Friday, 11 September 2015

The Magpie Effect

I recently came to the realisation that I've been collecting and painting the Batman Miniature Game range of miniatures from Knight Models for over two years. 

I'm currently sitting on 54 fully painted miniatures for the game (spread over 7 crews, with various free agents), as well as a number of other miniatures in various WIP stages, as well as a host of unassembled miniatures, new in the packaging. 

While I appreciate that to most gamers out there, this is a small collection, to me it is quite outstanding. Why?

Because I suffer from something called the Magpie Effect. 

The Urban Dictionary describes it as this. 

Magpie Effect
An overwhelming urge to purchase an item of no practical value and/or out of once price range purely based on its appearance. 
Usually the item in question is either glittery or catching the light causing the victim to become entranced by said item.
Actually, as I type this, I also realise that most games are victims of this also...
The primary way in which this affects me is a desire to buy all manner of shiny miniatures, start building and painting them with zealous abandon, and then get bored of them a few weeks/months later. 
It's why in nearly 20 years of gaming, I've only ever been able to complete one whole Warhammer 40K army, despite having owned dozens. It's also why I'm eyeing up my fledgling Stormcast Eternal army for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar with what can only be described as morbid trepidation. 
Somewhere, deep down, I know I'll never finish them, and they'll be foisted on eBay before long, the proceeds funding the next project. I really want to finish them, I really do, but my gut feeling is I won't. 
Which is why the Batman Miniature Game from Knight Models is such a curious beast for me. As mentioned at the outset, I've been collecting and painting these miniatures for well over two years now. My enthusiasm for the game, which can fluctuate to a degree admittedly, is still going strong. 
I've just had a couple of months break from painting miniatures for the game (or rather, from completing any painted miniatures for the game) while other projects took over, but now I'm back to it, and have recently finished Mr Freeze:

I'm not sure what it is the keeps me going with BMG exactly, but I think it's a number of factors. For one thing, I'm a massive Batman fan, and love the source material, and have a decent knowledge of it. 
Then theres the amazing miniatures Knight Models continue to produce. Each release gets better and better, not to mention the game itself (if you haven't seen the new rulebook yet, do yourself a favour, and check it out, it is lovely). 
Then there is the community. I've been an admin for the Arkham City Limits Facebook group for the last 18 months or so, and the community has grown massively in such a small amount of time. We have some great members who produce some truly inspiring work. 
Whatever the exact reason, I'm glad that this game keeps my creative juices flowing and holds my interest as it does. Now, if only other games companies could follow suit!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Games Workshop: Masters of the Unexpected

Well, we didn't see that one coming, did we?

What am I referring to?

Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.

Games Workshop, in an effort to revitalise their dying Fantasy wargame (and according to their sales data, it was dying), have totally scrapped the Old World and the rank and file mass battles game that was Warhammer Fantasy. Instead, they have introduced a smaller, skirmish style game, with a whole new back story and a new faction to boot.

Over the last two weeks, I have never seen more vitriol and hate spewed across the internet than I have about this new game. It really has ripped the fan base in two, with the old diehard Warhammer players raging against the desecration of their beloved IP, and new people to the hobby and other gamers who openly embrace the changes. I've actually had to block people I don't know on Facebook because of the amount of hateful speech they are using in some of the groups and communities I'm a member of. Crazy.

So, what do I think of this new game? You know what, I actually really like it.

I've never played Warhammer Fantasy myself, always being a 40K player, and then more recently, skirmish style wargames. I've tried to start the game, going as far as to make two abortive attempts at an Orc and Goblin army (now known as Oruks and Grots!). However, due to the high buy in cost, and requirement for an absolute shedload of miniatures, I never got very far with it.

Age of Sigmar, however, changes all that. Gone is the need for masses of miniatures and bucketloads of books. Instead, I can pick up the box set, trade the faction I don't want for more of the faction I do (Stormcast Eternals in this instance, giant, immortal, superhuman warriors in heavy armour. Sound familiar?), and have a decent sized skirmish force to get started with.

The rules are free, and if Games Workshop are to be believed, all subsequent rules will be free to. I'm cautiously optimistic about this new game, and I'm really interested in where it goes. Time will tell if it rejuvenates the Fantasy genre for Games Workshop.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Commission Painting: Is it a giant can of worms?

I recently got rid of a few Space Marine Space Wolves units that I'd painted for 40K via eBay. Like most of my hobby projects for Warhammer 40K over the years, I started painting them, full of eagerness and excitement, then ran out of steam, and stopped.

I did however manage to complete a Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf, a unit of Thunderwolf Cavalry, and a squad of Grey Hunters. Here's some pics, for those that are interested:

When I sold them (and they went for a decent amount, I am pleased to report), the buyer asked me the fateful question 'do you do commission work?'

Now, this is a lovely question to be asked as a miniature painter, because it means someone out there rates your work, and would like to own more of it. Lovely, flattering even. However, in my mind, it's also a dangerous question. Why, I hear you ask?

Essentially, it boils down to this: Do I want to turn my hobby into a job?

As I've mentioned in previous posts, my motivation for hobby projects varies greatly. The above Space Wolves can attest to that. It's why I've become increasingly fond of skirmish games, as I can paint small doses of miniatures without feeling overwhelmed or losing focus.

So, if I were to try my hand at commission painting, surely the same thing would kick in, but worse, considering they would not be my miniatures, and therefore potentially a subject material I have no interest in?

On the other hand, more money for new toys! All for doing something I enjoy anyway!

Hmm, seems like a bit of a conundrum to me. I must admit, I am sorely tempted, but am also very cautious.

Would love to hear from you guys on your experiences with this aspect of the hobby. Answers on a postcard below...



Saturday, 2 May 2015

Board silly.

One of the projects I've been working on over the last week or so is a new 3'x3' gaming board for the Batman Miniature Game. 

When I first got into BMG around 2 years ago, it was the first time I had properly been into a skirmish game, and it dawned on me that I only really needed a small surface to play a game on. As such, I made a small 2'x2' board, out of MDF and edged it with quadrant. I then sprayed it with textured paint and then painted it black. I then drybrushed it up to grey, to create a tarmac/asphalt effect. 

I then discovered the great range of laser cut MDF buildings by Sarissa Precision. They do a number of great ranges of buildings for tabletop gaming, and I plumped for the City Block range. Once these were assembled and painted up, I had a rather neat looking play surface, that I could easily store, like this:

This has been great, as I've been able to load it into the car and demo the game at various locations across the area. 

However, because it's a smaller board, you tend to get stuck into the action rather quickly, and that makes games finish quicker than I would like. Also, Knight Models recommend a 3'x3' playing area, so I decided to make another board. 

Here's a few shots of the build process:

Adding the quadrant round the edge.

After the textured paint had been applied. This was a can of stone effect spray from a DIY store. 


A close up of the drybrush effect. This was achieved using some tester pots of grey emulsion. Only a few pound a piece, and they do the job nicely. 

And finally, some shots of it populated with some terrain.

It's a little harder to store now, but the extra space is worth it for games I think. I want to add more terrain, probably a container storage area that is fenced off, and I'd like to add some walkways to add some variation in height (and for somewhere for Batman to Batclaw to!).

I have another sheet of 3'x3' MDF, so I think I'll build another board at some point, but this time have a bare earth/grass look to it. Knight Models are planning on releasing a stunning looking Arkham Asylum laser cut MDF building, and I want to base a board around that. 

Now all I need is the time to play the game and a worthy opponent! 



Thursday, 30 April 2015

It has to start somewhere...

So, blogging. Anyone who is anyone seems to be doing it, so I thought I'd give it a go. 

My name is Dan, and I'm a Husband, Father, Geek and Gamer. As you've probably already guessed from the title of this blog. 

I've been into miniature games for almost 20 years now. It all began when I stumbled blindly down the rabbit hole that was my local Games Workshop. Since then, I've had a love/hate relationship with all things gaming, either wargames, skirmish games, board games or video games. Currently, I'm in the love stage of our relationship. 

I'm also married to a lovely wife, with two lovely kids, again, as the blog's title indicates. 

So, this blog is really going to be a brain dump of all the things I find cool in the world of gaming, and how I seem to juggle them (or fail to) with family life. I'll also be posting a lot about what I'm painting in the world of miniatures games, as I've been doing that on and off for the last 20 years as well. 

My current addiction of choice is the Batman Miniature Game, produced by Knight Models, a Spanish miniatures company. They create some amazing miniatures, and have licenses for DC, Marvel and Lord of the Rings miniatures. Their sculpts are spot on, and the range is going from strength to strength. 

A good friend of mine, Drew, got me into the game about two years ago now, by inviting me to his fan group for the game on Facebook, Arkham City Limits. Since then, I've become an admin for the group, and it's grown to over 1200 members. We're now also the official facebook fan group for Batman Miniature Game, so we get awesome sneak peaks from Knight Models of upcoming releases, and have a great relationship with the games developers and company staff. 

The game itself takes place on the mean streets of Gotham City, and is a skirmish miniature game. The game can be played with as little as four miniatures either side, so has a very low buy in cost for a miniature game of this type. 

It centres around the Dark Knight himself, and the myriads of criminal elements that threaten the city. Players can play as Batman, his allies, and the lawful forces of the GCPD, or one of the many of Batman's Rogues Gallery, such as The Joker, Penguin or Two-face.

Also, the hardback print version of the rulebook was released at the start of March, so the game has exploded in popularity. 

Over the next few weeks, this game will be featured quite heavily in my blog posts. 

Anyway, that's enough of my ramblings. You can find links to the ACL and Knight Models web page below, as well as a teaser of some of my miniatures, as a taste of whats to come. 

My 350 reputation Joker Crew: