March 6, 2011

Your Ticket to the Dog Show

by Nate Birkholz

Late last year I picked up the Reeve Hunter and his three pet War Wolf missiles. Today I finally finished painting them. I take forever to paint a model these days — even more so than in the past — due to a busy career and a number of impromptu lunchtime meetings cutting into my painting time.

Let's play fetch. The hard way.

Painting the Reeve Hunter was surprisingly challenging, but also very fun. I wish I had chosen brighter green for his armor, and the sword really dulled down with the matte varnish in a way I wasn’t expecting. In general, however, I am pleased. For the War Wolf Solos, I applied  a basecoat of medium gray over black primer, drybrushed with light gray and white, then washed in sepia. I drybrushed up to white again, washed down in sepia, and finally drybrushed up one last time. I wasn’t sold on the result until I painted the armor and harnesses — the fur looks much better in contrast with the other colors.

Real wolves are not as fond of brushing as tiny metal ones.

As always, I tend not to paint the models I am playing — so the Lord of the Feast will never be painted, I guess — and I haven’t figured out the best use for this five points of roving death.

Of course I have the proper licenses. Come check their collars.

My collection of Circle Orboros is continuing to grow, unfortunately it is growing into a pile of unassembled models, much of it infantry.   I remain woefully inept at pinning and I had been avoiding the frustration to be had pinning lots of little hands to spears. I despaired of ever being able to run Morvahna or Mohsar, however, who depend on infantry spam. So I finally bit the bullet and assembled — without pinning — a full unit of Wolves of Orboros with Unit Attachment and a min unit of Reeves of Orboros. I did pin Wolf Lord Morraig with predictably inaccurate results.

I don't think the fur is faux.

Painting all these are going to be a chore, I’m going to wait and see how bad the joins are — those spears are bound to catch on everything. I am halfway inclined to just go Indonesian, next time.

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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.
November 11, 2010

Lord of the Storm, Lord of the Dance

by Nate Birkholz

Epic Krueger has been painted just in time for this weekend’s foodmachine tournament; I ended up rushing the cloak because I wanted him finished, so some of my highlighting is not as good as I would have liked. I have done all but add the basing materials (I painted the front arc after I took the photo): I wish I had a good way to have swirling leaves since he looks all windy. I would greatly prefer to let him dry much longer before I paint the sealer on, maybe I should play him carefully with no sealer on Saturday.

Why do PP's "action" poses all look like dancing?

I wish I had not broken my camera, the iPhone really doesn’t take that great of pictures.

The cloak ended up a different color than I expected, it’s different shades of olive green in thin layers, but then I washed with with GW’s Thraka Green and it got very emerald. I should really have made a dark olive wash myself, I’ve had so many bad experiences with self-mixed washes that I am hesitant. I considered mixing Devlan Mud and Thraka Green washes to try to emulate an olive green wash, but I think that may not work well. I should try that on a model I care less about to see if I can paint my Druids that way.

I chickened out on doing glowing blue eyes. I had a white glaze on the brush and in the eye socket before I changed my mind and just gave him regular eyes. I made the pupils with a very dark gray this time, it looks less googly-eyed than black does.

I’m working crazy hours right now. Not a lot of time to craft a post, I have chosen to spend my free time painting, instead.

November 3, 2010

Krueger the Stormlord Theme Force

by Nate Birkholz

Bell of Lost Souls has spoiled the Theme List for Krueger the Stormlord, otherwise known as eKruger, otherwise known as Señor Kinda-Like-Rahn-But-More-Crazy. I think we could predict that the Tharn were going to be part of the theme list since Krueger is Kromac’s mentor, though I have no idea what the Skinwalkers are doing in the picture (besides very slowly advancing up the field) — we are still lacking much of a sense of their fluff, and they were also included in eKaya’s theme list spoiled last month. We do know from the most recent No Quarter that Krueger runs with Warpwolves, however, at least in the fiction.

 

Eek! A mouse!

This list may be thematic, but I had held out hope that it might be competitive, as well. I have been really enjoying playing with eKrueger so far, and am looking to make him a regular choice of mine on the tabletop. But the lack of Woldwardens makes this list seem not very effective. eKrueger has an expensive spell list, and there are no upkeeps. The Woldwarden’s geomancy really makes it possible to get the most out of Krueger by giving him an avenue for getting cheap spells. Krueger has a little to offer the warpwolves, however: Telekinesis gives them an extra two inches of move as long as you activate Krueger first, and Storm Wall reduces the chance that they will be shot on the advance.

But of course, the fact is that the Theme Lists aren’t about being competitive. The point is that the lists are not competitive, so the theme list advantages are intended to offset that fact somewhat. This isn’t to say that there are no competitive Theme Lists, as there certainly are (some by accident, to be certain), but the stated intent is to give players some measure of compensation for fielding a force constrained by the fiction of the different warcasters and warlocks. It gives designers some new ways to introduce some radical options while tightly controlling the conditions under which the options are available. And, of course, there is also some element of giving players a new hook to spark discussion: how many points you need to make a theme list, which tier is most valuable for which caster, and even which Theme Lists are competitive.

In a game with an explicit goal of balanced forces competing on a level playing field, I can see why this approach would cause some confusion. In addition, the personality of those who choose to discuss the theme forces online may be selecting for a view of the game. I may have the advantage that I started down the Privateer path when I listened to the D6 Generation summary/review of Mark II Warmachine, and the Theme Lists were one of the ideas that appealed to me. Not that I have any intention of fielding one before I know the game better, I feel like the Theme Lists are a little bit of the advanced class.

October 31, 2010

Maybe He Should Get a Sandwich or Something

by Nate Birkholz

The other night the FLGS, we were discussing eHaley. I noted that every faction seems to have at least one caster that leads everyone else to call cheese, like eHaley, eSkarre, etc. I said I didn’t think Circle had one, and everyone immediately replied, “Kromac.”

Hungry Man?

When I started looking at the Circle Orboros faction, I largely ignored Kromac the Ravenous. To be honest, I was never thrilled with Circle casters in general until I understood the fluff, but ol’ Hungry really didn’t grab me much at all. Somewhat arbitrarily I decided to avoid him and focus on the other Circle casters. After enjoying my first tournament a few weeks ago, however, I realize that the ability to be competitive is valuable, even if I doubt I’ll be a top tier player.

Looking over Angry Goatface, we find that with a six-inch move, five-inch leap, and two-inch reach, he has a thirteen-inch threat range. On feat turn he can refill his fury in exchange for causing himself seven damage, which allows him to buy sixteen unboosted attacks. This obviously makes him dangerous, but a thirteen-inch threat range is also supremely avoidable. You might surprise any given opponent once with it, and after that will have to hope for inattention or hubris. Though I am sure you can also make use of it to remove a few beasts from the board or to spam Rift if you just double your FURY and don’t choose to switch to beast form; in fact, the feat makes Rift actually seem worth the cost, for once.

Because of this, the Internet advises that Kromac the Supremely Peckish is not actually an assassination caster, but rather a support caster with some denial via his Bestial spell — preventing magic and upkeep in his CTRL radius — as well as denial via the threat of assassination. This makes his Feat perhaps as valuable as a possibility as an actuality, it seems to me.

I have to say he doesn’t seem like he would really bring the same level of moldy milk as someone like eSkarre does, however: for heaven’s sake, her breasts knock targets down, now that is cheese. Kromac does indeed have a good stable of spells that support both man and beast, and also makes troops and beasts synergize well with one another via Warpath, which is a great trick in an upkeep spell. Yet while there’s no denying the…denial capabilities of Bestial, he doesn’t have that “extra” ability or spell that the broken-seeming casters have.

I note that he doesn’t eat hearts like the other male Tharn do — no wonder he is ravenous!

I will definitely be picking up the model soon; Kromac may not look as broken as some other casters to my oh-so-inexperienced eye, but I know other people hate dealing with him, and I am sure he plays very strongly on the tabletop. I am also looking forward to Cassius and the Tree of Fate — another two-model caster, which seems to be a Circle Orboros trend — even though we have absolutely zero idea what he will do. (I’d love to have the first painted Cassius on the forums, we’ll see if I can make that happen.)

I seem to be investing more in casters than may be best. Instead I should likely be taking the time to learn a couple of warlocks well, but Circle has a broad range of solid warlock choices instead of one or two dominant ones, and I like seeing how my other models change in response.

Problem Solved!

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.