May 30, 2013

Sedition Wars: Figure Construction Complete

Well it's taken me a while to get to this point but I'm almost finished constructing all the figures from my Biohazard level pledge for Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster. This is pretty much double the amount of figures (discounting the character heroes) that you would get in the packaged game.

I'll put up a picture of each of the different sculpts and give you my quick thoughts on the models. I won't be going into the game play or rules for each, as I've only had a chance to play the game once. That game was played using the first edition rules, not the new rules that were released by Studio McVey some time last week.

The Strain

The fat hunchbacked phase 1 revenants are decent looking figures and were simple to put together. Due to the way they're posed however, there wasn't much opportunity to repose them without significant effort. Effort I wasn't interested in putting in.

More fat phase 1 revenants. I prefer this more upright pose of these over the hunchbacked guys. Again they're pretty beefy so the only posing opportunities available were in bending the right 'arm' around a bit. I may have done this on one or two of them.

These are also phase 1 revenants (I think they're all the same in game terms / abilities). They are definitely the most zombie-like in appearance and are probably my favorite strain figures. Being a little thinner I was able to make some slight twists and bends in the poses, but any real differentiation between the figures will have to come from the paint I apply to them.

Phase 2 Stalkers. These ones sort of remind me of some creature half-remembered out of one of the Dark Tower novels by Stephen King. They look vaguely bird-like to me, and I was able to bend them around a little bit for a touch of variety.

Phase 3 Quasimodos. Nice and hefty support for the strain side, but the way the left arm is sculpted directly into the body and the other hand on the ground means it's impossible to repose them. I saw an excellent customization on the forums with a fully sculpted left arm, but again, way more effort than I'm willing to put into my game models.

The phase 4 Scythe Witches are a close runner-up for 'cool factor' after the zombie phase 1 figures. She was also the easiest figure in the box to give different poses to. The one did sort of end up looking like a demonic fencer but I'm alright with that. I think these ones will look very cool with some paint, but the long pointy claw thing will likely cause some nightmares on the table due to invading other figure's spaces.

The brimstones model is tied for my least favorite strain figure sculpt. They simply look like big spiky dogs with cannons growing out of their chests. I also think the pose it a little static and, now that I look at the photos, rather like they're squatting for a shit.

The grendlr and chtonian models are constructed but I haven't attached them to bases yet because it will make them more difficult to paint. I actually think the cthonian figure looks rather spindly to be the biggest, scariest monster in the game in terms of cards/abilities. It was also extremely difficult to pose without looking like a cardboard cutout. I think one of the cthonians will turn out ok, but I'm concerned that the other will look like it is tipping over drunk when I finally do attach it to the base.

The Vanguard

The Samaritan troopers are definitely the core of the Vanguard forces in the game. They come in three different varieties, the most numerous being the standard male trooper. I built these first and in retrospect wish I had spent a little bit of time trying to re-position some of their legs. By altering the way I glued their feet down I did get a little variety, but it's still nine of the exact same figure.

More Samaritan troopers, but these girls are going without their helmets. The pose is a little better than the male trooper, and I like them a little better because of it. However I do question going into battle without a helmet! Maybe they're just trying to prove how tough they are.

With another five female Samaritans, the basic male troopers are actually outnumbered eleven to nine. This pose is very similar to the other female pose, but is a little more static. I had to spend some time scraping mold lines off of all the troopers where it passed over visors or smooth plates in the armor. Rather than risk cutting detail off in other places, I left the lines in most spots where it went across details. Some figures were worse than others, but after some paint I'm pretty sure it won't really make much of a difference.

One note about the core troopers is that they all came in two pieces. The guns were a pain to glue on as the joint at the right shoulder didn't match up smoothly on almost any of them. I did some trimming where I could, but most of them should probably be touched up with some green stuff. I'll likely not be doing that for mine.

The glue I was using wasn't helpful either, as it's the quick drying liquid superglue and it tended to run off of the contact points before I lined up the parts. I'm a little concerned that the glue will obscure some of the detail after I start painting, but sadly there's nothing I can do about it now.

Samaritan Grenadiers are the same as the female trooper bodies but with different guns. One of mine is helmet-less, which makes them different without any reposing at all.

I quite like the guns on the Samaritan Lancers. They look like miniature flamethrowers...but if that's the case they should probably all be wearing helmets. Oops.

The Samaritan Reavers are the heavy gunners among the regular troops. These are a different body from the male troopers, and are the only male troops not wearing helmets. I really dig the gun sculpt, but I'm very glad I'm not the one who has to haul it around. Damn thing looks heavy!

Not much to say about the Hurley robots. They're not bad looking, if a little generic sci-fi. They should be really quick and easy to paint.

The special resin cast Kara model is the only Vanguard figure I haven't put together yet. Barker is complete except for his weapon. I'm trying to decide if I should glue one of the weapons on permanently or not. They both fit tightly enough that I think I could paint them both separately and just push the one that I want to use on for the game. It is rather odd that his knee pad was a completely separate component...

And finally that gets us to the hero models. Akosha, Morgan and Kara were all very easy to put together and I didn't have to worry too much about mold lines. I did get a little too much glue on Kara and I'm hoping that she'll still turn out alright despite that.

Overall Thoughts

I think the figures are great in terms of detail and cast quality, and there ARE a lot of them. The sculpted bases are also a nice touch. The sheer number of figures I received was also a good deal, but for the game is probably overkill. An instruction sheet or guide for how to put them together (ie: which part goes with which figure) should definitely have been included in the box. I do wish that there were more variety in the strain and samaritan troops but I do understand why they didn't include them.

Now that everything is put together I'll be trying out a few games, but I'll be using the original rules until my second shipment arrives. While I do have the new rule book I don't yet have the updated cards, which are to be included with the second wave of stuff.

I'm in no rush to paint this game but I'm sure I will some day. Again...there's supposed to be a painting DVD included with the second shipment and I want to watch that first. I'm sure I could do a decent job without it, but since it's part of the whole package I might as well make use of it.

What About Storage?

You'd think with all those models that there is no way to get them all back in the box after they're put together. That's what I thought too, but we were both wrong.

If you take the black insert out of the box you'll find two white, cardboard supports underneath. I removed those and cut along the seam where they were glued together. By adding a little bit of cardboard on the ends of them (scissors, tape and 10 minutes of time) I was able to create two storage boxes for all of the figures. A rubber band on each end to hold them closed and I was all finished. The models will rattle around a little bit if you don't add some dividers, but I'll leave that for you to decide.

In order to access the boxes more easily I cut away some of the black insert so that it just lies on top of the boxes. It still looks the same as before, with the added bonus of all the components fitting in the box with no problem. There is still plenty of room in the center of the box, and I'm hopeful that the terrain pack will fit nicely there.


Thundercats! Hoooooooooo!

Back in November I was out shopping for Christmas gifts and found several of the rebooted Thundercats toys from Bandai on clearance at Giant Tiger, a discount chain which has now gone out of business. My oldest nephew is just about the right age for them I thought, so I picked up four figures and a Thundertank for a modest $20. A few weeks later he was happily helping the Thundercats put the run on Mumm-Ra amidst the detritus of Christmas wrapping paper, boxes and relatives recovering from turkey dinner. I was simply amazed at how much he loved these toys. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, because I really loved Thundercats as a kid too.

The younger of the two was also enamoured with them, most notably Snarf and the sidecar launching feature of the Thundertank. Grandpa couldn't reconnect the sidecars quickly enough!

A few weeks later I had largely forgotten about the toys, until walking through a London Drugs in search of an eye dropper for my painting table. I happened upon a little box of chibi-style T-Cats figs that I thought would make a nice little gift for my younger nephew, so that he could have his own set to play with. I grabbed those and continued on my search for the eye-dropper, until I rounded a corner and happened upon the Christmas clearance toys.

They had a nearly-full assortment of the 4" basic figures, as well as the Tower of Omens play set on sale for $1 and $5 each, respectively. There were two towers there, so I bought one for the boys and I simply couldn't resist and had to pick up some for myself. I've saved the Tower play set for the next time the kids visit. Six figures and a massive play set for myself though, all for $11, score!

Now that I had the start of a collection I had to finish it off. I picked up a 6" Lion-O and Mumm-Ra a few days later, because $3 each was too damn cheap not to. Sadly, I couldn't track down much of the rest of the 4" line locally and had to resort to higher online prices (and shipping) in order to complete my set. Apparently $1 toys sell rather quickly, who would have thought!?

Mumm-Ra in mummy form, Panthro and the Thundertank cost me another $50 from Big Bad Toy Store, with about 40% of that being shipping costs. I found Mumm-Ra's Storm Charger locally at Winners for $5. Don't worry, the kids got one to share too, along with the chibi-cats I mentioned earlier (I still have the Tower, but plan on giving it to them soon). Wilykat was obtained via eBay for $9, and Grune the Warrior and the Lizard Cannon w/ Lizard figure cost another $55, including the shipping from ToyWiz (great store, but ridiculous shipping costs). I had briefly considered buying the Armor of Omens as well, but with no nostalgic-appeal, I passed on that.

In retrospect I wish I had bought all of these back at Giant Tiger back in November because they were almost all available and the whole batch would have been much cheaper. Of course I was thinking gifts for the kids not toys for myself, as I have largely given up collecting toys and been concentrating more on 28~32mm miniatures. I guess those are just small toys for big people though! However, now that I've acquired all of these, I do feel it's rather a shame that the line and new show was cancelled after only a single season. The cartoon was quite fun, and I'd have liked to see a second season.

I have been unable to find a deluxe Slithe figure so far, as apparently that one was extremely difficult to come by in retail at the end of the toy line.

May 29, 2013

More New Toys Received

Whew, two more boxes of figures arrived in the mail last week. I had some travel plans for the weekend and thus didn't have a chance to really have a look at everything until now.

First up is my second and final package from the Freebooter's Fate - Legends campaign on IndieGoGo. I received 17 figures, each with a square plastic base, character card (actually two or more cards in both German and English), and a sculpted integral base that fits into the plastic one. A few of the character's names changed from the time of the campaign to release, but it only took me a few moments to figure out who was who.

The first package that I received back around Christmas included the rule book, game cards and a starter box. I'm quite looking forward to putting together a bunch of these figures. Several of the 'legends' figures come with extra components like alternate heads and arms with which to class them up. Likely I'll start with two of the starter boxes and add a couple of faction-specific legends to add some more variety.

The second box was my Dreadball season 2 stuff from Mantic. I've really enjoyed playing this game and the prospect of adding four new teams is really exciting. The striker pledge really was a good deal. I'll be looking forward to the stuff from their DeadZone campaign later this year too. Let's focus on Dreadball though...I received six teams (2 Female Corporation, 1 Robot, 2 Judwan and 1 Z'zor team), plus all of the season 2 MVPs. I didn't buy any cheerleaders or coaches, but I don't see using them anyway, and that's being hopeful that I can even get a second league running.

It'll take a little while before I get all of these put together. I haven't even started on the Freebooter's Fate starter boxes I already have, and I have several figures left to construct for Sedition Wars as well. Maybe I need to stay home on a few rainy nights and just hammer through all these things. Hey that might actually's supposed to rain straight on thru Sunday!

Oh I forgot that I also received the last few figures from my Carnevale pledge back in April as well. Into the storage box they go. I still have those four starter boxes I put together a few months ago to paint!

New toys, new fun. Where to start...?

May 23, 2013

A Quick Diversion: D&D Character Quiz

The other day I had a post pop up in my reading list from Matt. He'd done a survey that determines what kind of fantasy D&D character you would be. If you want to fill it out for yourself it's here: Give yourself a few minutes to answer all the questions, it's longer than you might expect.

Interestingly enough, I've actually never played D&D, but I thought the exercise itself was rather interesting. Do I lean towards honour or evil, order or chaos? Can some random test written by another nerd on the internet help me answer these gripping questions...?

Here are the results from my survey.

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Ranger (4th Level)

Ability Scores:

Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Detailed Results:

Chaotic Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (15)
Lawful Neutral -- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (19)
True Neutral ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (19)
Chaotic Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Lawful Evil ----- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Neutral Evil ---- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Chaotic Evil ---- XXXXXX (6)

Law & Chaos:
Law ----- XXXXXXXXX (9)
Neutral - XXXXXXXXX (9)
Chaos --- XXX (3)

Good & Evil:
Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Neutral - XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Evil ---- XXX (3)

Human ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Dwarf ---- XXXXXXXX (8)
Elf ------ XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Gnome ---- XXXXXX (6)
Halfling - XXXXXX (6)
Half-Elf - XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
Half-Orc - XXXXXX (6)

Barbarian - (-6)
Bard ------ XX (2)
Cleric ---- (-8)
Druid ----- XX (2)
Fighter --- (-2)
Monk ------ (-21)
Paladin --- (-21)
Ranger ---- XXXXXX (6)
Rogue ----- XX (2)
Sorcerer -- (0)
Wizard ---- XXXX (4)

May 15, 2013

End of an Era: VS System

Ah VS second TCG dalliance; a dalliance that turned into my first and only true TCG love.

I was able to start and maintain a solid player group for over five years here, three years of which were after Upper Deck 'cancelled' the game. I put together printing for three fan sets after that, all of which were great fun and kept us playing for quite a while. We played bi-weekly or even weekly for most of that time, depending on the season of the year and it was almost always great fun.

However, last weekend I started boxing up all of my VS System cards. It has been a large part of my gaming life for almost a decade, but since we stopped playing last year I have hardly played. All of my sets were sleeved in 9-up clear card sheets, one binder per set. They looked really nice organized that way and specific cards were always easy to find when I was making a deck. After a year of dis-use though, I realized that it was finally time to move on.

So far I've taken apart all of my decks, sorted all of those cards into their respective sets, and begun emptying binders into card boxes. I'm only about a third of the way through the process. When I'm all finished the cards will still be nicely sorted, but will take up quite a bit less space. It's unlikely that I'll ever get rid of them entirely, because it truly was a great game...ruined by a company lacking vision.

Thanks to everyone who helped keep the game going locally, and online. A lot of good times were had due to this game, and I appreciate that!

For those folks who still want to keep tabs on the fan community there is a great community at that can help you keep the game alive with new fan sets, deck building ideas, trading, forums and more.

"Darkseid attacks Hellboy, fires Omega Beams after his Acrobatic Dodge, and then burns him in the fire pits of Apokalypse for trying to eat Pancakes during the fight. The Mandarin's Rings fall from Hellboy's dead hands. Darkseid wins."

Ah good times...

May 14, 2013

More New Games: Pulp Alley and Operation Squad WW2

I don't need more rule sets, and yet, I seem to continue purchasing them. Truthfully, the same could be said about board games and miniatures as well. Perhaps is a curse of my personality that drives me to continue acquiring these items. As I mentioned yesterday my board game collection grew in number recently. All of those games are fun and I'm glad I picked them up; it's far easier to get a board game (although if you want to be specific most of those are card games) on the table than it is for a miniature game.

Most miniature games require fairly specific figures to be used. This can be determined by the time period and/or genre the game is set in, as well as the specificity of the model requirements. Games like Mutants and Death Ray Guns don't ask that your model's weaponry match the weapons it possesses on its profile. Others recommend, and some require, that their equipment be easily visible and a direct representation of their profile in game. Lastly are the games that require you to use specific miniatures and their profile cards. All of these have their merits, and all mean that there's work to be done.

For example, I want to play a game using the Dead Walk Again rules that are available for free download. Some survivor figures and zombies are all that one would need, in addition to a table with terrain to play on. Zombie figures are relatively easy to come by, and equipment is tracked on paper for the survivors. Pillaging some old boxes of Horrorclix or board games like Last Night on Earth would easily provide you with the figures necessary to play a game.

The other end of the spectrum would be a game like Bushido or Hell Dorado, which provide character cards to be used with figures produced by the game publisher. Each of these has exquisite looking models, unique settings and good rules. They will cost you not only the $50 - $100 for those items, but also an investment in time to put them together and paint them. In some cases you'll also want to create some setting or theme-specific scenery to go along with it.

So what does this have to do with the title of my article? Well the last two sets of rules I bought were those games.

Pulp Alley had received some really great reviews and comments over on the LAF forums. I have a fair number of figures that will easily fit into "leagues" for the game and I also wanted to support the game's creators. An hour or so after I placed my order I received a copy of the rules in PDF. Less than a week later the printed rule book and game cards arrived in my mailbox.

I haven't played the game yet but I think it sounds like a lot of fun, especially in a multi-player setting. I'm really looking forward to trying it out, and not having to paint new figures specifically for the game makes it quite appealing.

I haven't been able to take photos of my own stuff, so thanks to the folks over on DakkaDakka for the great pictures.

Operation Squad WW2 was something I grabbed at the same time as Swatters, from Ganesha Games. It's not a Ganesha product however, and does not use the same system as most of their games. I had been looking at Bolt Action for doing some straight-up World War 2 gaming, but didn't like the number of models that were required for it. It looked something akin to a small sized game of 40k. Operation Squad is a squad-level skirmish game where each player controls 8 to 12 figures, and maybe a vehicle.

The small number of figures required means it's a lot more likely I'll be able to create squads in a reasonable amount of time. In fact, I found two boxes of 1/48 WW2 figures from Tamiya that will work extremely well to get me started.

I also picked up the Vehicles! and Reinforcements rules expansions, also in PDF. For all the books plus my two squads of figures, I've invested approximately $60, which is less than an average board game. There are also plenty of free squad lists on the publisher website; Japanese, Italian, French, as well as lots of partisans.

Granted it will take me some time to put together my models and paint them, but a dozen figures in army uniforms really shouldn't be a huge challenge. There doesn't seem to be a campaign system of any kind after my first glance but based on the subject matter I'm pretty sure I could come up with something easily enough.

Of course, since I have a lot of rule sets just like this one (two or more starter boxes/lists to construct and paint) getting around to all of them will undoubtedly be a challenge. Since it's my hobby though, having all of those options just means that I can flit from project to project as my interest and inspiration dictates. Who knows what I'll decide to finish up next?!

May 13, 2013

Wait, is that sunshine I see?

The weather here is always such a mixed bag of insanity. One week it's freezing and we have snow. Two days later the temperature makes a massive 25 Celcius swing into the positive and we have blue sky and sunshine worthy of any mid-July summer day. Who needs to be schizophrenic when our local incarnation of Mother Nature is doing a fine job all by herself?

Over the past two weeks I haven't done much in the way of hobby work. The gestapo troopers are still sitting on my painting table, right next to my Empire of the Dead vampire starter box. I've done a little bit of work on the mad scientist and his blasphemous construct but they're still not done. I have touch ups to do on my human Dreadball team, and a 75% painted batch of Forge Fathers as well.

The 2013 Calgary Expo has come and gone and I spent a good portion of it volunteering. I picked up autographs from two members of the Stargate SG-1 series: Michael Shanks and Richard Dean Anderson. Both folks were very gracious, but sadly Michael was late...very late. A few of the panels that I wanted to see were missed due to my scheduling (namely the Terminator one), and so I didn't get a chance to see Michael Beihn or Linda Hamilton, which would have been really awesome. And Lexa Doig is super nice, in addition to being quite lovely in person.

I picked up several smaller games over the past few weeks and have actually been able to try them all out, which is quite a shock in itself. Three of them are from the Fluxx series of games: Space Fluxx, Cthulhu Fluxx and Pirate Fluxx. Ostensibly these are all the same game with a different skin on top of it. However, each one is a good time. They're super easy to teach, quick to play and very compact. I enjoyed each one of them for different reasons. The space one has some great references to various sci-fi franchises, Cthulhu was obviously developed by someone who loves the Mythos (and makes great use of the creepers), and the pirate one has tons of great ways to steal things from other players. Plus everyone had to call me "Captain" so that's definitely a winner.

The same company (Looney Labs) has also developed a game based on the Back to the Future movie series. The rule sheet initially looked extremely complicated. However, once we set the game up it turned out to be an easy and fun little game. I don't know that it would have a lot of appeal to people who aren't fans of the movies. I thoroughly enjoyed it though.

Another card game we grabbed was Cthulhu Gloom. I have only played the original game once and thought the engine suited the Mythos very well. While the rule sheet wasn't great (I'm still trying to figure out what one of the icons on a bunch of the cards means), the game itself is decent. Some folks won't like the storytelling aspect of the game, and being focused on the Mythos may make it difficult to gather the right group of players for.

Lastly was a first play of City of Remnants by Plaid Hat Games. I was extremely surprised at this one. Simply put it was great fun. We only had two players and made some early mistakes, but both of us agreed that a second play, hopefully with more players, would be even more entertaining. Speaking further to the quality of the publisher, there were som errata'd items included inside the box, as well as sufficient bags to separate all of the tokens after being punched out. Now that's just top notch customer care.

I'll have some more miniatures to show off later this month. Until then, get out and enjoy the spring weather if your area's weather will cooperate!