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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Step-By-Step MERCS: CCC Yellowjackets Heavy Assault

On the bench today is the Heavy Assault miniature for the CCC Yellowjackets.  For full disclosure, there's really not a lot that I'm doing to deviate from the MERCS concept art for this team.  I actually really like how the Yellowjackets are portrayed.  Other teams may get different treatment, though.

Enough of my prattle, though.  On with it!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Game Review - Sid Meier's Civilization V

I only bought this game a few weeks ago (opening day of the Steam Sale, in fact) and I've already lost several days of my life to it.  It's addictive, and it's fun as hell.

As should be obvious from my obsession with Warhammer 40k and the like, I have a love of the strategy genre in video games as well.  One of my favorite older games was Age of Empires II.  I loved the diversity of choice you got in picking what culture you play as, with each getting some exclusive perks relevant to that choice.  Well, Civ V is the same... except better in every way.  The range of technology, units, eras of play, cultures, paths to victory, etc. are all very satisfyingly dense, giving this game some serious replay value.  I can't get through one game without already thinking about how I'm going to go about it "next time."

At the onset, you are asked to make a few choices to begin a game.  How fast do you want time to move?  Size of the world (and thus number of competing civilizations)?  Composition of the land (i.e. islands, continents, pangaea, or like our current continents)?  What culture will you take hold of?  I also purchased and installed the two expansion packs (Gods & Kings, Brave New World), so the amount of cultures to pick from was simply staggering.

Once actually into a game you start at roughly 4,000 B.C. with a settler unit and a warrior unit.  From relative simplicity, things will progress into the more complicated.  Choosing where to establish cities becomes key, as they expand your borders and gain you resource advantages if nearby.  This gets offset by a population happiness factor that is negatively impacted by higher populations and number of cities.  Finding ways to keep your population's happiness in check as you expand is vital mid to late game.  Early game typically is a mass land-grab by all the civilizations, if only to block off the others from resources, once the land is accounted for, war usually happens.  Different civilizations progress through "eras" at different speeds, depending on what they're researching, so you'll come across groups with varied technology depending on what routes they've taken in their growth.  This may seem simple enough, but then they throw "great people" and world wonders into the mix that give certain civilizations major benefits in specific areas, potentially rocketing them forward by large amounts.  Then come spies, which can monitor and steal technology from other cultures.  By late game, the focus intensifies with regards to the win.  There are a few paths to victory, but generally speaking you'll need to pick one and focus on it in order to gain any traction... and other civilizations are doing the same.

On my first play-through, I chose Harald Bluetooth of Denmark.  Map was largest setting, continents, time was normal.  I had the thought that I would beef up militarily and win by force of might.  As fate would have it, a military victory was not in the cards for my Danish vikings.  Copenhagen was placed on an isthmus separating a rather large peninsula from a much larger continent.  I would in later games discover this to be crazy-fortunate.  Blocking off the isthmus was easy, and allowed me to expand freely into the peninsula undisturbed.  With such a narrow land border, most civilizations flat out ignored me while they focused on shooting arrows at their immediate neighbors.  So I sat there for a couple thousand years amassing a huge army, building wonders, trading, and researching.

All of my actual confrontations with other civilizations ended up being strangely passive-aggressive as I wasn't exactly sure what the other leaders were getting at when they'd make demands or ask me for stuff.  The first of which was Venice, whom I discovered sending missionaries into my territory to start converting my cities to the Jewish faith.  Assuming this would have the effect of converting my unit to Venice (a la Age of Empires), I quickly started developing my own culture's faith, and founded the religion of Briantology.  I sent missionaries into his towns, some harsh words were exchanged, and we spent the rest of the game eyeing each other dramatically.
I have a Great Prophet within spitting distance of Venice, and he knows it
Past the Medieval era when technology really starts picking up, I found myself more and more at odds with Korea.  They had a spy in Copenhagen stealing my advances in technology.  My spies couldn't catch or stop him either; he was like some kind of legend.  Anything I did, Sejong of Korea knew... which meant any move I made resulted in an audience with Sejong's frown.
"I saw what you did there."
This was amusing for a while, but then upon reaching the Atomic era, one country in particular decided it had had enough of everyone's shit, and declared war on EVERYBODY.
I present to you Ghandi, Lord of chaos
Given how good the animations and voice acting were for the world leaders, I just stared slack-jawed at Ghandi declaring war on me from sheer shock alone; this was easily the last thing I expected.  Ghandi amassed his own army and bided his time until he could sow the largest possible amount of chaos and havoc.  Given that I was halfway around the world from him, I thought it funny and quite considerate of him to include me on the invitation to mass destruction... but after taking stock of where I was sitting in game, I realized that I had a good shot of winning a science victory if left to my own devices.  Especially if everyone else in game was focused on some major threat... so I secretly started sending Ghandi money and units.  There was no way he was going to last against all the others, united... but I had a ton of money and units sitting around.  So I fed him what he needed to keep them all at bay.
God, I KNOW that you know what I'm up to!  Shut up!
And so Ghandi became my Lord of chaos while I quietly built a spaceship and flew my viking ass into the cosmos to victory.

Any of you have good stories from Civ V playthroughs?  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Step-By-Step Possessed/Daemon Skin

I fretted about for a long time on how to paint possessed Chaos Space Marine flesh.  I want it to be some combination of what I would have done for normal human skin and what I would have done for daemon skin.  Here's what I got out of it.

Step 1: Rakarth Flesh
This is our basecoat, so lay it on thick.

 Step 2: Praxeti White
As a drybrush step, I picked the "dry" white paint.  We only want edges and raised areas picked out here.  Also, there will be a lot of washes, so don't worry if this comes out a little messy.

 Step 3: Reikland Fleshshade
This is the final step for what I would do if it were just normal human skin.  The idea here is to move forward and elaborate more to make it inhuman.

Step 4:  Druchii Violet
I love purple, and want this to end up being my unaligned daemon skin-tone.  I'm purposefully keeping the wash away from extremities here, notice the fingertips.  This is where I would normally stop for a Slaaneshi daemon's skin... and then elaborate with more pinks across the model... so we're going to keep going.  

There's some interesting stuff going on with the Possessed models, in that there are areas where it looks like the armour has fused with the daemon, and I want to play off of that a bit.  So our last step will be to bring the skin closer to the armour.

Step 5: Nuln Oil
This was applied where the purple flesh meets armour.  The overall effect is that the skin-tone itself darkens significantly in a way I like quite a bit.  It becomes a little harder to distinguish where armour ends and skin begins.

Note that the model itself is not "done" yet, as even in the face (which is incredibly dark, I know), I have yet to pick out the eyes and teeth in that last pic.  Here's what that looks like:

What do you guys think?  The effect works really well in my opinion due to the black armour... Not sure how it would look with other legions, though.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Test Model: Yellowjackets Medic

Here's how the paint-job worked out on the model I had picked out as my test.  The medic model in the CCC Yellowjackets team seemed the most "standard" looking of them, so I figured it was a good one to get my bearings on.

An interesting thing in the rules-set for MERCS is that "facing" is extremely important.  Which direction your model is facing, what is his forward 180 degree arc, what are his side 90 degree arcs to determine flanking, etc.  I looked around a bit at some ideas others had of solidifying such facings using the base rim itself.  The one that intrigued me the most was similar to this, cutting the base into 45 degree arcs so you can easily pick out any of the relevant facing information relative to the model itself.

Let me know what you guys think of the outcome.  There'll be a step-by-step out soon using the Heavy Assault model.

Edit: Heavy Assault Step-by-Step here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


I had a couple Chaos models sitting half-finished on my desk for a while now... thought I'd put the finishing touches on them and move them into the cabinet with their comrades.  Given the new codex, I've got quite a few cultists to get painted up, blargh.  At least they look interesting, lol.

Friday, July 19, 2013

4-Step Power Weapon

There's a quick-and-dirty method I use for power weapons, that I've done before in some of the larger step-by-steps... but I thought it deserved its own post.

Step 1: Leadbelcher
Coat the weapon involved

Step 2: White Scar
Paint lines like electricity flowing along the weapon.  I usually cheat the lines a bit to follow edges

Step 3: Glaze/Wash
Given that I want this particular Power Weapon to be red, I chose the Bloodletter Glaze, but really you can substitute for any wash or glaze.  I've done blues, purples, greens, all to great effect.  All other steps remain the same in this tutorial, all you have to do is swap this step out for the appropriate color you want.

Step 4: White Scar
As the final step, go back in with the white and pick out some of the lines again.  Not all of them, mind, just the areas that you want to emphasize

Easy Power Weapons.  How does this look to you guys?  What do you do for Power Weapons?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CCC Yellowjackets inbound!

My first order from MERCS came in last night!  Above, you can see what came in.  I bought the rulebook as well as their "CCC - Into the Breach" box set.  The "into the breach" part refers to that extra model in the blister.  "The Breacher" is the 7th member of the CCC Yellowjackets.

For an idea into what the fluff is all about, here's a quickie:  In the not-too-distant future Earth, the nations have become controlled and split up by mega-corporations and conglomerates.  These new super-powers compete with each other not only in the marketplace, but in clandestine fashion as well as openly hostile military actions.  The Yellowjackets are the most famous team out of the Commercial Corporate Continuity.  The CCC controls pretty much all of the east coast of North America (everything east of the Mississippi plus most of Quebec).  They specialize in nanite technology and steel compounds, and have patented a kind of flexible steel that they use in manufacturing armor.  Their MERCS units are known for having the best equipment available.

Above, you can see what's in the CCC box.  6 pewter figures, each with their own stat card, themed dice, some handy quick-rules table cards, and two cards with terrain on them.

As with on their site, the artwork used in the cards, rulebook, and packaging is amazing.  I stayed up late pouring over the rules and assembled a few of the minis.  I'll send pictures of the fully assembled minis and probably a step-by-step painting on one of them.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Game Review - Assassin's Creed III

OK, I'm gonna come right out of the gate with this one.  I loved the first Assassin's Creed.  Not so much the third one.  There are some upsides, but overall, it felt disappointing to me.  Perhaps it was that my expectations were too high.  It's always hard to make a game worthy of being a sequel to an already good game.  It must draw upon the previous, yet also transcend.  Do more with the material.  In that light, Assassin's Creed 3 really just felt like it was Assassin's Creed 2 with a different texture pack.

Don't get me wrong, though:  I was SO on-board with this game early on.  A native american assassin?  Hell to the YES.  Unfortunately, I feel that the creators put a lot of thought into the settings, missions, and NPC personalities... and not a lot into the main character's personality..  Connor himself is rather bland and seems to go through his life saying things like "You want me to go where?... OK" or "No problem, I'll just murder that guy for you."
I mean, I guess you can be that callous in your life decisions when you can just waltz into a redcoat fortress and murder the entire regiment single-handed... seemingly without breaking a sweat.
Seriously, the game's tutorial for the first fort forced you to take it via subterfuge.  It was challenging, and because of that, awesome.  Then you get into the real game and the easiest way to clear a redcoat fort is to literally walk through the front door and murder them all in a giant burly-brawl right inside the courtyard.  Then just loot it and raise the flag.  Done.

...When the controls worked, at least.  The other thing that was irksome about even the first Assassin's Creed game was that your run button was also your parkour button.  Trying to run from guards and turn down a narrow alley was often a dangerous feat, as you're quite likely to derp against a wall by merely brushing against it in your turn.  You'd abruptly stop, turn 90 degrees to face flush with the wall, and try to run up it.  This was especially infuriating if the wall was too high, as often he'd try a second or third time before I could get him to face away.  Often by that point, the guards were on you.  In the first game this happened so often that we took to just screaming "ALTAIR!" in frustration... as if it was him being stupid, not us.  In our house, this carried over to other games.  The other Assassin's Creed games would often bring shouts of "ALTAIR!" even if he wasn't the character.  It happened a few times in Arkham Asylum too, lol.  By Assassin's Creed 3, I'd hoped they had made that a little smoother, but no.  Too often for my tastes, Connor would run along a rooftop chasing one of Ben Franklin's papers, and instead of hopping to the chimney-top right in front of him, he'd veer off to the left for a tree-branch then tumble to the ground as it wasn't the kind of tree branch that the game allowed you to stand on.  Altair would be blamed.

Of course, there were other weird-but-funny glitches too:

Coming back to an earlier point on how others' personalities felt so much more interesting to me than Connors' own (and I won't even get started on how little I cared about Desmond):  The Davenport Homestead missions.  I liked those missions more than the main story missions!  It felt like you were building something (and you were), and there was clear and obvious progress towards goals!  I ended up constantly coming back just to see if there was some new side mission to improve the homestead.
Anything for me to do, old man?
Knock it off
What a lovely party
Oh.  Right... these guys.
The realization that there was nothing left to do but go back to the main story missions was actually kind of depressing.  There was this whole crafting system at the homestead for building up supplies.  Wow, whatever for? -I would ask myself.  I looked through what was available for a bit and thought to myself what I would do if designing this game.  Shit, I'd have the Templars come and besiege Davenport, making your progress in the homestead missions affect the outcome.  I'd have the stockpile play a large role as well.  Having a high stock of military weapons would make sure more homesteaders would be armed themselves when the time came.  More medicine would make the homesteaders last longer against the enemy forces as you ran around taking out officers and breaking their lines... it can't ALL be there for trade, can it?

SPOILER ALERT: It totally doesn't culminate in some kind of awesome raid/mission on Davenport, and it totally can just be there for trade.  Seems all that crafting stuff is mostly just used for trade.  But why?  Why would I bother selling medicine or fine hats for some paltry amount of cash when the beaver pelts sell the most?  Seriously the pelts always fetch the best price... what's the point of the rest?  Why bother with a heavily tiered crafting system to culminate in items whose only use is to sell for less than a beaver pelt?  And even with the beaver pelts: to what end?  To gain a lot of money?  The only real place to spend your money is on the crafting system, crafting more items... to sell for more money... that crafts more items.  It's an endless loop that culminates in nothing!  Seriously, that felt like the biggest let-down of the game.  Such a missed opportunity.

And then there's the historical figures.  I get it, we're playing a game in a historical setting... but I can't help but feel put-off by how many you run into.  For a freaking assassin, Connor sure does keep a high profile.  When not fighting George Washington's war for him or collecting Ben Franklin's notes, you can be found rubbing elbows with Sam Adams.  Did you know Connor pretty much single-handedly threw all the tea overboard in Boston while fighting off the redcoats?  Or that Paul Revere rode on Connor's horse (behind him, even) while doing his "The British are coming!" shtick?  Seriously, when that scene came up, it felt like the game had finally jumped the shark...

But OK OK, enough dumping on the game from me.  You want to know what I liked the best?  The naval missions.

Ready the port cannons, lads, we're bringing her about!
Seriously the naval missions were FUN. AS. SHIT.  I played the hell out of those.  They were amazing.  Hell, I'd play an entire game of naval missions!  Maybe one where you're a pirate assassin...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Warmachine: Tactics

I'm far from the first to share around this information, but I still find it exciting enough to bring up.  Privateer Press is looking to make a video game out of their Warmachine universe.  It's up on Kickstarter.

The amazing thing is that they've already exceeded their goal, so it's a sure thing now... but there's still plenty of time to hop in on the exclusive offers and stretch goals associated with the Kickstarter event.  Some involve models, others involve including other factions in the game itself.

If you haven't already, give it a look over

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Call of Cthulhu miniatures

RAFM makes the miniatures line for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, and they've just set up a crowd-funding project to re-do the line of miniatures.  It's up now on indiegogo.

They have some concept art up in the Gallery tab, go check it out if you haven't already.  The concept investigator models look very promising.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Game Review - Catherine

So I finished playing Catherine about a week or so ago.  As the cover-art above is already telling you, it contains mature content... and is also disturbingly weird.  It's a game that came out in 2011 unless you happen to live in Europe or Australia.  For some reason, they had to wait another 6-7 months until early 2012...  but anyways, what I'm trying to say is I'm a little late to this game, I know.  It flew completely under my radar at release, and I didn't become aware of it at all until a friend of mine bought it for me as a gift.  I don't know what that says about how he thinks of me, LOL (my wife's name is Katherine, giving things a whole new level of awkward here), but he says it was because he wanted to give me a mentally stimulating puzzle game.  And that, it is.

"Mentally Stimulating" is a description that doesn't necessarily denote "good or bad" ... and it's an apt description.  The game itself has an interesting morality mechanic that doesn't just come down to good or bad, either.  There is a little more nuance to it.  As a character in the game says: "There is no wrong way to climb the tower."

The game itself comprises three parts: Anime-style cutscenes, interactive intermissions (in a well done cell-shading style), and the actual puzzle-oriented game.  The puzzle levels are what progress you further in the game, of course, but the interactive intermissions are where you gather information about what's going on as well as where you make your "morality" decisions which will affect the cutscenes and endings you get.  All in all, there's a ton of story here, to the point that it can feel more like an interactive movie at times with the actual "game" itself seeming underplayed.

You play as Vincent, an early 30's guy with a low-end job and a studio apartment.  He has a long-time girlfriend named Katherine, a group of friends with whom he regularly spends his evenings at the local bar, zero ambitions, and not much of a care in the world... until things get weird that is.

There are moments where I felt the game was surprisingly deep, and others where it felt predictably shallow... but it honestly exceeded my expectations, so in summary: I thought it was a good game when I finally beat it.  Note that:  It felt like a good game once I beat it.  Up until that moment, it was Frustrating with a capital F.  Vincent's life spirals into madness in a way you (the player) have absolutely zero control over and you're basically tasked with taking stock of your shitty situation and forging a path towards some semblance of happiness.  Depending on how you play and what choices you make, you'll get different conversations/cutscenes leading to like 8 endings, and not all of them end up with Vincent getting what he wants.  So even in beating the game, you might not get a kind of satisfaction to your struggle.  I get the feeling, though, that this frustration is what was intended by the game designers, as it is similar to what the main character is going through.  In that sense, well played.


From a story perspective, Vincent's life is thrown into disarray by the titular character Catherine, with whom he cheats on his longtime girlfriend Katherine (confused yet?).  Katherine was starting to broach the subject of taking their relationship further, AND reveals that she's pregnant...

Add to that, every night he has a recurring nightmare where he and several sheep people have to frantically climb a tower of blocks or they die in their sleep.  The storyline itself is frustrating.  It's frustrating in how events outpace Vincent's ability to manage them, in how he has so little control over decisions being made (some even his own) and of no one believing him when he tells about what's going on.  But again, I think that's what the game was going for.  Vincent (and thus, you) will try anything to get out of a desperate situation, your decisions at times made more desperate by the colossal mess around you.

And this same feeling is played out within the puzzle-game portion itself.  Vincent enters each night's nightmare equipped only with his boxers, a pillow, and a pair of sheep's horns coming out of his head.  With all the dangers thrown at him, it's a rather helpless feeling... and frustrating.  The puzzles themselves can get quite difficult at times, leading you to try almost anything in your panic to escape.  And if things didn't feel weird enough...

they get even more terrifyingly weird.

With 8 endings, and only 3 of them really "good" I would suggest figuring out as soon as you can how the decision mechanic works, pick a direction, and put all your chips towards that goal.

Monday, July 8, 2013


In my quest for new games systems to get into, I was told to take a look at MERCS.  If you're not familiar with MERCS, you're welcome.

MERCS is a skirmish game, with each team controlling 5 soldiers.  The fluff background around the individual team members is quite compelling, and thus I've ordered the rule-set and the CCC Yellowjackets team box.  I'll post some pics and painting-shots of them when they arrive in the mail, as well as my thoughts around the gameplay itself.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cthulhu Wars

I can not possibly tell you how excited I am for Cthulhu Wars.  This just today got funded on Kickstarter... and by a significant margin.  The $40,000 goal was not only met, but total funding stopped at $1,403,981!

Cthulhu Wars is a table-top board game in the spirit of Risk.  Only, instead of using soldiers to conquer the world, you take command of the Great Old Ones from Lovecraftian lore.  The game looks intriguing in and of itself, but what really got me were the minis.  They look like they're great quality and I can't wait to paint them.

Unfortunately, despite funding here in early July, the estimated delivery will be in December.  I can only hope we'll get ours earlier.  I'll post pics around gameplay and of painting the minis when the game comes in.  :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I've been gone for quite a while now.  Most of you probably haven't noticed.  Suffice to say a lot of things  have been going on that have taken up my time.

I have a lot of strange feelings towards Games Workshop as a company.  I'm sure a lot of you can relate.  Their business practices often get in the way of what might be the "best move" for the customer, I feel.  Price hikes on metals, then on plastics... discontinuing bits store, issuing Cease&Desists to various third party bits vendors (whom I often turned to for the occasional final piece for a conversion I was working on), discontinuing supplements, etc.  For the longest time, one of these things has been how easily half of the army codices go entirely ignored for several rules permutations.  Now granted, this time around it does seem like they're trying to roll them all out for this current rules set ... though you'll have to forgive me if I'm a little hesitant.  For all that I seemingly "loved" GW and 40K throughout the years, I did get the feeling like I was in a kind of abusive relationship with GW.  I often considered just walking away.  

The same thing happened to me with regards to Wizards of the Coast and their Dungeons & Dragons franchise.  The constant supplements and re-issuing of rules sets just drowns you after a time in a feeling that it's never enough.  I always happily jumped to whatever was new out of their doors... but this last edition (4th) just took it all out of me.  I tried it out with some friends a few times and I just couldn't get past this feeling like it was just... disappointing.  It was just bad.  I went through a phase where I swore off D&D.  I felt betrayed, in a way... I know how silly that sounds, but we're talking about feelings here and they're often irrational.  Then I swore off the whole d20 system (switching to the d6 system developed by West End Games for similar type campaigns).  Lately some friends of mine brought me around to trying another D&D game (v3.5) and I rediscovered my love for it.  The great thing was that I didn't have to worry about constant revisions and additions to the rule-set.  Version 3.5 was done, and solid.  It was a strange and freeing kind of realization that I can enjoy D&D again without being run through the wringer by WotC anymore. 

So, back to Warhammer 40k.  Having toyed with the idea of just walking away from the franchise like I had D&D, the thought came of what to replace it with?  I started looking around for other miniatures games.  Most of them I couldn't get into because the models were terrible.  I looked for a long time at Warmachine, by Privateer Press.  It's probably heresy to even discuss Warmachine on a 40k blog, but there you have it.  I  purchased a model to paint (like testing the pool with your toes before jumping in):
Adeptis Rahn was fun to paint, and I could see myself getting into this... but I also had a tremendous sense of loss when I even considered it, especially when I'd look at all the painted 40k models I already had.  This was something more than the situation with WotC.  With them, it was just the collection of books and supplements.  This was not only a collection of books, but a collection of miniatures I had poured countless hours into.  Much harder to walk away from.  I had bought the Dark Angels and Chaos Space Marine codices... and stopped there.  The thought that came to me was that IF they rolled out ALL the army codices right here in this current rules edition... I might just have an opportunity to crystallize my 40k experience similar to D&D.  I would collect all the codices, and basically stop there, regardless of further released editions/codices.  I was never much into the tourney scene, so this was entirely feasible.  It was just me and a few friends who got a game in once in a blue moon.  The thought excites me, but I'm trying to moderate my expectations.

Further disappointing, was when GW announced that they were discontinuing the specialist game lines.  I had collected a few Battlefleet Gothic minis and courted ideas of playing that as well, and seeing that fall through was a further downer pushing me into a slump.  I looked at Firestorm Armada for a while, and like with Warmachine, nearly took the plunge on that as well... but I kept thinking "I'll collect them and just apply the 40k fluff to the Firestorm Armada minis and game system."  It was a sad thought, really.  I was so entrenched in the 40k universe I couldn't even consider getting into an alternative sci-fi board game.

Coming out of all that, I wondered what to do with this blog.  Let it die?  Change the format/topic?  How would that go over?  Should I open it up to gaming in general?  Post about video games I've played, or even D&D sessions?  This is an area I'm still conflicted on, to be honest.  I'd love to hear any of your thoughts on the matter.
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