Sunday, 17 October 2021

There's more to the Wargaming hobby than Games Workshop

Over the last decade or so, I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Games Workshop. I was first introduced to them in around 1988. I was 12 or 13 years old, had just returned from a year-long "holiday" to Australia with my parents, and was discovering a lot of new things at that age. 

Such as a dedicated comic store! And a book/magazine store called something like Huyser's in Wellington city (not sure of the spelling or if I've even remembered that correctly). It was on Victoria Street, right where the curry shop next door to Cheapskates is. 

Huyser's started stocking White Dwarf magazine and Citadel miniatures and paints. And not really having a budget of my own at the time, I just flipped through the mags. 


 

Now remember, this was a time (actually the tail end) of when White Dwarf was a general wargaming/roleplaying hobby magazine. A few years later, they came to the conclusion that they were the hobby and it became The Hobby. Which is a clever and insidious marketing tactic now that I look back on it.

Let me just be clear, a hobby is something you love and do in your spare time. Knitting can be a hobby, stamp collecting is a hobby, trainspotting is a hobby, smoking a pipe can be a hobby, building plastic model kits is a hobby, playing video games is a hobby. So why does no other company call what they do "The Hobby"? 

My guess? Because they're not insidious bastards.

So we're at a weird place where the people who are involved in one hobby, call it The Hobby. And I have a problem with that. So when I refer to The Hobby on a wargaming blog, I'm referring to the Wargaming Hobby, of which Games Workshop is only one (albeit large and ugly) aspect.

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of alternative to Games Workshop games. And frankly, for the last couple of decades, Games Workshop have been responsible for releasing some of the worst written rulesets on the planet. OK, not WRG level bad, but still pretty awful. 

5th edition 40K was the first time I read a copy of 40K and thought, Holy crap, did they get illiterate children to write this? It was a mess. And it seemed to be written by people who had no background in game design, and no background in writing. And perhaps, now, we get a glimpse as to why that might have been.

Games Workshop pay shit. So what happens when you pay shit? Odds are you get really unskilled labour. Game design should not be done by unskilled labour. You end up getting where GW did and having to completely throw away your crap rules and start fresh.

How did that work out? Well, their rules appear to be building back up to previous craposity levels. And maybe in another ten to twenty years, they'll reboot their rulesets again.

Or maybe they could hire good, competent game designers who have a solid command of the English language, and are able to structure rulesets so they are legible and flow well.

But hey, what do I know?

So getting back to my origin story. Games Workshop games weren't my first wargames. I think that crown actually goes to Battletech. But in those early days, the Battletech miniatures were optional, and hard to come by locally in this country. So we just played with the little cardboard standees (I still do in fact). The first miniature wargame I actually played was Warzone in around the mid '90s. At that time I was living in Auckland with an ex, and when I moved back down to Wellington, one of my friends had started playing 2nd ed 40K, so I got into that.

 


But as I mentioned, I had been into GW stuff for a few years before that. But only for the miniatures, not the games. I bought the White Dwarf magazines and pored lovingly over the John Blanche art and the 'Eavy Metal sections (Mike McVey  was my favourite studio painter back in those days).


That led to playing more of their games and having some jolly good times with my friends with 40K, Mordheim, and Warmaster, especially. (Oh and Hero Quest & Space Crusade, the Hasbro-GW board games). I tried Fantasy Battle, but never enjoyed the movement system or the Tetris game I had to play when mounting figures on movement trays. I collected and built several WHFB armies, but the Skaven did me in in the end. Trying to fit all those tails and swinging arms in rank and file just weren't conducive to fun times for me.

 

More recently Age of Sigmar, Blood Bowl, Aeronautica Imperialis, and Necromunda have featured heavily in my gaming, painting, and collecting.I even bought the Adeptus Titanicus rulebox, but can't afford the minis.

But first and foremost, I'm a wargamer, and it would be a travesty to only play games released by one company. 

I play all the games.

Or at least all the games I can source and afford.

Recent GW Unethical Shenanigans

Over the last couple of months, there has been a lot of press about some pretty awful and unethical GW practices. 

I strongly recommend watching the Discourse Miniatures Youtube channel as she has some fantastic analyses of these practices. And she's a lawyer. Or is practiced in law. I'm not sure what the difference is or if there is one.

A few of the worst ones to come to light are:

  • Predatory NDAs for content creators
  • Abysmally low wages for staff, even those in "specialist" roles
  • Anti-consumer sprue packaging (requiring buyers to buy 10 boxes if they want to equip a unit with all the same weapons)
  • Attacking Youtubers with false copyright flags, causing videos to be demonetised
  • Barring fans from make fan animations
  • Warhammer+

Remember back in around 2015 when GW was doing similar stuff? Their CEO at the time, Tom Kirby, admitted he didn't care about the customers and was only interested in securing his million dollar annual dividends. I wrote about it here:

What's in store from GW's new specialist games studio? 

At the time, I concluded that I didn't care about their games any more because there were plenty of other options. But over the years, they appeared to improve their practices (but not their pricing), so I gave them the benefit of the doubt and a bit more money (a lot more money actually).

And now we're at that point again.

It seems that a company that started as a bunch of gamers looking to make an entertaining gaming magazine, has now become a corporate behemoth that is uninterested in anything except profit by any means necessary.

And to be honest, I can't ethically support that company any more.

It makes me wonder why they attack their fans so much. Having so many Youtube channels and blogs all over the world promoting their material is strengthening their brand.

So from now on, I'm going to focus on promoting alternatives to Games Workshop as alternatives to Games Workshop. That to me is probably one of the best ways to have a boycott. Let people know about the alternatives. Promote the alternatives. 

Let the world know that the hobby is Wargaming, not Games Workshop.

In fact, I think I'll start a series of blogs on Games Workshop Alternatives.



Saturday, 9 October 2021

[WIP] 10mm Chaos - Warmaster/Kings of War

I think I mentioned that I'd been working on some Warmaster Chaos minis, or was going to.

Recently, I glued some original Warmaster Chaos minis (gifted by my good and generous friend B.) to some coffee stirring sticks and started painting them.


Yes, you'll see evidence of another commission in progress. Labyrinth minis from the boardgame. Ludo, Hoggle, Sarah, and Jareth (almost done). More on them in a future episode. :)




And the other day, some 3D printed minis arrived. I ordered them (and another as yet unarrived lot) and a day later I realised I needed my own 3D printer. :)

These are Forest Dragon Chaos warrior minis, including some Chaos Lords and Chaos Sorcerers. I won't say who I ordered them from because they were badly packaged, the box they were packaged in was very thin and cheap and was crushed. And the minis, which were very small with a lot of fragile pointy things sticking out, took some casualties. The sender just threw each lot into a plastic bag. 

All I'll say is they were from an Etsy store and the seller was in Poland.

I'm not too happy with it, but in general, enough survived that they are usable, and now that I have a 3D printer I will print some of my own in the future.



 



Sticks and hot-glue guns

In regard to gluing them to sticks, the metal minis I would usually superglue, and plastic minis I would use PVA. Of course the PVA would have to be left over night to cure, and then any that didn't stick properly would have to be re-glued and left for another day.

Well, today I found a page where the fellow said he used a hot glue gun. Of course! Duh! I wasn't sure if they'd work with the resin, but they did. And I don't think they'll be a problem coming off when finished. As you can see above, a couple came off when I was finishing off the undercoat, and they came off cleanly.

And guess what? They only take minutes to cure!

Amazing the obvious things that are never so obvious. haha

On basing and rulesets

The other thing I now have to consider is how to base them. I'm not sure if I'll be playing Warmaster again--or at least that often. That depends on how Kings of War turns out.

But the Warmaster community who produce the wonderful Warmaster Revolution rules (that I even have an editing credit in), have now set up a Warmaster Rules Committee and they vote on changes and modifications to the rules.

Now I'm of two minds about this. First I thought: great! I can have more of an active involvement in my favourite ruleset! And then I thought about it and thought about other things that are decided by committee, and I am now having misgivings.

Now I don't know this committee and these fine folk, and my speculation and caution comes solely from prior experience with other committees, so it's entirely possible I'm way off the mark here.

On one hand, having a committee is a good idea and it means that the ruleset is going to be constantly updated with some oversight, and not just ad-hoc updates as can happen with things on the Internet.

But I got to talking to my friend Jackstorm, and we realised that Warmaster is a set of rules that even in its original form, we were constantly having to look things up in the rulebook. Even when we were playing it every weekend, there was still the need to look up rules and clarifications. And that I think is partly indicative of our diminishing cranial capacity in our old age, and partly the nature of Games Workshop rulesets.

So I'm hoping that KoW makes life simpler for us. 

And to that end, I was trying to decide how to base the new figures. There seem to be two trains of thought. One, suitable for 10/15mm, is just to halve the 32mm base sizes and use cm instead of inches for all movement and distances.

Another train of thought seems more compatible with Warmaster as described in this post:8

KoW in 10mm: Teensy Kings of War

Basically, a troop is equivalent to 1 Warmaster base, a regiment is 2 deep, a horde is 2 wide and 2 deep, and a legion is 2 wide, 3 deep.

And they leave the distances in inches.

What are your thoughts? Have you played Kings of War (full scale or in miniature)? How did you deal with basing, or how would you if given the opportunity?


Saturday, 2 October 2021

First game of Stargrave--and it was fantastic!

Today I went back to the local wargaming club--Wellington Warlords--and had the pleasure of being shown the Stargrave ropes by John, from over at The Daemon's Claw blog.

And because Stargrave is the sort of sci-fi skirmish game that allows us to play with whatever toys we want, we played it with Judge Dredd minis. I played a crew of Mega-city One Judges, and John played a crew of Sov Judges.

My crew lined up at the table edge:



The crew were:

Captain Judge Smith - Veteran

Lieutenant Judge Judy - Psionicist

Codebreaker

Commando

Sniper

2x Sentries

Trooper

2x Recruits

This is the board after deployment:


I'm not going to do a battle report because I didn't write down what was going on, plus it's possible that John may post one on his blog, and his are always very good.

So a few random pics.

My crew roster sheet.

Captain Smith and buddies going for a data crate.

Ruh-roh. Pirates start turning up each round.


John's Sov Judges host a BBQ.

BBQ to the left of us, BBQ to the right of us.
 
Lieutenant Judge Judy shot down from a long range gunner.

More pirates appearing.

I fire a smoke grenade to slow down the punishment I'm taking.

Yay! I rolled a 20 to hit.
Oh, he rolled a 20 to save. Sigh.


Me legging it... Um, a tactical evac after we had retrieved the data from two data crates.
 
Leaving the Sov Judges to deal with the pirate threat.


My survivors.

John's tactical withdrawl from the pirates.

This was a lot of fun.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I've ordered Stargrave and Quarantine 37, so looking forward to those showing up. And I'll be going through my collection of 30mm sci-fi minis to see what I can muster for a crew of my own figures.

This is probably for sure going to replace Necromunda for me.


Monday, 27 September 2021

Nearly finished Warmaster terrain, Shieldmaidens

In my last post I talked about the Shieldmaidens I 3D printed for Ragnarok.

Well, those two figures are almost done. They were done, but I went overboard on the Army Painter Strong Tone so they're a bit too dark. Maybe I'll rework them and bring out the highlights or maybe I'll just use them as a learning experience for the next batch. There are 6 or 7 more that I've printed and glued together, plus a couple of others that need reprints of weapons or shields.

But the first two look like this:


I know, I really have to get some better lighting. It's been a long time since I've done any photography, so these are just taken with my cellphone under my painting lamp.

The majority of these minis were painted with Contrast paints, but I found the fur over the helmetless lass was just too muted. So I added a bunch of white speckling and painted over it with a darker Contrast paint. 




 

It didn't work out like I imagined it in my head. Or maybe that's just because the first photo is after the Strong Tone wash and that muddied the whole thing. Not sure. The only colour that was actual paint was the green tunic and pants. They were AP Elf Green which is quite a nice earthy tone. 

I look back at these two photos and think, maybe I should have just stopped there. But we always wonder that after it's too late. :) haha


The one thing I noticed after printing these is that they are big miniatures. I don't have a metric ruler handy, but they feel like the bases are 40mm, and they are tall. They're not a lot shorter that modern GW AoS Orgres. 

So I'm thinking that makes them doubly perfect for Ragnarok. They are the ultimate heavy metal Viking warriors. Larger than life and brutal as hell!

Warmaster Terrain

The other almost-finished work is a couple of Orc tents from Rocket Pig Games. 3D printed again. They were designed for 30mm-ish scale (I'm going to start calling things 30mm scale because nobody seems to decide between 28mm and 32mm, so I'm just calling it down the middle :) )

All of the orc buildings and terrain from RPG are fantastic designs. Most of the models from memory are hailed as not needing supports when printing. I'm guessing they're also designed for filament printers because they are big! 

The tents were only two pieces--the roof and the rest of the building. And at 30mm scale, they just didn't fit in my printer. 

No problem, I thought! I'll just scale them down to 33% and they'll be 10mm, perfect for Warmaster! And they really are. They came out really well.




 

Again, mainly done with Contrast paints, but I'm bringing out the highlights in the horns which you might be able to see in the first pic.

Scale-wise, they're absolutely perfect. 

I've got a bunch more orc buildings and terrain from Rocket Pig Games which I'll print in the future. 

I don't actually have any Warmaster Orcs, and this made me think I should get some, but looking at this tent, it'd honestly be fine for Chaos, for which I do have a Warmaster army. :) And that reminded me I had recently (um, within the last 12 months or so) been gifted some Chaos figures still in blisters, so I've just glued them to sticks ready to paint.

So my queue currently consists of (in no particular order except my memory):

  • AWI British commission part 3 of 4
  • Labyrinth commission (yes figures from the board game of the movie)
  • 15mm Warlord ACW
  • Large miscellaneous warbands commission (big box of random figures collected over years by a friend)
  • Shieldmaidens
  • Warmaster Chaos

Plus I'm waiting on delivery of the 2 Kings of War starter boxes, some Lord of the Rings figures from Mithril Miniatures (they'll get their own post when they arrive because I'm quite excited about those), an airbrush compressor, and probably other stuff I've forgotten.

Because if there's one downside of working from home, you spend a lot of time on a computer with a credit card within arm's reach.



Friday, 24 September 2021

First successful 3D print! Vikings for Ragnarok!

I mentioned I recently got a 3D printer, and I've been working my way through the failures to try to get that first successful job. Well I just got it. 

Today in the mail I received a package from Grimfrost in Sweden, which included a lovely viking beard comb, a horn drinking mug, and a copy of Osprey's Ragnarok! Can't really go wrong with heavy metal combat in the Viking age! haha


And with that in mind, I needed some figures. I'd long sold off my Saga figures, so I needed something new. And with the power of a 3D printer at my command, I didn't even have to wait for shipping or get up off my chuff to go visit a store.

I hopped on over to my favourite 3D printing site, and did a search. Out of all the very nice options, my first pick was this Shieldmaiden warband by Asgard Rising Miniatures.

The first two figures I attempted were the Shieldmaiden Chieftan Aidda with Gjermundbu helmet, and a Shieldmaiden warrior. And well, apart from a couple of post-production hiccups, they came out really well. All the bits were there, nothing was out of kilter, and they just came out great.

The issues I had were that the supports were so thick, I hamfistedly pried them off with a too-large pair of nippers, and lost a bit of Aidda's hair tassel, a chunk off the front of her chainmail coat, and a bit off her arm where the shield fist joins. 

None of these should be too noticable, and as I say, they were post-production. The actual prints came out perfectly. My experiments led me to increasing the number of base layers and slowing down the normal layers another half-second from previous attempts. 

Enough of my rambling. This is them.


I think the photo doesn't do them justice at this stage, but they're glued together and tomorrow morning I'll start painting them and see how they turn out, plus put more of the warband through the printer.

I'm pretty happy right now.

I raise my cup to Odin. 


Thursday, 23 September 2021

Painty like it's 1999

 I've been painting hard this year. And I've been reassessing the games I play.

Sci-fi Skirmish

So far this year (and for the last few years) I haven't been doing much actual gaming. But this year I've been on a bit of a Necromunda kick. Really enjoying it a lot, but looking for more. I want to be able to play different settings or different kinds of sci-fi skirmish games without being locked into just one setting and one set of forces.

Stargrave might be the winner there. 

But I'll probably still play Necromunda because I recently talked at least one friend into paying butt tonnes of money for the figures and the books.

Kings of War / Mass Fantasy Battles

I found a guy (Geek Gaming Scenics) on Youtube who scaled down a game of Kings of War to 10mm and that really piqued my interest, naturally being a big fan of Warmaster. :) And that video made me realise that KoW isn't like old WH Fantasy. The figures aren't individual, but mounted all together on a base. Or at least, they can be. And man, that just makes the game so much less fiddly. 

Video here:


Browsing around I found that holy cow, Mantic games and figures are so much cheaper than the 400lb gorilla in the room.

 I may have order the two starter boxes (War in the Holds & Shadows in the North) and the Uncharted Empires supplement. :D

Speaking of which, Mantic's Armada looks really cool too. 

ACW

Oh and speaking of games by Mantic that were based on rules from Warlord Games, I bought the starter box of Epic American Civil War. ACW in 15mm with Warmaster style strips. Oh they are beautiful. 

Here's a sneak peak until I work on them again and have more pics.



 The first building is from the awesome Empires at War pre-painted range, and the second building is one of the bundled ones in the Warlord starter set.

I started painting these minis, but they got put on the backburner because I started painting commissions. A lot of commissions.

Painting Commissions

Here is a massive pic dump of what I've been doing over this year. First a picture of my painting table right now. 


These are 20mm British from the American War of Independence, being painted for my good buddy Jackstorm at the Never Enough Marines blog. 

Back in May I did a few units for him, which he blogged about here:

The British are Coming... Again!

He did the flags and the buttons on the coats.

The ones I'm working on now are almost finished. Well, these four units are. I have another eight units in the queue.




I've also got a box of commissions waiting to go from my friend Grant. Some of the models I've been working on for him are here:










With the exception of the giant straw man, these are all done with Citadel Contrast paints.

3D Printing

And if that wasn't enough, I bought a 3D printer. My first attempts have been slowly becoming more hit than miss, but a couple of my first prints are here:


And I've started painting the barbarian.


General Hobby Stuff

What else? 

I've discovered Brokentoad brushes and love them. I can't do sable for miniatures--I love sable for my watercolours, but I just can't get used to them painting miniatures. But the Brokentoad Fugazi Series Mk III brushes are very very nice synthetics. They call them imitation sable, but I don't know what that means.

Finally, I am considering dumping my collection of Army Painter paints because replacing them with something better might be cheaper than buying and importing a paint mixer like the Vortex (which may not even work with the 240V in NZ). Monument's Pro Acryl range are at the top of my list at the moment.


That's me for now. More will be forthcoming. I've even been considering redoing my Youtube channel to focus (again) on miniatures and wargaming. And perhaps even naming it after this site. 

We'll see how things go. But at the moment, things are looking up.