What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
After Winter Dark Campaign Setting

Sunday, January 27, 2019

3D Printing & Sci-Fi Outposts

I have two 3D Printers at present -- a Prusa i3 Mk3 which I've owned since Spring of 2018 and a Creality Ender 3 which I put together during the holidays. Both have been working at printing up some goodies like some great terrain pieces I'm planning to use for Kill Team. Working with the Ender 3 has been a different experience than my Mk3. Let me say that I *love* the reliability of my Mk3 and it has printed countless of hours with a success rate (out of the box) of over 96%

When I bought my Mk3, it wasn't cheap. Because I needed to put it into production almost immediately and because I didn't want any possible downtime putting it together and dialing it in, I chose a fully assembled model. That cost me $999 USD plus and additional $100 USD in shipping. On top of that, there was customs charges. After the USD to CAD exchange rate, it was no small investment. Given what I got out of it, I don't regret the purchase and I would love to have another.

Realistically, this was not in the budget.

A newer printer (which wasn't on my radar when I initially bought the Mk3) was, and this was Creality's newest offering -- the Ender 3. As I mentioned recently, I managed to pick it up with a flash sale on Amazon making it already cheaper than it normally is (a little over $200 USD). In truth, I wanted to have a second 3D printer for a while but I held off on the Ender 3 for a few reasons:

  • Unlike the Mk3, the Ender 3 is not use a direct drive extruder but a bowden tube setup.
  • The Ender 3 is has had thermal runaway protection disabled
  • No automated bed leveling
  • Issues with various parts due to cost-cutting measure
  • Frame is in separate pieces in the kit
The Mk3 has spoiled me in many ways but no printer is quite at the consumer level where you can press a button and 'go'. But I feel the Mk3 does get pretty close to this level of ease. It was a bit different when it comes to the Ender 3. As a kit, the Ender 3 isn't too difficult to put together but invariably, there will be issues if you aren't careful when assembling the printer as you need to make sure the frame is perfectly squared to the bed. Just a tiny variance can affect the quality of the print, even if it 'looks' straight. Some of the pieces used are a bit on the sub-standard side and some choices boggle the mind. The extruder in the kit is plastic and wear and tear is a valid concern. The bed is frequently warped which makes bed leveling a problem of course and, since you have to manually do this, it can be a frustrating start into the 3D printing hobby.

The biggest one for me was the issue with thermal runaway protection having been disabled for many of these earlier printers. Fortunately, this is ONE thing that has changed recently. Newer Ender 3's have been going out with this enabled. Experiencing thermal runaway when this is disabled is a sure way to get a fire happening and NO ONE wants that!

With the price being even lower than usual, I was able to order the Ender 3 as well as get a glass bed to resolve the possibility of the bed being warped and a metal extruder to replace the stock plastic one. At that price, it would have been possible to buy FOUR Ender 3's for the cost of my Mk3.

With that cost savings, there is a trade-off when it comes to convenience. Dialing in the Ender 3 seems more of an art than anything else sometimes and if it wasn't for previous experience, it might have taken me much longer to do. For the newcomer to 3D Printing, I'd would be happy to recommend the investment but I'd also stipulate that they need to sit through a lot of videos in terms of properly assembling one of these kits and how to properly set up the printer for optimal use.

BOTH of my printers are configured as they should be and right now I'm printing some Sci-Fi terrain. As it turns out, this isn't only for me -- a friend asked me to print up some pieces to replace his Space Hulk cardboard tiles. I've printed a couple of test pieces and I'm liking how they look so far:

The terrain is part of a larger set which I stumbled upon Kickstarter a few months back called Outpost: Origins by Dragon's Rest. The models are extremely detailed and look fantastic! They were also great value given the price on Kickstarter though looking at their website, not everything that has been released to backers is available for purchase yet. I assume they will come when all pieces have been made available.

At this stage, I'm printing various pieces for different configurations. The first two (the red and silver) were only the beginning as I am looking to see how closely I can match the Space Hulk maps for tabletop play. Worse case... these are going to become part of terrain for Kill Team.  ;)


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Operation: Kill Team

Well, there are two things that have recently happened that I'm tying together. Sometime back in August, I picked up the new Kill Team rulebook that was released by Games Workshop. Long time readers of the blog may recall that I've skirted the line with their company and their products before. Frankly, the frustrate me to no end and their business practices did have me cash out of 40K about a year after I got into it. One of the reasons I got into some of their stuff in the first place was because it was one of the Lord of the Rings kits that got me started into painting miniatures. For the record, it was a pack of Goblins of Moria. Their prices have also increased in the past couple of years and, in my opinion, some of their stuff is just too damned expensive.

Kill Team is a different beast entirely though. The investment you need is relatively small compared to other product lines they carry. Better yet, if you are someone who is a fan of Warhammer 40K, it gives you an inexpensive opportunity to play with other units outside of the usual army you happen to be fielding for your games at the time. I picked up the book and, while I still had some odds and ends to put together a Kill Team without spending another dollar, I chose to pick up something I wanted to try out and play -- the Tau.

Outside the Rulebook, the game doesn't need to cost you that much to play. The Core Rulebook is $40 USD where-as a team will typically cost you in the $30 - $60 USD range. Aside from terrain to game on, you actually don't need much of anything else to pay. Naturally there are plenty of ways to spend more money including boxed 'Kill Zones' which essentially give you terrain to play with but not all that necessary if you already have some or prefer to make your own!

The Tau happened to be inexpensive for me and I've always like the look of these units. I started painting my units (a non-standard scheme) towards the end of August. They still aren't finished and I haven't touched since the end of August either.

When it comes to terrain, I have chosen to print my own terrain. I have a Prusa Mk3 which has been in steady use since May of last year and, less than a month ago, I assembled a new printer. This was a far more economical option as I took advantage of an Amazon Prime Flash Sale and picked up an Ender 3 by Creality. It still needs a bit of work but it is printing well enough and I'm getting decent prints off of it. With the two printers now working, I've started printing pieces to make my own set of terrain to use in Kill Team.

First and foremost, I've been printing some sci-fi crates I found on Thingiverse:


I've got three printed now and I'm printing a variant with no doors. I also printed a whole bunch of these (they also served as some test prints for the new Ender 3):


But I'm also planning on printing a bunch of these for the terrain:


With some crates, barrels, scaffolding, and a couple other odds and ends, I think I've got the beginnings of something solid for terrain to do a few Kill Team matches on. Still a bit of printing to do and I'm going to consider a few more things to print to fill out a good sized area but, while some of this stuff is printing, I'm hoping to finally get back to and finish painting my Kill Team stuff during the course of the next few weeks.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Back to Basics...

I don't know how it happened but I really lost track of the last few months on this blog. In fact, the past few years, this blog has been a bit of a symptom of a greater problem and posts have been few and far between. Naturally, I'm keeping busy and I constantly have projects on the go. All I need to do is look back at 2017 and 2018 to see what I've accomplished with Arcana Creations and its imprint, Arcana Elements.

When I first started this blog in October of 2009, things were vastly different for me. I just formed Arcana Creations and started working with John of Brave Halfling Publishing back when the OSR was still relatively new. I adopted Castles & Crusades as my FRPG of choice and I was running a regular campaign. At that point, I had already been gaming for over twenty years and I cut my teeth on a mixture of 1st and 2nd edition AD&D alongside the venerable BECMI D&D sets. With that, I had equal parts of fun with other diverse systems and genres from a variety of publishers.

In short... I loved gaming and, while there was a 'burn-out' of sorts after the shine of 3rd Edition wore off, it was Castles & Crusades that rekindled my love for the hobby and got me regularly gaming (both running and playing). More than that, the online community around this game (and others) were very engaging and I found myself getting involved with them. I was sharing ideas and participating in discussions. Those actions is what led me to doing a bit of work with John Adams and shortly after Arcana Creations was born.

Other aspects of the gaming hobby I had never explored such as painting and using miniatures became an extension of my hobby and, very recently, so did the world of 3D printing using FDM printers!

There were other changes along the way. New editions of various games have come and gone and some of my tastes have changed along the way. People have changed too and somehow, things got a lot more polarizing in the past couple of years. Circumstances and priorities has caused existing campaigns to be put on hold, or end altogether. More importantly that love and thrill I've once had is gone -- possibly robbed by a host of things that have plagued me personally or that I have simply witnessed or read about one too many times.

What does this mean and how does this relate to this blog?

In short, I've taken a step back in order to get a better look at what lies ahead in order to rekindle what is important to me.

Arcana Creations is still my main focus and I'm busy in fulfilling the recent Kickstarter campaign for Ballista. Things are going to plan on that end and I do enjoy working on that material. It's always very satisfying to see something come together culminating in some physical you can hold in your hands.

Beyond that, I have three hobbies that are interconnected (for me) where I need to devote time they deserve for me to properly enjoy them. I have HUNDREDS of miniatures to paint and so many models I want to print up (and then paint) -- all for my game. Above all, I want to come to a place where I'm comfortable at running a small and carefree game. I don't know when this last part will actually end up happening but it's the goal.

And... I want to write about it and share my experiences as I try and rekindle my love for this hobby. This is where 'Under Siege' comes into play. I used to enjoy writing reviews... sharing my opinions... and so on but sometimes that is the hardest part. I'm hoping what I end up doing and going through will help others who are also juggling a full time 9-5 but struggling to find time to devote to their hobby after all their other commitments are out of the way. Just as important, it's about a routine which I need to try and set down to get things moving again.

Anyway, I'm hoping for a lot of good things related to the hobby in 2019 and I'm eager to share this experience as well as other things of interest I happen to be doing or come across.