Sunday 26 April 2009

More Anima Tactics

Here are some more of my Anima Tactics miniatures for your approval or not.

This is Griever a Level 70 leader class character for the Empire faction and personal guard to the Empress herself. He is surprisngly lightly armoured for an Empire character of this level leaving me with only a small amount of metal to paint.

Metal is quite easy to paint, but quite hard get looking great. I tend to rely on dry brushing with games workshop metals over a black undercoat, working up from Boltgun metal to Mithril silver and using less paint at each stage. The end result looks presentable, but hardly stunning. Some people do wondrous things with metals, but I have never quite been able to get the hang of it.

I am pretty pleased with his robes. I used Privateer Press (the makers of Warmachines and Hordes) Menoth base and highlight for this. Purely because I got the cheap in my FLGS (Friendly Local Games shop). The base is kind of beige, while the highlight is an off white with a faintly yellowish glow. I like them because it can be quite hard to paint white without it looking light grey, which can be good but isn't always the effect that you want.

I am pretty pleased with the effect on the sword blade which was done by layering lighter shades of yellow until it was almost pure white. I have never had the patience for blending, but this has come out quite well.

Ophiel is the leader of the Dark Samael, a Magneto to Dinah's Professor X. I am very happy with the base, which was made by scoring a layer of 'green stuff' (modelling putty) and painting it black. Ophiel was tough to paint because he is mostly black with pure white skin. With the heavily textured armour I resorted to drybrushing, but am not one hundred percent happy with the result.

The skin was a nightmare. With such pure white shown on his box illustration I had nowhere to go for highlighting and the end result looks rather underfined. I already repainted the face once, but I may have another go. Good enough for the table, but not my finest hour.

Much happier with this guy. Tsubasa Kuokami is a freelance samurai how is depicted in all red. This involved a lot of red highlighting with white to off set it. The differences in shades can be quite subtle, but I am pretty satisfied with the end result. I am using him as something of a test case for my 'Red Devil' Samurai army, of which I hope to show more soon. Certainly this guy will attract attention on the battle field.

A quick shout here for Janiel, another light Samael. I don't think this picture does her justice as the more subtle changes of tone on her face don't come out very well. Of course that only means I am a bad photographer rather than a bad painter. Still, I am pleased with the colours, which were hard to get right.

The model of Janiel doesn't look much like her card picture, the model has far more frills. So she was tough to get right, but the end result is quite striking. I have never really painted a model quite like this before, most of mine have tended towards more warlike clothes and poses, so she was a bit of a change.

I hope to have more Anima stuff soon. I have a few more models to show off as well as a scenario and, with luck, a battle report. I also have some tiny samurai to show off.

Sunday 19 April 2009

Anima Models

Below are a few of the models I have been painting for the fantasy skirmish game Anima: Tactics.

For people unfamiliar with the game, it is set in the world of Gaia, which may or may not be a future Earth. A world in which advanced technology once existed, but has largely been lost except for recovered artifacts referred to as 'lost loggia.'

The game is very small scale, each miniature acts independently and, so far, all miniatures represent individual, unique, name characters (a range of more generic 'agents' are on the way, but essentially each miniature is an individual). Characters have levels rather than points, but it works much the same way with characters so far varying from 35 to 80 levels. 200 - 300 is a rough scale for the game, so most games use no more than half a dozen models at most.

This is definitely a strength, because the models are quite pricey for what you get. An average model come individually packed in a blister for about £7. For that you get the model, some counters and a two cards, one with the rules for the character and the other with either additional rules or an 'artifact' or team card. You can also get larger models in boxes for £12 to £25, but other than the size you still get the same cards and counters. Size does not, incidentally, correspond to levels.

Fortunately, the game works very well at the small scale demanded. Characters have action points, represented by counters. They recover a certain number each turn (usually 3), and can carry a maximum number (4 or 5). Action points not used can be carried over from turn to turn, meaning this is essentially a game or resource management. When a character activates they can use their points to perform basic actions, walking, running, attacking, etc, or special actions listed on their card. They can also perform 'reactive action' in response to the enemy, such as dodging, so it pays to hold back a few points.

It's all very tactical, as you work out good action combos to use, and plays pretty quickly. The unique models are also fun. The game has a manga-ish style to it which gives additional appeal to me.

Anyway, on to the models. I don't claim to be a great painter. Good enough for the table is my goal. That said, I have improved a great deal over the years and these models probably represent some of the best I have, personally, painted. That they are all individuals helps as I can focus a lot of time and effort in each one and treat it as a seperate 'unit.' When painting for larger scale games such as Warhammer I have to adopt a more 'production line' approach.

These are my models from the Empire faction. From the left Janus Faith, Daniella Meris, Lord General Yuri Olsen, Duncan Reid and Claire Adelheid. Since I took this picture I have added Vayl and Griever to my collection but haven't gotten around to photographing them yet.

The Empire are a former great power in decline who have been revived, somewhat, by the young Empress Elisabetta. They are a pretty straightforward bunch. They are tough, do quite a bit of damage, but don't have a lot of support powers and don't rely much on special tricks.

Models in Anima can belong to factions or be 'wanderers' with no faction. All characters have an alignment: light, dark or neutral. When choosing a force you can select models by alignment (no mixing light and dark) or faction, in which case you can add one 'mercenary' wanderer. The Empire is mostly a light faction, with two dark and one neutral so far, suggesting they are, crudely, the good guys.

Janus Faith was the first Anima model I painted, I am not particularly proud of the job I did on his face, I have gotten a lot better at that, but am pleased with the armour detail. I think it stands out rather well and gives him quite a striking look.

Lord General Yuri Olsen is a leader level character. You can only have one leader in a 300 level game. The armour follows the same style is Janus and helps to give a consistent look to the Empire. I am quite proud of the cloak, even though when examined up close the pattern is a little shaky.

The Samael faction here. From the left Dark Cheshire, Shinigami Ayl, Konosuke, Kairos and Bael.

The Samael are a mixed faction of supernatural and fantasy beings. They seem to have a role similar to the mutants in marvel comics. They divide pretty neatly into light and dark. The Dark Samel, represented by the miniatures above seek to overthrow humanity and are lead by the fallen Angel Ophiel, who I think of as Magneto. The Light Samael are lead by fallen Angel Dinah and are closer to the X-Men, seeking to live in harmony with humans. Of course that's often easier said than done.

They are fiddly faction, fast and hard hitting but with weak armour and little staying power (with the exception of the monstrous Konosuke at the back, though he can't dodge which weakens him a bit).

The aforementioned fallen Angel Dinah here, accompanied by her spirit guardians Lucera and Umbra. I am very pleased with the white colours on these models. I picked up two cheap pots of white and white-ish paint from Private Press and they work wonderfully for this ivory effect. The alternative would have been a kind of gray which I don't think would have suited Dinah as well.

I am very proud of the effect of this model of Dark Cheshire. I always try and paint my models in the style they appear on their character cards. On his card Cheshire is stepping out of the shadows and most of his body is silhouetted. I tried to recreate this effect and was quite please with the result. I tried photographing against a black backdrop, but the effect was no very successful with too much reflection. I will have to work on my photography before trying again.

I am including this picture of Bael because I am quite pleased with both the skin tones and the light effects on her latex boots, which was done with a simple line of light grey paint. I think she looks rather striking with the combination of feathers and latex.

Since taking these pictures I have painted a few more models and will post more pictures when I get the chance. I also have a couple of scenario ideas and a battle report to upload, so stay tuned for more Anima stuff.

Saturday 4 April 2009

Salute 2009

So, without further ado I will kick of my blog with a report on probably the biggest independent wargame event in the UK.

Salute, run by the South London Warlords gaming club is truly massive event in the gaming calendar that no self-respecting games company and few self-respecting gamers can afford to ignore. I have been attending for the past four years and during all of that time it has been held in London's massive convention centre Excel a venue so enormous that Salute used up less than a fifth of the available space and the venue could be shared with a national diving expo. The venue would be nicked a couple of days later by the G20.

I will illustrate the event as best I can with a few photos. This will be somewhat restricted because I forgot to charge my camera battery the night before and had to make do with a couple of spare AAs, which were clearly not up to the job as they died half way through. Though this may have been due to me leaving the camera on auto and making heavy use of the flash. Still, hopefully they will provide some sense of the event.

As with any special event I attempt to attend, South West trains do their level best to put the boot in and so it was today. With engineering works all around the Wimbledon area and trains severely restricted, paranoia struck and I was up and out by seven in the morning for an event not due to start until ten (though with my tickets purchased safely in advance I was confident of getting in at least fifteen minutes early). Consequently I arrived at Salute with plenty of spare time.

Of course the queue formed early, but Salute has always been spectacularly efficient in this respect. Separate queues were well labelled distinguishing between advance ticket holders and people still needing to buy. By 9.30 people were coming round to check advance tickets, hand out goody bags and stamp our hands to minimise waiting at the entrance once things got started. Salute always manages this sort of thing very well (unlike some events I could mention but won't, yet!) and we were in by 9.50.

The view from the entrance way.

Events like these are essentially variations on a theme in terms of content. Only the size and scale differ. A good mix of trade stands from all the major wargame manufacturers and quite a few minor ones with a number of participation and demo games.

In addition there are always a few extra elements. The near compulsory bring and buy stand, which is always too crowded for my taste, as well as appearances my historical reenactment groups and LARPers (Live Action Role Play, in which groups of people dress up as sci-fi and fantasy characters and room around woods or industrial estates attacking one another).

The major companies are always in attendance, even the mighty Games Workshop can't afford to ignore Salute, though most of it's products are on sale at significant discounts at other people's stands.

It can be a dangerous experience. If you don't plan your spending wisely you can find yourself out of cash by the time you get past the first stand and with about four new games worth of miniatures. It always pays, in my experience, to have a specific plan for spending in advance (in my case 6mm samurai and Secrets of the 3rd Reich of which their should be more in future posts.

To complicate matters I was accompanied by my 13 year-old younger brother, also a veteran of this sort of thing. He's used to me forcing him to look at every square inch of the show before being allowed to spend any money, though it's interesting to say how his tastes have evolved over the years. The first time we were at Salute all his money went on CCGs and collectible miniatures, now he was stocking up on Anima Tactics and Secrets of the Third Reich. Give it a few years and he'll be looking for historical models.

Speaking of collectible miniatures (I did a couple of sentences ago, honest), one company was rather conspicuous by its absence. Wizkids games, purveyor of collectible miniatures, constructable miniatures and CCGs have been a staple of Salute for years now and always took up a great deal of space. Alas, they died a death at the end of last year when their parent company, Topps, decided they weren't profitable enough and shut them down. There was a large empty space next to the bring and buy stand and I can't help thinking that this might well have been the space reserved for Wizkids before their demise.

Moving on, I want to make a few comments about some of the most interesting or striking games I saw. Not everything is covered, as I said my camera battery died, but this should give you a flavour of the event.

The siege of Okamoto-Jo

This was a display game by Oshiro Model terrain, essentially to show of their terrain, with 28mm scale Samurai from the warring states period.

Being a display game it wasn't actually played, but it looks amazing. Well painted samurai armies are always impressively brightly coloured and these were gorgeous.

It has been a plan of mine for some time to build a Samurai army. I've gotten started now at 6mm scale, essentially because their are some good rules to support it, but I fully intend to move on to 28mm scale in the future. This lot certainly provide inspiration and the castle would be a fantastic long term project.

SF3D, wargaming in Japanese model kit form

South London Warlords put together this skirmish game using Japanese models kits by graphic designer Kow Yokoyama. The story behind the kits is that they are battle suits created to survive in the environment of a radiation scarred 29th century earth that these pioneers have returned to reclaim after years in exile.

The rules had to be invented for the game and the kits were slightly repainted and rebased. Strangely, in spite of a long tradition of kit building and modelling Japan does not have much of a wargaming scene. Or at least what is there is quite niche and probably quite westernised. A pity, because these kits look great and, apparently, can be got for as little as 80p each if you buy in bulk.

Usuthu, battle pauses for lunch

Salute 2009 had a Zulu theme. The painting competition trophy was an authentic Zulu spear, the T-Shirts featured a Zulu shield and the convention exclusive model was a diorama featuring a Zulu warrior facing a British redcoat, so a Zulu themed participation game was pretty much inevitable.

This was Usuthu a quick play, large scale game for a large group of players. These sorts of games are always fun because they can be difficult to organise and manage outside of the convention setting.

Winter in White Russia

I didn't play this one, but I included the picture because the board is so utterly gorgeous. It's always good at conventions to poke around looking for ideas and inspiration for your own games. Though the scale of this is probably somewhat beyond me.

So in summary then a fun event as always. Lots to do, plenty to buy and never enough time to cover everything. I spent far more money than I probably should have and acquired lots of little metal things that will, hopefully, fill up blog postings for some time to come.

If I have any criticism, it was that the show seemed to lack a single major set piece game. There were certainly plenty of impressively large and complex games, not all of which I covered, but previous years had always had something big different and often silly. For example, last year featured a Lord of the Rings game using mini figures, at least twice the size of your average wargaming piece, while a few years back 'Sky ships of Mars' saw flying steam punk battle ships supported by metal rods and camera tripods battle over the surface of the red planet. Impressive as some of the games were, there was nothing on quite that scale.

Still, that's a quibble. Great event, great fun and a great big debt at the end. I couldn't really ask for any more.

On Patrol

Inaugural Post

Welcome to my new blog about wargames, miniatures and other random things that I feel like posting from time to time.

My primary intention for this blog is that it be a record of my progress in the various wargaming/ miniature painting/ collecting projects that constitute my hobbies. I'm planning to post progress reports on miniature painting, army building and a few wargame show and game reports as and when I get the chance.

Of course this whole thing could just be a colossal exercise in narcissism which I am essentially posting to myself. Oddly, this doesn't really matter, because the purpose of a blog of this kind isn't strictly tied into the idea of it being read, but rather that it provides a focus for activity.

For example, I spent a number of years painting models for Games Workshops annual painting competition/ games event the Golden Demon. Now, I am no great painter by any stretch. My usual goal for my models is this that they look decent laid on a gaming table, but I entered the competition anyway because it gave me a goal to strive towards and a project to complete by a set date. I never expected to win, but I always intended to better myself.

My intention with this blog is similar. Even if no-one reads it but me, it still gives me a focus and a goal. Rather than letting models sit unpainted (or worse unassembled) or games unplayed, I can concentrate on coming up with new content for the blog.

At least that's my excuse, could be that I just like the sound of my own typing.

Anyway, if you're out there, read on and I will try to make it worth your while.