Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Retro Space Hulk game

After our 40k game Sho3 and I were up for more retro action. So we waited like a blip lurking in a dark corridor for our turn on Nico's recently completed Space Hulk board. We were joined by comrade Pat making us a trio to be reckoned with.

Now, this wasn't just any old Space Hulk board. Oh no, sir. This was probably the best Space Hulk board I've seen. Ever. Nico had done an amazing job of fitting the modular board into carry cases so neatly it looked like a commercially-designed product. You can see the thing in all its glory below and read about it here.

Nico had painted fantastic collection of original lead Termis and 'Stealers (yes, lead 'Stealers!) to fight across this marvellous hellscape. But had even gone a step further. He'd created more profiles for other Oldhammer Chaos ner-do-wells so they could join in the action. Each of these was accompanied by a stat card designed to look like the original Citadel Combat Cards. It was a fine mash up!

Pat, Sho3 and I decided to use our own vintage Termis. After all, they had travelled from afar and hadn't been used in 20 years so we figured they deserved an outing. Here are my lot. Forgive the awful painting. I seemed to think no highlighting and gloss varnish was the way to go back in the 90s.

We deployed (actually we were allowed a total of10 Termis, so each used a subset of what we had brought) and Nico took control of the Hulk's denizens. This is when I remembered what a good game Space Hulk is. Really tight. Fantastic tactical play. Lots of pressure right from Turn 1. Good job on this GW.

Our aim was to defend a control panel. After some um-ing and ah-ing we arrayed one guy each in front of the panel to put up a good fight if any gribbly got close enough to twiddle the dials. Hey kids! Don't touch those dials!

Things started pretty badly for the heroic explorers (AKA fascist invaders). We'd done an OK job with the setup but made some rookie errors. We lost a few good Termis as Nico's lads bore down on us with teeth, claws and lots of saliva. Mainly saliva. As Nico delved into his custom blip pile more and more of the Chaos weirdo's crawled out of the pipework.  Suddenly crazy *&*%^£" started showing up. Which, frankly, terrified us all. I think at one point Pat had to lie down. Pretty sure Sho3 had to run to the loo.

However, we got our act together and started to pull things back. Mr Banner Man did a good job of repeatedly shredding anything which poked its nose down one fire corridor. Mr Flamer Guy suppressed Nico nearby, repeatedly wiping out anything that came into view.

Then @#*$ got real when a disco dancin' Slaanesh Champion rocked up. We all sang Stayin' Alive when his blip was converted. It was the nerves.

Things got tense and the Slaaneshi deviant took out Banner Man. But he pushed his luck too far and Flamer Guy toasted him. Take that, you naughty pink menace!

At this point it went down hill for Nico. His blips were depleted and his minions struggled to get close to the objective room. He put up a good fight though! In the end we agreed a narrow Marine victory and Pat and Sho3 retired for a mid-strength beer (I was driving). I say 'agreed' as we'd had two hours of excellent gaming and Nico needed to clear the board for the next session.  Much fun was had and I really have to take my hat off to Nico who ran a slick game on one of the best boards ever made.

Kudos, Nico! And may your blips avoid being involuntarily revealed!

Monday, 5 August 2019

Oldhammer battle report

I dusted off some Oldhammer minis this weekend and packed myself off to BOYL.

As preparation I painted this little fellow to lead my Eldar. He's a conscious attempt to make my collection less dull and grey. There'll be more colourful chaps like him in the future I hope. I dug out a couple of vintage paints too including Warlock Purple and Leviathan Purple which worked wonders on his robe. They really vibrate against his yellow helm so I'm pretty pleased.

Without further ado, here's a light-hearted report of the first battle on the fateful day...

In the morning I faced off against top-hobbyist Sho3box in our long-planned game of 2nd edition 40K. We both brought 'broken' armies. My Eldar are properly bent in that edition. Turns out his Necrons are as well. But while Jes Goodwin's original Eldar sculpts remain stunning miniatures to this day, Sho3 bravely chose to use the clunky first editions of the Necron minis. Back-handed complements like 'charming', 'endearing' and 'characterful' all describe these rivet-laden bad boys. Also 'telephone booths'.

Here's what happened:

My brave and beautiful children of Asuryan arrayed themselves ready for action. The bulk of the force are the Guardian militia. If they ever need to teach enemies how to do breaststroke, repair a broken pot or crochet a scarf, these lads have got it covered.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! What do you mean Scarabs are Toughness 8???

Sho3 did an incredible job on painting all the terrain including these vintage pieces. We mimicked on of the first Necron battle reports in White Dwarf where players fight over an archaeological dig site. Kind of like Indiana Jones, but with a goofy story involving aliens. I mean, they would never make a movie that god-awful about Indy, right? Right?

My Eldar pranced into action. The Warlock kindly asked the Scorpions if they can stop revving their chainswords for, like, two seconds because he needed to think.

One Guardian squad hung back to ensure no one stole the hot yoga pod the Eldar had seen fit to pack. 'Glad we've got it, but did you also bring the extra ammo?' asked the Warlock? 'No' they replied, 'but we did bring all the essential oils.'

Despite looking (and sounding) like an industrial lawnmower this little rascal buzzed down one of my flanks. My stalwart weapon platform swung into action and slotted this chap good an' proper. The detailed (some might say 'overly detailed') 2nd edition vehicle rules lumbered into action. After half an hour of dice rolling and chart consultation, the result was that the deadly grounds maintenance vehicle exploded and scattered off the table. Ha ha! Take that, lawnmower!

The forward squad of Guardian performed admirably as a meat shield for the Scorpions. Their skills in clock mending, dog grooming and cat neutering will be sadly missed. But more importantly the Scorpions got to cross (chain)swords with the Necron Warriors. At this point Sho3 revealed that Necrons have dastardly rules which diminish the use of any mechanical kit. So my Aspect Warriors were forced to smack the Warriors repeatedly in their stupid faces with the butts of their shuriken pistols. Unsurprisingly this meant the two squads were locked in combat for the rest of the game.

After a nice session in the hot yoga pod, the second Guardian unit ran in to claim the objective. They discovered a Necron cat, called... Nefer-kitty. Groan. Well, she was worth 5 VPs so I took that one on the chin.

My Warlock spent much of the game trying to shake off a bunch of randy Scarabs from his (shapely) legs. No matter how much he swatted them with his Witchblade, they just kept coming at him. It was like a nightmarish version of Whack-a-Mole. Later he used the essential oils on his scratches, but didn't admit this to the Guardians in case they 'told him so'.

In the denouement of the game (AKA Turn 4), three cheeky Spiders materialised next to the Necron Lord to 'stick it up 'im' with their death spinners. Above you can see a photo of Sho3 after he managed to dodge or save his Lord from all three attacks. What I don't have a photo of is Sho3's expression a moment later, when my trusty Lascannon platform successfully unloaded into the Lord's face, melting his head and reducing him to a twitching pile of slag. Ha ha ha ha!

Turns out I won. Nefer-kitty was taken back to the Eldar camp where she acted like she owned the place, turned her nose up at all the food offered to her and, every time they tried to take her photo she would turn around and raise her tail giving them a fine view of her...

Sho3 was an excellent opponent and really pulled out the stops with the terrain. I'm sure we'll face off again. I just hope he can find more hilarious miniatures next time. In a subsequent (possibly next) post I'll do a report on an epic Space Hulk battle on what must be one of the best boards ever seen.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

There and back again (or; Mordheim MMXIX and its aftermath)

Saturday just gone saw one of the largest and most impressive gatherings of 'Blanchitu' hobbyists to date. We were, of course, hunting for weirdstone in the blackened ruins of Mordheim - the infamous City of the Damned.

Unless you've been living under a massive glowing meteorite for the last six months, you'll be aware that this year marks the 20th anniversary of GW's Mordheim gaming system. Enthusiast and all round top guy echoesofimperium flexed his impressive organisational muscles and mustered close to 20 rabid hobbyists in Helsinki for a day of games. Joining us were luminaries John Blanche and Toumas Pirinen (who wrote the original rules). Skirmishes were had. Hobby juju was admired. And we ate some nice food and had some good chats.

Some impressive hobby skills were on show

I was fortunate enough to play two and a half games on three boards (things got out of hand in game three). And what boards they were! nicolasgrillet created an amazing fold-out case which revealed a vertical board stretching over two halves. His terrain was jointed and magnetised in such a way that the features could retract and collapse safely for transport. My opponent was the excellent hi5rambo who, as a result of some poor die rolls, watched his vampire slip while leaping only to land square on one of my mooks. Turns out vampires are quite tough (and heavy) and there was only one winner in that schoolyard 'bundle'. And it wasn't me.

hi5rambo's amazing converted Dire Wolves

My unit cards worked pretty well - them being on the small side meant I could lay them out on the table with ease.

I then faced off against some beautiful warbands by fgSfds and accipiternidum on a wonderfully monochrome table. There were some rowdy NPC looters causing a ruckus but when they saw the horrors we three had created they soon took flight. And were put to the sword. I think we all ended up with a lump or two of warpstone to take home and stir into our tea.

Lastly koltti drew inspiration from seminal GW artist Ian Miller to make his board. The ramparts provided an amazingly cinematic backdrop. His sculpting of ruined stonework is absolutely stunning. I started to play hi5rambo again and The Convertorum on the board but then we discovered that someone had the foresight to bring a smoke machine. We therefore ended up in a weird grim-dark parody of an Instagram-selfie session taking photos of our creations wrapped in fog. Convertorum's vampire looked particularly spooky.

Over the course of the trip I took in quite a few sights and museums. Finland is, of course, of course famous for being the land of The Moomins. And has contributed its fair share the Black Metal genre. It manages to combine these two things quite successfully and you can usually tell which you're looking at (clue; if its white and looks kind of like a hippo, its not Black Metal). Also, it was fun to see regular guests to the hotel in which we held our event react when they saw this sign in the lobby ('Mordheim' roughly translates as 'murder town' in Finnish)...

On the macabre front, while in the National Museum I learned about the pre-Christian water burials at Levänluhta which are really quite unique and fascinating.

[Image from Google]

Also the Finnish myth cycle of the Kalevala (and its depictions by the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela) is enthralling.

Thus ended the magical mystery Mordheim tour of 2019. It's been great to watch everyone share their journeys and then celebrate together at such a well run and friendly event. I think we were all a bit tearful at the end knowing that it was a very special once-in-a-lifetime experience. That's one of the great things about this hobby - it brings far-flung people together. And encourages them to hit one another and take the warpstone from their still-warm corpses. 'Murder town' indeed.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Mordheim 2019 - play aids

As I mentioned a while back I've been working on some play aids for the forthcoming Mordheim MMXIX game. After much tinkering about (and cursing) in InDesign they are finally done!

Because I'll be travelling to Helsinki (via Essex, London then Stockholm) I wanted to keep the play aids compact. This led me to read a bit about 'micro games'. A rather nebulous term, but it often applies to small-form-factor (SFF) games. These were all the rage in the early 80s thanks, in part, to examples made by companies like Dwarfstar Games. They were popular partly because they were very inexpensive to manufacture and were sold cheaply. And partly because with names like Barbarian Prince why wouldn't a 13 year old boy want them? They often contained a flimsy booklet, some card chits and sometimes a map all shipped in a small polythene bag or a single-tuck-end box. Of course the genre continues today with lots of SFF games on the market, but its those early ones that capture my attention.

It's the barbarians. Probably.

And they were small. Really small. But with this SFF inspiration, what form was my play aid pack going to take?

My hunt for a format fortuitously coincided with my delving into Dungeonsynth (often abbreviated as DS or BMDS, meaning 'black metal dungeon synth', not to be confused by BDSM...) This is a musical genre born in the early 90s experiencing a resurgence at the moment thanks to platforms like Bandcamp. I'm not going to go into details here (it really deserves its own post) other than to say that much of the music is sold on cassettes. Yes, you read that right. And it has its own 'look' which is inspired a lot by Games Workshop's vintage illustrations. So you get some really amazing cassettes replete with awesome lo-fi fantasy artwork on the J-cards.

So, I thought, could I get my play aids to fit into a tape case? Hell yes I could. Here's how:

I designed and 3D sculpted an insert which would sit in a cassette case and hold a few cards, three dice and some tokens. A friend very kindly 3D printed this for me. And by golly! It worked pretty well. The tape case just required the spindle pins sawing off and the insert slips happily into the case to hold all the components (with the addition of a plasticard back).

  Render of the insert

 The 3D print in situ, showing how the dice are accommodated. The piece needs a plasticard back.
Small tokens cen be kept in the secondary slot.

But what were all the components going to look like? I was keen not to just do a 'cookie cutter' BMDS design. While this might be cute, it would also, I felt, be a bit literal and pedestrian. Of course we already had the black-metal-inspired Mordhehim MMXIX logo so this would play a part. And I wanted to do some worldbuilding to enrich the background of my time travelling gang of convicts. I settled on a dose of dystopian post-war Modernism / Swiss style graphic design. I'll go more into the reasoning behind this and how it ties into their world in a future post. But one of the advantages is that its very legible on these rather tiny cards.

The J-card layout on its own. It looks a bit grey here as it's in CMYK format.

 The back of the case

I'm pretty chuffed with this little package and I might end up doing more tape cases for future games. I really like the idea of having a stack of tape boxes, each case with its own artwork and logos. And one will definitely have to feature barbarians.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Time for some more Epic

I finished the remaining four Marines to complete my Space Crusade-inspired squad for my micro-40K project. Here they are in all their ruddy glory:

Here we see them on patrol suddenly feeling a bit inferior next to a looming beetle-back Warlord. This shot was fun to do and readers as old as me will notice the original Adeptus Titanicus box cover in the background.

Below is a better shot of the little display case I've put together for all my 6mm chaps. The stuff at the bottom is thin magnetic sheeting (typically seen on fridge magnets). The washer-bases stick to with just the right amount of force. So you can actually be all sorts of clumsy around this and the minis will stay put. Yet they pop off with little effort. Handy.

I want to carry on with the Space Crusade randomness of this diminutive project. But I also kind of want a 2nd edition army in Epic scale. Argh! Too many hobby projects...

Monday, 3 June 2019

Haughty Aelf

A short post to show off this little chap. He'll bulk out my rather small band of heroes for my Krawl project. They sure as hell need some help, as the baddies are really racking up in number!

I wanted him to be a 'tooled-up' Aelfen adventurer, replete with all manner of gear. I think the kitbash worked out pretty well on that front. He's got a satisfying balance of clobber without it being ridiculous. Big thanks to the excellent Steve Buddle who kindly downed his digital miniature-making tools for enough time to sculpt the little fur collar on this fellow. It was an awkward join and needed a bit of 'something' to cover it up.

Steve did a great job. So now he can go back to making miniatures professionally.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Eyes of the Nine / Die Nibelungen

Eagle eyed readers (pun intended) might have noticed in a previous post there was a sneak peek of another project I'm working on - the Warhammer Underworlds' The Eyes of the Nine. This is hands-down my favourite warband for the game. For two reasons; it's got lots of 'texture'. And by that I mean lots of different things of varying sizes and shapes, right from the hench Tzaangor to the tiny Brimstone Horrors. Plus Narvia is one of my favourite minis ever. Because her gender is quite incidental. In fact, it took me a moment to actually notice she's female. She's pretty much dressed identically as her rival, Turosh. The sculptors have done a great job on this front.

But it's to Turosh we turn first. Here you can see him in all his triangular glory:

While I was noodling about colour schemes I watched Fritz Lang's 1924 version of Die Nibelungen. Which pretty much blew my mind. Here's why:

The surface design in the movie is mind blowing. Coupled with some audacious sets and Lang's eye for composition the film is a masterpiece. Lang shouldn't, perhaps, take all the credit for the visuals though, as it seems that the artist Carl Otto Czeschka produced the illustrations for a printed version of the tale in 1920. This body of work undoubtedly formed a template for Lang's costumes:

Back in Tzeentch land, the large shields form a perfect substrate for the pattern work. I was really pleased with the result and I want to roll this out across the warband. Not sure how this is going to work on the more organic chaps... but I'm sure I'll find a solution.

In an effort to paint faster by being more efficient I reigned in my natural desire to spend ages highlighting the model's skin. I just applied a gradiated wash to it and left it at that. I selectively highlighted elements like the cloth and face mask. I felt these areas are where the effort is going to be seen. Coupled with the neat pattern work the eye is somewhat fooled into thinking the mini has had more effort invested than is actually the case.

So, now on to the other members of the Nine...