Monday 25 May 2020

Wait, that wasn't the plan at all

Going into the bank holiday long weekend, I had a clear plan. Finish up a few bits of housework then really sit down and blitz painting and assembling to really get back into things. I was enthusiastic and keen.

Then on Friday night, I decided I should do a thing I've been putting off for ages, and learn how to use the Click and Drop service by Royal Mail. So just before I went to bed I put up a quick post on my club trades page and my personal Facebook, offering to post people a thing from my collection if they asked and I wasn't really using it.

So, erm, I'm still posting things. I've made three trips to the post box so far, each time with a full "bag for life", and there's still a few things to go. In fairness, the last bag had two large parcels of knitting as my beloved noticed I was doing these trips and decided to use Click and Drop herself as I was already heading that way.

I took some beautiful panoramic shots of the chaos yesterday, but on review, they have so many opened boxes with my address on it that I'm not putting them on my blog. Like, I love y'all but I don't want you all thinking you can drop by to my flat whenever.

Still, it is a definite indication I have too much stuff that I can spend three days sending people stuff I had, and I'm still not finished. I couldn't even find some of the things I know I have, somewhere. I can definitely afford to be rid of a few more things. And there will probably be only a small visible dent on the collection when I'm done and I've consolidated some boxes.

I won't be getting rid of the pricey stuff yet - I want to wait until guidelines indicate it's OK to go to the Post Office for non essential trips before I do, as I'll want to send them recorded delivery. But I can now start the process of steadily working through the bulk of the low value stuff.

Also, much love to other people who noticed someone looking for a thing on my thread that I didn't have and offered it themselves. The community are good people.

The boxes for Operation Kaldstrom arrived during the week. I needed a Liang Kai for O-12 and was paranoid that N4 might have other forces that allowed him, that I collected in a different paint scheme, so I picked up a second bundle. I've now conveniently fixed this by giving away a PanO set and a Yu Jing set so I now only have one box worth! I'm holding on to those until White Company mercenary army drops, and I see if I need any of them.

I'm enjoying getting a few casual games of Infinity in using Tabletop Simulator, while starting to get impatient for N4. Hopefully I'll have plenty of models painted by then!

I got a few more bits of Gnawhole assembled during the week, but that's all the progress I've got! Still, I've booked some holiday from work to sit at home and paint with all the cancelled holidays from trips and LARP I was going to do.

Lets just try not to get quite so distracted next time.

Monday 18 May 2020

Stalling out

Having run out of scheduled posts of painted miniatures, I've had to come to the distinct conclusion that I'm in a slump. The flat was getting into a bit of a state as well, so I spent the Saturday catching up some housework, mixed with playing some Skyrim. You don't get photos of either of those, but you do get to see some of my Sunday.

Once I'd had Sunday Morning Coffee with Annie, I settled down to getting some hobby done. I mixed in Something New And Exciting with clearing up some old projects. I had four different things that I'd finished assembly that had been waiting for undercoat for ages, so I got those all sprayed. Then I settled down to assemble my Skaven Gnawholes.

These are part of my Skaven army project, and are a free terrain piece you get any time you play an all Skaven army in Age of Sigmar. As the milestone around my neck was a Skaven infantry (see below) I thought maybe a slightly larger kit would be a nice self contained thing that could be a success.

It was both successful and not successful. These are super, super precise kits that fit together incredibly precisely, so I need to be extra careful when gluing each bit together, because any slack nonsense will result in the entire thing having massive gaps all over the place. This also means I have to be super careful with mould lines and sprue connections on every single piece. Fortunately, hardly any mould lines. Unfortunately, loads of places it connects with the sprue.

So, they aren't done.

But oh my goodness, sprue connection clean up was the most restful thing. Just slowly working away with a scalpel blade. Is it perfect? No? Well, keep going.

Meanwhile, over here is the culprit for the slow down. The 90s Queek from the Made to Order a while ago has been on my paint desk for ages. He's being painted in contrast to match the rest of the army. But it turns out that the 90s character models are full of tiny fiddly details, so there's a ton to do. I had to pull his trophy rack off as well to get to bits to paint.

That said, he's nearly done. The model is basically there - I just need to finish up the base drybrush and edge, then get the trophy rack finished up. But it's become a bit of a millstone, so I just couldn't bring myself to do those small simple jobs. Maybe I'll get to it during the week?

Definite lesson from today. If one bit of hobby is proving a drag, change lanes, do something else and you'll get progress and feel invigorated for it.

Oh, also, cheeky sneak preview WiP of another Bad Squiddo Amazon. I should definitely get her finished up.

I'd have shown you the Fenris Games scenery I undercoated, but I undercoated it black and it's currently just a cheerful void. I'll just have to show you them when I've painted them.

Thursday 14 May 2020

HATE Infinity Isolation League Round 1 - Frontline: Tunguska vs Vanilla Nomads

With no-one getting out to socialise yet, Hackney Area Tabletop Enthusiasts have set up a small Tabletop Simulator Infinity League because we could. We'll be playing a round every couple of weeks while we can't get in to the club.

I decided to run Tunguska as I've been interested in them as a Sectorial for quite a while but never played a game with them. It turns out that Tabletop Simulator lets you get going on a force much quicker without having to invest a ton of money in the models!

Having signed up to run Tunguska, I then spent a week and a half writing list after list and having horrible trouble with them. I'm used to running high model count lists, which Tunguska . . . just can't do. They're a relatively elite army, lacking large numbers of cheap troops to power the heavy hitters.

In the end, I snapped, took the Szalamandra TAG, and built a simple ten order list to support it.

The first mission was Frontline, to keep things nice and simple. As the mission has a Liaison Officer I wanted to take the Grenzer Forward Observer, which made me trend towards a Grenzer link on the grounds that it could use Forward Deployment to start in the scoring zones and save me orders moving it up.

I was up against a member of the club who is moving out of Bakunin and into vanilla Nomads. My main plan was to not worry too closely about all the clever tricks and just shoot everything with a really big gun.

My opponent had placed his Liaison Officer - a Moran Forward Observer - prone on a rooftop in the centre of the building. I decided the first thing to do was to address that. I climbed the Szalamandra up a shipping container, then moved up and opened fire. There was a fine red mist where the Moran used to be, but he'd managed to put his Crazy Koalas on Standby when he saw me climbing up.

My Zondnautica then advanced up the other side of the building and took a shot at the Interventor who'd dodged a little too far away from the Szalamandra and into her line of sight, but the Interventor got lucky and managed to dodge again into a very very small blind spot I couldn't see from either side.

I started to advance my Szalamandra up, but was unfortunately hit by a lucky Flash Pulse, stunning it for the rest of the turn. I moved it back as far as I could and pushed the link up to provide as much ARO cover as they could manage.

I started to realise my mistake as various Morlocks started running forward under their own orders to start building a line of smoke up to my Szalamandra. And then the Uberfallkommando started moving up.

They charged out of the smoke and swarmed onto the TAG. Hoping to survive one round of beating, I reacted with the heavy flamethower... But there were just too many hits with the Viral close combat and the TAG was removed. The Pupniks all burned to a crisp, but the Chimera survived.

And to add some extra injury to the injury, one of the Morlocks managed to run up and dropped a Chain Rifle template over the link, taking out the Hacker.

I spent a boring turn running the doctor and their remote around to heal up enough of the link to get back in the game, and advanced models into the scoring zones. Weirdly, everyone was looking at the Chimera's hidey-hole, so when she ran around the corner she was blown off the board.

My Grenzers were able to take out an advancing Tysklon Spitfire, but the Nomad player still had plenty of orders left to recover from some bad luck with the dice.

I ended the turn with most of the link down, another Morlock who'd advanced under smoke covering most of my surviving models, and very little I could do to recover. I made a short but valiant attempt to turn the tide, but I didn't have a lot of orders to do it in.

The Nomad Taskmaster then switched into the main group, activated as Lieutenant and went on a spree of gunning down surviving models. I had nothing left to resist with, leaving me with an 8-1 loss with only 45 points left on the table while my opponent had a solid 239 left up.

If I was to run a limited insertion list again, I think I'd want both a Total Reaction remote and probably also a Heckler Jammer covering the approaches to the TAG to make sure it didn't get destroyed by warbands.

I suspect warbands are going to be something I'm going to continue to struggle with...

Monday 11 May 2020

Painting Progress: Awesome Amazons

I'm pleased to report I've finished two of the Bad Squiddo Games Amazons. These two are sold as Amazon Princesses. I used a couple of Gamer's Grass tufts to liven up the bases, too. (Annie at Bad Squiddo also stocks the tufts.)

These models are about 80% painted with contrast, with a few bits and bobs hand painted over the top. I was using them to practice faces. Both took two attempts. I'm most happy with the sword lady on the left.

The lady on the right had some more serious problems with my face paint attempts. At one point I'd messed it up so bad that the paint had gotten too thick and I had to gently scrape it off with a scalpel blade. She also looks a bit better in person than in the photos, where the shadows around her eyes aren't quite right.

Still, happy to have two more models ticked off the painting list, and looking forward to getting some more Amazons done, as I'm really enjoying painting these sculpts.

Saturday 9 May 2020

Small Company Saturdays: Battle Systems

One of my Not-Salute purchases was a couple of sheets of terrain from Battle Systems. They make card stock terrain that's pretty affordable. Now I've got it assembled, I thought I'd show it off and also give a small review.

I'm going to split the review into three parts. First, I'll show you the assembled kits and comment on them generally. Then, show you some photos with some miniatures and how they suit most games. Finally, I'll add a few comments on how they might work in a game of Infinity, which is particularly picky when it comes to terrain.

General Kit Review

I bought two kits. The first was the Industrial Turbine set.  It consists of a big industrial turbine, unsurprisingly, but also includes a nice bit of duct work that can attach to another building. This does highlight the first problem with these kits, which is that they work on the assumption that you're intending to have a full set of them, rather than integrate them into an existing terrain set up.

The other premise you're working with is that they're intended to be able to pack away flat again afterwards. This does mean that they slot together in some incredibly clever ways. If (like me) you're not intending to take them apart afterwards, it means that gluing them together is a pretty easy proposition, but you are left with some obvious "this is a kit" protrusions where the kit fits together.

The second kit I got was the Shipping Container set. Here you get a shipping container, a dumpster, three crates, four wooden pallets and a hatch. The crates and the shipping container all have a somewhat terrifying part to their assembly if you're gluing them because the bottom of them just fits edge on against the sides, meaning you've got to get it flat, and any glue creeping out the sides will end up sticking them to your work bench and then ripping the printed outer layer off. Ask me how I know that. (Fortunately it was on the shipping crate, and a gentle application of the nearest brown contrast paint just made it look like particularly deep rust. Also, it's on the bottom.)

All the kits try, where possible, to come with two designs that can be assembled either way out. You can have a clean or a rusty industrial turbine, and your shipping container can either be blue or rusty white.  Even the hatch has an open and shut side. This isn't possible with some of the kits, like the dumpster, due to how they assemble, but it does mean that you could buy duplicates of the kit and have a good variation across them.

Using the kits in games

They're fine.

I should probably add more detail than that.

The card stock they're made from is pretty thick, so in practical terms, it will actually stay where you put it. You don't want to be jogging your table particularly hard, but they'll not escape from where you put them if there's a strong breeze. Even when the printed side is facing the table, it's matte enough that it doesn't slip about. You might have a problem if you have a particularly glossy mouse mat material style gaming mat, but I didn't have one to compare to.

I put a few Infinity figures next to them and they didn't look particularly out of place. The shipping container definitely gives the impression that you'd need to duck to get into it, but that's not completely implausible. They'd certainly be usable on a battlefield without looking wrong. I'd certainly recommend them more strongly to someone playing in 25mm or 28mm than Malifaux, Infinity or modern 40K where the models tend towards being a little taller (especially the newer models).

So the scale is OK. They advertise as suited for 28mm - 35mm, but I'd put them as more suited for 25mm - 32mm, though I  do wonder if I'm just used to oversized scenery. Here's the shipping container placed next to two other manufacturer's shipping containers - on the left Reaper Bones, and in the middle is by Right Arm Labs. The Battle Systems container just seems a little small compared to them.

Infinity Play Considerations

So, turbine first. Placing a S2 silhouette next to it, it looks like it can provide full cover in a pinch, though you'd want to be careful about shots from elevations or being outflanked.

There is a silhouette marker behind this turbine. Full cover confirmed!

 As you can see, there's not much elevation needed before a firefight breaks out. Using this sort of sized terrain in large amounts may result in a more open table than intended.

The "shipping container is a little too small" hypothesis bears out when we put a size 2 silhouette marker next to it. It's just a little too small to definitively break line of sight. I'd not recommend using this on an Infinity board, especially for a tournament or club board where lots of people are going to play on it.

Here you can see the problem. The S2 marker just peaks out over the top of the container. It's going to lead to nothing but ongoing marginal line of sight calls when used.

As there isn't a 3mm square visible, but it's taller than the obstacle, I believe it allows you to vault onto it without a movement penalty, but someone can't target you while you're behind it. There's a weird potential loophole that argues you can then shoot out from it as your line of sight doesn't require you to have a 3mm square visible to see out. This is the sort of terrain where you'd want to make sure you talked it over with your opponent and got a clear agreement as to how you were playing it before you started. For the sake of a shipping container, I'd personally just leave it on the shelf and pick a different, slightly taller one!

In summary

Battle Systems provides good quality, clever, quite pretty card stock terrain at a pretty good price. They're a little generous on their scale recommendations and I'd gently steer people towards using slightly smaller scales with their stuff. I would broadly avoid buying their terrain for Infinity tables as some of them have size challenges with the Infinity silhouette system that means they don't quite provide as much full cover as you'd expect, and could possibly lead to some line of sight arguments.

Don't take my cautions too negatively, though. Infinity is a weird child with terrain at the best of times. If you're playing anything casually and want quick terrain that saves you a paint job, definitely pick this up.

Thursday 7 May 2020

Infinity Code One Battle Report - Supplies: Combined Army vs Yu Jing (Tabletop Simulator)

Corvus Belli recently released "Code One", a simpler set of rules for Infinity to help people get into the game in a more accessible way. They've made four armies available with these rules to start off with, based on the two most recent introductory sets. The rules are available to download for free, and there's an online army builder as well.

Experienced players have been looking at Code One thoughtfully because we know that the fourth edition of Infinity is coming in August 2020. Code One has been written with fourth edition (N4) in mind, so we expect quite a few of the rules changes to similarly apply to N4.

To see how it played, we decided to have a friendly game of Supplies using Tabletop Simulator. I took Combined Army, while my opponent brought Yu Jing. We chose to play the game at 30 points.

I took the forward deploying version of Ko Dali, and sent her hunting camouflage markers. The first target was a Guilang Skirmisher. It turned out to be a Hacker, and used an ARO action as Ko Dali approached to Spotlight her. The extra bonus proved super useful as the Guilang crit Ko Dali and killed her stone dead.

Total Reaction Remotes turn out to be really rather good. I advanced mine onto a side building and shot down one of the Yu Jing ARO pieces (I think a Ye Mao Missile Launcher).

Then came the Yu Jing first turn. A Tiger Soldier Spitfire arrived in a rather inconvenient spot. He shot Umbra Samaritan Nourkias in the back, then started heading down the back line, destroying Slave Drone on the way!

The rampage comes to a sudden halt when a combi rifle remote gets a lucky hit, while the Gwailo manages to only take a single wound from having been shot in the back.

The Malignos Hacker murders a Guilang dead, then grabs a box and runs away.

Meanwhile the Guilang in the centre grabs a box and bundles back into the building. I send Agent Dukash to run and try and take it back but I don't quite have the orders left and he can't quite make it.

The new Yu Jing spec op then runs up, stabs up my Malignos and grabs the box back, securing a Yu Jing win.

I had a ton of fun with this. I've got a lot of thoughts about Code One that I'll try and sort into coherent order at some point in the future.

Monday 4 May 2020

End of April Hobby Progress

April has been the month where things started taking shape for hobby. It's been kind of helped by the lockdown and various other commitments being cancelled, but that's not just it. At the start of the month, I'd been painting single figures at a time, like these Shasvastii.

Which is fine. It gets them done, and it's for a skirmish game where I don't need a lot of models. But I do have a lot of models that I own, and I hadn't really found the method for upping the pace.

Getting the Wargames Atlantic Halflings done has pointed the way on how I should be getting larger projects done. I was able to get the assembly and core colours done as a batch of five, but then needed to focus down onto finishing single models for the details.

Completing the scatter terrain for the club confirmed that larger batches are a bad idea as they got half completed and then killed my momentum dead. Still, they're done and have helped contribute to moving from having 7 completed models this year to 33. We're heading in the right direction!

While I was stalled on the scatter terrain, I ended up getting to the point where I realised I was building up a huge pile of assembled but unpainted minis. To make sure I was only assembling stuff that was likely to get painted relatively soon, I dug out my Bandua pre-painted terrain that needed assembly. I found it remarkably restful, so I'm likely to continue doing similar in the future!

With 33 models painted, I now have 222 purchased models between my supporting small companies / not Salute run, the Wyrd Miniatures Easter Sale and a Kickstarter turning up. Oops. I've put the brakes on the purchases now while I work on getting this backlog cleared out.

Right now I'm finishing up painting my second Skaven, the old metal Queek Headtaker model from the Made to Order a while ago. I'm painting the assortment of Bad Squiddo models I showed off as assembled a couple of weeks ago to break that up.

Assembly wise, the Battle Systems terrain I picked up is getting done pretty quickly, and I'm finishing up the last Malifaux Prospector who's been procrastinated over to an epic extent.

I am definitely going to start assembling the plastic Skaven I have this coming month. Painting wise, I really want to finish up the Shasvastii from Wildfire. I may hold the Gwailo back from the blog and paint it for the Mayacast painting challenge.

Meanwhile, on the gaming front, I've managed to try out Code One using Tabletop Simulator, and I've signed up to a club Infinity League using TTS, and my first game is coming up. All in all, I'm feeling pretty positive about my hobby, despite The Situation.

Saturday 2 May 2020

Not-Salute Saturday: XLC and Black Scorpion Miniatures

The last of my "Not Salute" orders arrived over this week, so lets take a look at what I picked up. First up was a moderate sized order from Black Scorpion Miniatures. They're best known for doing high quality pirate miniatures, both historical and fantasy. They were offering this adorable plague doctor as their "show" miniature, which I just couldn't pass up.

To pad out the order to get up to the amount I needed to spend to get the plague doctor, I picked up these undead cowboys. I've realised that I'm currently holding off on painting my Malifaux crew because I'm unsure of a planned paint scheme and am nervous of messing it up. I'll use these four as test paints to get a good idea of what I'm planning to do.

But here's the models that drew me to Black Scorpion in the first place. Their two offerings of "Mercenaries" are lovely, characterful thugs and ne'erdowells that I'm really looking forward to getting paint on.

I'm pleased to say now I've got them in hand that their resin casts are nice and crisp, and should clean up a treat.

I've spent a couple of years looking super thoughtfully at XLC Wargaming Terrain, and decided to get a small building to try out. My one worry is that they're not intended for Infinity, so often have roofs that can't be reached until a model deploys there and other things I find annoying in Infinity tables. I'm just going to be picky with which ones I select to buy from a game play perspective, and it will be fine. There's still plenty of viable options.

Friday 1 May 2020

Trying Tabletop Simulator to play Infinity

I gave Tabletop Simulator a go the other day. It is what it says on the tin - a programme designed to emulate tabletop and board games. It has a pretty good Infinity mod, which is what I was trying out.

Tabletop Simulator itself is a teensy bit clunky, but serviceable. I have enough players locally that normally I wouldn't bother with it, but with in person gaming out of the question, I thought I'd give it a go.

One of the HATE club, Yashar, offered to give me a demo game and talk me through using it. His advice was that it was broadly OK to use but you needed to be more collaborative with your opponent on things like checking sight lines and so on.

And, more or less, I agree.

We had a Limited Insertion game of Frontline that wasn't much to write home about, as Yashar is a more consistent player than me usually, and my dice were utter garbage on top of that. But it was about the learning experience, and it definitely taught me that getting games in was entirely feasible.

I might manage to get a battle report or two done, depending on how we do. We've got a little league going to get some games in while we're all cooped up indoors, but it's already a pretty slow process. Adding making notes and taking screen shots might be a step too far.

That said, I'll see what I can do.