Sunday, June 5, 2011

Making the Hobby Our Own: Specialist Games

Continuing the discussion of Making the Hobby our Own (First discussed on this blog in THIS post), I would like to bring up the topic of the Specialist Games provided by Games Workshop.

Sadly, while playing at my monthly game-meet, a lot of players I talked to had never heard of any of the Specialist Games outside of Battle Fleet Gothic and WH40k Epic. I found this shocking! A lot of the Specialist Games have their rule sets hosted on GW's website FREE TO DOWNLOAD. To introduce you to a few of the more popular ones outside of BFG and Epic, here are a couple of my favorites:


Mordheim is set in the same universe as Warhammer Fantasy Battles. It is a "Skirmish" scale game, meaning you have only a handful of models for each player. The story goes: A big comet crashed into the town of Mordheim, and fragments of this comet possess magical properties. Naturally, this means everybody wants it. However, the city is much too dense and sprawling for traditional units to hunt for fragments of the so-called "Wyrdstone", and thus "Warbands" enter the city in small groups to try and scavenge as much of the precious material as they can find. When they run into each other in the decimated city, that's when the fighting starts!

What I like about Mordheim: Better than any other game system I have played yet outside of RPGs, Mordheim allows you to advance your warband's capabilities. Campaigns actually are worth playing! Campaigns allow you to develop your warband, in which you can form real attachments to some of your characters. My favorite character yet is the epic Norse beserker that has slaughtered dozens of a Vampire's Zombie minions! It has a simple-to-play system that GW is known for, and games can be played in around an hour, depending on the size of the warbands. You can also find tons of fan-created material, and there are several very-active communities of staunch fans!

What I don't like about Mordheim: There are some balance issues. Skaven notoriously overpowered, and there are some hiccups in the rules. However, there are a myriad of house-rulings and fan-created supplements to fix this. In fact, one ambitious team actually created a whole new version of the game known as "Coreheim," which is based on balancing the core rulebook as much as possible. Also, if you are primarily a 40k player, you have to make all-new terrain to fit the medieval theme of the game. This was a real pain for me, since a game of Mordheim requires a LOT of city scenery with a medieval theme.

Inquisitor is exactly what it sounds like: a game about 40k Inquisitors. If you have ever played Kill-team, you have played an extremely-simplified version of this game. Inquisitor is even smaller in terms of model count, as each player might have around 4 characters in a warband. It is highly detailed in its rules, nearly combining elements of the Dark Heresy RPG with Warhammer 40k the tabletop game.

What I like about Inquisitor: All units of measurement in the game are given in yards, which means you can play this game with any scale of models that you choose. Though most play with 54mm models (1/32 scale) due to the higher detail one can achieve with the miniatures, you can also play the game with your standard 40k 28mm models. In fact, I follow one particular blog (INQ28) that specializes in playing Inquisitor in this scale. Some of his conversions are spectacular. Another thing I like about this game is that it completely throws concepts of fairness and balance right out the window. There are no "points", "force organization slots", or any other such nonsense to get in the way of your character concepts. If you want to have a bad-a** space marine in your inquisitor's retinue, you can! That is, as long as the Game Master approves it. Which leads me to my next point...

What I Don't Like about Inquisitor: The game needs a minimum of 3 people to play- 1 "Game Master" and two players. Like an RPG GM, the game master acts as both a referee and a plot-enhancer, helping to tell an epic story. While I understand that this is necessary for a "narrative" wargame, it does prove to be an inconvenience at times. I also didn't like the lack of balance at first, which I found a bit confusing, but now I have come to appreciate it. Not having limitations can make for really epic games! Lastly, the rules-set is completely different from any other GW game I have played yet. That in-and-of-itself is not a bad thing, but it did take longer for me to learn because of that fact. It also makes for very slow games at times, and necessitates the use of a calculator for some of the complicated math!

All in all, I love specialist games. If you have not played any of them, I strongly encourage you to give them a try. If you play either WFB or 40k, you likely have some models you can use in one of these games. In these times of increasing prices, free is GOOD...


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Making the Hobby Our Own: Alternate Models

Before you read my post, read this:

It is a post by a fellow blogger posing the question: What is keeping you from using alternate models for 40k? Pretty much there is only one reason: tournaments (ok, maybe personal taste as well). However, since GW no longer puts on nearly as many events as independent retailers, I believe it is up to the independent retailers to make the jump and allow alternate models in 40k tournaments.

Obviously, this would need to be carefully regulated. For example, base sizes must be strictly adhered to. This helps prevents abuse of modeling for a gaming reason. Maybe "counts-as" models must be pre-approved, and detailed in the army list that you hand each opponent in the battle. Regardless of the particulars, I believe that it is our prerogative to "Make the game our own" by using non-GW products.

In the spirit of that school of thought, I am showcasing several models I commonly use in my local scene to play 40k. Above is a picture of a Cyberdemon from Fantasy Flight Game's OOP boardgame based on the ID computer game: Doom. Having re-based him on a properly-sized base, and giving him weapons modifications to match WYSIWYG, I now present him as a Daemon Prince in my CSM army. (Not many people do daemons as good as Doom!)

Next up are some zombie figures I use from the Wargames Factory. They sell several multi-part plastic models for gaming at affordable prices. I use the zombies pictured above for lesser daemons in my current CSM army. I believe it adds flavor to a Nurgle list!

Lastly, I offer another Wargames Factory plastic model, coupled with the excellent head pieces produced by Pig Iron Productions. These have replaced my IG, as they are nearly half the cost (18 troopers in a box for 15-20 dollars).

In the current economy, it pays to remember that GW is a publicly-owned company, and not really in it for the long haul outside of providing long-term profit opportunities to its investors. That is why you see things like staff-cutbacks, price raises every year, and so on. If the company is not turning a profit in the here-and-now, then the investors are not happy, which is bad news for the company as a whole.

What I'm getting at is: while the prices of models keep going up, I don't see my paycheck getting any bigger. In fact, with fuel prices being what they are, I'm seeing half my income going into the gas tank. That means I have less and less to spend on models these days as it is, and then some due to the price hikes. Therefore, if I don't buy it used, I'll be looking for alternative models. I suggest we all do the same, until GW makes some major changes to its business model.

Please feel free to discuss this via the comments box!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Discussion: Nurgle CSM Pt. 2

Continuing the discussion began in Part 1.

To continue my justification of my units, we move on to the Troops section.

Plague Marines-
Plague marines have been hailed as the single most worthy Troops choice in the CSM codex, and I am inclined to agree. Though I think they are a bit overcosted currently, Plague Marines have a few notable benefits over their standard CSM brethren:
A) They have increased toughness, as well as Feel No Pain. This makes them tanks to small arms fire.
B) They have access to 2 special weapons per squad, which allows small fire-teams to pack a vicious wallop.
C) They are troop choices, and thus are a scoring unit.
D) They have blight grenades, which allow them to take some of the punch out of units assaulting them.

However, for all these benefits, there are several notable drawbacks to Plague Marines:

A) Feel no Pain is negated by anything AP 1 or 2, or that would cause Instant-death (I.e. force weapons, weapons with double the strength of the model's toughness, etc), and power weapons. With no invulnerable save, this means that Plague Marines are especially vulnerable to high-strength or low AP weapons like Demolisher cannons, Lascannons, and Plasma. Since they cost a lot of points, a few heavy weapons can ruin a squad of Plague Marines. Close combat can also ruin them if they are up against Power Weapon wielders of any type.
B) Without some form of transportation, they are quite slow (as foot-troops are oft to be). With the amount of mechanization in 5th, they really need a transport to get them across the field faster.
C) They lack access to heavy weapons, instead having to rely on shorter-ranged special weapons such as the meltagun and plasmagun. This isn't a severe drawback, but without transports, armies like Tau and IG can outrange them and destroy them before they can close the distance.

Summoned Lesser Daemons-
My list, with the models on hand, was severely lacking in the troops department. I needed something to capture and hold the objectives, so I turned to Summoned Lesser Daemons to fill the gap. They aren't too bad, surprisingly, and can even turn the tide for some objective-based battles! They have a few things going for them:
A) They have a +5 invul save. This means that they can sometimes withstand attacks that would have wiped out whole squads of Plague Marines, such as Demolisher cannons and the like.
B) They are fairly inexpensive compared to other choices in the codex.
C) With personal icons, they can bail out some of your other units with a precision deep-strike. They can also Assault the same turn they arrive, a huge bonus.

The downside to them is that they HAVE to be held in reserve. You don't get a choice. This means that you cannot use them for screening your other units at the start of the game or similar uses. The other downside is that they lack offensive punch, having only regular CCWs and 2 attacks at strength 4, so they are no better in assaults than regular CSMs but they have no shooting attacks either.

Summoned Greater Daemon-
To help fill the heavy anti-tank gap, I put in a Summoned Greater Daemon. This is a hit-or-miss strategy for me. On the plus side, if I successfully summon a Daemon by sacrificing a champion from elsewhere in the list, I get another Monstrous Creature that can chew through tank armor in assaults. Not so great is that I have to sacrifice a perfectly good model on the table to get him, and there is no guarantee of when the Daemon will arrive. Still, an extra MC in this list helps give the opponent another target to split his fire on, helping take some of the heat off the Daemon Princes. During my last game, a Summoned Greater Daemon pinned a squad inside their Chimera by standing at the rear of the vehicle and wrecking it. Only the sergeant had enough room to deploy, and he was quickly killed by lesser daemons backing up the larger Greater Daemon. Use his base size to your advantage.

I will go on to Army tactics and tips in part 3.

Discussion: Nurgle CSM

Followers of Papa Nurgle have been around for a while, but how are we faring against the ever-rising trend of Mechanization in 5th?

To be clear: I am new to CSM, especially Nurgle. However, I have trouble finding any relevant tactics on the Internet outside of Kirby's blog: "3++ is the New Black", and I don't know when that was written or how relevant it is to the times. On the other hand, I have played a few games with them recently, so I would like to discuss some of my recent observations on CSM and Nurgle-followers in particular.

Here is a list of what I currently run (until I can get more models anyway):
1 Daemon Prince with Lash
1 Sorceror with wings, plasma pistol, Mark of Nurgle, personal icon and Warptime
3 Chaos Terminators plus 1 Champion, Icon of Nurgle, 3 powerfists, 1 Reaper Autocannon
3 Chaos Terminators, Icon of Nurgle, 3 powerfists, 1 Reaper Autocannon
4 Plague Marines plus one Champion, 2 Meltaguns, powerfist, plasma pistol, personal icon
4 Plague Marines plus one Champion, 2 Meltaguns, powerfist, plasma pistol, personal icon
10 Summoned Lesser Daemons
10 Summoned Lesser Daemons
1 Summoned Greater Daemon

Now, I didnt intend this post to be about my list. I am well aware that it is a sub-optimal list, and I'm ok with that. I would, however, like to discuss some of the benefits and uses to some of the units in my list.

Daemon Princes-
I have found that the Lash Prince has long been lauded as the best HQ choice in the CSM codex. I have seen the benefit of Lash of Submission, though now I find it's use limited in the current trend of mechanized forces. Though limited more so now than in the early days of 5th, that does not mean useless! There are common situations that Lash comes in handy for still; such as IG bubblewrap situations. Being able to pull a squad away to leave a Leman Russ vulnerable can be a great use of Lash. Really though, I think the best use for Princes is to use them as vehicle killers and general bullet soaks. Lash really is the best choice if you decide to mark a DP, as the cost is quite low and it gives you some versatility.

Sorcerers are a matter of taste. Most people prefer to go the route of Daemon Princes as their HQs to reap the benefits of a Monstrous Creature at an affordable cost. I chose to put a Sorcerer in for a couple reasons: A) I had Built a model for it from bits already B) Mobility is something Nurgle CSM struggle with without rhinos C) I needed a redundant personal Icon to summon daemons with, in case my Plague Marines died. With his wings, I could fly further up the table and drop a squad of lesser daemons into an assault. I gave mine a mark of Nurgle for the added toughness, and a plasma pistol for some light anti-vehicular punch. Warptime can help against squads in close combat, scoring more wounds in the hopes of inflicting a failed morale check. Again, this is not for everyone. In our current meta-trend of more and more vehicles, you are well advised to stick with the Daemon Prince as your 2nd HQ option.

Chaos Terminators-
These elite choice troops are likely to be one of the most valuable transport-popping squads in the codex. Though they cannot go toe-to-toe with imperial Terminators in assault, chaos have cheap and easy access to the reliable Reaver autocannon. The Heavy 2, twin-linked strength 7 shots can reach vehicles up to 36" away, which is pretty darn good for popping light transports. Add a mark of Nurgle to the unit, and these beasts become much more resistant to small arms. Here's a tip: do not deep strike these types of units unless you have a really good reason to. You want these guys at medium range, picking apart transports, MCs, and other targets of opportunity. Outfitting them for CC is costly, and should be avoided if you have better options.

I will continue my dissemination in part 2.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bits Box Delve Part 2: Followers of Nurgle

After a long Sunday of building marines from spare bits, I decided to make a Nurgle-themed chaos army. I attempted to sculpt boils, blisters, and entrails from graystuff, and applied them over loyalist bits to cover up the Imperial iconography. Here is a status shot so far, showing a portion of my current army. I have built approximately 1000-1200 points of Nurgle-blessed CSM goodness! Pretty impressive for what started off as a bits box delve out of boredom!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bits Box Delve: Chaos-Wolves WIPs and Medusa

Ever have those days where you are just sick of painting, and have the itch to go digging through your bitbox? I do. Sometimes, the results are better than I thought they would be!

You know your bit box is getting too big when...

... you can create an entire legal army out of bits.

... You can create an entire vehicle that doesn't look half bad.

... You create an HQ character, that actually looks quite badass, completely from bits.

... You consider selling your bits box as an "army deal".

You get the idea.

So, I hobbled together the above models. I decided to go with a chaos theme, defiling some standard terminators I had laying around. Some of the terminators were so old, they were mounted on 1" bases with plastic tabs! Some of you might be going "Is that supposed to be old?" but it's old to me.

This guy above is my stand-in for Logan Grimnar in a Chaos-Wolves list. Yeah, the wing on the axe is probably a no-go, but the axe was too good to let settle back into the bottom of my bits. I might chaos-ify it later, as I already plan to nurgle-ize (making up all sorts of words today) most of them so they don't look so Imperial. I finally found a good use for the resin 1.5" bases from the 40k basing kit, which I also used on the following model:

This guy is supposed to be my ultra-badass Wolf Priest (equivalent of a Chaplain for the rest of you marine players). Count the wings as a jump pack, and give him runic armor (because I plan to give him the gray-stuff treatment), and just for extra ridiculousness, I gave him a plasma-pistol to complement his oversized (soon-to-be-daemon) weapon. I especially like the head, which simply consists of a Khorn beserker's head after I shaved down the crests. This guy is my favorite that I built today.

All in all, about 800 points of counts-as-Space-Wolves, if I'm stretching it. At least 750 though.

The last pic is of a Medusa I cobbled together out of pieces from my bits box, as well as a few bits I was given over Christmas (Thank you Brandon for the chassis and gunshield!).

I had a super-heavy vehicle cannon left over from the Stormlord kit, and it made a perfect main gun. I prettied it up with other various bits, but it came out better than I expected! Now my Death Korps of Kremlin have some supporting fire!

Do you ever surprise yourself with the things you create from your bits boxes?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rogue Trader Models - WIP

I've had to sell the majority of my gaming models due to financial problems in the last several months, but I kept a few models that I just was too attached to let go of. Others I built from spare bits I had in a big box.

Here is my "Very" WIP shots of some characters I'm building for Rogue Trader games. From left to right: A void-master, a Seneschal, A female that can be used for a seneschal or a void master, an Astropath Transcendant, and a Kroot mercenary.

In my next batch, these are still WIP but closer to being finished. From left to right: A female Missonary or possibly a rogue trader, A combat-oriented Missionary (I like to think of him as a Templar!) or an Arch-militant, an Arch-Militant or Rogue Trader, an Arch-Militant storm trooper, and obviously an Explorator.

I have always been very attached to my Explorator model, as he just has a pleasing palette of colors. I really was pleased with the crisp white on my storm-trooper, but my wife adores the female Missionary. I did not paint the officer, I got him as a Christmas from a good friend of mine. I may add my personal touches to him, but he is well painted and I have other more-pertinent projects afoot. I suspect the Astropath will look top-rate once I give him the attention he deserves, but we'll see if the color scheme comes out like I imagine in my head!

Which is your favorite?

I'm back!

After long hiatus, I'm back in the saddle. My computer is fully up and running again, and I'm ready to start posting some of the things I've been working on recently. Stay tuned for Dark Space Opera (and Dark Fantasy) goodness!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy B-Day to Me

Got myself a bunch more Pirates collectible ships for my birthday present.

Have to catalog them and build them now, so I'll be occupied for a while! I might post a collection list later if I get around to it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Retail Fail (explicit language)

I usually don't allow explicit language on this blog, but after my dealings with a particular eBay retailer I had a few four-letter words to use myself.

Dave and Adam's Card World is a bulk distributor of collectibles, such as Magic cards or baseball cards. When doing an eBay search for Pirates the CSG, I came across a case of unopened boosters from them for 16 dollars: too cheap to pass up. So I bit, and hit the buy-it-now option. When I got my invoice, it was for over 30 bucks. What!? So I was informed that shipping to Alaska required a surcharge, since they ship via UPS. Ok, that seemed a bit steep, but I paid the extra 15 bucks without complaining.

Here's where I made my mistake: I didn't check my address. When I was emailed an order confirmation, I realized the address was my old one (two years old, in fact).

So acting quickly, I got the phone number for their customer service. I made sure it was their advertised business hours before calling. It rang and.... Nothing happened. Twice in a row. So I left a message explaining my problem. I included my order number, and the address I needed it changed to before they shipped it.

This was fairly early in the morning Alaska time, so it was around noon EST. A few hours passed, and I received no callback (I had left my number too) and no emails on the subject. That evening, I received a shipping notification. They had shipped it without changing the address.

Irritated, I waited for the three days it took UPS to deliver their two-day mail up here, and then seeing marked delivered I got pretty irked. So I emailed them, demanding a refund. This time I got a response. It said they would send me a replacement to the correct address, which temporarily appeased me, until I got my shipping notification...

They had used priority mail this time... To ship it to the wrong address again. See picture above.

So yes, it WAS my fault for not double checking my shipping address. But, what is the point of a customer service number if you don't answer your phones or check the messages? How else can a customer fix a minor mistake? It really was minor, and could have easily been fixed had they not been so fething stupid.

So... Lesson learned. This will be my first time using the negative feedback feature, and in this case it is well-deserved. Be wary of Dave and Adams Card World.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Making the Behring Strait, Part 1

I have an upcoming supplement for Pirates: CSG, but first, you'll need some Arctic terrain features. Today we are going to get started on our Islands and Icebergs.

Hobby Knife
Hot Glue Gun
Paints (mostly earth tones, blue, and white)
PVA glue (I use Mod Podge Matte)
Wood Glue (AKA Yellow Glue)
Old DVD cases
Cork Tile
Sand, Rock, etc.

You should already have most of the stuff on this list, if you are into modeling. If you don't have them, they're easy enough to acquire.


Cut out irregular shapes that are slightly smaller than a playing card from the large flat front part of your DVD case. I try to open it up and cut up the spine to avoid the thick, reinforced edges. This plastic is sometimes difficult to cut if you don't use heavy duty craft scissors! Coat this initial base with the Elmer's Wood Glue (or your substitute). This glue holds on strong once set, so it makes a good base.

Using your rocks and sand, cover your island. I place the big rocks by hand first, then dip the entire island into a rock/sand mixture container and give it a shake.

Set them aside to dry. The wood glue takes a while to really dry, at least a few hours. That means we'll finish them in Part 2 of this tutorial. However, to clue you in, the next step will be to give it a second coat of fill material (sand, ballast, etc).


Tear off a small chunk of cork from your tile.

Break up that chunk into smaller, irregularly shaped chunks. Each of these chunks is roughly spherical or cubicle.

Mix together some blue and white craft paint, or use a very light blue. Totally coat the cork with this paint. Note that your fingers will get coated unless you wear gloves.

From your DVD case, cut an irregular shape about the same size of your Islands from the transparent cover.

Using the hot-glue gun, attach these pieces of cork to the transparent plastic. When finished, drybrush the cork pieces with white paint.

Use the white PVA glue and a brush to build up some glue around the bottom of the cork. That's it! Let this dry for a while, and you have Iceberg floes!

In part two, we'll finish up the islands with a special arctic theme, and we'll work on my special new terrain type!

Until then,

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pirates CSG- A review of a defunct game

(Oversized models at GenCon 2007), picture from Wikipedia

A few days ago, my wife, kids, and I were in Target when we came upon a few boxes of booster packs for a game called Pirates by Wizkids (now bought out by NECA or some such, so they stopped producing several lines of games like this one). My son (turning 3 next month) picked up one and went "Cool!" Upon looking at the box, it said "Pirates Constructable Strategy Game".

They were only 5 bucks for a box containing 6 boosters each (and each booster contains enough items for a small game), so I bought one, thinking it might be a pleasant diversion from FoW and a game my wife might have an interest in. (Of course, I should have asked myself if her interest was in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, or in actor Johnny Depp?)

While out eating in our car, I used the modern wonder of my iPhone to research my new purchase. Here's what wikipedia says:

"The Pirates Constructible Strategy Game is a tabletop game manufactured by WizKids, Inc., with aspects of both miniatures and collectible card genres. Pirates of the Spanish Main (the initial release of the Pirates line) is the world's first "constructible strategy game," referring to the mechanics of creating game pieces from components that punch out of styrene cards. The game was created by Jordan Weisman and designed by Mike Mulvihill, Ethan Pasternack, James Ernest, and Mike Selinker. It was released in early July 2004. Pirates of the Spanish Main refers specifically to the first release in the series, and generically to the game as a whole (or the game's "universe") including all of the expansions. There is also an online computer game based on Pirates of the Spanish Main called Pirates CSG Online

The game won the Origins Vanguard Award 2005.

On November 10, 2008, Topps announced the closure of Wizkids.

On September 14, 2009, collectible maker NECA ( announced the purchase of the Wizkids name and properties from Topps, specifically including the Pirates line. No further info is known at this time as to when or if Pirates will begin to be produced again."

Upon arriving home, I opened the booster packs. Each pack contained: two random ships printed on the cards that you must construct (no glue required), an island (flip side is a terrain feature), a card of gold pieces, either a unique treasure or a crew token, and a copy of both the full rules and quickstart rules accompanied by a miniscule six-sided die (useless for actually playing with but a nice gesture). Pretty neat!

The cards are of fairly good quality, akin to a credit card, however not quite plastic. They are tougher than cardboard as if they are laminated with plastic.

The ships take a minute to figure out, but the diagrams included in the quickstart rules help immensely. The main thing to remember is

A) The ships are made of card. PIECES WILL BREAK. Be patient and figure out where everything goes first. Then CAREFULLY put it together. Hold near the tab when inserting it into a slot. If pieces break (and they inevitably will.

B) The ships are made of card. They are not really that pretty, but they are good enough for what they are.

C) The ships are made of card. Store them appropriately. Don't let them get wet, or expose them to excessive sunlight, heat, moisture, etc etc.

D) Did I mention the ships are made of card?

As a side note: be sure to save all the cards even after you punch them out. The ship notes especially, as well as any card that has rules or writing on it. They are your only reference materials aside from the core rules.

The game plays pretty easily at first. With only a few ships, you don't have to keep too much memorized to play. All measurement is done using the edges of the cards, either the long edge or the short edge. This is awfully convenient. No rulers or tape measures here! Just what you already are using: the cards you use to reference your ships' stats. The only additionally needed materials are a gaming surface and a handful of 6-sided dice. For anybody who has played at least Monopoly, you should already have these!

The object of the game is to collect more gold than your opponent. Each player has a "Home Island", and there are several "Wild" islands on the map at the start. These Wild Islands contain a number of gold pieces, which on their underside is printed a number. These gold pieces are shuffled and placed so that these numbers are not known at the start of the game to either player.

The ships ferry back and forth to these Wild Islands, taking as many coins as their Cargo Value. They then return to their home islands with their loot.

If desired, these ships can engage each other. Ramming, boarding, and blasting with cannons, players can attempt to win the game by pure force.

It is unfortunate that this game is out of production. The game is simple, the ships are fun to build, and collecting them gets to be quite a bug. I've already placed an order for an entire box of boosters (18 for 15 bucks? Deal!) and sent my wife back to buy the remaining boxes in Target before they have disappeared, never to be seen again. There are multiple expansions, with the most recent one offering boosters being "Pirates: Fire and Steel". If you want a rule-page with the most recent keywords (Abilities' special rules) then you will need at least one booster from this expansion.

(picture "borrowed" without permission from

There are something like 1000 individual ships from all the different expansions, not counting duplicates and promotional ships. That is plenty to keep a collector busy for a while, especially with the OOP status of the game line.

Keep an eye out on ebay. Also, head on over to, where there is still an active community for the game. You can also keep track of your collection, build lists, etc. It is the best website for collectible miniatures games that I have found yet!

For this game, I'll give it a 4 out of 5 for the price. I am already hooked, after only 5 bucks!

Until next time,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Finished Panzer III Ns

The morning light catches them as they crest a hill...

I finished them up by first staining them using Minwax Gel Stain, chesnut. I used an old brush and applied it first to crevices, then to flat surfaces. Let this dry overnight.

I followed this with a coat of Mod Podge Matte finish glue cut with water. This eliminated the glossy look, and let the paint in the next step adhere.

Next, I applied a highlight of the original Desert Yellow (Vallejo) to raised edges, creating a hard-edged highlight that really stands out.

Finally, I applied the decals and again covered the tank (once dry) with another thin coat of the thinned glue, paying special attention to the decals so I wouldn't dislodge them.

I'll have to experiment with more stains, and come up with a tutorial in the future. For now, I'm pretty pleased.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Tutorial: Painting German Armor Minus Airbrush

Times are hard at the Foxphoenix household, so I promised my wife that I wouldn't buy any more models until what I already have is painted. With that in mind, I went about painting an entire Panzerkompanie I had sitting around.

8 Panzer IV H
3 Panzer III N


After priming with your preferred primer (I prefer a cheap grey automobile primer), I use Vallejo Desert Yellow as my basecoat. Be sure to coat the entire tank, including the drive wheels.


The next step is to apply the camouflage colors. Using a mix of 1 part water to 1 part Vallejo Bestial Brown, use the natural surface tension of the water to form paint lines. Try to make them fairly random, and don't use the same brush strokes all the time.


The third step is very similar to the 2nd step. Using the same 1:1 ratio, this time using Vallejo Cayman Green, paint additional camo lines in the gaps left by the last step. You are not trying to cover all the yellow, but rather just break it up.


This step is where you pick out all the details. Paint tracks black, as with any unfinished metal surfaces. Paint tool handles brown. Then move on to the final required step (and extra credit after that)!


I ran out of Devlan Mud wash from citadel, so I got out a Tiger to use as an example. Using Devlan Mud, wash down the entire tank. This dulls down the yellow and makes it more closely resemble the dark yellow used by Axis Panzers. Get it especially heavy in the drive wheels, to add shading and definition. After this wash is completely dry, take a soft-leaded graphite pencil and rub the lead on the metal edges to make them appear worn, such as track edges and tool edges.

And there you have it: my formula for painting Panzers up fast. I finished all but the wash in under three hours for my entire Panzerkompanie of 11 Panzers.

When dry, get out your decals! There are other, more detailed, guides out there that can walk you through that process. Also, you can further add definition by blacklining or highlighting, also covered elsewhere in more detail. Go wild!

EDIT 2/12/2013: This is still one of my biggest hits on this site, but I had let the pictures go down, much to my shame. I finally decided to fix the links so that others may benefit from this technique, which they clearly still want to know about!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review: Game Model Miniatures

A while back, I had heard references to a company that made 15mm WWII armor models on the cheap. After quite a bit of searching, I finally found the site:

A fellow named Craig runs the site. Based in Ohio, he advertises to cater to educators or event organizers that need a large amount of models for not a lot of cash.

His site looks like he wrote the HTML himself, but things are clear and well organized. It is easily viewed from my IPhone. He has no online shopping cart, but instructions for placing an order are very clear: he has an up-to-date price list and provides his email address, so you simply write out what models and their quantities and he will send you a Paypal invoice shortly thereafter.

I filled out a modest order of 8 Panzer IV H tanks, 6 M3 Halftracks, 4 Jeeps, and 4 M10 SP TDs. He was very quick to reply, informing me that I could pick three additional models for free! This was a great deal, since the vehicles each cost 4 dollars each already, which was very inexpensive as it was. So I added 3 Panzer III N models. Shipping for up to 40 models is a flat 5 dollars (within the USA). This is also a great deal, since he ships via priority mail!

Since he casts to-order, it took him a bit under a week to complete my order, and he sent me an email when he sent it out. A few (business) days later, the package arrived. I was impressed by the packing: he had cut individual sections for each tank into a low-density foam (like a mattress topper). All the turrets had been put into a single plastic bag that had it's own spot in the foam, and only a single barrel to a Panzer IV had broken. The other barrels were serviceable using the resin-bending hot water trick.

Models are pre-assembled and usually pre-painted (admittedly though, the paint job didn't seem too appealing by the photos on the site, so I requested that he not pre-paint the models.) when attempting to paint them myself, I discovered it is absolutely essential to prime the models first, as the resin they are cast in has a tendency to repel water (and water-based paints) on flat surfaces. I wasn't thrilled about that, since spray-priming in the house in the middle of winter is usually a no-go with the missus. Luckily, she wasn't there when I set about doing just that... You married fellas know what I mean when I say it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission... Right?

So anyway, back to the models:

They are not very detailed, but they are mostly accurate and in-scale. The resin could be better, as the surface is sometimes pocked with minute air bubbles. In comparison with Battlefront Miniatures, they don't look nearly as good. But for 1/3rd the price, you get models perfectly acceptable for gaming pieces. They won't win any awards, but they are quite functional, exactly as advertised.

Gaming Models:
Customer Service: 5 out of 5
Quality / Price: 3.75 out of 5 (+.25 for the free models)
Shipping Cost / Speed: 5 out of 5
TOTAL AVERAGE: 4.38 out of 5

Next, I will try to get ahold of some Old Glory models, as they are said to be comparable in price.

So until next time,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Midwar Tigers- nigh Unstoppable?

Today, me and the Missus broke out the semi-portable game board we threw some new paint on the other night. Wanting her to have a better chance than normal, we decided to play an "unfair" game, with her using a full Schwere Panzerkompanie of 5 Tigers and supporting Grenadier platoon vs my US Tank Co. I've been putting together. I had a total of 13 shermans, and a full-strength Armored Rifle platoon in support aided by limited air support provided by P-38 Lightning aircraft.

I'll spare you the boring turn-by-turn wall of text (since I didn't take photos), but I'll make a few notes of some lessons I learned about fighting against Tigers while getting my posterior handed to me:

1. Focus fire. Sure, most weapons in MW cannot penetrate a Tiger's tough shell, but many of them can force the crew to bail out at least. The more dice you have those Schwere Panzers rolling, the more likely it will happen. Once it does...
2. Keep on the pressure. If you force a tank to bail twice in a row, you may scare the crew off, effectively getting a kill. Alternatively, if you can assault a bailed tank with infantry, you can capture the crew, again effectively killing the tank.
3. Attack from unexpected directions. Try to outmaneuver the slow Tigers with fancy footwork, and hit the weaker side armor to better your chances. Also, remember that the Top armor value of a tiger isn't all that much better than other tanks, so hit it with artillery bombardments or ground attack aircraft to take advantage of this.
4. Smoke 'em. Trust me, you do not want those Tigers getting full ROF with those 88's. Smoking them forces their owning player to make a choice- move and shoot at lower ROF, or take a penalty to the dice and stay put to fire full ROF.
5. Remember to play to the mission. 5 tigers are ridiculously tough, but they can't be everywhere at once. Use this to your advantage, and try to isolate the objectives so that you can handle them piecemeal. Having one tiger on an objective is a challenge, but having 5 on an objective is a lost cause. This may go with...
6. Utilize the terrain. Try to take shot from positions that give you cover or concealment (better yet, both!) to reduce the impact of return fire. Go Hull Down, shoot from the trees, whatever it takes to get that extra protection.

I made several glaring mistakes this game:

1. I forgot the 16" safe zone aircraft require to attack ground targets. A few times, I had Lightnings ready to go but forgot this rule.
2. Defender gets 2nd move in Breakthrough scenarios. I forgot this, and deployed my halftracks poorly.
3. I didn't use smoke enough. If I had, my armored Rifles assault may not have gotten MG'd to death, losing all my bazookas.

Well, feel free to discuss.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sicilian Bases Part 2: The Execution

(Images can be clicked to view full-size)

Armed with my research from This Article, I went about my basing project.

First off, I start by making sure my miniatures are mounted on the base, and then I apply a coat of PVA glue to it. (I use Mod Podge gloss for this part.) I then dip the base in model railroading ballast, such as what is pictured here:

After the base material is on, I follow that up with another coat of the mod-podge gloss. I find the gloss adheres slightly better than the matte, so I use that first. Really, I should have done a second coat of ballast and glue, but for the expediency of this tutorial I decided to double-up on foliage later.

Then, I go ahead and paint my miniatures. Many people choose to paint them BEFORE mounting them to the base, but I like to have playable teams first, artistic pieces second. Your mileage may vary though, so do that in whatever order pleases you.

Once this has been done, I start with a reddish-brown color. Most any kind of paint will do, as long as it is able to be thinned down with water. I make sure to get a good thick coat over the base:

Once that has dried, I go on to the drybrushing. Starting with the Apple Barrel color Desert Tan (though other desert colors like Khaki could be used, but I find Apple Barrel's colors easy on my wallet), I dip a old crummy brush in the paint. I then find a piece of paper or cardboard, then rub my brush on it to remove excess paint, like so:

To get the drybrush effect, I use a horizontal motion to drag the bristles across only the raised edges of the base, like so:

When you are finished, the base should look like this:

The next step is to apply a dark "wash" to the base. Either black or brown washes are suitable, but I use a home-made brew of acrylic paints and water for terrain pieces. To make a home-made brew, you need to experiment. It is something like 1 part paint (I usually use brown and black combined) to 3 or 4 parts water, but I have not narrowed it down to an exact science. When finished, the base should look like this:

This part takes a while to dry. I usually finish this part on the unit I am working on, and either call it a night or come back in an hour or two. Of course, heat and relative humidity will have an effect on drying times (I imagine someone living in Arizona might not require as much drying time).

When you decide to come back, make a mixture of your tan color and pure white. Mix roughly 50-50 of the two. Use the resulting mix to drybrush on a new layer onto the base, and that is it for painting! You should have something like this:

While browsing my local art supplier (Michael's, for USA residents), I stumbled across a wonderful package product:

For 12 USD I got a kit that has a little bit of several different kinds of turf, good for creating many types of foliage and ground cover. After looking at my research materials, I decided that Sicilian grasslands would be lighter in color than European fronts. So, I mixed up a portion of the Yellow Flowers turf and the Green Fine turf into the provided shaker. I didn't measure out ratios exactly, but it was roughly 1 part yellow to 3 parts green. This yielded a turf solution that was yellowish-green in color.

Using Mod-Podge Matte, I then brushed on a random pattern onto the base of the model (I got ahead of myself on the model used in the above tutorial, so I had to take a picture of a model I hadn't done yet). Make sure to get the hard edges of the miniatures' bases still visible above the ballast.

Place the miniature in a plastic tub to catch the excess. Using the shaker, evenly coat the entire base.

Shake the base clean. Shake from side to side inside the tub first, then hold the base between your thumb and middle finger. Using your index finger, tap the back. Or use both hands, if you want to be lazy...

Now you have a finished base... or do you?

For extra credit, attach some foliage clumps. Using the scenic project glue bottle, squeeze out some small dabs of glue onto the base, then firmly press the provided foliage clumps into the glue. To go even farther, brush on some glue onto the foliage clump and sprinkle on some green and yellow fine turf:

Ta-da! You now have Sicilian themed bases. They also work for any sparsely-grassed areas. Extra tip: adding large rocks helps to break up the bases as well. Try to use slate, or other rocks of similar shape, as it looks similar to limestone when painted.

When in Sicily...


Thanks for reading!


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