Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Millennium Falcon Repaint

I have to admit it, the miniature that pushed me over the edge and got me to start playing X-Wing Miniatures Game was the Millennium Falcon. Fantasy Flight did a simply superb job modeling Han Solo's trusty interstellar freighter. They sculpted an amazing amount of detail into this model, right down to the laser scarring, dents and dings. I have remarked before about the high quality of the factory table-top paint jobs with X-Wing Miniatures. But, the more I played with the Falcon in my squad lists, the stronger my desire to repaint it grew. Over the past week, I broke out my brushes and started dirtying up my Falcon to make it look as close as I could to the film model that was the rusty bucket of bolts that Luke and Ben were first introduced to on Tatooine. It's a subtle repaint. It's not a dramatic repaint like trying to portray the Stellar Envoy or the Krayt Fang (which I may decide to tackle at some point). But, I'm extremely happy with the way it turned out.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

X-Wing Stealth Squadron (Gray Flight) Repaints

I find the out-of-the-box paint jobs on the ships in the X-Wing Miniatures game to be really nice for pre-painted miniatures. You can buy them straight of the shelf and put them into play on the table-top to create great looking dogfight scenes (not to mention that the game plays as good as it looks too). There's no immediate need to re-paint the ships, and most people would never even consider it. But, when it comes to miniatures, I'm not most people. I couldn't help but think about how to make my ships stand out from the crowd.

I confess, I consider myself somewhat of a Star Wars geek, but within the context of the original trilogy films. I grew up with them, and they shaped much of who I am. I would even attribute my love for building and painting miniatures to my early desires to know how the team at Industrial Light and Magic created those groundbreaking effects. This is back when they had to physically build the sets and rig pyrotechnics as they dollied a rolling camera through the scene. I used to devour every bit of behind the scenes coverage that I could find and would try to make my models and dioramas at home look just as professional.

However, outside of the original Star Wars trilogy films, I am not much of a Star Wars buff. I have not read the many novels that expand the Star Wars universe. I know that I don a glazed over, deer in the headlights appearance when I'm playing a game of X-Wing and someone comes up and wants to talk about how Han Solo knew Soontir Fel at the Imperial Academy. I am a little surprised at myself then that I've been reading, and enjoying, the Star Wars comic series from Dark Horse that was rebooted at the start of 2013. In the second issue (In the Shadow of Yavin, Part 2), when Leia assembles a stealth squadron of elite pilots, later identified as Gray Flight, and outfits them with new, gray x-wings, I immediately knew the paint scheme that was destined for my table-top x-wings. Today, I completed re-painting x-wings to match Luke Skywalker's and Wedge Antilles' ships in this stealth squadron.

Stealth Squadron: Luke (left) and Wedge (right)

The Front of Wedge's X-Wing

The Rear of Luke's X-Wing

My Stealth Re-Paints Alongside a Stock, Pre-Painted X-Wing

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014 Black Hole Brawl Report

The inaugural Black Hole Brawl Blood Bowl tournament was held on Saturday, January 25th, 2014 at Event Horizon Games in Raleigh, NC. This NAF-sanctioned tournament was smoothly run, Event Horizon had wonderful accommodations, and 18 coaches showed up with their teams ready to battle for dominance on the pitch to earn top bragging rights and hold the championship trophy aloft. Almost half of the coaches were from outside the Raleigh area, most of them from Virginia, and one traveling all the way from Florida.

The team roster creation rules for this tournament were interesting. Each team was to be built at a 1,190,000 value with star players and some inducements allowed as options. The other wrinkles in roster creation was that no more than 2 of the same skill could be added to a team and no more than 40k of improvements could be given to a single player. I had agonized over which team to bring to the event. In this format, humans looked like they could be a solid contender and I also considered pro elves. In the end, I decided to play my Khemri team, Bone Machine. This tournament was only counting casualties resulting from blocks towards the Most Violent award, which would make contending for that title a long shot. The Khemri also have other serious drawbacks, namely scoring, that would make contending for top placing and other awards difficult. But, I always have such a good time stomping four tomb guardians around the pitch and since I have not been playing them in my league this season it was a perfect opportunity to bring them out of their tombs before they decay to dust.

Match 1: Bone Machine vs. Sexually Transmitted TouchDowns

Even though there was a good showing of coaches from outside the area, the tournament pairings I ended up with were all from my local league, the TABBL. My first match pitted Bone Machine against a Nurgle team called Sexually Transmitted TouchDowns. Even though the other coach, Chris, and I share enrollment in the TABBL, this was the first time that we have taken the field as opponents. It was also the first time that I have ever seen Nurgle in play. Going in to the match, I felt like this was a favorable match-up for me. The innate inability of the Khemri to pass and catch pretty much negates Nurgle's usual advantage to disrupting the opponent's passing game and the Khemri have more strength with their 4 tomb guardians. I won the toss and elected to kick first, trying to set up for a controlled 2-1 grind that usually suits the Khemri. At first, things were going to plan and my block dice were pretty good even though I could not get his players off the pitch. I think it was around turn 3 where I pressured the ball carrier and managed to knock the ball lose. I was not in a position to recover the ball, but I left small lane down the right sideline of my defense hoping the opposition would try to score resulting either in time left for my team to tie the game up in the first half or that he would botch moving the ball up the field and I could recover the ball. They scored and it looked like I still had enough time to even the score. On my possession, a blitz result on the kick-off was unfortunate for me. I started moving the ball down the field with my block-skilled thro-ra (my leader thro-ra was occupying the KO box) but as I was trying to make a break for a tying TD, my ball protection collapsed, he was blitzed and was thwarted from scoring. The second half was somewhat of a blur but I remember a second kick-off blitz going against me. I was losing the casualty/KO war, coughed the ball up and was unable to get it back. Eventually, STTDs recovered the ball from the scrum and won with a well-earned 2-0 victory. Despite the loss, the combination of playing against a new coach and new team made this match very enjoyable.

STTDs (left) vs. Bone Machine (right)

A Bone Machine Thro-Ra Trying to Reach the End Zone

Match 2: Bone Machine vs. Tor Achare Titans

After my round one defeat that earned Bone Machine a measly 4 standing points, I was paired at table 8 against my friend Rawlin who authors the Lou Rollins Miniatures blog. He is an amazing painter and also offered his time and talent toward providing one of the tournament prizes, Agememnon the Troll. I was unsure how a match-up against his High Elf team, the Tor Achare Titans, would turn out for me, but I knew that it would be a visual feast for the eyes with nicely painted figures.

The Titans received the ball first and quickly scored in elfish fashion. On my first possession, the ball was kicked out of bounds so I gave the ball to a tomb guardian as the ball carrier. It was fun watching a huge mummy rumble down the field with the ball! This match ended up as a textbook 2-1 grind in my favor. Had I not lost the first match, I probably would have tried scoring more expediently to try for a 3rd score, but at this point I was just trying to go home with at least one win on the day. The game was marked by a phenomenal plague of 1's that infested the d6's each time that Rawlin rolled them against my dice that could do little wrong. I think I might have only used a single re-roll in the second half. Nuffle can be so cruel sometimes.

Tor Achare Titans (left) vs. Bone Machine (right)

Tomb Guardian Ball Carrier!

A Wall of Tomb Guardians Clearing a Path for the Thro-Ra

Close-Up of Some of the Titan Players

Match 3: Bone Machine vs. Vindictive

My last match-up was against Kai and his team of Amazon vixens named Vindictive. His team is a sharp looking set of figures that he sometimes fields as a high elf team and was painted by my previous opponent and documented in this post at Lou Rollins blog. The pink and cream team colors are outstanding and the paint job is top-notch. Amazons can make a formative tournament team with their across the board dodge skillset. That is, unless they run into dwarves loaded with tackle skills. Even though we had 18 coaches at this tournament, there were no dwarf teams (yay!) and only a single chaos dwarf team. Unfortunately, Vindictive was paired with the chaos dwarfs in the 2nd round and was massacred. It is a good thing this was a resurrection tournament! We were at one of the middle tables, and I think tournament awards were out of reach for either of our teams so this game kind of felt like a scrimmage. We must have spent the first 10 minutes of the match taking pictures of our teams on the pitch rather than rolling dice. The media opportunities and some slow play caught up with us and I pulled out a timer in the second half just to try and keep us on schedule for finishing in the allotted time. For all that Nuffle smiled upon me in the 2nd match of the day, I was unable to punch through the Amazonian armor and get those girls off the field. Even though this game ended as a 1-1 tie (which honestly should have be a 2-1 loss for me), there were two events during the game that were highlights of the day for me. First, my only goal of the match resulted from a skeleton, who had caught the kick-off, successfully handing the ball off to a MV7 blitz-ra and being able to slip him past the defense and into scoring range. It was satisfying to see a hand-off succeed (moral victory for Khemri) and to see a move-boosted blitz-ra running down the pitch. Second, I managed the tie by having a skeleton stand up in a tackle zone, dodge out on a 6, GFI and then 1-die blitz a blodger (using a re-roll) to knock the ball out! That's why we play Blood Bowl, for moments like that. As always, an enjoyable game with Kai.

Bone Macine (left) vs. Vindictive (right)

Vindictive Standing Up to a Tomb Guardian

Vindictive Preparing to Bash Skeletons on the LoS

Results and Awards

There was an array of juicy prizes at the Black Hole Brawl. Trophies and awards were presented for the top three team finishes and several other superlatives. First prize was a fully painted Nurgle team. Second place took home a custom Blood Bowl pitch call The Rock. The winner of the Stunty Cup was presented with a fully painted human team. There were also gift certificate awards to accompany the superlative trophies along with raffled off items like dice and painted star players (two which I painted, Jordell Freshbreeze and Reg Gashnier, and the aforementioned Agememnon by Rawlin). When all was done and the results were tallied, Bone Machine finished 11th out of 18 teams. A little disappointing since I've had favorable finishes in the past with this team, including a third place finish at the Bash 'N Dash Classic and sixth place and taking home best defense honors at the 2013 Atlantic Coast Charity Cup.

One of the superlative awards was the Joely Richardson Award for Best Appearance and it was presented to none other than my own Bone Machine. I take this as a real honor since it reflects the votes of coaches in attendance and there were many beautiful teams on display. I enjoy the hobby aspect of table top games like Blood Bowl as much as the game itself (and maybe more) so being selected for that award really is a real joy.

With the 2014 Black Hole Brawl in the rearview, I have to give a thankful shout to Rick for organizing and running the event. Events like this do not just happen spontaneously and his diligence to giving everyone in attendance a fun day of Blood Bowl is much appreciated. Also a hearty thanks goes to Event Horizon Games and its owner Paul too for hosting and providing prize support. And, thanks to all the coaches near and far for coming out and playing competitive Blood Bowl with top-notch attitude and sportsmanship. I hope to see you on the pitch soon.

2014 Black Hole Brawl Trophies

First Prize: Painted Nurgle Team

Second Prize: Custom Blood Bowl Pitch

Stunty Cup Prize: Painted Human Team

Raffle Prizes: Painted Stars (l-r) Reg Gashnier, Agememnon, Jordell

A closer look at Agememnon

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dark Elf Star Player

I have been posting about the star players that I completed for the Black Hole Brawl and it inspired me to share another star player that I completed for one of my own teams. A little while ago, I placed an order with Impact Miniatures and, on a whim, added their Thunderbowl Armored Elf to my cart with the intention to use him as a dark elf star player in Blood Bowl. For the blood bowl teams that I currently play I'll likely be using him as the undead dark elf Ithaca Benoin on a Khemri roster, but the design and pose of this figure also make him a perfect fit for the blitzer Hubris Rakarth on a dark elf team.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jordell Freshbreeze

Following up to my last post where I showcased the first of two pieces that I have painted for the 2014 Black Hole Brawl, here is the second star player that I have finished for the event. It is Games Workshop's Jordell Freshbreeze with one of those classic GW poses from the 90s. He is a leaping, blodging, AG5 menace that can be induced to accompany an underdog elf team and spur them on to victory.

Reg Gashnier

I am usually resistant to the idea of taking commissioned painting projects, but a good friend of mine is the organizer for the 2014 Black Hole Brawl Blood Bowl tournament in Raleigh, NC and asked if I would be willing to help out by painting a couple of star players that will be used as prizes. I think that good prize support really helps player enjoyment at events so I was happy to help out.

The first of the two figures that I was given to paint is a blood bowling dragon-man star. After doing a bit of research on this figure, I believe that this is Reg Gashnier. It was a miniature sculpted by Pedro Ramos for Willy Miniatures as the tournament miniature for the Australian Dragonbowl in 2012. I think he will be a nice star player option for any Lizardman or Slann team since he can probably serve as Lottabottol or perhaps Slibli. I really like how the red and gold on his armor contrast with the teal shade that I gave his skin. Now I am tempted to try painting an entire team with this color scheme since I think it really pops off the table top.

I have also finished a Jordell Freshbreeze prize for the Black Hole Brawl and will be posting that soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Year's Eve of the Living Dead

I was browsing through my camera roll and found these shots that I took over New Year's Eve while my friends and I were playing Zombicide. One of my friends had received it as a Christmas present and we were all eager to get it on the table top since no one in our group had yet been given an opportunity to play it.

Zombicide is a cooperative board game which pits the players in the role of zombie apocalypse survivors against the masses of undead that want nothing more that to devour the survivors' brains. Each of the survivors has a unique skill and progression tree that allows them to develop new abilities during the course of the game by shooting or hacking up zombies for experience. The mechanics of the game are quickly grasped. Basically, you can move, search a room, or attack. Find weapons, hack up zombies and try to achieve the objective before you're overrun by zombies.

Here is our little party of survivors starting out. We're trying to search the town for food and supplies and we've drawn the attention of some walkers.

And here's one of the survivors (in orange) who has decided he would try to risk making his way to an objective marker on his own.

Around the corner a couple of survivors bit off more than they could chew when trying to investigate a building and one poor sap was mobbed by a herd while the other survivor made a break for it. Although the zombies move predictably, they begin to overwhelm in numbers, and the way that groups of zombies begin to herd together is very thematic. It totally captures the right feeling for a zombie survival game.

With dwindling numbers of survivors, and herding zombies, our little party was soon overrun in defeat.

We played a few more times over the next day with much better results for the players. Now I'm tempted to procure a copy of my own. And yes, a large motivator for me wanting a copy is to paint all of those glorious miniatures!