Thursday, 8 September 2016

RECENT READING


My last post was in March, which is rubbish. Painting commissions have left me with little downtime, and in truth, I've had nothing of interest to say. I am, however, attempting to make more time for the blog and I've even created a Midnight Studio Facebook page.

A friend of mine recently recommended the Union Series of novels by Phillip Richards to get an idea of what 'hard' sci-fi combat may look life, and I've just finished 'C.R.O.W', the first of the four book series.

The author was/is an infantryman in the British Army, so he knows a thing or two about front-line action. His experience really shows. The main character is a recently recruited grunt in the dropship infantry and in C.R.O.W we follow him on his first campaign, against the Chinese on the planet New Earth. The novel scores big with its accounts of combat, which are both visceral and terrifying. Forget about soldiers safe in their bunkers and spaceships as they remotely activate drones and other crew-less killing-machines. Here the focus is on the infantrymen engaged in nasty and very bloody in your face close combat with other infantrymen.

I would recommend C.R.O.W to anyone who wargames sci-fi. Lots of gaming potential in the novel. I've just started reading 'Lancejack', the second novel in the Union Series.


Saturday, 26 March 2016

A confession


Once again, apologies for not posting sooner. Been very busy with commissions. That said, I have had some downtime to think about new projects. Top of my wishlist was Napoleonics, despite this being a period which I've always avoided when it comes to collecting and painting. As I sat surrounded by ever increasing lead and plastic mountains, I've always told myself I'm not in too deep since I've avoided the Napoleonic period. Yes, I have my hobby under control! I'm not hoarding ridiculous quantities of unpainted miniatures because none of them belong to that beastly era. And no, I'll never buy or paint them - that way lies madness. Trouble is, its become increasingly evident to myself that I've been living a lie. I actually do play Napoleonics using my friends 15mm collections, and to add insult to injury, they are usually hugely enjoyable games. In fact, some of the best games we have. Damn, I really want a Napoleonic army! Even worse, I can't help but admire Napoleon.

So, where to start? My first decision was to be sensible, and to that end, I've settled on the cheapest and easiest to paint option - the excellent range of 3mm Napoleonics by Oddzial Osmy. They offer the potential to recreate the grande scale of Napoleonic battles. My second decision was to find out more about the period, and to that end, I stumbled on the Napoleon 101 Podcast by Cameron Reilly and David Markham. I've been listening to the freely available episodes whilst painting, and I'm enjoying them greatly whilst learning lots of new stuff. Admittedly, I know next to nothing about the period, but the podcast seems a good intro. Check it out:

http://napoleonbonapartepodcast.com/#section-about.

I'll let you know how I get on with my foray into Napoleonics, but in the meantime I'll leave you with an image of the man who still seems to divide opinion like no other.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Time flies!

It's been a long time since I last blogged. Christmas, New Year, and having to paint lots of zombies for customers have kept me away. I'll try harder to ensure more regular posts. Talking of zombies, I received Zombicide: Black Plague a few weeks ago from last year's Kickstarter. I've only briefly looked into the box, but my first impression of the miniatures was positive. Detail looks sharper than with previous Zombicide games and the survivors are an interesting-looking bunch:


I can imagine both survivors and zombies being widely used for other game systems. They are relatively cheap and probably paint up very nicely. Please let me know if you're interested in purchasing some of these painted miniatures.

This new year has started as last year's ended - with my best laid plans not surviving 'first-contact-with-new-shiny-toys', that well known phenomenon which has baffled many generations of psychologists. Some months ago I did an excel spreadsheet populated with the periods and rules I'm interested in gaming (no sniggering please!). I said to myself that this spreadsheet shows the totality of my hobby and that any new entries would see me burn in hell as a weakling succumbing to temptation. Then along came the second Forged in Battle War and Empire Kickstarter. I confess to never being a big fan of ancients and I hadn't gone in for their first Kickstarter. However, this time around their lovely 15mm miniatures caught my eye and my mind turned to collecting and gaming Rome's War with the Dacians:



Needless to say, I signed-up for the Kickstarter. The War and Empire Beta rules look excellent, although its going to be a tough choice between this system, Sword and Spear, and Simon MacDowall's Civites Bellantes.

No doubt this month will bring along fresh temptation. I'm especially excited by the expected launch of Polyversal, a 6mm sci-fi mass combat game using miniatures from a number of established manufacturers:


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Beyond the Gates of Antares - first impressions

I have started to read the Rulebook for Beyond the Gates of Antares. Whilst I haven't yet worked through the rules, or indeed played the game, I have read the background material, neatly organised at the back of the book, on Antarean Space, the Seventh Age, and the different factions you can play. First impressions? The Rulebook is certainly beautifully produced. Its overall design is attractive and the page and chapter layout adds to the book's readability. The text is nicely supported by illustrations and photographs, allowing you to get a sense of what the different factions look like, and although more illustrations of support vehicles would have been beneficial, this being a new game clearly limits what can be included. The book is also well written - although typos remain - making it a pleasure to read.

I found the background material immersive, leaving me with an itch to know much more about the Antarean Universe. Many Sci-Fi universes exist in our hobby, and the extent to which a 'convincing' background helps a gamer choose one game over another is a question worth asking. For me it is important to get a sense of how the forces of different factions reflect the distinctive societies to which they belong, important that these forces possess different fighting traditions, and important to understand why these factions are fighting each other in the first place. The Rulebook goes a long way to meet these requirements. Sure, more could have been said, especially since the section on Antares and its Gates was repetitive, and I wasn't convinced that the Concord would commit humans to war given its priorities and technological supremacy. Yet the book is a first attempt to bring this universe to life on our gaming tables, and given this, Warlord Games are to be congratulated on the depth and detail they weave together. I'm hooked and looking forward to future releases.

I will comment on the rules when I've actually played the game.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Just added (2)

I have added 1:285 modern tanks with camouflage to the shop. The photo shows some Swedish Strv 122s in winter camouflage painted for a customer. The miniatures are by GHQ.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Games workshop (again)

This is my second post on Games Workshop in less than a week, but there has been some seismic news today. They are apparently going to (re)open a Specialist Design Studio, bringing back what are arguably their best games (Blood Bowl, Epic, Necromunda, Battlefleet Gothic and others). Its the possible re-launch of Epic which has got me excited and I've got my fingers-crossed that it will lead to some Horus Heresy releases. Please! Pretty please!

Just added (1)

Recently I've been watching The Walking Dead from the first series onwards. As a result, I just had to paint some of the plastic zombies from the Zombicide game and I've now added them to 'Shop: others'. The figures are packed with character and they were enjoyable to paint. I decided to only use The Army Painter paints from their Zombie and Survivor sets, going for a 'quick and dirty' look. I've never used their paints before. Unfortunately they came out of the bottle very thick - with the exception of the Dead Black and Machine Gun Metal - and offered poor coverage. More positively, their washes were of an ideal consistency.



I've also added to the shop my first attempt at the metal Concord and Algoryn Troopers from the recently released Beyond the Gates of Antares. Really like the miniatures for these two races, although moulds lines were both harsh and tricky to get rid of. I'm yet to get hold of the plastic Concord Troopers released in the box set, but it will be interesting to see how they compare to the metal castings.