Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 and the year that was.

 The hobbyist blogger year end review is an expectation this time of year, I'd be remiss if I didnt continue to do mine.  I gave up on the resolution thing last year and this year I'll keep my year end short and sweet. 5 years in and Plastic Legions is hanging there, while my focus has certainly changed I am plenty determined to keep my chronicling of my hobby going as long as I can. I've pretty much become "another one of those guys" and have completely removed myself from Games Workshop when it comes to Warhammer. As much as I tried hard to embrace it, WFB 8th edition in 2011 was just a continuing landslide of bad decisions in both design and implementation.. I am now essentially a specialist games guys playing LotR when I can. It's really my main interest there but only because I am interested in LotR , not Games Workshop.

Looking back this year its clear most of my focus was on Terrain and I both started and finished some of best work to date in 2011, 2012 will be more of the same however. I am going to serious try to wade thru my sea of unpainted lead in 2012, doing as much single figure and army painting as i can first and any terrain ideas second. I have some big changes in my  job coming in 2012 that will be a pretty big time soak, so I really dont know what my hobby time constraints will be. I am also looking to formalize some of my Miniature hobbyist work into something a little more professional and I will be talking about that soon. I still plan on running my Battle of Five Armies mega game sometime this year..and am looking forward to more Hail Caesar, Flames of War, Warmachine and various skirmish games all in non tournament capacity, I also have some Uncharted Seas and Dreadfleet sitting around untouched and will be just looking for a good excuse to crack those., so expect more of the same I suppose just less of it, minus the Warhammer. It is really a wide open sea for me, I just set a course and let the wind take me where it may. Happy 2012. people.

Legends of the High Seas At Adepticon 2012

Just a quick flyer I threw together for LotHS at Adepticon this year. Rules are currently posted  HERE
any event  questions should be emailed to me at oldcoast@comcast.net. With last years event and a second summer campaign under my belt the rules have changed a bit for the better to include more of the mini campaign aspects and the scoring is alot more similar to what tournament players are used to. I've got some great stuff lined up terrain wise as well as all of last years favorites coming back. "Boarding Action" will be happening and rumor has it the author of the rulebook will joining us as a participant! There 20 slots max, 15 seats currently available as I type this. Note the later start..so you should be able to play in Friday daytime events and not have any conflicts. Also if you're playing in the event please keep an eye on lothscampaign.blogspot.com for all event related updates. Pics of terrain, etc are of course posted here, but event related posts and information will always be there first.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Scale Massacre

 ( An example of when miniatures from various manufactures work together "scale wise",  its rarer than you think   Left to Right  Reaper Dark Heaven, Avatars of War, Reaper Pathfinder, Reaper Dark Heaven X 2, Gorgon Miniatures)

I have dual or dueling narratives here, the photo text, and the regular text, you'll have to let me know if you like this style of post.

No surprise, I collect Fantasy miniatures and have since before high school, which for me was a long long time ago. Despite a multi-decade gap of abstaining from collecting , I'm doing my best to make up for lost time, its at the root of all the rest of this gaming nonsense and for me, the very essence of the hobby.

An often touchy subject with folks, me in particular is "Scale", we've all heard the term "scale creep" and these days the term "28mm" get used without much specificity to the point where it really just means "toy soldier". The first question I ask when ever I get interested in a particular model or product, is "how does it scale?? "how does it scale to what you ask?, well with what ever I am damn well planing on using it for, and these days that's all over the map, Nothing like spending your cash on something called "28mm, or 15mm, or 25mm" and it shows up and its nowhere near actual scale you thought it was.

 (3 Berserkers by one of my favorite manufactures, Otherworld miniatures, and one Reaper Pathfinder model, The Otherworld figs are large proportioned 30mm, the Pathfinder fig is 32m, and a giant scalewise among his peers (although its a specific character in the Pathfinder RPG world so I think its supposed to be "huge", "in scale" that sword is like Six Feet long, its definitely getting replaced.

If go back to my old collection circa late 1970's and 1980's. most things called 25mm at the time scale up pretty well between a the small variety of manufactures of the day. The largest manufacture of the time for these types of models before Citadel was Grenadier, a while certain lines where true 25mm (I have stuff that would easy be labeled 20mm today) it was generally easy to buy something from a catalog (how we did it back then) and have it show up and be appropriate with the rest of your collection, definitely if it was in the same line.

Somewhere during my absence from the hobby, probably routed in the success of Citadel or Reaper miniatures, in the 1990;s "Heroic Scale" came to be whether this be exaggerate features being out of proportion or just larger figures, the damn broke and scale creep began either as a "bigger is better" mentality. a lack of attention of detail, or simply not giving a damn.

( The world largest Goblins by Otherworld Miniatures, I love the old school theme from this company
and have alot  their figures but the scale is all over the damn place..They also make the worlds smallest human zombies and I cant believe I forgot to show a comparison of one of the these goblins to the "human" zombie. its really too bad these are great sculpts, but they should be easily 25% smaller, bright side I guess they work as Orcs??)

For collecting them and painting them scale creep isnt the end of the world, it becomes more problematic in large format army games, where people want to mix manufactures to create a nice variety.  Games Workshop led the way in "proprietary sculpting" if you will, where as they make their miniatures in such a way that they didnt really work with anything else other than Games Workshop. This is a business model numerous other companies have followed successfully, to the point where new miniature manufactures have sprouted up just to manufacture alternative models that properly scale to the proprietary lines of Games Workshop.

In my case. I am working on going thru the bins of miniatures I have to base them up and paint them for Skirmish gaming, There going to be used in dioramas or rule book shots on nice terrain I've built for the purpose of illustrating the rules of the Skirmish Game I am working on. for this purpose I am limiting myself to couple things, 1) no Games Workshop or Citadel Models and 2) only stuff thats currently available on the market.The point of this is that I want my rules to be a clear alternative to GW style gaming and show that there are alot of other great miniatures out there you probably dont know about unless you look.

(L to R,  Redbox, Reaper Dark Heaven, Pathfinder, Pathfinder.
I love Tre Manor's sculpts, in fact he's probably my favorite fantasy sculptor working today, however Redbox's line is 25mm, or while it might "true 28mm" his figures really line up with GW's LotR line where as thats called "true 25mm" and those are kind of all over the place too. The Reaper fig is a giant, no doubt and I converted the weapons so it looked even more so, but those two models just look silly in comparison, the big guy does work however with the smaller woman and largish man from Pathfinder.)

( 3 Reaper Dark Heaven Barbarian models with the one Redbox, despite the pose and being an amazing sculpt  Redbox, just doesn't work with these Reaper Barbarian, he's stuck with other RBG models..The Redbox /Reaper non compatibility is most likely purposeful since Tre Manor has worked for Reaper.)

  ( LtoR- Otherworld, Hasslefree, Otherworld, Otherworld.  Otherworld hit it out of the park with these "Drow" or Dark Elves...they're the right size and even scale right with Dark Elves I have from 20 years ago. As much as I like OW, these guys are one of the exceptions not the norm of the stuff, I've bought. Hasslefree is an odd one, they're somewhat erratic scale wise too. Most of there stuff , especially the modern/ Sci Fi stuff is "true 25-28mm and too small to use with say Reaper's Chronoscope' which is "Heroic" and 30-32mm but certain single sculpts are exceptions, this awesome model works as an elf, Elric, or whomever with various other lines models.)

(LtR, Avatars of War, Reaper Dark Heaven, Reaper Pathfinder, Rusted Heroes.  Here is the one Avatars of War human model I have that works, the other humans and elves I have are just too large., for whatever reason this AoW Warpriest works...The Pathfinder "Low Templar" model is annoyingly small proportioned, it doesnt look too bad in this photo but its very small in comparsion with other Pathfinder humans, The Rusted Heroes sculpt is one of those great ones that "just works" with whatever too. Of the four of them the Pathfinder one in the odd man out, I guess it work as a young man or squire.)

The point of "Scale Massacre" is I am finding trying to combine models of various manufactures, even between lines of popular manufactures tough because the scales are so inconsistent in both size and proportion. I'm not a sculptor, I do a great many things with my hands, but sculpting miniatures is one thing I an never personally going to get to. So technically, I admittedly dont know what hell I am talking about however as a customer  it seems to me that using similar armatures to start a sculpt off, and having a specific one for Humans, Elves, Dwarfs, Orcs..what have you..should not be that big a deal. I know sculpting is generally a freelance job so you make your pieces and try to sell or get commissioned to make it under certain guidelines, selling freelance sculpts has to be brutal because unless your targeting a specific product line you become a victim of the hobbys success by "28 mm" encompassing literally an full inch in variation..so your just throwing darts in the dark at whose going to buy it. Ultimately but I dont get how some of these get past the QA of the company putting them out without a "go redo this"...red flag, going up.

I miss the scale photos I used to see on the long defunct blog Wee Toy Soldiers, I wish I'd see more of these types of comparisons out there. Thankfully I do see this alot with Historical figures and its has saved me some money, by knowing what not to buy. No such luck with generic Fantasy. I'll try to do more of these from time to time  I need to get a better set up happening to properly start cataloging scales. I could literally devote an entire blog to specifically just comparing all the "28 mm" scales out there, I've barely scratched the surface of my own stuff here-its crazy, and frustrating as a consumer?? you bet! 




(Last but not least, the Otherworld, worlds largest Goblins with the above Knights, proportionally these goblins are so out of wack, that its not just the height. I am tempted to say these might work as 54mm scale goblins..what the hell??!!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hocus Focus

The center sections where designed to use the GW hill as a bridge to change the new table up, yes,that hill needs reflocked to match.

No one is more aware that the content here has been sluggish of late, more so than I- but no apologies.The  absence of Warhammer from my gaming calendar clearly leaves a big hole in my blogging pursuits, mainly because like it or not I found myself being a pundit about the machinations of Games Workshop, nearly as much as I talked about my own gaming experiences. While I am still quite of The Lord of the Rings SBG, and its due for its biggest year of releases (or might that be year after next?? as the films are 12. 2012 and 12. 2013) so I am sure I will be drug back into to conversations about how GW made some great models and ruined the game or totally killed metal for resin,etc. Regardless that day is a good ways off So I want to refocus on what I am currently doing which has always the bulk of hobby for me which is painting miniatures and building terrain. I've been working on a bit of both of late, as well fleshing out the most ambitious project I've been working on to date.

"My Skirmish Dungeon keeps growing, I do want to add another square foot to it..but at that point with replacement pieces being plasters it no longer portable. It will reach multi configurations soon enough."

I've had numerous things going on since I had any type of real gaming update in early November. Mainly getting 10 tables of terrain ready for Adepticon 2012 and my Legends of the High Seas event. The majority of is pretty much there, with exception of the tallest order finishing at least one probably two large Pirate Ships, these are big projects that will run me right up to Adepticon I am sure and I am not even getting started until next month.In last month, I have been tweaking older pieces, build a couple of new boards, and got a slew of figures based up and ready for paint for Hail Caesar, Lord of the Rings, Legends of the High Seas, and generic Fantasy miniatures for Skirmish gaming.

The new 4x4 boards are coming along, that river is going to be redone a proper shade and give some liquid resin for realism...I am using all woodland scenics products at this point.

Hail Caesar- No secret I love this rule set, the support warlord is giving it and its suprising depth in its simplicity My Saxon Army is huge, I keep buying models for it trying to configure a force that can deliver against Cavalry. Its really no surprise that English lost at Hastings...they would have needed a 1000 of Prince Harry's Longbows to have stood a chance but that was almost 400 years off. Anyway the great unpainted horde is looking strong (mainly thanks to some quasi historical but totally legal Mercenary units  but I am going to dig into some heavy painting soon as we (the club) are going to be doing Hail Caesar demo games Saturday night a Adepticon and while this huge of an army wont be done by any stretch..I hope to keep it from being too embarrassing. HC's been my groups main focus since early summer and the current campaign is going very well (although Rich and his Arabs are pounding us all into rubble) talk of moving to the medieval period (HYW, WotR) is probably going to become a reality at some point.

recent skirmish shot, pre resin.

Lord of the Rings- Too many projects might be fun, but its not your friend when you're trying to commit to a game system and play competitively ( the main reason Warmachine isnt taking off for me other than very casually, is that it requires a huge committment) My plan was too do awhole new army by Adepticon for the Championships and while only 40 models it has Cavarly, alot of Freehand and need of cool display. So I felt its better suited for next year BBB in the fall. Coming off the Best Appearance award has some pressure to put out ( with three GD winners as regular participants in the Championships yearly) so running my Orcs again is a necessity but I have swapped out around 20 of the crummy plastic troopers for old citadel metals that are just killer and will be a pleasure to paint and will really pop..I've switched up the list to make a bit tougher as those crappy Warg Riders just needed to go..so I need to put about two weeks into this army to get ready for the Championships this year and I am excited to how V.2 turns out.

I recently did this Reaper model as Red Sonja for my daughter whose taken a keen interest in my Skirmish solo play. When I showed her some Comic Covers of Red Sonja..she said Oooo, I want to be her for Halloween...I said better now than when you're 16...

Legends of the High Seas- There is alot of good detail going on for this event , enough to merit alot of talk between now and then.which is better off as a series of itds own posts which should start very soon as finish off the Shipwreck board, and move on the large galleon and finishing the Brig. Skirmish Gaming- Quite alot going on here. I have tweaking several of the older board mainly used for Pirates. like the Dungeon. Finishing the details adding the Water Cavern which will soon have resin water and better looking rocks that those cork boards.  I've mentioned I like making everything I can to be multipurpose so my new 4x4's for Skirmish Gaming are also my new 4 X8 for large army gaming. 2 4x4 sections that can flip around to different configs..with river running down the middle. We've been using it for HC and it working out great with lots of spots for specific terrain rules depending on how we set it up.

 The more interesting thing on the Skirmish gaming front is I've been "hobbyist" game writer for many years, pages and pages of unplaytest ideas, games, campaigns or just general ramblings. late last year, I got the 15mm Sci Fi "bug" as they say mainly from all the great new miniatures being released and going through my old stuff, the RPG game Traveller and its companion Skirmish game Snapshot..trying to update Snapshots early 80's rules for the kind of game I wanted to play in 2011 led to one thing , then another, then some playtesting, then some changes, then more playtesting, then new concepts. Pretty soon it wasnt remotely like Snapshot anymore, but I was really liking it, Then I bump it back up to 28mm and built the Warehouse Hulk to test out the concepts and the ride stopped there. (Although considering the use the Hulk is getting ( i.e NONE), I am considering put it up for sale..so if the guy that offered me close to 4 figures for it last year is still out there hit me up!- or anyone else but serious inquires only..you're talking a 100+ hour project here.) Along the way I started thinking about how the concepts of my little game translated to Fantasy Skirmish, and while the Sci Fi version still had some big holes still to fill due to the complex nature of the genre. Bringing it home to Fantasy fits like a glove, its also a very playable as a solo game which is very cool, in fact I've done a dozen or so playtests solo and its been very addicting (a good sign) I dare say it has some unique mechanics and I look forward to some 1 vs 1 with one of the guys soon. Anyway given that and the way our current campaign is playing out..I want to formulize these things and look into some Indie self publishing. I am not going to share any more details at moment other than to say, I look forward to exploring this alot more in the next year and see if its worth the effort, if only for my own satifisfaction.

Skirmish solo play shots from "The Game" whose actual moniker will remain a secret for the time being.

My point here is of course, getting refocused, new year, new directions and all that The games may change  but my basic loves are all still there. Its just you won't see me telling you how "Storm of Magic" or "Blood in Badlands" are pure marketing scams from GW that only further push old players away and fool new players or the more gullible old ones into buying way more models than they need to play a whole alot of other better games and at double the prices! I wont do this because I havent read these books and dont plan too. ..I just dont care..let someone else do it.  So look for alot more hobby content and lot less caring about what GW is or isnt doing . There will surely be some of that again eventually, but with all of the above plus .a Flames of War day in Jan, a pal trying to get me to play some Uncharted Seas...and the current Chicago Warmachine craze..why bother?

This didnt end well for the good guys.

........Next up The Dark Ages Campaign, Round 5!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dark Ages Round 4

Here's our map after 3 Rounds, things are start to take shape with Normans and Saxons totally on the defensive. The Caliphate has just been rampaging, Rich is getting very high scores in his games the Caliphate vs Norman Score last week was 40-28, while explaining the scoring isnt pertinent here, the scores are mainly kill points and the relevancy is your score is used to dicate map move against all opponents not just the one you played this week. So with three high scoring games, the Caliphate is on a tear. Chris and his Byzantines had a very close game versus my Saxons (32-24 his favor) where I wiped our his center division turn 2 on charge from my Huscarls that was a result of Blunder, if you can believe that, and shattered his two main infantry units in that division, a follow up charge the same turn from my Coerls broke the division. Just when you thought I had the upper hand, Chris's cavalry came back and had similar revenge...it came down who crack the second division first, I had some chances but the dice said it was not to be and he did it
I have been pretty stagnant for last two rounds, and need to make something happen this week. I am playing the Normans this week, so I'll squeeze some of those French territories where I can but we need slow down the green tide. Aaron and his Normans have their hands full with two armies cut off behind enemy lines in the Pyrenees. Should be an interesting week!.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hobbies and their Crossroads


Lately I've found alot of things hobbywise competing for my time. That's outside the obviously important things like my family or Job. I think we all go thru phases with what competes for our time. I had spurts was where all I nearly did with my free time was work on miniatures related gaming. thats dwindled alot of late...while there a couple big miniatures projects coming up and in the works like my Legend of the High Seas event coming up at Adepticon in 2012, trying to get one Ancients Army finished (which is woefully behind, and one of the reasons you seeing alot of photos from the Ancients game sis the Sea of lead of which mine is the biggest!)
Continuing on with more Lord of the Rings figures and terrain for the only tournament  (GW) gaming I am currently doing, and my Battle of the Five Armies game I plan do next Summer. That's a pretty big plate right there, let alone things like taking martial arts, reading, my musical endeavors or an old time sink that creeps up ever now and again for me. Computer games.

Before I got back in to miniatures hobby, in the time consuming capacity that is table top gaming, (that is  versus just collecting them, maybe painting them and putting on a shelf.) There where computer games..I spent alot of time in 1990's during the golden age of PC gaming playing all the hits. mainly in the RPG and Turn Based Strategy department. Spent alot of time and money with these being pretty PC savy for the time I always stayed pretty current with hardware/ technology and games. That dwindled in the 2000's as in my opinion games simply got alot crappier, and while they looked better, I felt the content was lacking compared to past experiences Whether I had outgrown the attraction or developers just realized that as PC and then console became main stream appealing to lowest common denominator was where the $$$ was. 

I don't talk about computer games here, (ever) as its a miniatures hobby blog, but bear with me for the brief distraction, as things come full circle. The last couple years I've noticed games getting a bit better and at least once year I get the bug for about a month to slug my way thru one. Obviously I have a soft spot for Fantasy RPGs...the problem with them I always thought was with the exception of old "Gold Box" Dos D&D game which where great in low graphic, turn based and text heavy environment, I thought every fantasy / D&D based  real time RPG just really fell flat. even in the last 5 years..I tried and barely got my moneys worth out of bunch of the more popular titles. The one shining gem and my favorite Fantasy RPG (and its very light on that subject) is a somewhat obscure game called Severance: Blade of Darkness..which is just a great fantasy combat sim, light on story heavy on exploration and great combat which I find alot of games these days are missing. Repetitive "click, click, click" combat just kills games for me..I like it where you have to actually move, plan your swing and make sure you in the right spot to deliver the proper blow,most current games stunningly seem to fail at either the story or the play mechanics.

Now along comes- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I wont bother giving you a game review since there are zillion of those currently available and let's just say I concur with the general sentiment- that it rules, and I was not a fan at all of its predecessor. I am already going through my horde of fantasy miniatures picking out characters for Skirmish gaming and sketching out how to build Skyrim style Barrow or Cairn entrance to go along with my dungeon board, and revist to my skirmish rules I've been working on at a snails pace as I play a host of other games. So, yeah while I might get distracted by a video game now and again, the virtual manifestation of sending your alter ego Dungeon delving, which has my brain churning out a couple dozen ideas for miniatures and terrain isn't necessarily  a bad thing, Between Skyrim  the below pic ( which I am sure most of you who read this blog have seen before and is hands down my vote for Diorama of the year 2011)..I need to get cracking on my own game, inspiration is a fickle muse, when it hits you need to roll with it.

("Outnumbered" by CMON member "Crackpot", photo by "Crackpot"  www.brushhour.de )
        While its creator sites his own influences, this piece immediate struck me as similar to my own adventures as Tukaram in "Blade of Darkness" , my Nord Barbarian in Skyrim, or my boyhood fondness for the "Savage Sword of Conan".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dark Ages Campaign Round 3

Here is current map as the move portion of turn 3 is under way and the games that will dictate the results of these moves will take place this coming Tuesday. So far the Campaign using Warlord's Hail Caesar rules has been great. We are playing either Pitched battles or picking from a handful of scenarios. As I mentioned as great many battles are fought each turn and it abstractedly resolved thru the one game week. This campaign system , something I cooked up based on trying to solve numerous things that went wrong with many, many Campaigns I've run over the years. Pairs are simply round robin, the only caveat being that if the majority of your battles are against someone in particular then you play them regardless if its two weeks in row. being our third week that isnt a problem yet, and because I got stomped last week by the Caliphate (more on that in moment) My turn hasnt happened yet, and since the Caliphate has repelled and the Saxon invasion, counter invaded and is now sitting in Ireland ( Arabs in Ireland in 1000 AD, my Ancestors are cursing me)
Rich has decided to put the pressure on his neighbors the Normans. Whether I make minor strikes against my neighboors or go for a viking-esque raid on the Byzantine Empire I don't yet. One the benefits in being the weeks loser (ye with least number of Armies on the board) means you get to last, so you can see what the other players moves are. This mimics the "Risk" type board game mechanic I was going for.

As for my game last time around The Saxons invaded, Northern Spain, Rich and the Caliphate counter invaded Ireland.. I made some  small moves againt Neutral Armies and the Normans. The scenario we play was a "Camp Raid" where each player had camps in opposite corners of the board and deploy toward each other (for the short edge long ways) the kicker is one of your three divisions is in reserve and must roll to come on.I had one of my Divisions stupidly near the enemy reserve deployment, and of course fail orders on my part had them not get out of away before Rich got his reserves on first time and roll right over one divisions flank standing at the edge of my camp. Luckily I had some good performing units although not my Huscarls who for once seemed not at all the indestructable tanks they have been. mainly due to getting engaged with cavalry. My Second Division performed well keeping two division of Arabs at bay outside my camp, until my reserves finally came on (3 turns later) and started toward the Arab camp. The pressure from my reserves made Rich have to split his offense force to have some of it go back and support the camp..
There where a few turns where the battle actually started to drift back to my direction but its was not to be and I suffered enough early losses and didnt get the breaks I needed late to really flip it the other way.
As result, Rich got major victory ( or Conquer III as our scoring metric calls it) It was a fantastic and dramatic game.  I did score enough points in our game  to keep from getting totally creamed in some of my other battles on the map many of those resulted in draws or minor setbacks. I still lost enough amries and territories to be in last place but not by a ton. A good week could flip any of us to the top, but right its clearly the Caliphate of Cordoda expanding across Dark Age Europe. Lets see if anyone can stop him this week!>

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bilbo's Birthday Bash, Day 2

I am sure I am not alone in thinking that while I love two day tournaments for the camaraderie and experience, playing on day two is always apprehensive, its always more pressure and its always when things go horribly wrong. I was psyched to see I was playing Chris, as I loved his army and display. I just met him recently and he and his friends from Joliet, IL are fantastic hobbyists who are way into the Hirst Arts thing, like myself and his group supplied many of the great tables at the event.

Somehow I spaced taking pictures during Chris and mines game so pictures of his army on display will have to do!

Game 4 Vs Corsairs of Umbar (Chris T)

16 HW& Shield
18 Spears
8 Reavers
12 Crossbows

I've have played the Corsairs many times and beaten them many times, they die easy but hit hard especially in the shooting department. I knew that would be a problem because of the scenario which "seize the artifact" in which there were three. I knew hanging onto the Artifact would be hard because of the shooting meaning I had the break Chris asap. as usual Shelob and Shagrat where great, and I early on had all three Artifacts in my possession. but on the far flank my Warg Riders again failed me miserably where the needed to punch thru and break his wall of Corsairs going for the artifact in my table quarter. The bounced off and where mowed down. they did screen for me long enough to get infantry in there, dig it up and pass it off to my Orc Shaman who bolted with it. I had some infantry in the middle who got the center artifact but they where just gunned down by Crossbow fire dropping the Artifact near my deployment zone. while a third Orc headed with far artifact back to my deployment zone, Shagrat left a trail of dead in his wake including on of the Corsair Captains. The problem at this point is that I was long broken again, surviving on making my courage checks, Chris Corsairs moved across the table to my Deployment zone where my Shaman was hiding, Corsairs has already picked up the center one and where closing and another failed courage check had me drop my third one which Chris's troops recovered., My Shaman was getting boxed in with nowhere to run, my only hope was to make my checks and win some priorities to get away and run out the clock, (10 turns from recovery of the 1st artifact), Problem was I lost the last 5 priority rules and hat kept me from not saving the minor loss but also, getting the bonus object which was to get a model into his deployment zone..I had Shelob engage the Corsair crossbows by herself but because I couldnt win a damn priority Chris just kept feeding her 1 at a time, (except on few where they failed there courage) I did kill them all but one, whom got lucky on the last turn and killed her, the only time she died or got close to dying the whole tournament. meanwhile, The lack of priorty wins kept my Shaman from getting out of chris's trap he got swarmed, killed and the Artifact recovered on the last turn. Major Win for Chris, Major loss for me, no bonus, 3 points.
great, fun game despite the loss.

Game 5 Vs Gondor -Osgiliath Veterans ( Rob K)
10 HW& S
5 Rangers
12 Osgiliath Vets
11 Citadel Guard Bow
10 Citadel Guard Spear

This set of ruins should have extremely helpful in getting across the board, it wasnt, it wasnt terrible, but it didnt save me half of the shots it should have as odds would dictate.

I've played Rob lots of times but in WFB, this the first time we met up for LotR. Again Rob's list was shooty army with high defense. I new it would be a hassle, but if I could get past the shooting I'd be ok. The Scenario was standard meeting engagement, this one had built in bonus points for heros surviving, but the goal was too break the other army and get them to 25% and the game would end. The board was absolute fabulous to play on an Egyptian style Hirst board with lots of cover for the shooting,

Why I am always the guys marching across the table while my opponent stands there and shoots at me? I need to figure that one out.

unfortunately despite my best efforts my dice where bloody awful and his were over the top fluky great...I hate to bitch about dice but this was bordering silly. Rob shot the crap out of me, even with tons of "in the way" checks..when we got into combat he was throw 5's to wound like I was throwing 1"s (i.e. Consistently) anyway so despite an awesone double flanking setup that should have did him in, I took so many shooting casualties by the time we engaged, that average losses broke me quick, annoyed, I overlooked a key heroic move on a lost priority roll, that would have allowed me a big standfast check with about a dozen guys. Rob quickly engaged Shagrat , removing that ability, and simply left everyone to stand there and passed the move turn to me to make my checks...I fail easily a dozen courage checks without a standfast and go to 25% and game over. a third Major loss for me, but 6 points as we both picked the bonus points as all our heroes where alive. Great table, and should have be a good game, but lopsided dice rolling made this the absolute worst game of the weekend which is always a drag when its the last game.

I should have rolled this flank up in turn and been into the main line on the next turn, no not only because my Warg Riders, once again consistently 5 games in row failed to their, but even Shelob couldnt get any kills because I could win any fights..bad dice and Fight 3 vs Fight 4 are a bad combo.

So all is not lost I finish the tourney 1-3-1, my soft scores are always maxed out so I hope I am still somewhere in the middle of the pack. I was very happy to hear my named called when it came time for the Best Appearance Award. As its always a Razor thin margin and there where alot of great armies there. Chris who I played in Game 4's Corsairs where close in the unning in fact he picked players choice, but I managed to squeak it out this year, again I've now won it in 2009, was runner up losing the tie breaker to friend Jamie Welling in 2010, and winning in 2011..I guess I now have something to prove things on the hobby side have become more competitive than the actual games themselves (which I can quite seem to get a handle on (designing a list that works hobbywise and gameplay wise)

Let me finish up but showing some pics of some other great armies at the event. There was a separate painting contest, that I had two entries in but neither of those could pulloff a victory but in retrospect I did not really have the time to do anything new and used one older model and did a new one kind of quick and both could have been better. So better luck next time there. I'll do a separate post on the painting contest next.

The next big Lord of the Rings events in the US are Gathering in the Desert in Phoenix, in February and of course Adepticon in April, working getting myself to the former but I will surely be at the latter.

Bilbo's Birthday Bash, Day 1

Bilbo's Birthday Bash 2011 @Chicago Battle Bunker.

The third year of BBB has come and gone, and let me say it was an awesome weekend, Brent and the staff at the Battle Bunker hosted another great event..with the best terrain I have seen at any miniatures event period. As you've read here previously paid registrations were at 42
which is the highest total of LotR players at single event in U.S. to date. Unfortunately with a large number of traveling players attending and several unexpected illnesses the final count to show up was 34, still surpassing most local tournaments for more popular games and still besting any LotR events in recent memory. We had players from all over the Midwest, Florida, California, and Virgina show up.

A brief rundown of my games. LotR tournaments are always played to variety of unique scenarios. This year we had the perk of 4 bonus objectives, that were passed out to us in an envelope to be used at our discretion one per match. The objective was secret from your opponent, to be revealed at the end of the match. This created some interesting twists late game and we all scrambled to meet our bonus objectives. it was a 600 point event and, my list was a Mordor, Cirith Ungol to be exact my list being:

Shagrat, Warleader
Orc Shaman on Warg
18 Orcs HW&S

4 Mordor Uruk Hai with 2HW's
10 Orcs with Spears

1 Orc with Banner
8 Warg Rider HW&S

Another shot of my army and display. Dont worry it looks more intimidating than it plays. LOL!

Game 1 vs Isengard Raiders ( Jeff R)
Uruk Hai Captain
35 Scouts HW&S
6 Scouts Bows
4 Warg Riders.

Scenario was "control the battlefield" centered around 5 objective markers. My bonus objective was "headhunter" meaning I needed to kill his heros, and I tried. The game was pretty straight forward scrap, the table was fittingly the Orthanc labor camp, so it had the large wooden scaffolding that this place is known for, these where particularly great for Shelob who could climb to the top and come down with ease. my army was split into 2 sections one on each flank. The Warg Riders all going after Lurtz and everyone else going after Sharku..game played out predictably, my side with Shagrat and Shelob folded up Jeff's one side pretty easily, but my Warg Riders just bounced off Lurtz and Co. I killed some but ended up back pedaling leaving him that table quarter. In the end we each 2 table quarters and were fitting over the middle, both armies broken, we sweated our courage checks, and the game ended a draw..I did pick up 2 bonus points for killing Sharku and the Uruk Captain.- 12 points.

Game 2 vs Lothlorien at Helms Deep (Tyler D)
16 Galadrim Spear and Shield
9 Galadrim with 2HW

14 Galadrim with Bows

3 Galadrim Knights

Scenario was "Contest of Champions" centered around a selected champion racking up the most Kills, my Champion was Shagrat, Tylers was Gimli. I had Shelob run up one flank and harass which worked very well, while I fed Gimli as few models as possible hoping to get Shelob on him at a key time. on the other side my Warg Riders went after Haldir, and once again bounced off. and basically got wiped out with little to show for it, Shagrat is a killing machine but by the time I marched him up the middle in his horde at the 14 Elven Bowmen, I got shot to pieces and was about broken. Gimli was ahead of me in kills by 3 or 4 at that point, and when Shagrat finally got into combat and totally wiffed, my heart sank. However subsequent turns went my way and Shagrat shot up to 6 kills in a hurry, now one ahead of Gimli, again both armies broken late game surviving on "standfast" courage checks, a flubbed priority and bad round of combat put tyler on losing side of the equation and we met the 25% victory margin and I had the Major Victory, but it was right down to the wire. I pick up 20 point plus 1 bonus point.

Tyler had the best looking Elf army there hands down, much better than another one that got alot more attention as it had a fancy display board. Why? you ask -Color!. Tyler's deep muted take and the traditional blue and gold of the Galadrim, were so rich they just popped, our two armies looked fabulous together, in perfect Good vs Evil contrast.

Shelob earned her keep this game, being the catalyst that broke the elves, allowing Shagrats
one kill lead, to bring it over the finish line.

I got a ton of compliments on this Orc Shaman model, but man, did he suck in combat as a performer, I got almost no milage out of his "fury" over 5 games..these guys (Warg Riders) are going back on the shelf for quite sometime.

Game 3 vs Isengard Raiders (Jeff G).
Uruk Hai Capt.
13 Pikes

12 Hw&S

6 Crossbows
Troll with Spear

5 Warg Riders

Isengard , again..a much nasty list despite the lesser numbers than round 1. The scenario was Storm the Camp. Jeff parked his crossbows mid table and said "come and get it" I tried my dual flank approach again my warg riders ended up against his on the same flank ( the curse of " winning the die roll" and setting up 1st, I was hoping to lose so I could get them on the opposite flank) My Wargs bounced off Jeff's and hurt me bad, my Warg Riders were cursed all weekend, as the absolute poorest perfomers in my army. with one flank folding up and crossbow dropping 3 guys a turn, I got into it in the middle with the majority of jeff's troops and had to bring Shelob over from the other flank to help out. I cleared the middle including the troll but with significant losses, I was broken long before Jeff and my troops specifically the ones protecting the camp, ran away, leaving my camp undefened. with my wargs gone he rolled his Wargs into my undefened camp ending the game before I could try to assault his, with basically just Shelob and Shagrat left. Major Loss, 3 points no bonus.

Game 3 of day 1, I didnt get a ton of pictures to come out on this one , basically here is my mob running up the middle into crossbow fire..with troll lumbering at them. Man, Orcs are Stupid.

So 1-1-1 on the day, not bad but the lack of shooting was catching up to me, Shooting is a dicey subject in this game, most swear by it, many say its just a waste of points, I was in the latter category, when it comes to Mordor. Unlike my Grey Company which was all bows..Orc Bows are terrible 5+ shooting at Str 2...you cant kill anything, but neither were my Warg Riders...so by game three I was wishing I had 10 orc bows just to volleyfire but more on that for day 2.

I should add, that LotR's players are some of nicest folks you meet period, while I had played 2 of my 3 opponents on day 1 previously, they were all awesome guys that were a pleasure to play, and that alone is worth the price of admission. Day 2 up next.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When bad ideas catch on.

I woke up this morning got my cup of coffee and sat down at the computer to do my normal routine, check my email, and browse the news and hobby feeds and this one seriously put a downer on my day. The announcement that Black Scorpion Miniatures is switching to resin is some akin to finding out the maker of your favorite soft drink its changing it formula, because somebody somewhere "thinks its good idea."  You'd think Games Workshops, bad press over "Failcast" (and whether sales or lack of back the hype in unknown to me, but regardless the BAD vibe is out there for all but the most faithful). would have enforced the old adage, "IF IT AIN'T BROKE DONT FIX IT" but apparently this is lost on Black Scorpions master sculptor and head honcho, Adam Clarke.

I love Black Scorpion miniatures and while thankfully, I have enough Pirates of theirs and other manufactures to make a 3000 point WFB army. It doesnt mean I'm not interested in new releases and with talk of Old West picking up around here as the next skirmish game we dig into, I have easy a good 3 dozen figs I want to pick up. Mr. Clarke goes into detail on why they make the switch, and to his credit he doesn't follow GW's lead with the bait and switch price increase, but the same old justifications/ rationalizations for covering that its just a cheaper manufacturing medium just isnt flying with me.
The primary reasons everyone likes to sell you is it looks better and holds more detail, and maybe so to a perfect cast. However considering Black Scorpions has some of best detailed pewter sculpts on the markets this is completely negligible. I can also tell you I have two of Black Scorpions' convention only exclusive releases in Resin and they do not in anyway look better than the pewter figures, in fact I was hoping they released the one (Lord Nelson) in Pewter because I thought it would look better.
Another line of bunk they like to sell is its lighter? well who cares Black Scorp doesnt release models for large format tournament style games so you're not hauling 100's of figures, and do you want models that can take handling and game play or ones the fall over when a breeze comes threw the room or can bend and be bent back or break and shatter?

Metal/Lead/ Pewter miniatures are the medium of craft and have been since this hobby got going in late 70's for old farts like me, who have involved in it since then. It "is" the medium, its part of the craft, the nostalgia its "what it is". Of course I realize the cost and mass production have forced the necessity of plastic and resin figures. I havent even really got that accepting of plastic, while I have alot of great plastic figures. And at the time I started this blog, (Note: Plastic Legions)  I even convinced myself that plastic was the way to go forward in the hobby, based on GW's excellent plastics however as time went one I dug into other plastics out there. The writing on the wall was pretty clear I sure have plenty of mediocre plastic figures that really just remind of bag of plastic army men from the corner store but at 10 times the price. The issue with good plastics or course being price, which is why we have resin, its cheap, it feels cheaps, it looks cheap, its toxic.
Resin is fine for some things, like terrain. I look it at like plaster..its a cheap medium for making things in simple molds and gets the job done for smaller detail work as its cheaper than metal. Whoever thought its was a great idea for fine detail, hand sculpted, expensive miniatures, had the makings of great Con man because thats the bottom line, period. COST. No matter how they dress it up to you. Since Black Scorpion hand packs and cleans their products ( BS miniatures are also some of the cleanest out the package metals, I have seen). Something that its buyers surely appreciate, so I hope that its not following GW's lead there too and going on the chopping block a surely lethal combination for a small manufacture.

Games Workshop has of course pushed this charade on the gaming public for the uber boutique Forge World with its great sculpts and horrible quality or their "Finecast line" it all boils down to increase profit with a cheaper medium and marketing to make you think its better. I'm not sure if Black Scorpion has delusions of grandeur with its new Cutlass game thinking its going to cash on the GW faithful by going to resin as a selling point (laughable but true) or not. . But I think they need to do some research on who their customers are. Where fans and customers of Black Scorpion miniatures clamoring for a switch to resin and I somehow missed it? maybe so. Somehow I think if presented with the choice of a small price increase or a switch to Resin, people who buy figures for small skirmish games when presented with a choice would opt for the former.
I guess I could go to over the "Lead" (note: not "Resin" of even "Plastic) Adventure forum and ask around but I am pretty sure what the answer will be...sometimes this Hobby just makes you want to bang your head against the wall. I guess I wouldnt care if they didnt make stuff I actually had an interest in. And so another one bites the dust and creates a secondary market for own figures working against its itself...sigh.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Warhost of Cirith Ungol

Like the title says, here's my 600 point army for the week away biggest Lord of Rings SBG tourney in years. Bilbo's Birthday Bash in its third year. I've already rambled on at length about the event and the what's been going on with the game in general, So this time I'll just talk about my Army. This is my second 600 point army I've completed (the other being my Grey Company) This one comes in at 44 models, but with separate Wargs and riders for dismounted cavalry options, its really 60 models. A pair of Warg Riders and the all the dismounts are not pictured as I am still touching up finish the last of the models.

Its' taken me a good six weeks with my limited hobby time of late to get this army in shape, I did have some models painted but the were quite old and needed touch ups. A lot of freehand shields to do, new characters, etc. The nice thing about Orcs is once you have this much done you have the makings of all the Mordor armies, and even Angmar with limited additions of the main characters or monsters of which I have many done, So say I want to run Angmar or Barad-Dur at Adepticon or something, I only need to paint a couple models. So a nice bonus to wade thru the 30 or so crappy plastic Orcs I had to do. yes, I am not a big fan of the plastic orc models, there some of the weakest in the LotR plastic line, I really like the original metal orcs the GW had out of which there are only 10 poses. I seem to have hard time finding them but would love to get my hands on some to mix them in. If its not super obvious in the photos it is in person, the far superior metals just jump out compared to the plastics. I use both the Mordor Orc and Morannon Orc boxes here, the later using alot of converted weapons.

Speaking of conversions, this Orc Shaman is one of my favorites, A simple weapon swap can go along way with some these figs, this guy got the resin base, the dead body the spear, made from the original head and the shaft of some historical metal spears. most dramatically he got a new arm, which took a little GS work but is really just an arm off a Mantic Ghoul. which pretty much fit perfectly.

I went back an forth on the display for some time, I was reusing a castle gate I have and I made a rock cave for Shelob. My large deep display tray I used for years for WFB just looked to big, so made a smaller tray. The top section (deck) is magnetized so I can pop it out and switch it if I want to use a different army. Anyway my original set up now looked two busy with the two pieces on the smaller tray., asking my wife her excellent atheistic opinion, she said "why dont you use that thing over there"..pointing to my "not weather top" I made earlier in the year. I said, right , "and" I made it modular, so I can only use part of it, perfect! and there you go. Not as themed at the gates of Cirith Ungol and Shelob's Cave, but trust me this looks alot better.

I've been making those signs/ placards you seen the first shot for years now, so that wasnt a big deal, I got the display work done pretty quickly, (consider I am using a finished piece here, the "not weathertop" model was a quite a challenge which you can read about here.)

I plan on having everything done for my last ditch practice game early Tuesday right before we hit round 2 of our Hail Caesar Campaign. I am woefully behind in my Ancients painting as the rest of the guys are way past me, but now that this is done, I can start digging into that. I've got a pretty large LotR collection at this point, its probably one of the only lines, I pretty much 'collect" as well as game with. ( I think I've referenced my "active" versus "passive" collections before) Anyway look forward to big write on Bilbo's with lots of pictures, I am going to try to make a real effort this year to get alot of good pics as people are coming in from all over, and there will be some awesome armies there, AND I should mention the painting contest.

I didnt have time to get 3 entries as one category is exclusively Cavalry models, and I just didnt have time to a new model done to where it needs to be....so I am just entering my Nazgul on Fell Beast and "something else" in the 25mm base category, not sure what yet..I have about a 1/2 dozen good options. Oh and Happy Halloween!


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