August 30, 2012

New Agent Request Granted

August 30th, 1922

ATTN: Carl Selinger, Commanding Field Operative
RE: Request for team member


It's truly a shame to hear about Agent Montrose, my condolences to you and your team. Events are looking dire however, so your brief respite must come to an end. I'm granting your request for a replacement agent for your field team. Agent Trisha Kellington has recently completed her training and been assigned to the Calgary Field Office. I'm placing her under your command effective immediately. I'm told she's a proficient marksman and has proven steadfast throughout her initial training. I trust she'll be a solid addition to your crew.

You'll find the details of your next assignment contained within. Good luck.

Director Silver

PS: Here's something that your team might find helpful to keep in mind on your next mission. Feel free to share it with them.

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

August 22, 2012

DC Final Crisis FAQ

DC Final Crisis: Frequently Asked Questions
by Captain Spud (from


1. Charge
Some cards in this set have the keyword Charge.
  • A card with Charge has the text, "At the start of the combat phase, put a charge counter on this card."
  • The word Charge will be followed by a number or variable in brackets.
    • A card with "Charge X: (charge text)" always has "(charge text)", and the text's effect with scale with the current value of X. 
      • For example, Two-Face, Protector of Gotham City has the text, "Charge X: At the start of your attack step, you may flip X coins. Each time you win a flip, choose an opposing character. Characters chosen this way can't attack this turn." This text is always active, and the value of X will increase as Two-Face accumulates charge counters.
    • A card with "Charge [number]: (charge text)" has "(charge text)" while it has [number] or more charge counters. 
      • For example, Battle for the Cowl has the text, "Ongoing: Charge 2: Exhaust a Gotham Knights character you control -> Negate target payment effect. Use only once per turn." While there are one or zero charge counters on Battle for the Cowl, the card's power is inactive. While it has two or more charge counters, its power becomes active.
  • A card without charge can still have charge counters. 
    • For example, you play Mind and Body Training from your resource row. Mind and Body Training reads “Play only if you control a ready Batman. Put a charge counter on each face-up resource you control.” Since Mind and Body Training is in your resource row, you can put a charge counter on itself even though it does not have the charge keyword.
  • charged card is a card with one or more charge counters.
  • If a card's Charge effect would trigger at the same time as its gaining of a charge counter, its controller chooses the order that the effects are put on the chain, and so decides whether the Charge effect triggers before or after the gaining of a new counter.
  • A card can have more charge counters than it needs to have its charge text be active.

2. Flaw
Some cards in this set have the Flaw keyword followed by a payment power.
  • A Flaw payment power can be used by all opponents, and cannot be used by its controller.
  • A Flaw payment power with a usage restriction (ie, "Use only once per turn.") can be used up to its restriction by each opponent.
  • No effect or modifier you control can restrict an opponent from using the flaw powers of cards you control. 
    • For example, if you control Lex Luthor, Metropolis Mogul and a character with a flaw power, your opponents may still use that flaw power even though Lex Luthor would ordinarily restrict them from using the payment powers of characters and equipment.
  • No effect or modifier you control can explicitly negate an effect created by a flaw power on a card you control. (Effects you control can still indirectly negate Flaw powers on cards you control by invalidating their targets). 
    • For example, you control Adam Orion <> Hunter, Tooth and Nail. Adam Orion <> Hunter reads “Whenever Adam Orion attacks, you may ready him. This triggers only once per turn. Flaw: Discard a card -> Adam Orion loses all powers and keywords this turn.” If an opponent uses the flaw payment power of Adam Orion <> Hunter, Tooth and Nail to remove Adam Orion's powers, and you control a character equipped with a Utility Belt, you may exhaust that character to attempt to negate the effect created by Adam Orion's power. However, since the effect cannot be negated by any effect you control, the Utility Belt's effect will do nothing on resolution.

3. Immutable
Some plot twists and locations in this set have the version Immutable.
  • An Immutable card can't be targeted while in play.
  • An Immutable resource can't be replaced.
  • If a player must select a resource to replace, he cannot choose to replace an Immutable resource.

4. Anti-Life
Some cards in this set refer to the Anti-Life affiliation. Some cards grant this affiliation temporarily, while others grant it permanently. If an effect states that the affiliation is gained, and does not specify a duration for the gain, it is permanent until that character loses the affiliation or leaves play.
  • For example, Oliver Queen <> Green Arrow, Justifier reads, "At the start of the combat phase, stun target character with cost 2 or less. Flaw:Pay 1 endurance -> Oliver Queen loses all powers this turn and target character you control without the Anti-Life affiliation gains that affiliation." If an opponent uses this power and one of his characters gains the Anti-Life affiliation, it is gained permanently.
5. Bizarro Text
In any format where DC Final Crisis is legal and the most recently-released set, the Bizarro-Text is:
Activate -> Target Revenge Squad character gets +4/+4 while attacking and gains "Flaw: Pay 6 endurance -> Exhaust this character." this turn. Use only during the build phase.


A Bleeding Multiverse
Plot Twist, cost 3
To play, remove a card in your hand from the game. Each player reveals his deck and removes all revealed copies of the removed card from the game.
When a player's deck is revealed, each opponent has the opportunity to look through it. The removal of cards is always done by the deck's owner, not the other players. Other players may look through the deck again after this is done to ensure all copies have been removed.

Ambush Bug, Neither Here Nor There
Character, cost 2
Free --> Target opponent puts target shifted character card he owns with X shift counters into play hidden in his front row. Propose Ambush Bug as an attacker and that character as a defender. If you do, Ambush Bug can attack that character as though it were visible, and that character has "Whenever an attack concludes, remove this character from the game shifted with X shift counters." this turn. Use only if Ambush Bug can be declared as an attacker.
Ambush Bug can use this power at any time when he can be declared as an attacker; he must be ready, it must be his controller's attack step, and the chain must be empty. You can't declare a team attack with Ambush Bug's payment power, though characters can join the attack while it is in progress (for example, DCL-063 Bart Allen <> Kid Flash, Generation Fourth). The power granted to the defending character triggers after characters have become stunned in the attack, so the power will not trigger if the defender is stunned during attack conclusion. If Ambush Bug stops being a legal attacker between initiating his power and its resolution, an attack substep will still occur; no attacker or defender will successfully be proposed, but the attack will still happen and conclude, so the targeted character card will still re-Shift at the end of the attack.

Anti-Life Equation, Plague of the Mind
Plot Twist, cost 2
Gain 1 endurance for each opposing Anti-Life character. Ongoing: Whenever a character becomes stunned, it gains the Anti-Life affiliation unless its controller pays 4 endurance.
If there are multiple face-up copies of Anti-Life Equation, Plague of the Mind in play, each one will trigger whenever a character becomes stunned. To avoid gaining the Anti-Life affiliation, a character's controller must pay for each copy of the effect.
Apparition, Out of Sight
Character, cost 5
ReservistCosmic. Discard Apparition -> Characters can't be the target of effects during your next attack this turn. Use only if you control a Legionnaires character and three or more cosmic counters.
If Apparition's discard power is used during an attack, its effects will not apply until the following eligible attack. "Your next attack this turn" is the next attack this turn during which a character you control is successfully proposed as an attacker or a defender.

Atrocitus, Founder of the Red Lanterns
Character, cost 7
Willpower 7. Pay 7 willpower this turn -> Each player loses 5 endurance. Then, each player with 0 or less endurance loses the game. If all players have 0 or less endurance, instead, each player without the highest endurance total loses the game.
If multiple players share the highest endurance total, those players do not lose the game.

Back-Up Personality
Plot Twist, cost 3
Ongoing: Charge 3: Whenever a Batman you control becomes stunned, you may recover it. This triggers only once per turn.
An active Back-Up Personality will trigger the first time each turn a Batman becomes stunned, whether you choose to recover him at that point or not. Declining to use the recovery does not dodge the "triggers only once per turn" restriction.

Batarang, Weapon of Choice
Equipment, cost 1
KO Batarang -> Exhaust equipped character. If you do, exhaust target character. Then, at the start of the recovery phase, if you control Batman, you may return Batarang from your KO'd pile to your hand.
You may use this power if the equipped character is already exhausted.

Belial, Archfiend
Character, cost 4
Pay 2 endurance, discard a card -> Put target printed Shadowpact character card with cost 2 or less from your KO’d pile into your front row. Use only once per turn and only during the build phase.
You cannot target the card you are discarding to pay the cost of Belial's payment power, as targets are chosen before costs are paid, so the card will still be in your hand at the time when you must choose a target.

Bouncing Boy, Boing-Boing-Boing
Character, cost 1
Discard Bouncing Boy -> Return target stunned Legionnaires character you control to your hand. At the start of the recovery phase this turn, return Bouncing Boy to your hand if you control a cosmic counter.
The power checks to see if you control a cosmic counter at the start of the recovery phase, not when Bouncing Boy is discarded.

Brain Damage
Plot Twist, cost 2
Choose an opposing character. Ongoing: The chosen character loses all printed names. Flaw: Exhaust the chosen character -> Choose a name. If that character has no names, it gains that name. Use only once per turn.
A character with no names still functions normally in most respects; it can attack, be attacked, and be targeted. It may use its powers which refer to its printed name even when that printed name is lost, as that printed name is understood to stand for "this character". The only major effects of losing all names are that the card's name(s) can't be chosen for any effect, and it cannot be affected by effects that require it to have a certain name.

Children of Darkseid
Plot Twist, cost 3
Play only if you control a Darkseid's Elite character that doesn't have the Anti-Life affiliation. Target opposing character gains the Anti-Life affiliation this turn and loses all other affiliations this turn.
If the targeted character can't gain the Anti-Life affiliation, it still loses all non-Anti-Life affiliations when Children of Darkness resolves.

City Grids
Plot Twist, cost 1
Ongoing: Charge X: Each Gotham Knights character you control can attack hidden and protected characters with cost less than or equal to X.
If a character attacks a defender, and is only able to do so because of City Grids (due to the defender being hidden or protected), the attack is not negated if City Grids leaves play or loses charge counters. Once the attack is legal, legality is not checked again.

Composite Man, Durlan Assassin
Character, cost 4
Reservist. At the start of the combat phase, choose a version Composite Man doesn't have. He gains that version.
Note that the version "Epic" does not have any effect on characters.

Darkseid, The Great Darkness
Character, cost 8
Loyalty. Stunned characters not named Darkseid can't recover. Activate -> Move each Anti-Life character to your front row. Use only during your attack step.
This will also affect your own Anti-Life characters, which must be moved from the support row to the front row when this effect resolves.

Plot Twist, cost 2
Remove any number of different counters from target character or resource.
You may remove any number of counters from the card as long as no two removed counters are of the same type.

Desaad, Dr. Dezard
Character, cost 3
Substitute. Charge X: Activate, Reveal a Darkseid's Elite character card from your hand -> Target stunned character with cost less than or equal to 5 minus X can't be recovered or KO'd this turn and gains the Anti-Life affiliation.
This effect can target a character with a maximum cost of 5 minus X. (For example, while Desaad has 2 charge counters, he can target a character with a cost of 3 or less). If Desaad gains a charge counter between declaration of the target and the resolution of the effect, and the character's cost is now greater than 5 minus X, the target becomes illegal and the effect will be negated when it attempts to resolve.

Dick Grayson <> Nightwing, Posed as Successor
Character, cost 7
Leader: Whenever an adjacent Gotham Knights character with cost X would become stunned, you may remove X charge counters from amongst face-up resources you control. If you do, instead, exhaust that character.
If there aren't enough charge counters on your resources, you can't replace the stun.

God-Killing Bullet, Radion Bullet
Equipment, cost 1
Exhaust God-Killing Bullet -> KO target character if its cost is less than or equal to the cost of equipped character. If you do, KO equipped character.
If God-Killing Bullet is removed from play before its payment power resolves, it will do nothing on resolution. If God-Killing Bullet is transferred before its payment power resolves, it will resolve with all references referring to its new equipped character, and thus, will fail to KO the opposing character if transferred to a character with too small a cost.

Honor Jackson, Good Samaritan
Character, cost 1
You draw cards from the bottom of your deck.
This doesn't affect any other card positions; for example, you still reveal the top four cards for Twist of Fate or Ace Reporter, not the bottom four; and you still rally from the top. This only affects where you draw from.

Investigation of a Deicide
Plot Twist, cost 3
Play only during the draw phase. To play, KO a character you control. Ongoing: A unique character can't enter play under a player's control if that player has controlled a copy of that character this game.
If a card attempts to enter play from another zone and is stopped by Investigation of a Deicide, it remains in the zone it came from. If a character is stopped while attempting to Shift into play, it remains removed from play shifted with any counters it had.

Invisible Kid, Lyle Norg
Character, cost 1
ReservistCosmic. Reveal Invisible Kid from your resource row -> Legionnaires characters you control can't be the target of effects this turn. Use only during the build phase and only if you control three or more cosmic counters.
This power prevents both you and your opponents from targeting your characters.

Simyan, Evil Factory Proprietor
Character, cost 2
Activate, Put a charge counter on a charge character you control with the printed Darkseid's Elite affiliation of an opponent's choice -> Target character gains the Anti-Life affiliation.
When you pay the cost of Simyan's payment power, you must choose an opponent. This opponent chooses a charge character you control, and then you must put a charge counter on it. If you control no charge characters or are otherwise incapable of fulfilling this cost, you may not use this power.

Soldiers of Purgatory, Army
Character, cost 1
Whenever you play a Magic plot twist or equipment card, you may put the top card of your deck into your KO'd pile. If you do, gain 1 endurance.
Soldiers of Purgatory's triggered power triggers when its controller plays a Magic plot twist or a Magic equipment. Equipment is "played" by recruiting it onto a character.

The Lump, Life Without Form
Character, cost 4
Whenever The Lump becomes stunned, you may pay 4 endurance. If you do, equip The Lump to an Anti-Life character and the equipped character has "At the start of the combat phase, KO this character." The Lump is treated as equipment until it leaves play.
After this power resolves, The Lump's card type is treated as Equipment, and it is equipped to an opposing character. The Lump grants the power "At the start of the combat phase, KO this character" to the character it is equipped to. That character is considered to be equipped, and the power will be inactive while the equipped character is stunned, as normal. While The Lump is equipped to a character, it can be targeted by cards as if it had the Equipment card type, so it may be KO'd, transferred, and otherwise affected as an equipment card while it remains equipped to a character. If The Lump attempts to become equipped to a character who cannot be further equipped (for example, a character who cannot be equipped at all, or who already has his maximum number of equipment equipped), it will fail to become equipped on resolution, and will be put into the KO'd pile instead. After The Lump leaves play, its card type once again becomes Character.

Triad, Three in One
Character, cost 1
ReservistCosmic. Reveal Triad from your resource row -> If you control two or less unique characters named Triad, put Triad in your front row and put a card from your hand in your resource row. If you do, Triad becomes a team attacker. Use only if you control a team attacker named Triad.
Note that a deck containing at least one copy of DLS-025 Triad, Non-Unique <> Luornu Durgo can still only have a total of three cards named Triad. You may mix and match the two versions, as long as the total does not exceed 3. If your deck contains only copies of DFC-118 Triad, Three in One, it may contain up to four copies of her as normal.

August 20, 2012

Local Player Update for VS: DFC Released

I was able to pick up our latest set last week: DFC! They look really good, and some of the cards have some great abilities on them. Unfortunately after prepping the images, then taking the day off from work to pick them up, and finally spending hours sorting them all out for the people who supported the set...I don't really want to look at them any more. At least not for a few more days anyway.

The designers of the set have also added some cool text for Bizarro World. You can view all of the historical Bizarro World text here. I'll be posting up the FAQ for the set shortly as well.

A few people have already picked their sets up, but there are still three folks left to do so. I imagine that will occur on Thursday's regular gaming night. As this is the third set we've done, I thought it might be worth letting people know that there are extras available from each of them. Here's a list with descriptions and costs, should you want to augment your collections:

DCU - Single Packs ($1 each, or 6 packs for $5)
MFA - Complete set, 1 copy of each card, 275 cards total ($65 each)
DFC - Complete set, 1 copy of each card, 275 cards total ($65 each)

As I don't generally bring these items to our regular game nights. If you want to get something you'll have to text me in advance, or send me a PM/comment here so that I can bring it with me.

Another Hobby Update: 40k Paired Painting

As I paint more and more of my lead and plastic toys, I continue to be amazed at the great skill I see all over the various boards and blogs dedicated to the hobby. Recently I was trying to put together my Immortals starter box for Hell Dorado. The main character of the faction has a really unique design and as such, has proven a huge pain in the ass to even just put together. It's a lot finer detailed and has smaller parts than I'm used to. But wow what awesome sculpting details! I'm nearly finished, but am quite honestly afraid that he'll break should I even look at it wrong, let alone when I try to pick it up. I really, really should learn to pin things better. However, I do think it'll look great when it's painted... Here's an excellent example I found on James Wappel's blog.

I have no illusions; my figure will look nowhere near that good.

But back to the topic at hand. Long ago when all I owned were copious amounts of 40k miniatures the gf asked if she could try her hand at painting something. After doing a sample model for her she started working on a small batch of ten Ork Boyz...but her interest waned and only three or four of them were gifted with a base coat of paint. But last month she started up again, and has spectacularly finished her first squad of Ork Boyz!
These guys are from the Assault on Black Reach starter box that came out for Warhammer 40k's fifth edition. I did one model as a guide from start to finish to show her the various techniques she'd be using. Once she had her base coated colors on she did some washes on the skin and weapons. She followed this up with little dry brushing on the black then asked for some more help. So I did a little bit of the metallic highlighting on their armor, and a quick dry brush over their weapons and skin. The bases were also done by her. I think they look very good, and she's quite proud of them (as she rightly should be!). On the downside, she has no interest in playing a game with them, even though I've tried to convince her that she should try it. "There's nothing quite like playing a fun, cinematic game with figures you painted yourself," I said. But alas, she's not buying into my marketing scheme!
As for me, I haven't been idle either. In keeping with her painting of Orks I decided to press onward with painting more of my own Space Marine chapter: the Obsidian Fists. I have a back story and a few named characters written up somewhere, and will happily post that up along with some photos when I get my 1000 point army all painted. I think I only have the Devastators and Terminators to finish painting but until then I'll simply share my finished Dreadnaught: Brother Robinius (also from the Assault on Black Reach box).
Not knowing what to paint next I decided to try out a little social experiment to see if people would actually fill out something as goofy as a "What Should I Paint Next?" questionnaire. I created a simple one-question survey using Google Docs and posted a link to it over on LAF. I put several of the items I've had hovering on my to-do list up for vote. Here are the results of my survey:
I'm pretty sure the results are a little skewed by a little quintuple voting as a huge string of votes came in for the winning entry spaced very evenly apart, but that's alright. If someone is dedicated enough to fill the thing out multiple times, who am I to say that it's not allowed? I've got one other model to finish before I get started on the winner, which is ironically enough, also a Pulp City figure.

Until next time.

August 17, 2012

Field Report: SA-120816-RtA

August 16th., 1922

Western Canadian Threshold Agency
Calgary Field Office

ATTN: Director Silver
RE: Case File SA-120816-RtA

The operation was a complete failure. The resistance we encountered was far better trained than we've encountered to date. We were outnumbered and outgunned, and were unable to recover any artifacts. I was able to destroy one of the crates before taking heavy fire myself, but the other three items items in question were lost. Consider them to be in use by evil forces and brief other field teams appropriately.

Additionally, it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you of the loss of Agent Elizabeth Montrose while on assignment pursuant to case file SA-120816-RtA.

I respectfully request that you forward the enclosed personal effects to her family. Also, if possible to do so without revealing too much, please relay my utmost respect and admiration to them. She served heroically in her first two assignments, even saving my own life on one of those occasions. Her death was quick; at the hands of a cultist with obvious skill in long range weaponry who still remains at large. As you know, a swift end is the best one can hope for in our line of work.

I am confident that Agent Montrose had suffered no adverse mental or spiritual damage prior to being lost in action and, as she was following my orders, I accept full responsibility for her death. Her loss will be felt heavily by my team. I know it will be difficult for them, but please consider this letter as formal request for an immediate replacement.

Please be advised that Special Agent Luzifer had recently joined our team and was present for this mission as well. We thought he had been fatally wounded during this operation, but his body seems to have disappeared while we were tending to Agent Montrose. Without clear evidence of his demise or survival I recommend that he be listed is Missing In Action.


Agent Carl Selinger

Operation Photos Attached:

August 13, 2012

Two Strange Aeons Games

I've been meaning to post on these two games for a while, but my desire to upload and link pictures and full reports is rather low. Hence, I'll make this post pretty short.

A few weeks back Brandon, Sebastien and I played a three-player game using one of the search scenarios.  Seb played a 43-point Lurker list Brandon and I put together for him, and we teamed up against it. If I recall there were two mummies, a few cultists, two maniacs and a big scary monster. I want to say Winged Nightmare, but it was a less terrifying winged creature.

We set up a really large board, which in retrospect was to the Threshold's disadvantage. They were to search each of the six areas of the board in order to find some kind of treasure, with the possibility of it being a trap. The first two areas searched by Brandon's team availed us nothing, whereas the second area searched by my team resulted in a nasty poison bite taking the searcher off the table.

Brandon valiantly drew the attention of both maniacs and the big creature.  He was able to take them all down, but at the cost of his entire team being taken down in the process. That left me with the two mummies and a batch of cultists. I took some losses to but was unable to recover the treasure, having to settle instead for killing the rest of the Lurkers.

The toll was high, as Brandon's list disbanded after the death of his character. Mine fared a little better, but my character ended up crippled and has only a single action to spend each round. I was able to recover some scrolls and a map piece, but couldn't even share the spoils with Brandon's team due to their disbanding.

I have a feeling that my team is in dire straights now as well, and their next encounter may be their last. Whenever they're called into action again I think I'll attempt to recruit a special agent to bolster their ranks, and hope that I can score a victory and be able to translate some scrolls. Perhaps a little magic becoming available to my crew can help them survive a little bit longer.

The following week Sebastien and I tried out one of the lovely new boards they've acquired for the shop. He decided to give his earlier list another go (since I killed it on its first outing last time). I wanted a chance to try out some more magical characters and opted for a witch with two extra familiars, and a restless spirit. The ghost was far more useful than I'd anticipated, being able to cause some fear as the Threshold tried to cross the river.

My rolls with the familiars and the witch were almost universally awful though. The only successful spell I was able to cast transported the Threshold leader to the far corner of the board. He shrugged off the possibly-debilitating mental effects and strode bravely back into the fray. Once I'd lost two of my three familiars things were looking bad. With the witch dying shortly thereafter I conceded defeat.

I enjoyed playing with some of the magic spells and think they were quite a bit of fun. The witch profile needs some ranged support though, and I doubt that I'd take extra familiars again in the future. Some cultists would have been far better use of those four points. Perhaps some equipment or maybe an extra spell or two for her instead...

August 10, 2012

More Games That Interest Me

I thought I'd post up some thoughts on some other skirmish or boutique miniature games that strike me as interesting. It could prove quite boring, so feel free to skip this one if you already have enough unpainted lead and plastic on your workbench.

I've found Japanese history interesting since seventh grade social studies. There's something very interesting about it being the lone country in Asia to develop a feudal system resembling that of Europe in near total isolation. Bushido is not a historically accurate game, but rather a game inspired by Japanese history with a lot of fantastic elements from legend and mythology mixed in.

I haven't had a lot of opportunity to look into the game very deeply, but the rule book and character cards are available for download from their website. I really dig when companies do that. It gives me (or you) a chance to proxy up some models and give the thing a few test drives before laying out any cash.

From what I've seen of the models they look very good, and the starter sets seem like a good value. They come with the starting models for the selected faction, as well as a pocket-sized copy of the rules and some dice. If I do decide to splash out some cash for a few starters I'm not sure if I'll be able to get anyone to play this game. However, it would give me an excuse to build some Japanese-themed terrain pieces. I've got plenty of good photo reference after my living there for a few years!

Dark Age
Post apocalyptic religious nut cases, bio-engineered mutants and monsters, cast off dregs of human society and a world that technology left behind...sounds like fun. At least for a gaming setting. When I first heard of this game the interesting thing was that it uses a d20 rather than your ubiquitous d6. Oh, and your goal is to roll as low as possible. Generally speaking my luck with dice is shit, so this sounds right up my alley.

The game itself has been around quite a long time (nearly 10 years from what I gather), but the current Apocalype edition is relatively new. There are five factions, each available in a starter box, and two books (a core rules and a faction book that includes themed army lists for all the factions). The starter rules and cards are for the models are available for free, so one could proxy this game up to test drive too.

I tried organizing some demos with a local player that actually owns the book and some starters, but the plans kept falling through. I like the setting fluff quite a bit though, so I think I'll just try the test drive rules out myself.

Dead Walk Again
A cooperative, skirmish level, multi-player zombie apocalypse rule set. Oh and did I mention that it's free? This set of rules has been created by a pair of guys based in Europe and uses an Action Points system. While it is 28mm in scale, it stood out as being a little different by virtue of measurements being centimeters. The current version is 3rd edition, so it looks like it's been play-tested fairly significantly. On first glance, it looks like a similar feel to the print-and-play board game Zombie Plague, but with a little more meat to it.

In the core rule book there are several tables that one can use to randomize things like searching and zombie appearance, but if rolling on tables isn't your thing they have an interesting card mechanic that can be used as an alternative. There is also a campaign package, and a Left 4 Dead-themed rule mod for those of you who want to try that out.

I'm going to put together some materials for the basic campaign, using the cards and core rules to give everything a test drive. The nice thing about this rule set is that the miniatures don't matter at all. I already have over three dozen modern zombie figures, and can likely round up a half-dozen or so survivor figures. Terrain will have to be made or purchased, but modern terrain can easily be used in multiple game...

One last note: getting the rules can prove a little tricky as you'll have to sign up for the Yahoo group, which may be more work than a lot of folks are interested in doing. I'll post up thoughts on this rule set as soon as I can and let you know if it's worth you taking a closer look at.

Venice in 1600s, magic is somehow seeping into the world, people are going crazy, Dagon-worshipping fish people are rising from the waters, and everything has basically gone to shit. But it's Venice, so let's just keep partying like it's 1699!

The setting for this game is really intriguing, the models look great, the core rules are (once again) free to download, and you have action taking place across canals, market squares and rooftops. Vesper-On has got a great looking rule set here and models to match. Although from the price of the starters, you're definitely going to pay for the fun, at least in the beginning.

One of the things that some folks say detract from the game is the setting. Modeling Venice seems to be a big problem for some folks' imaginations, but I think some WWG Terraclips sets and a little imagination will take you a long way.

Even if I don't play this one, I'll likely try out the rules with proxies. And the Rashaar (that's fishmen to all you Cthulhu Mythos people) starter box will find its way to my house. Those models are great, and I can think of all kinds of things to use them for.

Heavy Gear
I downloaded their full, black and white rule book shortly before Beasts of War ran their Heavy Gear week series. It was interesting due to the fact that it's being produced by a Canadian company, and I do like to support those! Unfortunately, while the models look great, I decided not to bother with this one for two reasons:
1. They're a smaller scale than all the other games I have.
2. It looks crunchy enough that I don't think I could convince anyone else to play.

Pulp City
A super hero skirmish game. I downloaded the free rules quite a while back and have read through it several times.  It sounds a little bit more strategic than SuperSystem, but lacks the facility to create ones own characters. Being restricted to the pre-made characters may be a large enough negative strike on the game that I'll have trouble convincing people to play. On the other hand most of the characters that do exist are quite flavourful, and the sculpts are almost universally excellent!

Last month I was able to acquire a huge allotment of the models for the game (nearly the entire range) as well as the full hard cover rule book. I'll be posting up some images of some of those models as I finish slapping paint on them, so you can expect to see some of those soon.

So that's it for me for today. Nothing to see here...move along.

August 09, 2012

Alpha Flight vs... Cthulhu?!

Well not really, although that is certainly a comic book I would pay to read. Over the weekend I finished several more 'clix conversions and thought I'd share them here. I'll start with the new Alpha Flight guys.




Shaman and Puck were very easy conversions. After removing them from the 'clix bases and gluing them on the 30mm ones I added an ink wash over their existing paint work. Puck required a little bit of touching up of the black on his uniform but that was it.

Guardian required a lot more work. I applied a very dilute grey wash over the white parts of his uniform, followed by a red wash over the rest. The skin on his face required repainting, as did the black lining around his eyes. Finally I touched up the outline of the red on his uniform and transplanted his flight base to a new 30mm size. I decided that the flight bases are worth keeping, as they both raise the figures up more dynamically, and allows indicating flight/grounded without a token in games of SuperSystem.

Since I already had a converted Sasquatch here's a gratuitous shot of the four members so far.

And as I promised, big scary monster time: Cthulhu.

This one turned out alright, but I'm not as happy with it as I'd hoped. I did two green washes on it, some dry brushing and a finishing gloss varnish to get it all shiny. It looks better than the original paint job, but after all the work probably not different enough to really wow me. I think the biggest thing I don't like about it is the base. I had a lot of trouble with it and I don't like the gravel next to the big rocks. I thought about putting some static grass on to cover it up, but decided it would just make it worse.

He'll likely serve as a Winged Nightmare in upcoming games of Strange Aeons.

August 08, 2012

Creating Work Spaces - Making a Wet Palette

I'm not the most experienced painter of miniatures in the world.  Hell I'm not even the most experienced amongst my friends.  Most if not all the people I know who do paint minis are as good as, or better at it than I am.  However, I'm not concerned with that too much.  I simply want to paint my figures to a level of quality that I'm proud to put on the table for a game with.  Also, I'm lazy and don't want to spend hours or even days painting up a single unit that might not even make it across the table intact!

In order to do that one requires paint, brushes, time and patience. I have the first two, the third and fourth tend to come and go over time. Recently I've focused more time into my miniature gaming, and have expanded both my skill and tool sets.  The latest thing I've decided to add is a starter set of War Paints by Army Painter.  These are new to me because they're different from my Games Workshop and P3 paints in one simple but substantial way: this paint comes in dropper bottles.

Unlike the paint pots I already have I can't simply open, stir, dip my brush and start painting.  I need to pour some paint out somewhere first. So I poured a few drops on my dry palette and gave it a shot. One problem became apparent within seconds of trying that however...acrylic paint dries really quickly under a work lamp!  As in less than a minute sort of quickly.

I needed a way to keep the paint moist while I worked with it.  I needed a wet palette.  There are a lot of commercially available wet palettes out there, but I didn't want to invest in something that seemed simple enough, only to decide I didn't like it a short time later.  So here's how I made one for less than four dollars.

Step 1: Find a suitable container
I dug around for something small that would hold water, and had a semi-decent seal that I could open and close easily.  I found this little container in the kitchen drawer.

Step 2: Find (or cut) a sponge to fit inside.
This sponge was from a Hordes model I had put together recently and just happened to be the perfect size.  No cutting, just drop it in.

Step 3: Go to the grocery store and buy some parchment paper.
Since this isn't an item I would usually have around the house I'm going to say that this is the only step that actually cost me money. This huge roll of paper cost me $3.67, including tax.

Step 4: Cut some pieces of parchment paper to fit in your container.
Easy enough to do. In my case I simply measured the sponge and cut a strip of paper the same width, then chopped that into pieces that would fit in the container.  I was able to get five pieces from that single strip although my container is quite small.  I put the extra pieces in a little baggie that used to have penny card sleeves in it. I won't need to cut replacements for at least a month, which means that huge roll of paper will probably last me a LONG time.

Step 5: Soak everything in water and put it in the container.
Wet the sponge and put it in the container.  Pour a little extra water in the bottom so that the sponge will stay wet, but isn't completely submerged.  Wet the parchment paper and put it on top of the sponge.  It might curl on you until it's fully moistened.  You may have to lift a corner and pour a little more water in if it won't lie flat.  Push all the air bubbles out with your fingers and you're finished.

Step 6: Pour and mix your paint, then paint whatever you want.

My palette isn't very big and only has room for about four colours before it starts getting crowded.  For now I imagine that'll be more than enough.  As I gain more experience mixing my own colours I may need to graduate to a larger container.  I'm actually very happy with the container I chose though, because it fits almost perfectly in the spot on my Paint Station that used to have the dry palette.  I couldn't have planned that better if I'd tried!

One last note.  Just to experiment, I painted some items on Saturday and left the remaining paint on the palette with the lid closed.  On Monday morning I was able to just stir it with the tip of my brush and continue using it.  Considering that my container is nowhere near air-tight, I'd say that'll do for my purposes.

August 03, 2012

Creating Work Spaces

For a little over a year I've slowly been renovating my place.  I started by repainting the closets in the master bedroom and then went on to the two bathrooms.  In September I tore out the bedroom carpet and replaced it with laminate flooring, as well as putting up new paint there too.  I'd hoped to get the same done to the living room before Halloween, and was able to do so with a little help from a friend but didn't get the room back together in time to have a party like I had hoped.

Now it's August and I'm still not quite done, although after months of messing about and procrastinating, I finally finished the kitchen and hallway painting in May.  I've only got one room left to paint, but it'll likely be a while until I get to that particular mess.

One of the troubles with being a collector-of-nerdities and practitioner-of-many-hobbies is storage space.  Even though my place is more than big enough for a single person, it's not big enough for said person and all of their assorted junk.  Books, movies, papers, games, miniatures, collectibles and all of that stuff starts to require an ever-growing amount of space.  Time to downsize those collections, most notably the toys!  In addition, trying to work on all of my assorted hobbies in a single work space is simply not feasible.

So in the process of my home re-organization I decided that I would try to create some dedicated work stations for some of my various hobby activities.  After having spent the last few months making terrain and painting miniatures on my dining room table it quickly became apparent that I needed a space to paint.  Ideally that spot would be one where I wouldn't have to endlessly move things from kitchen counter to kitchen table to top of the fridge and back again.  I also wanted to reclaim my dining table and kitchen space for the actual preparation and enjoyment of meals, without worry about plastic and metal shavings, residual glue, flocking or modeling sand becoming an unknown ingredient.

A hobby table was starting to sound really good, but I decided to make it extra complicated by requiring that it could also be used as a space to draw, either digitally or in the good old-fashioned pencil-and-paper way. That meant that the table needed to not only be able to store my paints, brushes and in-progress miniatures but also incline or be able to accommodate an inclined drawing board as well as a laptop and drawing tablet. pressure there.

My first thought was custom building something using modular parts from Ikea.  I even went as far as pricing out and buying some parts to try creating what I needed, but it quickly became apparent that I couldn't do everything I wanted without it either being very expensive or very complicated.  Then we made an impromptu stop at XS Cargo over the Canada Day long weekend, and my problems were solved.  Behold my $20 hobby desk!
Not exactly a stunning work of art I admit, but it serves far better than I could have anticipated.  I'm able to store all of my paints and other less-used materials on the keyboard tray.  They're easily accessible but nicely out of the way.  A simple lamp from Ikea provides enough light to work with and the recently added Citadel Paint Station+ is deceptively useful (even if it did cost more than 3 times what my desk did).  The paint station's smaller footprint forces me to focus on one or two small projects at a time, while also having room to keep the paints I'm using on them close at hand.  The palettes have actually allowed me to try my hand at mixing paints, which I seldom if ever did in the past...but I think now that a wet palette will be the way to go.  The whole thing slides neatly under the rear shelf when I'm not using it, keeping the desk looking relatively uncluttered, and is portable should I want to take my current project out to the kitchen or the deck for a change of location.
All of my basing materials, flocking and extra other bits are stored in a few containers to the right side, which does make them a little less convenient to get into but they're neatly organized and stored, which is a compromise I'll happily make every time.

In regards to drawing, the small back shelf serves double duty as a support for my drawing board, thus giving me the inclined art surface I was seeking. My drawing tools will all be placed off to the right but still within easy reach.  You may ask why they're on the right; it's because I'm left-handed, so rulers, erasers, templates and such are all better placed on the right whereas pencils and brushes live on the left.  I have a small three-drawer cabinet that will be going on the right hand side (where the blue containers in the picture are).  It will give me a little more table space and look better than having containers lying on the floor.

My laptop and Wacom tablet also fit on the desk should I need to do any digital work.  The upper shelf is a little narrow, but is large enough that I'm comfortable putting my MacBook up there while I'm drawing.  The only thing missing here is my scanner, which is connected to my desktop in the other room.  I don't use it that often and didn't feel it necessary to have at this particular workstation.  Scanning something in the other room and sharing it to the laptop is a simple affair and helps keep this work space simple and effective, although I supposed I could put it on the cabinet.  Hm, I wonder if the scanning software will work on my Mac...probably not.

In the future I'll share my 3D animation and recording studio set up with you kind folks...but it's in that room we talked about earlier, and I'd hate to show you that unsightly mess just yet.

August 02, 2012

Comic Movie Musings

Remember back when you were a kid, and you read comic books?  And all the other kids thought you were a nerd, because you read those comic books?  Yeah, me too.  What makes me laugh about that whole thing now is that our current state of affairs in the media amounts to what is essentially a celebration of geek culture.  People are walking about sporting Green Lantern t-shirts, Batman logos on their ball caps, and lining up in droves to see movies based on characters they used to make fun of other people for liking.

My my how the world has changed.

When I was a kid I didn't get picked on much, even though I was a pretty big nerd.  I was of a size that was intimidating enough that I generally got left alone, or made those who attempted the picking on generally regret having done so.  Sadly I know that wasn't the case for others.  But hey, growing up is painful and all that.  And people generally suck, even when they're grownups so, whether you were a nerd then, or are a chic geek now...I say simply like what you like and tell anyone who gives you a hard time about it to go fuck themselves.

Whoa, I'm not sure where that came from...I had intended to write about comic book movies.  Actually I guess my above diatribe is still applicable, because everyone is watching comic movies now.  They're some of, if not THE biggest cash generation engines for the Hollywood movie machine.

So what have we had lately?  Superman Returns, Nolan's Batman trilogy, Green Lantern, Thor, way too many Spider-man movies, Captain America, Thor and Iron Man.  Oh and the Watchmen, 300 and probably a few others I've missed.  And that's all within the last 6 or 7 years.  Roll back 10, 15 or even 20 years and take a look at comic-inspired movies.  There aren't a lot of them, and most of those were pretty damned awful.

I'm not saying everything I just listed has been gold either.  Superman was generally abysmal.  I liked Brandon Routh in the role, but the plot of the movie was shit, and almost everyone else in the movie had zero chemistry.  Why people thought we needed to see Lex Luthor on screen again, or a Kryptonian love child, or Superman as a dead-beat dad / stalker is anyone's guess.

Green Lantern, again...not good.  It had some decent moments, but I think Ryan Reynolds (as good an actor as he is) was seriously miscast in the title role.  I'm a big Green Lantern fan, and even I didn't like the movie.

Most of the recent Marvel stuff has been good, and I enjoyed what they did leading everything into a big Avengers movie.  I know my next statement will probably get large objects (or insults) hurled my way, but I didn't enjoy Avengers.  I don't buy Chris Evans as Captain America, nor do I like Sam Jackson in anything, and while the movie was decent, I didn't care about anything that happened in it.  I'd much rather watch another Thor or Iron Man sequel than see the Avengers on screen again together.  But I'm in a very small majority.

Spiderman...oh boy.  The first one of the last trilogy was actually pretty decent, even if I disliked Kirsten Dunst in every scene she was in.  The Green Goblin's outfit looked like he stole it from the set of a Japanese kids show like Kamen Rider or something, but hey...he was crazy, so why wouldn't he wear green devil-samurai tech-armor?  Then the sequels followed and my brain leaped out the window.  Doc Ock is a shit villain, and the third movie should never be spoken of Marvel rebooted the whole damn thing.

And you know what?  It was good.  It happened way too soon, and didn't really need to happen at all, but it was good.  Emma Stone and that Garfield kid actually had good chemistry and the movie over all was far far better than it had any right to be.  Do I want to see another one with them in it?  No.  But I'm sure there will be another one.  There's too much money to be made otherwise.

Finally that brings me to Batman.  The biggest comic book character to break into movies ever.  And the trilogy put forth by Christopher Nolan and his team has been pretty damn good.  Was it perfect all round?  Not at all.  In fact, I'd say that Christian Bale's rendition of Batman has probably been the weakest part of each movie in that series.  The storytelling and the universe though, they could support a less-than-stellar Batman and make things interesting enough for us to stick around to the end.

According to Nolan, his involvement with the Batman franchise is done.  As it should be.  The story reached a satisfying conclusion and shouldn't be returned to.  There are plot points that could be picked up and run with obviously.  I'd easily pay money to watch a movie about Nightwing starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  However I'd be extremely shocked if it were any good without Nolan's input, and even more shocked if DC / Warner had the intelligence to put it together in the first place.  They certainly don't seem to have the same kind of brain power behind their movie machine that Marvel / Disney does.

I'm looking at the upcoming Superman movie with interest.  There's a lot of story-telling potential to be found with a character like Superman, and I hope they're able to realize some of it.  Were it up to me I'd go with the Death of Superman plotline involving Doomsday, but then killing your title character might be a little too dark...  Building up towards Darkseid appearing in a sequel or maybe JLA film might also be an interesting idea.  We'll have to wait and see though.

So do I have a point?  Not really no.  I just think it's interesting that comic characters, comic-inspired movies, and all their associated stuff are now chic and generate huge cash.  Who would have thought that being a geek would some day equate to any kind coolness?!