Saturday, October 23, 2021

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Friday, October 15, 2021

40K Friday - Base Expanders


One of the hazards of miniature wargaming is that different games have different standards for basing the miniatures. Width, length, even number of figures per base can all vary from game to game even within the same historical period. Some look for individual figure removal from a unit to reflect casualties while other just track damage in some way until a threshold for removing the entire unit at once. One particularly annoying aspect is when a particular game decides to change its own standard for base sizes - which has happened quite a bit in 40K. So let's talk about how to handle that.

The first one I can remember is when Terminators went from 25mm to 40mm bases. This was somewhere around 3rd edition. At the time I had just had the one 5-man squad of metal terminators so i just picked up some 40mm bases, glued them on top of those, 25mm base and all, re-flocked them, and went on about my life.  Looking at them now I would probably take a different approach than having each one stand on its own little hill but I'm not going to re-do them at this point as it's not worth it to me.

Over the last 5-6 years though regular marines went from 25mm to 32 mm bases and ork boys have gone from 25mm to 32mm as well. That's several hundred figures impacted for me right there. Now I mostly play at home with family and friends so this is not an urgent thing. Technically the only rule GW has stated on basing is "use the base that came with the model" which is great but when you have a pile of older figures it can get a little weird to mix them in with more recent acquisitions. Warhammer 40,000 is in no way a precise enough game that this kind of thing dramatically unbalances things but something in my head wants to "keep up" and try to maintain most of my armies with the current standard. So ... how can I do that? Do I have to pull models off of bases they've been on for 30 years? Risk breaking them or at least damaging the paint and destroying whatever flocking effort I put into them back then? Well ... no. No I don't. 

What you see at the top of the page are three of the options I've found over the last few years. Lets look at each of them. These are all intended to adapt a 25mm base to 32mm. 

One of my old Snakebite orks will be assisting us with this exercise - let's call him Pete. There you see Pete the Snakebite Ork taking position with one nice solution that is probably the most snug fit around an old 25mm base. It's 3D printed by the seller and it does fit nicely. A few of them were a little rough on the ends where they join together but a little file work settled this pretty quickly. They come in different colors as well if you might want to leave the sides unpainted.

I liked the silver-sided basing with my Grey Knights.
(Definitely need to touch up that one base)

The only downside is that given that snugness they are not tolerant at all of any overhanging base material, particularly crunchy stuff. So if you've had some "free expression" with sand or gravel or even sawdust hardened by time and a varnish coat it can really interfere with the execution here. The only other thing to watch is that it may be slightly taller than some of the 25mm bases so you can get a lip effect where it meets the base - I suggest giving it a second go-round with the flock if this happens.

Here Pete is modeling the wooden ring option for us. This is the most basic option in a way and it is also the least expensive - which is why the rest of my orks will be wearing them soon. It is not a particularly tight fit so it can leave a gap, particularly at the top. There can also be a slight lip effect here too depending on how you're doing the base. There is no slope as you find in most other round bases so if you like that beveled effect these may not be your cup of tea and they won't match if you mix them into a unit with normal GW 32mm bases in that respect. The other trick here is that since you will be liberally applying glue in that gap to secure it to the existing base and it will be moving downwards ... make sure you don't glue it to your table/desk/workbench. No, that totally never happened here - why do you ask?

Finally, Pete is now wearing the extremely fashionable cupholder-style base expander. Honestly these are probably my favorite but they also cost the most. They slip right over an existing base covering it all the way around. You glue your existing base to the floor of this expander - no danger of table-gluing here - and then fill in any gap with glue and flock and you are in business. There is a slight gap at the top but this makes it less picky about any overhanging material than the two-piece option up above. 

Here's a sample of the different options on some Blood Angels. On the left you can see some of the wooden ring options that clearly need a second dose of flock to close those gaps. On the right are the cupholder style bases which I think look really good. 

Now this is strictly a need for the stuff I have already painted and based. If you have unfinished older figures you can buy 32mm bases both slotted and unslotted in big numbers fairly cheap and if you're looking at some classic metal marines or something of similar vintage that is the way I would go and have gone myself. 

Here are some links to the eBay stores for the makers of each of these options. I have nothing to do with any of them other than having bought some of their wares:

Hopefully this will help someone out in some way. It's good to have options.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Lost City - Goodman Games Edition


I picked this one up a while back and thought I ought to discuss it a bit. 

I've run the Goodman Games versions of B1/B2 "Into the Borderlands" and X1 "Isle of Dread" and enjoyed them immensely as did my players. Returning to those old stomping grounds from the beginning of the 80's in the current edition with a group of players where a few of them were around for those early days but most of them were not was a blast. Watching some of them search for a plot - when the secret is there is no plot - was entertaining along the way. GG is doing these right.

The third release was S3 Barrier Peaks but it has a much higher level range so I have not tried to run it yet - one of these days. 

B4 though is a starting adventure so I could fire it up at any time really. I have to admit up front though that while I've owned a copy of the original for decades I've only tried to run it once and it didn't last long. I played in it once before that and it didn't last long then either. It had been a while since I read through it but this book includes the original version and an updated 5E version with some expansion material which makes it easy to compare the classic versus the new. 

Reading through it my old feelings crept back in from way back - I just don't like this adventure all that much. The original felt like half a module as it sketches out a massive underground city but it only details part of a dungeon, a ruined pyramid/temple, only fully details half of that structure, and then gives a page or so of ideas on what's in the rest of the city.

See that map? Fires up some ideas, right? Well, the original module covers the top half of the Step Pyramid in the traditional keyed room with description style, then gives a more basic rundown with monsters and maps for the lower half, the one page of notes on the actual city ... and that's it! The rest of the map is up to the DM. I remember feeling kind of ripped off when I read it way back when that while it's titled "The Lost City" the actual adventure is "The Step Pyramid" plus a page of notes. 

(This is -not- Goodman Games fault - its how the adventure was published originally)

I so wanted to like it - it is one of the most Conan D&D adventures ever published. The party gets separated from their caravan crossing the desert, finds a ruined city, discovers a secret entrance into a large structure, then finds an underground realm inhabited by various masked and possibly crazy people belonging to different factions with different agendas which is ruled by a monster/demon/thing that has set itself up as their god. It's potentially a great "contained sandbox" as it is underground but the players can do whatever they want - join a faction, try to fight the demonic ruling thing, establish their own power base and take over, or just do some exploring - and possibly looting - and move on.  

At least, it would be a great sandbox if there was more there to hang stuff on. I think it over-details the pyramid and then misses out on the rest. You get ten small dungeon levels with pretty much one stair or ladder connecting each level to the next so the level design is not complex. The factional material is interesting - there are 3 old gods of the city whose followers are trying to overthrow the cult of Zargon, the ruling entity of the city - but the space is so constrained that I'm not sure how much alliance-building the typical dungeon crawling party is going to do. 

The big bad guy Zargon lives in a one-room level at the bottom of the pyramid. He's likely too tough for a party to take on even with some help (12HD, AC0, 7 attacks/round 6 of which do 1d8 + one at 3d8) and it's just a weird place to put him. Shouldn't he be in a temple of some kind in the actual city? Maybe on the island? Maybe over by the volcano? You know, closer to the sacrifices he demands? Perhaps not in a 40x40 foot room all by himself?

I really wish the original had made the city the focus and spread the encounters out amongst the rest of the map. Make the pyramid a 3-level dungeon that gets the players up a few levels, ends with a temple to Zargon, and then lets them descend to the city for the rest of the adventure. Even with a fair amount of the city left undefined an encounter table and some specific locations equivalent to a single dungeon level would have made things much more interesting and given the factions room to breathe. Imagine rallying the various factions to take on the cult ending in a fight against his weird form on top of a step pyramid in the city or on that island that would be the cult's big stronghold.  

Now the good thing is that the new super-edition from Goodman Games has a similar take on things. They do not change up the original section with the pyramid other than updating it with 5E stats etc. as that is the mission statement for these books: update what's already there then expand around it:

  • There are encounter tables for the desert the PC's will be wandering prior to entering the temple.
  • The lost city itself gets a keyed encounter map - including a stronghold for each of the three factions plus a big temple to Zargon, and an encounter table!
  • The rest of the underground areas on that map also get some attention including the island, the volcano, various caves in the underground area, and the catacombs under the city itself. 
Beyond this there are new spells, new items, and new monsters as with the other volumes in this series, plus a small set of handouts/illustrations for the players. A nice touch is having all of the maps - and there are quite a few - collected at the end of the book in one big section which ups the playability in a nice way.

The notes suggest that PC's could end up at 6th level or high playing through all of this material and I can see that happening as with all of this material it becomes a mini-campaign all on it's own. The flow might involve some circling back in and out of the city, I think, for the best experience and I would definitely move Zargon out of his hidey-hole in the pyramid down into his temple in the city but there is a lot to work with here - straight-up fights, factional encounters and negotiations (I can see some dedicated bard players going nuts here), and lots of exploration covering wilderness, dungeon, and general "underground spaces" type terrain and locations. 

I loved the idea of the original but thought the execution let it down. This version finally lives up to the potential I saw in the original and I can see it leading to a lot of fun for a new adventuring party. If you want a somewhat different way to start a campaign this is definitely worth a look. 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Friday, October 1, 2021

40K Friday - Necrons Necrons Necrons


So this is the swore-I-wasn't-going-to-do-that army I mentioned in an earlier post. Since I went ahead and did it I thought I would try and get it built, painted, and up as a playable army this year, with Halloween as a sort of target date to play a first game ... being creepy undead robots and all. 

My biggest problem with starting a new army is sticking with it long enough to achieve that result because typically I start buying units and they end up in a partly finished state as new codexes come out and I get distracted finishing up "closer to completion" units for other armies. This year I did not want to do that.

The main considerations to achieve that goal are to get everything built, keep the paint scheme fairly simple, and keep the basing fairly simple too. So far ...

  • Everything is built except for 20 out of the 60 warriors that will be the core of the force, a triarch stalker, and a canoptek doomstalker.
  • Everything built is base coated with a silver spray that I like. 
  • Basing materials have been acquired and await usage. 
This is all of the Indomitus stuff plus a few fun extras like a Command Barge and a Doomsday Ark. No old "rod" models here. 

I'm leaning towards a terminator type theme with these guys - shiny silver bodies (maybe with a blue tint), red eyes, sandy desert base with at least one skull on each base and maybe some tufts too. I'd like to put some ruined building bits on them too but they may just be for the bigger models as I don't want to complicate the scheme too much. 

I am not doing the traditional "green glow" thing with this army. It's cool and all but I want them to look different. Of course this means I can't really use any painted mini's I might come across so everything in this army will be done by me, for good or ill. 

Anyway that's the update so far. Once I get a chance to play with the eyes and figure out what I want to do with the guns I'll start cranking them out and sharing the progress in another update.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Babylon 5 Reboot with JMS


Well this is not something I expected to see. Details are here

  • Positive: It looks like JMS is charge
  • Neutral: It looks like they are aiming to re-tell the original story. Is that something we really need? Could we not get a "Next Generation" type new chapter building on the old?
  • Red Flag: It's on the CW.  

So ... wow. Unexpected news I would say is generally good, could be terrible, but also could be spectacular. I rate the original as a top 3 Science Fiction series, maybe the best ever. I hate to see someone messing with it but if that someone is the original creator, well, I have to give it a chance. 

Plenty more to come here I am sure.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Next Year's Campaign - Temple of Elemental Evil 5E


So yes - next year (after Deadlands at least) I expect to dive back into 5th Edition with something big. To me the biggest advantage of 5th is the ease with which a lot of old school stuff translates into it without a lot of recalculating and Goodman Games has been doing it right with this series. In an interview I saw one of the writers on this project mention that if the original version had 17 goblins in a cave the new version has 17 goblins in the same cave. Sure, they will have 5th edition stats but they didn't go through and try to reconfigure it to fit 5E's encounter standards and to me that's a feature - heck that's the right way -  not a bug.

It is a straight-up linear presentation. Starting with the introduction, essays, and interviews - including one by Jon Petersen going through the saga of Gygax and TSR and the temple -and then moves right on into a reprint of T1, then a reprint of T1-4 ... so yes you get Hommlett twice, effectively. This takes up 220+ pages in the first volume and if you do not own a copy of the originals this is as good a version as you could ask for. 

The 5E version starts in Book 1 and then continues into Book 2 with the monster and magic item conversions at the end. 

I have only skimmed it at this point but I know this adventure fairly well and it looks solid. Fleshing out the elemental nodes alone is a big improvement.  I played parts of it in 1st and 2nd, ran some of it in 2nd, ran "Return to" in 3rd, converted it myself and ran a chunk of it in 4th ... it's been a part of every edition in some way for me. 

Now I am not one of those people who will claim this is the best adventure ever made. It does have flaws. It can turn into a grind with 4+ dungeon levels in the main temple. That said the beginning (Village + Moathouse)is a great start to a campaign and the temple itself gives you an epic quest to attempt and a helluva story to tell if you pull it off. Treating the temple itself as more of a death star infiltration at first rather than a frontal assault can be a lot of fun for the players and the DM both. There is the whole mess of the Zuggtmoy/Iuz/Elder Elemental God thing the DM needs to think through as well if you want it to make sense in your head but it's been run many times without that breaking it so maybe that only matters to me. 

I do have a Deadlands campaign to run - more on that later - but I am looking forward to sharing this monster with my current group.

Friday, September 17, 2021

40K Friday - Checking in on Warhammer+


This new service? Product? "Thing" started in late August and I gave my initial impressions here. Now it's been a few weeks  - how is it going?

I admit - I am a little disappointed. New material comes out on Wednesday so we've had the launch plus three release windows and it has been s-l-o-w - much slower than I expected. 

The high point: Angels of Death. This black and white and red CGI series is exactly the kind of thing I want from a Warhammer Animation Studio. It looks right, it sounds right - the voice acting is solid and the music is good too - and the developing story is interesting. The service released with the initial episode and a new chapter has dropped every Wednesday so far. 

Hammer and Bolter is the more traditional animated series with one-off stories from around the 40K universe. It released with 3 episodes and now has ... 3 episodes. Yes, the same 3. It makes no sense but that's where it stands. 

Battlereport is their channel for ... battle reports. There was one 40k battle and one Age of Sigmar battle at release and now we have three 40k batreps and one AoS batrep - yes, the same one.

They have added a new show "Loremasters" which talks about stories and backgrounds in the Warhammer universes. So far we've had one episode discussing Abaddon the Despoiler. 

They've added at least one painting guide. The 40k app has been updated regularly. They've released a beta of the AoS app which I have not tried yet. The vault has had some new material added like extra issues of White Dwarf.

So far it feels slow and underwhelming. Angels of Death is amazing but the rest of it is just ... intermittent. What was the plan here? Was there not enough in the can to sustain a steady release cycle for these other shows?

  • Where is the rest of Hammer and Bolter? I wasn't overwhelmed with the first 3 but I was hoping it would get better. So far we have almost a month of nothing. Great job!

  • It's GAMES F'ING WORKSHOP - How on earth can you not produce a battle report for at least one of your games every week? It's what you do! What a tremendous dropping of the ball.

  • What is the point of "Loremasters"? A game design type explanation from "outside" the universe might be cool, or hey, maybe this kind of stuff would make for a good animated series topic? More show, less tell? Nope! We get 18 minutes of a guy basically reading the Abaddon info from pretty much any of the Chaos Marine Codexes over the years. The first half of it is more about Horus anyway so we get to hear that story again. They intersperse a bunch of art that you've already seen if you're a chaos player but a lot of it is literally showing a man's face as he reads a bunch of well-known lore. It's like an incredibly dull audiobook which should not be something we have with the 40k universe. "Abaddon did this. Then he did this. There was a battle. He won. Then he went somewhere else. Then he destroyed Cadia." - it is incredible to me that they landed on the least interesting way to convey information about some of the biggest events in 40K . It drains all of the life and energy from them. 

  • I'm not giving up on it but I do feel like they are letting the opportunity get away form them. A steady, solid stream of content would make this thing look a lot better. The battle report thing especially seems like a missed opportunity. It's not that expensive to make, you have people on staff already, you have the models and the terrain, and it shows people what they are supposed to do with your game! I don't understand why they don't have one for every single game they currently produce  on there already!

    Anyway check back in a month or so when I touch on this again - hopefully with more positive things to report.