donderdag 31 oktober 2013

Crisis 2013: the wishlist

Hey what?  Haven't you quit wargaming?  What the heck do you need a wishlist for????

Indeed, and still...

Comming saturday I'm going to Crisis, taking Humpty and Dumpty, my two little nephews (who will slap me for calling them little) along, further driving them into corruption.

And I have a wishlist, mainly consisiting of this:

My Nemesis always thought I did that stuff in my coffee to get real black, because I empty quit a few of those bottles in a 'normal' painting year.   This however is because I'm still a fossil, preferring to undercoat all my models by hand, and of all the brands, this one comes out the cheapest while still doing the job right.  So a few pots are on the 'must have' list.

The one other thing I'm going to look for probably is the Longstreet rulebook for ACW gaming.  You never know when they might be switching from Johnny Reb III to another system at the weekend, and I have quit a collection of rule- and Ospreybooks off that conflict.

So far the possible must haves, there are also a few small items I'd like to pick up IF I find them on a nice deal and I have the mood for it.

On that list are some small packs of 15mm to fill out gaps in my forces, like Commitatus's Norse Irish where I need 2 blisters of Slingers for and some infantry, a pack of 15mm banners for my ACW (or I should use on of the printed editions like Grimsby of Warflags, still in doubt of that as I'll need to repaint them then to compensate for the print quality loss), and a single 'support sprue' at Plastic Soldier of a Sherman Firefly for my Late War britsh in Flames of War. 

But all those will, as I said, depend on the mood a bit, but I can guarantee I won't be impulse buying.  If I can do it at FACTS, I can certainly hold my reigns in at Crisis hehehe.

One thing I will be getting is a new 'Black Card' that will be arranged by Willie though, even if I don't get to play a game in 2014 like in 2013 (bar the weekend of American Civil War), it at least will grant me the reduction at the paint and brush store for both myself as for getting additional material for the nephews.

And maybe I just buy nothing and place my next pre-order at Archonia for this bloke:

woensdag 30 oktober 2013

The Playstation Challenge: part 10 of 12

We're nearing the last phases of this gruelling challenge between Andy and myself, and what a month it was for me, feeling like it hopped on two legs.

I had taken it to myself to flare up one more time during october, and nail this thing once and for all, and for the first two weeks I actually did that in a serious ratio of trophies per hour.  Until half the month something changed as you could read on this little blog thningy.

I moved my paints over...

This resulted in barely gaming at all those past two weeks, but almost painted 50 models in this limited timespan, and of course there was FACTS as well, another day I didn't game.  But even without all that, I did manage to set a small record in this contest between two geeks, taking no less then 5 platinum trophies home this month and deeping out the lead.

Deciding the winner:

Less then a gap of 8400 is a victory for me, more then 9000 points gap is a victory for Andy, and in between those two extremes it becomes a draw

The oversight of gained spoils, updated after every monthly update post.

Last update: 30st of October 2013


Points: 62.160 + 4.155 points
Level: 17 - 77% + 52%

Platinum Trophies: 20 + 5
Gold Trophies: 168 + 16
Silver Trophies: 468 + 26
Bronze Trophies: 1960 + 69

Games played: 349 + 14
Games Beaten: 46 + 6


Points: 57.825 + 1.575 points
Level: 17 - 22% + 19%

Platinum Trophies: 16 + 0
Gold Trophies: 152 + 4
Silver Trophies: 431 + 8
Bronze Trophies: 1889 + 75

Games played: 234 + 9
Games Beaten: 34 + 0

This means Andy starts the year with a lead of 8670 points, currently the gap is - 4335 (WIN TOMSCHE)

All in all, I think I can be rather certain of victory now, with only 62 days remaining and a lead of 14335 points that he has to make up in order to win, this resulting in him having to outplay me by a margin of 235 points each and every day now.

Analysing the above numbers, it is clear I have been rounding up games I had been playing before to Platinum status, only History: Legends of War - Patton was started from scratch to platinum this month, the other 4 (Vita The Walking Dead and Wonderbook: Book of Spells both needed a chapter still done, while Vita Batman and Dynasty Warriors 6 only each needed a single remaining gold trophy) as Andy even outscored me on the Bronze trophy number.
I did outscore him on the rest, and especcially on 'new games', but this is mainly due to having cleaned up the PS recently and install a lot of PS+ free games I haven't tried and played yet before they all rotate out, as well as some small indy games I threw on the Vita for those 15 mins in between watching paint dry...

I know he is going for the Walking Dead Vita platinum like I got last month, so Andy should be getting some points there, and as I estimate for myself that until the release of Saint Seiya Brave Soldiers 'somewhere' during november (different sources speak of anywhere between the 1st and the 26th) I won't be netting much, he can cover ground.

Nevertheless, Andy wants to meet up comming saturday at Crisis, so that is a whole day he can walk in my glorified radiance of no-life gamergeekness ;-)

dinsdag 29 oktober 2013

Yayoi Japanese commander

A small thingy painted in between my regiments, the first of the two sub commanders I will be fielding in the Japanese force.

The models are from Khurassan Miniatures, and have great detail, but painting free handly a dragon pattern on the banner wasn`t the most simple of things on those small 15mm blighters.

maandag 28 oktober 2013

Tournaments vs Campaigns

Let's face it, deep down we are all winners, especcially when it comes down to playing with our little soldiers.  Nobody likes to enter a battle knowing in front they will be the turkeys in the proverbial shoot... unless they are the kind of people with special intrests.  Or followers of Slaanesh.  Or Halfling coaches.  Or commanders of the belgian army during world war 2...

But you get the idea, we all like to have a balanced game, and have a fighting chance even if the odds where against us.

When I was young (and this is counting back in decades nowadays), and just entered the world of club life and gaming, it was an often heard mantra that fantasy games played competitions (club championships, tournaments etc...) while the historical guys tend to use long (boring when your 14) campaigns.  Until something else came on the market:

I know I have been referencing to Flames of War a lot in recent posts, but it has done for the 'hobby' quit a lot, in not the smallest that it opened world war 2, and as a result historical gaming, to the wider audience.  Gone are the days in most clubs where the young guy not playing fantasy was an exception, just as that 'old bloke' playing warhammer at a tournament used to be.

No, following the succes, and the opening of the market to the younger people, more companies have jumped on the bandwagon and released historical miniatures for the masses, like Warlord for example with their ECW range, the ACW of the Perry brothers etc.

Plastic kits changed a lot in this direction as well, as now the production cost was dropped (a little) and the 16+ models a box (yes, even GW had this in times gone by, when their plastics where full regiments instead of detachments) making big armies affordable.

So that sets the scene of the comparison I'm going to try and make, and what direction I'm going to try and steer my 'old guy' career in.  This is once more purely an opinion, completely subjective and from an egocentrical point of view.  No hard numbers, no hard facts, just a compilation of things I've seen in my 20 years of wargaming.  And not comparing to simple loose one vs one games, this is about the purpose for 'club' or 'group' gaming if your joining a circle of people having a go at something we call our 'hobby'....

Tournaments tend to bring out the best in people, but also the worst.  On the one hand, you got all balanced armies, and on paper at least everyone starts on an equal footing.  Of course, things like skill, adaptiility to battlefield situations, and even pure 'army list compatibility' come into the account afterwards, but at the core, we have two players with two equal points armies from the same game system.

Add to this the talent for the 'soft scoring' like painting and converting, and one needs to be in the top tiers of all those things to actually win or score big at those tournaments.  An unpainted army with all big wins won't beat a gorgeously painted army with all small wins... and rightly so!

People often argue that a tournament should only be about the best player, well, I think this is wrong.  A tournament is the epitome of competive play in a said hobby, and other things are part of that hobby as well.  Most scoring systems allow to not be punished to hard by having limited paint skills, as long as it is all painted, assembled and based, you'll usually get only around a quarter of the points (usually equalling an extra battle in total values) less then the eye candy forces.  Someone who just chunks down some shiny lead and plastic, never having heard of concepts like 'glue' and 'paint', will end up with a battle behind in points.  And as such lose any chance for the top spots even with a winning streak.

I know of at leastv two players who can turn out gorgeously painted and converted armies at an incredible rate, but are the 'easy pickings' everyone wants to play against in championships because they, well, just aren't good generals and provide quick bonus points.

That brings us to the bad part of tournaments.  There are players out there that field painting service armies (for those soft points) and have opened every nook and cranny of the rules and their army lists, not caring about the 'in character' part, just to get the maximum advantage and top winning percentage rates.
This is fair game as well for me, Barcelona isn't going to send Messi onto the pitch with wrong shoes either in order to get a maximum ratio out of him.  The problem though is when these people face the examples I mentioned before meet across the face of battle, it becomes a bloodbath and at least one of them won't have fun.  Especcially is the other party is a windbag boasting load how good he was...

The benefit though in this is with the Swiss system that has been adapted to most tournaments, if your a social player comming to a tournament just to play someone else for a change, they tend to be out of your reach after two or three rounds, as you start to fill out the midfield while they storm for the top tables.

One final sidenote for the benefit of a tournament: it only lasts a day, a weekend at the most, so it is easier to plan in then a campaign who tends to run for several weeks on fixed dates.

No, perhaps for those people, instead of entering club championships it might be a more viable option to enter the other sort of large group gaming instead: campaigns.

Now, again when I was young, a campaign was in terms a series of sessions of DnD and it's narrative story.  I remember sessions where it turned in more of a boys night out, more beer bottles being emptied then villagers saved.

But then again, club life opened my eyes on this part as well, and it all evolved into playing long historical, either real, what ifs or completely fictional, campaigns.  The problem with a good campaing though is like with a good role play session: you need a capable dungeon master / campaign organiser, willing to put in effort to make games intresting (not necessarily balanced) for all that participate.

It wouldn't be the first time that a resident Viking player organises a raid on your village, and your out-qualified and outnumbered by a factor immeasurably.  Turkey shoot feeling remember...  The trick for a campaign, where unbalanced battles and special scenarios are more the rule then the exception, is to give at least everyone a fighting chance or a benefit in the long turn.  For example, lasting 7 turns against innumerable odds gives the player the chance to pull in a larger and better force then the opponents force of this game, for the next.  Effectively turning the tables around that way, leaves both players in the position of the turkey and yet still gives way the feeling of 'why was I standing here all night being slaughtered?'.

Unfortunatly, campaigns, more then tournaments, have some factors that can cause a major drawback.
First off, you will need said umpire, who will be needing and willing to invest a lot of his time outside the club to set up engagements, spin more tales in the narrative, and think up a lot of 'why's' of certain battles, as player questions will be comming in a flood.
Secondly, there has to be a dedicated player group.  Many campaigns have stranded because players lost intrest in a game or period after a few turns, and move to the next shiny.  Okay, occassionaly Real Life can throw in it's ugly ass and cause problems for the schedule, but that is rather exceptionally on the big numbers basis.
Thirdly, and this might sound harsh, but having one or two 'win at all costs' tournament mind set players can kill campaigns quickly.  An umpire can get demotivated by constant naggering about 'but the rules say...' as those players don't tend to accept the story tellers words as law if the books say differently.

So what should be the ideal mix one should strive for?  A player that can freely switch mindmappings between 'playing to the win' to 'playing for the enjoyment of all' but I fear this classes under the mythological creatures like Bigfoot, the Yeti or the Sober Irishman.
No, I think every player should have a stand before the mirror and ask himself what he likes the best, then focus on those things instead of 'game hopping'.  Campaigns are no place to 'test' your newest tournament concotion, just as an 'in theme, historical / character accurate' army will only get slaughtered at a tournament and you think it is unfair because that is how the army is supposed to be played!

But where does this all leave me?  In the middle?  Leaning towards campaigning?  Or go for blood in a tournament?

I'm afraid in my current situation, I fall drop down in the middle somewhere.  I can't free up the time to play, let alone organise, a campaign anymore.  So I guess I'll have to settle for one or two loose battles in the comming year if I get lucky, join in a weekend long event with the TSA ACW weekend 2014 (rumours are it's going to be Cedar Creek) and actually see to join a tournament IF one is nearby, like in the greater Anwterp region.
Without going for blood, but well, just settle with a place in the midfield and hope to meet and play against, well can't say new players', some players.

Because in conclusion, let's summerise the benefits I see on both formats of grouped play.

Tournaments: short dedicated time span needed, chance to meet new people

Campaigns: long time assured play, within the comfort of regular opponents

Just decide now for yourself what you like, I tend to word it as followed: A Tournament is a steamy one night stand with gorgeous twins, but the Campaign is that girl that takes care of you the rest of the time...

zondag 27 oktober 2013

Planning an army: 53rd Welsh Division

Okay, so with the paint craze going on, I've decided to finish at last an army for my Flames of War late war, only like 5 years "after date" from when I last played the game.  I always had a soft spot for the british Cromwell tank, finding it one of the prettiest designs of WW2, so at first I was planning to go for a Villers-Bocage list.

But strolling around the Battlefront site, and the combination of having read this book in recent years, I decided to build the 53th Welsh.

Because they have the option of using armoured support in the form of Cromwell tanks, and because they have the option of taking Archer 17pdr tank destroyers.

Now the plan at first is to build a small force of only 1000 points, and try to get a game or two in before investing in any models (okay, so I need to get 2 Archers for the list, but that is barely an investment).  I have the plastic tanks from The Plastic Soldier Company, I have a box of late war british infantry from Forged in Battle, and I have the recce and some more troops and bits from Battlefront.

So the army list will look something like this:

Company HQ with a jeep transport

2 Rifle Platoons of 3 squads each

A "Skins" armoured platoon consisting 2 Cromwell IVs and a Firefly VC

A self propelled tank destroyer platoon of 2 Archers

A Recce platoon of 5 armored cars

This all tallies up to 995 points according to the briefing on the FoW website, so that should be good enough to go.

And get me to 'recycle' a lot of unopened material I still having lying around in the Man-Cave.  if this kindles off my painting again, I'll have a shot as well at my mid war italian Bersaglieri Motocyclisti force, and an early war Japanese force, all initially aimed at 1000 points.

Time to get to the brushes me thinks...

zaterdag 26 oktober 2013

Reading time: some Saint Seiya mangas

Well, I finished the first three of the mountain of Saint Seiya manga's I brought back from FACTS last saturday, an intresting mix spanning various series.

Knights of the Zodiac volume 10: 

The infamous 'vol 10' handles the battle of the Virgo house between Phoenix Ikki and Shaka, Gold Saint of Virgo.  Now, I don't really like Shaka in the earlier parts of the manga, compared to the anime he has a sort of evillish streak, instead of his divine posture from the anime.  He also fights standing up instead of the lotus position in the series, and it all just seems far less 'on a different level' then it was in the animated duel.
Furthermore, the saints proceed through the Libra house, freeing Hyoga with the help of the gold cloths weapons, from Camus's Ice Coffin, and the battle with Milo of Scorpio is about to begin in this book.

Next Dimension: Le Myth D'Hades 6:

The most recent (translated) volume of Kurumada's work (I wonder if it'll ever go in animation), Shun and Tenma face Kaiser, gold Saint of Leo, with his giant guardian companion, the Lion Goldy.  Like in recent series, he has a noble warriors heart, and has stopped Sukiyo.  He defeats Shun and Tenma, but then Deathtoll of Cancer arrives with a bunch of spectres that used his Underworld Portals to get to Sanctuary.  Kaiser defeats them swiftly, and it turns out that Deathtoll didn't defect, but new the Leo warrior was more suited to fighting them then he himself.  He proceeds by telling Kaiser he shouldn't follow Sukiyo, as he is like him a noble warrior and not the enemy...

The Lost Canvas Chronicles 1:

I didn't knew this series, thinking at first it was just a best off, but as I could have a physical look at them, they aren't.  They are a series, now released to volume 3, of side stories each time featuring one of Sasha's Gold Saints.  The great thing I always though about TLC where that they where all 12 loyal and focussed, no treacheries and all going on. 
Volume 1 handles about Albafica, the gold saint of Pisces.  He is send to an island that seems to have a strong curing medecine, only to discover it is the younger brother of his former master that runs it, and he has sold his soul to Hades to be able to save his young apprentice.

vrijdag 25 oktober 2013

This week's painting: all about 15mm

Hey all,

As you could all read last week, I've finally started painting again, hooray to the world!!!  The first model was the cloud dragon I showed last weekend, but this week I kicked into gear and managed to paint up no less then TWO regiments and some characters in 15mm.

First of are these Khurassan Miniatures 15mm Yayoi Japanese slingers, 6 bases of the Light Foot for my finally started Fields of Glory army.  Many more of these japanese society (of about 300 BC to 300 AD) are about to come during the next weeks, as I got the command, archers and daggeraxe troops lying here, and the spears lying around 'somewhere' until they show up.  All in all about 600 points of the army, to be show cased once it is all done.

Second is a project that will end up straight in my 'Vault' though, I bought these Dark Dwarves from Splintered Light Miniatures about two years ago for the idea of playing HOTT and build a Chaos Dwarf-ish army in 15mm, but as the game and the clubbing crashed, I now have a heap of evil dwarves, good dwarves and greenskins riding around, so they all will get the painting treatment and then be sold off hopefully in small forces of the three said forces.

Never the less, both these cultists (second regiment comming one of the weeks) and sorceress are some pretty neat models, and where fun to paint.

The following week will probably be another heap of the small fellas, as I'm currently painting on a Goblin Horde regiment, some 'normal' dwarves are ready to be undercoated, and in between try my hand at the japanese commanders for a change of 'palette'.

Arm the brushes and go... go... GO...

Saint Seiya Myth Cloth: Dragon Shiryu v2

The Myth cloth I found on FACTS last week, the second generation bronze cloths of the anime, based on the originals of the manga.

Now, in the anime, where these cloth versions are worn during the Asgard and Poseidon arcs, I always thought of the version 2s of the prettiest of the bunch, so it is a real shame that the Myth cloths themselves, approaching and crossing the venerable age of over a decade old, are BUTT UGLY. 
They where amongst the first released, but on the contrary to the original Gold saints of back then, this series doesn`t include a single well executed model.  The characters have horribly sculpted faces, the colouring isn`t exactly right, but a collector has to collect and in order to get the series complete, I have to bite sour apples and get the missing models... but only like this one if I can get it on the cheap, at 39 euros it didn`t hurt the budget.

Luckily, they are replacing these models slow and steady with the far better executed EX line, so when I get my hands on those, the `original five` will get the same treatment as I plan to do with the original Gold saints, display the EX versions in Saint mode, and the older editions in Cloth object mode.

The model itself did assemble rather well though, it is the Shiryu I have in my collection I`ve been messing with the `shoulderpads connected by the dragon claws to the back` the least.  God cloth was pure misery on that part...

For the rest, the cloth is like the anime, simple in design by having a single arm piece armour, a chest and belt for body armour, and lower leg and knee protectors.  Not much else can be said about this model, just don`t pay TO much for this model and range, they aren`t worth the 75+ euros you see them pass by for on eBay at times.

donderdag 24 oktober 2013

A - Z Blogger book review - Because everyone does it

Roight, time to jump unto the bandwagon there with the most recent craze of the blog-o-sphere.  These 26 questions will give you a deep psychological profile of the creator of the blog you read it on, it will grant you valuable gems of wisdom, it will... oh crap that.  

This is just all good fun, and now that I have the midday off and just read the list on the Too Much Free Time blog, I decided to have a go at it.

Author you've read the most books from:
That should be oddly enough Diane Carey.  I read a lot of the small size 300 page paperback novels (they fit in my jacket pocket to read on the bus to work and such) and a lot of fantasy, sci-fi and particularly Star Trek.
Best sequel ever:
The follow up parts of The Harper's trilogy, from the old AD&D Forgotten Realms line of novels.

Currently reading:
The Fall of Arthur by Tolkien.  He like barely ever seems to have finished something, and it is a few pages of his original poem, followed by end on end of dry research and references.
Drink of choice whilst reading:
Javan Coffee.  Always.  Even when I'm not reading.  Unless I have cappucino
E-reader or physical book:
Physical without any question
Fictional character you would probably have dated in high school:
Has Eowin already divorced her Swann knight bloke?
Glad you gave this book a chance:
Flat Out, Flat Broke - the autobiography by Perry McCarthy, a talented british formula one driver without the required financial backing and how he managed by hard work and hard risks to finally land a seat in the Queen of motorised sports... with the Andrea Moda team, to this day still considered the biggest farce in the sport.
Hidden book gem:
Ship of the Line from the Star Trek series, detailing the shakedown cruise of the new Enterprise E and how command was given to Morgan Bateson instead of Picard.  Must be the Star Trek novel I've read at least a dozen times over.
Important moment in your book life:
For me, manga counts, let's get that clear.  Sure it is drawn instead of written all in texts, but it is a typical japanese way of telling stories.  So that has to be the FACTS superbuy I did past weekend (see the FACTS picture report a few days back for details)
Just finished:
A Dance with Dragons if I don't count mangas
Kind of book you won't read:
All that psychological crap by so called experts on how one should behave with this or that
Longest book you've read:
The Idiot by Dostoyevksi from 1869, my copy stood at over 3000 pages
Major book hangover because of  disappointing endings:
Anything which has to 'wrap up' just a bit too fast because it is running out of pages it might fill.  This happens a bit to often in the 300 page fantasy novels imho, as they set up introductions for way to long, then only have half a book to complete the story

Number of bookcases you own:
Only a small one, as I only keep the books I loved for normal books.  I usualyy go to a second hand shop, read them, then bring them back in to recuperate a bit of money and get fresh ones.
I do have a long manga shelf though for all the Saint Seiya books.

One book you've read multiple times:
De Slag in de Ardennen (Battle of the Bulge) by John Toland.  I literally read mine to pieces, even doing a book report in school when I was 11.  It is written in a PoV style and (especcially back then this was rare) was far more enjoyable then the dry historic recounts you mostly get on those sort of books.  To this day, i'm still looking for a fresh copy of the 'blue edition' to start reading it again to pieces...
Preferred place to read:
The bus or train when I get to work or on a trip.  It makes the stress lessen and I don't have to get fed up by the 'joys' of public transport.
Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read:
"Morgend.  De velden lagen bevrozen.  Winter was eindelijk daar!" (Morning.  The fields where frozen.  Winter hasd finally come!)  From the Ardennes book, this was when Bastogne was getting critical and even though it snowed a lot back then, it just din't want to clear up and get the fields open and frozen hard so the Third Army could move in and liberate McAuliffe.  The quote gives me the feel of 'never give up, at some moment, it WILL all turn out for the better'
Reading regret:
A few weeks ago, I was temporarly out of reading material, and started in one of the GF's books.  She loves to read those 50 Shades "deluxe" kinds of books with a lot of romance turning into savage (BDSM) sex relationships.  I never got past page 50 thinking what kind of crap it was.  And never should a woman complain that men watch porn, they read it!!!!
Series you started and need to finish:
A Song of Ice and Fire, but it is out of my hands if I can ver finish it.  Write George, write goddammit.
Three of your all-time favourite books:
The Lord of the Rings, The Rise and Fall of a Dragon King, Battle of the Bulge.
Unapologetic fanboy for:
Saint Seiya

Very excited for this release:
The next Ice and Fire book, rumoured to be end 2014
Worst bookish habit:
Starting to read on the toilet, getting 'missed' after an hour or so
X marks the spot - Start at the top left of your bookshelf and pick the 27th book:
Unable to comply, I don't have a big non-manga shelf, I believe it numbers barely a dozen.
Your latest book purchase:
The Fall of Arthur by Tolkien, discounting the manga's from FACTS
Zzz snatcher book (the last book that kept you up waaay too late:)
A Dance with Dragons

dinsdag 22 oktober 2013

Legends of War - Patton: the 20th Platinum

A cooperation between History Channel and Slitherine (the guys that make the Fields of Glory wargame rules) resulted in some games being created for the Playstation 3 and Vita, so far being Patton on both, a Medieval on the PS3 and a non trophy supported Egypt mini on the Vita.

Now these are the kind of games I have been playing for ages before I dabbled (and got lost, and nearlt drowned) in MMO's like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Star Trek Online etc etc... Turnbased 'place your units well or die horribly' is something you don't often see to consoles, even though X-Com is in the same range, I always found those historical games, well, just more fun. 

The Total War series like one on the PC, I still have that installed for the occassional game over Steam - usually when I sleep over at my place during the Hour of the Wolf - but it also reminded me of one of the first 'enter the age of the big games' games I ever played on a PC, Battlefield Ardennes from 1995...

Now, I must admit, finishing the game shouldn't be a problem for most people downloading the title, but actually platinumming the thing, even on the easy level, is kind of a chore I think if you don't really have knowledge of the conflict.  I can imagine people having to do levels over and over to get the 'no casualties' requirement trophy in campaign 4, or the one for the 10 Heroic victories (no casualties, barely no misses with your shooting, and no strolling around but hardcore race through the enemy lines to get to the objective).

I think I was lucky I knew *something* about the second world war and this part in special, I think John Toland's Battle fo the Bulge must be a book I've read over and over when I was young.  I did a book report even about it in school when I was 11... and I must say in all honesty this helped me a lot for setting up fire lines, have an idea just what the germans would have around the Bastogne area in terms of types and panzers et all, resulting in picking more or less the correct support during the game.

It was great fun in the end though, and I also have the PS3 version on the HD, so I think I'll give that a shot as well next week during the holiday!  The Third Army can't trash through France to the Ardennes enough ;-)

maandag 21 oktober 2013

15mm vs 28mm: My take on the Myths and Legends

The difference between the two scales... If one starts strolling by various forums, ask opinions at clubs and with gamers, you'll get answers ranging from 'the one true scale' to 'a poor man's army'.  It's kind of like a bitchfight between wargame scale afficionados.

Now, for the purpose of this article, I will be generalising the scales.  There are a lot of variant scales, then there is 'realistic' versus 'heroic' and not all manufacturers and brands are identical in size.  For instance, under 15mm it can go up as far as 18mm, while in the 28mm range you get things like 30mm, heroic scale etc... It's like you want to make a silly comedy about, say twin brothers and you would cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in the one lead role, and Dany DeVito in the other... oh wait...

No, what I'm going to look at is the following points, and why I have been swinging towards the smaller of the two scales in recent years, and more so now that I'm back on the painting roll.  I'm not on the means of lecturing you all why one scale should be preferred over another, but just what has made me go lean more towards the 15mm ranges and what I 'see' when comparing the two scales, so I hope you enjoy the read and feel free to comment afterwards (but please, no flame wars!!!)

1. Popularity
2. Price
3. Basing
4. Space
5. Storage

1. Popularity

Now, popularity is a very curious thing, and dependant on a whole lot of factors one doesn't have in hand.  First of, your game or scale needs to get a serious boost by one of the 'big guns' in the gaming industry, and what Games Workshop did for Fantasy and SciFi in 28mm, Flames of War did for 15mm and WW2 in particular.
You can have a game within your group, being played week in week out, and think it might actually be rather popular, only to get 'outside' and be unable to score a single game.  The best example of this is Babylon 5 from Mongoose a few years ago, we played it for years, even getting in a wargales magazine article about TSA... and got labelled in that said magazine as an oddity as space game players.
Now, from within my reach, I can tell 15mm, excluding perhaps Flames of War, isn't popular around here at all.  Most games you see played are the two GW 'biggies', WarmaHordes and Malifaux, while when I was still in TSA the historical side of things tended to be either own brewn rules, or as I noticed recently over at their forum Dux Britannium.  Now I know some of our eminnence grises over there have a love for Too fat Lardies, and for the Dark Ages, so this is in a way not a suprise.  But they play it also in 28mm after having played SAGA before with those models.
As I said personally in my post a few weeks back about trading cards around the world, popularity is linked to support, and the best way to measure support is by counting the amount of tournaments held in your area.  With Antwerp now counting a full number of ZERO brick and mortar independant retailers, and only a Games Workshop in the centre of the city, you can imagine events being downed to a minumum.  There are some model shops like Verschooten who support the hobby, and in their case a club based in the same watering hole I play Magic, but those are also fantasy players and the tournaments occasionally popping up on the radar are said Privateer Press and Wyrd games.

It is my conclusion if your looking for an easy game to find, with a variation of opponents, 28mm Fantasy is the most popular in the Antwerp area.

2. Price

An often heard argument in favour of 15mm is that it is cheaper.  In my opinion, this is not true at all.  Sure, you get more small figures in your 10 euro pack then you get with 28mm, and usually these figures are enough to field the required unit / horde / banner / posse while you'll need usually more blisters for said force in 28mm.
But the fact that 15mm is more based on fielding large armies and swooping all-or-nothing manoeuvers then 28mm where you get more of a mano-a-mano kind of battle, you will be needing a lot more units and as such also blisterpacks.
Excluding perhaps the fact your transferring your 28mm force on a miniature by miniature ratio to 15mm, and recalculating the ranges.  But then your not actually playing another scale for the sake of the scale benefits bar size...
For example, a battle pack of 28mm in any range usually gives you a skirmish force of about 10 - 12 models with a commander, some flashy gimmick and some core troops good for a small scale kitchen table battle of about an hour.  In 15mm that money buys you a battle box with a heap of units, a vehicle left or right etc... and good for a battle on the kitchen table that lasts about an hour...
So if you make the calculations, the money / playable ratio stays the same, you'll be expanding either scale force anyways afterwards, and the total tally will end up around the same.
One benefit 28mm USED to have was the better looking rulebooks, but, again, since Flames of War this has seriously been changing.  Remeber the DBA edition 1998... and compare that to any Warhammer Historical book that came out around that period as well...

In conclusion, I think it is a misconception that the smaller scale carries the smaller price tag

3. Basing

Excluding perhaps Napoleonics, in whom each 28mm rulesystem seems to have an unwritten rule that they should come up with their own unique basing system, this tended to be a big point in favour of 28mm.

Usually, the 28mm models are based on a 2 by 2 square or 25mm round base to make up the core of forces, and are quite singleminded on this over the whole range of games and systems.
Oddly, in 15mm this has often been not the case... until even oddlier enough the advent of the 10mm Warmaster system from GW!  Since those where based on 4 by 2 bases, and it was a system easily adapted at first to other settings, and later to other scales and periods (for example, Future War Commander and variants, written for 6mm scifi, even says it in it's afterword it is based on Warmaster) the 4cm by 2cm became a rather uniform base in further systems, more then DBx, even though it also used the frontage.  This point goes to Warmaster (for me with Blood Bowl btw still the best GW ever produced, BB for the fun, but WM for the rulesystem and felxibility) as a saviour.  For once not FoW, as they used their own bases, not really adapted by other systems.
Since then, especcially the 4cm frontage has become a norm rather then an exception in 15mm games systems, and often depth does no longer become a real issue, as long as it fits the models.  HOTT is for example a good case of this, as long as you use the frontage, everything should be okay they reason.
And the cases a units depth is really an issue in a wargame due to basing is, I can say with 20 years under the belt, rather exceptional.

In conclusion, this used to be and still is more easy to do for 28mm games as you can base up blindly, but it might still be best to do a quick google search on your game / era of choice in 15mm just to be sure about basing conventions.

4. Space

Again, a misconception that 15mm takes on less space as 28mm.  Yes on an army by army ratio, but as these pictures I blatantly borrowed on other blogs I follow show, the table stays just as 'full' in either scale.

The main difference though is that when you go out to organise mega battles (like the annual ACW game at TSA, look in my archives to find mightily impressive figures), truth to be told 15mm lends itself much better.  Sure, no gamer is going to take a smaller table if he is able to choose one, he'll just pop on some extra army or such instead, but a more important part is that the scenery is also half as big as with 28mm.  The treeline gets lower, the village is less in the way for the infamous wargamer 'belly-bend operation' and this can accomodate an easier rate of play.  The same goes for that most dreaded part of any large wargame: the movement phase.  Your movement tray to move an entire regiment is not only lighter and smaller, it is far more stabler.
This comes due to the fact for me that models are usually based in stands, meaning a regiment will be around 8 'pieces' only for like 30 of your brave souls moving to their dooms, where in 28mm people then to base up individually.  This can cause more models knocking over, or making the move last a lot longer as all models need to be properly placed and aligned when no trays are used... and with the small stands of 15mm this goes a lot faster.
So even if the 'floor space' a group of models in 28mm or a unit in 15mm might occupy is almost equal for both scales, it is in my opinion that the larger the gaming table becomes, the more inclined I am towards 15mm.

In conclusion, out of practicality, 15mm is far more intresting an option for 'mega battles', but otherwise it just suits your taste what you pick.

5. Storage

No discussion here, 15mm trunches 28mm on that part.  Like I said yesterday, but will repeat for the sake of completeness, it is not only smaller and lighter then their larger counterparts, but handier.  It is not the fact that the scale is half the size of the models in height, it is due to the fact that the models are more compact, usually not with all kind of portrusions and oddities on them.  This results in units generally staying 'within' the boundaries of their base, while it is common in 28mm to have all kind of things like swords, arms, bit and bobs 'hanging' over the sides of the footpiece.

This makes it easier to store the small ones, as they can rank up better (and not with an actual movement tray floorplan of which trooper has to go where as I once saw some people having to do with a Warhammer regiment!!!!), and you can put your shelves closer together, opening up space for one or two extra shelfboards in your cabinets, and as such more miniatures to go there...

In conclusion, there is no doubt on this point, a clear benefit of 15mm over 28mm

So that are my views of the difference in scales between the two most played globally, 28mm and 15mm.  Of course, the smaller a scale you go, you can just switch in the new scale and do the same observations (15mm vs 6mm for example) but like I said, this article is of me bing an (ex-)28mm afficionado slowly comming more into the 15mm scale for a lot of reasons.

What should you choose?  I got no idea, this all depends on what you like, what scale you want to paint, what kind of games you're going to play... I guess that are decisions everyone needs to make for himself.  On the other hand, I just got word yesterday from Willie (yeah, the ol' prezze) about By Fire and Sword perhaps going to take off, and I actually HAVE some of those models (I bought a skirmish pack at North Star after being intrigued by the Kickstarter campaign), I just had totally forgotten about them (due to reasons stated in my post yesterday) so I think I might over time dig them up in the garage.  IF that takes off, just going to stand back and look first (WOW, no impulse buys on FACTS, no rushing in projects... I'M GROWING UP, KIIIILLL MEEEEE) and then decide to give it a shot.

But at least it will be painted by then... and if it doesn't take off, I still can use it in a variety of other systems because... it uses 4cm frontage ;-) and I have a few hundred of those Magister Militum and Renendra bases lying around still.

zondag 20 oktober 2013

How my Wargaming went from Terminally Ill to Slightly Recuperating

Hey all!

As you might have all noticed, the past year my miniatures painting and wargaming has been going steeply downhill... until as recent as last week when it suddenly started flaring up like a Phoenix rising from it's ashes.

I'm stroking the brushes again at a speed nearing my old tempo, and even though I laughily say I blame my Nemesis for corrupting (or re-corrupting) my mind, in a way it is true.

So what happened now, and what happened the past year then that it had gotten to this terminal downhill, near flatline state, and what caused it to resurge?

Let's have a look at it, from a more or less chronological point of view.

The first 'signs' where there a few months before Crisis 2012.  I was still a member of TSA back then, but I wasn't having fun anymore.  The gaming group was in shambles and undecisive, ever since a 'difference in opinions' caused me to pull the plug on a Full thrust campaign.  Yes, I can say that now, sorry again Willie, that wasn't my most shinniest moment of my wargaming career.

After that, the 'Far Side' just couldn't decide what to do, what to play, where to go in a gaming direction.  And as a result, most of the time was spend turning thumbs, playing nothing, painting forces of the 'new idea of the week' and generally getting nowhere.  Campaigns and gamesystems where launched (Future War Commander, Pulp, Historicals, Superheroes, etc etc) and sank faster again then the Titanic.

Now I understand more my Nemesis in his reluctance to buy into yet another range models only to have them collect dust again.  We ran a very succesful Babylon 5 three year era, and a good going one year long Flames of War campaign before, and just thought everything we tried would be the same success.  This was my mistake, mixing up effort and taking for granted with each other.

I played my most battles in that last year in the two Warhammer Fantasy Battles tournaments, comming out twice with the bronze medal after not having played WFB for years, and no 'training weeks' beforehand.  I'm not saying I'm worlds best wargamer at all, but this wasn't fun at all.

In the meantime, I finally got together with a girlf I had a lightswitch relationship with the years before.  We're still together and very happy thank you, and I haven't killed her kid yet so I think me and the Munchkin get along quite well ;-)

However, a few months after we went steady, and I knew this in front, she would be moving to the other side of Antwerp and far from the gaming club.  Taking the bad transportation connection and the costs of having a serious relationship into account, the fact that I hadn't had fun (again, not the club was to blame for this) the past months, I decided to pull the plug on Crisis 2012 and haven't been gaming since then.

Fast Forward three months, and bigger changes in life.  By then, I still was painting though, mostly my anime models, when I got troubles with what Blood Bowl afficionados would call a niggling injury.  Years ago, I had a sporting accident, breaking my right fore-arm in several places, and since then I can't put much strength on it if making a 'wringing' motion like with a dish towel.  But another, more irritating sideeffect is that when a cold winter hits (like last year), one of the nerve centres at the bottom of my palm 'shortcircuits'.  The result of this is that the pinky and ring fingers cramp up, and at times the hand shakes violently out of the blue... very unhandy for painting...  Lasting usually then until spring, my backlog had grown so big and my motivation so low, I put aside the brushes until a later moment.

And started trading off a lot of dead projects like War Machine, Full Thrust etc in order to fund my Saints collection.

Come summer, my girlfriend, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, had a huge uprising, so it fell to me to be the man in the house and the munchkin entertainer in one.  This left me after 3 months completely drained, both mentally and physically, but I carried on.  Needles to say, once again painting for no goal was far on the back of the mind.

In the meantime, I also left my job due to stress issues (I ended up in the hospital over a year ago) to reschool myself into the IT sector, something I'm busy with at the moment.  This left also a serious drainage on funds (about 1/3th of what I made before) and so I wasn't able nor willing to spend euros on models not to be used anyways.  I preferred (and will always prefer) to spend the limited budget on my anime Myth cloths instead.

Until last week...

Nemesis, during two marriage parties we attended of two mutual friends couples, kept talking wargame here, club there etc etc.  At first this kindled my intrest of going to have a look at Crisis 2013, and get the excellent looking entry model.  Then slowly my willingness to paint started flaring up again, and I got the GF to approve my paint moving (see an earlier post about that) to keep me occupied in the dark hours of night or when she needs to have her recuperation naps, having material on place now wherever I am.  Just like I have Playstation 3's at both locations...

I was rummaging through my boxes for possible bring and buy materials, and found some of my 15mm armies again.  ACW, Irish from Comitatus, my Japanese ancients, fantasy 'evil' dwarves...

I decided not to part with all of them, but paint them and maybe, very maube get a game under the belt.  However, I quickly learned that Field of Glory isn't popular at all in Belgium, and it seems over at TSA it is still a preference for 28 over 15mm.  So I won't be going there frequently again, maybe pop by once or twice in a year to have a chat and a drink (if they still led me in hehehe).
I will though participate next year in the new ACW battle, I really missed it this year, but I didn't want to have the mixed feeling of on the hand the 'need' to paint again, and on the other the frustration of the hand-issue not allowing me to paint...

No, but I keep painting those armies, not under the who knows one day (well, yes, that too), but I just have some practical and usefull reasons for this.

First off, as I said, the budget issues.  I have decent forces based on the 'sample lists' that are in the FoG books, so 'upgrading' them to a tournament force size of 800 points is usually only adding a few battlegroups.  In 15mm, most blisters give you enough models to field a full unit on the contrary to 28mm.  I'm not going to say it is easier to paint, as I find both scales just as paint intensive to complete a unit.

Secondly, there is the space issue.  A base of 15mm in most systems is usually a 4 by 2 (a Warmaster base for the GW afficionados) with anything between 4 - 8 models over them.  A unit consists of 4 to 8 of those bases, but more importantly, the models usually stay within the 'surface' of the base, where 28ers tend to have weapons and all portruding over the edges.  A full regiment would as such be as large as a small 28mm unit of 8 to 16 models, and much shorter and compact.
I can place three armies basically on the spot of one 28mm average force.  With space at a premium, this is a huge benefit for me.

Thirdly, from a gaming point of view, one might never know if 15mm (not talking Flames of War here, mind you) MIGHT take off after all.  If not, i'll have at least two Field of Glory armies painted up and can invite like, my Nemesis, over for a game even.  Or invite myself to his place as he has scenery ;-)

Who knows what time will bring in the end, at least for now the recucitation has been more or less succesful and we have a pulse again in the hobby.

World of Tanks - Rumbling around the fields again

This must be some kind of melancholy week.  I painted again, and I MMO'd (sort of) again as I reinstalled World of Tanks two days ago on my home PC.

The reason for this is actually quit simple though, I just can't invest time in decent online playing, so paying subscription fees is wasted money at the moment, and I can't keep up with the Metagame in RPG's, like Guild Wars.

WoT on that part is easier.  It's free, and the tank battles are 'scaled', so your not thrunching around in your starter Cunningham tankette against Tigers and the likes.  And I loved playing the 'midfield' the most anyways (the level 5 - 6 class battles, with Shermans, Panzer 3s and the likes).  I usually played with my canadian Ram II (a premium tank from the US list).  Install the game, hop in a tank, shoot around in random generated teams for max 15 minutes a battle, and repeat.  I loved this game, I still enjoyed it friday when I gave it a new go!  Then again, I always liked tanks, if you can call an L33 that...

Now to get an idea how long it has been, I played through the full closed AND open Beta back in the days, and a while during launch.  The french where still in development and where rumoured to go and have 'captured' Italian premium tanks in their various levels.

So I had high hopes when I reinstalled, only to find out the french where indeed there, but without italians.  And the US tree had finally been filled out, the Britains had also arrived and there where chinese riding around...

OK, so it HAS been a while, but at least it has the Brits now to play until (if?) the Italians arrive.  I'm hotching and grinding XP now in my premium and elite status tanks, so that I can build up from my Cruiser III to the sexiest tanks of the second world war: the Crusader (hey old FoW opponents, 9th DivCac comming back at ya') and the Cromwell. 

After those, I'll just be stocking up and converting to 'free experience' that the day the troops yelling Avanti Savoia arrive, I can immediatly 'tree through' an M13/40!!!

zaterdag 19 oktober 2013

FACTS convention picture report

Fourth year in a row I'm going to this anime and comic event in Flanders, and I will not turn around the bush, this has been the BEST ONE ever so far, both from a personal as from an organisational point of view.

The personal part is very simple.  At a small dutch anime store, in a shelf literally at floor level, I found one of my Holy Grails, the illustrious volume 10 of the Shonen Jump english manga of Knights of the Zodiac.  You don't (if you find them uberhaubt) get them online under 200 USD, due to a print error way back limiting the run of this particular volume.  I payed 30 euros today.  The vendor even appologized that he had to ask more for that one then the rest due to it being 'rather rare'.  Well, learn your classics, you can make more on them then on Naruto or Pokemon matey ;-)

To prove a point: check this out...

Organisational the event was a big step forward from last year, as they now had the humongous Hall 1 for the traders and videogames, and a second hall, number 5, for clubs.  This meant that even though I al pretty sure the 50k visitors mark has been broken, you actually had SPACE between hallways to have a look around.

They still had to do the hallway and a stairs to enter...

I almost didn't go, being in fever last evening, but I don't regret it.  Nor do I regret buying a ticket in advance.  I went later (around 12.30 I arrived) and still there was a HUGE que for non ticket holders.  I spend the whole 17 seconds que'ing (no offense to Salute, but this is what quebusting is all about).

For me it was a great edition, with Saint Seiya Omega and The Lost Canvas clearly having their impact.  Compared to previous years, there was a lot more material on sale, though also slightly more expensive.  Win some, lose some I'd say, but I almost bought that artwork where it not for it costing 189 euros...

There was even a Saint Seiya modelmakers club, Ma Deesse, I think I almost orgasmed on the spot ;-), if it weren't in France, they would have a new member...

So yes, it was a great event, here is some more eye candy

 Archonia was near the entrance this year, so when I entered I had the desillusion I wouldn't be hauling bog boxes on the event, as I could collect my box of books at the end.  It was not to be - see my loot at the end why...

 I was really tempted by this one

 Thundercats, Thundercats, THUNDERCATS HOOOOOOOOOO
 The Bugman Al Blacks, cosplaying blood bowl
 Flying robots where even present

 You could also follow a course to learn and draw manga (mental note, I forgot to get the Anime Bamboo Drawing Pad - dooh!)

 Little Japan was a themed part of the hall where all kinds of typical Japanese things could be tried, even martial arts, or tree trimming for the softer of heart

 You could rent these cars with driver, for things like weddings.  Chu, forget that 69 Mustang, I want Bumblebee!!!!

 Ronin Warriors Myth Cloths.  My walllet still aches
 Sexiest Pikachu around, other usually just had those jumpsuits.  I also heard one girl telling another she could make a costume 'like thing' and it had only cost her about 15 euros in facial paint, that way she saved the 2 euros on a ticket to come dressed up...
 Multiplayer PS3 Diablo

And finally my loot:  I didn't find Aiolios, so I'm ordering him online this week, but did find a v2 Shiryu on the cheap, a very cheap Milo model kit (have some of those at home, it's basically the old edition models in plastic and need of paint), The Lost Canvas anthology volumes (side stories about the gold saints), the new Myth of Hades book and 8 Episode G's I had pre-ordered at Archonia.

If Omega keeps doing what it does for the franchise as I saw today, I'm putting aside 75 euros a month in a locked account until the next FACTS... and will need a truck to get it all home...

And that big white box?  A small gift for the GF.  It is only about 12 cm tall elven figure, but it was packed in a huge box which I had to haul around all day.  Even not there, she still can turn me in a carriage mule hehehe