Monday, September 19, 2011

Bowie Battle Bunker Official Grand Opening

Grand Opening fun!

     Hello dear readers! It has been a nearly inexcusable length of time since I've last posted. Many reasons for this, all of which I won't bore you with. I'm posting now!

     So I heard tell that they were going to finally officially open the Games Workshop Battle Bunker in Bowie, Maryland. It's a very short trip from my house, and when they announced that they were going to have some cool flags for sale, I thought I'd check it out.

     I got there about 30 minutes or so after they opened their doors, but apparently that was about 40 minutes too late to snag a flag. Arrrgh! I have it on good authority that there were VERY few flags (read: about 10) and there were more than that number of people waiting for the store to open. I was determined not to let this be a fruitless trip, so I took a good look around the store.

     There was a Kill Teams tourney going on, and some folks playing WHFB. Lots of people painting and building, and I managed to find someone to get a game in (more on that later). I saw a cabinet near the front showing some entries for a painting competition. I haven't had a chance to actually enter an official painting competition in the three years that I've been painting. I thought this might be a cool opportunity. After reviewing the categories, I was pretty sad...

- Best terrain piece
- Best caster/psyker
- Best Finecast (tm) model (Note: HAHAHAHA!)
- Best monster

     I had just brought my 40K Orks along with the hopes of getting a game in, and I certainly didn't know about these categories ahead of time, so I was really just hoping that I might have something on-hand that would fit into these groups. I asked an employee (the manager I think) if these were all the categories open for today. He confirmed that it was and then asked if there wasn't anything I had with me that would fit. I ran through some of my better painted Ork models that I had on me, and mentioned "Hey there's my Deff Dread... might be a monster? Eh?"

     He agreed and let me enter my Deff Dread as a monster. Made sense to me! So here's the result of the competition:


     I WON! Hah! Oh man! That was pretty awesome. So the monster category turned out to be pretty tight competition. There were some amazing painting and conversion work going on. I felt pretty honored to be picked out from the group. So custom trophy? Eh... It's ok. I'll just plop that in my display case. Here's close up of the trophy:

Look! My first Finecast models!

     So here are a few other fun things I saw while I was there:

It IS the deployment zone!

     There is the big bad Tau ship! The Manta! It's HUGE! Soooo much resin! It's still a work in progress and the GW employee that had been working on it (not pictured here) said that it was hands-down the most complex and time consuming build he has ever done. Well I'm not surprised. I just can't even understand the point in someone's life where buying one of these things "makes sense," but maybe that's the point. It's excessive, but a treat to look at. Fun stuff.

Hulk out!

     I wish I could remember where this guy said he bought all these nice corridors. They're not too flashy, very simple. The walls aren't full size, they'd come up about half the height of your standard marine, but I don't think that matters. The owner of this setup explained that he REALLY intended this to be used with some of those awesome Badab war missions that are intended to simulate ship boarding attacks. I fully approve!

Look! It's the Non-40K game!

     I don't happen to see that many Fantasy games being played out in the wild. I'm not a fan myself, but I do enjoy good models, and I really enjoy good models painted well (see above). I've always said that if I got into WFB, the Lizardmen would be one of the armies I would consider playing. I like their Mayan styling, and those scales, when properly highlighted, look awesome! Sadly my other photos of this army were a little too blurry to post. Regardless, it was a treat to see.

     So I did get a game in, as I mentioned. I played a fully painted Raven Wing army. It was a great game, ended up being a real nail-biter. Surprisingly, the Deff Dread saved the day. He was kicking ass all over that store that day! Orks pulled out a narrow win, and the other player was a good sport. Fun was had by all.

Firestorm Armada

     So I finally got the chance to play a game of Firestorm Armada. The game system is VERY easy to pick up, and I think that an experienced war gamer can pick up the basic mechanics in one or two games. We didn't play with the cards, though I recently picked up a deck, but looking through those cards, I can see these adding a very interesting dimension to the game. One thing I didn't like was measuring the movement. Because the 45 degree measurement is so critical, we found ourselves struggling with paper print-outs of the movement  template that's in the FSA rulebook (also you can download it on the Spartan Games website). Paper just doesn't work, and in general the template is too big to use easily.

     I found the solution to that problem, and I purchased it ages before my first game, but due to the long production time, I only received it about three weeks ago. Here's the solution:

     These are from Litko, and they're perfect for FSA movement measurement. They are small enough to squeeze in between ships crowded on the table, and they're the right size to measure out the range bands pertinent to almost all weapon types in the game. I haven't had the chance to use them in a full game yet, but messing about with them on my little painting table gives me a good vibe. Recommended buy!

     I'm going to wrap things up here. This post is super long, and I know it needed to be to sort of catch up. I'll be looking to get back to work on the painting table soon. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Firestorm Armada: Aquan Update 3

Battleship and Cruisers complete!

     These models went very fast indeed. Most of the heavy lifting was all taken care of by the airbrush. Object source lighting (OSL) with the airbrush is awesome, but I can see how too much can look a little silly. Getting the pressure setup just right on the airbrush also seems like it takes a deft touch. That's something I'll have to learn as I go. I kept the engine glow as subtle as I could, and it doesn't show so great in the photo. Much in the same way that the diamonds look slightly less white than in real life. For whatever reason, these Aquan ships make my camera's color balance a little wacky. Oh well... can't expect too much out of a five year old camera.

     Frigates are up next, and I'm hoping to get them finished before the week is up. That's a challenge, with my schedule. But I'm going to give it the old college try. First order of business will be to drill out the mounting points on the ships for the flight stands. For some reason, they're all a little malformed, and all in the same way. Nothing I can't fix.

     Here are a few more pics of the finished ships:

turned the lights on!
 Magic space crystals propel the ship.
 And the battleship has MANY crystals.
 Cruisers have less crystals, but two of them are pretty large.
There you can see the two large crystals.

     Hope you enjoyed! I ordered some more war gaming goodies from, and should have those before the week is out. I'll share more when I have product in hand!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Firestorm Armada: Aquan Update 2

Quick Update

     So just a quick little update. Really this is just to show where the color scheme is going. I've noticed that my camera doesn't like taking pictures of this color scheme. Too much blue, I assume. Now the orange (you'll just have to trust me that it's actually orange and not yellow) and the teal green colors add some really nice contrast. I'll be going through and highlighting and touching them up. I've been debating if I should go through and actually color each of the little raised dots on these ships. There are TONS of them, so it would be a bit of chore, but it might look nice. Grrr.... I'll have to test it. Anyways, here are a few other pics:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Firestorm Armada: Aquan Update

Aquan Prime Beginnings

So a little update. I finally had some free time to actually get some painting in. After my previous paint tests, I was a little nervous, but after putting the paint to the model, I'm more convinced than ever that I made the right choice. Looks good. I ran my airbrush at a lower pressure than normal. This allowed a lot more control, and the paint didn't dry up in the nozzle so fast. Soon I'll set aside some more time for painting and get some more color variation on these models. I think they'll come out pretty snazzy, and certainly very different looking from my Dindrenzi. Here are a few more pics:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Three Years of Blogging!

Three Years of Blogging!

     First things first: HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY! Also... YAY for three years of blogging. I just happened to check when my first post was the other day, and I had no clue that I even started this thing that long ago. Seems like only yesterday I was still working my way through my first 40K army. I was in a big rush as I was going to take my freshly completed army back home on vacation and play my very first game of 40K with a friend.

     So many things have changed in those three years. When I got started into this hobby, Land Raiders were roughly $20 cheaper. That's really sad, when you think about it. The kit is exactly the same. The only thing that has changed about the kit is that the mold is older, thus less quality. Has the cost of plastic gone up that much? Certainly not. I know that GW prices their kits based on how many they think they'll sell, not how much they actually cost.

     In the recent months, since GW's price change, draconian shipping policies, and "Fine Cast" shenanigans, I've lost much of my interest in 40K. I know I'm not alone in that. I certainly still enjoy the fiction, and I'll very much stay with the game. The biggest thing is that I'm done building new armies. I've already stated that I'll only every upgrade existing armies from here on out.

     So I'm building two Firestorm Armada fleets, and looking at also trying out Infinity and Battletech. What I'm seeing is that there's some fantastic new games out there, and they're cheaper and the developers are far more eager to please. I'm not wishing any ill-will on GW, I just want them to take a good hard look around them, and realize that their current business model is dated, to say the least.

Aquan Prime is ... Primed?

     Just finished putting a base coat of dark blue on the cruisers and battleship for my wife's Aquan Prime fleet. I've had to do some tests to figure out how to paint this fleet up. Certainly I'm trying to keep that cool aquatic style of the Aquans. So I made a few trials on a few pieces of cardboard. I ended up with the following scheme:

     And there are teeth marks on that cardboard from a cat. Stupid cat! Anyways... I'll be painting up the cruisers this week. That's all for now. Here's to three more years!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Firestorm Armada: Frigates! Is that a dirty word?

Starter Fleet is finished!

     I just wrapped up my painting on the six frigates included in the Dindrenzi starter box. Though they were easy enough to paint, these were my least favorite models. Mostly because the fuselage was white metal and the engines were resin. They presented the most difficulty in construction, and actually are continuing to piss me off in regards to getting them to sit properly on their flying bases. I'm hoping I don't get an urge to purchase more frigates. I'll stick to the capital sized vessels instead.

     I magnetized all the ships to their bases. That wasn't easy, and I'm still rather unsatisfied with the results. While most of them are sitting pretty level, they continue to rotate on their post a little bit. What I'd like to see is for Spartan Games to adapt a Phillips head style post end to stick into the ships. This would negate rotation and would likely mean that you wouldn't have to glue the ship into the base. As good as these models are, I can't help but think they need a more elegant base solution. Also I'm hesitant to glue these things in (which would solve the rotation and some of the more unstable models) because I'd like to transport these things. I'm looking to purchase the Battle Foam bag when they release the Firestorm: Armada trays.

     Here are a few more shots of the frigates and the starter fleet. Enjoy:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Firestorm Armada: Cruisers Complete!

Cruisin' the Storm Zone!

     Here is the next completed portion of my Dindrenzi fleet. These were pretty easy, not unlike the battleship. I just did the same techniques that I used there, and pretty much in the same order. The results were exactly what I wanted. I just have the frigates left. I started priming them tonight, but I need to prime them slowly to make sure I get all the fiddly little angles on them. Harder than I thought it would be.

     I received my order from The War Store today. I got my wife's Aquan Prime starter fleet, and some more Vallejo paints, specifically to paint that fleet up. We opened the box and took a quick inventory. There's zero assembly on that fleet, as the ships are designed in kinda one organic lump. The battleship model has some really awesome detail on the underside of the model. Kind of a shame really, as you're really not very likely going to see that part of the model very often.

     Here are some more pics of the completed cruisers:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Firestorm Armada: Dindrenzi Battleship Completed

Looking for Blood

     The first ship of my Dindrenzi fleet is complete! The paint scheme looks good, the techniques are coming together, and I'm excited to get moving on the next part of the starter box; The Cruisers! I used some of those good 'ol Vallejo weathering powders in just a few areas, and I think it really helped. I'm certainly going for more of a battle-worn look with these models. I tried doing some fancy-pants glowing effects with the airbrush for the engines, but I didn't like how that turned out. I made a mess of it. Instead, I did some simply brush work, and the effect was good enough. I could come back with the airbrush at a later date and make some new attempts at this "glow" look, but I need to get more comfortable with the brush first.

Firebase Delta

     I've been looking around for any sort of information stream on Firestorm Armada, something to give me ideas of what to expect from this game. I came across this podcast called "Firebase Delta" so I gave it a try. It was great! Just what I was looking for, but wait... there's a kicker:

     40K Radio vets Scotty, Phil, and Chipley! WTH?!? Yeah! They're all there! What a great crew! I've really enjoyed listening to these guys, and they're giving me a good look into the Firestorm Armada arena. I'm getting ideas for games, and the hobby, and I'm excited to hear more. As of now, they have five episodes up. I've listened to two, and I'm afraid I'll be burning through the other three quite quickly. Big props guys!

Firebase Delta Podcast Check them out.

Here are a few more pics of my Dindrenzi Battleship, enjoy:

 I'll have to get some more time behind the airbrush before I do those glowing engines justice

We Brake for No One

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Firestorm Armada: Killer Bees?

Fleet Color Scheme

So here's a little test of the color scheme I've planned up for my Dindrenzi. This is a carbon grey with a nice yellow to setup some high contrast. I've got a few masking leaks to fix, but it came out pretty good. I'll likely do a single engine stripe on the mediums and no stripes on the frigates, just to create a little theme. Lots of work ahead, but I'm enjoying a nice slow pace on these, so I'm not going to stress about hammering out the kit in some record time.

I tested out the scheme on Photoshop first, these were to two that I tested out:

I think the diagonal one was a little weak. I liked the bolder vertical stripes.

I've ordered another starter set for the Aquans. I've got some interesting color ideas for those, but I'll show you that at a later date.

Still wrestling with the airbrush and getting used to troubleshooting it when I have small issues. Progress is being made. There's a certain amount of trouble that you're just going to have to put up with when using water based acrylics on an airbrush, this I've come to learn. I've started looking at buying as much of the base coat colors in the Vallejo Model Air line as I can, since that seems to cause the least amount of trouble with the airbrush. Go figure, right?

I'm hoping that I can find some good tutorials on playing Firestorm Armada to help me learn the game. If anyone knows of some, let me know.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Firestorm Armada!

A new system?!

I've passed my three year mark in war gaming. It has been strictly 40K all that time. I've really enjoyed the hobby, and the gaming, but the prices... a little less enjoyable. As I mentioned before, the recent price increases from GW got me thinking about the future I had in all this stuff. While I'll still stick with 40K, and I have no plans of abandoning my current list of 40K projects, I have decided that a bit of a breath of fresh air might be in order.

I've been looking through all the current major game systems out there, and I was really looking for something that was approachable, wouldn't break the bank in the long run, and seemed like it was backed by a good company. Firestorm Armada looks like it will fit that bill.

They have certainly checked a bunch of boxes here: good models, interesting rules, sci-fi setting, great starter sets, and the game represents a big step away from the tactics of 40K.

I've yet to play a game as I'm taking my time reading up on the rules, and I'll likely purchase another starter box so I can enjoy those models and learn how the different fleets play. Thankfully the costs of these starter sets are such that it lends itself to experimentation.

If you're interested in checking out the game, here are a few relevant links:
Spartan Games Firestorm Armada background site
Spartan Games Firestorm Armada store
CorSec Engineering - Nice movement template and awesome dice docks that glue in over the base of the flying base, allowing you to lock in dice to represent damage numbers. Perhaps a better alternative to the little card markers the game comes with.
Studio Burgstrom - Neat little potential fighter/bomber/interceptor models you could use instead of the card markers for those too.
Litko - Or you could use these to indicate the fighters, bombers, etc. Looks like it would be easier to spot on the table, and easier to move about. Price is a little high, but that's Litko for you.

I purchased my starter fleet and rulebook from the fine folks at The War Store. Love that place.

Now for some 40K

This update will not be total heresy. Here is a picture showing the progress I've made towards my first Imperial Guard vehicle. All the base camo work is done. I've got some supplies incoming to help me with the next couple of steps. I'll talk about that when appropriate.

Don't worry, that's just the base camo. I'm going to be doing much more detail.

If you're in the area...

I live south of Baltimore, near Arundel Mills mall, and if you're interested in Firestorm Armada, and maybe wouldn't mind taking a newb to school, gimme a shout. I've got to finish painting the fleet, because I never play with unpainted models, but I'd be interested to know if there was anyone out there that could teach me this game.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Battle Bunker Opened!

Don't you want to go where everyone knows your armor save?

     So the Bowie Battle Bunker has opened! I swung by today around 11:00am to take a look. I saw a few familiar employees from the now closed Arundel Mills store, and one of them was kind enough to compliment me as I walked in the door, boasting about my painting skills to another customer. It's really kind of silly, but regardless it put a smile on my face. The store was very busy with games going on all the tables. They had a Spearhead tourney that started around 2:00pm that had a surprising number of participants, but I didn't hang around to see the conclusion.

     The only down-side to the day was the incredible temperature in the store. I'm not sure if the AC was just not cooperating, or if that many heat-radiating nerds in that confined space just over powered the system. Thankfully, no musty dank nerd smell. Give it time though.

     I played a game against a younger player. He had Necrons and I had my Orks, but I didn't want to slaughter him, so I have to admit that I pulled my punches a little. Though he was tabled in turn four, he managed to put up a good fight. He was very loose with his measurements, but I didn't call him on it. I did stick to the rules on everything else though, because I still feel that he could learn from that. We had fun, and I gave him praise when he made smart moves. Hope he keeps with the Necrons because I'm sure the new dex will bring them in line.

     So here are some more pics, I didn't get pics when the crowd was thickest, but trust me, there was little room to move about. Here they are:

 I drove around the place three times before seeing that tiny banner.

 "Wait... is this a trick?" Yeah that's the door... squeezed in between two stores.

Yeah... it got worse before it got better. Strange narrow hallway leads to the store.

WHAAAAA? There's more than just one painted Ork army? I met the best dressed wargammer I had ever seen; Suit with a tie and classy suspenders... playing painted Orks. I gotta say I liked the man's style.

He's a hell of a converter too. Here's a custom made Big Mek. Absolutely stunning work.

Punch for the Punch God! Cake for the Cake Throne!

That's a Land Raider Achilles as part of a Spearhead army that had a total of 5 Land Raiders. I sorta call this cheating... those things are stupid awesome. Guy playing it was a bit of a smart ass though. I heard him boasting that he could table any multiple other tables after he was done with the Spearhead mission. Jerk.

Busting up a Slaneshy tank. Nice modeling work, and a clean and simple paint job. Thumbs up. This guy's Eldar army had some good solid work all around.

That's about it. It was a thrill meeting some good gamers out there and I really look forward to making my way out there for some more games in the future.