Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Identity crisis.

I was just going through a few eBay wins tonight and I came across a fella I didn't recognise. Can anyone help with a manufacturer or even an ID? *UPDATE* The answer is in the comments! *UPDATE*

Can't seem to figure out where he's from. Any help or advice would be much appreciated.

In other news, Oldhammer: The Weekend! is rapidly approaching and I have written a few words on the BLOOD forum which anyone on the fence about attending may find useful.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Hobby update 27/07/13

Board game night came around quickly again at the club, we played Smallworld this time.

Fancy seeing you here!

It's often described as fantasy Risk meets something or other but it doesn't feel or play like an all out conquest game one bit. This game definitely produced the highest level of participant satisfaction since we started doing this board game thing around Christmas time (the first one we played was Kingmaker back in Dec 12, I wasn't blogging then but it's a very cool game and worth a plug). One or two of our board gamers were dubious about this one but the game plays so fantastically well it's impossible not to get caught up in the fun and Smallworld gave us the most laughs yet.

The idea is that you randomly combine fantasy races with fantasy special powers and have six combos ready to choose from at any one time. You cannot ride one race to victory so inevitably your empire will run out of steam and be put into decline ('in decline' status means the race no longer conquers territory but continues to score points while it lasts) and you switch to a new force.

A lot of the laughs come from the combos. We got sensible match-ups from time to time such as Swamp Ratmen, Diplomat Sorcerers and Merchant Dwarves but often we got things like Flying Halflings, Alchemist Trolls or the deadly effective Commando Giants. We had a laugh when the Trolls got wiped out only to immediately reemerge as Spirit Trolls and when the Flying Halflings were doing their thing it was the cue for much debate over how best to utilise Eagles when fighting the forces of darkness in Middle Earth. I got a lot of points from using the bizarre Hill Tritons at one stage. It's very important to recognise when to keep going with your empire, when to enter a race into decline and what new race will score you the most points. Getting these decisions right will set you up for a win, though there is something to be said for just picking a daft combo and going wild with it. It really helps to keep all your victory point tokens face down too (they have different face values), it is quite tricky to keep track of who is winning so the player in the lead can potentially avoid having the others gang up on him which is a common issue with risk-like games.

The basic game includes 2, 3, 4, and 5 player maps as well as plenty of races and powers which increases the replay value. As the combos are the star of the show I have decided to visit Amazon and buy three of the available supplements in particular. It should only cost about £25 to pick up Smallworld: The Grand Dames, Be Not Afraid and Cursed, these are the supplements that add more races and powers to the basic game. Other supplements like Underworld, Necromancer's Island and Tales & Legends change the award-winning mechanics of the basic game and that's not something that appeals to me.

I've also been playing with some Dreamforge Games minis I picked up recently.

Some 'Eisenkern' (space-nazis) with GW heads.

I don't like the concept of nationalistic space armies (US Space Marine Corps, Space Stormtroopers and all that stuff) but by switching the noggins they take on a 'Mass Effect' feel with the armour looking very similar in style to what Commander Shepard and his N7 colleagues wear.

I am up to my neck in it with deadlines at the moment, this will be a make or break month for many projects including Oldhammer Weekend, a WFB3 game with Thantsants, a club RT game in an alien forest and my Blood Bowl league. I must confess the heatwave came at a bad time and I am fighting to recover my hobby mojo. Wish me luck.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 25 July 2013


I was just over at EndTransmissions gaming stuff waffling about gaming mats because he asked for some intel and it reminded me I had promised to talk about my recent purchase a bit more here. Here is my comment btw.

"After a series of failed attempts to get people to shut up and take my money I eventually found Hotzmatz which is run by Eric Hotz. The guy is outstanding at customer service and communications. His mats are made of felt and he screen prints them with a variety of designs. The mats are then treated to avoid fraying and damage (this does mean you shouldn't machine wash them). It cost me about $40 Can (£25) all in to get a great mat and have it shipped from Canada to the UK. It is Russian Roulette whether you have to pay an import duty of around £13 (I dodged it).

The Mat'o'War products that AW used to sell are available from 'The Hobby Den' which is based in Ireland. The guy who runs it is a typical example of the lazy, grumpy curmudgeon you seem to often get selling hobby supplies. His P&P costs are exorbitant and his communication skills are appalling. The MoW products are super awesome though so it may be a way forward if you have lots of money and very low customer service expectations.

With Hotzmatz you will have a choice over whether to get a street plan or anything like that printed on, I chose not to to keep things versatile. I definitely recommend having a look at the website."

The experience of trying to get a decent mat delivered was frankly baffling. It all started with an attempt to create my own mat (how hard could that be?) which failed spectacularly (quite difficult as it turns out). I don't actually know of anyone who got the results they were hoping for at the first attempt and with material costs close to the cost of a bought mat I would suggest it is a complete waste of time even thinking about making one. It requires so much time and knowledge to get right it just ceases to be worthwhile.

When it came to trying to buy one though I kept getting slapped with massive hidden costs (usually labelled as P&P but unless they are using helicopters to deliver items I don't buy it) or being told that the items were out of stock. Whenever I tried to email the hobby suppliers for information I got ignored or brushed off and Brian, who runs Hobby Den, was the worst of the lot. I actually put in an order with him and I was happy with the price Paypal told me to cough up so I settled back to await delivery. After two weeks of silence I knew something was up and started to double check my order. An online note had been attached asking for an extra 20 Euros P&P which was only visible to me if I happened to review my order. Bearing in mind that I had already paid P&P costs I was more than a little dismayed to run into the same old problem. I emailed the guy to express my dissatisfaction and was basically told I was an idiot for not reading the small print (it was there somewhere but at no point does it appear on a page during the ordering process, you have to seek it out) and that he had personally emailed the information to me (wrong). I politely demanded a refund.

My final experience was with Hotzmatz and what a different story that was! Eric was a legend, he communicated well (and often), his website is easy to understand and use and the overall service is exceptional. Not to mention the mat is great ! It's durable and versatile and, of course, the phenomenally low cost was a bonus too.

Example of a Hotzmatz mat.

There does seem to be a wider malaise within the hobby supplies industry, I have had so many bad experiences now that a comparison to Amazon and even Ebay makes the hobby industry seem like a joke.

All in all, I would recommend buying mats over making them though. Unless you have a very good prior knowledge of the materials involved and consider yourself to be something of a latter-day Da Vinci!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Imperial War Museum Duxford.

I went to the Imperial War Museum Duxford today and took a few snaps that might be worth sharing. Have a look.





Monty's Grant.

20mm Diorama (encased in glass).

Close up of buildings.



Manhattan Doll.

Auditions for the next generation of Manhattan Dolls.

The Sally B. Don't, whatever you do, look too closely. Otherwise I'm breaking one of my mission statement rules.

If you've never been I recommend you head out there. Today was the annual flying display featuring some of the few remaining operational WW2 aircraft which is incredible and draws in thousands of people from dozens of nations. While I was keenest on the Spitfires and Hurricanes it was wonderful to see so many American and German aircraft in action too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Make hay while the sun shines (and by hay I mean weird alien flora).

Made some freaky plant terrain, check them out.

That's only using half the aquarium plants I bought too! Making them was simply a matter of creating six large bases and hot-gluing cut up pieces of store bought plastic plants to them.

I made this dude (above) just for funs. He will crop up in Rogue Trader games as a local guide/adventurer type. I butchered a Russian sailor that had sat in a box for a really, really long time and rebuilt him with spares from various plastic boxed sets (WF Apocalypse Survivors, Warlord/Bolt Action Commandos and Perry's ACW infantry).

Here is the squad of ten Space Marines I will be taking to Oldhammer BOYL for Coop Devil's RT game. I couldn't bring myself to spray them white, still lots of practice to go before I get the hang of painting OS style, and I will be using the green Dark Angels colour scheme rather the 80's black too. :( Sorry everyone. Expect some individual shots soon as they come off the conveyor belt.

I have updated the way you post comments on this blog too by the way, I hope it makes things easier as I have turned off captcha. You must be a member of the blog though. Let me know if this doesn't suit any of you. There may be some weird spam comments up occasionally as a result, I will deal with them as and when. I look forward to reading comments from all my robot fans.*UPDATE* I have had to tweak the settings a bit after some technical difficulties, I think comments is back in business now. *UPDATE*

Minimal painting this week, I know other parts of the globe are a lot hotter at the moment than the UK but I get listless and irritable if it creeps above 19. I've eaten salad twice this week as I totally lost my appetite. *UPDATE* Three salads! :( *UPDATE*

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Hobby update 03/07/13

I have played lots of Rogue Trader recently and have it booked at my club for the next three Thursdays on the bounce! I have plans to do reshoots of all the games if possible, though I am waiting on some new photography gear to arrive first. I am making progress with the new jail, I'm using tomorrow and it is TTR at least. Most of the basic colours are done and I am weathering it up real nice. The neon sign is continuing to be the hardest bit to get right, I assume the original posted on the Wild West Exodus kickstarter has been sexed up with a little photoshop, but I am plugging away trying to learn how to do it. I need to pick out some details like the coiling wire and add some flora to the base.

Although the shack is rusty metal and the rest is wood I like the way it all blends together, sepia style. It will fit right in with the existing scenery.

Speaking of flora, I picked up some aquarium plants from a local pet shop for next to nothing and I will be using them to create some alien flora terrain. I have made six bases (which are drying as I write) and I will rearrange the plants on them to look suitably in scale.

In Rogue Trader, 'feeding the plants' takes on a whole new meaning.

I have picked out most of the marines I want to use for Coop's RT game at the Oldhammer weekend. I have bought a couple of new ones (and by new ones I mean old ones, but not in a Cthulu way) from eBay and when they arrive I will get them painted up. I need to have a push on these guys and the Slaaneshi warband over the next week or two.

Marines were real men in the old days, none of this fancy T4 or 3+ save nonsense to rely on.

Last Thursday was board game night again at the club, we played Axis & Allies this time. Once the board is set and the pieces are in place it all looks a damned mess but fortunately the rules are very simple and intuitive so we played the game to a conclusion within three hours (almost inevitably it was an Allied victory). I tweaked the start-up, tournament play allows Germany and Japan an extra eight IPC's (monopoly monies) to start with, I went further and instead deployed three extra German infantry on the eastern front and two Japanese infantry on Japan itself, giving the Japanese player the change. I also split America between two players and allowed them to argue for resources to hinder their efforts. It didn't matter though, Axis wins are rare beasts, but everyone had loads of fun along the way!

The game board. Budding Hitlers, why not change the course of history by invading Canada? After all, it can't turn out any worse for you than actual events.

Finally, allow me if you will to recommend the novel 'Ender's Game'. If you are in the mood for a slightly bonkers but incredibly compelling sci-fi read then look no further. It has been made into a film which comes out in November, no doubt it will be a watered down hodge-podge aimed at everyone and therefore no-one so enjoy this superb book before it's ruined forever.

Don't let the buggers get you!

Thanks for stopping by!