Sunday, January 31, 2016

Painting Challenge wrap-up

So this is where I'm going to leave off with the Orcs of the Behemoth Challenge for now.  I did a little more work on the Warriors of the Wind after this picture was taken, and I did more work on the wicker shields. I was hoping to at least pick out one or two models and completely finish them this weekend, but the time and motivation just didn't reach critical mass. 

My work schedule took a surprising turn this month, and I primarily blame that for missing my mark. I may have also been a touch too ambitious, but I do think I could have pulled it off, if I had the benefit of my normal work schedule.

That said, one thing I learned is that I would prefer to paint Rackham figures at a slower pace. I can imagine what it would have been like to have collected and painted the figures, back in the day. I would have purchased blisters containing 1 to 3 models, and I would have focused on that small batch, enjoying the process of "getting to know" each figure, rather than treating the models as multiple passes in an assembly line. Building up the collection slowly would have been viable, since Confrontation was a skirmish game, and I would have enjoyed growing my army at a slow pace, learning the personality of each model.

So I'm actually kinda glad to pause the project here. I brought a lot of models to a good starting point with a relatively quick turnaround. They're all at a point where I can begin the stage of painting that I really enjoy. I can take my time on one or two models at a time and enjoy painting all the little details, instead of seeing the details as a mess of obstructions that stand in the way of completing of the project.

I also learned that, going forward, I want to avoid imposing deadlines on myself. I had my fill of deadlines, participating in painting competitions. I realized that I was pressuring myself, adding tension to my hobby and my leisure activity. I felt a sense of relief, when I decided I wasn't going to prepare for Crystal Brush this year. And I've enjoyed the freedom to change my focus midstream through a project, shifting my projects to where my current motivation was drifting.

Case in point, I am now going to work on three new additions to my Guild Ball team. Guild Ball is the game that can most reliably play at the moment, and it is one that I am motivated to practice and learn more about.  I am eager to try out these 3 new players and learn how they can change up my strategy against my regular opponent, Chris, especially since he and I both agree that I'm at a disadvantage with the models I'm currently using!

Matching my painting projects with my gaming goals has always been one of the better motivators for me.  I have some ideas for competition pieces for the Capital Palette competition at the NOVA Open convention, and I'll be motivated to do those projects as well.  And I have plenty of time to fit in those projects and enjoy them without the time-pressure.

So here is the kick-off from the game I played this weekend against Chris's Masons Guild.  This game was the first full-size game we've played, using a full roster of 6 players.  The kickoff shown here was the best position the Fishermen were in, for the entire game!

Yup, it pretty much went downhill from there.  I had planned on playing a strong passing game, but Tower's "Shutout" ability shut down my plan.  'Shutout' forces the victim to activate late.  Tower used Shutout on my ball carrier, essentially locking the ball in place for the duration of the turn, enabling the Masons to pound on my weak players.  Halfway through the 3rd turn, Masons won the game by taking out 3 players, plus one of them a 2nd time.

Naturally, I can't blame Shutout for the...uh...shutout.  I made some positional mistakes, and I overlooked some healing options and escape options.  So, hey, a good learning game, and kibitzing with Chris over the intricacies of the game afterward made for an enjoyable event.

Hopefully, next game will see a new line-up on the Fishermen's team!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hobby roundup

I had a chance to play Kings of War and Guild Ball a couple of weekends ago at a new venue in Huntsville.  The venue is called Rocket Republic, which is a craft-beer brewery.  They recently started hosting a monthly, Sunday meetup for tabletop gamers.

Gaming Taverns

This pairing of game-hall and tavern is a combination that I have long said should be the direction that game-stores should move towards.  There are instances of such establishments springing up around the country, where the combination is deliberate and full-time, not just a monthly event.  I really hope this trend continues.  Hopefully, this local event has legs, and it will either move to Saturday (and more frequently) or at least open its doors at 1pm instead of 3pm.

By the way, their brew, Vapor Trails, is one feel-good, frosty beverage.

Kings of War

I had a revelation about Kings of War, this being my second game.  First off, I should say, both of my games so far have been games at 1000 points.  The game is designed to be played somewhere around 2000 points.  I've suggested in the past that a game should be played at the size for which it is designed.  Otherwise, the game becomes skewed.

Different armies can gain more advantage at smaller sizes or at larger sizes, when compared to the game's "sweet spot".  Armies of different play styles might gain advantages, such as horde armies, stand-off ranged armies, or summoning armies.  The footprint of armies on the tabletop can affect their effectiveness, depending on whether there's more room to maneuver or whether units are congested.

Then there are differences due to the 'size of the battle', as opposed to 'size of the army'.  Playing 1000 points in Kings of War is enough to launch a half-dozen units at each other and work through the mechanics of the game.  Great for demos.  However, some rules might seem awkward at a unit level, as opposed to how they operate at the army level.

For instance, during my first game, I was put off by the 'Wavering' mechanic.  'Wavering' is a morale state, which basically paralyzes a unit, before the unit is completely routed.  The unit pretty much can't do anything.  They're just eating up time and space on the battlefield until the opposing unit finishes the job.

I have a similar mechanic in Mini Mayhem, called 'Shaken'.  A Shaken unit can't Charge or Pursue, and its combat effectiveness is degraded.  However, a Shaken unit can still fight, and it has a chance to Rally back to a Motivated state.  So by comparison, I felt that KoW's 'Wavering' was very lackluster compared to 'Shaken'.  It felt like it was an unnecessary time-sink in the game, waiting for the inevitable rout.

During my second game, I realized that I was judging 'Wavering' in the context of one match-up between units.  What my opponent helped me to realize was that I needed to consider 'Wavering' in the context of the larger game, the scale at which Kings of War is designed to be played.

At the larger scale, a 'Wavering' unit represents a unit that is still standing firm, enough for other friendly units to use the delay for the benefit of the larger army and the greater strategy.  The 'Wavering' unit can be used an "anvil" for a cavalry or infantry "hammer".  It can tarpit its opposing, enemy unit and delay their participation in other areas of the battlefield.  In short, the 'Wavering' mechanic can make a valid, tactical difference in the context of a higher-point game.  Kings of War just became a little more interesting...

Guild Ball

I continue to be very excited about Guild Ball.  Chris crushed me 6-0, and I still enjoyed the game.  The game was the fast-play variant, so the game resolved quickly enough to where I felt like it lasted long enough for me to learn more about my players and about my opponent's players, without the game dragging on and without me feeling like I was on the back foot. 

And the match's duration fit the narrative.  An opposing player used his inherent forte to strip the ball from my cluster of players to score a goal.  Then the opposing team's captain loaded up on Influence (action points) and pounded my weakest player into the ground.  Game over.  Quick, educational, and still fun.  Ready for more.

Confrontation Challenge -- Orcs of the Behemoth

I missed a weekend to work on my Orcs of the Behemoth for the January Confrontation Challenge, due to work.  This weekend I tried to catch up somewhat.  I still have a long way to go.  I'll probably end up picking only one or two miniatures to finish completely and leave the others for follow-up sessions in February.

I'm basically "color-sketching" at this point, seeking my color palette.  I want desaturated, cold colors to serve as the backdrop and "frame" for the faces, which will be painted with more saturated colors.  These guys will look better once I lay in some washes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Orcs of the Behemoth Challenge

Not the most interesting photo, but it's a record of the grind that is required to prepare 14 complex, metal miniatures, just to get them to the painting table.

I used epoxy glue for the simpler attachments of heads, bodies, rocks, bases, and metal under-plates. I have a long distrust of cyanoacrylate glue, but using epoxy for the arms would have taken forever. I didn't pin the arms either -- just super-glued them, so I'm taking a bit of a risk there. And, finally, gap-filling and texturing with Milliput.

I used to spurn this part of the process, but over time I've come to gain some satisfaction from assembling models. There's a sense of progress and completion to bring the model to its final form and to feel the weight and see the pose bring life to the figure. Seeing all of these guys in complete 3-dimensional form motivates me to proceed to the next phase of the project.

These models are beefy! What hunks of metal.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Confrontation Painting Challenge

My first project for the year will be to participate in the 'Corpuscle Paint Along - Let's Paint a Behemoth Orc!', hosted on the Confrontation Haven forum and also tracked on the 'Confrontation Painting Challenge' Facebook group.

This challenge is both exciting and intimidating.  Rackham figures, made for the game, Confrontation, are generally my favorite figure range.  Unfortunately, Rackham went out of business in 2010, and the figures are now hard to acquire.  One of my painting goals has been to paint to the standard that the Rackham painters established in the 2000's.  I think I've finally reached the lower range of that goal, but it's intimidating to finally break the seal on these boxes and blisters that I've been collecting for so long and finally put paint to these rare and exquisite figures.

I couldn't resist the challenge, though, for several reasons:
  1. The community.  I've come to know many of the stalwart Confrontation enthusiasts all over the world.  A lot of well-known names in the core group are participating in the challenge.
  2. I'm in the mood to paint orcs.  
  3. I need to build out the core troops for my Orc & Goblin army.  I never got to play my Orcs & Goblins in Warhammer, and now it looks like I probably never will, now that Games Workshop has killed Warhammer.  However, the local gamers are playing Kings of War, and I can bring Orcs & Goblins to the tables here.  I'm also in the mood to play Mini Mayhem again, and I want to build out the Evil Hordes army that I've always imagined for it.
  4. I'll be able to fill a slot for the 'Fantasy Collection' entry for the Capital Palette painting competition at NOVA Open 2016.

The painting challenge is to paint a model from the faction for the Orcs of the Behemoth.  Since I have the entire month of January to work on this, and because I want to field an entire unit of orcs for my games, I'm going to choose some subset of figures from my collection of Orcs of the Behemoth.  I've been collecting for years, so I'm lucky to be spoiled for choice!

I decide to work on all the basic, core fighters.  I'll add crossbowmen, heroes, and trolls at a later date.  The downselection comes out to 14 models.  Here are the 14 models, bundled in bags to keep the parts together for each model, while I filed the mold lines.

Our instigator for the painting challenge, Corpuscle, has already finished his first miniature, and it looks fantastic.  He inspired me to attempt to build bases like his. I tried using rocks and bark to lend realistic textures to the plaster-of-Paris casts.

The bark works better than the stone. The stones sink to the bottom of the container, so only the top side is usable, whereas the bark floats on the bottom layer of plaster, and it gives you two impressions, one on the bottom and one on top.

I have a lot of variety to play with, but I still like Corpuscle's results better!

In case anyone ever questions the value of washing miniatures prior to painting them, here is a comparison. The top miniatures have been washed, and the bottom miniature hasn't been washed. The top ones are nice and shiny, and the bottom one is dull. You wouldn't think being dull is a big deal, until you consider that it's release agent that makes the surface dull (as far as I know). All that release agent counteracts the purpose of the primer, making the paint-job more prone to chipping.

All filed, pinned, and washed. I probably have about 8 hours put into the project so far, and it's still a long way off before I can actually enjoy painting the figures!

That's probably over $200 worth of metal laying there.  Luckily, I bought almost all of it on discount!