Man Cave

I spotted some photos of fellow enthusiasts Man Caves in a couple of different places over the last few days and so I decided to put up a couple of photos of my toy room that I took last year.

The Man Cave

The shot above is taken from the corner of the room by the door.  It shows the place in pretty much its normal state: not very messy but with a fair bit of work in progress stuff on the table.

If anyone was bothered (which they arent) it would be possible to work out how mentally frazzled I am at any given time by examining the condition of that area.  The state and density of the contents of that table is often analogous to my mental state at a given time.  I am only half joking about this.

The table itself is an 8 x 4′ sheet of MDF sitting on the bench that the carpenter put together to work on skirtings and banisters etc when the house was being built in 05/06.  I asked him to leave it there as a stop gap until I got a “proper” table… which still hasnt happened.

More Man Cave

Another shot of the table with some ape, zombie and alien miniatures that I was working on roughly a year or so ago.  I do almost no miniature painting in the Man Cave although preparatory clean up and assembly work always takes place in here, along with the painting of terrain or vehicles and the like.

Somewhat self evidently that table is where my tabletop and board gaming pursuits take place.

Miniature Cabinet 1

The miniatures cabinet here was given to me for free by a redecorating florist, as long as I would take it away myself, which I did.

I need to organise some more brackets and shelving for it at some stage.  I reckon that I could get another two rows of shelves into it if I could work out who and where to go to to get the right bits and pieces.  Maybe I might get around to it this autumn.

There are lots of figures of various quality on show in that cabinet with my Sin Eaters Chaos Space Marine army on the bottom left and my Iacon Eldar on the bottom right.

The top shelf has loads of stuff on it dating back as far as the mid eighties right up to a year or so ago.  It consists of 6mm Epic stuff, Blood Bowl teams, some Elves, some Lizardmen, some Robots, some Grey aliens and loads of other bits and pieces.  I have plenty more in storage too waiting for some more shelf space.

Miniature Cabinet 2

The second smaller Ikea cabinet houses my more recent stuff.  This photo is a year old now though, so its a bit out of date in terms of its content.  This cabinet has worked out well and I plan to get one or two more along with more consistent shelving for the entire room later in the year.

Lead Storage

The boxes in the corner here contain some of my shamefully large unpainted lead mountain.  The less said about that the better.

Mostly Comics

Mostly comics on these shelves along with some of the assorted toys and Optimus Prime helmets and other bric a brac that dorks like me tend to accumulate for unclear reasons.

Rules

This set of shelves is largely rulebooks and game related magazines etc.  It will become slightly neater once I reorganise the room in a month or two (after the now obligatory trip to Ikea).

I have done a little work and reorganisation to the room since those photos were taken and I plan to do a large overhaul in the autumn.  I will probably revisit this topic then.

Randolph

Randolph

(To the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)


Randolph the zombie reindeer,

Caught the virus from his clothes,

And if you ever saw him,

He would try and bite your throat,


He hated the other reindeer,

And so he ate all of their brains,

They never bet poor Randolph,

Would enter a state of prion induced cannibalistic living death that would result in their souls being drained.


100% Polyester

Randolf is my favourite figure from the Studio Miniatures “A Christmas Nightmare” pack.  Like the majority of Studio Miniatures stuff, the figure is very nicely sculpted.

My painting worked out well here I think, as I was concerned that Randolphs costume would look like the appropriate horrible, cheap and sweaty material rather than actual fur.  Having spent a couple of hours in a Sylvester the Cat outfit many years ago, getting that part of the painting right was a priority.  I can still remember the smell, and I wasnt even dead.

Happy Secular-mas.

Running out of Patients Pt 1

Out Patients

I had two zombie miniature related problems.  One issue was that the Mantic zombies and ghouls that I owned were going to be hard to make look like modern figures.  The second problem was that I didnt have any figures that I had specifically designated for use as fast/rage zombies in games.

I decided to kill two birds with one stone by theming my fast zombies as hospital patients.  That way the slightly odd toga like clothing could be painted to feasibly look like hospital gowns.  Thematically, the idea that some sort of “cure” administered in a hospital could have backfired and had a negative effect that created a more hyperactive version of the infected works for me.  You could call it the “running” out of patients maybe, but Id rather you didnt.

Having recently picked up the Studio Miniatures Big Zombie Deal I also decided to add the patients from Zombie Mob 5 who also fit nicely with my Patient Zero figure from last year.  Hopefully the “proper” dead patients lend some authenticity to the Mantic stuff.

In keeping with how I am basing my zombies for gaming, fast zombies have a hex-base, while regular zombies have standard round bases and so on.  Just in case anyone is wondering about why the bases vary.

As ever the figures are painted to a decent enough tabletop standard and definitely not as display pieces.  This is the first batch.  I have a few more batches coming up with similar skin tones but wearing different gowns and the like.  There will be twenty eight or so when the sub-project is finished.

Back To The (Grim, Dark) Future Pt5

Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

For the final game we switched the forces from the previous game around.  This time the Kouranaya Craftworld Eldar Kill Team would be attacking the Sin Eaters.

GAME 5: Kouranaya Craftworld Eldar Kill Team Vs Sin Eaters Chaos Space Marines

The Sin Eaters set up with squads of three sentries plus Brother Damien leading the defence.

In Kill Team the more exceptions that are made to build the Kill Team force the more sentries are allowed in defence.  Additionally, the defenders are allowed to buy one low level character who in this case was Brother Damien.

Brother Damien and his bodyguard are shown above guarding the dark altar with Trixie the captured Eldar tied up and ready for sacrifice.

MT went for a pretty big, pretty bog standard codex squad Kill Team, with few alterations made to it (the added Howling Banshee being the only one that I remember). This also made for correspondingly smaller defending forces.

Personally my preference for Kill Teams is to use mixtures of figure types to make for a fun, idiosyncratic group of badasses, like the guys from Predator or the A-Team or whatever.  While this may not always be the most effective way of ensuring a win, the team in itself will be a talking point and fun to use.  This meant that I thought that the Kill Team above was dull, even if it meant that it stood a better chance of winning the game.

The vast Kill Team surged forward and swamped the first group of sentries…

…killed them and proceeded towards the next bunch…

…bumped them off…rinsed, repeated…

…and made it to the altar and mangled the defenders there too.  Successful, for the victorious Eldar yes.  For the people playing it was less so.  A humdrum exercise in dice rolling.  Yawn.

———-

Conclusions:  that was dull, but mercifully quick, showcasing the worst of 40k.  The perfect venture to enable me to put all of that stuff behind me again for another five years at least.

I still hope to use my 40k figures in a skirmish level game at some point soon, but as yet I havent found something suitable.  Savage Worlds Showdown is the next rule set that I am going to consider.

Back To The (Grim, Dark) Future Pt4

Parts 1, 2 and 3.

For the second last game of 40k that we played that weekend we decided to try a “Kill Team” scenario.  For those that dont know, Kill Team is a way of playing games using a small, hand-picked force from an army list that doesnt conform to the usual restrictions and getting them to do something cinematic like rescue a hostage, blow up a reactor etc.  It is a potentially fun way to use some of the more oddball figures in your collection to do something worthy of a crappy yet entertaining movie.  One of the main reasons to play miniature games in my opinion.

Kill Team games are also by definition quick affairs with only a handful of figures on one side and not really a vast amount on the other side either, sentry types mostly.

GAME 4: Sin Eaters Kill Team Vs Kouranaya Craftworld Eldar

The Sin Eater Kill Team consisted of three Chaos Space marines (here and here), of which one had a Plasma Gun (right), two Possessed Marines from Squad Nemesis and Sgt Damien, a vintage Nurgle Chaos Renegade that I am very fond of (he oozes character), representing a Veteran Sergeant/Aspiring Champion type.

The Kouranaya Eldar set up around the table in an unalerted state, talking about the good old days ten thousand years ago when they didnt have to live like monks for fear of their souls being devoured by an evil god (represented by the yellow markers.  The unlaerted state that is, not the evil god).  The floating pyramid in the middle of the table is the webway portal which the Kill Team has been sent to destroy.

The Kill Team enter from the East…

…and quickly blow one unit of Guardians to pieces, forcefeed knuckle sandwiches to a second squad and send a third running back home to tell on them.  All in a days work for paranormal, post-human, pestilent pantheon proclaimers.

Although the Kill Team kept the noise down a reasonable amount, most of the Eldar cottoned on (the yellow markers have turned red) and they regrouped ready to provide a reasonably coherent defence of the portal.

The Kill Team is surrounded.  What we got here is a Mexican stand off… ‘cept there aint no Mexicans.

In a potent display of why the Kill Team is comprised of the best of the best (with honours), the Guardians are either killed or driven off, with some casualties to the Sin Eaters.

Sgt Damien allows himself a rare, rotten-gobbed smile as the corrupting influence of Chaos permeates the sacred ground of the Eldar, all according to plan.

——-

Conclusions:  The game was fun, but would probably have been more so if another gaming system was used: it was hampered by the Warhammer system.

I was surprised at the time when GW published the Kill Team rules and even more so when they codified them fully and comprehensively in the 4th edition rulebook.  It showed that they were willing to acknowledge that there was more to figure gaming than just their usual tedious big battle fare.  Within the limitations of the 40k system they did a good job too.

I dont think that the Kill Team rules are included in the current rulebook which is both a sign of the times and a pity.

Part FIVE.

Back To The (Grim, Dark) Future Pt3

Part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

Using the last game for rules of thumb we decided to throw points values out of the window.  We then tweaked the scenario to represent the disruption by Harlequins of a daemonic summoning ritual by the Sin-Eaters.

The main reason for that scenario was that I wanted to use some of the daemon and other miniatures that I painted for the army years ago that never proved viable enough for regular play.  It is always fun going back to play with figures that were fun to paint that never got much table time for whatever reason.

GAME 3: Harlequins Vs Sin Eaters Chaos Space Marines

We set  up as above but doubled the number of sentries as the Harlequins had too easy a time avoiding them in the previous game.

Nonetheless two troupes made short work of the sentries on the Western side.

That didnt slow down the summoning ritual though.  Swarms of Nurglings and and a group of Plaguebearers poured through the rift that was being opened by the Plague Marines.  Sin-Eaters Bikers also came in from the East in support.

Nurglings swarmed over one squad of Harlequins, catching them unawares and killing them unexpectedly.  The fight between the Plaguebearers and the second troupe caused casualties on both sides.

Eldar Guardians from the Kouranaya Craftworld stepped through their webway portal (the tacky looking golden pyramid) to support the Harlequins.  The Sin Eater bikers adjusted to an intercept course.

Tough as they were the Plaguebearers were finding it difficult to withstand the repeated hit and run attacks from the Harlequin troupe.  The Nurglings unexpected run of luck didnt hold and a fully expected obliteration occurred at the hands of the third troupe.

Sin Eater Havocs moved in from the South West and deployed their heavy weapons to cover the altar.

A solitary Plaguebearer was all that remained of the unit as the troupe disengaged ready to charge in again.

The armoured bikers were too tough for the guardians who were wiped out after a protracted fight.

More Guardians came through the Webway portal just as the Bikers finished off the first Guardian squad while the surviving Harlequins circled the altar ready to assault.

With heavy casualties on both sides the Harlequins nearly dislodge the Plague Marines from the altar…

…but a Chaos Spawn congeals out of nowhere and lands behind the surviving troupe.  It looks bad for the Eldar.

The Harlequins on the altar are killed by the remaining Plague Marines, Chaos Spawn and solitary Plaguebearer.  The Harlequins backflip out of combat with the bikers as the guardians kill another, leaving only the Sergeant.

This frees up the last Harlequin troupe to rush back towards the altar.  Unexpected supporting fire from the final Guardian squad that just warped in proves lethal in combination with the Harlequins sidearms.

The Guardians finally tear the biker sergeant from his saddle and riddle him with close range shuriken fire while the remnants of the last troupe send the final daemon back to the hole that spawned him.  Bloody but victorious the Eldar prepare to set explosives and counter wards to ensure that the altar can never be used again.

————————————-

Conclusions:

Although at this stage we were tiring of our trip down 40k memory lane, with all of its dead ends and turn offs that go nowhere and for no real reason, that game ended up being quite fun, if a bit linear and predictable.  It was close in the end and it was evocative of the source material.  That is the most that we could have hoped for in fairness.

Parts FOUR and FIVE.

Back To The (Grim, Dark) Future Pt2

Part 1 with some preamble is here.

There was only a little bit of vague information about Eldar Pirates in the Rogue Trader book before White Dwarf 127 brought in swathes of background and info regarding the Craftworld Eldar.  Before that the only Eldar worth talking about were the Harlequins.

Last year MT painted up a bunch of Harlequins that he had traded with me years ago which were last seen in a Space Hulk here.  Despite how cool the original Harlequin stuff was back in the day neither of us had been involved in a game using them (apart from a few abortive attempts to use the silly Harlequin list from the Citadel Journal circa 2001).

The current Eldar Codex and the new Dark Eldar Codex both have rules for Harlequin Squads that looked good to us.  It seemed like GW had finally got the Harlequin power level right: stylish and effective rather than bland and ineffectual (Eldar Codices 1 and 2) and playable rather than broken (Citadel Journal Harlequin list).  So we were pleased to be able to finally play a game of 40K with them so many years later.

GAME 2: Sin Eaters Vs Unknown Harlequin Troupe

We set up an Altar of eeevil in the middle of the table with Sin-Eaters holding it and four Chaos Marine sentries surrounding them.  We decided to play a second, more involved scenario with daemon summoning etc after this one,  once we had an idea of how well the Harlequins functioned.  This game was to be all about how the Cosmic Elf Ninja Clowns work in their current form.

The Troupe started off on the Western edge.

With all of the panache that one would expect from a group of almost immortal space ninja elves devoted to a god of violent deception, a pair of Chaos Marine sentries were silently bumped off.

A trio of Sin-Eater bikers rush in from the East in response.

The irresistible force of the Harlequins meets the immovable object of the Plague Marines.  Something had to give.

It turned out that the Plague Marines caved to the flurry of attacks brought about by the Harlequin ability to Hit and Run.  Say what you like about 40k, but it felt just right, one of the rare marriages of the background and the game mechanics in action.

The last Plague Marine regrouped with the depleted biker squad, but the fight was gone out of them.  Their indistinct would-be assassins encircled.

The last of the Chaos forces were wiped out and the Harlequins won by a large margin.

————————-

Conclusions: Already a number of the tried and utterly untrusted mechanisms of 40k were starting to wear thin.  We glossed over these with the wave of our hands and the application of hazily remembered other rules from the various editions of the system over the years.  This kept the game going, but obviously wasnt ideal.  Also the IGo/UGo nature of the game felt scripted and dull.

On the plus side it was nice to play with Harlequins that felt like how we thought that they should feel after all these years (thin and muscley with an excellent skincare regime in case you were wondering).

Digging out older figures that havent seen the light of day for a while (like the Sin Eaters) for a game is always a little bit of a kick.  The fight between the Harlequins and the Plague Marines on the altar was evocative because of the thinly applied setting/scenario and because the rules actually helped the events to feel authentic.  This is a main goal for me with miniature games so that was a big plus.

Parts THREEFOUR and FIVE.

Back To The (Grim, Dark) Future Pt1

I have had a love/hate relationship with Warhammer 40000 since 1989.

Although I played a lot of games in that setting for years, I finally put it to one side in the mid 2000s.  I stopped reading White Dwarf, stopped buying Codices and stopped painting 40K figures.  I love the daft futuristic dark age setting but the games themselves extremely rarely lived up to the potential set by the background and so, that was that.

To make a long story short-ish, a few factors combined recently (namely the Horus Heresy series of novels, the totally unsuspected GW re-release of Space Hulk and the Fantasy Flight Warhammer/40K themed boardgames etc) that gradually worked on my subconscious to the point that I planned a gaming weekend with the main emphasis being on playing some small (400-600pt) games of 40K.  I guarantee that I am more surprised at this than you may be.

Despite my 180 degree turnaround on earlier standpoints regarding my willingness to play games of 40K at all, I still wasn’t prepared to play the rules as they are currently written.  Long time game co-conspirator MT and I decided to play using a hodge-podge version of the rules based mostly on our favourite 3rd edition, except where we didn’t want to because we felt that newer rules were better.  None of the rules selected as “better” were written down in advance.

Needless to say, that made this is an imprecise art, best only attempted by players that have successfully played the game together for a long time and who are not obsessed with trying to screw each other over.  I decided to play with MT anyway (thats a joke, geddit?)  Despite the fact that “jamming” with rules sets isn’t really our scene and the high potential for friction it worked out for us for these games.

We mostly played scenario heavy games, rather than the line-them-up-and-knock-them-down dice fests that 40K is infamous for.

This short series will document a small number of those games, mostly pictorially.

————-

GAME 1: Sin-Eaters Chaos Space Marines Vs Emperors Voice Space Marines

As this was the first game that I had played for a very long time we decided to go with a quick scenario-less game first of all.

Unsurprisingly both sides moved towards the middle, with the exception of the Emperors Voice Devastator squad who too the high ground in their deployment zone.  So far, so predictable.

The Sin Eaters Plague Marine Squad Klaus and Possessed Squad Nemesis along with Squad Van Helden took cover in the ruined temple.


Plum the cat observes the Emperors Voice force form a firing line ready to receive the inevitable charge of the more close combat orientated Chaos troops.

Sgt Klaus (with Klaus played by Brother Bakul in this instalment) is the only surviving member of his squad to reach the loyalist lines, where he begins to make them pay by bludgeoning them with his power weapon.

Chaos firepower almost wipes out a squad of loyalists, while Squad Nemesis is reduced to two survivors from reciprocal shots.  Sgt Klaus shrugs off the assault marines attacks against his bloated undead and armoured hide and kills a marine.

The remnants of Squad Nemesis combine with Sgt Klaus to kill another pair of Assault Marines.

The Tactical Sergeant kills the two Possessed with his power axe but Klaus kills everything in the area including the Tac Sarge.  Standing in the open and covered in gore, Klaus screams his defiance at the heavens.  Then the Devastators on the hill finally get a target again and blow him into rotting, slimy chunks with heavy weapon fire.
The Loyalists win.

Conclusions:In theory, having a large number of units in a game can provide some redundancy so that odd changes in fortune can either be exploited or countered by units held for such a purpose.

That’s the theory anyway, it never applies to games of 40K as the armies are set up so close together and have been min/maxed in such a way as to render thoughts of tactical or strategic play more or less redundant.  It’s a game of point your guys in the direction of the enemy and press “Go”.

This effect is exaggerated by smaller forces like those that we were playing with.  That said, that game was essentially a standard game of 40K in microcosm.

Parts TWO, THREE, FOUR and FIVE.

The Zompocalypse Will Be Televised.

ZTV News Team

These two figures come from the limited edition Frothers sculpting competition winners from last year.  As far as I know they havent been made available anywhere else since, but I could be wrong.  Its a pity if they havent as they are really very nice sculpts.

I have seen pairs of reporters in 28mm a couple of times before, once from EM4 and once from Copplestone Castings.  While those figures are also great its the body armour on this pair that makes them stand out a little.  Despite the inherent daftness of body armour that fashionably exposes the wearers midriff, the body armour and reporting-from-a-warzone look is very appropriate for a zompocalypse game.

Some real life press in body armour have “PRESS” written across their gear.  I didnt have the patience to paint that on to the figures so I settled for five white lines on each of their backs.  From the distance that the figures are viewed from on the table it really is much of a muchness anyway.

Reporting live from the hot zone.

The paint job on these turned out ok (apart from the fact that I forgot to finish the face of the female figures watch before I took the photos).

To be honest painting the pair was a chore for a few reasons unconnected to the figures themselves.  Between daylight bulbs on my painting lamp blowing at inconvenient times, spilling the entire pot of one of the paints that I was using all over my painting area and finally dropping and breaking the cameraman on the floor when the painting was nearly finished, for a few weeks it looked like these figures were destined to remain unfinished forever.  As such I am happy that they got to this stage at all really.

I plan to use the News Team as special objective pieces in games of (Sho.R.T.) AR:SE.  They could also feature in other games in a variety of usually scenario specific roles.

Penultimate Vanity Project #1: Modern Zompocalyptic Me

The inaugural Penultimate Vanity Project offering is modern era, zompocalypse survivor Paul.

Modern Survivor Me

I decided to start this series with the model that most closely represents what I actually look like.  All further PVP entries (no matter how esoteric) can therefore be measured against this one.

The figure is Baker from Hasslefrees Adventurers range.

I bought the figure specifically to paint up as a modern version of myself for gaming with.  Despite all of my recent talk about using certain heads, cats, glasses and the like to create a recognisable “branding” of my self-portrait figures, I didn’t do anything like that this time.  I considered adding glasses to the model but didn’t for two reasons: the hood made it awkward and the miniature is so beautifully sculpted (as one would expect from Hasslefree) that I didn’t want to cover up the detail with some crude conversion work.

What I did do was paint the clothes to match some things that I wear in real life.  The Sho3box Zompocalyptic Fall Collection consists of:

  • Black hoodie with white piping  – Dunnes Stores – €9
  • Brown/Olive Drab jacket – Dunnes Stores – €38
  • Green Incredible Hulk t-shirt with Lou Ferrigno detail – Unknown Online Retailer $25USD inc shipping
  • Blue jeans – Penneys – €15
  • Black and Yellow Gola Trainers – Schuh.ie – €25 (sale price)

The miniature is sculpted wearing boots rather than trainers.  I don’t tend to wear boots very often so I decided to paint them up like a pair of my trainers anyway.  For the delectation of all of you fashionistas out there the trainers and the t-shirt are shown below.

Trainers

28mm Trainers

Hulk T-Shirt

 

I got a bit lazier than usual when highlighting the jacket, as is quite visible in the shot below.  As the viewers eye tends to be drawn to the face and bright green shirt I don’t think that it matters that much really.

Why am I only wearing one glove?

Although the real me is unlikely to behave in a terribly pro-active fashion in the event of the cannibalistic dead walking the Earth, I figured that some artistic licence was required to make a gaming piece that would be fun to use.  Although obtaining a muzzle suppressed machine pistol in rural Ireland is difficult at the best of times, I nonetheless decided to unrealistically arm the miniature with the supplied ranged weapon rather than the crowbar (also supplied) as it would be more fun to game with.  Miniature realism is a consideration, but I am not going to let it get in the way of my fun.  For the record, I don’t own a set of knuckledusters either.

I like the way that the face came out.  It looks close enough to my face to be acceptable, although as discussed in my project introduction post, getting a 28mm replica of any specific persons face is a tall order.  The painting on the face came out quite crisp and the eyes didn’t end up too crossed, which is always a bonus.

Painting this miniature brought a few things to my attention:

  • When fully dressed I look like a hundred dollars.  Not quite “Derelicte“, but far from haute couture.  A dedicated follower of fashion?  Not so much.
  • The photo is grainy.  I really must up my miniature photo taking game one of these days.
  • Putting photos of my clothes up on my gaming miniatures blog is absurd, but strangely amusing to me.  I may do it with some other PVP entries as appropriate.  Depending on feedback of course.
  • By painting a somewhat recognisable wardrobe on a 28mm figure it is possible to get recognition factor.  When I showed this figure to gaming colleagues they “got” it. I don’t think that if they had seen the figure on the table that they would have immediately known that it was supposed to be me, but when given the figure and asked “This is supposed to be a model of me.  What do you think?” they reacted positively.  This is encouraging for future, more ludicrous Penultimate Vanity Projects in waiting.  As some of the themes used for these figures are repeated I hope that a visual shorthand will develop that will make the PVP miniatures more recognisable to the observer.
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