HistoriconClose-Up

Historicon 2015

HistoriconClose-Up

Historicon was, of course, a blast.

(Forgive me: I hardly too any pictures)

This was my first year going down for more than just the day: normally I head down Saturday morning and come back Saturday night.  This time, I’d planned on playing in the Bolt Action Escalation tournament on Friday and By Fire & Sword tournament Saturday.  Then, I started going stir-crazy in the house and work decided to not trample over my time off, so I headed down for Thursday afternoon.  So, like, triple the Historicon and it I could have easily gone down for another day. Or week.

Thursday was, basically, a shopping day.  The advantage of doing this Thursday is that, even though folks are still working out their systems and processes, the crowds aren’t too bad and you don’t have to worry about vendors selling out of anything (which was definitely an issue by COB Saturday).  Picked up a couple of things (a Dragoon regiment, mostly) from the BF&S folks, and some odds and ends from Brigade (some more Partisans and a long-sought-for LVTA1. Then I basically spend the rest of the day chatting with people.  Like, five hours just wandering around, shooting the shit.

2015-07-17 10.34.11

Friday was the Bolt Action Escalation Tournament.  I wasn’t hungry to play the escalation format, but I wanted to play some organized BA games and Friday was the day I had free.  I had a good time overall: two very enjoyable butt kickings sandwiching a butt kicking that was less enjoyable (but if I’m honest with myself, it wasn’t that bad, just more like a mediocre game of 40K than I’ve come to expect from Bolt Action).  Ended up going 0/2/1 and getting the Smoking Boots/Biggest Loser award (which was surprising because, like, I drew once) and, more pleasingly, the second-place for Player’s Choice.  Some of the prizes were from Warlord (some dice, a Sherman), and some were from Trenchworx (a BT-42 and an FT-17).  Bopped around for the rest of the day, chatting and watching games.

2015-07-17 11.25.11

Saturday was supposed to be a later morning than Friday (noon start, aiming for some time to wander the vendor room a bit vs. 9AM start), but 95 is a sonuvabitch.  The day had two goals: painting contest and By Fire & Sword.

I’d expected to not do so well in the painting contest, because it just keeps getting bigger (which means more and better competition) and because the past year has not been a great one for hobbying for me (as evidenced by the silence ’round these parts), so it was a delightful surprise to not only place again, but twice, and both in 1st place:

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I’m particularly pleased with MacReady’s showing, since I’m incredibly proud of how he came out.

2015-07-18 12.51.29

The By Fire & Sword tournament was fun, but I really should be calling it “The By Fire & Sword ‘Tournament'”, since only a quarter or so of the people there really knew how to play.  The rest of us were there to iterate through some games and learn the game.  I did not do well (1/2/0), but had a good time and learned a lot about the game.

I don’t do a lot of gaming conventions: I do NoVA, which is a collection of tournaments, and Madicon, which is as much of a SFFG homecoming as it is a convention, and this one.  I think Historicon is probably the most enjoyable of the three: I was there for three days and would have been content for it to go on for three weeks. The time flew.  There is an unimaginable amount of stuff to do there; I didn’t even have the chance to play a club game this go-round. It’s cheap: $25; free for kids and (non-playing) spouses.  I love that: “Thank you for being patient and understanding with your significant other’s stupid nerdgames.”

If you’re around these parts, you really owe it to yourself to drive down for the Saturday, at least.

Age of Sigmar art

Age of Sigmar – Initial Response

Age of Sigmar Logo

So, I finally got around to reading the Age of Sigmar rules (yes, it’s only four pages long but, as silence ’round these parts might indicate, I’ve been busy) and the Skaven and Empire warscrolls.

I’ve tried to remain objective about it all.  I got into this hobby painting Skaven over twenty years ago, and I’ve liked each new edition of Fantasy better than the last… so I’ve got a lot of love tied up in Fantasy.  But, I also recognize that it’s been known for quite some time that Fantasy hasn’t been doing as well as GW wants it to.  We’ve known that GW had to and was going to do something drastic.

It’s a scary, really.  That company was built on Warhammer Fantasy, and it’s such a mainstay that the idea it could just go away is more than a little terrifying. I saw (and am unable to relocate) a great post that threw down about the Age of Sigmar response in the context of the five stages of grief.

So, like I said: I’ve tried to stay objective about it and try to take the game for what it is and not try to smother it with expectations for it fueled by WHFB.

Anyway: I’m not sure.

The rules don’t look awful.  They look a little simpler than I’d like.  I have a feeling that they’re missing a thing or two, but I need to actually roll dice around them before I can really have an opinion.  It’s the only way I can really learn rules.

The warscrolls like they more or less captured the flavor of the units they were converting. I’m nonplussed that every unit has a couple of special rules.  I’ve grown to dislike that sort of them.  They’re not so involved that they seem exhausting (which was my response to Malifaux, 1E at least), so that’s a point in their favor… but the same rule works differently for different units.  Musicians let this unit Stand and Shoot, that unit counter-charge, and this other unit shoot or charge if it runs.  That bugs me.

People have cherry-picked goofy rules out of them.  Congratulations: you can read!  Things like that are definitely the exception and not the rule: there’s 1 or 2 of them in the Empire doc, out of over 30.  They’re not a thing worth getting het up over.

Army construction is a topic that’s been done to death.   I have nothing to add beyond that I’m looking forward to at least little more structure.  In theory, we’ll be getting that.  I’d like more guidance around options.  The Description sections bug me.  Some of them read like they were optimized for running through Google Translate.  Others are verbose to the point of being a challenge to make sense of.  Look at the Stormfiends section: that all could be expressed with “each may be equipped with one of the following: – Ratling Cannon and Clubbing Blows, – Warpfire Projector and Clubbing Blows, – Doom-flayer Gauntlets and Warp-laced Armor” etc. That’d be a heck of a lot more clear and succinct than “some guys take X and others take Y and maybe if they feel like it, they could take Z but we’re not going to really opine whether or not you can take X and Z or Y and Z or only Y and Z or maybe just Z alone but that’d be silly.”

Also, it seems pretty clear to me that multiple models in a[n infantry] unit may be Standard Bearers and [Musicians].  “Models in this unit may be Standard Bearers.  If the unit includes any Standard Bearers, it can retreat and still charge in the same turn.”  (Clanrats)  Now, one thing we do know about the game at this point is that it relies on as little assholery as possible, and the idea of taking multiple standard bearers in a unit seems like a move contrary to that “don’t be a dick” spirit the game calls for… but there’s an unambiguous plural there, and “there may only be one standard bearer per unit” is, fundamentally, a WHFB concept and may not be appropriate to W:AoS.  What I’m trying to get at is: I’d like there to be more guidance around what should be taken and when: one standard bearer per unit? Per 10 models? Per 20? for example.

So: it doesn’t look bad, but a few things seem rougher than I’d like.  I need to get a few games in with it before I can have a truly informed opinion… but that’s going to be tricky with Historicon this week (so pumped!) and our first move in a decade(!) going down immediately afterwards.  Hopefully I’ll get the chance to play it a couple of times before everyone else has had the chance to play it, the newness has worn off, and they’ve moved on.

Fluff around the setting is a completely different subject: I haven’t read what comes with the box yet, and the book obviously isn’t out yet. What little we’ve heard feels incredibly designed-by-committee and is boring as heck, but that amounts to so little: that might mean nothing.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts.  Shades has a reaction that is, I think, more negative but more cogent that’s worth a read.

symbol_of_chaos_by_schunki-d4rljxh

All Stars are Lawful

A couple of weeks back, Zak reposted an idea that Zzarchov had tossed out about “Each star is a sun in its own right.”

This sounded really cool to me… some ideas were tossed around about it, but none of them really clicked for me.  Last week, stuck on a plane, I noodled out my take on that gem and, since things have been pretty dead around here, I figured I’d regurgitate them here.

symbol_of_chaos_by_schunki-d4rljxh

ALL STARS ARE LAWFUL

  • Lawfulness varies from star to star; no two stars are the same.  Lawfulness is harmony with the natural order of a star.
  • Chaoticness is disharmony with a star, because it is an expression of harmony with a different star.
  • What is natural to Sol, our sun, is unnatural to all other stars, and vice versa.
  • Chaos of one star is different from that of every other. Every star’s law is unique.
  • Chaos is common. Specific types of Chaos is rare.
  • Places, people, and creatures can be Chaotic.
  • The more divergent a type of Chaos is from the Law, the more extremely different a place, person, or creature obeying it will be.  A Chaotic human: subtly different. A demonic, seven-headed Gnoll, unsubtly different.
  • Although this means that monsters and such are Chaotic, it also means that, by the light of a different sun, Lawful characters and creatures are the monsters. Perhaps subtly, perhaps not.
  • Stars are not conscious of this. Chaos is the radiation of another star’s rules, not an active, deliberate incursion.
  • This is why the Chaos symbol is the 8-pointed star.
  • Laws of nature behave differently around Chaotic places, people, and creatures, as they’re beholden to their own laws. This differs from one to another. Gravity works wrong, colors shift, synthesia occurrs, etc. as their Chaos subverts local Law.

I don’t know that that results in anything especially gameable, beyond maybe insisting that strange things be strange and have strange things happen around them. Maybe there’s something going with the idea of PCs getting dumped on a different world and radiating their own strangeness on an unwitting far-flung land.

four-humors-granger

WFRP: Temperamental XP

four-humors-granger

Back when, I started running a game set during the Thirty Years War using WFRP 2E. I love WFRP 2E: it’s such a straightforward system, and I figured it’d be negligible to pull stuff in from any of the 40K RPG books to help make things Weird without any real effort.

The one place where it’s emphatically not held up is the career system. I mean, clearly it works great for what it’s supposed to do, but for a band of misfits on the run, it doesn’t offer much past “Okay, you can transition into the Vagabond career; don’t expect many opportunities to get out of it.”

I took a run at removing it without breaking the system too much a while back, messing around with Aptitudes, a la Only War (and now Dark Heresy), but it felt like a whole lot of mess for not enough payoff.  A couple of weeks ago, I took another stab at it: working off of Black Crusade this time.

Black Crusade (if’n you don’t know), is a precursor to the OW/DH Aptitude-based system: each advance is associated with one of the Chaos Gods: load up on too many in one category and similar advances get cheaper and dissimilar advances get more expensive.  So: a Veteran of the Long War who’s loaded up on talents related to stabbing will end up dedicated to Khorne… and will have a hard time buying talents favored by Slaanesh.

I’m doing a similar thing here, with the four temperaments.

Continue reading

Tauran

Tauran Space Marine

(I meant to throw this up the other day, then got distracted.)

Mrs. Rushputin and I hit the GW Pender opening the other week. There was a pretty good turnout (really, it was super-crowded), which isn’t a bad thing.

The new location’s somewhat less convenient: I used to be able to pop in to Fair Oaks on the way home (just a quick detour off and then back onto 66), now I’ve got to push down a bit further down the Fairfax County Parkway.  It’s not enormously out of the way, mind you, but it is a ~600% increase in out-of-the-way and a jump from 0 lights to 3.  And, since an extra five minutes at that end of the commute turns into ten by the end… it’s less convenient.

Anyway, among everything else, they were doing a grab-bag thing: take a grab-bag, paint the tactical marine in it like a pre-chosen chapter on the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes Poster to bring in the next day.  I figured “why not,” saw all the low-hanging fruit was already taken, and ended up settling on the Taurans.

Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes - Taurans

I figured the I could do the black and bone and do something interesting with it.

Tauran

I’m pleased with it.  The black is 1:1 Black and Cryx Bane Base base, 1:3 Black and Cryx Bane Base layer, Cryx Bane Base highlight.  The bone is Cryx Bane Highlight base, Khaki layer, Menoth White Base highlight. So, the black’s not that black and the white/bone is more khaki than anything.   The freehand on the pauldrons is so-so, but it was a quick turnaround, so who cares?

Not in any danger of starting a new Space Marine army or anything, but I enjoyed knocking it out.  I think it took, like, four episodes of The Americans, to get it from on sprue to varnished (not counting time spent letting glue, primer, or paint dry).

I’d forgotten there was a contest component to it, which (as it turns out), I won.  So that was cool.

Ekkeko-Supay Header

The Ekkeko-Supay Disk

Ekkeko-Supay Header

With all the talk about the LotFP Magic Item Call, I’m reminded of my submission  to the LotFP Anniversary Contest a while back (a year and half? yeesh).  I don’t know that the PDF ever went out, so I might as well put it up here. Not enough RPG content here, anyway.


The Ekkeko-Supay Disk

This round disk, a handsbreadth across and less than an inch thick, is made of an unusual metal that is neither copper nor gold. In relief, it shows a man and a demon standing beneath a large, many-breasted woman, holding their arms to her womb. The style of the carvings clearly indicate that it’s of the New World.

If studied by an expert of Incan culture, the man is Ekkeko (god of wealth), the demon Supay (god of death) and the woman Mamma Allpa (fertility goddess). Why wouldn’t a character have sunk points into “Incan Culture?”

If a character sleeps with the disk under their pillow, they’ll awake remembering two dreams with perfect lucidity: the specifics aren’t necessarily the same (though they do tend to be specific), the themes are always the same.

  1. The character sees themselves stumbling across a windfall of wealth. This dream will always become a reality the following day. If these fruits are fleeting… such is the nature of wealth.
  2. The character sees death. Most often, this takes the form of a messy stillbirth… but not always.

The death is always that of one of the character’s descendants, always the farthest out into the future. A line destined to run one hundred generations… becomes one destined to run ninety-nine. If yet unborn (or even unconceived): the final scion of the line dies in the womb. If the character’s legacy is not to be a long one (ie: there are no future, unborn descendants) , the death will be that of one of their children; sudden, violent. If the character has no children, and will have no children: they’ll dream of their own sudden, violent, inescapable death.

As with the dreams of wealth, the dreams of death will always become a reality.

A character can dream above the Ekkeko-Supay disk as many evenings as they’d like. Until they run out of descendants, of course.

MacReady

2014 Year in Review

MacReady

Year in Review

As I’ve mentioned before, 2014’s been rough.  Way too much work and not nearly enough Stuff I’d Rather Be Doing.  It absolutely feels like it was a failure in a number of ways.

But, when I look at the numbers and not how beat up I feel: it really wasn’t as grim as I want to say it was.  I mean, I’m going to just cut ahead and put this here:

2014 Overall - Points Per Month

Pretty much from start-to-finish, this was one of, if not the (and by a significant margin) most productive year I’ve ever had.  I realized that that’s the track I was on in early August: just in time for me to hit work exhaustion.  That was a very positive realization; not only did it help keep me motivated, but I pretty much went into overdrive.

  • January through April (and even a on into March) had me working on Deadzone minis.  The Kickstarter stuff showed up mid-December, and I’d gotten to work on it right away.  I pretty much just painted everything I thought I could paint: Plague (since I figured it’d go quickly– it did), then Rebs, and finally Mercs. Enforcers weren’t (and still aren’t) on the table, because most of the faction’s been delayed until recently, and I can’t help but prefer GW Orks to the Marauders.
  • May was “goofy idea month.”  I got a bug up my butt about doing a ghostly Romans warband for Saga, with some pretty clear goals around what I wanted to do with them in terms of focusing on speed and getting them done.  Although they were successful (about a week?), I’ve only had the chance to play with them all of twice.
  • June and July had me primarily doing NoVA Open prep.   My thoughts around getting ready for NoVA Open 2014 are hauntingly similar to those for 2013 – Shortest path to playable, etc.  To get to ready for 2014 involved more models, but they were (generally) less involved.Also, Historicon was good to me:
    19-2014-07-19 16.56.00
  • August hit, and hard. For some tragic reasons, a vacation was cancelled and I hit a wall.  Shut myself up for a bit over a week and didn’t see anyone but the pets. Also, I built a Bolt Action army, which I then almost entirely painted in September.  Like, I painted a test model in August, and had nine bodies that I wrapped up in early October, but I pretty much painted the whole damned thing in a single month.This is more than a smidge significant.  I painted a Saga warband in about a week, but although I think it’s Clever, it’s not Golden Daemon quality.  The USMC starter+ (I added a handful of models to the Warlord starter) was somewhat larger, also (kinda-sorta) painted within a timebox, and is significantly higher quality.  I was satisfied enough with them to decide to drop my first batch into the Capital Palette, with some success.
    2014 Capital Palatte Bronze
  • The second (but regrettably not final) Deadzone wave showed up in October, so that’s how I spent most of the month.  Since the second wave included some more terrain, I’d held off on assembling or painting any of it until the rest showed up… and I no longer had any reason to hold off.  So, the bulk of November was spent painting Deadzone terrain.
  • In December, I wrapped up my first Infinity warband (squad? team?).  I’m pleased with them, and am looking forward to pushing them around.

Hobby Activity

So, like I said: this past year was nuts for getting stuff done. Nuts.  Forget building stuff (which I’m fast starting to consider Uninteresting in terms of progress), I painted:

  • A Saga warband
  • A Bolt Action army
  • An Infinity team

plus a bunch of just other stuff.

I don’t think I’m going to wrap the following chartdump in much text; I think it’s all pretty self-explanatory.  I got a lot done this year.

2014 - Cumulative Points Per Year

2014 - Points Per Year

2014 - Hobby Points by Month

2014 - Models Painted by Year

2014 - Models Built by Year

One thing I did do new this year was track how much I spent on models vs. how much the models I’d painted were worth.  Because this is a hobby that encourages one to have tubs of unpainted minis, the thought was it’d encourage me to 1) paint about as much as I buy (reducing unpainted minis) and 2) spend less on minis (a built-in cheat was that I’d list how much I paid when I bought a model and how much it retailed for when I painted it… ).

This chart shows two things: the relative spend per month (a negative number meant I painted more minis that I bought, a positive number means I bought more minis than I painted, a flat number that I kept an equilibrium) and the overall number from month-to-month.

Numbers have been obscured to hide my shame.

2014 - Overall Spend by Month

I actually think this was pretty effective.  Really, the worst thing that happened was the By Fire & Sword: Deluge Kickstarter.

Also, the need to just move all of this stuff out of a Google Spreadsheet and into an actual database is increasingly pressing. Half the time Google chokes on this thing… and need to update the above graph to be a rolling one: things shouldn’t zero out at the beginning of the year, you know?

GOALS

2014 Goals

  • FinishComplete Success. As I’ve mentioned, I got a lot of stuff Done this year.
  • PaintComplete Success. Hells, yeah.
  • Compete – Failure. I hit NoVA and played in a mini Bolt Action tournament, but that’s it.  I don’t consider that enough: I even missed Dragon Wars this year.
  • GameFailure. According to my sheet, I played 28 games, total, in 2014. This is awful.
  • HIstoricalsSuccess. Like, huge success!
  • Continue Dumping StuffTotal Failure. I don’t think I eBayed anything in 2014.
  • Finish a Deadzone warbandSuccess.  I got two factions fully painted until Wave 2 showed up.
  • Finish a Muskets & Tomahawks warbandFailure. I’ve got one built, but it’s another silly idea. I have the minis for a normal one, I just have to build them.  Oh, and paint them.
  • Post more RPG content – Technical Success. I mean, I posted RPG content. Precious little.  My Rogue Trader NPC generator from, like, a year ago, was the most viewed poste this year.
  • Organize a Charity RTT – Failure.  I didn’t get to game, much less organize.

2015 Goals

The standard:

  • Finish
  • Paint
  • Compete – Though this will be less key to me.  Tournaments matter less than actual gaming at this point.

And:

  • Game – This is going to be my number one goal for 2015.
  • Dump Stuff – And this will be my number two goal.
  • Finish a Muskets & Tomahawks Warband – I have no excuse not to get this done.

I’d love to have some more specific goals, but really: I just want to get my painted : unpainted ratio more sane and roll more dice.