Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Terrain Tuesday #7:Ruins (Pic Heavy)

I'll start today with a couple of links to other blogs.

First,Tony Harwood, that master of terrain, has put some basic tutorials on his page - Dampf's Modelling Blog - with Frostgrave in mind.  To quote him
By publishing this tutorial I am hoping that I can raise some money for charity. If you have read and enjoyed this short tutorial, I would ask that the next time you pass a charity collection tin or someone in the street collecting that you donate whatever you think fit and remember this article.
Obviously I think that a splendid sentiment and one worth sharing, but Dampf's tutorials are well worth looking at.

The second link is to a new blog - The Frostgrave Files - which also has some useful tutorials.


From the above you can probably guess that my focus at the moment is on Frostgrave.

While walking the dog this week I took some photos of the City Walls as reference pics for terrain.  I thought others might also find them of use.  If you right-click them to open in a new tab, you can then super-size them.

And a few other things that caught my eye...

For some reason this garage appeals to me

Medieval house with C20th additions.  The house next door (blue door)
is undoubtedly also medieval at core, but received a Georgian make-over

A modern nod on the route of the wall

This is where our local Wizard lives

Railway cutting

And here are some I took earlier this year...

A good place for Mysterious Lurkers - there was one there this morning!

OK, these have generated some interest.  So for more info

Photos from the 1930s-1960 (much better than mine and including parts now lost).  For comparison, the photos I've taken are of the Black Tower and walls from Carrow Hill.

Video tour of the city walls

Friday, 25 September 2015

The Frostgrave Nickstarter

If you are involved in the wargaming hobby you can hardly have missed that the Osprey/Northstar collaboration Frostgrave has been hugely successful.   Many people interesting in fantasy wargaming (and a few not!) have signed up for it.

Whatever you think about fantasy, this can only been a good thing as it can only reinforce Osprey's willingness to invest in wargaming publishing (let's face it, some of there titles in the field have been a bit hit-and-miss).  Earlier this month, they reveled their 2016 plans for the series, and is is a interesting-looking, varied bunch.  I wonder if the next big thing will be Musketeers or Fantasy Romans?

Back to Frostgrave...

If you've been following Frostgrave at all, you probably already know that the first supplement Thaw of the Lich Lord is due for release on 20 Nov.  You probably already know that Northstar started their related Nickstarter today.   'Nickstarters' are Northstar's pre-release order system - it's Nick Ayres' gentle poke at those companies that use Kickstater for pre-release orders instead of crowd-funding proper.  Like Kickstarter projects these come will all sorts of freebies if funding goals are met (and they will be!).  At the time of writing they are almost at £5,000.

Buying from Northstar (as opposed to discounted from, say, Amazon or The Book Depository) means that your hard-earned pennies will go to someone who is going to invest in the future of the hobby and the shinies we all like.

I'm unsure whether to sign up for this myself.  As you probably guess I'm very tempted, but hobby funds are scarce...

Friday, 18 September 2015

What Wizardry Is This?

A couple of parcels today, with some new goodies for Frostgrave.

First, I needed some spellcasters.  For what will be obvious reasons to some of you I've decided that I want my major wizard and apprentice to be Sigalists.  Accordingly, we have these two:-

As is only fitting, the Apprentice is carrying all the scrolls
And I thought that Sigalists would appreciate a mystic text as a treasure marker...

The grimoire and lectern are separate, but I'll put
them together
And then there were a couple more generic Wizards

Despite these pieces (from Midlam Miniatures) being very reasonably priced, I thought I would save myself some money by making my own treasure markers from bits and pieces.  

You'd have to be daft to buy some, wouldn't you?  Oh foolish me!

Within hours, Annie, The Dice Bag Lady posted to FaceBook that she was now stocking pieces from Ristul's Extraordinary Market.  I've seen their terrain in various on-line places, but I don't think I'd seen them for sale from a UK source before.

This is their Cursed Treasure pack:-

Photo doesn't do them justice

Which includes this piece, very reminiscent of a scene from the 1982 'Conan the Barbarian' film.

This was the first time I'd bought from either Midlam or Annie and I'd recommend them both.  Both had a very fast turn-around (I had Annie's parcel within 24 hours of ordering), despite not overcharging on postage.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Is It Really That Time Again?

It's hard to credit it, but it's time to sign up for the Christmas celebrations!

The Secret Santa

This is run by Cathy, partner of Ian of The Blog With No Name.

The idea is that she allocates you a target and you choose a gift of approx £15.00  value.  The target will have a blog and may or may not have published a wish-list.

You can sign up here

In 2014 The Kiwi sent me some Artizan cultists and a female explorer

The Santa Clause

This one is similar, but a little more involved (I freely admit to struggling with it last year).  The idea is to choose a figure or figures of £5.00 value and then paint them up for a fellow blogger.

It's run by Chris Stoesen of Wargamer's Odds and Ends.  The sign-up post is here.

Paul Smith sent me these in 2014

Terrain Tuesday #6 (And Something New!)

OK, nothing spectacular, but proof that I've actually been doing something...

And looking at what I've done, some of you might hazard a guess at my latest purchase.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Dr Who Wednesday #4

The Wife and I carried on watching Pertwee episodes, this week catching 'The Time Warrior' and 'Death to the Daleks'.  Both had moments I remembered watching the initial broadcast in my youth.

The Time Warrior

The Time Warrior is notable for two introductions - the Sontarians and Sarah Jane Smith.

Thanks to Strax in the New Era, Sontarians are now seen as comic relief, but they were originally rather more sinister (and uglier).  The moment at the climax of the first episode of the serial where Cdr Linx takes off his helmet for the first time has been voted one of the scariest moments in Dr Who, and is one of the bits that made an impression on six-year-old me.

Of Sarah Jane Smith as played by the divine Elisabeth Sladen I need say no more.

The plot of is that Linx crash-lands in 12th Century England and forms an alliance with the local brigand, Irongron, providing him with firearms (partly for the pleasure of promoting conflict).  In order to repair his ship, Linx snatches scientists from the 20th Century - where (when?) UNIT decides to put all the scientist together in order to keep tabs on them.  The Doctor, Sarah Jane and some stereotypical boffins end up in Irongron's stronghold.  The fun then starts...

Death to the Daleks

Death to the Daleks has been criticised for having some of the most inept Daleks ever to leave Skaro.*  At least two Daleks are killed by being punched by men-in-sacks; one self-destructs after loosing a prisoner; and the two who enter the Exxilon City  are pretty useless too.  Early on in the story they decide to use the cunning (and budget-saving) trick of pretending there are only four of them...

*They're not helped by the comedy music that accompanies them (it reminded me of 'Ivor the Engine').

I won't detail the plot (there are Dr Who plot summaries all over the web), but it was fun.  What's interesting is that the Doctor, humans and Daleks enter into an alliance to defeat the stick-wielding men-in-sacks.  If this had been made in the '80s or '90s, it would have been done much more clumsily and be a ham-fisted satire - here it's just allowed to stand.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

This Month I Shall Be Learning...

I've signed up for a Massive Open Online Course (apparently a MOOC).  Basically this is an online course provided by FutureLearn (which is owned by the Open University) and partner institutions.

The course I'm doing is Empire: The Controversies of British Imperialism, provided by the University of Exeter.  It's only a six-week course, so won't too taxing or in-depth; but I hope it will be interesting.  I'm doing this one as a taster, and may take other courses in the future.

A question for those of you who have done MOOCs before:  FutureLearn stress the 'community' aspect of these online courses.  How central is that to them?  Given the subject matter, I imagine it will attract some idiots and the forum will have flame wars - I can do without that!

All Change for Roy

I'll let Roy tell you in his own words...

As some of you may have read, I've been asked to blog / work on forums for Colonel Bill's Wargames Depot. To that end, and to make my life simple, I've altered my blog to cover both my work and his. Two birds with one stone. My small scale blog has been dropped (I am painting the models still) but I don't have time to run three blogs. 

So that the blog wasn't completely associated with myself I've altered the title and name, from RW Hobby blog - a pseudonym, as some of you may know - to Never Mind The Jankers! blog (working on the British Military aspect of Colonel Bills). Altering this has meant that the website address has changed, and therefore your blogrolls won't update with my latest posts due to this. 

I have to admit that this was an unforeseen eventuality.  

Anyway, the blog can now be found at this address http://nevermindthejankers.blogspot.co.uk/
It will feature both my Gladiator and Old West projects, Forum painting bits, any show and club work I do (this being something I'll have to start from scratch) and from the Colonel Bill's side, updates and news, product advertisement and me painting them (for myself, as he's had bits pro-painted for the trade stand). Lastly, I'll be shouting out when new stock arrives in the second-hand and painted sections of the Colonel Bill's webstore - though I'll be generalising the content, as there is that many bits and pieces coming in and out it would be beyond me to keep up!  

Once again, thank you for checking out my blog(s). It's very much appreciated and helps me to keep going. Those of you who know Colonel Bill's from the shows won't see me on the stall, however, as there's a dedicated sales team already in place. In effect I'm just a supporting customer, not a member of staff.
Those of you who are subscribers will need to re-subscribe.  The rest of you should go and see what you're missing!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

I Treated Myself This Week...

...by doing something I don't often do.  I bought myself a new book.

"Hang on!" My loyal readers cry "You can't kid us: the Edwin we know buys books all the time!"

Well yes, I do.  But I don't often go out and buy a new book for myself.  What I tend to do is to rely on serendipity to throw second-hand books my way (and given I sort books in a Charity Shop, quite a few come my way).  I very rarely buy a book as a pre-planned purchase.  And I hardly ever buy a new book at it's proper price.

But this week I read a review of a newly-published book that would do for The Wife's birthday* so I popped one into the shopping basket while I was at it.

*Sssh, don't tell her!

The book in question was The Martian by Andy Weir, and I've just finished reading it.

You might have come across it as it's been a best-seller and Ridley Scott has just made it into a film staring Matt Damon.  It's the latter that's prompted me to read it - I wanted to do so before the movie hype gives away all the plot twists (I have seen a trailer for the film though, and it looks good*).

*I'm a little concerned at the casting of Chiwetel Ejiofor as Venkat Kapoor.  Fine actor though he is, he's hardly a Kapoor...

The set-up is straightforward enough.  Disaster strikes a manned mission to Mars and they are forced to abort.  While evacuating their base one of their number is seemingly killed.  Yet it turns out he hasn't.  How will he survive?  And if he does, will it be for long enough to be rescued?  Given that the closest prospect of rescue is likely to be four years away, the second isn't a trivial matter.

So, what did I think?  I really enjoyed it.  It won't be everyone's cup of tea: this is the hardest of 'hard sci-fi'.  You might expect that being stranded on a strange planet might lead to some existential soliloquies from our hero, but you'll be wrong.  Pretty much the first third of the book consists of him doing sums, bodging and fracking in order to get enough food and calories to survive.  It's not until NASA's belated relisation that he's still alive that we get any dialogue or much characterisation.

In way this is one of the selling points of the book.  Weir doesn't argue so, but it's been said that with Mars exploration requiring a nine month journey, a month on the planet and then the anticlimactic nine month voyage home, Martian explorers will have to be very different from their Mercury or Apollo predecessors.  Their 'Right Stuff' won't be being jocks or excelling at outdoors-y stuff*, but much more likely being nerds happy to sit in confined spaces looking at computer screens.  Anyone with a tendency to existentialism (or too much imagination). a habit of talking to volleyballs or hopes of finding a Martian Man Friday would be weeded out of the programme pretty early on.  They would still have to be photogenic though...

*Mountain climbing on Mars will come later.

In short, I would recommend this book.  But then again (for those of you who prefer not to have harsh reality in your sci-fi) I'd also heartily recommend 'Robinson Crusoe on Mars'.  It has some pretty cutting edge 1964 space-science (and space-potatoes).

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