Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lord of the Rings Project: Day Sixteen

Still nothing worth taking a picture of, but I got the rest of the Uruk Hai assembled, along with the trunks of a Citadel Woods tree stand I've had sitting around for a while. Hopefully the weather will cooperate with me tomorrow and let me get some things basecoated.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lord of the Rings Project: Day Fifteen

No pics today. It was too windy to get any spraying done, so I still have to varnish the Warriors of Minas Tirith. I did assemble the four metal miniatures I have so far: a standard bearer and captain for both the Warriors and the Fighting Uruk Hai. I also assembled five of the ten plastic Fighting Uruk Hai that I have to do.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Fourteen

Three pics today as I was able to finish up the basing for the models, including one of the three company trays. To start with I finished washing all the sand, then was able to get static grass applied to all the bases. First a photo showing some of the bases washed without static grass applied, then one showing the static grass applied to all, including the company tray.

Careful application of the grass on the company tray really helps cover up any gaps left in the process of applying the sand.

Finally, a photo of the completed models with the base edges painted, including the swordsmen in the company tray. All that's left to do is hit them with some varnish for protection.

I am still undecided about one thing. Currently the holes in the company tray are still black as can be seen above. I considered painting them in the same color as the edges of the tray (which is Game Color 62 Earth), but it takes two to three coats to get good coverage, and that's a lot of space to be covered. I'm leaning towards leaving them black, despite the visual effect that will happen as models are removed in play, but am open to suggestions.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Thirteen

I finished applying the sand to the bases, but still need to finish the company trays. I've only got part of one finished, as you can see in the photo. The goal for tomorrow is to get at least one company tray finished with sand, and get all the miniature bases washed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Twelve

No pic today. I didn't have much time to work on them today. I did get sand on a few models, and started working on one of the company trays that the miniatures will fit into when playing War of the Ring. It looks like it might be a little trickier than I thought to do those trays, but I don't think it will be too difficult. The narrow spaces between the holes that the miniatures go in to can be a bit tricky to get sand applied to, mostly because the tight fit means you can't leave any hanging over the side, or it will keep the miniatures from being able to be put in to the tray. I think it's just going to mean that I'll have to spend more time on the trays than I thought I would, but the end result should be OK.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Eleven

I achieved the goals I set for myself of getting everything washed, and basing the test model. I also had to do a bit of touchup to areas I missed before, but not much. The main thing being that I missed a glove on one model.

I'll probably need to give the models a second wash, but I'll wait and see what I think tomorrow. If they do need a second wash, then that will be tomorrow's goal. If not, then I'll start on the basing. The hard part is all done now, so I'm not as concerned about sticking to a schedule. If I can get an early start then I can get all the basing done in one day, but you have to wait at least an hour or so between each step before going on to the next one, so it's just as likely to take up to three more days to get it all done, once I get started on it.

Below you can see my test model with the basing finished. The glue is still wet in the photo, once it dries you won't see the white stuff at the base of the grass. I'm trying the current line of Citadel sand and static grass for these models. I've been using some old Citadel mixed sand, which was of finer grain, and I want to make sure I keep enough of it to finish up the projects I started with it. The new stuff still works well with my method of dropping a brown wash on it and a bit of static grass to break things up and cover up any gaps.

Once everything is based I'll need to spray a couple of coats of varnish on them and they'll be done.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Ten

The above is a photo of the miniatures after yesterday's efforts.

Today was another really good day. The block painting is finished. Legs, arms, hair, arrow fletchings, quiver details, and the trees on the shields all got finished today.

The arrow fletchings were the one thing I wasn't sure how to paint after doing the test model. I ended up using Game Color 49 Stonewall Grey. It's pretty much my go-to off-white color. It's a very light gray with good coverage that makes it a good base for pure white, or a decent white substitute as I'm using it here.

The shields are designed to pass the three foot rule. Looking at them from three feet away they should look fine. Making them look good close up would take far more work than I feel it's worth for rank and file troops. The problem is that the detail is incredibly fine. A very careful drybrushing might work better, but would still be a lot of work. Instead, I used a size 0 brush to trace it. The result is a bit messy up close, but looks OK from a distance.

Tomorrow my goal is to get all the models washed, and start the basing on my test model.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Nine

Made up a bit for yesterday by getting quite a bit done today. Reached the goal of doing the backs of the skirts, then also did the fronts and most of the legs. The plan tomorrow is to finish up the legs. No picture yet since I forgot to take one earlier, but I'll try to get one before I start tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Eight

Spent less than an hour on the project today, but at least met my goal of finishing the hilts and doing the brass details on the scabbards. Also did some touchup work with black, mainly on the brass work I'd just finished, but a little around the silver areas too. Tomorrow I'll be starting on the cloth with the Adeptus Battlegrey. My goal is to finish the backs of the skirts.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment

Sins of a Solar Empire is an interesting game that I talked about a bit last year. They've recently released an expansion to it called Entrenchment. It adds in the ability to build more defensive structures, including starbases and minefields, as well as including new ship builds dedicated to destroying such structures.

It helps to solve the problem I had in large games with having to constantly shift forces between fronts by giving you an option to build starbases on your defensive fronts to at least slow down your opponents. Since the bases don't count against your fleet limits, you can still concentrate your offensive power elsewhere. Unfortunately, it also seems to make an already long game even longer as you now have to deal with these stronger defenses being built by your opponents.

Overall it adds some interesting new strategies to the game, but not so many that it is likely to change the minds of anyone who wasn't interested in the base game. It's questionable whether it would even cause someone who liked the original game, but grew bored with it, to regain much interest in the game. It simply doesn't do enough to change the game's dynamics to rekindle that kind of interest.

If you haven't grown completely bored of the original game, then it's probably worth the $10 to download it. It caused me to give the game a couple of more plays, but that was all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Seven

Made decent progress today. Reached my goal of finishing up the shield trim, sword blades, and spear points. I also did the wood bows and spear shafts. Finally, I got a start on the Bright Bronze details, including the hilts of the swords wielded by the swordsmen. I still have to do the hilts on the other models as well as details on the scabbards. Getting that done will be tomorrow's goal.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Six

Made some good progress today thanks to being able to sit down for a couple of painting sessions instead of my usual single session. My first session finished up my goal of getting the armor skirts painted, plus started on the leg greaves. Second session finished the greaves, as well as doing some of the shield trim. Tomorrow's goal is to finish up most of the chainmail silver painting by finishing the shield trim and doing the spear points and sword blades. I'll eventually have to come back to chainmail to do the trees on the shields, but I'm saving that for the last step before doing the wash.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Five

Achieved the goal I set for myself of completing the armor on the right and left arms, but didn't get any more than that done. Tomorrow's goal is to do the metal skirts on the front of the models.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Four

Again, not more than two hours spent today (probably closer to one, but I didn't time it), but reached my goal and went a little further. Blocked out the chest plates and did a first coat on the right arm armor. I'm finding that I usually need two coats of the metallic paint to get good coverage. Goal for tomorrow is to finish up the right arms and do the left arms as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Three

I was able to spend less than two hours on miniatures today, but I managed to get the faces and helmets blocked in on all 23 remaining figures, so that's a start. The plan for tomorrow is to get the breastplates done. I'm going for relatively small goals on this with the intention of keeping progress going forward. If I exceed the goals, so much the better.

D&D Rant

Disclaimer: I have yet to play a single game of 4th edition D&D. I played in less than a dozen sessions of 3.5. I played quite a bit of 2nd edition, a little bit of 1st, and the first RPG I ever had was the "purple box" D&D Basic. I mention this to establish my D&D 'cred' or lack thereof.

Recently someone on another blog interjected this gem into the comments on a post about D&D 4th: "Here's an idea, go back to running old school D&D games that were free form and far less limited by 600 pages of rules!!"

I replied to that post there, but I want to repeat that reply and expand upon it here:

Really? Which version of D&D was this? I must have missed the "free form" edition.

D&D has never been "free form," and every edition has had far more than 600 pages of rules spread out over the different books.

I think it's funny that nearly every argument I've seen against D&D 4th are ones that I've used in the past against any edition of D&D in favor of other systems.

Seriously, if you want a rules light "free form" system don't play D&D! There are, and always have been, far better systems out there if that's your thing.

While we're on this track, let me shoot down another argument that's often made. D&D has never encouraged roleplaying. Your DM may have encouraged roleplaying, but the system never did. Arguing that you play an older version of D&D because you're a "roleplayer" is about the dumbest thing you could ever say.

Again, if a focus on roleplaying is truly your thing, then there are, and always have been, much better systems in terms of encouraging roleplaying out there. In fact, just about any RPG ever made does a better job of encouraging roleplaying than any edition of D&D ever has.

I think part of the reason I like D&D 4th is that I'm not a roleplayer, I'm a gamer. I like games, and I like new games because they are often better than old games because game designers often learn from the mistakes of the past.

D&D 4th looks like a great game. The rules are tight and balanced. A new player is faced with a limited number of options that expand as they play the game and their experience with the system grows. New DMs are given useful guidelines in designing encounters that will challenge the players without overwhelming them.

That's not to say it doesn't have problems. Out of the gate it suffers from fewer options than 3.5, but that's to be expected of a new system that only has a few hundred pages compared to the tens of thousands written for the older ones. I've heard complaints about the 'missing' 'core' classes and races, all of which have been reintroduced with the PHB2.

I suppose the kind of gaming groups that play every week and finish a campaign in two or three months could have run up against the limited options available at launch by now (and evidence indicates that many of them have), but those options are expanding, and will continue to expand as new books come out. In the meantime, maybe some of those groups could try games other than D&D?

While not true in all cases, I've noticed that the majority of complainers either play D&D exclusively, or it at least makes up the majority of their gaming. Gamers that play a variety of RPGs, or just more games in general, seem to see 4th edition as an improvement over the past. Perhaps if some of the naysayers would broaden their minds a bit beyond D&D, or RPGing in general, they too would come to see the good things in 4th edition.

Then again, maybe some of this hate is for the best. Just yesterday I was talking to someone who has become disenchanted with D&D 4th. They were telling me about this new game they'd found that they like a lot better called the Burning Wheel...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day Two

Day two was about getting the miniatures primed and painting up a test model to make sure my ideas for how to paint everything are actually going to work.

Priming was pretty straightforward. Three coats from different angles achieved good coverage on all but one of the models which just needed one more touch up coat. I recently saw where GW painters use a stick to prime their models, taping them all to one long stick and holding it with one hand while priming with the other. It does look like it would be easier to achieve quick results this way, but I'll need to find a decent sized stick before I try it, so for now I'm still using my standard method of spraying outside with the miniatures in a box.

After letting the primer dry a few hours it was time to work up a test model. My plan was to block paint as few colors as possible, touch up a little, and then cover it all in a heavy black wash. I was undecided as to whether I'd leave the cloth black and highlight it, or paint it a dark gray and wash it. After realizing how many extra brushstrokes it was going to take to do the former, I settled on the latter. I'm pleased with the results overall, and the only tricky bit is the tree on the shield. That's going to require careful painting and multiple touch-ups on the 16 miniatures that have one.

Now that I'm satisfied with the scheme it's time to start the assembly line and get all the block painting done. I got a start on the faces, but still have a lot to do.

Paints used:
Primer: Krylon Ultra-Flat
Face: Game Color 41 Dwarf Skin
Armor & Weapon: Game Color 53 Chainmail Silver
Weapon hilt & details: Game Color 57 Bright Bronze
Hair: Game Color 45 Charred Brown
Clothes: Citadel Foundation Adeptus Battlegrey
Black Touch-ups: Game Color 51 Chaos Black
Wash: Citadel Wash Badab Black
Fletchings: Game Color 49 Stonewall Grey
Base Wash: Citadel Wash Gryphonne Sepia
Base Edge: Game Color 62 Earth

Warriors of Minas Tirith: Day One

The hype over War of the Ring (thanks Gary), combined with the guys at World's End Radio giving the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game a good deal of coverage on their show, has me seriously looking at GW's Lord of the Rings miniatures. I still managed to hold the line until the latest issue of White Dwarf and the Warriors of the Dead release. I'm looking at those miniatures going "that's a white base coat with a green wash... they make Necrons look like a hard army to paint!"

Not having any of the rules or army lists, I had to do a bit of research using Army Builder, White Dwarf, and the internet to find out that while I can field Warriors of the Dead as a LotRSBG skirmish force by themselves, I'd probably need to field them with forces of Gondor for WotR. That got me looking at the Warriors of Minas Tirith miniatures that look like they're not much harder to paint than the Warriors of the Dead.

With my resolve crumbling I stopped at the FLGS while running some other errands to see if they had a copy of the LotRSBG rules. They didn't, but they did have boxed sets of most of the plastic miniatures, including a couple boxes of Warriors of Minas Tirith. Still, I managed to resist... for about four more hours when I finally broke down and called the store to see if they were still open. I then drove back and picked up a box along with a pack of company bases for WotR.

Once I got home I broke out the two sprues that come in the box, and assembled all 24 miniatures before going to bed. Unlike most Warhammer plastic miniatuers, most of the Warriors of Minas Tirith minis are one piece. All you have to do is trim them from the sprue, clean them up a little, and glue them to the base. A third of them have their spear arm as a separate piece, but that's it. So, in just a couple of hours I had eight swordsmen, eight bowmen and eight spearmen ready to be primed.

I didn't think to take pictures of the assembly process, but will try to take some of the other steps as this project continues.