Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2017 Hobby Audit (Spending Analysis) Part 3/4

Well apparently the account does not like the beatings.  He ran the numbers again and things did not turn out quite as well as I had thought.  Still there are improvements, mostly.  Off the top of my head, the same caveats as previous years still apply.

Anyway, the spending breakdown:
Modelling Supplies:  15%
Painting Supplies:  19%
Gaming Supplies:  11%
Terrain Supplies:  8%
Miniatures:  42%
Scale:  1%

Other views: 
How much of the total spending was on kickstarters:  <1%
How much at conventions:  25%
How much FLGS:  Kinda lost track and don't feel up to backing it out.  Not significant though.
How much toward things that are getting to the table: 24%

The account swears by his numbers and it turns out my initial estimate of only going over budget by 5% was wrong.  He says it is more like 17%.  So, not as great as I had hoped but still a reduction from last years 23% over budget numbers.  Once again (making 2 years in a row) modelling and painting supplies took a pretty major hit with the purchase of my second hobby lamp (this one for my airbrush area).  It also looks like I got a little carried away at Adepticon.  But there was a major shift on kickstarters, getting it down to "noise" level! 

In truth, the money spent toward things getting to the table may be optimistic, since we have already seen how many hobby games I can manage to get.  They are all things that are pretty solid for the local group, so I am going to stand behind those numbers for now.

Explanation of categories, if curious:
Modelling Supplies - Includes items for assembling, miniature storage, etc
Painting Supplies - Includes paints, brushes, etc
Gaming Supplies - Need it to play the game, or it helps.  Includes tokens, cards, rules, etc.
Terrain Supplies - Anything related to terrain or the making of terrain
General Hobby - Things not related specifically to a particular aspect, like gaming/hobby magazines
Miniatures - Take a guess
Board Games - No hiding miniatures here!  Imperial Assault goes under Miniatures.
RPGS - Bet you can guess this one too.
Scale - Scale models/Non-gaming models

Up next, final thoughts.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Tale of Four Gamers - Company of Iron, My Week 1

So, taking a break from my 2017 Hobby Audit, I've decided to touch on and provide a week one update of something I'm involved in for 2018.  My buddy Mike over at Mini Mayhem, along with Derek at Throne of Angels have dragged me into a Tale of Four Gamers.  Mike is documenting the overall effort and what not on his blog, so if you are interested check it out.  As we intend to play at Adepticon, this will count as my "paint something for Adepticon" goal.

So for this first month of the Tale, I foolishly decided to go for what will be the only unit in my force:  Protectorate Exemplar Errants.  Tackling these guys first would hopefully give me plenty of breathing room to work the remaining force in parallel to other projects I would like to be working on.  So, straight off the bat on January 1st I jumped in.  And I jumped in the deep end.  I figured by the end of the first week, I would have everything assembled, cleaned, primed and the white completed.  And this is where I got:

They may look dangerous but just get out of their peripheral vision,
they can't turn their heads side to side.
Yep, just barely got to the assembled and cleaned (debatable) state.  And that alone took a herculean effort.  There are a lot of things I want to "say" about these models but they are not very nice words or comments.  I just can't resist at least one comment though:

Nice, "nubs" for slotting into the figure!
See those 2 red circles, indicating the "nubs" to be slotted?  Look at the figure and tell me where to slot them?  I kinda figured out, albeit to late, that the scabbard one is "supposed" to fit on the belt right behind the left thigh armor.  And that was really the problem with these figures, a lot of "supposed to's".  In fact, in a fit of rage and desperation let's look at what did not get attached:

Hmm, yeah we don't have time for this BS.
Yes, some are spare/extra parts but most are not.  This is a very dysfunctional group of soldiers.  Four have decided to drop their shields and pull their crossbows.  While the other six thought it was a better tactical choice to drop their crossbows and pull their sword and shields.  Who is in charge of this chickenshit outfit!?  Oh wait, I guess that is technically me...

The best part, I am thoroughly convinced that these guys will only perform if painted to the highest standards humanly possible.  Otherwise, they will just roll over and somehow die during deployment.  I'm sooo looking forward to the quality time I get to spend with these a-holes.

Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 Hobby Audit (Goals Failed) Part 2/4

Let's just jump right in, the 2017 Hobby Goal failures:

Specific Goals:
  • "Weeks having played miniature games > 12"
    • Sadly I ended the year with only 8 weeks where I actually played a miniature's game.  Lots of real life conflicts interfering with the bi-weekly game days coupled with the groups obsession with Frost Grave (and my disinterest in Frost Grave) limited my ability to get many games in.  Needless to say, this is trending in the WRONG direction.
  • "Weeks having played board or role-playing games > 20"
    • I am dumbfounded that this is such a hard goal for me but I ended the year with only 8 weeks where I played a board game (most of which were with my daughter).  There is a weekly Wednesday lunch group at work that plays board games.  The problem is, I'm that hard pressed to get my hours in at work with 2 kids now.  That being said, my daughter has managed to help me get a few games in.
  • "Read more books => 12"
    • Ah, this is embarrassing.  I read no books this year.  I just never really found myself with the free time to read.  I even tried audio books but there is an adjustment period, IMO, with them that I just never managed to get past.  The baby certainly did not help this, and usually when I found myself with enough free and quiet time to do this, I gravitated to my hobby desk.
  • "Paint something for CMON Expo"
    • Well, since I decided fairly early not to go to CMON Expo I did not bother to paint something up.  Honestly, the "gap" between Adepticon and CMON make this a tight deadline for me, compounded by usually deciding not to go.
  • "Painting something for NOVA Open"
    • Well, since I decided fairly early on that I probably would not make the NOVA Open I did not bother to paint something up.  Regardless, I should have still painted up my Blood Bowl team so that I can have it ready to play Stu if I ever make it back there.
  • "Paint up 1 (of my many) Dungeon Crawl type games."
    • Well, I gave this one a shot with Tail Feathers but it just did not help that I enjoyed the project.  Granted, I think I will enjoy playing Tail Feathers with my daughter.  I just don't enjoy painting these models up, so I got distracted every chance I could.  I finished the year with 2 birds, 5 bird riders and 1 solo still left to do.  
General Goals:
  • Oh the infamous "Don't buy more miniatures than you paint."
    • Nope, did not happen.  Sadly 77 models bought is probably at the lowest I have every been but I only painted about 36 models.  Still, compared to years past this is a pretty big improvement.  Also, keeping this goal in mind waved me off of a lot of purchases that I do not regret.
Overall, given the goals that I did achieve, I don't think it is to bad.  Other than reading no books for the year.  Ugh.  Yes, I certainly intended to get more done for the year but I was also dealing with a newborn.  Next time, my 2017 spending analysis.  

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 Hobby Audit (Goals Achieved) Part 1/4

So before I get to sorting out my hobby goals for the New Year, I always like to take a look at my hobby "performance" for the year just ending.  You can find the original post of my 2017 hobby goals here.  As the name of the post implies, I'm starting with the goals achieved:

Specific Goals:
  • "Weeks having painted/assembled/hobby'd > 30"
    • I do not have an exact count, because it has become so frequent/normal that it does not register that often.  I can only imagine a couple of weeks were I did not do any hobbying whatsoever.  So I am going to unilateral say it was about 45 weeks that I "hobby'd", so goal achieved.
  • "Paint something for Adepticon"
    • While I intended to convert and paint more than one Hot Wheels model for a vehicular combat game, technically I only needed one for my planned events at Adepticon.  You can see it here.
  • "Start my Super Secret Modelling/Painting project"
    • Oh boy, I cheated because this project was my vehicular combat project.  There is an over arching theme to the project, the car above being one of the first.  Yeah, I should have done more than one by now but I'm throwing myself a bone.  Funny though, it may have been another project that I have not shown off on the blog, yet.  I can't remember but I have started that one too, so either way it is a win!
  • "Stay within budget"
    • The early reporting from the account says I was only 5% over budget.  He was beaten until he promised to re-crunch the numbers, but needless to say I am going to count this as a win because 5% is not bad.  At least its not bad for me...  You should see the numbers for 2013/2014.  Oh my...
General Goals:
  • "Reign in spending"  
    • This spans a little beyond just budget in that it covers "what" exactly I am buying and why.  See the original 2017 Goals post for more details.  Overall I did a bit better in this regard, with only a few lapses, and I am happy with how it turned out.  I went a little off the rails at Adepticon and I may have gone off the rails with the Fallout Minis Game pre-order, but that would be it.  I'm giving myself a thumbs up on this.
  • "Less kickstarters"
    • Oh hell, I knocked this one out of the park!  I only backed one kickstarter this entire year!  Granted, I backed it because I really wanted to support the person's effort and not so much with the intent to play the game.  But still...
  • "Paint more, including finishing some of my incomplete but started painting projects"
    • Ok, I did paint more this year.  Approximately 36 models (yes, it is sad that is more but it is still more!).  Oddly though, I never worked on my incomplete but started projects.  Hmmm.
  • "Find my painting 'center'"
    • I think I have actually come close to this.  I'm starting to approach a speed with a corresponding result, that I think I am happy with for a tabletop quality.  Yes, there are still things I need to do better, or learn how to do period, but I think by the end of the year I was achieving a pretty good rate.
Overall, I am really happy with the 2017 goals I achieved.  A little less so with the goals that, I now realize, I failed (next post).  Ugh, some of them make me feel a bit embarrassed...  We will cover that next time.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

December Recap

As expected the holidays did not play very well hobby related items.  I did manage to get a bit of hobbying done by making some progress on the birds for Tail Feathers.  I will try to get those posted up soon, but alas I will be short of my goal (to paint up the whole box set) by the 5 corresponding bird riders and 1 solo character.  I came close and the hobby retrospective for the year is actually looking pretty good, well except for games played.

I did not manage to get many games played for December.  In fact, all I did manage was a batch of games on Christmas, all games I had bought for my daughter from Christmas and played with her:  Q-bitz, Battle Kittens and Purrlock Holmes (can you tell she's a bit obsessed with cats?).

Anyway, I will start to post up the hobby retrospective/analysis and 2018 goals over the next week or so.  Have to compile a bit of data and go back to see exactly what my goals were.  LOL.

Oh, yeah there was some nice/exciting loot to be had for the month:  In addition to some choice Christmas gifts was the arrival of Mythic Battles Pantheon in the form of 2 large coffin boxes.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 8, 2017

November Recap

Wow, this post is a few days late but good news, I got a few games in for the month of November!  Thanksgiving presented a bit of a wrinkle with family commitments and just adding to the general chaos of my life but I still managed.  So, what did I do?

Well, I discovered a member of the local gang had bought into the new L5R and was excited to play.  We managed to meet up twice, learn the game and play.  The first was just a beginner game with the suggested Crane and Lion decks.  The second time we came with our own constructed decks where I proceeded to see my Unicorn clan get smeared all over the table by a Dragon deck.  Note the big tournament reporting so far has shown Unicorn is vastly under represented, hinting at an overall weakness in the current meta - so maybe it wasn't my "fault" although I am sure I contributed to it to some degree.  I do have to say, I am very impressed with what FFG has done with the game.  Many of the glaring issues (IMO) from the old system have been addressed with this version but it seems maintain a lot of the feel (not necessarily all of it though).  Now just have to try to build out from the two of us and maybe find a different clan to play for awhile.

Beyond that, I played a game of Pulp Alley with Mike from the Mini Mayhem blog.  He has a very nice scenario set up for the game, of course beautiful miniatures to use, and now even has beautiful terrain to go with it.  As my first game of Pulp Alley, it was a positive experience of the game and I liked some of the things it was trying to accomplish via the complications(?) deck.  Now Mike just needs to whip up the next scenario in the story arc!

I also tried out Shadespire with one of the locals (the same guy as L5R).  That was pretty interesting but left me feeling a little unsatisfied.  I'm not sure as to why, but given how quick and smoothly it plays I would be willing to try it again.  Not sure I would ever buy in though.

Other than that, I continued to hack away at my latest project.  That did seem to suffer a bit during the month as at one point I had only managed 1 hour of painting during a 2 week span.  Not good considering other projects seem to be pilling up (Company of Iron, Aristeria, and the neglected remaining Tail Fether minis).

The big question is will I manage to get anything done in the month of December.  If Thanksgiving causes such chaos, I can't even describe what Christmas does to my hobby time.  At least it is getting cold, which tempts everyone in the family to hunker down inside. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Rules Review - Daisho

The last of my "planned" reviews of Samurai Skirmish games is Daisho.  That is at least till Saga 2nd edition, with a Samurai expansion comes out (if it comes out, I believe I spotted a samurai miniature in their teaser video).  Daisho rounds out the available skirmish sized games that I know of for the Samurai genre.

It is a ruleset authored by The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare who also authored In Her Majesty's Name (IHMN) published by Osprey.  In addition to that they have a dark ages ruleset called Blood Eagle and an expansion to IHMN called Gothic.

It should be mentioned one of the highlights of reading these rules is Section 1.6, The Golden Rules.  An excerpt:
  • "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of sensei."  Which goes on to state, if there is a rule that you and your opponent dislike, then change it if all players agree.
And covers things like respecting your opponent, conduct, etc.  I guess it should be expected from guys that call themselves "The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare."  

Scale of Game:
The rules for Daisho recommend 200-250 points as a good starting level to get to the know the game, after which you and your opponents can agree on a point level for future games.  Note, I said opponents as the game accommodates 2+ players.  Referencing a couple of example warband lists in the rules, the Ronin list weighs in at 240 points with 6 figures and the Clan Patrol list is 300 points with 8 figures.  Both lists contain multiple samurai.  Unfortunately, the rules do not provide an expected game length for playing at various point levels.

Standard Rules:
Before really jumping into the standard rules/mechanics of the game, like it's sister game In Her Magesty's Name, Daisho offers 3 levels of play:
  • Basic - This levels lacks Ki, Magical Powers and weapon qualities and is meant more for the historical players.
  • Heroic - This moves the game slightly beyond "historic" but not into magical/fantastical realms.
  • Legendary - Everything.
I will note up front that the game does not allow for (unless you and your opponent agree to change it) pre-measuring.

Daisho uses what I am going to called a "Phased Alternating Activation" system, by that I mean the turn is broken into multiple phases which are completed by all players before moving on to the next phase.  The highest initiative roll (d10 + highest leadership in their warband) goes first at the beginning of each phase, then the next player goes and so on.  These phases include:  Initiative, Movement, Shooting and Fighting.

Attacks are resolved based on the model's corresponding stat (Shooting or Fighting) + the weapon modifier +/- other modifiers (cover, etc) + d10 vs the target's armor rating.  Achieving/exceed the target's armor rating is a hit.  In both cases of shooting and fighting, a model can split its stat into multiple attacks albeit against different targets.  Ie, if a model has a 4 Shooting it could shoot once at Target A only using 2 Shooting and a second time at Target B using the remaining 2 Shooting (all other modifiers still apply).  Also included are rules for combined attacks, allowing weak models to group up to fight difficult targets.  Fighting includes an option to try to disarm your opponent.

When a model is hit with a successful attack, it must immediately make a Karma roll which is modified by weapon used in the attack.  If the roll is less than the model's Karma stat it is out of the game (unless it receives medical attention) and if the roll is equal to the model's Karma stat it is knocked down.  And if the model is taken out of the game, the attacking model immediately gains 1 Ki which is used to activate Ki powers.

You gain honour (using "their" British spelling) points throughout the game, totaled at the end to determine the victor.  Hounour points are gained based on Objectives defined by the scenario, the social caste of models killed, reputation, survivors/prisoners, beast/magical creatures and anything else specified by the scenario.

Any rules beyond what has been mentioned are fairly typical/straight forward.  There is a noticeable absence of a morale mechanic but maybe the intent is that is abstracted into the Karma roll.

Other Things:
Daisho provides full capability to build your warband how you want to.  This includes armor and weapon point costs, as well as a robust selection of skills/ki powers, and magical powers.  These combined with the base point costs of the model's stats determine its total point cost.

The game also provides a system/framework for campaigns.  Campaign systems can often be pretty tricky to pull off and often can be abused, with no real way to evaluate them until playing through them (sometimes multiple times).  That being said, what is offered here in Daisho looks really good and is fairly flexible.

The game provides a nice, diverse set of scenarios for games which include search and recover (with 2 setup options), rescue/capture, vengeance, breakthrough, assassination, outpost defense, plus about 10 more.  This already adds a lot variety to individual games but you can augment that further by adding a "complication" to the scenario.  This includes things such as sacred grounds, fog/mist, civilians on the battlefield, twilight, plus many many more!

And going a step further the rules suggest typical landscapes across Nippon that would be suitable for your battles.  This is not something I would really consider "necessary" but it is a real nice touch that I am not sure I have seen any other game do.  Of course, it does cause me a bit of anxiety in thinking "I gotta build all this!"  Note, I'm not saying you "have" to build this to play Daisho.  I'm just saying "I HAVE TO BUILD ALL THIS" (in a good way... sort of... mostly...).

Honestly, I don't have any major concerns about the game, only a couple of minor ones.  The first of which is availability:  I held off on reviewing Daisho for quite some time because I did not want to shell out the money for a hard copy of the rules, at the prices and shipping I was able to find.  But I finally found a e-copy of the rules at a very affordable price here.  And at less than 100 pages, it would not be terribly expensive to get this printed off/bound nicely at Staples, esp since the e-book is very printer friendly and can easily be done in black & white.

I guess that kind of brings up a second "concern."  There are no illustrations/pictures in the rules depicting gameplay examples.  There are detailed written examples throughout the rules however and because of this I never found a situation/rule complicated enough to warrant a visual illustration.

There is also some minor record keeping with whether or not a model has moved/ran.  And the "phased alternating activation" could make record keeping a little more difficult.  Honestly though, the game is potentially such low model count that I'm not sure these things need to be explicitly tracked and there is likely a slick way to do it.

I find my feelings toward Daisho a bit odd, it is based heavily on the IHMN ruleset by the same authors.  I actually read those rules this summer to get a feel for what Daisho would be like, since it was easily available from Osprey via Amazon.  The reading of IHMN caused me to hold off on acquiring Daisho until now because I was not impressed with it.  Maybe I am in just a good mood now or maybe my taste have changed since then (there have been a number of wargaming concepts that I am, maybe, shifting my views on) but I really like these rules.  They offer everything I think I was looking for.  Of course, I can't really say that until I have played a few games but this looks like a very solid contender.

I will eventually get Daisho added to my list of games of this genre on the Samurai Skirmish page.  It is definitely worth trying out and is now the top of my list.