Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Out with 2013 - In with 2014!

2013 has come to pass and it is time to reflect on a few things about the hobby and look to the future. I have noticed that I am moving in a new direction over the past two years now away from the fuel of GW into the land of other types of gaming. Better games, cheaper games and more fun. That is not to say GW games have not been fun, but with several of their changes that I dislike in the game and how they are as a company has not instilled me with the loyalty that I once had to the company as a consumer.

Plus the start of the year was rough with my mother recovering from having a brain tumor removed and I lived a life of hell at the hospital for over a week to be there for her. Then at the end of this year, my wife’s mother passed away that has caused the holidays to not be so great. Still, this is about going forward and making lemonade from lemons and sipping that refreshing sweet, yet tart taste of life.

I did my first Kickstarter in fall of 2012 and received it in July for the Reaper Bones I outing. A fun and very worthwhile pledge yet the Reaper Bones II was a bit more money driven to mine more cash and just threw out a bunch of junk I could care less about. I pledged a $1 this time around, I hoped to pick up a few items but with our budget in the crapper I may not be able to due to lack of funds.

2013 saw a few new Kickstarters hit the table including:
- Crossover Miniatures 2: Rusty did a snap job and delivered on time. I would back him again. Looking forward to round 3 this year.

- Games and Gears: I pledged for one of their Battle Boards, the city textured able at 28mm just looks like it will be a huge timesaver and the cost with shipping over the pond was a great deal. Their prior KS they delivered on time, so let’s see if they stick to the schedule.

-Winter War: Gav got the fight of his life with this kickstarter and the huge success of the fans of WW2 gaming (and great timing as two systems were dropping Finnish/Soviet lists). I am watching mixed progress here and looking forward to getting my minis.
The major setback for Gav so far is the casting machine going bust over the holidays.

- Robotech: One of my earlier pledges and perhaps my largest (up there with Reaper Bones I) to date. A great deal was offered but the setbacks of the timeframe have been rather disappointing. The minis look great (of the few previews) that I have seen so far. My bet on this one is at best the end of spring and more like May/June before we see any actual product. Things are just going slow and I fear that the models are going to be great but the rules and testing may not be well thought out. I hope I am wrong on this one.

- Guardian Chronicles Super Heroes Board Game: This game has me very excited but also the setbacks on this has also been disappointing and already behind the timeline also for delivery. The concept of the game, the mini concepts and such are amazing and a great value for the $160 package. I will give Iello credit that they DO LISTEN to their fans and have done some great steps as thanks for the support including some free bonus figs and upgrading the dice once people saw that they was not engraved (but printed) that made people rather upset. I am much stoked about this game, reminds me of the Freedom Force video game (that oddly I am playing the squeal right now Freedom Force Vs the Reich).

2014 appears to be filled with a future of Super Hero Kickstarters including Pulp City (slated in late January), Crossover Miniatures 3 and the prospect of Supersystem 3 getting revamped and put in print! I think with this in mind, I may put some money aside (or save in Paypal) to use for these in the future.

Bolt Action reflections:
I picked up the book right around the first of the year and grabbed up the German sourcebook. I started to work with others to pull a gaming community together of players and generate interest including running some events at Suncoast Skirmisher game day in Tampa, organized several local gatherings joined the Warlord Sarge program and setup Salty BayCon tournament that had a small attendance of 8 which isn’t bad for a first outing. Since then two LGS have started to offer tournament games that has resulted in between an average of 8-10 for the most part, we had two with bad attendance but that was the timing of the year for other things (one was Halloween weekend).  

2014 offers a new year and with all the major powers and the two minor books we will see a series of books about various theatres such as the Pacific (should be next) and Armored Platoon rules with extra tank goodness. I hope to make Recon this year as it appears that this and Crucible will be my gaming cons for the year. I also look forward to getting the French done and on the table and the Finnish underway and on the tables soon enough!

Other Games:

Strange Aeons: I did no gaming this year, painted some Reaper Bones and Uncle Mike’s stuff including my entries into the Brush-off 2013 this year. Didn’t win anything this year, but last year I did get second place! Always next year! I do want to get into the Cult of the Black Goat to get the t-shirt and free figs for life (of the company) and pick up some of the new goodness. I really enjoyed this game, but it is a hard sell to new players for me.

Old West Gaming: Shoot and Skedaddle was purchased in 2013 along with the rules, cards and counters (may get more counters soon). This is a developing game still but has some great elements that I like such as quick one off games as well as campaign play. I also have Legends of the Old West and Rules with No Name to play with as well. I may pick up Dead Man’s Hand in the future as I hear great things about it. So far, I have about maybe 2 dozen figs left to paint but no real scenery. Something I may have to tackle in 2014!

Super Hero Games: A small surge of interest has hit with a friend passing off a large number of HeroClix figs that I have found uses for. I got Supersystem 3 a little over a year ago (close to 2) and started to pick up figs from Crossover, Reaper, Pulp City and Supersystem. I painted some and then got unfocused, so they sat to the side waiting. Now with tease of Supersystem 3 getting revamped and a second set of rules Super Force Seven in draft format I am very excited about this. Combined with the new table (that I need buildings for) this could be a great year of Super gaming!

Pirates: Well, so far I cannot find a good system outside of Legends of the High Seas. I have kicked around messing with the concept of Shoot and Skedaddle to adapt over for Pirate games which I think would work well. In my recent cleaning of the hobby room for the New Year I found myself wanting to paint my pirates, get some ships done and play some games. Oh scenery also!

Post Apocalyptic: I have a case full of almost 50 figs, I bought the After the Horsemen and Wastelands 3 (free rules) and had a small surge of interest and some good trades that helped me build up a nice collection but no forward progress. While both rules set are decent they are not sitting well with me, I may adapt the system again like I may for the pirate gaming.

Judge Dredd: I may start demo games for this to get some credit for free stuff. I got a gang from a fellow gamer online on the blog circles and when I got the rules for free they looked great. Then Warlord took over making the minis and redid the book! Yea! Looking forward to getting the book and playing soon! Just need some scenery but the new city table should add to the gaming environment also! One of my friends already has a Judge gang and I have some of my Ape gang almost done. Thinking of another gang, but not sure what: BritCit, Robots or the crazy insane Cal Judge and his group could be a blast. With my supers and zombie stuff I have enough to do a zombie horde or vigilante already.

Goals of 2014:
My friend Lee wants to do weekly painting, which I like as you can be social, show off what you are doing and inspire one another as well as BS about things.  I was thinking of instead suggesting a painting night every other week and gaming on the other week. I want to paint more and game more plus the mix up makes things fresh. I plan to call it the League of Extraordinary Painters and Gamers. I figure if we don’t have an event we are going to that week we can still do a small gathering and play something.

Projects for 2014:
Reduce clutter in the hobby room (sell stuff or toss)
Paint my Robotech figs (when they show) and try the game out.
Paint my Guardian Chronicle Figs (when they show) and play the game.
Paint my Games and Gears City Table!
Paint more Super Hero figs and play some Supersystem 3 games!
Finish painting my French and play some games!
Paint my Finnish Army (when it starts to arrive) and play some games!
Finish my Ape Gang and start a second gang and play using the new rules!
Finish up the remaining old West Figs before buying more.
Play Shoot and Skedaddle
Paint more Strange Aeons figs and play some games!
Give X-Wing a try! Been interested for a long time!
Give In Her Majesties Name or Ronin a try!
Attend two events this year (Crucible 3 and Recon)
Do weekly (if no other plans) League of Painting and Gaming
Demo more Bolt Action, Demo Judge Dredd (perhaps)
Learn to Airbrush better (practice)
More Blog updates and articles on various things like review and product features.
Make/Buy Old West, Modern City, Strange Aeons, Robotech, Pirate, WW2 and Judge Dredd scenery!

Wow, I need to win the lottery! Hah! Lofty goals but hey that keeps me on my toes! I hope everyone has a good New Year and a great hobby year as well! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Appreciate the good moments as well as the bad ones. These past two years have been a hellish Christmas. Last year my mother was in the hospital trying to survive brain surgery after a large tumor was removed, just an unreal experience. Now, this year my wife's mother passed away just recently. There isn't a great deal of joy going around right now and everyone is just blue and not festive. 

So, take a moment to talk to your loved ones, appreciate the moments and find those good memories because you don't know when they will be gone. Make the most out of everything in life. Be safe out there and enjoy the holidays! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bolt Action: Early War French Update - Alpine Chaussers

Finished the Battle Honors Alpine Chaussers squad for my French:

Judge Dredd: Ape Gang Update

Finished of a few of the Ape Gang I am building:

From Boiler Suit Apes: Pistol Packing Ape and Brains

Orang sniper

Ape with crowbar from boxed set also

Ape with minigun from Pulp City Line

Herclix repaint and conversion.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Movie Review: Saints and Soldiers

Bored last night, so I selected a random war movie and got a nice treat...I do advise to turn on the caption (like I did) to be able to understand what they were saying, often things was a bit quiet and hard to hear which is my only complaint. I think that was part of the "art" of the movie.

Saints and soldiers.jpg


The plot is pretty simple, 4 Airborne POWs managed to avoid getting killed when they get captured and things go wrong. They managed to rescue a downed British pilot that has intel that must get back to command. A medic, sarge, sniper and grunt escort the downed British flyboy to safety. There is a small tone of religion to the movie as the sniper is a Mormon and the medic an atheist that has an interesting character development in the movie.  It's not a high action movie, but rather several quiet scenes with a few action/combat elements mixed in.

Two Kickstarters I am watching! Great looking game boards.

Again, I did a bad thing and got near Kickstarter! My wife agreed to allow one for a Christmas gift, I am selling some stuff to make space and get some cash for add on goodies and perhaps the other Kickstarter as well.

The first is this one:


The mats are made from mouse pad material, full color, easy to store (roll up) and high detail printed with a variety of themes. Namely for us the green and alpine should be the two big ones...at $95 and free US shipping is always a plus. Plus they are water resistant as well.

They so far have green and barren wasteland, I think the city just opened up and Alpine and Barren Wastelands are on the way, so these are great for any game needs of any genre. I am thinking the Alpine or Green, still a 4x4 may be a sweet option also for smaller games I play.

The other one is a bit more different in options but includes a 10mm (Great for Dropzone commander and Robotech), another city table for 28mm, a demon world, a spaceship (Infinity and Warhammer) and a copplestone one that is great for Steampunk and European WW2 or Victorian games. They are made out of plastic 2x2 tiles...


Nice example of the cobblestone.

This is the city one I am getting for my Christmas gift! Great as this works for Super Hero and Judge Dredd as well as sci fi gaming!

The nice thing about this one is it is plastic, stores in 2x2 sections, configs in different ways, you can get dice and storage trays for paid extras and the price is $101 US on special  now (about 100 or so early birds at 62 british pounds)

In any case, we are seeing evolution of gaming tables, no more MDF toppers and bulky tables. Just unroll or clip your table together!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving wishes!

I figure Vader is a white meat guy based on how he is carving!

Be thankful for everything you have, sometimes we take things for granted or think we are not blessed enough and we always yearn for more. That is human nature, to always go forward and gather all you can. Just don't forget what you have achieved so far.

I hope everyone has a good holiday. While mine has taken two turns, my new job prevented me from traveling up to see my family in Alabama. So, my wife and I was going to make food for her family this holiday. Sadly, her mother is in the hospital. So, we adapted again plan to cook over the next few days and enjoy the harvest of what we have. When you have lemons, make lemonade. Things will work out, we just have to keep focused and positive. 

May the Force be with you! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 23rd Bolt Action Tournament

Chris and I loaded up to head down to play some Bolt Action at the Darkside in Sarasota. Alas, Lee could not play but did make it down to buy a few goodies at the store, hang out and did eat some breakfast with us before we played. Good Amish food is always a good start!

I brought a mixed bag list that had mixed results....fancy that!

2nd Lt with 1 man with Assault Rifles (Reg)
2 Volks Grenadier Squads of 7 with 2 rifles and 5 assault rifles. (Inexp)
1 Pioneer Squad with flamethower, 5 men (Vet)
1 Grenadier Squad x7 w/ SMG NCO, squad rifles and 2 panzerfausts (Reg)
1 Truck (Reg)
1 Sdkfz 7 Halftrack (to tow the heavy howitzer or transport as needed) (Reg)
1 Heavy Howitzer (Reg)
1 Med Mortar (Inexp)
1 Sniper (Reg)
1 Puma (Reg)
1 251/6 (Inexp)
1 Air Observer with 1 man (Rifles) (Regular)

Well, on with the tourney...

4 Warlord Sarges in one spot!

My first round opponent, forgot the gents name but is a local to Darkside and a Japanese player. 

We got the mission Top Secret and we got to play on the nice bombed out hamlet that turned out rather nicely. The Japanese list had no vehicles except for a truck and a few squads all veteran which made for a tough as nails but small list.

The game opened up with a cat and mouse game but then the game slanted quickly in my favor as I was able to take out the Japanese with some focused fire. The game did get tough when the truck took a hit and blew up with the squad with the objective. I had to wait for another two turns to win near the end with the the forward observers grabbing the objective and running it to the snipers to get it off the table. The Volks Grenaider didn't impress me much as I rolled a 1 for one squad and they took a ton of pins and was useless for most of the rest of the game.

The table....turnedout pretty cool...

And another shot!

Volks Genadier deploy behind a hedge to avoid being shot at.

Sniper takes up position in a burned out ruin.

Mortar team sets up near the road behind a hedge and near a house.

Long shot with Grenadiers on both sides of the officer with the Puma flanking the side.

251/16 roars down the road....

They need a bumper sticker <Burn it all down!>

Volks Grenadier run down a walled area with some drain water in it.

My round three table, the desert airfield that I will play on in the last round.

Mike chats with John while his German opponent plots.

Shot of the German vs American game.

John and Tom....Sarges at large! 

Toms....heavy howitzer for his Japanese. Yes, it was a captured gun from the Soviets.

Tom and I setup our armies we had Demolition as the mission.

The Japanese bunker up in a building opposite of mine.

Tom plots and hopes the dice are kind to him again.

The table....both armies are in a standoff. I did manage to crush a few of his units but Tom buttons down like fleas on a dog and waits for me.

Pioneers get the breaking the line award! They burned down a squad before they met their end.
In the end neither of us could touch the other players objective and it was a clear draw.
I go into the third round with 4 people in the lead for possible 1st. I get John and his  Alessio style American list....


Snipers setup in a trench...

Observers hide among some crates.

John proud of his airstrikes. You may notice while he celebrates I was giving him the #1 salute! (all in good fun of course) Let's not bring up those two other airstrikes that both was 1's and I bombed the hell out of two of his infantry units and also nailed his howitzer with  my airstrike. Wow, two observers is VERY brutal. Yea, Alessio packed on the cheese for this list! Double everything!

In the end I lost to John, dice was kinder to him in the end. It would have been a draw if a strange rule was allowed and a howitzer apparently can fire indirect OUTSIDE OF ITS FORWARD ARC! REALLY? I was not aware in WW2 we had guided shells in the war! 

In the end it was three good games with a 1-1-1 record with an untested list for the most part. Never played it before. Chris and I tied for 3rd place and we split the prize. Pretty cool in the end...

Kudos to Tom and  John making it down. Mike did a great job at Darkside. 

December may be an off month to relax and enjoy the holidays with January opening up a new year of Bolt Action gaming! We hope to plan a Wounded Warrior tournament in March perhaps as a nice fundraiser.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy 50th Dr Who!

Happy 50th Dr Who!
I have been watching the Sara Jane series to celebrate this event by catching up on stuff I have missed over the years like this and Torchwood on Hulu. Great stuff and I forgot how much I love Dr Who growing up and still do to this day, now if Hulu will post the rest of this season!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thank a Veteran! Never forget!

Never forget the brave souls that have fought for our country and freedom.
 Pause for those that have fallen so we can be free.
War isn't fun and they were there for anything else but, so take a moment to thank them
They gave their time and sacrificed much to protect that which they love.

My family has had a long history of military service and I would like to thank them for their service and time.
Rex Ballinger  (my farther) US Army - Retired
Richard Ballinger (my brother) US - Navy Lt Cmndr.- Retired
LB Gamble (Grandfather) US Army - 29th Infantry - WW2 - RIP

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Oct. 24th and 26th Bolt Action Pics

Been behind posting these up, no real battle reports but I will give you  quick run down on things...

Thursday, Chris and I headed to Anthem Games where we played  full 1k game of Bolt Action with all the trimmings including vehicles. I felt after a few demos it would be cool to let the guys see a game in progress with vehicles running about and other cool units outside the limited scope of the demo game. Chris brought his desert corps British and I pulled out my Heer for an eve of fun before I would open  up demos later on.

We rolled and got Envelopment. Chris was the defender and go a rare win. I tried something different and frankly it just didn't work. I tried to move up one side and outflank on the other. Chris did reserve some units and planned to plug the flank if I popped in there or on the other side depending on what I was going to do. It was close game at first until I rolled a 1 for my Air Strike and lost the Puma! Damm Japanese exchange pilot program!!!! At that point things went downhill, most of it was just some bad dice luck. I also managed to roll two 1's for fuel checks for my flamethrowers and they really didn't do an awesome amount of damage as I had hoped. In retrospect, I could have went at things a bit different but the dice was the real killer for me in the end. We both had a blast, I busted his chops picking on the Brits and lots of the guys was asking questions about the various armies and options. I hope Steve picks up the game for the store, I think it would be a great thing and really put something out there other than 40k and Warmachine/Hordes for people to play.

Here are a few snaps of the game...

Damm Japanese Exchange Pilot Program!

Germans get hammered with pins!

British fortify the right flank (right side for me)

One of the latest tanks in the British motor pool!

Ever see two ones roll for fuel checks on a flamethrower? 

Battle Royal by the end. Chris had his tank, officer and two Gurkas left. I had a Grenadier and officer left when the dust settled. He got a few early pulls of dice that finished the game in his favor. If I had gotten a few dice earlier, I could have ran a few units off the table for a a draw or a possible win at that point!

On October 26th Chris and I headed to Avon Park to play at the Battlezone at their tournament. The regular Sarge there was unable to run the event so I was there to handle things. Sadly, turnout was 4 people including the guy running the store, myself and two players. It appears the weekend before Halloween is just a bad thing, everyone is off ready for parties and such so that really kicked the attendance in the balls. Plus, Ed the owner was in the hospital due to some heart issues. I figure a few guys my have assumed the tournament was called off if there was medical issues, who knows. A few players showed later to hang out. Despite the setback we had some fun games and I matched Chris and Tom up for a duel to get the prize as the other two of us wasn't able to win it really.

I played Tom in the first game with his Marines making debut at the tournament! Wow, this was a tough list with an air observer, a bunch of Vets and I think one regular unit, a pair of howtizers and a Satan tank! I picked Top Secret because the FAQ just came out and I wanted to see how the game would  play out and get some feedback on the mission. 

A tough game is all I can say, we spent the first two turns moving units about trying to setup to get the objective., Tom had a good field of fire while I had a great deal of cover making it hard to get targeted. He got an early lucky strike on my Heavy Howitzer with his Medium Howitzer...I failed my first test to fire on his and I was lucky the next turn to get an early dice and pass a test that allowed me to pop smoke over the next two turns. I  had never used smoke but wow! Was it good, it blinded a great deal of his shooting, the 251/16 started to wreck the other flank with some supporting fire including taking out one Howitzer and the air observer for me taking out his second. I did loose the 251/16 to an air strike also but it had done it's fair shre of damage. In  daring move with the smoke we had some assaults and point blank shoot outs that allowed the Germans to snare the objective and run into  church courtyard to get the win at the end.

Tom....nuff said...

Germans advance.

Marines advance up!

Marines prepare a plan.

Germans advance using the church courtyard as cover.


Die Americans!

Chris and Tom for the playoffs!

One of another armored cars that Chris has done.

Marines advance!