Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Changes in the collection

From time to time, I actually do get rid of things.  At the moment, I have just gotten rid of my Battlefleet Gothic stuff, and am divesting myself of Clan Wars and Warzone.  I am doing this because I need the space, and I plan on using the proceeds to buy more minis, albeit different ones.

I am continuing to pick up Convergence stuff (and will be getting my Prime Axiom soon), but am also looking toward Infinity.  Nothing big, just a half dozen or so basic models to learn the game.  Of course, that's basically a gateway to a second army, but I can deal with that.

And, Dropzone Commander has a 2-player starter coming out later this year.  And I still haven't given up on the idea of buying into DeepWars.

My main goal for 2013 was going to be painting more models than I got.  Once the Bones arrived, that goal went out the window, so I might as well get some more models, right?  I think I am going to try and do no worse than buying 1 model per model I paint for the rest of the year.  Of course, all the KS models that are essentially en route don't count as purchases, right?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The plagarism post

OKay, it's not plagarism.  I just didn't write it myself.  Over on the PP forums, Snitchy posted an updated terrain "diatribe".  (I think it lacks sufficient vitriol to be labelled a diatribe, but that's semantics.)  Here is it:

Terrain Theory:

Terrain should not remove excessive space from the tabletop:
Unusable space on the table is to be avoided at all costs.

For buildings you have two options. Option one is for buildings that do not have an interior. Build them at a slightly reduced scale so they do not occupy too much table space. Option two is to build the building with interior space. The whole building becomes usable space. Adding a second stories will expand the play area.

For other terrain features make sure that any ridges (such as the banks of rivers) are flat on top and have enough space to stabilize a large base. The sides of stepped hills also need to be able to stabilize a large base. You never know where a random player will end their movement.

A note on rivers: They tend to eat up space on the board and limit game play. If you are going to use a river, ensure that there are plenty of crossings so a single bridge will not become the inadvertent focal point of the game. A single bridge will end up in game terms as a meat grinder.

If the building or terrain feature can be entered, exited, or climbed upon make multiple entrances, exits and access points:
If there is only one access point, players will not use it. The feature becomes a dead end and is an unintentional waste of space.

For appearances sake:
When making modular terrain, try to make sure that edges and height of terrain features match up. Also try to hide the seams and vary lengths between different sections of terrain so the individual components cannot be used as an improvised ruler. Some game systems do not require players to “guestimate” their moves or shots but there is no reason to limit your terrain to one system.

Try to use forced perspective when building terrain:
Forced perspective is a modeling trick to imply that an object is larger or more intricate than it actually is. In the traditional modeling world this is accomplished by building smaller features further away from the viewer to give the illusion of distance. For war gaming it means building features at a reduced depth or height to imply that the feature is there without taking up the required space.

An easy example is when detailing a building interior such as a house, factory or mill. If you add the room partitions, furniture, clutter or complete mechanics there will be no room to place individual model bases let alone entire units. Generally for buildings I build all details within the interiors within a ½ inch of the wall so there is room to have models in play while giving the lived in illusion. For exterior features or details try to build them as close to unusable terrain as possible. If you are building a feature such as a blacksmiths forge, try to contain the total space to within one inch of a wall.

Reinforce the terrain piece as much as possible:
When gluing a terrain piece together, make sure that you have multiple materials overlapping each other with layers of glue laminated in between.

Another way to reinforce terrain is to glaze your finished unpainted piece with superglue. This done by dropping liquid superglue on the part to be glazed and either blowing the superglue or used a can of compressed air to blow the superglue into a thin film coating the material. Future floor polish applied prior to painting will do the same thing. Spray or paint on sealers are also invaluable as the last layer on your terrain so the feature does not chip.

Ensure that your terrain will not damage another piece of terrain that it is set on:
Adding felt to the underside of the base of your terrain features will protect the surface it is placed on.

If your terrain travels, try to have a dedicated box to carry it in, and use foam or bubble wrap to protect the terrain components:
A dedicated carry case will protect your work, help you store the terrain and retrieve what you need in an economical fashion.

Make the terrain visual interesting:
Make features look lived in. One way you can do this is to hide "Easter eggs" on the piece. Add little details that people might overlook initially. Add animals to the bases of your trees. Add a cat sitting on the roof. Add a cup of coffee sitting on a shelf or stove. Papers on the floor, or clothing hanging on a hook add that extra bit of realism that makes individual terrain features “pop”. Any little real life detail added will increase the overall effect.

Be consistent:
Use the same color paints, the same basing materials, the same color ground cover etc. etc. Making your terrain fit together is the key. Nothing is worse visually than having a beautiful desert board with a building with a snowy base sat in the middle.

Most linear obstacles should be of average height:
This means to the waist of a man-sized model. Larger obstacles block line of sight. A long wall that is too tall will limit game play. The same goes for windows that are too high for an average model to see out of. Troops cannot realistically use them.

If a terrain feature removes space from the board try to add space with another feature:
If you have a terrain feature that does not allow models to move over the entire feature (like a train engine), try to make up the space with a multi-story building, or scaffolding that can be accessed.

Continue with a concept:
If you have a chimney or vent on a building exterior, make it lead to something inside if you can (some things cannot be properly represented on the interior such as factory machinery).

If you have machine as a terrain piece ensure that is has a visible function. If you have a steam engine, what is it for? What is it attached to? If you have scaffolding what is its purpose? People do not build machines or scaffolding without a purpose.

Allow no ambiguity in your terrain:
Is the feature rough terrain or clear? Is it deep or shallow water? If necessary you can write the terrain condition on the bottom of the piece to stop any arguments during game play.

Base everything on something hard:
How many hills have you seen that were chipped to the foam on the edges? Basing the bottom of terrain gives you two advantages. First it makes it sturdier and second it will stop most dings from other terrain or rough handling.

Try to make terrain that is not specific to only one scenario:
Scenario specific terrain is great, but once used it will most likely sit in a box or on a shelf. It is a waste of time and money.

Paint everything:
Unpainted or untreated materials will show through no mater what you do.

Use durable materials:
If you find terrain that you like (say trees). Is there a company that makes them harder? Is there a way to make them stand up to more abuse? Always think durable. A diorama can use dry flowers and they will not be touched. This is a war game and materials are going to be handled.

Kit bashing:
When kit bashing ensure that the original model is not readily identifiable. If you have to do major modifications to make it your own, go ahead. Tinker with it.

Horde things:
My wife hates me for this. Almost anything can and will be useful for terrain at some point. Horde small components and details as much as possible. Buy in bulk if you can.

Keep a scrapbook:
Try to sketch all angles of your piece. If a building with an interior, try to sketch the whole thing, every wall, inside and out. It does not have to be fancy. It does not have to be original art. It only has to keep you focused on the task at hand so you remember the details that you want to add.

Try to work on only one project at a time:
It will help you from getting overwhelmed, and keep you focused on the task at hand. If you get burned out by all means do a quick smaller project but get back to the big one as soon as possible. Keeping task oriented will save you money, time and space in the long run.

Scatter terrain:
Scatter terrain is useful to give the field that cluttered real life look. Crates, crops, woodpiles and the like not only make interesting features but also add to the game play.

When building scatter terrain try not to have many small pieces that have to be stacked or arranged. They will invariably fall over during play. Try to have major scatter components that are built as one piece such as piles of crates, stacks of pallets, woodpiles with wood cutting tools or coal piles with shovels. The larger components can be arranged as needed.

These are the rules that I personally try to follow. I hope that they help you keep focused and build better terrain. 

For the most part, I agree with it.  The only one that I really take issue with is the "one project at a time" bit, but that is because I am usually working on 2-4 projects at once.  I pour plaster into Hirst molds for project #1, then cut foam for project #2 while the plaster sets.  Then, once I scrape the excess plaster, I glue something for project #3.  Remove the bricks, pour again, and do something for project #4.  Once I have scraped the plaster again, I cut more foam. 

A lot of that has to do with either ventilation (burning foam stinks, and is technically toxic) or the drying time of paint and/or glue.  But I could certainly see working on only one building at a time, or something like that, where you are working on interior detail and the like.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

He's heeeerrreeee. . . .

He's big, he's bad, he has two puppies, and he is in a wooden box.  Open him now, or wait until I can get to the FLGS for a public unboxing?

Monday, August 19, 2013

A boy and his puppies

Are arriving at my house later this week.  I am a happy gamer.  Would be happier if Khador were my main faction, but meh - it's still a darned nice piece.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Geeky non-gaming stuff

So, since I am not at GenCon, I spent some of the day launching rockets with the kids (mine and others).  Launched a total of six rockets, and got all six of them back.  Not sure how high the highest went, but it drifted about 1/5 of a mile before it landed, on a fairly calm day, so I am guessing that I came awfully close to the 1000 foot mark.

Any day where you can launch rockets is a good day; and any day where you get them all back (and could launch them again if you wished) is a great day.

Missing GenCon, still getting GenCon figs

Nothing like the haul from last year, unfortunately, but at the moment, it looks like I will still wind up with the 3Butcher limited edition, 3 of the Steelsoul Keg Protectors, and the Nightmare edition model from Malifaux, as well as Miss Step.  Yeah, it's not much, and I missed out on some kewl stuff that PP put out, but I can always get those models when the actual street date rolls around.

It's some consolation.  And, as a bit more, I picked up a nice copy of Plutarch's Lives at the used book store, so there is that, I guess.  You get your geek victories where you can find them sometimes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's GenCon time!

And I am not there. I am a sad gamer today.

Meh.  I'll attend another year, though probably not until 2015 or after.  It looks like next year won't happen as well.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Counting time

Math is hard.  Math, when you are shy on coffee, and forget a kickstarter, is worse.

My rough count as to what is coming in the next few months is:

Rivet Wars (forgot this one yesterday) - 160 models, more or less.  Supposedly still on track for September, IIRC, but I am assuming October.

Relic Knights - 58, I think.  Seems like it should have been more, but I think that may be it.  Fortunately, I won't see this until the holiday season, so I might have until Dec to clear some space for them.

Robotech Tactics - won't see this until January anyway, no matter what they say.  100 models, more or less, depending on how I fill out my pledge manager in the next week or two.

Wild West Exodus - 45 or 46 models, I think.  The pledge manager was done as an .xls file, so I have my copy tucked away somewhere, but I think I pretty much know what my share of it is looking at the KS page.  Those are due in Sept/Oct, and are still on track.

GenCon - not attending, but PP and Wyrd both let you order con figures online, so I'll probably be adding 20-30 models from those lines later this week.

So, 400 models, as a ballpark, back of the envelope calculation.  Add in a special order or two, and some trades (if I get the terms nailed down), and there is an even odds chance that I will add another 5-600 models between now and the end of January.  Just extra incentive to get painting, I guess.

ETA - so far today, I have put paint (to a greater or lesser degree) on 13 models.  Not as nice as yesterday, where I managed more than 25, but better than 0.  I hope to paint for another hour or so tonight, and a similar amount of time tomorrow.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Addendum to yesterday

So, yesterday, I showed off some of the Basement of Shame.  I have been trying to both organize it, and to cut into that amount of unpainted lead and plastic - by selling or trading some of it, and by attempting to paint at least an average of 5 hours per week. 

I don't know how long I have been painting today (a lot of 5-10 minute painting sessions), but I do know tht as of noon,  EST, I have put some paint on 20 models.  Sure, a lot of it was painting Ork teeth, or the bags on a Warlands car, or working on the gears to a Convergence model, but the point is that, if I an get back in the habit of doing this consistently, then things will slowly, gradually, begin to improve.

I really need to get that habit going again - because Relic Knights, Robotech Tactics, and Wild West Exodus will all be here soon.  And I really do want to get small forces for DeepWars, WreckAge, and Infinity.  Those games may "only" add 250 models to what I currently have (and, when compared to several thousand plus, "only" really is the correct term), but visually, it will have a huge impact.  I'd like to have a fair amount of stuff painted (or visibly in-progress) before those packages start arriving on my doorstep.


This would be part I, except that the other half of the basement (where my old gaming table is, and my Hirst molds, plaster, etc, and all of my RPG stuff, and another 2-3 shelving units) is currently ground zero for the great basement train table project, and basically a giant mess.

The area above the workbench. Yeah, some of the stuff up there is painted. A lot of stuff isn't, and some of it is even still in boxes. (The epoxy is for a model rocket that I need to build at some point in the near future.)

The rest of the area above the workbench. Remember how I said that I had a shelf or two of Orks? Yeah, this is part of them. (Part, mind you. I haven't counted in a while, but I think I can actually field two Green Tide formations. At the same time.) For the most part, I haven't touched these guys in over a year, but I do keep them around. I even paint on them from time to time, when I don't feel like doing anything important. (And, admittedly - I can knock out the weapons or teeth or something kind of obvious and two or three dozen of those guys in a pretty short period, so it actually feels like progress.)

The table of shame. I'm literally out of storage space. I need to drop a thousand or two on KR Multicases/Battlefoam/Sabol/anything, and get this stuff put away. It's particularly bad at the moment, a combination of the Train Table project and an attempt at a full inventory. The brown case on the chair holds some of my Malifaux at the moment, since they lack storage too.

The shelving units of shame. Yes, that's four copies of Clan War. One of those Sabol cases holds some of my Strelkovy Battalon, plus some tanks. My Brits and Afrikakorps are not pictured, but they are packed up and waiting for a proper storage option, along with the rest of the Russians. Two of those Sabol bags hold my Warmaster armies. The brown box under the MonPoc one holds a hundred or so 28mm Warlord Celts - they go with the 3 boxes of Romans above them. There are Dystopian Wars armies, FSA armies, MERCS armies, and some GW stuff (LoTR, 40k, WFB). The big Sabol case carries my pigs and gators, and some of my Trolls (I think) - the KR cases hold some of the Cryx and some of the Ret. The blue bowls hold plastic 40k stuff (mostly Orks) - I bag the parts on the sprue as I clip them, and the bags just wind up in the bowl - so I can grab the Ork bowl and work on putting stuff together.

I'm currently paring some stuff out of the collection, and trying to devote at least 5 hours per week to painting, which is making a difference. It's kind of pathetic, but actually, a lot of stuff so far this year has been assembled and primed, which is a big step. And AdeptiCon compelled me to get a lot of things painted. But, to be honest, I probably won't do better than breaking even this year - Robotech, Wild West Exodus and Relic Knights are all on their way, and I'm still adding Convergence stuff when I can. (My next major gaming purchase will still probably see more spent on cases than figures, however - this is just too much sitting out, waiting to be knocked to the floor.)