Pizza and gaming!

Hey everybody!
It’s Saturday once again, but it feels like ages since I last wrote one of my legendary rambling blogs (you just know you love them really), so I thought I’d type a little something to help ease the pain. However, not a lot has been happening lately, so this may be more rambling than usual. However!

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Behold! The beef chilli nacho #pizza

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Yes, the beef chilli nacho pizza really is a thing, and you too can partake of it from a Tesco near you! It actually wasn’t that bad – the crumbled nachos went a bit soft from all the other stuff, so it was just like you’re average spicy meat feast-esque pizza, anyway.

I’ve been enjoying the pizza for a while last week. How amazing is the ciabatta pizza, I ask you?! So amazing, I had it three nights running last week – that’s how!

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Ciabatta #pizza

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Anyway. This summer hasn’t been the best, for a variety of reasons, but I’m hoping that we’ll see some decent weather for September. I haven’t been out much for a while, it seems, largely because of the amount of rain we’ve been having, but we’ll see. I have a trip to Durham planned for the end of the month, so I’m hoping for sun then!

There has been quite the emphasis on Warhammer in my latest blogs, not sure if you’ve noticed that at all? Well, this is largely because I’ve picked an extremely interesting time to discover the miniatures hobby. The End Times have been going on for the past couple of weeks, with the return of the legendary Nagash to the Old World. Games Workshop distressingly has little in the way of social engagement with their customer base, beyond their website, so I’ve been collecting bits and pieces on my tumblr site, which you can find here. So far, there have been two models released, one for Nagash himself, and one that can be constructed in three different ways, representing his three lieutenants.

I’ve treated myself to both, which is perhaps a little ostentatious, but I’ve been feeling a bit down following a relationship break-up, so they’ve taken my mind off things. Some more kits have been announced, which is both very exciting and very scary – not just because of the cost, of course, but also because I’m not convinced I’m all that skilled at painting these things yet!

I’ve been working on the Blue Scribes all week. This model is absolutely tiny, the level of detail involved in it is insane! I think I’m about done with it now, anyway, though I have to admit, it’s not as beautiful as I’d hoped it would be:

10649739_10152701636669804_2510539856889011227_n

However, I think I’m going to have a rest for the time being. I have a lot of model kits at the minute, including the aforementioned Nagash and the Mortarchs, to keep me going for a long time yet!

Reflecting on all of this, it seems funny to think it all started because I was concerned about having to learn how to put together Shadows of Brimstone. Barely a month on, and I’m seemingly obsessed with this plastic crack! Well, it keeps me off the streets. I have no idea whether I’ll ever get into playing the game – though my local GW store is full of really friendly folks, so if I do decide to get into it, I’ll know where to go – but I’ve been really enjoying myself with assembling and painting these models. Some of the finished results are really good (even if I do say so myself!), but I’ve also really enjoyed the process of it all, and the whole learning new skills thing.

I’m still reading The Tamuli, the second trilogy by David Eddings that I’d started reading a while ago. Not that I’m not enjoying it, of course, but it seems that I never really have the time to properly sit down with it and read. I’m approaching the end of the second book, The Shining Ones, and have been enjoying the twists and intrigue so far. However, I can’t help but feel that I want to return to Star Wars. I took delivery of the Kenobi paperback this morning, and everything I’ve heard about that book has been nothing but good. However, I’m also mindful that I was in the midst of my New Republic re-read, and would also like to get back into that. Oh, decisions!

Something else that I took delivery of this morning was this little beauty:

IMAG0548

According to my site stats on boardgamegeek, this is my 600th boardgame (these stats count all expansions separately, so expansion packs for LCGs etc), and will be featured here very soon, no doubt! (Given the latest Warhammer obsession, it should really have surprised no-one!)

So yeah. There have been some interesting previews for games recently, such as this look at the upcoming Saga expansion for Lord of the Rings LCG, and of course, the apocalyptic RPG series I featured last week. However, there hasn’t been an awful lot coming from FFG since the releases discussed around GenCon. Something I find quite peculiar, actually, is that pretty much all of the games/expansions announced at GenCon have now been previewed, except for the upcoming Battlelore expansions. I’d have thought we’d have seen something official on those by now. Hm.

I’ll leave you all with this, anyway. I don’t play any of the Warhammer 40k RPGs, but I thought the picture from this announcement looked really cool!

DH Forgotten Gods

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!

Daemon Prince Daemon Prince

(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!

I painted a miniature!

Afternoon all!

Remember a while ago, when it was announced that Shadows of Brimstone would require assembly of the miniatures, I decided to buy a Warhammer miniature to practice on? Well, I picked it up today from Games Workshop in Chester, and the chap in the shop was so helpful I cannot begin to recommend that place enough! Anyway, he showed me how to assemble the beast, and with his help I put the miniature together in the shop. Fabulous! I was hoping to demonstrate my complete ineptitude in this blog, but anyway. I bought a Beast of Nurgle, which on the website looks like this:

Beast of Nurgle

And the unpainted miniature turned out like this:

Beast of Nurgle

I’m not really a Nurgle fan – as far as Warhammer fantasy goes, I prefer Slaanesh. So while I was in the shop, having put the chap together, I settled on a Slaanesh-esque colour scheme, picking up lilacs and purples to paint it.

Beast of Nurgle

The only thing I’ve ever painted before is a wall, so this was very much a new experience for me, but I was really excited to get on with it! Trying desperately to remember all the tips the chap had told me while I was in Chester, I set to work, first of all in spray-priming the beast.

Beast of Nurgle

To be honest, I was quite impressed with just the black primer coat – the beast is daemonic enough like that, don’t you agree? Well, anyway. Moving onwards, I first applied the base coat of Daemonette Hide with a large brush:

Beast of Nurgle

Following this, I applied a wash of Druchii Violet with the wash brush, which defines the details of the miniature:

Beast of Nurgle

Again, I thought it was looking pretty decent by this time, but onwards! I then started to apply the highlights in Slaanesh Grey with a small brush, to give the beast more of a pale, sickly-looking tone:

Beast of Nurgle

It unfortunately doesn’t come out all that well in the photo, but still. For the tongue, I wanted to have something really quite shocking, in terms of perturbing and such, but at the same time looking vaguely like it does belong. Jarring, I suppose, is the effect. Well, anyway. I settled on Temple Guard Blue:

Beast of Nurgle

The boils and pustules on the body I also painted with the blue, though in a lighter, wash-like application, to give the impression of a sickness under the skin, almost. I then turned to the claws, and used Lucius Lilac to dry brush. I wasn’t too keen on that, however, but no mind. Finally, to give the illusion of slime to the tongue and the pustules, I coated them in ‘Ardcoat, which dries with a sheen.

Beast of Nurgle

I do kinda like the finished product – especially because this was the very first attempt at miniature painting that I have made! I do, however, find myself wishing it was a little better. But, as my practice miniature, I suppose I can’t exactly complain too loudly!

I’ve bought another, the Fiend of Slaanesh, so will be writing another blog when I do that one. So anyway, yeah, there you have it – my first attempt! Tell me what you think in the comments!

Welcome to the Big Leagues!

This is Blood Bowl! The most popular sport in the Old World!

Morning everybody!
Yes, it’s Tuesday, so it’s game day here at spalanz.com! Today I’m going to take a look at an old favourite of mine, Blood Bowl: Team Manager! The Warhammer version of the Superbowl, crossed with fantasy football, with a great deal of violence thrown in.

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Where else can you see a minotaur drop-kick a goblin? Where else can you watch an ogre flatten the entire opposing line?

Published in 2011 by Fantasy Flight Games, Blood Bowl: Team Manager is a game for up to four players, who take on the roles of team managers of one of six teams – three teams in each of two managers’ unions, the Old World Association and the Chaos Wastes Confederation. The object of the game is to collect enough fans to be awarded the Spike! Magazine “Manager of the Year” award. To do this, managers need to use their players to win a series of Highlights during each week of the games, as well as potentially the Spike! Magazine tournaments, culminating in the Blood Bowl itself.

Blood Bowl Team Manager Blood Bowl Team Manager

Managers start the game with twelve players, which they can add to as the game goes on by drafting star players to add to their player roster:

Blood Bowl Team Manager Blood Bowl Team Manager

Managers commit their players to each Highlight and/or the week’s Tournament one at a time, before the the matchup is resolved in the scoreboard phase. Certain cards have specific abilities, such as cheating (which is mandatory), passing (taking hold of the ball from midfield – that is, from the Highlight card), sprinting (drawing another card) or tackling (a bit like combat, I’ll explain in a minute…)

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Once all these abilities have resolved, the winner of each Highlight is determined by comparing each team’s star power at each matchup. The player cards, as you can see, have two stars on them, a larger one in the top left corner, and a smaller one in the bottom left. If a player is still standing, the top number is used; if he has been tackled, the card is placed on its side and the lower number is used. If any players have successfully passed, they also add the star power of the ball. Then, the managers each receive the payout from their zones, and the matchup winner receives the central payout as well.

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Highlight cards (above) offer managers the opportunity to gain Staff Upgrades (the ball icon), Team Upgrades (the helmet icon), Fans (the flag icon) or draft Star Players (the star icon):

Blood Bowl Team Manager
Team Upgrades
Blood Bowl Team Manager
Star Players
Blood Bowl Team Manager
Staff Upgrades

The number of fans you gain is added to the scoreboard track.

The game ends when the Blood Bowl is revealed from the Tournament deck, though there are also other high-stakes games where managers can commit their players:

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Are the refs really going to let this slide?

Cheating is mandatory. When a manager commits a player with a skull icon to a Highlight, he gains a cheating token. During the scoreboard phase, the tokens are turned over and resolved; they have a variety of effects, from adding star power, giving managers more fans, or getting the player sent off (the whistle icon):

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Tackling (the burst icon shown on Headsplitter, above) is optional, however. When tackling, the manager declares the target of the tackle and the star power of each player is compared before the manager rolls the tackle dice to determine if it succeeds or not. If a standing player is successfully tackled, the card is downed – placed on its side, contributing less Star Power to the matchup. If the player was already downed, he becomes injured, and is removed from the matchup. However, tackling is not exactly cut-and-dried, as the tackle dice could mean the tackler himself becomes downed as a result.

Wow, I’ve never seen a nose bend that way! Did you see that, Bob?
Of course, Jim, how could I miss that? He’ll need to find a good apothecary!

I’m really not a sporty person, but I really like this game! If you haven’t got the impression already, this game is over-the-top hilarious, complete with snarky little comments from Jim and Bob, the Blood Bowl commentators! It’s lots of fun, and can be really hilarious when you throw yourself into it.

In case it hasn’t become obvious yet, I really like Fantasy Flight Games, and I also really like the Warhammer universe. That alone should be enough to recommend this to me, but it’s also unlike any other game I own. Rather than being some sort of war game, where you build up opposing armies and whatnot, it’s a sports game, but more like a combat sports feel to it, if that makes sense at all?! I find it’s a really awesome choice, and as I’ve said, it’s also really fun and rewarding when you get into the spirit of the game. It is quite tongue-in-cheek and stuff, but that’s something that I really like about it!

Blood Bowl Team Manager

There have, to date, been two expansions released for the game – Sudden Death in 2013, and Foul Play just a couple of weeks ago. Each expansion adds a new manager’s union – the Dark Sorcery Syndicate in Sudden Death, and the Putrid Players Guild in Foul Play. In addition, each one brings new mechanics to the table, such as Contracts and Enchanted Balls (*snigger*), Diseases, Penalties and Stadiums. I’ve yet to play with either of these, but nevertheless, I’m really impressed with the way in which the game has been expanding, and have been looking forward to trying these out for a while now – needless to say, when I do, there will be updates here!!

The base game has a lot to recommend it, and I can definitely suggest you all pick up a copy today!

Buy it from amazon:
Blood Bowl Team Manager
Sudden Death
Foul Play