Monday, December 31, 2012

Thoughts on 2012, Part 2- Under Pressure

Preview of my 21 model 600 point Rohan Army, all mounted, Theoden, Eowyn, Legolas and Gimli. This is my Adepticon TT army if you're familar with "The Two Towers", and knowing the Team Tournaments are One player "good", One player "evil" it shouldn't be a stretch to guess what we are doing.
So I looked at 2012 versus my previous years in the hobby and wanted to ascertain why my output as so piss poor this year versus say the last 4 , and it's pretty obvious. No pressure, while no pressure is good thing most of the time, as a serial over committer I find the lack of direction leads to general malise, it why despite our two Hail Caesar campaigns, I haven't been able to paint more than 25 or so figures in my Ancients Saxon army, and with Spartans I have basing issues I haven't taken the time to sort out so those project languish. With Lord of the Rings, I am putting money on the line for events, And events that I have previously set high standards for myself. having to meet that challenge  gives me the kick in the ass I need to get things done.

This is just common sense but I feel the need to say it here and it's basis for what I have been doing this month which getting a ton of models in ship shape for painting the first half of next year.

 I currently assembled based and primed 3 lord of the Rings Armies, (Rohan, Eregion, and the Army of Dead) more of my Spartans, additional Saxons, my Bolt Action Red Devils AND some more generic Fantasy figs I like. I have a ton of stuff ready to paint. Starting tomorrow I am getting back to my 2008-2009 mantra of "painting something everyday" which even if it was one simple thing, lead to getting "alot" done.  Outside of three events at Adepticon this year, in which I am playing three different armies (two of which are already done) I needed another motivator to put me under pressure to help me getting some of these other languishing projects done. when It dawned on me, The Lead Painters League on the Lead Adventure forum.if you were following the blog early last year, you'll recall that most of my posts the first 6 months of the year were a recount of my efforts in what is without a doubt, the coolest, and most challenging of painting contests. I was very pleased with end performance, however I had a great back log of stuff to draw from that only needed photos' touch up or a few figs painted so the weekly deadlines were quite doable.

At Bilbos Birthday Bash this year, a couple people asked me about the LAF LPL and if I was doing it again, and I said doubtful as, I didnt think I could make the weekly commitments from scratch. Thinking about it last month I changed my mind and started with the streamroller of prepping figures for the paint bench, with the need to paint my 40 figure Rohan Army, my Saxons,Spartans Red Devils, and all kinds of else, while the LPL is only 5-10 figures a week I am going to go for it as I have something to immediately do with the results AND its a killer motivator for those no pressure figs... its all working out quite nicely on paper, we will see how it goes. By the end of the LPL I should have painted close to 100 figures plus my Rohan army..That'll clear my monstrous paint bench for sure.

So thats where I am at, planning on painting a ton of stuff, Adepticon, Lead Painters League, etc. outside Hail Caesar, I dont see myself playing anything other than Skirmish type games this  year, The new LotR rules have made smaller model count armies viable which is just great in my opinion and it helps getting all kinds of stuff done and brings new players in easier. I look forward to giving Bolt Action a go, as I have enough guys for 500 points, the models countsat 1000 are higher than I would like..but I'll probably do it as I have more than half of it already, and just need some vehicles, I also recent played some Blood Bowl for the first time in years, again I have had a team (lizards) based up a primed years ago they just need painted. I fancy myself a painter first and  a gamer second, obviously I have been slacking. 2013, time to get back to painting.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thoughts on 2012 Part 1- The Usual Suspects

I already have 4 so its not out of the question.
So over the years we've gone thru resolutions,predictions and whatever other foresight/hindsight machinations we like to do upon that time of year that the earth marks another trip around the sun. This time around I just want to make few comments on "what kind" of year it was, for myself, the blog and my hobbying in general.

The year of slacking- when it came to blog and hobbying for sure, in my personal life, work and raising two little girls had my back against the wall. I've moved from running my own operation for 13 years to essentially being a "freelance contractor"..if any of you use that word to describe yourself, you know what that means- you are not making blog post and talking about your hobby from your  office, that luxury is gone for me. as a result and my general lack of free time certainly kicked the blog in the shorts (I'll wrap the year with less than 50 posts), The hobby to an extent as well, I did work on a lot of stuff this year, much you havent seen. 
             I am an OCD multitasker, meaning I am complusively always doing several things at once when I am hobbying (or working) and as a result, I end up leaving alot of things undone. WIP projects I havent even began to talk about here include, a couple Hirst projects, another Pirate Ship and a couple of boxes of old school grenadier miniatures I was trying to paint as a wholeset before I unveiled. Notmention spending on lot of time working on my own skirmish game that after a 1/2 dozen playtests is back on the drawing board.  Needless to say this leaves the "accomplishment" meter low, and theblog suffers as a result in content.

The year of Lord of the Rings- While LotR is and has been a primary motivator for me in not just wargaming, but literature, other games and all types of media for me. 2012, with the release of the Hobbit films certainly brought that out front and center. Most of my completed work revolves around the LotR (now Hobbit) SBG,although I dont get to play it too much, I centainly love collecting and painting the models as its the only game I am playing in any kind of organized play setting outside of my home. I am happy that I do very much like (and I know many who do not) the last two rules adjustment presented by Games Workshop, the rules for the game are best out there, that I have found at this point for Skirmish gaming, The new added detail brought to the game was exactly the type of things I have been talking about being missing from the game 6 months ago when I worked on my own rules (although I went several steps further). I have just recently done a quick generic fantasy revision of the current Hobbit SBG rules, with some of the systems and campaign features from Legends of the High Seas and Mordheim. I am looking forward to trying it out in the next couple weeks and after I do I'll post here as its own page as this all based GW IP material my own additions are just classified as a"Fan Mod". 

Besides the new film, models and working on stuff for next year, I also got roped into playing Fantasy Flight Games, The Lord of the Rings: the Card Game. and I loved it. Its one of those "living card games" as the call them. I find the game one ofthe most difficult strategic challenges ever, I consider myself a hardcore strategy gamer for over25 years, and this game is tough!. especially in solitaire form, (it was alot easier in 2 player co-op) Anyway Professor Tolkien's legacy lives long in me, had has since I was first saw the Rankin-Bass Hobbit when I was 10 and it was all over.

The year of Games Workshop- Odd, you might say given my general distaste for the company. But GW is still ever present in my hobby, checking my purchases for the year, I was over $1000 in retail and second hand purchases on Lord of the Rings material from GW in 2012, The new books back in February, the new Book, starter set and models,and used Citadel items on ebay had all got my wallets attention. I did manage to purge myself of lot of Warhammer material that was just basically cash laying around my basement, but still havealot of stuff to go, for instance it took me 4 years to get rid of all my 40K material and I haven't played that since 2007!. In short as much as I complain about it, I am still buying it. I may be forced to the cliffs edge at some point as I have managed to avoid any finecast due to thecost and  it being an inferior product. Eventually I am going to be assimilated or just stop, we will see, I am contastly weighing my interest in the LotR game with my distaste for the company.

Next up, I want to talk about getting back on track with hobbying, making the most of my free time, and what I have in store for 2013, no Resolutions, just some plans I have to make sure I get to do the things I want.

Monday, December 10, 2012

More on Escape from Goblin Town.

Seems like my "review" of the new Hobbit Starter set has generated some interest. with almost 700 views in the last few days, people are interested. Mainly thanks to a link over The Miniatures Page
Based on this I gave the review a bit editing and some clarity based on comments. so feel free to give it another read if you're so inclined.
If you recall I didn't post any pics of Radagast whom I assembled this weekend. I didn't use the included base as I wanted consistently with my other models..but he is clearly the best model in the set. The single character sprue is a great idea by GW..I wish all models where this way instead of this finecast nonsense if they were moving away from metals. For whatever reason the plastic/ detail
seems a different quality than the other sprues..that could rightly be my imagination but for whatever reason it just looks better.
I also thought Gandalf's hat was too short compared to previous sculpts so I extended it with some green stuff to where I think its right compared to my other models. I put him on a wooden plank, "goblin town" style base and he is now definitely the second best model in the set.
go wizards!..I am going to paint these guys up with an older Saurman Model I have very soon.

I am also doing some research on dwarf models, the will scale in with this Gandalf model. we all know there is no shortage of Dwarf Models out there, however finding the proper ones for Thorins company is surprisingly tough..The Old Citadel Imperial Dwarf line is perfect with the exception that the models go for like $20 each and I think they are too large, reaper has a bunch of great dwarfs..but again I a fear they are too big...I'll have to check the Bob Olley sculpts (probably my favorite old school sculptor after the Perry's) as his reapers are sometimes smaller...anyway Any ideas I be obliged.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Unboxing the Hobbit- A Review

 As I previously mentioned I pulled the trigger on the $125.00 USD retail box for Games Workshops The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Box Set. While this is starter set all you really need is the new rule book to accompany the current army books if you are already an SBG player. If you are new to the game this is the replacement intro set to the original Mines of Moria. Here is my review, where you can judge whether its worth it. I'm grading the box on the following categories: Presentation, Contents, Models, Extras, and Rules all on a 1-10 scale. I'll multiply the individual 5 category scores x 2 to give you a generic 100 percentile score.
PRESENTATION:  The box and layout is superb, eye catching with fantastic paint, not much to say here GW knows how to market their stuff, the lengths to make the figures and art look exactly like the upcoming film are second to none. (Whether you think that's a good or bad thing depends on your taste)  SCORE 10
THE MODELS: The box comes with 57 models if you include the limited edition Radagast that comes with the LE, you pay I believe the non LE set which I dont see listed on the GW site is either $10-15 cheaper so keep that in mind if you looking at the LE that is the only difference.

Goblins-  For me they are high point of the set figure wise. Scalewise they are somewhat larger then their original plastic cousins shown here. I really like these for couple different purposes, One I want to do a moria army around my Cave Drake and these guys will be the rank and file, Two the scale is sufficent and they look sinister enough they can proxy all kinds  of other bad guys in X random game, getting 36 of these guys is a bonus...especially at $70 retail for 2 boxes. While I think the Goblin King is kind of dumb looking, he doesnt detract from the usefulness of these. I overall rate the goblins a 9 out of 10.
 Dwarves-  I am not of fan of the artistic license taken with Thorins company for the new film, You know damn well when Warner Brothers found out the main character were Dwarves , some studio exec demanded they be "Sexed Up" in order to be stars of the film, as a result we Fili and Kili looking like Soap Opera cast extras...Thorin looking like Tom Cruise playing Aragorn and the rest looking like Snow Whites sevens dwarfs for comic relief..with the exception of Dwalin who some how gets excluded and looks like a bad ass.  In short I dont like the dwarf models..Scalewise they are ok, see left dwarf (looks like a dwarf)vs "breaking Gimli" vs the guy on the right...Not a dwarf proportionally IMO. Dwarves get a 4 out of 10 for me. not only because of my personal distaste for the style  but I dont really see the models usable in overall SBG as these  Dwarves just dont fit in with the rest of Dwarf models in the current Citadel range. They are Thorin's Company from the movie period. Their overall utility is lax.

Bilbo:-  The Bilbo model is great , and having two different arm option, Walking Stick and Sting is great! However the scale during design was botched. see him versus Frodo and Pippin here- he's smaller scalewise than all my other Hobbits. I dont find this model usable outside the core game here, it does not fit in and it really looks like 20 mm model. Great model, but I cant game with it along side all my other Citadel Hobbits  because its wildly out of scale.  1 out of 10 for Biblo..this is most disappointing thing in the set for me.
The Wizards- Gandalf and Radagast (not pictured) came out great the scale is solid and the detail and sculpts excellent , Gandalfs hat is too small however compared to all other hats he wears in the range I think can use some green stuff and get it where it needs to be but I shouldnt have to. Consistency should be GW's bread and butter after 3 decades of miniature making, the fail at it far too often.

Wizards 8 out of 10.

Models: I rate the models in the box combined an average SCORE of 6 ( if this was not the LE it would be a 5!) 

EXTRAS:  Here we mean the Terrain, the extra figures for game on the Gobin King sprue and a few other extras I see on the sprues.  The Terrain is 2 identical sprues  The sprue shown is one half of the individual retail "Goblin Town Expansion" if you buy the $60 dollar retail box you get one of these sprues and another sprue that is basically all support pieces.  I have in the above pictures some casts from the Hirst Arts wooden plank mold to show you that they are very close to what you a paying alot of money for. I am going to be building a 2 x 2 (maybe bigger) Moria Board....and guess which will see the most use? the plastic at $30 dollars a sprue? or the plaster at $30 for the mold? The spues have some skull details like all GW stuff, but unlike WFB these skulls actually have a place here. Due to cost of the expansion and the unflexibility of the two sprues in the box. I also give the extras a SCORE of 6

 RULES: There is alot of misinformation on the rules out there, I reported some rules details in my last post that turns out to totally incorrect. I dont understand how people with the book, could get things so wrong, but I now have the book and am quite comfortable saying the new rules are GREAT. The mini rulebook is well formatted and clear for new players, although the lack of profiles and points from at least the starter models is disappointing, adding them just would have been good form.
 (note: profiles for play but not points are contained in the starter material. in the original Mine of Moria starter the rulebook contained a host of profiles and points, you get none in the rulebook.)

The best move for players old and new would have been making the included "Your Journey begins here" starter guide an actual "Unexpected Journey" sourcebook that could also have been sold separately. That would have been a very smart business move and would have been maddeningly easy to do. All they would have needed to do was add additional profiles and all the point values and change the art. Then you would have useful product to stand along side the rulebook.

So while the rules themselves are great, GW's wisdom and foresight is not. The way the distribution of new rules material in this set is handled leaves alot to be desired as you still must order the $85 big rulebook to expand play outside this set. As a result as much as I like the new rules, looking at the set contents and what should have been, I must give the included rules a SCORE of 5.

 CONTENTS:  The overall contents of this package, which also include some measuring sticks (why? how about a tape measure?) and Dice. My set for whatever bad luck..DID NOT COME WITH DICE
that is just sloppy on the packing end./ Overall the complete contents of this package are fantastic value for the intro gamer,.I would give it a score of 10 for that. However I am not a into gamer, as a veteran gamer, I rate the contents here a 6 for an overall SCORE of  8.
= 35 X 2 or a 70% Score. when I was in school a 70% was just barely passing and the low end of "C" or Average score, I think that holds true here.

The big take away point I want to make here (and if you've read this blog in the last year or so, you know I am no longer Games Workshop biggest fan, so take this as you will. ) is that Games Workshop's current secrecy policy on product release information is not doing them any favors in terms of veteran customer loyalty. By not clearly telling us about their products what we are actually getting in advance I feel they are doing us a great disservice.
In the end this was not the product for me. As a veteran player of the game, I should have just bought the big book and a box of goblins and the town kit and waited for the new Radagast figure (pictured below, which I did not know was coming.)  Instead I ate their marketing hook line and sinker, got caught up in the release mania and am now somewhat disappointed in my purchase,  While I got my moneys worth, and some cool figures. (I'll model up and play the games a few times).This sets overall usefulness is limited to me. I'll still end up picking up additional items, like the big rulebook anyway, but 6 months from now it will turn out I did not need this set at all. My long term LotR gaming use coming from the new book and a variety of individual models and some terrain.
So they got  more money out of me now, but have just pushed me further to the edge.

In short if you or someone you know is looking to get into LotR (Hobbit) SBG then this is good buy for you. If you are already a veteran of the game stay away from this the big book and pick up what you need. Personally I am tired of the GW merry go round. This is most likely my last direct retail purchase from Games Workshop anything else will be trade, second hand, discount or if I must have something new I will buy it from an Indy distributor.

I should also mention doing GW's Advance Orders is just dumb, they scare you with "the limited edition" get its before it sells out ticking clock so I made sure I got that pre-order in early. Instead of getting mine this Saturday on release day at my local shop, like plenty of other people. I instead got mine Tuesday at 5pm -72 hours later..even thou I ordered mine well within the same as release day window they advertised..There is just no point anymore, its total waste of time.

 New Elven Cavarly looks good.
White Council in Action with Gwaihir, check out mounted Elrond.!!
(correction: It's been pointed out by a reader that's not mounted Elrond but the Captain from the February Elven Cavalry box, I have read there is a new mounted Elrond coming..thou.)


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