Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Toying With Skaven

My ears pricked up the other day whilst listening to Garagehammer.

According to a rumour they heard the new Ogre book is finished, and was due to be released last year, but got put back until April - along with the Tomb Kings.

Now I realise that I have been rather down on 8th ed, after my initial enthusiasm subsided but of late my interest has been pricked again.

In part it is through listening to podcasts. I guess we all have our favourite voices that help us through the long night of the soul that is painting minis. Truthfully most of what is said washes over me. And equally truthfully it was in part listening to podcasts that turned me off in the first place.

But what has really sparked my interest is watching a few games down the club.

Now it might be the players, who are enthusiastic about the game, and seem to have a great time playing it - much laughter. Or it might be the tons of dice being thrown around, and the vast dead piles littering the table.

I have even got as far as looking at the figures on the GW website and costing out an army.

It might have been at that point that my interest waned. Or it may have been my reluctance to take on yet another painting project.

Don't get me wrong, I like painting, but I have painting block at the moment. And over the strangest of reasons; my can of purity seal is nearly empty. Of course I could go and buy another one, but that would mean going to a GW shop - which is never a pleasurable experience. So I am waiting until I go to a wargames show in ten days time or so.

Curiously the army that I was pricing up was a Skaven army - which I hve mentioned before is one of my least favourite armies in the game. But given that the choice in the started box is Skeven or Elves (yuk), I figured Skaven was the better bet.

Plus I find myself strangely drawn to the idea of scuplting a hellpit abomination.

The plan was to get the started box, sell the Elves, and then get the battalion box. At which point I found myself cursing GW's selection policy for what goes in the sets. The models in those combined sets are neither fish nor fowl if you want to build a single clan army. I realise that it is easy enough to ebay the stuff you don't want, but still it is a bit of a pain in the proverbial.

And so I made the decision to stick with the projects I have - Orks and Napoleonics - and wait to see what the Ogre book has to offer.

And thus it was that my ears pricked up at the reference to a new book.

Things I would like to see....

1) 5 attacks base for the Ogres to restore the +1 attack of previous editions.
2) An armour or ward save connected to the gut plate.
3) An end to the pointless unit restrictions.
4) An updated magic phase.

It would also be nice if they had some sort of ambush special rule that reflects their mountainous homeland.

And maybe a reduction in the points to make them more numerous as a single army, as compared to the ogres in other armies.

We shall see.


Monday, 24 January 2011

Fun Games

So Da Boyz had a game against the Grey Knights.

They lost.

Ok they are plastic men... so I lost.

It was kill points, dawn of war, and the game basically boiled down to I went first, grabbed the centre of the board. The Grey Knights put everything in reserve, and when they came on they came on in a corner.

Orks being Orks - especially in 30 man mobs, are pretty unweildy, and because I was also bringing on most of my army first turn I couldn't concentrate in order to do multiple assaults.

Thus I was picked off piece meal.

There were a couple of amusing points however.

One was when the Nob Bikerz, weaved through the ruined of the refinery, and the Warboss blew up a Landraider. My opponent was making all sorts of alarmed noises, and threw his whole army at the unit.

I'm sitting there thinking, 'they're only Orks'.

And indeed after the combat they were all dead - they might have taken one of two chaps with them.

To be honest I was pleased that they had managed to kill a Landraider.

A similar thing happened to the Boyz. The charged around a the remaining Landraider, threw forty dice and managed.... ? 1 wound.

Oh and then the whole Grey Knights army charged into them and they died.

Ok I admit that I am partly to blame, as I was left to set up the terrain, and went a bit mad. I suspect there was more than 25%, and rather than focusing on getting an advantage on one side of the table or the other, I set up some fuels tanks in the centre with ruined buildings around it, and then some woods and hills.

To be honest it looked great - in my view what a gaming table should look like.

And does it make me a bad person to admit that losing the game was less important to me that the pleasure of playing on a table that enhanced the effort of painting my figures?

It probably does.

Still the important thing is that the Green Tiegrz have killed their first Landraider. I did attack the other one with my 3 CCA Dred, but that did bugger all.


Ps, while I am on the subject of losing....

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Where's My Stuff?

Tomorrow I have been allowed out to play at the club.

So I have spent the evening working on an Ork list for the first game of the year.

As it is the first game, part of the evening was spent trying to find the various accoutrements required to play. The figure case was no problem, and after a quick hunt I found the rule book and codex. Luckily the dice were abandoned beside the tape measure. The running repairs on the figures were pretty minimal. Yet try as I might I cannot find the templates. The missus remembers pointing out that they are daddy's to the two year old - but that was before Christmas. I suspect that like every other missing thing in the house, they have been sucked into the black hole that is 'the boy's' bedroom.

The club is gearing up for the annual heats of the regional championships, and I have arranged to play against Grey Knights.

I can't say I know anything about the army, other than they have Landraiders and Terminators. Which combined has filled me with an air of despair.

Therefore I have come up with a cunning plan - dust off my Nob Bikerz. 650 points of wound allocating, feel no pain, goodness.

Ok it isn't much of a plan. But I figure if I am going to have a frustrating game of praying for 1's - and 6's against the Landraiders - I might as well make it a fairly quick game.

Speaking of gamer frustration - if indeed that is what I was doing - I have been working on my Napoleanic hussars. They are coming along nicely but I have run into a slight problem.

The Perry kit comes with a uniform guide, which contradicts the colour scheme in the Osprey book I have got from the library, which contradicts the pictures I have found on the web, which contradicts other pictures I have found on the web.

Ok perhaps I getting a little anal, because the contradictions I am refering to is the colour of the collar and the cuffs - oh and the trim of the saddle cloth. And there is an irony, since my plan is to present units as if on campaign.

My solution is to paint a bit of everything, so that some of them have one collar colour and another has another.

Which will no doubt upset pedants, but personally reflects my peception of what troops would actually have looked like.

Speaking of which I watched this the other day and was blown away....

That tracking shot is simply stunning. As is the confidence of the film maker to make the pictures tell the story.


Friday, 21 January 2011

Fluff Bunnies Only

A quick post today.

The Codex Project has got it's website and forum up and running and are looking for contributors.

The aim is for people to develop fan-dexs, fluff, artwork and the like.

Check it out, who knows it might be the sort of thing you want to get involved in....


Thursday, 20 January 2011

Trade Wars

I recently discovered the pleasures of Napoleon on the podcast network.

It's an interesting podcast presented by an Australian called Cameron Reilly, and an American called J David Markham, who is the author of Napoleon for Dummies.

I don't mind that neither of them like Britain or British policy towards their hero. I don't mind that they appear unaware of the Musical Hall songs of the First World War in which Kaiser Bill is mocked as a latter day Napoleon, and bemoan the comparison drawn with Hitler. I don't even mind that they appear blind to Napoleon's inability to punish the incompetance of his family members.

But having just listened to episode 18 about Trafalgar, it comes as no surprise that Markham wrote a book called Napoleon for Dummies.

According to Markham the battle of Trafalgar had very little impact on the course of the Napoleonic wars.


So it wasn't the British navy who was protecting the trade, which was financing the wars against France?

So Napoleon didn't bleed the French nation in the Peninsula to enforce the Continental System?

Ditto Russia?

Ok wargamers can ignore the context to a large extent when playing a game, but you would hope that historians wouldn't.

Yeah I know I am 3 years late - oh the irony of a Brit coming three years late to an American in matters of war.


Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Cheap Figures

As mentioned yesterday, here are the horses I have been working on.

They have taken far more work than I expected.

Years ago I used to use a technique of undercoating black, highting the raised areas white, applying oil paint and then brushing it off with a blusher brush. The result was a really beautiful glossy horse. But for some reason I have lost the knack.

With the result I have been fiddling about about with highlighting and shading for the best part of a week.

Still they are not looking too bad, and grouped up with a rider, and nicely based they should look good - from about five feet away....

And not being able to wait for GW to issue my dream kit of three buggies in a box for the price of Kanz, I took the plunge and bought the old kit.

I got a good deal online.

And I think I have enough stuff left over from the battlewagon and bits to tart them up to hide the really appauling Orks that come with the kit.

Mohicans are so last season.


I have been continuing to follow the thread over on TMP relating to the collapse of Wargames Factory.

My highlight of the day was this....

"This is from Howard Whitehouse on the WF forums (the link to which was removed from the WF site).

Hey fellas:

I've been quiet since all this happened. A week ago (or a bit more) I was chasing down orders. Then it became clear that the problem was not 'missing' orders so much as 'we have these packed but someone (let's call him, say, 'George') has taken money out of the account so we have to scrape around to find more'.

Great. A raft of packages not going to those who've paid for them simply because we need a grand to ship 'em out.

So Tony begs or borrows some money. But then the bank account is frozen by, um, other parties.
And we are all, apparently, out of a job.

And all the packages sit at Triangle.

I'm sure that, job or not, Tony and John would deal with these if the Chinese partner would play nice. But so far, that hasn't happened.

For myself, I am embarrassed that our customers have been treated so badly."

Which was followed shortly afterwards by this....

"First of all, I am glad that those who know me speak highly of my honesty and integrity. Indeed, those that don't know me have not impugned my reputation, and I thank them for that. It's also fair to say that I can only vouch directly for things I have seen and been part of, rather than been told and believe. Nobody showed me the cheque book stubs, and I have not driven to Boston to look at a list of unsent orders. While I accept what those I have come to know well over the past three years have told me, I don't necessarily expect others to do so."

Not wishing to impugn his reputation but which is it? Have you been chasing orders or not? Not that it matters particularly but the odd thing about this story is that there are so many contradictions, and curiously they seem to relate to conduct of those throwing the mud.


Whilst digging around - well googling - I found myself wondering just who was running the business?

I ask this specifically because of the Union and Liberty League.

To those not in the know, this is not a dodgy right wing political party, but your chance to get the figure of your dreams (wet dreams possibly). The basic idea was that you would submit your idea for what they should produce - Spartan Teddy Bears With Boobies - and if you and 100 other people committed to buying 10 sprues of these figures, then they would make them - and give you $100 in gift vouchers if your idea went into production.

Of course people thought this was a marvellous idea - it didn't take much of search to find forums on which the eager hopefuls were chattering about what they wanted - 6mm this, 54mm that, something that looks like a Necron but not quite - in short it was a warehouse managers nightmare.

And if you are being optimistic then perhaps it does have some merit. After all if 100 people want such a product, then why not a 1000, or 1,000,000. Who knew they wanted a frisbee, or a George Foreman grill until someone took the bold step and made one?

And for those laymen amongst us it does serve as a handy indicator of costs involved in the business. Namely that if you sell 1000 sprues - at whatever the price you are selling them for - then you make a profit.

Or perhaps not. Who can say?

Certainly when it was announced there were those who had their doubts.

Such as Chicklewis...

"This announcement just flabbergasts me. My experience with Plastic Injection Molding suggests that tooling prices are ten times higher than the $1,000 USD up front with which Wargames Factory claims they will be able to start production.

If you Wargames Factory folks can actually make this plan work, you will achieve status as minor gods.

All the BEST to Ya !


But Tony Reidy of Wargames Factory was confident...

"Thanks Chick! We've crunched the numbers as we're confident given our capabilities.

The $1/sprue is a good faith deposit -- but you don't pay it until the sprue has hit 100 customers/1000 sprues "pre-ordered" (which are soft, no-money down pre-orders)

Once we hit 100/1000 -- we contact everyone and if they all agree to put $1 USD down per sprue ordered, we make the sprue.

(Prior to this – when we hit about 500 -- we will start showing work-in-progress shots and take feedback -- so that everyone sees what they are going to get)

And then when it's in plastic, we ship it out and charge the rest -- which will typically be about $4-8 or so per sprue depending on what it is."

He was clearly in the optimistic camp.

But hang on...

If someone told you they had crunched the numbers and told you they could make it work, what would you think they meant?

Personally I would think that they had covered their costs. After all the compnay already has a range of figures that is selling and presumably making money. Surely this new venture is a way of testing new markets, and isn't going to damage the existing business?

After all I am not great at maths but if Chicklewis is right and it costs $10,000 then getting $1 up front leaves them $9,000 short, and even when remaining balance is added it still leaves between £1,000 and $5,000 shortfall.

But Tony is back to explain further....

"The 100-person minimum in conjunction with the 1000 sprues (i.e. roughly 10/person -- but you could order 1 and someone else could order 19)…

The reason for this is that we want to produce sprues that will have more "life" in them after the initial 1000. 1000 gets us on our way to breakeven on the project, but we need to sell substantially more to make this financially viable.

With 100 individuals showing interest (as opposed to John the OFM ordering 1000 sprues of War of Jenkins Ear – hi John!) we have an indicator that there are probably more people out in the wide world of wargaming who would be interested in that set. Whereas John's WoJE mold will sit gathering dust on a back shelf (although who knows, we may be surprised!)

The real benefit of the program is to get your idea out to the larger audience of wargamers and see who's with you and can make your idea a reality!"

Note the phrase 'gets us on the way'... and the admission that the scheme was not financially viable.

This was launched in 2008.

Two years later the Tony Reidy has seen his ownership of the company go from 41% to 4%, and now there are further allegations....


"The problems were there before this. I have still never had anyone from WF answer as to why WSS Sprues I paid for in October, which were available for delivery in November were sold again to retail customers at shows (hundreds of figures at a time according to posts here on TMP)rather than being sent to me."

Which if true is pretty serious. Not least because if we go on the figures above these sprues are already losing money, and without people like RobH pre paying would never have been produced.

Of course it is handy that the company has a ready made fall guy in the shape of Lonnie/Lonny.

I can't help feeling that if this Lonnie character is guilty of anything, then perhaps he is guilty of telling the truth. And that is perhaps why this house of cards has collapsed in such a dramatic way. I've worked in places where you spend all day fielding calls complaining about stuff that is not your fault, and in the end it is pretty wearing, and quite frankly the only way to stay sane is to inform people of realities.

But no, the Wargames Factory supporters would have it that he is a Judas - which at least implies he is still being paid - a backstabber, an ingrate etc, etc, etc....

btw... an explanation has appeared in response to RobH, and dear reader, perhaps you can make more sense of it than I - especially with regard to why customers who had already paid for product should have to wait for the goods they have paid for....

It comes from BurlesonBill....

"Actually Rob, yes you have had this (or is it these) questions answered before. I have answered some of them, and I have read answers to you from Howard on public forums, including this one. But, here you go again as the song says:

1st – The "100's of sold sprues" you refer to were at the Fall-In convention. They were a batch of loose sprues with no packaging that WF paid to have flown over because you don't go to a Con as a vendor without product and because WF wanted to get painted samples for box art and PR, and to have reviewed by the gaming press (such as it is). At that time they had a freight manifest and every expectation that the actual retail product would be in hand in November.

2nd – Due to the foul-up (deliberate or accidental, really doesn't matter at this point) that caused the actual product shipment to be impounded and quarantined by US Customs, there still was no actual "product" in November, It was early December before product actually arrived at Triangle. True, it was in the US in late November, but could not be released or touched by anyone for 20 business days.

3rd – Once product was delivered to Triangle, Tony worked pretty much round the clock seven days a week to get it packaged by Triangle, sort orders, box them and print labels, and get them ready for posting. And some did post out.

4th – From some time in November until almost the first of the year, there were problems with the internal e-mail system linked from the web site and the storefront, with customer contact e-mails being deleted or segregated as SPAM. Howard and Tony both went online (including here) and made the public aware of this and began trying to sort things out. That is why Howard published his direct (i.e., personal) e-mail address here on TMP and on the Lefora Forums for people to contact him. And this was in no way "selective"; I assisted with the WSS design and was in constant contact with Tony up until the e-mail problem. I couldn't get through it, neither could Howard, neither could anyone else.

5th – Why did some retailers like Caliver get product when you didn't? You would probably have to talk to Lonnie about this since his role was as Sales Manager for the distributors and brick & mortar retail customers, NOT for orders from people like you and I.

6th – Some orders to individuals were shipped as previously mentioned, perhaps their pre-order was placed before yours, I personally don't know. My pre-order wasn't shipped either. But, when the bulk of the pre-orders were packed and ready to ship (December 18th), that is when Tony and company found out that the funds collected had been transferred out of the Company bank account and there was no way to pay for shipping costs. I was on the phone with Howard during this time and e-mail, and we don't know for sure how he did it, but Tony raised the necessary cash to ship the orders (about $1,000) and (perhaps foolishly in hindsight) deposited it in the account. That was when Tony was told the funds would not be released to cover the shipment costs and when the rest of this sordid drama "hit the fan". Tony had already announced that this shipment would now be going out on January 7th, and once again had no funds available to actually accomplish this."

Oh well, I guess it should be a lesson to all of us to be careful what we wish for... if you want cheap figures, get one of these 3d printer.

I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies, and while I wish either Perry's or Victrix would hurry up and make some French foot artillery in plastic (though failing that I will just go and buy some metal ones) I certainly would rather they were operating on a sound business model. After all the last thing I would want is the Perry's or Victrix, or indeed GW, shouting at me on the net and telling me how I am in the wrong for wondering why I have waitied three months for my order, because the money I gave them to make the stuff, at a loss, is frozen, as is the money I gave them to cover postage and packing.

No doubt the saga will roll on tomorrow.


quotes courtesy of The Miniatures Page

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Obligatory Rambling First Post Of The Year

It's been a while since I updated... for which I entirely blame Empire Total War.

In the meantime I haven't done a whole lot of gaming, what with Christmas and all. Though I have started painting my Christmas presents, as well as investigating a new period - namely Napoleonics, using Black Powder rules.

As such I goot my first game of Black Powder at the weekend, down at the club. My British brigades were swept away by a bunch of Zulus, in part due to one of the brigade commanders failing just about every one of his command rolls, and my indecision.

Though in truth it was perhaps not my indecision so much as my failure to understand the importance of controlling one's troops and reorganising damaged brigades in the face of the enemy.

Still it was a very enjoyable game, and has inspired me more than aany set of rules in a very long time.

As for my troops I have decided to play the French.

So far I have a box of Victrix and a box of Perry's infantry - which should make a 4 battalion brigade - and a box of hussars. I have just about finished painting the horses for the hussars - pictures will follow soon.

It does make a nice change from 40k - not least because it gives me the chance to start reading history books again.

Indeed it was whilst reading the excellent book 1812 by Adam Zamoyski, that it suddenly struck me, that despite the spin, 40k novels are really rather tame. Ok I know that truth is stranger than fiction, and that were Ragnar Blackmane to drink horses urine from a rut in the road because of extreme thirst, or the Tanith First and Only form a human pyramid in a desperate attempt to scale a wall - as Poniatowski's Poles did at the battle of Smolensk - people might start complaining that the story is just too extreme and unbelievable. (btw let's cross our legs and not think about the penchant of various bandit leaders for castrating their prisoners)

And I suspect the Daily Mail might have something to say about the suitablity of Black Library novels for teenage readers - and middle class teenage readers at that - if the Thousand Sons were to begin acting as your average common soldier down through the ages by raping all and sundry because the city elders of the town they happened to live had refused to surrender - or indeed because they just happened be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But I digress.

Suffice to say that it is nice to be collecting and painting plastic toy soldiers with no regard to points levels, power builds, etc.

Speaking of plastic toy soldiers, I am intrigued by the recent news concerning Wargames Factory and Bastion.

At first sight there is no connection between the two - until you check out this link - as it seems that both companies are using the services of a company called Ghost Studios for manufacturing.

It would be untrue to say that I know what is going on, but it does seem odd.

Though I am grateful that I hung on from ordering Wargames Factory's WSS figures - thank god they looked a bit naff and wonky - and I went with Perry's and Victrix - despite Napoleonics not being my absolute favourite period in the Horse and Musket era.

It is of course no surprise - given the age that we live in - that discussion of the Ghost Studios situation has provoked accusations of racism against those who are criticising the Chinese - not that anyone knows exactly what is happening - not least the people who have placed orders and been left waiting for months.

And leaving aside my dislike of the aesthetics of the figures, I was also drawn to Wargames Factory because I was under the mistaken assumption that the figures were American made. Ok I have seen the Simpsons Cherie Bobbins episode, so maybe American Made is not necessarily a great selling point, but to be honest I would rather buy stuff that isn't made in China - yeah, yeah, I know GW and all that. But is it really racist to want to buy stuff not made in China? Perhaps in the hope that the money will be used to promote skills and bring on the developement of choice in the community as a whole.

What is even more odd from my p.o.v is that the defenders of Wargames Factory claim that the figures might not be Perry quality but then again they are not Perry prices. Which is strange because when I looked 32 Wargames Factory figures were about £17, and 42 Perry's were £15.

Ok I can understand that this might not be so in the US - to an extent - if you ignore the free shipping that UK online resellers offer (don't get me started on US postal costs).

But given the accepted wisdom that manufacturing costs are less in China, it does seem strange that top quality plastics, designed and manufactured in Britian, are cheaper than somewhat wonky American designed figures manufactured in China.

I suppose the truth might be that Wargames Factory are working on a bigger profit margin - which in a way makes their downfall all the more satisfying - if there is satisfaction in this business - given their spin about offering the 'community' the best quality product at the lowest possible price.

At which point I will stop before I get onto that other champion of the humble wargamer charging premium prices for their Chinese bags.

Which reminds me....