Monday, April 7, 2014

Portable Light Box

Late last year one of the guys at work came across a project on Kickstarter called the Foldio - The 1st foldable studio. For a start, who knew that Kickstarter was for anything except Tabletop and Computer games??? Anyway, the concept behind Foldio was that it was allowed anybody with a smartphone to easily take high quality pictures by providing a small light box. The light box itself was compact and (thanks to some magnets) able to be folded up when not in use, or easily packed away and carried around.

I am at best a barely competent photographer but I do like playing around a little. I've also been cleaning out the cupboards of excess miniatures so I figured that a small investment was worth it if it would mean that I could start taking some photos at home more easily. My primary use would be for work in progress shots etc because I could use the white table at work for anything more serious, or for taking shots for ebay.

The Foldio turned up on time, which must be a record for any Kickstarter product! Packed nicely, with a functional but pretty boring little carry bag. It was a little bigger than expected at around 28cm-ish square, meaning I could easily fit a Colossal in there. My version came with two little LED light strips and after watching the assembly video (which was not really necessary) I was up and running.
Foldio on the bookcase by the computer.
Picture, straight out of the camera, with no Photoshop wizardry (other than re-sizing etc).
Same photo with a little bit of Photoshop work (as you can tell, barely competent with Photoshop either!)
Same figures on the bookshelf, where the Foldio now sits.
So, thoughts? In life you can have things fast, cheap, or good - pick two. 
  • Foldio is in my opinion quite cheap given that it was around $40 (delivered, with different coloured background sheets, with an extra LED light strip).
  • It is fast - lets substitute quick and easy to use.
  • As for the last one lets say that it is definitely okay, and it is definitely much much better than what I had (which was nothing). The one thing I do not like about it is that it does not provide particularly great source lighting, but what was I expecting for the price. Also I've spent all of 20 minutes playing around with so probably a ways to go yet. I do have a second LED light strip so I thought I would play around with the placement of that to see if I could introduce a little more light.
Closing thoughts - definitely a well design lead project that looks cool and is easy to use. It was never going to be as good as a "proper" (read more expensive) light box solution, but it sits on my shelf out of the way and with a little practice will become a nice addition to the blog toolbox.

As for buying one, in the short term you cannot as they are still shipping out orders from their Kickstarter campaign but you can always jump on their website to find out more about when they will begin production and distribution through conventional channels.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ides of March 2014

Time once again seems to be flying by thanks to work and home, so I have failed to do a follow up to Ideas of March till now. IOM was a great Warmachine weekend with 40 players turning up from all over the country to duel it out. I took my Circle out for a run, using it as an opportunity to get my Woldwrath (pictured below) painted, along with a Druid Wilder and Gnarlhorn Satyr.

List 1:
Baldur the Stonesoul
- Woldwrath
- Megalith
- Woldwyrd

Druids of Orboros (full unit)

Shifting Stones
 - Stone Keeper

List 2:
Kaya the Wildborne
- Druid Wilder
- Feral Warpwolf

- Pureblood Warpwolf
- Warpwolf Stalker
- Gnarlhorn Satyr

Druids of Orboros (full unit)
Shifting Stones
 - Stone Keeper

The weekend went..... even worse than expected on the gaming front! I had played a couple of practice games leading up to the weekend so I thought I had an idea of how to play eBaldur, but I knew Kaya was going to be a little more difficult. In the end though my usual lack of match fitness really cost me. I did however have some truly epic moments with Kaya Spirit Door'ing into pButcher, flailing away, popping her feat and needing to roll up on a couple of attacks, failing badly and dying to his big choppy axe! eBaldur took on a Stormwall and learnt that those bad boys are bad for a reason - also realising that I started that turn with a plan and then threw it out the window a couple of minutes into it. On the positive side the guys that play at the lower end of the table are a great bunch, we all want to win but we also want to have a good time so the games were played in good spirits.

I leave my final placing till after the pictures of the Woldwrath to build the suspense!

So yeah.... highpoint was finishing the Woldwrath, coming 35th (out of 40) was not so great (in the context that we all want to win some games!) but this was evened out by bringing home the Best Sport Trophy - apparently having fun even when you are being curb stomped by a Cryx eGasphy list pays off.
So, great weekend, great organisation, great players.... shame it is 12 months till we get to do it all over again. Maybe I should start thinking about what I want to take and playing a game or two before then!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Battlecry 2014 Photo Dump

I've given up writing some sort of event report from Battlecry as time seems like it is flying by! Instead here are some brief notes, and some photos - sadly I was very slack with my in-game shots...
The list:  
HQ Platoon
1 Tiger I E

Combat Platoons
Schwere Panzer Ausbildungs Platoons
2 Tiger I E

2 Tiger I E
2 Konigstiger (Porshe) 

Leichte Panzer Ausbildungs Platoon
4 Panzer III N

Weapons Platoons
Panzergrenadier Ausbildungs Platoons
3 Grenadier Squads with 6 Pioneer MG teams

Support Platoons
Luftwaffe Light Anti-aircraft Gun Platoon
3 3.7cm FlaK43

Round 1 vs Lance (British Commandos). I spread my forces to avoid the NFGS whilst I waited for reserves. Luckily Lance got a little keen with his Archilles and I knocked them out early.
My Panzer IIIs spent the game dodging 6"shells and shooting up infantry, at the far end of the table my Tigers, King Tigers, and 37mm AA fought hard to keep the objective safe. In the end the Pz IIIs took the centre objective and I won
Round 2 vs Steven (Soviet 76mm horde). Steven and I had been discussing this match up at work, thinking that he would need the right mission to have a chance... turns out he got it. With half of our armies in reserve and mine turning up at the far end of the table he was able to jump them and easily knock them out one at a time. At the near end my infantry found themselves assaulted by another T-34 tank company and were quickly knocked out... a 1-6 loss
Part of Stevens horde on the starting line!
Round 3 vs Rob T (PAA500... with an extra King Tiger, but no Panzer IIIs). Rob and I had a bit of a mirror match, from lists through deployment. Unfortunately his extra King Tiger meant he had a leg up and I had to attack.... and that ended badly! I pushed on both flanks but lost things early, my King Tigers rescued some honor though by taking out his 37mm tucked behind the treeline by the river!
Round 4 vs Tony (Hero Motor Strelk). Tony and I are old mates and I knew he had a few tricks up his sleeve. I deployed hard on one flank knowing I would have to attack up the length of the table. I hide my infantry and 37mm AA inside forests to stop him picking up easy kills
Advancing up the table, slowing grinding my way (one infantry company down)
Tigers in trouble... luckily I diced my way out of that one! I eventually managed to knock out enough of Tony's infantry that I freed up some terrain to move around, allowing me to pick off some of his units piecemeal, resulting in a drawn out win.
Round 5 vs Rob S (PAA500...same list as the other Rob). Last game, another half on, half off mission... and lots of objectives to defend. Rob and I danced around a little, trying to minimise and maximise (depending on perspective) the effects of the 3rd King Tiger. In the end Rob got Tigers near one objective, and infantry on the other but I managed to hold him off (I even employed a dirty trick Tony taught me about making tanks flee off table in an assault) whilst my Panzer IIIs snuck down the near flank and took out his AA, resulting in Rob's company breaking.
Super cool Lego Star Wars!

In the end I came in the top half with three wins, but 2 solid losses. Really happy with how the list came together and found it to be really fun to run. Not sure if I would change anything to be honest... In a 1750 point event I would definitely upgrade the Pioneers to MG Panzerfaust teams, and try to fit in a 2iC to give the list a little more flexibility!

Friday, February 21, 2014

X-Wing After Hours!

Andrew and I had a little spare time after work last night so we decided to have a quick game of X-Wing. This subsequently triggered the realisation that it has been around 12 months since I had a game... damn, going to have to rectify this situation and play some more. In order to maximise my fun I decided to take models I had never used and quickly put together a list.

Captain Yorr (Lambda Class Shuttle)  24 points
- Gunner - 5 points
- Blaster Turret - 4 points
- Anti Pursuit Lasers - 2 points

Sabre Squadron Pilot (TIE Interceptor) - 21 points
- Adrenaline Rush - 1 point

Sabre Squadron Pilot (TIE Interceptor) - 21 points
- Adrenaline Rush - 1 point

Sabre Squadron Pilot (TIE Interceptor) - 21 points

Facing up against Andrew's Heroes of the Rebellion list:

Wedge Antilles (X-Wing) - 29 points
- R2-D2 - 4 points
- Proton Torpedoes - 4 points

"Dutch" Vander (Y-Wing) - 23 points
- Proton Torpedoes - 4 points

Ten Numb (B-Wing)- 31 points
- Ion Cannon - 3 points

My plan was to use the Lambda bus up front to absorb some damage and hopefully get in the way, using the Anti-Pursuit Lasers to score some free hits whilst the Blaster Turret kept it in the fight. In a second wave would be the TIE Interceptors, using their Adrenaline Rush cards to remove stress tokens, as well as Captain Yorr's ability to do the same.

Apologies for the quality of the photos as it was the iPhone to the rescue with pretty average office lighting!

Andrew deployed in the centre whilst I was off on one side, we both moved towards each other
I started to turn into him, with the Interceptors moving a little slower. The B-Wing and Shuttle traded shots, knocking out a few shields.
Up in each others faces there was a flurry of fire, the Shuttle loosing the last of it shields whilst the B-Wing took a pounding from the Blaster Turret and one Interceptor. Wedge lost his shields to some fine shooting from the middle Interceptor.
The B-Wing makes a dash for safety but is finished by the Blaster Turret on the Shuttle whilst everyone else flies past each other.
K-turns were the order of the day, Dutch and Wedge team up to knock out an Interceptor but Wedge is shot down with some outstanding shooting.
Dutch goes down the middle hoping to avoid too much fire.
But after a couple of turns of maneuvering ends up in a really bad spot.
And to add insult to injury the Interceptors (which rolled really well all game) continue their streak and finish the job easily!
In the end it was an outstanding game and the result was not really indicative of how close it was, I think my tactic worked well and at the same time I think Andrew made a couple of unlucky maneuver choices. Add to the mix that the Interceptor seems like a really solid choice for the Empire with a 3, 3, -, 3 stat line, letting it put a decent number of dice into the Rebel scum. Having the option of Focusing is outstanding as well as it is my preferred option (compared with Dodging anyway) due to the versatility of its use.

We are going to have a rematch over a couple of lunchtimes to see if Andrew can square up the series.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Last Models for Battlecry

Okay, so Battlecry has been and gone - more on that later, but in the rush to finish everything I am a little behind on the blog posts. I managed to finish my last two platoons 36 hours prior to the tournament (possibly a record for me, finishing so early that is!).
The Grenadier Platoon - I took a few liberties and made the MG/Assault Rifle/Panzerfaust/Pioneers...something for everyone for ultimate gaming flexibility... hopefully the purists won't notice!
FlaK43 37mm AA Platoon
I followed James' Splinter camo painting guide from the back of Desperate Measures with a few changes to suit my fast and loose painting style... I am unhappy with a few parts of the painting, primarily the rather average job I did on the faces and that the wash I put over the figures darkened up the camo pattern. However, the platoons are done and they look cool on the tabletop so...job done!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sails of Glory Arrives in Port

Last year the creators of Wings of Glory announced that they were going to launch a naval version, based around the Napoleonic Wars. I love naval wargaming going back to my days of playing Harpoon in the early ‘90s through to Dystopian Wars these days, so Sails of Glory sounded like it could tick all the boxes for me.

The game itself comes with a pile of tokens, four pre-painted ships, some card terrain, rulers etc and a nice full colour rulebook. I’ve read the basic rules and they seem straight forward enough, although it will no doubt take another couple of readings (taking 5-10 minutes so not a huge effort) and a couple of games before I can confirm either way. I am a little put off by the vast number of tokens from a setup and take down perspective (one of my bugbears with X-Wing) but a little organisation coupled with the bags that came with the Kickstarter version of the game will (presumably) alleviate these issues.

The most important thing to me though was the quality of the ships. Based on Ares Games track record I knew that they could make cards and tokens etc and I was confident that they could come up with a fun set of rules, but pre-painted ships without the backing and help of FFG was another thing. Well I can say that I am very impressed with their efforts and they are in fact a step ahead of what I expected. The paint jobs are not perfect and most gamers could do something better with some effort, however the key here is that just like the ships in X-Wing they are pre-painted and to a level where you do not need to do anything to them and still feel that you got a premium product at a good price.

Hopefully later this week a couple of us will manage to get in a lunch time game and we can see how it works.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Panzer Ausbildungs Abteilung 500

With Battlecry only a few weeks away, I am furiously painting up my Panzer Ausbildungs Abteilung 500. My tanks are nearing completion with a couple of days work left to go with just detailing, decals and crew to finish up. This will give me all the tanks I require for the tournament as well as a 2IC tank for use later. 
The army shot (excluding the infantry that still need to be painted)
HQ Tigers - 2IC on the left and Company HQ (finished as part of the painting challenge at work) on the right

Two Tiger Platoons
King Tiger Platoon
Panzer III N Platoon
Once these vehicles are finished I have my Infantry Platoon and AA Platoon to do. I'll have a couple of painting days up my sleeve so I will need to maintain my focus to get them finished on time!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014 Tournament Season

With growing family responsibilities at home as my son gets bigger and starts to throw around the word "daddy" a lot more, 2014 is already panning out to be a big year so I sat down and had a look through the tournament calender to try and plan out the year so there would be no (okay, fewer) surprises on the home front. It also gave me an opportunity to work out what was on the painting schedule.

February: Battlecry and Flames Of War. This will be the first road test for my Desperate Measures Reluctant Trained Tigers.

March: Ides of March and Warmachine. Dusting off my Circle forces and using this to incentivise me to paint up the Woldwrath!

April: Hamilton EW Tournament and FOW. This one is a little up in the air for me right now, but my French are looking for a reason to hit the table and this might be it!

May: NiCon and TBC. Love heading to sunny Tauranga, just need to work out what is on the menu I guess.

July: Panzerschreck and the FOW Doubles Event. It is just easier to give into Evan's nagging and head down. Plus Mike and I have something to make up for after our terrible performance last year.

August: Call to Arms and WarmaHordes. Not sure what I would take, but the WarmaHordes guys in Wellington are great to play so hopefully the timing of this works out.

October: BFGT and FOW. This could be coinciding with my 40th so might be a little challenging, tempted to play in the split 1 day Mid War, 1 day Early War events... wonder how I could convert my '56 Israelis to Mid War?

November: Rallypoint and the WarmaHordes Teams Event. Three man teams and this year it is Ghordson Earthbreakers all round.

So, painting needing to be done for five events this year at minimum, plus some more post war Israeli's for work no doubt.... maybe it is time to start reducing my expectations!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One Sided Games, Fun For All?

I managed to get in a couple of games over the last week of my Christmas / New Years break and both of which felt like really one sided affairs...

Pushing up and popping my Feat
First up was a game of WarmaHordes vs Tony. Vod (as he is locally known) is a playtester for Flames Of War and an exceptionally good wargamer (better than me to be sure), known for playing hard, knowing his opponents and finding holes to exploit both in terms of the their army and the rules!

I took the opportunity to roll out eBaldur to help me prepare for Ides of March (in March...), with Megalith, Wold Guardian, Woldwatcher, Woldwyrd, Druids and Shifting Stones. Tony took eVayl, a host of heavy Warbeasts, Spawning Vessel, Martyrs and Shepherd. We were playing under some time pressure so we opted to go straight assassination rather than digging out SR2013 and picking a scenario. We both pushed up the table, Tony used his range to deal out some damage, I ran up and popped my feat hoping that he would take the bait and rush in. Tony used his speed and powerful ranged game to deal out some more damage whilst keeping his distance. By this point I controlled 3/4 of the board and realised that by not playing a scenario we had stacked the deck completely in Tony's favour (he could maneuver and trade board space for time, whilst I had to have an engagement to try to win) so I went for the hail Mary and threw my Wold Guardian and eBaldur into combat - too little and too late as even though they were able to deal out a lot of damage and kill two of the three heavies, Tony was able to finish the game next turn with his assassination.

Given the one sided nature, was the game worth playing? Absolutely! Not every game goes your way and it is important to play games where you are on the back foot because it lets you work out things with your army that you otherwise may not try. I also realised that I need to get a lot of practice games in before Ides because I have forgotten how eBaldur plays after not taking him out of the box in 18 months.

The German/Finnish first turn
On Friday Wayne and I headed round to the American Embassy (otherwise known as Steven and Andrew's place) for a doubles match up - Kiwis vs Americans and 1000 points per person.

Wayne took two heavy KV-1e companies and a Motorstrelk company, whilst I took a pair of T-34 85 companies and a small platoon of BA-64s. On the other side of the table Andrew took his new Finnish Winter troops with a pile of infantry and a captured SU-152, whilst Steve took three Jagdtigers, Wirbelwinds and 37mm AA guns. For the mission we rolled up Surrounded which resulted in our tanks stuck in the middle, Andrew and Steven opted to deploy in one corner with a forest anchoring their line and advancing out from there.

T-34s pile in to the forrest trying to score some points
Steven and Andrew moved the Jagdtigers forward to be able to shoot at both the T-34s and KVs, perfectly maneuvering them through a combination of "turning to face" when shooting, and Stormtrooper moves to not only hit their pick of targets but also keep their (relatively) soft side armour safe. Wayne pushed the KVs up as a distraction whilst I moved the T-34s around the side. I managed to get to the forest in their deployment area and knock out the defending SU-152 with only a couple of casualties. Andrew had dug his infantry in realising that as long as they did their job of stopping the T-34s from flanking the Jagdtigers the game would be theirs. I knew that I would never get to the Jagdtigers and that my only option was to try and break either Andrew or Steven'companies so where I could I picked off (or tried to pick off) the smaller platoons and eventually threw my tanks into a desperate assault trying destroy and infantry and AA platoon defending the forest - sadly 3 out of the 5 T-34s bogged and that was essentially all that she wrote. A follow up assault from the second company did a little more than kill a couple of teams and my company left the field with only the 4 BA-64s remaining.

I think we all knew how the game was going to pan out with Steven's Jagdtigers being basically unkillable given the forces we opted to take (guess Wayne or I need to paint some 152mm artillery!) so I asked myself the same question though - "was the game worth playing once we rolled up the mission?" and my thoughts were yes. Partially for the same reason as my game vs Tony that you do not always have a fair fight on your hands and the challenge makes you think outside the box, but also because of a few other reasons
1. I have only played Surrounded a handful of times so any exposure to how other players tackle the mission is good.
2. I have four Jagdtigers somewhere deep in the painting queue and it is always nice to see something you want to paint in action to help inspire you to move it up.
3. Since it was a relaxed afternoon game we were just throwing dice, talking smack and discussing rules (i.e. the game was a backdrop to a social few hours!)

With a couple of social games to start off the year hopefully this will set the tone for more to come over the next 12 months. I might even manage to win a couple.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

1956 and 1967 Israelis On Display

Last year I painted a fairly decent number of Israelis for both Fate Of A Nation (1967) and my own 1956 project. Just before we broke up before Christmas I hijacked the camera at work and took a few shots. Turns out taking decent "book style" photos is harder than it looks!

1956 - M50 Mk I Shermans
1956 - M1 Super Shermans and M4A3 75mm Sherman Company
1967 - Sho't Platoon
1967 - M3 TCM-20s and M3 D (120mm) guard a crossroads
1967 - M50 Mk II Shermans and M51 Super Shermans
1967 - M51 Super Shermans
1967 - Magach Platoon
1967 - Sayeret (Recon) with AMX and M3 A
1956 - And still unfinished 25pdr battery.... 18 months after I started them. Maybe in 2014!