Friday, 20 February 2015

Reaper Bones: Elliwyn Heatherlark, Gnome Bard

In a couple of weeks I'm going to be getting both my first taste of D&D 5e (can't wait) and visiting the classic 80s module Isle of Dread for the very first time.  American readers may find it surprising that as I'm a 40-year-old virgin when it comes to most D&D modules and I've opined on this cultural peculiarity several times.

When GMing I like the PCs to be a good spread of classes to ensure that every player has at least one set of abilities or skills to ensure they feel engaged.  I'm probably holding a minority opinion here, but my example is always that of The A-Team.  Face had his charisma, B.A. his Strength and Engineering skills, Murdoch was the pilot and Hannibal the brains of the outfit.

However, when playing I prefer a challenge.  I let the dice decide the big stuff and I use my imagination to fill in the subtle details.  My GM accommodated my predelictions and I ended up with a female gnome barbarian with a severe Napoleon Complex.  She's going to be the sort of girl who picks fights in the roughest inns with the biggest guys just to prove that she's not a damsel in distress.  I still have to figure out who she's trying to prove it to...

Luckily Reaper Bones came to the rescue with a suitable mini, 77164: Elliwyn Heatherlark, Gnome Bard (sculpted by Derek Schubert).  Even though she's listed as a Bard, she's not carrying the defacto lute or mandolin and can easily stand in for a plethora of fighter stereotypes.

Main colours blocked out
My painting style starts with a black base coat (usually sprayed on) and then I block out the main colours starting with the face.  I'm making her some kind of forest gnome so her palette reflects summer and autumn of reds, browns and greens. 

My theory is that she gathers fresh local foliage every day to camoflague her shield and clothing much like snipers and she paints her skin and dyes her hair to blend in with the forest just like the hunters in Apocalypto.

Windsor & Newton Matte Varnish... not so matte, but she's well protected

Then it's just a case of adding midtones and highlights to finish her off.  All-in-all about an hours work spread over a few days between filling out job applications and talking to recruitment agents.

I hope to be blogging regular gameplay updates of her progress through the game and my thoughts on 5e, so stay tuned.

Bones Progress 

Reaper Bones: 245 - Painted: 35

Related Posts:

  • Reaper Bones: The Marathon Begins - Where I paint a dozen Giant Rats
  • Reaper Bones: Kobolds, Are They Dogs or Dragons? - Where I paint a dozen kobolds. 
  • Reaper Bones: A Carcase of Skeletons - Where I paint a half dozen skeletons
  • Reaper Bones: A Shuffle of Zombies - Where I paint five zombies.
  • Reaper Bones: Introducing Shaina Coppervein, Dwarven Orc Hunter - First PC mini
  • Reaper Bones: Mimic, Treasure Chest and How I re-base my Bones - Where I paint furniture
  • Reaper Bones: Fire Elemental Meets Novelty Lamp - Where I hack a mini with LEDs
  • Reaper Bones: Flaming Sphere LED Tealight Hack - Another mini LED lighting project
  • Monday, 19 January 2015

    Rich Dad, Poor Dad and the un-game of Cashflow

    A close friend of mine and long time gamer has embarked on a new career as a property developer and has become a fan of the work of business guru Robert Kiyosaki author of the well known book Rich Dad Poor Dad.

    Diversification and Passive Income are the mantra of many of these self help millionaires and Kiyosaki has branched out into the realm of games design.  Yes, you heard right.  He's a Games Designer, that's his BGG entry for the boardgame Cashflow, he designed back in 1996.

    Now doesn't that look exciting

    Recently I was invited to play this little gem of a game and boy does it suck!! 

    It's a game of two halves, but both are roll and move.  In part one you travel around the center circle trying to avoid the here you travel around a very small 25 space center board landing on various "investment opportunities" either stocks and shares or property which you can purchase with your savings.  You also have the chance of landing on one of the "bad" spaces which may result in you losing your job and missing a couple of turns, having a baby (aka a joyous bundle of unplanned overhead) or landing on a luxury space and having to buy a suit or repair your car.  These "bad" spaces are so few and far between that they have little impact on the outcome of the game in fact the distribution is arranged in such a way that it is a statistical impossibility.

    Once you've amassed a passive income which equals your salary you have essentially "left the rat race" and can now move on to stage two.  In which you basically do exactly the same but instead buy established businesses with even less chance of risk.  There's so little risk or consequence to the game and your decisions have so little effect that a game of snakes and ladders looks appealing by comparison.

    There's a mild form of game balancing via the drawing of "career cards" which control what your starting cashflow stats are, but there's no game here.  No deep decision making, no evaluation of risk (it's all laid out on each card in bold text), no balancing of resources, nothing.  I'm speculating but I think that there's an educational reason for this, Kiyosaki wants to teach you that becoming a self sufficient is easy and in the game of cashflow it is in fact there's no way to lose.  I think he needs to listen to the wise words of real plutocrat Nick Hanauer.

    A quick google reveals that the game retails for in excess of £100 shipped to the UK, so I guess the secret of cashflow is to author an incredibly lame game and charge the absolutely earth for it.  Apparently there are cashflow clubs where this pile of shite is played on a regular basis, probably because they're too ashamed to play it outside of those select gatherings. 

    Someone needs to give them a copy of Monopoly or The Game of Life it will blow their freaking minds.

    Friday, 16 January 2015

    Lindybeige - A Youtube Channel about History

    I'm a late convert, but I've recently become a fan of Lindybeige's YouTube channel.  It's an excellent resource for explaining the realities of medieval living and fighting in a simple and fun way. 

    Lloyd is a natural presenter and his content is engaging and well scripted. 

    One to put on your YouTube subscriptions list.

    Wednesday, 14 January 2015

    Doctor Who vs The Librarians - AKA How not to Deal with Santa

    One of the annual festive traditions is watching the Dr Who Christmas special, but in 2014 the eponymous time traveller had competition in the form of US fantasy history adventure series The Librarians. 

    Santa: Bruce Campbell vs Nick Frost

    Nick Frost channels the late Sir Dicky Attenborough while Bruce Campbell channels Norse God Odin
    Both shows picked capable comic actors for the role of Santa.  Bruce Campbell was The Librarians sophisticated Saint Nick, a gestalt mortal avatar capable of switching between all his various incarnations throughout history, each with their own individual powers.  Santa delivering all his dialogue in the third person was a great touch, how else would a mortal "possessed" by a mythical construct with God like powers refer to himself.

    Nick Frost's bearded fat man was merely a comic foil to Peter Capaldi's dark hero, an anachronistic mnemonic to remind you that you were still in the dream and still being facehugged by a Dream Spider.  Irritatingly his dialogue didn't help much in trying to work out what the heck was going on, being confusing and

    Story: Timey Wimey Dreamy Weamy vs Globe Trotting Extravaganza

    The essential aim of the Dr Who Christmas Special was to revitalise the association between the Doctor and Clara.  It didn't reveal anything new other than the Dream Spider which was a fairly lack lustre and pedestrian knock-off of a facehugger (they even resorted to referencing "Alien" in the dialogue... maybe it was a legal requirement?).  There was no real peril and frankly the inception dream within a dream was overplayed too heavily in my opinion and the idea that the shared dream space appeared to ignore it's victims relative times and locations made it even more hard to follow.  In the end the show gave up trying to make sense of itself and put it all down to timey wimey wibbly wobbly nonsense.  A reoccurring feature of New Who which I'd rather like to see the back of thank you very much.

    The Librarians on the other hand had to deal with the possibility of Santa being assassinated and its global spiritual ramifications.  There were several moments of mild peril for all the cast (despite the low budget plane effects) and the subtext of everyone getting their Christmas wish whether they wanted it or not was a nice touch.  Despite the extremely low budget the action trotted the globe from America to London to Canada to the Arctic Circle with a bit of multi-faith mental projection to the China, and the Middle East to illustrate Santas gift to everyone.

    Santa's Ride: Chocolate Box vs Citroen Box Van

    Of course Santa gets nowhere without his Sleigh and both shows covered it in different ways.  Dr Who had a full blown digital sleigh and reindeer complete with central locking nose flash.  The Librarians went down a more interesting route of having Santa's sleigh stolen and replaced with a small red french farmers van.  The real sleigh makes a later appearance as a self powered sans reindeer rocket ride capable of busting into a cargo plane.

    Ridic-YULE-ssness: Mental vs Mythical

    To be honest you have to buy into the huge helping of cheese that goes along with the premise of The Librarians as a low budget, light hearted, family orientated adventure show.  It's not trying to scare you, just take you on a theme park ride in the same vein as Indiana Jones and National Treasure but without the Nazis or dark occult overtones.  It manages to get away with a lot thanks to it's visual jokes, excellent dialogue and lots of running about.  I left the show feeling good about the characters, good about humanity and warmth towards

    Sadly I feel Doctor Who is struggling to keep up these days, overburdened as it is by the weight of public expectation thanks to it's "National Treasure" status and the absolute lack of decent writing talent.  In fact it's forgotten exactly what made it good in the first place, snappy dialogue and a lot of being chased about.  I left the show feeling cheated and dissapointed, like when you're left with just the unpopular toffee fingers at the bottom of the Quality Street tin.

    Where this special Christmas themed episode is concerned, I'm afraid I have to give it to the newcomer... The Librarians and Santa's Midnight Run.

    UGS - A Chronic Illness that only affects Gamers

    I suffer from a little know chronic illness that specifically targets gamers...

    UGS or more commonly referred to as Unplayed Game Syndrome is a form of addiction which largely goes unnoticed until your wife, girlfriend or significant other suddenly decides to have...

    An Intervention

    That moment when you are faced with the true scale of your problem.  Namely that you have too many games in your collection some of which, for various reasons, you've never played.  Heck, some of them still have their shrinkwrap.

    Just 5 of my Unplayed Games
    Tigris & Euphrates, La Citta, Sylla, Outrider and Warcraft The Board Game
    My immediate response was denial, then I said

    "If I've played it, I can keep it, right?", to which my missus replied,

    "No, you have to choose some games to keep and some to get rid of!"

    Faced with an ultimatum I used my powers of indefatigable man logic.

    "But how do I know what to keep?  I have to play them first to know if they're any good and if I should keep them!". 

    In the cold harsh world of decluttering this plea fell on deaf ears, suffice to say I have a few weeks grace in which to decide what to do with some of these potential gems:

    Tigris & Euphates - A pre-loved Hans Im Gluck version of this Reiner Knizia classic given to me a couple of years ago by a club member on the grounds that I will play it more than he does.  I feel really guilty that I've never played it and so will definitely add it to my New Years Resolution list.  He also gave me his much played copy of RA (also by Knizia) and I absolutely love playing it, so this is something I have to have a go at.

    Outrider - A tabletop car combat game using playing cards.  This was also my first experience of Print on Demand and Drive Thru Cards, but I haven't found the courage or energy to clip out the tokens and print off the road tiles PDF.  I'm a massive car combat game fan, so really can't understand why I haven't played this yet.  To be honest I might just be sneaky and hide this and some other card games inside other games.

    Sylla - This years christmas gift from my step daughter.  It's a semi co-op civilisation building game set in Rome and is highly likely to get played in an upcoming boardgame night.

    Warcraft: The Boardgame - I picked up this fantasy wargame for some ludicrous price like 99p or something, a total no brainer really.  It has a lot going for it; nice components, hex based map, 4 different races and it's by my favourite boardgames company Fantasy Flight.   I confess I've never played a single minute of World of Warcraft on any computer or console so I don't really have any preconceptions about the IP other than that the box art looks a bit Warhammery.

    La Citta - Another 2014 Christmas pressie, this time from my missus, La Citta (pr: LA CHEETA) is yet another civilization building game set in the Italian Rennaissance.  Lots of components and it looks like this might have the potential to turn into a long game even with its 120 minute estimated play time. 

    I'd love to hear from any readers who also suffer from unplayed game syndrome.  Do you have any experience with any of these games? Which of them do you think I should keep or play first?  Do you have any boardgame gems in your cupboard which you're too embarrased to play or you've just not got round to playing?  Leave your comments in the box below.