Saturday, March 30, 2013

WIP - Crystal Brush Diorama

I'm only going to show teasers for my Crystal Brush diorama, since I want to save the final view until after the competition.

Here, I'm working on the display base.  I'm trying to think ahead about how to transport such a bulky and fragile item on a bumpy flight to Chicago.  I have in mind securing the base to a fixed board on the bottom of a carry case.  I bought a tap kit, so that I can bolt the base to the board.  The two holes are the tapped cavities for the bolts.

On the top side, I used wood glue to adhere a layer of cork sheet.  I've been lugging around a giant roll of cork sheet for almost twenty years.  I knew I would eventually need it!......

Some of the figures for the diorama will be pinned, but some others will remain on bases, because I think I risk damaging the leg of the mini, if I drill it for pinning.  The cork gives me an easy option to affix pinned minis or carve out holes for the minis on bases.  I'll integrate the bases into the ground by laying down modeling paste to form the ground.

Here, I distressed a column that I'll probably add to the scene.  I might prepare a second one as well.  I'll need to fill the top so that it doesn't appear hollow.  I'll glue on a fine layer of sand, I think, to give it a more stony texture.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The WAMP Ladder competition is underway

The contest is finally underway.  Here's a link to the forum discussion on WAMP.  We already have 3 comments, which is nice.

I'm pleased with the results so far.  We're running neck-in-neck, but Scott is pulling ahead, which is OK.  I agree that he has an edge.  I think the inputs from the first commentator (Demonn) are spot-on (although I would have hoped he would have scored a half-point difference instead of a full-point difference).  But I'm pleased that at least one person favored my entry.  I think it's a really close competition, and I'll be content to cede the victory to Scott, on the strength of his blends, colors/unity, and definition.  I'm just satisfied to know that I could compete at his level.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Finished - Ramos Crew for Malifaux

I've had this photo ready and waiting for a week, but I wanted to submit it to the WAMP contests, before I posted it to the blog.

This project serves dual purposes on WAMP:  1) the WAMP Ladder and 2) the Wyrd Miniatures 2013 contest.  I'm still working with the moderator and my opponent to set it up for the WAMP Ladder.  If you want to see what I'm against, here's a link to my competition's entry on the WAMP thread, the Ortega Gang. 

As for the Wyrd Miniatures contest, the deadline for that is at the end of the month, and then there will probably be a week or so for voting.  I think Demonn is going to win that one, with his Kaeris' Crew.

I'm really pleased with my work on this project.  There are few areas that I would like to improve or enhance, but I reached the end of my time-block and my focus.  I feel tremendous pressure and worry to work on my diorama for Adepticon, which is only a few weeks away.

For this project, I gained a lot of practice with non-metallic metal (NMM).  I still have a ways to go, but I'm very pleased with the brass legs on the Brass Arachnid (the one with the big blue eye) and the claws on the Steamborg Executioner (bottom photo), especially the bronze effect.

I tried to give the effect of glass tubes for the legs on the Steamborg, using several layers of gloss varnish.  I think it needs even more layers to sell the effect.  For it to work, I think there must be zero texture.  That might require doubling the number of layers I used.

In any case, I now have a sufficiently complete set of models to play a basic list for Ramos, where I can use all of his tricks, like summoning the Electrical Creation and creating additional Steampunk Arachnids. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Friday night game of Alkemy

On Friday, I introduced Alkemy to Tim, another player in my gaming group.  I ran him through the two demo scenarios that I composed for Demo Day.  Here, in the first one, our objective is to collect as many alchemical stones as possible from the center chest and return them to our deployment area.  My javelineer attempts to occupy the dangerous Crossbowman, while my power-characters take the center.

My leader, Tecum'seh, is able to take out one of the Swordsmen, but he failed one hit, which prevents Tecum'seh from charging the second Swordsman, which I think would have swung the center battle in my favor.  Instead, the fresh Swordsman forced Tecum'seh to enter the fray with Garlan de Brall in a wounded state.

While the Auroch Totem-Warrior pummeled Garlan de Brall pretty well before dying, a severely wounded Garlan had the advantage on a severely wounded Tecum'seh, with assistance from the Swordsman.  Both Aurlok warriors bite it, and Garlan limps off the field with two alchemical stones.

Next, we introduce the alchemists to the game and fight for control of a Jin Post.  Garlan and Tecum'seh manage to kill each other off, and the Auroch was lost in the process as well, leaving a badly outnumbered Toad Shaman and Crow Thunder-Warrior.  Aurlok Nation is defeated again.  Ugh.

Tim enjoyed the game, but he is not keen on guessing distance for ranged combat.  I dislike guessing distances in any miniature game myself, but it doesn't bother me too much in Alkemy.  I think Alkemy has a lot of strengths that help fade the "no pre-measuring" rule to the background.  The tactical focus of the game is judging the sequencing of activations and actions.  Guessing distance contributes to a useful but non-critical modifier -- it feels like a minor step within the larger pace and tactical context of the game, so I'm OK with it.

I composed a new scenario, which will see one faction trying to run across the length of the board with a stolen map, while the other faction ambushes the first from both sides.  I designed the scenario to be scalable from 100 to 300 points.  I look forward to trying it out and seeing what it's like to play larger-size games.

Friday, March 15, 2013

WIP - Ramos - Steamborg Executioner

I was hoping to finish this guy last night, but...
  1. I'm spending more time on the non-metallic metal (NMM) than I planned (and it still needs work)
  2. I painted myself into a corner with respect to what color to choose for his claws.

 I originally imagined painting a lobster-style or crustacean-style mottled pattern, but there's very limited area available to make it apparent, unless I use extremely vivid colors, which I think would be overkill for the figure as a whole.  I'm now thinking of a heavily weathered bronze.  The orange-olive-brown will help it stand out as its own element, and the blue-green patina will help tie it to the other colors in the model. 

I would love to paint it with true metallic metals (TMM).  I think TMM would really convey the sense of heavy, dangerous machinery.  Unfortunately, I did the entire faction in NMM.  On one hand, TMM would help the claws stand out that much more, but on the other hand, TMM would be inconsistent with the NMM.

What does my audience think of the claws' color choice?  Of TMM vs NMM?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

WIP - Ramos faction

Progress after three 2-hour sessions over the weekend.  Time to take an assessment for final touch-ups, before I move on to the last model.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

WIP - More Steampunk Arachnids

Non-metallic Metal (NMM) training continues.  I added some orange tones to the legs, and I'm pleased with how that improved the general look, breaking up the monotony of color.  It still just looks yellow in the picture, though....

I added more contrast, but still probably not enough.  As they say for a good dinner dish, "Needs more garlic", and as they say for good music, "Needs more cowbell", so they say for miniature figures, "Needs more contrast".

I still need to work on the faceplates and lenses, too.

Monday, March 4, 2013

WIP - Ramos faction for Malifaux

Here are 'before' and 'after' pics of the Steampunk Arachnids.  I only worked on the brass legs this session.  I played it safe so far and only made a straight gradient.  I added only olives to the yellow, as opposed to the prototypes in the back which had some orange along the way.  Now I can compare them side-by-side and decide whether to be more adventurous and attempt chrome-like ground-sky contrasts and/or add some oranges.  There's not a lot of area to work with to make transitions.  Makes it tough for me to achieve a range of high contrast.  I lean away from a ground-sky theme, since 1) I've never done it, and 2) I like the thought of brushed brass rather than shiny brass.  However, it might be easier to achieve the ground-sky effect of polished brass, given the small area.  It's been educational.  I think I'll work on the rest of the model before deciding how to proceed with the legs.

Battle Report - Alkemy

My friend, Erik, swung by yesterday try out the two scenarios that I ran for Demo Day.  Erik was sporting his brand new Khaliman Republic Starter Set, with the smell of fresh glue-vapor still faintly in the air.

Erik handily won the first scenario, which required obtaining the most Alchemical Stones from a chest in the center and returning them to your side.  Erik kept his eye on the objective and immediately used his Shiek leader's 4 Action Points to zip to the center and dig for Alchemical Stones.  His minions kept my guys occupied, while his Shiek struggled to find the valuable Stones in the midst of all the other junk in the chest -- gold and jewels and whatnot.  My leader, a wounded Tecum'seh, tried to head off the Shiek's escape route, only to be cut down by a lucky Suleman strike, Tecum'seh's nimble Defense failing him.  The Shiek exited the board on Turn 3 with 5 out of 7 Stones in hand. 

My Crow Thunder Warriors made a desperate attempt to find the other two stones.  The time remaining required a bucket-line strategy, where one guy would find the stones and then throw them to his brother, who would have to catch them and run off the board.  Unfortunately, the first guy failed in 3 attempts to find the remaining stones, each failure missing by only one point!

The Khaliman entered the second scenario with their prize of 5 extra Stones.  The second scenario introduced the faction Alchemists.  We learned that the Khaliman Oracle has significantly fewer Stones in her profile card (8 compared to the Toad Shaman's 10 or 12), so the extra Stones from the first scenario were all that much more tasty for the Oracle to have.  In short order, the Oracle kicked off her power-spell, which resulted in giving the entire Khaliman crew endless free Reactions, due to her spectacular oracular abilities.  That was a serious buff. 

The objective was to control the Jin Post in the center.  The more crew-members in contact with the Jin Post, the better the odds to force the enemy to abandon the field.  Unfortunately, the scenario's designer (me) didn't account for the Shiek's super-high Mind attribute (9), which made it almost impossible for the Aurlock Nation to win the scenario, even when they had 4 crew-members hugging the rock.  Tweaks will be made to the scenario.....

To add insult to injury, one of the narrative highlights of the game was seeing the Shiek chase the hapless Toad Shaman up the winding stairwell, plugging him with arrow after arrow, felling the gasping amphibian in cold blood.  Erik is a harsh and ruthless opponent!

As it turned out, though, the Aurlok Nation was able to turn the table and win the scenario through straight-up annihilation.  The Auroch Totem Warrior was sacrificed, unfortunately, and the Toad Shaman bit the dust, but Tecum'seh and his Crow Warriors were able to finish the job that the Auroch started, thanks to some lucky/unlucky dice-rolling (depending on which side you were on) and the Crow Warriors' excellent dodgy Defense.

It was great to see the Khaliman Republic in action.  It says a lot for the game's design, yet again, that each faction plays very differently and yet shows very good balance.  The Khaliman are very fast, and they have a versatile tool-set, including the longest ranged weapons in the game plus some Long Reach weapons.  I didn't like being on the receiving end of that.  However, I had the consolation that I was getting hit only twice, compared to Tecum'seh's potential 4.  One disadvantage the Khaliman have is their shorter life-lines.  Erik is still futzing with the Shiek's Marksman ability, so we'll have to wait to see how big a factor that can play.

The reaction to Alkemy among my game-group has been consistently positive.  It's an easy game to learn, and the core mechanics offer a lot of interesting decision points, which gives it its tactical fun.  The factions are balanced and flavorful.  It's easy to get your head around the special abilities -- you have fun options to work with, without burning out your brain.  There are fewer models to paint and transport.  It's a nice pick-up-and-go game that you can knock out in an hour or two, depending on how large you want to go. 

I'm looking forward to more.  I'm teaching myself French so that we can use the on-line scenarios!  Yeah, I could just use Google Translate, but what fun is that?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

NCMSS Presentation and Ramos WIP

I gave my presentation at the National Capital Model Soldier Society (NCMSS) club meeting this past Wednesday night.  The presentation was on the The Fantasy Palette, an examination of the evolution of rich, kaleidoscopic colors used in fantasy illustration and how we see it applied to miniature figures.

You can view all of the slides here

The presentation was well received.  I was able to stir some dialogue along during the presentation, which is what I was hoping for.  One guy slept, which had me concerned, until I noticed him still sleeping when the lights were on, and we had moved on to other events and agenda items.  He even slept while people were standing up and milling around, looking at miniatures!

I plan to show a follow-on series of presentations, which will cover art principles, in general.  My goal is dual-purpose -- I plan to use the same presentations for training judges for the NOVA Open painting competitions.

On Saturday, NCMSS held its monthly painting meetup, where we get together and actually paint.  I fit in only 2 or 3 hours, but it went a long way towards getting me back on track to knock out my Ramos faction for the WAMP Ladder competition. 

I'm tired of experimenting with the cobblestone bases, so I glued my remaining Steampunk Arachnids to their bases.  Now I'll have enough Arachnids to use in the game, if I want to summon them. 

Right now, their paint job looks very dull.  Compare the front ones that I worked on yesterday with the two finished ones in the back.  I figure the desaturated tones are good way to form additional contrast for the non-metallic metal (NMM) effect.  From here, I'll bring out both more value and more saturation. 

Over the course of the week, I poked around with pigments, as shown on the junk bases.  I'll use these bases as Scrap Counters in the game.  They're a nice safe way to learn how pigments work (or not!).  Any unintentional effect can still work on these bases.  There's still more work to be done on these, but I like how they're turning out.  I don't like how the pigments came out on the grill on the right, so I'll wash that one again.  But I like the effect on the bent metal sheet. and the hubcap on the left and the gear second-from-right.

Also over the course of the week, I put together these Hordes miniatures, which will serve perfectly to use as "Jin posts" for our Alkemy games.  Next I need to prime them.