Friday, December 30, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the same day I saw Star Wars, and they are such different movies. While Rogue One is a war movie, FB is much more an adventure story, even if it has similar dark undertones.

1920's New York is beautifully recreated beautifully, though we mostly see it being destroyed by Newt's escaped beasts and then rebuilt by Newt and the other wizards of the movie. The magic is just as magical as the first time I sat down to watch Sorcerers Stone, and the years since that movie came out mean that the beasts look even better. The time spent inside Newt's magical suitcase is... well, I think it may have been my favorite part of the movie.

There is little time given over to explain much of anything in the movie, or even to give much room for character introduction, let alone development. We're just tossed into the middle of the action, and then spend the rest of the movie mostly rushing about. In this way it's very much like Rogue One. At least here we've got an entire series of movies coming that will let us (hopefully) explore the characters more. And thank goodness for that. I don't think I realized how much I missed having something new in the Potterverse to look forward to!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Assassin's Creed

Well that was a waste of 2 hours.

And it wasn't like I went into the movie with high expectations. But with an actor of Michael Fassbender's caliber, not to mention Jeremy Irons who can chew scenery on a level unmatched by any other actor I can think of (see the first D&D movie for a prime example) I had hoped I would at least enjoy it.

I didn't. It was dark, and grim, and boring, and oh so serious. They seem to have forgotten the fun. They never let anyone crack a smile, and kept Jeremy Irons mostly standing around silently looking down on the action. What a shame...

Now, it was pretty, and seeing people doing medieval parkour in cool looking costumes was great.... And that's the only good thing I have to say about the movie.

It really wasn't terrible, but it never held my attention, but inless you've got a thing for seeing Fassbender topless, or really love the game, I recommend skipping this. There are so many much better ways of spending your time this Christmas weekend.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rogue One

I finally got to go and see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last night. As a warning to those few other poor souls who haven't seen it, there are spoilers below.


Seriously, spoilers! 

First off, this is a war movie. There is death and destruction, not just of extras, or some scenery. Massive scale death, and the Empire at it's most evil. Seriously just destroying whole cities, rebels, civilians, and Imperial forces alike without a second thought. Rogue One really shows you just how bad the Empire was, and how little those in power cared.

Lets talk about the ships. You get lots of X-Wings, Y-Wings, Star Destroyers and of course the Death Star. But you also get several of these fun little transports. The U-Wing! Clearly an Incom design that fits in very well with the aesthetic of the other rebel ships. I especially like how stripped down it is. Clearly not designed for long flights.

There we're also a bunch of Tie variants that we haven't seen (in the movies) before, and a few other ships from the TV shows that made their way to the big screen like the hammerhead. I also really liked seeing the AT-AT and AT-ST doing their thing. And when the AT-AT was hit by the missile, and shrugged it off? Awesome!

While Jyn Erso (above) was the 'main character' of the movie, it really was a rather diverse ensemble cast. I wish we had gotten more time to get to know them. As it was, everything was a bit rushed, and there wasn't a whole lot of time for character development.What we got though? A great cast. Diego Luna as Captain Cassian Andor pulled off a character that could easily have come off as a total ass. Alan Tudyk as K-2S0, the droid without a filter for his mouth, was not only perfect, but absolutely accurate to any droid character I've had played at my table. Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang as Chirrut Îmwe and Blaze showed exactly how non-jedi force sensitives should work in Star Wars.

Seeing all the female pilots fighting in the main battle was great, but I wish that some more of the main cast had been female. Same with the squad in the beach scenes. Seems like a missed opportunity. 

What was really interesting character-wise was Grand Moff Tarkin, as played by Peter Cushing's CGI doppelganger. As far as the uncanny valley goes, I think we've reached the point where we're heading out of it. It was a little weird at first, but my brain quickly accepted it. The brief appearance of Princess Leia wasn't on screen long enough for my brain to accept it, but by that point Jar Jar could have popped up and it wouldn't have thrown me out of the movie.

Darth Vader... Holy hell, so that's what a Sith Lord looks like in the prime of his badassery! Throughout Episodes 4-6 Vader was always a presence, and impressive, but never did I feel terrified by him. This? This was scary, tossing rebel troops around like dolls, and not even breaking a sweat doing it.

I very much appreciate how this wasn't a story of the Skywalker family. It's a really big universe, and there are lots of tales to tell. 

It was a really good movie, and the ending... uff... I mean, I guessed that's how it would end, but even still, I felt it. Still feeling it, really. I think I need to see it again though to solidify my thoughts on it. 

Only 357 days till Episode 8... not that I'm counting or anything.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday Inspirational Image: Christmas Snail

Feris slammed the book shut in disgust.

"What?" Nimble asked, jumping from the chair he'd been perched on, watching the door.

"There are instructions for creating some of the most foul abominations... "

"Two months ago we took on the Ghoul Lord. We've seen our share of abominable things. How bad can it be?"

"Fruitcake snail golem with gingerbread shell?"

"Nimble shuddered. Okay, that's just wrong..."

Gingerbread Monsters

Saturday, December 17, 2016

#3MMRPC: Bones Animal Companions & Barrow Rats

My number of minis painted this year is pretty miserable. Sure, I've been focusing a lot on terrain, but still... I can do better. So to pad my numbers some, I decided to paint up the wolf, wolverine, and bear from the Animal Companions set from Reaper, as well as a couple of Barrow Rats to round out both the year and the 3 Month Mountain Reduction Painting Challenge.

After washing them with soapy water and scrubbing them down with a toothbrush, I glued them to a craft stick with a drop of superglue each. I then slathered them with Brown Liner.

I looked up pictures of wolves, and decided I'd try a timber wolf color scheme. It didn't work out, but the results are still kind of interesting. I started with a base of bone, and then used very thinned down tanned leather and walnut brown for the markings.

Rich Leather was used to paint the wolf's eyes, finishing it off.

The bear and the wolverine were base coated with walnut brown, and then got some ruddy flesh details.

I then gave both a light dry brush of Rich Leather to bring out a bit of the fur texture.

I then gave them a light drybrush of dirty bone to really give that final touch to the tips of the fur.

The barrow rats really vexed me. After lining them, I went with moldy flesh figuring that their disease infected skin would be looking pretty unhealthy. I brought it up with a mix of spectral white and the moldy flesh. I then went over the fur that was still on them with the same browns I used on the bear above. Their eyes and mouths are fresh blood red, whiles the tails, ears, and boils were painted with brains pink and breast cancer awareness pink.

At this point I thought that this was one of the ugliest sloppiest paint jobs I'd ever done. I hated it, and the mini, and myself for doing such a terrible job.  Because of this, there are no work in progress shots.

I then gave the whole mini a wash of Bloodhowl's Heavy Sepia wash, and like magic it all came together. I'm trying to get away from using washes like this, but sometimes it really works better than it should, and makes my efforts look way better then they deserve.
Also, these are seriously large ROUS...

Friday, December 16, 2016

Frostgrave Review

This is probably coming a bit late, and the fact that I've been playing Frostgrave for over a year now probably already tells you that this is going to be a positive review, and it is, but I wanted to take a post or two to share what it is about the game that I really like.

First off, a bit about the game itself. Frostgrave is a fantasy skirmish game, where each player controls a warband of about 10 minis, lead by a wizard. The focus of the game is on collecting treasures from the board, and/or achieving whatever goal is determined by the scenario. It is entirely possible to play in such a way that the warbands never have to actually fight each other. It's not really likely, but it's possible...

As it's a wizard-centric game, only the wizard gains XP. All the rest of your soldiers just continue to hang around as they were, unless you upgrade them with magic items, or replace them with better troop types. The wizard's apprentice is a little different, as she gains in skill as her wizard goes up in power.

One of the things I like about Frostgrave is that while there is a setting and story that goes with the game, it's entirely possible to run your game in basically any fantasy type setting you want. Mordheim? No problem. Heck, it even works with some more fantastical sci-fi settings like Star Wars (jedi instead of wizards) or Doctor Who. Of course you can always play in the frozen city too!

In addition to that, while there is an official range of miniatures for Frostgrave there is absolutely ZERO requirement or even suggestion that you must or even should use them. For those of use with extensive collections of minis, this is a key selling point for anyone who's considering getting in on the game. Heck, it doesn't even have to be that extensive a collection. A single core set of miniatures from one of Reaper's Bones kickstarters is easily enough minis to fill out 2 warbands!

Additionally because the game is designed to be played on a small area (3' x 3' is the recommended size) it doesn't take a huge investment in terrain or space. If you've been following my blog, you've seen the terrain I've built over the last year for a really minimum investment in money (less than $25!).

The rules themselves are very lite, and can be condensed easily to a single page (not counting spells, stat lines, etc.). It isn't a game designed for tournament play, but rather for a more casual campaign. While I have at times enjoyed highly complex rules sets, having something so player friendly makes it so much easier to find people to play with who can actually find time to play. It also helps that the author is pretty active online to answer questions for those situations where something can be interpreted in a couple of different ways.

And speaking of time to play, I've been routinely playing in 6-8 player games (it's designed for 2 players) and even with the added number of people, we still manage to finish a 6-7+ turn game in about 3.5 hours. 2 player games, from what I've seen, usually wrap up in under 2 hours.

All in all, there is a lot to recommend this rules set, which is why I've been playing it for over a year now.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

#3MMRPC Time lords and Teddy Bears

This is it, the penultimate post for the challenge. I've done a terrible job posting weekly to update on the challenge, but I've actually been decently productive. Since my last update, I built and painted 35 bookshelves for Frostgrave, and have mostly finished the bear, wolverine, and wolf from the Bones Animal Companions set. I've also concurrently been working on the Bones Barrow Rats.

Oh, and I also finished the TARDIS! Finally!

For the next Frostgrave campaign, I've started working on a pair of chronomancers and a barbarian with a teddy bear. Of course as I just gave away the TARDIS, I'll now need to paint another one...

 Lastly, I've pushed a bit of putty on a giant ice toad. Mostly just the central mass of the body and one leg.
For this last week, I'm hoping to finish up the animal companions and barrow rats.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Frostgrave: Silence in the Library

On Saturday, we got together for the 11th and final session of the 2016 campaign. Sadly not everyone could make it. So with a reduced player base (6 instead of the normal 8) we shrank the table down to 8' long. The playing area was further reduced by setting up a fairly massive Dwarven Forge dungeon setup to go with the library scenario. And as we've all been furiously making bookshelves, that further reduced our playing area.

It was an impressive looking table!

Since it was both the final game of the campaign, and also during the holiday season, we each brought 3 wrapped gifts (valued $5 or less each) which were tied with the treasure tokens. Get one token, get one gift. Get 5 tokens, get 5 gifts.

We also decided that since we were playing in the library, the first wandering monster would be the librarian (the ghost lady at the beginning of Ghostbusters) and the next 2 would be Vashta Nerada (from Doctor Who) all of which would use the stats of the Wraith.

Elsa started out in the corner with Kodak to the right, and Relig across the table.
Relig's minions
The blue box and her Doctor 
After descending multiple flights of stairs and entering the library proper it was clear that most of the books were long ruined, yet a few treasures might still be found...  Elsa enchants the slow golem to move a little faster (Fleet Feet) and sends it to comb the fiction shelves for anything shiny. Anna tries to do the same for Lady the treasure hunter, but fails. Everyone else heads to the right toward a door leading deeper into the library.

At the door Elsa tries to give Johann the knife (treasure hunter, new hire) the same enchantment, but felt the same draining sensation Anna did. There was something odd about this library... Beyond the door is a long hallway off to the side, and another chamber, the geography section. Johann goes through to the chamber, and finds a chest. Elsa tells him to grab it and head back. Down the hallway, lined with a long shelf, the wizard Relig steps into sight. Anna tries to send a bolt of ice at him, but while the ice shoots down the hall, it has no force and lands without effect. The young marksman lines up a shot, but misses. Hood and the Gravedigger rush down the hall.

The Vashta Nerada, sensing the heat of living bodies, emerges near Elsa's party, though they never see it. Later Relig's zombie does encounter it, and is stripped of it's lifeless but enchanted flesh. The other Vashta Nerada and the librarian both appeared at the far side of the table.

Elsa speeds up Johann, while Kodak and several of his minions appear from around a bookshelf. He tries to capture the mind of Lady, but she's made of tougher stuff, and flips him off. The old marksman takes a shot at Kodak, but misses.

Down the hallway, Relig sends his dog and an infantryman down the hall toward Anna, and creates a wall of fog blocking Anna and the marksman's line of sight. In return Anna sends Rathgar the man at arms flying through the fog and over the crowd, while the marksman moves forward through the fog. The old gravedigger (treasure hunter) kills the dog, while the infantryman tries to kill the flying Rathgar, and ends up dead himself. The marksman again aims for Relig, and drops him with a bolt lodged in his center mass.

Back in the geography section, a not so secret door opens, revealing one of the Doctor's men, and dropping his invisibility, one of Kodak's men attacks him. Lady joins in, killing Kodak's treasure hunter who was engaged with the Doctor's treasure hunter. Sir Hellsbane, following closely behind Lady, takes out the Doctor's treasure hunter. Elsa tries to blast Kodak, but feels the magic slipping from her fingers. Sacrificing her flesh to the cold within, she empowers the spell... and completely fails to land the ice bolt anywhere near Kodak. (3 points of health to get the spell off, and then a 1 on the to hit roll). Rather than risk being exposed, she engages with Kodak's templar, sidestepping his attack, and dropping him handily. The young marksman tries to take out Kodak, but ends up with a bolt in his eye instead.

Though the hidden door, River comes around the corner with a musketman. Both fail to do anything.

In the hall, Anna tries to boost the young marksman, but again fails, while the Gravedigger swings his shovel as ineffectively as the woman at arms swings back.

Elsa tries again to ice bolt Kodak, but once again her magic fails her, and she ducks through the secret door. Lady grabs the treasure that the other treasure hunters were fighting over, while Sir Hellsbane gets between Elsa and River.

Meanwhile Anna fails to enchant herself with fleet feet. On the upside, the Gravedigger smacks the woman at arms upside the head. Doesn't drop her though.

Sir Hellsbane charges River, who's pistol finally works, and drops him. Elsa tries to blast the musketman, but hurts herself instead. In a rage she leaps toward him. If magic won't work, her weapons will. Lady charges River, smacking her upside the head with the treasure she'd snagged, dropping her to the ground.

Anna tries to wall off Kodak, but fails, while the woman at arms drops Gravedigger. Rathgar steps up to engage her. Hood runs off with the golem and Johann all carrying treasure.

Lady tries to help Elsa with the musketman, but gets a rifle stock to the gut. Elsa lands a solid blow in return. Anna fleet's the old marksman and starts making her way back to the stairs. Rathgar and the woman at arms hurt each other, neither giving ground.

Elsa flashes a bit of snow at the musketman, while Lady bashes him over the head, dropping him. They grab Sir Hellsbane, and move to check the door. they don't see any sign of Kodak or his minions, so they make their way back toward the stairs, catching up with Anna and the rest of their group.

Back at the inn, Elsa pours over the recovered treasures. Two books of magic with new spells to learn, and a magical robe and great sword. Sadly Gravedigger and the young marksman never made it back, and their loss was keenly felt, though Sir Hellsbane made a quick and complete recovery.

After chatting with Anna and the rest of her companions, she decided that she'd wasted enough time in Felstad, and that it was time to return to her throne.

Elsa finished the campaign with exactly 1,000 XP coming in right at the bottom of the pile. Not helped were the miserable spell rolls this session. I got off a mere 7 spells over 9 turns! However, the 4 treasures earned got me 4 picks from the presents pile, and I have to say I got some nice pulls!

Chris reported on Kodak's final adventure here.

As this was the end of the campaign, and time to retire Elsa and company, it's time to think about what warband I'm going to run next... Here's a hint!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Building the Library

With the next and last game of Frostgrave rapidly approaching, I needed to get my bookshelves finished.

Since my test shelves worked out pretty well, it was time to kick production into high gear.

So I grabbed the insulation foam and fed it through the scroll saw... and ended up with a LOT of shelves. 

2" tall and 3" long each, with craft sticks as the sides, and a washer under each. These were attached using a low temp hot glue gun.

Then the painting... I used cheap craft paint, obviously.

Then came all the cutting and gluing. I used 2 different styles of library shelves to add some visual diversity. Honestly, cutting each individual sheet for the 35 shelves was probably the most annoying part of the process.

And while I was at it I added the POLICE BOX labels to the my TARDIS. I tried to paint them on, but it really didn't work.

I also added a few fun signs to about a third of the shelves.

I still need to put a bit of grey paint on the washers, but I should be able to knock that out tonight really quickly.

Now, the one thing going against them is that they don't really look like they've been in a frozen basement for 1,000 years. On the other hand, they'll do a great job blocking line of sight. Plus they were really easy to do.