Archive for ‘General’

April 11, 2011

Miniature Monday: Wealth of Stealth

by Nate Birkholz

In a quick update for  Miniature Monday, I have recently finished The Lord of the Feast and a Dwarf Thief model for the new Pathfinder campaign at work, both models representing stealthy characters of different sorts.

The Lord of the Feast came together very well. I wish I had built a little more contrast into the color scheme, but it does make the hair really pop.

Look, kittens! I love kittens. And the flesh of my enemies.

I wish I had built a little more contrast into the color scheme, but it does make the hair really pop.

You don't have him for dinner...

My Dwarf Thief is a nice Reaper mini, and I made a point of trying to paint him quickly for a change, all in all about 4 hours or so.

I steal everything, basically, but especially mustache wax.

While the photos are a little washed out, the blonde beard was probably not the best choice, both because I am not good at Blonde yet, but also because it fades into the skin tone a bit.

Thieves's Guild, not Lollipop Guild. Come over here and make that joke.

I intend to try painting the entire Druids of Orboros unit this weekend, so I used this as a dress rehearsal for the cloaks. It came out too light, so I’ll go darker for the druids.

This week, I’m working on Nuala the Huntress.

January 29, 2011

R.I.P. Iron Agenda (late to the table edition)

by Nate Birkholz

Nearly a year ago, I started to become interested in Warmachine (I didn’t even know Hordes existed, then). I had heard the D6 Generation podcast review of Warmachine Mk II, and it jogged past memories of the “new miniatures game” I had heard about years before, something people swore would actually survive trying to shove aside some of the crushing weight of the GW leviathan. I really liked what I heard from the D6G. The core mechanics sounded solid and fun, the smaller army sizes were attractive, it was apparent to me (as a maker of video games) that they had incorporated some solid game design philosophies from video games, and I especially liked the goals that Privateer had set themselves for what they were trying to accomplish with the Mark II revamp of the game.

Now, my response to anything is to research it into quivering submission, so I started to read everything I could find, beg, borrow, steal, or pry from the jaws of the Internet. Since I got my iPhone, I have really started to listen to a lot of podcasts, and the D6 Generation referred to “other podcasts” that were commenting on Mark II. The first that came up in iTunes was The Iron Agenda.

Looking through dozens of entries, I was trying to find a good place to start. Naturally I gravitated toward the “New Player Talk” episode, but I had borrowed a copy of Forces of Warmachine: Retribution of Scyrah from a coworker, so I made sure to grab the podcast where they went through that book. While the New Player episode was good, the Retribution episode was even better, at least with the context provided by the New Player episode. The lads did an incredible job of teaching listeners how to understand what a model does and how to interpret a stat line. I listened to those podcasts several times and started listening every week, and I pretty much learned two thirds of what I needed to know to start playing the game.

Over recent months, the podcast had felt a little thin, however. Once Tim didn’t have time to record any more, the group lost a little extra spark. Tim has a sardonic edge to him–and maybe a little more gravitas–providing counterbalance to the general tomfoolery that could occasionally take over, and he was good at bringing the group back on topic. Dave and Jason are hilarious and obviously know how to play and how to evangelize the game, but also seemed to be flagging in their enthusiasm for the podcast. Josh was a willing participant in some of the silliness, but also has an obviously superior grasp of tactics and could suddenly cut in with a really sharp observation, and really seemed to lead the charge more and more. Once Josh announced he was moving to Arizona, I figured the days were numbered. Sadly I was correct.

So I realize this is many days and a fat stack of cash both late and short, but thanks, Iron Agenda for being awesome. Thanks for the Blog Network, too, which really is a great way to bring the community together. Thanks for the tactical advice and the laughs and the absurd yet often accurate speculation.

And dammit, Josh owes us a mini episode where he goes through the Circle book: that was crappy timing on the move day, I had been waiting to get his take for months since he plays Circle.

So where do we go now for our audio fix? There are some podcasts remaining:

  1. Lost Hemisphere Radio. My favorite podcast for Warmachine and Hordes. Generally positive yet prone to real opinion, hosts who have fun and believe in what they are doing and saying, and of course, drinking games and ferret signals help make this top of my list. Plus, the hosts are like 50% of my readership so I have to list them first.
  2. Boosted Damage. I wish they didn’t keep the audio mix so quiet (hard to hear in the car), but the hosts of this opinionated podcast actually explain and back up their opinions and I like the insight into the gaming scene in Britain. John and Jon tend to dominate the conversation, but Chris and Conrad are far more than Greek chorus and the podcast would really be lost without their patient good cheer. And the Cryx hate makes me want to play Cryx, so thanks, Snape, for the motivation to be evil and broken.
  3. Guts N Gears. An independent podcast that sometimes comes off as essentially a house organ of Privateer Press. Relentless positivity and the cheeriest hosts in hostendom make for a pleasant experience, if you can manage to actually hear the podcast. Seriously, what is it with British gaming podcasts? You’re on the other side of the globe, speak up so I can hear you. Anyway, the frequent interviews with Privateer Staff are great and Sam and Andres and Vish are infectiously enthusiastic.
  4. Focus and Fury. Are you a strange mix of dork and bro? Are your knuckles scuffed from dragging on the ground? Do you get your kicks below the waistline, sunshine? You are probably still too classy for this podcast. Unfortunately, they also do get around to tactics in a useful way (whenever they manage to actually record), but I refuse to admit I laugh at the absurdity. And I miss the gaming scene in Minneapolis so it’s nice to hear it’s still very active.
October 28, 2010

Stab, Stab, Whoosh

by Nate Birkholz

I pretty much finished the Eladrin Swordmage for our new D&D campaign the other day (his sash is going to get one more detail pass and a more careful final wash, I think). He turned out pretty well, the iPhone photo is not as good as the Sony took, but there you go. This is why we can’t have nice things. After I created the character I was struck by the fact that the character concept is rather Circle Orboros–he teleports around, uses lightning powers,  and has a vaguely unsavory secret agenda.

Wait here. I'll be back. I promise.


The DM told me he liked that he can only see one or two splashes of color whichever way he looks at him, and when you turn him around the red scabbard is a nice surprise. I thought that was pretty gratifying. I only have four or five hours into him, too, so it went pretty smoothly.

I primed the Druid Wilder, eKrueger, and a Reaper human fighter/undead hunter model that I really have liked for a long time, today. It’s amazing how priming the models will show you all the little bits of flash you missed, the Wilder has lots of little tags around her that I need to clean up. The weather is turning to the Autumn/Winter day temps in the sixties in NorCal, so I am going to need to keep the proverbial weather eye out for good priming days for the next five or six months.

I’d like for eKrueger to be painted for the next tournament, at least. I’m not sure I want him to be cloaked in plain ol’ green. I might use the midnight (“Prussian”) blue for all of my Druids, and the storm theme of Krueger seems to demand a color like that. The olive greens of the studio pKrueger scheme also appeal to me, however.

October 25, 2010

Camera Fail

by Nate Birkholz

My camera has died, sadly. This morning someone in front of me slammed on their brakes for Lord knows what reason, and my camera flew into the footboards. Ever since, I cannot successfully start the camera, the lens assembly seems unable to open. Sad times. I’ll have to use my iPhone, which is not the optimal way to take photos for a miniatures blog.

June 29, 2010

Bona Fides

by Nate Birkholz

So let me establish who I am.

I have been gaming since 1970-something when my Father brought home a blue box Dungeons and Dragons basic set. I was instantly and irrevocably hooked. I got a yellow box of Grenadier Halfling miniatures for Christmas but never painted them since my gaming group didn’t really ever do miniatures — we decided our imaginations were good enough, and our allowances were insufficient to really buy a lot of miniatures anyhow. I wish I still had those models, they disappeared in a move at some point.

From then on I was an avid gamer, right through adolescence. After many years of playing roleplaying games, I started my first miniatures game, Battletech. Battletech consumed most of my weekends for years as a teenager, though we didn’t have many of the miniatures, using the cardboard proxies instead. Still, an old Ral Partha Archer miniature is my first painted figure.

In college, I worked at a couple of now-defunct game and comic stores, especially the original incarnation of The Source in Minneapolis and St. Paul. I played a lot of board- and wargames with people from the store and with my roommates, especially Avalon Hill games (even Advanced Squad Leader, which the store manager called “Advanced Squad Money”). I also got into painting miniatures for roleplaying games and played some Napoleonic sailing miniatures games using the Heart of Oak rules. The store didn’t heavily cater to miniatures wargamers, more the cardboard chit crowd, so we never had early days Warhammer/40k going on, though I did buy an early box of plastic Space Marines to convert into an idea I had for a sci-fi sports boardgame…which never came to fruition.

Then I finished college with a degree in Archaeology and moved on to looking for a job. Long story short (too late), I ended up getting a job in the video game industry. Since that time I have designed games, been a texture artist (not through any real artistic talent), and been, for  most of my career, a Producer, both in Publishing and in Development. Along the way I played a lot of games, especially boardgames, but also Mechwarrior: Dark Age, which is at least marginally related to skirmish miniatures wargames.

Upon arrival at my current employer, I discovered that the studio has a lot of employees who play miniature wargames as well as a lot of roleplaying gamers. In fact, one of the people who was here when I first joined the studio is the local Press Ganger, and many people in the studio have at least dabbled in Warmachine or Hordes. A few months ago we decided to try Firestorm Armada, and that was my gateway drug.

I have always been fascinated with miniature models of many sorts. I would love to have a model railroad someday, and I have great appreciation for things like dioramas in museums. I think it’s a natural progression for me to combine this with my affection for and professional appreciation of games.

June 28, 2010

Death by Inches

by Nate Birkholz

I am starting this blog to track my progress as I get into the world of miniature wargames, and the game Warmachine in particular. I have dabbled with the hobby over the years, and have painted miniature figures off and on since the late 1980s for roleplaying games, but have always resisted the urge to get into a full-on hobby miniatures game until now.

In addition to Warmachine, I also play Firestorm Armada from Spartan Games, and am interested in getting into playing Wild West miniatures skirmish games. In point of fact, I might even be interested in creating a Wild West rules set just for the fun of it. I recently purchased a small supply of nine Wild West figures from Artizan and Foundry, two UK companies with a wholeheartedly catholic (with a small “c”) approach to miniatures production. The sculpts aren’t as high-quality as, say Privateer Press or Games Workshop, but they look to be fun to paint. I also want to try minis from Knuckleduster here in the US, but so far the Banditos are the only sculpts that excite me.