Sunday, April 22, 2018

It's Been A While

It's been so long since my last game of Warmachine - around a year and a half I think - that I'm surprised I could remember how to play at all. I'm not surprised that I was playing like crap of course, but then Blondie hadn't played a game since MkII (and he was still new to the game when MkIII came out)...

I was running a Strakhov list with some premium jacks. I figured Beast 09 would be an amazing assassin, and Black Ivan would be a slightly better sentry target than a Destroyer (plus with Point Blank could prove better against infantry). This was my first time running Andrei; I gave him a Kodiak for pathfinder and power attacks. The Berserker was there to start piece trades. Reinholdt could help trigger Overrun if needed by allowing me to shoot stealth pieces or giving Strak extra shots or rerolls.
Strakhov 1
-Beast 09 (proxied by the smallest Juggernaut ever)
-Black Ivan
Andrei 1
Alexia & the Risen
Nyss Hunters

Since Sword Knights kinda got nerfed since last edition (and I had talked him into buying two units since I believed they were good chaff units back then) Blondie put together a list with his Stormguard, Gunmages, and a bunch of jacks.
Stryker 1
-Old Rowdy
-Lancer (proxied by MOW Kovnik)
Journeyman Warcaster

Since I couldn't really remember any of the Steamroller stuff, I just threw down a couple of rectangular zones and followed the rulebook for the most part: any model scores, any model contests, scoring starts on second player's second turn. I couldn't even remember the rules for choosing table sides, so when I won the roll I chose the side with more forests (for my Nyss and Strakhov) and told Blondie he could choose to go first or second. He chose second.

As usual I screwed up my deployment, putting Black Ivan too far from Strakhov for me to put Sentry on him. I positioned Strak to run behind a forest in the closer zone, but that put him quite far from the center of the table, making it really hard for him to contribute much to the game. Nyss Hunters went on the other side with Andrei, and Alexia was pretty much in the center.

Blondie put his battlegroup in the center, the Gunmages faced off against my Nyss, with the Junior and his Defender opposite Strakhov.

Round 1:
The Nyss Hunters advanced cautiously. Andrei put Redline on the Kodiak and charged forwards, the Kodiak then ran in front of him. The Risen ran forwards and spread out, with Alexia stepping out of command. Strakhov put Occultation on the Risen, Superiority on the Berserker, and walked forwards. The jacks ran forwards.

Blondie's forces advanced cautiously. Stryker put Blur on the Stormguard, Arcane Shield on the Centurion, and Snipe on the Defender. Junior put Arcane Shield on Rowdy. The Gunmages advanced and killed half my Nyss.

Round 2:
The Nyss gunned down some Gunmages, making sure to focus on the officer. The Kodiak trampled up and popped smoke to try to protect what was left of them, with Andrei hiding in a forest. The Risen walked up and spread out in front of the left zone, with Alexia running back into command. My jacks spread out in the zone, staying out of charge range of his heavies. Black Ivan took a shot at the Lancer, but it missed and scattered back over Junior. A boosted damage roll took him out, leaving the Defender inert and Rowdy without Arcane Shield. Black Ivan finally got Sentry put on him.

Blondie's Gunmages managed to kill off more of my Nyss, but whiffed an attack roll to push the Kodiak out of the zone, meaning he wouldn't be able to score this turn. The Stormguard charged the Risen, and took them all out thanks to electroleaps. Rowdy toed the right zone, the Lancer toed the left, and the Centurion moved up to the middle of the table. Stryker moved towards the inert Defender so he could reactivate it next turn, then popped his feat.

Round 3:
Ivan's Sentry shot drifted off harmlessly. My Nyss Hunters killed a couple more Gunmages. The Kodiak charged Rowdy and went for a throw, aiming to prevent Rowdy from getting any focus next turn. Rowdy did indeed end up outside of Stryker's control, but somehow managed to scatter onto the zone into the Kodiak's back arc (and in melee range no less).

Beast 09 charged the Centurion to keep it busy, killing a Stormguard grunt with the Thresher. Black Ivan killed another, triggering Overrun. The fully-loaded Berserker walked around the forest to the Lancer; boosting the two initials took out the Sentinel's cortex, but the shield knocked out the Berserker's two cortex boxes in retaliation, leaving them both brainless. Still, the Lancer could not channel as long as it was engaged and taking a free strike would be risky. I ran Reinholdt to block the Lancer's LOS to Strakhov.

The Centurion took Beast 09 down to just four boxes: his cortex and right arm...

... but then the Forgeguard finished him off, along with the Berserker (who Blondie had been chipping away at with the Destroyer and any ranged damage he could muster). Rowdy put a bit of damage on the Kodiak with his initials. The Gunmages finished off my Nyss. Lanyssa put a bit of damage on Valachev. Stryker reactivated the Defender and killed Reinholdt with an arced spell.

Round 4:
It was REALLY late and I was running out of models, so it was time for Strakhov's traditional late-game hail-Mary. After considering a couple of plans, I settled on one that would get a charging Thrall weaponmaster onto a knocked-down Stryker. Or would have, if I hadn't gotten confused and screwed it up.

Basically the idea was to drop a Risen behind the Stormguard, turn it into a Thrall, overrun Black Ivan into position to slam the Defender over Stryker, and charge in the Thrall. However, I got so obsessed with trying to kill Lanyssa (which I probably could have done without too much difficulty if I had thought things through properly, instead I kept trying to shoot her while engaged instead of just letting her kill Valachev with a free strike before shooting her). In my defense she has Crit Freeze on her melee weapon so I didn't want to take a free strike from her, but it turned out that I could get past her without taking the free strike anyway (or bulldoze her away while moving past), so it was pointless.

Anyway, I ended up putting the Thrall in the wrong place so it didn't have a charge lane to Stryker after all. So I threw Rowdy again for fun then conceded.

It was nice to get in some Warmachine again after so long. Mistakes were made, but there's nothing new there. That last assassination attempt would have been dicey at best even if the Thrall had made it, but I like the fact that Strakhov does usually have that "plan B" to fall back on.

Despite not playing for ages, Blondie actually seemed to have improved since the last time I played him; he kept his caster safe while also being aware of scenario, he used his defensive buffs effectively and timed his feat well.

Strakhov doesn't bring enough muscle to punch through Stryker's feat. The Kodiak was actually really good here because it was able to mitigate Rowdy by throwing him around. Although that might not have worked if it wasn't for the crazy lucky shot from Ivan taking out the Journeyman, which had Stryker moving away from Rowdy to try to reactivate the Defender. And while the loss of that one Arcane Shield didn't actually do anything in this game, I was spared a fair bit of damage from the Defender.

This was my first time playing Andrei. Having that Kodiak running around independently of Strakhov was useful, though I didn't play Andrei himself very well. My original plan was to keep him near Risen to use as Sucker! targets. Maybe next time I'll put Occultation on him if I'm sending him off on his own. Or maybe I'll just put it on Strakhov so he can be more active rather than spending all game hiding from that 20" RNG Defender.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The More Obscure The Costume The Better!

Gotta be honest, I was not expecting 3D printing to be as frustrating as it has been. I chalk that up to naivety on my part, but I did go out of my way to spend more on a printer that looked easier to use. Anyway, this was arguably the first real test: printing some accessories for a costume for Comicon.

My original plan was to go as Jericho Cross from the old videogame Darkwatch; I figured the game was sufficiently obscure to establish my geek/hipster cred. I was of course very fond of the game when it came out all those years ago, even going so far as to puchase a replica of the main revolver from the game. Well, I say "replica"; a more appropriate phrase would be "crappy garbage costume prop". Seriously, the damned thing was so disappointing that I never even bothered to pull it off the cardboard backing. It sat forgotten in the back of a drawer in my room for many years. I don't even remember what brought it to mind; McCree's "Van Helsing" skin in Overwatch maybe?

I figured I could probably repaint it, and I saw a costume kit online, so I thought it might be an easy costume to put together. Once I had the kit in my hands I realised there would be more work than I had expected to make an accurate Jericho Cross as some pieces (such as the gloves) were not included, and some were just crappy (like the ammo belt, and the knee pads that I had to purchase separately).

But I eventually decided that I didn't really want to be that accurate: no way I was walking around a crowded convention with an eyepatch robbing me of my depth perception! So instead I decided to simply go as an unnamed Darkwatch agent. This way I could tailor the costume to my tastes.

It turns out that a printable Darkwatch logo was already available online. I used this one by lostinlimbo, scaled to my required size. It printed up quite nicely, and once it was sanded, painted, and stuck to a cowboy hat I was quite happy with it:

A recurring theme in the Darkwatch character design was that they carry entire spare revolver cylinders. The piece that came with the costume was pure trash, so I set about designing some spare cylinders in Blender to wear on my belt. I decided to simply print them with belt clips attached rather than try to put together some sort of holder (I would just add some black tape to simulate belt loops). After a LOT of time, effort, and frustration, I eventually had something I was happy with:
No-one would ever see the bullet tips, but it didn't really take much effort to add them.
The final prototype with clip attached next to the painted pieces. Belt clips on the top left.

At the last minute I realised that I would need to wear some sort of a tie. A Texas-style bolo tie was obviously the way to go, but I wasn't going to be able to buy one in time as I'm pretty sure they don't sell them around here, so I quickly printed one out. I used a Celtic knot pattern from retroviral and modified it to my needs. I also put together two quick "vampire teeth" to go on the ends of the strings. The first attempt was too small and I thought it would look better with raised detail and a rim so I added that for my second version (on the right):

It's been a while, but I believe the photo of the revolver that I saw online looked like something like this:
 Sadly I didn't take a photo before I started working on it, but I can tell you that it didn't look nearly as good as it does in that photo. The paint was very messy and it didn't even look metallic, there were serious mold lines and a bit of what I guess is mold slippage, and on top of it all there was a giant red "plug" that covered the entire front, something like this:

Sorry for the crappy photo, that's the only one I could find online. I did take a photo in which you can see a couple of spots of what looks like the intended finish:

The photos don't show it off very well, but the actual finish was just a light grey that didn't look very metallic, while those two spots looked much better. At any rate you can see how messy the painted boundries were. This was taken in the middle of my cutting and sanding off mold lines and imperfections, so I think the black dots there are my fault, for what that's worth. BTW, it's not in the original publicity photo, but MADE IN CHINA was written on the right side in raised text, so I tried to sand that out:

I couldn't quite get it all out, but it was far less visible when I was done. After some debate I finally decided to cut off the hideous red bit at the end of the barrel and try to rebuild it. I added a smaller barrel emerging from the end to paint red, so it would still indicate that it was toy, but in a less ugly way. I used an acrylic rod and some discs cut from plasticard, smoothing over everything with greenstuff:

Finally I spray painted it silver and hand-panted the brown and black areas and the red barrel. After some debate I decided to paint a black was directly into the recesses; it's not very realistic but I decided I was OK with a bit of a cartoony look. I was rushed and careless so the wash ended up being quite messy, but I still liked how it turned out. I varnished the whole thing so it could survive being handled.

Now, I had glued a smaller acrylic rod into the hole I had drilled into the acrylic rod I was using as a barrel so I could easily hold and spray the entire gun in one go. I figured I would be able to break it off later and fix the area back up, but instead the entire rebuilt front broke off. So I had to cut off the rod, re-drill the hole, reattach the front, smooth out the boundry, wrap the rest of the gun up while I spray painted over the break, re-apply the red and the black wash, then varnish it again (otherwise the finish would not match).

Meanwhile I had some help putting together a simple holster and some "boot toppers" that matched the rest of the costume. Luckily the kit I had bought came with a very nice prop jacket and Darkwatch badge, and I was able to pick up a couple of other pieces online to complete the costume.

Things were very rushed at the end, especially since I ended up traveling just before Comicon for some unexpected training for work, but luckily I managed to put it all together in time. The final printed and painted parts:

And here's how it all looked on the big day:

Despite a lot of aggravation and stress, I had fun in the end, and I received a few compliments on the costume, which was nice. I plan on doing more 3D printing for my costume next year, but I think I'll need to get started much earlier!