Wednesday, December 30, 2009

RIP: GW Paint Creek Crossing

I am sad.  Today I found out that my favorite local gaming hangout is closing.  On January 11, 2010, the Games Workshop store at Paint Creek Crossing (as well as the one at West Oaks II in Novi) is closing.

I will miss the events, the painting competitions, and the constant availability of six well build gaming tables at all times.  I will miss the fact that there was always someone there with whom to paint or play.  Always.  As much as I like the other FLGS in the area, matching with an actual opponent was nearly impossible.  At the GW store there was always a game going on and always someone asking "Did you bring an army?" when I walked in.

I'm glad to hear that Brett is moving to Chicago to manage a store there.  I'm sorry to hear that the Novi staff are getting laid off.  I understand that Michigan probably can't generate the kind of demand that a GW store would require to stay in business, but the fact that they are leaving the Great Lakes Crossing store open is puzzling.  First off it's a mall store, and their corporate piorities have been to move the mall stores to venues like West Oaks or Paint Creek.  Second, the store is tiny and has no real place to play.  Unless you are basically are there to just buy and leave I can't imagine the appeal of the Great Lakes Crossing store.

Avatar: The Last Rainforest

I enjoy sci-fi more than most, but I am surely in the minority in that I was not sweatily anticipating Avatar.  I didn't find the design of the blue cat-monkey people all that appealing in the teaser clip, and the robot gorilla suits were downright stupid.  I also was perplexed by the idea of this fellow running around in an avatar fighting the big bad company when his body was in a tube on the big bad company's own base.  Oops, I just accidentally tripped over the cord to your avatar-tube-projecting thingy.  Guess the battle's over.

So, with hopes low, the fam and I went to see it on prompting from my mother in law.  The same mother in law who once bought me a Winsor & Newton Series 7 brush.  She has some serious cred.

Let me sum up the plot in bullet point form:
  • Man goes to paradise to exploit resources
  • Man falls in with natives, specifically female native
  • Man's allegiance is turned away from exploitation to preservation
  • Man and natives fight exploiters against long odds
The first time I saw this it was called "Fern Gully."  Avatar was incalculably more expensive to make I'm guessing.  Well, calculable to some but not me.  I can't think in numbers that big.   Also, Crysta from Fern Gully was arguably hotter for being more human looking.  Okay... pause for a second.  Did you have an agree/disagree opinion about that "hotter" statement?  Yeah, get help.

Anyway, I guess Cameron wanted to throw a new post-911 twist to the Fern Gully traditional tale by making the natives bigger instead of smaller.  Wow!

Any fans of Hayao Miyazaki will vividly imagine Cameron scribbling notes during every Miyazaki film muttering, "Using that and that .... ooo!  and that!  And that and that..." etc.

Okay, but now to the serious discussion.... Na'vi vs. Ewoks.  Both were kind of in the same boat, except the Ewoks never seemed to give a rip about the Empire until a fruity gold robot showed up on their wooden doorstep.  So let's contrast, shall we?

  • tiny, furry things that could be used to sell fabric softener
  • could rig elaborate traps involving logs 7000 times their weight
  • killed stormtroopers by chucking rocks at them
  • fought an evil intergalactic Empire run by a dude who can shoot lightning out of his hands. 
  • suffered one apparent casualty during the entire battle
  • huge humanoids who can jump off cliffs and survive by bouncing from leaf to leaf
  • ride dragons, and occasionally are led by a messianic figure riding a huge freaking dragon.
  • shoot arrows dipped in neuro-toxin (not that the toxin matters much, since the huge Na'vi arrows are more like spears and tend to impale people when they are hit.  Oh, no.  You are now pinned to a tree through the chest and the poison on this "arrow" will kill you in less than a minute.)
  • fought against a mining company run by a manager who is concerned about quarterly statements
  • suffered a bazillion causalities against the mercenaries working for the mining company
  • live above a huge deposit of a mineral with a really stupid name.
Okay, I don't know about you but I'd have to say Ewoks win here.   Granted, if I had to pick the cooler looking of the two I'd go with Na'vi but in terms of pure against-all-odds combat I've got to give it to the Ewoks.  Except for that song at the end of the movie.  Seriously, that made me wish the Empire had won.

Okay, so the final review result:  The movie was good.  The time zipped by and I never had the urge to look at my watch.  I cringed at the profanity, but I have a pretty low threshold for that now that I have young kids.  The violence and sexual content was pretty much Lord of the Rings level.  The 3D effects were immersive without using the "oooo! look at my 3D!" tricks.  If anyone here is on the fence about seeing it, I'd say go ahead if you can stomach all the mother nature worship malarkey.  It's funny... even the testimonial of other nerdy sci-fi types doesn't hold much water with me now.  They all loved Transformers, and that was the worst dog pile of a movie I have seen in ages.

Tragic character note:  there was one character in the movie that my wife and I agree was the most tragic of all.  There are these dragon type thingies that the Na'vi bond with, and apparently they bond for life (cough*Pern*cough.)  Well  when jakesully goes to bond with uber-dragon turok-dinosaur-hunter-thingy what happened to his original dragon?  You never see it again.  Yup, old and busted gets dumped for the new hotness.  Poor little dragon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If I Played Imperial Guard....

I would definitely model my Valkyrie based on historical military aircraft.  Like "Crock O' Crap" here. Now there's a crew who loved their plane enough to be really truthful to it.  I'm talking "Yes, that dress makes you look fat" truthful.

So hats off to you, brave crew of "Crock O' Crap."  You served your duty with a sense of humor.  I admire that.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The New Paradigm in Higher Education CIO Selection Criteria

My employer is in the process of selecting a new CIO.  The selection process has been long and detailed, even to the point of restarting at one point and resuming again after more than a year.  A recommendation will be made to the president by the end of this year.

What you see here is a white board tucked away to the side of the conference room in which the selection committee and each of the four candidates ate lunch on their interview days.  After a bit of interrogation I discovered that the demented rabbit had been drawn there prior to the first candidate's arrival.  Therefore I must assume that each candidate, having spent a fair bit of time in that conference room, saw the white board and the rabbit.

I wonder if they thought it was some sort of psychological test.  Should I say something?  Should I say nothing?

My Worst: FTW Supplemental

The "From The Warp" bloggers list did a collaborative post on some of the members' worst models, so I thought I'd pile on.

I thought this guy, supposedly a plague priest with plague censer, was so dang cool when I finished him back in '05.  He had a green stuff hood, a converted tail and that super double awesome plague censer!  Plus, check out the "kitty litter" style basing!  Medium railroad ballast over black plastic at its best!

I hope (and fear) that in five more years I will look back at what I'm doing now with that same sense of "what the heck was I thinking?"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Warpstone National Painting League?

I swung by the Paint Creek GW store today, and Brett showed me something interesting.  It was a glass-like trophy looking thing that had an etched picture of a servitor and the title "WARPSTONE National Painting League."  Apparently early next year GW is doing nationwide painting competitions or something similar.  I think there might be rumblings about it in the WD coming out Saturday.

I, for one, am quite pleased.  With Golden Demon down to one American event next year, high class painting competitions would be difficult to come by.  Not that I'm a shoo-in for any awards, but I love competing at a high level and I really don't feel like hauling it all the way to Indianapolis for GenCon.  Hey, maybe I'll even get to meet up with Tim Lison again. 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Poor Little Truck Can't Get a Brake

Stef called me on the the way home from a friend's house to tell me the truck was driving really squirrely and shaking badly in back.  Immediately I figured that something in the rear suspension that had been damaged in the collision had given out, and that she'd arrive home with the back end nearly dragging the ground.

I was please to see that the only problem was that she had driven home on a flat tire.  The spare on the truck is full sized, so it's not even a financial burden at this time.  I'll just buy a retread after the first of the year.

I just wonder what's next for my poor truck.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Never Doubt The Wife

"Again?" Stef asked me.
"Yes, again," I said, holding up my fingers glued into a permanent "OK" sign.
"Go stick them in acetone," she said, and went back to reading.
"Pfft.  Acetone won't dissolve superglue," I scoffed.  I had tried it last time this happened to no avail.
"I use it to get fake nails off.  Give it a minute and it will work," she replied this time without looking up.

It worked after about 30 seconds.  I had no idea.

Wrongeye & Snapjaw

Seldom do I just spam a product here, but I ran across these guys by accident on the Privateer Press website, and just fell in love with the level of character and humor they have.

I must paint them.

The Long, Cold Drive; The Long, Cold Walk

For no discernible reason, the truck has no heat.  I'd like to say it has something to do with my little fender bender, but it seems unlikely.  Either way, it's really cold here so it's really cold in the truck.  Lovely.

Having a truck with a horribly smashed in rear end has been an interesting effect on my driving.  When I turn on my turn signal people make room.  It's both humorous and depressing.  Get out of my way!  I don't care if I mess my truck up or not!

Now that the weather is really getting cold here, it makes my walk from the parking lot to my office seem a bit longer.  The building outlined in orange is Pray-Harrold, the building in which I work.  The arrow indicates where the door is, roughly.  It takes about 400 good sized strides to go from my normal parking lot to that door, and as the temperature drops that seems longer and longer.  My "it's cold" gage is whether or not my forehead hurts from the wind/cold.  We have been there for a couple days now.  Starting out from a warm car made the walk a bit easier, I think.  Now that I'm cold upon parking, the walk is just that much colder.

About two weeks ago now, Ann Marie brought in maple syrup from Vermont and a waffle iron.  I brought in buttermilk waffle batter (made from scratch, of course) and the Portal Support Services team had waffles in the office for breakfast.  Good times.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Space Hulk Victory!

But not for me, I'm afraid.  Last night my eight year old daughter and I played scenario 1 "Suicide Mission."  The result?  As you can see from the board, I didn't make it terribly far as the Marines.  Her strategy was to just pile up the 'nids along the path I needed to take rather than try and surround me.  The Marines only get so many shots per turn, and I just couldn't take them down fast enough to prevent an overwhelm.

Kudos to the Brother Sergeant Whats-His-Face for taking down four 'nids in close combat.

My kids also had fun naming the Genestealers.  Since we tended to grab recent casualties for the revealed Genestealers, the one that looks like he's popping out of the floor was named "We meet again!" since we always said that when he appeared.  The one with each of two feet standing on a little pile of skulls was named "Boots" and my son named the one holding a Marine helmet "Thunder" (more out of a desire to be in on the action than for any descriptive reason.)

Their prize for winning?  Ice cream!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Poky Little Plague Monk WIP 2

To quote 'therat' from the Skaven UnderEmpire forum:
And thus the diseased rat-monk spoke,

Woe to any who dig holes beneath this fence, for they shall suffer without desert!

The men of the empire shrunk in fear of these words of power.
 I put a coat of Minwax Polycrylic on him to protect the edges, then some matte varnish to cut the glossiness, but it looks like I didn't get rid of the shine completely.  So this guy's either WIP or Path-Of-Least-Resistance complete.  I haven't quite decided.  There are 19 more of them in the unit, and it would be nice to have another fieldable unit completely painted.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

My Personal Stances on Skaven Rule Questions

I am definitely a "type B" wargamer.  It's all about the fun and narrative of the experience, and winning is a distant third.  Not that I won't compete, mind you.  I just won't be a jerk about it.  Something tells me "rat girl" on the left would cheese it up.  I dunno.

That said, I have decided to put my foot down about certain vague points in the new Skaven book.  As a Skaven player I am voluntarily taking the following stances.  Theses are my personal decisions and not any official rulings.
  1. Warpstone Tokens and the Storm Banner are "one use only"
  2. The Doomwheel may not start in the front arc of a unit, then use its movement to maneuver around to hit that unit in the flank or rear.
  3. Shooting will scatter into Rat Ogres on a 1-4, into other models on a 5-6.
  4. Only one Night Runner, Jezzail team, Rat Ogre, etc. can be upgraded in a unit, not any and all of them.
  5. Banner of Verminous Scurrying can only be used to augment a unit's normal march, in the movement phase.
  6. Template weapons hitting an enemy unit engaged with slaves will be randomized between slaves/enemies.
  7. Plague Priests may not take warpstone tokens.
  8. I will never take more than one tail weapon or rat hound bodyguard.  A brace of warplock pistols is possible until ruled otherwise, but only because it's a cool conversion option.
  9. The plague censer would benefit from poisoned attacks.  In the same way a great weapon keeps its rules (+2 strength, strikes last) with poison, the plague censer is a weapon with its own rules, not a magic weapon.
  10. Slaves breaking from cc will get additional hits under the "Cornered Rats!" rule only for each full rank of 5 beyond the first, not just for each rank beyond the first.
I'm sure I'll update these as more situations come up.  Most of these are ruling against the cheese option (#9 would be the arguable exception) and designed to minimize arguments.  Nearly all of them are behavioral choices, either in list creation or in game actions.

Until an official FAQ / Errata is released, my position will be "If it's not clear to me, rule in favor of your opponent."

As a bonus, here's an old "Gary the Gor" comic (by Craig Russell) re: Skaven.

    Wednesday, December 02, 2009

    The Poky Little Plague Monk

    He gets no strawberry shortcake!  Yeah, I've been having some fun with the freehand work.  The rest of the model just has one spotty basecoat, so I dimmed it out.  The puppy page is done (except for the Skaven runes that will go where the title normally goes) and the other page needs a couple of puppies and a tree.  They're both copied from the original book.  Barnes and Noble's web site has viewable pages if you want to see the original work.

    Between this guy, the Warlord on Rat Ogre and the Plague Priests I've been on quite a Skaven kick lately.  They are the first wargaming army I collected, and getting a new book is kind of a big deal (to me anyway.) 

    Tuesday, December 01, 2009

    Case of the British Firefox... Solved!

    Since switching to Ubuntu I've had a strange problem.  For some reason the spell-checker was using the British spelling of words, rather than the American one, even though all the OS settings were US English.  This got to be increasingly annoying as I typed emails for work, posted things on this blog, etc.  Eventually I realized that the spell-check was limited to Firefox.  A little searching and I found how to change Firefox to use the US English dictionary.
    1. Browse to "about:config" in Firefox
    2. Click the "I'll be careful, I promise!" button if it appears
    3. In the filter box type "spellchecker".  The only entry you should see on screen at this point is "spellchecker.dictionary."  The value of that entry should read "en-US" for US spellings or "en-GB" for British spellings (or other things for other languages.)
    4. Double-click "en-GB" and change it to "en-US", then hit enter
    Done!  You now have a Firefox that spells words like an American (only correctly.)

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    Rat Ogre Bonebreaker WIP ... painting part 2

    He's coming along nicely, with lots and lots of matte varnish on that standard pole to make a logical lift point for the model.  I'm still a little freaked out by his deformed feet, but a well placed giant rat, rock or static grass tuft will mitigate the crapitude of the sculpt.  Or maybe I can just say that his deformed left foot is a touching homage to the 6th edition clanrat's left foot. 

    I've been challenged to a siege game, 3k of my Skaven vs. 2k of Empire.  Yeah.  Between Rat Ogres, the Screaming Bell(s), Warlock Engineers (Crack's Call!) and Warp Lightning Cannons I don't think a castle has a chance.  Maybe the guys in the mambo shirts will bring enough guns to take my rats down, but I highly doubt it.  I'm hoping to turn one of his units into clanrats and cause a great deal of havoc inside the walls.  Hope you brought some dispel scrolls, Karl Kastle!

    Skaven Plague Priest

    A weekend leisure-time project, this fellow was converted yesteday and painted yesterday and today.  I wanted something different than the usual "plastic plague monk with censer arm" that everyone seems to use.  That Horned Rat standard topper was the perfect size for a mask, so an old metal plague monk gets new life as a Plague Priest.

    I should probably put some static grass or something on the base, but he needs a couple coats of Minwax polyurethane first to protect the paint job.

    Sunday, November 29, 2009

    Rat Ogre Bonebreaker WIP ... painting

    Conversion is done and I've started painting this guy.  He's pretty big.  Even with his poor posture he stands taller then classic Boneripper (not counting the Warlord, of course.)

    The one thing I'm kind of torn about is using the Stormvermin champion as a Warlord.  On the one hand, this model makes a pretty good looking Lord.  On the other, everyone is going to be using it as such.  I suppose I shouldn't fret about it... everyone used the old Warlord model as a Warlord and I never once complained about the frequency of the model.  I suppose it's in the career track for Fangleader (Stormvermin champion) to become chieftain and then warlord anyway.

    Bits-wise, the shield is a Night Runner shield with spiked from Skink spears (javelins?)  The pole is an old Skaven standard that came with plastic clanrats back in the day before the plastic command sprue came in that box.  It came with a standard, a drummer arm / drum, and a champion head / sword arm.

    Update: Finished model here.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Warlords Are So Lazy

    Just riding around on his war-litter, carried by his loyal minions.... man, how lazy can you get?  It seems like everyone and their brother are making a war-litter so I thought I'd give it a go.  My big gaming day was cancelled due to a sick 5-year old, so I took some time over the weekend to work on this.  The paint job is yet another "good from far..." gaming special.  It does the job, and the clanrats actually have tails (unlike most of my army.)

    One of the things I'm going to miss about the old monkey rats is the convertibility options.  The new three piece models (one of which is a shield) just don't have the sort of posing options that the eight part model had (of which two were shield parts.)  I haven't looked at the new Stormvermin for conversion.  Maybe they are just right for the task.

    Modeling wise, the litter itself is balsa.  The Warlord's sword and the one carried by the rat in the right rear are spear tips from the new clanrat box.  They make wicked looking swords!  The rails that the clanrats are holding are spear shafts from the old clanrat box set.  The axe blades are from a Black Orc (right) and Dwarf (front).  I wanted to imply that some Skaven clans had been defeated by this fellow as well, hence the blue Skaven shield and the triangle shield with the clan Eshin symbol on it.

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Skaven Questions ... and Irresistible Force

    Collected from various parts of the interwebs.  These are the questions that I think will generate the most heated debate between Skaven players and their opponents.
    • The Dreaded 13th Spell: Can the spell be cast on infantry units that house larger models (such as Slann with guard or the clanrat unit pushing a Screaming Bell)?  If so, what happens to the differing model if there enough transformations to cover the entire unit?
    • Banner of Verminous Scurrying: When does the triple paced movement conferred by the banner take place?
    • Warlord War-Litter: What size base should the war-litter use?  Can the war-litter join units?  If so, does it count as two models wide for purposes of rank width?  What is its unit strength?
    • Are Warpstone Tokens really not "one use only"?  If they are, why give characters multiple tokens to start?
    • Can plague priests use warpstone tokens?
    • Is the Storm Banner really not "one use only"?
    • Are Master Moulders required to be in the front rank of a Rat Ogre unit, since they are in all respects a unit champion?  If so, how does the mix of 20mm and 40mm bases affect ranks?
    • When adding packmasters to a unit of  giant rats / rat ogres, can an additional packmaster be added to a unit 5 rats / 2 rat ogres or does that unit have to be 10 rats / 4 rat ogres before a second packmaster can be added?
    On another note, I learned something new as a result of the 13th spell.  To successfully cast a spell you need to roll either greater than or equal to the casting cost or cast with irresistible force.  As much as we've tried we cannot find a rule that states you need to throw enough dice to make the casting cost even feasible, so it would be perfectly legal to cast the dreaded 13th every turn with two or three dice, just on the chance that you'd get IF.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Marauder Minis: Separated at Birth

    I've managed to collect a strange variety of Skaven over time by buying eBay lots.  One of the things that has given me a chuckle for a while is that the old Marauder Miniatures line has some pretty obvious re-sculpts.  The Poison Wind Globadier (third one over, primed black) is the most obvious example, since his slot at the bottom says "MUSICIAN."  He is clearly just the musician to his right with some change in detail.  Only recently did I realize that the old Skaven Warlock at far left was the same sculpt as one of the current Poison Wind Globadiers, although not as blatant as the musician one.

    EDIT: Apparently not all of these are Marauder minis.  The Globadier/Musician were Citadel minis.  If I'm not mistaken, the sculptors went on to form Marauder.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Even Easier Image Formatting / Text Wrapping in Blogger

    Blogger has improved their composition form quite a bit.  The esoteric method I posted previously of matching text with images can be done with a much easier process now.

    First, the intent:  You have multiple photos you want to write about, and you want the text for each photo to show up next to the photo in question.  Here is an example of where I have done this.

    Here's how to do it.  Start with a new post, and add an image.  Click the "left" link on the image control bar to move it to the left of the screen.  Now enter some text to go with that image.  Okay, here's the scary part... I know you can do it.  Be brave.  Click the "Edit HTML" tab above the compose window.  What you will see are two blocks of text, both surrounded by DIV tags.  One is the image and the other is the text you entered.  "Cut" the text you entered from within the second div (leave the <div> and </div> tags there) and paste the text just before the </div> tag surrounding the image.  That's it.  Go back to "Compose" and that text should be locked to the image now.  Repeat for as many photos as you would like.

    One final note.  Don't be surprised when Blogger rewrites your HTML to its own purposes.  The intent of the formatting seems to stick even if the gubbins move around.

    Rat Ogre Bonebreaker WIP 2

    The Bonebreaker gains mass.  The gray fur is P3 epoxy putty and the green is, well, green stuff.  I need to put a smoothing later of putty over the rough spots and sculpt fur.

    The final pose will be tilted a bit more forward so the head points at a man-sized model.  That should also bring the arms more to a position horizontal to the ground.

    Dan Abnett to write "Ultramarines"

    The news: Info

    and... Dan Abnett


    2 Skaven casters and OSL

    I'm really loving the fact that Skaven has new magic options in the form of lvl 1 and 2 casters. The Warlock Engineer as he was before was a strange bird... pretty much good for overpowered warp lightning or as a brass orb suicide launcher. The plague priest, on the other hand, was definitely a melee character who could be given the Liber Bubonicus to make him a lvl 1 wizard. I tried it a couple times and could never really get much use out of the spell it gave him.

    In honor of our new casters I painted up a couple of models.  The first is a Plague Priest based on an old metal Plague Monk.  I was inspired by Big D's first OSL attempts over at The Hogs of War, so I tried a little myself.  Of course I pick a model with a ton of irregular surfaces in the lit area.  It really needs to be brighter on his face to match the sleeve.  I was really happy with the freehand work until I saw the photo.  Photography is so unforgiving.

    I also painted up this old Skaven warlock. I had filed off his clan Skryre tags ages ago and was using him (primed white) as a Plague Priest.  It occurred to me that the skull would make a cool brass orb. Voila!  A warlock engineer that I could have played in the previous edition!  I like the effect on the sword, and I took ages to highlight and shade the robes but this model just seems to fall flat for me. Something doesn't 'pop' and I can't put my finger on it. Any thoughts?

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Rats! Foiled Again!

    It's been a productive weekend.  Even nursing my sore neck I still managed to assemble and base 20 plague monks, 20 clanrats, 2 rat ogres and glue 20 giant rats (old metal ones) to bases in such a way that they can rank up properly.

    I love the new options for the Skaven warlord to have a mount, and at left you'll see the beginnings of my Rat Ogre Bonebreaker mount.  Like normal I'm using aluminum foil for the basic shape and I'll putty over that for detail.  He stands a little taller than a normal rat ogre right now and after putty he'll be much beefier, which fits the book description well.

    So I've had a solid week with the Skaven book and I suppose I should make a few observations, as a Skaven player of 5 years or so.
    • Mainstay rule is gone, and good riddance.
    • Plague Censer Bearers are now special, making Clan Pestilens themed armies a little more doable.
    • Cool new Clan Pestilens toys (Plague Furnace, Plague Claw Catalpult)
    • Having two lores of Skaven magic and a lvl 1 and lvl 2 wizard to choose from for each gives Skaven far more options than the last book (which limited you to Super Wizard or Super Cannon)
    • The new weapon teams sound fun to convert and play.
    • The ratling gun got a much needed nerfing, as it now rolls to hit (among other changes.)
    • 0-1 limit on Stormvermin removed
    • Giant Rats attack in two ranks now
    • 8(!) special characters.  I don't know if I'll ever see them all in battle, but it's fun to see them all in the book.
    • new Packmaster rules are strange.  So even if there are 50 giant rats in the unit and one packmaster, an arrow that hits the unit has a 1/3 change of hitting that single packmaster?  
    • Wording for "strength in numbers" is practically word for word the same as in the last edition.  This was one of the rules that generated the most questions.  When does a unit have a rank bonus?  If rank bonus is calculated at the beginning of the close combat phase does the Skaven unit use one rank bonus to determine if they won the combat and another to break test (assuming it lost enough models to lose a rank)?  Just a dozen or so more words would have done so much.
    • Half points?  really?  I suppose I'm glad a unit of Clanrats with shield cost less now and I don't know how I would have done things differently, but it's just so awkward.
    • Warp Lightning Cannon is a little more boring now.  I miss the unpredictable nature of the previous version with it's random range.  The new one is more survivable (I've had one survive a six turn battle... something no WLC of mine has ever done) but seems to fail a lot more.  About 30% of all shots fired will either misfire or fizzle.  Maybe some interesting anecdotes about the WLC will come up but in the games I've played it's been an uneventful item so far.
    • Lots of inconsistent/omitted wording in the book.  Can all Night Runners be upgraded to Night Leaders?  Does a Master Moulder (as a unit champion) have to stay in the front rank?  Are Warp Tokens and the Storm Banner really not "one use only"?  Can a Warlord on War Litter join a unit?
    By the way, the new Clanrat weapons are sharp little suckers.  I drew blood implaing myself while trying to scrape mold lines off those pointy things.  And oh is it nice to just have clanrats rank up so nicely.  Old monkey rats are so out of here.  But, of course, Night Runners are no longer skirmishers, so after we get rid of the nightmare of ranking one type of monkey rat, the other one is now ranked.  Any everyone will have assembled Night Runners with no regard to tail placement because they never had to think about ranks before.  Nice! (not really)

    It may sound like I'm griping but I'm really happy with the new Skaven, and once a FAQ/Errata comes out clarifiying all the strange points I'll be all the happier.  So in the immortal words of General Vorg:  Squeeks!

    Friday, November 13, 2009


    I learned a new word today.  Subrogation.

    It comes up when you back into somebody from your driveway and then your insurance company informs you that your policy was cancelled two days ago due to your payment being rejected by your bank.

    In this context, it is definitely a word of which I wish I was still ignorant.

    Monday, November 09, 2009

    Q: What Constitutes a Friendly Game?

    I played a 1500 pt WHFB game this weekend that raised some questions for me.  My Ogre Kingdoms opponent asked me, "Is this a friendly game?"  I answered that it was, and that it was my first game against Ogres.  He responded by telling me that I would definitely want to use my power dice to dispell his toothcracker (or some other unpleasant sounding) remains-in-play spell.  I did so.

    As the game progressed someone on the sidelines did a bit of kibitzing, reminding me of rules or things I had forgotten to do, like re-roll for hatred, etc.  As things started to go south for the Ogres I could hear my opponent muttering "I thought this was supposed to be a friendly game" or similar under his breath multiple times.  Clearly he thought someone helping me remember things was beyond that scope, even though I am a very occasional player (1-2 times a year.)

    So this raised the question:  What constitutes a friendly/casual game?

    Thinking it over a little, I think these are the sorts of things I would do in a casual game:
    • Allow my opponent to do something he had forgotten in a prior phase as long as it wouldn't rewrite history too much.  A good example is allowing him to rally a fleeing unit after charges are declared.
    • Let any charges / range checks of my opponent that are so close as to be questionable go in favor of my opponent.
    • I would not require explicitly visible actions (for people who roll so fast that you can't see anything and all they say is "okay, 4 wounds" during combat.)
    • Be congenial over any rules that are  broken, but try and point out any obvious errors and give him the opportunity to correct them.
    • Allow him to look up any rule that gets questioned without making disparaging comments about knowing the rules or the time rule lookups take.
    Little things like this keep the narrative of the battle alive with a minimum of the sort arguing that takes the focus off the models and puts it on the cantankerous gamers.

    So what are your thoughts?

    Paint Queek Cwossing

    Skaven day!  Yay!  Saturday was the first major Skaven release since I started this crazy hobby, so I was somewhat thrilled.  I bought pretty much one of everything new that came out (a spearhead box would have been nice for this, but I heard through the grapevine that the spearhead boxes never sold all that well.)

    I participated in the painting competition as well, and won first place with the Queek you see here.  I got a print of the Skaven book cover as my prize.  I was under the impression that I was competing for a Screaming Bell, but I suppose I will find out on 11/21 when they come out.  Either way I have a pretty snazzy Queek to field.  My local store is "GW Paint Creek Crossing" so hopefully the title of this entry makes more sense now.

    I met up on Saturday for some gaming and ran into fellow UnderEmpire member Kariko83, whose Moulder horde is something to behold.  I am inspired to hire a few units of Giant Rats for my army, or at least assemble the GR's and Rat Ogres I already own.  We set up a 6000 point game (3 Skaven players @ 2000 each plus a Vampire Counts, Ogre Kingdoms and Lizardmen army of 2000 points each.)  Unfortunately VC guy started to feel sick at the top of turn 2 and we called the game.  I played 1500 against the Ogre Kingdoms guy later and suprised him with Clan Pestilens fun (and I quote, "Nobody has even done that to me before!  Not even Blood Knights!  Those things are so broken!")  Hooray!  I finally got accused of cheese!  He ended up winning with table quarters and standards, and the game was great fun.  I play about once or twice a year normally, so to get almost 8 turns in was a rare treat.

    Deathmaster Snikch was nowhere to be found on Skaven day.  Pfft.  Isn't that just like clan Eshin?

    Pics from the aborted 6k game.

    Friday, November 06, 2009

    Random Find: Tina + Wolf

    Just a quick heads-up for an artist I stumbled across quite randomly.  She works with vector art, and I find her work intriguing.

    Check it out:

    She's barely started posting, so this might be a fun one for you to follow.

    Wednesday, November 04, 2009

    From Jaunty to Karmic

    I've upgraded my work desktop from Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) to 9.1 (Karmic Koala.)  Here are a few observations.

    • The Nvidia bug that caused the pointer bitmap to fragment at certain screen locations has been fixed.
    • Audio is back to both the headphones and speakers working simultaneously (true in Intrepid, mutually exclusive in Jaunty.)  I'm not sure if this is a design feature or a bug.
    • Desktop panels jumped from primary (left) monitor to secondary (right) monitor.  I was able to move them back by deselecting "Expand" in the panel preferences, dragging the panel back to the left monitor and then re-selecting "Expand."
    • I was having some issues with Sun Virtualbox (not OSE) where the app would grab the keyboard and not let go.  This let ctrl-alt-del work in the XP environment, but made everything else useless.  I did a full cold boot of Ubuntu and for no discernible reason it works fine now.
    For anyone who does any development work for Unix servers, I am beyond praise for Ubuntu/Eclipse.  I have a better development system than I've ever had before with hardly a difference between my desktop and the production server in term of code workings.

    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Inquisitor Lord Grussom and Retinue

    I decided to put a little work in on my Inquisitor Lord's retinue tonight.  I had pretty much abandoned the standard Witch Hunter Inquisitor model after reading Dan Abnett's amazing Eisenhorn trilogy.  He gives so much depth and character to the Inquisition that I wanted a more unique representation.

    Inquisitor Lord Grussom is a zealot of the most confrontational variety.  Not one for intrigue, he rushes in to deliver the Emperor's justice with a fearlessness that his colleagues both admire and ridicule.  Since suffering a grievous injury at the hands of a chaos cultist to whom he was in the process of meting out judgement with a hammer, Grussom has donned the Sacred Armor of Hokiprus Goll for battle.  Goll's armor, an ancient suit of golden power armor, was recovered from a ruined shrine world by Grussom after a long search for protection befitting one bringing Terra's light.  No helmet was recovered for Goll's armor, and Grussom's battered visage is a direct result of his face bearing the brunt of his headlong assault against the followers of chaos.

    While Grussom's rise through the ranks of the Inquisition has been less than meteoric, many count his chief confidant, Interrogator Atwa Rove, as the guiding hand behind the unswerving force of Grussom and his ascent.  Rove hails from a background where a well placed word and a bullet have equally weighty ends, and guiding the somewhat guile-less Grussom has been a challenge he has enjoyed to no end.  While surely steering Grussom, Rove would balk at the word manipulation.  They are long friends and only Rove's machinations have gotten Grussom the influence that has allowed him to prosecute his mandate with such fervor.

    Crusaders Hyrem and Lorem are brothers from a world cut off for six millenia from the Astronomicon by a warp storm.  During that time the world fell on backwards times technologically and adopted heretical practices in their worship of the Emperor.  Upon emergence from the warp storm and repatriation into the Imperium, Hyrem and Lorem were part of a knightly order that assisted in rooting out and destroying the rogue priesthood so that the Emperor's true Ecclesiarchy could take its place again.  Grussom took them on as retinue bodyguards after they achieved a bit of notoriety for these actions, and parades them around endlessly explaining that their home world is an example of what happens when humanity is left to its own devices with no Ordo to guide it.  They wear the armor of their order and weapons retrofitted to be a bit more technologically advanced.

    Bound Psyker 2280-12 was assigned to Grussom after Rove kept complaining that he could never get the stink of the warp off his jacket.  No one remembers the poor soul's name, and he keeps surviving encounters with the ruinous powers no matter how often or cavalierly Grussom and Rove throw him between themselves and rogue psykers.  It has become something of a game to see how long he'll live, and they do their best to protect him from the more mundane dangers of bullets and las-shots.

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Improve Your Painting for $2

    This may seem amazingly obvious, but as a beginning painter I didn't quite grasp it.

    You can't paint what you can't see.

    To paint with precision, you must be able to see what you are painting and be able to see your brushwork in enough detail to be able to figure out what you want to do and then do it.  I used overhead incandescent lighting for my first seventy five models or so (go Skaven!) but was never able to get them above basic tabletop quality.  "Good from afar, but far from good."

    So how does $2 help?  You go to the dollar store and buy yourself a compact fluorescent bulb and a pair of +3.5 reading glasses.  A CF bulb in a goose neck lamp (or ever better, two CF bulbs in two goose neck lamps!) will  give enough light close to the mini to actually see the thing, and CF bulbs have a much better lighting spectrum then incandescent bulbs without getting nearly as hot.  Trying to use incandescent "daylight" bulbs in close quarters can get to be uncomfortably warm.  Use of specialized lights like an Ott light give good results, but the advent of the CF bulb has put them in the "diminishing returns for the price" category.  When painting small details or freehand try the +3.5 reading glasses.  You'll have to experiment with how far to hold the mini from your face, but the amount of magnification this provides is quite adequate for detail work.  Also, the fact that you are looking through two lenses maintain binocular vision, something that has prevented me from effectively using single magnifying glasses in the past.  I just couldn't judge where the brush was in relation to the mini.  All I was getting were up-close-and-personal mistakes!

    I've been using bright lights for a while, and only recently got the reading glasses (which I wear right over my regular glasses when painting.)  I did some touch ups on Vayl's body armor using the glasses, and was surprised of the detail I had missed previously.  Not only was I able to see what I had missed along with the less than tidy areas, but I was able to see areas where the color consistency were sorely lacking.  Now I should probably go over all that fiddly armor and highlight the wolf grey with skull white.  That should improve the pop quite a bit.

    So try it!  It's only $2 ya cheapskate!

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    A Productive Night

    Jimmy came over last night for our weekly hobby session, and for some reason we were both quite productive.  I mostly finished Vayl, painted that little Cryx cutie in the middle from primer and put the starting basecoats on a mini that I'm painting for Monster Zero of the UnderEmpire.  One of the things I did with Vayl was paint up her little orb-weapon thingy in shades of blue to white, then put a few thin coats of Vallejo Model Color Metal Medium over it.  VMCMM is basically just metal flakes and acrylic medium, so it addes a pearlescent shimmer to things.  I last used it on the Howling Banshees power sword from the diorama I did for competition last year (and my first 8 on coolmini or not!)  also put a little on her headpiece, since I'm not even really sure what it's supposed to be, so why not be shiny too!  My digital camera also appears to have had a conniption over the colors in this picture, since it decided that everything should be a little more blue.

    The photo above reminded me of mentioning the table refinishing too.  The pic below is from a couple years ago, and you can see the darker finish of the table.  For some reason the finish was getting more and more sensitive to temperature and moisture, leaving rings when anything came in contact with it that was hot, cold or wet.  Any papers left on the table with the slightest bit of moisture would stick to the point of needing to be peeled off and scraped.  Stef decided enough was enough so she dragged the table out onto the deck and started sanding the finish off, which basically carmelized the varnigh onto the sandpaper.  In the end it took a great deal of turpentine, but we stripped off the gummy old finish and put a few coats of clear, semi-gloss polyurethane.  The results were pleasing.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Vayl, WIP 2

    She's gotten more color, and it's a fairly limited palette.  The only paints I used tonight were Wolf Grey and Night Blue (both Vallejo Game Colors.)  There are so many fiddly armor bits on the front that what started out as a careful detailing looked like a drybrush by the time I was done.  I'll have a lot of clean up work to do there.  The feathers got a base of Wolf Grey, then a wash of Asurman Blue, then a drybrush of Wolf Grey again.  I'll probably do a selective drybrush highlight with 50/50 skull white/wolf grey later.

    Overall, an interesting model.  I'm not sure I'm doing it justice.  It still feels experimental at this point.

    On a home note, my eldest daughter climbed into bed with me and Stef sometime in the night.  As I went to wake her up for school, she stretched luxuriously and knocked a glass of water I had next to the bed right down into my shoes.  Great.  I poured the shoes out and left them by the furnace duct to hopefully dry.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Radio Quote of the Day

    From the Michigan Radio pledge drive this morning...
    "Most of our funding comes from viewers like you.... 40%!"

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    eBay, We Need To Talk

    ...and you may want to sit down.

    I'm really sick of eBay.  I'm sick of them charging me >10% of item price in fees.  I'm tired of them raising prices and then telling me that it's a fee decrease (what is commonly referred to as eBay Math) and I am tired of their heavy handed way of dealing with any issue I have as a seller.  I'm done with eBay.  Period.  I know others are too.

    As a result, I have a pressing question for the wargaming community...

    Do you look anywhere other than eBay for auctions?

    I can search and find various other auction sites with various levels of wargaming product, but I really want to know where you folks actually shop.  I should mention that what I've been selling on eBay are minis painted to high quality, but I'm interested in any info you can provide whether is pertains to that or not.

    Let me know.  Thanks!
    ...and, um, eBay?  Your stuff is out on the curb.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Vayl ... why blue skin again?

    I started working on Hordes Warlock "Vayl, Disciple of Everblight" recently.  For no reason I can fathom I just started painting her skin blue.  I put a little work in on face and torso, but the hands are still atrocious.

    I dunno.... does the blue work?  Will she look redonkulous next to a Carnivean?

    Also, I have the framework done for a plain, blue box, and the aspect ratios look correct.  Maybe getting ready to paint a box blue carried over into other minis.

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    You Had Me At "Kill-Kill"

    Oh, my wonderful rats.  Skaven is the first army I picked when I started this whole crazy thing back in aught-four.  And now (sniff) I can't say I've ever been happier.  Goodbye clanrats that look like monkeys.  Goodbye struggling to rank up models with huge tails.  Hello to a plastic Screaming Bell with a Rat Ogre ringer

    What I really want to know is will there be a spearhead?  Other armies have gotten one lately, and I'd love to get all these new models (and the book) in one big box.  Even without a spearhead we really need a new battalion box, since the old one has the old clanrats in it. 

    Games Workshop has been right on target lately.  Between the Space Wolves (which even I, an admitted Space Wolf scoffer, think are cool) to those amazing Space Hulk models, to a host of ForgeWorld type models done in plastic, it just seems that everything they are doing is not just good but, in the vernacular, real good

    Five Days with Evony

    So the five days of Evony have concluded for this week's Friday Challenge. All in all the game is somewhat fun, but those ads. Sheesh.  And in case you aren't familiar with the game, you get 7 days of protection from attack.  The alliances that declare war on you can't touch you until your eigth day.