Saturday, 29 December 2018

What Stops You from Gaming?

I've been listening to a new podcast today: Role Play Rescue.  It's a chap who's been roleplaying since the 80s and is evangelistic about the benefits of making some time for play in one's life.  What he says is of interest, not only to those who enjoy RPGs.

So, I point you to his episode "What Stops You From Gaming?"

I was pointed to it because of an interview with Gavin Norman, the writer of B/X Essentials, which my gaming group is playing (and play-testing).  For me, the big change in 2018 has been to find a group and actually playing games rather than just thinking and writing about them.  It's had a very positive impact on my life.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Return to the Lost World!

I've been lying in bed wondering about Solo Wargaming - pondering whether Naval, Zombie or Big Game action would be better.

Miriam the Lady Librarian faces down trouble

Working on the basis that I have the figures and terrain I need to do some Big Game hunting in the Lost World, I've delved in the blog archives to re-read my Egg Hunt! experiences.

I'd forgotten what a blast I had with them!

I need to tweak the mechanisms (but that's some of the fun), but am going to play some more.

Perhaps I'll let the Chaps have a go next time

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

The News We've Been Waiting For!

Curt the Snowlord has posted notification of this year's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge (the ninth, so he must be doing something right!

Details here.

If you've never heard of it, or if you've always been a little afraid, go and have a look.  It's a fun, non-judgmental challenge (most emphatically not a competition!).

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Paint Table Saturday

I'm glad to say that I can present another Paint Table Saturday.  I'm actually picking up brushes again!  I'm even reconsidering my decision not to take up a slot in the AHPC this year.

The immediate purpose for these minis is our fortnightly RPG.  As it's an open table, we never know who's going to turn up or what characters are going to form the party.  Although the GM likes the aesthetic of using his 1980s cardboard figures (which I think are older than he is!), I feel it's nice for players to have a choice of something a little more three dimensional.  Last time we found that we had no haflings in either form.

The humans and dwarves here are from my recent purchase from the Oathmark stable.  The haflings on the other hand are from a Kickstarter by Oathsworn Miniatures which I received back in 2014

As you can see, I've tried some different methods for basing.  The lentils have come out better that I thought (though I'll be tidier with them next time).  

This fine feller will be Ranwald the Strong.  Love the scar!

It'll be a couple of weeks before they see any action.  They won't be ready for tomorrow's session.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Barrowmaze #1: B'loxi Writes to Ranwald the Strong

I'm attempting to improve my role-playing and think more about back-stories.

I've deliberately not written up our Barrowmaze delves in order to prevent spoilers for other players, but I might change that (without giving too much away!).

With a 1st Level Elf's hit-points being determined by 1d6 roll, death is far from an unlikely possibility for poor B'loxi.  Frankly, I surprised that he's lasted so long.  It's always advisable to have a secondary character rolled up in Labyrinth Lord, and Ranwald (a human fighter) is mine.  LL also allows for PCs to write up a will, and our GM for transfer of knowledge if an in-game method can be shown.

The Brazen Strumpet
My Old Comrade in Arms
As I told you I would, I have returned to Helix now that the annual flooding of the Barrowmaze has subsided.  I hope that this, my second season here, will be as profitable as the last.  
We were lucky enough to be the first party to delve into the Maze this year and returned with a good haul of loot.  Yet, as ever, the cost was in blood.  Ren, my companion from last year fell in combat with the undead creatures that always seek to thwart us.  I am sure that there is a Directing Influence behind some of their actions (as you know, I believe the Barrowmaze to be much more than it seems).  We left his body as that Cleric of Hexadron would have wanted us to have - stripped of his equipment and arranged in as cubic a form as possible.  
Ren's death has affected me.  If he, who introduced me to the Maze, could fall so easily I must make arrangements in case of my own death.  I wish you to join us.  In my half-dozen delves into the Barrowmaze we have only scratched the surface: there is so more more yet to find, and many more riches to recover (I still hope to find the motherlode of magical items).  I do not want my explorations to be in vain or my notes to be peddled-off by some surviving hireling.    
So I send you a copy of my Map and the Notes thereon.  I will keep you up-to-date until you join us.  In two days I return to the Barrows.  If I should be killed there, delvers' custom is that the possessions with me shall be divided between the Party.  But, I also have a substantial deposit with what passes as a bank here (The Rosy Quartz Jeweler and Moneylender).  I have instructed the owner - a pompous Halfling named H.R.R. Huffenpuff - that in the case of my death it should be transferred to you (after his exorbitant fee).  Dealing with Huffenpuff will give you a good idea of the sort of people who populate Helix!
Hopefully these arrangements are unnecessary and we will share a bottle and one of your mushroom risottos soon!  May King Shroom bless you.
Your Friend

Friday, 19 October 2018

Board Game Friday #1

Thursday is board game night at our LFGS, so I'm introducing Board Game Friday as a new blog feature.

Kieran, the Proprietor
When I arrived last night, there was no-one who I already knew, so Kieran introduced me to a couple and we spent the evening playing three-handed games.  The beauty of The Games Table is that many games are Open Table and people are willing to allow others to join in.

First up was Photosynthesis (links are to, and photos are from, BoardGameGeek) a game about trees trying to get their place in the sun and put their neighbours in the shade
The sun shines brightly on the canopy of the forest, and the trees use this wonderful energy to grow and develop their beautiful foliage. Sow your crops wisely and the shadows of your growing trees could slow your opponents down, but don't forget that the sun revolves around the forest. Welcome to the world of Photosynthesis, the green strategy board game!
It was an interesting game, and one that I would play again, but to be honest I found it a bit dull - perhaps "Meh!" sums it up.

Too much choice
After finishing this we had an attack of indecision on what to play next (perhaps because we were politely deferring to each other).  Kieran jumped in and recommended Castle Panic, which none of use had played before.

Castle Panic is a cooperative, light strategy game for 1 to 6 players ages 10 and up. Players must work together to defend their castle, in the center of the board, from monsters that attack out of the forest at the edges of the board. Players trade cards, hit and slay monsters, and plan strategies together to keep their castle towers intact. The players either win or lose together, but only the player with the most victory points is declared the Master Slayer. Players must balance the survival of the group with their own desire to win.
No this I did enjoy!  And interestingly, because it was a co-operative game, I found myself getting to know the other players better and interacting more with them.  The mechanism was quite straightforward.  It was enjoyable enough that, after playing the first game, we immediately played again in order to try and best the monsters (who beat us both times - possibly because I misinterpreted one of the rules).

I see that it was successful enough that there are spin-offs, including a Zombie version and a 'Star Trek' one.  I will certainly play again, and might very well buy a copy.

And talking of buying...

The way The Games Table works is that monies payed for table hire are put on one side as store credit.  Between Board Game Thursdays and the fortnightly RPG, I had accrued a fair bit of credit (and there are only so many Hula Hoops a boy can eat!).  Accordingly, I picked up a copy of Battle Sheep - a quick, fun game which I think will go down well at home.  Sarah's favorite game is Pillars of the Earth, but given her mental decline, we're having to find things that are a little less complex.

Board Game Tally (October)

Games played: 4 (all of which were new to me)
Games bought: 1 (Battle Sheep)

Friday, 12 October 2018

Some Oathmark Shinies

After a tiring day drinking all afternoon in the pub and playing board games all evening (my social life has picked up somewhat), it was nice to come home to a box of goodies from North Star.

About a month ago I signed up for the pre-release offer on the new faction for their Oathmark range: the humans.  Oathmark is a fantasy range that is being done in collaboration with Osprey Publishing.  Eventually there will be a ruleset, but for the moment there are just the figures (human, dwarves. elves and goblins).  Given that the dwarves were launched a year ago, I'm not sure what is happening.

In the box you get six identical sprues, each with five torsos (none as dynamic as the box art) and an impressive number of variant parts.

So 30 figures for £25.00, compared to 20 for £20.00 in North Star's Frostgrave boxes, or 44 for £22.00 in GBP's. 

They're not wearing spiked helmets - there's a fair bit of flash to clean off
With the pre-release offer came a free metal figure (on the right above).  I also splashed out on one of the human champions (mainly because of his fine 'tash) and a pack of three dwarf champions (regular readers will know I'm a sucker for dwarves).

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Paint Table Saturday

By my counting it's been week short of a year since I last made a Paint Table Saturday post. 

I didn't realise that it's been so long, but I'm not surprised - it's reflective of the current state of both my blogging and painting.  But regular posts such as Paint Table Saturdays are here to force progress on those fronts, so here goes.

Not a lot happening (often I have to blow the dust off before I apply paint!).  We have six Mantic ghouls and a Heroquest elf.  With a bit of a push I should be able to finish them in a session.

Both are initially for use in the RPG I've been playing lately.  The ghouls are dungeon critters.  I was going to call them 'dungeon fodder', but experience shows that they're as likely to kill the PCs as to be killed by them.

The elf is to represent my character, B'loxi.  Given the sculpt and game both have an 80's vibe, I tried to represent that in my colour scheme.  However, I'm not particularly happy with it, so it may change yet.

"A Shouty Game of Finger-Pointing"

As I'd had a bad end to the week (more difficulties with the Post Office, which have swallowed up a week's profit) I decided at short notice to attend an evening of games testing at The Games Table hosted by ASH Games, who were bringing along two of their concepts that should be hitting Kickstarter sometime next year.

Pre-ASH Games

The ASH team (it's a family set-up of long-time gamers headed by Ash) were delayed by traffic, so those of who had turned up at 6.00pm had some time to fill.  Luckily, The games library at the shop has built up nicely since it opened in July.

Five of us took the chance to play Battle Sheep.  Despite the fact that three of us hadn't played it before and that the rules were being explained by a seven year-old, it only took a couple of moves to understand it.  It's a fast game that only takes 10-15 minutes to play.  We got three games in, and it became clear that some fun tactical punches can be pulled.  I am tempted to buy it for Sarah and myself.

'Burn the Witch'

When ASH turned up they had two games to test, a card game about witch burning and a minis game based on Star Wars pod racing.  Ash, who has a background in franchising, seems to think that he should be able to acquire a licence for the latter.

I went off into the group that played 'Burn the Witch'.  We did swap over later, but as it was almost 9.00pm I left at that point and thus didn't get to try the racing.

Put simply (there are various rules I'm omitting here), in 'Burn the Witch' the players take the role of an inhabitant of a medieval village caught up in a witch-hunt.  In each hand they are dealt a secret card giving the identity of another player or designating them the witch.  An accusation card is then drawn from a deck of 72 real-life examples ("X has a hairy lip"... "X has too many children").  After a period when we all accuse our favoured candidate a vote is taken.  The people who successfully nominate someone who is convicted score (regardless as to whether they were the witch or not - this is not a game about justice!).  The convicted witch can score by then identifying the true witch.  Each game consisted of 3-4 hands and took about 30 mins.

One of the things that the designers were wanting to determine was whether it was best as a murder-mystery type game of up to 16 people (though at one stage up to 30 people wandering around a room wearing their identities on lapel-badges were mentioned), or for 4-8 mates sitting around a table or on the sofa.   There were six of us playing (four of whom knew each other), and I think that worked better than a larger group would.  A some point the strap-line "A Shouty Game of Finger-Pointing" came up, and that's how I see it.  Throw in a couple of bottles of wine and you might even get fisticuffs!

There were various points discussed:- artwork; bespoke cards; ways of keeping score; whether there was too much/too little historical info; whether that info would be better on the cards or in a booklet; the kind of ancillary 'stuff' (token, etc) that would add value to the game; and Kickstarter stretch goals.

It was an enjoyable game and would be a good ice-breaker.  The process of game-testing was new to me and interesting.  All in all, a couple of hours well-spent.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Still Here and Actually Doing Something!

This blog seems to have dried up somewhat over the last few months.  It's been a case of "If you have to make and effort to find something to write, is it worth continuing?"  On the whole, I think the answer might be "Yes".

However, there is a bright side.  This blog (and interactions on Facebook and the Lead Adventure Forum) used to be the extent of my Hobby Involvement.  But that has changed with the opening of a new FLGS in Norwich.  I'm actually mixing with people and doing some gaming!

For the first time in some 30 years I've been taking part in regular RPG sessions.  Rather appropriately, we are playing rather Old School - Labyrinth Lord.  As the GM explains:
Labyrinth Lord is a reprinted and improved version of Tom Moldvay's 1981 Dungeons & Dragons Basic and Expert rules. You're not a prince or the strongest man in Aerik, you're a desperate murder-hobo trying to escape with some silver coins before the monsters you hear lurking in the darkness can catch up. Player cunning and skill is strongly rewarded, and experience is largely from treasure recovered. This makes player decisions about when to fight, when to run and when to parley more realistic, and encourages smart play. The game is deadly, and mistakes cost lives.
Despite a TPK on our first delve into the Barrowmaze, I've stuck at it and my Elf, B'loxi, has survived four expeditions.  In ten or twenty years he may make Level 2.

Did I say Old School?
B'loxi's the one having a nap

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Pulpy Shinies from Bad Squiddo

Bad Squiddo Games has just announce a couple of new releases sculpted by Paul Muller that scream out"Pulp!".  And I'm a sucker for Pulp...

These are available at the pre-order price of £7.50 for the pair (normal price £8.00).  They won't be shipped for a fortnight.

As some of you know, Bad Squiddo is very much a one-person shop.  As anyone who has tried to run a business on their own knows, such businesses are even more at the mercy of Real Life than others.  Earlier this year, Annie had to make an unexpected move from Cardiff to Nottingham, finding new premises and shifting stock etc.  This coincided with the planned dispatch of her latest Kickstarter, which was well and truly effed-up.  That led to a backlog of orders, a huge backlog of e-mail (many of them negative).  Given that Annie has moved away from her support network and the part-time staff she had, this all fell on her shoulders: her health has suffered. 

The other problem caused by these backlogs is one of cashflow - fatal to small businesses.  Despite that, Annie made the decision not to release anything from her new releases queue until she could promise dispatch withing a reasonable period.  Annie is a good sort.  If her stuff appeals to you, I urge you to put an order in and help her out.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Recent Reading (and Zombies)

I've went a bit vintage with my reading last week.

Spurred on by the repeat of the TV series featuring Rowan Atkinson as a rather slimline Inspector Maigret, I read My Friend Maigret, one of the Simenon books I've picked up recently.  The Maigret series is one I've always thought I'd want to read but never got around to.  I was surprised by how slight My Friend was*, but I enjoyed it.  And I wasn't at all put off by The Wife saying "I remember reading that at school in French"!
*Perhaps explained by the fact that Simenon wrote 75 Maigret novels and 28 short stories!

I was struck by the fact that although the book was written in 1949 it didn't mention the war, even  when discussing suspects' backgrounds.  These days any thriller set in the 1940s or '50s isn't considered complete if it doesn't have an ex-POW or a bevy of former SOE or Bletchley types.   In recent TV adaptations of Agatha Christie and the like, the plot is changed to shoe-horn them in.  A reflection of changing perspectives on the period, I suppose.

After that, I've gone even further in time to read M R James' Thirteen Ghost Stories in a rather nice German edition* from the '30s.  James** is another author that I've thought I should read and would probably enjoy; and I am finding that to be the case.  Certainly, some of the TV adaptations have scared the willies out of me in the past!
*Don't get me wrong - it's an English-language edition!
**A medievalist and the originator of the "antiquarian ghost story" - you can see the appeal!

And so on to Zombies...

For some reason I often find myself thinking of the Zombie Apocalypse when walking No 2 Dog.  This is possibly because I try to do it when the streets and paths are deserted* or because of the number of beat-up camper vans we pass**.  Perhaps it because Moley has the right attitude to survive the apocalypse - he'd have no problem decapitating a little old lady (or preferably a zombie labrador).
*No 1 Dog on the other hand prefers to walk during or just after the school run - all the better to find half-eaten slices of toast or chocolate crepes, which are his latest favorite.
** I have this half-intention to post some photos on the blog of vehicles for a British Post-Apocalyse (given the lack of US-style school buses outside Suffolk).

Moley ready to devour something or other
So I've acquired these

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

#30Days30 Miniatures: Days 5 and 6

Day 5 (Tuesday) was another washout as far as painting went - I just proved too busy doing RL things.

As part compensation, today I offer two figures.

This is the figure I meant to finish yesterday.  He's from Artizan Designs.

Sorry for the quality of this photo

This rather blurry lady (yes, she does have a face!), is one of Copplestone's Female Archaeologists.  Her compatriots will hopefully follow soon.

Day 6
Total minis painted: 7
Days challenge was met: 4

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Terrain Tuesday #21

Would you believe that the last Terrain Tuesday was in Dec 2016?   Yes, you probably would.

That's why I don't begrudge spending time off the 30Minis challenge to get my terrain juices flowing [Urgh!].

Last week I popped into Poundland and bought one of their Topiary Balls...

It cost £1.00

It was the work of minutes to strip it to its component parts....

A Sphere of Doom at the ball's core

Said component parts were a reasonably sized pile...

After that it was a matter of getting the hot-glue gun and some spare bases in order to make some scatter terrain.

All in all, a decent result from half-an-hour's work on a day I couldn't face anything more involved.

Monday, 2 July 2018

#30Days30Miniatures: Day 4

Today was one of my bad days and I couldn't face painting.

This isn't a disaster - I get days like this and was prepared for them.   The thing to do is to concentrate on the things I can manage and not focus on the others.

I had already decided that I would have Tuesdays off from the challenge in order to concentrate on terrain.  This week I have merely moved that day forward.  There will be a Terrain Tuesday post tomorrow.

Day 4
Total minis painted: 5
Days challenge was met: 3

Sunday, 1 July 2018

#30Days30Miniatures: Day 3

Today, I painted in the morning to take advantage of the summer light on my table.  Sadly, I started too late, and ended up chasing the sunshine, rather as our dogs do when lying on the carpet!
This is 10.30 in the morning

So, I have a completed figure to submit.

This is Lillie Poots from Statuesque Miniatures pulply Statuesque Asylum range.  Like all of their sculpts (and I'd especially recommend the range they've done in conjunction with Pulp Alley), she is a delightful mini and a pleasure to paint.

She's nicely ambiguous, I think.  Not one to eschew cliches, I initially painted her with a Midwich hairstyle, but it looked a little insipid (and I Don't Do Eyes!), nevertheless, she is a girl in a red coat

For some reason I put her on a curbside.  At the last minute I considered adding a cat (or a rat), but decided to leave her be.

Day 3
Total minis painted: 5
Days challenge was met: 3

Saturday, 30 June 2018

#30Days30Miniatures: Day 2

Something a bit different for me today.  I went to the opening of The Games Table, a new gaming venue in Norwich.  As one of the launch features they had painting table with Dave of the Rising Sun Painting Studio.  Under his guidance, I completed the following.

Quite obviously a Games Workshop mini, I think for Age of Sigmar.  Other than that, I know nothing.  [Update:  Apparently he's a Stormcast Eternal.]

The photo fails to show the shading etc, but after yesterday's debacle, I'm quite pleased.

Better photo in the morning sun

Day 2
Total minis painted: 4
Days challenge was met: 2

Friday, 29 June 2018

#30Days30Miniatures: Day 1

Day 1 and if can be said that I've 'cheated' in two respects.

First, I've done three figures rather than one.  Well, that's not a cheat - the point is to complete at least one figure per day.  And for me the important bit isn't the figures, but the fact that I do some painting everyday, improving my painting and discipline.

Secondly, and more seriously, I didn't go for the already-started mini I'd intended to, but did some new ones (albeit ones that I prepared in advance for the last APHC).  Looking at the figures the reason will be obvious - they have the same, very simple paint scheme.

Despite (or because of) this simplicity I forgot the cardinal rule that 'More is Less'.  If I'd stopped a third of the way through, they would look a lot better than they do now.  It's clear to me that going for six months without painting has left me needing to brush up on some basics.   I'm embarrassed to say just how long I spent on them this afternoon.  Despite appearances I wasn't five minutes slapping on emulsion!   Perhaps there was good reason to start with monster-of-the-week cannon fodder after all.

Two of the mummies are from Dark Horse Studios, who do them in both metal and resin (these are resin).  I can't remember where the the one with his arm aloft came from.

I also did some work on a more involved figure (and am glad to say that I haven't messed her up yet!).  She may appear as a submission on Day 2 or 3.  I'm not sure which as tomorrow I'm going to the opening of a new Friendly Local Gaming Store and do know if I'll find time to work on her.  The good news is that one of the launch events is a painting session, so I should have something for Day 2 either way.

Day 1
Total minis painted: 3
Days challenge was met: 1
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