Lead Painter’s League

BRU-57I keep forgetting to mention this, which is odd as I find it so entertaining. Many of you will know this, though I’d guess a few won’t (the internet is quite large). In case you don’t know it, the Lead Adventure Forum (LAF) is a forum about miniatures, with the emphasis on painting. It’s got a linked range of Lead Adventure figures (really Ratnik), which include some excellent weirdness – see above, but today I would like to point out its annual competition: the Lead Painter’s League (LPL).

This year is LPL 9, and the astute among you will realise that it’s been going for a while now. What I like about the LPL is that it has a wide mix of abilities, and the forum is overwhelmingly positive. With a number of negative sites about, it’s nice to browse though the LAF, where it feels like a bunch of mates who are happy to offer help and advice.

What’s also interesting is that while the top painters on the LAF are very good, they aren’t all Golden Demon winners because they mostly game with their models as well as paint them – meaning these are standards that are practical for whole gaming forces. For real people. Well, sometimes ;P

What’s also interesting is the variety of styles employed. There’s a definite lean towards Dallimore-esque layering, but that’s far from universal. So, plenty of hints to be picked up and ideas to be stolen inspire.

Anyway, the LPL runs on a weekly basis, with contestants putting up something every week, to be judged by the forumites in pairs (I think that anyone registered on the forum can vote – I certainly do). Some are great paint jobs, some just dipped, though the pairs tend to put similar qualities together, so it’s not always easy to pick a favourite regardless of the level of technical skill, which is clever. The breadth of models the contestants manage to find is huge, and I’ve discovered several companies in this way. For that alone I find it a worthwhile place to lurk in :)

For additional inspiration, all the previous rounds from all the previous years are also available for your perusal, so there’s plenty of eye candy. Have a look for yourself.

Posted in Painting & Modelling | 4 Comments

Mantic’s Reveal Week

Danor-basic-450x315Over on their blog, Mantic are doing a week’s worth of spilling the beans on all manner of upcoming goodies. Some of these are DS related, so until the dust has settled on this I’ll hold of on DS topics of my own. I know that there is (supposedly) a daily schedule of what these reveals might be, but you never know when they’ll pull a surprise out of the hat. Plus Ronnie is on Beasts of War this week, and he’s the expert bean spiller :)

Posted in Dungeon Sagas | 11 Comments

Weekend Eventing

As I said on Friday, the weekend had a couple of events to fill my time.

DS boxThe Mantic Day on Saturday was jolly, with plenty of happy folk playing a variety of games. Instead of a single theme, the plan was to have a little of everything, and there were tables of DZ (sort of – a big mech rumble), DS, KOW, DB, DBX and even a Warpath demo showing off the latest version of the rules. Was MA there too? I can’t remember. Too much to keep track of. Of course, there were also goody bags, seminars and a bunch of shiny new bits and bobs in the studio cabinets, some of which will be revealed later this week over on the Mantic blog. Or their Facebook, or somewhere.

Digger BossOn Sunday I went up to Triples in Sheffield with a friend of mine. There I spent all the money I’d just made selling other toy soldiers, as well as bumping into several people I knew. One of these brave fellows has just started a new miniatures company, and you might like to have a look. It’s called Macrocosm, and takes an unashamedly “Oldhammer” sort of look at SF skirmish gaming. He’s also taken the old skool approach of selling his first born rather than using Kickstarter, which is something I have heard clamours for from a number of people with KS fatigue. Bold? Brave? Foolhardy? Only time will tell. It’s certainly the less common approach these days. Perhaps he’ll see the light and run a Kickstarter later…

MalignancyThe pics here are all lifted from his site and FB pages. He’s got a couple of factions out already, plus what sounds like a lot more on the way. The rules are available for free as a download from the Macrocosm site. Worth a look. They remind me most strongly (as does the whole vibe) of my early days playing Laserburn. Ah, the nostalgia :)

Og trooperIn the end I didn’t buy any of these on the day as I’d already spent most of my cash by then, and I knew I’d see him at the UK Game Expo later this month. I expect that I’ll pick up a starter there (though which one? I like both). And, who knows, he may have more by then – all of which will help my decision process no end ;P

It also occurred to me that these should fit in nicely with the Colony 87 Kickstarter I pledged on the other day. I knew I had a reason for backing it…

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A Few Thoughts

Another busy week not posting here ;P

Getting on with the DZ stuff, testing out ways of streamlining and clarifying the rules so that the learning curve shallows out without losing the interesting bits. I don’t normally get a chance to go back to designs, so this is an interesting change of pace for me.

I’ve also been doing some research into the 2nd Punic War, and that’s done the usual job of Ancient warfare topics: “facts” disappearing like morning mist in the hot sun as soon as you look closely. I knew it would happen of course. It always does. Still a little perturbing though. That’s evolving into more projects than I’d planned. Can’t fit everything I want to do with it in just the original one.

And then this weekend sees another Mantic Day on Saturday, down at their HQ in Bulwell, Nottingham. And, if I’m lucky, I might make it up to the Triples show in Sheffield on Sunday too. So a busy weekend in store. I should probably re-read some of the rules I’ve been working on over the last couple of years as I’ve got a seminar tomorrow morning as part of the day. The lag between me writing the stuff and it being released is quite long (often over a year), and it’s hard to remember the details people quite rightly want to know about. And it’s not just the time; it’s also the fact that I’ve worked on half a dozen other games since…

So that’s my homework for today, when I’ve finished my other work :)

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More Samurai

Inspired by the Ashigaru, and tempted by a superb piece of timing from North Star, I got a few more toys this morning :)

WF Rising Sun boxes

This is one each of the four boxes that make up Wargames Factory’s Rising Sun range. As the Ashigaru were good, I thought I’d have a look at the rest of them. More on this when I’ve actually opened the boxes…

Posted in Random Thoughts | 6 Comments

Salute Stuff – Part 1

Salute was a long and slightly hectic day, and seems much further back in the mists of time than this time last week. Unusually for me, I went as a customer and spent much of the day wandering about the many stands, looking at the demos and chatting to people I knew.

Overall, it was a fun event and one I’d recommend to anyone with an interest in wargaming with miniatures. I did have a slight sense of disappointment though, and I think this comes from the huge pre-event noise we get these days. It used to be the case that I’d roll up to an event not knowing what I’d find, and discovering the gems I’d not heard of before was a big part of the buzz. These days, everyone bombards all the news sites with special offers, limited editions, and show deals, so it’s hard to not be aware of all the goodies in advance. Entirely understandable on the part of the companies – I still miss the excitement of discovery though.

That said, I did discover some new cool stuff, and seeing things for yourself beats pictures on the net every time. So, what did I get? Well, I thought I’d start with my biggest surprise: the entirely unexpected quality of Wargames Factory Ashigaru.

What?

Yes, it surprised me too.

Now I knew that WF made Ashigaru, but having seen several of their earlier kits I hadn’t made the effort to check them out. Early WF efforts were simply awful. No two ways about it. I’d seen them with my own eyes and they really were bad.

So, when one of the chaps I went down with said he was on the scout for some Samurai figures, I suggested Perry. Can’t go wrong with Perry :)

I’ve had a number of Samurai armies over the years and own a number of the Perry Samurai. They’re very nice and a reasonably complete range too (something the Perry twins don’t always manage). Anyway, Nate was talking about WF, and I told him that I thought it was worth spending a bit more to get decent figures. I made the assumption that they’d be as bad as all the other figures I’d seen from WF, based on having dug through a number of different boxes. Well we all know what assumptions do…

On the day, we all did our rounds and got our bits and bobs, and as we left Nate showed me the box of WF Ashigaru he’d picked up. Eye-bleedingly awful box art was not helping his case, and I gave him a merciless ribbing on the way back. That was until we stopped for a drink, and he opened up the box to see quite how bad they were.

And they weren’t.

Well Nathan being the kind chap he is, he let me blag one of the sprues out of his box so I could have a play with them myself. This morning I finally got round to sticking one together, and I think he’s rather nice.

WF Ashigaru 1

(The cat was “helping”.)

As you can see, he has the longer style yari – shown here full height.

The box (with the hideous artwork on the front) contains 5 identical sprues, each with 5 models on. This is what’s left on mine after I built this model:

WF Ashigaru sprue

Assembly was straightforward. Nothing particular to say about that. I modelled him holding the hilt of his sword, which took a little work, but nothing desperately hard.

One thing I have seen mentioned in reviews of these kits was a lack of, or soft, detail. The detail is less pronounced than on many wargame kits, being more akin to that on plastic Tamiya figures. And I think that’s where the issue occurs: people say it’s soft because they’re expecting to see GW style exaggeration. WF have gone a different route; perhaps a more realistic, scale route.

Personally I think the detail is perfectly sufficient and can’t really see a problem. But judge for yourself. Here are a couple more pics.

WF Ashigaru 2

WF Ashigaru 3

Could the kit be improved? Yes, we could have more poses, more variety of faces, some different headgear, and all the sorts of things that geeks want in their toys. True, it could be improved. However, I think it’s actually a pretty nice kit as it is. The model looks like what he’s supposed to, has nice proportions, and I can see them looking great en masse in units.

Changed my expectations of WF completely.

Naturally, as this is only one of WF’s 4 “Rising Sun” kits, I went and ordered one each of them to see if they were all this good. I know, I know. I don’t need a Samurai army, but I’d like one. Like I said, I’ve had them before, though never a full army in 28mm.

It’s all Nate’s fault. Thanks Nate :)

Posted in Events | 14 Comments

DB Team Test – Where We Got To

First up, a big thank you to everyone who took part in testing these DB teams. I’ve really enjoyed the comments and feedback from your games. While I’ve not replied to every comment individually, I have read them all. I hope you enjoyed the process too :)

I’ve sent in the following versions for layout.

Hacking v2 – no change with the Hacking rules. Seb’s firewall idea is interesting, but not without its own issues. I think it would quickly become a must have purchase, and as it’s a negative, would just drain cash from a league to no game effect, and some frustration. Whilst it does have its fans (me included), Reputation is something that most people don’t seem to like in its current form. It’s probably better looked at as something to consider for a second edition when we can integrate it much more. That’s years away, so it may resurface as an experimental rule in the meantime.

Tsudochan v2 – no change needed here.

Mechanites v2 – The drastic cuts seem to have worked quite well. All the comments since this version have been very positive. They remain powerful, but now have some serious limitations and a higher cost as a counterbalance. I daresay they’ll shake out with some nasty combos when people have a few months to tinker. Much improved though.

Plague v4 – a couple of people have questioned whether doubling the extras cost is too harsh. I think it’s hard to be certain in league teams as there are so many moving parts. Time will tell if this needs refining. For the moment, in one-off games I think it works fine, with the bonus that it’s very easy to remember/calculate and accommodates any future team bonuses that are added (and no, I’m not planning any – you just know how these things go). The change to v4 is just to clarify that these double costs add that whole cost to the team’s rank.

Ada-Lorana v4 – given the time constraints and the amount of work to do, I was wielding the editorial axe rather liberally with these team updates. Although I think I got most of this right, I went a bit too far for most people with the Ada Lorana. As v2 was considered too good and v3 too bland, this final version is somewhere between the two. I’ve added some additional clarification to Insubstantial, and restored the strength modifier for Solid.

Koris v3 – the discussion here has all be around the confusion check table. Was an extra dice roll going to slow the game, did armour need to be included, and so on? I’ve gone for a hybrid, with Koris (who are familiar with the whole portal weirdness and don’t care) rolling a fixed value. They’re the ones that will use it most and this means you can just roll quickly. To retain the character, tension, story, and uncertainty of someone else using the Koris portals, other races have to roll to see which stat they use. I think this gives us the best of both worlds :)

Crystallans v2 – this one generated a bit of discussion. Some thought that the change in Harmonics was bad, others good. Interestingly, it seems from the comments that all of the people who liked it had played games with the new rules, and most of those who didn’t had not: perhaps the difference between how things look on paper and how they play. I agree with the dissenters that bonus speed is less dramatic than bonus strength – however, I think that’s part of the reason why this change is good. If you give someone their best bonus first, then they won’t work to get the rest. In the end I’ve left the team as it was.

By all means carry on using these and commenting below with your thoughts. I can’t guarantee that we will be able to make any further changes, but you never know. The smaller and sooner the change, the more likely it will be possible.

Playtesting these latest teams been an interesting process, and I think it’s been largely successful. Certainly I think we’ll all benefit from better balanced teams.

If you’re interested in more of this sort of thing then you might want to click on subscribe (top right). I’ve got some more DB stuff I want to test out at some point. I’ll not be doing it immediately as I’ve got other games to look at as well, and need to share the love :)

I was considering trying to have a formal schedule, with something for DB, MA, DZ, etc every other month, or whatever. Not sure I can stick to that, and a rigid structure tends to force you into doing crap just to fill a slot. So I won’t do that. However, I am planning a bunch more of these interactive playtests for various games I work on. To keep everyone amused I’ll interleave the systems so it’s not all just one topic, and there’s other stuff I want to post too. Like I said, if you’re interested you might like to subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out.

Anyway, on to the next thing now!

Thanks again.

Posted in DreadBall - The Futuristic Sports Game | 38 Comments