Friday, July 30, 2010

Getting Back On The Wagon

I've been managing to get the odd game in since Jake was born but the act of model-painting has not taken place since I finished my vampires towards the end of May. This is obviously unacceptable, newborn in the house or not, so I decided that it was time to pull the paintbrush out of its dusty scabbard and to get back in the saddle.

Since Chaos in Carpathia is keeping me inspired these days, it
seemed the perfect genre in which to kickstart my model-painting.

I find that, when one has been absent from the painting table for a while, it's more important than ever to start with a model that you really want to paint, as opposed to a model that is being completed out of some sense of obligation. With that in mind, I moved my essential supplies up to the kitchen table (near the hub of baby care) and began work on a single 28mm Gothic Horror model. I'll keep you in suspense until he's finished, but here's a hint for those who like guessing games - This model will complete all available options for my Werewolf warband. I've said too much.

Now that I've opened the "here's what I'm doing now" can of worms, let's bring things up to speed shall we? Here's a list of what I plan on accomplishing in the near-ish future:

By the end of Summer:

  • My Hungarian Monster Hunters (including all options) for Chaos in Carpathia. 18 models in total.
  • My 1500 or so points of 15mm sci-fi models for Future War Commander and other games. Comprised primarily of Heavy Gear models sprinkled with some 15mm infantry.
  • Finish modelling and painting the Games Workshop plastic watchtower that I bought three years ago. I want it finished so that I can use it in both Chaos in Carpathia and Warmachine/Hordes.
Is this realistic? Probably not. Please stick around and watch as I fall on my ass. I invite any and all jibes and non-constructive criticism. It drives me forward.

By Christmas:
  • My 15mm Irish for Impetus. I'm hoping to paint a diverse collection of models which will allow me to field both a Dark Age Norse-Irish army as well as a later 14th century Irish army. "What is the incentive for such a multi-purpose force?" I hear you ask. As it turns out, between now and Xmas, Marc will be painting his medieval English while Chris E. plans on painting a Norman army. I hope to use my new army to play against both forces while remaining historically-believable.
  • My 28mm Alkemy collection. I have the majority of models for the Avalonian faction and both Marc and Ken have models (with some of Marc's already completed). It should be a fun game that will allow me to take advantage of my newly-refurbished 28mm terrain collection.

Stuff that's fallen by the wayside:
  • My small handful of unpainted Cygnar models for Warmachine. Frankly, this is ridiculous. I mean, I have one heavy warjack and four infantry models left in my collection, all assembled and primed. Even though I'm rekindling my interest in the game, and for that matter, increasing my frequency of play, painting the models pushes me completely over the edge. I hope to prove myself wrong and get them finished in spite of my lack of inspiration. I would love to play the damn things but our game group has a strict "painted-only" policy.
  • Early in the New Year I made some noise about 28mm Fantasy Impetus. I think it's something I've going to do at some point, but a 28mm mass battle project (even one with a lower model count like Impetus) is not something that I'll likely embark upon this year. Again, time will tell.

Finally, before I leave you fine people, I'd like to draw attention to the fine surprise birthday gift I was given - the Foundry Painting & Modelling Guide by Kevin Dallimore. All I can say is, where was this book when I started painting back in 1997? Now that I look more closely at the inside page I see that it wasn't written back then. But you get my point.

What I really like about the book (in addition to it's wonderful layout and high-quality production value) is that it presents three levels or approaches to painting. After one is mastered, the painter can try to advance to the next level or stay where he is, or in the case of larger projects, mix the different approaches depending on the desired level of detail or numbers being painted. It covers some topics in great detail (such as painting horses) and really goes through everything the novice needs to know to get good results. Nothing is assumed.

Just to be clear, I'm not associated with Foundry in anyway, but if you're new at the painting racket, or perhaps if you just aren't satisfied with the results you're achieving, I would recommend it. I also just noticed that Foundry is offering all of its books at 50% off with free shipping.

Anyway, I've babbled enough for one day. I'm off to cook supper and to get a bottle ready for the baby.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Curse of the Dertflinghans: Chapter Seven


21 April.

My Friend,

I trust your man Dolf will see this letter delivered without delay. It is nearing noon here so I would expect him to reach your residence by nightfall. Until I receive further instruction in your hand (and bearing your seal) I shall remain in hiding at the farmstead where he left us. As to the events which occurred last night, I shall be as brief as may be without omitting any crucial information.

Your messenger met us at the Black River crossing yesterday afternoon and passed me your instructions. As per your wishes, we waited until dark and then made our way toward the graveyard specified on the map. I admit that I was skeptical of its existence as I have never heard of there ever being a settlement of any significance in the area which you had marked. However, when we came out of the wooded track, there were the unmistakable shapes of long-forgotten mausoleums looming amongst the broken fences and the decrepit trees. Your description was most accurate, and I can only guess that you have been here at some time in the past, although I cannot imagine what your purpose might have been.

In any event, we lit torches, divided the tools, and spread out across the cemetery grounds. I began a search of the closest structure...

...while Delilah moved on towards the northern end of the graveyard where another edifice stood out in the moonlight.

Thanks to the superhuman strength of my most-trusted creature, gaining access to the mausoleum was a rather swift affair.I followed the stairway down to a chamber of modest proportions, and upon examining the lone sarcophagus, determined that a grave robber of a past generation had done his work well. As I re-entered the night air I noticed that my creatures were agitated, as if something in the engulfing darkness had aroused their enchanted senses. Delilah was not within my field of vision and I could only assume that she too was searching one of the great mausoleums.

It was then that a mighty howl broke the night's serenity. Considering my research background and experience, I knew immediately that it was the call of a lycanthrope, or more specifically, the call of great alpha werewolf summoning his ilk. Then, without warning, the perpetrator of the call came bounding out of the darkness and brutally attacked one of my creatures. In all of my travels and explorations, I have never seen a specimen so large and so savagely efficient.

Within seconds, he and his lesser brethren were tearing through my creatures with a supernatural level of martial skill that is difficult to describe in writing.

Truth be told, I had little time to scrutinize my creatures' misfortunes as I had enough of my own. A pack of Carpathian wolves swarmed towards me and I did my best to keep them at bay while I crouched in the doorway.

Luckily, your servant Dolf came to my rescue, and with a combination of butchery and torch-waving, the threat was dealt with. We threw ourselves inside the mausoleum and did our best to bar the door behind us.

This morning we came out and found that the majority of my creatures were in a reasonable condition considering the thrashing they had received. Delilah, it turns out, had also taken refuge in a mausoleum for the night. The previous evening's events notwithstanding, Delilah, Dolf, and I are certain that the object of our search is not contained within this cemetery.

Although in your eyes our charge was undoubtedly a failure, I consider both the time invested and the perils endured justification enough for a first payment to be made in my favour. It would be most convenient if you could outline the arrangements of said payment in your next correspondence.

Patiently Yours,
Dr. P. Hartstone

Game Talk:

This game served as Marc's entry into the campaign. We played the Seek & Find scenario from Tom Weiss's scenario pack. The three mausoleums and the outdoor sarcophagus contained the four objectives. Each player could use his characters to seek out an objective by making a TN2 Mind + Scholar roll. As it turns out, we each found two of the objectives and then found our models in a series of brutal combats.

We also rolled the
Treacherous Agent special event. Dolf (one of my citizen models) played the part. He began the game as a character in Marc's warband. Unfortunately, the necessary cards were never drawn during initiative, and so he never changed sides during the scenario.

We were also unclear as to whether the Mad Doctor warband list falls under the
Master of Evil or the Female Victim special rules. We decided that, until we get official clarification, the Doctor himself is a Master of Evil. Here's how it all went down:

Found most objectives (1 VP) - 2 each, neither player
Held most objectives at game's end (1 VP) - werewolves, all 4
Capture Female Victim (1 VP) - n/a
Kill Master of Evil (1 VP) - werewolves achieved

2 VP werewolves
0 VP Mad Doctor
= major victory for werewolves

A major victory means that I can add a new character to my warband roster. I'll go with either the option of a third asylum inmate or paint up the Old Woodsman model I just prepped up today.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Warmachine Action: Epic Haley vs. Epic Kaya

Since Keir was in town, we had a mid-week Warmachine night Thursday past. I've had a few late nights with the new baby lately so I only had time to stay for one game, but oh what a game it was. Ken and Keir were both present, each trying to iron out last minute choices and strategies before heading off to Hardcore this year. A die roll left me and Ken facing off against each other - my Cygnar versus his Orboros.

Ken fielded a number of units that I had never faced before, specifically the Druids of Orboros, as well as the Alpha Warpwolf and the Warpwolf Stalker shown below. As you can see, he is no fool with a brush (although he is a fool of some renown in many other areas of his life)

I'm not sure of the names of all the abilities and spells that were used, but here's the gist of it: Kaya cast a spell to give her beasts Stealth (i.e. nerfing my shooting) while the druids used an ability so that I couldn't target most of Ken's units with magic. It was like playing against the Choir, only worse.

I had a couple of really good moments. Early in the game, I got an arc node into position and managed to essentially destroy the Bloodtrackers with a couple of Time Bomb spells. Here we see one of Haley's Lancers paying the price for his exuberance in this matter.

The photos make it all seem very one-sided (I take fewer photos when I'm kicking ass as I'm too busy kicking ass). For example, this Warpwolf had only three damage boxes left when he charged in and took Haley out. That's not to say that if he had been destroyed I would have survived. Ken had other threats in range.

I moved Haley up on to that hill so that she could use her hand cannon a few times. Dumb move as it turns out. I should have forgone the ranged attacks and kept her safe behind the hill. As for what I did right, I think that I did a fine job of using her feat to really suspend Ken's army in a large jar of molasses. The problem - I never had the follow-through in place and ready to deal the damage early enough, and in essence, I gave Ken the opportunity to retaliate after my feat had run its course.

Either way, excellent game. Ken seems to know his units and I think that he has a competitive list to field against his Hardcore opponents.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Curse of the Dertflinghans: Chapter Six


24 April. The Town of Dertflinghan - My heart is uneasy. My bodyguard, Hugo, has joined Sir Mannleigh and his companions as they head south to the Graveyard of Old Dertflinghan. In daylight, this seemed the wisest course but, as evening approaches, I feel as if I am in danger. I have decided to barricade myself inside the church where I intend to keep an all-night prayer vigil until morning. However, before I proceed further I should explain the chain of circumstances which has placed me in this precarious position. Perhaps the act of writing will in itself clear my heart and mind.

As per my previous entries, I took a coach to the small village of Vechi, where, after being rescued from a band of roughs, I hired the German gentlemen Hugo Forst to accompany me eastward. Yesterday morning, the wagon track we were following joined a larger road and the sign at the intersection indicated that my destination was less than a day's march away. We had hardly made this discovery when we were startled by a man's voice from the trees behind us. We soon learned that the gentlemen was Dr. Richard Alcock, a well-known scholar from Oxford. He led us on a small trek through the trees to a small camp where he introduced us to the rest of his travelling companions.

It seems that the leader of their party is the gentlemen adventurer Sir Thrustam Mannleigh. After some discussion, I learned that these good people were, like me, headed for the village of Dertflinghan to inquire after a missing, or at least, unaccounted-for person. However, whereas I am searching for our missionary representative Sister Anthia (who has not answered my correspondence for over a month), Sir Mannleigh and his companions are answering a request from a Kastor Von Dertflinghan. I must admit, I found it hard to avoid becoming suspicious when I learned that two people had gone missing from the same small settlement within days of one another.

In any event, as they were in the process of breaking-down their camp, Sir Mannleigh insisted that Hugo and I should accompany him to the town. With my growing doubts, I was only too happy to oblige. By evening, I was to learn that this chance meeting was no chance at all, but instead a legitimate example of divine intervention. But again, I move ahead of myself.

We made our way onward and just before dusk we saw the small cluster of dwellings appearing before us. As we drew near, some townsfolk came forth and met us in the town square. Their disposition could best be described as amicable yet reserved.

We were in the process of making arrangements for food and lodgings when a couple of rustic fellows came running through the fields yelling warnings in our direction.

Everything else happened rapidly, and no doubt, my observations will seem scant and inaccurate. As the villagers ran to their homes, barring doors and windows behind them, I saw a dark figure moving around behind the church.

Sir Mannleigh's hound also drew our attention to a pair of great wolves moving towards us in the gathering twilight.

With devilish speed, the young lady Ms. Poundwood was beset by one of the lupine killers. I was most impressed (and surprised) by the skillful way in which she handled herself. It was at this point I realized that I was not in the company of commonplace travellers.

And then, with supernatural speed and savagery, the dark figure flew into Sir Thrustam with murderous intent. Even my untrained eye could see that Sir Mannleigh was no slouch with a blade, but his skillful efficiency wasn't enough to stop the creature from throwing him violently to the ground.

At the same time, a smaller dark figure, this one in the shape and dress of a human child, came rushing into straight in my direction. The good Hugo fired his pistol with great accuracy, but in spite of the many bullet wounds, the hell-spawned creature kept advancing, taunting us with yellow claws.

The largest and most bestial of our attackers jumped over the stunned form of Sir Mannleigh and continued to hack and bite its way through the party. Although the entire encounter only lasted for mere moments, the beasts threatened to rout the entire party.

It was then that I heard a loud flapping sound, like a wet leather sack being beaten with a broomstick. I could see what seemed to be a bat, and if it wasn't so large, I would identify it as such with confidence. Whatever it was, one of Sir Mannleigh's resourceful Austrian companions made an impressive shot with his rifle and the flying menace disappeared from my sight.

During the initial clash with the monsters, Prof. Alcock ran around the town, beating on doors and shutters, encouraging those within to combine their strength and to come forth to the defense of their town. He is a skilled orator (and would have made a fine preacher I should think) and before long the townsfolk rushed out with farm tools and household implements held threateningly before them.

From here, the melee became a confused mess of bodies and shouts, and truthfully, I found it difficult to tell who was attacking who. Of one thing, however, I am sure. At the height of the altercation, the greatest of the beasts seemed to evaporate into a thin mist and to dissipate on the wind.

Abandoned by their master, the others seemed confused and suddenly lost the original impetus of their attack. The professor and I rallied those who were still standing, and as quickly as possible, we dragged the injured men and women into nearby buildings and locked the doors behind us. I leaned on a rickety table in a small cottage, and when I peered out into the night, I could see the devilish children scouring the town square before leaping and flying into the dark woods beyond.

When we awoke this morning, the townsfolk were about their business in the village and the surrounding fields. I can only accredit their persistence to necessity, as most men and women, after suffering such an ordeal, would have surely been paralyzed with fear. Mannleigh, his companions, and Hugo and myself went to the church where we searched for some clue as to the whereabouts of our missing persons. The townsfolk seem confident that Kastor is away to the south on business and that Sister Anthia disappeared in the middle of the night without explanation.

It was during this search that, in the fire grate of the church cellar, we found a promising clue. Ms. Poundwood produced a scrap of burnt paper caught in the gap of a grate stone. I immediately recognized the writing as being in Anthia's hand, and it ran thusly;
"...told me that the most likely source of the problem would be the mausoleum. I expect to take his advice in hand and to depart sooner rather than later. This place has eyes. I must leave it one way or another. Either way, if..."
Knowing that the remnants of the Old Graveyard of Dertflinghan lies to the south of the village, Mannleigh has decided to head in that direction as it offers him the only explanation of skulduggery in this cursed valley. I have sent the good Mr. Forst along with Mannleigh to be my eyes and ears while I stay behind and try to further investigate the strange happenings that surround this place.

It may only be the paranoid fancy that comes with age, but I feel the villagers intently watching me as I walk around the village. Now that I am here alone, I am afraid, as if there is hidden danger present. I have decided to stay in the church from now on. I have barricaded the doors and made good count of the provisions that Anthia has left behind. I have made excuses to satisfy the curiosity of the villagers, but I shall wait here for Mannleigh's return nonetheless. Afraid or not, I am a bride of the church, a servant of the Lord, and by His grace and protection, I will hold this place against all foes, man or devil.

Game Talk:

It was long overdue, but Chris and I finally managed to align the dates and make it happen. We were playing against the clock a little, but my new baby is a good sleeper and we managed to proceed without interruption. Here was the table laid out as Dertflinghan. I finally had the opportunity to use my new evergreen bases, and I have to say, it was a fun table to play on.

We played the "Terror in a Tiny Town" scenario. Essentially, a group of five townsfolk represents a mob that each opponent fights to control, humans through reason and monsters through fear and coercion. The Grudge Match special event was in play so my vampires were even more savage in melee than usual.

Although, for the purposes of the story, the Mannleigh expedition came from the west, Chris deployed on the south entrance to the town, directly across from the vampires, in the woods on the other side of the palisade.

Here's a shot of the mob deployed at the beginning of the game. the monster hunters had a far better run of controlling the mob during the scenario. However, Lucretia (my vampire in the blue dress) wiped out the entire mob in close combat (in one turn, no less) so the 2 VP were left unclaimed.

Since Lyleth has two uses of Shape of the Bat, I advanced her down the flank. She flew over the buildings with the intention of kidnapping the female victim (Sister Basilla in this case), but as you read above, she was shot down by the very accomplished Johann Von Dertflinghan. I should also mention that Chris did KO Count Adolphus, I just included the mist photo for atmosphere.

As I mentioned in a recent post, we've decided to switch entirely over the Tom Weiss's campaign system. This means no more advances for characters (we weren't really getting any anyway, and they aren't necessary), no income, and no characters dying. Instead, we are keeping track of minor and major victories, with major victories allowing the winning player to add a new character or henchmen group to his roster. This game shook down as follows:

Controlling Mob at Game End (2 VP) - neither player
Most KO'd enemy characters (1 VP) - 4 each, neither player
Capture Female Victim (1 VP) - vampires achieved

Kill Master of Evil (1 VP) - monster hunters achieved

Result - 1 VP each; Draw

Can't wait to play the next one. Hope you enjoy the photos, and as always...

Thanks for Reading,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Workbench Update: Old Trees, New Forest

I finally got around to finishing my new forest bases. I combined some new purchases with my long-standing tree collection and finished off the painting and flocking yesterday while the baby was having a snooze. I'm quite pleased with the final result. These will work well as free-standing pieces or as tree markers to be laid on forest templates for games like Warmachine or Impetus.

This tree re-basing effort marks the last of my terrain refurbishment projects. As of now, all of my terrain pieces are at a level I'm satisfied with. From here on in, all of my terrain projects will be new endeavors.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chaos In Carpathia - A New Opponent, A New Approach

Marc dropped by last night with his freshly-painted Gothic Horror models, so we threw down the dungeon tiles and proceeded with a Chaos in Carpathia learning game. Marc may have been learning the rules, but I was also learning about the Mad Doctor's creations as adversaries. Where both vampires and werewolves tend to have lightning reflexes in the combat department, the doctor's creations are tough... like, really tough. The Monster himself has a damage resistance of 7 which, to my knowledge, is the highest in the game. Either way, it was a fun time and I think that Marc is a convert.

The elusive Dr. Prometheus Hartstone

Delilah searches for treasure.

Marc used the Dog Monster profile to represent these lesser monsters.

The lesser monsters and my lunatics were pretty evenly-matched.

Think your way out of this one Doc!

In addition to learning the rules, we looked at the campaign system contained in the Tom Weiss game add-on. Chris and I have been using a slightly-altered version of the rulebook's advancement system, but after revisiting the campaign system, I've started having second thoughts. The thing is, unlike many other adventure-style skirmish systems, CinC contains a very detailed list of skills and abilities for the different character types. Most characters start with lots of abilities, so acquiring new skills and advancing stat profiles is not particularly necessary.

Furthermore, the add-on campaign focuses on completing objectives, and with each major victory, a player can add a new character to his roster. His roster becomes a master list from which he can choose his warband before each scenario. It strikes me as a far friendlier method of warband growth and advancement for painters and players alike. I'm sure we'll try it out and make a decision. Either way, the story of Dertflinghan will proceed, and what sub-plots the mad doctor brings to the story shall remain to be seen.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, July 5, 2010

Workbench Update: Re-basing Evergreens

After making some bases of deciduous Autumn trees earlier this year, I noticed that my evergreen collection seemed a little lackluster by comparison. I purchased a couple of packages of new trees and mixed them with my older collection and began basing them in groups of one to three. Like the deciduous bases, I glued down tree bark to represent large rocky outcrops and, when the earth and rocks are painted, I'll add a mix of flock and grass to finish them off.

By keeping the various-sized bases relatively small, I'll be able to place them on forest templates for games like Warmachine or just lay them out as individual pieces for games like Chaos in Carpathia or Legends of the Old West.

I glued the sand down yesterday while Jacob and his Mom were napping and my oldest son Ben was outside with his friends. If the Fates smile on me, I'll basecoat black tomorrow and do the painting and ground cover when the opportunity presents itself.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Newest Project

Jacob Francis Tilley (aka "Jake")

Born on Canada Day (July 1st) so he'll likely be a patriot. He and Mom are very healthy and happy, and big brother and I are thrilled. Incidentally, the chair he is sitting in shall fit perfectly on my painting table ;)

Thanks for reading,