Sunday, March 19, 2006

Simply gorgeous

As requested, here are some photos of my painted War of the Ring figures. This project has lasted a few months, but to say that I am pleased with the end results would be an understatement.

I went for a very simple approach, aiming to treat the figures as functional playing pieces more than full-blown wargaming miniatures. In summary the technique goes like this:

    Carefully remove flash with Stanley knife.

    Wash in warm detergent, rinse and dry.

    Bent figures get dunked in near boiling water, reshaped, then dunked in water/ice cubes.

    Spray with Games Workshop "Chaos Black", 24 hrs drying, then a second coat.

    Paint with Miniature Paints (acrylic) base colour. 24 hrs drying, then second coat. Another 24 hrs to dry.

    Dry brush, usually but not always with base colour mixed with white.

    Paint the base, grey or blue for Free Peoples, black for shadow.

    24 hrs drying, then spray with Games Workshop "Purity Seal" varnish.

    24 hrs drying, then bundle back into the box tray - don't bag them.

I'm pretty pleased with the results, but my technique did get better as I went on, so that the Elves for example look significantly better than the Rohirrim. Two mistakes I made with early figures:
    Too much paint on brush for base colour, obliterating the black underpainting entirely.

    Spraying too close/too long with the varnish, giving a glossy finish.

Here are the Companions and Minions. I gave these a more detailed paint job, still using dry-brushing of lighter colour on top. I think they will look great on the board next time I play!


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Breathe - less stuff, more life

Breathe is a Christian network for simpler living. A space to think about how we handle money, time and possessions in a Christian way. Non-judgemental, realistic and simple to be part of (no one-commune-fits-all solutions).

(thanks Annie!)
I put a couple more games up on eBay last night. Have a look, and maybe even make a bid!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Quick splurge

I got the opportunity to visit the Aldershot Game Shop after work yesterday, with money from recent eBay sales burning a hole in my pocket. I had my carefully worked out WishList on the Geek, and that said I "must have" Through the Desert, so I duly put that on the counter. But for my second purchase I found myself passing up my other "Must Have" Age of Steam and even "Love to Haves" like Power Grid, in favour of Settlers of the Stone Age, which just appealed to me on the day. I like the idea of the epic scope combined with Settlers-type simplicity. I think my choice made sense too in terms of balancing my collection, which is weighted in favour of wargames (Europe Engulfed, ASL Starter Kits)and gamer's games (Age of Empires, 1825) and doesn't have enough simple, short, newbie-friendly Euro games. I think yesterday's splurge choices started to redress that.


Just a quiet Sunday in the arena with the battling monsters....

I introduced Colossal Arena to Gavin, Phil and Katie on Sunday. First time I've played it, though I've been carrying it hopefully to game sessions for a while now. Tricky game to explain - once you've got across the idea of the rounds and the betting and eliminations, you also by rights should go on to explain backers and special powers, but by now your audience is looking pie-eyed and just want to get on with it. However, a couple of card plays dispels the confusion, and it plays smoothly and swiftly with lots of fun along the way. Lived up to my expectations.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Blue Moon on the web

The Fantasy Flight website is pretty sketchy, hardly worth a visit.

But the Kosmos website is excellent, with lots of stuff (in English too): images of every card in the game, complete ruleset, material about the designer and the artists, and a forum (German language sadly).

There is a busy fansite, mostly in German, though it does include an English-language forum. It's worth checking out this thread for fan-designed cardsets.

At Blue Moon Liga you can play online using software called CardTable.

Chris Dearlove looks after an extensive FAQ.

On BoardGameGeek Brad Durandetta is promising us a deck-by-deck strategy guide. The first one, on the Hoax, is invaluable.

The Blue Moon deck database, a deck-building aid, is clunky - don't bother.

Some of the best reviews:

A long time ago Richard Huzzey reviewed the basic set very thoroughly on Games Journal.

Last month Joe Gola's magisterial review did what all the best reviews do - made me want to go and play it again immediately!

And a week later Shannon Appelcline did an insightful article analyzing Blue Moon in turn as an Auction game, a Resource Managament game, and a Card game.

And then there's Dave...

My old gaming buddy Dave took the trouble to drive over all the way from Salisbury on Tuesday night. He's one of the few remaining members of the Salisbury gaming group that flourished for about a decade from 1992. He's a lovely guy, one of life's evergreen enthusiasts, always excited about the next game. I cooked him a meal and introduced him to Memoir 44 (not at the same time, obviously, that would be messy). We played Operation Cobra and I got overwhelmed by his waves of Yankee tanks and infantry. Great fun...


Call me shallow, but...

I never looked into Power Grid because I was put off by the graphics. The rusty bolts and sewage pipe imagery was an instant turnoff for me. How wrong I was! We played the game last night at Trevor's and I loved it. I like the straightforward mechanics with subtle implications, like the commodity market, which models supply and demand surprisingly well. Half way through the game I pulled off a satisfying coup, stockpiling coal and driving up the price. Les and Trevor panicked and switched to oil-fired power-stations, leaving me with plentiful cheap coal for the rest of the game! I like business games, especially business games with network building - I have spent many happy hours playing 1830 - and Power Grid presses the same buttons for me.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Napoleon at Waterloo

Wow, I cut my teeth on this game - we used to play it at school in dinner breaks. Now I can download it. (Thanks Iain!)



I finally picked up my copy of Commands and Colors: Ancients from the Post Office yesterday. It looks absolutely marvellous! I've already ordered some blank dice from The Education Shop to make it just perfect. Trouble is - I have a gaming session tonight, and I'm feeling torn - I would almost rather stay at home fiddling with my lovely new game, sticking stickers on blocks, reading the rules etc. It's a sorry state of things isn't it, when a game threatens to keeps me from gaming....


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Back in the air

Last week I finally got my glider back from Gin, with its brand-new lineset all ready to fly again after December's tangle with a tree. And almost straight away, the opportunity to take to the air came around. Saturday, after a positive weather check at 7am, I drove over to Green Dragons with Martin for lunchtime. Unfortunately when we arrived I was so excited about flying again I didn't fully think through the implications of driving my Polo across the farm, and duly got stuck in the mud! We completed the journey on foot with our heavy gear, only to be turned back almost immediately for lunch break, stopping only to get some help dragging my car out of the mire.

After lunch the winch was set up in the big field at Woldingham, and over the course of the afternoon I got 3 flights to about 400 feet. It felt so good to be up there again looking down on the incredible vista of London spread out to the North glowing in the afternoon sun. I love this sport....


And the beer was good too...

I met up with Les at the pub last night for our regular Blue Moon confrontation. I just love this game! Les played the Mimix as usual - I sometimes wonder if less for their fighting skills, more to look at the pictures - and I took the Pillar. Never played them before. Lots of boosters, very few support cards. So it's strike early with big numbers rather than gradually building up a power base in your support area. We were using emissaries as well. It was a to-and-fro struggle ending in a draw - a first for us I think.

Next we revisited Fjords - which I like,maybe because I keep winning. Then Roma, which I usually lose. Maybe because of this, I wonder about this game - so much seems to depend on the Forum. But it's fun, tactical play, with involving card combinations, and only takes 20 minutes, so it's hard to dislike it.