Monday, 27 April 2015

The Depths Of Space - Two Space Hulk Battle Reports

Genestealers, Kettle Chips and Jelly Babies: Just the thing for a sunny Glasgow Saturday.

Blimey, that last blog post was awfully popular.  It seems quite a few Glasweigans were interested to read about The Dragon & George's demise.

Unfortunately, this post is a loss less inspirational and is a lot more "Me playing a board game".

Here we go again!

My old university chum Aaron found himself with an afternoon to spare, so he came round to mine angling for a game of the new Space Hulk.  He owned the second edition and has played it but not in a long time.  We decided to sneak two games in - first playing Suicide Mission again, then moving on to the second mission.

Aaron took the role of Space Marines, trying to break my streak, as we began our first game.

Friday, 24 April 2015

The Dying Dragon: Ode To A Game Shop

Icon of St George, that most English of Syrians.

Yesterday was St George’s Day, which as well as being the patron saint of our neighboring nation is also the name day for myself.  I am a George, and I have George pride!

Unfortunately, I have sad George related news.  Another George in Glasgow is not doing so well.  This George is not a person but a place; it is the gamer shop The Dragon & George, which after decades of business is shutting up for good.  Scuttlebutt is that the rent on King Street has risen substantially and as a consequence the shop is no longer economical to run, so the proprietor is calling it a day.

I couldn’t let this shop vanish without writing something about it – its pluses and its drawbacks.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Second Rule Of Book Club Is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT BOOK CLUB!

A bit more bling than our usual meeting place of "beside the new comics."
 Monday saw our latest Book Club meeting.  Rather than meet in Forbidden Planet for a nerdy lock-in, we instead met in the nearby pub Waxy O'Connors - which a few of us usually gather in for a post-meeting drink anyway.  Duly assembled, we discussed this month's book, The Sculptor

The Sculptor is a 500 page hard-backed tome by Scott McCloud and his first piece of fiction in about two decades.  He's made a name for himself as the author of three different books on the creation of comics, and was a big pioneer when web-comics and micro-transactions kicked off.  However, he's also got a bit of a reputation for being a bit poncy and highbrow - it's hard not to look at his huge body of comic design work but rare forays into actually designing  graphic fiction and not find that suspicious.

A whole book dedicated to designing comics, rendered as a comic.
The Sculptor proved a bit of a challenge for me at the book club, because everyone else seemed to think it was an epic masterpiece and I thought it was…. OK?  It would be nice to tell myself all my fellow nerds are falling for the hype and that I'm the smartest person in the room, but when the room contains award winning comic book writers and artists it seems more likely that I've got poor taste.  I feel slightly vindicated by the fact a few critics also had issues, but it was hard to shake the feeling I wasn't quite as bright as the others.

The cover to this book.

What follows, then, is my minority report on The Sculptor.  Spoilers, inevitably, follow.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

RPG Update: Everway

Today's game is a little different
I'm a bit behind on nerdy news - I've got a few bits and bobs to update you on.  A final one-off, a new campaign, some new RPG purchases and a new book club meet mean I've got lots to bore you on.

Let's start with the last game of our one-off season as ran by Matthew: Everway.

A very early Wizards of the Coast product
Everway is a diceless roleplaying game whose randomisers are not numbered cubes but, essentially tarot cards.  This may seem passe now to people who have played recent games like Swansong, but Everway was pretty much the first game of it's kind. 

Designed by a then up and coming game studio called Wizards of the Coast, the first thing that strikes you about Everway is how beautiful it is: the cards and the character sheets are something to behold compared to the functional but drab design of most games.

A beautiful, minimalist character sheet - the character I played in the one-off.  The back lists some extra rules but most key data is up front.
The game itself?....

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Wave After Wave Of My Own Men: Hobgoblin Archers And Genestealers

The 7th Edition Warhammer starter set
Battle for Skull Pass was the Warhammer Fantasy 7th Edition starter set.  As is common with most such starter sets it had enough dice, rules and figures to get started with a small game for two, in this case a small Dwarf army takes on a small Night Goblin contingent.

The fact that this set contains Dwarfs and hooded Night Goblins has made it very popular with the Chaos Dwarf fanbase, such as it is., the hang out for people who play an army that hasn't had a proper miniatures release since John Major was in power, has quite a few guides to how to put this boxed set to good use.

Some of the fancier conversions are more work than I can face, but if you're interested, there's some smart videos on turning the Night Goblins therein into Hobgoblins with some model surgery and green stuff.  Similar guides cover using the Dwarfs.

A conversion beyond my limited skill!
 I mention all this because I got about thirty plastic Night Goblins cheap on eBay many moons ago with the intention of using them as Hobgoblin proxies.  They have Goblinoid appearance, robes and bows - good enough, right?  It's the only practical way to make a unit of them, certainly, since I need at least twenty Hobgoblins for a unit but buying old metal figures in that bulk is impractical. (If onlty Forge World made them so everything in their army list had an official model... but alas, they're too busy making Yet Another Power Armour Figure #9312 these days.)

One of the Night Goblin plastic sprues from the current boxed set.
The actual models I got seem partly from Skull Pass, partly from a recent multi-part Night Goblin plastic kit.  There's a few different poses of archer, some mono-pose from Skull Pass and the others components from the kit.

Anyway, I've slapped on my now standard Hobgoblin colours onto the first 10.  This set includes 9 plastic Goblins and also a real metal Hobgoblin Musician.  Mechrite Red, Goblin Green, Snakebite Leather.... ach, you all know the drill by now.  Still to do some tidying and washing.

My "Hobgoblins" so far

Last weekend was a bit of a write off due to cat-sitting for a friend and Sister Superior and I's anniversary, so progress hasn't been too fast right now - hence few painting updates.  Nothing on the agenda this weekend though so I'm going to press on with these guys this weekend.  Once this unit is finished, I'm hoping I can talk Charles into a small game of WFB and finally try out the Beards on the table.  That way I can justify to Sister Superior all the bloody time and money that have gone into these, including multiple presents from her!

Oh, speaking of Sister Superior... I had a painting buddy while doing these Noblins.  She's interested in painting up the Genestealers from Space Hulk, and she and I perused some pictures of Tyranid paint schemes to get some inspiration for her.

The classic "dark purple body, light purple head" Genestealers didn't do anything for her but the current GW Tyranid Warrior box art of "purple carapace, white body" did.  So I undercoated her an old Genestealer figure I had lying around and let her do some experimenting....

Sister Superior wields her brush.
Sister Superior goes a lot slower than me, but is far neater, as you will see from her one much more fully formed figure next to my ten slapdash ones!

The body is Vallejo Off-White, the carapace Army Painter Alien Purple.  The carapace was washed with Army Painter Black and then highlighted up with some drybrushing and spot highlighting using Vallejo Pink.  The claws are Blood Red, though on the one closest to camera she did a really cool highlighting from black to dark red to red to orange.

The bulk of the body was given a wash of Army Painter Soft Tone, which combined with the wash/drybrushing on the carapace did most of the work of bringing the figure together.  The wash in particular worked really well, I think - you don't necesarilly want this figure to be Brilliant White but more a sort of dirty bone colour.

The ridged recesses were washed seperately to give them a pinky/reddish colouration like muscle.  Sister Superior was less happy with the effect here, but it's still pretty good considering how rarely she paints.  Might need a glaze of red or pink to change the colour more to her liking.

Hopefully more painting updates from one, if not both, of us soon!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Death To Edition Warriors! (And Some More Space Hulk Analysis)

From Dork Tower, long running nerd gag comic.
You will recall my large collection of roleplaying games, overflowing out a bookcase and ever expanding physically and electronically.  A somewhat out of date list puts the total number games at over 100 covering a variety of different genres including high fantasy, gritty fantasy, horror, superheroes, hard sci-fi, space opera, time travel, romance, wrestling, historical, historical prostitutes, non-anthropomorphic rabbits and Enid Blyton.

A reminder of what this looks like.

 The observant amongst you will have noticed, both amongst the list and in the picture, that more than one game has multiple editions of it recorded.  Dungeons and Dragons in particular I have a lot of different editions for, plus a few editions of Paranoia and Pendragon.  This also applies to wargames where I have various different editions of Warhammer, 40K and Blood Bowl, including versions from before I started playing that I sought out on ebay.

I mention this because being somewhat broad in edition taste can be... unusual.  Every new edition of an RPG or wargame is the end of the world for some people and there's some very long running spats online regarding particular changes - D&D 3rd to 4th Edition, Warhammer 3rd to 4th Edition, Vampire The Masquerade to Vampire The Requiem.  Obviously I have opinions - Masquerade both mechanically and fluff-wise doesn't float my boat - but I get a lot less heated about it than some people.
From Penny Arcade.

It's just as well, really, because there's a lot you can learn about your favourite games by reading older editions.  Sometimes there's stuff from editions you haven't played that appeals to you, sometimes you can see why they got rid of it and appreciate the new one more.

And sometimes... sometimes you can end up thinking your opinion on a Space Hulk mission might be backed up by history.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Board Game Action: Space Hulk (3rd Edition

The Genestealer menace, complete with Hybrids and a Magus
I haven't updated you on any silly purchases lately, which is remiss of me.  I've added a few more games to my pile by trawling eBay and generally knowing nerdy people.

Two of these are games I owned as a child and, while I still have figures/board/bits leftover, they've long since been cannibalised, damaged and otherwise rendered unplayable.  Getting copies of them means I can play them "properly" again.  The other is a game I didn't purchase before and managed to finally find at a reasonable price.

These games are....

Space Crusade, HeroQuest and Space Hulk.
  •  Space Crusade was my intro into GW games back in the day, a 1991 Christmas present that started me on this whole miniatures thing. This battered copy on eBay has all the cards and tokens from the core game and Mission: Dreadnought.  It doesn't come with any figures, but improvising with the Marines/Orks/Dreadnoughts/etc that I do still have makes this little problem.  It's actually very similar to Space Hulk in concept and some game mechanics but very much simplified to make it kid-friendly
  • HeroQuest was my next step from Space Crusade, another kid-aimed entry game but this time with a dungeon crawly theme.  This was very popular in normal toy shops - many supplements were released as well as choose-your-own-adventure books and other such paraphernalia.  This copy is complete and comes from the astoundingly kind Paul, an Oldhammer gentleman I recently met online and who gifted me this because he had already obtained his own complete copy.  I am very much in his debt for this act of generosity!
  • Finally, Space Hulk, the third edition from 2009, all complete with some very minor damage to figures (all fixed with glue) for about half the going rate on eBay.  Alas, Games Workshop made this a limited edition release and the fourth edition in 2014 was equally limited, leading to it selling out in hours online and sealed untouched copies going for insane prices on eBay.  Getting my hands on a copy for a non insane price has been a goal for a while, but I've always failed - including one time when I had to withdraw a bit because the COMPLETE SPACE HULK was, in very small writing in the description, complete apart from the figures.  Good times.  :-P

The cover to the 2009 edition.

Basic principle of the game is that one player plays a small team of veteran Space Marines in Terminator Armour - heavy powered armour used for boarding actions and the like.  The other controls a much larger horde of Genestealers, cunning alien beasts with razor-sharp claws.  Within the confines of wrecked space crafts (the Hulks of the game titles) the Space Marines try to complete their missions to recover artifacts, rescue comrades, destroy vessels or what have you while dealing with wave after wave of monster.

Second edition cover from the 90s - the version I saw on the shop shelves growing up.

 Below the cut we'll cover what happened when Sister Superior and I played a game!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

RPG Update; Legend of the Five Rings and Fiasco

Off on specialist weapon training on The Black Planet
I find myself unusually left to my own devices tonight.  Sister Superior has just started a new job and has to go away for a couple of days for training in England - Birmingham today, Manchester tomorrow.  As such I am occupying myself with nerdy reading and stuffing my face with junk food.

I am also writing this blog post, which you are reading right now with your eyes and everything.  In it I am writing about the last two sessions of RPG night in which we played two games I haven't played before.  

Now you are reading the next paragraph, where I tell you that more details follow after the cut.