Monday 28 October 2013

Weekly progress: Completed models, cool wallpapers and tinkering around with Kanban

Some of you may remember the ridiculous exclusive I achieved about Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon. (Beasts of War did manage to get some footage up the following month, but I broke the game-play picture scoop!) Well, while following back a referral from a lovely German forum over the weekend, I spotted some thumbnails of some more pictures. A quick search of the Slitherine website found a forum post with some pretty Armageddon Wallpapers. Get them while they're hot!

How did people find my "Infinity Week"? It was a bit of an experiment for me. Daily posting isn't something I'm going to be able to do that often, but I had enough material and blitzed everything over the weekend and scheduled it out. So, what have I been doing over the course of the week?

My darling wife had a bit of a word about my Kanban Board. I showed her the layout I'd been using and as an impartial observer, she prodded some holes in it. I'd upped my "Work in Progress" in the painting column to 6, with the intention of every two things moved out of it, I'd reduce the limit by one until it was back down at 3, which would keep things moving. She pointed out that would just slow down me dealing with the underlying problem. I also have two completed items in the assembly column waiting to move into painting, so it wouldn't really help move much along, just maintain an already too high work in progress limit. She also rightfully pointed out that preparation and assembly should probably be combined, which I did, causing yet another over limit column.

(I've also added a limit on my "to do" column, which is items I've bought, of the current items I've purchased but not started. I want to get this down from 136 to about 100, though I'm not sure how long this is going to take. That one I _am_ going to keep at the higher limit, and work a "2 out, 1 in" policy, otherwise I will be Very Sad. However, any new items should now be going right on the top of the column so I pick them up as my next thing to do, which should cut down my ridiculous habit of buying something to paint up at some point in the future.)

Anyway, on to things I've actually done!

There's now five of the corpse tokens finished, and I've decided to go with the method on the bottom left - a layer of water effect, washing over that layer, then once that's dried, another layer of water effect. So I have another five of those to complete.

The disk for my friend's Herald of Tzeentch is now done - just the Herald to get done now! I can see some pink in my future...

Three of the Marionettes are getting much closer to being done - just some last details to pick up, and they should be ready for basing.

However, Collodi himself and the other Marionette are both ready for basing! I'm incredibly pleased about this as they've been something I've been working on FOREVER.

Now, this leads on to an interesting observation. On my Kanban board, all that's happened is this:

Collodi has moved into the basing column - because the Marionettes aren't all painted, and the disk is done, but the Herald is not. There's a ton of work which isn't showing, because it isn't finished in the stage it's at.

Now, I'd show my normal spreadsheet at this point, but quite frankly, it looks like a flat line - that massive pile of incomplete work means that any day's work just doesn't have an opportunity to show up. So, I stripped down a copy of the sheet to only include items that I've started on the Kanban board.

So, each of the two systems has its own advantages. The spreadsheet shows that I've done something, but gives a false sense of progress in terms of getting things finished.

The spreadsheet also shows something else interesting - until last week, I tried to focus on doing a massive blitz each weekend - notice the complete and total lack of progress . . . I then changed to trying to do a little bit each day - for much better results. It broke down the barrier of me wanting to sit down at the painting desk, and even on days when I wasn't really in the mood for painting, some little bits and bobs got done. Given the success of "paint a little each day", I intend to continue with it wherever possible.

Friday 25 October 2013

TRO's Infinity Week: My Initial Impressions of Infinity

So, it's been a week and I need to try and think up something approaching some coherent words to explain how I'm currently feeling about Infinity.

This is not helped by some people on the Dark Sphere Facebook group starting a conversation about the new Judge Dredd game... My short attention span is now bouncing around an awful lot about that, too.

What's interesting me about both right now is their potential for campaigns. I really want a system where I can have a series of linked games and tell an awesome story, but that's also affects the mechanics of how my battles progress.

The impression I'm getting of Infinity is that it's in its early artistic stages. I'm unsure if it will ever leave them. I've seen posts from people confused about Corvus Belli's strategy, and I suspect the reason for their confusion is that their current strategy is "make the models we're inspired to make".

The broad brush strokes it is currently painted with means that I can fill in the gaps to my own personal taste. There's always the risk that other players may not have the same interests as me and are trying to get different things out of the game.

I had been initially quite intrigued by the idea of a number of missions involving specialists interacting with things, be they hackers or engineers, and still need to try this out, but reading a number of other forums give me the impression that there may be some issues with that, but I'll withhold judgement until I've played a bit more.

Infinity also seems to have a thriving tournament scene, which in the long term I'd like to poke my nose into. Its supported by Corvus Belli and seems popular. However, it does require the use of all Infinity models, so I am a way from being able to get involved in that just yet!

Mechanically, I like the game and the concepts around the game. The fact you keep your Lieutenant secret, the replacement of hidden models with camouflage tokens, or even not placed on the board! Robots, mechs, hacking, engineers and doctors - and that's before you get into some of the weirdness some of the army specific people get.

I'm also tempted to knock together some of my own scenarios. Watching a friend of mine play Pay Day 2 on Youtube has kind of inspired me to put together some sort of bank robbery scenario, with one side playing security guards and the other side elite mercenaries with lots of Camo... As a tool for storytelling, I think that Infinity has a lot of potential.

It also occurs to me that what I am looking to recreate is the same experience I had, and craved to improve, with Necromunda. Reading about the GW Design Studio campaign inspired me and I've been chasing that impossible set by Andy Chambers all those years ago! Which does lead back to a curious question of why I don't just dig out my Necromunda rules and play that...

I was super excited about Infinity, but my enthusiasm is now cooling just a little. I think it's a "calm heads" situation - its still a good system, and one I absolutely intend to play more of. However, it isn't the holy grail of miniature gaming (nor is, I think, any system). Despite this, I am broadly positive about the game. It is a game which does a number of things (in particular with hacking, camo and odd bits of sci fi wargear) which I think no other game does right now. It has an absolutely unique feel to its mechanics and game play I've not encountered anywhere else. With so many clones and 'closely inspired' games and settings on the market, its something I want to encourage and support in the future. Expect to see more Infinity from me in the future.

Thursday 24 October 2013

TRO's Infinity Week: Battle Report 2: Nomads vs PanOceania

So, those of you who read yesterday's post will know that my first experience of Infinity translated as "don't stand in the open and get shot".

That vital learning experience in mind, I grabbed a list that I'd actually put together as a much earlier draft than my final list, to see how that worked.

 INTERVENTOR Lieutenant (Hacking Device Plus) Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 26)
 CHIMERA Combi Rifle, Nanopulser, Zero-V Smoke Grenades / Viral CCW. (24)
 REAKTION ZOND HMG, Antipersonnel Mines / Electric Pulse. (1 | 28)
 ZERO MULTI Sniper Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 32)
 INTRUDER Combi Rifle + Light Flamethrower, Grenades / Pistol, CCW. (36)

Again, list courtesy of the Infinity Army Builder. Enter the code below if you want to see more details:


This list retains the Chimera and Pupniks, which I adore the models for and want to use if I do start buying Infinity models.

I'd wanted to try a remote (cute robots), which the Nomads call Zonds. The Reaktion Zond is a cute little bot that's designed as a defence unit - it is really really good at shooting people who are running around in front of it. I also assumed it would be a bit tougher than a person, but looking at its stats now, it's really squishy, and just survives by machine gunning anything that looks at it funny.

In order to take adorable robots, you need a Hacker or a TAG (Mecha), and given the points value, TAGs were right out, so I took a Hacker, and given the available points, made them my Lieutenant as well. As the Intruder Sniper is super expensive, I compromised on a Zero Sniper, and took a very basically armed Intruder. Both of these models have Camo, and the Zero can infiltrate, which is a New And Interesting Thing.

So, this time around I went for a smarter plan. I won first turn, had to deploy first, so placed my machine gunning little robot in an open, elevated spot on the left. He may be hard to spot as it was a borrowed, only undercoated model from my opponent, but he is there. It's not in game Camo this time!

The crazy close combat team got put in front of the wall to make a mad dash for the building in the centre to give them some cover, with the Lieutenant happily cowering behind the wall. The Intruder I held back, and because the Zero infiltrates, I got to hold him back too!

Opponent's deployment complete, I put my basic Intruder with the Lieutenant to give him some extra firepower.

The Zero with the sniper rifle . . . now, I get a bit smart. He has mines as well, so I don't put him somewhere you'd expect a sniper rifle to be. The plan here is to advance my assault team past his position with him putting mines down to cover their assault, before he sneaks into a good mid or late game firing position.

Interestingly, the Reaktion Zond does it's job, and my opponent drops a cautious deployment on his left flank away from the bullet spitting defence bot. This is pretty much where I want to advance Team Stabby, so I'm pretty happy with that.

So, Team Stabby peg it forward, and use their claws to climb up the side of the building and in through the window. I then use some extra orders to have their squad leader head forward and drop a smoke grenade onto the bridge.

My Zero then heads forward and lays a mine on the corner of the Bridge to cover anyone sneaking up that way. My Hacker and Intruder make their way up to the back of the building.

This is nearly a mistake, as the following turn, the drone and handler you see top right made a run down the corridor to try and put a great big hole in my hacker, who my opponent suspects may be my Lieutenant.

This is the aftermath. The flamethrower drone mis-judges its route trying to stay out of range of being hacked and ambles into the line of sight of the Reaktion Zond and is filled full of holes very effectively. Its handler decides to try and do the job properly and rounds the corner to point blank the hacker, who turns and neatly drops a shot between his eyes and kills him dead.

I hold my impetuous irregulars back this turn, squandering an order to stop them charging into the open past the dispersed smoke grenades. I fired off some more smoke. And missed. And missed again. You can't quite see it, but there's a flame thrower remote sitting by the door of the building just off camera at the top left, so they really, really don't want to go that way.

Instead, I have them scamper down the side of the building and hide in the smoke. As a note, I later realised that smoke disperses at the end of my turn, so we got this a bit wrong, but it didn't really change the result.

Turns out the robots have a trick that lets them fire blind anyway. Flame-throwers on exposed troops hurts!

I'm pretty sure I can take out the remaining robot with my Intruder, who has advanced up while Team Stabby have been being a distraction by being shot in the face.

Yup. But it seems my Intruder misjudged how far Camo gets you around open spaces! My sniper finally unmasks to put a wound on that pesky knight who is lurking around.

He decides to return the favour by sneaking around into the building and putting a great big hole in my sniper. To end the game, my Zond shuffles to the side to get a good line on the knight, and opens up with the machine gun, putting him down, finally.

We called the game at this point as it was getting late, and the few surviving models on both sides were miles from each other, with few orders on either side to really get much done. My opponent graciously said I had the moral win given the value of the points left alive on both sides.

My (somewhat dubious) honour is restored!

A huge thank you to my opponent (who is also the chap I played at Malifaux a while back). Some people may think it rude I'm not addressing him by name, but I don't give names on the blog unless I've asked, and I didn't think to in this case. He was courteous, helpful, and gave me a ton of good advice on how to get better at playing Infinity.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

TRO's Infinity Week: Battle Report 1: Nomads vs PanOceania

Last week, I was lucky enough to find someone on the Dark Sphere Facebook group who was willing to offer me a demo game of Infinity. Having done a little bit of internet research, and based off some recommendations of the other Infinity players, I came up with the following list.

 SECURITATE Lieutenant Combi Rifle + Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (23)
 SECURITATE HMG / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 28)
 INTRUDER (X Visor) MULTI Sniper Rifle / Pistol, CCW. (1.5 | 52)
 CHIMERA Combi Rifle, Nanopulser, Zero-V Smoke Grenades / Viral CCW. (24)
 MODERATOR Combi Rifle + Light Grenade Launcher / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (0.5 | 14)
 MODERATOR Combi Rifle / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (9)

 3 SWC | 150 Points

Infinity has an online army builder for all the available factions, and while it's not very intuitive, it is free! You can see it in more detail if you copy and paste the army code below into the builder.


The idea here was that the Securitate with the Heavy Machine Gun would lay down some covering fire, while the Intruder with the MULTI Sniper Rifle would dominate any open ground. Meanwhile, the Chimera and the Pupniks would advance through cover to try and stab people in the face, with the Moderators mostly making up points and providing some extra orders.

This was the battlefield we set up. Given that I have no idea what I'm doing, we agreed it was just trying to shoot each other up a lot. My opponent won the roll for first turn, and set up first. I then set up second.

You'll notice I'm not using Infinity figures. I'm playing some "counts as" games with proxy models while I learn the system. The Storm Trooper on the right is the Securitate with the HMG, set up in some cover to lay down some covering fire. The other Storm Trooper is the Securitate Lieutenant. The Beastman is the Chimera and the three Guardsmen with it are the Pupniks.

Just so not everything was on the right flank, the two Moderators occupied the left.

On his right flank, a single grunt trooper was in the canyon. His religious knight and some security guy who has a pet drone with a flame thrower hid behind the building.

On his left flank, a bunch of troopers lay prone in the rocky outcrop, while his other guy with a flame thrower robot were placed to flank me.

Each side gets to hold back one model to place last. In my case, it was the Intruder Sniper. Because he has technological camouflage, the model isn't placed, but a token is instead.

The skirmish started with his sniper opening up...

Which cost me my machine gunner.

The knight advances into the building, is spotted by the Moderator with the grenade launcher, but the shot misses!

... and he pays the price.

Within moments, the advancing knight has dispatched his colleague, too.

The knight then took up position (at the doorway to the red bridge) overlooking the remaining troops.

(All of that was one PanOceania turn!)

In my turn, the Chimera and Pupniks have to advance as they are Impetuous, and that costs them a Pupnik in the advance, but some smoke does get laid down.

Unfortunately, the flame thrower bot comes over to play, leaving me with no Chimera or Pupnik survivors...

Here you can see its operator, sneaking around a bit further back, out of danger.

Using the smoke, its able to advance, taking out the sniper, at which point the game was called - definitely a win for PanOceania.

This definitely shows that playing Infinity is very different to Warhammer 40K. The lethality of the weapons, even if you're in cover, can play merry hell with your plans as losing models loses you orders (actions for your models) too.

As this game had finished so early, we agreed to play a second game, with me picking a different list for my second attempt.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

TRO's Infinity Week: Introducing Infinity

Infinity is a sci-fi skirmish game, set 175 years into the future. Its key features are relatively deadly shooting and the use of robots and anime style mecha alongside the normal infantry. There are a varied number of factions, and an alien invasion is just starting.

Most of the game rules are available as a free download, but to quickly understand how the game works, I heartily recommend the basic rules introduction videos that Corvus Belli has put up on Youtube.

Rules Tutorial 1 - Orders

Rules Tutorial 2 - Roll

Rules Tutorial 3 - Modifiers

Infinity has a company run tournament system, which has official prize support and seems to be heavily contested. It also has a campaign system, with special forces soldiers who gain experience.

The nature of the game means that you need a lot of terrain, especially stuff that completely blocks line of sight, such as buildings. I may have mentioned before that I have a teensy bit of a terrain 'problem', and my recent interest in Infinity was caused by a link on Bell of Lost Souls to this chap's somewhat awesome wargaming board.

Also, my upcoming battle reports are going to be totally put to shame by this report from Bell of Lost Souls.

I'm getting distracted.

Infinity has a number of factions, as mentioned before, so here's a quick run down of them.

The largest amalgamation of nations, it has a Western feel, with a lot of troop miniatures who look professional and well armed, a healthy dose of sci fi knightly orders, and a side helping of Sikh commandos and Swiss Guard.

Yu Jing
The Far Eastern faction. Pretty much what you'd expect. Their Mecha look awesome, they have Akira style bikes, Shaolin Monks and Ninjas.

Isolated colonists who have claimed independence - made up of the descendants of Cossacks, Americans, Scots and French. They are less tech-y, but have Scottish Werewolves.

A humanist and philosophical Islamic faction, whose doctors are better than everyone else's. They have a monopoly on key medical products in the background. They have a wide range of infantry and some mono-wheeled bikers, but are light on Mecha and robots.

Space dwelling folk who really don't get on with the Aleph AI (more on that later). Excellent hackers and engineers, and swarms of robots and good mecha.

Combined Army
Alien invasion force, part of some great big hive mind. They do horrible, horrible things. Big alien beasts, lots of infiltrators. I'm lot allowed to show any pictures of these models to my wife in case she accidentally buys all of them and increases her lead mountain.

I said I'd get to these guys. They are, like, the Apple army. Its a faction linked to the Aleph AI, which controls the computers of the human races (except the Nomads, who don't trust it). The question as to whether or not it has its own agenda and what that agenda is seems to be left pretty open by the designers, but it has its own independent forces. They seem to play in a slightly different way to the other factions.

You can theoretically create a Mercenary force across the different groups, but it isn't allowed in Tournament play. You can also hire in some mercenaries for your own force, which is again heavily limited for tournament games.

This is a new faction, a new alien race opposed to the Combined Army. They seem to use a lot of symbiotic biotechnology, and I really like their look. They're about the only faction who might tempt me away from the Nomads...

Monday 21 October 2013

An Infinity Week? But this post isn't about Infinity! Some painting progress...

Well, it sort of is.

I was down in Dark Sphere last week to play a demo game of Infinity with some proxy models. It was enjoyable enough that it's led to be writing quite a few blog posts on the subject of Infinity, which will be coming out over the next few days.

One of the on duty staffers was painting up some Hordes models with a friend of his for some event or other. He was working to a deadline, and was skipping on the undercoating. This made me very sad. I took a photo of his crimes so that all may know of his crimes against painting. Hopefully, my darling wife won't make him eat the models as penance.

My plans for productiveness for painting and modelling at the weekend failed miserably. I only got a little done.

One of the Marionettes is almost done now. He just needs a little detail picking out. I went with orange hair because it makes him look much more like a put together puppet than a person. It's a nice contrast to the other colours on the model. Collodi is also much more advanced, too.

I also started doing some water effects on two more bases so I can try some other combinations that I talked about two weeks ago.

The clear base has encountered another problem - leaks. The water effect has run over the edge of the base, disrupting the surface tension of the water, and leading to the water level still being a little low. There's also a ripple effect on one edge where I suspect it's had some sort of problem drying. I know I haven't touched it, so it's not a finger print.

Now on my "to do" list is researching ways of creating a little modelling dam around the edge of the bases so I don't have the same problem again.

The sepia mixed wash has generally gone quite well, but I feel like I've lost too much of the colour on the corpse flesh that I was really happy with. Its leading me to suspect that one of my two new combinations, when finished, may be the best option over all.

Even though it's not finished drying yet, I think it's clear the Agrax Earthshade base is just too dark. I've lost any detail I had before. Definitely not one to repeat!

Does anyone out there have any good water effects tips?

Monday 14 October 2013

Dealing with "Screamer-Star"

So, those of you who follow "the meta" of 40K will have heard a little about a particularly horrible build called "The Screamer Star".

For those of you who don't follow what particular finest cheese people are working on at the moment, the build works as follows:

- Take a massive unit of Tzeentch Screamers
- Take Fateweaver
- Take four Tzeentch heralds on discs
- The heralds all try and get the Demonic Reward called the Grimoire
- Take lots of divination magic

These all combine together to end up with the Screamers gaining a 4+ invulnerable save, which the Grimoire then adds a +2 to result in a 2+ invulnerable save - and Tzeentch demons get to re-roll and saves which roll a 1. In short, a very fast 2+ invulnerable save unit which re-rolls the 1s.

This is something which people have been having a lot of trouble dealing with, unsurprisingly. In general, people have been looking at:

  • Sniping out the guy with the Grimoire
  • Waiting for the turn when the Grimoire reduces the save instead of increasing (unlikely, due to Fateweaver's reroll)
  • Shoot Fateweaver in the face to increase the risk of the Grimoire failing
  • Putting a tough resilient unit into close combat with the Screamers to tie them up for as long as possible
So, I started wondering how else you could murder them dead. I worked out if volume of fire could do it. Well, it would take 144 lasgun shots using "First Rank Fire" to take down a fully buffed up Screamer, and 1,296 to take out a full unit. So . . . that won't work.

I then remembered the Grey Knight Banisher, who is a Henchman who forces any demon within 6" to re-roll their successful save. Yes, there are some challenges in getting him in place. But that would take it down to 24 lasguns per Screamer - much more achievable for the Guard. Why so good? Because of the rule on Page 5 which states that no-one can be allowed to re-roll, no matter the source. If the demons re-roll their successful save, they can't then re-roll it a second time..

What I'm curious about is if there are any other, more commonly available powers which also force re-rolls of successful saves. Anyone got any ideas?

Monday 7 October 2013

Learning water effects, and progress on a Herald and Collodi's crew

Having been listening to the Independent Characters podcast quite a bit recently, I decided to throw together my own Kanban board as well as my ongoing burndown chart / spreadsheet of everything ever.

Ah, so a lot of admin to tell me that I had far too many unfinished painting projects. Perhaps I should have worked that out myself?

So, as the thing that would take the longest to see the results in, I started out by trying to learn water effects.

So, lesson one. This stuff is very runny and can go everywhere. I was using GW's water effects, because that's what we had a bottle of already. I did three test bases of the corpse counters I'd already done. From top to bottom - just water effects on it's own, water effects mixed with Seraphim Sepia, and water effects mixed with Agrax Earthshade.

That grainy thing really, really had me worried. I had no idea how it was going to turn out. Twenty four hours later...

This is not a great photo, but the 'top to bottom' is now going left to right. Clear water effects are, well, clear water effects-y. The Sepia looks OK, if maybe a little dark, and the Agrax Earthshade is definitely way too dark for anything I'm trying with my swamp water. If you were wanting something really unpleasant without much detail showing through from underneath, though, you may want to consider it.

You'll also notice that the water has shrunk right down. That means I'm going to need to do a second layer. I'm also considering doing some other combinations, such as clear water effect, washing the top, then another clear layer - or sepia mixed with water effects, then clear in the second layer.

I am inordinately glad I'm experimenting with my corpse tokens, and not miniature bases with miniatures up to their ankles in water...

The Herald of Tzeentch is rocking along nicely now. He's a project for a friend. Here's his disk starting to get done. I tried Vallejo's Liquid Gold for the first time, and I will say, if you remember to shake it, this stuff is amazing. But it is alcohol based, so don't use your expensive brush, wash the brush thoroughly, and don't try and mix it with water - if you need it thinning, use white spirit.

You may also notice that the eyes are using the same trick I did on my Beastman - white base coat, yellow glaze, then orange wash. They've turned out very nicely. This one just needs a little ink to bring the gold back down again, touching up a few spots where paint has gone over the lines, and re-blend the underside of his tail where I managed to lose some of the work I'd already done with some over enthusiastic nonsense.

And here is our passenger, who is not as far advanced. He is ridiculously fragile, and a pain in the wossname. I had to ask my darling wife for some help in sorting out his finger, which she has now green stuffed a replacement for. There's also a pin inside that green stuff, so there's probably now more structural integrity in the hand than there is in his entire arm.

The staff has also been an absolute nightmare, and some of the stray fiddly bits there needed pinning to stop them making breaks for freedom. I do generally like Finecast as a material for larger pieces, but the Games Workshop obsession with ridiculous fiddly detail which is easy to break off is a grave mistake for models which will actually be used for gaming.

My wife is a saint and a genius, without whom I would probably have admitted defeat on this poor chap. She is awesome and I don't tell her this often enough.

Collodi and his crew are blocking up a big section of my Kanban painting column. I decided getting them over into the basing column would really free me up to get some other things done.

Here's the start of the first Marionette's wood being done. The green on all of them has now been completed, brought up to a much lighter tone closer to the box display.

That's all I got done this weekend - nothing is really finished, but the unrealistic targets at least motivated me to get a bunch further along. Here's hoping that the current pace continues somehow!