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Sunday, March 5, 2017

My journey (back) into 3rd Edition and the rebirth of my Wood Elves

Now that my Chaos Dwarf force is complete (for the most part) I decided to really start painting/repainting my other armies. But before that...

In the past I described how around 1987-89 my high school buddies and I played some amazing AD&D games and a bit later some Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay which I outlined here.

As we transitioned to the later grades in high school we started playing Warhammer Battle, at the time 3rd Edition. For some reason my buddies started playing the game earlier than I. As I would later learn they all picked  different armies so they could ally with each other for larger games. As I recall it was a follows: Jeff- Orcs and Goblins, Dave- Skaven, Pete- Dark Elves, Mike- Goblins? and Daryl had a small Chaos Force featuring Chaos Snakemen. For the most part when I started playing everyone else had largely stopped except Jeff and Dave.

As you can see all of the evil armies were taken except for Undead which didn't appeal to me. So as I started out I briefly played one game with my army as Bretonnian force before converting it to an Empire force. At some point I may post pictures of my Empire army but not now.

So what does this have to do with Wood Elves I hear you say? Glad you asked. Since there was only three of us playing regularly, if we all wanted to play it would be Jeff and Dave vs me! So with an Empire force, what to do? I had to buy and paint my own allies and hence where my Wood Elves came from. In fact my Wood Elf force which would grow to about 1500 pts was just that, an ally contingent that got bigger and bigger. I'm guessing Games Workshop did this but design... Later, my High Elf army would take the same path until it got to be massive, far larger than the Empire force.

I really haven't set out to repaint my wood elves this last month of so, I was repainting my dark elves, but for some reason I stripped down the Wood Elves and started them up with a unit that was one of my original Wood Elf purchases: a unit of 20 archers from the Warhammer Regiment Box set. I think searched the web, not a lot out there in the way of 3rd Edition Wood Elf minis (painted and presented) that is.

As you can see above I repainted them entirely in traditional greens like their original paint jobs, but wanted to make them look very autumnal. So I stopped at the craft store for some Woodland Scenics clump foliage- Fall mix for the bases and the movement tray. For the first try it's a tad too clumpy despite getting the handle of cutting the foliage it with my x-acto as I went.

So stay tuned for further updates about the rebirth/repainting of my Wood Elf Host. Unlike my Dark Elf army underway at the Oldhammer Forums I think I'm going to keep all my Wood Elf updates here on the blog.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

An Old West Town- Part II

Work continues apace over at Dogs of War Online on my western town of Timber Ridge. As noted its been a busy week(s) so I didn't get as much progress as I would have liked, but did get some solid work in with the Marshal's office and a corral rounding to form.

In addition the the various forms/places of inspiration that has already been mentioned: Tombstone, Pale Rider, etc I came up with another one: from 1951-1999 in North Hudson NY there existed a great little amusement park called Frontiertown. My own memories of it are vague as in going there as a little kid around maybe 4-5 years old so somewhere around the late 1970s; perhaps a future blog post. Its a sad testament in a way; the decline of Frontiertown mirrors America's shifting views and movement away from westerns, but I digress.

The Marshal's office is close to completion at about 60% complete in terms of painting and the corral up next. Take a peak over at Dogs of War Online for all the photos, but here is one of the town proper as it begins to take shape.

It looks like the minis will be the last thing I get for the gangs/posses as still look over the miniature lines. Right now Black Scorpion minis are leading the pack, but I still have time to decide. I want them to be a bit larger so they will be at least 28mm with Black Scorpion being 30mm in scale.

I've looked at the classic lines from Wargames Foundry and a few other but will still be mulling it over.

I'm also considering what I want to do for wagons and various sundry items. Obviously scale model rail road terrain makes the most sense. Various miniature manufacturers make wagons and carts but like the minis I have time to decide.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

"You tell um' I comin' for um, and Hell's com'in with me!" Start of my Western Town

Over on Dogs of War Online I've embarked on the creation of a western town, for such games as Warhammer Historical- Legends of the Old West, my game Hurled into Eternity and perhaps even Boot Hill.

The start of the Town of Timber Ridge...
Unlike most towns people have created out there on the web, this one is not set in the American South West, but rather in more northerly climes. (As an aside, I love the movie Tombstone and hence the title of this post, but I wanted a look and feel that was something different for an Old West town).

A major inspiration for this is one of my favorite movies of all time: Unforgiven. I've only just started on the town itself so there is not much to show just yet. I anticipate with the pace I'm going at that I'll complete it by the fall of this year, but we'll see what happens.

Here's a single pic with the rest over at Dogs of War Online. Let me know what you think.

Thus, the start of the town of Timber Ridge, a logging encampment, but full of cut-throats, desperadoes and gunmen! I haven't decided fully on minis yet but the 30mm minis of Black Scorpion are the leading contenders. They will come later and perhaps I'll even be adding wagons, carts horses and townsfolk to the setting.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dogs of War Online 3.0

Just a quick heads up, and sort of a shame-less plug... (hey it's my blog , right?)

I've been spending a lot of time dusting off the forum over at Dogs of War Online After years of neglect in my very busy life, the forum has been updated to the new version of MyBB, the CSS theme updated and new features added to the site with the Wiki and User Map functions updated as well.

Now, this may seem like a fools errand as Dogs of War was/are probably the least supported army for Warhammer Fantasy Battle out there and with the changes to the game via the Age of Sigmar, but... I look at the situation as no different then the state chaos dwarfs around 2007. For years we had a very vibrant community and were quite content to create tons of material on our own all free of GW, now that is even more magnified. Warhammer Fantasy Battle is now free of GW stifling anything they don't like, the community can really create what they want.

So with all this said the site has been dusted off after years of neglect from me. We still have a small cadre of folks who post there but are looking for more, to build up the community of like minded individuals. But its not just Warhammer or even Dogs of War, stop by and participate in the OT forums, discussions of other RPGs even. So whether you pay Kings of War, Age of Sigmar or 9th Age or even some other war game, stop on over.

I'm still an administrator over at Chaos Dwarfs Online and in a lot of ways we're "sister-sites" of a kind, sharing similar goals and outlooks. But given my newly freed up time I figured it would be best to devote my time to building a great community at Dogs of War Online as well.

As a personal note: its the only place you find my army blog as I assemble my force of Nippon using 2nd/3rd edition rules. I've blogged about Nippon here and here, as I've wanted a Nippon force since the late 80's and have been working ever so slowly to assemble one. Now with my renewed interest in Warhammer it's really gathering steam now. I'm building the force under 2nd/3rd edition rules, but I'm also looking to configure them to be able to be used in Kings of War, and 9th Age, possibly even as a 3rd edition "Count As" Empire force . Or even a 5th Edition Dogs of War force! Sky is the limit.

So as the bard said "Cry havoc and let slip the Dogs of War!"

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Warhammer 3rd edition, back to the best edition

I've now just exited a really busy period in my life, having left my part time job of ten years. So what do I do with this "abundance" of time? I'm going back to the coolest edition of Warhammer, that being 3rd edition, that's what (aside from the never play-tested rules for Siege)!

I say going back because I really never played all that much in terms of the new editions (a fair amount of 5th edition games) but not much else. So with GW unleashing the Age of Sigmar or the fan driven 9th Age... Why bother with any of that? Its been interesting that GW avoided "Edition Wars" that plagued D&D for so long. Are we now at that point? I'm sure people probably kept playing editions they liked previously, I simply wonder if it's more pronounced now with the Age of Sigmar retro-con.

So with this in mind I  dusted off my 3rd edition books this weekend and started looking through everything. That old familiar feeling came back, what a great game it is! A mess, large and unwieldy to be sure but oh so much fun. There is actual strategy in the game, there is actual consideration of movement and formation, lost of random fun and devastating and cool spells.

The main reason I did this was as I get back into the hobby after a nearly three year absence I've started working on my Army of Nippon (which can be found here). The Warhammer Armies Book has Nippon as mercenary contingent that can only be hired by Dark Elves? What the Hell is that? But imagine my suprise when I was tipped off to the fact that 2nd edtion Warhammer Fantasy battle had them as a full army in Ravening Hordes!

So armed with this knowledge I've commenced an Army of Nippon and plan on tinkering with the 2nd edition army list. I may not have to do much as it appears that gamers were to use the 2nd Edition Ravening Hordes until Warhammer Armies came out. I've been working on terrain and securing minis. Right now I'm focused on acquiring ninja; I don't know of anyone who has one of each of the entire lineup, so I might be the first? Big shout out to my brothers over at the Oldhammer forum. I feel at home there with my like of the older editions of the game. Shameless plug: for those looking to help me out with trades or purchases my want list is here.

On a side note: I really like the look of the art and presentation in 2nd Edition as it mirrors up to the presentation of 1st edition Warhammer Fantasy Role-play which is another favorite of mine from back in the day. You can read my thoughts on some classic campaigns from back in the day here and here.

In a way I've gone home as it were, so I guess you CAN go back.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Episode VII- The Force Awakens, a Review

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... 

The kids and I just back from viewing Episode VII the Force Awakens. In general, all three of us liked it, but like a lot of people I found there were definitely some weak points in the story. I will say to start off that my earlier trepidation here was largely incorrect, but not entirely unfounded. I liked Episode VII, it was good, but not Empire Strikes Back good. I will also note I was fairly accurate on my initial musings from a year ago.

Some Brief Notes
Note: if you haven't seen Episode VII yet, you'll want to stop reading now as its spoiler time. Also of importance is that while I'll be mentioning the Star Wars Expanded Universe in passing, I'm doing so for two reasons: 1 to provide contrast and 2, to delineate where some ideas may have been used from. Its been years since I read the EU and I certainly did not read all of them.

The Movie itself
Before I kick off my review: A few points off the top of my head: the movie is really well done in terms of look and feel, the cinematography is excellent. Its noticeable right from the beginning as it was actually shot on film as opposed to digital, its warmth shows throughout. In fact the Kodak logo was prominently displayed in the end credits.

The familiar screen crawl was great to see on the big screen for the first time in more then a decade!
  • The start of the movie with the focus on Finn was nice touch as for his "origin story" as it were. It progressed well and reminded me of Episode I, II and III as well as IV where they got to the action right away. 
  • I also liked the introduction of Poe Dameron right off the bat too; bad that he wasn't in the film more. I have a feeling we have our "Core Three" characters going forward. 
  • The Storm troopers actually hitting something was a nice surprise!
  • Max Von Sydow's appearance and the initial village were well-done as was the fight and the introduction of the New Order and the fact that they too were looking for Luke Skywalker. It was cool to see he knew of Leia, but it isn't implicitly said how. He was a minor character so it didn't have to be spelt out.
The early sections were great for their visuals of the crashes Star Destroyers and other detritus littering Jakku. Even if it is just a clone of of the desert world of Tatooine, the weathered look,

coupled with the shots on actual film made it look directly from original trilogy. The haze of the desert looks very believable, the sand, the dust. But again we're talking about Tatooine II.

I did like Rey's initial reluctance to embrace her destiny and her "home" inside of a AT-AT. She is looking to the past, counting days until... what we don't know (later on we know she is hoping her parent(s) come back for her. Rey's isolation is palpable as she lives alone and scavenges alone. A fringer for sure and a very closed one, well done. Even Luke as orphan at least had has Aunt and Uncle in the Lars family, she has nothing.

The initial interactions with Finn and Rey were good as were the depictions of how they meet. Finn in a rare moment is fast on his feet (more on that below). The referring to the Falcon as junk when Finn and Rey "acquire it" was a good nod to "What a piece of junk!" in a New Hope. The initial battles with the Falcon and the Tie Fighters is very good and visually stunning. But after that the action slows...

The middle sections tended to drag a bit (at least it seemed that way to me), but Han and Chewy getting the Falcon back was cool to see if a bit jilted in its execution. Han trying to talk his way out of the situation is heartwarming in the sense the old scoundrel is back and sets the stage for references to the previous movies throughout.

One middle section scene I especially liked the various factions/gangsters having the same opinion of Solo and the dialogue matching perfectly. Solo has gone back to his old ways and owning money seems to be a big part of how he operates, even thirty years later!

Leia's reunion with Han was over all too quick and felt too rushed, as if JJ Abrams was pushing the story through that particular plot line; knowing he had to have it in but was in a hurry to get it over. with. I don't think it really helped in the tracking down of Kylo Ren as it was up to Han not Leia to redeem him. Her dialogue while understandable is not really necessary.Then again she is barely in the movie so they had to include her. A quick point: some people have been dogging Carrie Fisher for any number of reasons in regards to the movie, but news flash. She is not the slave girl from 30 years ago anymore... If anything it was her voice that made me pause, it was gravely. Other then that she was good , not sure about great.

The biggest part that stood out in the middle is the finding of Luke's saber and the implication that it means going forward for the next movie. The dream sequence and Rey's reluctance were well played. The imagery was very vivid as it the movie viewer was right there in her place.

Then there is the death of Han. To a point, this was all known going in for anyone paying attention: all of this was alluded to thirty years ago when Harrison Ford wanted Han to go out in blaze of glory in Return of the Jedi only to be denied. The scene left me a bit mixed in terms of reaction, in some regards it was emotional in others it seemed a tad contrived. If anything the emotion is carried by Chewbacca throughout the scene.

All of this builds to the ending which is rather like: "Haven't we seen all this before... twice even?" Indeed it was. The problem is that because its Star Wars we're going to watch it again regardless. So we have the space battle going on while we have a light saber duel, re-hashedx3. I hope going forward this is the last time we hear about planet killing weapons. Poe and his interactions with BB8 were cool; I hope the two of them pair up to allow for the familiarity of the two droids, R2 and 3PO to shine through going forward with the new characters.

Then there is the end which takes place in a whirlwind and certainly a minuscule amount of time compared to the rest of the story. But in the end it is somewhat satisfying: there he finally is: Luke Skywalker, the Jedi Master; looking every bit the part and looking at Rey and his father's light saber...

One of the bad guys. Strangely, despite the weak name I liked the concept of Snoke; I rather disliked Kylo Ren. After the physically intimidating presence of Vader we get a watered down version. Snoke was mysterious, obviously derived from the Emperor in terms of imagery, but Kylo?

Kylo suffer from an uneven character and his powers, like-wise precisely because his eventual antagonist in Rey was so unskilled he is largely has to be brough down to her level. In the movie we have him force mind reading, stopping blaster bolts, raging out and having been trained by the only Jedi left in Luke, to get "beat" by Rey? Think about it, he has abilities never seen before, flings her about and dispatched Finn with ease, but then they have to bring him down to almost a neophyte. If anything the fight was a "tie". I get he was wounded, but the story could not have progressed as a New Hope did with Rey just learning her force abilities and having to face the new "Vader." So in a way the "Jedi fight" is a let down here which for me is a shame as that is what I look forward to in each movie. With no Obi-Wan to kill off, (Han takes that role) but for a different reason.

So we get this uneven bad guy with what level of power exactly?

The New Order. I liked the idea of the Star Killer base (warmed over as it is) but the whole organization left me cold. They seemed rather stiff and not that interesting which is odd given how they were envisioned (what would have happened if some factions survived Nazi Germany after World War II). The speech by General Hux was anything other then inspiring or threatening to me.

Gwendoline Christie (aka Brienne of Tarth in the TV adaption of Game of Thrones) as Captain fan-boy sake (which I never got)

Phasma was definitely underused. I hope there is more of her going forward but I also hope she doesn't get the "Boba Fett" effect of being popular for the sake of it...  Suffice of to say she looks more bad-ass then Kylo Ren.

The soundtrack was uneven throughout to me. This was unusual as in most cases music at its best fits the movie and you don't think much about it but there were times where it was actually making me notice it, and not in a good way. In fact it might have been the weakest soundtrack out of all of the movies.

Predictions for Episode VIII
These will hardly be "earth shattering" or is that Starkiller/Death Star caused? :)

1. The likelihood that Rey will not be named Skywalker as her surname? That approaches zero in my opinion. There are just too many things point to the fact that Luke is her father: the innate piloting skills, the innate mechanical aptitude just like her grandfather Anakin and her natural understanding of the Force without any training?  The ability to grab the light saber with the Force, the unskilled use of a Jedi mind trick, the intuitive understanding of BB8 and Chewy. All of these and many more equal one thing: Rey Skywalker.

An aside on Rey: with everything she can do so well she could slide into Mary Sue territory, Daisy Rey plays her well, but it does happen. I don't have strong feelings on this per say, but it was a bit over the top at times. It doesn't detract from her character in terms of warmth, but there it is. Some like it, some don't, but she excels at everything and fails at nothing? Seems dull.

While this movie is not based on the Star Wars Expanded Universe per say, (aka the flood of books after Return of the Jedi), there is the fact of Jacen and Jaina Solo who were twin brother and sister who appeared in a number of stories. Jacen turned into a Sith Lord (Darth Caedus) and then Jaina kills him in a duel. Why do I mention this in relation to the new movie? A movie that has little to do with the EU? Simply because if Rey is Luke's daughter, then she will be facing off against her cousin Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo) in Episode VIII. Which if not a direct lift is a rather striking parallel.

2. Finn- Finn is well positioned to become the new Han Solo. The Millennium Falcon needs a new Captain, he's already a wise-cracking bit of a rogue and he does not seem to be force sensitive (that's Rey's path). He can't seem to do anything on his own right now (Rey does literally everything) but perhaps that's so his character can grow, after all he worked in sanitation as a Storm Trooper...

His back-story being a large blank canvas means that they will be able to take his character in any direction they choose. I'm also pleased that he really had "little" to do with the storm troopers per say. A huge section of Episodes II and III had to do with the creation of the clones who would become the Storm Troopers. I think having him as part of the New Order storm troopers make sense as he was "raised" by the New Order not cloned (as was alluded to in the movie no less).

Plus they already have him interacting with Chewie. I think he'll be a good fit. I also think they did a good job by throwing a curve ball of showing him with a light saber. As I noted above, he's probably not the one who becomes heavily involved with the Force, but that was to deflect attention away from Rey.

3. While Episode VII was a passing the torch movie with the death of Solo I wonder if the same fate is in store for Luke? I think not. Episode VII really revolved around Han, but I imagine that Episode VIII will have far more to do with Luke being the central character. He was barely on the screen but his presence was felt throughout the whole movie and Daisy Ridley as Rey performed beautifully here with her reaction to the name of Luke Skywalker, you could feel her wonderment.

4. R2!!!!!! Damn it, I understand he was vital to the way Episode VII unfolded but he's the real hero! BB8 was nice and all but how magically was it when R2 finally wakes up! Its as if you feel the passage of time R2 has been in a low powered state at Luke's orders waiting for the right time and then bam!

With that BB8 was missing his 3PO. What made R2 so memorable in the first six movies was his interactions and how ridiculously brave they were, more so when pointed out by C3PO.

5. The Resistance AND the New Republic?  I'm unclear as to the relationship between the two. One thing is for certain that after millennia of rule of the Old Republic and then a several decades by the Empire that there is no one singular over arcing authority as there was in the past. I think this will be a benefit going forward for future film installments. Sweep away the New Republic to set the stage going forward for Episodes VIII and IX?

In summing it all up, I was entertained by it and despite knowing what was coming in terms of the story. I liked it l,but it certainly wasn't great. It also did not fit with my expectations that it wouldn't feel like Star Wars, it did but in a sort of reheated fashion.

Lastly, with all this said, this is how I rank the movies  as of now after viewing Episode VII.

1. Empire Strikes Back ('natch).

2. A New Hope

3. Revenge of the Sith

4. The Force Awakens

5. Attack of the Clones

6. Phantom Meance

7. Return of the Jedi*

* For those that follow by blog, you know why I rank RoJ so low... '

To close, those calling it "A Newer Hope" are right, it certainly derivative, but an entertaining movie none-the-less. 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

STAR WARS Episode VII, still not sure what to think.

Less then 17 days to go til The Force Awakens hits the big screen and I still don't know what to make of the reboot. That's right I said reboot because that's basically what it is. Now that Disney has the keys to the kingdom, err...galaxy you can bet they are going to run with it for all its worth.

But why say reboot?

Because I have a feeling this movie is going to be nothing more then a "pass the torch" movie. By clearing out the old characters Disney and JJ Abrams are going to be able to create what they want: a generation of fans unencumbered by the expectations of the original movies. If (and that's a mighty big if) Han makes it out of the last scene will be shocking. I know this is hardly controversial as Harrison Ford wanted Solo to die in Return of the Jedi. I know the internet has been rife with the speculation and in some cases for years, but to me I have this feeling that Episode VII will revolve around tying up the loose ends of the old generation of characters.

The main thing that makes this fee "re-booty" is the character of Rey, why don't we call her Rey Skywalker? I have a suspicion that we will be very shortly. And if not, expect her character arc to be the present day telling of Luke Skywalker. And if Kylo Ren does indeed turn out to be Luke, will we see Kylo/Luke telling Rey "I am your father" in Episode VIII? If that happens I promise you I won't be surprised.

To close I'm still on the fence on this one. I wonder if like a previous generation of fans with the prequels this will be "the bridge to far" for me. Maybe I'm getting old, but I wanted to see the further adventures of Luke, Leia and Han and I am left with this feeling that based on Abrams work with Star Trek he's going to do the same thing with Star Wars. The difference(s) compared to what changed in Trek is this is going to be much more massive in my opinion.

It looks, like Star Wars, it sounds like Star Wars, problem is it doesn't feel like Star Wars. I expect it will be a big hit (any Star Wars movie is). But to counter and paraphrase Han in trailer #2 "Chewie, it doesn't feel like home." I'll be taking the kids to see it, but for the first time I'm actually not looking forward to seeing a Star Wars movie, weird but true.