Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CSM Kickstarter Review Part 3 - Ground Troops

I wanted to take a break from the assembly of wings and such, so I took care of some of the miniatures that just needed to be attached to bases:
  • Manes
  • Lemures
  • Ruttering Kin
  • Hell Hounds
One thing I am seeing with the miniatures is that in some cases, the portion of the miniature that fits into the slotta base are too long for the bases provided. It is easy enough to trim off some of the bottom of the metal sprue/support or sand it down to fit properly.

I did have two of the D&D Miniature pre-painted equivalents for size comparisons...the Lemure and the the Hell Hound.

The Manes are meant to be little guys that are typically grabbed and devoured by more powerful demons. Based on the classic description (MM), they are only 3 feet tall. There are plenty of pictures of these about, so I just took some compare pictures so you can see the size differences.

The Lemures are typically described as being 5 feet tall with disfigured and molten flesh. Side by side with the Manes, I think they look good. I have personally really liked both of these designs since I first saw the pictures and the Lemures look even better in hand. Again, just an additional picture for size comparison.

Regarding the Ruttering Kin, I do not have an issue with the design and the look. I think they look like the creepy disfigured outcasts that they are supposed to be. My only criticism is that I think they are too small. They look more like 25mm than 28mm, and I would have liked to see the heads a little bit bigger.

The Hell Hounds also appear to be a bit on the small side. They did not come with plastic bases since they have a built in base on the cast. After reading the description of the Hell Hound again, it is described as a medium sized creature about 2-3 feet high at the shoulder. With that in mind, I think they do look to be about right scale wise. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

CSM Kickstarter Review Part 2.5 - Geryon

While my camera is recharging, I was able to get a few snapshots of my in progress Geryon and Amon (which very nicely was only a single piece miniature).

The Geryon miniature comes with no base. I don't know if that is by design or if I just did not get one. I used a large base that I had on hand. The image below shows all the flashing/mold residue that will need to be removed from the miniature. The one to the furthest left I had already removed before I decided to take a picture.

Another thing to remember with resin is you want to wash it with some warm soapy water (I used Dawn) to get the chemicals removed from the casting process. This will make it a bit easier to assemble the various pieces and make a better bond with your adhesive.

For a miniature that is one of a 3 item set for only $20, this is quite an amazing value. Below is Geryon alongside the Amon miniature.

Amon is a large miniature...and Geryon towers over him. Below is Amon compared to the Type III demon.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

BASH Con 2013: Another Fine Year

I started the week with a horrible cold and fever that knocked me out for a day and half. By Friday, I was feeling much better and ready for the high adventure that is the annual Toledo gaming convention, BASH Con.

Check out Robin, Tom, and Paul's BashCon reviews

After working my half day, I met Tracey for lunch at Longhorn Steakhouse and then went home while she drove over to pick up the boy from school. The plan was for her and the boy to have a 'date' night for some rare quality time. When she pulled in the drive, I could tell she was tired and while she had a handful of movies in hand, the boy had got it in his head he was going with me to the convention.

For the first time in a few years, I decided to not even try to run anything on Friday night. Normally, it is the one day I try to run a board game, but it is rarely attended and requires me to get there early enough to run it and still attend Tom's annual 7pm T&T game. So, I had plenty of time to gather up the boy and head over to the convention, hopefully avoiding the long lines and lackluster staffing of the registration tables.

When I arrived, I found that the UT students running the con this year had everything well under control. They had two separate lines AND two separate tables to handle on-site and pre-registered attendees. I jumped in the line for on-site registration for the boy, told him to stay put, and then went through the pre-reg line in less than 1 minute. I got my free d6, my weekend badge, and the tickets for me events. I then rejoined the boy in the other line which only took another ten minutes or so to get through. I had bought one ticket for my Sunday AD&D game already for the boy, so I purchased a second ticket when the boy registered for the girl. She would be making her first convention appearance as a player on Sunday.

Close to 7pm, I saw Tom and Paul walking away from the main convention room, so we followed them to the big special room that we were assigned. As either Robin or Tom had mentioned, the convention must have thought Ken was running the game, so we got a very large and private room. Paul, Ken St. Andre, Alex, Robin, the Boy, and me all played in Tom's game.

The boy was a bit awestruck by Ken, pointing to the rulebook and asking me if that was the guy who wrote it. He asked for an autograph using my 7.5 rulebook. Ken initially did not address the message to Liam, so you can see he added his name in pencil, his best attempt at forging Ken's script. On Saturday, Ken added the 'To Liam' for me.

As always, Tom runs a very enjoyable game. Light on combat but heavy on role playing, traps, and gravity stew (as I think he calls it). At one point, we reached the hoodoo that we were aiming to get to and Alex's character made friends with some faeries that still lived in the old leprechaun dwelling. The dragon we were looking for had driven away the inhabitants. Robin's character cast a 'Fly Me' spell on my dwarf so I could scout out a way up, or at least to take a rope up to a platform and lower it down. I realized that he had never flown before. In a fit of roleplaying glee, I enacted my dwarf fighter flying with the faeries, 'weee-ing and wooping' around the interior of the hoodoo. We joked that my character's faerie  name was now 'Flies with Faeries'. I then realized I forgot the rope, went back down to get it, then found a hidden staircase along the interior wall of the structure.

With the boy, we met Alex, Ken, Robin, and Tom at Applebees and got some needed food, but I cannot believe the drowsy boy was still able to put down a burger and fries. He had eaten a full 'Magic Wok' meal before we left, a lunch bag full of snacks, and a foot long sub from subway prior to this. I headed home and once the boy was sleeping, gathered the needed supplies for my 'Stay Alive!' game in the morning so I could sleep in as long as possible. Next year, no more 9am games.

My morning went well enough. Paul and Tom were back for the continuation of my zombie tale. We were joined by two new players, a couple from Cleveland - Mitch and Susie. I tried my new optional character creation rule where I had the players roll up their attributes and then have someone that knows them assign them. The idea is that someone else would be a bit more accurate assigning the attributes.

We figured out where we left off last year, made an equipment list which included a shotgun, a few handguns, a few replica katanas, and a box of food they scavenged from the restaurant. Tom got things rolling right off the bat, acting all crazy that his wife was not with him, so she must be still alive. He put a gun to the Mitch's head and demanded he turn the car around to go back. Mitch was able to make his SR on the first driving check, but failed on the subsequent roll and crashed into a parked car. Tom jumped out, followed by Paul and proceeded to struggle with some zombies that they had attracted. Tom was bitten at one point, but it did not puncture the skin, They were trying to use melee weapons to avoid making too much noise. They were eventually able to lure them to the creek along side the parking lot and push 2 of the zombies down the embankment. He and Paul finished off the 3rd one as the Mitch and Susie ran to their car and were waiting for Paul and Tom to rejoin them. Tom must have been satisfied that his wife was either dead or unreachable. I think we toyed with the idea of Tom making an INT roll to see if he saw his wife's face in place of one of the zombies. Just like any good comic book, you are not officially dead until you find the body...so Robin, you may still be out there.

Eventually, the group arrived at an NPC family member's house and set up a place to rest and recoup. The power went out and later they were woken by a gunshot from the neighbor's house. An investigation revealed two zombies banging on a door on the 2nd floor - Tom had climbed a tree. Paul picked the lock on the front door (a Talent his character had, and Paul actually had real lock picks with him) and they found a dead body of a man. A picture with his wife and daughter drew them to the conclusion that his family was infected and he could not deal with.

Some looters showed up on the street and began going door to door, but they seemed to be collecting material items like jewelry and money instead of other more sensible things. Tom and Susie stayed in the house with Tom baiting them away from the houses down the street. He was yelling at them out the door and distracting them from Mitch and Paul who were setting up an ambush. A very quick burst of gunfire from Mitch, Paul, and Susie, and a few seconds later, the last of the looters was running back to his van to get out of dodge. Tom walked out and put a bullet in a approaching zombie, thus ending the adventure. There was an interesting conversation regarding murder as opposed to killing monsters, but Paul came to the conclusion that any apocalyptic story will eventually settle down to -  the struggle will be people versus people more than anything else. The zombies will just become apart of the environment.

I rushed off to the auction where I met my friend from the Gen Con Auction, Matt T. This year, the auction was horrible. The regular host was not present this year and a two other guys did their best, but just do not have the experience to run such an event. It is always comical to me that while they struggle in Alex's absence, myself and Matt have been auctioneers at Gen Con for many years. I think I bid on two things (a board game I cannot remember and some miniatures maybe?), and then after about an hour and a half gave up and decided to get some lunch with Matt T at the Phoenicia restaurant on the 2nd floor.

Met back up with Tom, Robin, Ken, and briefly with Paul. Paul went off for a few hours to get some cash and run some errands, but I ended buying from Ken some of the books he was going to buy (sorry Paul). Ken had a bag full of goodies on Friday, but Tom did not end up getting the booth they had planned for. Ken only brought 1 of each of his books on Saturday.

I asked Ken to personalize two of the books. 'Battle School' for me since I was given credit by Ken for play testing and proofreading it. I asked him to personalize the copy of 'Rescue Mission' for the boy.

We went to the Phoenicia to get some coffee and cake. I had my slice of Tiramisu. We met a nice guy named Max who joined our conversation about WWII and Finland. We had talked about how Finland and the UK did not sign a treaty until 1947. I joked that the Finnish people 'just needed two more years' and they could have beat those darn Brits. Max had a relative who 'disappeared' in Finland (I think), which is what prompted him to join our conversation. Tom and Max got into some philosophy discussions, where I kind of zoned out and starting thinking about bunnies or flying dwarves.

Soon after, it was time for Ken to run his second seminar, this one was 'How to T&T' where players rolled up some characters and played some short encounters with Ken. More information on this can be found here.

I then rushed off to join Tom and Paul running the Ragnarok Mega-Event. More information on that can be found here.

I got home after Midnight, exhausted, but needing to get ready for my AD&D game the next morning, another 9am game. I pulled together everything I needed including the books and my miniatures. Liam had his character binder and all the PC character miniatures already sitting out and waiting for me.

I woke up and made sure I had everything I needed for the game. The girl was coming with us this year, and I had to drive across town to pick up the boy at his dad's house. Got the girl dressed and out the door...picked up the boy and headed to the convention with 15 minutes to spare. We were first in line before 9am to buy Irelynn's badge. She was happy to get a new d6.

The usual crew was at the table. My friend Garry was playing his PC, 'Bill' the halfling. Bill is the brother of 'Gill' the halfling, whom Robin usually plays each year. Robin and Tom were running late, but called me to let me know so we started without them, but it was not long before they arrived. Alex played the archer 'Talwin', Tom the werebear berserker 'Kraze', Liam played his barbarian 'Lorian', and Irelynn played her character, the mage named 'Rose'.

The adventure went well enough I think. The group was on the trail of a new group of slavers which led them back to the  bandit outpost they cleared out a few years prior. They ambushed a raiding party from the outpost and then attacked the outpost itself, which was being led by a mage, a few bandits, and his 2 stone giant friends. Gill and Bill were going invisible, sneaking over the wall, and put themselves in position to ambush the unsuspecting mage as the outpost was attacked by the rest. Irelynn opened up with a Lightning Bolt to the chest of a giant, followed by a charging attack from Liam and Tom while Alex rained down arrows on the bad guys.

Sure enough, the halflings were in the right place at the right time. A coordinated sneak attack from Robin and Garry blasted the mage out of his boots. I think it was Alex that coined the phrase 'Triple D', the 'Diminutive Death Dealers' (or was it D Cubed?).

The group then found their way to the real slavers, a group of elves living in tree houses with a Slithering Shambling Mound defender. The had gathered rumors from the bandits that the forest around Black Jack's base was haunted and alive, protecting the nefarious brigand and his two right hand men, the brothers Ariok and Skalimar. 

A well planned 'Hold Person' by Robin took the archer Skalimar out of the fight early, but he had done some damage to Liam and Tom. Triple D climbed up to the tree house walkways behind Liam and made their way over to the other elf Ariok, who was fighting with Liam. Alex was climbing up a rope ladder when he was attacked by the leader Black Jack, but his own 'Hold Person' spell did not work on Alex. Alex and Irelynn finished off Black Jack, while Garry and Robin rushed in to help Liam once he was dropped by Ariok. Irelynn finished things off with one final Lightning Bolt to drop the brother before he could use his sword to heal.

During this fight in the treetops, Tom was battling against the Slithering Shambler and had transformed into his bear form when his attack with his mace had no affect on the monster. Tom was actually beat up pretty good and reduced to 2 hit points. Once the 3 elves were defeated, the beast retreated back into the woods.

Irelynn was a bit restless and she may not be ready for conventions yet. She was quite disruptive at times and hopefully this did not detract from the game. Tom assures me it did not, which is good to know. We said goodbye to Alex, Tom, and Robin. Ken had stopped by during the game to say goodbye before heading back to the airport. Garry and I set up a date for our next game at my house. 

I met with Matt S from 'Center Stage Miniatures'. He brought me some of the miniatures from his Kickstarter so that I could provide some unbiased reviews in hopes of alleviating some of the concerns being voiced by the other backers. Matt is from Rocky River, which is close to my hometown of Amherst, about halfway to Cleveland. Check out my reviews here.

After I turned in my tickets to get my GM refund, we had one last trip through the Dealer Hall so the kids could buy something. Earlier, my good friends Jane and Laurie gave Irelynn a necklace from their 'Hell on Wheels' traveling game store. I  met the sisters through volunteering for the Gen Con auction years and years ago. Liam bought a costume rubber hatchet from them, while Irelynn got some Reaper 'Cupid and Cherub' minis from another retailer.

Whew....I am sure I left out many other details, but this will have to do.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CSM Kickstarter Review Part 2 - Demons II, III, IV, V

In my previous post, I alluded to the fact that my favorite miniatures in the set thus far were the Demons. I have not yet seen the Vrock (Type I) and the Balor (Type VI), but the rest of the group is looking mighty nice. I wanted to get some pictures up as soon as possible, so these are still in a state of assembly.

The Type IV Demon has detached wings, one arm with the weapon, and the head. The head fits nice and snug and I have not yet tried to attach anything else. It is quite top heavy which makes it a bit awkward getting in place in the provided slotta base since it is leaning forward. Also, the bottom of the metal base will need to be sanded down a bit to fit properly in the slot. I used some putty to help secure it. I will hack off the flashing on the raised leg after I get everything else assembled.

Below is a side by side compare with the D&D pre-painted Orcus miniature. As you can see, it will be a bit larger once the wings are attached.

The Type III Demon has only the pincers to attach. Not much else to say about this one other than I love it. This is one of the miniatures that I immediately connect to the picture from the MM1. 

Again, below pictured with the D&D Orcus miniature for size comparison

The Type V Demon came with a detached tail and 6 arms with weapons. I can say that the tail is very easy to secure with two male/female plugs and the joint is well hidden by the ring/belt on the first turn of the tail.

Below is a comparison to my partially painted 'Reaper' version of the same creature. Again size wise, these are in line if not a bit larger.

Finally, the Type II was the easiest to deal with - no moving pieces to attach. The extended arm can be adjusted a bit to either rest on the edge of the base or to push in like I did so that it is contained in the base. With resin, that would not have been possible. I really like this one a lot as well. Gotta love the action/attacking pose.

Once again, compared to the D&D Orcus...

And one final group shot compared to Orcus...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

CSM Kickstarter Review Part 1 - Initial thoughts

The first thing I want to state is that tastes differ. While one person may love something, others may have an opposite opinion with equal and justified reasons. I have been buying and painting miniatures for over 20 years. The miniatures I paint are used in my AD&D, T&T, and the other myriad of games that I play. I am in no sense an expert in the field or an accomplished painter, but I have just as much love for this crazy hobby of ours as anyone else.

Matt reached out to me last week when we were discussing via email a few things regarding the Kickstarter for the Demons and Devils by Center Stage Miniatures. We had talked late in 2012 about the local convention here in Toledo (BashCon) and how it is good one to attend for many reasons including a very affordable dealer hall for retailers and a large attendance for a smaller con. I mentioned to him that the convention was coming up and asked if he was still planning on attending. While he told me he as not going to make it in as retailer, he was planning on coming in on Sunday to check out the con with a look forward to 2014.

The offer then came to bring me a good portion of my pledge rewards in return for an unbiased review of the miniatures that he had on hand. I graciously accepted and after a few more emails regarding what my add-ons were, we were all set. I met Matt after running my AD&D game on Sunday morning, comically sending texts and looking around when we were 10 feet away from each other.

We talked a bit as I tried to keep an eye on my kids in a crowded convention hall. Needless to say, I was very excited for this opportunity and thanked him again for offering this type of review. I think this speaks volumes in regards to the quality of the product he is working so hard to get out to everyone that supported this effort.

I have had a chance to dig in a bit and get a good look at the miniatures in the box. My first impression can be summed up with the following two words: HOLY CRAP! 

I am most amazed with the larger pieces (Geryon, Amon) and the Demons (Type II, III, IV, and V). There are a few of the miniatures that I have some concerns with, but these concerns are very small in number (3 items to be exact). I want to reserve any additional detail and judgement on those until I have a chance to get them on bases and do some side by side compares with other miniatures.

I will make every effort to follow-up with new blog posts every few days. Until then, below are a few lists for you to check out.

*     *     *     *     *

The following is a list of what I received from the $75 Pledge Level:
  • Glacial (Ice) Devil
  • Horned Devil
  • Lemures
  • Manes
  • Bearded Devils
  • Baphomet, Demon Lord
  • Molydeus
  • Asmodeus' Daughter
  • Demon Type II
  • Demon Type III
  • Demon Type IV
  • Demon Type V
  • Erinyes
  • Barbed Devils (Lesser Horned Devils) (missing the fire hand)
  • Marrow (Bone) Devil
  • Hellhounds
  • High Priestess of Darkness
  • Ruttering Kin
The miniatures from the standard Pledge Level that I have not received are:
  • Succubus
  • Imp
  • Quasit
  • Demon Type I
  • Demon Type VI
  • Pit Fiend
  • Horned Devil II
  • Spined Devils
  • Night Hag
The Extras/Add Ons that I received are:
  • Amon & Winter Wolf
  • Geryon
The Extras/Add Ons that I have not received are:
  • Moloch
  • Graz'zt
  • Demon Type I (2nd)
  • Demon Type III (2nd)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

We're #14!!!! (Worst run cities in America)

Who would  have thunk it - a city run by democrats and unions for 60+ years be so far down on this list? And Cleveland too! Bonus.

14. Toledo, Ohio
> Population: 286,033
> Credit rating: A2, stable outlook
> Violent crime per 1,000 people: 9.98 (23rd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 10.4% (tied- 33rd highest)
Toledo is a low-income city. More than 30% of the population lived below the poverty line in the past 12 months, the 10th-highest percentage of all cities. The median household income was $31,090 in 2011, the eighth-lowest among major U.S. cities. Home values in the Toledo area plummeted by nearly 20% between 2007 and 2011 to reach a median of under $82,000. Although Toledo’s credit rating of A2 from Moody’s is still considered investment grade, it is far from pristine. Moody’s noted that while its finances are improving, the city continues to suffer from high unemployment and a declining population.

9. Cleveland, Ohio
> Population: 393,804
> Credit rating: A1, stable outlook
> Violent crime per 1,000 people: 13.66 (9th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 10.3% (37th highest)
Cleveland has been widely affected by the struggles America’s manufacturing sector faced during the preceding decade. Total employment in the city’s manufacturing sector fell consistently between 2002 and 2010. Despite the slight improvement in manufacturing, the city’s residents have struggled in recent years. Cleveland’s median household income in 2011 was just $25,371 — barely half the national median of $50,502. Also that year, the city had a poverty rate of 34.3%, more than double the U.S. rate. Violent crime also remained an issue, with 13.66 violent crimes per 1,000 residents — significantly higher than the national rate of just 3.86.