Vir's Archive

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Models, pt 1

There has been a request for more pics of my army. Here they are. The theme behind the army is that they are the 17th Border unit... a unit composed primarily of prisoners forced to the front. White indicates jailers and guards (like the WidowMakers), yellow indicates prisoners (Like the Doomreavers and Alexia's undead). You'll see some extra chains to add some flair to the prisoners.


Here is a sample:




Warjacks - usually a Destroyer and Decimator. These are magnetized to allow for all 4 options.

What do my opponents see when they look at this pic? ARM 20, thats what they see.


Strakhov and the Puppy.

The GreatBears.

Yuri.

Vlad.

Kell, Widowmakers, Undead, Doomereavers, and the Kayazy Lord (who is my generic proxy).

Doomreavers, Thralls, and Kossites.

Snuggled tight in their little beds.





One more day before I am on the plane. The models are packed - though I am not. Time to get to it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm Famous!


The blog has hit the big time!

Privateer Press

I got a nice surprise today, Privateer Press, the guys and gals who make Warmachine, gave me a shout-out on Facebook. Rock on. Thanks PP.


I swear I am not trying to make this blog about my cat... its just he's my only conversation partner most nights since I am a geographic bachelor. Thus, he gets a disproportionate amount of my time.

So, I am starting to get excited. I haven't really packed yet, though I do have a pile of stuff to add into the suitcase once I get to it. I set my out-0f-office assistant today. That makes it official, I have one foot out the door.

The complicating factor for today is that Squeakers is still fighting a lung infection of some kind. We took him to the vet to get some standard shot updates and the vet put him on anti-inflammatory drugs because the infection from months ago isn't quite resolved. Great. We have some friends taking care of Squeaks when I leave - I hate leaving them with a sick kitty. Ah, the joys of travel. Hopefully Squeaks will get better sooner rather than later.

Okay, now to the models and games...

Chipped Paint Can Feel the HATE!

So here is my gaming dilemma; chipped paint and broken models. A few weeks ago I pulled out my army to look it over in anticipation of leaving and was met with a couple nasty surprises. The Butcher, Scrapjack and the Old Witch all are in the need of repairs. Grrr.

Let me take a second for you non-gamers. Wargame players, like myself, are essentially OCD about our games and the utensils we use to play those games. We invest lots of time, money, pride, and effort in our little toy soldiers -- and when they break (in whatever manner) it drives us batty. Seeing my models broken is like an antique car collector seeing someone key their camaro.

So, yeah, The Butcher (seen above) is my Camaro. And those unsightly strips of bare metal at the base of his longcoat? Thats a metaphorical key scratch. Leaving it unresolved drives me nuts. I swear to god the bare metal from that chipped paint glints in the sun every time I walk by - even when its 9pm at night. Its taunting me... I dont care if it is an inanimate object.

I have neither good quality paint nor good modeling glue on hand. Its one of those things I didnt pack way back when and is not available in thousands of miles. Shipping the stuff is a no-no since I can't send liquids through the mail service we use. So, I have to live with the damages until I can get to a place with good paint and glue on hand. Even if I did have them here in Gabon, the weather is usually prohibitive to allowing for the kind of minute attention to detail mini-painting normally requires. So, I lack the opportunity and the tools.



A gallery of the Walking Wounded.

So what do I do when I see the breaks and chips? I immediately get on the phone to FRPGames (thanks, Skype!), tell them the colors and types of paint I need and send them (along with the new No Quarter) to my lovely wife waiting in Winnipeg. I then hit Amazon and get some special modeling glue that is safe to use on painted models (nothing is worse than trying to repair a model with a glue that strips paint).


She's old, but not that old.

Like the A Team, I got a plan. The base paints made it to my wife, as did the glue. She is holding them in trust. I will arrive on Sunday in Winnipeg where she will pick me up. We then drive to her small town (Altona) in southern Manitoba that night. Assuming I can control my OCD desires and fight off jet lag, I'll wait until Monday (and the sunlight) to break out the paints, brushes, and glue and do some long-overdue emergency repairs. If I cant wait and simply must do the repairs Sunday - then so be it. Its going to be a huge weight off my off my shoulders once the models are repaired...



Its like God himself doesn't want Khador to have a medium 'jack or something...

Paint and some highlights for Orsus. Glue for Scrappy. Glue and some concealing paint for the Witch. All that stuff is going into the army bag and traveling with me to Chicago. Something else is bound to chip, crack or break between Africa and Indy... there simply are too many stops between here and there. ** Zen. I need to come to grips with the fact that something else is going to need some TLC. Breathe. Accept. Deal. **

Hmmm. I gotta figure out if the fluid ounces of the paint pots are small enough to bring on a flight.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Evil Wrinkly Elves vs Steam Belching Contraptions

So, how about a preview of the GenCon campaign my buddies and I are going to run/play?


The goal is for us to have a game to play in with all the fun of a campaign/tournament, but significantly more relaxed. The campaign will start small: 15 - 30 point sides on Weds and Thurs and build up to larger games on Friday (50 point games) and then on Saturday, the pinnacle - a 2 vs 3 game approaching 150 points (or so) on each side (2 Skorne and 3 Western Immoren players).




How the heck is Apollo going to get all that the GenCon?

The pic above is the terrain Apollo has put together. No question, this looks great and he deserves some major kudos. It shows some Skorne pagodas and if you look in the background you can see the two sides of the slaver market he built. I believe he is bringing some/all of the materials to GenCon to help spice up our campaign.

The Skorne Invasion will involve linked battles, the ability to apply experience and special abilities that will carry over from one game to another, and an unfolding storyline. The details still need to be finalized (Apollo has been doing almost all the heavy lifting for prepping the Campaign) but it promises to be very cool. Apollo has designed scenarios in the past, and while I havent been able to play in them, I have heard good reports.

I know, at some point, there is going to be a raid on that slaver market of Apollo's. Sweet.

The campaign was devised in order to help give us some structure to the games we will play besides simply dropping 35 points on the table. the campaign as well also gives us an opportunity to play a really big game (that 2v3 game I mentioned above). Apollo has the largest collection of our group, and can field enough Skorne to take on the rest of us at once, so that is exactly what we are going to do. Finally, we are all a bunch of rpg nerds at heart - so playing Warmahordes while also telling/building a story? Yeah, good times.

Apollo and Brad will field Skorne through the weekend (Brad is new to Warmahordes and will have a lot of learning to do). I will bring my Khador. Jason will do wussy Cygnar (I shoot it! I run away!). Andy will do Menoth ("if its not Rezkik, I dont want it!"), and Jacob will bring... Imnotsure. I think he plays Legion, but I've never faced him. We shall see. Jacob aside, its forming up to be Cygnar, Menoth and Khador in an unlikely alliance trying to thwart the Skorne hordes for the good of all Western Immoren. Jacob's Legion may be a wild-card.

This? This is a good place to spill angry elf blood.

The campaign will continue across all four days of GenCon and will give us something specific to do in between our various schedules. I have a couple of roleplaying games lined up with people I have been really looking forward to meeting (Ben Baugh, Shane Ivey, James Knevitt, Jerry Grayson), plans to hit the auction room (lots of good deals), seminars, the dealers room (oh, yeah), and lots of Warmachine in the nooks and crannies. The other guys will join me at some of the rpg events and go off to do their own thing.

We also plan to use our campaign within the rules of Iron Arena - to see if we can get some extra goodies while pretending to beat the crap out of one another. Since Iron Arena is an option, I am really keen on not only playing our campaign, but also getting in as many pickup games as possible. To that end, I have been reaching out to the guys over on Privateer Press's and RPG.net's forums. I know a bunch of Warmahordes players via their online aliases -- I hope to put some faces to the names over GenCon. If they are cool with it, I'll post our games here on this blog.

zombie-a-go-go's Avatar

Zombie-a-go-go -- I'm coming for you!

...

We are exploring ideas for next years campaign - I am advocating a "Return of the Orgoth" theme. I have this idea of using various minis from the Warmahordes lines that have connections to the Orgoth (Warwitches, Doomreavers, etc) and have us all create various lists to field against one another - its still formative, but could be a lot of fun and allow us to play with minis/units that normally never would work together.



...


And before I sign off tonight - *golf clap* for Apollo. Between the terrain and the scenario development, he's going to get all his beers covered through the week by my group.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some Context


So, lets talk about Gabon and Africa...


A scene from the beach next to our house.

I figure most of you loyal readers (all three of you) have not been to Gabon or Africa... so in order to understand where I am going, a little discussion on where I am coming from seems appropriate.


Gabon is home to some stunning scenery buried in the jungle...

Gabon is a republic in central Africa. Its not the Central African Republic -- thats a different country altogether. Gabon is a former French colony and is still very French. If you like French culture and the French outlook on life, Gabon would be a nice change for you. There is a way to life here that is very different than the United States or Canada. I've lived in a bunch of countries and had the fortune of being part of a bunch of different cultures - and Gabon is different.

Gabon is hot and muggy. I grew up in Dallas and lived for a number of years in Bangladesh... and even I find the height of the wet season (in February) miserable at times. That said, this time of year (July/Aug) is dry season and often quite enjoyable. The problem with dry season is a series of long days with grey skies and no sun. Push comes to shove, give me a hot and muggy day if the sun is out over a more comfortable temperature if the sun is hidden for weeks-on-end.

The Gabonese like the finer things in life. Fine cheese, good bread, leisurely meals, weekends on the beach... they love all these things. The Gabonese love to laugh with their friends and can be surprisingly forward at times.



A taste of Africa.

Its a country of 1.6 million people, with a lot of oil and timber money floating around. Thats not to say everyone is rich... in fact, just the opposite. Most people live a very rustic life. However, the upper crust here are fabulously wealthy -- like crazy wealthy. Its not uncommon to see Land Rovers, Ferraris and Hummers on the road, all of which double in price to import (making an already expensive luxury almost obscene). Long lunches are the norm. 3 hour lunch meetings are pretty common, and dinners can run just as long. If you are part of the elite in Gabon, dropping $200+ per head on a meal is nothing. For someone who, because of work, has to deal with the elite of Gabonese society often, it can be frustrating to see the ridiculous amounts of money floating around but not making it to the rest of society.



Squeaks? How did you sneak into the photos? Bad kitty!

There are a lot of foreigners in Gabon. French, Chinese, Lebanese and lots of west Africans call Libreville home. The Gabonese dont always welcome foreigners with open arms, but its not like they are hostile either. "Meh" probably sums up the Gabonese attitude on foreigners (though they are very pro-American when they discover I am not French -- thanks Obama). Gabon is predominantly a Catholic country - and thats "catholic" with a capital "C." Three hour masses are the norm. Gabonese people have an outlook on life that would mesh well with conservative family values in the States. People value family and faith. Besides Catholics, there are a small number of Muslims and a larger number of Protestants in the country -- and despite what you may think, they all get along nicely. The Gabonese are very tolerant of other religions.



Friends in the area.

Gabon is a safe and quiet country. The tribalism, ethnic violence and religious hatred that plague many other countries in the region dont get any traction in Gabon. Good on the Gabonese.



A pic of Libreville from the Estuary (l'Estuaire)

Libreville, the capital, has a lot in common with an island. Surrounded on three sides by dense rainforest and on the other side by an estuary, its not easy to get out of the city - but when you do you find yourself in near primeval jungle. Forest elephants, surfing hippos, lowland gorillas, pangolins, green mambas and other things from Rudyard Kipling call Gabon home.

I just want to give you all a quick snapshot of Gabon and the Gabonese. I like it here, even when I am stuck in seemingly endless traffic because the police lock down the road to allow some nameless government official to drive around. The people are nice once they get to know you and the country can be beautiful. When the baby comes, Gabon is going to be its second home (after Canada) -- its not a bad place to have a family.

That said, Gabon doesnt have Tracie, GenCon, the Texas Rangers or the baby. Its time for a vacation.



Fenris! I love Fenris - but he seems to die in my armies. A lot. Its like my buddies are scared of him or something.

This is a gaming blog - I should talk about gaming at least a bit.

I like Gabon, but its not an easy place to be a gamer. I am probably the only wargamer and roleplayer in hundreds of miles. The closest ready group of gamers are in S. Africa - and thats an expensive airline ticket. So, I turn to the internet a lot to get my gaming in. I currently play via skype/google wave in a Song of Ice and Fire game run by my buddy Andy (who I will see at GenCon). We play once a week on Saturdays, 2pm my time is 9am central time in the States. Jason and Jacob also play in the game and will be at GenCon... I really look forward to seeing all of them.

I've lived overseas for the last 8 years of my life and become quite adept at introducing people to gaming - both roleplaying and wargaming. I've played Memoir '44 in Gabon, Exalted in Tokyo, and AT-43 in Dhaka... dont ever let some lazy gamer tell you there local meta isn't vibrant enough. If there is no gaming in your area - make the meta. There are always people interested in games no matter where you go - you just have to find them and take the time to teach them.

VASSAL, the open-source boardgame engine

Wargames were pretty much a non-factor until Vassal. I could get boardgames in, but the extra time required to build an army that is part-in-parcel with Wargaming made it difficult to create a group. Vassal was the answer. Vassal is an online-ready program that allows players to push little icons around on a pretend table. Its not a prefect substitute for playing an opponent in real life, but its better than nothing. Vassal is the only way I can reliably get games of Warmachine in. To be honest, I am a little pensive about playing people in real life. Its an odd feeling - I am normally an outgoing guy, but I place a high premium on being a good and conscientious player - the tactics and ethics that are appropriate on Vassal arent the same as in real life. I hate to admit it, but I am shying away from tourneys and formal events of Warmachine specifically because I need to give myself a day or two to re-figure out the etiqutte of playing with a person across the table (rather than in front of my laptop).


Dont put me into the bag! NooooOOOO!

I proposed a number of months ago to do a series of games and linked scenarios with my buddies who are going. My dirty little secret is I proposed this to help ease me back into the wargaming water. Playing with my buddies I can screw up, or forget a move and ask to take an action back - playing in pickup games - thats often not an option. I've played Warmachine under Mk1 rules since its inception (I actually wrote for Iron Kingdoms back in the day), but I still think its best to give myself a day or two of concentrating on playing with my buddies before I'm ready to get schooled by total strangers.

So, that was the genesis of our home-made Skorne vs Western Immoren campaign. We'll play it during GenCon and use the games as part of the Iron Arena process. I'll preview the campaign later this week -- Apollo, one of my buddies that will be at GenCon, has made some sweet scenery to help bring the game alive.



Fenris says "suck it!" err... "bye!"

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Army Is Ready To Go!

I am ready to go! What? I have to wait until Saturday? Really? Really?

This is the material a pretend-general needs to take to GenCon to push lead (or a lead substitute) around a table and simulate little elves and steam machines killing one another (with complicated rules). In the back is the padded bag I will carry all this inside. In the fore, you can see dice, wipeable markers, merc cards, a laser pointer, and focus tokens. On the left is a binder with plastic sleeves that hold my army cards. In the middle of the pic is the army, nestled snugly in its foam protection (though I pulled out a couple miniatures to show scale).

Not pictured are a couple paper towels to wipe up the marks that will go on the pastic sheets to track damage, the core Warmachine Book, and some extra foam (in case I buy some new figs).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Preparation


Here are some more pics of Gabon a week out...


Squeaks, doing what he can to make it hard to type. If you have ever wondered what a gamer stuck in central Africa must do to get some games in, this is how. I use VASSAL a lot to grab games with my friends -- particularly Warmachine.

So, yeah, lots of flipping in various books as I play Warmachine. You can see my army in the background, getting ready to be packed in foam. I'll post some pics later in the week discussing the tender loving care my army will get in anticipation of traveling across the pond.

Its just about the end of dry season here in Gabon, so its not a bad time to leave. Still, its been beautiful the past few days, so it will be hard to leave when the weather is so nice. Doubly hard is that Squeakers will stay for the duration with some of our friends. Hes a great cat, and been my best bud these weeks I have been on my own with Tracie in Winnipeg so I'm going to be quite sad not to wake up with him next to me. Still, its better for him to stay here and avoid all their airplane travel.

The first leg of my travels will get me to Winnipeg to visit Tracie for a few days. I'm looking forward to that. After Winnipeg/N Dakota its off to the midwest and GenCon. Its been 2 years since I went to GenCon. I am stoked. I'll post my plans and the events I will attend in a later blog (oh, cliffhanger!).

I normally hold off thinking about vacation until a week beforehand in order to prevent the weeks from dragging on and make sure I concentrate on work. I crossed that arbitrary temporal barrier a few days ago - so now its time to make some preparations. I've pulled out my bags and am starting to pile things I know I will need -- as well as things that I wont need, but I should bring.

Across the table from me as I type is my Warmachine Khador army - just waiting to be packed away. I have it sitting there to help organize what I plan to bring in terms of gaming stuff. Thus far, I have the army, its SD carrying case, dice, a laser pointer, special tokens, a binder with plastic card holders for my Warmachine cards, and a bunch of other stuff.

yeah, I am getting excited.

There are six of us going to GenCon to meet up -- some are coming from Dallas, some from DC, some from Chicago, and some from Africa (me). Its going to be great to see my buddies again. In that group are Jason and Brad, my two closest friends -- its going to be especially nice to spend a week with them.

The six of us are getting together to run our own Warmachine tournament and campaign during GenCon (as opposed to playing one of the sanctioned tournaments). I expect our in-group tourney will be the focus of all of our time during the convention -- I plan to do a bunch of roleplaying as well, but the Warmachine campaign is going to continue over the entire convention. Our campaign will focus on on telling the story of a running battle between the forces of Western Immoren and the Skorne. It will be a massive horde of Skorne vs Khador (me), Cygnar and Menoth. I dont want to get pwned by my buddies, so some practice is certainly in order.

In anticipation of getting in a lot of Warmachine games I really want to get a few more games in via Vassal this week -- weekends are when I game with my buddies, so a pickup game or four may be in order.

It Begins

The pic above? Thats Squeakers ("squeaks" to his friends). He stares at the ocean... and dreams of travel to exotic locations like... Indianapolis!


This blog will follow me as I travel from Africa to N. America for what proves to be a whirlwind event. Its hard to tell what I am more excited for at times - seeing my wife usually wins, but once in a while the preparations for GenCon trump even her (sorry honey!), and of course, seeing my family also has me excited.

Its less than a week before I leave Gabon for North America. Its going to be a long trip -- starting in Winnipeg to visit Tracie (my wife) who is there on medevac in preparation of our first child -- then on to Chicago to visit my buddy Jason and meet up with my other buddy Brad -- then we drive to Indianapolis for 5 days of GenCon (and meet with more friends) -- then on to Dallas to spend a few weeks with my family (and watch the Rangers) -- after a few weeks I go back to Winnipeg to finish up my vacation and prepare for the baby.

Yeesh.

My goal is to use this blog to focus on my gaming exploits and reflect on how it interacts with my life as a friend, husband, and father-to-be. I hope to chronicle the people I meet, the challenges I face, and, with luck, convey a sense of the fun and excitement I plan to have.

Comments are welcome - as are questions (and requests).