Wednesday 30 December 2015

2015: Gaming year in review

All across the blogosphere, people are doing year-in-review posts. In most cases, these are painting wrap-ups, which I'm not going to do, but I will take the opportunity to talk about some of the stuff I've been up to this year, both in minis gaming and in RPGs.

Before we begin, though, I guess I have a picture -- this is the most recent thing I've finished, a statue and plinth for Frostgrave. You can see the original post here.

I think he looks OK. I probably went too far or not far enough with the verdigris, but I'm torn between the fact that it's so much fun to use and the fact that the way people use it looks nothing like actual verdigris on an actual bronze statue. Oh well.

Anyway, here's what else I've been up to this year.

Tabletop RPGs

My main tabletop gaming project this year, as last year, has been my ongoing D&D 5th Edition campaign. I think we're going to go until we get up to level 20 and save or doom the world, whatever. I am much happier now that I've stopped trying to run a traditional sandbox and just accepted that it doesn't fit my short, infrequent sessions.

One of the things that makes me happiest about this game is that my wife, who is not overall a big D&D fan, plays and enjoys the game. Soon her character will get to achieve her long-held dream of being a bear!

This photo is from my recent Holiday Special, with the PCs defending the workshop of the runesmith Klaus from the evil Lord Gyrinx and his snow-golems, or snowlems for short.

I have also had a few sessions at the local one-shot group, and would like to get in more, but scheduling is often a challenge.

Live-action RPGs

I have been going almost a year with this live Requiem game, and it's fun so far! The game is a moderate size and the players seem to be enjoying the sessions. I struggle with the administration of the game, and I'll be the first to admit my grasp of the rules isn't perfect, but in my defense Requiem is insanely complicated.

Miniatures gaming

It's been a good year for minis gaming! Most of my energy was devoted to SAGA and Oldhammer, but Frostgrave got a big boost toward the end of the year. I have my early medieval SAGA armies mostly done and am getting started on my Normans, who will also serve as Crusaders.

Oldhammer-wise, I have been mainly painting things I like and not really working consistently on either my Orks or Chaos or miscellaneous Imperial guys. I've had some fantastic charity shop finds, including a tonne of 80s fantasy models and loads of White Dwarfs (plus the surplus ones from CURS).

But the highlight of my miniatures year -- no disrespect to my regular colleagues and opponents -- was my trip to Bring Out Your Lead 2015. I am ... without being sentimental, I am not good at being happy, and I very clearly remember sitting on the train station platform in Newark and thinking that the weekend had left me so happy that I wasn't quite sure what to do. In fact, this weekend kicked off a secret project that I haven't talked about at all, but which I hope to reveal in the new year.

I have stopped keeping track of my painting in numerical terms, but I think I have done pretty well this year. My output slowed for a while during the process of moving house, but now that I'm here in the permanent place I'm hoping it'll pick back up again.

Board/card gaming

I haven't talked about it much, but the host of Bad Movie Marathon (watch out for Star Wars spoilers!) and I are working on that B-movie card game I discussed way back in the day. It's going OK, although we're a long way from being completely finished.

Other projects

I'm working on a couple of gaming-related projects that I don't talk about much, partly because I don't want to talk about them too soon before they are close to being finished. But there are a few things that I hope to be able to announce in the new year, so stay tuned.

My biggest non-game-specific post -- and indeed my most popular post ever -- was my dive into gaming history looking through the records of a campaign conducted by a friend's late father in the 1970s. If you haven't read it, check it out -- I think you might like it!

I've also been working on some non-gaming-related stuff, probably the most notable of which is my new podcast about classic Doctor Who, which you should check out if you like that sort of thing.

Overall, then, I'm pretty happy. I feel like I got a lot done this year and there's a lot of stuff that's going to come to fruition in 2016.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

More charity shop finds!

I know these posts sometimes smack of gloating, but I just want to share my excitement with the people who will appreciate my good fortune.

Check out what my £4.50 got me:

Sorry the photo's a bit blurry, but it's 18 White Dwarfs from 1989-90.

In particular, these issues have lots of cool terrain and vehicle modelling templates. Handy! Not to mention a huge chunk of Marienburg, which will come in handy, and lots of lovely painting stuff. 

I also picked up a surplus copy of #91, which I already have and will sell on (cheap!) to further defray costs, as well as a very battered copy of the Adeptus Titanicus rules, which I have no real interest in but come on, 25p! And some Fields of Glory books for a pal of mine and some other miscellaneous wargaming books for my bookshelf or resale. Overall, then, a good haul. 

One of these days I'll write about how to be a good frugal gamer, but for this side of things the solution is just "be someone who buys a lot of secondhand books and have a wife who likes cool old clothes so you spend a lot of time in charity shops. Oh, it helps if you work near a load of them." You just kind of swim along like a whale, passing tonnes of seawater through your baleen and filtering out all the nutritious krill. 

Friday 18 December 2015

Game preparation

I am not writing a long blog post because I am spending this evening preparing for the monthly live-action game that I'll be running tomorrow. It's a Vampire: the Requiem game, and here's how I prepare for it.

(Notebook pages covered for the benefit of my players.)

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Some quick works in progress

Just a few quick updates on what I'm working on at the moment. Mostly Frostgrave. Here are the put-together models for my cultists, which I haven't done anything else with.

Thugs! The guy on the left has a spear. 

Man-at-arms (w/ Citadel shield), Infantryman and Thief. May get some more thiefy accessories. 

Archers; guy on the right has Mordheim arms because there's only one set of bow arms in the cultist box. 
They need to be cleaned, puttied, based, etc. before priming, but my hope is that they'll paint up quite quickly (since my goal is to give them rather simple, drab paintjobs to go along with the wizards).

I'm also working on a little terrain for the game. These are the statues for the museum scenario: 

They're made from kids' blocks (I got a big bucket of 'em for £5 from a charity shop), spare bases, bits from the bits box and those pewter historical figurines you get in museum gift shops. My wife got a big bag of the figures in a charity shop for me, so these are cheap as free and suitably historicalish.

I think the texture of the wood will show through the priming, so I'm going to give them a base coat of some kind of texture as well as texturing the base beforehand. I hope to have them done by the end of the holidays!

Monday 14 December 2015

I stumbled into a games convention

This weekend my wife and I visited Barcelona. One of the sights of the city is El Born Cultural Centre, a former covered market. In the 90s they excavated the former residential district under the site; the houses were destroyed following the siege of Barcelona during the War of the Spanish Succession.

It's all on display with walkways around it, museums, a cafe, a bookstore and so on. 
So we were in there hanging out and looking at the ruins when we noticed there were rows of tables with people playing X-Wing on one of the walkways. It turns out there was a city- wide games festival going on and the minis side was in here. I guess most of the games were historical and it's a historical site?

Anyway, here are some photos I took:

Here you can see the foundations in the background of the X-Wing games.

This 28mm game combined ancient land and sea battles. 

The guy running this 28mm Rorke's Drift game talked to me about the amount of research that had
gone into preparing the table. 

... and the difficulty of recreating the buildings. 

Elsewhere, there were lots of different miniatures game, including this Napoleonic battle.

And a Trafalgar game. 
A modeling and terrain-making demo showed off these bases made from poker chips. 

This was quite a detailed Circus Maximus game. 
Meanwhile, gladiators went at it as well. 

This display of board wargames placed the various games on a historical timeline. 
There were many more games I didn't get photos of, as well as a room full of little kids learning how to paint. The clubs who put on the show included RVBICON and Alpha Ares, but the event as a whole was, as I said, part of a city-wide games festival all across Barcelona. Events included Pathfinder games, designer signings, chess tournaments, something called "softcombat," board games, a bunch of stuff that I have no idea what it is because I don't speak Catalan, and something called "football buttons," which again is a mystery to me but seems to be popular. It has all kind of official sponsors, including -- if I'm reading this correctly -- the association for the promotion of the Catalan language, or words to that effect, which wants to increase the publication of games in Catalan.

I really like the integration of the games and the history here -- although X-Wing was a weird fit, but whatever -- and I applaud the idea of a games festival! The whole thing was really well-presented and accessible, and I wish we had more events like it here.

Thursday 10 December 2015

The Great Frostgrave Cultist Question!

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I picked up a box of Frostgrave cultists at Dragonmeet. I've really been enjoying Frostgrave, and my Necromancer is very cultisty-looking, so I'm pleased that these guys are going to be able to support him thematically. But!

"James," I hear you cry, "we don't care about any of that stuff! We just want to know if we can use the heads and so on to make bitchin' Chaos Cultist models!"

Well, I haven't tested out the arms yet, but here are some examples of using the heads. 

GW Mordheim militia, Wargames Factory Shock Trooper.
These seem to work very well. 
GW Imperial Guard. No surprise there -- the Shock Troopers are clearly built to scale with them.
Wargames Factory Viking. Less convinced about this one; might be a bit big. Maybe not. 
I can see that this kit is going to be very useful -- especially since you get 20 models in a box, and I need about ... eight for my warband. 

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Dragonmeet 2015

So once again (has it already been a year?) I was in London for Dragonmeet. As usual, I was there promoting Isles of Darkness, but I took the opportunity to sell some stuff at the Bring and Buy and check out the various stands and seminars as usual.

It was great to see folks and see what was on offer. I bought surprisingly little -- and even when I am buying a lot I buy surprisingly little by most people's standards. Here's what I came away with!

That's really almost everything! A box of Frostgrave cultists, a bitchin' Nuckelavee from Oakbound, a Reaper Bones spectre and a pack of dungeon geomorph beermats from Squarehex. I will photocate the Nuckelavee when it is finished, and I shall have more to say of the cultists anon.

I was also lucky enough to run into Chris Lackey of The HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast, whose show I appeared on like five years ago(!) and who kindly gave me a copy of his graphic novel Transreality,

The last item I got was another thing from Squarehex, but this one was free. Check out this supercool A2-sized poster map:

Peter Regan of Squarehex has gone through and edited this early modern map of Galway (confirmed, despite the doubts of Galway native Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan) so that it has no text, just a numbered key and a blank legend. Super useful for so many games! This would be a great town for your game of Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay or any other post-medieval but pre-modern setting. Super cool. Here are some (shitty, phone-camera) detail shots:

As last year, I went to the live taping of Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, which was great, as you will hear for yourselves when it comes out.

And that was my con! Saw some pals, shook some hands, got out with my wallet mostly intact. Not a bad day, although one of these days I'm actually going to play a game.

Friday 4 December 2015

Getting ready for Dragonmeet

So no proper blog post tonight! Hopefully a detailed rundown of what I saw when we come back on Tuesday.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

The charm of display

One of the things I like about my study is that from my desk I can look out over my monitors and see the rest of the study, including my little displays of painted minis and my books and so on. It really boosts my morale and gives me a feeling of satisfaction; silly, I know, but there you are. 

So when I realised that I was annoyed with the process of packing and unpacking terrain I decided that I would just put the pieces out on the shelf. After all, I don't have to keep things in the shed any more. Now I can just pull a piece of terrain out to use in a game without having to get it out of a box -- and better yet, I can just look over at it all and give a little smile every now and again. 

As you can see, the shelves are pretty crowded. I should get some of this little perspex shelves to create multiple tiers, effectively increasing the number of shelves. 

The whole shelf. 

Top shelf: some buildings, mostly scatter. 

Post-apocalyptic scatter. 

Some buildings and more scatter, fences, barricades etc. 

Graveyards, treasure, and the bomb. 
Currently using this stuff for Frostgrave. Church is unfinished, obvs.

Post-apocalyptic/sci-fi/zombie stuff. 

Various! I started running out of room here. 

Monday 30 November 2015

Cool blue monster

In addition to eating lots of belated-Thanksgiving treats, having a little mental health crisis, changing a flat tyre, putting up a new episode of the podcast and tutoring most of Sunday afternoon, I found some time to paint this weekend.

The model I chose to paint was this Reaper Bones bugbear. However, I decided not to use him as a bugbear. The Bones models are pretty cool, but they're absolutely huge, which is a little ridiculous considering that bugbears in D&D, while on the tough end of the humanoid scrub range, aren't that tough. Instead, I decided I would paint him as an Ice Troll for Frostgrave. He might also turn up as some kind of arctic monster in the D&D game, especially if I paint up the rest of his mates.

I kept his palette pretty simple and I think he came out rather nicely. If I decide I have time I'll do something with the skull emblem on his belt. The usual Reaper caveats (foul mould lines!) apply.

I also painted one of those plastic archers from the WHFB 5th edition boxed set, just because more utility archers for Frostgrave would be handy and I wanted to keep practicing painting with thinned paints over a grey-to-white base.

I think he looks rather nice.