Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I painted this miniature a couple of years ago. I thought it would make a cool Behemoth element for HOTT, so based it on a 40mm x 40mm cardboard base. Perhaps it could take pride of place in a 15mm skeleton army raised by an evil magician. I painted it with acrylic paints and gave it a protective spray coat of varnish. All the terrain in the background was hand-made by me. You can click on the images for a closer view.
Monday, February 26, 2007
My wife turns to our 5-year-old daughter and asks, "What movie is that song from, Maddie?" I know my wife is referring to the movie Shrek. Maddie, who is sitting next to me, hesitatingly murmers, "Ummmmm.....ummmm....." so I whisper out of the side of my mouth, "Shrek".
"Shrek!" Maddie exclaims triumphantly.
I turn to my wife, "And who sang that song?" I ask, smugly attempting to demonstrate my superior knowledge of 60's music trivia.
"I think it was Donkey..." says a small, serious voice beside me.
My wife and I look at Maddie and then we both crack up laughing.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
The first game we played was YINSH. This is one of Kris Burm's GIPF Project and would have to be one of my favourite 2-player abstracts. I spent a few minutes explaining the rules and strategies to mum and then we were off.
The players each start with five rings on the board. Every time a ring is moved, it leaves a marker behind. Markers are white on one side and black on the other. When markers are jumped over by a ring they must be flipped, so their colour is constantly changing. The players must try to form a row of five markers with their own colour face up. If a player succeeds in doing so, he removes one of his rings as an indication that he has formed such a row. The first player to remove three of his rings wins the game. In other words, each row you make brings you closer to victory - but also makes you weaker, because you have one less ring to play with.
We had a varied set-up; both of us placing rings on the board edges as well as in the centre region. Mum initially tried to set up rows by just placing her own markers. It took her a little while to start jumping over my markers to turn them to her colour. It eventually cost her the game, with me winning three rings to her zero. Here a picture of the endgame. I was black.
Bratz: Passion for Fashion. I loathe that game so I quickly got in my own suggestion - Fraidy Cats.
In Fraidy Cats players move their cats along the top of the fence based on the roll of the dice. If a dog comes up on either of the dice, the player must activate "Muggs the Motorized Mutt" after moving his/her cat. Muggs then proceeds to careen around the yard. If he strikes the base of anyone's cat, the cat is shot up into the air. Dislodged players must move their cats back to the closest available barrel (the cats are safe while in barrels). The first player to move their cat all the way around the yard wins.
I always enjoy this game. I most of all enjoy the antics of Muggs as he randomly charges back and forth across the yard. Whenever Muggs is activated I hear shouts of "Get Daddy! Get Daddy!" coming from my darling little daughter. She's only five years old and she's already obtaining pleasure from seeing me lose. I'm so proud of her - sniff.
Well, I'm pleased to say the luck of the dice were with Maddie this game. She won and thoroughly enjoyed seeing Daddy's and Grandma's cats being launched into the air by an angry Muggs. Here's a picture of the game in the initial phase.Hairy Maclary Game. This is a simple roll-and-move game based on New Zealand author Lynley Dodds' award-winning Hairy Maclary series of children's books. Once again Maddie had the luck of the dice and went on to win the game.
Friday, February 23, 2007
And so, one Sunday morning a couple of years ago, as I was leaving the local fleamarket, I noticed something lying on the ground. It was a tiny plastic toy squid. I saw the tentacles and a light bulb went off in my brain. Here was my water Lurker!
I took it home, cut the head and tentacles from the body and glued it to a 40mm x 30mm cardboard base. I painted it with acrylic paints and gave it several coats of spray gloss varnish. As you can see, it turned out pretty good. Not bad for a cheap toy I found on the ground. You can click on the images for a closer look.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Yesterday's incident on the train has served as a catalyst to me purchasing a musical instrument of my own today.
I was reminded of another afternoon, several years ago, when I was waiting for a train at Central Station. I heard a lovely tune emanating from some sort of wind instrument. The music was floating across from the end of the opposite platform. Curious, I walked to the end of my platform. There, across the train tracks on the opposite platform, was a man in his late fifties, perhaps early sixties, leaning against a pillar playing a small pipe. He appeared separate to the mass of humanity waiting for the train nearby. He was in a world of his own, focused solely on his pipe and he was playing a beautiful melody. I assumed the instrument he was playing was a piccolo.
And so, with that memory fresh in my mind, I did some research on the Internet last night. What I thought was a piccolo, wasn't. I now believe the man was playing an Irish Whistle, also known as a Penny Whistle or Tin Whistle. I found out that the oldest commercially produced Tin or Penny Whistle in Ireland is called the Feadog. Feadog is Gaelic for whistle. I was impressed with an instrument that is light, portable, inexpensive and apparently easy to learn to play. It was going to be a Feadog for me!
So I went out at lunchtime today and was actually able to locate and purchase a Feadog. It was made in Dublin, Ireland, and only cost AU$13.50, which I thought was very reasonable. There is a picture of it below. I thought I'd add a couple of accessories to my Feadog photo. There is a can of Guinness and also my lucky 'real shamrock' that I picked up as a souvenir when I travelled through Ireland with my wife back in 1996. Makes the photo of my Irish Whistle look more 'Irish', don't you think?
Oh, I can already play 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"... :)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The musical pair went on for a couple of minutes, playing other lively tunes. You could see their passion for their music and the pleasure they got from entertaining the crowd. And their music affected me as well. It lifted me out of my hum-drum, groundhog-day reverie. The sound of the clarinet brought a smile to my face and the soft accompanying tapping of the bongos soothed my nerves. Their music made me happy.
And it wasn't only me. When the duo had finished their playing the whole carriage erupted into applause. Several people cried out "More! More!" The clarinet player laughingly told us that if we wanted more music then they would appreciate some monetary recompense. And so the clarinet player walked up and down the aisle while people fumbled for spare change to drop into his outstretched cap.
After the cap was full of coins they went on to play a haunting melody that was at times both funny and sad. The crowd of passengers, including myself, sat enthralled by the music. The performance continued on for several wonderful minutes. When they were finished, the pair thanked their audience and proceeded to the next carriage.
It was at that time that something else unusual happened. My fellow commuters were smiling, some were laughing, some were discussing the event with the person seated next to them. Strangers who had been grey, emotionless, cardboard cutouts to me not ten minutes prior, now appeared to be actual people. I now saw them in a different light. We had shared this odd musical experience together and, for a brief moment in time, were all somehow connected to each other.
Some people say music has a power; I think I witnessed it this afternoon.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
You may remember an earlier entry where I showed some pictures of The Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh which I had sculpted to serve as a Behemoth element in the army. Well, a couple of years ago I also sculpted another creature from that movie - the Rabbit of Caerbannog, AKA the Killer Rabbit.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Pounce, produced by ParlorGamez in 2004, is a dexterity game for 2-7 players aged 5 to adult. It contains 1 Cat cup (which is the top part of the storage container), 6 mice, 2 dice and 1 storage lid.
Play starts with the mice being placed in a circle with noses touching. The cat is held a short distance above the mice by the first player. The cat player calls out two numbers and rolls the dice. If either of the numbers called is rolled, the mice players yank the tails of their mice and try to scatter before they are caught. The cat pounces on the circle of mice, when the dust clears, the mice that escaped are returned to play. Those caught are eliminated from play until there is a new cat. The cat continues to call numbers and pounce until there is only one mouse remaining. The quickest mouse becomes the cat and everyone returns to play.
The winner is the first player to be the cat a certain number of times. There are other versions of this game with slightly different rules and components. One version has the cat player using a small rubber bathroom plunger to try and capture the mice. I think that would be a little more table-friendly than the hard plastic cup used in this version. Pounce sure looks like a fun game to play with kids and adults.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
When I go to garage sales and flea markets I look for any cheap, plastic toys that have interesting shapes or features. I can usually pick these up quite cheaply. I will then cut off suitable pieces to use for scratchbuilding projects.
The air intakes on the engines are made from the type of plastic packing tape that secures boxes. The rest of the model is made up of bits and pieces from my 'bits box'.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Priming, also known as undercoating, is an important part of the painting process as most paints have trouble adhering to bare metal. An undercoat will provide a good surface on to which your next coats of paint can attach.
What colour to use as an undercoat is up to the individual. If you are painting bright colours such as yellow, reds and whites you may decide to go with a white or grey undercoat. Colours appear brighter if painted on a light-coloured undercoat. Likewise, colours will appear more subdued and darker if painted on a black undercoat. The reason I chose to paint my dwarves with a black undercoat is because most are wearing armour. Armour is best painted black followed up with a drybrushing of silver metallic paint.
Some people will spray the undercoat on. I prefer to use a brush to paint it on so that I can get the paint into all the little nooks and crannies of the figure. I find that spray painting often misses these areas.
And here's a picture of the miniatures primed and ready for painting.
"'Tis as dark as the Mines of Moria!"
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
[Cat and Lister are playing Scrabble.]
Cat: Hey hey hey, I've got you now, buddy! J, O, Z, X, Y, Q, K!
Lister: That's not a word.
Cat: It's a Cat word.
Lister: What does it mean?
Cat: It's the sound you make when you get your sexual organs trapped in something.
Lister: Is it in the dictionary?
Cat: Well it could be, if you're reading in the nude and close the book too quick.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
And that leads me to the point of this entry – to give some context to the photos below. Back in the late 90’s I was into wargaming with miniatures. My rules of choice were De Bellis Multitudinous, or simply DBM as it is more familiarly known. DBM is a set of rules for ancient and medieval battles with miniatures. I had a regular opponent, Chris, who had several armies and we gamed together quite often. I even painted and based a Mongol Conquest army and was working on an Early/Later Crusader army.
One day Chris told me he was going to run a tournament at an upcoming gaming convention. The rules to be used would be De Bellis Renationis or DBR. DBR covers the wars of 1494 - 1700 (and was written by the same authors as DBM). Essentially, DBM and DBR are very similar, with some different troop types and some minor rules changes.
Chris offered to lend me an army if I was interested as he had lots of miniatures that could be substituted for most armies. On pouring over the army lists available for DBR, my eyes fell on an interesting army – The Venetian Italians.
From memory, this Venetian Italian army had three Ship elements and four Boat elements. My cunning plan was to lay down a waterway on the side of the table and send my troop-laden ships down to attack my opponents on their flank. There was only one problem - I didn't have any naval elements. I decided to make my own. The ships were called Galleasses, which is a type of galley. What did a Galleass look like? I scoured my personal library for pictures. I came across this painting, The Battle of Lepanto 1517 (artist unknown), in which are depicted Venetian Galleasses. I would base my models on these images.
I came second or third in the tournament, I can't really remember. While it was fun, I don’t think I’ll ever play DBR again and so I really have no further use for these ships. I’ve considered selling them on eBay but doubt they’d go for enough to compensate for the time I took to build them. One option I’m considering is using them to play Man O’ War by Games Workshop. I’ve had these rules for a couple of years now and have been itching to play them. The only problem is that the Games Workshop Man O' War ship miniatures are out of production and are rather expensive to buy on eBay. I know I have the ability to scratch-build several fleets but it’s just finding the time, and motivation, to do it.
Monday, February 12, 2007
I work in the city. When I say city, I mean the CBD of Brisbane. I’ll occasionally go for a walk at lunchtime to ogle the new board games in the game stores or browse the books in the book stores. I popped out at lunch time the other day because I saw a recent post on BoardGameGeek (BGG) that Hive was on sale at Australian Geographic stores for only AU$20.00. I know that the Australian Geographic stores normally sell Hive for AU$39.95 so this is a 50% saving. I know this because I bought Hive last year for AU$28.00 when they had it on sale at 30% off.
Australian Geographic stores aren’t specifically game stores, but they do carry the odd game. I was curious to see if they had any copies of Hive left, not to buy, mind you, just out of curiosity. Actually, the thought of buying a second copy of Hive at that price did cross my mind. Hive is one of my favourite abstract games and I love this particular edition which has the gorgeous Bakelite pieces. On reflection, and particularly considering the thought of explaining it to my wife, I decided to refrain from purchasing a second copy.
On entering the store I noticed they only had two copies of Hive left on sale at 50% off. Rather than walk straight back out again I decided to see what other games they had. The only game of any interest was Pounce which was normally AU$24.95 but was also on sale at 50% off. I made a mental note to check it out on BGG that evening.
As I decided to leave, my eyes were drawn to the following item.The Amazing Flygun is a fun way to kill flies and mosquitoes. At just AU$7.95 the hunter within me couldn’t resist buying it. You push the swatter head onto the barrel of the the gun. This forces the spring back and sets the trigger mechanism. The swatter head is attached by a string to the pistol grip so it's easy to retrieve after a shot. When the trigger is pulled the swatter head launches off with a decent amount of force.
I'm off to hunt some flies!
Sunday, February 11, 2007
I like my armies to have large colourful banners, flags and pennants. In the case of this dwarven army, I will have two banner bearers, one for the Hero element and one for the Blade general element. Instead of a straight pole with a flag or pennant, I wanted a cross bar on which would hang a large banner.
I use the equivalent of florist's wire. In fact, most of my wire is scrounged from the occasional bouquets of flowers received by family members. I just make sure to strip the green paper coating from it before use. As a result of this, my wire is never straight. A trick I found was to first cut my wire to the length required and then roll it. Yep, just like you'd roll dough flat with a rolling pin, using the same principle I roll the length of wire flat between a metal ruler and a hard surface like a cutting board. Rolling it back and forth, while applying downwards pressure, will soon make your wire straight.
Once I cut and straightened my pieces of wire I then attached the cross bars to the main poles with cotton. I just wound the cotton around and around where both pieces of wire touched and then fixed the cotton with some super glue.
Here's a picture of the finished poles. I now have to work on the banners to attach to the poles.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
The first game we played was Sherlock. I have the German version which is called Der Plumpsack Geht Um. I was lucky enough to buy it on Australian e-Bay from someone in Perth for about $15.00. I think it is the cooler looking version.
Plumpsack is a memory game. Each card is durable and plastic-coated. You lay however many cards you want (we chose 8) in a circle and everyone memorises them. The remaining cards are laid face-down in a deck in the middle.
After about 30 seconds, when everyone's had a chance to memorize the cards, they are turned face down. The player to the right of the current player places the special 'Plumpsack' card in front of any face-down card. The current player then tries to guess what the object is. After guessing, the card is turned over and the object revealed. If the player guessed correctly, the special 'Plumpsack' card is then placed in front of the card as determined by the instructions on the card that has just been revealed.
For example, in the image above, if you correctly guessed the teddy bear, the 'Plumpsack' card would be moved 2 cards in the direction of the arrow. You would then have to guess the pretzel card correctly. As long as the player keeps guessing correctly, and following the directions on the cards, eventually a card will direct the player to a card that is already face up, having been previously guessed correctly. The player then keeps that card which is scored as a point. If a player guesses incorrectly then play passes to the next player. After a player's turn is over all the cards are once again turned face-down and that player now places the 'Plumpsack' card in front of a card for the next player to guess. Cards taken from the circle are replaced from the deck in the middle.
Next we played the old favourite Amazing Labyrinth. We each received 8 cards, with Grandma and myself only able to look at the top card, whereas Maddie was always allowed to look at her top 4 cards. This is a convenient handicapping system that produces a fair game for adults and children alike.
After that, I dug through the game cabinet for an old favourite of mine, Travel Blokus (known in Australia as Blokus Duo). This was one of the first two-player abstracts I bought when I got into board games a few years ago. We played two games. I won the first game 71 points to 66. I also won the second game 77 points to 59 points. Here's an image at the end of our second game. I played purple in both games.
Gobblet. The aim of the game is to get 4 of your coloured pieces in a row. You commence the game with 3 stacks. Each stack contains 4 cylinders of diminishing sizes. The cool thing is that you can put a larger cylinder on the top of a smaller opponent cylinder effectively changing the colour of the piece. I'm still learning the strategy of this game. Grandma, however, picked the strategy up fairly fast and went on to win the two games we played.
Friday, February 09, 2007
I like to attach my 15mm miniatures to popsicle sticks so as to create a stable platform for painting. This allows me to hold and paint the figure without having to touch it. Cheap popsicle sticks can be purchased from the craft section of any dollar store. I simply put a tiny blob of PVA wood glue on the popsicle stick and stick the figure on it. Wood glue dries relatively fast (around 30 minutes) and, when I've finished painting, allows the figures to be removed quite easily.
The entire army glued to popsicle sticks ready for painting
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I've got three other podracers currently under construction. I'll do an entry on these shortly.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
I've been watching a lot of Red Dwarf on DVD lately. I borrowed Series I-VII from the Brisbane City Council Library. They have an excellent online site which allows you to search for an item, place a hold on that item, and then have it delivered to your local library for collection. All that for only AU$0.55 per item. Unfortunately they don't have Series VIII in stock at present.
So as I said, I've been watching a lot of Red Dwarf on DVD lately. For those of you unfamiliar with Red Dwarf it is essentially a science-fiction, character-based, comedy. I find it one of those rare comedies that can actually make me laugh out loud when I'm watching it. So what does that have to do with gaming? Well, I thought I'd share a scene from Series IV, Episode 6 'Meltdown' in which Rimmer is telling Lister and Cat about a game of Risk he once played.
RIMMER: So there we were at 2:30 in the morning; I was beginning to wish I had never come to cadet training school. To the south lay water -- there was no way we could cross that. To the east and west two armies squeezed us in a pincer. The only way was north; I had to go for it and pray the Gods were smiling on me. I picked up the dice and threw two sixes. Caldecott couldn't believe it. My go again; another two sixes!
LISTER: Rimmer, what's wrong with you? Don't you realize that no one is even slightly interested in anything you're saying? You've got this major psychological defect which blinds you to the fact that you're boring people to death! How come you can't sense that?
RIMMER: Anyway I picked up the dice again... Unbelievable! Another two sixes!
LISTER: No one wants to know some stupid story about how you beat your Cadet School Training Officer at Risk.
RIMMER: Then -- disaster! I threw a two and a three; Caldecott picked up the dice and threw snake eyes -- I was still in it.
LISTER: Cat, can you talk to him?
CAT is sitting with big pieces of cotton wool plugged in to his ears. As LISTER talks to him he takes out one of the pieces.
RIMMER: Anyway, to cut a long story short I threw a five and a four which beat his three and a two, another double six followed by a double four and a double five. After he'd thrown a three and a two I threw a six and a three.
CAT: Man, this guy could bore for his country!
LISTER: What I want to know, is how the smeg can you remember what dice you threw at a game you played when you were seventeen?
RIMMER: I jotted it down in my Risk campaign book. I always used to do that so I could replay my moments of glory over a glass of brandy in the sleeping quarters. I ask you, what better way is there to spend a Saturday night?
CAT: Ya got me.
RIMMER: So a six and a three and he came back with a three and a two.
LISTER: Rimmer, can't you tell the story is not gripping me? I'm in a state of non-grippedness, I am completely smegging ungripped. Shut the smeg up.
RIMMER: Don't you want to hear the Risk story?
LISTER: That's what I've been saying for the last fifteen minutes.
RIMMER: But I thought that was because I hadn't got to the really interesting bit...
LISTER: What really interesting bit?
RIMMER: Ah well, that was about two hours later, after he'd thrown a three and a two and I'd thrown a four and a one. I picked up the dice...
LISTER: Hang on Rimmer, hang on... the really interesting bit is exactly the same as the dull bit.
RIMMER: You don't know what I did with the dice though, do you? For all you know, I could have jammed them up his nostrils, head butted him on the nose and they could have blasted out of his ears. That would've been quite interesting.
LISTER: OK, Rimmer. What did you do with the dice?
RIMMER: I threw a five and a two.
LISTER: And that's the really interesting bit?
RIMMER: Well it was interesting to me, it got me into Irkutsk.