Monday, May 15, 2017

Irons in the fire

So many irons in the fire the last few weeks, it's been crazy.

However, to give you something to bide your time, here's my Reaper quarterly contest, Sir Conlan.

First Bones mini I ever painted, and the material stacks up well against anything else.  Very strange not to use primer though.  Very strange indeed.

A friend of mine has a much better photo setup, and now that I've been able to pick his brain, mine will get better too.  Much better (which I will tell all of you about too).

Monday, April 03, 2017


Today my daughter's bearded dragon, Buddy, passed away.  Not a happy day in our household.  She was so happy to get him, she saved her own money, learned everything she needed to and finally, here he was.

Some say reptiles don't make very good pets.  I'd say they're wrong, though to each their own.  He grew pretty quick, and eventually made for a good hat.

He was a pretty happy dude.  Enjoyed chasing crickets in his tank for breakfast, lounging on his log and looking out the window, and coming out to roam the living room and say hello to the cats.

He could be pretty cuddly too.  In the evening when it was time for bed he would happily crawl up into the crook of your neck and sit there, slowly falling asleep.  Put a blanket on him (it kept your body heat in for him) and he would lie there as long as you'd let him.

Most days I'd go in to say hi and give him a scritch on the top of his head or a nice stroke.  He enjoyed that, closing his eyes and revelling in the attention.

Climbing was something else he enjoyed.

He was a special guy, and it's been heartbreaking this evening.

Here's to you , Buddy.  Love you.  We'll miss you.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ironclad approved

Over the last few months (and by last few I mean September and onwards), I managed to get a fair bit of painting done.  That, of course, when I wasn't working, doing family things or otherwise engaged.

From the cabinet comes my warjacks from the journeyman league last summer, who contributed to my 'best painted' award at the end.

For starters, the Ironclad.  A heavy warjack with a quake hammer and open fist.  The colours are very traditional Cygnar, which is one of the things I was initially attracted to.

The blue is the Cygnar Blue base shaded first with Exile Blue then Exile and Umbral Umber.  Careful on the blue/brown mix as you want to avoid muddiness.  Then use Cygnar Blue Highlight in several layers (increasing the mix of highlight until you're pure Cygnar Blue Highlight) with a finish layer of Highlight mixed with a touch of Morrow White.

The gold is Rhulic Gold shaded by brown ink/Sanguine Base mix, then some Umbral Umber into that mix for a final wash.  Clean up with Rhulic Gold again and highlight with Shining Gold.

The steel portions are pig iron followed by a mix of Exile Blue and Armour Wash.  Add in some Umbral Umber for a final shade (not too much or it gets 'muddy' looking).  Highlight with Cold Steel and Quicksilver and done!

Normally I paint from the inside out, meaning the areas recessed farthest in get done first.  In this case it was eyes and boiler grille first, using Heartfire and Ember Orange to give it a warm, firey glow.  The arcane bits in blue on the hammer are Arcane Blue with blue ink and Meredius Blue, using Morrow White for the mix.  Dials and gauges on the back are Hammerfall Khaki  with Morrow White.

The Cygnus on the hull was tough as yellow is a pain in the butt sometimes.  However, keeping the paint fluid and gradually building up from Rucksack Ran to Cygnar Yellow and beyond with Menoth White Highlight made it stand out nicely.

The bases on all of them are a wet layer of Umbral Umber (somewhere between a wash and paint) to get into all the recesses.  This is followed by a heavy drybrush of Bootstrap Leather and a final touch of Rucksack Tan.  Two thin lines for front/back facing and a cleanup of the black rim and the base is done.

Here's his buddy the Charger, a lovely 'jack with a dual cannon and a hammer for squashing those who get too close.  Same techniques on this one, and I think he looks rather spiffy.  Ready to lay some smack on the enemies of Cygnar.

Finally, a group shot with Major Beth Maddox.

And two more photos of the warlock mini from the previous post.  A bit better photo quality.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Warlock model

Here's some photos of a warlock model I completed for Reaper Miniatures' quarterly contest. How it works is the previous winner selects a mini ($10 or less) and anyone who wants to paint one up and submit a single photo can do so.  Winners are judged by amount of likes and you get a prize for the online store.

Here's the one I did for the contest.  I went with something different, in that yellow is a colour I very seldom use.  Yes, I use it for trim and a bunch of other smaller things, but never to date as the largest part of a model.  Honestly, it turned out better than I thought.

The base coat is P3 Heartfire paint, with Bloodstone and Brown ink used in various amounts for shading, and highlighted with Cygnar Yellow and Menoth White.  The actual contest winner was a splendid model, well deserving of the honour.  As my my guy, well, my photo quality was crap, which I think hurt me. The colour is way too yellow-ish in the background.  Next time I will have to work on the lighting.  Nevertheless, it was fun to do and I anticipate doing more of these, if for no reason than to push my painting further.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Tomorrow there will be miniatures posts.  Mostly while I try to sort out a better photography setup.  Plus there has been quite a bit of painting since the Journeyman league and other chances to paint.

That said, happy new year to all in 2017 and I hope your holidays were good.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Warcasters and other miniature goodness

Another hiatus, and another long dearth of posting.

For those who might care, it happened that my later summer/fall got slammed with waaaaay too much work.  After my boss retired I took his duties for a month or so, then went full bore into teaching for 6+ hours a day, every day for most of October and half of November.  I'm still digging out from the pile, but am managing to leave (mostly) on time.  It's been a treat.

That said, prior to the madness, there was a Warmachine/Hordes Journeyman League held at Everything Games this past summer to coincide with the release of the Warmachine and Hordes mark III rules.  As such, my youngest and I participated in the league and had an absolute blast.  For those not in the know, a Journeyman league involves building your force from a starter box (essentially one warlock/warcaster and from two to four warbeasts/warjacks) to a mighty army of 75 points.  It also served to bring us up to speed on the new rules which, while not super different from mark II, had a few key changes.  Mostly, it sped up gameplay and made for more aggressive maneuvering and action, so overall, mark III gets a resounding thumbs up.

The league gives points for defeating opponents as well as painting miniatures over the course of the league.  You get a point per week for each win, as well as a point for having more painted (that means completed) models than the previous week.  The scenarios change as well, forcing you to give up your one-trick tactic and do something different.

Overall, a lot of fun, and I met a lot of cool players at EG who I would happily cross swords with again.  Sadly, the final tournament didn't happen as only three people showed up.  However, my youngest daughter took the Destroyer award (for most games won) while I took the Creator award (for best painted).  Out of a field of 20 or so, I'll take that!

Speaking of painted, I made good progress on my models for my Cygnar force.  First off is my warcaster, Major Beth Maddox.  She is new to the mark III release, and while it took me a game or three to start getting the hang of her gameplay, she turned out to be one of my favourite warcasters.

As a Stormblade turned warcaster, she is full of electro-goodness.  This gives her good synergy with other units, such as Stormblades or warjacks like the Firefly.  Frankly, she does a great job supporting an elite troop and several warjacks, by the end of the league I was really enjoying her and her battlegroup.

I do need to work on a better photo setup though.  Ah well, one thing at a time.

More model photos to follow, and a dissection of the list I finally developed during the league.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gamemastering - just do it

Gamemastering, that is, being the game master (or dungeon master, for those D&D players out there) for a roleplaying game is not something done easily.  I've been playing for thirty-one years, and over those years I've been the gamemaster (GM) since day one.  Starting with the red box Basic Set back in 1985, I've helmed countless games.  I like to think I've become rather skilled at it, if my players are to be believed, but I'm not providing this information to brag, only to provide some context in that I know a bit about what I'm talking about.

First rule of gamemastering: just do it.  Get out there, take charge at the head of the table and run a game.

I leave that on its own line, because that's the most important part.  Gamemastering is, by and large, a performance skill.  I don't mean actual performance, though that helps and can be fun, but rather performing the act of running the game makes you better at it.

"Yes, yes.  Thanks tips, glad you're on that for us." you're thinking.  And in some ways you're right. Practice makes perfect and all that.  However, I've seen people be overwhelmed by the task of running the game, with all the story details, character details, monster/opponent details overwhelms them, because they aren't used to channelling that flow yet.  That's the real core of the practice part.  You've done it enough times that some things become mental muscle memory, and you focus on the action going on in a particular scene.  That's what happened over the many years I've been GMing.  Now I make it look easy, because I've been over the hard parts.  That said, I'm always learning and tightening my game.

If you're a new GM, one thing you need to accept is that your game will not run perfect.  Hell, I've been doing this for 31 years or so, and my game sessions aren't always perfect.  If it goes well, you and the players have fun, and you get to tell a group story, then the real goal has been met.

There are two areas that, if you pay attention to them, can help your first (or latest) session go well:


  • The adventure itself - whether written notes, a published module or something in between, you need this
  • Dice - if I have to explain this...  (mind you, have plenty)
  • Pens, pencils, erasers - include extra for 'that guy'
  • Paper for making notes, maps, etc.
  • A gamemaster screen - yes, I've known GMs who don't use one.  It's creepy and weird.  As a player I don't want to know what's going on there, and as a GM I like to have the privacy to keep things surprising
  • Campaign notes - even if it's your first session, have some idea of who the heroes are, where they are, and what is happening around them
Optional materiel (depending on game system):
  • Vinyl game mat marked in squares - for those games like Pathfinder which work well with minis for combat or situations where you have to ask "where, exactly, does your character step?"
  • Markers for said mat
  • Miniatures
  • Props - this one varies, but sometimes, the right prop at the right time works wonders
  • Read the adventure.  Oh, you wrote it?  Read it again.  Be prepared for what happens in it.  Think ahead to the NPCs and how you want to play them.
  • Make sure your notes are organized.  No one wants to wait while you flip for the random factoid written on the 35th post-it note stuck in your spiral-bound notebook, half the pages of which are scattered on the floor around your chair
It sounds like a lot, but really it's not.  Have the tools you need, and be familiar with the adventure you plan to run.  That way, when the players do something oddball, or a foe dies easier than planned, you can adjust because you know what else is there.  You know that if they whip through one encounter, the guard trolls in the next chamber are probably going to come to investigate.  If you misjudged their power, you can add an extra enemy or two to some encounters (or take them away).

And now a note for players:  cut the GM some slack.  I'm not saying put up with a terrible game, or not give some feedback, but when you know your friend sitting behind that screen is taking their shot as a beginner, understand that they're not going to be as smooth as your regular GM.  He or she will say "give me a sec, have to check something..." so be patient.  If they need to do a retcon here and there (yes, just because the baddies forgot to take your weapons doesn't necessarily mean it was planned that way).  Give them a chance, and they'll tighten their game.  Until one day when they forget to take your weapons it will be intentional, and that encounter, my friends, is like an open book exam.  Bring your worst because you'll need it.

More musings on the fine art of roleplaying games to come, but remember - gather your tools, plan your adventure, and get stuck in and do it.  Practice will make you perfect, and you'll have fun doing it.