perjantai 20. tammikuuta 2012


A little something for an army I will probably never play with. The pictures are awful, as always...

These I did before the Ultramarines Rhino, and now I would do a few things differently on the weathering... I might come back to those at some point...

The imperial guard riding the second Hellhound is a very old model from the first IG infantry box issued by GW. Old stuff, but quite good for cutting and converting. The minis are made of a soft plastic that is a joy to cut. And I love the helmets...

But actually, what I have always wanted to convert for IG is something like this old Rogue Trader pic. Someday...

First Hellhound:

Second Hellhound

lauantai 14. tammikuuta 2012

Space Marines!

While picking my 40k armies, I always seem to land on Vanilla Space Marines. Either with actual space marines, or as count as: GW's favored army, easy to play for eternal beginners like me, and full of modeling potential.

Recently, however, this has turned into a taste for old school Space Marines. I took some old things from under the bed, and bought others from Forgeworld's great old school infantry accessories, and I am putting together an army. Ultramarines, of course, the one and only.

A few examples, quick and dirty. A base of Bleached Bone, three coats of Asurmen Blue wash, then drybrush: Ultramarine Blue, then the same with increasing amounts of white. After that, metallic details for example with Mithril silver and Badab Black wash. Etc etc. Simple and quick, and the new GW washes are just too good to miss.

And an old Rhino! Great model, a bit too little now compared to the new one, but still great fun to paint. Same technics here: base Bleached Bone, then several washes of Asurmen Blue, then drybrush. Then weathering: weathering powder, dirtstreaks made with washes, metallic chips, etc.

perjantai 13. tammikuuta 2012

Space Hulk...

Ah, Space Hulk... Alongside Warmaster, probably the best game Games Workshop ever produced. I own the old version, and I had to buy the new one. If only for the miniatures that came along.

Beautiful things really. I am painting the whole set, with more pictures to come. For the genestealers, I intend to dip them. Let' see how that goes...

sunnuntai 25. huhtikuuta 2010

Old stuff...

All right, here we go. New year, new post.

The stuff is old, though: Alternative Armies' Firefight 1.0 ruleset and line of miniatures.

I bought this game in the beginning of the 1990s, when it came out in France, That must have been 1991-1992. For some reason the game was translated to French right upon production, or at least as far as I can tell quite early after it issued in Britain. The game was Mac Coxhead's brainchild, something he did for Alternative Armies before Flintloque. Paul Cockburn and Coxhead created the ruleset. Illustrations were by someone you should know: Pete Knifton, illustrator of the cover for the first Warhammer 40k book. Old school right there... Overall the book and the game have an amateurish feel that did not so much disturb then, but does today in comparison to the standards this industry has reached. But Rogue Trader was also an amateurish product, hastily put together. Who cared back then?

In my local group the game was an absolute bust. Nobody played it. Moving to another town, eventually to Paris then out of France, I never met anyone or played with anyone who would know of the game. Eventually the book and minis ended in moving boxes and on a shelf in the basement.

Funilly enough, when Alternative Armies decided to put up a website, a section was kept with some of Firefight's minis. It also documented the game's setting: the Ion Age, a futurist space opera setting where the Human Free Companies defend Human settlements against a conglomerate of alien races dominated by the mysterious Shia Khans. Eventually the company developed a 15 mm game, a 6 mm game, then recently a couple of 28 mm games in the same setting. And they seem to have other plans. Coxhead has passed under the radar, mine at least, after a stint with a Scotland-based company called Maveryc. They produced a game and a range of minis set in a Weird Fantasy Roman Age Germany. I bought some of their minis, Halflings as a matter of fact. Not my finest moment. They were cheap, and they went right to the pan when I needed white metal to cast something else. Those were the roughest minis I ever owned, cluttered, lacking detail... The setting had potential, but now Maveryc's website seems to be on hold. End of story, I guess.

But Firefight remains. The game has flaws but also lots to go for it.

First things first: to play with minis on ilustrated cardboard tiles divided in squares regulating ranges and movements is just not, to me, a satisfying idea. It simplifies the game, for sure, making the calculation of ranges, the movements and such easier to organize. But miniatures standing on illustrated cardboard is not what I look for in a game of toy soldiers. The gamemakers seem to acknowledge that by presenting on the backcover of the book a picture of the minis set on a normal table-top scenery. So, yeah... Forget it.

I thought the range of minis was for the most part nice. Firefight, like 40k, is a product of its time. It comes in the middle of the 1980s-1990s Britain-wide bubbling of gamers, sculptors, painters, game concepters. A "British spring" in tapletop wargaming, that created a generation of creators moving between their garage/backyard shed/basement, various small workshops, and a few big companies: Games Workshop, Reaper, Wargames Foundry, etc. Jervis Johnson and Rick Priestley are the best-known of this generation, but there are several others. Both in its ruleset and minis, Firefight documents this specific timeframe, the early 90s.

Some of ths minis show their age, for sure, and have a distinct 80s British feel to it. There are sculpting flaws, the details are cluttered, chunky, sometimes a bit rough. But to me most of the range has aged very well, especially the Levy soldiers, the Crusaders, and the Khan legionnaires. Those stand the comparison with current standards, especially I would say the Khan legionnaires.

Most of the range was Gary Morley's work, especially the Crusaders, power armoured veterans of the Free Companies. Some of the models, especially the Khan infiltrators and Goblins, are obviously the work of Bob Olley. Those would be for me some of his best early sculpts. Olley is very hit-or-miss for me, but this is good work. I could swear that Marc Copplestone sculpted a few ones as well, especially some Khan legionnaires, but I don't know for sure.

Anyway, overall this is good work. Here pictures of two crusaders, a Templar officer, and a Khan legionnaire.

As for the rules, there are lots of problems and things to change and clarify, but I liked the ruleset's basic system. Each mini gets basic characteristics, modified by its equipment (Move, Ranged, Melee), then skills that give them modifiers (Assault specialist, etc). The turn would start with one activated mini, who would choose an action (move, move and fire, aimed fire, sustained fire, melee etc) for the turn. Depending on the action, a mini would throw a number of D6 equal to its characteristic used for the action: to move, for example, a Goblin would throw 5 dice, his Move characteristic. Armed with an Amber lightsword, a light assault weapon, he would add 1 dice. Armed with Sandpiper heavy weapon, he would soustract 2 dice.

Of the results, 1s would be dodges, 6s attacks, others general actio dices. This rule of thumb would be modified by the action taken and battlefield conditions to give the mini its options. Different actions would force you or give you the possibility to rethrow dodges or attacks. Then, another mini from the same player would be activated, etc. Once a mini's actions are done, the mini has the possibility to keep some dices, mostly dodges, next to it in order to resist the enemy's actions. The basic turn would be interrupted by various ambush-type actions. When a mini would shoot another mini, this mini would be forced to activate, choose an action, etc. Generally the attacked mini would try to get as much dodges as its attacker did attacks, in order to cancel those. It could also attack its attacker, providing it would get attack dices.

The system of 1s and 6s got me right from the start. Once you play, the system is simple, flexible and elegant. There is certainly an excessive randomness to it, and the normal round is easily disturbed, which clutters the game. There are dozens of problems in the way the rules are written. But through the clutter shines a nice and quick basic system for skirmish tabletop gaming. At some point in time I would like to write down a new version of it, without the floortiles, and with some clarifications to the system. Maybe, one day...

Well, now you know Firefight. I will post more painted figures from the range as I paint them, hopefully through the year.

Some pics of the game itself, with the unfamous floortiles:

lauantai 24. huhtikuuta 2010


... and a new blog entry. My resolution for the year: one blog entry per season...

He. look out, ducks!

Something completely different indeed: the Mongoose publishing ducks for their edition of the mythic rolegame Runequest.

Runequest was the first rolegame I played, and I still have a soft spot for the setting, the world of Glorantha, and the BRP system. To me, it remains "the" rpg, the standard. After Runequest I stayed in the BRP world, playing Hawkmoon, Call of Cthulhu, Elric and so on.

So nothing to do with objectivity here: for me, Runequest, Glorantha and the Chaosium system are for ever linked to these wonderful first experiences of rolegaming. And Mongoose's version looks promising. I have bought the basic book so far, but with no time to play I cannot really judge the whole thing. To me, Mongoose has a reputation for shabby proofreading and rather messy rulesets. This has spoiled the fun of some of their games which I was ready to embrace otherwise.

But they decided to produce minis also, and they started with Ducks and Broos. Immediately things looked much brighter, and I had to buy the only box of ducks in the local shop. I came out, holding it to my chest under the laughs of the ignorant crowd: Ah! ducks! ridiculous!. Fools! :P

Ducks, or should I say Durulz, are Nobel-class unadultered genius, easily Greg Stafford's best idea ever. It shows Runequest at its best: as an inventive setting putting a nice twist on the classical fantasy "races", and creating its own. Plus, who would not like diminutive weaklings with a dark family secret and a past full of betrayal and mishief?

Two minis from the box:

The fighter is not based.

These are nice. The box is not too expensive, the sculpts are ok, devoid of glaring problems (seamlines very discrete, no flash...). They paint easily, and the sorcerer is a nice touch. I still have about half a dozen of those to paint. They will be perfect for playing with A Song of Blades and Heroes...

As an aside, the box seems to be impossible to find anymore. Most e-shops do not carry them, and they have disappeared from mongoose's site. ?-(

keskiviikko 14. lokakuuta 2009

Small is beautiful

A quick post to put up two more "GUardsmen". Old GW (Citadel) "Space Dwarves" plastic minis, extensively remodelled to get more varied poses. Oldies, but definitively goodies. I am a squat fan, by the way...

tiistai 13. lokakuuta 2009

Beauty, the Beast, and friends...

Intensive blogging days... More old school IG for the IG army. Mostly old GW imperial guard from the 1980s. Great stuff, with lots of character. The ogryn impersonnates a Heavy Weapon team of two guardsmen. I picked the idea from somewhere, just cannot remember at the moment where from... Ah, anyway. There you go. Pictures are dark and blurry, sorry. I need better light...

And the army's big boss, Colonel Nathaniael Shatz.

This is one superb miniature. I hope I did it justice. The sculpt is just perfect.

More to come.