Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Modeling Mayhem - Post 00 or I Hope I'm Not Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

Looking back as an adult,  I realize how fortunate I was to grow up in house where this was in the back yard.

I spy, with my little eye.....
I was raised by a hobby nerd. Radio control everything. Model railroad in three scales. Hell, when my dad was laid off in the oil crunch during 80's he made our toys. He taught me and my brother knot tying by crafting a scale ewok village in the azaleas (still one of the coolest projects we've done, well, that and making functioning hang gliders for our GI Joes out of garbage bags). 

His mantra has always been 'why buy it when we can make it'.

.....something awesome!
My younger brother started 40k in the early nineties. He would game while dad and I would make the terrain. When I went off to school I enrolled in architecture, and spent many an hour making models for class that would wind up on the gaming table later in the semester  being defended by the proud warjacks of Menoth. For me gaming was always about the hobby and the further development of the story I saw in my head.

And then I stopped.....for 10 years.....

I left school, wandered around for awhile, returned to graduate, and eventually found a job and began to settle down. 

About a year ago, like an old girlfriend, hobby gaming started to surface in my thoughts. "I wonder if she's still around?", "How's she doing?", "What's she up to now-a-days?" And to find out I did what anyone does when trying to subtly/not so subtly find out about an old ex: I called a mutual friend, my brother.

La Casa de Gamer Dos. Albeit, a touch messier..

He's grown now, too, and father. And to no surprise, he has a gaming sanctuary of his own. Hoping to pick up where I had broken it off, I asked him what was going on with Warmachine lately. He told me an alternate version of the game, Hordes, had been released and that the game had shifted from the rebel, small-list skirmish game we had loved in an attempt to be one of the cool kids that utilized large armies and buckets full of dice. The game was more popular, but I missed the old game and what had made it so special. 

Heartbroken,  I asked if there were any other games that had the same energy and uniqueness that I remembered. Without a pause, he smiled and said, "Have you heard of Malifaux?"

Small list, victorian-horror meets steam punk, with zombie hookers?! I was hooked and I hadn't even seen the game yet. Before I had even returned home from the holidays, I had ordered the Dark Debts box, two beckoners, a fate deck, and the newly released M2e rulebook.

I haven't looked back since. One year, five factions, and 144 models later, I'm still going strong and feel I'm just now hitting a stride with the game.

Which brings us via the long way to the point of this post.

Flush with a sense of accomplishment from completing the first month of the ToMB2, I figured I'd kickoff my own monthly hobby challenge, but instead I intend to focus on terrain.

These 'Modeling Mayhem' posts will be sporadic in their frequency, but hopefully no fewer than once every two weeks. My overriding goal is to generate one medium-sized (or its equivalent) every month.

I've got some ideas of where I want to go, but am looking for input and guidance. Feel free to comment. If there's a technique you want guinea-pigged, or found an article that seems interesting, but not entirely clear, let me know. I'd like for this to be a fluid exercise and maybe even a hub for this type of info. If you've got a blog, again, let me know cause I'd love to reach out. I know I'm by no means an innovator here, more an enthusiastic modeler looking for kindred spirits.

I know there are several folks out there who love terrain (looking at you War Gamers Consortium and Adepticon Sean) and I hope you'll let me tag along with the crowd and maybe give me some pointers.

TLDR : hobby-time....go! 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Som'er - First Impressions (Month 01)

Well, I've had a few games with Som'er now, and I figure it's time for a few first impressions.

Before I give my initial thoughts on Som'er, I'll go ahead and post my hobby progress:

Here's the group, fully painted and based.

Som'er, and skeeters.

Lenny, bayou gremlins, and slop haulers.

Month 1 painting complete and on schedule, from here on out should be a breeze! Hopefully I'll get a hold of a proper camera for next month, in the meantime I'll flounder through with my trusty phone.

My M2E Modeltracker tells me I have assembled just over 140 models, I can confidently say that if you can make it through the Bayou Boss box and still have a grip on your sanity, then you should be able to tackle any model Wyrd decides to throw at us.

Fiddly pieces and awkward joints aside, these sculpts are loaded with personality and were a whole heap of fun to paint. To add a slap-dash feel to the crew, but still imply a bit of cohesion, I settled on three bases colors : blue, tan, brown. To determine color placement, I would pick a color, then randomly grab a model from the pile. No color was used for the same piece of clothing on any two sequential models. I rotated through the colors/models until all the major areas had been blocked in. I knew that Som'er would be wearing a red coat, and so I added red as an accessory color where available to tie the rest of the crew back to the Master. Since the gremlins are fairly interchangeable, I foresee all my gremlin masters save Brewie receiving red as their primary color. After mid-lights and highlights, all models received a wash of Secret Weapon 'Baby Poop' to tone down the contrasts and to give a moldy hue to the colors. The skeeters, on the other hand, would slowly become my albatross. I put them off to last with the hope that by the time I got to them I would be in a painting groove and my brush skills would be at their finest. Once begun, however, I soon realized that they were going to be as tedious to paint as I feared, and so I was left with no choice but to assemble my Whiskey Golem to break the tedium. ;)  In the end, I settled on the purple/orange/white to provide a contrast the greens and blues of the gremlins but still read well from the tabletop. All things considered, I'm pleased with how they came out.

I picked up the Secret Weapon swamp bases for my gremlin horde at Gencon, and they, too, provided a learning experience. The water effects are achieved with Vallejo Still Water applied in three layers. The first layer went on thin, the second layer was applied a bit thicker with a brown wash stirred in, and then a final layer was added at the end to bring the water up to the edge of the base. Once completely cured, some cleanup and touch up of the base paint was required. After that some Army Painter tufts of grass were applied and the Boss was ready to go pick a fight.

I've had four games with Som'er using only the ToMB hiring pool. Fair disclaimer: I'm the newest of our local group and so my performance shouldn't be judged as a measure of Som'ers potential. All told, I've yet to win a game. I can say, though, that my VP differential has steadily improved.

Much like my experiences with Ophelia, I'm finding that Som'er (and Gremlins in general) are very situational/card dependent. When they are firing on all cylinders, they are nigh invincible dealers of carnage.....and then you flip crows on four straight bayou two-cards and wipe out half of your crew due errant ricochets.

As the post's title implies, here are my impressions of Som'er so far.
Bayou Two Card : There's not a lot to complain about here. Having the chance to say "ah well, 'eff it." and cheat that card from your deck is pretty powerful. The obvious use is when your hand is not in your favor, but I've found two-carding provides a bluff game similar to Lynch's ability to cheat face down. It can help you hide the contents of your hand, and lead your opponent into thinking you don't have that 12/13/red joker waiting to unleash the green fury.
Survival of the Fittest : in a crew whose main schtick is dying, this is a winner. Now if I just remember to utilize it....
Loudest Squeal : Gotta love movement shenanigans. Even having to stone for the mask is a bargain for letting Som'er reposition and empty the contents of his boomstick.
Boomer : big boom. Reasonable Sh at 5. Kinda meh on the base damage spread, but with Thinkin' Luck trigger, Som'er has one shot potential for most minions and a good number of henchman.
Pig Prodder : Som'er's knife, although having a Ml 6, carries minimum damage of 1. I tend to use this as a weapon of last resort. I've gotten within a gnat's fart of summoning the piglet, but have fallen short. I like the idea of an extra pig, but I'm not sure if it's all it's cracked up to be. At the end of the day, I feel like I would rather push out of engagement with a Squeal and then blast faces off.
Bigger Hat than You : Oh, man. The first time I pulled this off, the look on my opponents face was amazing. Unfortunately, I've only gotten BHtY off once or twice since then. On the upside, knowing that you may be forced to ditch your hand forces your opponent into a more cagey playstyle.
Do It Like This : Flip a 6, ditch a card, control the triggers around all your buddies. In a random-a** crew like Gremlins, controlling the chaos is key.
Quit Screwing Around : I usually resort to this zero action as a defensive tactic. Got a henchman or master in your face just itching to paralyze/slow/poison/etc.? No problem. With a mighty gremlin yell you can scare your opponents into submission.

Big Target : Free +1 armor for everybody!
Hard to Wound : Never hurts to force your opponent to focus or cheat higher to ensure a straight flip.
Dumber Luck : Free Thinkin/Dumb Luck for everybody!
Numbskull : Too dumb to care about poison, slow, paralyzed, etc. Too dumb to notice he's on fire.
Whack'n Stick : Ml 6, 3/4/5 beatstick to the face. And if you're close to Som'er or Skeeters who are providing rams, then you've got your opponent in a big ol' bear hug of no movement.
Toss : Need your gremlin buddies up in the action? No problem. Need your gremlin buddies out of engagement range? No problem. Need a pesky spider out of your grill and out of turf war/reconnoiter range? No problem.
Pet the Piggy : And if worse comes to worse, you can time out and heal some damage while you snuggle with your favorite porcine pal.

Slop Haulers:
Bayou Two Card : See above for awesomeness.
Reckless : One damage for an AP? Thank you, sir!
Squeal : Not a strong as Som'er's, but that's to be expected. This is only applicable to Ml attacks, and I've found these guys tend to fall to ranged attack before they ever see engagement.
Slop Bucket : Reasonable attack. The Appetizing trigger is nice, but again, these guys rarely see Ml attacks for me.
Tossed Slop : Of the two attacks, I find myself using this one more often. Cheating in the moderate and for a blast is a bonus, but the Appetizing trigger is nice for those heavy beatsticks that like to gum up the Turf War bubble.
Feed Piggies : The real reason you include Slop Haulers in your lists. Trigger reckless, move four, then heal up to four models within 3in including yourself? Why yes, yes I think I will.

Bayou Gremlins:
Bayou Two Card : Again, see above.
Drunk & Reckless : 2 damage for an AP can be risky. If you can keep a slop hauler close then you can feasibly pull this off two, maybe three times a game,
High Pitched Squeal : Same as the slop haulers, more situational than practical in my experience.
Boomstick : Sh4, silly low damage spread, but if you're hanging next to someone handing out free rams then these guys can become a legitimate threat. Careful though, because without a buddy giving you a suit, then it's even money you're going to hurt yourself or other friendly models more than the opponent.
Banjo Bash : Weapon of last resort. If you're swinging the banjo, then you probably are going down this turn regardless.

Defense : Seven, 'nuff said.
Can't Escape the Buzzing : +flips to disengaging strikes. Let the frustration begin!
Insignificant : No schemes for you, ah well, for two soulstones I guess we can't complain.
Flight : Hazardous, dense, walls? No worries.
Plentiful : Double the flavor, double the fun!
Proboscis : Token attack....at best.
Som'er's Totem : You can have a ram! And you can have a ram! And you! And you! Suits for everybody! Or......I'm just gonna fly right over here amongst all your ranged guys and no one's getting triggers. And if you don't kill me, then next turn it's a positive to defense duels as well. PPPPLLLLLLLBBBBBB!!!! (That's nearest approximation to a skeeter giving you the raspberry I can type)

Card management is kicking my butt at the moment. I will begin the turn with a plan for my hand then get lost in the heat of the moment and eventually find myself without the 8 or mask I need to summon. I know it will come with time, but in the meantime there's a lot of forehead slapping and Yosemite Sam impressions in my future.

I'm liking the Bayou Boss so far, but the 35SS bracket has never been my cup o' tea. Next month has me purchasing Sammy and Burt and rounding out to 50SS. I feel this will provide me the balance of summoning/damage bonanza I'm looking for.

Let me know your thoughts on how I can improve, whether that may be photography tips, painting pointers, or tactica.