November 29, 2012

So...Does This Violate Your Privacy?

Canada Prepares For Crackdown on BitTorrent Movie Pirates -

Have a read over the article and see what you think. I'll wait.

Right, welcome back...I promise I'll be brief.

While I agree that downloading music and movies is illegal, what I don't agree with is ISPs being essentially forced to provide their clients personal information to seemingly whoever asks for it. I don't know the legality of it, but it seems to me that the whole policy could be abused should it be overseen by the wrong people, or perhaps seen just as a way to prop up sagging revenues.

Does the whole thing violate any of the service providers own privacy policies? What about any constitutional rights or laws? What constitutes 'downloading'? Is streaming OK? Is an IP address alone enough to convict someone on?

Drop a comment below and let me know what you think!

November 28, 2012

Just a Progress Post

For the last few weeks I've been trying to decrease the number of items on my painting table, without a lot of success. That's probably because I keep adding more stuff to the backlog than I actually clear off! I've got several pieces of scenery and markers, a 'hero' model for SuperSystem which will also serve in my Nazi Death Cult for Kulten, plus the Lycaon and Vampire starter boxes for Empire of the Dead sitting up there. There are also a ton of primed figures-in-waiting up on top of the fridge (to keep them out of reach from both the cat and curious little-people fingers).

Sunday turned out to be a lazy sleep-in-then-stay-home day, which was pretty nice as they don't seem to happen terribly often. I did a few things around the house that required doing, watched some TV and then continued work on a few things from the miniature projects to-do list.

As you may have seen in my previous post I also received a large batch of stuff for a Stargate project that I've recently got into my head, so first up was a clean-up session for all the Jaffa guards. I sat in the kitchen trying to enjoy what little sunshine we would get for the day while working on these. There wasn't a lot of clean up work required on most of them, which was actually pretty nice as model cleanup is one part of the hobby I don't particularly enjoy. I do fear a little bit about some of the staff weapons, as many of them were bent quite badly while in the package. Bending them back into shape, some of them felt pretty soft, so at some point I expect that a few of them will break. However, with a little over 90 minutes of time I had everything glued to their bases (except for the cannons) and ready for priming. I think I'll try out some Army Painter metal primer to save myself a ton of brush time.

The stargate itself only required a little bit of filing along the inside of the ring. I don't think I'll be able to get it completely smooth and seamless without a little bit of green stuff though. The DHD took less than a minute to construct. All that's left now to clean up are SG-1 and SG-9 squads. I don't expect that to take more than a half hour and will likely do that after rehearsal this evening.

I also spent a little bit of time in and out of my painting chair during the day on Sunday. I'm not sure why, but I just haven't been feeling very inspired when it comes to painting up the Empire of the Dead starters. The figures are top-notch, one-piece sculpts and the game is a lot of fun, but I feel like I'm forcing it a bit. I did get started on the Lycaon faction box though, and they're coming along decently enough. I expect I'll need another two or three hours to complete the base coats. I decided not to stray too much from the reference pictures in the books, going mostly with grey and white clothing and leather shades for boots and belts. I won't finish them this week or next, as I've a conference to attend starting on Sunday.

I stopped in at a game shop after doing some shopping at the mall Monday evening. I had hopes of picking up a can of metallic primer spray. They were out of stock but I was able to pick up a can of Quickshade Soft Tone, which I'm looking forward to trying out and do hope to have better results than what I've had with the inks. I have two ideas for test models; one will be a tactical space marine from my Obsidian Fists chapter for Warhammer 40k who are predominantly painted in GW Mithril Silver  with black and glossy blue trim. The other is an odd color combination I've had in mind for my Necron army for quite a while that I haven't tried out yet. I won't be getting into those projects until mid-December, so stay tuned for that. Although now that I think of it, between work and holiday stuff December might be a difficult month to get much hobby stuff worked through.

And lastly, a few more ork boyz have their first coat of snot green applied. The significant other was working on those while I applied some decals to my latest squad of tactical marines.

November 23, 2012

"Sergeant, Begin Dialling Sequence"

Another box full of unpainted metal goodness showed up at the post office for me yesterday. After getting it home and dumping it all on the table (then cleaning up the resultant mess of green packing peanuts) here's what I found.

What you see there is an assortment of the officially-produced 28mm Stargate miniatures by Phoenix Icons in (or around) 2007 or 2008. I ordered them from Cold War Miniatures in the UK and they arrived two weeks to the day after. They had quick service, nicely packed and shipped, and there was also a friendly little handwritten note inside saying thanks.

In case you can't tell by looking at the full-size image here's a run down of what I picked up:

  • 2x Stargate & DHD
  • 1x Jaffa First Prime
  • 2x Skull-capped Jaffa 4-pack
  • 2x Serpent Guard Jaffa 4-pack
  • 2x Hawk Guard Jaffa 4-pack
  • 2x Jaffa Heavy Cannon w/ gunner
  • 1x SG-1 Team (O'Neill, Teal'c, Jackson, Carter and Mitchell)
  • 1x SG-9 Team (5 generic SGC dudes armed w/ P90s)
In addition, a very kind fellow over on Lead Adventure has sent me a figure to use for my Go'a'uld system lord, which I'm eagerly awaiting. So what the heck am I going to do with all of these you might ask? It's a longish story that I'll try to shorten up a bit in the interest of well, typing less.

Stargate SG-1 was a show that I enjoyed when it was on TV but didn't watch religiously or even regularly. I had enjoyed the original movie a lot, and would catch the show when I could. I knew it ran for a long time and I enjoyed the overall concept, but passing interest was about all I really gave it. Fast forward from 1997~1998 to autumn 2012...the show popped up in my list of recommendations on Netflix, so I thought "what the hell, let's give it another look."

While there are some pretty goofy episodes (what sci-fi series doesn't have those?) overall I've really enjoyed it. I'm down to the last half-dozen episodes of the original series and am over halfway through the first season of Stargate Atlantis. Now, why the gaming/figures?

Since April or May of this year I have been madly working away at various miniature projects. Everything from 1920s pulp horror to superheroes to gothic sci-fi, pretty much whatever catches my fancy. Looking around a short while back for some rules to play 'weird' WW2 stuff someone suggested Ganesha Games fantasy rules. I bought those, liked them, and ended up grabbing a few more of their of which was Flying Lead.

Near the back of that book there are two pages of ideas for doing a "Star Portal" near-future sci-fi series of games. It's very obviously Stargate-without-the-license and just sounded like a ton of fun. I mean, that's part of the beauty of the Stargate, almost anything could be on the other side of that event horizon.

As for the gates/DHDs, I bought two thinking that I could do one in red like the one at Stargate command in the SG-1 series, and another in blue like the Atlantis gate. Even though they were a little pricey I think that plan will work out well. After seeing the figures I do feel it's a bit of a shame that Phoenix Icons didn't continue producing them. The only complaint I had with them was that a lot of the staff weapons were pretty seriously bent from being in the package...but that was easily solved with some hot water and a little bit of careful patience.

Bringing things back around to the actual purchase decision, I think it was simply a confluence of mostly-unrelated events leading up to an idea that sounded like fun. Initially I'll be doing up the Jaffa and planning some games or even a campaign around them getting pummelled by SG-1 and their friends. I'll also be using the Jaffa as cultists in games of Strange Aeons and Kulten; maybe James and I can have a Jaffa vs. Cobra battle royale!

If inspiration stays with me, I can find the models, and people are interested in playing further, I will put together similar armies of figures to represent the Ori and the Wraith. If possible I'd also like to find figures to do up an Atlantis team with McKay, Ronen etc. 

It should be fun, so stay tuned!

November 22, 2012

Hey, You There...

Spent some time this week out and about...gittin' me sum culture! Well, CULTURE depends on your opinion on the matter I suppose.

Sunday night Wes and I headed down to the Palomino Smokehouse to catch Jim Byrnes play some old-time blues and country tunes. I've had the good fortune of seeing Jim play a few times before (which I believe I wrote about on this very blog). The crowd was pretty thin, which was disappointing to me, but didn't seem to phase Jim at all. His regular partner Steve Dawson wasn't able to join him, but the fellow he brought along to help out was no slouch either!

In between sets I made sure to go pick up a copy of Jim's new CD, I Hear The Wind in the Wires, chat with him for a few minutes and get a signature. The show was really entertaining and both Wes and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You can easily see just how much Jim loves what he does when he's on stage, because he's smiling the whole time. I haven't had a chance to sit down with the album and give it a thorough listen, so a review will have to wait.

After the show we went up to chat with him again for a few minutes. He was incredibly gracious and I was able to get a photo with him this time. We really need more people like this guy out there, not just in the music biz, but just in general!

On Tuesday night the gf and I headed out to the the-ay-tah. (Yes you have to say theatre just like that, with the lock-jaw accent, or it just isn't snooty sounding enough...) Anyway, I've had season tickets to Vertigo Mystery Theatre for several years now. They perform five different plays each season, and It Could Any One Of Us was the second show of this season.

I've seen some really excellent plays over the years there such as The Woman in Black and Sweeny Todd, but I will admit to being rather disappointed by their opening show this year (Double Indemnity). However, I was very pleased with It Could Any One Of Us by Alan Ayckbourn. It had some laughs, a good twist and great acting as always. I would actually love to go see this one again, as the ending can change and the killer might be different next time!

If you're looking for an entertaining night out give Vertigo a try. It's cheaper than dinner and a movie, and you'll probably have a lot more fun!

November 15, 2012

Are They Projects or Just...Whatever?

I've always been the kind of person who has too many things on the go. Or at least that's what people often tell me, wondering how I can ever keep it all straight, or finish anything. The truth is that, for me, I need to have all those things happening so that I can keep myself entertained. I almost wrote focused instead of entertained, but even I'm not so self-deluded to think that I possess much in the way of focus when it comes to my hobbies. Obsessive perhaps, but not focused.

You see, I know I have too many hobbies and the reality is that I don't have time for all of them. Nowhere near really, but that's part of the appeal. For some reason, the way my brain is wired, I will zero in on some activity or concept for a length of time, produce some interesting or cool stuff (yep, aren't I modest), and then move on to something else. For the past 6~7 months I've been pretty firmly rooted in working on miniatures and terrain building. However, I regularly spend time each week doing some of the following things in addition to my miniatures: practicing and performing magic, writing music and performing with my band, traditional drawing or 3d modeling/animation, singing and playing drums or piano, practicing Japanese (used to live there), organizing gaming groups at local game shops, going to live events like plays or concerts and writing the odd piece of creative fiction.

I also work a full time job, spend time with my friends and family, serve on several boards, and organize weekly board game nights. So yeah, I'm a busy guy. But really, aren't we all busy these days? We all have a phone / computer in our pocket and are more reachable than ever, so I think that it's important to work on creative endeavours. Even if it keeps me interested for a week or two before I rotate on to something else, I think it's a worthwhile effort.

Now that I've provided some context, let me focus a little bit (at least for a few seconds). I would say that this 'bouncing around' shows itself even within a particular hobby for let's take a look at miniature gaming as an example. I'm currently working on, or have recently finished the following:

- painted another tactical squad for my 40k space marine army (I haven't posted these on the blog yet)
- painted the hero and villain starter boxes for Pulp City
- painted a brand new Snake Worshipper cult for Strange Aeons and Kulten
- built 4 card stock modern city buildings, with another 3 or 4 to do for my planned city board
- primed and based the Werewolf and Vampire starter boxes for Empire of the Dead (they're next up on my painting table)
- ordered a pile of lead and wrote up a full 12-scenario campaign for some Stargate skirmish gaming
- pinning The Lost and Immortals starter boxes for Hell Dorado
- started working on a new (unofficial) scenario campaign for Strange Aeons
- created a 15pt Circle Orboros army list (already primed and based) for Hordes
- worked with manager of my local shop to plan out demos and schedule for two weekly DreadBall league nights

And honestly, that hardly scratches the surface if you consider all the other stuff that I already have waiting on my miniature shelf, have sketched out plans for, or have ordered in the last little while. Most of my other hobbies are similar (which reminds me that I need to sit down for an evening and finish mixing the last three songs of the EP we recorded last winter).

I hold no illusions about it, I know that I'll never finish every idea that pops into my head. That doesn't mean that I won't give it a shot though. So I'll continue being busy, bouncing around from project to project (because that's what I call them), and generally enjoying myself. I don't have deadlines, at least outside of work, so it's on my time, whenever the mood strikes me. Which is what hobbies should be all about.

November 13, 2012

Serpent Worshippers for Strange Aeons and Kulten

Last week Uncle Mike and James made their regular monthly visit to Trilogy, despite the awful weather we were having. I was the only player to show up (which is not unusual), so we ran through a few play test games of Kulten. I was playing with an unpainted army, and these are play test games, so there are no photos...sorry folks.

The first game was a "chance encounter" between my Nazi Death Cult and James' Cobra troopers. I rolled five of my cultists onto the table and James got a measly three. A few bad moves by me allowed James to take out three of my figures, dropping me to below 50% of my starting members and won him the game. In the post-game phase I was able to roll up skills on both of my surviving cultists, which worked out really well for me, and I didn't end up with any lasting or terrible injuries to worry about.

Just a note however, that James' Cobra army/cult is really cool looking. He's done a great job converting all kinds of stuff, and the most recent additions were Destro and the Crimson twins. Great looking stuff. In retrospect I should have at least taken a few good photos of that stuff...

The second game was against Uncle Mike's dudes and we rolled up a fight scenario. My mad scientist created a Blasphemous Construct on my very first roll of the game, which actually isn't as great sounding as one would think. Due to the way the board was laid out, I couldn't really move him into combat without risking him causing fear among my own ranks. Mike misplayed moving one of his two command models into the fight though, and I was able to tie it up with my remaining normal zombie long enough to allow my Dr. Kroene to charge in and take it down. Once that had happened we played a few more rounds before Mike capitulated. He didn't have anything that would be able to take down the construct, and I would be spending move after move trying to chase his guys down.

It's always fun playing against those guys, so thanks again for coming out, and of you folks reading this, don't forget to go pick up the latest expansion for Strange Aeons that came out last month!

After playing a few games of Kulten I got it in my head that I needed another cult list to play with. I'm getting a little tired of playing games with my red and gold garbed guys, even though I think they look great. I thought about finishing off my Nazi Death Cult, but for some reason decided to plough through something entirely different: Serpent Worshippers!

I took a pack of Pulp Figures cultists & altar (sculpted by the amazing and friendly Bob Murch), and a pack of Uncle Mike's serpent men, using them to put together a nice 37 point cult list. I can also run them as a 15 point cult for Strange Aeons if I only use the snake priest. Even though the pictures (as per usual) are not that good, I think the figures turned out great. Here's what I ended up with.

Pointy Sam

Stabby Sam

Hallelujah Sam

Bookish Sam

The Altar of Evil Prayers

Happy Snakeman

Smiley Snakeman

Snakeman Demagogue

(Snake)Men at Work

There are a bunch more photos available on Photobucket here:

Please drop me a comment and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you.

November 12, 2012

Eaten By Zombies On Level 7

I recently picked up two new additions for my gaming shelf and had a chance to try both games out yesterday. The first one is Eaten By Zombies: In Cahoots!. This is a stand-alone box with enough cards to be played as a two-player game, or added in to the core game to expand it up to six players. We played it on its own with two players.

The artwork and card design is the same level and quality as the base game. Thematic, lots of colours and nicely done overall. Unfortunately, also like the base game, In Cahoots! still suffers from rampant spelling, grammar and general editing errors; both in the card text and the included rule sheet. In fact, there is one error on the rule sheet that is SO bad that a new player to the game would end up playing a fight scenario completely wrong. There is also one instance in the rule sheet where the name of the game itself is spelled incorrectly. This kind of poor quality control really shows a lack of care and I personally find it extremely annoying.

The game itself plays exactly the same as the base game, although there are several references to card that don't yet exist (promises of features in upcoming expansions). While I appreciate the forward thinking, I'd have preferred the game cards to reference things only in the current box and the base game. I don't want to look at the FAQ in the rule sheet to find out that half the text on my card doesn't mean anything, for now.

Game play is pretty fast, and everyone has the chance to screw over their opponents by adding zombies to the growing horde. Players must either fight the horde, or escape them in order to scavenge for swag. Once things starts going bad however, it goes very bad very fast. When a player starts losing cards due to attrition they'll likely continue doing so, and quickly end up dead, often through no misplays of their own.

Eaten By Zombies is a game I want to like, and had purchased In Cahoots! in hopes that it might fix some of the things I felt were negatives in the base game. I'm disappointed to say that it doesn't. The rampant typos are a big no-no in any product, and the gameplay is generally disappointing rather than fun. I can only recommend it to the most die-hard of zombie game fans.

Thankfully the second game we played was much more fun!

Level 7 [Escape] is, I believe, the first board game produced by Privateer Press. We read through the rules and set everything up for scenario 1 in the scenario book and played through that scenario a total of four times learning all of the various rules for spawning enemies, conflicts, using skills and playing adrenalin cards. Even though we played the same scenario multiple times we had good fun and enjoyed the experience.

Starting out and getting new players up to speed can be a bit of a slog for this game initially. There are a lot of rules to sift through, and which ones you'll be using changes depending on the scenario being played. However, the game itself is very good. The components are great with top notch art, the theme is baked right into the game and each scenario feels like a different part of a larger story without feeling incomplete.

One thing that may surprise people who are familiar with Privateer Press is that there are no miniatures in this box. All the components are card standees, but the artwork on them is so good that I didn't care. If I had to complain about anything components-wise it's that the main character sheets are a little thin. I'd have preferred to see them made of the same heavy card that all the other pieces are made of, but this is a minor complaint.

A single scenario in Level 7 [Escape] also plays quickly enough that the game can be played multiple times in a session and still remain fresh. I recommend this one for groups that like their co-op games with a dose of stab-you-in-the-back. You will have to work together, but in the end, it's every person for themselves!

I'm looking forward to playing this game again, preferably with a full group of four players, and go through the scenario book from the beginning. I think that it'll make for a great gaming session.

November 05, 2012

Pulp City Starter Boxes Complete

Now I do have to admit that I've strayed a little bit (fine...a LOT) since I put out my "What Should I Paint Next?" survey a few months ago, but I haven't forgotten about the Pulp City starter boxes that were chosen by my readers. Yep, that's right...thanks to all three of you out there that voted!

When I received all my Pulp City figures (and rule book) I was really excited. It was a huge box of toys and the price had been a really, really good deal from a fellow over on Lead Adventure Forums. Unfortunately after going through all the figures I found an even dozen of the models that were supposed to be included were not. The cards for the figures were evidence of that. I was told several times that they had been shipped but as of my last inquiry, over a month ago now, I haven't received anything, nor a response to my email. It's a real shame because Nate seemed like a nice guy. However at this point I feel like something not-quite-right went on and that I'll never receive the rest of the figures I paid for. 

As a result I suggest extreme caution when dealing with Nate (his user name is Napar on LAF). The dozen figures I didn't receive will cost me over $100 to replace, which truly stinks. It makes the deal go from a great one to only a good one, but accompanied with a very large dose of disappointment, and of course a lot of wariness should I be looking to trade online in the future. More than likely I won't be now, simply because of the risk involved.

One of those missing figures is Solar from the heroes starter box. I have plans to order one directly from the Pulp City guys but haven't done so yet. In the meantime however, I was able to finish work on all of the other great sculpts from both the Heroes Starter Box and the Villains Starter Box. Check them out!

Ace of Wraiths

Red Riding Hoodoo & Loup Garou




Overall I'm really happy with how they turned out, although the 'burnt / dead grass' thing I was trying for on Nuke's base didn't turn out. I could probably get it to look right with a quick dry brush of brown now though. I know the pictures aren't that great. I'll have to start using my camera instead of my phone to do this...Oh, and I also took a few pictures of the teams for those of you who are interested! Also there a lot more pictures on my photobucket account here.

Heroes Starter (minus Solar as mentioned above)

Villains Starter

November 02, 2012

Field Report: SA-121031-tDD

Nov 2,  1922

From: Carl Selinger, Commanding Field Agent
To: Director Silver, Calgary Field Office

RE: Case File SA-121031-tDD


All Hallows' Eve conjures up image of ghouls and demons, or dark supernatural forces for most folk. While they are right to be afraid of those things, I'm happy to say that the world is safe little while longer.

Threshold intelligence reports proved correct. As we had suspected a leak from our recent difficulty in keeping our ciphers secure, the false report that we tendered paid off and my team was able to follow the trail. The artifacts that were stolen during our operation on case file SA-120816-RtA were indeed being used to power a nefarious doomsday device.

Our adversaries were obviously hoping to go unnoticed, but vague reports of heavy vehicles and strange sounds from the locals helped us pinpoint a forested area west of Calgary near the hamlet of Cremona, Alta. As twilight began to take hold my team found this device and took action to ensure its destruction.

I sent Mr. Daniels ahead to see to its deactivation while Mr. MacIntyre and I provide cover on his right flank. Mr. McDermott and the Professor went around to the left side. The device was guarded primarily of lower cult members, and proved little challenge when we engaged them.

Armitage proved a handy shot, dispatching one minion with his .45. It also appears the fellow is not so old as he might appear, as he quickly moved in to dispatch another cultist by slitting his throat up close. As I had suspected, he's made of stern stuff and I'm glad to have him. Mr. McDermott fell behind when clipped by errant gunfire, but I'm happy to report that he remains unharmed.

We caught a glimpse of the cult leader hiding behind their supply shed, but he was beyond the range of our weaponry. Mr. Daniels was occupied in disarming the device, which had already been activated and was counting down rapidly. However it seems the cultists were not alone. I spied a fellow wearing a white skull mask dressed in dark clothes sneaking up on Agent Daniels, which spurred me into action! I'm uncertain how I managed it with my injuries, but perhaps the lucky idol I've been carrying helped my heroics. Running out from behind my vantage point I gained a clear shot and unloaded both barrels into the skull-mask and he crashed to the forest floor without a sound.

With the loss of the cultist's leader it was a simple matter of clearing the area and deactivating the device. However, Daniels tells me that we hadn't much time to spare as the countdown was into its final minute. We averted disaster on a grand scale, but only narrowly!

We've notified the research division of the location so that they might start analyzing the device and see if there's anything we can use to our advantage.

I'm uncertain how but it seems that the skull-masked man survived and has escaped. I also believe that he may be the source of our leaked information, as the bootprints we found match those of standard Threshold issue. Director, we have a traitor in our midst; we simply must find out who it is, and soon! Be wary.


Carl Selinger