Friday, 18 August 2017

Earth Elementals

Just a quick little post, Some work has just been finished off on the smaller one by Northstar. Orange is apparently the new black. The larger one is a reaper bones crystal golem I think This has a few more bits lined up for the base as there is acres on unused space there. I like this model a lot and might get another one and actually paint it as a crystal golem/elemental.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Of Elves And Dwarves

It is starting to look like I am not going to get my five figures done this week and if I do it will be only by the skin of my teeth. Instead I have been prepping figures. De-flashing, putting them on bases along with some sand and covering them with primer. The plan is to get a load of figures ready for the next month or so of painting. What I went looking for was some elves.

Everything I paint for fantasy games has a focus on the dark age, well almost everything. After yesterday's post I got to thinking about what Norse elves and dwarves look like. Dwarves I guess are easy. They are just stubby, heavily bearded northmen. In Norse mythology there are two types of elves, light and dark. There isn't too much to be said about them anywhere. Black elves might even be dwarves.

Elves of all kinds are rare. Other than light elves being "luminous" and black elves being "blacker than pitch" and them being a little bit god-like (at least associated with the Aesir), the sagas have little to say about them. You have to look for wider germanic mythology for any more details. This makes it clear that they are human-like. In this era it becomes clear that elves are just as likely to shag you (and have children with humans) or make you, or your animals, sick. The early middle age era gives them an association with alchemy.

So no blond hair, pointy ears, associations with bows and longswords and a haughty attitude. Damn you Tolkien. Basically I have nothing to go on. There good elves and bad elves. If there is any difference it's going to be down to a style of miniature and a paint job.

As part of what I am doing with the figures I am looking for another project. One thing I don't have is much on the way of elves. There are probably about twenty wood elves in the collection. These I guess will do well enough for light elves although I might get around to doing something about that.

The black elves (and I use the word black rather than dark because I don't want D+D cookie cutter elves, all that pale skin, white hair and spider riding) I was going to use are the old Harlequin Miniatures which are now owned by Black Tree. High elves are just another RPG construct born out of Tolkien but the first load I got cheap on eBay. But I was still struggling with a paint scheme. I looked up dark elf miniatures and most seem to have a like like a cross between angst ridden teen/goth (black and purple) with a little bit of bondage gear (corset and thigh length boots). Or all in all not very Norse.

As the search continued I found a picture of the dark elves from Thor: A Dark World. This was a really stupid idea but given the picture this might be a bit of a give away.. By the fourth or fifth picture it started to sound more like a good idea. Basically black with some bright metallic stuff going on (well I am not really sure what to call it, it's like a silver with a sepia wash). I was thinking about using black as the skin tone (black as pitch) but I thought that might not look so good when painted. If I painted by High Elves like this, it might just work.
This is what angst ridden teenagers should look like, in my head anyway

I might do a bit more thinking about the dwarves but I have loads of these already. Maybe that is tomorrow's topic.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Dog-ri-la Or How I Learned To Stopped Worrying and Love Basing

My other half is away for a few days and I was expecting to go out for the day but decided against it when the weather started to look a little bleak. Oh good said I, a day where the kids will be playing and I can get on with ever I want to do. Computer games and painting figures. Now that I have some varnish I thought I could get on with a bit of finishing off and painting.

I really wanted to do some painting. Whilst surfing I have seen a few people who keep a tally of what they paint for the year. Although I am keeping track of what I do, keeping a list of what you have done seems a little too like Bridget Jones' Diary for me. anyway, I think that The New Cruelty demands I paint.

So after a few hours of playing Civilization (having played it till 4a.m. the previous night) I thought it was time I did a bit of painting. Just as soon as I sat down the dog started going a bit mental. This has continued throughout the day. My other half chose a dog breed that is essentially a bit clingy as well as being big and energetic enough to need a lot of exercise. So that is how may day has ended up. My life has been all about creating dogtopia. I have thrown and kicked more tennis balls and dog toys in one day than I have in the last month.

Although painting has been off the cards, no chance of doing any fine detail work, I still wanted to do something. So I splashed a bit of ink on some basis and sprayed on some varnish. Then I spent a bit of time putting on some flock and scatter. And here we are. Whilst I am planning to go out tomorrow, I expect to get another coat of varnish on them and then I can put them away until needed.

As I was scanning the work bench I realised I didn't actually have that much prepped and ready to go. Four Human catchers and six linemen, four goblins and and ogre and that was about it. Pretty much all the figures on the bench are now painting. So as I couldn't paint maybe I could sort out some stuff for when the Blood Bowl stuff is done. So I worked out what I wanted to do next.

The storage boxes are full of stuff. If I started painting what is there it would probably take me a couple of year to finish them all off. So I selected what I thought I needed to do next. Then came the glue and the sand.

Despite my fairly chaotic approach to painting, there is a plan to what I do. According to the plan I need certain types of figures. Most of what I buy for fantasy games is fairly dark age in its appearance. The Viking Game is still my most worked on game and my most underplayed. Despite this I still want to paint figures.

For well over a decade my group gamed with about one hundred figures. This pretty much limited figures for player characters not to mention only have one set of monsters which were some late eighties GW night goblins. I swore to myself that this would not happen again. With my game I try to limit players to the human race and I have a few norse themed non human races, specifically dwarves, light elves (or they are wood elves) and dark elves (which are not GW type dark elves but actually high elves). What has put me off doing other races is the absence of figures for them. I have talked about this before here so I won't go on about it here. What I am trying to do though is to make sure I have a pool of suitable figures for player characters. Fighters are easy. As well as some mundane plastic Viking types and units of infantry, there is probably a couple of figure trays of figures suitable for figures. Some of these can do double duty as barbarians, rangers and the like. I have some female fighters but the plan was always to get some more, I just haven't got round to it. When the project was in full swing the only female fighters I could find were by Foundry and they were a bit too high fantasy if you know what I mean. The Dice Bag lady now has quite a few I could use.

Thanks to Frostgrave I now have over a tray of wizards and magic types. I could probably do with more female mages. By the time I have finished with the plan I dare say there will be two trays of mages. I am somewhat over achieving here.

Where I am underachieving is in bards, thieves and clerics. I have three bard figures in the sense of the skald or scop. There are a few other figures I have that are unpainted that have something like a mandolin and so don't really fit the plan. In the game there are christian type clerics, and those for druids and the norse gods. Whilst there are no thieves as such, there are plenty of shifty types. My painted collection of clerics consists of about five druids, eight christian types and maybe the odd figure that would pass as a norse man of the gods.

So in about two hundred words, here I am the next lot of figures on the desk is a bit of a mixed bag but there are a few more clerics and some thieves. There are few odds and sods. One is a potion carrier from the Frostgrave range which I think will do nicely as a norse cleric. There are a couple of Midlam Miniatures Clerics as well. The thieves are mostly Frostgrave again and some of these are actually meant to be magic users but with the right paint scheme they will fit the part. And a few other figures which are again all Frostgrave.

I realise that now has got this far. But if you have, it would be nice if you could leave a comment.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Best Roleplaying Experiences

I have spent a huge amount of my live either playing or plotting RPGs. My experience is that some games are most definitely better than others. Over time, I have decided that games that have a more streamlined ruleset with a simple mechanism works best. It has ended up with a list of five games, this is not an arbitrary figure, it is just happened that there were five of them.

Traveller was the third set of rules that I purchased. I have started with Tunnels and Troll and moved on to D+D (rather than AD+D) but I was always a sci-fi buff. Then I started to see Traveller in the games shops I went in and I quickly found this was something I wanted to get into. This was my go to game as a GM for almost all of my early gaming experiences and it still has a pull on me today. Over the  years it is the game I am probably most invested in, in terms of money and playing time. It has a random generation system for characters which is still, to my mind, one of the best systems ever and certainly the best around at the time. It favoured skills over stats which was hugely different to the other games at the time. The gaming mechanism, roll 2d6 and get above 7 (or 8 depending on the ref), subject to skill and situational modifiers. It was well supported and the game is still played in an essentially similar format today and has plenty of online support. Whilst I have run this game a lot, it was the campaign that Jim ran in his version of Traveller in a coherent campaign that has gone of for decades that was the best. My experiences of the newer versions of the game have not been good but this is largely down to the GM not the system.

Harn or Harnmaster is one of the few fantasy games on my list. The world is essentially very medieval. Elements of low fantasy are part of the everyday world (with magic and religion having detailed separate books) with higher fantasy elements beyond the fringes of society. Again it a random character generation system although you have some choices. The referee can give you a bit more freedom if they like. One of the best elements of the game is the combat system. You get choices of what you do in melee and ranged combat that you don't get in most games. This gives you more of a feel for being part of the action. The mechanism for skill checks is nice and simple but can give you a variety of outcomes. This can easily be played in any variety of genres. This is a game that is still well supported on line and there are more mids for this game than any other I can think of that function much like mods on modern computer games. I ran this for a short while but it was really the GMing of Mike that got me to love this game, he turned it into something that was a bit more high fantasy that was a truly memorable game.

Conspiracy X is another game I love. Born out of The X Files TV show, it is a much darker yet more real world tabletop version of the show. Players take on the roles (usually) of  real or game created government agencies who fight supernatural and alien threats to the earth. I have always run it as a conspiracy within a conspiracy with a lot of science and supernatural elements. Although I am working my way through the second edition books, I have only ever played the first edition so my experiences only reflect that. It's a points buy system which allows for a lot of skill and ability customisation. It does leave you with a feel for the character and what has turned them into what they are. The mechanisms just use d6 (which changes in the second edition) and a simple roll modified by skills, stats and situational mods is about all you need to know as a player. You start with a choice of profession that gives you a range of skills to chose from and the ability to pull strings in certain areas. From here you can buy skills, abilities and influence. Influence affects you about to pull strings and acquire a range of equipment from light revolvers to Aurora stealth planes constructed with alien technology. The players, as group get together to spend points to set up a base and can give it a range of facilities, support staff as well as vehicles and gear. One of the coolest systems in the game was the martial arts sections. Each form comes with a range of abilities (flip, disarm, break neck, punch, kick, haymaker, killing blow for example) with more skilled fighters having the ability to create attack combos of multiple moves. Sadly this has never been a popular game and has extremely limited online support. This was a game that I got off someone else but turned into into a few long running campaigns and a few shorter ones.

Savage Worlds is my current go to RPG game and has been for about five years now. It is a simple and streamlined system which as it says, cuts out the fat and creates a fast, furious and fun system. This still allows for interesting combat and competition between characters. Character creation is simple and this allows players to get into the game quickly. There is no character classes but you do get to pick a variety of edges and in some games you get to pick a race depending on the background. Skill checks are easy enough to do with a fairly simple mechanism using different types of dice. My reasons for choosing this as my go to is that they game is multi genre and is easy to convert to just about any background. There are so many fan created background that go along with numerous in house creations. Any system can be converted over relatively easily and any TV show, film or game can quickly be turned into a background. If it has a flaw then it is that the game is so simple. Unless you are a careful GM you can run the risk of monsters being a bit samey. This game is big enough to be heavily supported online and this has a lot of fan support. I have run a few campaigns in this system. My Viking Game uses this as does the Fallout Game. I have played in a huge number of different backgrounds with other GMs and loved pretty much all of them.

Cyberpunk 2020 is another blast from the past. It's a game that I played a lot during the nineties and even now I still think about using the system. Born out of William Gibson's books and other authors of the time. It predicts a time when man and machine are completely integrated and cybernetics , if not an everyday part of life is common amongst the military and the underworld. Hacking computers whilst a human brain is directly meshed within the network is relatively commonplace. Whilst style is at the forefront of what many characters become there is a fair amount of substance to character generation. There are a range of character classes, each with their own unique abilities. There is a random element to character generation but you do get to pick and chose some elements. Although clearly based in America, there are supplements that cross the globe and even into near earth orbit and Mars. Skill checks and combat operate through a fairly simple system but there is enough meat on the bones to make it interesting. This is an older system but does not really feel that out of date although many of the issues around technology seem to have been more than a bit optimistic. Although it was fairly big at the time it has not stood the test of time despite Shadowrun (essentially the same sort of game but with orcs, elves dwarves etc) coming back for edition after edition and initially at least, not being as good a system. Whilst there is some online support for the game and a new edition, it is perhaps not as well supported as some of the other games. Cyberpunk was another one of Mike's games and a twisted turbulent campaign it was lasting several years.

If you have any suggestions (that are not D+D because I just won't believe you :)) please tell me about them.

Monday, 14 August 2017

End Of The Week, Maybe A Little Late

As the end of the week has been and gone, I thought I'd better show you what I had been up to. The New Cruelty demands five figures per week and  that is what I managed. With a bit of effort I even managed a bit more than the five.

The main aim for the week was to finish some more Human Blood Bowl team players. When the week started, things were going well but I had a little injury time so things slowed up for a few days. I finished them off and gave the bases a couple of coats at the same time as painting the bases for the precious Human Team players and the seven Orc Linemen from the week before.

There have been a few figures on the workbench for months. Some rats and a frost wraith for Frostgrave and a spirit of some kind from reaper. The rats have taken a few steps closer to being finished. The frost wraith is pretty much done.
The spirit was a bit of an experiment. This is a figure I have had for probably fifteen years. It was an impulse buy and it has never really gripped me. This has allowed me to experiment with it a little. Still a bit of work to do on this one.

My shopping trip yesterday saw me get some Blood Bowl Goblins. Whilst I have no immediate urge for a goblin team, some goblins are needed to cover all the bases on the Orc Team. I think I might do a Goblin team and an Underworld team at some point so these will do for that. Some special players and a few more goblins would be nice to finish that lot off.  So four Goblins have been glued up and based. Just need a Varag and the team will be all but complete.

My mind is turning to what is going to get done next. My mind is a little all over the place at the moment so I am not really seeing a next step. Whilst I am enjoying the Blood Bowl thing, the Goblins, the Human Catchers and the Ogre are not really doing it for me. An old fave of mine was a RPG called Conspiracy X, my mind is being drawn towards this. Some more fantasy stuff that would fit in the Viking game would be a possibility. The Frostgrave stuff I have done recently has been done because it was there, not because I have any real urge to paint. I was having a fling at Malifaux on eBay during the week. There are some figures I might tart up a bit. Still I don't have a clear direction for next week.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Games Workshop Sued And Matters Arising. Is It Really Fair?

Please go and look at this first...

This at least should give you some sense of perspective. In some ways it is funny. We all know that games workshop has been fleecing us for years. GW like a lot of companies that make miniatures, have gone over to making plastic miniatures rather than white metal (which is expensive) and resin (which is more hard work and not quite as good).  Most of us, I am sure, are pretty sure that money and not quality is at the heart of the process.

In my life I do prefer absolutes but when I look at this I am not sure if I am here to praise GW (faint praise is not all that damning right?) or to bury it (along with a myriad of other manufacturers).

One of the most shocking elements that has been revealed is that a model that sold for $20 actually costs $0.03 to produce. To be fair, I am pretty sure that this figure is not the actual cost of getting a product to market. Anyone who wears trainers already knows that most of them are made in a sweatshop in so poor third world country where the staff get paid $0.30 an hour and the trainers cost about a dollar and retail to close to $200 (sorry for the American money values but that is what has been quoted). When I used to play Flames of War I was disappointed that they went to using plastic but I was shocked when I found out that their production run was being shifted from New Zealand to Malaysia (I think). Malifaux also transitioned from metal to plastic.

We all know there has been considerable use of, let's call it the ideas of others rather than infringement of intellectual property. They are not the only company to do that but they are perhaps the most successful at it. Blood Bowl is my current fave miniatures game, to paint figures for at least. Setting aside the fact that some of the races are almost certainly the IP of others (orcs are certainly a creation of Tolkein) there was Monsters of the Midway (which I think the IP would now belong to TSR) which was an American Football based fantasy game (which also used IP races). Several years ago I recall a number of Blood Bowl based web sites being bullied by them. Likewise, people using the term Space Marine were also being pressured.
Is this a fair image? I am not so sure.
The guy behind it seemed to also be referring to Genestealers as infringing the copyright of Giger and Scott. Sure it is a big alien killing machine but there have been aliens before. Pretty much every has elements derived from elsewhere but I think that is something that detracts from the argument not strengthens it. There are a number of companies that use the look of characters from movies, TV and even games. TV has stolen things as well and computer games do it all the while.

This is just a list off the top of my head of copyrighted material that has come close to being infringed.

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, 2300AD, Alien, Aliens, An American Werewolf In London, Back To The Future, Battlestar Galactica, Battletech, Big Trouble In Little China, Blade, Cona, Dawn Of The Dead, Die Hard, Doctor Who, Dracula, Escape from New York, Fallout (has been ripped off many times but it ripped off multiple sources itself), Firefly, Flash Gordon, Frankenstein, Friday the 13th, Ghostbusters, Hitch Hikers's Guide To the Galaxy, Hot Fuzz, Ice Station Zebra (yes it is an old fim, and not a good one), Indiana Jones, Kick Ass,  IT, James Bond, Planet Of The Apes, Land Of The Dead, Left 4 Dead, Leon, Mad Max, Miami Vice, Monty Python, Night Of The Living Dead, Predator, Punisher, Rambo, Resident Evil, Roadside Picnic (that's Stalker), Scooby Doo, Scrubs, Sharpe, Shaun Of The Dead, Sinbad, Sin City, Sons Of Anarchy, Star Gate, Star Trek, Starship Troopers, Star Wars, Superman, Taxi Driver, Terminator, The Big Bang Theory, The Blues Brothers, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Fly, The Good The Bad And The Ugly, The Invisible Man, The League Of extraordinary Gentlemen, The Magnificent Seven, The Maltese Falcon, The Rocketeer, The Thing (film and comic book character), The Three Musketeers, The Walking Dead, The Ear Of The Worlds, The Silence of The Lambs, The Wizard of Oz, The Woldman, Tomb Raider, Traveller, Vikings, Warhammer 40k, X-Com, Zombieland and not to mention just about everything by HP Lovecraft. I could go on. And on. And on.

Companies do it because it is what we, the consumer, want. They are rarely perfect copies. That would be wrong. What they do is make something close enough to evoke the memories which is good enough for most of us.

American law is different to British law, I know that is kind of an obvious statement. But selling things is down to the profit motive. If you want to make money off something you buy it wholesale, if it comes with a caveat, well you have a contract. Compensation culture seems to be taking over again.

Third party retailers are almost always willing to undercut GW. I rarely buy anything other than paint from the stores directly because of this. So they defend themselves. They make a lot of money out of it but that is the nature of the free market and even with all that money, they don't always seem to be doing that well.

Saturday, 12 August 2017


Today I have been to Britcon. It's a smaller show with a definite emphasis on competition gaming. There are a few traders there and I was after a few things. The main reason for going was friends. Whilst it is a smaller show it does seem to have a good vibe. It's geared up for residential and these kind of events have a little more intensity coupled with some more friendly players. You get to know people.There were going to be a couple of people there, one was in a competition and the other was a volunteer on the bring and buy.

So I got a few things, varnish being the main one. Then I went on a trip the game shops in the city centre.  Did a bit of shopping here and there. Just a whistle stop tour really but as I don't get there very often it was a nice break.

Goodies wise, my main aim was spray varnish which I managed to get a couple of cans of at a good price. It was a day where I was after bits and most were not to be found. One of things I did find was some Army Painter inks. For a while now I have not been liking the sepia colour that GW do. The old one was much better so I thought the Army Painter might be okay. As I walked away with three different shades of brown ink at least I will have some variety. Whilst I nearly got some old Blood Bowl stuff I did walk away with a box of goblins because they were cheap. There a few other odds and sods but not much.

A few people were talking about Massive Darkness. Lots of figures for very little money etc. Somewhere along the line I have heard about it but I have not really had much interested. So I have come back  and had a look myself. Having listened to what what of the people I was chatting to was saying, there seem to be a lot of tentacles. Not sure that I can completely back that up but there are a lot of silly hats and implausible weapons. Like the latest Spiderman movie, I am sure that I haven't missed out on much.

Friday, 11 August 2017


Rats. Northstar rats in particular. Nice looking miniatures on line but lots of flash, so much so I still don't think I got it all and I will have to hide some of the undersides when I do the bases. These were brought because I don't have any medium sized rats I have plenty of smaller rats (which are ral Partha) which are about accurate size of slightly bigger and even the odd humanoid rat. I figure as well as a fantasy game they would do for Fallout or other post apocalyptic genres (anything that has use across multiple games is good).
Over time I have been a big devotee of the Frostgrave range. Whilst I don't own the complete range I am not that far off it. Here I went as far as buying three packs of figures because I liked the look of them so much. In hindsight, whilst the figures are nice, the castings are pretty poor which is unexpected as most of the Frostgrave stuff has been excellent.

They are still work in progress (and have been sat on the bench half painted for months) so no close up shots yet. As these get finished off. I would hope that they will improve. These are nice looking sculpts and fit my purposes perfectly although this may take a while. Rat wise I need a rat swarm and some larger ones still and all my rat needs should be taken care of.

I have had some more second hand malifaux stuff  through the post today. It wa cheap so I guess I can't complain but it did arrive a bit battered. Maybe I will move on to doing a bit more of that as time goes by.

P.S. Not sure what happened when I first went to post this but this morning I found the page full full of gibberish. A few unkind souls might say that there is nothing new there then. When I came back into the room the cat was sat next to the computer so I am guessing that might have something to do with it.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Good Service At Games Workshop, Warrington

To be honest I am not Games Workshop's biggest fan. On the pages of this Blog you will see that the only GW game I play is Blood Bowl and over the years this has been a small part of my actual game time. Whilst they have been kind enough to reboot it they are not exactly supporting it in the stores. There are a number of GW products I use it is only the paints that I really like.

Over time I have found their staff so pushy and obsequious as to be off putting even going in their stores. None of them seem interested in what you what but what you can buy. as a gamer with a broad range of interests, I find they lack an understanding of what gamers outside their immediate sphere of interest is and therefore can't help me with much of anything. The bottom line being that when I do go into one of their shops the plan is more like a snatch and grab rather than a shopping trip. All this has the upshot that I would sooner buy stuff from third party vendors or second hand on eBay.

The regular staff member left a little while back and was replaced by Tommy. He actually made me want to buy things and the first member of staff there that I have actually engaged in conversation with in two decades. He is brilliant with the customers, even the ones that would annoy some members of staff. Whilst I am personally not that interested in a lot of what he is selling, he clearly knows he stuff about their product.

Sadly Tommy is not even a permanent member of staff. He sounds like he is some sort of temp. If Games Workshop want some more of my money, they should give Tommy a permanent job.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Human Team Ogre

Now that I am nearing finishing enough players for the Human Blood Bowl Team, I thought it was time I should have a look at this figure now. What I am really doing is avoiding finishing the Orc Troll and dry brushing the Human Blitzers (not to mention the bad back I now have) that are already in the queue.

I hate doing bigger figures and they never really seem to get finished. They seem to take me a dog's age to complete as I seem to lose the will part of the way through. This figure is one of the few Big Guys in the game that I am likely to play so I figured I should get him done.
Anyway back to the Ogre. He is a nice brutish figure and really conveys what I think of as an ogre. The model is reasonably easy to put together. The right arm is a bit fiddly to get in properly but it did get there in the end. I had a few problems seating the number plate on the front as well. However, when it does slide together it makes an awesome looking figure. It was almost good enough to get me to buy some GW ogres for my fantasy RPG games as I don't actually have any.
For now at least, I have chosen not to place the head on at the moment. The plan is to keep it separate until it has been painted so I can add some details. It is currently on the workbench and is in the next batch of figures to get done.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Chaos Team Minotaur

I am not a fan of chaos in the main. Except when it comes to my workbench, home life and Blood Bowl teams. It seems a little back asswards to be releasing the Star Players first. As I already have a metal minotaur it probably isn't at the top of my shopping list especially as the next few teams I have in mind don't need one. That said, this one looks pretty good.

There are pictures of tokens for some of the chaos teams as well and a 3D image of an elf player. Things may be progressing. There hasn't been much news on the Blood Bowl Front of late so this at least shows that the work is continuing.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Imagine Magazine

Despite doing some painting today, I haven't really made any headway with what is on the table. What I have been doing is thinking about the past instead. Nothing too dark I assure you. I've spoken to a few people about the Tunnels and Trolls since I blogged about it the other do. This has kind of taken me back to better days

If there was a golden age of roleplaying, for me at least, it was the mid 1980s. It was still fairly free and easy and even the big games companies seemed to be in it for the love of the hobby. White Dwarf lead the way in the UK and it was Games Workshop's call to arms even then. TSR wanted in on the act and in the UK they launched Imagine Magazine (and I'm talking about this Imagine Magazine).

I found it around issue no 12 or 13 and it was a revelation. The range of games covered was about the same, but it did feature D+D a lot which was fine for me at the time. Reviews were a bigger part of what was in the magazine than WD. Like it's counterpart, it looked wider than it's niches to books and computer games. A few editions in they started doing a campaign background called Pelinore. This was the big inspiration for many of game games at the time and even now. Even to this day when I do floorplans, I do them like the ones for Pelinore. Many issues had a theme which greatly illuminated the games that I was playing at the time. It was like its rival but it was more about how to play rather than scenario after scenario.

It's not that it didn't have a scenarios. The centre of the magazine was a great eight page scenario every time. A few of these have become campaigns or the germ of a campaign. One of my favourites, Round The Bend, which I ran a few times, was a group of half orcs shrunk to an inch tall by an angry wizard just so they could clean out the pipework under his sink and find a missing magic item.

Sadly it all came to an end. Big business got in the way. TSR in america decided they didn't want anything competing with their magazines which were not to my taste. After thirty issues it was gone. To me it sent the benchmark for magazines that were to come after it. It also marked the start of the end for the free and easy days or roleplaying, much like the internet today. It wasn't much later that White Dwarf became in the in-house publicity manual it is today. Things changed around this time and not for the better. This was not a facet of the gaming industry it was more that the times were a changing.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Marking Time By What's On The Workbench

I haven't done much painting for a few days and this morning I was feeling the absence. Although I have had plenty to do, I have found time to do some painting. The New Cruelty dictates that I paint five figures per week. This means finish the paint job, nothing else. Things like bases, decals and various bits of set dressing doesn't count. By this standard, I have finished eight figures this week. As a bonus I have gotten close to finishing with quite a few more.
I showed six Blood Bowl Human Team linemen earlier in the week. These are here. As I thought I might get a couple of quick wins, I started and finished a couple of earth elementals. I will take a some better pictures of these and post them next week.

I have gotten close to finishing another seven Blood Bowl Players. One Troll for the Orc Team, four Human Blitzers and two Human Throwers. There are a couple of  Frostgrave miniatures that are pretty close to being done.

When I was doing the eyes of the larger of the two elementals (one Reaper one Northstar) I spilt a load of blue paint. This sent me off on a huge side track to use the paint. There have been some chemical barrels lying around, primed but unpainted, for a while. They have now been painted and washed and a little bit of work will see them done. A lot was used on the coins used as Blood Bowl re-roll counters. I have eight from the Humans and Orcs and some more from the Dwarf and Skaven teams.  I did  bit of work on the hands used as markers and the ones for the Orc team are fairly close to being done.

Now all I need is some spray varnish.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Another Milestone

For just over eight months I have been going at the blog pretty much every day. For the most part it has been fun although it has been hard work on a few days. Today it has not been so bad. I just posted about a game that is very dear to my heart and it brought back a lot of positive memories. On a day to day basis, it keeps me focussed on what I am doing and gives me some sort of purpose.

Just after midnight here, I hit 400,000 hits. This helps. It reminds me that I am not talking to myself, sadly that doesn't mean I'm not mad.

Tunnel & Trolls

My best mate called me up out of the blue the other day and we were talking about all kinds of stuff. Somehow Tunnels & Trolls came up in the conversation and he was telling me about how it was out in print again. Not only that but there were plans for a SF version as well. This would put it at the eighth or ninth edition I think.
This is not a picture of my copy, it's much more beat up
Way back when, sometime around 1983 or 1984 I think, I was reading a wargaming magazine. In it was an advert for a for a shop called Games Of Liverpool, now sadly long since gone. I must have spent hours pouring over this advert (and the one for Esdevium) as it had all sorts of wonderful things in it, but what to buy? I eventually settled on Tunnels & Trolls. Having no real idea what it was about did not disturb me. It disturbed my dad who was working in Liverpool at the time and had to go and buy it for me.

For the next few weeks my head was not out of the books I got, in particular it was the solo adventure Sword For Hire that I read through over and over. The book went everywhere with me. Today I found the copy I had and the cellotape that just holds it together has seen better days, much like the book it is still just holding together. The rulebook fared better despite losing the cover on its binding before the end of 1986. I must have spent days going through the solo adventure books and I didn't have that many of them at the time.

Today I am still playing RPGs. Maybe not as much as I would like but I would still say that this is a major part of my life. Much of my figure painting is geared towards table RPG. Whilst T&T is not my "go to" any more it has certainly had a big effect on the way I play games.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Blood Bowl Human Blitzers And Throwers

Just having a lunch break so I thought I would take a moment to show what I have done so far today. Four blitzers and two throwers. Although I haven't quite finished the linemen there is just a few bits of detailing, varnishing and transfers to be done and I might as well do all the figures together.
Early stage WIP
I'll have a few figures left over and as I have said before some might end up in a Nurgle Team. As there are a few Star Players out there that don't seem like they are coming out soon I might have to do something about it. I am thinking Helmut Wulf and Zara the Slayer. These could be conversions of some of the figure I already have. I could certainly see me chopping off the ball hand of one of the spare throwers and replacing it with and with a chainsaw/chainsword. Zara might need a little padding in the right places and some sculpted hair coming out the back of her helmet.

Although they are still at a very early stage they should progress quite quickly. Assuming I don't get distracted by the Skaven team has arrived. For the cost of one box set I have managed to get five sprues of Skaven of eBay. This gives me the players for a full Skaven team and all the players for the Underworld team when I get round to that.

And speaking of conversions. That leaves me with a few extras that I cannot use (a thrower and a blitzer) but I can see conversions to some of the star layers that aren't out yet, such as Hakflem Scuttlespike, Fezglitch (I have a Black Tree Figure that might do for this) and Skitter Stab Stab (who should be easy).

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Human Linemen

For a long while I have had a thing about Blood Bowl. It is probably thirty years since I played any other GW wargame (although I have played some of the old board games). With the Orc Team more or less finished, it's time to give them some opposition. The plan is to go through the teams in order or purchase. The birthday list has a few purchases with some Star Players so I will cross my fingers and see what happens. There is no way that I would spend all the money that the death roller would cost on myself and the Skaven have a lot of Star players and extras now.
Human Linemen - They will all be injured soon
The human team is more or less ready, I have a few more Star Players to buy but hopefully they should arrive before I have finished the rest of the players. Whilst I am hoping for a few games out of them, I don't see me playing them competitively. The Orcs, Dwarves, Skaven, Undead and Lizardmen are more my type of thing.

These are the first of twelve linemen I have. My current expectations is to finish them all for this team although I am starting to think in terms of doing a Nurgle or even Norse Team some of them might not get that far that instead.  This would still leave me with nineteen players. A few more Linemen for the Nurgle team might not go amiss if I can get them.

I figured that if I do the boring players first, things would get done quicker. After this it's all four blitzers and a couple of throwers. Then it's the catchers and an Ogre. When the special players arrive I will probably paint them individually and put a bit more effort in.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Gratuitous Work In Progress Shots

What chances I have had today I have spent painting. This should have been a good day for painting as my other half is out of the house for a few days. Trouble is the dog is missing her and has spent a lot of time going mental.

My first six Blood Bowl Human linemen are up. Progress on these has been quick but I have chosen a fairly simple colour scheme (Widnes Vikings' away strip). Compared to the Orc Team, these should be a doddle. Anyway, I have no pictures yet so I will do a bit more work and get some shots up.

The Troll
There is also the Orc Team Troll. This has taken a bit of a back seat for some reason. For a long time I have found large minis a little off putting as projects go (and horses to but I have got better at painting them). Whilst I haven't done much, I have taken the opportunity of having spare paint on my palette to add some details. This makes it officially a background project. The figure is hugely animated and will look really good when finished. My only gripe is that there is a lot of areas on the model that are hard to get to. When he is done he should make a nice addition to the team.

Speaking of background projects, I have three fantasy figures on the go. These are all Frostgrave creatures, a beastcrafter, a golem and an apprentice. These have been on the bench for the best part of a year so I figured that it was time that I at least made an effort with them.
Frostgrave "finest"
I guess the reason why they are taking so long to get done is that they don't current fill any needs, they are just things I like the idea of painting them. So the repeatedly fall to the back of the queue.

Going Mainstream?

I've just read this article that got flagged up on a google + group about Board Games. Apparently board games, especially the kind I like to play (i.e. not monopoly) are not getting increasingly popular. This may explain why I struggle to find so many of them in the shops. I do like playing board games and I can even go and play them in a pub in town.

But this begs the question, if board games are getting more popular, am I getting more mainstream?

For most of my life I have been a gamer of one sort or another, a sci-fi fan, a Star Wars fanatic and just a bit too nerdy for people to take me seriously. Over the course of the last decade though things have started to change. The sort of shops that I frequent (comic books, games, miniatures, models, and the like) used to be full of geeky, bespectacled nerds. Whilst there are still a lot of us about (I lost my beard) they are no longer the only group. There are even girls and more normal people to be found here.

Possibly it's games like Pokemon that have brought more people into the fold in more recent years at least although MTG has obviously had a big effect, The fact that games are more common on the high street has also helped. In my town there is a Games Workshop, Waterstones, my FLGS Netherworld and even Graigner Games (which traditionally sells console games). It's a fairly big town but none of these shops depend on their entire living on games (other than GW). This is odd because most of the towns of a similar size do have a shop that sells a much wider range of games than is available here.

Most of the stuff I play is still pretty much for geeks. If I was on a date, it would not be the sort of stuff I would lead with, It would be a fifth date conversation at least. Nor is it the kind of thing I would generally let work know about. I don't use my real name on here for fear of potential employers googling me. Many of my friends are a lot more open about their gaming activities but then they work in computers and I have spent most of my working life in Local Authorities. Whilst it's not the most mainstream of hobbies it is not thought of as badly as it once was. It's still not so mainstream. So I guess that whilst the world of geekdom is going more mainstream, I am not.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Gnolls Again

Although I am itching to get on with the Human Blood Bowl Team I am a little intimidated by the project. There is a lot of work in there and there is a few more figures to buy as well. Whilst I don't think that is going to stop me starting, it is going to give me the excuse to finish off what I already started.
Work in progress but nearly done
The gnolls were the last project I started before the laser cutting thing. So they have been sat there gathering dust for a while. This is one project I have been putting off because despite how the figures looked online, what I have been getting from the Frostgrave range has been a little below par. There was a lot of quite chunky flash and this seemed to my mind to be making them hard to paint.

Now that I have been painting them again, this seems a little less of a problem. The figures are looking pretty good. These still have a bit of work to do but it is mostly detailing and some work on the base.

My main problem is that the Frostgrave stuff hits my particular gaming niche at least as far at tabletop RPG goes. Whilst these are more D+D, a game I don't really play, they do represent a race I don't have any figures for. As well as their more traditional use, I keep thinking they would do as an enemy race if I ever do get Titansgrave off the ground.

Going back to The New Cruelty, I am pretty much on target to get double the required number of figures

Monday, 31 July 2017

Plans Never Work

In the Blood Bowl game there is a god they players and fans worship called Nuffle (not NFL). If Nuffle exists, he is not smiling on me today. I was up early with a plan to varnish the prc team. When I picked the varnish up it was apparent that I didn't have enough varnish to do it. So I moved on to the humans that I was going to undercoat. The wind was blowing them everywhere. The spray was more or less non-existent beyond about three inches. Then the cat managed to scatter them all over the place. Anyway, they are done now and I need to leave them to dry for a bit before starting painting them.
Way too many figures for me to contemplate and this isn't all them
So now it's about finishing stuff off. There is a lot of odd Frostgrave figures on the table.The gnolls are the most advanced so they are looking like the first choice. I have some rats, a beast master and some monsters floating around to. The North Star gnolls should not take long tolong to finish although I should be careful what I say. As I have become used to painting orc linemen, the gnolls are tiny. I went for a neutral colour scheme which means washing and highlighting should be quick. As they have been sat around for a while, it would be nice to put them in a draw and hide them away after they have been painted.

Anyway, this is another month over. I have just about managed to maintain an average of a post a day if not an actual daily post. So I am still on track to keep it going till the end of the year and beyond. The blog is nudging 400,000 hits and I would hope to get there in about a week. I won't be happy until I hit the million mark but I am guessing that this is a while off.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Human Team Ogre

Now that I am considering doing the Human Blood Bowl Team next I thought it was time I should put this together. What I am really doing is avoiding finishing the Orc Troll. I hate doing bigger figures and they never really seem to get finished.

Anyway back to the Ogre. He is a nice brutish figure. Even though he is a large figure I am not sure that it makes sense that he costs about half as much as the human team which is six 28mm figures. He is a nice figure and has a lot of animation. As he is plastic he can carry off the animation without being too fragile.

For the most part the kit went together okay. To be honest I think GW could use a few ideas about how to write a manual to help put something together from Ikea. Over time I have found that if you get the order of construction wrong, often with the arms, everything is going to go wrong.

The end model is nice. The plan is to paint up the body before adding the head. He should make a nice addition to the human team which is now looking like it's going to end up with about 25 players. I have seen someone do a Nurgle team and I now think I might save some of the linemen as part of a Nurgle project although I have a number of ideas about that.

Orc Linemen

Having spent a good part of the last two days painting I am feeling back like I am back in the saddle. I may even make the target for The New Cruelty. Well more or less. I can't varnish them and therefore cannot stick the transfers on because right here right now the rain is falling pretty hard despite being a pretty good day so far. To be honest there are a number of details that need attending to, ear tips and a few pieces of jewellry still need doing but the day isn't over.
The figures are really nice. The body shape fits my idea of what an orc should look like. Much bigger than people and have the crazed barbarian look.

I haven't finished the Troll. There is a lot of work in this figure if you want to get it right. As well as being more than twice the size of a regular figure it also carries a goblin which needs painting. The Goblins are not that much smaller than a regular 28mm fantasy figure. This makes it at least as much work as three other figures.

The mini has come out darker than I wanted (it's the same colour as the Black Orc Blockers). This will need a bit of work to bring it back. Hopefully this will be finished next week.

Some of the human figures are already put together. Now I am putting a few more together. I already have the ogre but lack Griff Oberwald and The Mighty Zug. I will probably order them through the local GW store and wait for them to arrive before starting the force.

Today I have won a few bits of eBay. In fact I have won pretty much everything I have bid on and it has all come in at the right price. I have a sprue of Skaven. This will go with one of my birthday choices which will have everything else I need.

All the other stuff is Malifaux. I have an urge to play this at the moment. It is also making me want to make a gaming table. One big enough for smaller games. I already have some wood cut to make a 4' by 4' coffee/gaming table. Then plan is to do something pretty close to a regular gaming table with a lip to store stuff like mugs, dice and figures out of the way and a hinged lid  to give me some storage space. SO perhaps another project.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Back To Blood Bowl

All the thinking about Blood Bowl I have been doing over the last few days has got me back to the work bench. This came as a bit of a surprise to me but I figured it was time to not be sat in front of the laptop all day.

Mostly it was Blood Bowl that got me going again. My mind still isn't fixed on the game yet but it seems a good place to start. For while now I have been putting off finishing of my orc team. Whilst I have some extra linemen to paint and the troll I don't have Varag, the goblins were due out and I was expecting to get Ripper Bolgrot when they inevitably release the figure. My plans usually involving getting all the figures together before painting begins so they all end up looking something close to similar colours.

Having already disregarded this, I had blocked out some more orc linemen. They had become one of my background projects. Whilst I should probably have gone back to the gnolls, this seemed the right thing to do.

So far I have spent about four (fairly interrupted) hours working on them. As I have a bit more time tonight, I am hoping that I can do a bit more. I've also got a bit more time in the morning so hopefully they should be all but done by the end of the weekend.

The picture is a bit rubbish. They are however very much work in progress so I am reluctant to do too much of a close up.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Birthday List

It's been an odd day. I have been sat around musing about what to do in terms of buying some figures. What was going through my head on Wednesday was on my mind a lot. I was drawn to Games Workshop and found that they had the latest Blood Bowl Pitch in stock. Having a thing for Blood Bowl I had to have it. This has set me down the what do I want to buy next route.

When I look at what's out there now, there isn't that much more than there was a few months ago. Goblins are the only new team for a while and Goblins are not the greatest team in the league. That said, a few would go with the Orc Team and a few more with some extra Skaven would make another team.

Then I looked at Forge World and there are three teams available that have all the toys in the box. Trouble is they are all around the £100. Being realistic I am not going to buy something that costs that much money that is going to sit on a shelf. I feel much the same way about Malifaux. The only difference being I never know what faction to buy, I have been burned buying the stuff before (players letting me down and the damn company releasing a new edition just after buying three box sets) and they are also going to sit on a shelf because I have no opponent.

So  got to thinking. My birthday is only four months away and if they were a gift that wouldn't be a problem.

I guess this has a lot to do with the way mini gamers acquire a lead mountain. For years now I have been trying to reduce my Lead Mountain (and the plastic and resin ones too). I am not sure I am actively decreasing it at the moment but in the round for the year so far I have painted a lot more than I have bought. So maybe I better hold off till my birthday. At least.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Game Of Thrones And Bigger Picture Fantasy RPG

I was catching up with GOT today. It is only really this show and The Walking Dead that I really look forward to at the moment. So finding a moment when I can watch it without interruptions is a good thing.

Watching shows like this (and Vikings, The Last Kingdom and similar shows like Rome have similar vibes) always make me think what they would be like as an RPG. I have seen plenty of figure conversions on sites like Lead Adventure Forums for GOT minis. Possibly there is also a viable kickstarter out there with some more specific figures for a tabletop wargame. There has been a tabletop  RPG out there for a while as well. Basically there is no shortage of inspiration.

To be honest I doubt I would run it as a tabletop game. There is far too much to remember and players being people are bound to trip me up. However it did start me down the road of RPGs and the statecraft element. These, and other systems, had a big effect on the idea of spectacle that plays a central role in my games.

The biggests game I have set in motion, in recent years at least, such as Fallout and Vikings, both featured mass battle system. For the Viking game I have even done a Savage Worlds mass combat system. Yes I know they have a skirmish game called showdown but it doesn't give the almost wargame feel that I wanted which still allows the players and heroic NPCs to have an effect on the outcome.

Whilst I know these are combat systems, the real pleasure in such a system is how it creates a story and builds a background. If you look back in dark age history the most notable events are the battles. This is despite the being fairly limited records of what went on. Now I am not talking in terms of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles but having a history of the game alongside a mythology always helps the players to buy into a game.

Most players like a scrap. There are not many RPG games out there that are combat light. Skirmish battles are fine but if the players want to make it into a games legends, they have to claim their glory in the biggest battles.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

More Thoughts

The great gamer's malaise is on me again. As I am looking around for something to do. I now have so many half baked plans that I am having a problem making a decision about which one to pick. For the last few days I have been tinkering with (that's like working on something without any real emphasis) a Conan RPG for savage Worlds. The more I read about the background and I play the game, the more hard work I see ahead of me.

Over the last few days I have had a lot of Meh moments. My plans to work on stuff for laser cutting are all on hold so I am a bit of a loss. At times like this, when things are not going my way I look at The Plan for the year and then have a look at work is in progress and see if there are any quick wins to be had.

At the beginning of the year I was all about Blood Bowl. Well the rcs team at least. I now have a decent looking Orc team and need a few more line orcs, Varag Ghoul Chewer, the troll and some Goblins and all would be complete.

This caused me to go back and look at the GW shop for the first time in a long time. It has to be said this was a bit of a disappointment. I know there are a few star players on the Forge World site but each single figure costs about as much as a whole team. Then I had a look closer, there is actually only one new team with the other team being a composite of two other teams.

Skaven, as a Blood Bowl Team at least, have a place in my heart. They were the first team I brought and along with the Undead and the ones I have played the most. With some of the special characters that are now out there, they actually start to look the part. The trouble is the team, as sold by Forge World is a few pounds short of £100. Then I would like the pitch as well. Suddenly I start to go ouch when I think in order to be able to fill all the slots in the roster I would need another basic team box.

Going back to the Orc team, I wanted some goblins and they are the one new team. They come with a couple of ogres which would round out my game nicely. The few extras that I would have left over from buying a basic Goblin box as well as extra Skaven would probably do the the Undead Creepers.

This gets up up to around the £250 mark. This is to finish one team and get three more teams with most of the options. For a game I play about once a year. So, if I am going to get any Goblins I will go for the bigger set then I can at least have two fairly complete teams. I don't already own a Goblin team and this seems to  make some sense to me.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Conan, Conan, Conan

I listened to a Conan audio booklast night, I am currently watch Conan the Barbarian on the TV, I have been playing a Conan computer game for some of the day and I have started looking seriously at doing Conan as a tabletop RPG. Somehow I just can't seem to stay on mission.

So like the other games I have run in the last few years it is starting with a document. Having taken on the ideas of Savage Worlds, I cobble the best bits from other games, get rid of the bits that don't do it for me and turn it into a game.

So far I have about six pages of background that I am happy with. When I look at the Viking game, which I am still far from happy with, it has got to well over a hundred pages of A4. This tells me that the process is at a very early stage.

Monday, 24 July 2017

The Random GM

Whilst I am currently favouring the phrase Maitre d'ungeon after inadvisably watching Robin Hood, men in tights (for the second time this year) I am at heart a Games Master. I have already mentioned that I am playing Conan: Exiles on the PC at the moment. Not that long ago I was talking about turning this into a tabletop RPG. The computer game is currently locked in a desert environment which has a decidedly Scorpion King vibe.

Aside from needing to buy (and paint up) a load of figures, the biggest problem has been coming up with a scenario. Over the years I have been more about substance than style. Players then tend to complain that they are getting railroaded as you try to keep them on the track of my well crafted piece of theatre.

You cannot get more random that just rolling a dice (well technically you can but...). Have an idea and see what happens. This was the heart of Patron Encounters in Traveller. There was a website a good long time ago called Tales of Terror which was the same sort of the for Call Of Cthulhu. This has a simple, usually one paragraph, scenario with a number of options. This was usually accomplish with a dice roll but it was always possible to use several of the options to give a layered scenario with a few false ends.

Ages ago I had a copy of an old DMG. This had a fair section at the back dedicated to random dungeon generation. This had a lot of appeal to me at the time. To be fair it is great to take the mental strain out of generating dungeons. Wandering monster tables were a staple of Tunnels + Trolls as well as D+D. The downside is that they take a bit away from the flow of the game as you sit there with a chart and some dice.

Once I had been told about this (a few times at least) I decided to do something about it. At the time I was playing Conspiracy X. Here I used tarot cards to allow the players to divine the future. I had a pen outline for each card using traditional interpretations of the cards. To keep it to the theme of the game I attached characters and events to certain cards.

To be honest I had a number of possible scenarios outlined and I took a look at the cards and tried to work in the ideas on the table  in with the overall campaign. I was surprised how well it worked. To back me up I made sure that the readings were all photographed so I had evidence that it was all in the hand of cards. Having different characters attached to different cards and a dash of "genuine" tarot babble it gave some credence to a game that was pretty heavily locked into the supernatural.

More recently I have been using Rory's Story Cubes. There are three main sets and a number of smaller tag on sets. Generally I pick one of the larger sets, typical this is the original set, and then one or more of the smaller sets. The smaller sets are more specific so I pick the sets that are most relevant to the setting and my plans for the scenario.

Normally I stick with about eight or nine dice out of the one available. If things don't seem to make too much sense I will swap the facings of a few of the dice over. Someone accused me of cheating by doing this but I think they had a borderline psychiatric condition.  This isn't cheating, you are creating a story. It can be helpful to put them in order. Then I would get out a pen and a piece of paper and make some very rough notes. If I need a trap or a monster I will wait until the players are talking amongst themselves and quietly pick something out.

Savage Worlds has a tag on system called the Adventure Deck. Most GMs don't seem to use this. Many of the cards give bonuses in combat. Generally I think that combat is easy enough so I ditch these before doing anything else. I favour the ones that add to the roleplaying side of things. Although there is a standard deck, there are plenty of fan created cards out there and there is also a way to create you own cards. This hands some of the random over to the players. It helps them to buy into the game and giving the cards that help further the plot is always good. They can be crated for specific games for even more flavour and I have done this for the Viking Game and Fallout.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Slight Changes Afoot

With my laser cutting plans curtailed until a new cutter arrives, I am free to pursue other stuff on my agenda. Whilst I am still playing Conan Exiles quite happily I am really feeling the urge to do something more practical. I seem to remember that there are some gnolls on my workbench but looking at the bench, I am not sure that I actually can get anywhere near them. For a few months now, the bench has just become a dumping ground.

Every time I go to sit at my bench I find that at least three things have been dumped on my chair by other members of the family. By way of deterrent I have started picking them up and dumping it on their seat and for repeat offenders just placing it somewhere where they are going to have difficulty finding it. I didn’t want to actually hide anything, yet, maybe that will come.

With the summer holidays here my joy is now complete (sic). On the bright side I will get a bit of a lie in in the morning. It does leave me with a bit more freedom day to day inasmuch as I can get a good run at things without having to do the school run,  being called into meetings and going on training. So I'll see what the next week brings.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Paint Brush Rack

Before I start, it has not been a good day. I am in need of some sleep thanks to the third and fourth power cuts this year.

Today was the last FabLab until September. Although I was hoping to get to the laser cutter there were three staff projects stackd up up front of me before I got there so it was going to be a non-starter. So I defaulted to my standard back up project, the perfect paint brush /tool holder for my workbench. Whilst it is far from perfect, it was the best I could do with the tools I had available at the time. There are perhaps a few more variations that I would like to try but I will see what this looks like when it's finished.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Several Little Rays Of Negativity

Today has been one of those days. Full of stuff not quite going right rather than things going wrong. Enough to cause me to frown but not enough to get me really naffed off. Whilst I have got stuff done it's all been day to day stuff.  Today is not the best but tomorrow is looking like hard work with the high point being mixing concrete.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Maths And Gaming

I have a friend called Clive. Like me, he is a gamer but I hate playing games with him. He is not a sore loser nor difficult to play with, he just takes a long time. This is because he works out the numbers. Years ago we were in a PBM game about American Football. Although I did quite well in it, Clive won the competition. How you may ask? He used a spreadsheet. We played a number of games that allowed the players to keep their money hidden. You knew how much people were being handed out but the actual total was allowed to be a secret. Clive put a stop to this and for good reason. If you wanted to keep track of the numbers all you had to do was write it down. This would take time so why waste the effort and just keep the money public.

Sat in the car today I was re-reading about the Sigmoid Curve by the guy who runs Two Fat Lardies. His gripe (and I understand it having tried to play A World Aflame) is that game designers like weapons to be used so the models should be on the board (especially if you make the models too). I don't remember the specifics for A World Aflame but safe to say that a pistol had about an eights of the range of a sniper rifle. The big beast that is Flames Of War has on table artillery that seem to have a problem hitting the other side of the board. I think I have talked in the past about playing the Conspiracy X RPG with a sniper sat at one end of a ten foot table who would have not only been able to hit a target at the other end of the table but stood a good chance of being able to hit targets across the car park, the large A road, both pavements and on the far side of the living room wall of the house opposite.

At the beginning, I mentioned maths I believe. Scale is an odd thing when it comes to gaming and miniatures. It's fine for model kits. If you want to have the pretty 28mm figures then you have to accept that some things just are not going to work. People are fixed into the ideas of ranges and worse still range bands. Further away is obviously harder to hit? Try using a sniper rifle in hand to hand combat and then see if you wouldn't prefer a shotgun, SMG or pistol.

Pistols are given to officers because the are expected to command the men not shoot their weapons. The only time they should be thinking about shooting is when the opposition is in bayonet range. Keeping with the scale of 28mm, you are going to have a hard time hitting something more than 2"-3" away (assuming that 30mm is the typical height of a 28mm miniature, 60mm is 12" in the real world and hitting a moving target who is doing their best to put you off is a bit of an ask with a semi-automatic pistol). 15mm ranges are better illustrated with the rifle. Depending on the rifle and the man shooting it, effective fire is around the 3'-4' foot range and good or lucky shot might double that on a day with a slow moving target with little or no wind. Two miles plus is an ask for a sniper but modern rifles in the right conditions have managed that.

If you have a rifle and you can see a target on tabletop you stand a good chance of being able to hit it. SMGs in a line of sight (assuming that the battle is not in the desert should be able to  hit what they can see) and in the modern world would be better off with a rifle. Pistols have a place in close quarter combat but are pretty much irrelevant as a weapon in a wargame.

I was going to say something about dice now as well but it is getting late so I will leave it to another day.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


I had an idea for a card game today. This is nothing that special, I have plenty of ideas and this one seemed a little dull. When I played it over in my head it sounded a little like Chez Geek but a bit more like Real Life. This has become the name I was thinking of calling it. Although Salmon Day didn't seem like a bad idea for a title either.

After a day of things going annoyingly, but not critically, wrong it seemed that it would be "fun" to make a card game out of it. if a game about wine-making can be fun then why not this. So I gave it a bit more thought and then a bit more.

The basic premise is that the players are a group of friends. Friends being friends they want to get one up on each other, When you get a bit older and beating them at a game seems less important what do you compete at? Well it's life.

The idea is to get more of the good stuff and get less of the bad than everyone else, the good job, the hot partner, the nice house and so on. This is all well and good but that is not what marks out most of our lives. It's not the job or the girl that has the biggest effect on our lives but losing them, at least in the short term. It's not always about the loss but sometimes it's the money and the prestige.

Then I thought about age. Not that I am getting in a bit, but different things seem to have different levels of importance at different time. Owning a sports car when you are in your sixties or you have kids is not as much fun as owning one in your twenties or when you are having a mid-life crisis.

All this this is just an idea, something that I am putting down so I can come back to it later. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Conan Exiles / What Does A Tabletop RPG World Look Like

I know that I have talked about this game in the past. It's an online, semi RPG that is currently in beta. As it is a beta, I guess that I cannot complain but that didn't stop me last time.

Whilst it is still a beta and it still needs a lot of work doing on it the game is much improved. The map has improved, the range of weapons and gear has increased and it all feels just a little better put together.

What I like about it the most is that is a nice background that I could take something from to make into a tabletop game. As a game it only touches on the world of Conan. It feels more like a cross between Conan and The Scorpion King

At the heart of a lot of my games is a computer game. Whilst not always the case, I like to use games because it does a lot of the work creating the world for you. Players can go away and look at a picture. As a referee there needs to be a lot of description done just to describe the world around them. Even in a modern game you are probably not playing a game on your doorstep. Often it is another country.

Most games can get away with nothing more than a map and the GM's fine words. This is a fine way of doing something. sometimes however, I like to be able to give the players something more. Think of it in terms of what an orc looks like. When gamers think of orcs they either think of Lord Of The Rings or Games Workshop. This is a trap that is difficult to get out of. No one really knows what they look like and there is no historic reference to look for (being a creation of Tolkein). So people crave an idea of what they look like.

Being a deeply visual person, I like to see a picture of things. Finding an RPG world with just a verbal description is a lot less satisfying. So using a computer game as well as TV and film to give you the visuals is great.

Maybe somebody out there would like to share a few ideas about what computer games, films or TV shows inspire them?

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Joy Of Six

I have been tired today but it's the good type of tired. Better than the bad type I have had all week. Since Tuesday I have been feeling unwell but I seem to be on the mend now.

Today I went to a small show, The Joy Of Six in Sheffield. Oddly it is dedicated to 6mm wargaming. It's only been going a few years but is now probably the biggest show in Sheffield with the demise of Triples.

Being honest with myself, 6mm is not my thing, I do a bit of it every now and again. I have some stuff for WW 2 and a French Napoleonic army that is never likely to get finished but it keeps me occupied sometimes. Most of my friends are into it which is why I do any of it at all.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Viticulture - The Boardgame

Today I played I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to like it when it was suggested. It sounded like  pretty dull subject matter for a game to me. Games like this are ten a penny and have been done a number of times. So I thought. When it comes down to it I was pleasantly surprised.
I played orange, so last to go
The designers have put some thought into the wine-growing/making process. Not only do they understand the mechanics but a lot of the game colour seems to come from understanding the world in which wine-making sits.

In the game the two biggest aspects are worker placement and turn order. If you want to go first you get nothing and if you go last you get an extra seasonal worker. Between these two are the growing season and the winter season.

What I found playing the game was that players will go and grab everything they can as early as they can. There is merit to being first as often you get more for your turn. The number of meeple placement spots is limited to three. In a five player game this is a problem especially as if it is something you want you can place multiple meeples. You have a super meeple which allows you to place anywhere you like to get around this but even this does not always help you.

Going last can mean you get an extra meeple. Like most games where you can increase the number of workers, this is a good thing. In the first turn, most player used all of their meeples in the summer land grab. This gave me some range to spend money to get an extra meeple which became my main strategy. I think I was the last one to start growing grapes and making wine yet by the time I had done so I was able to outproduce everyone else. This doesn't make it broken, just as long as everyone knows it.

Friday, 14 July 2017


Scythe is a boardgame roughly based on the battles for European domination in the Victorian era with giant stompy robots. I think it is currently Rank 8 on Boardgame Geek which is pretty good going for a new game. So I figured it must have something about it. I looked for it for ages but couldn't find it, then it popped up at my local bookshop so it seemed a bit of a no brainer.
It has decent quality components with some pretty nice, is stylised artwork. Some wooden counters and about thirty plastic minis.There is enough there that you know it's going to be an involved game to play. All in all it was probably worth the sixty five pounds I paid for it.

As a game it is all about resource management. It starts of slowly but as soon as you start to build up your empire the game speeds up. There is enough going on to make the game difficult to see who is in the lead which seems to work to keep all the players keen as you seem to have the feeling you are still in with a chance of winning.

It is complex but not complicated. There are many mechanisms vying for your interest and all need some level of attention. If you favour one you may well not do so good but you do get bonuses for  doing this at the end of the game. To win you have to craft a suitable strategy but this is doable but is is all about the clash of strategies.

The mechanics are intriguing enough to make it novel. Having played it I am sure that there are a dozen ways to play and still stand a chance of winning. Each nationality has it's own flavour and special rules. None of these are game breakers and the sense is that you have to play to that nation's strengths in order to come out on top. All in all I think this game has good replayability. From what I have seen I could happily play this game a couple of dozen times and still find it interesting enough to play it a few more times.

Having played it twice it plays well as a five and a three player game although as a five player game it takes a long time and is a lot more dog eat dog. The board gets very busy in the five player game so there is a bit more planning to do. Turns are rapid enough that you stay interested, especially in the three player game. All in all I am glad I got it.