite sides of the field and the battle was underway! As the D'Wagurr force included an overseer, they were able to make group moves and also had their quality rolls improved when they were near him. This let them race across the battlefield on their first turn, eager to take down the Vahgr warriors.

For their part, the Vahgr lacked a model with the leader special ability which made their activations a little trickier. One bad roll and suddenly the turn is over, potentially leaving troops in some vary precarious positions. No worries this turn though as the whole war band steadily advanced across the board.

For their second turn, the D'Wagurr put their group activation ability to good use and swarmed over one of the Dark Thorn wardens (these are some plastic Games-Workshop dryads I had ordered...) and quickly ripped it apart!

The second group of minions raced forward trying to set themselves up to support the last minion but he managed to fall short on his charge and couldn't connect with the Vahgr hunter.

With the D'Wagurr overseer out in the open as a very tempting target, the Vahgr blade weaver attempted to charge forward... a move that apparently surprised his own force as much as the Dwellers! Rolling up only one activation on three dice, the blade weaver moved forward and waited for the inevitable onslaught.

The D'Wagurr didn't disappoint as one group activated and charged the blade weaver from behind while the brute lumbered forward and attacked. Supported by the minions, the brute was easily able to knock the blade weaver down.

The hunter that had been charged the turn before didn't fair much better as he was also knocked down by the minions attacking him. Things were truly looking grim for the Vahgr at this point!

In a desperate attempt to help the downed blade weaver, the other hunter and one of the two remaining wardens tried to engage the minions surrounding the weaver but only managed to knock one of them down.

A minor act but in this case it was enough. The weaver stood up and launched itself at the downed minion, savagely ripping it to shreds! This sent a wave of panic through the D'Wagurr war band as other minions broke and ran. Another minion fell to the weaver's blades while the other fled the battlefield along with their leader!

This was enough to break the few that remained and the rest of the D'Wagurr war band fled the battlefield, leaving the Vahgr triumphant again!

With their attempt to gain a foothold on the surface thwarted, the D'Wagurr were forced to return the the sanctuary of the cave that they were using to enter the Dark Thorn. Little did they realize that in their dash to safety, they were leaving a clear path for the Vahgr hunters to follow. Be sure to check back for the next battle as the Vahgr assault the D'Wagurr cave in an attempt to end this threat once and for all!

Let's All Just Hang Around For A While
A Malifaux Terrain Project

Most miniatures games include rules for terrain but Malifaux takes it a step further by introducing some special types of terrain. Each of the different regions have a number of suggested terrain pieces along with some special pieces and events to add a little flavor to the scenario. One of the pieces that caught my eye when I first saw these lists was the hanging tree. In my experience it is a pretty unique piece and it seems pretty iconic of the Malifaux universe. The question was of course how to best build one of my own.

Several years back, I had picked up some Halloween decorative trees from a Michaels store and though I had thought about incorporating them into some kind of swamp terrain piece, I never did get around to actually getting it done. Turns out this was a good thing as one of these worked perfectly as the core of my hanging tree.

The tree came with a base attached to the tree so instead of cutting it off and trying to find some other way to mount the tree, I just went ahead a attached the whole thing to a larger base.

In this case, a base that is just shy of 6" inches across. The reason for this is simple. The rules for the hanging tree state that it effects models that move within 2" inches of its 50mm base. Rather than having to repeatedly check the distance from the base of the tree, I decided to make it so that any models that move onto the base are effected, not to mention it also makes the whole piece that much more stable. While this does mean that it is a little easier for models to move around the tree to avoid the effect, I think it will make things easier in the long run and look better as well as it gives me more room for modeling the base.

As for the base, I used a round piece of MDF to give it a nice and sturdy base. To attach the tree, I actually used a wood screw that I drove through the base and into the tree because I wanted to make sure that it was very firmly attached. In fact it wound up being so firmly attached that the head of the screw sheared right off! Oopsy. Glad I got in the right spot on the first try...

Next I applied some spackle to the base to give the whole thing a more natural sloop and also so that I could add some "decorations" to the base. In this case, three plastic skulls, a whole plastic skeleton, and a whole plastic zombie. After all, this thing is supposed to look spooky, right? What better way then to have it surrounded by some of its former occupants.

Once the spackle was dry, it was time to add some sand and get to the painting! Whoo, wait a minute. There's something missing! How can this be a hanging tree without something to hang from? That's right, ya gots to have some nooses if yer gonna have a hangin' tree. To make these, I used some thin gauge floral wire that was twisted around and around to make it look like rope. I found the easiest way to do this was to loop it around a thin stick and then twist it around using some needle nose pliers.

Once had twisted it into a rope, I made a loop for the noose and wrapped one end of the wire around the rope to form the knot while I wrapped the other end around a branch on the tree.

With the nooses attached, it was time to prime it and get to paintin'!

For the ground, I went with my usual brown with some dry-brushed highlights but I only did this around the edge of the base. As I went further in, I blended in some black to give the soil around the tree a more ominous and unhealthy look. I carried this though with the tree itself as I dry-brushed it with shades of grey to give it more of a dead look. The final steps were to paint the bones and body so that they would stand out and then hit the base with some flock (yeah, static grass is the rage but I'm trying to use what I have on hand). For the flock, I again kept this around the edge of the base so that it looks like the grass has thinned out as you get closer to the tree, like the tree is radiating a deathly energy itself.

And there you have it! A hanging tree for Malifaux or any other setting were the worst of the criminals are sure to get their just rewards for their dastardly deeds. Next I want to make some markers to represent some mysterious effigies and a graveyard as this covers all the special terrain options for a pioneer town, then I'll work on some of the other pieces. But more on that later.

A Place To Hang Your Hat After The Hanging
Another Malifaux Terrain Project

It's been a while since I posted anything about the Roaming Monkey but it is finally complete! Well, on the exterior at least. Not sure how exactly I'm going to fit out the interior so just the outside will work for now. And here it is (minus the sign... still gotta whip that together).

I decided to go for a very beat up white wash look for the Monkey as it is supposed to be a frontier saloon. Can't be anything to fancy you know. Truth be told, the faded white wash effect was actually an accident! It turned out that the paint I wanted to use for the outside was getting rather thick with age but rather then just chucking it, I decided to give it a go and see how it would look. Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. I think it really did manage to convey the worn look that I was aiming for. I still need to work on some more outbuildings to build up Torments Reach but combined with the other terrain pieces that I already have I'm really looking forward to how it's going to turn out.

The Parting Shot

And there you have it! I think this is the longest Dispatch that I've written in a while so I hope you've enjoyed the read. As always, thanks for checking out the blog and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time, remember: when it doubt, use your noggin!