Classic Dragon Lords Dwarfs

In keeping with my 2019 Resolutions, I recently painted more old school miniatures! This time, it’s a classic Grenadier Dragon Lords boxed set: Dwarves of the Gold Mountain.

As anyone even casually familiar with me or this blog knows, I have a disturbing obsession with all things dwarfish. These stocky fellows were sculpted by Nick Lund, venerable artisan and famed sculptor of Dwarvenkind. Mr. Lund is my second favorite sculpteur des nains (Bob Olley is number one, IMO), so I was happy to finally paint up this set.

These fellows have uninspired names, i.e. “dwarf with spear, dwarf with warhammer”, etc. Unfortunately for me, my “dwarf with mace” is an annoying miscast, so without him, this is only a 9 dwarf set. Bummer.

These Dragon Lords sets came out during the later Grenadier heyday, so they’re not quite as old as the “Gold Line” boxes I love so much. I think one of those is next in my “old-school” painting queue. I just need to decide which one…

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 53

Miniatures Painted: 109

Total: +56

Star Trek Adventures RPG: The Vanished

Throw another of my 2019 Resolutions in the “done” pile. I got my friends together and we played an actual game!

One of my best friends lives on the other side of the country and doesn’t come back here very often. Usually he makes it home for the holidays, which doesn’t leave much time for gaming. But this time he made it back for a vacation. We made a point to set up a game night, and I managed to get three other guys together too! The game: the new Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius.

Being the Game Master, I decided to set the game during the Original Series era, and the players would take o the roles of Kirk and the Enterprise crew. Since we only had a few hours to play and only one copy of the rules, making original characters would have been silly and would have eaten up a huge chunk of our time. With this in mind I also decided on using a published adventure…but rather than use any of Modiphius’s adventures (many of which are quite good), I chose to adapt an old FASA Star Trek module to suit my purposes.

I chose The Vanished, by Guy McLimore and Greg Pohlein (credit where credit is due) which was actually designed with the Enterprise crew in mind. To my knowledge, none of my friends had ever played this adventure (we never played the old Star Trek RPG back when), so they would be unfamiliar with it.

Here’s the plot as originally written: The Enterprise passes by FDR 39, a deep space research station in the midst of a magnetic storm. They hail the station a a courtesy and get a bored response. In the middle of the conversation, communications abruptly cease. But the call isn’t dropped; the person who was speaking just…vanishes! Naturally, the Enterprise goes over to investigate…

What happened? Well, one of the corporations aboard the station was doing some research on a brand new kind of transporter. It just so happens that during a test of the transporter beam, some unknown aliens with an unpronounceable name (let’s just call them space amoebas, because that’s what I did) gained access to the station and caused a power short. This resulted in the transporter beam sweeping through the entire station, disintegrating all the people aboard. Lucky for them, their transporter signatures are still contained in the computer, so they can be restored…if the Enterprise crew can figure that out and deal with the aliens…

While this gives the landing party some clear objectives (investigate the station, deal with the amoebas, restore the transporter patterns), there’s not really much for the crew aboard the ship to do. At least not as the adventure was originally written. So I decided to add some of my own touches. First, the magnetic storm increases, making transport and communication between the ship and the landing party impossible for part of the adventure. This happens right around the time the landing party first discovers the aliens. (Too bad they can’t warn the Enterprise…)

To make matters worse, another ship arrives, filled with Orion pirates disguised as corporate employees. They’re here to steal the transporter tech with the help of an inside man, but they weren’t expecting to find their man disintegrated and the Enterprise in orbit around FDR 39. Still, they try to bluff the Enterprise while sending their own team to the station to retrieve the tech.

Once aboard the station, the landing party and the Orions have to deal with the aliens. But the Orions only want the tech, and seize the first chance they can to steal it and get away. Without it, the transporter patterns of all the people aboard the station can’t be restored, so the characters need that tech too…

Meanwhile, in orbit, a couple more of the aliens gain access to the Enterprise. Since the crew aboard have no idea about the aliens, they’re in the dark about how to deal with them. While the ship’s crew tries to repel the space amoebas, the Orions on the station either get control of the transporter tech and make a run for it (cue starship combat), or fail to get the tech, but still try to make a run for it (cue starship combat).

So how did it turn out? Obviously, I’m not going to blog a seven hour rpg session, that would just be dumb. But I will share some highlights…

The landing party was made up of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and two uncontrolled supporting characters, Lt. Suvek and Crewman Ramirez, both security officers (redshirts). This left Sulu in command of the Enterprise, along with Uhura, Chekov and Nurse Chapel, as well as several supporting characters, most notably Chief Specialist J’Zhara, an Andorian female engineer.

As you might expect, the security officers met with misfortune. Lt. Suvek wandered off to investigate a noise and fell prey to one of the space amoebas early. This prompted the crew to investigate, and in so doing they discovered the aliens for themselves. While fighting off a bunch of them, one of the amoebas was about to engulf Spock, when Crewman Ramirez somehow got in the way…

Of course, Kirk and the Orion pirate leader (disguised as corporate employee) had a romantic flirtation pretty much throughout the entire evening, which annoyed Bones and made Spock’s player delight in ruining the moment by constantly interjecting his scientific observations and theories at inopportune times. (I suppose I should clarify that the Orion pirate leader was female, but not an Orion. Still, she led a bunch of Orions.) Fun stuff.

The most surprising moment of the night was when the Orion ship finally fired on the Enterprise and made a run for it, Kirk and the landing party was still aboard the station and Sulu was dealing with the aliens in the Enterprise shuttle bay. This left Lt. Uhura in command of the Enterprise, as she was the ranking officer on the bridge! She wasted no time in pursuing the Orions and locked a tractor beam on them, preventing their escape! Considering she never did anything remotely as interesting on the TV series, this was pretty awesome!

Speaking of the shuttle bay, Sulu and company were having a hard time with one of the space amoebas. They opened fire on it and failed to do any damage at all. Then Nurse Chapel, of all people, stepped up and vaporized the alien without any problem whatsoever.

Finally, as any GM knows, your players will throw a wrench into any plans you are foolish enough to make. In this case, you would expect the story to unfold something like: board the station; discover the transporter accident; deal with the aliens; deal with the pirates; fix the broken power relay; save the station personnel by restoring their transporter signatures; capture the Orion vessel. The end.

Instead, it was: board the station, encounter the aliens, flirt with the Orion pirate captain, fix the power relay, inadvertently help the Orions steal the transporter tech from right under your nose, discover the transporter malfunction, chase the pirates, capture the Orion vessel, get the transporter tech back, and (eventually) save the station personnel by restoring their transporter signatures. The end.

I like Star Trek: Adventures, although I will say there’s a lot to keep track of. Seeing how it was my first time running the system, I’m pretty sure I didn’t do everything right. It was a fun time, and it was great to see some of my old friends around the gaming table again. (One of our players hadn’t played a game in over twenty years!) I’m hoping we get to play more often, possibly with original TNG-era characters. Fingers crossed!

“Oh, Frabjous Day!”

It’s been a while since I did a Heroclix repaint, and this time it’s another of Batman’s rogues gallery: Jervis Tetch, aka the Mad Hatter.

From DC FanDOM: Jervis Tetch, formerly a research scientist, is completely smitten with the works of Lewis Carroll. As his criminal name indicates, he takes the appearance of the Mad Hatter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He is an insane neuroscientist and developed hardware that can control the brain and induce hypnotic states, and often uses hats or other headgear for mind control.

Originally, the Hatter was a villain who committed robberies using his mind-controlling hats; nowadays, his motivations are a lot darker, as in addition to hats, he seems to be obsessed with kidnapping little girls named Alice. (Yep. It’s exactly what you think.)

This version of the Mad Hatter comes from the original DC Heroclix Hypertime set. He’s a redhead and he looks like a leprechuan; a bit too colorful for my tastes.

Here is my repaint. The Hatter is flanked by two miniatures from Lucid Eye’s Beast of Birchwood line, the “Sleeping Hare” and the “Sleeping Field Mouse”. I gather this game is a Victorian horror-themed skirmish game, so they fit right into Tetch’s Wonderland obsession as the March Hare and the Dormouse, thugs in his employ; or perhaps, more fittingly, under his mental control. What tough guy is going to willingly dress up as a bunny, after all?

Worst. Birthday Party. Ever.

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 47

Miniatures Painted: 100

Total: +53

“Kirk to Enterprise…”

I finally finished my three sets of Modiphius Star Trek miniatures with The Original Series (TOS) bridge crew. This is my favorite set, hands-down. Good sculpts, all (even Scotty, questionable “run-for-zee-hills” pose aside).

I’ve been binge-watching TOS lately, and I’ve noticed a couple of things. First, Captain Kirk is damn rude. He rarely lets anyone finish a sentence without interrupting them, even if they’re answering a question he just asked them. Kind of a dick move.

Second, when I was a kid, I couldn’t stand Dr. McCoy. I really don’t know why. Now he’s unquestionably my favorite character on TOS. Maybe because he’s crabby most of the time and not shy about telling Kirk to piss off when Kirk gets too lippy.

Onto the miniatures. First, the big three: Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Good-looking miniatures, worthy of the main characters.

Next: the guys driving and fixing the ship: Lt. Sulu, Ensign Chekov, and Chief Engineer Scott. Looking at this picture, I think I need to clean up the eyes a bit on Chekov and Sulu…

Finally, the ladies: Lt. Uhura and Nurse Chapel. I love Uhura’s miniature. I would have preferred Yeoman Rand was included rather than Nurse Chapel, but no one at Modiphius asked me for my opinion before casting the set. Here’s hoping for some individual releases from Modiphius in the future, much like Fantasy Flight does for Imperial Assault.

I posed the ladies with a power cell from Tiny Terrain, available at Miniature Market. At $1 apiece, I bought six. They’re cool-looking generic sci-fi set pieces that can be used for a lot of things, even in different scales. That being said, as 3D printed terrain, they require a lot of cleanup and they aren’t exactly perfectly formed; but for a buck each they’re not bad.

Once again, I broke these miniatures up according to uniform color and painted them in groups. For Kirk, Sulu and Chekov, I based them in Citadel Tausept Ochre, then highlighted with Iyanden Darksun, then washed with Agrax Earthshade, then highlighted up again to P3 Cygnar Yellow. Then I went a little overboard on the yellow by washing it in Citadel Yellow Wash. A little too bright, but whatever. For Spock, McCoy and Chapel, I based in Coat D’arms Fester Blue, then washed in Citadel Blue Wash, then highlighted up with a 50/50 Fester Blue/Reaper Ice Blue mix, and finally a highlight of Reaper Ice Blue. Scotty and Uhura were based in Citadel Mechrite Red, then washed in Citadel Baal Red, highlighted with Reaper Fresh Blood and finally, Reaper Brilliant Red.

Dr. McCoy was my favorite miniature to paint, but I think Uhura came out best. Scotty was my least favorite miniature to paint. and also my least favorite miniature in the set. Both Modiphius and I could have done a better job with him, IMO.

I’m looking forward to gaming with these miniatures, and I already have some ideas of how to use my Hydra Retro Raygun and Rattrap Fantastic Worlds miniatures. I bought them a long time ago for a retro sci-fi project that never really went anywhere, but they fit right in as TOS aliens.

I’ve managed to meet one of my painting goals for the year: paint my Modiphius Star Trek miniatures. Now, onto my big project: getting my Old West scenery and terrain built and painted.

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 46

Miniatures Painted: 98

Total: +52

Saddle Up, Boys! (and Girls, if applicable)

One of my 2019 Resolutions was to finally play GW’s Legends of the Old West, an out-of-print Old West skirmish game using the Warhammer engine. Despite using a variation of the IGO/UGO mechanic, it remains pretty popular among Old West gamers, as it’s easy to pick up and play, particularly if you’re familiar with Warhammer.

I’ve been wanting to play some Old West skirmish for years now, and even started making a Mexican border town, Mescalero, several years ago. Like many projects of mine, this got sidelined in favor of whatever else struck my fancy; but not before I also bought, assembled and painted some Plastcraft Western Buildings. I now have the beginnings of two towns; a traditional Mexican adobe village and a clapboard boom-town. (I also meant to make some Badlands scenery (and I still will), but, you know…sidelined.)

Recently I managed to get my hands on the holy grail of 28mm Western gaming, the OOP 1/64 scale ERTL Cow Town playset. It contains a Hotel/Saloon, a Sherriff’s Office, a Blacksmith, and an outbuilding and outhouse, along with lots of other scenic knick-knacks (like bar tables and desks). Between the Cow Town set, the Plastcraft buildings, and a couple of MDF buildings I bought from Knuckleduster, I have no excuse not to move forward with this project.

For Old West miniatures, I have a mixture from Blue Moon, Old Glory, Foundry, Knuckleduster and Reaper. Before the whole thing got sidelined, I painted up the Blue Moon cowboys that I got from Scale Creep. I really like this line a lot. The Old Glory and Foundry stuff looks a little small compared to the others (especially the Reaper Chronoscope stuff), but I’m hoping it won’t bother me too much when I actually start playing.

First up, the Blue Moon miniatures. The Earp brothers: Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan, along with Doc Holliday.

The Clantons: Ike, Billy and Johnny Ringo.

Frank and Billy McClaury; Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett.

The Daltons: Emmett, Bob and Grat. (Yes, Grat.)

A few Reaper Chronoscope miniatures: Stone (who I think is an undead gunslinger, although I didn’t paint him that way); Deadeye Slim; and a U.S. Agent (not to be confused with the guy who replaced Captain America). Both Stone and Slim are Bones miniatures. I bought the Agent because he has a pepperbox pistol, and that’s kinda cool.

Some Reaper fantasy townsfolk can serve double duty as Old West civilian miniatures, as seen here. The bartender and strumpet both work well as Old West miniatures.

Same can be said for the blacksmith (what moron parked a wagon full of hay near the forge?!)…

And this RAFM Call of Cthulhu doctor.

None of these miniatures count towards my painting queue progress, sadly; most were painted years ago. But THIS is my big project for this year; in lieu of starting a new army, I’ll get my Old West scenery and miniatures all done instead.

In between other stuff, of course…

“Make it so.”

I finally finished my Star Trek: TNG bridge crew. I wish I could say it was fun, but…it wasn’t.

Try as I might, even with as much love as I have for these characters, I really hate the miniatures. It’s just such a waste of a good set compared with ANY other Modiphius Trek set, especially the TOS bridge crew. The dumb poses (LaForge and Yar) and questionable equipment choices (Troi’s tricorder, Data’s phaser rifle) are a real bummer, not to mention the brittle plastic (Worf).

To get this set completed, I painted these in groups according to uniform color. Getting the “classic” next-gen uniform pattern was a bit more challenging than you’d expect; it seems these uniforms are sculpted so they can be painted in a variety of styles, either from the movies or the TV episodes. The classic look requires a bit of free-handing. The black on all the uniforms was simple Reaper Black, highlighted with a faint drybrush of Citadel Celestra Grey, then washed with Citadel Nuln Oil. After the miniature was sealed in Dullcote, Vallejo Gloss Varnish was then added to the boots.

First up, Picard and Riker, or as I like to call them, the second and third-best miniatures in the set. I painted the uniforms with Vallejo Red Brown, then highlighted with Citadel Scab Red, Reaper’s Fresh Blood, and Citadel Blood Red and Red Wash.

Next, the Ops, Engineering and Security officers: Data, Yar, Worf and LaForge. I based their uniform in Citadel Tausept Ochre, washed it in Citadel Agrax Earthshade, and highlighted with Citadel Iyanden Darksun.

Finally, the Medical crew: Dr. Crusher and Counselor Troi. I think Crusher is the best miniature in the set, but YMMV. I was going to paint Troi in her classic purple/grey spandex, but she was unmistakably sculpted in her Season 6-7 science uniform, so that’s what I went with.  I based both uniforms with Vallejo Prussian Blue, then washed with Citadel Blue Wash, then highlighted with Coat D’Arms Fester Blue. I based Crusher’s lab coat in Fester Blue, washed with Citadel’s Nuln Oil, then highlighted with Reaper Ice Blue and Army Painter Troglodyte Blue. (The medical table is from Tiny Terrain, a 3D-printed line of terrain available at Miniature Market. At $2.50 each, I bought three. Maybe someday I’ll have a skirmish in sickbay!)

Yar was the most fun to paint; Troi was by far the least. I don’t think I did a very good job on Data’s face, either…for some reason I just can’t seem to paint Soong-type androids very well.

I’m not sad to be done with this set. It took me longer to complete than I anticipated, mainly because I was so indifferent to the miniatures.

Coming soon: the Original Series bridge crew.

This post also marks the return of the painting queue, which somehow got lost along the way this year. By my tally, I bought 33 miniatures since the last time I kept track (mostly the Modiphius Star Trek sets, which account for 26 of them), but I painted 27, so that’s not too bad. Which brings my current tally to:

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 46

Miniatures Painted Thus Far: 90

Total: +44 

My Biggest Gaming Regrets

I thought I would be able to get a few more Star Trek miniatures painted this month, but I’ve been playing a lot of Horizon: Zero Dawn, and my painting time has suffered somewhat. Instead, I thought I’d post something without pictures and see how that goes…

I subscribe to Uncle Atom’s YouTube channel, Tabletop Minions, because he often has an interesting point of view about hobby stuff. Recently, he delved into his Biggest Wargaming Regrets, from buying the wrong army to not buying an airbrush early enough. His video got me thinking about my own gaming regrets; what do I wish I hadn’t done, or what would I do differently if I had the time and hindsight to start over?

Uncle Atom and I share some of the same regrets, although not buying an airbrush isn’t one of mine. Here, in no particular order, are my top seven regrets about gaming:

I don’t make enough terrain. (This is also Uncle Atom’s first big regret.) When I started wargaming, most of my games took place at the FLGS where I bought my stuff. There was plenty of terrain available, albeit of dubious quality: ruins made of Styrofoam trays, rock piles and scatter brush, printed cardboard terrain (like the walkways in the original Necromunda box) and the like. It wouldn’t win any awards, but it provided an adequate setting for some fun games.

Nowadays, any gaming I do is in my own home, and the friends I play with are not wargamers themselves. Thus, any and all terrain must be supplied by me, whether it is purchased or constructed. I would much rather paint miniatures than build terrain, as I consider the former to be fun and the latter to be work. There are some exceptions, but to be honest, terrain-building isn’t really my strong suit, so I often buy a lot of it (which can get expensive). There’s also the problem of storage; I have difficulty figuring out where the hell to put the stuff when I’m not using it (which, given how often I actually play, is most of the time).

I wish I had discovered smaller games sooner. Like many folks, my first introduction to wargaming was through Games Workshop and Warhammer 40K, with Warhammer Fantasy Battle soon to follow. As an AD&D player, I had collected and painted fantasy miniatures for years prior to my “discovery” of wargaming, so miniatures weren’t new to me. Gaming with them, though, was a new concept.

I soon fell in love with GW and the Warhammer world, and still have many fond memories of playing throughout my college years. The cost of GW gaming, while not as ridiculous as it is currently, was high even back then. I’m still amazed that I managed to put together the armies I had, given my budget. As a student I had very little money to spare. When Necromunda and Mordheim came out (GW’s skirmish games) , I pretty much ignored them in favor of the bigger games because I already had the armies and didn’t want to spend money on anything new. I couldn’t really afford to, anyway.

The only alternative to Warhammer, as far as I knew, was historical wargaming. I didn’t have much interest in historical gaming (I like wizards and dragons over Spartans and triremes). If I had only discovered (non-GW) skirmish wargaming sooner, I would have likely played a lot more games, and would have probably found more people to game with. Many of these would be the same folks who were put off by the entry cost (in both time and money) of GW gaming, as well as GW’s insistence on using only “official” miniatures in their games. Today, the market is flooded with smaller scale games by independent publishers. Many don’t require a specific line of miniatures. I wish I was aware of other wargaming options like these back then.

I didn’t really give a shit about basing my miniatures until it was way past time to give a shit about basing my miniatures. The Ral Partha and Grenadier miniatures I painted during my early years in the hobby all came on their own bases. I never really bothered to paint bases anything other than a glossy (!) grey or green until I discovered flocked slotta bases when I started playing Warhammer 40K. When I moved on to Warhammer Fantasy, I never bothered to fill the slots on the bases, even if the tabs on the bottom of the miniatures on them didn’t fill the slots completely. Now I have many old GW miniatures with open slots on their bases that look like shit. I suppose I could go back and rebase them, but I just don’t have  the time or the inclination. Instead, I just get annoyed whenever I look at them.

Nowadays I consider basing to be an important part of painting any miniature, and a lot of thought generally goes into which base I use. Just as a good base can turn a mediocre-looking miniature into a good-looking miniature, poor basing can really bring the overall aesthetic of a miniature down. I’m a fan of sculpted scenic bases, but these can get expensive. The availability of ready-to-use tufts and basing effects is a good thing.

I was ignorant of using the right tools for the job for far too long. I didn’t discover acrylic paint until I started painting space marines and they came with a set of five Citadel paints. Up until then, I painted everything with Testor’s gloss enamels, which are horrible to work with and are very limited in color palette. Green stuff? WTF was green stuff? Instead I used Squadron modelling putty to fill gaps because I thought it was better than Testor’s modelling putty (and trust me, it is).

I didn’t own a pair of nippy cutters until about 2006, when I was in the middle of a period when I had stopped painting and playing games regularly. Until then, I cut everything off a sprue or made any modifications to metal miniatures using only an X-acto knife. (It’s a wonder I didn’t cut my fingertips off.)

When gluing models together I never pinned anything because I didn’t have a drill other than a pin vise, and cutting pinning wire with an X-acto knife was too much of a pain to make me want to try. I opted to use copious amounts of putty instead, which rarely worked well, considering the quality of the putty I was using.

As you can see, I often “improvised”, even when I didn’t know I was improvising. That sucked. Nowadays, I am a big proponent of using the right tool for the job, whatever that job might be, and regardless of whether or not I’ll ever need a particular tool again. (Example: About five years ago, I bought an angle grinder to sharpen an axe blade because I didn’t want to hone it by hand. I used it once and haven’t needed to use it again, because my axe is still sharp, seeing how I’ve only used the axe about 3 times since I bought it.) This is especially true of my hobby tools; if something will make my life easier, I’m likely to buy it even if it’s only to use it once. I’m lazy like that.

Now I own clippers and a Dremel and green stuff, and I have more acrylic paints than I ever thought possible, which really isn’t anything to brag about considering these things (with the possible exception of the Dremel) and others like them are pretty much basic supplies anyone in the hobby should own. Took me long enough to figure that out.

Uncle Atom says he waited too long to buy an airbrush and suggests that if I buy one I’ll use it all the time. He may be right, but I haven’t felt the need to buy one of those yet. I don’t paint many large, flat surfaces, and those I do have occasion to paint are easily done with the right paintbrush. We’ll see if that changes. I’m mainly put off by the knowledge that airbrush maintenance is more time-consuming than cleaning a paintbrush. Who needs that?

I don’t know how to sculpt. This one is pretty self-explanatory. I wish I knew how to sculpt, as working with green stuff is the bane of my hobby existence. I can handle filling gaps and sculpting things that take minimal skill (like entrails), but that’s about the extent of my abilities. I don’t want to be Sandra Garrity or Mark Copplestone, but it would be nice to be able to sculpt a hat or a cape; or perhaps some hair.

I have asked good sculptors for their advice and even attempted to follow it, but with poor results. I even changed my sculpting medium from green stuff to magic sculpt with equally poor results. I know sculpting, like painting, is a skill that gets better over time and with practice. I just lack the patience and wish I had learned the basics sooner.

I have a hard time saying goodbye to things I know I will never use. I am a collector of many things,  miniatures first among them. I’ve collected a lot of miniatures over the years. Some date back to my earliest days as a Dungeons and Dragons player. Many are from my early wargaming days. Still more, however, have been purchased in the last 15 years or so for any number of games or projects that I know (now) that I will never get to.

It’s tough to get rid of any of my things, especially miniatures. I never understood people who can labor for a year on an army and then sell it when they get tired of playing it. I could never easily sell any of my painted miniatures. To me, they are an investment of time where the results can be clearly seen. Are they all masterpieces? Certainly not. But they’re something I did for no other reason than I wanted to, and looking at them makes me happy and brings back fond memories (most of the time).

I have given much morbid thought to the fact that I won’t be here forever, and barring unforeseen catastrophe, my miniatures are likely to survive me. When that happens, they will become someone else’s problem. I feel like I should take steps to minimize that problem while I’m still here, especially if I care about the someone else in question. Yet somewhere in my mind I still think it’s possible that I’ll paint those two complete Clan War armies I’ve had languishing in a box since 1998, learn the rules for this unsupported and OOP game, get some friends interested in playing, and play regularly.

It could happen. Best not to get rid of them just yet.

I don’t play games often enough. My biggest regret, to be sure. I have no good excuse for not being able to play games. I have a perfect space for it and I have more leisure time than most people I know.

That being said, I have blogged (whined, really) elsewhere that any miniatures and terrain used in my games would have to be supplied by me and me alone. I am also quite particular about who I invite into my home. Even so, I do not live particularly close to my gaming buddies, who are always welcome, of course. But they’re mainly roleplayers, not wargamers.

As I said above, I used to play at the FLGS, but that store is long gone. All the ones that took its place cater to the GW and Privateer Press crowd, so small-scale, small press games have no real home there. And that’s what I’m interested in playing nowadays.

The problem with retailer-based gaming  (to me, at least) is that the retailer has little, if any, incentive to offer or promote games other than what sells best. That’s why here in the US you rarely see anything other than GW or Privateer Press games being played in game stores. There may be exceptions, but if so, they’re not around me. I guess the answer is to start a club of my own. I think I’m going to try to do something akin to the “European” model, i.e. not being affiliated with or based in a retail establishment. I have no real idea how to go about getting something like this started, but I am going to try to figure it out.

Next time, I hope to have the TNG bridge crew completed, with Kirk and Co. soon to follow.

Star Trek Adventures: Ruthless Romulans!

It’s Martin Luther King Day here in the USA, so I have the day off. I woke up this morning to a balmy 7 degrees Farenheit (that’s 13 below for any of my readers who use the Celsius scale). Definitely a day to stay indoors and paint some miniatures. My first batch of Modiphius Star Trek miniatures has been completed, and I decided to go quick and easy with the Romulan set. Since they’re essentially all painted the same, it was a small matter to get the entire set painted in short order.

This is a good thing, because they were not much fun to paint. Romulans aren’t known for their daring fashion sense. The limited grayscale palette wasn’t exciting, and they all have the same metal deck base. Yawn.

The exception was the Romulan commander, who I painted as Sela, the alternate-timeline daughter of Tasha Yar. Since Modiphius made the Romulan commander miniature female, I have to assume they expected other people would do this, too.

Once they were sealed, I added some gloss coat to their boots, belts and hair. Not sure I like the glossy hair, but at this point I may be too lazy to change it. All things considered, it’s a good set with some nice miniatures. Once I get the bridge crews done, I should be ready to try out a skirmish or two.

Modiphius Star Trek Miniatures: A Review

For Christmas, I gifted myself two sets of Modiphius miniatures for their Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game: the Next Generation Bridge Crew and the Romulan Strike Team. Then, after Christmas, I got the Original Series bridge crew at a staggering discount (see below). Here’s my review of all three sets. Spoiler: it’s not a universally great review. Some sets are much better than others, and the same problems are common to all.

Price: There seems to be a great deal of variation in the price of these sets. Modiphius sells them for $50.99 each, which is fucking insane even for licensed properties like this. Luckily, you can easily find these much cheaper simply by shopping around. I paid $24.56 with free shipping for the TNG bridge crew, and $16.88 for the Romulans, both from Amazon vendors. Then, I managed to find the Original Series bridge crew for only $8.00 plus shipping, which is a truly incredible savings that I still can’t believe! YMMV, but I find full retail price for these to be ridiculous and not at all worth it.

Sculpting: They’re obviously digitally sculpted, and I’m not really a fan of computer sculpting. (That’s my personal preference, of course.) The likenesses are pretty good overall, although I question many of the poses of the TNG crew and the decision to make so many of them and the TOS crew multipart castings. More on this later.

Composition: The miniatures are plastic. Not good, strong plastic; rather shitty, fragile plastic. Be very careful removing them from the sprue. I was, and I still had an annoying mishap (see below). I don’t understand how miniatures today get made out of flimsy materials like this. GW, Victrix, Wargames Factory and Wyrd can make miniatures out of strong plastic, so it’s not like it’s impossible. Even Reaper Bones, with their tendency to bend, are way better than these. Not a fan.

Assembly: Each miniature comes on its own sprue, which  includes a circular base with holes to accommodate pegs on the model’s feet. Most of the bases are sculpted to look like metal decking, but some of the TNG and TOS bridge crew miniatures have “scenic” bases. I found using the peg holes to be somewhat aggravating, as they are positioned in such a way that the models are often off-center, which looks weird. To make matters worse, these miniatures are fiddly as fuck, making assembly a huge chore. This is further complicated because many are multipart castings (and they really don’t need to be…see below).

I use Gorilla Glue gel to assemble all my miniatures. Metal, plastic, resin…it doesn’t matter. I find it to give a strong, quick bond, and the gel gives a little substance for fiddly parts to grip onto. Gorilla Glue gel failed me here. For whatever reason, it did not want to bond this shitty plastic. I had to hold pieces together for much longer than usual to get these miniatures assembled.

Now, onto the miniatures themselves…

I’ll get the Romulans out of the way first, because I have the least to say about them. In short, it’s a pretty good set, and you get 10 miniatures instead of 8. These include a commander, 4 centurions, and 5 uhlans. The Romulan commander and three of the uhlans are female; the rest are male figures. Sadly, you get repeats of some of the same figures as opposed to 10 different sculpts, but they’re still much better looking overall than the TNG bridge crew, and far less fiddly to assemble. All of the miniatures are single-piece castings with the exception the two centurions armed with disruptor rifles; they need to have their arms attached.

Onto the TNG bridge crew. I’ll take these miniatures individually, because there’s a lot not to like about them. I’ve already stated my problems with assembly, so just assume unless otherwise stated that they were all a pain in the ass to put together.

First, what I consider to be the best miniatures in the lot. Dr. Crusher looks pretty good, carrying a medical kit in one hand and a medical tricorder in the other, just as she should be. In my opinion, she’s the best miniature among the crew, but YMMV. Next, Captain Picard is the only one-piece casting in the set. He’s not too bad, but I would have preferred he look more “Picard-ish” and not be brandishing a phaser. Lastly, there’s Commander Riker, who looks pretty good dramatically standing with his characteristic “leg-up” pose. His beard is not very well-defined, which could be because Modiphius wanted to give us the option of having a beardless, Season One Riker. (That’s no Riker of mine, but again, YMMV.)

Next, the rest, in no particular order of disappointment. Lieutenant Yar looks good except for her ridiculous karate pose. (They couldn’t give her a phaser? She was Chief of Security. If anyone should be brandishing a phaser, it should be her.) Lieutenant Commander LaForge would be a lot better if he was looking at his tricorder, not looking like someone poured ice water down the back of his uniform. Deanna Troi is ok, I guess…but why give her a tricorder? When did Troi ever use a fucking tricorder?

Lieutenant Commander Data looks just as out-of-place holding a Type III phaser rifle. Again, why? Maybe Modiphius wanted to give some variety, but I can’t recall a single instance of Data using a phaser rifle in the entire series. Even if he did, it’s not like it was a common enough occurrence that he deserves to be sculpted with one. Lieutenant Worf is wielding his iconic bat’leth, because of course he is. I would have preferred him with something like a Type III phaser rifle instead. I can’t recall him ever using one of those either, but it seems to fit his style better than Data’s. Sigh. I can’t decide whether Data or LaForge is my least favorite miniature in the set. They’re both pretty bad.

On to The Original Series miniatures, by far my favorite set of the three, and not because I paid the least for it. You get eight miniatures in the set. Again, I’ll start with the three best miniatures (IMHO, of course); the big three: Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

My favorite miniature hands-down, Kirk just looks AWESOME, talking into a communicator and brandishing a phaser. (He just needs a green Orion female to drape herself around him Frazetta-style and it’s a 100% match.) Spock is looking appropriately science-y, and McCoy looks great with his iconic old-school tape recorder/microphone style medical tricorder. A+ on this trio, Modiphius!

Next, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura. Sulu and Chekov both look great, although Sulu is a tad more dynamic (Bravo on not casting him shirtless with a fencing rapier, Modiphius!). Uhura is also a terrific sculpt (I like her almost as much as Spock and McCoy); although she was rarely on away missions, she looks perfect with her ubiquitous earpiece and a phaser, to boot.

Finally, Mr. Scott and Nurse Chapel. Although he’s still better than most of the TNG miniatures, Scotty is my least favorite miniature in this set. What is he running away from? A warp core breach? (If so, it’s doubtful he will get far enough away on foot…you know, in space…) Nurse Chapel looks fine holding Dr. McCoy’s space clipboard for him, but I question her inclusion in the set. I guess they needed an eighth miniature. I guess they didn’t want to include Yeoman Rand, considering she only lasted 8 episodes…

My biggest quibble with all these miniatures is the quality of the plastic. Worf broke when I was cutting him off the sprue, and my cutters didn’t even touch him. His foot snapped in half when I cut the sprue next to it! Annoying for sure…but it would be downright infuriating if I had paid full retail for this set. I tried my best to fix it, but the problems I experienced with the glue made it set wrong. I have read similar complaints about the fragility of other sets.

Currently, Modiphius offers three additional sets: TNG-era Klingons, Borg, and generic Starfleet officers, many of them alien races included as character options in the rpg. They all look pretty good, but I haven’t been able to find the sets for a reasonable price (less than $30). I would love to see some Cardassians (my favorite bad guys), the DS9 station crew, and some original series Klingons, but we’ll have to see what, if anything, Modiphius releases next.

I’ll be working on painting these Trek miniatures throughout January, so hopefully I’ll have them done soon. Until then, peace and long life!

2019 Resolutions

For my first post of 2019, I have appropriated the popular trend of coming up with a list of games I want to play, projects I would like to complete, and challenges I would like to participate in this year. Note that this is what I hope to do; what actually happens is anyone’s guess. Therefore I have included my best guess of the chances of any given project happening.

First, the top 5 games I really want to play (with others) this year. This of course, requires that I get my friends together to do some gaming.

Gaslands (Osprey): With Gaslands: Refueled already announced, and over a dozen cars converted and ready to go, it’s way past time I actually played this damn game. Chance of success: 90%

Star Trek Adventures: the Role-playing Game (Modiphius): I would love to run and/or play this game, as I really like the system and the setting. Trying to get my friends to play would be much easier than trying to get them to buy into it, as it’s not a cheap game, and we don’t seem to be able to game nearly enough to justify its purchase. That being said, the character creation system is a lot of fun, but very involved, so one session would likely be devoted to that alone. Chance of success: 40% for one game (using my books), dropping sharply for successive games.

Super Mission Force (Four Color Studios): It should be no surprise to anyone who visits this blog even casually that I love this game. I will continue to play it; ideally with friends, but solo if necessary. It’s very easy to pick up, and my friends who have played seem to enjoy it a lot. Chance of success: 100% solo, 85% with friends.

Legends of the Old West (GW): This OOP Old West game from Games Workshop seems like a pretty good way to finally start some western skirmish gaming, since I’ve been putting it off for years. Now that I have my new “arid lands” battle mat, I have little excuse. Just need to round up a posse. Chance of success: 50%.

Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf King’s Quest (Mantic): I didn’t paint this game last year for no reason. It would be nice to get a game or two of this in before the end of 2019. Luckily, my friends like this kind of game, so playing it should be relatively easy (in theory). Chance of success: 75%.

The biggest obstacle I have to playing any of the above is finding people to play with and coordinating a game day. Even if I don’t, you can expect more posted After Action Reports, especially for Supers gaming, which I can play solo.

These are my top 5 hobby projects for 2019:

1. Paint my Star Trek Adventures miniatures. With three sets primed and ready, I’ll be getting to these pretty quickly. Expect a review soon.

2. Paint more old-school miniatures! It’s a pretty good feeling when I paint something I’ve had for decades that I never got around to, or when I repaint a miniature that’s had a horrible paint job because I painted it when I first started out. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and revisiting old lead is a lot of fun.

3. Write a game of my own. I have several ideas for miniatures games kicking around in my head, and have gone back and forth over the years trying to get a rules system down that I like. I’ve got the ideas for the games firmly secured, I just need to find a way to make them work without making things super complicated (which I want to avoid) or ripping off someone else (ditto). It’s the system that plagues me, not the concept…

4. Start a gaming club. Probably the only way I’m going to be able to play more games is to find new people to play with. Sadly, all the game stores around me only carry and support Warhammer 40K, Age of Sigmar and Warmahordes, so the style of gaming I prefer is not exactly well represented in my local community. (I went into a local shop recently and no one had ever even heard of Gaslands or Frostgrave, but everyone plays 40K and the current darling, Necromunda.) There isn’t even a significant Historical gaming community near me, which isn’t really my kind of gaming, either, but at least it would be something other than GW and Privateer Press.

5. Paint an army, or complete an entirely new gaming project. It’s the beginning of the year, plenty of time to make a commitment and see it through. I have several “armies” ready to go, all of which I will most likely never use (40K Orks, Warhammer Empire, and some generic Wargames Factory Shock Troopers, to name but a few). Not the point. Other than those, I have plenty of gaming genre interests I should really pursue, like the Ronin rules I got for Christmas.

Of course, in addition to the above projects, you can be certain I’ll be painting whatever takes my fancy throughout the year. I will continue to repaint Heroclix for use with Super Mission Force, and I will most likely convert more Gaslands cars.

Forgotten Heroes 2017

Finally, I very much enjoy taking part in painting challenges, and I hope to do more of that this year. I will happily take part in Forgotten Heroes for as many years as Carrion Crow will have me. Perhaps it may be time for me to host another challenge myself. It’s been a couple of years since Dwarvember and WizarDecember, after all. Should I bring those back, or start something new? I am considering hosting a “Monster Month” challenge, which was a challenge I did all by myself last year in May.

All in all, 2019 could be a very productive year for my hobbying, if I can stick to my resolutions. Hope I’ll be better at sticking to these than sticking to my actual New Year’s resolutions. I never make it past the first month with those…

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