Friday, 30 May 2014

Playing 'A Game of Thrones' (where you win or you die)

Not mine, but a friend's. He recently got the Game of Thrones board game by Fantasy Flight Games and just got a bunch of volunteers to play it!

Gaming is coming
The game is quite complex to apprehend, but rather easy going once you get into the mechanics of it, just as almost any game by this company. Long story short, each player leads a House of Westeros and has to basically play Risk conquering other families' strongholds.

Yup, now you have the TV show OST banging in your mind
You are encouraged both to battle and negotiate alliances... which you can break later on! Your allowed units are infantry, cavalry, siege towers and naval units. You can stand 'armies' (i.e. groups of two or more units), but depending on how many resource producing lands you control, you can support bigger armies. There is a chart for that. And another chart to control how close is your family to the Iron Throne (that would determine the movement order within the turn). And another one regarding your battle skills (determining the battle order within the turn). And so on. Looks complicated, but once you begin to play, everything goes smoother.

Five families struggling over Westeros
Each player has a number of options available to the units on the board. They must be secretly decided before the turn starts, by using tokens. Once everyone has made up their decisions, you have to flip your tokens and reveal the commands your units have received: march, defend, support an adjacent unit in combat, raid or consolidate power (and eventually muster new units if you are in a stronghold or castle).

Tyrells take over King's Landing against Baratheons, under the greedy glance of the Lannisters
Depending on the power points you use each turn (by bidding them against the other players), you can gain ascendence in the Realm and, as previously told, being the first to move or atack, for example.

Then the Lannisters attack the Tyrells being supported by the Baratheons!
They take over the city and begin to sing the rains of Castamere
In the North, the Greyjoys struggle with the Starks
When in battle, each player can count on some special cards representing distinguished members of each family. They will add some modifiers to the final outcome (and definitely they add a lot of flavour to the fight!)

Aggresive guys marching to war with flowers
I guess they tend to feel horny...
The game can get a little bit messy when you have to control different lands and armies against three or four enemies at the same time, so (unstable) alliances may be quite useful.

Squiggies rule all over the North!
Besides, at the beginning of each turn you have to draw some other special event cards; then... uhhh, well, some events may happen. One of them is the Wildlings growing strong (wait, weren't those the Tyrells?) to the point of tring a raid on the Realm, forcing all the Houses to temporarily ally (or not!) against them.

You are supposed to play ten turns max, if no player has taken over seven strongholds or castles before (which is a hell of a work!). By the end of turn six (roughly a couple of hours of game) we had to quit. By then, House Greyjoy was wielding quite an overwhelming power over the Seven Kingdoms:

Five victory points out of seven. Not bad for people who do not sow
A final blurry pic
The game is fun indeed. It takes a while until you get all the dynamics, but once you are into it, everything goes quite swift. Funny thing this is a strategy game with no dice, so this is real strategy, no randomness. You have to play your cards wisely (both in real and figurative sense!) and try to find a balance between alliances and betrayals. The secret orders system makes you stay alert on what your neighbour is going to plan and how would you act to neutralise him.

The only problem is that, as you have seen... those pieces of plastic are no proper soldiers! :D Nothing too unbearable, I guess...

So another recommended game, fun to play and quite atmospherical. I own a Battles of Westeros board game, but still have to paint the minis, so I'm afraid you will have to wait a little. Some day, some day...

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

RT Bestiary: Astral Hounds

Trying to get back to normal life up here. You know, RealLifeTM insists in challenging you in so many different ways.

Anycase, I have managed to paint a little. If you remember the Psychneuein I made using Akula's Space Wasps, you may recall I said I had purchased some other beasts. Here they are, the 'Croc Hound'

Skinny dog
 My intention was to make some Astral Hounds, those WH40K RT nightmarish beings. They are Warp entities, lurking from their alternate energy dimension over unprotected psykers. Following their victim's psychic aura, they materialise in the real universe, hunt their prey and drag the unfortunate psyker into the Warp, where they feed on his psychic energy, leaving nothing behind them but a misterious absence of the poor victim, never to be seen again...

My first approach to the minis was a total bluff. I thought of them as in an outlandish look, in purple and red, just in the moment of appearing into the material universe, so the back part would be painted in black with swirls of shining energy.

Total failure
That scheme simply didn't work. They were not showing at all what I intended. Sooo, back to tile one again. I didn't want to show them in their bare muscles, skinned. There are some other Dark Eldar beasts that already look like that. I then thought of a black&white approach. The RT manual describes them as dark animals, so I figured out a black beast with white belly:

The crossing between a dog and a shark
That begun to look more like what I was looking for. I used a mix of black and blue, and the lights were made by adding 'german feldgrey' by Vallejo (a grey/green colour) to that mix. I also thought of making burning eyes and mouth, like the Balrog, maybe in red, maybe in green. But I didn't want them to look too daemon-ish. I finally made only the bright eyes, using yellow:

Grandma, what big eyes you have!
So the Hounds finally look like this:

Grrrrr... Woof, woof
A pack of three
And a final scale comparison shot:

Oh, come on, me again?
That's it, new perils to make my RT games (or whatever) more interesting. I really need to design some scenarios...

Monday, 19 May 2014

Speed drawing: Some LoTR. Oh, and some other non-related stuff

Hi there! At the moment I'm out of home, that's why during last week and this incoming one again my blogorythm is going slow. I'm in a tiny village in Germany called Oberammergau, in the Upper Bavaria, south of Munich. Attending a couple of Law courses for legal advisors, so I guess no one in the audience would like me to tell anything else about that :P

But I won't exercise my right to be silent. Though I am not painting any mini, I have been drawing some stuff. This is where inspiration is leading me:

Oh, OK, you can see nothing. I get it.
Apparently phone pics of pencil drawing suck
Not that the inking improves it, but that's what I got
So, after this movie-inspired Aragorn, I went for a Boromir:

I'm skipping the pathetic pencils process
At the moment I'm at the brink of inking this Gimli:

Though now that I'm looking at it, on a second thought he needs proper feet before inking
I guess they all look weird about perspective because of the angle of the pic. If properly scanned they should look better proportioned. Or I hope so.
Well, these are the geeky related activities I'm performing this week. I am also trying again to get practice with anatomy, so besides of these I have a new collection of... academic nudies, but they are not that proper for blogging here :D. Strictly academic, you know :D.

Now this is nothing related to the hobby, I simply can't resist posting these pics as I'm truly impressed by the beautiful landscapes over here. I'm also impressed of how can weather change here. Let me explain:

At first it was like this
But then it was like this. You can't see all the rain here
Germany, what are you doing?
Germany, stahp!
That's right, in less than a week I've been from the Plains of Rohan to the Caradhras!!

In the meantime, I've been informed that back at home, the wife and friends have been playing Zombicide this weekend:

As I'm the official painter of the group, they had no choice but to play with unpainted plastic. I will put a remedy to that as soon as I can, but I'm afraid it cannot be anytime soon.

This is it. As I'm staying over here for the rest of the week, I don't believe there will be much blog activity, but I will be back to regular rythm soon.

See you!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Shadow and flame

The title says it all! I got this Balrog when it was released, about a dozen years ago:

Painted a dozen years ago
Even then I knew I was doing something wrong, but I wasn't capable of seeing what was it. Some time ago I finally discovered. I had painted the fires just the opposite way, red in the inside and yellow/white in the outside. Ouch!

That slap in the face couldn't remain uncontested. Let's work!

Only shadow, no flame at all here...
I decided to go one step beyond. I used some Oyumaru to make molds of the fire crest:

Green flames!
Now to the very beast itself! I needed some white priming all over the back, then I started with white and yellow:

Fear the Yellow Balrog!
More variety in whites. And yellows. And then some more.
Then some orange & yellow, some pure orange, some orange & red mix... You can imagine:

Agh! It burns! It burns!
The next step was daring to paint all the small dark pieces:

One by one
Though you really can't see it well in the pics, I have used no pure black in this mini, nor have I used grey for the lights. It is all a mix of black and dark blue, highlighting by adding a little flesh colour to the mix.

More lava and magma and skin and...
This is the aspect it was getting:

Shadow and flame. It begins to look something
Rear view. By now I was going nuts
I extended the effects to other parts of the body:

Wow, baby, your thighs are on fire!
Kinda sexy
Then I begun to work on the base and other details.

Sexy? I am supposed to look scary as hell!
I hadn't shown the wings!
I painted some light effects on the skin, of course, reflected light from the flames. But by now you may be asking what were the green stuff flames for. That's a legitimate question. Let me answer. I used them on the base, as if the floor itself was caught in fire by the presence of the Balrog. That forced me to paint some additional light effects, of course. This is the final result:

Durin's Bane
What can I add? Only one thing. Predictable, but here it comes:

You cannot pass. I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The Dark Fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You shall not pass.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Project HeroQuest: Orcs (Pt. 2)

Here they are, as promised, the finished Orcs!

The final steps are these:

Lips, ears and that kind of details
I had tried not to repeat weapon & clothes colour if possible, but at some point it was just unavoidable. As the fact of having absolutely identical minis didn't allow me to sleep, I finally took the only reasonable choice I had left: To paint checkers and stripes in order to have 23 different minis, not a single pattern repeated at all.

The only reasonable choice I had left, I say
Oldschooley in all their glory
Ready to rock in rock dungeons
As a matter of fact, painting those details was a little bit insane, but once I have finished them, I must say they have much more life. Funny how these tiny pieces of decoration add so much to a mini.

Maybe the next ones will be Goblins, I still have to decide. But I believe I'll paint something different before, to let oxigen get to my brains...

See ya next week!