Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weekly club report: fourth week in August 2011

1500 points, my ever-lovin' Brazen Claws vs. Grey Knights.

I've never played against Grey Knights, but the general consensus is that they are the "super-elite" army of the 40K roster these days.   1500 pts. sure doesn't buy a lot of feet on the ground in a GK army, that's for sure.

I also have no idea what my opponent fielded.  I'm pretty sure I faced

  • Brotherhood Champion
  • Inquisitor
  • Grey Knight Terminators
  • Grey Knights
  • Stormraven gunship
  • Dreadknight
I fielded
  • Captain with the relic blade/storm shield
  • Dreadnought w/MM
  • Dreadnought w/assault cannon
  • Tac squad w/rhino
  • Tac squad w/razorback (combat squadded)
  • sniper scout squad
  • landspeeder w/missile launcher and meltagun
  • devastator squad
  • devastator squad

In the beginning, only one of the Grey Knights and the Dreadknight were on the table, which gave me a chance to try to dismantle them before the rest of the army showed up.  In perhaps the greatest moment in the game, the multi-melta dread kicked three wounds off the dreadknight before being destroyed, and then the dreadknight in turn was wiped out when my opponent rolled two 1's on the armor save when it was hit by the missile launchers from the landspeeder.  Kiss 300 points goodbye, while I only lose 105 points on the dread, and it tied up the dreadknight for three turns.

When the rest of the army showed up on turn three, I was able to light up the Stormraven with a lascannon hit from one of the devastator squads.  Another moral (and point-heavy) victory.  From there the game became a grind as I threw everything I had at this remaining units, but the dice just turned against me to the point where onlookers began to comment.  My captain had a good showing, taking a lot of hits to his storm shield before finally losing the last of his three wounds.  But in the end (of turn 7, sigh) I couldn't staunch the onslaught of his terminators and their hammer-hands and their psy-cannons and the no less than three different grenades that they carried which would lower toughness, initiative, and prevent one guy (usually my sergeant with a power fist) from attacking in the assault phase.  Bleh.

But it wasn't a bad loss, I made a good showing of it, and even though I didn't get there until almost 6:00 PM I still managed to find someone to play in a game that went almost to 9:00 PM when the store closes.  So I'm feeling a little better about the 40K situation than I was yesterday, even if it might be nice to put one win on the board some time this year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

System Problems

So I have written some version of this post about six times and deleted it every time, not wanting to write whiny, introspective posts about everything that has been going wrong, but yesterday I finally called one of my best friends from my old home town and told him everything that was going wrong these days--work, family, and yes gaming, and after all of it he says, "You have a system problem."

Now, he was referring specifically to the problems we're having in my RPG campaign, and how the game we are playing is contributing to the difficulties, because out of all of that it is the gaming problems that will hold his interest, but it was an apropos comment regardless, because most of the things that are really chapping my hide aren't specific "do this and it'll be fixed" problems, it's the general system of things.

Case in point (since this is not my life blog but my hobby blog): my wargaming, or lack thereof.  So the local gaming group meets at 5:00 PM at the back room of a gaming store in which is crammed five gaming tables (which are 4' by 6' sheets of plywood laid across folding tables) where things are so tight that basically you'll spend the game continually brushing up against the back end of whoever is playing on the next table.  Last Spring and Summer getting there at 5:00 PM wasn't a problem, but now my son doesn't get out of school until 5:00 with sports and I don't get him home until 5:30 and then maybe I could fly over and get there by 5:45.  It's a big gaming group, which means that quite a few times lately I've been out of luck and can't game that night.  Which stinks.  Actually what is odd is that I'm lamenting not playing a game that I don't really love but still spend hundreds of dollars on so I could play something, although now I'm running into problems with that.

What's the solution?  Well I could see if one of the members of the wargaming club who is not a student or unemployed and can not make the 5:00 curtain call wants to game somewhere else, like a my basement, although that thwarts some of the "get out of the house" benefit I was trying to cultivate.  Again, system problem.

Then there's the roleplaying game situation.  Basically my gaming group has three players: Evan the DM, Rod, and me (I've changed names to protect the innocent).  We've been playing D&D for about a year, first with me DMing, then Evan when he asked if he could run this module he really liked.  In addition, there have been about ten other people who have drifted in and out of the campaign, sometimes only coming once.  Right now there are four additional people in the group: a woman who is friends with Rod, her boyfriend, her daughter, and her daughter's friend.  A sort of four-player unit.  We play every other week to accommodate Rod's schedule, but it has been so sporadic that we're one year in and are only at sixth level.  Two sessions ago, the four-pack of players didn't have characters.  Last Friday Rod's friend called fifteen minutes before game time to say that she and her boyfriend couldn't make it, which meant the other two of the four-pack weren't coming either.  To make matters worse, neither did Rod.  So Evan and I shot the breeze and downed a couple of beers instead, mostly talking about how many this might be the beginning of the end.

In addition, Evan told me that in his other campaign, the one I can't play in because of my job, the DM wants to quit running that game and since that's really his primary game (since it has apparently a larger, more stable group), could I take my campaign back?  What am I to say: no, you have to keep running this time as long as I want you to?

So in two weeks I'm going to find out if the four-pack are really out or if this was just a hiccup.  But I'm once again in the unenviable position of needing new players for D&D 4E, because the game doesn't really work with two or three players.  Like my friend said, system problem.  The solution here is a little more straightforward: sell the group on another game, one that doesn't need such a large critical mass, and can handle having the drop-in and drop-out problem that we seem to perpetually suffer.

It just seems like after a year living in the new place, I'm not that much better off than I was before--trying to build the whole thing up from the ground floor.  The only benefit I really have is that now I'm aware of the local gaming communities and how they communicate.  Maybe that will help.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Howling Hag

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I'm continuing to paint up game tokens from board games to be used as miniatures in the D&D game in which I play.  This is, I believe, supposed to be a howling hag, but I can't be sure, since the DM hasn't told me (nor should he).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The White Dragon

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Well, I have figured out some of the question of what to do now that I've finished my painting goal for the year: paint other people's figures.  In particular, I'm painting figures for the DM of my D&D game.  It is a nice preview to what we'll be fighting.  Like the gargoyles a few weeks ago, this is from the Ravenloft board game.  It was a zombie dragon, but the DM wanted it to be a white dragon instead.  It wasn't too decayed so it painted up as a white dragon pretty well.

The only thing about this miniature is that, like the gargoyles, it is made of a sort of taupe plastic.  But the plastic is really soft, similar to that used in Airfix 1:72 plastic minis.  The base it totally warped, so much so that I considered cutting it off and gluing the miniature to another base.  Worst of all, the miniature is actually make of a couple of parts, and there is a very unfortunate ill-fitting seam in the groin area of the miniature that isn't visible in the photo but, well...let's just say that it looks really, really bad.  Unless you're into that sort of thing, which on the internet means that there is someone who probably is.  I'm sorry the photo ended up looking a little washed out--that is probably because of the white color being reflected by my lamp bulb.

I have a handful of these miniatures from my DM that I have been asked to paint up, so that will probably keep me busy for the time being.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Movie Review: Skyline


Between getting done with my painting goal, family visits and the kids going back to school, I haven't had a lot of time to work on hobby stuff, but I did manage to catch Skyline on Netflix online.

Before I begin, a quick note a trivia, according to Wikipedia Sony Pictures nearly sued the makers of Skyline because they were also doing work on Battle: Los Angeles without having informed them they were putting together a very similar film at the same time.  Nothing came of it, but the movie is about, well, aliens invading L.A.  The main character is Jarrod (Eric Balfour, who I keep wanting to ask "why the long face?"), a visual effects artist visiting an old friend named Terry (Donald Faison, whom you'll recognize as "Turk" from Scrubs).  Along for the trip is Jarrod's girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson, who looked damned familiar until I looked her up and realized that she was the daughter of the arms dealer Tony was dating on NCIS).  The night after Terry's big Hollywood birthday bash, aliens invade.

Skyline has a strong "War of the Worlds" feel to it in that you see the invasion through the perspective of civilians, people who don't know what's going on, occasionally see military jets fly by, and basically go a little unhinged by what is happening.  Skyline also gives a nod to Independence Day by showing a big fighter-jet vs. alien starfighter battle with the one ship with the big missile making it through to the mother ship.  I haven't spoiled anything here, because it isn't the climax of the movie.

In the end, though, what Skyline has in the way of plot is aliens kicking the beejeezus out of humans.  The aliens are practically bullet-proof.  They regenerate.  They fly.  The small ones are the size of refrigerators, while the large ones are the size of Godzilla.  They have city-sized mother ships like ID4.  And the big kicker is that they have hypno-beams, so don't look at them too much.  So most of the movie is the cast running around like chickens with their heads cut off while the aliens gruesomely abduct them so that their brains can be sucked out.

Speaking of which, having seen this and Cowboys vs. Aliens in the same month, I'm struck by how you can show brains being removed like a slurpee from  7-11 and get a PG-13 rating, as long as there is not one boobie flicking past the screen.  This movie is downright gory at times, but someone is okay for me to take an eighth grader to.

Oh, and the ending?  There's no ending.  The movie just stops, because the director/producers wanted to make a sequel, and for a film that only cost ten million to make and brought in sixty, we'll probably get it whether we like it or not.

Skyline was a pointless schlockfest, full of wooden acting from characters that really weren't all that sympathetic.  With half a million spent on filming actors and ten million on CGI effects, this is just a visual effects spectacle with little to offer aside from freaky-looking aliens and a lot of glowing brains getting gulped by aliens.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The 150th miniature of 2011: a Brazen Claws Captain

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I've been saving this guy for the momentous event.  Back in January, I set my goal for the year to be 150 miniatures, a fair amount given last years grand total of 165.  Now, in mid-August, I've hit my goal with this Space Marine Captain.  He's also a rare instance of some conversion work, adding the storm shield to his right hand to go along with what I'm calling a relic blade.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what to do now that I've hit my goal but still have 4.5 months left in the year.  I considered shifting gears, maybe starting a new army for Warhammer Fantasy Battles or maybe something totally different, like When the Navy Walked.  I considered shifting hobby gears and focusing on building terrain or an RPG-related project.

After a lot of consideration, I decided to go with a long-standing but often forgotten precept.  Namely, dedicate the time to the game(s) you are playing.  That means the weekly drubbing I get in 40K.  The way I figure, I have the terminator squad, the scout squad, two rhinos, a razorback, and a predator to go.  That's 60 points (admittedly forty of which are vehicles, which some have said are over-valued in my paradigm).  That's 15 a month, which is a more leisurely pace that what I've been doing for the most part.  So theoretically I can relax a bit on the painting, and still have the Brazen Claws finished by year's end, which isn't a bad post-goal goal at all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Weekly club report, first week of August 2011

No great shock, I lost again.  1000 points, my Brazen Claws vs. tyranids.  What did he field?

  • tyranid prime
  • tervigon
  • zoanthrope
  • 3 tyranid warriors
  • 10 hormagaunts
  • 3 biovores
  • trygon prime (240 pts minimum)
I fielded
  • captain with relic blade/storm shield
  • dreadnought w/ assault cannon
  • 10-man tac squad with flamer, missile weapon, power fist and rhino
  • 10-man tac squad with flamer, plasma cannon, power fist and razorback with twin-linked heavy bolters
  • 7 scouts with sniper rifles, camo cloaks, and missile launcher
  • landspeeder with missile launchers and multi-melta
I broke the second squad up and put the captain in the razorback.  Not a bad list, but not the minimum-troop list that i was going up against.  I also didn't know I would be facing tyranids, or I would have swapped out the captain for a libby in a heart-beat, and maybe even dropped the rhino tac squad for a predator with auto-cannon/heavy bolters.

I played better than i have in the past, but still made mistakes.  i should have set the landspeeder against the biovores, whose obnoxious barrages caused no end of havoc.  i also should have kept my army together as a firing line and hammered the trygon prime with its assault 12 attacks before it got to me, but the tervigon popped out 30 gaunts and i went after them instead, fearing that if i didn't destroy them piecemeal, they would horde up and overwhelm me.  As it was I did manage to wipe out his gaunts (including the extras) and his warriors and his zoanthrope, and got his trygon down to one wound.  Like I said, better but not good enough.

I don't know how I feel about these min-maxed army compositions.   I get that they are legal, and even a good idea if you want to win, but I'm thinking that 40K could learn from WHFB here, where Core troops choices had to make up a chunk of your army list.  I would think that Troops in 40K should be the same, but clearly that's not the ethos of the game.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Elf Paladin

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One of the newest members of my D&D group is a guy playing an elf paladin (aka "the tank"), so I decided to welcome him to the group by painting him a miniature.  I had this one, "Argonnite, Elf Cleric" by Reaper, already on hand.  The miniature has a variety of weapon options: a sword, a mace, and a bow, so he's a good figure to pick up.  I'm particularly pleased with the eyes and face on this one.

Three Gargoyles

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So there's competition standard, tabletop standard, and "pre-painted plastic mini standard."  These guys look like they are barely above the last of the three, but when you realize that they are game tokens that were a sort of taupe plastic, then you realize that I at least put a little work into them.

These were painted for the DM of the D&D game I'm in, so I will be seeing this stony trio at some point in the near future.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Space Marine Demi-squad

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So, I am closing in on my goal with this small combat squad of Space Marines, including another sergeant with a power fist.  I'm hoping to have at least two of these squads, either in its own rhino or divided up into the heavy-weapon combat squad and the assault squad that'll ride with the librarian or captain in a razorback.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The -1 Cursed Space Marine Landspeeder

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I have a confession to make: I believe in cursed miniatures.  You know back in D&D (about three editions ago) you could end up with cursed magic items that you couldn't get rid of and really sucked.  Usually the only way to get rid of a cursed magic item was to pawn it off on someone else without their knowledge.

Cursed miniatures are the same way.  They don't take primer.  They don't paint up well.  After you paint it, you drop it and scuff the paint.  This Space Marine Land Speeder is cursed.  Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but it just was a real pain to get done.  It was part of that lot of pre-owned stuff I bought a while back.  It was already mostly assembled and primed; I probably would have painted the sub-assemblies separately.  It's also missing the upper halves of both the crew, so I am working on a solution on that.  For that matter, I also need a flying base too.  This vehicle took me weeks to get done, working off and on during the month of July, but now at least it is tabletop ready.

And for all that, there's something to be said for a salvage job, and land speeders are one of those "gotta have" units in the vanilla space marine army.  Plus, vehicles are ten points towards my painting goal, meaning that in the first days of August I've already tied July's amount.

The First Miniature of August

Click on the pic to enlarge
I painted this guy up in between steps on my other item on the worktable, which will hopefully get finished in the next day or so.  I like putting power fists on my tac squad sergeants--they give a nice boost to assault and can actually damage vehicles and large creatures.  Slow, but that's what the rest of the squad is there for.

Ruminations after the break

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