Monday, February 28, 2011

Flooded and the ROI

First, welcome to the lastest follower, Pikapedra of

As rain (in its many iterations) pounded the American Midwest Sunday my RPG campaign met for the last session that I would be running.  In two weeks one of the players takes over and I will, for the first time in a long time, sit on the other side of the screen.

While we were down there I noticed a puddle of water seeping into the basement.  Apparently my "Dad and Daughter Cave" has a cracked foundation.  Thankfully I had a pile of Shamwows I got as a gag door prize from a Superbowl party this year which quickly stemmed the flow.  My new house slowly reveals its secrets...

The rain meant that several players showed up late, which allowed me to raise the question of miniature wargaming with a few members of the group that might be interested.  I've floated the same question with the local gaming Meetup group.  The response was the same in both places: there's interest in miniatures wargaming, but the ROI (Return On Investment) is unacceptably low.

One of the Meetup people explained in this way.  He spent $150 on miniatures for a game that he ended up playing only a couple of times.  The same amount could be spent on three high-end boardgames, which he could play, out of the box, each week with several other people who wouldn't have to spend anything to participate.  Low prep time + low(er) buy-in + greater interest = higher ROI.

The person in the gaming group said roughly the same thing--that he'd only consider a skirmish game with a small number of miniatures, and had been badly burned by hyper-competitive players who engaged in poor sportsmanship.  "If he wasn't winning, he was complaining about how cheesed out or broken your army was.  I was playing Empire versus his Vampire Counts, and he was complaining that a 1+ armor save for my knights was broken."

Small editorial note: as someone who owns both those armies, if I was the VC player I'd be keeping my mouth shut and tearing that Empire army apart like an ice cream sundae, but that's just me.

So, what is a desperate for a wargame hobbyist to do?  Right now my plan is to finish my two HotT armies and engage a couple of these guys in a "you don't have to buy anything right off the bat" strategy.  HotT doesn't require a high buy-in, and could be played with almost anything, including cheap commons from pre-painted miniature manufacturers.  I'll see how that goes.

It is also month's end, and I have a measly two miniatures to my painting total.  But, I want to go on record as saying that I have 24 miniatures that are painted but just not based because my special order that I placed through my FLGS as a show of support for the local economy seems to be taking a very long time (filed away under "punished good deeds").  So hopefully March will come roaring in like a lion, in terms of getting figures into the "finished" category.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Tiefling Warlord and a Crazy Idea

First, welcome to some new followers: Myincubliss, FabesMinis, and La Long Carbine.  Yesterday's entry was apparently really popular--I guess I hit some sort of wavelength with The Tale of X Gamers.

Anyways, Sunday I relinquish my GM's screen and one of the players in my D&D game will take over the role.  Thus I get to play D&D for the first time since, well, forever it feels like.  To that end, I painted up a miniature just for the occasion.

He's Renerris, a tiefling warlord.  The figure is Reaper's "Vaeloth, hellborn paladin," clearly part of their attempt to get into the D&D core races.  What's good is that he's based, unlike the twenty other miniatures I've painted this month, so he'll actually go into the finished category.

So last night I'm suffering from one of my periodic bouts of insomnia, and I am just tossing and turning.  I got an idea into my head about combining the games 5150 and All Things Zombie into a game called All Things Alien.  It would be the same general concept as ATZ (survivors trying to avoid getting munched by shambling monsters) but would take place on a space station instead of a city.  I'll leave in the ol' Crock Pot and see what comes of it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Take on "A Tale of X Gamers"

Von over at A Year of Frugal Gaming posted an article ruminating on "A Tale of Four Gamers," the iconic article series in White Dwarf in which four staff persons could spend a budgeted amount on WHFB miniatures each month.  Those miniatures would also have to be painted in that same month in question.  The armies were slowly built up over time, and the staff would pit their partially-completed armies against each other as it went along.

Now it is obvious that Von no longer finds "A Tale of Four Gamers" particularly compelling, but this may put him in the minority.  He notes that GW itself acknowledges the series iconic stature, even if they would never do it now because it would illustrate the expense of getting a playable army onto the table, and those who remember the original series could see how much the cost of miniatures has gone up.

But put me down in the category of people who loved the series.  I liked the format so much I have participated into two similar pacts: one on a wargaming/modelling website that no longer exists, and the other in a gaming club in which I used to be a member.

Von thinks the popularity is rooted in the opportunity for public shame, and he's not wrong, but there are other more important reasons why the series was, and remains, so popular.

The budget creates realism.  Having only a set amount of money resonates with young people who are paying for the hobby out of their part-time jobs and established adults who have to float their hobby past the baleful eye of their spouse.  Breaking the process of building an army down into small chunks also makes it more palatable.  Saying "spend $50 and paint ~20 models a month" sounds a lot easier than "spend $600 and paint 240 models a year."

The budget spawns creativity.  You could just start at the top of your army list and work your way down, but regularly playing with your partially-composed army forced you to consider tactically what was best as you built your way up.  The pact we made in our gaming club had us playing each month with whatever we had finished, and it made for some interesting battles.  You also, through the articles, got to get into the head of a player as they weighed the strengths and weaknesses of each element.

The competition created drama.  The fact that you never knew if one of the participants would be kicked in the crotch by real life and end up not making their monthly allotment created tension in the narrative.  It resonates with all of us who face the nightly conflict between painting miniatures and just laying about drinking beer and watching 30 Rock on Netflix.

The competition created community.  This might be more of a "participating in a pact" rather than "reading about a pact" issue, but the pact we implemented was a great way to cement our gaming club.  It wasn't just "show up once a month and battle," we would keep up with each other's progress as the month went by.

The competition created a completed army.  A fully painted army is such a benchmark in this hobby that the whole notion that you'll actually have one by the time its done holds a certain mystique.  (Not surprising from someone whose blog is called "The Army Collector.")  I'm clearly someone who enjoys having a goal.  It helps battle my Hobby ADD, the most reason symptom of which was my switching from painting goblins to building terrain for a week.  One project, one goal, X number of guys working towards the finish line.  It all works.

At this point you could probably hit me up for a pact right now and I'd jump on it, despite my desire to not over-obligate my fulfillment.  It is enough that I'm holding myself to the "no starting new projects until you get two HotT armies done."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Second 2011 Terrain Piece

It's another fieldstone ruin, and another close copy of one I made a while back and disposed of.

I am still waiting for my bases for my HotT army--hopefully they will come this week.  In the meantime, I think I'll flip the switch back to "miniatures" and get back to work on the goblins.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fantasy Terrain Ruin

Well, it's a new year and I'm slowly rebuilding my terrain collection.  I discarded most of my Hirst Arts terrain when I moved, so now I'm taking a week off and building some terrain for my gaming table.  Here's the first piece, a ruined fieldstone corner.

Nothing too fancy, just a solid, usable piece that didn't take too long to make.  For those who don't know, the building was built using Hirst Arts molds and dental plaster.  The base is MDF board, my favorite for basing terrain.  It's cheap, easy to work with, and fairly rigid.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A look inside the gaming room

Last Sunday my gaming group gathered together for the first time at my home, in the basement room called the "Dad and Daughter Cave."
lens: Helga Viking, film: BlacKeys B&W, flash: off
It's called the "Dad & Daughter Cave" because my daughter, Spell Familiar, staked out a good chunk of what was really supposed to be my Man Cave and inhabited it with Barbies, Polly Pockets, and a host of other girlie things.  I don't really mind because Spell Familiar has some pretty high needs when it comes to privacy, but she and I can hang out together down there without having to interact much (unlike my son, Ammo Grot, who pretty much demands constant attention if he can get it).

In any case, I managed to get my gaming group together there for the first time Sunday where we continued to slog our way through a WotC-produced dungeon.  By the time I had to end it, we only had one encounter left, which we will pick up in two weeks. Once that adventure is done, however, one of the other players is going to take over running the campaign.  He will apparently be running a huge pre-written adventure, so I'll be playing for quite some time.  This is all pretty great for me.  I didn't really want to run a game, I wanted to play.  I only started because the person who had been running a game had to stop because his plate got to be too full.  This is the same guy who is now running again, starting next session.  And while I didn't spend a ton of time planning these sessions (not the use of pre-generated adventures) I won't mind taking that load off my plate.

Now, obviously there's a chance that this guy's plate will get full again and I'll have to jump back over the screen, but until then I get to figure out what D&D character I want to build.  Then what Reaper miniature will best fit the concept, etc.  In the meantime I can also be planning my solo ATZ campaign as well.

Friday, February 11, 2011

WIP Dwarf Thunderers

First, welcome to "Paul's Bods," this blog's latest follower.  I hope you like what you see.

Second, I've finished six dwarf thunderers from the Battle for Skull Pass set, which will eventually become two units in my Hordes of the Things dwarf army (or half a unit in Hostile Realms).

I am hoping my bases show up soon.  Next up, goblin archers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Goblin Spearmen

Six night goblin spearmen from the Battle of Skull Pass box set.  I still haven't done the dip yet, since I thought it would be easier to attach them to the bases first, rather than dip them and have them lean against something.  As such, they still haven't been added to the painting log in the sidebar yet.
Next up: dwarf thunderers.

My Hordes of the Things Army Lists

Having a recognizable goal sometimes helps to keep you on track, so I thought I'd break down my "Battle of Skull Pass" miniatures lists for Hordes of the Things

Hero General (Thane): 4 AP
Artillery (Cannon): 3 AP
4 Units of Warriors (Blades): 8 AP
4 Units of Thunders (Shooters): 8 AP
1 Unit of Miners (Lurkers): 1 AP

Goblin Big Boss (Hero General): 4 AP
Shaman (Magician): 4 AP
Troll (Behemoth): 4 AP
2 Units of Goblin Spider Riders (Riders): 4 AP
2 Units of Goblin Spears (Spears): 4 AP
2 Units of Goblin Archers (Shooters): 4 AP

With the six goblin spearmen that have been painted (I'll post pics later today or tomorrow), I've completed two units on each side.  That's four out of twenty units total, so I'm 20% of the way towards being done with this project.

Friday, February 4, 2011


So, I've started my HOTT dwarf army using the pieces from WHFB's Battle for Skull Pass set.  My Litko bases haven't arrived yet, but I hate seeing a week go by without a new pic on the site, so I'm posting a WIP shot.

I decided to go with blue, since my WHFB dwarfs are red.  A little variety never hurt anybody.  I don't count things towards the painting goal until they are based, so I'll holding off on updating the totals.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Wrap Up

First, welcome Sean and Ludo Weyden, two recent followers to this blog.
I'm stuck at home again because of terrible weather, and so while trying to find ways to get work done at my job, I've been digging through old boxes of miniatures.  I found two more minis from the set that "Gary and Monty" came from, so I'll be getting those painted up shortly.
In the month of January I painted 24 miniatures, a robust beginning towards my goal of 150 for the year.  By my calculations, I'm painting at about twice the speed necessary to make my goal.  This is good, because not all months are going to be this productive.
February begins with my getting one of those random minis that have been kicking around my worktable.  I don't know who made this guy--I got him in a trade for some other miniatures--but I painted him up to go along with my other sci-fi troops that were mostly Warzone figs from the junk bin.

So we are off to a good start as we enter February here are the Army Collector!


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