Monday, April 30, 2018

Infinity War: Initial Reaction!


Saturday morning (the earliest tickets I could get) I went to my local Alamo and watched Avengers: Infinity War... and wow... that was BRUTAL.

I mean, you kind of expected it to be, but... wow. It went directions I did not expect, and my top 2 predictions, the things I was sure were going to happen, didn't.

And the 2 hour 40 minute runtime didn't feel like it while you're watching it, but after... you felt it after. It never really gave you time during the movie to process. There was too much going on, and when you started to get used to the type of action going on, they'd switch it up, but the near constant intensity of it... You walk out of the theater feeling like you came out of the bad end of a boxing match.

As far as my prediction goes about Infinity War being in the middling tier of movies... It's hard to say after the one viewing, but it's certainly not going to be a movie I revisit frequently. We'll see how I feel about it after it's paired up with Avengers: 4 Infinity War Part 2 May 3, 2019...

Friday, April 27, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Final Thoughts

Well, I did it… I rewatched all the MCU movies in anticipation of Infinity War! And uh… I’m glad I’m done*, and that I don’t have to think** about another*** superhero movie for a while****.

Overall it’s been an enjoyable trip through the MCU. The movies hold up remarkably well both individually and as a continuing arc of storylines, and from Best (Iron Man? Winter Soldier? Black Panther?) to Worst (probably Hulk), they’re all still fun movies.

While I hate to pick a favorite, the movie I’ve enjoyed the most has to be Guardians of the Galaxy. It isn’t the best, but it’s the one I like the most, and the one I’m most likely to just randomly put on.

And because no wrap up would be complete without it, I’m going to rank them. Well, categorize them, since actually ranking them is a little too arbitrary. They are listed by release order within each category.

Best MCU
Iron Man
Captain America
Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Ant Man
Black Panther

Middling MCU
Iron Man 3
Age of Ultron
Civil War
Doctor Strange
Guardians vol. 2
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Thor 3 (this may move up in the rankings...)

Dust Collectors
Iron Man 2
Thor 2

I expect that Infinity War will likely fall into the Middling category... and with this, I'm off tomorrow to the movies for a noon showing! Wish I'd gotten an earlier ticket...

*Except for Infinity War itself….
**Not counting Deadpool 2 in June…
***Or Ant-Man and Wasp in July…
****But aside from those 3 upcoming movies in the next 3 months, I don’t have to think about comic book movies at all now that I’ve finished my rewatch!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Witch Bolt for Rules Cyclopedia

The zombie lumbered toward Fulhoff, arms outstretched, necrotic energy oozing off its body like the flesh sagging off its bones. Behind him the wight laughed. “Why do I always end up in the middle of the bad guys?” The zombie’s attack was slow and deliberate, and Fulhoff easily avoided it, but with the wight only a few steps behind him... “See you later!” he said to the zombie, touching his finger to his nose, and disappearing from sight. He then moved out of the zombie’s reach, and around behind the wight. Pointing his hammer at the wight’s head, he called forth the raw arcane energy, holding it until the hammer practically glowed before releasing the bolts of blue white energy. The wight stumbled forward as the bolts crackled, charring its flesh.

1st level wizard spell
Witch Bolt
Range: 30’
Duration: Up to 1 minute
Effect: Crackling bolts of electricity shoot from the wizard’s hand

The wizard must succeed on an attack roll against a target. On a hit, bolts of electricity shoot out from the wizard’s hand blasting the target for 1d6 damage. The wizard may continue the spell for up to 1 minute, causing an additional 2d4 damage automatically every round to the original target, as long as the target remains within range and line of sight.

Design Notes: Ongoing spells with concentration aren’t really a thing in RC D&D, and while I really enjoy casting this as a 2nd level spell in my 5e game, somehow d12 ongoing damage (or 2d12 for the empowered version) seems a little much for basic D&D. I spent a lot of time thinking about how much damage it should cause… Magic missile does a guaranteed 1d6+1 points of damage every 2 levels. This doesn’t really scale, but the likelihood that anything being targeted by the spell won’t die or move out of the area of effect after more than a round or 3 seems fairly unlikely. Plus the wizard still needs to actually hit with the spell initially, so I think the 2d4 damage works. I might even add a 1d4 every… 3 or 4 levels? That way it doesn’t get completely eclipsed by magic missile by name level.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Black Panther

So because I got a free movie ticket for my birthday, I went and caught Black Panther again in the theater Sunday morning, since it doesn't come out on DVD till after Infinity War comes out. Amazingly, the theater, even at 9:45am on a Sunday was still around 1/3 full. Granted, it's a smaller theater overall, but I was still surprised. On top of that, the 2 and 6 showings were sold out. Guess I wasn't the only one trying to get my Countdown done...

Now, it's been only 2 months since I last watched it (and reviewed it here) and I'm not sure I have a whole lot else to say about it.

I do want to talk about seeing the movie though. This time, in a half empty theater, was a radically different experience than my first viewing in a fully packed theater. For one thing there was significantly less talking, laughing, and audible reacting to the movie. I'm usually one who enjoys seeing a movie without the peanut gallery making it hard to focus on what's going on on the screen. But it felt so right the first time I saw BP that the lack of it this time felt... wrong.

Aside from that, I still loved the movie, and can't wait to see it again when it finally comes out on DVD.

Next Up: Avengers: Infinity War!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Painting Ingrid

After converting Ingrid to better match the character she's going to represent (giving her a bow and rapier), last night I got to painting.

I started with thinned down brown liner, then went straight to the eyes with Linen White. Surf Aqua was used for her irises, and brown liner for the pupil. I painted her flesh with a 2:1 Warrior Flesh: Linen White mix. Her hair is Blond Shadow with highlights of Tanned Leather. Her lower lip is a 1:1 blend of her flesh tone with Old West Rose.

The armor, gloves, boots were painted with a thinned Rich Leather. The bow and scabbard are painted with a mix of Brown Liner and Rich Leather. Her cloak was painted with Mountain Stone, and then washed with a 1:2:2 mix of Grey Liner: Mountain Stone: Flow Improver.

Because I want to bring her to game on Wednesday and I was working on this on a Monday, and don’t think I’ll get any more time to work on her I picked out the end of the scabbard and the tips of the bow with Dragon Bronze, and gave the base a quick wet brush of Redstone Shadow.

Not bad for a night's work...

But D&D was canceled... So I got some more painting in!

Metallic bits on her armor were painted, and I did some cleanup on her skin tones.

Good enough for the table!

Total Minis Painted in 2018: 27

Monday, April 23, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Thor Ragnarok

If there's one thing I want out of a movie from the MCU, it's fun. I want to enjoy myself. I want someone to root for, someone to root against, I want to laugh and to gasp. I want to see something in each film that I haven't seen before. Thor Ragnarok delivers this in a technicolor spectacular, which I wrote about before, not so long ago.

I mean, look at this poster! Those colors!!

But beyond that, there's 2 interesting stories going on here. Hela is taking over Asgard, in anticipation of a war of terror across the realms. She easily destroys Thor's hammer (once her own), kicks Loki's ass, and knocks both her brothers off the rainbow bridge onto a literal cosmic trash heap. Then she slaughters the Asgardian army, kills Thor's supporting cast with barely a backward glance, and spars with Idris Elba until the climactic fight at the end.

Meanwhile there's the buddy movie with Thor, Loki, Hulk, and Valkyrie playing around on Sakaar. I love all of the interactions, especially the growth in the relationship between Thor and Loki. Looking forward though... What's going to happen when Thanos shows up? Will Loki try to betray Thor again, or will the fact that he failed Thanos once already forstall that? We'll find out soon...

Then, when it all comes together, we have Thor deciding to end it all... and Asgard is destroyed in fire... and then there's Thanos.

Next up: Black Panther! 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Thunderwave for Rules Cyclopedia

A few of my favorite 5e spells don’t have old school analogs, so I decided to remedy that! The first in a short series of posts...

“Over here you ugly mutts!”

“Fulhoff no!” Thorin yelled, as his cousin ran toward the dire wolves.

The beasts snarled but paused their advance at the sight of the screaming dwarf charging toward them, his chainmail jingling with each lunging step. Both crouched lower, growling as the dwarf raised his hammer and swung it down to the ground in front of them. The crack of thunder rang in their ears and the dust of his strike blew into their eyes. Shaking off the minor irritation, they looked at the dwarf, down on one knee. Fulhoff’s grin faltered as he looked up at the wolves still too close to him.

“Great Digger-“ he began as the first charged into him, it’s jaws encompassing his shoulder, and he felt himself being yanked off of his feet.

1st level wizard spell
Range: 0 (Self only)
Duration: Instantaneous
Effect: 15' diameter sphere blast

This spell creates a thunderclap of sound centered on the wizard. Anyone within 15’ of the wizard must make a saving throw vs Paralysis or be pushed to 10’ away from the wizard and take 2d4+2 points of damage. Anyone making their save takes half damage and isn’t pushed away.

Design Notes: While a fun spell, it’s of fairly limited utility, since it targets everyone in the area of effect. I’ve only gotten to use it once or twice, and neither time was as effective as I’d wished. Sadly, the low DC for the saving through means I’m probably better off saving this as an emergency spell, rather than my “charge forward and BAM” spell. 
As one of my fellow players likes to remind me, I’m a squishy wizard. As far as turning the spell into something for the RC? Simple in this case, with the only real change being that in 5e, the spell doesn’t have to be centered on the wizard. Also drop the damage a bit since it's an AoE spell and HP aren't as high in RC. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ettin WiP

I’m doing far more painting for a D&D game that I’m playing in than I ever did for a game I DMed… And when she asks me “Do you have an ettin?” And my answer is “Not painted, but let me see what I can do…” this is where we end up.

I started with the usual hot soapy water scrub down, followed by assembly. I glued him to a 2” base, and added a rough gravel to cover what the integrated base didn’t. I then base coated him with Green Liner, my first time using it. The base got covered with brown liner, since I was using that for another figure.

Side note: Brown, Blue, and Grey Liners are my go to, as you’ve probably noticed. All 3 do a really good job with coverage and strength. So far I’ve found the Sepia and Green Liners to not hold up as well to handling.

After base coating him, I went to work on the face. Linen White for the eyes, and Dragon Red for the beard and hair.

I then mixed some brown liner with Ruddy Flesh and blocked in the fur and the wood of the clubs.

The chains, belt buckle (dwarven shield?) and knee armor I painted with Pure Black. The stones in the left club were blocked in with Mountain Stone, as were the 2 fish hanging from his belt. The spikes on the right club were painted with Bone. A bit of the Brown Liner/Ruddy Flesh was still in the well, so the bone color was a little darker than it is straight out of the bottle. I used the same color for the skulls on his belt, and the hands on his neck.

I then went over his skin with Wilderness Green. And here’s where I hit a wall. There’s something in my brain that says “skin shouldn’t be green!!” It’s weird… I’ve painted green skin before, but it’s usually something small like a goblin. Now I’m stuck with a relatively massive canvas.

So I looked for help, and found this blog post over at Sproket's Small World. While I have exactly none of the specific colors he used, it does a great job showing how and why he used the colors he did, and it helped my brain get over this weird roadblock.

Okay, that definitely feels better!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Spider-Man Homecoming

I liked Toby McGuire as Spider-Man. I thought he did a good job, and at a time when superhero movies weren't anything to write home about. Actually it wasn't even that the superhero movies were bad, it's that there weren't any. In 2002 the other superhero movie that came out was Blade 2. The excellent X-Men movie was 2 years before... and aside from that, the abomination that was Batman and Robin was back in '97. Looking forward, there's the Aflac Daredevil... clearly not the golden age of superhero movies.

And then a decade later Andrew Garfield slipped on the PJs. And that was... well, repetitive, and not as good.

And when it was announced that Sony and Disney had made a deal for a new Spider-Man? And that we'd be shown Uncle Ben, and "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" yet again... I winced. I felt my faith in the MCU being tested again. We got an initial tease with Civil War... and... it was good! A wise-cracking kid trying to do the right thing, not actually wanting to hurt anyone. And yet... for the first time... I didn't see Homecoming in the theater. I didn't need to see Peter get bitten by the spider, I didn't need his origin story AGAIN.

Things we never need to see redone in a movie ever again:
Bruce Wayne watching her parents get shot
Baby superman landing in Kansas
Uncle Ben getting shot/Peter getting bitten by a spider


The shame will stay with me forever.

Because Homecoming was a blast. Once again Marvel took something that could have been awful and turned it into something great. Peter Parker is an honest to god KID, in high school, and it isn't a damned origin story!

What we got is a young Peter, being mentored (remotely) by Tony Stark, testing limits, wanting to do good, to join the Avengers, while Tony wants this 15 year old kid to just... be a friendly neighborhood Spider-man. And like any teen, Peter pushing things too far, and gets caught up in something bigger than he's really ready to handle.

He makes mistakes. He goofs up. He talks too much. He's a little insecure. He has fun with his abilities. Basically, he's everything a young Peter Parker should be.

And let's talk about Vulture. If ever there was a relatable everyman villain for Spider-Man to confront, this is the guy. A different take from the comic books, but one that fits in really well with the MCU. He's utterly believable, and you even want to root for him. Plus, there's the whole Michael Keaton is also Batman and Birdman.

Post Credit Scenes: Cap's PSAs are WONDERFUL!!! I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!! Aunt May (Yowza!!) catching Peter in his suit? "What the f-" was great...

Next Up: Thor Ragnarok!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Deladrin, Female Ranger

Lately I've been thinking I want to wrap up the Bones 1 core set. This assassin, which looked more ranger-ish to me, was near the top of the pile, and ready to go, so out she came. I glued her to a base, and then onto one of my cork holders. She was already brown lined, so I started with Muddy Olive for the cloak, and Warrior Flesh for the face. Worked a bit on the eyes with Viper Green, and then decided that the scarf was going to be in the color of autumnal leaves, so she'd be a little more interesting than just muted browns and greens.

Same colors as before, just bringing them up in intensity.

Added in some Dragon Bronze and Shadowed Steel, and made her hair dirty blonde.

Coffee grounds added to the base for texture.

Painted up the base with a blend of Mountain Stone, and a muddy mix of browns.

With some yellow and brighter reds to try to look like fallen leaves.

I've since cleaned up the edge of the base, but that's it. She's done!

Total Minis Painted in 2018: 26

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Into the Orc Caves

From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother & Father,

The elven woods were dark and unsettling, but we were nowhere near the edge as night fell, and so the elves "invited" us to make camp. It was disappointing not to be able to visit their town, as I've read remarkable things about their architecture, but twas not to be. We were visited by their... queen? Regent? Ethereal and breathy, she thanked us for our help, promised us that the diplomat she sends to Nightstone will be more culturally sensitive than our guides, and even gave us a gift, if you can believe that. A pair of boots, magical even. Tiny though, and only our little halfling Lidda could get her feet into them.

Once at the edge of the woods we came upon an abandoned cart, and someone hiding in a nearby bush. I pointed Thorin at him, and he flushed the merchant out. The terrified man begged us to save his friend who'd been captured by the local orcs. While we discussed it, he kept trying to offer us gold... even the rings off his fingers. He showed us the cave entrance that he'd seen, and we spotted an ettin talking to itself, wandering around the entrance. We devised a plan to take it out as quickly and silently as we could, especially as there was also a goblin within the cave holding onto a thin rope... clearly an alarm...

With Lidda and Bran perched above the cave entrance, I created the smell of cooking bacon just outside the cave, and it worked... the ettin came out! Needing to draw him out, I walked forward, holding out some jerky. Quietly, I tried to magically Charm him, but 2 heads and brains... it didn't work, and the beast lumbered toward me as my magic failed me again... Great Digger, I need to do better!

The world blacked out as the giant first kicked me, then pounded me with his flail. When I came to, combat had been joined, and orcs were massing within the cave to charge out. The ettin fell, just as the orcs emerged. Lidda danced away from their blades while Thorin, Bran, Dawnclaw, and I engaged the orcs. Journey's magic was incredibly effective from range, while she yelled at me "you're a wizard!" In spite of this, I found that applying my hammer to the back of an orc's head is a simple and remarkably effective tactic.

While watching for another wave of orcs, we grabbed the bodies and dragged them away from the cave entrance, then took a rest. No other orcs came out to investigate, and so we formed back up, and went in. Deeper into the orc lair...

Let me take a moment here. Orc caves are something of a mockery of the halls of our homes. Clearly effort has been made to form, shape, and expand the natural caves, but there is no craftsmanship, only blunt crude effort. Honestly, it's sad to see, and makes me miss the halls of my childhood. I've included a rough sketch of their lair.

Deeper into the lair we came to a most disturbing chamber. A shaman was tending to a pair of sick orcs. Pustules on their bodies swollen and full of puss and gas were growing and popping at an unnatural rate. Dawnclaw warned of poison. We discussed trying to speak with them, but the sick orc's stumbled toward us and we attacked. My magic was much more effective here, as I cast a pair of witch bolts. The first at one of the sick orcs... who exploded in a rain of infected flesh, blood, and puss. I shifted position, and empowered another witch bolt, this time at the shaman whose arm was raised to cast a spell. He never finished casting, as my spell dropped him to the floor of the cave twitching. Unfortunately I was caught as the other infected orc popped, and spent several minutes retching out blood. Backing out of the caves, we again rested, and returned.

In spite of the noise we'd been making, the orcs remained generally disinterested in the goings on of their cave. Speaks volumes of the life they lead when the sounds of combat don't draw the attention of everyone in the area.

Exploring the sick cave, I discovered a poorly build secret door, and pointed it out to the rest of the party. Journey sent her familiars down to investigate. The passage split. To the left was a small group of orcs, and to the right was a large chamber, including another ettin, and a caged Cyclopes! Was this the friend the merchant wanted us to rescue?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Converting Ingrid

So the new player in the D&D game I okay in is playing a halfling rogue. Awesome, easy!

With a bow...

And a rapier...

Hmm... that's a little less easy.

This is Ingrid. I've already painted one of her from the Learn to Paint Kit, and I had a spare from the Bones Kickstarter. One of them... 1, 2, or 3... Probably 1...

Well, whichever it was, she's gonna take some work...

Let's start by cutting off her hands.

And we'll steal this guys bow hand...

And, uh.... I guess use a pin for the rapier scabbard?

And she's gonna need a base. Happy Seppuku to the rescue! Mix up some green stuff... Blob for a hand, add the basket hill, arm guard for the bow arm...

Hua... Okay, not too shabby!

If I had to do it over again, I'd rotate out her right arm, and have it holding an arrow, rather than steadying the scabbard. Also, I'd try to line up the scabbard with the hilt better.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

I haven’t watched this installment of GotG nearly as often as I’ve seen the original… In fact I think this was only my 3rd viewing of it. My thoughts haven’t significantly changed much from my first review. The Guardians have clearly been working pretty well together, taking on a variety of jobs, but the togetherness is starting to rub everyone the wrong way. 

One thing I didn’t really touch on in my last review was the Ravagers. These freedom loving pirates get a lot more fleshed out here, and we get to see how they’re loosely organized under a code… a code that Yondo broke, and the consequences he’s faced because of it. And when Yondo lets his guilt over that, and his love for Peter get in the way of his crew and their making a profit... well, he pays an even bigger price. Kraglin, who loves his captain, and wants nothing more than to support him, finds himself pushed too far, and that is enough for the rest of the crew to mutiny. Sadly for Kraglin this ends up causing the death of his friends, as the mutinying crew quickly purges itself of those most loyal to Yondu.

This viewing I found myself really focusing on the action around the main crew. The Ravagers especially, but the Sovereign also. It's amusing to think that a species so hyper engineered ends up acting like a bunch of high school assholes.

Post Credit Scenes - There's a bunch. First, you have Kraglin practicing with the arrow, and accidentally hitting Drax. Then you get the Ravager tribes coming together. I'd love to see a spinoff series or movie about that... teenage Groot in his moody angst-ridden stage, and then Ayesha of the Sovereign having created Adam... Hints at Vol 3? Finally, the Watchers abandoning Stan Lee.

Next Up: Spider-Man: Homecoming