Monday, December 09, 2013

So I Quit My Job Today...

Bitwise OR is funny
Yup, I pulled the trigger. I'm going to be self-employed as of January 10, 2014, developing apps for PC and mobile platforms, and by apps I mean games. That's the plan. My kids have asked me if we are going to be hobos. Probably not, kids. Well, maybe probably not.

So stay tuned here for more information. Any advice for the burgeoning entrepreneur?

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Blood Bowl Season So Far

I am relatively new to Blood Bowl, and can already say that I am a die-hard fan. This game hits the sweet spot for playability, community, modeling, you name it. This year I have been playing in a league with some local guys, and the experience has been fantastic.

Here are a few highlights from the season so far... I haven't gotten a lot of pictures, and the ones I have are pretty lousy.

The Fetterspike Gougers made an appearance to crush me 4-0 in my inaugural game. It was a lesson in what a speed team can do to a slow-ish team. Yikes.
All lined up and ready to lose.

I knocked over and even K.O.'d a ton of rats, but no injuries.

The Orc team  "Birch's Bloodmoor Brawlers" was a tough bunch, and I got to see both how great "guard" is and how annoying "Really Stupid" is (for the owner, not the opponent! That troll just standing there made my day.) I lost 0-1 but learned a lot. My mercenary Deathroller was waaay too big, and we ended up using stand-in models for the Deathroller and the Troll when they got near each other.

The Dark Elf team "Tehn'azi Spoilers" gave me a real run for my money. We had to reschedule the main match and even then couldn't finish the match once we met, so we called it a draw. One of the funny things about this match was the fact that neither of us had a board on us, so we ended up making one quickly. Cheap but effective.

"Grunk's Pounders" was the first team against which I scored, and much celebrating ensued. The game ended tied at 1-1 and was a ton of fun. The snotlings get stunned easily but the Ogres are tough as nails both dishing it out and taking it.

 My most recent game against "Elfin Whimsy" resulted in my very first inflicted casualty. An elf lineman went down and didn't get back up. Ha! EW is high up in the standings, and I feel just a little bad that I put his best player MNG for what will be the championship game for him. I lost the game 3-2 but 2 points was a record for me.

I have one more game this season, and with zero wins to my name I am hoping to score a single W. Next season should be better now that my team all have block and one blitzer has guard. I really like the idea of using better players instead of all the inducements I've gotten.

Despite my dislike for it initially, I really like the PC version of Blood Bowl now. I played my first online game with a friend and it was basically the board game. It's no match for moving minis and rolling dice, but it was a lot of fun. Just make sure to switch the camera from automatic to manual.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Next Game in Progress

My next game for Kongregate has been started. It's an "homage" (read: blatant rip-off) of a classic early 80's arcade game. You stay at the center and change gun direction to shoot enemies and incoming bullets. The original was in color, but I wanted to get a b&w vibe for my version.

Anyone want to venture a guess as to the original?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Arbitrary Center Bitmap Rotation in OpenFL

The problem: Bitmap objects (and display objects in general) are always rotated about the (0,0) relative coordinate when the .rotation member is set. This does not allow an object to pivot on the spot, but rather orbit its upper left point.

The solution: specify a coordinate pair to act as the center, perform a matrix rotate transformation on the point to determine where it would be after the rotation and then translate the Bitmap object to account for the difference.

The downside: the x and y location of the rotating bitmap class must be tracked separately from the x and y of the parent Bitmap, as they will be different. Also, an update method must be called to do the offset.

// import the usual suspects
import flash.display.Sprite;
import flash.display.Bitmap;
import openfl.Assets;
import flash.Lib;
import flash.geom.Matrix;

class Main extends Sprite {

    private var myTest:RotatingBitmap;

    public function new() {
        myTest = new RotatingBitmap(
        myTest.xloc = 400;
        myTest.yloc = 400;

        removeEventListener (Event.ENTER_FRAME, this_onEnterFrame);

addEventListener (Event.ENTER_FRAME, this_onEnterFrame);


    private function this_onEnterFrame(event.Event):Void {


class RotatingBitmap extends Bitmap {
        // the intended location, since x and y will be changing
public var xloc:Float;
public var yloc:Float;
        // the center x,y of the rotation
public var xcenter:Float;
public var ycenter:Float;

public function new(asset:Dynamic) {
                // load the asset and add to the stage

public function update() {
                // here's where the magic happens

                // define the rotation parms
var mymatrix:Matrix = new Matrix();

                // create a point to represent the center
var mypoint = new flash.geom.Point(xcenter,ycenter);

                // transform into a new point
var newpoint:flash.geom.Point = mymatrix.transformPoint(mypoint);
                // move the bitmap to the proper new location
                this.x = xloc-newpoint.x;
this.y = yloc-newpoint.y;



Here is a little example of the default rotation and a rotation set at the (nearly) center of the image.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dungeons and Dragsters

Despite it being mid/late November, I present my October Challenge submission, D&D. You race through the dungeon and smash into the dragon at the end. Go fast enough and defeat him, or ... not. How did this particular mash-up come about? I started with a concept I had been noodling over for a while, but as the deadline crept closer and closer I jokingly said, "I should just abandon the whole thing and remake Activision Dragster for the 2600." Somewhere in between what I had already done and the game I played as a youngster, Dungeons and Dragsters was born.

It took my coworkers approximately 60 seconds to figure out how to break the driving to get max velocity. Time to rework some of that gearing code.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The First Rule of Book Club...

This box arrived for me in yesterday's mail. At first I was a bit puzzled because I didn't remember buying anything. Then I was a lot puzzled because there was a gift card that said it was from Mike Howell. I checked with the only other Mike Howell I know, and he didn't send it. The only logical conclusion I can make is that I've gone all Tyler Durden on myself.

What hidden message from myself could Ender's Game contain? Should I start making soap? I think I'll skip the blowing up buildings part, since that doesn't end well for anyone. You can tell Fight Club was definitely a pre-9/11 thing, because we don't joke around about that kind of stuff now.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

October Challenge

A friend sent me a link to this Ludum Dare mini-challenge. The challenge is to get a video game to market and make at least $1 on it in the month of October. That's it. Any genre, any platform. He even said he had $1 that was designated to buy whatever I published as incentive (a "kick-in-the-ass-starter" as he put it.)

All I can say is......

Friday, October 04, 2013

A Productive Thursday Night

It's been a while since I posted a Thursday night hobby status. Last night was productive enough that I feel inclined to share. First off, my voluminous Sedition Wars assemble. This pic includes Dr. Hexen (not Cylon #6), Susan Ridley (not Ripley and Newt), Ramirez (not Vasquez), Tranquility Crew (not Serenity crew), 6 bone crabs and 6 mini turrets. Getting the mold lines off those things seemed easier than it did with the original vanguard I painted. Maybe they altered the plastic composition somewhat between the first batch and now. A little Ambroid Pro-Weld on some of the surfaces that had mold lines previously helped smooth things out a bit. It's the only solvent glue I've seen that works on this type of plastic. 

 Jimmy worked on his undead. I can't remember what army he's going to be playing them as.... Vampire Courts or Lizardmen or something. Here are Orcs and Beastmen. Any ideas on how to make the left one more Orc-y?
 Next up, the High Elves that he's converting to be undead....
 ...and finally some zombie pirates he converted. He has an elaborate backstory for this army but I can't remember the details right now. It involves ships being corrupted on their way to Lustria by a vampire and the resulting group setting up camp there. There are definitely some undead Lizardmen involved.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

In Threes, You Say?

Michael Crichton
Born: October 23, 1942
Died: November 4, 2008
Age of death: 66
Well, he did as it turns out. We didn't. 

Tom Clancy
Born: April 12, 1947
Died: October 1, 2013
Age of death: 66
Fairly safe to assume.

Stephen King
Born: September 21, 1947
Current Age: 66 (for the next 354 days anyway)

Shut up, Wystan.
Nobody cares about you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Installing openfl and haxe 3.0 on Ubuntu

Making the jump from using NME and haxe for cross platform development to using openfl led to a bit of a frustration. Trying to upgrade to haxe 3.0 and get openfl to install caused collisions between the old version and the new version. Especially frustrating was running  sudo haxelib run openfl setup and getting the the dreaded:
Called from ? line 1
Called from RunScript.hx line 798
Called from helpers/PathHelper.hx line 170
Called from C:\HaxeToolkit\haxe/std/neko/_std/sys/io/Process.hx line 88
Called from C:\HaxeToolkit\haxe/std/neko/_std/sys/io/Process.hx line 96
Uncaught exception - Process creation failure : haxelib
To correct all the issues, I did the following:
  1. remove every instance of haxe/neko/openfl you can find from your computer. Most of it should be symlinks in /usr/bin and files in /usr/lib/(haxe|neko)
  2. go to and download the Linux installer from the "install haxe" step. 
  3. Unpack the tar.gz file you just downloaded run the script in a console. It will fail on the last step because haxelib isn't anywhere in the path.
  4. type ln -s /usr/lib/haxe/std/tools/haxelib/haxelib haxelib to create a symbolic link to the haxelib tool in a place where it can actually be found.
  5. continue with the setup instructions and things should work from there.
After the installation, create a directory to test the samples, then use openfl create DisplayingABitmap in that directory to download the bitmap sample. Run the sample with openfl test flash and you should see a flash window (or browser) open with the openfl logo. If, like on my machine, x-shockwave-flash mime type was associated with totem (a video player) you can change that by editing /usr/share/applications/defaults.list and replace target for application/x-shockwave-flash to point to a desktop file for a flash player (I use flashplayerdebugger.desktop.) Once that is changed, openfl test flash will open the flash player correctly.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Some Final Blood Bowl Prep

Since the team I'm playing tomorrow is 410k greater value than mine, I get some inducements to even the field a bit. Of course I needed to model them. I'll be taking a Halfling Master Chef (WIP converted from a Halfling Hot Pot I had lying around) and another apothecary, represented by the infamous Nurse Gretchin there. I also decided to make some more tokens, so I made re-roll tokens to represent the Dwarf rune for fate. I wish I had looked at my source material again, because they are almost right. Whoops. I also painted some runes (Might) on the shoulders of my Blitzers, per Tristan's suggestion.

Blood Bowl: Skalf's Stonecutters

11 players, ready to roll block dice
Blood Bowl is less than 24 hours away, and I am ready to roll. My roster is set, my team is painted, my dugout is complete. Behold "Skalf's Stonecutters." The fellows with the large shoulder pads on the left are blitzers. The blue helmeted guys on the right are runners. The slayers are front and center and the other five are blockers. From this angle you can clearly see the four 20mm and one 40mm cut-out spots for team expansion. 

 The dugout morgue was supposed to have a marking of a Dwarf ancestor face that GW is so crazy about, but done with X eyes and tongue out. The eyes and tongue are pretty obvious, but the intention of it being the ancestor face takes a bit of a stretch. I was fairly pleased with the drag marks leading to the "dump pile."
The morgue looks like it has gotten some use.
Hopefully that doesn't happen this season.
 The apothecary didn't need a mini, but I had one of these guys and figured I'd use him. He's holding a bandage and ready to fix up some Stonecutters. The roll on the table was done by gluing dental tape to the side of a toothpick, then rolling it around with some superglue, then cutting the toothpick and sliding the roll off (breaking the glue to the wood in the process.) The rune on the floor is the Dwarf rune for healing. Since taking this pic I have glued the bandage on the table down so that it looks like it's draping over the side instead of sticking out like that.
He'd really rather be on the pitch.
 Our league uses OBBLM for management, and one of the options was to upload a team logo. Of course I did just that, and replicated the logo on the big slab in the back. It turned out pretty close to the computer file I created and it's all free-hand, so that worked out pretty well. The two axes are markers for.... I dunno, turn and re-rolls? Yeah, probably that.
The glorious Stonecutters logo!
Okay, get ready for some game reports in the next week!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

For Laura

In these hundreds of faces
surely I saw yours once.
Your stolen smile
flickers through the crowd
darting between the outlines
of people walking with purpose.
The memorized face
of someone I never knew.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Blood Bowl Dwarf Dugout WIP

This week Thursday marks the beginning of the first Blood Bowl league I've played in, and I wanted to show up with the appearance of being semi-serious about it. Well, maybe committed is the right word, since "serious" doesn't seem to go with a game like Blood Bowl. So to that end (serious, committed, whatever) I have been working on a dugout/display for my Dwarf team.
During school supply shopping I found a pack of four 12" x 12" cork boards for something like $7. Add some 3/4" styrofoam I had lying around and the beginning of a board is born. I placed minis on the desired locations, including enough spaces for more team members and a Death Roller, and drew lines around them and used an xacto to cut holes. It was far easier to cut the cork over the styrofoam, even though the cutting damaged the foam a little. The damaged areas are going to be under the minis, so I didn't think anything of it. By the way, cutting 16 holes in cork with a hobby knife is harder than I thought it would be.

So this is pretty close to the final shape. Simple and functional. I'll put the team logo on the big slab in the middle and paint something to indicate the infirmary (with apothecary) and the dead player area. The turf will be the reserve area. I also need to add a place for my re-roll markers and turn marker, and eventually places for my cheerleaders, assistant coaches etc.

This is going to be fun.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Painting with Sharpies

A long time ago, someone showed me this page wherein a d20 gamer explains his tabletop miniature painting technique of scribbling on them with markers. No, I am not kidding. He shrinks down the photos he takes to demonstrate that they look just fine from a distance. Sir, I strongly encourage you to steer clear of CoolMiniOrNot if you have a fragile ego.

Here is his functional finished work:
Rar. I represent a role-playing encounter.
But I found myself thinking back to that technique and wondering, "Could it work?" He clearly did the opposite of highlighting/shading by over-marking the skeleton with black, but could I add one more step familiar to all mini painters and make it work? Perhaps....

So on a lark I bought a pack of cheap colored markers (Sharpie equivalent but not official Sharpies) at the dollar store, which then sat ignored for a couple years. All those skeletons that came in my Reaper Bones kickstart reminded me that I had wanted to try this, and now I have lots of cheap fodder.
The Skeleton and the Markers. On sale in paperback this week.
 The brown marker had dried up completely, even in the unopened package, so I had to use yellow for the spear shaft. The shield got orange (the closest thing to red I had) and yellow edges/center. The spear tip was colored with a silver metallic Sharpie I found (not a paint marker, just a regular old Sharpie.) So at this point pretty sad looking and yet still better than the "highlighted black" example.
What I lack in contrast I make up for in affordability.
I then did what gamers have done since the dawn of time.... I gave him a liberal washing of brown, in this case Citadel Agrax Earthshade. I mean very liberal. It took a while to dry. When done, it was remarkably passable.
I've certainly seen worse on the table.
So have I revolutionized the miniature painting technique pool by using markers and dip? Not quite. Does it make a passable skeleton? Possibly. Does it look good compared to the "only marker" attempt? Oh yes.

Space Marine Captain Comparison

Can you really put a "value" on things like this? Shut up, focus on how
much you love "the GW hobby" and get out your credit card.
The more things change the more they stay the same, apparently.

New Captain features:
  • helmet with crest
  • stoic face bare head
  • sculpted base
  • combi grav gun
Old Captain features:
  • fierce face, probably yelling
  • you already own like 5 of them
  • you can still buy them cheap

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Blood Bowl in a Weekend

Well, I've done it. I've finally played Blood Bowl. And you know what? I really like it. Granted, I lost as my wife crushed my undead team with the Dwarfs that I will be using in the Block'em Blood Bowl League this Fall, but fun was had by all. I have to imagine it plays faster as the rules get to be better known too. It took us about 3 hours to play a game, including numerous kid interruptions and rules look ups.
We played on the Skaven pitch I made (which still lacks a score board) despite the fact that the Skaven team was left out of the game. They hosted I guess. The Dwarfs received first, marched relentlessly down the field and scored on turn 7 of the first half. With only 2 turns to go in the half, I didn't have the time to even the score. Second half I was able to score fairly early with the swift ghouls, but my attempt at an aggressive blitz to cause a fumble and score a second time were thwarted by the stalwart Dwarfs. Taking advantage of my over-commitment on his end of the field, Stef created a path through what little defense I had and ran through it to score again. Dwarfs win 2-1.

I was inspired enough to paint up the undead I had put together for the occasion. The skeletons are a box of Wargames Factory Skeleton Warriors, a bargain at $20 for 30 models. Unfortunately they are some of the fiddliest models I have ever worked with. Femurs would break on the sprue, and there was only the tiniest of contact points for the arms. Even the process of trimming the mold lines or the sprue connection points routinely ended with a broken piece. I resorted to chemical methods (solvent glue) to do most of that work after breaking one too many bit. Frustrating. I know I had a "version 1" box, so I'm hoping there are some improvements to the current version 2 models. I understand version 2 comes with bases too, which would have been nice.

To represent the 2 Wights the team can have, I modded a couple of the skeletons to include head spikes and a cloak made from paper grocery bag with a little freehand. Nothing spectacular, but an easily identifiable model.
The Wights
For the Mummy I used one of my recently acquired Reaper Bones models. It works fine, but is a bit small for the supposed strength 5 this model has.
The Mummy
The ghouls are your garden variety GW Vampire Counts ghouls. I am quite fond of this model, as they are an interesting mix of human and animal, bestial yet adorned with gruesome decoration.
The Ghouls
Finally, the bulk of the team, the skeletons. The undead team can have 0-16 skeletons and 0-16 zombies, but I figured I'd just stick to skeletons (mostly since I owned them already.)
The Skeletons
Admittedly, there isn't really anything very Blood Bowl-y about these minis. I could have given them shoulder pads or something, but in the end I just built them and painted them. Boooring, I know. The nice part is that I can easily add things to them later should the mood strike me. I need to get 7 of my 11 Dwarf team models painted for the league, so I don't expect the mood will strike me anytime soon.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fun with Bones: Ellen Stone

The saga of the Bones goes on, as more and more people try to straighten weapons and identify missing body features. I can't say I'm disappointed with the group overall. This was, after all, a kickstart. There were inherent risks with producing that many minis that quickly, but given Reaper's track record these sorts of failings didn't even occur to me. Nevertheless, I'll take the opportunity to dredge out an extremely old joke, just for the occasion.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bones Case Study: Aviriel Tellerion

The last mini in my metals collection to get the Bones comparison is Elf Paladin Aviriel Tellerion. The Bones version is roughly the same quality as Lysette, in that there are no obvious places where the model appears to have been smashed with a 2x4. Like Lysette, some of the hard angles suffer from a little over-radius-ing. (Is that a word? It is now!) The shield corners are nice points in metal and a little rounded in Bones. The hair has a typical Bones issue... very fine locks in metal turn into dreadlocks in Bones. Not really thick dreadlocks, but dreadlocks nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bones Case Studies: Lysette and Autumn Bronzeleaf

Now that I have my Reaper Bones kickstart minis, I realize that I already had a few of the included models in metal from ages past. Last night I popped the blisters open, gave each a wash of Agrax Earthshade(tm) and photographed for comparison.

First up, perennial favorite Elven Mage Lysette, sculpted by Werner Klocke. 
 The face and hair details are reasonably intact but the cheeks are more cut on the metal version. The ears also protrude more in metal. The crystal on the staff also appears to suffer from the lack of hard transitions. The clothing detail however translated quite well. The buckles and lattice all seem to have translated well to the newer medium, as did the runes on the sword. I think she could be painted in such a way that it would be difficult to discern which version of the model was used.

Next, Autumn Bronzeleaf, sculpted by Jeff Grace.
Poor Autumn didn't make the transition as gracefully as Lysette, I'm afraid. While the clothing details are again quite accurate, the face and hair have lost a great deal of their fine cut. The nose especially took a beating in the transition. The locks of hair falling over the forehead are decidedly thicker than the metal version. Oddly, I didn't notice before that my metal Autumn has a malformed left hand, so I am unable to compare it to the Bones hand (which looks fine to me.) I can understand how potentially the sharper cuts like Lysette's crystal might be a problem for Bones, but if the clothing details can be reproduced so well it is counter-intuitive to me that the nose or hair would be so different on Autumn. That lock of hair in the front is certainly no thinner than some of the other details reproduced more faithfully.

So all in all, not terrible. Mostly. I will probably approach any detail I am not happy with on a Bones model asking "was this as bad on the metal model?" I assume that sculpting for the Bones medium will take a certain style and that sculptors will get better at it over time. Like injection molded plastic, it has its strengths and weaknesses, and we're only at the very beginning of learning how to tease out those strengths. I have one or two more of these to compare at some point, so maybe I'll do another post like this later.


Checking in on the Cloud Giants and my attempts to straighten out their weapons, things were mostly back to bent last night. I can't tell if they are starting to slightly straighten with multiple iterations or it's just wishful thinking.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Country Review: Canada

I rake up too many of these
things to find it inspiring.
Having spent Tuesday night through Friday evening in Canada a couple weeks ago, I feel knowledgeable enough to give a review of the nation in general.

The Arrival: I hadn't received my "enhanced drivers license" (sort of a local passport thing that Michiganders can get for entering Canada) in the mail yet, but the Office of Homeland Security assured my wife that a birth certificate and official photo id would be sufficient. The Canadian border agent was nice enough about it, and encouraged me to get a passport so I could take my wife somewhere nice.

The Driving: This was just off enough to be disconcerting. No, not the transition from good ol' 'merican miles to sinister kilometers but the fact that all the signage was just a little different than I was used to. Word and arrow placement was just varied enough to make me have to think about what each meant. Does this sign mean that if I stay to the left I will be going toward the stated road, or does it mean I should be following those arrows off to the right? Hmmm. I obeyed the 100 kph speed limit on most Canadian highways rather rigorously, and that meant feeling like I was going slooowwwwww. I was fun to pop my instrument panel back and forth from English to metric units and watch my speedometer go back and forth from 100 to 63.

The People: From what I can tell, nearly all the people who work service jobs in Canada are non-Canadians. From the hotel desk staff to any number of people in town, a dizzying variety of accents made understanding what people were saying challenging. I can do okay with accents, but having to adjust to such a rich tapestry of unfamiliar pronunciation made my brain a little dizzy. Everyone was super-nice though. Seriously. Not just regular nice.

The Hotel: The training and amenities were at the Hilton Garden Inn, and it was certainly passable. I understand that $40/day for parking is not unreasonable right downtown, but I still grumbled about funding Paris Hilton's lifestyle. The room was nice. The restaurant was crazy overpriced ($10 for continental breakfast? Really? Oh, and I can upgrade to some eggs for only $8 more? Wow.) At least breakfast was provided in the training (the same fare as the hotel continental.)

The Money: The bills are weird. Some have transparent sections. I think one of them sings when you spend it or something. The coins are weirder. Canadians seem to hate coins, yet have coins for their smaller denominations of dollars. If you purchase something they will routinely round the purchase price to minimize the number of small value coins involved, then give you your change in all coins. One of their coins even looks like a coin stuffed in a donut coin. Your money frightens and confuses me, Canada.

Work In Progress: As best as I can tell, Canada is a fairly new country because they still seem to be building it. Everywhere I looked there was construction. The only thing that could have used some serious work were the sidewalks in Toronto. It was like the third world from the ankles down.

Tell me again why Canadians
aren't all morbidly obese?
The Food: this was pretty close to what I was used to... a hamburger (presumably) made by Wayne Gretzky, some chicken fajitas, Thai combo platter.... the only decidedly unique experience was poutine.

If you've never had poutine, it's an interesting mix of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. At the franchise poutinerie (yes, that's what they called it) there were many varieties to be had, and two sizes: more than you can eat, and more than your family can eat. I got the bacon and chili poutine, which was tasty. Stef got the steak fajita poutine which she reported as being tasty but which looked revolting. Luke got bacon cheeseburger poutine, which looked as good as my bacon chili version. None of us could finish the whole serving. I will refrain from mentioning Tim Horton's in terms of the food. It is well known that any Tim Horton's establishment in any country is considered Canadian soil for diplomatic purposes, so you can probably experience that for yourself.

The Return: The U.S. Homeland Security agent was somewhat less nice than the Canadian border agent had been. He informed us that all the paperwork we presented him, the same paperwork that we have used to sign up for our enhanced licenses, was all easily forged by illegal aliens. Hmm. It made me wonder why it was good enough to get an enhanced license but not good enough to get me across the border. Eventually he poked at his computer screen and looked irritated enough to make us feel like we had made his day difficult and let us through without detaining us Checkpoint Charlie style.

The Verdict: it was pretty nice. I'd go back.

State of the Bones

A 10.8 lbs box of Reaper goodies arrived at my house last week. I am now 268 miniatures further in the painting hole than I was previously. My wife has already claimed about 20 of them, but considering she has painted about 1/2 a mini in the past 10 years I expect they'll stay white for a while.

Okay, so what do I think of them, you ask? I have decidedly mixed feelings. First off, I am glad I didn't "double Vampire" like I heard some did. There are plenty of figures here for a while, and if I ever want more they aren't that expensive.

Casting quality: I have not seen more than one or two issues with the casting, and even those were fairly minor. The flash and mold lines aren't terrible, but removing them is a pain. I haven't done a side by side comparison to their metal counterparts, but after priming the Tre Manor Ettin he looks very nice. I'll look through my collection of unpainted Reaper metal and see what I have duplicated in Bones.

The bending: This one is daunting to me. I have been told that boiling water/cold water will allow these to bend/harden so that warped elements of the figures can be corrected. While that appears to be true to start, the pieces seem to slowly warp again over the next couple days. The Cloud Giant woman in the photo is a good example of this. I have tried multiple times to straighten her club but when I come back to it it always looks like it does here. Thinner things like axe handles seem to have stayed in position after heat/cold alteration.

Taking paint: I painted a Bones Minotaur a while ago, and one of the things I loved about it was how well the model took and kept paint, without any sort of prep on the mini. Compared to my normal models, where paint sloughs off if I look at it harshly, this is a very welcome change. The Bones I have tried from my Vampire box have been very hydrophobic, so either the mold release was different or was washed off for the retail package and not the kickstart packaging. I hope their domestically manufactured minis are more like the Minotaur in that regard.

Gluing: Some pieces require assembly and some come pre-assembled. I have no idea why. In my experience a very thin cyanoacrylate (superglue) gives the best results. Maybe because the material is a little porous... I dunno.

The figure case: So some of the 10.8 lbs was the figure case, which is good not great. I was hoping for that big Reaper logo on one side, but the case is blank. As such, there is no obvious front/back, so opening the case is a crap shoot if you haven't marked which way is up. The first time I opening it after filling it with minis I dumped half of them on the table. Whoops. The cells on the foam trays are quite small, so I ended up cutting the walls on many of them to accommodate larger figures. Even so, I have all the infantry for my 2k+ Eldar army stored in there, minus anything on a 40mm base. It absolutely will not do 40mm based minis on their sides (unless you put two trays so their cavities face each other, which I was not willing to do.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Old Guards and the New

Do Wraithguard have a rule that prevents them from being photographed in focus?
I'm pretty sure they do.
I assembled/magnetized a box of Wraithguard/Wraithblades this weekend. I was a little surprised at how much bigger the new models are compared to the old metal models. Even with the wider stance, the new one here is significantly taller than the old one. They also changed the base size to 40mm, which is fine with me. I thought the old models looked crowded on their tiny bases.

So, the Eldar army marches on toward field-ability. I am getting to the point that I need to be more selective about what to assemble in what order if I want to sprint to a 2000 pt game. Considering I started buying Eldar withe the last book came out, it's about time I started playing them.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sedition Wars Glue, Avatar Train-Wreck and Sneak Preview

First off, the biggest news. I found something other than cyanoacrylate that works to glue sedition wars minis together, and does so in much the same way that styrene glue works.
Ambroid ProWeld professional plastic welder works on tons of different materials. I tried to apply it like styrene glue at first, which failed. Once I read the instructions (and followed them!) it made a bond that is quite strong. I dropped this Strain mini onto a linoleum floor from a height of 5 feet or so repeatedly and the minis never popped off the base. I'm sold. It also works exceedingly well at removing the mold lines, a trick scale modelers gave me. I was skeptical that solvent could do a decent job at mold line removal, but it really seems to work as long as you don't douse the mini. If nothing else it makes the plastic easier to work with temporarily.

Update: I tried this stuff on Reaper Bones minis to see if it worked. No dice, I'm afraid.

I've been buying Eldar for ages with the intent to play them. Now that they have a new book, I figured I'd better paint a second model for my army. One per edition. Now that's speed. So I tackled my Avatar last night. Umm.... yeah. Not fantastic.

The theory was to paint the inner portions fluorescent yellow/orange to show off his molten interior, but make the exterior dark to heighten the contrast. Sure, this is a one night paint job, but it just fails to pop on so many levels. Even that guardian looks skeptical. "That is supposed to inspire me to be fearless? Not feelin' it, boss."

Lastly, I've been working on a little project based on some artwork from a 1987 Battletech manual that utilizes some old Japanese models I had, modded a fair bit. I'm posting WIP as I go on the Battletech forums to get feedback from that community, since it's their domain of expertise. 

 I'll post a full write up here when I'm done and can get some decent pics.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Battletech Locust Scale Comparison

The recent Robotech kickstart has me thinking about all the old Battletech mecha that were based on Japanese IP, almost all Macross and Dougram. The light mech "Locust" was the "Ostall Hunter" from the movie Crusher Joe. More on that in a sec.

We played Battletech when the pieces were cardboard stand-ups on a hex board and we used grease pencils to mark damage on spec sheets protected in clear plastic binders. Some of you have probably never even seen a grease pencil, since dry erase markers took over that role completely. They had the coolest method for revealing more of the colored core, a string you would pull slightly to cut into the wound paper, which would then fall away in a wonderful spiral. I can't imagine playing Battletech or Star Fleet Battles without grease pencils. Anyway, enough waxing nostalgic.

When I first saw the movie Crusher Joe I was already familiar with Battletech in general and the Locust specifically. I was quite surprised to see how much smaller the mech was in the movie than I had expected, given the way it's portrayed in Battletech. Here's a picture of a Locust with pilot. In the background you can see a Macross VF-1A Valkyrie (a Stinger in Battletech, I believe.) I've replicated the pilot to scale the mech roughly. If we assume the pilot is 6' tall, that puts the highest point on the Locust's main body at about 4.5 man-heights, or about 27'.
a pile of dudes with binoculars is not an effective recon method

Figuring the height of the Ostall from the movie is a bit harder. According to the opening sequence, the character Talos is 209cm tall.
I'm surprised it didn't include blood type
I grabbed a frame from the movie where Ostalls are chasing Talos and Ricky in a hover technical thingy. Talos is in the back, firing a machine gun at the pursuing pack of Ostalls. I've tried to roughly represent his frame with the yellow line.

I then straightened out (more or less) the line with a rotate tool and placed it in front of the Talos to see how it measures up. From here it looks to be about 1.75 Talos's tall, or about 366cm (12 ft.) 12 feet tall compared to 27 feet tall. Big difference. But wait! There's more!

I acquired some model kits of these a long time ago. The Dougram mechs it turns out were being sold as "Battledroids", which was the precursor to Battletech. They even have the spec sheet on the back, naming each as its Battletech equivalent Griffin and Wolverine. Sadly, I can't find my model of C.A. Bigfoot, aka old school Battlemaster.

Combat Armor Soltic = old school Griffon

C.A. Blockhead = old school Wolverine

Ostall = old school Locust

Instructions on inside of Ostall box... odd

They are each 1/144 scale. The Ostall/Locust is 1/48 scale, a factor of 3x over the others. Doing the maths though show that the Locust was probably scaled in Battledroids to allow 1/48 scale model be used with the 1/144 Dougram/Macross models. Combat Armor Soltic (aka Griffon) is listed as 10.02m tall on the spec sheet that came with the model. Scaled down 1/144 gives us about 70mm, or 2.75 inches. Scaling the Ostall model the same way based on the Battletech pic should give us a 2.25" model, which is almost exactly how tall the model is, depending on how the legs are bent.

Executive summary: Locust size in Battletech was retcon-ed from a differently scaled model kit.