Thursday, November 26, 2015

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Welcome to Khaliat Min Bus!

(A small village in a desolate land)

I finally finished one of my most challenging projects of the year. 

This North African village was one of the largest items I purchased during my Enfilade! "fly-by."

Available from Ray Sam's Fine Architecture, via Monday Knight Productions, the resin-made village consists of six buildings on a large base.

(A top-down view of the village)

After spraying on the primer, I painted the entire model brown.  Then came the challenging part:  painting the doors and windows on the individual buildings, some of them set maddeningly close to each other.  There were some spots I ended up re-doing three or four times.

Once I got to the point where I was satisfied with the paint job, I was more than happy to start the flocking.

I stumbled across some very fine sand among my stash of flocking and used that for most of the base to represent the streets and alleys.  To represent adverse terrain, especially on and around the hill, I used a variety Gale Force Nine's small, medium and large sand flocking.

(A look at the hill an the various grades of sand flocking)

I wanted to add a splash of color other than various shades of brown and khaki, so I added grass to represent weeds clinging to the shaded areas of the village, along with a walled garden using meadow grass.

(A garden among weeds, sand and rocks)
 Since this was an involved project, I wanted to give my new-found village a name. 

Originally, I was going to go with a "dung theme," like I did for SAGA Welsh warband, which became the centerpiece for The Chronicles of Culhwch y Drewllyd.

Using Google to translate words and terms, the village was initially going to be Jamal Hall Qry, or Camel Dung Village in Arabic.

But after reading some Star Wars related material, and thinking of a desert setting, I was reminded of Obi Wan Kenobi's comment about Mos Eisley in Star Wars:

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

So my village went from being Jamal Hall to Radi Khalia, or Wretched Hive.

But I didn't like how it sounded.  I thought it would sound better if "Khalia" came first.

When I plugged the word order change into Google, I came up with something slightly different:

Khaliat Min Bus, or Hive of Wretchedness.

I liked how this sounded, both in Arabic and English.

(An Israeli squad enters the village.  What will they encounter?)
 Now that my village is painted, flocked and "properly named," I like the versatility of Ray Sam's work. 

Khaliat Min Bus could conceivably be found in any era, or on any desolate world--maybe even in a galaxy far, far away...

(Reinforcements arrive to investigate Khaliat Min Bus)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Honest Trailers - Star Wars

With less than a month to go before The Force Awakens, the folks at Screen Junkies has provided us with an Honest Trailer of Star Wars "...the first one..."

While this Honest Trailer is an amusing look back, I hope The Force Awakens meets, or better yet, exceeds our expectations.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Product Review: Axis & Allies WWI 1914

Years ago, I played a few games of Axis & Allies (originally part of Milton Bradley's Gamemaster Series).

I enjoyed both the original game and the new versions produced by Wizards of the Coast.

But I've held off on buying any of the World War II strategy games.  The miniatures, especially the War at Sea, are another matter.

Anyway, my wife and I made another trip to a second Half Price Books store on Sunday before Veterans Day.  In the game section, I stumbled across a copy of Axis & Allies WWI 1914 on sale for $50.

I hesitated on buying it because the box top had quite a divot in it, which often happens when you stack smaller and heavier boxes on a such a large box.

Despite the divot, I decided to buy this game, primarily because I had a 50% off the most expensive item coupon.

And I made sure this was the most expensive item my wife and I bought.

There was one of the later versions of the World War II game, Axis & Allies Europe 1940, available but I wasn't interested in that.  I felt a Risk-style game of The Great War felt more "appropriate" somehow than any of the World War II versions.

Besides, I only had one 50% off coupon.

The only thing cooler than getting a $69--$145 game for $25 would have been if I purchased it at 11 AM on November 11th, "...when the guns fell silent."

As to the game itself, Axis & Allies WWI 1914 gets a good review, 7.18 out of 10 stars, on Boardgame Geek.

There are 8 storage boxes for each of the factions representing the Allies (5) and Central Powers (3).  It took me less than two hours to do some additional bagging.  Not having to punch out the cardboard counters also helped. 

The only issue I have with the playing pieces are with the cruiser and transport ships.  Their thin, and with my copy they're slightly bent, which I don't think is due to the game being second-hand.  This makes these vessels more likely to "capsize" on the playing board.  The larger battleships are wider and therefore more "sea worthy."

I haven't played this game yet, and want to before the 100-Year Anniversary of the Great War comes to a close.

Hey, I'm lucky if I get a chance to play a handful of games per year.

Anyway, since I don't have any experience yet on playing the game, here's Neptune Underground's First Look at Axis & Allies WWI 1914.

Well, good, bad, or indifferent, I'm happy to add this game to the handful of Great War naval games I own.

I don't know if I'll by any more World War I games.  For now, I think I'll steer clear of the "mud, blood and poetry" of the tabletop trenches.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Product Review: World War Z, The Boardgame

I'm not a fan of horror, but oddly enough I like Zombie Apocalypse-style games.  I currently own most sets of Zombies!!!, the Last Night on Earth, along with a few expansions; and All Things Zombie.

So when my wife and I were out shopping last weekend I snatched up a copy of World War Z The Game by University Games.

The map is a Risk-like version of the world used to regulate the player's movement and the spread of the Zombie Plague.  The cards and cardboard playing pieces are decently made for the type of game this represents.  The rule booklet is only a half-a-dozen pages, so the game can't be too complicated to learn.

What irked me though was the Parcheesi-style tokens the players are suppose to use.


University Games couldn't think of something cooler to represent the players?

This isn't the only problem with the game, but I don't feel like wasting blog space about it.  Here's Mitch Lav with a scathing review about this game in particular, and movie tie-in games in general.

Overall, World War Z couldn't even get past the half-way point (5 out of 10 stars) in terms of ratings.

The raters on  Amazon were somewhat more generous giving the game an average rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

Despite the low opinion gamers have of this movie tie-in game, I'm rather happy with my purchase.


Well, for two reasons.

First, I often buy boardgames with an eye on using them for something other than the game itself.  In this, case World War Z would make a good campaign map, or situation map, for any of the Zombie Apocalypse games I mentioned earlier.

Second, and most important:  I found the game on the Clearance Shelf at Half Price Books--for $3.  Make that $3.29 with sales tax.

Hey, $3.29 for a poorly designed game?  I've spent far more than this on dumber things.

World War Z is currently going for anywhere between $5 to $16.99 on the Boardgame Geek Marketplace; or $7.77 to $32.54 on E-bay.

There are 0 bids so far, I might add.

But no matter how cheap you buy it on-line, you'd still have to pay for shipping & handling (S&H).

Best to troll through discount stores, or keep an eye out for gamers having garage sales.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pigsty or Hill Fort?

I found several of these pieces at one end of Monday Knight Productions' 6 millimeter (mm) figures on display during the final hours of Enfilade! 
Or at least I thought they were among the 6mm figures.  I didn't have my reading glasses on and I assumed they were medieval hill forts. 
When I started painting them, while wearing my reading glasses and using a stand-up magnifying glass, I began to wonder if they were any type of fortification at all. 
As I applied the burnt umber for natural wood, light brown for cut, or trimmed wood, and with a final splash of brown wash, these pieces began to look more like animal pens than defensive positions.
What compounded this mystery was I couldn't find the exact model on any of their website pages.  While this is most likely due to "operator error," the closest link I could find was to 28mm, Dark Ages pigpen
The pieces I have, however, are smaller and cost half as much as the pigpens listed.
Anyway, at 6mm along with aging eyesight, who's to say a pigsty can't fill-in for a hasty defensive position.
Besides, in light of this past Veterans Day, many combat veterans would probably tell you they're one in the same.

Another thing I finally got around to noticing was that three of my pieces were identical.  So instead of dousing them grass flocking, I made one with autumn foliage and the third with winter snow.
For the dirt and gravel, I used Gale Force Nine's fine gravel flock, which still looks large when used for 6mm figures.
Here's what one of them looks like place in front of a back drop:

A close-up of Fort Pigsty:

A company of men-at-arms, (circa 13th Century I think), approach Fort Pigsty:

Fort Pigsty's new garrison: 

A garrison close-up:

 Well, no matter what these pieces are really suppose to be, I enjoyed painting and flocking them and like how they turned out.
An aside note: 
For the past several posts, Blogger has been aligning my posts in the center.  No matter how many times I go back to a post and re-align it to the left margin, once I hit Save and Publish, the site re-re-aligns my work back to the center.
At this point I don't know what's causing it, or how to correct it.
I apologize if you find my center-aligned posts annoying
I certainly do.

Monday, November 9, 2015


(Medium tents, two bases with a front view and one with a rear view)

As a tribute to this upcoming Veteran's Day, I thought I'd post about a subject many veterans are familiar with:  Tents.

These 6mm variety of tents on bases, were made by Sven's Sculpts, via Monday Knight Productions.

(1x medium tent and 6 x small tent bases, side view)

I purchased three bases of medium tents, and three of the 1 x medium tent and 6 x small tents during my Enfilade! fly-by.

(The same 1 x M/6 x S, bases with a front view)

The tents were painted khaki, while the openings were painted black.  I painted the bases brown, but added fine gravel flock from Gale Force Nine.  

I think the term "fine" to define the gravel is in relation to larger figures, such as 25mm (millimeter), because the flocking looks rather large for 6mm.

Well, large or fine, I guess the trick is not to look at these too closely.  I chose gravel over grass assuming the areas around each tent would be heavily trafficked.

During my brief sojourn to Enfilade, I didn't see any bases with the Sibley Tents, otherwise I would have picked up a few of those as well.

(A mountain camp manned by men-at-arms)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Power Station or Shield Generator

(Even a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" needs to get its power from somewhere)

Up until I caught a cold several days ago, I've been slowly chipping-away at my pile of figures, buildings and terrain pieces.  

Just before I came down with my cold I managed to finish four sets of buildings.

The first here is a 6mm (millimeter, or 1/285th scale) resin power station made by Monday Knight Productions, which I bought during my "fly-by" at this year's Enfilade!

(A look down at the generator turbines)

I painted the structure several shades of grey--just not 50 of them--along with a few additional colors for highlighting doorways and windows.  I added what little I had left of my Ash Waste Flock from Gale Force Nine, to add some texture to the base.  To highlight the stonework on the building, I applied a brown wash.  

I chose brown, because being a novice at this, I'm still having trouble applying black.  Every time I've applied black, I end up turning the entire figure black. 

So I didn't want to take a chance with my power station.

(A look down at the operations/maintenance building)

While the good folks at Monday Knight call this a power station, who's to say this can't substitute for something else, like the DSS-02 shield generator used by the "rebel scum" on Hoth.

The trick for the owning players will be to keep the facility from meeting the same fate...

(Image from:  Star Wars Wikia, Battle of Hoth)

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Best Halloween Treat of 2015

(Image from:  Starbucks)
We thought we were prepared for the onslaught of trick-or-treaters this year. We had a Costco-sized bag of candy with nearly 170 name-brand chocolate treats in it.

And we ran out.
Part of this was due to the assumption we made that the bad weather we were experiencing would deter many of the trick-or-treaters (heavy rain, with flood watches and warnings in effect).  So instead of handing out one itsy-bitsy piece of candy, we handed out two.  But the trick-or-treaters kept knocking on our door and we were running out of candy--fast.
But even when I limited the candy give-away to one piece, we were still rapidly approaching candy bankruptcy.
After I handed out the last morsels, I resorted to handing out Starbucks cocoa packets, about 2 dozen of them by the time the last trick-or-treater knocked on our door.

And you know what?
The cocoa, which was the salted caramel flavor, turned out to be the most popular treat.

Kids would run back to their parents squealing in delight, "I GOT COCOA! I GOT COCOA!"

I'm guessing we had over 124 trick-or-treaters. My wife's daughter had 318 come to her door (she actually counted).
Maybe next year I'll just hand out cocoa packets.
(Image from:  News&Views)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

PNWA 2015 Workshop Review #13: The Five Stages of Editing

(Image found on:  The Smell of Books)
This "Lucky 13" workshop was the last session I attended during this year's writer's conference.  Normally, I'd try to post this within the first few weeks afterwards, but this year's fire season was a doozy.
At least I finished before the year was out.
Let's face it, every manuscript needs a little editing...

(Image, Peanuts by Charles Schulz, found on The Word Nest)

...okay, maybe lots of editing.

Anyway, this workshop was hosted by A.C. Fuller, who provided a succinct presentation on how to edit more effectively.

Editing is an essential part of the writing process, and since writing is art, and art comes from...

(This image was used by Fuller in her presentation, which I found on Passages North)
...well, never mind. 
Just remember there's no correct way to edit.
So apply what works for you.
But one of the issues that holds us back from editing our work is procrastination.  This "creative avoidance" comes in six flavors:
1. Feeling overwhelmed.
2. Feeling of rebellion.
3. Lacking motivation.
4. Fatigue, or lack of focus.
5. Fear of the unknown.
6. Perfectionism.
Fuller suggested using the following Five Stages of Editing to overcome your inner critic.
(Image found on Lighted Path Coaching)
These are:
1. Relaxing.
2. Reading.
3. Restructuring.
4. Rewriting.
5. Refining.
After the introductory material, Miss Fuller explained each stage in detail.
 1. Relaxing
Take time off from your first draft.  How much time can vary.
This will give you an opportunity to look at your work differently.
However, don't stop writing.  Just write other stuff.
2. Reading
Read your book from cover to cover.
You don't know everything on what your book is about while writing the first draft, so you could make some additional discoveries.
a. How to read your book
Read in a different format in order to trick your brain.
Read having a pen and notebook handy so you can jot down notes.
Read fast!  Don't get bogged down in editing details yet.
Be realistic about your first draft, but don't get discouraged.
b. Reading notes/what to look for--
--plot holes/info holes
--incomplete scenes
--weak characters
--scenes or chapters that are too long
--inconsistent flow of the story
--areas to improve on characters and conflict
The lowest priority at this stage is checking for typos or grammatical errors.
Also, do not try to fix anything yet, just annotate what needs fixing.
3. Restructuring
This is the most important stage.
This is where you put the book together.
a. Plan your first revision
Write a list of edits on your notes.
Organize your list of edits from the biggest issues to the smallest.
Have faith that making your edits one by one will improve your book.
b. Restructuring includes--
--Moving scenes, or changing chapters around.
--Adding/deleting chapters, or scenes.
--Rewriting characters.
--Rewriting portions of the story line.
--Significantly lengthening or shortening the story.
Keep in mind, you may have to go through this stage two, three, or multiple times.
4. Rewriting
Enlist the help of beta readers.
You want the readers to experience the flow of the story.
A common mistake is that writers often skip Stages 1, 2 and 3, and start the editing process at this stage
Try to learn your own writing tendencies.
a. Common problems, or tendencies--
--Passive voice, which leads to 15% longer sentences.
--Over use of "it was," and "there were" constructions.
--Word repetition and mixed metaphors.
--Thought repetition and redundancy.
--Telling instead of showing.
--Shifts in point of view (POV).
--Vague writing.
b. How to rewrite
--Read out loud.
--Use your computer's search function.
--Get others to read your story.
--Hire an editor.
And now we finally come to where a lot of folks think the editing process starts...
5. Refining
This is where we fix the typos, grammar, style and check for consistency.
So that's it for this year's PNWA 2015 Workshop Review. 
I hope you enjoyed these, best wishes to you and your writing endeavors!