Archive for January, 2012

January 29, 2012

Choosing a Color Scheme

I am trying to choose a color scheme for my Undead army of miniature models. I have about 250 models of skeletons, zombies, ghouls and the like from Mantic Games. I have decided to use the Army Painter method. The Army Painter method is to use a colored spray primer, paint a base coat of basic colors, dip the model in Quickshade and then spray on an anti-shine matt varnish. Quickshade is a pigmented varnish created for use on miniature models. I have some skeleton bone primer and some dark tone Quickshade to get started. I will probably be getting some other colors of primer for the zombies and ghouls but for now I am set to do skeletons. I have been looking at other people’s pics of their armies for inspiration. I thought I might use purple for the clothing and armor. That thought was inspired by the character Skeletor from an old 80’s cartoon show called “He-Man.” I’m sure many of you know that show.


I thought I might use light blue and purple together to mimic this character. Other people have suggested the blue is too bright for an evil themed army. Possibly purple and black could be an alternative.


These are some pics I found with Google. I have been searching for the best pictures of other people’s skeleton models. I have heard positive things about the black and red combination. Those were the best of what I could find looking for skeleton model pics through Google.

Searching for other sources of inspiration, I tried to think of every character that I remembered from any work of fiction who resembled a skeleton. So I made this collection of skeletal characters gathered from movies, television and comic books.


This is a somewhat obscure comic book character from Marvel. He is Skull the Slayer. I like glowing green bones, don’t you?


This character is probably recognized instantly, the killer from the Scream moves. Black and white provide striking contrast.


This is Red Skull, a villain from the Captain America comics by Marvel. Red and black work well.


This character is one of Red Skull’s henchmen. His name is Crossbones. He has a similar look with black and white colors mostly.


This is Prime Evil, a villain from an old 1980’s cartoon show called “Ghostbusters.” I don’t think I really like the red and orange.


This is Ghost Rider from Marvel Comics. Flaming skulls are always eye catching. It’s another black and red combo with some orange.


Here is another flaming skull. This comic book character is aptly named, “Blazing Skull.” I believe he is also from Marvel.

So there is my collection of images that I have gathered in hopes of finding inspiration for choosing a color scheme. I have been using purple and green colors so far in the models that I have already painted. I can’t seem to settle on a single color scheme and I may end up using multiple color schemes for different units in my army. Other painters have encouraged me to paint test models of whatever colors appeal to me. They say the way to choose a color scheme is to paint it. It is by painting that you realize what colors are best. Thus I am off to paint. Best wishes to all.

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January 29, 2012

Introducing Infinity: The Game by Corvus Belli

I have a habit of searching the Internet for new and interesting miniature war game products. Recently I happened upon Infinity by Corvus Belli. This looks like a really great game. Infinity is a 28mm scale science fiction miniature war game.  The models are the same scale as the games of the industry leader, Games Workshop.  This game happens to use 20 sided dice instead of the familiar six sided dice.  If you are going to play this game, you will want to purchase at least a half dozen or so 20 sided dice.  The Infinity web site is extremely friendly to new players. All the information that you would want to decide if you want to play the game is readily available. New players will want to know: what items do I need to play and how much will they cost. You will want to decide which faction to play. You would want a competitive army list for your chosen faction. New players of Games Workshop or Privateer Press games are likely to be overwhelmed by the abundance of information with no concise answers available. Corvus Belli has done a very good job of making their web site friendly to new gamers. They have a great series of YouTube videos which summarize their rule system in an effective and memorable way. Here is a link to their YouTube videos:

Beginning Infinity YouTube Videos + Quick Start Rules

The Quick Start Rules are available on this same page for free download. You can start learning about the rule system by watching all the YouTube videos. Each video is about three minutes long and they are very straight forward and interesting. Once you have finished with the videos you could read the 12 page Quick Start Rules to further expand your understanding of the game. The full version of the rules are also available for free download. Here is the link for those:

Full Infinity Rules + Sample Army Lists

A digital copy of the full rules is completely free. If you want a hard copy, you will have to pay for a book.  I haven’t bought anything from the Corvus Belli web site. I have heard another gamer complain online that they have no currency conversion available in their web store. Corvus Belli is based in Spain and they use Euros as their currency. This may mean that you cannot buy from them with U.S. dollars. I haven’t attempted a purchase yet. In any case you could certainly buy from a third party online retailer based in the United States such as The War Store. At the moment the War Store happens to have sold out all their Infinity core rulebooks.  I guess this game is quite popular.  They should get some more rulebooks in stock soon.  Here is a link to the War Store’s Infinity offerings:

Infinity Models from The War Store

A typical game of Infinity uses approximately ten models for each side. According to the point system in the rules a standard game gives each player 300 points from which to purchase their models. You could decide on a larger or smaller point limit but 300 points is the standard. The models are all metal. For a first purchase, Corvus Belli recommends one the starter boxes for your chosen faction. There are typically six models in one of these starter boxes. A ten model army will cost you about $100 U.S. Dollars at the War Store. The recommended retail price of the 2nd edition rulebook is $47.25 U.S. Dollars. The War Store gives you a 20% discount off that price. The 2nd edition is the current and most recent addition. You can download all the rules for free but if you want a hard copy you will need to pay for it. It is handy to have the book because you can take it with you to your local game store. Of course you will need paints and hobby tools to paint the models. That is another cost of the hobby. Compared to other miniature war games that I have encountered, Infinity has a very low cost for starting out. You don’t need to buy a lot of stuff because you only need ten models compared to other games which might require hundreds of models. Because of the small number of models you do not need to spend as much time painting models. In terms of money and also in terms of painting time the cost of entering the game is low.

The Infinity web site has some great information to help you choose one of the seven factions to play. There are fluff YouTube videos available at the first link I gave you. You can watch these to help you decide which faction appeals to you. You will also want an army list that is competitive. Corvus Belli has actually provided some sample army lists for new players. This gives you something to use for your first games. It is great to have a sample army list for new players because it gives you an easy starting point. This helps you know what models to purchase to get started. The army lists are available on the same Infinity downloads page that has the full rules. I linked this page earlier.

The rule system seems to have a very realistic feel to it. One thing I like about it is that cover makes a very real difference in combat. Models are much more likely to survive attacks when they are in base contact with a solid piece of cover. I remember from my first game of Warhammer 40k, my opponent explained to me that my Space Marines didn’t gain any advantages from using cover because their power armor provided a better saving throw than the cover. I always thought it was a bit goofy that cover became irrelevant in 40k. They also have a rule for camouflage. Models with the camouflage skill can sneak by enemy troops and perform devastating surprise attacks. They have two types of camouflage. One is a typical present day camouflage that uses foliage and patterned clothing to blend in with surroundings. The second more effective type is a fictional technology that resembles the cloaking system that you saw in the Predator movies. Camouflage is a useful and relevant tactic in these games. There is also a rule for “combat jumps.” This is basically a paratrooper rule that allows certain models to appear anywhere on the game table if they roll successfully. The tactic for combat jumps is to attempt to send your paratrooper models behind the enemies and surprise them by attacking from the rear. If you can do this successfully you are going to get some easy kills attacking your opponent from behind. I haven’t read the full rules but I gather from the YouTube tutorials and the Quick Start Rules that the Infinity game is full of fascinating tactical choices. It has a very realistic and believable feel to it.

I thought that this blog post would be much longer. I was thinking that I would gather all the relevant information that a new gamer would want to decide if they were interesting in playing Infinity and buying some of the models. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Corvus Belli web site has already done an excellent job of answering all the questions that a new gamer would have. A long review of their game is not really needed because they have done such a good job of making all relevant information easily available to new gamers. Have fun exploring Infinity! Take care.

January 14, 2012

Meet Privateer Press

Introduction

I started painting miniature models four months ago. Most people when they are first introduced to this hobby buy something from the industry leader Games Workshop. For example, I picked up the Assault on Black Reach boxed set with models intended for use in the Warhammer 40k game system. Something you will rapidly learn if you do any comparison shopping is that Games Workshop products dependably have the highest prices you can find anywhere. The pricing is a source of bitter resentment among some Games Workshop customers. The Internet has no shortage of bitter angry forum posts, YouTube videos, blogs and so on. Games Workshop customers are consistently angry, unhappy and resentful toward this company. I don’t feel this way because I stopped buying stuff from Games Workshop.

Here is a positive action plan to help foster your own happiness and inner peace while shopping for models. As soon as you see the Games Workshop logo on a product you are holding, stop immediately, drop the box, raise your hands to a defensive position and carefully back away from the box toward the nearest exit. Then retreat to your car, quickly drive home and buy something online from another company at a lower price. At this point I would recommend enjoying a moment of silent reflection to meditate on how much your life has improved because your recent positive choices. That was quite a close call indeed.

As you read this you may ask yourself, “If I don’t buy from Games Workshop what other company would I buy from?” That is an excellent question to ask and it is worthy of thought and research. In order to help answer this question I hope to make several blog posts summarizing the offerings of Games Workshop’s various competitors. It is my conviction that many Games Workshop customers chose that company because they just happen to be ignorant of the many excellent products available from competitors at lower prices. Buying from Games Workshop is like suffering from a curable disease. It’s unnecessary. There is help out there. We can do this together.

This post is about a company called Privateer Press. I understand this company is fairly successful. I have the impression that they are the second most popular miniature war game company next to Games Workshop. I base this opinion on the number of people I know who play their games. I don’t have any survey data or anything so formal to back this opinion up. Anyway this blog post is to help you decide if you want to buy into their game system. I want to share with you all the information I have collected from the Internet and help you make an informed decision.

Balance in Warmachine and Hordes

Before I proceed let me just say that I haven’t either bought or played any products from this company. I am confessing to you that I am not any sort of expert on their games. I am like you a consumer and a gamer. This is my perspective. Although I can’t seem to resist poking fun at Games Workshop I promise that I am going to strive to be unbiased and objective about the offerings of Privateer Press. Here goes.

The flag ship product from Privateer Press is called Warmachine. They also have a second very similar game called Hordes. The Privateer Press web site calls Hordes the “feral twin” of Warmachine. The two games are intended to work together. Gamers sometimes refer to the two games together by the slang word “Warmahordes.” You could take your army from a Hordes game and have a battle with your friend’s army from Warmachine. While the Privateer Press web site insists that the two games are “fully compatible” I have read posts that suggest that the company has some difficulty balancing the rules between the systems.

    

What is rule balance you ask? Well war games like these have different factions. Each player chooses a faction and collects his army of models from said faction and then goes to battle against other players of different factions or in some games the same faction. There is this notion that in an ideal “balanced” game, each faction would be of equal strength and have an equal chance of winning against any opposing faction. Gamers like balance because it means that players win or lose based on their skills and knowledge and not based on arbitrary advantages gained from picking a certain overpowered faction. Games Workshop has a reputation for deliberately creating an unbalanced game. Every time Games Workshop releases new models they release a new codex (rule book) with the models. Typically the most powerful units in the game are also the newest models recently released. Cynics claim that Games Workshop deliberately skews the balance of its game to drive sales. Every time they want to sell some new models they release new rules for said models that make those models the most powerful in the game. Gamers get annoyed with this because it reduces the overall quality of the gaming experience. Knowledge and skill no longer achieve victory in the game. The way you win the game is just to plunk down your money on the newest models and then you will be unstoppable. Some gamers will switch factions constantly so that they can always be playing an army of the latest models. This is called “codex hopping.” These players tend to spend huge sums of money on the hobby and they tend to consistently beat the players that don’t switch factions. The players that don’t do codex hopping resent the ones that do. These are all the sorts of problems that arise from having an unbalanced game.

This would lead you to ask, “Are Warmachine and Hordes balanced?” The answer to that question is not a “yes” or a “no.” It is difficult to make a balanced game because you want each faction to be unique, interesting and different from all others in meaningful ways. At the same time the game designers want each faction to have an equal chance of winning. So it is hard to achieve balance. Warmachine players sometimes assert that Warmachine and Hordes are better balanced than the Games Workshop games. Warmachine and Hordes games are certainly not perfectly balanced and they do have problems where certain units seem overpowered. That said, greater balance seems to be a selling point for Privateer Press.

Warmachine and Hordes Models

Miniature models for war games are manufactured to a certain scale. Warmachine and Hordes models are described as having a 30mm scale. That is supposed to be the distance from a model’s eyes to the ground. For comparision Warhammer 40k models are in a 28mm scale. So these models are all slightly larger than what most new war gamers are familiar with.

    

Miniature models are made of various materials. They can be made of either plastic or metal. Plastic is cheaper. Metals are more expensive but I have heard it said that metal models have finer detail. Some people find the metal models to be worth the additional cost because of the greater detail. Privateer Press makes an awful lot of metal models. I think most of their stuff is metal. A disadvantage that comes with metal models is that you cannot modify metal models as easily. Some hobbyists will heavily modify their plastic models by cutting them apart and attaching pieces (bitz) from other model kits. Someone might cut off a monster’s head and replace it with an alternate head for example. Weapons are often replaced in the same way. They call this “converting” the model. You can’t really cut up a metal model this way so that is one complaint that hobbyists have about Privateer Press’ choice to use metal. A related complaint that hobbyists have about the Privateer Press models is that they can only be assembled in one way. Other companies might sell a model kit with extra pieces that provide a variety of options. For example one model might come with three head pieces that could be used. So often the hobbyist has some flexibility and choice when they assemble. Privateer Press doesn’t include many extra bitz and so their really isn’t much flexibility in the assembly of their models.

The models for Warmachine and Hordes tend to be a lot of larger models. They have a lot of these things called Warjacks and Warbeasts. Much of your army will include these large models on bases that are 30mm wide or even larger. Other games might have you making a lot of infantry units on 20mm wide square bases or 25mm wide round bases. Privateer Press likes using larger models.

When two players play Warmachine or Hordes, the first thing they need to decide about their game is the point size. Every miniature war game that I know of has some kind of points system. Each player receives the same amount of points and their models are “bought” by using points from the pool. This is supposed to ensure that each army is of approximately equal strength. Adjusting the point cost of each model is one of the main ways that game designers attempt to achieve balance. Most games of Warmachine or Hordes are 25 or 35 point games. Some times I have seen battle reports online with games of 70 points or higher. You can play with as many points as you want to. Most games though are 25 or 35 points. A 35 point army usually consists of between 20 and 25 models although you might end up with more or less based on your unit choices. Based on the army lists of other players that I have seen in online forums, I would say that a 35 point army of models will cost you between $260 and $350. It varies depending on your specific unit selections. If you opt for an army with more models then you will have to spend more. This is a rough estimate. A 35 point game between two players who are each familiar with the rules will take about 45 minutes to complete. When you haven’t yet got a good grasp of the rules your games will take longer as you have to keep looking things up in the rulebook.

Almost all the models are sold individually or in small units of six models or less. There is one product called, the “Two Player Battle Box.” This boxed set contains 17 models, dice, ruler, rulebook and some other literature. The models are divided into two forces one group of Khador and the other a group of the Protectorate of Menoth. The Two Player Battle Box sells for one hundred dollars and it is a good value. If you are interested in either the Khador or Menoth factions you should seriously consider it. If you like one of the other factions, you have fewer options. There are one player Battle Boxes for almost all the other factions. Each one sells for fifty dollars. The Battle Boxes always tend to be the best value for the money. Once you know which faction you want to play, look for a Battle Box for that faction. The Battles Boxes make ideal first purchases.

Choosing a Faction

Which faction should you choose? That is a difficult question to answer. There are six factions in Warmachine (if you count the mercenaries as a separate faction). There are another four factions in Hordes. You could choose any of these. Some people choose a faction based on the fluff or the fiction that goes with each faction. If for example you think that undead skeleton monsters are really cool, then you will likely enjoy playing the Cryx faction. You might choose a faction based on what type of models you like to paint. You can take a look at the sculpting of each model and base your decision on that. Often players will choose a faction based on the game tactics that go with each faction. Each faction lends itself to certain tactical play styles in the game. I don’t really feel that I know enough about this game to make recommendations on which faction to choose. I just recommend that you put some thought into the decision. Remember many players collect multiple armies from multiple factions. This is not a decision that you have to be married to until your death. I want to include a link to this helpful guide for choosing a faction. This is a great guide by Fireman Tim that I found on a forum. It is incomplete because it has no content about the Retribution of Scyrah faction or the Mercenaries. I believe that this guide was written before those factions were released. There is nothing at all in this guide for the Hordes game. This a Warmachine only guide. For further information and guidance on choosing a faction, I encourage you to research on your own.

Warmachine Faction Guide

Other Games and Products by Privateer Press

That is essentially all that I have to say about the Warmachine and Hordes games. I also want to also briefly mention other products sold by Privateer Press that you might consider. Privateer Press has a free iPhone app called “iBodger.” This is a great little app for tracking your collection of models. If you have an iPhone and you’re into Privateer Press then definitely download this app and make use of it. There is also an Android version of the same app.  Privateer Press has a magazine called “No Quarter.” The magazine has articles about all things related to the Warmachine and Hordes games.  Game tactics, model painting, terrain building and product previews are the magazine’s contents. They come out with six issues a year. A single issue is $5.99 and an annual subscription runs at $48. Privateer Press sells its own range of paints called, “Formula P3.” These paints come in little pots. They sell them in six pot packages intended to include all the colors needed for a specific faction. One of the six pot packages is $18. You can also buy individual pots for $3.50 each. They sell other hobby supplies including paint brushes, black and white spray primer, a wet palette, a “How to Paint” DVD, plastic clippers, a pin vice, a file set, hobby knives, supper glue and so on.

    

There are a number of other games sold by Privateer Press. They have a Role-playing Game rule system for their fantasy world. It’s called the Iron Kingdoms RPG. You can use miniature models with this RPG. They sell a good number of models for this specific purpose. The have a game that uses prepainted models called, “Monsterpocalypse.” This game is about fighting battles between creatures such as King Kong or Godzilla. Each player uses his own collection of models. The rules for this game are constantly being changed and updated as new models are continually being released. To remain competitive as a player you need to keep buying the booster packs that contain new models. They have a science fiction “sports” game called Grind. Grind is a sport played by giant steam powered robots. These robots kick around a giant spiked steel ball on a playing field suspended over molten lava. This is a board game that uses miniature models to represent the robots. It is five models to a team with two teams. They also have a few other board games and card games. I will not mention these because they don’t use miniature models.

    

Well that is my overview of all the products sold by Privateer Press. I hope that this information is helpful to you and interesting. I send my best wishes to you my readers. Take care.