September 26, 2013

SuperSystem - Legion of Super Villains

More Heroclix conversions here. While looking through the figures I'd already converted, I realized that my character selection to date pretty much amounted to Alpha Flight exclusively. I've painted a few Pulp City models (heroes and villains starter boxes) from scratch, but no villains from either the Marvel or DC Comics universes. I decided that needed to be remedied.

I dug through my copious amount of Heroclix figures to find some interesting characters, not necessarily the best models, just characters that I thought would be fun to play with in games using SuperSystem rules. The three I chose were Lightning Lord, Cosmic King and Saturn Queen, because I want to start on a Legion of Superheroes batch soon and they will need villains to battle.

The sculpts on the figures are pretty good, and the paint work is actually decent, especially when you consider that they're mass produced. As usual I applied some washes to the figures, and this time also did some touching up and highlighting afterward. The faces are, like most of the clix, not great.

So here they are:

Cosmic King

Saturn Queen

Lightning Lord

The individual photos didn't turn out that great, but I think they actually look quite good on the table. See, they're literally on a table!

September 16, 2013

Zuzzy mats - badlands scheme test

Last summer my gf ordered some Zuzzy mats for me for my birthday. The challenges I faced in actually getting them delivered to me have been well documented in various places on the internet already, so I'll simply reiterate: don't order from Zuzzy. They have awful customer service, which is a shame because their products are really quite nice.

Ok on to the real stuff. When I did receive my items, also included in the package were several sample mats. They're not big enough to game on, but serve well as test pieces for trying out the techniques and colours for painting your large size game mats. I had tried doing a winter-themed test on one of the very small pieces I also received and had been unhappy with the results.

So I decided to try out a desert kind of theme on one of the larger sample pieces. I've got two of these large mats and want to do one up for western or post-apocalyptic types of games. Yellows, browns, greys etc. Here's what I ended up with.

I'm using various craft acrylics from Michael's on these, since painting them with miniature paints would cost a small fortune. I started out with a yellow/cream mix to dapple over top of the grey of the mat material, which was followed up by a brown wash over the entire piece.

After letting the was dry over night I mixed up a light grey colour to cover some of the flatter patches, aiming for a dry mud or cracked earth kind of feel. The dirt I mixed another batch of the yellow/cream and dry brushed on the spots that looked like sand. On top of that I used an off-white to pick up the highest spots.

Finally I went over some of the spots that would be rocks with another light grey to pick out those areas. It's not quite as desert-feeling as I'd like, but I'm actually ok with the results as they are. In retrospect, what I ended up with looks much more like the badlands I had in my mind. We were recently out in Drumheller so I had probably catalogued their look more than I'd realized. If I added some more rust / red colours it'd be almost perfect, but I think I'll probably follow a very similar patter to this when I paint the large mat.

September 07, 2013

Obsidian Fists (40k) - Second Tactical Squad Complete

My space marine chapter The Obsidian Fists are getting close to a strength of 1000 points. Most of the figures in my army come from the 4th and 5th edition starter boxes. The only real addition to those I've made are a chaplain and a devastator squad for heavy support. I also have the 6th edition starter box, but rather than doing Dark Angels I'll probably add them into my Obsidian Fists. It seems silly to start another space marine army...I have plenty of other models for other armies that I could and should work on instead.

Regardless of what I do with the Dark Angels, I just picked up two drop pods for less than 50% of retail. Those additions would push my roster up to 1500 points without too much trouble.

I'm only interested in having forces of around 1500 points or less, because I find anything much bigger than that to be a) WAY too expensive to collect, especially with GW's current prices, and b) cause the game to be longer than I enjoy. Games of around 1500 points just seem to be the 40k sweet spot for me...but that sadly precludes me from taking any allies unless I'm playing friendly games. Oh wait, that's exactly what I intend to do, so I'll just carry on doing whatever the hell I want!

Here's my second tactical squad.

The colours I used are simple. Black primer followed by GW mithril silver for the armor and Testors gloss blue for the contrast armour colour. I used GW Shining Gold and some Gore Red for interest colours and the odd splash of Bleached Bone and Gorthor Brown for pouches and purity seals. The whole thing was followed up with a wash of Badab Black. No highlighting was done on this squad.

September 05, 2013

Uncharacteristic Rant: Git

Recently we made the change from SVN to Git for source control in my software development team. We've all been using SVN for years and, while not without its own serious flaws, it works. Managing the archive and access to it is simple, and people can easily check out and contribute with a minimum or effort and training. Yes, they can screw things up, but that's what source control is cover your ass when you've left it hanging out in the wind.

While SVN does require you to pay for the Visual add-in for Visual Studio, that's not so bad. I can see which files I've changed within my dev environment at a glance. Git does not have this feature, but it's not a deal breaker. I can live without this nicety.

Now we have Git in place and holy christ if it isn't the most convoluted and arcane piece of ... software I've ever had the misfortune of using. As someone who grew up with DOS and UNIX command line operating systems, that's saying something.

So I want to check something out from the repository. That's pretty straightforward. I can clone it. Wait "clone"? Yup that's right, not check-out. Now each of my check-ins, er I mean commits is actually local. Strange, but how do I get my number commits back to the actual server? Now things get tricky.

Different terminology and work flow. That'll take some getting used to, but it's not insurmountable. Or so I think, while trying for the fifth time to get my changes merged into my local test branch, and finally up to the live test spot.

"Rebase, fetch, merge, push, pull, fuck you developer guy!" says Git to me. "You will dance to my tune or ELSE all your hard work will be destroyed. Safe history is all an illusion! Your code will commit, if you've put your dash in the right place. No simple context menus for you! Mwahaha!"  So I bow down to the evil overlord who holds sway over my work's safety. I do as he asks and successfully complete the mystical ritual. My code is safe, right? Sure, if no one else has gone in and caused some kind of cluster-fuck with the repo while you were working on your own stuff.

Am I saying Git is a bad thing top to bottom? No I'm not. It's a powerful tool with lots of good features. The main complaint I have is that it takes a concept that is relatively simple at its core and complicates it to the nth degree without giving me, the developer, any real benefits. Managing my code has become a morass of command line incantations, rather than the few clicks and simple visual feedback that it used to be.

Maybe I'm just getting old and can't grasp the 'simple elegance' that is Git. But I doubt it. I've designed user interfaces for dozens of complicated systems, and the implementation, documentation and user friendliness of Git could sure use a few metric tons of improvement. Just because it's made for developers doesn't mean I should have to use a text console and enter lines of nonsense to do my work and commit my code.

A task that should be so simple, shouldn't be so damned difficult to accomplish.

I'm stuck with it now, but every time I have to use it I'll be silently thinking in the back of my mind..."Fuck you Git," praying it doesn't hear me and will actually do what I want.

Please bow your heads and join me in a prayer for the safety of my code.

September 03, 2013

Prepare to be Boarded

Needing a break from my painting table the past few weeks, I've been playing (and buying) more board and card games recently. These won't be in-depth reviews, just what I played and what I thought of it. There are plenty of reviews available online for all of these games.

First up is Lords of Waterdeep. I'd looked at the game several times in Chapters/Indigo thinking that the box was unique, and pretty spiffy looking too. It's essentially a Eurogame with coloured cubes and meeples. The artwork, box insert and components (cards, tokens, etc...) are fantastic. The game looks great from the minute you open the box. I've only played it once, as a five player game and I thought it was simple, but excellent.

The theme is sort of just there, and if you play with people who aren't interested in the DnD theme it can be largely ignored. That's how our game went, and personally, I'd rather try to embrace the theme a little more. I think the game would be a lot more fun if all the cubes are referred to by the players as the proper adventurers (warrior, cleric...). Say you're sending an agent to the harbour to stir up trouble, or tell us about the quest you're sending your adventurers on.

There's an expansion just recently released too, and I really want to buy it even though I've only played the base game once!

Escape the Curse of the Temple is another new game in my collection. A real-time game, and it's cooperative too. I blame my purchase of this game on the hilarious folks over and Shut Up and Sit Down. This was another one where I had picked up the box to look at a few times, but in this case I always promptly put it down. The art on the front isn't very good, and the box contents don't look that amazing.

However! This game is simply a riot. The price tag seems high when you buy it, but there is a ton of stuff in this box. You'll start out with the basic game tiles, and then start adding in curses and treasures. I also added a promo "The Pit" to my original purchase, but have yet to include it in a game. Escape truly is real-time; you play for 10 minutes to an included CD soundtrack that does a fantastic job of being both thematic and stressful. It makes you feel hurried and rushed, which makes the game even more fun.

This one has been played TEN times in the past week, which is the highest recommendation I can give it. Sure it's only ten minutes each play, but it's a tense and fun ten minutes every time! There's an expansion for this game as well, and you can be damn sure I'm going to buy it ASAP.

The same day that I bought Escape, I also purchased Pandemic: In the Lab. Unfortunately I didn't read the back close enough, and didn't realize that I also need to have Pandemic: On the Brink in order to play it. So this one is still in the shrink wrap for now.

A small box game from Matagot (same folks that made the excellent Cyclades) that I bought on a whim was Room 25. The premise is pretty much the movie "The Cube". I've tried the game solo and as a four player game. There are no dice, and no cards in this game. It can be played solo up to six players, and with four to six players can also include a "guard" (or two) who secretly try to prevent the others from escaping the maze.

The tiles and components are quite nice and the game itself is pretty fun. The action choices each turn are limited, which makes choosing what to do each round difficult. I was able to play it twice, once solo and once with four players. The game is good (and chaotic), but I think it would really shine with five or six players. Communication between players is important to get out in time, and also the enhance the traitor-among-us vibe.

There are nice miniatures in the box too. One of mine had suffered a broken arm, but that was easily fixed with some glue. I'll likely be painting these figures at some point.

The Kickstarter campaign for Incursion 2nd edition finished up over the weekend. I had considered buying the original edition about a year ago but had opted not to, and boy am I glad I waited. Early on in the campaign I had gone in for "Buckets of Blood." Mid-way through I started wondering if I should lower or cancel my pledge but decided to stay with it. During the last few days things went gangbusters and they hit all of their stretches.

Although it won't be shipping until spring of next year, I'm quite excited to see it arrive. Yes, more plastic WW2 figures / Nazombies, but I'll probably start playing the game long before (if ever) the figures hit my painting table.

Last up is Star Trek: Attack Wing. Yes, WizKids new game based on Star Trek. This uses a modified version of the game engine from X-Wing: Attack Wing, but with capitol ships rather than fighters. I've never played X-Wing, but seen it played and thought it looked a lot of fun. The downside to X-Wing was simply that I'm not a huge SW fan. I like the universe, but am not gaga over it by any means.

When I heard about ST:AW however I was instantly interested. Miniatures? Check. Missions/scenarios based on the TV and movies? Check. Options for crew and captain complements for my ships? Check. TOS, TNG, DS9 characters and ships all available? Check, check and check.

Now the paint work on the minis isn't great, and in some cases neither are the sculpts themselves, but after our first game I can certainly say that it feels like starships battling it out in space. Or rather, in Star Trek space. I picked up almost all of the expansion ships except for one, but have only played with the Klingon and Romulan ships from the starter box. We only played a single ship each, which was a little slow, but still good fun. I could immediately see how each player having two or three ships each could make for some thrilling games.

 Now if only I could find the Enterprise expansion...I need Kirk and Spock and help me rescue the Kobayashi Maru!

*None of the images above are mine, I was too busy playing games to take photos. Thanks to all the folks who posted photos for Google to find. :)