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Friday, July 31, 2015

My newest obsession: MERCS!

Hello folks!

So in the short span of time since my last post my gaming ADD decided to kick in, and long story short I got into yet another miniatures game.


There are plenty of reviews out there, so I won't go into much detail. Essentially it's a small scale near future sci-fi skirmish war game that pits 5 man squads against each other in a firefight. It really appealed to me because I love Infinity, but man is that game dense. I can still play it, but it's definitely taken a back seat due to the amount of rules you encounter. It's not like I don't understand it, I'm just a huge fan of simple mechanics making a deeper game like Malifaux does.

Well, these rules are as simple as it gets for a fully operational war game. Now don't mistake simplicity for being shallow, because once you implement the rules a whole new world opens up. It did what Infinity did - it created a skirmish game to reflect how important positioning is in a firefight and attempted to be as realistic as the medium allows. Granted, I still firmly believe that Infinity gets it as real as possible due to the ARO system. However I feel that MERCs does one thing so much better: their system makes it easy to grasp as a game with its mechanics. It's so much simpler to understand how to utilize your models to achieve superiority than it is at first for Infinity. Infinity is not a newbie-friendly game. Some may be able to argue that its core rules are simple enough, and that is true. When I demo the game and keep it to simple duplicated line troops and one leader that's a HI then yes, the game is easy and fun. Once you reach the competitive scene it's a lot more to swallow, and my eyes will glaze over and sheer number of options and meta preparation you will need.

Another comparison can be made for their similarities. There's a famous line on the Infinity forums that states, "It's not your list - it's you." What they mean is that your list isn't what makes you win, unlike most other games out there where your army composition can make or break your win. Profiles are similar across the board in Infinity, it's how you utilize your options that grab the win. MERCs is exactly the same, where assault troopers generally act the same across the board and victory goes to the one who utilizes movement and positions the best. Also, list rarely becomes an issue considering that the squad size caps at 5 models with no duplicates, and to date there are only 7 different models per faction.

On paper MERCs may sound limited or gimmicky, but it is definitely not. I think that it's one of those games you'll have to truly research and participate in before you see the value it has. Oh, and value? The rules are free (sans three - yes three - rules, which are easily obtained after watching a YouTube video or two) online and the starters are available for as low as $40 on Amazon ($64 retail). It comes with literally everything you need and then some - all the cards, all the dice, and 6 models of which you only utilize 5, along with the quick start rules and 2 reference cards. It even comes with terrain cards since the game can be played on 2D terrain (which they offer free online as well!). I've never seen a complete starter kit for players in the war game scene, and this one does it and then gives you an extra model to boot.

I bought the FCC House 9 faction set and the rules. All it took was a passing mention to my friend Reuben and he was sold! Immediately he got the CCC and we are all in. If we were so inclined to, we could actually not spend another dime on the game and still play a complete and enjoyable game. No other game does that. But that probably won't stop me from getting more anyway.

Anyway, enough with the drooling!

So with this game pounding my brain every second I started working on a few things for my first games. It turns out the game usually plays on a 3x2 or 2x2 board. Well I finally get an excuse to roll out the Deadzone 2x2 mat! (I wish I liked that game more, see my review and find out why!)

I put on some other unfinished terrain projects and presto! We have a fully functioning table for MERCs!

I've been working on the crate set I bought off Reuben a while back, pictured behind my unpainted FCC squad.

In the spirit of portability I wanted to make scatter terrain for the MERCs to snap to (an awesome mechanic from the game!). I got some old GW bases that are very flat, split some cork up and added barrels from GW and Tamiya for cover. I made it where all of them have room on any side to fit a base on, either when next to it or on the actual terrain. The only one that was a problem was the wall piece, which I started with it being fine but then decided to add cork for the floor and now it's harder for back heavy models to stand on it, but on the flatter side it's no big deal.

Later I'm going to add sand for more texture and to fill in gaps. Painting shouldn't be too hard with an airbrush and drybrush.

With all the terrain I've placed on the table it looks like it will be plenty enough for a game - I'm actually worried about it being too much. But we'll see how it goes. I definitely don't want to make it where any shooting will be impossible due to so much cover, but then again if you do a good enough job at flanking all the available cover can be negated (it's not like they're in bunkers or anything).

I'm very excited for this game!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Convict Gunslinger!

Here is my completed Convict Gunslinger!

I had to take the pics on my phone again since my normal camera was doing something that added white dots to the pics. It made those weird lines again, I've gotta figure out how to get those out. Once I do I may stick to using my phone exclusively for photos, since it has a sharper quality and is easier to upload.

I've been knocking out work lately due to actually being motivated for painting! For this guy I started out with a white basecoat since I was going to be painting orange and wanted the color to pop. In my previous experience of air brushing orange I knew that mixing my red and yellow airbrush paints was not going to cut it. When I tried to do it on Shenlong it turned out way too neon and I ended up stripping the model. This time I tried out my mixes on a palette to view the results before spraying it on the model, also keeping in mind that it will be even brighter on a white base coat. After several combinations I found that a 1:1 mix of my bright yellow and red ink made a sufficient color. It was still very bright but I had ideas on how to knock it back a bit.

I sprayed an even 2-3 light coats of this bright orange on the model. I normally only need 1-2, but over a white base coat it wasn't consistent in color until you get several layers. I then added white to make it about 50/50 white/orange. This turned out to be really light and looked very pastel - but I expected that. I then took Vallejo Burnt Umber and shaded very lightly on the inside of the legs and various other heavier shaded areas.

Now came the "knocking back" part. I took a few test swatches of various inks/washes on the base to see what a heavy wash would do. I initially thought a light sepia would work, but it turned it from bright orange to light brown, which is not what I wanted. I ended up using GW Cassandora Yellow wash and heavily applied it to the orange. I've found that using a wash that is very close to the base coat color is a quick way to blend all your colors by filtering your highlights to match your bascoat, darken your base coat and shade certain folds/areas, while leaving the shade color - in this case, Umber - alone. This knocked the orange-white highlights from salmon looking to light orange. For heavy washes like this you need to make sure that no significant pooling occurs on flat areas and by using a larger brush to apply the wash you lessen the chances of brush strokes showing. If I had used a heavier brown to wash it would have shown a lot of imperfections, but by using a closer color match you create a heavy filter/glaze that's hard to recognize had been done at all.

Lastly I took a mix of orange/GW Doombull Brown at about 1:1 to blackline the shading in the harsh areas and folds. I've covered this technique before with Killjoy and Viktoria of Ashes, and I'm really starting to like the results. This is a quick and dirty way to create style and works marvelously on Malifaux models considering their delicate values in shading. The next time I try it I'm going to use a softer mix, about 3:1 Orange/Brown for a lighter touch, then increase the Brown for harsher shadows.

The skin is my usual recipe. I put a smooth basecoat of GW's old line of Foundation Paints (Tallarn Flesh) so that the actual basecoat of skin wasn't on White. This makes it much more of a consistent color and helps block in where your skin tones go. I then put on two layers of GW's old Dwarf Flesh. This is one of my favorite flesh tones that is really hard to emulate with mixing, as it gives a sort of tan/red tint to the flesh. I then gradually mix in GW Elf Flesh until it's only Elf Flesh, then gradually add White until it's about 1:1 for the final highlights.

The last touches were the hair and metal parts. I knew I wanted the hair to be jet black. I've always had a problem with straight black hair and cloth. But my last paintjob gave me a bit more insight on how to paint hair, so I use the same techniques on this guy and I feel it did the job. It's still a chore and isn't up to what I'd like it to be, but it does the trick. The NMM grey for the guns and shackles gave me huge problems, as up until now all my NMM grey has been done via Airbrush and hasn't been exactly brushed on traditionally. I did my best and how it is now is basically just me setting the model down and saying it's fine. I've still got a long way to go before I'm happy with my NMM technique (although my brush-on NMM gold has somehow been much easier).

I'm particularly proud of the eyes, as I made it look like he is looking down the sights of his gun. My normal techniques for eyes did well here, I just wish these guys didn't have such tiny peepers, because I've been eager to try a new technique for a while and it doesn't work well with true-scale models as they are tiny!

I've lately been very motivated to paint. My wife and I have been setting aside time nightly to paint together and watch a bit of TV and I am loving the quality time with her. I get to paint while not abandoning her to my Man Cave for hours at a time, and we've been motivating each other creatively. I'm really hoping this becomes regular because I miss painting with others around, it keeps me focused and I don't end up just sitting at my desk not having accomplished anything for hours.

Another motivation of mine is actually playing! I've figured out that I can get regular games in during the week down at Montag's. I've known that there is a great group there that plays regularly, but figured that due to work hours and distance I would get there too late to do anything. Turns out they play late there anyway, I just have to make sure I get back home at a decent hour. 

There's also going to be a tournament up in North Houston with $1000 prize support, including one for Hobby (I'm assuming painting). Although I know I don't stand a chance against these guys in games, I'm hoping my efforts net me some painting kudos. It's stiff competition, as these Malifaux guys have some real chops when it comes to the brush, but I'm willing to put my models on the line.

Back to the Gunslinger!

This model is fast becoming one of my staples in the Viktoria crew. He's got some raw damage output. With his points starting at 7 he's only one point higher than a Ronin. My last game with the group helped me realize that the Ronin aren't exactly efficient on their points. Being in the 6 point range there are many other models at equal costs that specialize better. I've always wondered why on paper they look great but in game they are lackluster. They kind of have a jack-of-trades quality, where you don't really partake in all their abilities fully at all times. Now granted, should a melee model with armor come around they shine, as they ignore Armor and can dance circles around him. But for one point less you get the incredibly efficient Freikorpsmenn, and for one point you get this sweet Convict Gunslinger (a bit more on top if you give him upgrades, which is hard not to).

The Convict sports a very accurate gunshot with a built in positive flip, which can be used in Melee as well. He also sports very good triggers, which can cause slow or can generate another shot. With the Scramble upgrade he can get up to 6 shots with perfect conditions, although expect about 3-4 usually. With a decent damage spread that ends up with a lot of damage. Should you get 6 shots thats 12 damage minimum!

The only down side is that he's very slow at Walk 4/Charge 6. With the scramble upgrade it makes him slightly more mobile, but for only one activation. Ideally what happens is that you run him up the center of the board until he's in range, and he doesn't usually have to leave that spot to get some damage in.

That's it for now, enjoy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Finished Viktoria of Blood!

Here she is!

I don't know how I feel about her, she certainly didn't live up to what I pictured she'd look like. Technically she's not finished yet, but I figured the finishing touch will take me a long time to work up to so I'll post her as is. I actually redid her hair and the wrappings on her scabbards. I also repainted the face, and in doing so I think the eyes turned all anime on me. She's nothing like her sister, which I was more than happy with. This one made me go... meh.

On the bright side I'm about halfway done with the crew! The problem with that is with Malifaux the crew gets changed around a lot depending on the game, so really I'll only have one version of possible crews done. But one nonetheless!

Peace out!