Friday, November 30, 2012

Wizard of Oz Minis: Update #1

I had previously worked on the concept of gaming the Wizard of Oz..  Upon looking up a few holiday themed minis, I found this Cowardly Lion from Victory Force.

Of course, this furry fella is also part of the "Heroes of Oz" set, and while not true to the movies or books, they are properly armed to go off and fight a wicked witch and her Winkie minions.

Take off the submachine gun off the Tin Man and I found my man.  I love the steel helmet on Dorothy, although I would prefer a separate Toto.  And $15 for a set nowadays is a steal.

The rest of the Storybook Wars figures aren't too shabby, either.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

We're All Part of the Gnomish Space Marines

As I mentioned earlier here, I was looking into distant hypothetical campaigns to work on in the event that a close group of gamers could be assembled. I had set up the poll to let you, the honorable gnomie fanatics, have a voice in my life.

I should have know it wouldn't even be close.

And so onto compiling the ideas again for the Gnomish Space Marines (GSM).

In my desire to have a poll, I completely forgot about Olley's Armies Scrunts.  Off the book Squats that are still cheaper with shipping from the UK than Squats are on eBay.

And when the product can look like this:
Why wouldn't I want to try them?

Those would be the stormtroopers the GSM would be fighting against.  PCs would probably start a mixture of Scrunt Rangers and whatever Squats I acquire. And if finances turn around, I might be able to pick up these before the production run ends.

Scrunt Inquistors and Psychic Warriors.  Nice "real' villians if I'm not using discount aliens minis.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hasslefree WW1 Russian Dwarves Production Pics

I hope I had mentioned at some point that Hasslefree Miniatures had bought the right to Bob Olley's WW1 Russian Dwarves he had sculpted.

*quick search* Ooh, I didn't. Oh well, consider that first sentence the first piece of news. The second is that Hasslefree posted some production pics on their Facebook page, and boy, is the range ambitious.

A vast array of figure types, two different heads, and cavalry? Don't be confused by that "mounted officer pic" but Cossack hat on all of them, and we have something as equally terrifying as any German Bunny or Japanese Komodo Dragon Cav charge.

While those aren't on their  website quite yet, their Kindred (WW1 Halflings) are:  for more info.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Saturday was our SATLOF (Saturday After Thanksgiving Left Over Feast). Everyone brings something, our buddy (and host) Nate cooks a giant turkey, and copious amounts of alcohol. We even have a trash can punch where all alcohol must be bottom shelf and in plastic containers.

SATLOF is most importantly a time for friends to reconnect. It's important to note that gaming is the common factor among those I associate with at this shin-dig, from high school (Scott and Wooly),  through the comic book shop days (Phil), to the main college contingent, and even the present, with Scott's girlfriend Bridget, who experienced my GM madness at the Labor Day picnic.

With that common ground, gaming ultimately takes center stage. We've played Talisman, Apples to Apples, Risk, Zombies!, Red Neck Life, and others over the years. My personal favorite has always been Drunken Diplomacy, but alas, it never got out of the van.

This years entry into the SATLOF Hall of Fame was Cards Against Humanity.

I need to pause a second, because just thinking about this game makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

And that's not essentially a bad thing.

Take the initial concept of Apples to Apples, add the multiple versions of fill in the blank,  and add plenty of fecal,urine,and sexual jokes, and you have the basic idea of the game.

The tamest winning card selection was for "Alright, I admit, I killed _____, you wanna know how?  By _____."

 "Alright, I admit, I killed the American Dream, you wanna know how?  By Hulk Hogan."

With other cards like Homoerotic Volleyball Team Photo, Panda Sex, and Pretending to Care, you can see how the things can degenerate.

If the green card in Apples to Apples was "Cheerful", and you toss in "The Holocaust,"  this game is for you.

I so can't wait to see what sort of search results bring people to this blog after the last two sentences.

Anyhoo, even with the kiddos running amok, I did get to spend Hsome time with my friends Hoyce and Adam, catching them up to the Call of Cthulhu campaign, becoming flabbergasted that Hoyce is running a superhero game up in Boston, and discovering that the two of them are working towards moving back down into Pennsylvania.   Professor Bowsfield and Smitty may make appearances in the game, and not as NPCs!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Small Business Saturday.. of Death!

I know the whole promotion is primarily sponsored by American Express, andit seems devoid this year of but the barest of grassroots efforts, but the concept of Small Business Saturday still rings true.   After dealing with the capitalist overlords who open stores for Black Friday before your cranberries even reach your small intestine, it's nice to support those people who choose family over a few late night dollars.
If you have a local comic shop, game store, video game boutique, etc, stop in and buy something,even if it's the smallest thing.  That even goes for those of you who have local dumps pretending to be such stores, it's the holiday spirit, let's hope your purchase spurs a cycle of growth and development for them.  Hey, that philosophy works for political parties.

If you don't have a local store, shop online and shop direct.  Avoid the amazons, rpgnow, and drivethrurpg sites, go directly to the company website, spend $5 more for retail than save on shipping and order something from a company you love.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Poll: RPG Campaigns to Work On

After a short hiatus, the nightly walks with Pokey have resumed and my mind wanders to new and exciting pipe dreams.

This week's crazy idea is actually finding a local group, Mountain Top/Hazleton area preferably.  If I could find a group that plays on weeknights, does something outside the  3/4/Pathfinder mentality, and would let a new recruit run a game, what game would it be?

Welcome to the new poll.

"Home"  Polynesian Fantasy with a twist. The first batch(es) of characters would be zero-level kids who have just completed the first ritual to becoming an adult.  Human-centric, with new options opening up  as new races are introduced.    I would be using a slimmed down version of Hackmaster "Basic Hack", plugging in the Call of Cthulhu skill system. Or in a pinch, I could use Basic D&D, I'm not shackled to a house rules system.  I have considerable research and time invested in this one  Startup would take a number of days to a few weeks.

The City-State of Kathad:  What if you suddenly realized that your civilization was "lost?"  Would you help others find it?  Figure what's keeping everyone else in the dark.  Is your newfound clarity of mind turn into a reverse insanity, threatening the safety of the people.  Same basic system setup (zero-level humancentric, Basic Hack or Basic D&D.)

Secrets of Novez:  In a world where the Ghostbusters movies were reality, ghosts are commonly accepted, but other things that go bump in the night aren't.  And with the price of proton pack malpractice insurance, many people claim to be investigators (without licensure).    Using Call of Cthulhu.

The Gnomish Space Marines:  Back in the days of community college, when TWERPS ruled the Earth, I did a sizable amount of research combining TWERPS, Laserburn, and the parody song "Gnomish Space Marines" from Dragon Magazine.  I could color it far more gripping, but the layman's version would be Squats/Gnomes kick ass in a universe darker than Rogue Trader.  With this one I would use a modern version of the Laserburn minis rules with some role-playing expansion. I would also make this one minis heavy, as it's a perfect excuse to live crazy and start collecting Squats like I wanted to twenty years ago.

Retro Talislanta:   Talislanta is a foreign enough concept, yet simple enough game to garner interest.  I might use the 2nd edition rules (they're the cheapest on eBay).  Best yet, no elves.

Gladiator Pit-Arena:  Very similar to something run by Savage Timmy, set up stables of gladiators and duke it out, perhaps with some under the area intrigue.  I still have a pile of gladiator minis screaming to be used.

The Legend of the Burning Trogs:  2nd Edition AD&D/Hackmaster styling in a traditional campaign.  The group slowly learns of the betrayal and revenge of the Burning Trogs and will be able to exact vengeance for them in a way my old splintered group can not.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Apathy of New Releases (December 2012)

Ah, the winter doldrums are upon us.  Despite a captive winter audience, January and February are horrible months for sales, even with new items.  Even if there is a "can't fail" item, ordering during the holiday sales spike always makes stores over order once they finally arrive.

Now, if there is one thing that the folks at Alliance did right for the December issue of Game Trade Magazine, they filled another lackluster month with "offered again (O/A)" items already in the catalog.  Unlike the other items with questionable release dates, the O/A items are available immediately to shore up the holiday inventory, and hopefully entice the handful of people who read GTM into making a purchase.

So, here we go:

Want List:  Nothing

The Money's No Object List: Sadly again, nothing

The Store List
LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS CCG: EMPEROR EDITION GEMPUKKU  - new set  $5 boosters and $25 starters.  I'm getting old and cheap...
LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS CCG:  HONOR & TREACHERY  - new how to learn set  $24.95

Army Painter:
Basic Tool Kit:  $24.99  - 8 tools at $3 a piece.  Cheaper than GW, at least.


Decision Games:
Folio Series:  Little Bighorn, Battle of Britain, and Britannia in Afghanistan. $12.99 apiece for 2-player wargames.

Freeblades Skirmish Game:  Haven't seen anything about this, but it looks like a fantasy skirmish game with bounty hunters, outlaws, and small bands of invaders.  I question pricing when a base figure is $6 and a mounted one is $8

Dream Pod 9
After seeing the demos at Mepacon, I'm quite certain that these items are overpriced.  I'll stick with Battletech.

Deathwatch RPG  Ark of Lost Souls  $39.95
TALISMAN: THE CITY EXPANSION  $39.95  - that might be fun.

Ten different mods, one printing compatible with Sword and Sorcery, the other with Pathfinder.  $8.99 each is appealing for players, but how does a store order these?  Very carefully.



Spartacus Publishing
LUCHADOR: DISCIPLES  OF THE NORTH  - Canadian Luchadors?  $14.95

Studio 2
Hell on Earth Reloaded  HC- Deadlands Future World for Savage Worlds    $39.99

Troll Lord Games

Twilight Creations
Zombies!  Roll Them Bones  $14.95

Warlord Games
 All of the Warlord items are listed as "PI" (please inquire), meaning retailers will get a less favorable discount than their standard.  Not good if traditional historical wargaming is to grow beyond the 40k-ish of Flames of War.  Still, two items of note:

BOLT ACTION:  ASSAULT ON NORMANDY  20 Americans, 20 Germans, and an abandoned farmhouse. 8 order dice, and a Bolt Action rulebook.
The set is $92.00 (zoinks!), but it the rulebook itself is $35.00, the figures are a little over a buck apiece, the dice are $12.75, and the remainder can be justified by the abandoned farmhouse.  Steep but convenient. Gotta remember that there is no such thing as a $60 starter set anymore.  Inflation doesn't allow it.

From their Pike and Shotte line, the Polish Winged Hussars:
A double zoinks at $41.00 for 8 metal figures, but at $5.00 a fig, that's still far better than a Warhammer fig, and the Hussars are just as elaborate.

Both items are already available.

D&D Shattered Keep Map Pack $11.95
Magic is the one item that violates the "try not to go overboard."   Barring a blizzard, if your store sells Magic regularly, you will rarely order enough, unless you have secret investors.

Batman, Superman, and Spider-man TabApp sets.  Heroclix that can use an iPad for play?  Intriguing.  Aren't they shrinking the next iPad, though?


Z-Man Games  - A bunch of O/A items, probably to promote their exclusive agreement to distribute them. Nothing exciting without a promotional article or two in the magazine.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Judges Guild Holiday Sale

There's not much that's caught my eye this month, and with the considerable amount of Mr Mom duty I've pulled this month, if if doesn't involve crayon on the walls, I'm not paying much attention. This, however, warmed the chilled cockles of my heart and looks worthwhile.

Judges Guild (yes THOSE guys) have announced a sale on their PDFs through , some of them under $3.00!

Now, I've owned, but never played a large quantity of their stuff. Both their D&D and their Traveller stuff was chock full of useful information. I still have at least one old mod that is saved for the day I hit the lottery and can reunite the Burning Trogs and complete their unfinished business.

The sale runs until the New Year (if we get that far, mwahahahaMayanshahaha).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

(Review) Wee Little Garden Gnome

Its been a long while since we had a random gnome review on Gaming with the Gnomies. That all changes with the Wee Little Garden Gnome.

If it looks like a random kitschy item you find in numerous display cases in stores across the country, you would be right. I snagged this up as a gnomish impulse buy at From My Shelf Books up in Wellsboro, PA when our family visited in October.

This box contains three items: a three-inch garden gnome pictured on the box cover, a tiny 32-page book, and bubble wrap (to protect the gnome, it is some form of ceramic and fragile).

The book, written by Allison Trulock in 2005, is a little informational packet of the traditional and modern myths of gnomes, focusing on the beloved garden gnome.  The history portion is interesting, and probably the basis for the Garden Gnome wikipedia page, even for 2005 I hope it's not the opposite.    They also cover the "friends and foes of the garden gnome," ranging from the Gnome Liberation Front, to drunk college students, to snooty neighborhoods and garden shows.

In the famed 5-Gnome Rating System, I give Wee Little Garden Gnome three gnomes:

For $6.95, it's an impulse buy for the gnomo-phile in your life. I don't know where the box and book will end up in a house with two kids and a ravenous pooch, but the mini garden gnome gets a spot of honor on my desk at work, where the book recommended.  

The bubble wrap, I'm sorry to say, didn't even make the ride home. for more information.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mepacon Fall 2012 Review

I have survived Mepacon! Or better, I survived to get to Mepacon.

I had decided that I would be attending just Saturday, but first a few chores around the house.  After getting the recycling to the township center, I packed up the car and was about to head out, as I spied our Lab, Pokey, running through the woods behind my neighbor's place.   I had left the gate barely open and he had sprung himself.  Ninety minutes later and a change of clothes/deodorant, Pokey was in my grasp and I was finally on the road. I missed the start of the morning session, and with it the chance to play the boardgame Oh Gnome You Didn't.  If there was any positive for the bad morning, I managed to snag an extra twenty cents out of the automatic toll booths on the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike, one of them a pre-WW2 nickel!  The other thing was I was able to go to the morning paint-n-take.

Normally my buddy Tom runs the painting session. Sadly, Tom had to go to work, so his buddy Brian took over. On top of the normal assortment of paints, there was a full set of Flames of War paints.  The remaining minis are a collection of old reaper, miscellaneous Ral Partha, and many free donations, many from me.   I have accumulated a small collection of painted Reaper dwarves from previous cons. 

The tables were swarmed with the under-15 crowd painting elves and the like, but I found one of the treasured donations on the bottom of the mini case:

It has three types of armor on it, including a chainmail cowl, so it wasn't until I primed it that I realized it was a heavily armored, pig-snout orc crossbowman.  I'm assuming it's 70's Essex, based on the other figs with it. The Flames of War paints were mediocre at best.

After finding a few friends we went over to Damon's for Guinness and wings.  We came back staggering and I grabbed my pile of stuff for my game, then jumped into Formula De.

Big board, fast cars, and thanks to a few wipeouts, a big win!
Attendance seemed consistent with previous cons, even if the organized play room looked to be missing a table:
The dealers were the normal bunch:  The Portal from Bethlehem, the Keep, Conjure Game Works, author CJ Henderson, and a new entry, K Studios. I don't know who decides it's a good idea to bring nothing but Mage Knight figures to the con, but this new fella did, and overpriced (in the minds of most con goers) at that.

Event-wise, I again proved that I'm not the demographic. Lots of D&D/Pathfinder in the main gaming hall, with sold out L5R and Eclipse Phase games to round it out. Despite awesome support from Paladium, none of the scheduled games went off, as did the new edition of Shadowrun.
#2 auction perhaps the one appealing feature of the con is the famed Dollar Auction, where everything starts at a buck. It's a great way to purge your gaming collection, and a better way to expand your collection, sometimes with utter dreck. Certain items are designated as charity items, the full proceeds going to the Scranton rescue mission.
The dreck of the auction was quite apparent: stacks of books, and more turn of the century computer games than one should be allowed to play. The gems were quite noticeable as well: a signed copy of Kobolds Ate My Baby (charity), a Space Marine army (2 tact squads, terminators, and a dreadnought - charity), a copy of Samuari Swords, a Blood Bowl 2nd edition with custom made pitch, and an entire set of all of the Buffy RPG hardcovers.

I won none of that. My bottom feeding netted me a party game, a pair of Vampire books, and some other random stuff for $7.

This is as good time as any ti discuss grumpy old gamer syndrome. Perhaps it's my status as elder statesman at the con, but everyone confided in me their deepest gaming gripes, and beyond. "Wah, no one will play in my games?" "Wah, why won't our friend show up at the con?". "Wah, why aren't things like the good old days?". "Wah, home builders won't build and it's all Obama's fault. Who am I, Dr Phil with a d12?

The Auction Table
The Auction Table - All Proceeds Went to the Scranton Rescue Mission
I threw in one of my Mouslings into the miniatures painting contest to ensure the minimum number of entries for individual fig(didn't win, oh well).  The best filled category was under 15, thanks to the paint-n-take in the morning.

The Barkeep in the front was the winning entry.  The irony is that I donated that mini to the project five years ago 
The evening slot was my game of Burning Plastic, as requested.  Unfortunately, some of the people requesting didn't make it to the con this, and my buddy Larry had done his normal auction tradition, get completely faced at the bar while the rest of us picked up crap. There were three players for the King of the Hill game.

I wasn't going to make things to difficult, it is Burning Plastic after all.  Seize the hill in the center, take control of the howitzers and scout floaters, and wreck havoc.  Each side had four airstrikes, so significant dice chucking continues.

For those not familiar with Burning Plastic, the army men represent robots with limited CPUs and a strong desire to self-destruct. The airstrike rule is perhaps the one favorite rule, and a use for those radio operators in every pack of soliders.  Designated a spotter, if that figure has another figure in its range, the player may grab a six-sider, take two steps away from the table, and chuck it at the figures.  Anything on the table that is hit by the die, friend, foe, or other, is destroyed.

The basic battle was underwhelming.  The robots had a better chance of failing a morale check and self-destructing that hitting a fellow robot.  The airstrikes were more than effective.  Whole squads were wiped out, plus the hills in the center were taken out (I did mention anything hit by the die is destroyed, terrain included.)   Out of 93 figures that started on the board, only were left when the game ended.  I'll try for a higher casualty rate next time.

The Spoils of War
Not to much excitement in the purchasing front. Outside of the auction finds, I only snagged up two new books from CJ Henderson and Mouse Guard Fall 1152.  Even with the expansion of the dealers, there just isn't any expansion of product outside of D&D/Pathfinder and boardgames.  It was good to here that The Keep was expanding into minis, but many were smaller companies with higher priced figs. I'll give them a chance when everyone returns to Mepacon Spring 2013 (XXIV) on April 12-14 still at the Ramada in Clarks Summit.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mepacon, I will be in you soon!

Tonight I must wander through the garage and assemble all the pieces needed to run Burning Plastic at Mepacon tomorrow night.

It should be a righteous day. I'm going to see a lot of friends I only see twice a a year. The dollar auction should be a blast. There will be a good number of dealers and hopefully some good deals. The biggest surprise is that I might actually play in some games, rather than sit around!

I went with popular demand to choose my game this time, and I think it worked out beautifully. There would. be no way I could prep a wargame or a new rpg scenario with the madness of my life. Perhaps, Cthulhu Comes to Springfield, but that's filed away, ready in a moment's notice. With Burning Plastic all I'll need is some time to sort out the green army men, and possibly make a few photocopies.

Of course, with the con AAR, I'll explain why I tried to clear out the local dollar store of boxes of checkers for the game.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fall-in, Power Out, and Badass Gnomes

It's been a long week for those on the east coast. It doesn't matter if you got out of Hurricane Sandy unscathed or are those in New York City planning a version of Thunderdome, it's been a week of survival, rather than work and gaming.

Here at the Viscount Eric Estate we had no problems, outside of 40 hours without power, just about the same time we had with Irene (link).

Elsewhere, damage was greater such as Jugular Josh's relatives:
Trees may fall, but garden gnomes live forever!
My mother's house, the center of many years of gaming, suffered the loss of one the 60+ year old evergreens, also creating a giant speed bump on the road:

The pre-storm weekend was filled with generic arts and crafts plus one gaming related one. I present, after much gnashing of teeth and piles of glue, the pirate ship Jake and the royal tugboat Lady in Waiting.

A drink carton, construction paper, toilet paper tube, a straw, and lots o glue. I found this in some parenting/Better Homes magazines while waiting for my mother-in-law to get out of surgery a while back, but the nurse called me to let me know she was out of recovery and I never
actually got to look at the instructions. Not a problem, until I tried to put together the mast. After putzing around with the first one, I decided a steamship was a better choice for the second.

This weekend is Fall-In! in Lancaster. I wasn't going before the storm, and it was the best decision. The exterior of the house is okay, but we're still trying to get things to normal inside. I won't see the gnomies for an entire year, although I did get some strange drunk texts late Thursday, but I won't divulge details. Hopefully everyone has fun.

Upcoming: The plan is to get some painting done, possibly eBay goblins, I've got to assemble the Burning Plastic game for Mepacon next weekend, complete with a trip to theDollar Store. Finally, I've got to finalize our next Cthulhu game. Time to have some fun.