Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Star Saga

I got my copy of Star Saga the other day.  Actually it was last week, but its been a hectic weekend of Concerts (and migraines).
This puts my totals for December back some way, so what is in the box and is it worth it?
The box is just 11" square and 4" deep, designed to look like some sort of containment vessel.

A lot packed away inside.  I haven't checked, but I think there is some sort of dimensional warp here allowing Mantic to fit in more minis.
I haven't tried the game yet, but the system is like Dungeon Saga, which I liked.  There is an artificial intelligence option, either allowing up to four players to play against it, or one person to have a go on his or her own.  A great way to learn the rules.

But its the minis that I suspect a lot of you are interested in.  These are all photographed straight from the box (with insufficient overhead light to show the details).

The four main heroes, Wrath, Francesco 'The Devil' Selvaggio, 'Curby' and Captain Erika Dulinsky.  Wrath is an established Deadzone character, being the only Judwan to turn to violence, a result of tampering by the Corporations.  Selvaggio appeared in a Deadzone short story.

Extra heroes Alyse and Ogan Helkkare, flanked by two of ogan's Sentry Guns.

Four of the 'bosses', organic Data Storage Unit X-02-A (a Chovar), Enforcer ES435 'Monarch', Guard Commander Graves and Dr. Lukas Koyner.

Lab Technicians, the lest powerful of the minions.

Security Guards

Plague Victims (I wonder what Dr. Koyner has been experimenting on?) 

Corporation Marines

Two Corporation Rangers (elite marines) flanking another Marine.

Extra Mercs, a Koris, the Rebs Sphyr leader Kira Nikolovski, and The Fear, one of the Nameless.  

Blaine (of course), Hacker Halftail and a new sculpt of the Survivor (another established Deadzone character)

Finally, The Abomination, straight from Deadzone, and a pleasure to own.

There is some scenery as well. cabinets and storage tanks

Desks and tables

A small cabinet and some computer terminals.  in the game the terminals are used to unlock doors or find out additional information

Crates, which can be searched for extra items


The quality of the pieces is good.  Dungeon Saga seemed OK, but The Walking Dead was much better in terms of sculpts and casting.  Star Saga is, to my mind, even better.
There are also a slew of tokens and floor plans, special dice (reminiscent of the old heroquest dice), data cards for teh heroes and the opposition, as well as events and items and a Rule book and a Mission book.  More missions will be published, and several were unlocked during the kickstarter.

The Kickstarter edition contains some extras; bonus minions and the Extra mercs.  Even so, the base game is a good set.

Apart from playing the game itself, there is lots of opportunity to use the minis in games of Deadzone.  I'll certainly be using Nikolovski in my Rebs trike team and the technicians would make ideal targets to be captured, rescued, or even infected.

One very nice thing about the game is how mantic use it to expand their Warpath universe.  Including Some known characters makes the place come alive, but the addition of new races and details about worlds and different Corporations help it to grow.  I wonder how many different races now inhabit the Warpath Universe?

Monday, 4 December 2017

MTG Arena of the Planeswalkers Review

I received a copy of the Magic the Gathering Arena of the Planeswalkers board game the other day.  I have seen a lot of posts on forums suggesting that now it is reduced (sometimes as low as $5 in the US) that it is worth getting just for the miniatures.
I found a copy for £9.99, which worked out at less than 30p a mini, and the photos suggested that several of them might work well for the current D&D campaign.
Here is my personal opinion of the game's contents, I'll leave it up to you to decide if it's for you.

The box is well packed, with the now standard tray to hold the minis in.  Beneath it are the remainder of the components.

The bulk of the components resting on the six card pieces that make up the board.  These fit together well, but the image is sometimes a bit 'off'.  The water features don't always have proper coasts, though I suspect that with more care a better job can be done with this.  My first complaint (if I were looking atthis as a playable game) is that the reverse of the boards simply shows art work and descriptions of the five 'Planeswalker', the heroes of the game.  Yhis space could have been better used with more terrain.

The game features five Planeswalkers, interdimensional heroes who have nothing better to do than duel across a sandy plain.  Each has access to two squads of three creatures.  These are moulded in coloured plastic which I suspect matches something in the MtG card game.  The Planeswalkers themselves come in transparent plastic with a (crude) paint job.
Nissa Revane, Animist.  Nature guys, with Elf Rangers and Pummelroot Elementals.

Chandra Nalaar, Pyromancer.  Fiery dudes with Blazing Firecats and Flamewing Phoenixes.

Gideon Dura, Combat Mage.  Holy warriors with Kor Hookmasters and Rhox Veterans

Liliana Vess, Necromancer.  Undead with Restless Zombies and Blighted Reavers

Jace Beleren, Mindmage.  Tricksy images with Illusionary Projections and Leyline Phantoms.

So how useful are they?  Value wise they are good.  The five Planeswalkers can certainly be used in D&D and similar.  I'm sure that Frostgrave has a place for some of these as wizards.  They will definitely benefit from attention to the paint job, but the translucent plastic gives some nice effects, for instance Chandra has flames surrounding her fists.  Gideon is perhaps the  least interesting of these, armed apparently with a wet T-Towel.  I'll look at giving him one of the translucent weapons from Bones 3.
The squads are varied.  One nice thing about all of them is that each mini is an individual sculpt.  Great for tracking damage etc.  However, detail is variable.  On some, green and white especially, it is quite soft.  Others like the blue and red show better detailing.  It may be possible to correct this somewhat when painting.
The humanoid minis are the least interesting for me.  The undead are poor in detail; I have much better zombies, and the Reavers would be more useful if they were larger.  similarly the Hookmasters are uninspiring, though they might paint up well as Shadar-Kai (a D&D shadow race).  The Rhox are a fun idea, but perhaps a bit on the small size for a rhino-person?  I think they will find a place in Ghost Archipelago as a stand in for the elephant people in that game.
Similar comments apply to the elves and the elementals,  if the latter had been obviously large creatures they would be right at home in a D&D game.  
Nicest of the lot are the blue and red minis.  The Projections are supposed to be copies of Jace, so right away we have a Mirror Image spell.  There's something appealing about the four armed Phantoms, I know they will see action on the gaming grid. I'm also a sucker for translucent minis, though I have yet to master painting them properly.  If nothing else, this set gives me plenty to practice on.  The fire creatures make the set for me.  Who wouldn't like a large fiery cat?  Just don't let it jump up on your bed.
Finally an idea of the size of the minis, posing with a GW mini from one of my Frostgrave warbands (squares are 10mm on the background).

I should point out that I am looking at this from the point of view of using the minis in my various gaming projects rather than playing the game itself.   I haven't tried it, but I suspect the game plays rather well.  There is clearly a lot of strategic thinking involved in when to use spells, as well as luck with the dice and what spells you draw when.  It might be great for a light hearted break from normal gaming over the festive season.
For me the game is worth while as I can use many of the minis in D&D,m Frostgrave etc.  There are some I won't get much use out of, but I reckon more that half will see some action.  I'm not looking for any more sets (unless they are reduced even more, and already I can only find it for around £15 on Amazon now), but I would be interested in other sets in the series.  

This puts my totals for December in quite a hole.
Current totals for December
Bought 47 (Bear, dogs and wolves, Celtic cross and two piles of packages,  plus Planeswalker minis)
Painted 0
Sold/traded 0

I'd better get painting and/or stuff on eBay

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Pudsey Haul

I'm back from Recon at Pudsey.  It might not be the biggest show, but I've always had a fondness for it, I went to one of the very earliest Recon shows when it was in Headingley, and I've tried to get to them all since.

It seemed a little quieter than usual, maybe that was just because I was earlier than usual.  The organisers pride themselves on still running a Bring And Buy.  This was very busy, though I didn't see anything that quite called to me.

I looked at various manufacturers 15mm figures with a view to using them with my 15mm KoW, but all the new stuff, nice though it is, is noticeably larger than the old Essex stuff I already have.

I had a good chat with the chap behind Too Much Lead about bargains and the unfortunate attitude of some members of the hobby.  He was running a very nice looking Dragon Rampant game.  Having seen him collecting the forces on his blog, it was almost like meeting an old friend.

I particularly liked his giants (details on them here).  They look even better in life.

So what was my haul?  Not much actually.  A resin cross for Blood Eagle and similar
Dark Age games from Ainstey Castings.  Two piles of crates and other items from Skytrex (very nicely detailed, these).  A metal Reaper Miniatures bear (second hand, or should that be paw?) and a pack of dogs and another of wolves from Warbases, great for Frostgrave.

Current totals for December
Bought 8 (Bear, dogs and wolves, Celtic cross and two piles of packages)
Painted 0
Sold/traded 0

Friday, 1 December 2017

November: Went the Month Well?

A quick look back at last month and I seem to have been unusually productive (for me) and also relatively restrained on the acquisitions front (again, for me).

Current totals for November
Bought 11 (the survivor and 1 Dreadball team)
Painted 32 (Frostgrave and Vanguard warbands, including a troll, which must be good for bonus points and 30 15mm halflings)
Sold/traded 92 (5 dwarf berserkers and 3 lesser obsidian golems, 18 Napoleonics, 26 Gothic Horror, approx 40 GW orcs, plus some WH40K scenery)

I do need to alter the totals slightly as the post brought a Dreadball team.  I 'reinvested' some of my eBay sales, in one of the few teams I hadn't got, and it was a very good price (I also have other plans for them, but that might remain secret for now).

The Frostgrave/Blood Eagle warbands have been fun to paint, though towards the end I got weary of deciding what colours to paint the various bits of clothing.  Two warbands down now, so I'm ready for some games.  I've got a couple more made up of various old D&D pre-paints, so plenty to go at.

A bit of scenery building was also fun (and I've just remembered that I built up some MDF ruins for Frostgrave and similar.  I'll do a post dedicated to them as I have added to them somewhat).

The 15mm KoW was a very useful exercise.  It uses old minis that otherwise would be sold on, and allows me to get armies on the table that I wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to try.  I am thinking that I might even look at my 15mm historicals, as I would like to try KoW Historical rules as well.  If only I hadn't sold off my Greek army.

Enough of painting and modelling, that's just one part of the hobby.  What about gaming?
I've had less success here.  My Monday night D&D group plods on, and much of the modelling is for this, such as the ramps and blocks I made for the ziggurat (you can see them here).  I've not managed any other gaming though.  I have stopped the Thursday night Section/Delta Green game for a while, so hopefully that will free up some time for more table-top action.

I should be at Recon tomorrow.  I've a small shopping list, mostly of odd bits of stuff to complete projects.  I'll report back afterwards.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Small Scale Kings of War

I mentioned a short while ago that I was looking at my old collection of 15mm figures.  Way back last century I used to play Warhammer in 15mm, and it was a fun challenge to match the troop types with available figures.  I took the easy route for my first army; Empire, as there are lots of historical figures out there.  One of my friends/opponents did some excellent work with Tomb Kings and Lizardmen, and I also did Skaven, Dark Elves and Chaos Dwarves.  Alas, most of mine went the way of eBay, and I have gradually reduced my 15mm collection.  I have gone back to the scale for some projects, such as Dragon Rampant, but I decided to see if I could use my old Empire collection in Kings of War.
I've already talked through the process and the decision to base at 3/5ths the scale, so here's the current progress.
A troop of House Guard, mounted hero, regiment of City Militia (though a bit over armoured for De 3+), wizard and a troop of Muskets.

These are some of my old Empire troops just rebased into Troops (as opposed to troops) for KoW.  The paint scheme is straight out of the old Empire army books (Altdorf I think) and could do with some attention in some places.  The wizard, for instance, is losing some of his paint, and looks dull, and the gold armour on the general could do with brightening up, it looks like a kids plastic toy armour.

All the humans except the wizard are from Essex' various late medieval and early renaissance ranges.
I have still to find the tin that holds the cavalry section of the army, and there are a lot more minis in there that don't fit quite so well into the League.  But I also had a unit of 12 halfling archers.
Two troops (or one regiment) of Halfling Archers and a troop of Halfling Scouts.  A Halfling master Sergeant is lurking at the back, but he does have the Stealthy special rule.

I had some extra unpainted halflings, enough to make a regiment of archers and a troop of scouts.  Initially I thought I could get away with just painting the new minis, but the paint jobs were so different that in the end I repainted the original halflings.  I kept the halflings wearing the 'Robin Hood' hat as the scouts, and the other two poses as normal archers, led by a scout.  The scout leader is a minor conversion of a halfling originally wielding a pickaxe and they have only 8 on the base, cos they are just that good.

The halflings are all Essex fantasy halflings.  I really like the style, it rather reminds me of Peter Jackson's film Hobbits, though Essex got there before him.

I've also painted up five strips of wicker fencing as useful scenery, and am currently working on a troop of City Militia and bulking up the Guard to a full regiment.

So where does that put us now?  Counting the 15mm as 1/3 of a mini (random, but anyway);
Current totals for November
Bought 1 (the survivor)
Painted 32 (Frostgrave and Vanguard warbands, including a troll, which must be good for bonus points and 30 15mm halflings)
Sold/traded 92 (5 dwarf berserkers and 3 lesser obsidian golems, 18 Napoleonics, 26 Gothic Horror, approx 40 GW orcs, plus some WH40K scenery)

Very respectable this month (as long as Star Saga doesn't turn up today).

And a quick reminder, Recon, the Wakefield and District Wargamers annual show is on on Saturday at Pudsey Civic hall.  Its always a friendly show, with lots to look at, including the bizarre sauces on the bar.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Goblin Vanguard Ready

I've finished the Vanguard goblins I was working on.  They make up the sample warband from the alpha rules, though I have had to do a bit of fudging for some of the support characters.

Group shot.

The troll and mawbeast, both from Dungeon Saga.

Various troops and rabble, all KoW goblins just like these I did earlier.

The brains behind it all, Dungeon Saga Biggit (because he looks impressive compared to the KoW goblins) and an artillery crew and a sneak from the KoW orcs.

They all painted up nicely, I used mostly Vallejo Game Color paints with a wash of Army Painter Strong Tone to shade everything at the end.  The minis were gloss varnished with yacht varnish to provide a good protective coat, then given a layer of Windsor and Newton acrylic matt varnish.
the base texture wasn't my usual, its too coarse for my liking (though I think it would look good painted as rocks for my dwarves).  Its good enough that I don't feel I need to re do it though.  I will add to these eventually but this should be enough to get a feel for the rules.  

I had to make do with some substitutes as I couldn't find my goblin command pack.  The DS goblin makes a very fine leader, but he may get demoted when I do find my command.  The other two metal minis will stand in for a Banggit and a Wiz, but again, will still find a place in the band when the proper minis turn up.

I've also been working through more 15mm figures for my Kings of War small scale project, more on those later, and I am near finishing the dwarves to fight the above goblins.

Current totals for November
Bought 1 (the survivor)
Painted 22 (Frostgrave and Vanguard warbands, including a troll, which must be good for bonus points)
Sold/traded 92 (5 dwarf berserkers and 3 lesser obsidian golems, 18 Napoleonics, 26 Gothic Horror, approx 40 GW orcs, plus some WH40K scenery)

This is going to take a hit when Star Saga turns up, and its Recon on Saturday, though I don't really have a shopping list.  I might have to count those 15mm troops individually!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The Worst Job in the (Wargaming) World

OK, this could be many things, but my vote is rebasing. 

I've recently been looking at my old collection of 15mm figures as part of my Five Year rule.
A long time ago I played Warhammer Fantasy Battles in 15mm and built up quite a collection of several different armies.  I also collected some historical armies for Warhammer Ancient Battles.  Eventually I moved back to 28mm and gradually sold off the armies, keeping a few of the bits I was most pleased with (including my Empire army) and the usual gamer's box of lead.

When Mantic released their Uncharted Empires book I saw the opportunity to re use my Empire as League of Rhodia, if only I could work out what base size to use.

I wanted something that was easy to calculate, didn't need much in the way of new measuring, and gave bases large enough to fit the recommended number of minis on.  The small scale Kings of War Facebook group has recommended sizes (half the 28mm dimensions), but these seem to be mostly used for 10mm or 6mm (with lots of extra minis).  The few 15mm I have seen at their size look cramped, and/or short of minis.  So i would have to come up with my own.  As long as my friends had the same size, it should be fine.

Much experimentation later and a size of 3/5ths the 28mm dimensions seems to look good.  It's easy to calculate and looks good with full figure count units.  It does mean making measuring sticks, but you can't have everything.

So, here's a photo showing some of my rebased troops.  I've still to texture the bases, but it shows how they look.

Since these were already painted, I can't really put them in my monthly totals.  I hope I can get my Vanguard goblins ready soon though.