A drive around the Welsh lakes

Hey everybody!
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a travel blog, so I thought I’d take some time this weekend to share some of my adventures from last summer, when I had a fantastic drive around the lakes of North Wales. The trip is one I like to take annually if I can, driving around in a loop through Bala, to Barmouth, through Harlech, then via Trawsfynydd to Llyn Celyn, and back home. It’s one of those trips that really needs the awesome weather, and can be just wonderful. Indeed, the journey itself becomes as important as the destination! Anyway…

First up: Llyn Tegid, Bala

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Barmouth. I don’t usually stop here, but this time I got out and had a walk along the beach. Early on a Sunday morning, there are very few people about, and I loved it!

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From Barmouth, I headed north through Harlech, then across into Trawsfynydd.

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I’ve never yet found a decent place to park the car and have a wander around the lake here. But there’s always next year. Final stop, Llyn Celyn:

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Llyn Celyn was controversially constructed as a reservoir for Liverpool in the 1960s, flooding the small village of Capel Celyn. You can read more about that in my blog here. There is a small memorial chapel near the lake.

 

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Ready for Conquest

Warhammer Conquest

Hey everybody!
I’m still kinda recovering from the banquet of awesome that was GenCon14 – if you haven’t already, take a look at my previous blog from the four-day weekend and what awesomeness came out of it! Today I’m going to have some preliminary thoughts on the upcoming Warhammer 40000: Conquest LCG, which I have mentioned before of course, but which is still to make it into my hot little hands.

It was released at GenCon, and the folks at Team Covenant very kindly put together the below demo video showing exactly how the game is played:

I must admit, I hadn’t been truly following this game’s announcements since the initial post in March, so didn’t have a real grasp for how the game worked. I was kinda intrigued, but I think any enthusiasm was tempered by the thought that Warhammer Invasion had been ended to make room for this. Being a massive Warhammer Fantasy fan, I was a little saddened! My initial thoughts had always been very much “Oh, this is just like Warmachine, then?”, but in actual fact it has a lot more in common with Call of Cthulhu, I would say.

Warhammer Conquest

The demo makes the game look awesome, so it’s definitely going to be something I’m going to pick up. I’ve never really thought of myself as interested in the 40k universe before, despite a brief flirtation with it about three years ago when I was looking at the various RPG modules FFG has released. However, since I have gotten into modelling, I have become enamoured of the Necron faction, and have been re-evaluating my thoughts! While Necrons are not one of the initial seven factions present in the core set, the In-Flight Report at this year’s GenCon did apparently come with the news that we’d be seeing two new factions for Warhammer Conquest at some point:

Hopefully Necrons will find their way into the game with a deluxe expansion, then!

Aside from anything else, however, the artwork is just beautiful. Take a look at the cards in this example of the combat phase:

Warhammer Conquest

How amazing! I do, of course, love Chaos, so will be looking to play these guys when the game is finally released. Either that, or Dark Eldar (Dark Elves are the other faction that I love!) I know not a lot about the factions in 40k, but FFG has provided a diagram of those included in the core set for their deckbuilding rules:

Warhammer Conquest

Basically, you can build a deck that includes cards from one of the factions to either side of your main faction, so a Dark Eldar deck can also include cards from Chaos or Eldar as allies. Looking at this in conjunction with the current army list on the Games Workshop website, it strikes me there are at least four factions that are currently not represented here: Tyranids, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, and of course my beloved Necrons. Just how integral to the game any of those are, I don’t know, so I can’t make any sort of guess as to which will appear. We’ll just have to wait and see!

But yeah, it looks like a really good game, so I’m looking forward to getting it. Once I do – and, of course, once I get some games played – I’ll be back with a proper look at it!

Warhammer Conquest

Until then, why not check out the rules on FFG’s site?!

Painting Chaos, part one

Welcome back folks!
Following yesterday’s modelling adventures, today I moved on to painting – I had been planning to do both, but eventually spent so much time on the Daemon Prince, I didn’t have the time for the Fiend of Slaanesh. That will form the coming week’s adventures. In keeping with my intention to walk through miniature painting “for dummies” and share my own journey on learning how to do this stuff, let me take you through it!

Daemon Prince

First, the miniature is primed with Chaos Black spray, which leaves a matte finish that allows the paint to adhere better. I really like the matte finish these miniatures have, and could happily leave them as they are! But onwards! Last night I had been planning to do an almost-purple skintone, but after checking out some awesome paint jobs online (Slaanesh-purple, Alpha Legion blue, and this totally awesome black and grey!) I decided to go with an almost Orc green. And thus, I began!

Daemon Prince Daemon Prince

Basecoating the miniature was a little problematic for me, as it is the most detailed figure that I’ve painted to date. Rather than going through in layers, I decided to apply basecoats to specific areas, so the skin was done in Caliban Green, the armour in Balthasar Gold, the axe in Warplock Bronze, and the combat skirt in Mephiston Red. I’ve said it before, I don’t have the steadiest hands, so I was really impressed with my ability to get the armour done so well, I must say!

He looked pretty good in those base coat, and I would have quite gladly have kept him as was, but I wanted a more convincing scheme. And I needed to do something with his wings and his claws/horns. After some thought, I decided to try something perhaps a bit different. First of all, I used a watered-down Screaming Skull as a kind of base coat on the wings, to lighten the black without making it too light, then washed the entire area in Biel-Tan Green. I also used that shade on the skin, though it didn’t really add all that much I felt, as the base coat was already quite dark. In addition, the combat skirt was washed with Carroburg Crimson, to help give the folds definition.

Daemon Prince

Daemon Prince

The horns, claws and the bony wing-tips were all done in Ushabti Bone, using multiple thin layers to help build up a smooth look. Then came the details! Since I did the Chaos Lord from Battlelore, I have become a really big fan of drybrushing, so first I used more Ushabti Bone to drybrush the bony ribs on the wings, then Tyrant Skull on the horns and claws. Now, I hadn’t realised until Friday that you can drybrush with any paint, so thought I’d give it a try, and it really worked! Just dab it around on a tissue as you would with the dry paints, make sure the brush is fairly dry, and then just lightly stroke it on the area. Marvellous!

The armour I drybrushed with Golden Griffon, though unfortunately it lightened the coppery colour that was achieved by the Balthasar Gold. But still, it looks pretty nice and burnished, so I can’t complain too much. I’m really pleased with the effect on the axe, however, which was drybrushed with Runelord Brass over the blade and rivets:

Daemon Prince

Nice, huh?! For the skin, I used Kabalite Green to drybrush, and I think it worked well with the earlier shade to provide better definition to the skin. For the bonier ridges, such as his right hand and spine, I further drybrushed with Sybarite Green, adding more highlights to help provide a textural contrast between the skin and the harder bone. The figure has some sort of skin decoration on the thighs and biceps that I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with, but eventually settled on the idea of a branding – I then very lightly drybrushed these raised areas with Mephiston Red, making sure to keep the green tone on them while providing a dark red “blush” effect, as if he has only just been branded or something. I thought it was a good idea, anyway!

Daemon Prince

The face was a big problem for me, as it was such a small area I was really quite nervous about being able to do it all. But then I decided to just use the Sybarite Green drybrush again, which gives the face its definition and adds to the effect of the figure as screaming, or bellowing:

Daemon Prince

I like it, anyway! The eyes were dabbed with Fire Dragon Bright, and the teeth were another job with Ushabti Bone. Really difficult to do, that, given my unsteadiness! But I got a pretty decent effect all the same. The small “teeth” that seem to be part of the belt I based in Leadbelcher and drybrushed with Runefang Steel to give the highlight – I thought metal teeth would be bizarre enough to add that extra something to the whole. As a very final effect, I washed the areas of bone, claw and horn with Agrax Earthshade to take the bright edge off those areas, and give it a more natural feel.

Daemon Prince

Finally, the base. I dreamed up the idea of a lava feel, so applied a base coat of Khorne Red with some bits and pieces of Yriel Yellow. When that dried, I put some PVA glue over the base before throwing on some black sand that I happened to have anyway, but it didn’t work out quite as I’d hoped – it’s a little too flat, don’t you think? Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay, but I just feel like it should have been awesome given how well the actual miniature itself went! So, this may not be the last you see of this chap! I’ve been looking into miniature basing kits, so it’s not necessarily over yet!

This model is really nice, I’m really pleased with it! Took about an hour to assemble fully, and probably about four or so hours to paint, allowing for drying time and whatnot. And I only used, what, 18 different paints because I have them, it’s not like it was entirely necessary or whatever!

I’m feeling increasingly confident about this whole business of miniature painting and assembly, so I’m looking forward to Shadows of Brimstone even more now! That said, of course, I’m also loving this whole thing for its own sake – whether I ever get into playing the tabletop game will remain to be seen, but still, I have been enjoying this whole experience like you wouldn’t believe, and am really excited for what’s coming next: NECRONS!

Modelling Chaos

Evening everyone!

I’m taking a break from keeping up with the GenCon news – or more accurately, I’m trying to recover after yesterday’s excitement!!! – to talk about some of my latest experiences with modelling.

As you hopefully know by now, I’m looking forward with increasing enthusiasm to the upcoming Shadows of Brimstone, which, it was announced a short while ago, will feature substantial assembly of the miniatures. To help me with this, I bought a Warhammer miniature as a “practice” piece, and last weekend I fell head over heels into the hobby of miniature modelling and painting. I have, this past week, spent a couple of hundred pounds on getting seriously into this hobby, with a whole slew of paints as well as the associated utensils to really give it a proper go.

Last weekend, I had a lot of help in assembling the miniature from the manager of the Games Workshop store in Chester, and the second miniature I painted was one of the pre-assembled Battlelore miniatures. Today, however, I was on my own. I have made up two miniatures today, a Fiend of Slaanesh, and a Daemon Prince!

As I said, the whole point of this was initially to help me prepare for all the work involved when Shadows of Brimstone hits, so I want to share my experiences of modelling and painting with the wider public, in case it helps others in a similar position to myself.

Fiend of Slaanesh – modelling
Slaanesh is my favourite of the four Ruinous Powers of Chaos in the Warhammer universe. The Prince of Pleasure, everything is so delightfully lilac and pink, and could almost be quite pleasant when compared with the pestilence of Nurgle or the bloodthirst of Khorne. However, Slaanesh is pretty depraved, and his followers have all sorts of demented mutations made to them in pursuit of pleasure through pain. The Fiend of Slaanesh is a pretty weird model, almost a docile pony-like creature, but with six limbs, two of which end in crab-like pincers, and a very weird head indeed!

Fiend of Slaanesh

Fiend of Slaanesh
All the bits

The Fiend of Slaanesh is a resin Fine Cast model, softer than plastic and with a higher degree of detail. Unfortunately, the sprues also have a lot of gunk from the casting process, and a lot of clean-up work was required once they were cut off…

Fiend of Slaanesh
All the body parts grouped together for ease of assembly

Unfortunately, I do not have the steadiest of hands, and have never really done anything like this before, but even I was shocked at just how quickly it was before I stabbed myself with the craft knife!

Fiend of Slaanesh
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

Moving on! Resin Fine Cast models must be assembled with Super Glue – the Plastic Glue (sometimes called Plastic Cement) won’t work, because of the bonding process. The various components all fit together in one way, and have bumps and grooves on them, which helps a lot with assembly, but it’s always best to dry-assemble the model first to check the way bits go before going ahead and gluing them together.

Fiend of Slaanesh
Halfway through assembly

The finished beast is quite nice, I must admit! While super glue bonds pieces really quickly, I’m leaving this chap overnight to make sure he is fully secure before moving on to painting. Make sure to check back tomorrow for part two of this exciting series!

Fiend of Slaanesh Fiend of Slaanesh

Daemon Prince – modelling
The Daemon Prince was the first “serious” model that I bought. The Beast of Nurgle and the Fiend of Slaanesh are both Fine Cast, small models that have a small handful of pieces, and are fairly straightforward to assemble. The Daemon Prince, however, was a whole other matter.

Daemon Prince
box contents

While these sprues look a bit intimidating at first glance, there is a handy instruction guide included, and the basic components are fairly easy to figure out. What I really like about Games Workshop here is the amount of choice they give us – there are components in this box to make a Warhammer Fantasy Daemon Prince, or a Warhammer 40k Daemon Prince! I eventually settled for a sort of mixture of the two, but I was really impressed by that – in fact, it proved to be the hardest part of the assembly, choosing which weapons I would use!

Daemon Prince

The basic assembly is actually really straightforward. The torso has a front and a back, which fit together quite snugly. The feet fit into a slot on the legs; all four of the limbs only fit onto the torso one way, and the tail fits over the bum to add further security to the join. The wings fit into recesses on the back, and the head sits snugly on the neck. Voila! There are all sorts of other bits like shoulder pads and a combat skirt, though I decided to only fit the latter. I used a thin Plastic Glue here – unlike super glue, Plastic Glue takes a while longer to dry, but that extra time does mean you have some “wiggle room” to ensure the pieces fit together in precisely the way you want. Plastic Glue works by effectively melting the plastic pieces together, and once fully dry creates a virtually unbreakable bond. It’s for this reason that you can’t use it on the resin models – resin is softer than plastic, and would effectively just dissolve.

The Daemon Prince was a bit fiddly to assemble, so I couldn’t photograph it step-by-step as I was concerned with it falling apart before the glue was set! However, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree, the finished product is pretty striking!

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(For the observant among you, yes, I have changed his head! I hadn’t realised there was a choice of three heads for this chap!)

Tomorrow, once the glue has properly set and whatnot, I’m going to set to painting them. The Fiend of Slaanesh has a fairly standard lilac colour scheme I want to go for, but I’m not 100% sure on the Daemon Prince yet. I’m going to have a think about it overnight, anyway. There are some really awesome paint jobs, looking around online, so I’m thinking I might try for something vaguely unique for my own! We shall see, anyway.

Until tomorrow, then!

Oh my goodness! Again!

When this appeared, I was aghast. I think 2014 has been my favourite GenCon to date!

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As you may remember, I’m a big fan of Eldritch Horror, and really enjoyed the small expansion that came out earlier this year. Pretty much since the game was announced, fans (including me!) have been speculating on how big-box expansions would be implemented, given how the base game’s board is, well, the world. I had made this comment on the official forums back in August last year, barely following the game’s announcement:

I have no idea how Powergrid works, but I’m assuming from this talk here that smaller boards are added around the main board, so that when you land on that spot you’re directed to have an encounter in the smaller board? Well, even if that isn’t the case, I could see something like that happening here no problem. Exactly how far you take it, though, could be interesting – how about a small board, say the same size as a Capital board in Warhammer: Invasion, for, say, London, which has specific locations within the city that you can investigate? Too far? Hm. 

Additionally, the map does have these numbered locations at intervals, such as the number 14 (city?) space in Finland, which could easily have a mechanic that adds a ‘Helsinki’ location token to that space with future expansions, much as it appears R’lyeh is added to the number 3 (sea?) space in the video at 4’16. Unfortunately, Rome is such a big location that it obscures Marrakesh, so without a lot of fiddling, we probably won’t get to that place. Actually, looking at the map, Rome has taken over most of Western Europe. Another Hm. At least there are defined spaces in Central America, Indonesia and India to allow for a ‘Helsinki’-type future expansion.  

Incidentally, how hilarious is it to be discussing expansions for a game that has barely been announced?!  :lol:

But now, we have this! To see that we’re getting a “side board” in this expansion is very exciting, indeed!

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I am very over-excited about this game. I didn’t actually get round to reading At the Mountains of Madness until last Christmas, but wasn’t all that impressed, if I’m completely honest:

Largely, my complaint was with the fact that there is supposed to be a sense of urgency to the mission to the Antarctic, and yet a great deal of time is spent by the professors transcribing wall writings, completely ruining any suspense for me. But anyway.

I’m really excited about getting new investigators, as I think I’d’ve liked to have seen some in the small box. But yeah, eight more investigators will be really nice. The possibility of seeing gates open on locations where they previously didn’t intrigues me, I’m assuming some new sort of mechanic will open them on the unnamed spaces?

What I’m most curious about, however, is how on earth you travel between boards! I’m assuming there will be some twist on the rules that allows an investigator, when on the Antarctica expedition space, to travel to the side board, but there’s nothing concrete in the announcement. I have a sneaky feeling that, when travel between boards has been fully spoiled, that will inform speculation for further expansions down the line.

I’m quite heartened by this news. I came to the Arkham party fairly late, so bought the entire game line pretty much in one sweep. I’ve never felt overwhelmed per se, but I think I can see how that might have been the case when they were new. I suppose I would like to see the game expanded with a small box and big box alternating every six months, that would be fine. I hope they can keep the high quality of theme in the expansions, though, as well. The jungle/Yig theme in Forsaken Lore was awesome, and the Antarctic theme in Mountains of Madness looks like it too will be amazing. What’s next? Hopefully something Oriental. Not that I can think of anything in that vein from the mythos, but I did enjoy the Curse of the Jade Emperor asylum pack for the LCG…

Anyway, Mountains of Madness is tremendously good news for Eldritch Horror, so I am really very pleased to see this. Bravo, FFG! Bravo!

Mountains of Madness

Oh my goodness!

There is so much goodness coming out of Gen Con today, I can barely contain my excitement, but Fantasy Flight Games’ annual In-Flight Report has, this year, got me frothing at the mouth with excitement! By far and away, though, the last game announced is definitely the strongest contender, to me, for best-in-show: Imperial Assault.

Imperial Assault

It’s a miniatures game based on the Descent mechanics, but I’m a bit surprised by this, as I was under the impression that FFG didn’t hold the licence for board games. While they may market it as a miniatures game, this does seem to push the envelope a bit, but anyway – I am far too excited about the possibilities to worry about the legalities! Plus, what with the Disney takeover, maybe FFG have got a better licence? Anyway.

I really enjoyed Descent when I played the co-op pack, so I’m really intrigued by this, but to be honest, I’ve just been so desperate for a land-based minis game from FFG that anything would have sated my hunger at this point!

Imperial Assault

Now that I’ve started to paint miniatures, too, I’m even more looking forward to this!

Back in the day, I spent a small fortune – no, a large fortune – on the WotC Star Wars Miniatures line – about 1400 miniatures, of which I have them all atop the wardrobe. It was a good skirmish game, but was very much a case of kill-kill-kill. The blurb for this game places much more emphasis on quests and RPG-esque elements that I am now very chuffed by this!

I really like the idea of playing “new” heroes, as well, which adds even more to the RPG feel for me. While I have no real aversion to playing as Luke or Biggs, I feel that I can play as Jyn Odan or whoever, and tell my own story every time, rather than going through the prescribed motions. Having the Villain and Ally packs is a really nice move, I feel, though I get the impression that some might think of it as a cheap trick to get us to spend more money on getting the iconic movie characters. Meh, I’ll be getting them all, not least because of my Star Wars obsession, but because I like to support games that I enjoy, and I have the strong feeling that this will be hitting the table a lot!

Very much looking forward to this one, at any rate!

Imperial Assault

GenCon14

Evening all!
As you may or may not realise, tomorrow is the start of GenCon14, The Best Four Days in Gaming, and definitely the highlight of the gaming year. I must admit, I’m not really expecting all that much, but there are a couple of interesting things that should be coming up.

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There’s been nothing from Fantasy Flight to say what they have coming out, which makes me feel like there’s going to be some big game news coming. I’m guessing Warhammer 40k LCG will be released, but no idea what else will be coming. Maybe we’ll finally get an expansion for the new Battlelore that was released just days before GenCon last year? Maybe we’ll see something big, we shall see! Something I’m very excited about will be the previously-mentioned Lord of the Rings event.

Flying Frog will be showing Shadows of Brimstone, and will also have some expansions for Conquest of Planet Earth (yay!) and, apparently, Dark Gothic, already! I’d like to have seen something for Fortune & Glory too, but, well, we’ll see…

A new Master Set is coming for Summoner Wars from Plaid Hat Games, Summoner Wars: Alliances. That sounds kinda interesting, a mixing together of some of the factions, so I’m intrigued to see what exactly is involved in there!

There’s an Arabian Nights-themed game called Five Tribes coming up from Days of Wonder, the publisher who brought us Ticket to Ride. I love a good Arabian Nights-themed game, so that could be interesting!

Asmodee are bringing out a game called Abyss, which looks pretty awesome and could be a quite interesting, so I’ll be keeping an eye on that.

As the weekend goes on, I’ll probably keep coming back here and revising this blog with my thoughts and reactions as and when news hits, so keep checking back!

Some really cool stuff came out of FFG’s In Flight Report:

^^^^^ Fabulously excited for this, given my recent Descent experience!

^^^^^ This looks incredible!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^^^^^

^^^^^ I was involved in playtesting for this, it’s awesome! ^^^^^

^^^^^ No surprise, but really nice to see the final book of the three!

^^^^^ I think THIS is the news we’ve all been waiting for!

No surprises there, then…

^^^^^ Interesting news about X-Wing, I have to say…

^^^^^ With 9 playable factions, Warhammer 40k Conquest will be the biggest LCG to date!

^^^^^ Still not entirely sure about this one. Seems like a helluva lot of money!

^^^^^ THIS is what I want! Armada can take a hike – this is where it’s at!!!!!!!!!

For the complete In-Flight Report 2014:

^^^^^ I do so love the artwork on the Lost Realm box, that is just beautiful!

^^^^^ Well deserved by Paizo, publisher for the Pathfinder RPG I love so much!

And now, to the game I am waiting for like no other: Shadows of Brimstone!

Yes, girls and boys, Shadows of Brimstone does indeed look like it’s going to be a truly fantastic game! I am feeling a little bit sick with excitement for finally being able to get my copy – hopefully by the end of September!

Announced in the In-Flight Report, FFG has put up a formal announcement today for Wave Six of X-Wing, which introduces the Scum and Villainy faction to the game. While it’ll be nice to have Prince Xizor’s Virago and IG-88 added to the mix, I’m a little baffled as to what’s next with this game! Of course, I gave up trying to second-guess releases a long time ago, but even so! I feel like it was a little left-field, but then I haven’t followed the meta for this game all that closely.

^^^^^ I kinda like RoboRally, but a giant RoboRally sounds too much for me!!

Nice little view of the upcoming Armada game in the video above, as well as the Witcher boardgame, which I’m not all that pumped by, but my buddy Tony is quite desperate to get his hands on it.

So there you have it, GenCon 2014 is over!

Apart from the big announcements from FFG, nothing new really leapt out and grabbed me, as it were. King of New York, from Iello Games, is apparently one of the most popular games to have debuted there, though I still have yet to make much of a headway with the earlier King of Tokyo game.

Night of the Grand Octopus just sounds incredible, but I have no idea what it’s about – just, what a name!!!

AEG have released a new Smash Up expansion, and have had a couple of games that seem to be doing really well, Doomtown Reloaded and Istanbul. Not heard much about either before now, but of the two, I kinda like Doomtown, I have to say!

That’s it for another year, anyway!