Thursday 29 February 2024

Reviewing February Goals

It's been a pretty productive month all told. The various half done models from the D&D in person game prep are all assembled, undercoated and ready for paint. (A couple have even started being painted...)

The original plan had been to paint a couple of Combined Army figures as this month's "project", but the fact I had two Battlemechs that needed some colour correction won out because they fell under the "half finished" banner. I also got a lance worth of 'mechs prepped up as planned so there's more selection of projects on the "to do" pile.

I also exceeded expectations a little bit by painting this little mushroom I sculpted with leftover milliput. I've also been trying a new paint technique and am halfway through the four 3D printed civilians from the Sheffield Satellite using it - meaning I got five miniatures painted this month in total.

So, a month where I set myself some sensible goals and proceeded to hit them. Possibly unheard of? Still, it's a busy month in March, so I'm unsure I'll be as successful next month...

Monday 26 February 2024

Just one wafer thin update

I sadly spent a good chunk of this week unwell, and much of that unwell time asleep. This has not done wonders for hobby productivity, unsurprisingly. Still, I managed to finish the undercoats on these Framework miniatures over the weekend in between catching up on jobs around the house.

I also had a moment of illness induced weakness and picked up REM Racers by Corvus Belli. This is a board game where you play pilots of giant remote controlled cars with assorted weapons. There's even card controllers for the remotes you using during the game. I shall report back when I've managed to fit in a game.

Thursday 22 February 2024

Phandelver Monsters

The latest lucky dip D&D miniatures set from Wizkids is the Phandelver set, based on the new, updated Phandelver campaign. The campaign book is mediocre, and this miniature set kind of matches it. There's a whole bunch of standard models like goblins and zombies with pretty shoddy paint jobs, but going through the store I go to for individual minis, I picked out a handful of the better sculpts and paint jobs.

First up is a Roper. A classic D&D dungeon encounter, this is a nice fun sculpt I thought was worth picking up. It's a good low to medium level encounter for D&D characters. Interestingly, I've noticed that while it's CR5 in D&D, its a hefty Level 10 in Pathfinder, making it a much tougher encounter for medium level PCs in that system.

This Young Amethyst Dragon is a CR 4 creature who hates Far Realm creatures. It works as a nice potential ally to PCs in the right type of campaign. It doesn't feel like it's the right level for acting as an opponent to a party whose Warlock has done a deal with a Far Realm entity or similar - that feels like a challenge that should come in later in their arcs.

I already have some excellent Reaper Wolves that I've painted up, but thought I'd pick up another. This one just isn't as nice looking and is a little glossy. The difference really highlights to me the benefit of painting things yourself if you have the time.

The Nothic has a slightly better paint job. He's a nice little weird aberration that could either be a low level encounter, or be a weird minion for some higher powered thing that should not be.

In the Phandelver game I ran, Stirges absolutely wrecked the party in large numbers, so I felt it would be worthwhile to pick up five for a nice little flock of bloodsucking horrors. They're a staple low level weird animal encounter that I enjoyed running online before, so will now be able to do in person as well...

I also got a Flameskull, which is another classic in the original Phandelver adventure. My party did not have a good time with it, as they failed some stealth rolls trying to spy on it while they were incredibly low on health and healing, so it lobbed a fireball right into the middle of them. It was sad times.

The Flameskull is, accurately, really quite teeny. Here it is next to a hero with a sword planning to put an end to its fire based reign of terror. It's a fun little critter that works well as part of a larger encounter, able to put out a lot of damage while remaining relatively fragile once hit...

So, all in all, I did OK at skimming through the Phandelver set, but I wouldn't be taking a risk on any of the blind boxes. People who split the boxes and sell the individuals are the only reason I've ended up investing in the models from this set, as the hit to miss ratio is particularly low in this range.

Monday 19 February 2024

Keeping the hobby pace up

I got another one of the 3D prints from the Sheffield Satellite painted up this weekend. This one is obviously based off Aramaki from Ghost in the Shell. I went with slightly different colour choices to try and move away from that look a little bit.

I've got a Battletech lance undercoated and ready for paint for March's project. There were a few mould lines to clean up, some basing paste and then a bit of nice weather on Sunday which allowed that gave me a bit of time to get them undercoated...

Back on the painting desk, three of the D&D Frameworks models have a base undercoat on. I'll tidy it up with a brush and add a zenithal before ticking them off. I started painting the two Oathmark Dwarf characters when waiting for other paint to dry. Getting them done will be a happy bonus. I've still got two Frameworks characters I bought for parts that I didn't use - the Tiefling Rogue is now assembled and just needs basing material and undercoating, while the Human Rogue still needs assembly.

I do have a couple of bits and pieces listed on eBay right now. There's a few PanOceania miniatures where I needed some of the box, plus a few Fenris miniatures where I accidentally ordered duplicates of models. I've listed everything at 99p to start, so there's a good chance of grabbing a bargain. 

Thursday 15 February 2024

HATE Infinity League: Supremacy vs O12

My local wargaming club, HATE, has started a new Infinity League. I'm running Nomads for it, and the first mission was Supremacy. I drew against O-12 for this round.

I lost the Lieutenant roll, and my opponent chose to go first. I picked deployment and set up defensively. I ran a Kriza Boracs, Jazz and Billie, the Uberfallkommando, a bunch of mid-field camo and support units.

I built most of my deployment decisions off placing the Uberfallkommando opposite the QAZ creature my opponent placed as a violent warband is the quickest and easiest way of clearing them.

My opponent ran a Gamma HMG up the right flank, protecting it with Team Sirius and a Varangian Guard.

The Epsilon took advantage of some smoke to clear out the Reaktion Zond. The O-12 player completed the first turn with two buttons pressed.

The Uberfallkommando headed up the table and one of the Pupniks hit and cleared out the QAZ creature.

My Libertos then attacked the Varangian and the Sirius remote, getting injured by the Gamma and going Dogged. I was keen to get rid of the Repeater on the Sirius remote to let me move Robin Hook up so her Repeater would hold the Gamma at bay.

I hid the Pupniks and Robin Hook around one of the consoles to hold things up. A Raveneye came up to try and take out Robin Hook, but was unable to target her from cover, meaning she was able to take the Raveneye Officer out.

My Kriza headed up the right flank and took out one of the Madtraps, before going into suppressive fire.

A Delta with Boarding Shotgun then came on behind the Kriza and managed to cause it a wound but walked into range of a Heckler with a Jammer, and ended up isolated.

My Sombra had revealed to do some hacking, and a Gangbuster then opened fire on it, when it failed a guts check and had to fall back into the line of fire of the Epsilon sniper. Fortunately for me the Epsilon didn't have any orders left to take advantage...

The Sirius snuck up on Robin Hook and took it out, but it took a whole bunch of orders to do so.

The Pupniks then counter-attacked and took out the Sirius trooper, freeing up the Chimera to throw an Eclipse Grenade between the Epsilon and the Sombra to let it move freely. I could have moved one of the Pupniks to trigger a remaining Madtrap, but decided not to.

The Sombra then moved up to flip the switch on one of the consoles on the O-12 side of the board. I had misjudged the distance and ended up Immobilised as a result.

The Sombra then survived two rounds of shooting while Immobilised before getting lucky and managing to break out of the glue. He then managed to take out a Bluecoat, switching the control of the quadrant to Nomad control.

In the end, we tied on quadrants for all three turns. I took two consoles to O-12's one, and also scored my classified, with an extra point for the type of classified it was. This meant I ended up with a 7-4 win.

A lot of this was down to luck - the Sombra really shouldn't have survived, and it won me the game. I've picked up a few more practical tips around using Nomads, with plenty more still to learn...

Monday 12 February 2024

Repaints, sculpting and a new painting technique…

First up on the painting table this weekend was fixing the two Lyran Guards Battlemechs I'd already painted. I'd realised a while ago that I hadn't painted them the same shade of blue, so I did a little colour correction, and added a little edge highlighting while I was there.

Here's how they looked before. They're not a perfect match still, but they're now much closer and it's an effort to spot, rather than being obvious.

I made a little mushroom from leftover Milliput. He's not very well sculpted, but I put a little paint on him, and he's perfectly serviceable for games.

I wanted to try out the underpainting method I saw in a Ninjon Video, so grabbed the 3D prints we were all given at the Sheffield Satellite tournament last year. This one got underpainted in blues and blue greens before I started on the rest.

I think he's turned out really well, so I'll probably be using this technique again.

I've still got three other miniatures to do. I've given them a few different colours to see how they turn out when I layer normal colours over the top. I'm intending to get them all done by the end of the month so they aren't "part done"...

Here's the Foundry Halflings and Oathmark Dwarfs undercoated and ready to paint. They'll now go onto the tray of "quick paints" I can knock out quickly when I have a little time and am waiting for something else to dry.

I also got the free Beastman based and undercoated. I'd decided I was going to paint this one using traditional paints, so didn't add a zenithal to him. With the mushroom, dwarfs and halflings, that's four of the things I was aiming to assemble this month all ready to paint.

I've got two of the D&D Frameworks miniatures assembled - the second Fighter I got to replace the shield arm on the Warlock, and the Warlock model whose alternative staff option became the player character's staff head. I dropped the Tiefling's head while assembling him, and when I went down to find it, I managed to find that shield arm I lost last month.

I said quite a few rude words.

I've still got the elf ranger who was the head donor for the warlock to do, but that seems pretty achievable for next weekend. All three also need some texture adding to the bases around the sculpted part before they get undercoated.

With the Battletech models being a "surprise" project contribution, I'm doing really well on this month's goals already. I may still dig out a Combined Army model or two later in the month depending on how I'm doing. I've also got the "stretch goal" of prepping a Battletech lance for painting, which may take a while. The mould lines are a pain!

This was a super productive weekend and I'm not expecting to be quite so effective next weekend - I spent much of my Saturday on hobby stuff and I have various other things that need doing this month which means I'll likely have less time for the rest of the weekends.

I did have a bit of an "oops" when I saw Wayland Games had the Pathfinder Legendary Cuts sets on sale. I am continuing on with my February plans, but should really commit to getting these assembled in March so they don't become part of the stash...

I am very impressed with the value on these boxes. The Goblins box has 18 miniatures in it, while the comparable D&D box for Kobolds has 7, for only a small price increase for the Pathfinder box. The character boxes having two sculpts in really adds to the potential value, too. These are really quite good picks, and a good indicator as to quite how over-priced and poorly designed the D&D Frameworks miniatures are for the sake of the "D&D" brand name.

Monday 5 February 2024

February Plans

I had a very successful January, getting a D&D party painted up in a month. Thing is, to get the right models for the players, there were a whole bunch of other miniatures I'd picked up alongside the ones for the characters in various states of assembly. These are some Foundry Halflings, whose pack supplied the mule and Halfling Cleric.

So, the first job for February, then, is to get all these half done figures sorted. Now, I managed to paint five figures last month, so all these part done bits and pieces would be way more than January. So rather than try and paint them all and catastrophically miss, the plan is to get them all fully assembled and undercoated, ready for paint. I can then grab one or two as an ad hoc quick paint in between my projects. These Oathsworn Dwarf Light Infantry characters had supplied the Dwarf Rogue.

There's also a few Frameworks miniatures who contributed towards the Half Elf Warlock - plus another couple of miniatures I got in case I needed parts from them but weren't used at all. In the interests of not adding things into the stash, I'll be trying to get them all done.

The leftover Milliput from the metal miniatures' bases I sculpted into this little mushroom. It's not very good, but it's something, and was fun to do and means I haven't wasted a little Milliput. He counts. He's on the list.

The free miniature I got from Games Workshop also needs some basing paste and an undercoat. I've been seeing a few interesting ideas for paint schemes from people like 52 Miniatures and Ninjon. These ad hoc figures that I don't have a particular look I'm aiming for are excellent opportunities to try new techniques or colour palettes.

One of the things I'm trying to do this year is to paint a "project" each month. Realising I had quite a lot of work to do to "tidy up" I had a nose about to see what quick and easy projects I had lying about - and realised that basically came down to my Combined Army. So, I'll grab a couple of those to do and I'm not mad about it.

But, in the interests of trying to give myself a little more "selection" of easier projects for busy months, I decided to give myself a stretch goal of sorting out this Battletech Lance I've been meaning to get to for absolutely ages. They need their mould lines scraping off, some basing paste sorting, and a coat of undercoat.

Thursday 1 February 2024

In person D&D

Last weekend I ran my D&D game in person at Rule Zero, board game café in Stratford. We normally run online, but all the players were in London for the weekend, so we booked a table for a few hours.

It's a nice large venue, with enough space between the tables that you're not absolutely packed in. When we were there, a Lorcana tournament was running downstairs, while a few card and board games and two games of 40K all going on upstairs.

The venue also has an extensive food and drink menu. It's good stuff, too - not a sad grey burger or disappointing sandwiches. I would definitely go again, just for the food.

The party had just finished the Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign, which gave me the freedom to come up with an adventure myself. I went with two encounters - a meeting with some travelling merchants that was attacked by a Chimera, then big undead encounter.

I used a PWorks gaming mat with Monster Fight Club and Mantic Terrain Crate scenery. I've been wanting to do a fully "set dressed" D&D encounter since I got back into D&D - I was really keen to avoid using a plain mat with drawn on detail. At this stage, it meant I was designing the encounter locations around what I had painted and ready to go.

The party were on their way to deal with an undead threat their Warlock had dreamed of when they met some clerics of Mystra, goddess of magic on the road. They had some convenient magic items for sale. This was very much me looking at what the party had picked up from the pre-written adventure and looking for gaps. Plus, you know, a Cloak of Billowing for the Being A Hero obsessed warlock.

Here's where I found the first difference to running online. When running online I'll have D&D Beyond open constantly, and be constantly looking up and referring to spells and so on to check their wording and rules. In person, I didn't want to do this on my phone, nor lug my laptop with me, so I did without. This meant I didn't spot that Tasha's Hideous Laughter shouldn't be able to affect a Chimera, as its Int is too low - we even discussed it at the table, but rather than hold the game up looking it up, I ran with it. After it's initial round of combat scared the absolute bejesus out of the party, it ended up locked down in a fit of laughter as I couldn't roll over a 3 on it's wisdom saves, and it was quickly dispatched.

We had a little break, and I moved around the scenery and swapped a few pieces out to make an area corrupted by foul undead magics. I knew I had enough undead to put together a good themed encounter, and it's not hard for the party to be sure that they're definitely wrong 'uns. The encounter consisted of a Deathlock (an undead warlock) a skeletal centaur and skeletal ogre, and two shadows (an incorporeal low level undead).

To make sure that the fight stayed a challenge, the villains were doing a ritual around three spooky looking standing stones. The players could either destroy them or complete an Arcana or Religion check to de-power them. The idea broadly was to regenerate the shadows as an ongoing threat as a way of keeping the pressure on the encounter and make it feel threatening.

Early on, the party cleric charged into the middle of the undead then fired off a Turn Undead, which scared off a lot of the lower level villains while the players focussed on taking out the spell caster. The centaur, who'd passed, made a very chunky charge attack into the cleric which kept the players feeling threatened.

The head villain then got absolutely nuked a bit earlier than I anticipated, so I decided to have the stones start to regenerate him. The mechanic I used was that each still-active stone rolled a "Death Save" for him, and if he got three "saves", he'd come back. I signalled this very clearly with a glowing ball of energy and lines of power coming from the stones - this wasn't a complicated puzzle!

The players cottoned on about this, finished off the centaur, then decided to blow up the stones with a mix of eldritch blasts and a well placed Thunderwave. With the stones shattered, the day was saved, and we retired to some of our friends' nearby flat for celebratory pizza and to pet their very good dog.