Friday, December 31, 2021

The New Year's Eve Post for 2021

2021 was not a bad year here. Personal and family stuff was good and that's about all you can ask for these days. Hobby-wise ...

  • I ran a fair amount of 5th edition D&D earlier in the year. One of these days maybe I will write those sessions up. That campaign was paused but I suspect we will come back to it down the road. It gave me a reason to spruce up the monster miniature collection and clean up the storage for it too. 
  • The campaign that closed out the year was a new Deadlands campaign I discussed here. One of the goals for the new year is to put up some session summaries here and then keep up with it going forward. it's been a long time since we've had a sustained western type campaign and I do like the Savage Worlds rules quite a bit so it's been nothing but good. It's been on hold for the holidays and my convention crew but we will pick it back up in Jan/Feb. 
Looking back I don't think I ran any other RPGs this year, even one-shots. That's pretty light for me. I suppose I should look at it as maintaining focus at a higher level than usual but it still feels a little weird. I certainly added enough new ones to the pile and of course there are ideas for way too many campaigns buzzing around my head but my players are happy with what we are doing so I feel like I'm doing something right. 

Miniatures-wise we played a reasonable level of 40K and I got a -lot- of painting done so that feels like a total win too. Close to wrapping up the Necrons and I am very happy with that. Simple paint scheme, as terminator-ish a look as I can give them. It's pretty much silver/chrome, red eyes and gun parts, and desert type basing. I won't quite finish them by the end of the year ... errr ... tonight ... but some of that is due to weather as you can't spray that final clearcoat if it's too cold, or too wet, or too windy and we will cover all 3 of those this week. 

  • The Blood Angels were also a big focus later in the year and I do now have a couple of Sanguinary Guard squads and enough Death Company to field a squad or two. This also pulled me into working on the BA dreadnoughts I've had laying around, the assault terminator squads half-built for a couple of years, some old unfinished tac squads and dev squads, and also finally figuring out the rhino & razorback situation I've had with them as not everything can have a jump pack or be dropped out of a Stormraven. It feels good to have these guys rounding into shape as my other major marine army
  • I added some stuff to my Crimson Fists - a landspeeder with two more almost done, a pair of stormtalons that have been "almost done" for a few years now - now they are "really done" - and I finished up some leader types - rebased, decaled where applicable, touched up, and clear-coated. There is more to do ... I suspect there will always be a backlog with these guys because they are my "normal" marine army and there is always new stuff coming out for marines, but they are in a good place for now. 
  • I played my Grey Knights early on but I haven't played them with the new book yet.  I have some units to build and tweaks to make and I need to focus on them for a while to do it - that will happen after the current wave is handled. 
  • I played the Imperial Guard early on as well and my force needs some tweaks (and a more experienced commander). All I really added was some more demolisher cannon turrets  - hopefully they stay good - and the lascannon gunship (Vulture? Vendeta? I don't know but it seems nasty) because I could and I'd like a flying tank destroyer to help protect my own tanks. I'm really kind of waiting for a new Guard codex to dive back into this army and tune it up.
  • I played my Orks in a Crusade campaign before the new codex came out and it is a really fun way to play the game. I got hammered pretty hard by Blaster's Ultramarines primaris gunline force but my warboss managed to wreck his redemptor dread regularly and to crunch his captain a few times too so it was not completely one-sided. With the new book I have added some bikes and since I mostly run Goffs I have the new Ghazghkull in the painting queue now too. I need to take a month next year and just play my orks only through a few games and I'll get them done. Also: The Great Re-Basing will happen as I have the base expanders sitting on my workbench to bump all the old boyz up to 32mm. not super exciting but it's a chance to change up how I base these guys and considering a lot of my army dates back to 2nd & 3rd edition I'm looking forward to it.

I did dive into Flames of War early in the year as this year's "miniatures game I will dive into hard and end up not playing" ... which is exactly what happened. At some point you might think I would learn but hope springs eternal. A few years ago it was Bolt Action, then it was Star Wars Armada (though we did play a few games of both) then Age of Sigmar ... I have played enough Kings of War that I don't count it as a non-starter but it was quiet this year too. Check in tomorrow for next year's candidates!

I did work on building an Undead army for Kings of War ... and also for Sigmar as that book came out while I was feeling it and so progress was made but not completed on both. I held off on 3rd edition AoS as we haven't played since 1st and I'm trying to be better about throwing resources at rulebooks I may not use. Armies - sure. We can play a few games with the old rules if we can get some armies together and make sure it's something we want to expand. 

Overall the miniatures situation is better then last year. I got a lot done and I also took the time to reorganize my work space  - cleaned out the workbench completely, picked up some new drawer/organizer things, and went through a bunch of paints and tools and supplies and got rid of a lot of clutter. I've enjoyed it more the last few months than I have in quite a while so I'm calling that a win. 

Then, last week of the year, the big surprise - we ended up playing Battletech of all things. We haven't played BT since the boys got interested years ago so I decided to go back to the original source and we played with the original BT boxed set, mechs, and map. This all came about because Paladin Steve's oldest son was asking about the 40K miniatures again when he was over for our boardgame night and rather than try to explain all that we started talking about how if he want to have giant robots moving around and punching and shooting each other Battletech was a better bet than 40k. It's also cheaper to get into if he really liked it. Paladin Steve hadn't played in 20 years but he was interested in dusting it off - so that's what we did. One mech apiece ... 3025 tech ... one original map board and we ran for several hours. It was a lot more fun than I expected - even when my Wolverine went down to a punch in the face that crushed my cockpit. 

Going through all of that old material hit me with a pretty heavy nostalgia wave. All those custom mech sheets, some sheets that still have damaged marked on them from battles 25 years ago, and even re-discovering old Mechwarrior character sheets ... we spent a LOT of time playing Battletech in the 80's and 90's. I have a ton of painted BT miniatures some of which I painted back in the 80's and it always feels good to put those on the table again. 

It was a ton of fun and Apprentice Boom Gun was already asking when we could play again before we finished the first game. That's a good sign. It was a nice way to wrap up the gaming year. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

40K Wednesday - Tau Headline Does Not Lie

 From today's Warhammer Community post:

Ok, we've seen hype like this before ...

Gulp! But it's only 1 shot ...

Nice. But what if you're fighting a horde army?

Ah, well ... covers all the bases then doesn't it? I mean it hurts big targets, ignores invuln saves, gets a re-roll, causes automatic mortals, and has an option to do mortals to big groups. This is what a "big gun" in 40k -should- look like.

It does raise a question though - can we get some upgrades for some other lackluster "big guns" in the game? Necron Doomsday Arks wish they were in this ballpark. So does the Leman Russ Vanquisher which has been getting progressively worse as the "tank killer" cannon in every new edition of the game. The recent leaks show the Eldar big guns improving so I don't think they're feeling as left behind but there are definitely some holes out there. Here I am finishing up Necrons ... the oldest, most powerful race in the lore ... and they have nothing as good as just slinging a solid metal slug at something at a very high rate of speed. 

The best way to make a single or very limited shot gun feel better in play is to give it some reliability - nothing feels worse than to have your big gun fire and roll a 2 with its 3+ chance to hit. They've done a LOT of that here. Multi-meltas went to two shots this edition and that has made them much more interesting. Missile launchers only have the one shot with krak missiles but they have the frag option so there is some flexibility. Plasma Cannons get d3 shots with blast boosting them against hordes. Lascannons are feeling a bit down this edition I think because of the only-one-shot statline and only 1d6 damage. If it's going to stay at one shot then it would be nice if there was some kind of bonus or re-roll on that damage so that you get more out of it. Doesn't have to be the d3+3 of the Eldar lance weapons but some kind of boost would be nice. 

I do like that they are exploring the design space more when it comes to the numbers and also that they are trying to make different weapons actually feel different. I don't like the spreading out of the "can only be wounded on a 4+" type mechanics or the "can only take x wounds per phase" silliness so I'd like to see more innovation on the defensive side but at least they are trying on the offensive side. 

I always thought the Hammerhead was one of the coolest looking tanks in 40k - now we might finally see them on the table again.

Anyway, today's info on the Tau - which I do not play - have me feeling pretty positive about the upcoming Eldar codex - which I do. A lot. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Christmas Eve Post


With a little time off it's been a good month.

  • I watched The Witcher season 2 - I liked it better than the first season.
  • I watched the Wheel of Time season 1 - and I liked it.
  • I watched Matrix Resurrections tonight - I liked it too. More on that in another post ... possibly. 
  • My Sanguinary Guard are now built and base coated.
  • My Death Company are now built and base coated with a start on some details.
  • The 2021 Necron army is completely built and base coated - almost 3,000 points! Yes I feel pretty good about that.
  • I managed to work in an evening of boardgames with some friends too for the first time in a long time. 
It's been good and with more time off to come I am looking forward to getting more done. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Wheel of Time TV Series


So Amazon has a new fantasy series ... based on the well-known book series which I know about (ha!) but never read. It was a big deal in the 90's but I opted out as my interest in overlong fantasy -ilogy's was worn out by then. 

So I'm going into this one fresh. I have no preconceived ideas or perceptions about it other than there were more than ten books in the series which should certainly give them enough material to run for a while. I've seen the first 5 episodes and ... I don't hate it. 

I'm sure many of you know the feeling when a new fantasy show is announced, particularly one you do have some attachment to, and maybe you feel some cautious optimism, then it comes out and just completely fails in some way. Maybe the acting is bad, or the writing, or the effects are just terrible, or it's done as camp instead of taken at least semi-seriously ... I'd say most fantasy TV shows fail. Even Game of Thrones, which was looking unstoppable there for a while, managed to drop the ball at the end. 

This one so far though looks pretty good. The acting is decent. The effects are decent. The writing has not jumped out at me as bad. The landscape and scenery has a Middle-Earth look to it but is not exactly the same.  It is serious and not a comedy show. It's made me interested in seeing more about the world and the various power groups and the characters and how it all goes together and that's rare these days. At this point in life I've seen a lot of bad fantasy and I do expect to be disappointed - I am not disappointed thus far. 

There are some tropes - there is an ancient dark power that is reawakening, there is one man prophesized to be the reincarnation of the one who can defeat him, and a group of good wizards is searching the world for him - not super original there. There is a wrinkle in that they aren't sure who he is, exactly, and apparently it might even be a she so they are rounding up a lot of candidates. Now I was worried that it was going to be a little too simple black and white but then the various colors of wizard started showing up and some of them are not very nice. Ah - nuance! Conflict! Then the magic-hating even-more-religious organization showed up and ... yeah, I like the angles developing here. So far these are all supposed to be good guys" in that they follow "the light" but they clearly have different agendas and some of them will not get along at all. I hope they keep it complicated and interesting for a good long time. 

Episode 4 is where it picked up for me - if you're not sure I'd say give it at least that much of a try and see how you feel about it. 

I know they changed some stuff from the books. I'm sure some people are unhappy with that. I didn't read the books so I don't care. 

And no, I'm not going to go read the books. I want to see where the show goes as its own thing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

9th Anniversary of the City of Heroes Shutdown


I haven't noted this every year and yes there is a version of the game back online for a good two years+ now but I still felt like mentioning it this year. Homecoming and the others are great and they have added some new stuff to the game but it's not quite the same. 

I'm not sure why it feels different but it does on some level. With none of the old characters or supergroups carrying over there was some loss even after recreating many of them. It's a different crowd these days. The loss of the old forums that were such a repository of knowledge and a ton of fun. A lot of it may just be life changes over the past nine years. Time and life march on, tastes change, people come and go ... it would probably be different now even if the game had never shut down but it did so we had a clean break for almost 7 years for things to drift.

This is certainly not intended as a complaint about the revival - far from it! I was super happy when we were able to log back in again and I'm still glad it's around even if I do not play as much as I did those first six months it was back. It's nothing but a positive development. 

I am a little disappointed that we don't have "more". We have the original game with some enhancements but I was really hoping we would have "Paragon City: The Next Generation" by now. None of the successors have launched with an actual game nine years later and none of them have anything more than an alpha/beta/early adopter type option. I was pretty optimistic about them in 2012 ... I am far less so these days. 

Some of the in-the-moment posts:

Friday, November 26, 2021

Not-40K Friday - The Evolution of Warhammer Dragons

There's a cool post over on Warhammer Community that runs through the designs of dragons for Warhammer over the decades and it's worth a look if you've been around fantasy miniatures for any length of time. There are 4 or 5 of the metal "S" dragons floating around here so it felt relevant. You can see changes over time in all of the fantasy ranges, not just Warhammer, and the trend has been towards the bigger and bigger, especially the last 5-10 years. That's one of GW's brand new big dragons up top and I admit it's pretty impressive and hits a lot of the right notes for me. 

This is one of the classic S-dragons, maybe the first as the high elves were I believe the first army to be able to take an actual dragon as a mount for some characters. This version was around 4th edition (there was at least one earlier non-S version for 3rd) and set the pattern for many years. I have a pair of these, plus a pair of the dark elf version of the same vintage, plus some of the orc war wyverns with a similar look. I had mixed feelings about some of those color choices even when this thing was new but that was the look they used across the entire range.

This is probably the least-Warhammer paint job I have ever seen on one of these beasts but it does show that the old models hold up pretty well if painted well. This makes me want to do something with my unbuilt models like this. 

I remember when these came out for 6th or 7th edition and it was shocking ... compared to the old guard metal models above this thing is just a revolution. That pose! Apparently plastic does allow a much greater range of options as there's no easy way to get something like that out of the old versions. It would take a ridiculous amount of pinning and also never moving it anywhere for any reason to get one of the older models to look like that. 

These newest versions ... that's another one up there ... they're just amazing. bigger and beefier, less serpentine and more dino-beast. They look more like D&D dragons have looked for a long time. Also more of a Hildebrandt-looking dragon:

Nothing wrong with that. I've probably used my old dragon miniatures more in RPG encounters in recent years than in straight-up miniature battles in recent years. It's always a big moment when a dragon shows up - at least it should be - and I do like having a decent miniature to drop when they do. Even the RPG-specific dragons have much bigger options now than they used to with some of the Pathfinder Battles gargantuan dragons coming on an 80mm base. 

Anyway it sent me down a trail so I thought so I would share.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Friday, November 19, 2021

40k Friday - Catching up on the Blood Angels


I was looking over the shelves last week and realized that while I have a pretty decent set of painted Blood Angel units I somehow have managed to not have a finished, painted squad of sanguinary guard, nor do I have a fully painted unit of death company. It's a weird gap. I haven't played them recently but I want to and so with some time off next week that's the current goal - get those two units built out and basecoated and then see how far I can get with finishing them.

Loadout will be 9 swords and power fist just because that seems pretty flexible. I will probably build 5 more with axes since I have the models and might want to mix them in the future.

I am very interested in mixing in some inferno pistols but I'm not sure it's really worth it. I like the idea of being able to jump in and vaporize a tank or cripple a knight but they are 5 points apiece, and then it would make sense to give them fists as well if you're going after the big targets and there's another 5 points so now they running about 50% more expensive than normal. Maybe the 5-man axe unit gets infernos instead to keep the cost down - BA's would be wounding vehicles on a 4+ anyway so it might work as well. Fists would hit on a 4+, wound on a 3+ while swords and axes would hit on a 3+ and wound on a 4+, barring other modifiers. 

Sure, sending them in with the warlord would give them the easy +1 to hit but I'm not sure that's what I want them to do. Maybe if I'm going with a smash-captain anyway but I'm thinking death company with thunder hammers would probably be better for that.

So settled on the melee for the most part but still need to sort out the guns.

Death company ... I have a ton of these guys both old metal and current plastic and I actually disassembled some of them to retool them for 8th edition's awesome option of bolter + chainsword ... which went away with the 9th edition codex. It probably should have as it's never been an option before to give them full ranged capability and full melee capability, but it was attractive enough that  I got sucked into chasing that particular meta ... and now I get to change them back. I should know better but insert eyeroll here.

Loadout for them, well, I'm starting with a back-to-the-basics ten guys with bolt pistols and chainswords. Once those are in playable shape I'll start looking at other options. I know I want  some power weapons to mix in and the idea of a 5-man unit with all thunder hammers is too attractive to let go. I'd like to get in a few games with them and see what they can do and then mix in some options. 

I also need to look over the character options as well. With 9th restricting marines to one captain + one lieutenant  per detachment I do like the idea of cheating past that with the death company versions since they do not count against it. It seems like at least one plus Lemartes and/or Astaroth would work alright, especially if I'm bringing multiple squads. 

Those are the main 2 units I want to focus on for now. I do have some others in the backlog though.

  • I have another Baal predator kit that I want to build as the flamer version just to try it out and to have the option in the army.
  • I have a mostly painted and mostly built redemptor dread that I need to finish, not to mention other regular dreads in the queue.
  • I have some phobos characters that need to be finished too. 
I finally settled on a new paint scheme so now I can finish the primaris stuff I picked up and built and primed but was holding off on this year. It's mainly using an army painter red so I can match up spray and bottle paint to try and get this stuff done. I don't need it to win awards, I just need it to look like I had a plan and come out "good enough". If the weather will cooperate I should make some good progress this month. 

 More to come ...

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Time Traveler's Codex for Mutants and Masterminds


The latest book for M&M in a system which has quite nicely - and rarely these days - been growing this same edition since 2010.

Aside: looking back I thought I had covered these books more extensively but I really have not. I should probably fix that soon.

To play an M&M campaign you really just need the core book - specifically the Deluxe Hero's Handbook. There is a Basic Hero's Handbook but it's more of a starter kit in a lot of ways - I reviewed it here

Everything beyond that is optional. Need some supervillains? There is Threat Report and there is also Rogues Gallery. Need a setting? There is Freedom City and also Emerald City plus Atlas of Earth Prime for the bigger picture. Need a breakdown/examples of how powers work? Power Profiles is your solution and the Gadget Guides book is pretty damned useful too. There is a ton of support available if you want it.

Some of these are more optional than others though, I would say. Most campaigns will have at least one super-team so the Superteam Handbook should be handy for a lot of GM's, alongside villains and setting material. In contrast Hero High seems fairly specific: if you're running a teen heroes game then sure ... if not, well, it's probably less useful.

The Time Travelers Codex to me falls right into that "specialized" category of super-supplement. Sure, a lot of campaigns will have -some- time travel at some point. But ... will they have so much you need a whole book on the subject?  I'd say that's mostly up to the person running the game and possibly the players. If you weren't planning on it but your game suddenly veers off into Legends of Tomorrow then it's a good resource to have. If you're just dropping in a killer robot from the future as this week's challenge then it's probably overkill. 

Let me say this is a fine book, as thorough a treatment of the subject as I've seen in an RPG supplement. The closest thing I can compare it to was the GURPS Time Travel book from back in the 90's and this is better for M&M players as it's specifically aimed at superheroes and the tropes you get with comic book time travel.

The first section discusses how time works, specifically how you want it to wok in your campaign. This is mostly conceptual, as in "how much can travelers actually change history?" along with some mechanical options. 

Chapter 2 covers the time travel campaign  - approach, power levels, advantages, gear, time machines (!), and archetypes - you will see some familiar concepts here like "Quantum Alien" and "Warrior from a Grim Future". It's the most mechanically useful chapter in the book. 

Chapter 3 is all about gamemastering the special thing that is a time travel campaign and the challenges it presents. There is even more here about how time works and who might care when you start messing with it, and some villain archetypes that fit this kind of game ... including, yes, the killer robot from the future. 

Chapter 4 "The Heroic Eras" which breaks down concepts, styles, and some rules guidelines for each of the big comic book ages: Golden Age (including notes on Emerald City in that era), The Silver Age (plus notes on Freedom City then), and the Iron Age (comic book iron age, not historical iron age) including New York City at that time. 

Chapter 5 hits all of the high points on the general time travel wishlist: The time of the dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, the Roman empire, the Islamic golden age, medieval Europe, Ming dynasty China, the height of the Aztecs, the golden age of sail, the wild west, then a near-future cyberpunk era and it closes out with a take on post-apocalyptic earth. 

This is why it's a great book: The conceptual stuff on how time works and flows and how it can be screwed up are great in a general sense and got me thinking about the "rules' of time travel for a campaign. Then from chapter 2 on you start getting practical things like what kinds of characters might work well in that game and what kinds of opponents you might encounter. After that chapters 4 & 5 give you actual places to go with those characters to face off against those opponents ... all while trying to either fix history or at least not break it according to the "rules of time". So it's not just a bunch of theoretical discussions - it includes actual useable material for a real game and that puts it over the top for me. 

I've had a campaign written up for decades now that starts after the end of the world with clones of the heroes waking up as an emergency failsafe but with damaged memories who then have to figure out what went wrong and how to stop it and then take a little time trip backwards to prevent it. This book will let me flesh that out quite a bit more and make it even better. 

So I'm glad I bought it. I don't have any immediate plans to use it but I definitely have some ideas on how to use it - and that's where it all starts, right?

Thursday, October 28, 2021

So Say We All - The History of Battlestar Galactica


If you are a fan of either BSG series then you should read this book. It's that good. 

The first part focuses on the 1978 series - the road to getting it put together, the background of the people behind it, and the peaks and valleys it experienced from conception to the end of Galactica 1980. 

The second part is all about the 2004 miniseries and subsequent full series up through the somewhat controversial finale.

The best part of this effort is that is not just a narrative written by some outsider. most of the book is comments from interviews with damn near everyone who worked on these shows - producers, directors, writers, actors, special effects guys, wardrobe people, technicians ... it's incredibly thorough. You do get a network perspective mixed in as well for both series which adds an intersting side to things. Even those who are no longer with us are recalled in anecdotes from people who worked with them. Lorne Green is discussed a fair amount in the early part of the book for example. 

Richard Hatch contributes quite a bit as he is the one guy who was heavily involved in both series and went from being opposed to the reboot to jumping fully on board. It's interesting to read his take on various aspects of both shows and what might have been. 

The chapters on the second series benefit tremendously from Ronald D. Moore, the main guy for the show, being totally open to discussing every aspect form getting it created and out there to writing work, casting, various limitations they were operating under, and just generally opening up about the whole run. 

After reading it I have to say it's as thorough a breakdown of a show as I have ever seen and I feel like I don't need to worry about digging into anything else on my own - I've read the definitive work on the subject. If you're at all interested you should go get it. 

Now to go find their Star Trek books ... 

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.