Saturday, 14 February 2015

Infinite Wisdom

OK, so I've done it again. Another new, shiny thing has caught my attention. This time it's Infinity! I'd been vaguely aware of Infinity as a sci-fi skirmish game, but never really paid it much interest, particularly in light of the overwhelming sentiment that the ruleset, while being dynamic and offering a great deal of tactical depth, was needlessly obscure and overcomplicated.

But then I went to collect some Wyrd Black Friday goodness from Lee (one of my local gamer buds, whose blog you can find here), and he excitedly produced a copy of the new starter set for Infinity 3rd Edition, Operation Icestorm. He and Zac (of Malibites fame, and also one of my locals) had gone halves on the box, with Zac taking the PanOceania force and Lee getting his hands on the Nomads contingent.

He suggested we play the first couple of missions from the Icestorm rulebook, so we quickly assembled the cardboard terrain (which is excellent, by the way) and threw down the playmat that comes in the box. Lee used his Nomad Alguaciles, while I used three other Nomads to stand in for PanO Fusiliers. It soon became clear how quickly your models can die in Infinity, as all three of my Fusiliers died - at least one during my own active turn thanks to the game's nifty ARO (Automatic Reaction Order mechanic - without so much scratching an Alguacile's armour.

When we played the second mission, which introduces Lieutenants, I tried 'Rambo-ing' my Lieutenant up one flank to try and shoot Lee's Lieutenant in the back and spent all my orders to inflict only one of the two wounds I needed to kill him. Luckily, I then rolled a critical hit in ARO, bypassing his Mobile Brigada's heavy armour and killing him outright even as he gunned down my Orc Troop leader.

Lee lost another Alguacile to ARO while killing a Fusilier, but one of my remaining pair took out both his surviving Alguaciles to hand me the win. The whole experience got me unnecessarily excited and I spent the next several days gazing at beautiful miniatures on Corvus Belli's webstore, tying to pick just one faction to go with. I ruled out PanO and Nomads on the basis that Lee and Zac have those covered, Aleph because I didn't like the aesthetic and Tohaa for some reason I couldn't quite put my finger on.

That left Haqqislam, Ariadna, Combined Army or Yu Jing. I really wanted to go Combined and go for a Morat Aggression Force sectorial, but nowhere seemed to have them in stock, so I've gone with... drum roll, please... Ariadna! Something about the fact that they're pretty much just ordinary guys and gals attracted me (which is why I like Imperial Guard in 40k, I think). And there is something strangely alluring about giant slavering werewolves...

Expect more on my Infinity progress as it happens! And some Malifaux stuff as well, hopefully...

Sunday, 14 December 2014

So, What Next?

In my last post, I bemoaned the fact that I had committed to completing, from scratch, a 2000 point Death Guard army for Warhammer 40k and managed to finish the princely total of one Cultist model. I put this down to an inability to stick to a project when something more interesting (read: Malifaux) comes along.

Now, you could argue that it doesn't matter, it's a hobby; work on what you want, when you want, as long as it's enjoyable. This is undoubtedly true, but for one critical detail: money, or, more accurately, a waste thereof.

Any models I buy that sit unassembled, unpainted and - most importantly - unplayed, represent an opportunity cost. If I hadn't spent the money on a pile of plastic and resin, I could have spent it on something else (more plastic and resin in all likelihood, but that's beside the point!).

Take my Death Guard, for example. I drew up an army list way back at the start of 2014 for the first part of the Hobby Progress Challenge; a 1000 point Zone Mortalis force.

  • Chaos Lord
  • 5 Chaos Terminators
  • 2 x 10 Cultists
  • Helbrute
  • 2 x 7 Plague Marines
I already had the Lord, Cultists & Helbrute from the Dark Vengeance set, so they were a sunk cost. At GW's RRP (which is not necessarily what I paid...) the rest of the list required a box each of Chaos Space Marines (£23.50), Chaos Terminators (£28) and Plague Marines (£25.50), plus the relevant conversion kits from Forge World (£17 + £21). And, knowing I'd want to add transport for the Terminators and Plague Marines in the second half of the list, I picked up a Land Raider (£46) and two Rhinos (£23.50 each) AND the appropriate door sets from Forge World (£33). 

That's a total outlay of £241. All £241 is still unpainted, though I did manage to assemble the Terminators (and fully magnetize them!) and one Rhino.

So, given I haven't really used any of it, that's £241 that could have gone towards a different project. And that's just one example among a litany of new-in-box and half-assembled debacles. I need to unwaste some money before I splurge any more.

The hoard...
Now, in this hobby, that's MUCH easier said than done. However, I have more than enough stuff to build and paint to keep me busy for 2015 (and well beyond) and enough Malifaux models painted to play that regularly, so I'm going to self-impose a purchase embargo until I've met a couple of hobby targets.

First, I'm going to paint all my Guild figures for Malifaux. By my reckoning, that's 23 models in various states of disassembly and unpaintedness. Add to that five Outcast mercenaries (Bishop, Malifaux Child, Freikorps Specialist, Hans, Johana) that are assembled but not fully painted.

Then I need to choose a GW project to actually finish. This means either a 1500 point 40k army or a 2000 point army for Fantasy. 
  • I have somewhere in the region of 600 points of fully painted Tyranids, plus an unassembled Hive Tyrant. 
  • Then I have about 1100 points of Imperial Guard, all assembled, some painted. 
  • The Death Guard stuff above comes to about 1500 points. 
  • There's around 1000 points of Orks from this year's Codex release, plus a Space Wolf force from the Stormclaw box and a Battleforce I bought years ago. 
  • The Dark Vengeance Dark Angels languish too. 
  • As do the Blood Angels and Genestealers from Space Hulk. 
  • Finally, there's the circa 2000 point Empire army for Fantasy that's mostly built, but mostly unpainted. 
  • All of which ignores the Dwarfs and Night Goblins from the Battle For Skull Pass starter box. 
  • And you can forget about the Bretonnians and Lizardmen from the 5th Edition Fantasy big box, as well as the High Elf bits I picked up way back when...
After all that, the question of 'When will I get round to my 6mm WWII British or my 28mm American War of Independence British?' raises its ugly head. 

The tl;dr version is:
  1. Finish Malifaux Guild;
  2. Pick a GW army and finish the stuff I have for it;
So, we'll see how that goes (failure predicted by January 2015...). I'll do a proper Hobby Resolutions post (including playing goals etc.) once I've decided which GW stuff I'm going to concentrate on. 

Any suggestions for which army to go with are very welcome, either here or on Twitter @LordFezzington.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Butterflying About: 2014 - A Hobby Year in Review

It's December. Time has come for people the world over to look back over the last twelve months and say, "Bugger, is that another year gone already? I'm sure it was only March the last time I checked!" And indeed, it was only March the last time I wrote anything on here. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

So anyway, hobby has in fact happened in the intervening nine months, I just haven't written about it. What's more, I can prove it; I can show photos and everything...

The Never-ending War on Grey Plastic, 2014 Edition

If I have learnt one thing this year, it's that no matter how hard you try to resist new shiny stuff and how much you paint, the hobby has a way of making your pile of unpainted plastic, metal and resin grow faster than your wallet will thank you for. 2014 has been another year in which I've bought more models than I've painted; fortunately, from speaking to other gamers and listening to a boatload of podcasts, it has become clear this is not a problem that I suffer alone!

The observant among you will have noticed that my stated goal upon starting this blog was to complete a 40k Chaos Space Marine army for the Independent Characters' Hobby Progress Challenge. OK, here it is, the sum total of my painting progress towards that lofty aim... drum roll please... 

No, that is not a 2000 point army; that is a 5 point Cultist. ONE MODEL. Needless to say, I'm not expecting to win the Challenge. In fact, in percentage completion terms, 0.25% (and he's not even properly based, so let's shave off a point and call it 0.24%...) is unbelievably poor. However, that I spectacularly failed with that target says more about my love of the hobby than is first apparent.

You see, I'm one of those people who is seemingly incapable of sticking to a project. I believe the expression is Hobby Butterfly. The great thing about miniatures games is there is an almost infinite variety of stuff you can model and game. Before this year, I had never really strayed away from the safety and comfort of - love 'em or hate 'em - Games Workshop.

Then I discovered this fun little game you might have heard of, it's called Malifaux or something. That was the first distraction. Then there was the time spent playing X-Wing and Zombicide. And then I decided it would be a great idea to get into historical figures (The BBC series 'The World At War' has to take the blame for this one), so naturally I started a 6mm WWII British Army. As if that wasn't enough, I've recently picked up some 28mm figures for the American War of Independence. Oh, and I started an Ork army for 40k, because you know, why not?

As a result, I have a large number of newly started and unfinished projects to add to the mountain of unpainted GW stuff I already had. But I have done stuff! Let's have a look at some of it right now!

Warhammer 40k

  • Imperial Guard (none of this 'Astra Militarum' nonsense) Infantry Squad;
  • Imperial Guard Leman Russ battle tank;
  • Tyranid Gaunts with devourers.

  • Five more Imperial Guard Infantry Squads;
  • Two Imperial Guard command squads;
  • Imperial Guard Veteran Squad;
  • Three Imperial Guard Heavy Weapons teams;
  • Imperial Guard Armoured Sentinel;
  • Ten Gretchin;
  • Ten Ork Boyz.
Warhammer Fantasy

  • Twenty Empire Spearmen.
(I originally painted these years ago, and wish I'd taken a before pic to show how awful a job I did. The 2014 versions are much improved!)


Guild - Painted
  • Sonnia Criid
  • Samael Hopkins
  • Three Witchling Stalkers
  • Executioner
  • The Judge
  • Death Marshall
  • Guild Austringer
  • Purifying Flame
  • Guild Rifleman
Outcasts - Painted
  • Sue
  • Malifaux Child
Resurrectionists - Painted
  • Seamus
  • Copycat Killer
  • Madam Sybelle
  • Three Rotten Belles
Plus a couple of bases each of the 6mm WWII British and 28mm AWI British. And I built a few bits and pieces of laser-cut MDF terrain from the nice people at Troll Trader. So, all in all, I've actually done quite a bit, just not very well focused! I intend (and so will almost certainly fail) for 2015 to be dedicated to trying to finish projects before starting new ones.

The best thing about this year has been, without a doubt, my discovery of Malifaux. Not only have I learnt to play a fun new game, but I've also met a lot of new and interesting people as a result. I hope 2015 will feature far more playing of Malifaux, both with local gamers and also at tournaments, a couple of which I had to miss through illness. 

A few of the local guys that I've just met are going to try and blog along throughout 2015, and you can check out one of those newly started blogs here. I'm certainly planning to paint, play and blog my way through next year, so hopefully someone will read along too...

Monday, 3 March 2014

Into The ToMB - Month 1 Post 1, or Building A Fire

OK, so Month 1 of ToMB kicked off on 17th February. The Malifaux blogosphere is now full of people talking about their new Masters, from Tara to Collodi to Hamelin and back again.

I chose Sonnia. Really I picked her because I loved the box art. Because I wanted one of the new plastic crews, I was limited to Wave 1 Masters anyway, and the artwork on her box spoke to me more than the others.

Playstyle never really entered the equation, and having never played before, I only had the model stats from the M2e rulebook to go from anyway. In essence, it would appear that her crew sets things on fire so that Sonnia can blast them to bits in a fiery conflagration.

In Sonnia's The Torch and the Blade box, you get Sonnia, her henchman Samael Hopkins, her totem Purifying Flame and three Witchling Stalker minions, along with the appropriate M2e stat and upgrade cards and 30mm bases.

One thing to note if you're used to assembling Games Workshop's plastic kits: Malifaux plastics are really fiddly. And I mean really fiddly! Sonnia's face is a separate piece from her head and Samael has several incredibly small pieces, some of which are really difficult to see how to attach, even following Wyrd's online instructions. 

And Purifying Flame is so fragile, any impact is going to snap his arms off, resulting in seriously difficult and messy repairs.

The other thing I'm not used to is 30mm round lipped bases. With GW models, you can assemble them on their flat 25mm bases and texture and decorate the bases afterwards. With Malifaux bases (and I assume Warmachine/Hordes) that's a no go; you need to build the base first so you can put the model on top.

This led to me trying something I'd never done before: sculpting base detailing out of Green Stuff! All I did was to mix up a small amount of GW Green Stuff and press it into the recess of the base. After some clean up with a sculpting tool, this left a neat green circle in the recess. Then, using plenty of water, I used a hobby knife to sculpt some rectangular cobblestone shapes. I think they look pretty good:

I then had to decide on a colour scheme. For simplicity's sake, and because the box art was the main reason I picked the crew, I decided to paint them as close to the artwork as possible. I use GW paints for all my painting (I don't really understand the hate some people have for them, but then I've never used anything else) so when I'm done I'll list the paints I used.

Here's a parting shot with what I've done so far:

Next time I should have more painting done, and I'll talk about getting the crew on the table and blowing stuff up!

See you through the Breach!

The Scribe

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Into The ToMB: Month Zero, or Where To Start?

OK, so if you have no idea what ToMB is, check out my intro post here.

Quick recap:

  • Choose a new Malifaux Master,
  • Buy things with a monthly budget ($60 this month, $25 each month after),
  • Assemble and paint said Master & Crew,
  • Play games,
  • Document the whole shebang.
I'm new to Malifaux, so whoever I decided on would be my first Master. Of all time. EVAH.

I will go into more depth about the process I went through in deciding on who to buy in a 'Malifaux: A Beginner's Tale' post at some point soon, but I ended up (because you can't choose just one, can you?) getting three Crew Boxes.

I got:
  • Seamus (Shadows of Redchapel - Plastic) - BIG discount online.
  • Sonnia (The Torch And The Blade - Plastic) - Because the new Samael Hopkins model is badass.
  • Lady Justice (Death Marshals - Metal) - I prefer the classic sculpt; had to snap her metal box up before it disappears for good.
Got to choose one to start with. And the winner is...

The mistress of blasty goodness herself - Ms. Sonnia Criid! 

There's a couple of reasons for choosing Cherufe's plaything over the Mad Hatter and Lady J. For one, I got my hands on her box before Seamus turned up. Second, I didn't have the Guild Wave 1 Arsenal Box, so had no M2e cards for Lady J's box. 

Plus burning stuff and blasting fire at the enemy is cool, right? And yes, I realise blowing up the opposition is not always productive in Malifaux, but hey, it's fun!

Month 0 Spending

Starting Budget: $60

Bought: The Torch And The Blade -$40

Total Spent: $40
Carry forward to Month 1: $20

Month 1 Plan

This gives me the following to use in Month 1:
  • Sonnia (3SS cache)
  • Samael Hopkins (9SS/4SS cache)
  • Purifying Flame (3SS)
  • 3 Witchling Stalkers (5SS each)
This means I can play some small games (20SS or so) with Sam leading the Crew e.g.
  • Sam (Witch Hunt, Lead Lined Coat) 
  • 3 Witchling Stalkers
    • Total: 19SS (5SS cache)
or I can (by loading up on Upgrades) reasonably play up to 35SS games once I have the hang of things.

I've got a little bit of an idea of how the Crew might play from watching this video battle report by Games Wot I Played:

And looking at the cards, it's obvious that I'll need to use the Witchlings as objective runners and to put as much Burning on enemy models as possible so that Sonnia and Sam can blast away from behind cover using their Visions of Flame ability to ignore Cover and Line of Sight.

Seems like the Crew might play slow (all the models except Purifying Flame have a Wk of 4) given their lack of movement shenanigans, but can definitely dish out plenty of hurt. Definitely possible to deny areas of the board to enemy models with Sam and Sonnia.

Only getting the models on the table will tell for sure though!

After Month 1

Unless I really can't help myself, I'm planning to roll the $20 I haven't spent over into Month 2 to give me $40 to expand that month. That way I can add in the Death Marshals ($22 in metal, $24 in plastic) and Judge (~$10 based on other single figures on Wyrd's site, since he's technically not available separately) from my Lady J box.

Other thoughts would be an Austringer or two ($12 apiece) for a bit more maneuverability/interaction out of activation through Deliver Orders, or perhaps a Freikorps Specialist ($9.50) for even more Burning! 

And then there's that box of Guild Riflemen ($21) sitting on my LGS's shelves right now...

Too much choice!

See you Through The Breach...

The Scribe

Friday, 7 February 2014

40,000 Words: February Hobby Progress Commitments

So I made up my mind!

I've finally committed to a unit for the Independent Characters Hobby Progress Challenge 2014, and that unit is................................

Ten Chaos Cultists with Autopistols & Close Combat Weapons!!!

OK, so that's not that exciting. But I do have them all assembled:

They've also since been primed (done when we actually had a break from the rain...) and I've started playing around with base coat colours for skin and cloth on a test model.

But that's all for another post when I actually have some proper progress to report. Only ~3 weeks left...

See you through the Eye of Terror...

The Scribe

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Malifaux: A Beginner's Tale, Episode 1 - So What Is Malifaux Anyway?

© Wyrd Games

This is the first of my Malifaux: A Beginner's Tale articles. These are designed to help an absolute beginner (newbie, noob, n00b or any number of other silly terms) start playing and enjoying the game.

Let's start with defining some terms, shall we? Malifaux's creators, Wyrd Games, describe Malifaux as a 32mm tabletop miniature skirmish game. Right, five terms: 32mm; tabletop; miniature; skirmish and game.

Making the grand assumption that anyone other than me reads this blog, I'm assuming that those people already have some interest and knowledge of miniature gaming in general. If not, then very briefly, miniature gaming usually makes use of models to represent armies, gangs, spaceships and what have you. Generally speaking, two or more players then use these pieces to fight a battle - the game - of some description.

These take place either over a beautifully modelled board with custom terrain, or as is more likely the case if you're starting out, a table with improvised terrain (books and drinks cans are the classic example) hence the term tabletop.

The 32mm refers to the scale of the miniatures. There are various ways of measuring, but this is an indication of how tall an 'average' or human sized model is at that scale. Games Workshop - many people's entry point into miniature gaming - use 28mm scale for their 40k and Fantasy systems, but with exaggerated or 'heroic' body proportions. Some games, such as Hawk Wargames' Dropzone Commander, use even smaller scales, like 10 or 15mm, and are usually designed to represent very large engagements.

Which brings us nicely on to skirmish. The back of the original Malifaux rulebook says you could play with just 4-6 models, and expand to play with more. This is indicative of a skirmish level game. Even though the average size of Malifaux games has increased since the game first released, it is still focused on small groups of models. By comparison, a game like 40k can require dozens (or even hundreds) of models to play a game at the standard level.

The other thing that Wyrd say about their creation is that it is character driven. This means that each model in a game is an individual, with differing and sometimes unique characteristics and abilities to use in a game. All the characters in the game have a back story and a reason to be there. This is a major selling point of the game to me, since it is more interesting to have models that not only look characterful but also act in a variety of ways rather than as just one part of a larger unit as they might do in some other games.

There is one more thing to consider about Malifaux before I wrap up, and that is the way the game functions - its core mechanics. The vast majority of tabletop games are played using dice to determine the random outcomes of game actions and effects. Not so in Malifaux. Rather, a deck of cards, called a Fate Deck, is used for this purpose, and as a form of resource management. This gives the player a little more control of certain outcomes.
© Wyrd Games

Now, in order to avoid falling prey to the Wall-of-Text monster, that's where we'll leave it for now. The next episode will dig a little deeper into how the game plays, what you need to play it and how else it sets itself apart from other tabletop miniatures games (like the fact that you can still win even if all your models are dead!).

I hope someone finds this useful!

See you Through The Breach...

The Scribe