Monday, August 25, 2008

Catching Up

You thought I was dead didn't you? Not posting for 5 friggin' weeks can cause that reaction. All I can say in my defense is, "I was busy". Busy doing what, you ask? Well...


I went to Historicon in late-July and I bought some new toys. I pretty much stuck to my preset budget and my goal of focusing entirely on buying nicely painted figures.

I purchased five gorgeously painted minis from Stan Johansen: a Sylvan Elf ranger/hero, a Black Elf witch, and three very cool Dogmen (Hundags in Severnian-speak, or Gnolls for you D&D folks). All of these were Reaper figures I believe. Stan does beautiful work. He's one of my top-4 Must Stops at every HMGS East convention that he attends.

I also spent some dough at Evil Bob's, snagging a venerable old Wizard (replete with floppy hat and owl perched on his arm), a High Elf hero/lord with a fancy-schmancy shield emblazoned with a colorful peacock, and a huge Tree Man with an equally large price tag (but he was worth every penny of it I swear!). All of these terrific figures were painted by the very talented Allison Thiel. She's not only a highly skilled painter, but she's a very friendly person as well. Thanks for the friendly help and great work Allison!

My other big stop was at the Splintered Light booth. In my opinion, David McBride and the folks at Splintered Light make THE VERY BEST fantasy minis in 15mm you can find. Although I'm a 28mm minis guy and have never really been tempted to take the plunge into 15mm scale wargaming, Splintered Light stuff is doing its best to weaken my resistance. I ended up buying a bunch of painted 28mm figures that David was selling from his Dad's collection (I think). I got a large lot of some unusual Great Orc infantry (not quite sure who the manufacturer was, but they were pretty cool; perhaps Black Tree Design or Mirliton figs?). I also purchased a cool Goblin Lord riding atop a Raptor, and a pair of Vampire Lords. All solid-looking stuff at decent prices.

I also bought another trio of pre-painted Wolfen from Rackham (for their Confrontation game which is distributed by Fantasy Flight Games). I don't play Confrontation, but I like the Wolfen minis and use them in other fantasy wargames. And yes elitists, I know that they're not of the same high paint quality that many of the pro-painted minis I purchase are, or for that matter, as pretty as the minis that I paint myself. But they're very solid tabletop quality and work great in most fantasy wargames. Let's be realistic folks, you're usually 2-3 feet away from the figures when they're sitting on your tabletop battlefield, so thumbing your nose at pre-paints is completely silly (you can always touch-up or re-paint if you're anal about it!). Rant over!

I haven't taken any pictures of my new little dudes yet, but hopefully I can squeeze that in sometime soon. Visuals are always nice.

All of these minis will serve as leaders, heroes, and troops for use in playing my Sword of Severnia fantasy tabletop wargame. I'm very eclectic when it comes to collecting, buying, and painting miniatures. That's probably because I like EVERYTHING! Variety is KING! One of the reasons that I've designed Sword of Severnia armies to be about 60-80 figures in size is so people can realistically organize and build several armies. You don't need 200 figures per side to play an engaging mass battle. Rather, you can take your sweet time to collect and/or paint up 2 or 3 different armies instead. Heck, my personal goal is to have about 7 or 8 different armies to play with. All that variety not only keeps your interest in the wargaming hobby high, it makes for infinite replayability and just looks damn cool!


Speaking of looking cool, a little over a week ago I purchased a narrow bookcase at IKEA that has adjustable glass shelves and a glass door on the front. It's a little over 5-feet high, but can be mounted on the wall. I'm going to use it as a display/storage case for a portion of my miniatures collection. I'm sure I'll fill it up rather quickly since my collection is fairly large (a 2nd display case is probably in my future). The bookcase cost $100 bucks, which is actually a good deal in my humble opinion. I've researched miniature cases in the past, and most of them of any appreciable size run in the $250 to $300+ range. So if you're looking for a nice way to show off your handsome minis, while keep them dust-free and highly accessible, check out IKEA.


Early August saw us entertaining Anna's family. Her brother Vince and his family were visiting from Holland. Her Mom & Dad, and brother Michael (from Las Vegas) were also visiting as well. Man, the house was jam-packed with people!!! We had a fun week, doing some shopping at the Lancaster outlets, going to HersheyPark, and catching a Phillies baseball game at Citizen's Bank Park in downtown Philly. My two young Dutch nephews seemed to take a real liking to me despite the fact that I've only seen them a couple of times in their entire young lives, so it was fun being Cool Uncle Steve for awhile. It's a shame I haven't had any sons of my own. But it's no sense crying over what could have been. God has other plans sometimes.

I've been steadily plugging away with work on Sword of Severnia. We got another playtesting session in during the first-half of August, but have taken a little break from that. I've made some additional tweaks, and the rules are coming together quite nicely. I'm currently spending my time analyzing and adjusting the Racial/Creature game statistics and adding some new beasties into the mix. All of this stuff will be fed into the wargame database engine that drives the army builder companion software I'm creating for the game. Also on my plate is another pass-thru on the Special Abilities rules (refining things to work more nicely with recent changes to the game resulting from playtesting), and continuing work on Magic Spells. Once school is underway and my playtester's kids get settled in, we'll hopefully start cranking on additional playtesting come mid-September. I'm enjoying the respite though. I need to focus on the last few facets of the core rules that need completing, and it's great to have some quiet-time to concentrate on this and not spend every day of the week tweaking the rules.


In terms of boardgaming, gaming sessions have been sparse as of late. I recently got a chance to play Kingsburg with a game-designer friend of mine. Man, what a truly fantastic game! Not only is the game very pleasing to look at (I absolutely love the board artwork), but the game design is elegant and engaging. It's a fairly easy game to learn, but there are plenty of interesting decisions to make and lots of possible routes to victory. Choosing where to place your dice in an effort to grab the resources you need (gold, stone, wood, soldiers) to construct buildings and successfully defend your homeland, while trying to block your competitors from getting the good stuff is lots of fun. The game features some nice balancing mechanisms to help keep the victory-points race tight, which makes for both a great 2-player and multi-player experience. I won't go into any great depth reviewing the game here, as there are already several nice reviews on BGG (check out the one by Neil Thomson) and the video review on Obsessed With Gaming. Check them out. Then buy this game. I heartily recommend it.

Lots of little things have been on my gaming brain as well. I saw a great video review of the fantasy adventure game Prophecy on the Boardgames With Scott website. Anna Claus got me this game for Christmas in 2007, but I have yet to play it (just read through the rules). Scott's excellent review got me really pumped to try it out, so maybe (just maybe) I can get the guys to try this sucker before Christmas rolls around this year!

I recently purchased the Field of Glory rules set for ancient/medieval warfare. I just got the book yesterday and haven't had the chance to read through it yet. I have flipped through the pages quickly though; doing that at Origins and Historicon is what really spurred me to get it in the first place. I'll say this as my first impression... There isn't another rulebook (aside from those produced by Games Workshop) that rivals Field of Glory in terms of production value. It's a lavishly produced hardback book and truly cream of the crop from a visual perspective in terms of historical wargame rule sets.

I was hoping to go to Fall In this autumn in Gettysburg, but I'm a little short on funny-money funds right now. All my spending on games & minis at Origins and Historicon put a sizeable dent in my wallet. I really need to sell off some unwanted stuff on eBay. It's time to take a good hard, HONEST look at those boardgames I will probably never play and put 'em up for auction. Not to mention old RPG stuff I'll never use again (my days of playing D&D have long passed). I've also got lots of unpainted toy soldiers I could part with (or sell to my wargaming buddies who are building up their own armies). And there's always non-gaming stuff to get rid of... Anyway, I digress.

Some new and soon-to-be-released games have popped up on my radar. Fantasy Flight Games has a bevy of new goodies coming soon including:
  • Age of Conan = a multi-player campaign style wargame set in Conan's world of Hyboria, designed by the Italian design-team who created War of the Ring.
  • Red November = a Bruno Faidutti game featuring gnomes commanding a submarine. Now that's a unique theme!
  • Cosmic Encounter = a new, updated version of this venerable hobby games classic.

In other FFG news, I recently heard that they're taking over control of Battlelore from Days of Wonder. Woo hoo! Battlelore is already a great game, but in the hands of a company who really knows how to do FANTASY properly, it should hopefully prosper and become the behemoth fantasy boardgame that many of us expected it to be when it was first released a few years ago. Gimme more large creatures, more fantasy troops besides goblins & dwarves, and a way to introduce heroes into the mix!!!

Another game that has piqued my interest is Tomb from AEG. Think a much faster playing Descent based on cards kinda like Talisman and you have this game. At least that's what I gather from the reviews I've read. It sounds too good to pass up and is shooting up my must-have list of boardgames.

And that's about it for now.

Hopefully I will start blogging more often. I enjoy writing and sharing stuff with those who drop by for a quick read. But truthfully, I need to setup a schedule for this or else other stuff in life gets in the way of my writing. I need to clone myself.

Be good!