Category Archives: Hobby Musings

Apologies.

While fifteen days between posts is hardly a rarity here at Dead Dick’s Tavern, my almost complete absence from the blogosphere during that time certainly is. So, to all my friends, new and old, whose blogs I regularly offend with my presence and inundate with my witticisms, I humbly beg your pardon.

The fact is that since my last post, I have been consumed with real life apprehension which culminated in the object of my terror: an accreditation survey that was conducted over the past two days via Microsoft Teams, a program that, until 10 days ago, I had never used.

These surveys are never fun. Ever. They are, by definition, audits. And when was the last time anyone had an audit where the auditor didn’t find something you missed?

It has been a stressful two weeks, friends. This past weekend was the worst. I think I slept a total of three hours from Friday-Monday morning. Anyway, it’s over now. I think I did ok. I’ll know for sure in three weeks or so.

So, I need to get back into the swing of things. I’m currently taking a class at the RPG Writer’s Workshop that I am already a week behind in (see above), so I need to make up some time there. But I recall that Dave Stone over at Wargames Terrain Workshop is hosting a terrain challenge this month and next, and although I’m bad at terrain-making, I’m all in on this one. I have way too many scenic pieces awaiting my attention, and this is the kick in the ass I needed. Plus, Dave was kind enough to participate in Monster May(hem), and to provide support and encouragement to all and sundry. Can I do any less?

(Well, I HAVE been doing less, but that’s over now. Promise.)

I have to go figure out what house I’m gonna paint, or whatever else I decide to do. I’ll be back soon!

I Blame Roger!

And you should, too. Monster Month is now officially called Monster May(hem). BECAUSE OF HIM.

Moving on, this month’s challenge is shaping up quite well, with lots of submissions and more to come! I couldn’t be happier! Maybe I’ll turn this into an annual challenge, like Forgotten Heroes, the “rules” of which I eagerly await, Mr. Crow…

Check out the other sites that host submissions in the blogroll, below. Ken from Blue Moose Arts has done a stellar job on a classic Grenadier dragon, while the aforementioned Roger has begun sculpting a monster from an old Hammer film (and it looks awesome). Matt from PM Painting has completed a second submission…one strangely familiar to this challenge, back when it was just me and it was called Monster Month…and may even have a third for us by month’s end. I’m hoping to get two or three more done myself, but we’ll see just how much I can accomplish!

In other news, I was looking around my man cave of miniatures when I realized I have painted a lot of them in my day. Not all of them are worthy of a blog post, neither do I have much to say about some of them after they’re painted…but upon the suggestion of others I have started an Instagram account.

This is my first foray into social media, as until now I have had no reason whatsoever to care what other people have for lunch every day or any wish to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in 30 years (I still don’t). Some may see this as purely self-aggrandizing (sorry, that still annoys me), and maybe it is. Put simply, it’s a way to share my hobby with others quickly and with minimum effort, and to meet other painters and see what they’re up to.

Here is my Instagram account.

There are only about a dozen posts up there now, but I’ve already seen some very cool paintjobs, and I even discovered a new podcast I like a lot. It’s called Tale of the Manticore, and it’s a mashup between actual play Basic D&D and a dark fantasy novel. The guy who creates it decided he would write a story, make all the characters, and then let the dice determine everything. No one is safe, and it’s gotten pretty hairy already. Brings back a lot of memories of the fleeting nature of being a first-level character. I binged the first 6 episodes over the last 2 days. Check it out!

While you’re at it, check out all the other participants in Monster May(hem). Visit their sites and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Scary Times.

I, like many others, am working from home for the foreseeable future. Everything is so uncertain, it’s quite stressful. I worry about friends, loved ones, and, to be honest, myself. All any of us can do is what the doctors and scientists (note I did not say politicians) tell us: stay at home, flatten the curve, and wash your damn hands.

The general consensus among gamers is that this is a prime opportunity to work on all those projects you’ve been saying you would, if only you had the time. Well, now many of us have more time than we know what to do with, although there won’t be much gaming going on (at least none that involves other people).

Atom Smasher from Tabletop Minions put up a pretty good video about this. He also suggests it’s a prime time to play with new techniques and to develop some skills you may otherwise not want to spend valuable hobby time doing; such as learning to sculpt (I hate green stuff). It’s worth a watch.

My problem is loss of focus. It’s just too hard to think about anything other than what’s on the news lately. I haven’t painted a miniature in months; all my time is either spent watching TV or playing The Witcher 3; which is a huge time-sink that greatly helps me to tune out. The problem is that although it’s fun, when I’m done playing it I won’t have anything to show for my efforts other than fond memories. On the other hand, if I actually get off my ass and do some hobbying, I may have a completed project or two when this is all over.

In the meantime, we are left with some sobering decisions. Most miniatures companies are small operations, and many are not full-time enterprises. They’re being hurt especially hard by the situation worldwide. As many of us are living on reduced income, how feasible is it to support the hobby industry, much of which is struggling right now? One position is that we should save what we can to weather our own tough times, another is to throw a few bucks at your friendly game company to support them.

True, it’s not like most of us don’t have a ton of unpainted lead already; and that may be justification enough not to buy anything new. But I say, if you can afford it, spend a little. It might make the difference between a company being able to survive and one that’s not around in a few months. If your FLGS is still open (mine isn’t), this goes double for them; brick and mortar places are going to be among the worst casualties of forced closures.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do. I have a few options. I’m waffling between what I think would be the most fun and what I think would be the most practical. With that in mind, I’ve constructed a strategic plan to weather the storm:

  1. Make a list of all the projects you’re considering.
  2. Rate them from 1-5 (5 being best) in the following areas: Fun, Gaming Potential. (If you don’t like my categories, then choose your own). This will give you a total score between 2-10.
  3. Total your scores. The highest scores are the projects that will most likely be the ones you want to do.

My projects are:

  1. Gaslands Cars/Terrain : Fun: 3 Potential: 5 Total: 8
  2. Old West Miniatures/Terrain: Fun: 4 Potential: 3 Total: 7
  3. Wargames Factory Shock Trooper Army: Fun:3 Potential: 2 Total: 5
  4. Clan War Miniatures: Fun: 4 Potential: 0 Total: 4
  5. Old School Miniatures: Fun: 5 Potential: 0 Total: 5
  6. Spaceship/Dungeon Tiles for Gaming: Fun: 1 Potential: 5 Total: 6
  7. Star Trek Miniatures: Fun:3 Potential: 5 Total: 8
  8. Warhammer 40K Orks: Fun: 3 Potential: 0 Total: 3
  9. Warhammer Fantasy Empire: Fun: 3 Potential: 0 Total: 3
  10. Space Hulk: Fun: 3 Potential: 2 Total: 5

A quick look at the totals, and the things with the highest scores are Star Trek and Gaslands, both of which are already on my desk, followed by Old West miniatures and scenery which has been a project I’ve put off for a long time. Since it also has a decent potential for gaming, this looks like it’s going to be my main project. Because I’m kind of Trekked out at the moment, I’m going to finish up what I’m doing and devote most of my attention to Old West stuff.

BUT: the project that would be the most fun for me would be a return to some Old School Miniatures. Although I never paint these with the intent to game with them, I do enjoy the nostalgic aspect of painting stuff I painted as a kid. So I think I’ll do some of these, too. The project that would be most practical (but not much fun), is the construction of gaming tiles. This may have to wait, as I don’t have an inkjet printer that I want to drain dry, and I don’t have any 2-ply cardboard. It would be a good project to do while doing other things, if I only had the materials. Bummer.

I have some other projects in mind. This shit happened right as I was trying to get my Star Trek RPG off the ground, and I’m not ready to abandon that just because I can’t be in the same place as my players. I’m going to attempt to keep the game going through Roll20.net. Perhaps I’ll be able to find some new players that way, too!

The New Golden Age of RPGs

A funny thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I got a notification from Amazon that my package had been delivered, which I found odd because I did not recall ordering anything. I ventured outside and lo and behold, a mysterious box was resting comfortably on my doorstep. I opened it up and found this:

I checked my order history and sure enough, I had ordered it the night before, but I had no memory of doing so. I opened up the liquor cabinet and regarded the level of gin in the bottle with a critical eye.

Well, that one look explained a lot.

My first impression of the game is that it looks like a lot of fun. With rules for running both cinematic games (where you’re likely to die) and campaigns (where you might live), it’s a comprehensive system that’s very true to the source material. The book itself is beautiful, but to be honest it could be about half the size; much of the pages are light on actual text, taken up instead with (beautiful) illustrations and lots of empty space. It’s a design choice, but it also contributes to the cost of the finished product. I don’t know if I’ll ever run it or play it, but it’s a great read nonetheless and it has inspired me to dig out my Dark Horse Aliens comics for some re-reading.

I have been on a RPG buying spree lately. It started before Christmas (when I was supposed to be shopping for others) and hasn’t really let up. In addition to my unexpected Alien purchase, I bought all of these:

Not to mention several supplements and sourcebooks for Star Trek Adventures and Red Markets not pictured here. (Addiction is a disease, people, and it’s real. Sadly, one addiction often feeds another, as in the case of my gin-fueled Amazon binge that made me the owner of a hardcopy of the Alien RPG.)

The keen-eyed among you may notice I haven’t even opened my 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons set or my Delta Green set yet. This is because I have been all-in on getting my Star Trek Adventures game up and running (more on that soon ) and delving deeply into Red Markets, which is a 400+ page hardcover I had printed at Indie Press Revolution. (I just can’t seem to navigate PDFs very well. I prefer books.)

What do these games have in common? Well, all of them have received stellar reviews, and all of them are extremely well-produced. I became aware of some of them from listening to various podcasts and watching YouTube videos. The small press is king nowadays, and Kickstarter has a lot to do with that. Otherwise it’s unlikely games like Red Markets would ever get made, and that is a shame indeed, because it’s pretty damn cool, with a system that is unique, innovative and often very harsh.

I have been a Call of Cthulhu player since I was in high school, and D&D since well before that. So why buy into new editions? Put simply, because that’s what people play nowadays. My last edition of CoC was the d20 OGL edition, which was great (at least I thought so, but I like the d20 system). Previous to that it was 5th edition. Now I can’t hear enough great things about 7th edition, and it’s what my friends play. If I want to run a game (and I do), then this is the way to do it. Ditto with Dungeons and Dragons. My last edition was 3.5. I skipped the horror of 4th edition entirely, and would have been happy to play 3.5, Pathfinder or even go back to 2nd edition for the rest of my life. But once again, I hear the buzz, and it’s pretty universally great. I picked up the core rulebooks to give it a shot.

I never played Delta Green in its earlier incarnation. Listening to actual play podcasts has given me the fever to run a few games of this, as it’s pretty much made for the one-shot scenario (and that’s about all I can seem to get going nowadays). This current edition has received almost universally positive press. Much like Alien, I don’t know if I’ll ever actually play it, but I know I will enjoy reading it.

Finally: Savage Worlds. I’ve been hearing about this system for years now. Much like Fate and GURPS, it’s a universal roleplaying system that gives players a lot of agency in how they create and play their characters. I haven’t had much time to look these rules over and it’s unlikely that I’ll run a game using them, but I collect rules sets, and always like to see what various systems offer.

I mentioned I wouldn’t have even heard of some of these games if it weren’t for my new love of actual play and gaming podcasts. (Since I don’t get to play very often, I can at least listen as others do.) I’ll list my favorites here, along with my pithy commentary. You can obviously find them anywhere you get podcasts, but I’ll link to their respective homes on the web.

The Roleplaying Exchange: These folks play a lot of games I like, like Star Trek Adventures, Call of Cthulhu, Delta Green and Slasher Flick. This is the first podcast I found, and through it I discovered many of the small-press games I’ve bought since. They share the Red Markets 10K Lakes campaign with Technical Difficulties, so you can find episodes crossing over on both podcasts. In addition to actual play, they do a lot of interviews with game creators and discuss topics related to the roleplaying hobby as well.

Speaking of Technical Difficulties, they play a lot of Red Markets (among other things). I have mixed feelings about this podcast, good and bad. The good: They play small press games. They have a handle on the rules and illustrate them well during the podcast. They have interesting ideas for game scenarios. The bad: they’re mostly annoying people to listen to. You will lose track of how many times someone utters the sentence “That’s fair”, often when there was never any question of the fairness of anything. (It’s like a shared nervous tic.) Not everyone is insufferable; some regular players are funny and interesting in spite of the podcast’s shortcomings. But sadly, it’s often true that there’s always at least one huge asshole in every gaming group. (If you don’t think there is one, then chances are it’s probably you.) This group has more than one. I won’t name names, but let’s just say there’s a guy who has to correct everyone all the time, another guy who only plays asshole characters because “that’s what I like to do”, and another guy who always wants to start some player vs. player bullshit. Luckily, not all of these people are on every podcast. Assholish behavior is generally not my cup of tea (YMMV, of course), but I can grit my teeth and enjoy what they do offer, which are some good examples of various games’ rules in play. I learned of several games I would have otherwise missed through this podcast. And I DID subscribe to it, so obviously I feel there is some value in listening.

Terrible Warriors: This is hands-down my favorite actual play group to listen to. The podcasts are all about an hour or less, the pacing is top-notch, they play REALLY interesting games, and the players are fantastic. I would love to play in this group. Unfortunately (for me), they’re based in Toronto. They play a lot of Star Trek Adventures (which is how I found them), but they play a lot of Kickstarter-funded games as well. It’s through them that I discovered so many indie games I would have otherwise never heard of. Recent highlights are Bluebeard’s Bride, a feminine horror game in which the players all play a part of the Bride’s persona (an awesome concept I wish I thought of) as they explore her new home and create their own version of the classic fairy tale; and Zombie World, a diceless card-based rpg that plays so smoothly, I’m dying to try it out. Both of these are from Magpie Games and use the new Powered by the Apocalypse Engine. Well worth a look, and I can’t recommend the podcast enough. Sometimes they get the rules wrong, but they always manage to have a lot of fun nonetheless.

The Lovecraft Tapes: This is an actual play 7th edition Call of Cthulhu podcast that uses Roll20. (It doesn’t look like they’ve done anything for 2020 yet, so maybe they’re on a break.) Although it’s a horror game, it’s often quite funny rather than scary, and the amount of time they put into editing it is apparent. Once again, each session is usually about an hour long. Great fun, with a talented GM.

One Less Die: I became aware of this actual play podcast through the creator’s appearance on the Roleplaying Exchange. It’s still in the early stages, with the beginning episodes focusing on the latest edition of Shadowrun. The Shadowrun campaign is still ongoing, but I started listening when they began a Call of Cthulhu campaign. I got annoyed because one of the players is playing a Russian investigator and he insists on talking like the most over-the-top Pavel Chekov you can imagine, so I bailed on it for a while. It sounded promising, so I’ll probably give it another shot at some point.

Coming next: the conclusion to my Fantastic Worlds Star Trek campaign: Hubbard’s World!

2019 Resolutions Revisited

With the dawn of a new year, it’s time to look back on my 2019 resolutions to see how many of them I actually did and how many of them I failed. It’s also time to make some new ones for 2020, but that’s going to wait for another post.

Best. Game. Ever.

Last year I listed my top 5 games that I wanted to play. They were: Gaslands (nope), Star Trek Adventures (yep), Legends of the Old West (nope), Dungeon Saga (nope) and Super Mission Force (nope). This is truly abysmal. This year I bought the second edition of Gaslands without ever having played a game of the first edition, which I have owned since its publication. Also, despite painting the entire Dungeon Saga board game, I haven’t played one game of it. Most surprising is that I didn’t play any games of Super Mission Force all year, despite getting the 2nd edition and despite the fact that I LOVE the game!

I DID manage to run two games for Star Trek Adventures for some old friends; one using the Original Series bridge crew and one using the Next Generation crew. I really like the game, but so far my attempts at starting up a campaign have come to nothing.

Grenadier Dwarves, Army of the Gold Mountain

Moving on to projects I wanted to complete in 2019, I wanted to paint more old-school miniatures, which I did. I wanted to write a game of my own; I am happy to report I have at least made a start at that. I wanted to start a gaming club (perhaps my loftiest goal), which I did not meet (or even try to start). I wanted to paint a new army or complete an entirely new gaming project, which I think I did, although “complete” may not be accurate (see below). Lastly, I wanted to paint my Star Trek miniatures, which I certainly did.

TOS Era Landing Party
Enterprise-D Bridge Crew

In fact, Star Trek gaming turned out to be my big project for 2019. I have painted 46 Modiphius Trek miniatures alone. That doesn’t count all the Trek Heroclix I have REpainted. As of now, I have close to 60 Star Trek miniatures painted and ready to go, whereas I had exactly zero in 2018. Not too shabby. And I’m not done: I have two more Modiphius sets coming up soon, and a dozen or so ‘clix to repaint to supplement my forces. Considering how much I’m loving the Fantastic Worlds Star Trek stuff, I don’t see myself stopping soon.

Forgotten Heroes 2019
Forgotten Heroes 2019
Terrain Time 2019

Finally, I wanted to take part in and/or possibly host a challenge, and I did both. I contributed to Forgotten Heroes again this year with Zangief and La Bandera; and I hosted the first ever Terrain Time here at Dead Dick’s Tavern, which allowed me to see some truly inspiring work from everyone who built something for the challenge.

So, all in all, it was a pretty productive hobby year, despite not having much in the way of actual gaming to report. Hopefully that will change in 2020!

Christmas is all about…ME.

‘Tis the season, and as usual, I have taken advantage of the holiday sales to buy a bunch of shit for me that I don’t need, but definitely want.

A couple of months ago I broke down and subscribed to Amazon Prime, mainly so I could watch The Boys (one of my favorite comics of all time). Of course, Amazon Prime comes with free shipping on anything I order from Amazon, so guess who has been busy? (Hint: it’s me.) Now, I know Amazon is like Wal-Mart…the deep discounts they offer are bad for the economy, and certain death for brick-and-mortar stores. And I do feel bad when I order something from Amazon, and it arrives at my door at 9 pm the next night, because I don’t NEED anything that badly, and delivery drivers shouldn’t have to deliver dumb shit to my house at 9 pm in the freezing cold when they could be home instead.

I get it. I know Amazon is a bad company to work for. Yet I’m weak. I can’t say no to those sweet price cuts. For some reason, I can’t ignore Amazon the same way I refuse to deal with other asshole companies like Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby (fuck those guys). The discounts are SO big…Right now, as I write this post, the Modiphius Original Series Away Team that I painted last month is on sale for $18.96. That’s a little over ONE THIRD the retail price (which, at $52.00, is fucking stupidly expensive, but still…) Less than $20 for 10 miniatures is a pretty good deal, I would say.

So, between Amazon and other vendors, I’ve racked up quite the grocery bill, and it’s not even Christmas. Here’s how to spend money irresponsibly on yourself before the holidays, so that whatever Santa brings you (or doesn’t), you won’t be disappointed.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (Amazon): I picked up this bundle for $82, which is 48% of what it retails for ($170). I get all the core rulebooks: (Player’s Handbook, DMG, Monster Manual) and a DM screen; all in a handsome slipcase. Why would I buy this when I’m already all-in on 3 out of 4 editions of Dungeons and Dragons (I skipped 4th, and assumed I was stopping at 3.5)? First: because it seems that’s all anyone plays around me, and I want desperately to get into a game; second: it’s supposedly a good system, and finally: because I got all the core books at 52% off.

Red Markets (Indie Press Revolution): I bought this PDF (after I bought the get started kit at DrivethruRPG) after hearing some pretty amazing things about this game. I listened to a bunch of actual play podcasts (which were alternately interesting and irritating; there’s always at least one annoying asshole in every gaming group, sometimes more) and an interview with the game’s creator, and I’m hooked. I wanna play. I’m an old-school kinda guy; I don’t like reading PDFs. I’d rather have a book in my hand. Red Markets is almost 500 pages of full-color awesomeness, so if I tried to print it out it would suck my printer dry and probably look like shit. Lucky for me, Indie Press Revolution printed it for me, and I got the PDF version as part of the package, too. I’m happy to say their printed book is very high-quality and durable; much better than if I had tried to do it myself. It’s a thing of beauty.

Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (Amazon): I got this new hardcover edition of the rules at 30% off. I’ve heard good things about Savage Worlds, but I’ve never played it. The discount (and some whisky, TBH) was enough to push me, in a weak moment, to buy it. I haven’t looked at it yet (too much Star Trek and Red Markets on the brain).

Wreck Age (eBay): I collect rules sets (which explains why I own a copy of Spinespur). This post-apocalyptic skirmish game was well-reviewed, and even had its own line of miniatures. This was a cheap purchase, so I guess that justifies it.

Note this doesn’t include my purchases from Troll and Toad (individual Star Trek Heroclix) and from Etsy shops (3D Printed Terrain).

Am I done? Maybe…I have my eye on a few other things. I want the latest version of Call of Cthulhu (7th Edition), and Delta Green, which I have heard great things about. And I have my eye on yet more Modiphius Trek miniatures: the Next Generation Away Team set, which, sadly, never seems to drop below $30. (Once it does, it’s fair game.)

Owen’s Miniatures: Part 2

Last time I lamented that two years ago, my friend Owen decided with finality that he was done with painting miniatures and gave me his sizable collection, amassed over the span of decades, to do with as I see fit. Up until now, all I have done is hold them in safekeeping for the last couple of years in the vain hope that he would leap headlong back into the hobby, eager and excited, his passion rekindled for all things paint and lead themed.

That has not happened.

So, I decided to start painting some of his unpainted lead, the hope being that my efforts will reignite in him that which lies dormant. Then, he will graciously thank me for keeping his miniatures and politely ask for their return, which I, of course, will expeditiously grant. Then we will rule the galaxy together as father and son (figuratively speaking, pardon the pun), gleefully painting miniatures until our fingers bleed.

That’s my hope, anyway.

Over the years, I have created many characters for role-playing games, many of which I have never actually played. I don’t consider that wasted time, as creating characters is by far my favorite part of gaming. I thought it would be fun to come up with some fluff for these guys, so while painting them up, I thought about a backstory for each one.

Karl Rost, master-at-arms, served Baron Graf of Zondergeld as military advisor, as his own father had served the Baron’s father before him. But this Baron was a fool. Baron Graf was obsessed with games, and to him, Karl Rost was merely another pawn to be used–or sacrificed. Thus when the Baron lost a wager to Duke Danius of neighboring Cyndar, a wager he could not cover, he paid his debt with Karl Rost. Baron Graf sent his master-at-arms to work like a common tradesman for a rival kingdom without a second thought, oblivious to the man’s true worth.

The term of Rost’s service was to be a year and one day, after which he would return to the service of Baron Graf. Humiliated and betrayed, Rost performed his assigned duties for Duke Danius as he was bound. With Rost’s guidance, the forces of Cyndar easily swept through the Baron’s defenses and subjugated Zondergeld within two months. The Baron was beheaded and his line ended; thus when Rost’s term of service was up, he had no place to return. He rejected Duke Danius’s offer of position and wealth in his new realm, and instead now wanders the land as a masterless adventurer and sellsword, making his way as he can.

Rost is Reaper’s Damian Helthorne, Bandit; sculpted by Tre Manor. I was aware of this miniature through my frequent browsing of Reaper’s site, but until Owen gave it to me (along with all his other miniatures) I had never seen it “in the flesh”, so to speak. It’s a terrific miniature (albeit a bit heavily-armed for a “bandit”), and I quickly fell in love with it. I think he’s a perfect representation of a lawless mercenary like Karl Rost. I’m not thrilled by my freehand shield design, but I’m also not motivated enough to fix it for what would be the third time, so this is what he’s stuck with.

The Red Wolf of Thord was born in that frozen wasteland as Lorm Einarsson, the youngest of four. Before he was twenty he had killed his three older brothers, none of them quickly, for motives unknown. Some say they bullied him as a youth, others claim he just didn’t like them very much. He usurped his eldest brother as cyng upon his death and took over his band of thegns, sailing with them southward into the fertile lands of Mornellorn and Evaleaux. There his cruel path of destruction, pillage and rapine quickly tore those kingdoms asunder. Centuries later, his name is still whispered to children to encourage compliance and good behavior, lest the Red Wolf appear.

In the frozen lands of Thord, there are only white wolves. During one of Einarsson’s prolonged “stays” in Evaleaux, he hunted and slew a huge red wolf that had been attacking cattle he had pillaged from nearby villages, splitting its head with his great axe, Skuffe. From that day on he wore its pelt as a cloak, and thus the legend of the “Red Wolf of Thord” was born.

Another Reaper Tre Manor sculpt, the Red Wolf is represented by the hirsute Olaf, Viking Chieftain. Unlike the previous model, I likely never would have purchased this guy. Not because the sculpt is bad (I don’t think Tre Manor is capable of bad sculpting), but because I hate double-bladed axes. I just think they look really stupid. Coming from a guy who loves dwarfs and has many dwarf miniatures, you can assume I have to deal with them more often than I would like, and you would be right. Typically, I remove one of the axe blades, and the model usually looks a lot better. But because of the way Olaf here is holding his axe, it wouldn’t look right if I modified it. (Besides, this is Owen’s miniature. I’m just working with what I have.) I should probably fix his eyes a little bit, as they look too wide.

I have made Owen aware of this post and the previous one, so hopefully my effrontery will work: he’ll demand all his miniatures back and start painting them again. (Fingers crossed.) If not, I will continue to do so myself in the hopes he will one day return to the dark side…

Owen’s Miniatures: Part 1

I first met my friend Owen when we were in college, almost 30 years ago (Christ, that’s depressing as hell.) We quickly found we had much in common. Some examples: we both had a brother with the same name. We both played role-playing games. We both worked at a (now) defunct electronics retailer, albeit at different stores (at first). We both took the same hellish philosophy class taught by a crazed Jesuit who was banned from practicing mass because…well, because he was batshit crazy, among other things. We had a mutual friend that neither of us knew about until the first time I joined Owen for a gaming session and found him at the table.

Most significantly, we discovered that we both collected and painted miniatures. Prior to meeting Owen, I didn’t know anyone else who was the slightest bit interested in miniatures at all. Neither of us played wargames; we collected and painted miniatures purely because of our interest in rpgs. We bought mostly Ral Partha and Grenadier miniatures, as these were the ones commonly available at the time. We even bought them at the same store, but we didn’t know that until later.

I got into Warhammer in the mid-90’s, but Owen never did. Eventually, we both stopped painting for a while here and there over the years. I took a hiatus for about 5-6 years between 2002-2008, and I think he may have done the same, only sooner. I jumped right back into the hobby, whereas Owen never really did.

Two years ago or so, Owen gave me all his miniatures; hundreds of them, possibly more. Most of them are in various stages of paint; many complete, many primed or dabbed with color here and there, all stored in Plano tackle boxes. As I remembered, they’re mostly Ral Partha and Grenadier. In fact, I already own many of them already. But Owen’s miniatures also include many Reaper miniatures purchased in the early years of that company, as well as some impulse buys over time (as is any miniatures enthusiast’s wont). Owen told me he just doesn’t have the interest to paint them any more, and he would rather have the space than hold onto the lead. He knew I would give them a good home (and I have).

It broke my fucking heart.

This may surprise readers of this blog for several reasons. First, that I have a heart at all may come as a shock. Second, it may be surprising to some that I would be sad at the gift of so much lead. But both are true.

I offered to pay him for them. We have yet to discuss this in any meaningful way. This is because he’s not in a hurry to get paid, and also because I’m not in any hurry to pay him. In fact, I have been hoping very much that he would come to his senses and take them back. But that hasn’t happened.

I have a problem assigning value to any miniatures I have painted, as to me their value goes far beyond money. If I were to ever sell my miniatures (I can’t see how), I would likely overvalue them. Even though I may never again play the games they were designed for or use them for what was intended, the fact remains that I spent time, effort and money (obviously), on them; and I can’t easily part with them for those reasons.

I suspect many gamers feel the same way, although I know a significant number do not. (Our mutual friend, for example, had no problem painting and playing any number of Warhammer armies, only to sell them off at a significant loss whenever he got bored. He would then buy another army and repeat the process, only to eventually end up back where he started, with his original army that he needed to repurchase and repaint.)

Which is why, as I look at Owen’s miniatures, many of which he affixed to cardboard hexes that he lovingly cut out by hand (the better to fit on a combat map; unlike me, Owen actually USED his miniatures when he ran a game), I feel defeated. I want him to want his miniatures back. I want him to want to paint them again. I want him to be a miniatures nut like me, looking at painting tutorials online, geeking out over new releases, and planning and playing games. But it seems unlikely.

So, after a couple of years of ignoring his boxes, hoping he’ll ask for them back, I have decided to take a new strategy. I’m gonna start painting some of them. I don’t have the heart to strip his paint jobs and repaint any of his miniatures, but Owen was kind enough to supply me with some primed figures he never got around to. I’m hoping he will look at my work (on HIS miniatures) and get inspired.

Up next: the first two “Owen” miniatures, painted by yours truly.

Behold: My Workspace!

It was high time I got organized, so I recently stripped everything off my painting desk and did that. I’m so proud of this I took a picture.

In setting things up, I realized I have a shitload of paints, many of which I use infrequently at best. Many bottles have never even been opened, and many are duplicates purchased because either I thought I would need a replacement sooner than I did, or (more likely) because I forgot I had the color in the first place. I also suffer from the compulsion to always have the right tool for the job, even if it’s a job I will perform once and never again. For example, if I watch a painting tutorial that I like, I will slavishly buy the paint brand and color used rather than seek or mix an alternative. (This isn’t limited to my hobby; it’s why I bought an angle grinder to hone an axe.)

I have a clean area to the left to hold the projects I’m working on, and to the right to hold painted miniatures awaiting Dull Cote (I do my priming and sealing in another room). I bought an office organizer to hold my sculpting tools, my green stuff, my glue, my basing tufts and my brushes, because prior to this they were scattered all over my desk. My paints were always grouped (I won’t say organized) by color; but now they are arranged in logical color progression, i.e. dark-light. We’ll see how long that lasts.

In fact, take a good look now because I give this about 3 painted miniatures before it’s utter chaos again.

How AWESOME is this???

A couple of weeks back I was pleasantly surprised to receive a PM on Lead Adventure Forum from Scott Pyle, creator of Super Mission Force. Visitors to this site probably know that I am a huge fan of this game, so I was very happy to find that he wanted to send me a copy of the new second edition in appreciation for my support!

I certainly don’t trumpet my love for SMF in the hopes of getting freebies, but I’m not about to say no to one, either. I’m very grateful for the gift, which arrived today. I chose the coil binding, so the booklet can lay flat if I’m referencing something during play.

Although I didn’t have any problems with the first edition, it looks like Scott has expanded the archetypes, powers and team composition rules quite a bit. The inclusion of a blank hero sheet is a welcome addition, too. I’m sure there are other changes I have yet to discover, and I will be giving it a good look-through this weekend.

As if getting a copy for free wasn’t cool enough, there’s also this:

Another surprise! I am happy that I could contribute in any way.

Once again, a heartfelt thanks to Scott Pyle both for his generosity and for creating one of my favorite games of all time. I can’t wait to try out the new edition!