Monday, February 27, 2012


Last Friday we played yet another session of D&D 4E.  It began as a bit of roleplaying, which was a nice change of pace except that my mother called right as it began to tell me that my father has skin cancer.  He's had skin cancer before (and for that matter, a cancerous tumor on his kidney) but it was no way to begin the evening.  Then, in the first combat of the encounter we were ambushed by barghests and hobgoblins and my PC, the tiefling warlord, was knocked out in the second turn.  So with the rest of group tied up and me being the only healer, I got to sit and watch for an hour until the encounter was over.
After they somehow managed to beat off the attackers and poured a healing potion down my poor PC's throat, we moved onto the next encounter, getting ambushed again, this time by a blue dragon.

First round the dragon breathes lightning on me, and I'm knocked out again, this time in the first round.  In this battle, however, when the dragon is bloodied, it unloads a close burst that knocks out all by the Goliath Warden as a reaction.  Then the DM rolls a critical hit on the Warden, and he's out.  What's really bad is that the DM hadn't really been keeping track of how badly we were doing until that moment, and now he's got a TPK.

Okay, a little sidebar here.  I get that doing +2 or more encounter levels is part of the game.  But our team has a serious flaw--no ranged PC's except our wizard, who is mostly working with range 10.  So on several occasions now the pre-written adventure the DM has running has had encounters that are largely "snipers" attacking at range.  Now we're hit with a Level 12 Solo Artillery attacking us from beyond the range of not just most of the PC's, but all of them.  That's what we call in the business a "no win situation."

Second sidebar.  I've had PC's die before, but it was in games where life was cheap and dying was easy.  I don't have a problem dying, if I know that I'm going to die because I'm either a) stupid or b) putting myself in a situation where I could die easily.  If I'm in a "realistic" RPG and the other guy pulls out a gun, I get that being shot with a bullet may kill me.  If I do something really asinine, I get that I could pay the price.  Getting ambushed by a more-powerful range-oriented opponent who basically hammers us in five rounds into complete submission isn't fun. 

And then there's what comes next.  The DM is completely flat-footed, takes a little time then comes up with this "you're in a dungeon" situation, runs a few really grim and dark torture scenes, then leaves us virtually unguarded.  Hey, the Eladrin and the Warden both teleport, so they're out.  I'm thinking we can now do this cool "let's scrounge for weapons" bit but no, it turns out all our equipment is in an easy-to-open chest right outside the door, because most prisons keep weapons in the same wing as the prisoners.  I get he's trying to get us back on track, but it was almost worse doing it in this heavy-handed way than knocking us all out in the first place.

A lot of the players were pretty upset about the whole thing.  My son was actually weeping in his room that night, because it was his blow that triggered the interrupt that took out his friends.  I had to explain to him that things like that happen, and if it wasn't him to caused him to drop to bloodied, it would be someone else.  But the inevitable reaction from the players was to immediately begin to think about changing PC's.  This is my big problem with 4E--that challenging encounters aren't met with clever roleplaying, but heightened optimization.  Everyone wants us to switch to having bow-themed rangers and the like to make sure we can take that person out (of course, then we're vulnerable to close-up combat).  I'm thinking more along the lines of "it might be time for us to take a break and do something else."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Three more Star Wars aliens

These guys are a bit better known in terms of Jabba's retinue, if anything because one of them falls into the Rancor pit.  These are two Gamorrean guards, flanking a guy named Saelt-Marae.

That's three more in the painted pile.  I only have a couple of guys left on this.  I think I'll miss it when I'm done.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Getting the Gaming Room under control

On the latest podcast of the D6 Generation Russ Wakelin mentions that it is easier to get painting done if you can just sit down, paint for twenty minutes, and then leave.  If, however, you have to spend time getting it all out and set up, then painting, you're less likely to do it.  This is patently true.

What's more, I've been inspired by some recent blog posts elsewhere of individuals who have been renovating space to become attractive game rooms in their home.  Right now, I do most of my painting, wargaming, and roleplaying gaming in my basement.  It's semi-finished, which is to say concrete block walls and floors.  There's a sink with a cabinet down there, and I put my large 4' by 8' table right in the center, which is where most stuff happens.  In addition there's a motley bunch of bookshelves, a file cabinet, and six chairs I bought from an estate sale a while back for a song.  Here's some shots of it from an earlier post.

So I've decided that one of the things I will be doing in 2012 is getting the room more attractive and better organized.  Thankfully there are two rooms off this basement, one of which holds my wife's things and holiday items, the other most of my miniatures, gaming terrain, and seven ancient boxes of comic books.  One of the first things I needed to do, however, was get some regular shelving in for gaming books, both RPG's and wargames.  Right now I'm using a bookshelf a neighbor threw out of her house to the curb, plus I have several boxes of books that are just lying about in the main room.

So yesterday I headed down to Home Depot and bought a Martha Stewart shelf for less than $50.  It looks like the cubbies I used to have in preschool.  They are not hard to assemble if you remember which is the side boards, the bottom and top boards, and the boards in the middle, all of which are different.  If you don't keep them straight, the shelf won't go together correctly.  So I now own two of them, and here's the result:

The little masking tape labels were for keeping the books organized by type for my daughter who was helping me take stuff out of boxes and old shelves and putting them away.  I could actually use a third shelf and will probably get one soon because there are still books on the "throwaway" shelf.  Once I have that emptied it will return to the curb.  More updates as I go along.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Boba Fett? Where?

Mole-man, Lando, Buboicullar, Leia (as Boushh), Hermi Odle, Boba Fett, and Oola
My work on my friend's Jabba's Palace diorama continues.  I managed to slop together seven figures, some detailed, others not so much.  There's not a lot you can do with a brown guy except paint, wash, and drybrush detail.  Anyways, turns out like most aliens that ever appeared in the movies, they all have names.  I do think that Oola, who ended up being eaten by the Rancor, is way too small when you compare her to Leia.  Of course, it's a cheap plastic kit from over a decade ago, so what can you do.

I've still got a few of these to do.  Hopefully the whole thing will be done in the next week or so, though.  Until then, it's seven more points towards the painting goal.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Another quick shot of Friday's game, now with 100% T-Rex

Another quick shot from last Friday's game.  That's a hobgoblin warlord on a T-Rex attacking us inside a chapel.  (FYI, that's my own warlord with the red tail in the foreground.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yvonna, Eladrin Wizard

I'm a relatively humble person, but this time I'm tooting my own horn.  This miniature turned out great.  It doesn't hurt that it was a great miniature before it was painted; this was the "Iconic Oracle" mini from Reaper's licensed Pathfinder series.  In the Advanced Player's Guide you can see the artwork that inspired the Oracle, and I clearly went with a very different paint scheme (and painted her belly to make is look like part of the dress.

This mini represents Yvonna, an eladrin wizard played by one of the new players in my D&D 4E campaign.  I painted her to the specification of the player--dark green and silver.  I think she was hoping for a strong "Lord of the Rings" vibe.  Anyways, it looks good, although I wish there were more contrast between the silver headdress and the light gray/white hair.

Speaking of my D&D game, here's a pic of last night's session.  We're being charged by three dragonkin with hobgoblin monk riders.

Friday, February 10, 2012

More figures from Jabba's Palace

It's Friday, so that means I got together with my friend who is working on the Jabba the Hutt 1:52 kit.  I had a productive afternoon, finishing R2D2, Chewbacca, Droopy McCool (the fat clarinet player), Tessek (the Quarren), and Bib Fortuna (Jabba's primary henchman).  So that's five more towards the February total.  Here's a WIP pic of the diorama.

It was great just hanging out and doing my usually solo hobby pursuits with a friend.  I also managed to get a lot of work done on a figure for my D&D campaign.  Hopefully I'll have that up later.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Her Majesty's Landship, the Argus

This figure which began it's life as a $5 action figure is now the HMS Argus.  I did a little more weathering with washes, trying to get a oily, streaky look to the figure.  Then I painted the base and hit it with matte sealant, which did a lot to help the bronze look in my mind.  Once that was done, he was flocked.

All told, a fun little project.  The Argus is ready to take his place amongst the future British troops in When the Navy Walked.  Plus, I get five points on the board for February.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Argus, weathered

I kind of went back and forth about how to weather this guy.  In the midst of that I began to regret painting him bronze because it would be easier to paint him a solid color and then have the paint "flaking off" and exposing metal.  In the end I sort of took the easy way and just hit him with the wood varnish.  It didn't do a bad job, and in retrospect I like the way it created a more burnished look to the bronze color, and it gave a nice dark ring around the rivets.

In other news, I'm reading Boneshaker by Cherie Priest right now.  It's a great steampunk-meets-zombies novel.  I'll post a review once I'm done.

Friday, February 3, 2012

AAR: 800 pts. Dwarfs vs. Orcs (WHFB)

My son had a day off from school today, so last night we started an 800 pt. game of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, 7th Edition.
Side note.  I haven't bought the new edition yet, and frankly am not in a hurry.  I know people who still play Third Edition WHFB and enjoy it.  Unless I start gaming at the local store, I may just save me the ~$100 and still have fun.
I played dwarfs while my son played orcs.  Here's a shot of the table.
Click for a larger pic

Kind of a big table for a small game, but I wanted to try out the new Zuzzy battlemat.  It looked great, but I discovered one small disadvantage: dice bounced all over the place!  I eventually put a tray down in which to roll the dice.
I told my son that orcs either won big or lost big, and this time they won big.  Lots of the good kind of Animosity to get him across the table in record time.  My cannon misfired on the first two turns, tying it up for three turns total.  He made loads of armor saves, etc.  Even my thane got crushed in one melee round by his Black Orc Boss.  All told him steam-rolled his way across the table and won handily by the top of turn six.
But two bits of silver lining.  One, it is always good to get the new generation excited about playing, especially with an impressive win.  Two, it serves as my mandatory wargame of the month.


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