What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
C&C: Classic Monsters (2nd Printing)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fulfillment: Iron Wind Metals

Well, a few days ago, I received a nice little package from Iron Wind Metals (after paying some more money for customs).  It is, quite frankly, rare to see a campaign ramp up and deliver on time with hardly much of a hitch.  I was delighted overall with what I got and, the package even teased the next one with a couple of free samples.  Free miniatures is a great way to get attention!

Now, I am pretty much over my head with the amount of miniatures I have yet to paint and this was largely thanks to Reaper Miniatures and a couple of VERY successful Kickstarter campaigns for their Bones line.  So, when Iron Wind Metals started up this crowdfunding campaing in 2015, it caught my interest for a couple of reasons.

1) It was bringing back many of the old Ral Partha miniatures
2) It was access to a relatively 'generic' fantasy wargaming set of rules

Because of when I got into collecting and painting miniatures, I never got much exposure in my earlier days of playing AD&D.  A couple friends and a handful but never used them and I never saw the need for miniatures in my own games.  However, I did like the look of the miniatures the few times I checked some out.  Since I started painting a few years back, my appreciation for the look of many miniatures has caused me to pick models of all sorts.

That said, it was my decision to back the first Reaper Bones Kickstarter that prompted me to start painting my own, and in order to gain a bit of practice, I went to Games Workshop.  This in turn led me to dip into Warhammer.  Given pricing considerations and company policy, I got out almost as fast as I got in but I was left with the desire to find alternative fantasy wargaming rulesets to scratch that itch.

While I generally backed fewer crowdfunding campaigns last year (given the exchange rate and cost of shipping for Canada), this was one was one of the exceptions.  It offered a rule set and a decent amount of miniatures (in metal no less) with a good bang for the buck.  I still restrained myself considerably with the campaign and kept it at a Starter a just a couple of add-ons.  This worked out to 52 miniatures in the starter comprised of elves, orcs, and goblins as well as 3 goblin wolfriders, and 13 dwarves.  In addition to that, I qualified for 4 miniatures as free gifts and there were 2 promotional ones as well.

All in all, a total of 74 miniatures as well as a set of rules for Chaos Wars which is generic enough to use any number of fantasy miniatures despite of where they may be from.  All of that cost me $115 US before shipping (which ended up being $25).  At the time, I was tempted to get more but it was easy to go overboard and the exchange rate then was not doing me any favors.  Of course, I also had a wedding, GenCon, and a new campaign from Reaper to consider as well.  The other reason was simply because I had not dealt with Iron Wind Metals before either and given various Kickstarter issues, I didn't want to risk too much either.

So, what do I think now with the miniatures in my hand?  They are very nicely sculpted but smaller than I expected.  The campaign wasn't very specific on scale but clearly stated a range of 25mm to 28mm with a regular human being 25mm but champions, lords, and not-so-human being taller.  Let's just say that, it's one thing to read it and another to see it in your hand compared to other miniatures.  It means that some of these will never see play for my regular table-top FRPG sessions and, honestly, that's all right.  Painting these will still be a delight and these will really be for some fantasy wargaming and I am eager to do both.

Another point to mention is that they delivered ON TIME!  This cannot be stressed enough as how nice this is.  They gave a delivery date of December of 2015 and packages started going out during this time, I got mine on the 4th of January and given the holidays, I think that's great!  With another planned campaign starting sometime in February 2016 and given how awesome that skeleton looks, I may have to give Iron Winds Metals more of my hard earned cash.

As for the rules... the booklets are nothing fancy but perfectly serviceable though part of me know wishes for a nicer hardbound option down the line.  Who knows though -- maybe with continued interest that may eventually happen.  Or at least, one can hope  I haven't read through all the rules (cover to cover) but from what I have read, I am eager to play and like what I see.  I heard the game plays fast and brutal as well so I think that's a good sign.  At some point, I'll give a more detailed writeup on what I thought of the rules after I have had a chance to play a couple of matches.

In any event, well done Iron Wind Metals!


Monday, January 4, 2016

Under Siege's Top 10 Posts of 2015

This is the third year I do this and it's always nice to revisit this material.  It also tells me what my readers like and what draws new readers in.

Despite the second half of the year features far less content compared to the first half, readership over all has increased and for that I thank all of you who have taken the time and I sincerely hope that my occasional ramblings serve some sort of purpose.

So... here's the list with my thoughts following it.

10. Weekend R&R: No Salvation for Witches

09. Weekend R&R: SUPERS! Revised Edition

08. Games & Gears Ichiban Studios Pro Line Brushes - 9 Months Later

07. The Problem With Citadel Paints

06. Weekend R&R: The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions

05. Why Victorious Matters

04. Weekend R&R: A Red & Pleasant Land

03. Weekend R&R: Games & Gears Katana Brush

02. Weekend R&R: Death Frost Doom

01. Modular Dungeon Terrain

The Weekend R&R series of posts have always been popular and pretty much a staple of this blog.  I take the time to reflect, reminisce, and review something connected to the hobby.  Most often, this will be some sort of rulebook, supplement, or module but sometimes, they could be some sort of kickstarter package I have received or to do with painting.  Last year, I reviewed a few products from the Lamentations of the Flame Princess line and they all ended up on my top ten list.  They are very popular products and I really do love them.  However, one gaming book stands out in the list and that is the review I did for the SUPERS! Revised Edition rulebook.  It's a solid game with solid concepts and simple, get into the action, rules even if it doesn't have the 'spit and polish' of more professional products.

But I mentioned painting, and it's nice to see that three posts are involving painting.  While I do have some painting guides and, I feel these are ALWAYS useful, those who paint miniatures are often obsessed with the tools of the trade.  Two of them involve Games & Gears brushes and there is a reason why people are interested to get more information about them.  Opinions regarding quality are a bit split and, despite the problems I had, the company DOES stand by its products and it's refreshing to see that sort of dedication.  Then again, given the amount of cash you end up dropping on these brushes, you kind of want that support.  They company was kind enough to replace my set of brushes and even give some more due to the problems I have had.  The replacement brushes I have received were better than my original sets and I suspect that issues were worked out between the Early Bird stuff I had gotten and the replacement brushes months later.  I even picked up some other brushes to try out as well.  Given everything, I'll likely be doing another review of some of there other brushes in a few months.

As to my other painting related article concerning Citadel paints... Nothing has been resolved for me and I'm still looking into some solutions.  Looks like I'm stuck with Citadel a while longer.

The other two articles stand out for a different reasons -- one is for a new RPG and the other is concerning modular terrain.  The new RPG is called Victorious being published by Troll Lord Games in the coming weeks.  As of a couple weeks ago (give or take), a bunch of us received access to a Beta version of the text.  Is is art-free but the content of the main book is there.  As I have mentioned before, I have a history with the game and it's interesting to see what has changed and what hasn't changed since it was in my care.  I am very curious at what the finished product will look like once all the art is in place but the layout seems 'off' somehow.  Hopefully it will look better in the final, printed product.  I am still excited to see that the game is now so close to fruition.

My article on Modular Dungeon Terrain was the number one post from 2015 it was spurred on by a Kickstarter which ended up being cancelled.  In it, I discus other projects and 'systems' and challenges associated with them.  After all of that, I believe I finally found what I was looking for thanks to Fat Dragon Games when they launched a Kickstarter in the Fall for sets of 3D files to print your own modular terrain with a 3D printer.  For a fraction of the 'start up cost', I have all I need to print what I need.  Well... that is once I get a 3D printer.  Thankfully, that is a planned investment I am making this year.  Will it actually solve my problems?  I don't know.  I keep on looking at all the other stuff and, judging by the hits, others are too.

Thanks for reading and, if you are curious about 2014 and 2013, you can find those HERE and HERE.


A Slow Start to 2016!

Much like Winter here in Montreal, the last few months and the first few days into the new year proved to be a bit slow.  Despite being in Canada, I did not see any snow until a few days after X-Mas.  And, when it finally came, it just kept on snowing and we ended up with over 20 inches in just a couple of days.  Today was a return to work and a regular (shudder) work week, and Old Man Winter decided to cool things further and temperatures felt like -22 Fahrenheit this morning (or, -30 Celsius with Windchill) when I left for work.

It was an uneventful work day.

The one thing I wanted to do was get back to Under Siege which hasn't seen an update in many weeks now.

The holidays is typically a time where I relax and look back at projects I haven't finished yet and those I want to do.  In many ways, this blog is a good outlet for me with regards to the hobby and a veritable lifeline for Arcana Creations which is where some of my creativity ends up being channeled to.  That part tends to be challenging.

However, a wedding and subsequent honeymoon will do much to derail best laid plans despite being fantastic!

Now, with a New Year comes new opportunities to forge ahead!  I'm also cutting myself a bit of slack given everything that happened in 2015.

I'm not one to make many resolutions but here goes:

I want to game more, publish more, and have fun... and I'm going to do it *my* way.

Happy (belated) New Year!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Printing the Revolution

It's been a busy, stressful, and trying month of October which ended off on a high note with a few days off just to relax and recuperate.  Had my month being more 'typical', I would have been a lot more vocal about a few projects and my gaming related reviews and musings.

One of the biggest things is the latest Kickstarter by Fat Dragon Games ending a bit later today for 28mm Gaming Terrain (you can find it HERE).  Why is this important?  Well, Fat Dragon Games who is better known for their printable, 3D Fantasy Paper Terrain is taking things to the next level.  While this stuff, sold as PDFs with instructions, did very well, this new kickstarter is for files for a 3D printer.

Many hobbyists have been excited about the prospect of a 3D printer and repeated questions regarding costs and feasibility, as well as print times and details (resolution).  There is still a ways to go but things have been changing rapidly and prices have been coming down allowing more people to delve into the world of 3D printing.

Personally, I have been waiting to see this sort of thing happen for a couple of years now.  Prices for 3D printers still seem a bit high but the entry level costs are manageable to downright affordable depending what you are looking at.  I knew that, as this trend continued, it was a matter of time before someone did something like this.  Now, Fat Dragon Games isn't the first to offer 3D printing options for gaming.  Hero Forge custom miniatures ran a Kickstarter some time ago and are now operating a business where you can design and print up a custom miniature.  Reviews for these were a bit mixed showing, once again, that the print technology was a work in progress.

However, there is something to be said about printing dungeon floors and walls instead of some of the refined details one would hope for and even expect with a miniature representing an adventurer.  The Kickstarter shows great promise and, given that what you are pledging for are the digital files to print stuff yourself as opposed to a printed product, what you end up printing as the technology improves will only get better and even faster to produce.

Frankly this is just exciting.

The project / line being crowdfunded is called Dragonlock and so much stuff has been unlocked thanks to generous stretch goals and between that as well as the pledge levels and optional add-ons, you have access to so many different models.  If you went 'all-in' and got everything, it'll cost you a total of $110 USD but that will include well over 125 different items to use and print up.  You can of course go for less and still get good value for your dollar given that you can print as much as you want and need.

The other advantage to this new line is how light this stuff will end up being compared to some of the more expensive resin sets one can find today which can be printed for a fraction of the cost.  There is also a clip system to lock the pieces together making it possible to 'pre-assemble' rooms and passages and drop them onto the table when needed.  Once printed and painted, a dungeon setup like this will make you the envy of many a gamer.

So... what's the catch?  Well, that 3D printer of course will add to the cost of this endeavor.  Fortunately there are some good options as low as $399 USD which means this plus the Kickstarter will still cost you less than a comprehensive set of Dwarven Forge Terrain.  But it will be a slow process printing.  Printing a section of wall could take you a few hours though I suppose on the flip side, it will give you plenty of time to paint your stuff while the next wall, floor tile, or items are being printed.  The tech is still pretty new and some of the print jobs might just not turn out right.  There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to printing and this will be daunting for some people.

However, if you have access to a 3D printer, or if like me, it's only a matter of time before you get one, you may just want to take a peak and check out this Kickstarter (HERE) before it ends later tonight.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Weekend R&R: Whitehack

There are so many 'OSR' attempts to re-create a perfect version of the classic version of Dungeons & Dragons but the definition of what one considers classic or perfect is so subjective.  As such, they just seem to keep coming despite that this is already so much to choose from.  Somehow, I don't think the trend is likely to stop anytime soon either.  Many seem determined to either reinvent to wheel or offer something perceived to be 'better' somehow than what came before it.  The problem with all this sort of development is that sometimes people will miss them.

It wasn't until the second edition of Whitehack, which was released earlier this year, that I took notice.  Whitehack came out originally in 2013 but it was August that I started noticing a few people on social media talking about the new edition that they had just received via the POD service provided by Lulu.  Curious, I do a bit of research and got a bit excited at what people were saying about it.  I was a bit dismayed at the lack of PDF option and more so when people were clamoring for one since the prior edition was released.  Just the same, as I was placing an order on Lulu for something else, I decided to give it a shot and got the least expensive option.  I seriously doubted it would replace my go-to FRPG anyway but I always like fresh and innovative ideas.

I felt let down a bit.

I suppose my disappointment isn't directed at the author in this case.  The reviews gave it more hype than I think was warranted and I think it was because some of the innovations being raved about were already a bit 'old-hat' to me.  For example, the system does not use an itemized skill system and given it's 0e roots, that's hardly surprising but you can effectively get a bonus on that skill roll or task based on the species, vocation, or even affiliation of the character if associated with that particular ability.  One of the examples given in the book is a character with the vocation of 'priest' associated with Charisma doing a check to try and calm a crowd.  Conversely, if the character had the vocation of 'assassin' associated with the same attribute, it really wouldn't help improve that character's odds.  The reason being that a priest would be trained to address groups of people where as an assassin would not.

To a degree, it reminds of Castles & Crusades and its Siege mechanic.  As a system, it doesn't have any skills outside of specific class skills and there will be times where characters will attempt to do something that is not specifically itemized.  A character's archetypes will help define what a character knows or doesn't know very well much like a vocation would.  If this is something that they would be trained to do, and if the associated attribute is a prime attribute, they get a bonus to that check.

The difference is the bonus.  In C&C, this works out to a +6 bonus.  However, Whitehack keeps it simpler and you get what is referred to a 'double positive roll'.  These days, this is more popularly known as the Advantage mechanic (or rather the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic).  You roll two d20 and take the best one.  With Whitehack, this would be the lower of the two rolls as you want to roll equal to or below the relevant attribute score.  With that in mind, there are also circumstances where you would do double negative rolls and take the worse (higher) result.

But while doing this isn't revolutionary (it pre-dates WOTC's use of this sort of mechanic in 5th Edition), it *IS* elegant in its simplicity.  It's also why I have thought of trying out this instead of the +6 bonus in C&C a couple years back.  However, there is a lot of other stuff that is just as elegant in Whitehack as well.

Before we explore other aspects of the game, a few more words need to be devoted to the concept of vocations in the game.  These are NOT actual classes.  There are at it's core just three classes.  The Brave, the Deft, and the Wise which is much like True20 and its three classes -- the Warrior, the Expert, and the Adept.  The vocations are one thing that help refine the archetype and character you are trying to create for yourself.  This feels much more 'free form' and something that one might be more accustomed to seeing in a game like Fate.

Magic is something I was curious at seeing to see how it was implemented as I heard that it was a bit different.  The good news?  Forget spell lists, the ever-familiar Vancian sytems, or even a variant spell point system for the magic!  However, if you are accustomed to a bit of structure in your games, forget about that too.  Interestingly enough, spellcasting taxes a character's hit points and some people will like or hate that.  What's interesting is HOW many hitpoints.  There is no itemized spell list to choose from in this game which means there are also no itemized spell effects that you can read up.  How powerful of an effect and how much it costs / taxes the spellcaster is effectively a negotiation between the player and the DM.  Characters who are part of the Wise class can perform miracles.  These could range from magic to some sort of science and anything in between.  Each level has a number of slots and you effectively create (word) the miracles you can perform (as best related to that character's vocation presumably).  These can be specific or broad but the broader it is, the higher cost it will likely be to perform.  Hit point costs will be anywhere from 1 hp to 14 hp as, once again, negotiated, along with whether a save is needed or not and so on.  Creating magical items also will cost hit points but this loss is permanent.  There is an interesting twist to this though -- characters re-roll all of their HD when they advance a level.

One interesting concept introduced in Whitehack is an Auction system for dealing with things like chases or other circumstances where multiple checks might be required (such as gambling).  It's an interesting choice to go with and does streamline the process.  Along with this, the game has other interesting 'quirks' which are sure to charm some gamers out there.  Whitehack certainly has a more 'collaborative' feel to game which is, in part, because of the less rigid or restrictively style it supports.

For all of its charm, the book is also relatively complete.  There is a host of critters to choose from as well as some magical artifacts to quest for.  You've got a small setting and a couple of adventures along with some pre-gens and advice on running your game.  There are even three other 'rare' classes to presented among the various odds and ends.  In short... a little bit of everything and more than enough to be self sufficient.

As far a presentation is concerned, I will say that the overall work is elegant.  The two column layout, table presentation, and the headings and fonts used are all beautiful yet simple.  There are no illustrations in the book but, somehow, you don't feel as if it needs it.  The cover of the book is fantastic as it looks like a regular oldschool notebook and even reminds me of the sort I had in elementary school and high school.   I really like the look.  The writing is clear, concise, and very readable too and, given that the main rules (the player's section) occupies all of 18 pages, quite an accomplishment.  The entirety of the book is 64 pages in a 6x9 format.

However, the work isn't as original or as much of a breath of fresh air as I had hoped for.  I'm not unhappy to have picked it up but I'm irked that such a work was not available as a PDF either.  Frankly, there isn't much of an excuse in my mind for this kind of restriction either.  At $10, it isn't a hefty investment but I don't think the base print-cost would be very high.  It is a work that is built upon the shoulders of others but whose innovations could easily be distilled for other purposes as well.

In the end, it becomes an interesting hack blending the love of OD&D, the OGL, and a couple of great concepts.

As no PDF is available, those interested in picking up Whitehack can do so via Lulu HERE or you can read about it at the source over HERE.