Saturday 13 February 2016

A glimpse of professional nerds at rest

Ladies and gentlemen, the moment that Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss entered a Doctor Who themed pub quiz and came third...
I just find this so sweet. 

Friday 12 February 2016

A Little Hobby Idea

The quest for blog content continues with this little idea a friend had to get me back into painting:

Every time I finish painting a unit or a character model, I will write a small piece of background for them. Nothing extravagant, just a hundred words or so, give every character some personality and every unit a little piece of history. Just a few lines for each thing that makes it off my painting table fully painted, based and varnished.

Considering my habit of playing with half-painted miniatures, they'll probably have some legit battle honours by that point anyway, which will certainly help. Take the Bogenhafen Handgunners I'm currently putting finishing touches to, which already saw honourable service at our group's big year end game The Siege Of Altdorf. I'm certain I can expand that to a couple of paragraphs. 

Thursday 11 February 2016

On, um... coming events

One advantage of finally being settled in the new place is I have time to catch up on the huge stack of comics that have accumulated in the last month and a bit. The advantage of that is it means I finally have some content for the blog I originally set up to be about comics!

It's funny what catches the eye as a good subject for a post. Take this snippet from Starfire #8...
and, yeah, I may be 1,000 words into an essay analysing a masturbation gag. It isn't even a joke essay, this really did help crystallise a whole bunch of issues concerning Starfire's sexuality that I wanted to discuss into sharp relief.

I just read that last sentence back and I didn't mean it like that. I really didn't. I'm sorry. 

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Kitbashin': Bretonnian Empathy Knight

Just a little something I cobbled together between assembling skeletons: a foot knight character for my Bretonnia army.

A friend came up with this idea a while back and I finally got around to putting it together. Basis is a Vampire Counts Wight King with the vampire iconography scraped off the shield, a Knight Of The Realm head and some other bits of bling from the same kit. The simple addition of the head with dragon heraldry on it changes all those bat wings on the model into dragon wings, which was either clever of me or lazy. You decide!

I'm keeping the ragged cloak and mail, too, since I like the idea of having a hermit knight joining the army on some mysterious purpose.

It hasn't come out exactly as I'd like: the head is tilted a little lower than I wanted but the overall effect works for me and I look forward to painting him up for a bit of variety between soooooo many skeletons. 

Tuesday 9 February 2016

The Secret To Writing Flawed Women

I had to explain this to someone the other day and I think there's some mileage in putting this out there in case anyone is interested.

The reason I think that Mad Max: Fury Road can get away with doing things with and to its female characters that would normally bring it in for criticism (like, say, running a pregnant woman over with a monster truck or the one Bride who decides for a moment that, yep, sexual slavery in exchange for material comfort wasn't too bad a deal, actually) is because there are close to a dozen named, speaking female roles in the movie. What this means is that no single character has to bear the weight of representing their entire gender.

When you only have one or two developed female characters in an overwhelmingly male cast (oh, hello, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, I didn't see you there) you get way less leeway because there's nothing to offset these things. Its easier to read the Bride who breaks as an individual rather than a statement on women as a group because she's standing next to Furiosa, the other Brides and the sniper grannies.

So, how do you get to explore flaws or weakness in female characters without being accused of portraying women as innately weak? You include plenty of them in what you're writing to show that you are treating characters as individuals and not as a case study on your views of an entire half of the human race.

And I hate that something this simple even needed to be explained. 

Monday 8 February 2016

Tomb Kings test drive

Yesterday Matt and I had a quick game of Fantasy to test drive our new armies. 1,000 points, Dwarfs versus Tomb Kings. I lost pretty conclusively after my Hierophant found himself standing just in the right spot to be in line of sight of ten Thunderers and nature took its black powdery course. My army actually survived its crumble tests for a couple of turns after that but with Matt's army almost completely intact we both knew I was only running out the clock.

Regardless, a loss with a new army is an educative experience. Obvious first lesson: pay very, very close attention to where the Hierophant is standing.

I think I might have made poor use of my general. I took a Tomb Prince on foot and kept him in a block of Skeleton Spearmen with a Necrotect. They did well as a team, conferring Hatred and WS5 on the unit between them. However, I also took a unit of three chariots. Both units did okay but as the game went on I began to suspect I'd made the wrong choice with the Tomb Prince. The chariots made a charge against a ranked up unit of Dwarf Warriors and did well in that first turn, impact hits and spear bonus and all, but weren't half as effective in succeeding turns. Once the impact hits and spear bonus were spent they just had their natural strength and weapon skill to rely on, neither of which are that good. Spirit of the staircase and all but I can't help but wonder how WS5 might have helped that situation.

The Tomb Scorpion suffered a mishap when I tried to bring it up behind Matt's battle line, appearing instead from my table edge. It spent the next three turns shambling forward and then crumbled to death when the Hierophant died. Pity, but it taught me early on not to rely too much on Entombed Beneath The Sands units.

One unit that did really, really well were the Ushabti who were a lot more durable than I expected them to be. They held their own for six rounds of combat against a ranked up unit of Dwarf Warriors practically identical from the one that both my Spearmen and chariots just bounced off.

I'll not lie, Tomb Kings are a challenging army and they're distinct enough from the Vampire Counts that I'm having to relearn how to work a whole bunch of units I thought I'd already have a handle on. That's actually kind of cool and something to look forward to.

Im just hope I get some use out of the Tomb Scorpion next time, I love that model. 

Sunday 7 February 2016

Guess who's injured today!

Okay, so Finn Balor left an NXT live event in Nashville on crutches this Friday. I'm not even sure I can remember the full list of injuries right now: Randy Orton, John Cena, Paige, Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Nikki Bella, Shamus, Daniel Bryan, Sin Cara, Rusev... that's just the ones I can remember.

Has anyone considered just booking an exorcism for WWE headquarters?

At this rate of attrition, the Wrestlemania card might actually be a four hour Iron Man match between Triple H and Frank The Audio Guy (if anyone remembers that joke...).

Okay, for serious, it's not all doom and gloom: there's AJ Styles and the other NJPW signings; Roman Reigns is currently being kept wrapped in pillows at all times by a heavily sweating Vince McMahon; the tag division is still mostly intact; and, 'Taker probably won't be competing until 'Mania and his presumed retirement match.

And then there are the women.
The women's division (and I will never call it the Diva's Division) has rarely, if ever, been in a healthier state than it is right now. Yes, the nine woman, three way “Divas Revolution” was a disaster of poor booking decisions but Charlotte's feud with Becky Lynch has been focused, well-written and brought us some great matches. Sasha's return from injury at The Royal Rumble got the biggest cheer of the night that didn't involve AJ Styles. Over on NXT we have the gloriously threatening Asuka and the brilliantly chirpy Bayley, who can get a crowd on their feet like few babyfaces I've ever seen. Bayley and Sasha's Iron Man match at NTX Takeover: Respect was the first time a women's match has headlined a WWE live special and it was amazing.

Now, there'll be a women's title match (never, NEVER going to call it the Diva's Championship) but maybe it's time to try pushing more women's matches on the grandest stage of them all?

Just a thought. 

Saturday 6 February 2016

New House, Ancient Tombs and Returning Evils

After weeks on end of packing, moving, unpacking, building furniture, arranging bill payments and entertaining violent revenge fantasies about certain employees of the local council, my housemates and I are now all moved in to our new place.

Both my new housemates are old friends and fellow hobbyists so we've set up a dedicated gaming space. Originally I planned to start a new project to celebrate a successful (if typically stressful) move but after a quick game against Dave with my Orks... well, I had a better idea.

You see, I got nostalgic from living with my friends again and so I decided to return to some old projects: one an army that I started but which never got off the ground, the other a revival of what was once my signature army.

A couple years ago I had a chance to snap up a bunch of Tomb Kings kits at a dirt cheap price so I did. Trouble was that whilst I was looking to move on to a new army, the army I was moving on from was Vampire Counts and so I just wasn't feeling it. I'd painted enough skeletons and so the kits have sat in a box ever since. Still, a year or so of Lizardmen later I can look at the Tomb Kings and see what I loved about them originally.
"Forward, my minions!"
I like that they're these Universal Studios-style Egyptian undead who are, in their own way, good guys. They even use exorcism magic. I like that just about everything in the army is either a skeleton or an animated statue and not just because it means I can dash off the block infantry and cavalry pretty quickly and concentrate my time on the centrepiece models. That's certainly a benefit but it also means the army has a very unified, focussed look to it. Plus, I have this odd affection for the Tomb Scorpion, which was one of the first “centrepiece” models I ever saw and one I'm really looking forward to painting one of my own.

The other army on the docket are The Lost And The Damned or, rather, Renegades & Heretics since I'll be using the list from Imperial Armour 13. The Lost And The Damned used to be my signature army back in the old Codex: Eye Of Terror days.
Whilst the Tomb Kings are an army with a very unified aesthetic that I can make straight out of the box, the Lost And The Damned are anything but. The Lost And The Damned are an army all about converting models, be it with the Forge World upgrade sets or by digging through your bits box. It is, in essence, the ultimate show-off's army. You can customise the characters and units as much or as little as you want. I have a bunch of the Forge World conversion sets I picked up at the final Games Day and oodles of ideas on top of that for cool conversions. Anyone who converts their models, I am convinced, loves that moment when someone asks to take a closer look at their work. Its a lovely feeling.

Also, the Imperial Armour list is, to my mind, the best version of the army so far. It has some very odd moments of copy editing and some rules my friends and I have flat out decided to ignore because they are flat out stupid. There's a lot of that Hordes of Chaos business where your choice of general opens up one or two options and closes off about a dozen others. That's just ripe for ignoring, frankly, which is why we don't usually see so much of it these days. Plus, there's a silly restriction on who can use Daemonology which, again, is a rule the group has roundly voted for me to completely forget.

I have some building to do, it seems.