Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - Looking Back at My Gaming Goals

It's as good a time as any to take a look at the plans I made for gaming this year. Things didn't go as planned, but that's how life works.

Role Playing

The idea of running quarterly RPG games hit scheduling issues and go tossed to the side early in the year. But the underlying concept of promoting variety did work. I got three games off the ground during 2012.

Unfortunately, two of those games died off within two sessions. The first fizzled out. My issues with the ruleset (Palladium) caused me to trash the second.

The third, an AD&D campaign partly motivated by nostalgia, lasted for the planned half-dozen sessions. My gaming group will likely revisit this one later in 2013.

Terrain Projects

I tried my hand at creating my own terrain and learned quite a bit. Of course, some of that knowledge came at the cost of failure. Still, I feel better about trying, failing, and learning something than not taking the chance at all.

I have also been looking at sources of terrain for purchase. Expect some more reviews in 2013.

Painting Projects

I got a fair amount painted this year. Certainly the projects that were hanging over my head from 2011 were all completed early in the year.

Not buying more miniatures went out the window with the Reaper Bones Kickstarter. The summer and winter sales from various sources were also too tempting to resist. The end result is that my pile of unpainted metal, resin, and plastic is bigger than it ever was in 2011. Things will get even worse in March 2013 if Reaper stays on track.

So, yeah, more painting.

Overall, not a bad year.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Premium AD&D Books and How They Sparked Off a Campaign

Wrapped up a AD&D First Edition mini-campaign yesterday to avoid Campaign Death Due to Holidays. It wasn't deep roleplaying, but everybody had a good time. The game will come out of hiatus after we get some other gaming under our belts.

The whole thing started when I treated myself to the Premium Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rulebooks. These are incredibly nice books. The crisp printing and bright paper makes it much easier to read than the originals. The gold coating on the edges might be overkill, but it sure looks swanky. The bookmark is handy (the one in my copy of the DMG marks the combat tables) and attracts playful cats. And I can testify to the durability of the covers - stuff just wipes off them. Nevermind how I know that.

I'll admit that nostalgia played a role in my getting these. I actually started gaming with the Basic D&D Set back in the day, but AD&D First Edition wasn't far behind. My original set was lost in a move long ago. Although I replaced them with secondhand copies awhile back, owning a new, high-quality set was something I couldn't resist.

Something I didn't expect was how these books put the game back on the radar. My players asked me to run a game as soon as I purchased the books.

The mini-campaign lasted six sessions. I used the maps and some thematic elements from the classic modules X1 Isle of Dread and C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. The basic plot was that a mysterious island showed up out of nowhere and the player characters were hired to go check it out. One shipwreck, some ruins, a few groups of undead, a couple of native villages, lots of jungle, some mild Lovecraftian elements, and a close escape later, the adventurers are off the island and sailing for home.

There are more than enough loose ends to pick things up later. The current plan is to start Part Two after March. That's when I'm expecting some fantasy miniatures to show up and provide a greater variety of monsters to throw at the player characters.

In the meantime, the group's consensus is to give Ashen Stars a try. More on that next year.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Painting By Numbers #6 - Sarah Blitzer, IMEF Sniper

This one almost got filed under Learning Experiences rather than Painting By Numbers.

I'm not sure if I like how this mini turned out. What I learned made it worth the effort of painting. I'm just not sure if it looks fine, could use a little more work, or needs a soak in Simple Green.

This is "Sarah Blitzer, IMEF Sniper" from Reaper's Chronoscope line (50274). The model is clearly based on the "female long ranged soldier/assassin/spy" that shows up in sci-fi shows and films from time to time. The rifle is huge. The armor is skintight. We all know what's going on here. Let's just move on.

The miniature is of good quality. The mechanical details on the rifle and armor are sharp and well-defined. A little work with a hobby knife took care of the small amount of flash. There is an annoying seam line on the top of the head. It blends into the hair at some angles, but is glaringly viable at others. I left it alone, but it's getting some time with a file if I decide to strip and repaint the figure.

It will be interesting to compare this metal model with the plastic version in Reaper's Bones Kickstarter. I'll follow up on that next year.

The base is from Champ Industries. I've been really happy with these from beginning to end. The service was prompt and efficient. The fact that these are plastic rather than resin meant that there was no clean up and no pinning required. Just a couple of drops of superglue and I could move on to priming. The detail is excellent and takes drybrushing well.

My paint job was inspired by the character Nova from Blizzard Entertainment's Starcraft setting. The model was primed with grey auto body primer. The body suit got a shade of medium grey (Citadel Codex Grey). The armor pieces and rifle got a darker shade of grey (Reaper MSP 09088 Stormy Grey). And a light shade of grey (Reaper MSP 09090 Misty Grey) was used as a highlight. A slightly diluted dark wash (Citadel Badab Black) was used to bring out the details. The rifle and base were drybrushed with a darker metallic (Citadel Boltgun).

Overall, I like the effect, but it might be too subtle. It stands out in good lighting, but it gets lost in darker conditions. What I'm tempted to try is using a light grey for the body suit while keeping the dark grey for the armor to enhance the contrast. I could use white or a white-light grey mix as a highlight.

I would also like the details to stand out a little more. The green on the goggle lenses is barely viable except on close inspection.

The hair came out well. I base coated it with a nice blond color (Reaper Master Series 09074 Palomino Gold) and hit it with a medium wash (Citadel Ogryn Flesh). A little more Palomino Gold was applied as a highlight.

What I'm really not happy with is the face. The skin came out alright, but I'm just going to have to learn how to paint eyes for Reaper's female figures. They just don't look right without that detail.

I'm still not sure what I'm going to end up doing with this mini. It's good enough for tabletop as it is, but I feel that I can do better with another attempt. For now, I'll just set it aside and get some work done on other projects.