Monday, 30 November 2015

Walking on the DUST

Hi there! Just finished the Walkers during the weekend, so I got everything DUST painted so far!

First thing, I primed them and applied the basecoat:

You can guess which side each one fights for
These are quite easy models to paint, big surfaces and not that big amount of annoying details, I believe they keep a 1940's aesthetics of 'utility is more important than design' which is great.
After that, I highlighted them and painted both SSR and Hydra emblems and stuff...

They both are beauty in their uglyness
After metals and basing, this is how they looked like:

With only a few arrangements, I believe this would make a great Slaanesh walker
A legged Sdkfz. Makes me want more
So with these I have both forces complete (for the moment!). Both Strategic Scientific Reserve:


And Hydra:



I still need to include some cool characters, but for the moment this is more than enough to play a few skirmishes! I haven't played DUST Tactics for ages, so I'm all rusty about the rules. I clearly need to solve that...

Friday, 27 November 2015

Old School Workshop triennium

Hi fellow readers!
Today I just want to celebrate that exactly three years ago I started this blogging adventure. Three whole years... And here we are!
2015 has been quite exceptional for me. Last summer my firstborn Suberling was born and, as those among you who are parents already know... wow, it all changes!
But this is not about my personal life, but about minis, boardgames and any geek stuff I dare to do! As you already know, I'm not a numbers guy, but this is the only post along the year in which I include some statistics. 145186 visits by now, along 290 posts (98 of them since the last anniversary).
Top 5 countries remain exactly like last year: 38079 visits from USA, 28664 from Spain, 16631 from UK, 8004 from France and 7646 from Germany. Besides, 30 more people have come onboard this silly blog, we are 149 now...

OK, those are the cold numbers. But what they don't cover, what they don't talk about is the joy behind each brush stroke, the stupid smile on my face after each project finished, the feeling that all of you, lurkers and residents, make this possible. Your continous effort to cheer me up and your inconditional support to my silly ideas make me keep on the line. Sharing my shenanigans with all of you and learning from all your comments and your blogs make this experience totally exhilarating. So a huge THANKS to all of you. From the heart, thank you.

Now for Year Four! Let's discover together what it brings upon!!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Hail Hydra!

As promised, here you have the DUST Axis Infantry (with a twist!).


I must confess these were even more enjoyable than the SSR ones. I had to face the choice of going comic-style or movie-style. I chose the latter, and I think it was for the best.

Incredibly unfocused pic
Dark green uniforms with red trims and black armour pieces. If only he guns were a little bit more pulp...

No, that guy is not from the gas station
 For the heavy armours I chose the grey pattern, as I thought they looked better. Strict black was too dark and made them lose detail visually speaking.

I love these. They are all I could expect
These are charming too, they look like some kind of Hydra A-Team
When I learn how take decent pics I'll make these look better
So this is the infantry! Now I still have both walkers from the core box (Allied and Axis SSR and Hydra) left.

Anyway, as I told you, bonus! I just came over the same process I followed with the SSR. I also painted the German guys from the Bolt Action Normandy Starter Pack, including their special leader mini.

Mass production painting is my friend
So, when I put these along my other Germans, this is what I get...

Some nice numbers for a decent skirmish
I have just primed both walkers, so I hope they will be ready for next week :) More stuff coming soon!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Archive pics: DUSTed Iron Man

Today's post is mainly a self-justification for last week's DUST minis:D
If I was to work with the SSR/Hydra fluff in mind it was due to the likeness to do so with these minis; after all, they have all you need for the ambientation: strange weapons, cool looks on the sculpts and all the awesomeness any Weird World War needs. But, as I told you, the idea also came to me as this wasn't the first time I was moving towards this target... ;)

About three years ago, before I started the blog, I had played the game with Keyan Sark and had signed on a few combined projects. One of them was precisely this one, making Marvel characters fit into the game. One of them was Howard Stark, who was developing an early version of the later Iron Man armour (OK, not canon, but hey, the idea was too irresistible, so who cares!). So Keyan asked me to sculpt that prototype for him...

We used a Sgt. Rhino body as a starting point. I removed the jump pack and the hand rockets, replaced the head and added a few silly sculpts here and there...

Fat Iron Man!
The base for the head in fact was a GW Space Marine one, with the details and shapes removed. It proved good enough for my purposes, giving me an idea of proportion and stuff.

Space Marine Mk.0
This was my work. From now on, what you are about to see is Keyan's work. He painted the mini in classic Iron Man colours, red and yellow.

Now it is recognizable
You think my son invented a single thing? Ha!
You can bite my shiny metal ass
As you can see, his paintjob is terrific, I love what he did here. If I'm to tell the truth I would have picked a more war-torn approach myself. Olive green or grey maybe, to set it into the war context and making this clearly a prototype, different from later Iron Man versions. But Keyan's brushwork is by all means faithful to the character and looks gorgeous!

If you are wondering how to use this in the game, here you have the character sheet:





Please visit Keyan's blogpost to look for the roots of this lovely crazyness. You'll find there the useful link to that card (and others!) His blog never disappoints!

I wasn't able to finish the Hydra guys this weekend, but they are on their way. Soon... Soon...

Thursday, 19 November 2015

DUST... with a twist

You should have seen this coming. Yet another totally different project, unrelated to anything you had previously seen here. Yup, that's me. Now that the DUST has settled (what an awful pun), it gets my interest :D
I'm not getting into the crowdfunding and the war associated to it. I'm just interested in the minis and the game, let's leave it here. I got to know the game back in the day from the hands of mighty Keyan Sark. We played a couple of games a few years ago and I totally bit the hook.  Unfortunately I didn't get any stuff of my own until last year, when I got a juicy offer for the DUST Tactics starter pack and a few more boxes. More unfortunately, I haven't been able to paint them until now!!

Anyway, I disgress. For those of you not knowing of the game, it's just Weird WWII. Strange weapons, cool Alien tech, gorilla wariors, that kind of stuff. How could I resist? Buuuut, once I got my minis on the workbench, I suddenly came with one of my weird, stupid ideas. What if I totally disregard DUST background and I take all this to... another fandom level? Hmmm...
I hope it doesn't sound too scary :D
Given an experiment I carried out with Keyan Sark (We made an Iron Man for DUST. I realize I haven't talked about it on the blog... Hmmm, must solve that!) and the (fanmade?) rules for superheroes and pulp characters, I came with the idea of converting the regular troops into superheroes' universe soldiers.
So, with that idea in mind, I painted the Allies as members of the SSR, the Strategic Scientific Reserve, from the Marvel Universe:


So you can see what I am aiming for! Let's go see the infantry from the Starter Pack:

"Death Dealers" and "Hell Boys". Names are damn badass
These are Rangers too, but in heavy armour
I also got these two extra units:

Recon Rangers
British Red Devils. The only not-SSR unit
I stil have to paint the walker, but for the moment the infantry is done. Minis are great and super easy to paint, so this is a killer combination!



BONUS!
As I was painting these, I just decided to use the same colours for a side project... Ahem. My friend Rodrigo gave me away his Bolt Action Normandy Starter Pack. Wow!!
I finally got some paint on them...

The new minis with the cool boss (supposed to be Dick Winters, I believe!)
So with two starter packs, this is what I got in the end!
I could take Normandy on my own
 Well, line painting is essential for projects like these, of course, but anyway it's quite challenging!
I'm currently painting the Germans from the DUST pack (you can imagine they are going to be proper Hydra, hehehe...) as well as the Germans from Bolt Action (proper decent Germans). Hope I can show them in a few days! Expect some more masses of infantry!

Monday, 16 November 2015

They come unseen

After several unconfirmed reports of misterious disturbances and naval encounters along the Atlantic Ocean in the Grand Banks area were officially disregarded, both United States and Soviet Union showed their concern over the Barents Sea area. Unofficial reports indicated the presence of polar military bases which raised tension between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, conducting on alleged escalation and conduction of naval operations.
But according to repeated statements by both Soviet and American Governments, nothing of what you are about to see...
Ever happened.


Boardgame day! They come unseen is a different kind of stuff from what I am used to. It's quite a strategy boardgame and it's all about deceiving and placing your submarines wherever the enemy expects less...

Designed by a retired submarine officer, the game takes place in some kind of Cold War scenario on the Barents Sea, where the Soviet Union has placed several different stations. Two NATO-led submarines are to infiltrate and destroy them. But beware! The Soviets will of course defend their stations...

First thing that will call your attention is the very display of the board. Well, boards. You will have the main board, where action will be seen and Soviet player will deploy his ships and stuff... And the NATO player will have a smaller replica of the board, which only he is allowed to see, where he'll keep track of the movement of his submarines. This way, the submarines will be moving along and the defender will never have the certainty of where they are.

These are the boards. I will play the NATO submarines
The different colours represent different depths. 250 ft., 450 ft. and 650 ft. Submarines can dive up to 200, 400 or 600 ft, consuming energy on the process. When in the 250 ft. areas, they must move slower (shallow waters are always dangerous, you know!)
Submarines can move and execute different actions each turn. They can attack a Soviet station (when in the tile), they can lay mines for the enemy to hit them or they can go up to periscope depth and snort (i.e., barely move and let the batteries recharge). They will win the game if they get to destroy four out of the six ice-stations (determined randomly before the game).

The NATO display board, submarines are on their way!
 The faster they move, the faster the battery will empty, so you have to be very careful about how you move and when to recharge.

The unaware Soviet display board
Soviets have two kind of vessels, two destroyers (which will try to search and destroy the submarines before they achieve their goal) and three supply ships, which will be moving ammo and fuel through the ice-stations, where the destroyers can harbor to resupply; besides, they can also resupply by getting adjacent to one of these ships.

Fuel and salvoes
 Destroyers can make a sonar sweep in order to locate the subs:

Bing... bing... bing...
If a submarine is under any of the tiles covered by the sonar, the player must tell the Soviets in which quadrant, but nothing else (hence the colours). No contact this turn...

Both subs moved along the shore line towards their targets (the blue one is covered by my own shadow, nuts!)
Next turn the Soviets moved a destroyer closer to Charlie Station and the sonar sweep offered some juicy stuff. Contact red. Contact red. (That's the code to say that there was a contact on the red quadrant). The destroyer then sprung some mortar bombs off:

No, those are not sugar lumps
The Soviet player lays the bombs on any tiles he feel. He sets them on two depth levels at will (again, hence the colours). Being on a 250 ft. area, he can only release them at 200 ft. or surface. White ones were at 200 ft. and black ones were at surface. This time, the sub was at periscope depth, so we had a mortar bomb on the right tile, but wrong depth. That means the blue sub got some damage, but was still operational.
Fun thing is that the Soviet player still doesn't know for sure on which tile was the sub, so he just makes an educated guess and places a marker...

Just to get an idea of the whereabouts
Next turn the Soviets really put all their effort in chasing the subs. Yellow destroyer tried to close access to Charlie ice-station, while the red one ressuplied close to Alfa.

No contact, tovarich! Where are those subs?
Close, really close, but out of range
If you look (really close) the pic above, you'll see the green sub sneaked its way into Alfa Station just on the verge of detection range. So it got the station destroyed! I got the card associated to my target and...

Ouch! Some nasty secondary effects!
Right, all fuel from Station Echo just went! Really hard strike for the Soviet player, as it was the main warehouse at the moment. From now on, the destroyers will have to be really careful about the fuel they use!!

Both destroyers actively search for the subs..
But on the tiny board you can see they both are slippery! Green one leaves Alfa and blue gets into Charlie
So Charlie Station was also destroyed. NATO subs still had to strike Bravo and Foxtrot (once again, the defender isn't really sure of which are the targets of the attacker, that can drive him crazy, having to defend them all!)

Green sub barely avoids the sonar, blue gets detected but escapes unharmed
Then the Soviets focused in detecting the green sub, while the vessel had long gone from Alfa and was heading to unprotected Bravo. They also protected Foxtrot, but blue sub went up to periscope depth and recharged, waiting for their chance to strike...

This is what the Soviet player saw...
...but this was what the NATO player was doing
Soviets tried to defend Delta and Echo, which happened to be a terrible mistake, as the NATO targets were in fact Bravo and Foxtrot...

Trying to defend the wrong outposts...
While Bravo station was destroyed and Foxtrot was about to be...
Then it all was up to a few tactical decisions. Soviets moved their destroyers. Contact red!:

Mortar bombs! If you check, none of them hit the sub
The desperate defender then took a calculated risk. Knowing than none of the mortar bombs had hit the sub, the captain ordered 'full speed ahead!'. He had reached the right conclusion, the NATO sub had to be recharging at periscope depth, and there was little space for it to be but in X32 tile. So he really rammed into the sub... Hitting it so hard that it sunk!

Ke-rrunch!
 (Note: We made a mistake here. This can only happen if the submarine is completely at surface level, which is only likely to happen if it has run out of battery and needs to surface. But well, for the sake of this report let's assume that this event happened, that in the end added much more tension to the game!)

Slowly moving at periscope depth
Soviets will not let a single tuna sneak in!
Contact Purple! Mortar bombs!
Right tile, wrong depth. Near-miss
Almost there, almost there...
We won't let that submarine escape! Contact red! Go for it!
The sub took another near miss (which turned into a full hit for gae purposes; a sub can take three direct hits before sinking). Anyway, it was too close to its target to miss it...

And the last target is engaged and destroyed
So NATO victory, the ice-stations have been neutralized and the Soviet plans have been severely hampered. But remember, the official version is that only fishing boats were reported to sail those days along these latitudes...

The game is incredibly tactical and interesting, with lots of tense situations and fun all over. Looks realistic enough within the range of abstraction (which, of course, is high); as it was our first game we disregarded some special rules, but enough to say there are weather rules regarding sea currents and stuff. I have never sailed the Barents Sea, but I bet that's a major issue there!
In my opinion, it is way too unbalanced in favour of the submarine side, which in fact makes total sense and reflects the strategic horror of facing this kind of irregular warfare. The Soviet player in fact has little chance to stop the submarines, which are a real nightmare, the enemy never knowing for sure where the hell they are. I'm afraid my opponent made a mistake that costed him the game. Right after destroying Alfa base, my sub sailed out of the area, and the Soviet destroyer that arrived next turn skipped my escape route for just one tile. So he focused in chasing a ghost that had long went away. That conditioned him (as well as the fact of having little fuel reserve) and gave me the definite advantage.
If I was to say any word against the game, it only could be about the fact of having only one scenario. It's of course replayable and will present new challenges every game, but after some time players may find it repetitive. Anyway, making homemade scenarios shouldn't be that difficult. A little bit laborious maybe, but totally rewarding.

So this is it. Deploy your units, play your Red October OST and just enjoy!