Friday, May 28, 2010


Ok everyone this is something many of you might have heard me talking about ... LARRYCON (Memorial Day weekend - May 28-31st )! This idea came up when I left Las Vegas ... my former game group members expressed an interest in doing a road trip up once a year or so for a mini-con style gaming event. Naturally we just named it LARRYCON as it would be taking place at my house ... and the event is as much a chance for me to game with the old crew as anything. But the concept of the event is really to do ... right here in our area ... what I get to experience when I trek down to Strategicon in Los Angeles at LAX on Labor Day weekend and Presidents Day weekend. Really what I do at that con is play wall to wall games ... the past several years primarily RPGs ... but the con has board games and mini games going. It is really a cool opportunity to play games with total strangers, to see how other GMs and players from other areas run their games. Its a good excuse to do an obscene amount of gaming in a single weekend.

Breakdown on the time slots:

Friday evening -- Probably board games or an impromptu session of some RPG. If there are only 4-6 people there, I can easily throw out a quick T&T session or with a lil' grog in me we could do a Baron Munchausen game.

Saturday 9 AM to 12 (lunch) ... 1 to 4 (all one time slot) Awesome Adventures. It is a fate based system that is very easy to learn and play. The adventure is called The Eternal Nazi and is set in the pulp era, run by Scott. Possibly a Star Wars game run by James ... if he is still available to run it ... otherwise it will just be the one game of Awesome Adventures.

Saturday evening -- 6ish
Tunnels and Trolls or Do you worship Cthulhu (similar mechanic to Werewolf/Mafia for those who are familiar with those games) ... (designed to accommodate big groups of up to 20 players) with Action Castle being run for the players who are eliminated from the other game. Additionally we'll have open tables for mini gaming and board games, etc.

Sunday 9 AM to 12 (lunch) ... 1 to 4 (all one time slot) -- DANGER PATROL! an action/adventure retro sci-fi game. The idea is to create the episodes of a 50s-style TV show in the vein of the old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials (with maybe a dash of the Venture Bros., Star Wars, and Indiana Jones). ! Run by Rustin.

Sunday 6 PM: 4e D&D adventure that I wrote for levels 1-4. It is set in the Forgotten Realms. Scott welcomes anyone to bring their favorite PC in the level range to the game.

In essence we have five slots to fill ... my hope is we can do at least two sessions on a few of the slots. But that means we'll need 2 to 4 more people to attend than we have confirmed at this point.

So far my friend from Las Vegas who is a very, very competent and experienced DM (and thrives on running games as much or more than playing in them) would like to run 3 games and since he is flying in from Las Vegas letting him do that is my priority. I will also say for us local players here it should be a treat as Scott will really be prepared and has a huge amount of con/one shot style GMing experience. If need be I will run Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd ... again IF ... we need it ... I could also run a Necessary Evil/Savage Supers game ... again if we need it. I'm hoping that others out there would like to take a turn at running a game or two. At this point I believe we have a lot more games that are lined up than we have players for ... so I'll keep my stuff available in the event we need a 3rd session in a game ... which could happen if everyone in the gaming group showed up. Our best case attendance is about 18 people (requiring 3 separate games at once) ... our worst case would be 6. So chime in on when you think you can be there and if there is anything you'd like to run ... leme know and we can try to pencil it in.

Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST without LOST ...

I have to admit a few things here ... one ... believe it or not I'm very cynical. I don't tend to like mainstream media much. I don't have a single favorite song or band ... though I played small college football and was kind of a jock growing up ... I am not a sports fan as an adult ... I don't watch much TV ... other than gaming I just sort of reject pop culture. There are little flashes here and there where like most American's I get pulled into this or that but usually if I perceive something as a pop culture phenomena I reject it and actively try to avoid it. I don't say that out of superiority in fact it might even be seen as a flaw ... I'm just stubborn and relish being a grumpy loner I guess ... I like to think that rebelling against the system is a good thing though. 

With LOST though I have to admit that I did get pulled in ... and I'm not sad or embarrassed about it.  I consider the show the best thing I've ever personally experienced on network TV (not counting things I've years later in syndication ... so MASH fans, etc. don't get all upset at that statement). With LOST though in the begining I
wrote the show off as just another network mainstream POS show ... on par with Brittany Spears and Wal-Mart ... more consumer culture BS. A friend was persistent though and kept telling me how good the show was. I tried watching it ... the pilot just didn't pull me in (don't get mad at that statement .. I now look back fondly on that episode and think it was very well done) ... I tried 3 times and on the third try I made it all the way to the hatch ... and I was hooked.
I won't recant details about the entirety of the show or even reveal who my favorite character was. I'll give my two cents about the ending of the show though. I think that the ending is supposed to be a permanent enigma. I think the entire concept for it was to tie things up ... yet leave alot to the individual viewer to fill in on their own. To me the coolest thing about LOST was its mystery ... and the ending preserved much of that. I think the ending ... as the series ... gave individual viewers as much or as little as they wanted. I don't understand at all how anyone can be upset at the ending ... it was faithful to the entire show. I think any anger about the ending ... is likely anger that the show is now over. 

Of course with a show that was such a cultural phenomena ... that had such deeply emotionally invested fans ... there are bound to be endless "they should have done it this way or that way" Monday morning QBing. Well they didn't ... the show is over ... I personally am very happy that they did such a daring, mold-breaking series ... yes it has its blemishes and inconsistencies here and there ... but overall for me it was the most memorable network Television experience I've ever had (and probably will ever have). For anyone out there who doesn't like this ending ... hopefully you watched Jimmy Kimmel and the spoof alternative endings. I don't think that was all comedy ... don't forget how the Soprano's ended ... I think LOST was always something that was supposed to be an "eye of the beholder" type of experience.

What I got out of the series is likely different from what others took away from it ... to me that is the beauty of the show. Its a personalized experience with something for anyone who was willing to let themselves experience it. As for watching the last episode ... though the commercials broke up the feel of it I have to admit there were some funny LOST themed commercials, etc. The Jimmy Kimmel special was kinda cool ... too bad it wasn't a bit longer and they didn't get the entire cast to show up ... it will be interesting to see whats on the complete collection DVD set. 

One reason I really felt compelled to mention the end of LOST here on the blog is also I think there are many things I take from LOST ... but one thing is inspiration for gaming. I'm sure LOST will influence many future RPG storyline whether consciously or not ... anyway ... good bye old friend ... its been a wild ride that I'm glad I had a chance to take.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

OK ... if not 40K then what? Unexplored Horizons (Rant from yesterday continued ...)

You know I like many GW fans out there rant and rave occasionally about things I don't like about GW, yet I'll be the first to defend them when I think something is too extreme in terms of criticism. GW has provided me with some wonderful gaming over the years and as much as I dog on them ... I sincerely love the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K universes. I would be deeply saddened if the company ever went away as we know it. I love an independently run GW. It would break my heart to have Hasbro buy them or something like that and of course I'd be in absolute death in the family mode if they just went out of business. So I threaten to stop playing, etc. and I doubt that would happen in the near future anyway ... but ... that said I find myself more and more wanting to find some backup mini games. If said backups provide a better gaming experience for me closer to what I really used to love about GW ... I think the GW stuff would become my back burner game of choice.

I've tried AT-43 and Confrontation and I personally didn't like either system, I found the rules to be counter intuitive (maybe I've just been playing 40K too long) and hard to get into. I liked some of the models and factions but didn't care for others and I'm not a fan of pre-painted stuff. Why you ask? Well to me with GW in my home gaming groups we've always refered to it as a "barrier of entry" type game. I mean lets face it guys ... ok sure there are some cool people playing some of the collectible "low barrier of entry" games ... but at least in my personal experience they are pretty rare. Mostly you get very young players, jerks and store trolls ... people I honestly don't tend to game with if I can avoid it. Don't get me wrong I love to see younger players doing any type of non-video game based gaming (nothing against video games I just see them as the enemy of tabletop games ... yes I myself play lots of video games ... just saying) and if one of the adults who games in my home gaming group has spawn and they feel like bringing em along for gaming ... as long as its not disruptive ... fine by me. Over the years I've had several friends who have had teenage kids who actually fully participated in gaming with the home game group/gaming club and it was fine ... they fit in and become just one of the gaming crew. 

Anyway why are those types of less desirable gamers more likely to pick up pre-painted stuff? Well I know I'm stating the obvious but they don't have to do any work ... the just pay money ... crack open a box and bada bing they are playing. See that is one of my issues with GW these days ... so many painting services, etc. have started to make inroads into turning GW into a AT-43 fest ... where people just buy pre-painted blue table armies and show up at tourneys (the few that still have paint scores that is) and get free points. Most of those types of players are in the "jerk" or "store troll" catagory to me. They are playing the game purely for competitive reasons, they don't care about the hobby side of the game, the modeling, converting or painting ... they just want to show up at a tourney and kick people in the privates and thump their chests. That is the epitome of lameness ... winning at 40K is like winning at checkers ... tic-tac-toe or winning at flipping quarters. To me the only reason to do mini gaming is for a cool social experience, I have just as much fun with a close loss or a tie as I do with a smashing victory ... to be honest alot more fun usually. So why would anyone want to just dominate? Issues of inadequacy spring to mind ... 

Seriously to the ultra competitive players I say if you want to be competitive do something cool that is worthy of thumping your chest about. Go pick up golf, learn to shoot competitively, get into running or archery or start showing dogs or something, play video games competitively. I have yet to find any type of  tabletop game other than chess (or various card games) that is really designed to be purely competitive, mini gaming is fundamentally a gentleman's agreement between the players. You each agree to not cheat, to be honorable about rules calls, etc. and you are just moving minis and rolling dice ... having a shared interesting experience. The randomness of the dice, the scenarios, terrain placement ... it never makes for a truly balanced game. If a tourney orgainzer is really good they can sort of get it close for you but you'll never have a really level playing field. That is why I just laugh when I see people lamenting "balance" ... to a certain extent balance has never and can never really exist. See that is the cool thing about mini wargames ... your in essence experiencing just a little snippet of what real commanders would on a real battlefield.

If your a wargamer and you haven't I highly recommend reading Sun Tzu ... nearly 2500 years ago he figured out principles of battlefield engagement which still apply today. I mean as a commander if you can you want to avoid an even fight  ... you want to do anything you can to gain as much advantage as you can. When I say that I'm not condoning the cheese head overly competitive powergamers out there ... I'm talking about why unbalanced games are actually more realistic and more rewarding potentially. Realistically if one commander has advantage one would not ... if your playing a game where your the one with the disadvantage ... well figure out how to get yourself out alive.Winning a game where you have a disadvantage is really cool ... something to give you a sense of accomplishment about. Obviously playing a game where you have no chance of winning is not fun and that isn't what I'm talking about. Somehow the essence of what makes wargaming so fun has been largely lost with 40K ... at least over a large portion of the US competitive scene. Like I was saying when I first got involved with 40K there was enough of it there to hold my interest. Now its again in my experience ... devolving into MTG in pewter and plastic. In home games though we still very much enjoy the true fun of war gaming. But that is in private home and club gaming ... its really nearly impossible to get that in public GW gaming anymore. 

So the question remains ... if not GW ... then what? I've been watching Spartan Games for awhile Uncharted Seas and Firestorm look cool.  I've really been searching for some solid 28 MM historical options that give a solid  medium to large scale skirmish war gaming experience. I'm seeing more and more stuff pop up out there actually one source is GW Historicals ... ironically ... I've never understood that segment of the company. They are sort of off by themselves ... an apparent red headed stepchild of GW. Anyway some of their rulesets look really cool. 

I'm not a fan of Privateer Press stuff ... I adore the Iron Kingdoms universe ... I love most of the models in their range ... but having played that game for two years (Cryx, Khador, Cygnar and Hordes) its even more MTG in pewter (and now plastic too) than GW stuff is. Looking at the focus of PP with their Monsterpocalypse collectible crack ... I can see that they really aren't too concerned about that. In the original Warmachine rulebook they made the "play like you've got a pair" statement ... like "hey we love powergamers" ... ok ... thanks for being honest guys I can't fault you for that at any point. They designed their game to be a complex chess game. All strategy and combos and little in the way of tactics. Absolutely awesome if that's what your looking for ... I am not though.

So for me sticking with 40K and slowly dabbling with other stuff is probably what I'll do until I finally settle in on historicals. I suppose I'm following the progression that most European mini gamers undergo ... its just sort of odd out here in the Western US. Historicals groups are cloistered out here and tend to be groups of guys who were my age in the 70s and 80s. In fact I have yet to find any historicals groups in Northern Utah (which surprised me). 

Anyone out there feel free to share suggestions on viable GW 40K/WHFB alternatives. By this I mean that rules are no more complex than those rulesets, they don't have massive imbalance issues like FOW and there is at least some depth to the games (i.e. multiple factions, etc.). For me like I said I really don't like the AT-43 or Privateer Press rulesets (either Warmachine or Hordes) so that's part of "viable" for me as well.

Reoccuring Rant about GW's US tourney scene ... (Warning I'm like a broken record on this ... sorry)

Ok as I read other blogs this evening that I subscribe to  I'm yet again reminded that ... apparently ... GW has allowed their entire US support to fall back to levels  not probably seen since the early 90s. In those days at least you could understand why ... they were still moving into parts of the US in terms of the mini gaming scene ... heck they were creating a mini gaming scene in places (I'm talking non-historical mini gaming). Still growing a customer base, still learning how to run competitive gaming with their product on a large scale, etc. etc.
Flash forward 12 years or so to present ... the official support GW is giving its product at least in the Western US is the worst I've ever personally experienced. From what I'm reading in various places 'Ard Boyz is going as expected ... being dominated by a few large clubs as usual ... same players ... same clubs ... same bias in GWs system towards them. The latest thing I've heard is a GW store employee actually wrote the scenarios the day before the event (courtesy of a good blog I have been reading theback40k.) ... check that stuff out. I'm not playing this year ... and I don't think I'd ever bother to ... the competitive GW scene has fallen off a precipice as far as I'm concerned. All the coolness of the big tourneys has faded for me ... everyone is running the net list o' the week ... with blue table painted armies ... whats the point. Back in the early 2000s I remember playing in GTs where everyone was running amazingly well done armies ... that 95% were painted by the person playing ... running pretty balanced lists based on sound tactical practices for their armies. Was there cheese ... were there beardy lists ... of course ... but at least from my selective, biased attention ... it seems like that is 99% of the field now as opposed to 10 or 20% back in 2000-2005.

In my personal experience GW has gone from having really solid official Games Workshop run  big events  that were supported by clubs to stuff that individual game clubs ... whose members not only game in said events but win them ... run/dominate. These clubs collectively have maybe 2 or 3k in membership ... the  massive, vast majority of the rest of GW customers out there get hosed. Lets face it people buy GW stuff as much online anymore as from their FLGS and I don't want to get into a FLGS vs. the internet debate because generally I believe supporting yea old FLGS is good for us all ... BUT ... GWs policy now actually mostly hurts the FLGS. A system where focus on all the stores running RTTs and some sort of system that at least partially would incorporate that would really benefit people all over. Now ... with this regional 'Ard Boyz thing ... just the big stores that are bending over for GW get hooked up and most of the rest of the stores get left out. This is just 'Ard Boyz we are talking about too ... the so called Independent GTs are even less beneficial to FLGS. I'm not claiming to have all of the answers or even a plan for a better system ... but I've seen some pretty solid stagnation over the past few years.

To me its like GW is saying "we don't give a feth about competitive play in the US. They certainly are telling me they don't care about supporting their own product in the Western US anymore by pulling out all their big events they used to have. Gamesday, GTs, etc. Now reading all this stuff the past few months just confirms what I've been hearing for the past few years in terms of the trend away from GW product support towards depending on large gaming clubs to do their work for them. You have these clubs basically running GWs support in the US. Its lame and it isn't the type of setup I bought into with GW. I loved the GW company at least seeming/appearing unbiased events, etc. Because of all of this stuff for me at least there is little point to participate in official events anymore as its all either "insider" club stuff or store (read a greedy so called "friendly" local game shop running stuff that caters to the store trolls who spend money in their store) ... independent gamers and small garage gaming groups have no reason to partake in GW stuff on a competitive level anymore at all. People can scoff at what I'm saying but long term its not good for the GW hobby scene in the US. A big segment of the market is being neglected and don't just take my word for it look around the net ... look in the Blog-o-sphere ... listen to your local gaming community. More and more people are getting disenchanted with GW for various reasons ... but support is an area that is key.

Beyond my rage ... as a hobbyist who loves this stuff ... it saddens to me to see something that has been near and dear to me diminished at least in part. I actually really loved the competitive side of GW games and now there is nothing left there that is appealing. Yes there is still a lot to love ... but ... price increases ... lack of overall product support (again at least in the Western US) ... etc. etc. etc. ... combined with the loss of a tourney scene I would participate in half empty ... at least for GW for me ... I could really use a refill GW. Warhammer Fantasy just for fun (8th ed right around the corner) ... historical 28 MM finally ... hmmm ... the grass is looking greener by the day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Off Topic Post: Heroes

Ok ... ok ... ok ...

Pretty off the beaten path here in terms of what I usually blog about but I just had to get this off my chest. Basically ... I had given up on Heroes somewhere during the beginning of season 2 ... BUT ... I kept watching. I had become invested in the characters and the overall story. I like probably nearly every single person watching the show ... was ticked off about various things and dismayed about the spiraling quality of the show. But I hung in there and kept watching ... yes ... yes ... grumbling all the way ... BUT I WAS STILL WATCHING the show. Now they announce its been canceled ... ok ... that's fine ... relieving in a way even. 

To me this highlights yet another instance to me where network TV just utterly sucks ... any decent show quickly gets killed because the demographics aren't right or the ratings aren't good enough (but in today's media world I'd argue ratings are less and less where its at ... they really need to figure out how people are really viewing stuff).

It would seem that more and more the only people who watch network TV with any regularity are watching crap I hate ... Law and Order ... Desperate Housewives ... Jay Leno (I like Jay but not his show ... I preferred Conan) ... etc. etc. Its the same with most of the big budget Hollywood films. They are produced with first and foremost tweens/teens in mind in terms of what appeals to them ... so we get alot of Hannah Montana, Twilight and adjustments are made to stuff that adults would normally be watching so it appeals to that demographic more. Its logical since they are the only ones still going to movies ... along with seniors. The other area of focus for big media is obviously DVD sales and foreign box office ... which there again screws most adults and/or geeks (we might be mostly older but I don't know if you could really call us "adults").  So you get alot more train wreck films like Pirates of the Carri bean III and far fewer titles that I'm willing to go spend $20 bucks to see a Sunday matinee on. Even the so called "cool" stuff ... I would argue is watered down by these factors ... pick a movie that has been somewhat well received and you can see the telltale signs of adjustment for maximized marketing effect.

Such is life ... capitalism at its core eh ... life in a media world = the media puts out what people will consume so in addition to mostly crap films, music, TV, video games, etc. we have crap news as well. I long ago learned this as I'm sure many of you have ... yet ... like a moth to a flame I get pulled back in by stuff like Heroes or Legend of the Seeker (which also has been canceled) and burnt.  All I know is there should be an FCC regulation requiring all cancelled shows to be wrapped up at least in a lame way so fans can avoid OCD thoughts about why the show they actually didn't like much was ended ... without an ending. Is that too much to ask? Oh well at least Hayden will go on acting ... for whatever reason I really like her ... hrrmmm

Sunday, May 16, 2010

For Queen and Sanity ...

What the ...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

GW ... a price too high?

I've been a dyed in the wool GW fanboy for a very long time ... 12 years or so. I know there are those out there who were fans back in the 80s. I didn't know GW back then ... I was mostly a board game, video game, D&D player as far as gaming went. I then took a long hiatus from gaming and returned to it in the late 90s via miniature gaming. I've frequently defended GW and their corporate actions. I've also been vocal in my local gaming groups and local gaming communities at times against GW when I feel they are in the wrong. I'm just an average Joe ... but in my own little world ... in my own little, tiny, insignificant corner of the universe I discuss gaming related topics with friends, etc. and we come to our own conclusions.

On the recent GW price increases ... I have to say ... in years past the price increases have been across the board or minor. Usually it was related to the increasing cost of metal or the rising price of oil (impacting shipping/transport costs). Well oil isn't on the increase dramatically and if you look at most of the price increases ... it was just a largely across the board (yes there are many products that shall remain the same price) ... to me it just seems like GW is raising prices because it can. That is fine ... capitalism and all ... corporations are entitled to and expected to do whatever will make the most cash ... customers will either put up with it or not. Thats fine. I have studied Mr. Smith's theories at the university level and I know that actual theoretical economics do not work in the real world. Politics is one of the main reasons that the "invisible hand" can't actually do its work ... globalization fails ... and consumers get hosed by corporations that are far too powerful and able to virtually make law on their own. In GWs case that isn't the case ... GW is a small company compaired to the titans of industry ... "a nat on a flea's arse" as it where.  In the tiny segment of the gaming industry which is the mini gaming industry ... GW is a big deal though. GW is a mover and a shaker ... companies follow GW and GW impacts that whole segment of the gaming industry ... sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

I've been trying to ponder whether this recent price increase is a good thing or a bad thing ... for the industry as a whole. The past few days having read about the increases and listening to people online and conversation with friends ... I feel its actually a good thing.

GW used to really have the competitive side of miniature gaming on lock-down ... with the exception of collectible mini games ... they were pretty much the only tourney structured mini game operating in a big way on the market. Then ... they started doing a bad job ... dropped their guard ... got greedy ... made some bad moves ... bada bing ... enter Privateer Press. Well I'm seeing the same thing happening I think right now. Mantic Games, Wargames Factory Plastics, two just mention two ... and it seems like a day doesn't go by that I don't see another company producing affordable amazing minis in plastic. GW knows its customer base, it has the numbers very well understood, it knows many of its loyal customers are so invested in time and money into their product line they are reluctant to leave and even better ... eager to bring in new people not the hobby of miniature gaming ... but to GW games. I can't deny that I haven't encouraged my gaming group to stay true to GW ... but what I find in my own attitude is ... I once was very against proxies of any kind. I still am a staunch enforcer of WYSIWYG in terms of using another companies minis ... but I could care less now if people use GWs stuff or company X stuff. I no longer passionately preach spending our gaming money on mostly GW stuff ... that was me five years ago. Today ... I go where I can get the best price ... and/or I make my own stuff. I use sculpy, I resin cast (my own scratch built stuff), I buy scratch built stuff on ebay, I use other companies minis if they are WYSIWYG and either cooler or cheaper (or both in many cases now) than GWs stuff.

I think that GW raising prices and focusing on the highest end of the market ... is going to drive more and more of their "loyal" base to do what I'm doing. I think for the miniatures industry as a whole that is a good thing. I think spreading the wealth is good and I think this might be the harkening of a miniature game renaissance perhaps ... thanks to GWs continued in many cases ... unjustified ... price hikes. On to Wargame Factory Plastics ... on to Mantic Games ... maybe even on to Privateer Press (though their line is as or more expensive than GWs .. going to be awhile before they are a cheaper alternative).

Anyway I still love GW games and still will faithfully purchase their rulesets, etc. I just find myself spending less and less money on their products and more and more on other companies products... granted ... to play the GW games. I hope they stay in business at least for the rest of my life ... however long that is ... so I'm not a GW hater by any stretch. I'm just tossing out my very insignificant two cents on the issue ... feel free to comment and/or disagree if you like ... I like to hear other perspectives

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The "Dip Method" ... for miniature painting

A friend recently asked me for an old miniature painting technique recipe and having dredged it up I thought I'd do a quick post on it. There is a good article on the tabletop gaming news page page regarding the "dip" method or the "magic sauce method" ... "future finish floor wax method" .. etc. etc. this is basically what I use for a dip if I'm going to brew some up. I also just use plain old minwax wood stain. These methods really speeds up painting ... its not for every project or for every painter ... but if you want quick "tabletop standard" paint jobs ... this method is your friend. I have largely converted to this style of painting now ... as it saves massive amounts of time and at this point competition quality paint jobs aren't very important to me.

My recipe is 1 part future finish floor wax ... 2 parts distilled water ... 1 part Higgins Black Fountain Pen Ink (frequently called "India" ink) ... 1 Part Higgins Brown Ink
... I combine that stuff in a nice air tight container. Not usually just a tupperware style one ... but one that has a threaded lid so its very air tight and can withstand being knocked over, etc. 

The thing is this stuff is literally made to DIP ... i.e., fully submerge entire miniatures in. So you want a wide mouthed container that you can just kerplunk minis into. I usually take a pair of needle nosed pliers and grab a corner of the base and plunge the mini in. As you start running low on the dip ... mix a whole new batch so you keep your proportions correct and on this note having an oversize container (by this I mean something that would hold say two full batches of dip) is a good idea. For large models like vehicles, giant figures (monsters, giants, dragons, etc. ... shit that's too big to fit in the container) you can use a large "tank" brush or even a full sized edging paint brush or something ... and just completely cover the model. You'll still get the "dip" effect by doing that.

Essentially to break down how this works:

Assemble, Prime, Flock the base with gravel flock ... 

Block paint the mini (i.e., paint all the basic colors): to break this down further ... lets use an orc for an example. You would paint the skin green, the shoes and leather bits brown, the armor a metalic color of choice ... apply red to the eyes ... whiten or yellow depending on preference the teeth ... etc. just the basic colors your going for. Now this is again a matter of preference ... for the skin you might be talking about a two or three step painting process ... same with other parts ... but you can just go single step block color painting. 

Once that is done to your preference ... the mini gets dipped. 
What I do as I'm doing this is use a paper towel to daub off any excessive pooling of the dip. You want the dip to help shade the model ... but you don't want big pools to dry leaving odd lines, or watermarks on the mini. 

Let the mini dry ... 

look it over and do detail cleanup where needed ... but in many cases your done with the minis when the dip drys.

Here is a quick image of something that has been dipped. The mini isn't mine ... but you get a quick and very rough idea of what the method does. My results are usually even better than this picture ... but to me this picture demonstrates what your going for. Bear in mind that the dipped mini on the right hasn't dried yet nor did they do a good job priming this mini ... it has very telltale primer screw up signs. Also an example of the "pooling" I was talking about, its not very bad but you can see some on the shield on the fig on the right side ... the red part upper right hand side of the shield ... see it. That is an over shade ... it sort of screws up the effect your going for. You would daub that a bit ... not all the way you want the shading in the recesses but not on the field. Again that isn't an extreme example ... if I was doing say 100 figures in one batch I'd probably not even bother with that level of scrutiny but if I was just dipping a single figure or if this was a hero character or general of my army or something ... I'd pay more attention. Anyway that figure now that its nicely shaded ... it will be shiny.

The wax in the dip gives a glossy sheen after its applied (go figure) ... which on one hand is awesome because your mini is effectively sealed. What I do last ... once I'm completely done with the fig minus the application of static grass ... is I matte varnish the figure. That tones down the sheen and helps fully seal the model. At that point ... and by this I mean later on like a few years down the road when they are really dusty or whatever ... you can even clean minis l with a damp rag with soapy water, etc. (again that isn't a step in the process ... I'm just saying the seal is that durable).  Dipped minis will withstand a fair amount of abuse (especially plastic figs). Anyway in a nutshell that is the basic dip method. Once you try it yourself don't be afraid to experiment with the color of inks you use ... there are many different pen inks you can use in place of the black/brown. Tyranids for example are an army just begging for the dip method  ... and for a project like that ... using a red, blue or green variant on this method would probably work great! Happy painting everyone!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dust Tactics Miniature boardgame ... ? Tactical Minis Skirmish or just another board game??

"30 soldiers, 4 robots and 2 heroes" Some interesting stuff ... I'd like to see the models up close. From what little I've seen the minis are in the 25 to 28 MM range. Some really cool pulp -- Weird War II type figures. The backstory for the boardgame/"Dust" universe is pretty cool. Definitely worth keeping an eye on! This advertisement references Gencon 2011?? I won't be going this year but I will be at 2011 Gencon. That's pretty far out though ... I also have seen some other pictures ... like this one.

Its pretty disappointing that apparently they are just going to be using the AT-43 rules ... which in my personal opinion aren't that good. I bought the boxed set of that game and played a dozen games or so of it ... and really didn't enjoy it. I didn't like the card based rules, etc. For a sci-fi game of that scale I much prefer the 40K rules to the AT-43 stuff. That said if the minis are as cool as they are looking ... I for sure might be enticed into buying them for pulp RGPing and/or for house 40K armies, etc.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Two cool things: Beasts of War and Mantic Games

Ok ... quick mini gaming related news which might be new to some and old to others ... 

First I'm sure many of you know about the BEASTS OF WAR guys who do Youtube reviews of gaming (mostly minis) related products. They do quick detailed reviews of a large variety of mini gaming related items and the seem to keep about as up to date as Tabletop Gaming News. I don't know how they do so many reviews ... its pretty amazing. Anyway good source for info on new mini gaming related items check em out ... Beasts of War!
The main reason I mention them is they have a several reviews of Mantic Games products.

Mantic Games to me is very exciting along with Wargames Factory Plastics ... whether your a Games Workshop game fan, or an RPG fan who uses minis in their game or even a historical gamer (though Mantic hasn't done any historical stuff yet) these companies should be of interest. They are producing some very high quality plastic miniatures at generally lower (in the case of WFP much, much lower) prices than most of the other big mini producers out there ... mainly GW. Now don't get me wrong ... I'm a GW fanboy through and through ... but I'm also a gamer on a budget as many of us are. I like to stretch my gaming dollars as far as they will go. Both of these companies are offering entire armies worth of figures for well less than a hundred dollars. In the case of WFP you could get a couple of armies worth of figures for that price. 

For the DM out there who wants an undead horde ... both of these companies are doing very affordable undead hordes. WFP has some AWESOME modern zombies for super cheap and Mantic is doing a big undead empire. As for RPG figure opportunities WFP has Romans, Celts and Vikings with alot of promising stuff on the horizon. Mantic currently has High Elves and Undead and I believe they are doing a dwarven army next. Anyway I plan to pick up figures (if not entire armies) from both of these companies very soon. I think this is a very good sign for 28 MM miniature fans ... more companies moving into this area is really nice to see. Affordable plastic minis has been a dream for a long time ... finally looks like it is becoming a reality :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wargames Factory FTW!


Ok I'm sure almost everyone out there knows about Wargames Factory they have burst onto the scene with some amazingly well done and astoundingly cheap (seriously how the hell do they make their stuff so damn cheap ...?!?!) plastic 28 MM minis. The reason I'm posting this is I don't think people are really fully aware of how cool this company is. Let me elaborate on the Liberty and Union League ... in short it is BRILLIANT! 

I'm just going to put the entire page in right here ... its a damn cool idea ... and people they have been following through on this. Do you guys play GW games ... want something compatible with those? Do you play D&D or RPGs and think a certain fig ... cheap ... by the hordes ... would be cool? Go to their page and suggest something be produced. Let me know if you do .. if its something decent ... I'm in for 10 sprues ... whether or not anyone wants to suggest things I just really like this idea. This is a company that is basically ready and willing to make whatever their customers will buy ... literally ... sadly a novel concept these days. Asking your customers directly ... vs ... asking your marketing department/focus groups/etc. 


This is an idea that our good friend Nic Robson of Eureka Miniatures first came up with. Let’s say you want a figure, or a bunch of figures, that nobody makes. Nic lets you submit your suggestion to the Eureka Miniatures website and lets everyone vote on it. Once enough people have said they were interested and have pre-ordered enough miniatures, Eureka puts them into production and offers them for sale. How’s that for customer service!
The big difference between Wargames Factory and Eureka Miniatures is that we’re doing our figures in hard plastic (by the sprue) and the start-up costs to produce the injection mold tooling for a small set of figures is VERY high so you need to sell “farsands” of them!
But the numbers aren’t as huge as you may have been led to believe! If we can get a hundred people to promise, between them, to buy a thousand sprues (averaging 10 sprues each) of any given subject, then we are in business! That’s not to say that selling 1000 sprues will cover all of our costs, but the combination of 100 unique purchasers and 1000 total sprues sold tells us that there is enough interest in that sprue that it will most likely do well once it reaches the wider wargames market and we’ll be able to at least break even!
(On the flip side, one guy who wants 1000 sprues for himself is great – but we would have to wonder if there are any more like him in the world and whether or not we would ever inject plastic into that very expensive mold again after the first 1000 sprues were shipped off to the Collector extraordinaire?! That said, we want to make people happy and we want to make figures that people love – so if you have a project you would really, really like to see done but that doesn’t necessarily have a huge mass market appeal – let us know!)
“What’s the catch?”  we hear you ask… There is none! That’s what’s great about this. You make your suggestions, we put them up on the site, those who agree with you vote with a free “order”, and once the number of customers and “orders” reaches 100 and 1000 respectively, we make the sprue! Once we start production, we will show work-in-progress shots of the miniatures, elicit your feedback and make changes, and then go into tooling. Prior to going into production, we’ll contact all those who made “orders” to finalize and ship the sprues to you – you don’t pay anything until the sprues are being made. It’s pretty simple actually.

Hey, What's With the Fame and Fortune Part?
That's the FUN part! If you enter a sprue suggestion, and your suggestion makes it to the 1000-sprue level and gets made into plastic -- you
will WIN:

10 FREE Sprues of Your Idea
A $100 Wargames Factory Gift Certificate
and last, but not least:
The Undying Adoration of Fellow Wargamers!

I'm Sold! What Do I Do Now?

It depends, here are your choices:

1. Submit your own idea -- by going HERE.

2. "Shop" other people's ideas -- by going HERE.

3. Read the "How To" in more depth HERE.

4. See what's on the Hit, Bullet, and Bucket lists by clicking HERE.


5. Be completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities, be completely unable to make up your mind, totally freak out, and buy 87 books HERE to try to help you decide on a submission!

Whatever you decide...PLEASE ENJOY!

Ogres and Orks ... Oh My!

Ogres and Orks are on their way! Finally ... finally ... I'm returning to the promised land of miniature gaming.  I was very spoiled in the past and had an amazing group to play mini games with ... so when I moved away and was faced with the prospect of store gaming only I just couldn't do it. So for the past year I've been working very hard to find mini game players locally who to be very blunt are non-tool-jerk types. I have assembled a brave band of six players with several more on the way who are going to be embarking upon the path towards miniature gaming righteousness and excellence together! Starting in June we will be playing 40K exclusively through the summer and Warhammer Fantasy and Blood Bowl in the fall (give the group a few months to digest the new 8th Ed rules due out in July). Sometime in the darkness of winter we plan to embark upon Historical gaming .. and then run "seasons" from that point thereafter where we as a group focus on a game for 3 to 4 months. While we'd all be free to play whatever games we prefer on the side as a group we'd focus on one system for larger campaign play ... house leagues and possible competitive play. From past experience I'm hoping to avoid "flavor of the month" syndrome and maximize our fun and enjoyment and maintain freshness and interest rotate the stock so to speak.  We are working on a plan to form a 40k team ... where we will work together to improve our lists and play so when we show up to a tournament we don't get auto-pwn'd and we plan the same thing with WHFB eventually. We are planning some team terrain projects, etc. like a couple custom blood bowl pitches, a Hirst Arts space hulk table and some more fantasy terrain.

Anyway this means I need to get off my duff and finish up my Orks for 40K which are completely done except for 2 Nobs and a squad of Shoota Boyz. I do have a speed freak army on the bench as well that I'd like to try to finish up sometime this summer to add more options to my foot slog Goff list. As for WHFB I have a fair sized ogre army that I fully assembled several years ago ... but never painted ... now that I'm going to have a chance to play some fantasy again I'm going to dust them off and paint them up.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rediscoverying Old Glory

I'm sure many of you know about Old Glory and the plethora of figures they carry (and manufacture) ... but I've recently been looking for some odd figures here and there and found several from Old Glory that I'm going to pick up. I know that there are hundreds of other mini manufacturers and retailers with as good (and better in many cases) a selection ... but I'd forgotten about Old Glory. I was talking to a local friend about getting back into historical stuff at some point next year and we were discussing ranges and Old Glory came up. Anyway here is there site ... they have stuff from Ancients to Fantasy to Historical to Pulp and everything in between. They also have a club you can join for $50.00 which gives you 40% off their product for a year (and not like you couldn't go in on orders with a friend to two).