Upping the nerd level

Having a second kid is not quite the mega-shock as the first one, but it doesn’t leave any time for anything at all.  Given my 2 hours per day during my paternity that I’m not chasing after a 2 year old,  I didn’t have  a lot of time at all to read or do anything but sleep, and basically went insane about 4 days ago, pretty much right according to plan.    That said, I busted out some Foundry Old West miniatures that had been sitting on my painting table for well over a year as a means, in half hour stints, to do something other than housework and child-care.  As frustrating and tedious the hobby of painting small toy soldiers is, it really is a relaxing way to span productive time.  You sit, look out a window for a little while, lay some paint, look at it, mix up some blends, look out the window, etc.  Most of my work life is collaborative work, essentially getting other people to actually talk to each other to collaborate, and so working on a project all alone with a tangible, physical result (not a UT3 level or web page) is a bonus to the relaxation.  Oh, yeah, now with 16 Old West miniatures complete as of today, I might actually be able to rope some people in to playing–that is if I can find some terrain.

Here are some shots of the figs.  For my true 28 and 25mm miniatures, I have been entirely influenced by Kevin Dallimore’s 3-color layering method.  I don’t recommend this on the giant 32mm (Games Workshop/ Rackham) at all, but for 25-28MM it is an awesome and effective approach as well as being forgiving if your eyes are not what they used to be.

The Town Drunk
With every batch of miniatures (I usually work on 3-5 at a time) there is one that I don’t spend much time on– just throw paint on and see what happens.  I thought the town drunk would be the one in this group, but it undoubtably was not– I love this model– the face has oodles of Marx bro’s character to it and the stance is just plain silly.  I made the suit all one color– I wanted him to seem very dirty but with some fine clothes on–turned out fairly well.

The Kid
This one is another great stance and face.  I made the mistake of making his hat and cravat green, and his suspenders red at first–and then I dubbed him the Xmas kid–I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made the mistake of combining those two colors.  I changed the hat to black and that solved it.

The Apache
This dude is the badass of the set and I spent the most time on him for sure.  Worked on the pearl handle for his pistol and really worked the flesh in the face to get that scar to show.  All and all a great model to paint.

The Whore
This was a fixed up paint job as I fucking DROPPED the model a few years ago and haven’t really painted since. Getting this one to look nice and get the base redone was key.  I think she turned out pretty well.  Proportionally though, 25-28mm scale doesn’t do well with the female form…

My wife mentioned that she would put miniature gamers lower on the nerd scale than even LARP’ers.

And more Talisman – The Sacred Pool!

Right after our first play of Talisman 4th edition with the new Highland expansion comes the announcement of The Sacred Pool, another small expansion with no board and 4 characters (none of which I could tell by the cover of the box).  Looks like it adds  some more alternate ending cards to throw in the mix, quest rewards (instead of using the Dungeon reward cards when you complete a warlock’s quest) and a few more characters and a new twist: being able to become neutral rather than just good and evil.

As for Highlands– the board is a lot like the Dungeon, and while the creatures are weaker, the Highland deck has a lot of zany movement cards that make a run to the end of board a bit trickier than the Dungeon.  It’s a good expansion but it’s not the City board I’ve been waiting for.  What’s more, trinkets are a great addition to the game, and I hope they incorporate them into the other decks as soon as they can.  The alternate endings are the best and now we have 5 randoms and the Warlock’s Quest as the sixth.  Though the ‘Boss’ ones are boring (fight a 12/12 creature), the rest of them are good fun.  We drew the Battle Royal card to end our game and it was a hoot. The Vampiress, easily the weakest of the three characters left in the fight, had a spell that would have allowed her to win if any of the other characters rolled a 1, but it didn’t happen.*

One thing Highland’s does not solve is that there’s still no use for gold– once you have 4-5 you’ll never find anything to spend it on unless you are really down on your luck with losing lives.  Having a stack of 15-20 is ridiculous but happens quite often.

As for the new characters–we had almost all of them out during our first play.  The Valkyrie isn’t all that great (as well as being weaker than the 2nd edition version), and the Highlander himself is laughable, but the Alchemist, Sprite and Vampiress are powerhouses to be sure.  We didn’t get out the Rogue (who’s 4th edition incarnation now has boobs!).  The sizes of the miniatures seem even SMALLER than the Dungeon expansion– though these were fairly cool sculpts if you can look past that they are less than 25mm and made of some shitty soft un-paintable plastic.  As Talisman is a Games Workshop game at it’s core, it’s sad to see them not putting out a set of miniatures– even if they were cast offs from their other lines.

*Our first Highland game was played with our dear friend John, who Talisman, the entire staff at Fantasy Flight and Games Workshop, as well as the gods of luck at Talisman all hate with a passion that is astonishing to watch– he had 3 characters killed during the game and quite remorselessly at that.

It all seems so unwholesome

Though I knew of Ellis’s writings in high school and college as some random drama books the girls liked, he wasn’t on my radar at all until Glamorama which, being a big William S. Burroughs fan, was right in my wheelhouse and I have gobbled up everything he’s written since (except Lunar Park).   That said, I ripped through the 165 page Imperial Bedrooms over the last couple nights, not even realizing until 20 pages in that it was a sequel and while I don’t remember the Less than Zero movie, I remember even less if I read the book or not.   I think you could get away easily with knowing of the old movie and book and that’s quite enough.  I’m certainly no modern literary critic, but I would compare the writing to McCarthy’s The Road (both are essentially a series of journalistic vignettes) and After Dark, My Sweet by Jim Thompson.  For all the weight of  ‘automatically’ being literature anything Ellis puts out, I found it just a really solid pulp noir mystery novel– with the obligatory scenes of violence, torture and murder all thoroughly described rather than implied as Ellis’s M.O. demands.  Ellis is awesome at creating and maintaining the creeping dread until always delivering with a crescendo of horrific violence and while his characters are people who rarely feel anything at all, he’s greatly aware that his readers have feelings and are both dreading and greatly looking forward to the decent into madness his plotlines roll into.    It was a little short, and since not all of the main characters have been tortured to death yet, I bet there’s another one with this same group– but if he waits 25 years again they’ll all be flaccidly in the old folks home. Good Stuff!

Torchlight MMO info of note

“I will never, ever buy a microtransaction item,” he reassures. “I’m that kind of player. And the game has to be enjoyable for me, too. We don’t want our monetisation stuff to offer ways to skip the game because the game is boring.”

America!

I have to say, except for about 3-4 fouls Ghana flagrantly committed that weren’t called, and the typical Third World ‘throwing themselves on the pitch and bringing out the stretcher,’ the game was very good.  The USA simply got outplayed and didn’t get lucky with any of their shots on goal.  If I could critique the play of our side, I’d say that the mid-game long-balling was simply a waste of time by the goalie and the defenders.  Time and time again the ball was simply handed back to the Ghana side after a long ball, and with very few set ups of worth coming from the defense to the midfield, this was a recipe for disaster as the score sheet shows.   Looking at Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Argentina and Brazil it’s almost as if they are playing a different game than the US team is still, but the US is getting there.

All in all this USA team is by far the best we’ve had and they looked fantastic in most of the games. They’re no longer afraid of the pace, nor the competition at this level.  All of them go all out and nothing like what happened the last time Ghana and USA met where the team captain stayed on the ground ‘injured’ after the ball was stolen from him while flat footed and a goal was scored happened in any of the games.

Rackham announces "City of Thieves"

Rumors of Rackham’s demise are yet again being proved a gross exaggeration.  City of Thieves looks like it picks up where Caldwallon left off, but as board game.  Even if it’s quite bad like Rackham’s last card game, will still be awesome for the miniatures.  Looks like some sort of multiplayer war game ala Necromunda but with more of a board game structure.  We’ll see where the bear shits in the buckwheat with this one after it’s released at GENCON.

Link with more info from Table Top Gaming News.

Two Worlds, One Cup day 2

The USA vs England game went as well as could be expected from the American point of view.  If you count both goals as being sort of flukes, it evens out a bit.  The US goal was on target and you just can’t expect every one of those to get picked up.  Howard for the US was nothing short of amazing during the middle of the second half: especially shaking off a kick to the ribs that left him sprawled on the pitch for a few minutes.  Rooney was again shut down by Howard, and I think he should just give up and not play in games that Howard is in.    Sensless let me know that England was ranked No 3 right now and I was really shocked– we can trust that as good as England looks on paper, they always choke in the big tournaments.  This is their curse for inventing the game.

The other games I saw showed a lot of mediocre play.  South Korea ran a clinic on Greece and France, known for squeaking by with sub-optimal play until the tournament portion, just didn’t have what it took to really even make Uruguay sweat as they should have defensively.

As much as I love soccer, I have been absolutely enthralled with this video of beatings called in a game I’d never even heard of: Australian Rules Football.