Sunday, June 26, 2016

Its All In The Details...

I think a lot of wargamers have priorities, whether conscious or unconscious, about what we spend our money on. I think for a lot of us it goes - 1. Toy soldiers 2. Rules 3. Scenery 4. and then what I like to call "Embellishments".  I'd like to talk today about the benefits of these little models that when added to a gaming table bring it to life and help immerse a player in a game.

Embellishment models are pieces on the battlefield that don't add much or at all to the mechanical gameplay of the game. They just look interesting or give the battlefield a lived in look and by being present, they give a game story and context. Rather than fighting over an abandoned village or lonely wood, adding villagers or wild animals creates a greater sense of "reality" when they are added in - even if its just as spectators. Now your army fights to defend helpless villagers or prevents the burning of a lived in forest or provides an evenings entertainment for the townsfolk.

These pieces are usually inexpensive and don't take much time to paint up. They make awesome little breaks between big army or scenery projects and are place where you can really get creative. I know that there is always the pull to spend our hard earned cash on "important" models for our games, but I encourage anyone who wargames to give a little time to these types of models.

This past week, I finally got around to painting some lovely crypts/roadside shrines made by my buddy Rob over at Skull Forge Scenics. Full disclosure - Rob and I are longtime friends so that might color my views, but I have to say that these are some of the nicest resin pieces I've ever worked with. I tend to buy more resin buildings nowadays rather than making them myself, and Rob's small casting run really shines here compared to larger manufacturers. There was almost no cleaning required and the only assembly needed was adding the spikes on the top of the second shrine. I love me some one piece castings. Such a time saver!

I thought he'd designed these in CAD everything was so crisp.
I also cranked out some resin pieces I've been sitting on from a company in Poland, Ristul's Market. For about $20 I got a mess of crates, sacks and veggies in nice little vignettes.

Delicious and immersive!
I also collect as much little extras as I can to use as objectives when playing. These look so much nicer than tokens!

The well is by Tabletop World, the wagons are Gripping Beast (I think?) and the
civilians are removable so I can use them for games like Saga all the way up to Napoleonics.
These supply depots are mix of resin crates, Renendra plastic barrels and Tamiya plastic sand bags.

O-scale plastic railroad models can also make great additions to 28mm scenes. While slightly over-sized, O-scale models open up a huge range of stuff that just isn't made in 28mm and its usually dirt cheap to boot!

Piggies often make an appearance on my table. Either as scenery or moving objectives.
Cows make awesome obstacles or objectives in Dark Age time period games.
I also enjoy filling my battlefields with non-combatants. In some games, like Muskets & Tomahawks, these models serve very important purposes while in others they just add a ton of character to the board.

The dog is painted up to look like my own pooch.
Lots of manufactures make really nice civilians that will work in several time periods.
I try for a mix of social classes.
I always like putting this crew to work in a field on my boards.
Most wargames are huge sausage-fests. I always like getting some sensible ladies on the battlefield.
Never forget that ladies can bring the fight too!
All in all, these types of models are usually pretty cheap to pick up and quick to paint and add so much more than you'd think to games. Give it a go yourself!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mixed Bag 2 - The Re-Baggening

After completing a bigger project like Deathwatch:Overkill, I usually spend a little time painting random stuff that I've meant to get around to or finishing up models that I've put on the back burner. Mostly this is just to sort of clean my "palette" (see what I did there?) and mentally prepare for whatever bigger set I decide to focus on next.

Over the last two weeks I've managed to finish/start quite a few little projects. First up, for some unknown reason I decided to crack open and put paint to a Warhammer 40,000: Assault on Blackreach set that's been gathering dust for a while on top of my cabinet. I used to own a large Ork army back in the day which is now in a closet on the opposite side of the US and I kinda missed painting Orks. Lord knows why - I really don't have an interest in playing 40K in its current form. Spending a day doing taxes with a friend seems like a similar experience and you can count me out. Maybe by the next edition I'll suddenly have an Ork army again and the game will be magically fun. Who knows?

The 12 Boyz included in the set. I'll probably do one of the Deff Koptas next.
Skwad One. Such tiny units. I was used to running 20 odd-man units. I'm sure I will add to them.
Skwad Two. I had fun doing a less saturated green skin tone on these models.
Definitely gonna carry that throughout the force.

Additionally, I tidied up the last of the French Carbiniers that I purchased on eBay. They came together a treat and I am really pleased with how fast I got this unit finished. I'm also continuing to rebase my French army for Napoleonics and am about 1/2 done with the close order infantry.

So quick to do. I might have to purchasing already blocked in infantry as well.

Rounding things out, I finished a little bit of some post-apocolyptic character models that I bought a while back from Lead Adventure. I don't think these particular cats are still available anymore, sadly. But the rest of the line is such great fun. I've got some more of their models and I will probably home-brew some quick rules for a game with some friends. 

Scavengers? Mutants? Survivors? Or just afraid of what that 3 Bean Burrito will do? You decide.
And just yesterday this made its way into my pudgy little fingers:

Yep. Another boxed game.
When did this become a GW blog?! I dunno, but they've been hitting my sweet spot lately and I am super excited to get some paint on these models!


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Deathwatch:Overkill Fully Painted

Today I put the final touches on my models for my copy of Deathwatch: Overkill. 52 models in a little less than 3 months. I really enjoyed the trip and its always super satisfying to complete this type of project. I like painting box set games as they have a nice finality to them once all the models are painted.  Seeing as Rob has been busy getting his scenery business up and running (pffft… what an EXCUSE!!!) it looks like I've won our friendly challenge. In any case, I hope he manages to get his copy of Dreadfleet fully painted soon.

Family Photo!
I ended up using bases from Secret Weapon Miniatures and they really helped speed things up. I found the model bases from them had an excess of build lines from the 3D masters, but in the end I am still very happy with the look and building all 52 bases would have been needlessly time consuming.

I LOVE these models most of all. I may try to get some more just to paint.
These models just drip evil. In a good way.
All the specialist units for the Genestealer side.
I also need to own and paint some more of these monstrosities.
Even the vanilla Genestealers in this set were really nice.
The nefarious masterminds hard at work.
Battle Bros for life.
Battle Bros before Stealo's.
Last but not least.
I'm looking at picking up a copy of Warhammer Quest: The Silver Tower soon, so that will probably be my next big project. In the meantime, I've some scenery work to do and a 15mm scifi army to knock out and my Napoleonic basing project continues. So, I've still got plenty to do in the future. Hope everyone has enjoyed following along as I finished Deathwatch:Overkill.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Deathwatch:Overkill - Game Review

Over the course of this week I managed to finish up the last two Deathwatch marines, bringing my set close enough to fully painted (I just need to do bases for the entire set) that I felt ok playing the game in all its glory. I know, I know - most of you probably think I'm crazy for not playing the game with unpainted models, but I only feel like I'm getting the full experience of a game when everything is fully painted. So now that every model is at least close to finished, my buddy Ron came over to take the game out for a spin.  We managed to play through the first 4 missions - each of us playing Genestealers and Marines twice a piece.

The Deathwatch advances while Ron lays an Ambush card.
The Librarian. I guess he likes to read!
Biker marine. Its really satisfying when he's killed, cuz
he is a PAIN.
Before we go any farther, I just want to explain my criteria for judging a game. I prefer games that put theme and story ahead of intricate or novel mechanics. I'm not saying that games that have interesting mechanics are bad, I'm just saying that they aren't necessarily for me. I can't get emotionally involved with playing a game that could be re-skinned as something else and not lose an ounce of gameplay (most deck-building games fall into this category for me as an example). Thus, I judge games more on the emotion they generate. I'd rather have a game where something swings wildly and upsets the balance than a game that goes exactly by the numbers. But that's just me.

The heavy weapon marine was my personal favorite!
Moving forward while watching your back!
If I had to quickly describe Deathwatch: Overkill quickly, I'd call it Warhammer 40,000 with an abbreviated rules set. This isn't a bad thing in my opinion - the game feels like it was trying to distill the two sides down to their core essences and use as efficient a set of rules as possible. while still maintaining rules like Armor Saves that are the hallmark of Warhammer. This leads to game whose core-rules are only 6 heavily illustrated pages long, and whose intricacies come from individual model rules and card interactions. The forces in the game play very distinctly, which was a really nice surprise.

The Deathwatch side gives you 11 marines to choose from, with the marine player being able to use only 4 to 6 of them in each mission. Each marine has a pretty distinct feel with different weapon load outs and special rules - and they are AWESOME fun to play. Having two shooting phases per turn, as opposed to the Genestealers one, the marines really put the Overkill subtitle to the test. The Deathwatch team will mow down hordes of Genestealers during a game, striding like near-untouchable gods of war towards their objectives. I felt their gameplay finally reflected the 30 years of Space Marine fluff where handfuls of these super-soldiers conquered entire enemy bases, cities or space ships. Engaging in a running murderfest of Genestealers is wicked fun, only balanced by the gut punch when something inevitably goes horribly, horribly wrong.
That moment before shit gets REAL.
A lot of the Deathwatch team's gameplay is centered around choosing the correct threats to deal with first and applying the proper amount of force to remove them. Even though they have an enormous amount of firepower at their disposal, the Deathwatch will always have a hard time getting everything. It becomes a matter of what threats can be allowed to temporarily endure while eliminating threats that may not be as obviously dangerous.

The Genestealer player has an inexhaustible supply of troops that swarm onto the board and are blasted into oblivion only to reappear again to the Deathwatch player's dismay. Through the use of an interesting card mechanic, the Genestealer side's play isn't just a rehash of Space Hulk. During each turn, the Genestealer player is dealt a hand of cards (the size of which is dependent upon the mission rules) from which they place models on the board and play special rules that can boost their attacks, protect them from shooting, slow down marines, ect. Only a handful of special strategies can be played per turn, so the Genestealer player needs to really choose what rules they will use or what models they will deploy. Cards with great troops on them tend to also have great special rules, so there is a lot of decisions to be made each turn. This leads to a greater involvement on the Genestealer player's end and really gets both sides invested in the game.

Not every plan is perfect. I was just about to launch an attack when
my Genestealer killed himself by fumbling his jump roll across
the gantry!
Deathwatch: Overkill is kind of a great counter-point to its obvious sister game, Space Hulk. In Space Hulk, the marine player endures a building tension and uncertainty of victory; while in Deathwatch: Overkill the Genestealer player is faced with what sometimes feels like the insurmountable task of killing the finest soldiers the Imperium has to offer. Its a nice change up for what could have ended up feeling like the same games.

The simplicity of gameplay - while still feeling familiar to WH40K - allows most missions to played in about an hour which has a lot of appeal to me. Missions didn't feel as though they dragged on for eternity and we were able to advance in the mission story quickly. By the second game, we were more immersed in the scenario than having to remember individual rules and I was really into the developing story of the game.

I really enjoyed my chance to play Deathwatch: Overkill and I'm looking forward to more. A few points to note that may concern people:

- This is strictly a two player game. I really can't see multiple players coordinating on either side. Not a big deal to me, but a total no-go for some.
- Due to some sloppy editing, the Genestealer character cards refer to the "Ambush Phase" which technically doesn't exist. It was easy to figure out the card meant the "Broodmind Phase" during which you place Ambushes, though.
- The first mission is very difficult for the Genestealer player. The scenario is basically a training mission where the marines commit genocide and have all the fun. Ron was very on the fence with the game until the second mission where he saw that the Marines could actually be killed and that it wasn't going to be a one-sided affair.

Adding resin bases to my models!
These first 6 were just a test. I think they turned out pretty well.
All told, I feel really good with my purchase of Deathwatch: Overkill. It has me eyeing Assassinorium: Execution Force and has really ramped up my enthusiasm for picking up Warhammer Quest: The Silver Tower.