Monday, 27 April 2015

Fabled Realms: Mordanburg Dockside Dwellings

A few days ago it was my birthday, and I was a very fortunate Citizen indeed, as I received another two Fabled Realms kits as gifts. These kits were both the same Mordanburg Dockside Dwelling 3, but thanks to the options given with the kit, they have been assembled to have some differences in appearance.

The kit provides 2 choices of cladding, and something like 4 options of chimney configuration. In addition, the doors could theoretically be swapped over, and there are shutters available to use, however I decided against the shutters since I want the buildings to be as useful and accessible as possible for gaming, meaning windows for models to shoot from!

I did use some surplus windows from an earlier kit I had assembled to differentiate the frames and look of the attic windows on each of them.

Each build took around four and a quarter hours, both comprising 5 sub-assemblies with the exterior steps as well as floors, attic and roof. As when assembling the other Fabled Realms kits, I jumped around the order of assembly a little, building each first stage shell-first to allow that time to dry before adding the exterior timber work and cladding. I built the two separately as I didn't want to get confused working between the two, especially as some details would intentionally distinguish the different buildings.

Each building's roof was over-painted with a similar colour to the pre-paint colour, mainly to cover scorch marks.

Moving forward, the 'town' is growing between my buildings and the ones Rob has put together. I love the recently revealed Fabled Realms Watch Tower (due to go on sale in June), and would love to get the mighty Stoic Arms pub to add to the gaming table. I can see myself picking up one or two more Fabled Realms house kits before I get to either of those I reckon, and depending on pricing, I think the Watch Tower will be the likely next purchase of the two, although if similarly priced to the pub, then the Stoic Arms pub would be my first choice. Time to get saving!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

In Defence Of Crowd-funding For Established Hobby Companies

A couple of familiar refrains I come across when there is hobby-related discussion about crowd-funding are:

  • It is a glorified pre-order system
  • It shouldn't be used by established companies.

I cannot say I agree with either sentiment, and here is why.

Crowd-funding As 'Pre-order'
So in the eyes of some commentators, crowd-funding within the hobby serves as a 'pre-order' system. Yes, in as much as a pre-order system on a web-site would do so, except with some inherent advantages.

The tabletop miniatures hobby is a funny one. Gamers generally want value, and perhaps more importantly, regular releases of 'new stuff'. The problem is that on the whole, an item may need to sell a couple of hundred or more units to cover original costs, especially when pricing can cause sensitivity among the potential audience.

A hot item for a hot game may recover those costs quite quickly, perhaps in the first couple of months, but if not, if the item does not grab an audience, then the company has investment tied up in an item which may take considerable time to recover, if ever. So investing in the next sculpt becomes a more problematic proposition if hoping to plough whatever profits there may be into the next releases.

Pre-ordering de-risks that. Crowd-funding de-risks that. What I mean is that the risk of slow/insufficient return can be removed if the numbers of the project goal are right. What it means is that a company does  not have to rely on a slow trickle of income to add further new products, but can have an accelerated (of sorts) way of adding additional releases, with costs recovered up-front rather than slowly after the fact, thus satisfying the gamer demand for 'new stuff'.

And all of that can be done within a crowd-funding platform like Kickstarter which creates advantages for projects small and large in terms - don't get me started with the problems I see inherent with Indiegogo...

'Larger' Hobby Companies Using Crowd-funding Platforms
Even a larger company like Mantic can use crowd-funding to meet demand (for multiple unit types comprising multiple models) that they may simply not have the cash-flow or cash reserves to achieve what is wanted by fans under the reinvestment approach. So to meet customer demand, arguably there is benefit for both Mantic (for example) and their customers when using crowd-funding, to get a game or range(s) to market within a relatively confined period of time. If a games' players and potential players demand a release schedule that exceeds to traditional reinvestment, then what is the real alternative?

For some, there may be an argument that the 'big' companies are squeezing out the smaller ones with their campaigns. Yet how does that argument hold up when there have been many successful campaigns by small companies within the period in which a small number of big companies (by minis hobby industry standards) have undertaken multiple projects?Arguably it doesn't.

The table-top skirmish games hobby is a niche one. there are some real successes, and some major players. But prevalence of a game or range does not necessarily equate to huge success. Even moderately well-known game brands may be struggling more than you think. Add-in that competition within local game stores is such that none can feasible carry all ranges limits opportunities further. And yes, maybe FLGS' need to adapt to a changed world, with changed opportunities.

Brief Conclusion
To lead a call against a platform which has arguably helped and democratised the minis hobby industry just causes me to encourage anyone leading such calls to really consider the costs of meeting their demand for 'new stuff' and the existence of the hobby they enjoy.

The time and effort of many of those involved in developing beloved games and ranges may be compensated through use of crowd-funding. For some the compensation for their time and effort may be realistically in line with their work done, while for others the only reward may be a very modest success that does not reflect the hundreds or even thousands of hours dedicated to get to that point. My point is that it is a small industry, and if crowd-funding is what the next age of the industry really needs, then I say, so be it.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Clown (Joker Henchman)

This Clown Henchman with Knife represents another BMG mini down, but this Joker Henchman is not the start of my next crew, instead he was started simply as some of the colours used matched my Blackgate Prisoners.

With the face I tried to go for an effect of carelessly applied greasepaint. I am happy with the white base, less so the dark eye make-up.

Like I said above, I am not doing a Joker crew next. Instead, I am planning on a Black Mask crew with a few supplements from what if have fully or partly painted: Riddler; Deadshot; Turk; and Prisoner with Tube.

I have had recent discussions about the game with buddies, and I think I have identified my biggest problem with it; that is that there is such disparity it seems between swarms and low model-count 'elite' crews. The latter suffer as they simply cannot contest enough Objectives without Henchmen. That leads me to wonder if the game would not be more satisfactory if the number of Objectives per player was scaled to game size. Something along the lines of 1 Objective per player per full 150 Reputation would give the elite crews a fairer chance I think, but so far that is purely an intellectual exercise and not yet gamed out or tested.

I am awaiting an order of bases before I can assemble my next batches of BMG minis; they were ordered a few weeks ago and will hopefully arrive in the next two to three weeks. I have now met my 2015 target for painting BMG minis, but I expect to exceed that. I have Black Mask and a Henchman ready to be under-coated, so hopefully, I will make some progress soon on those.

BMG Painting Summary
BMG characters owned: 83 (added 17 more models since the last one was finished - I was able advantage of some good timing for eBay auctions...)
Percentage of owned characters painted: 13.3% (11 models)

Monday, 6 April 2015


After a recent focus on building terrain, and before that readying a painted playable BMG crew, I have recently returned to some 'other painting' after a lay-off of a couple of weeks from the hairy sticks.

I started this Circle Orboros Hordes Woldwatcher mini a few weeks ago, before I dove into getting that recent terrain done, and started it again in the last few days.

With this force, I have gone for a slightly simpler painting approach, which helps with speeding up painting. That said, the ropes on the Woldwatcher, and before it the Woldwyrd, have been a bit of a pain as I have found them quite fiddly to do.

Like the Woldwyrd, this Woldwatcher is a Light Warbeast, and each clocks in at 5 points. With the Shifting Stones that takes me to 12 points of painted minis so far. If I take my planned Baldur Stonesoul as my Warlock, then I need to paint another 8 points or so of stuff. I could drop out the Shifting Stones to allow room for a Heavy Warbeast, which would require a 1 point addition, such as a Feralgeist which I have part-painted. I shall see how I progress. This will probably be a bit of a slow-burn project, but that progress may also depend on how my gaming buddy Rob gets on with his Khador stuff. If he adds more, that will spur me on, no doubt.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Quarter 1 2015 Painting Summary

Well that was an interesting three months of hobby stuff. I painted minis, I built new terrain pieces (not yet used), attended a 3-game tournament for a game I had not previously played, and more importantly I got some painting done.

Painted in Q1 (+6 from Q1 2014)

  • BMG: 10 minis (yeah, some are simple, but I still count them)
  • Anima Tactics: 2
  • Hordes: 4

I set out for the year with two targets in mind: a bare minimum of 50 minis over the 12 months, and an ideal of 63 if everything got painted that I wanted for each range I had set a goal; that has since risen to 68. If I hit 50, then great, if I hit 68+ and meet every smaller target I have set, then that may prove to be my best year yet in satisfaction terms.

To hit the 68, I need to paint roughly 17 minis per quarter. In quarter 1 in 2015 I painted 16 minis, despite getting a lot of other hobby stuff done by my usual standards, so pretty satisfactory in all. That said, I am way down on my Anima Tactics target and that will be the hardest to recover I think. On the plus side, I am 1 mini short of my year-total BMG target, so that is positive!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Fabled Realms: Damaged High Street House (III)/Backstreet Hovel (II)

More 4Ground Fabled Realms buildings!

Damaged High Street House (III)
(Fabled Realms Damaged High Street House 1) This has been the most complicated to assemble, and was constructed in a little under 4 hours over a few days. I honestly didn't expect it to take that long, as I had not anticipated the additional time needed for the extras it has compared to the other High Street Houses. Mostly they were not too difficult to complete, but they all took time.

Compared to the other two ruins, this effectively has a usable third storey due to the exposed attic space.

Although this one took a lot longer to put together, it adds some more variety to the array of buildings I have, so I think the time was worth it.

This kit was more expensive than the other two Damaged High Street Houses, and has an rrp of £36. Unlike the others it is a little more expensive than its undamaged counterpart.

Backstreet Hovel (II)
(Fabled Realms Mordanburg Backstreet Dwelling 1) This building arrived in the days in which I finished the last one, and was, like the first Hovel, pretty quick to assemble, taking roughly 1 hour 25 minutes.

The rrp is £18, but they can be found cheaper if you look around.

Currently there are no ruined versions of the Backstreet Dwellings, but if any are made I think I would get at least a couple. Speaking with the guys from 4Ground, they plan to make some ruined versions within the next couple of years.

The Town Grows
I have really enjoyed putting these 5 buildings together, and want to add more, but going forward I think I need some variation. So I hope 4Ground add to the range, and stuff like a blacksmith's or a warehouse would be really nice options in my opinion, and which they have also indicated may happen.

The next release planned is a City Watch Tower I hear, and even sight unseen I know I want it!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Fabled Realms: Damaged High Street House (II)

I was so enthused  about building my last Fabled Realms building, that I immediately started another one! I have found these surprisingly enjoyable to put together.

This kit is Damaged High Street House 03, and like the one in the previous post an undamaged version is also available at the same price (approximately £24 GBP; some retailers may have them a little cheaper).

Constructing the first Hovel and the first Damaged High Street House has helped me understand how 4Ground put their Fabled Realms kits together, which in turn has meant this third building was put together in just under 1 hour 40 minutes, so not that much longer than the Hovel, and definitely getting quicker in relative terms.

The building splits into two main assemblies once fully constructed, again making it accessible and functional. As before, Freebooter's Fate minis are used for scale reference. As an aside, it is nice for me to start seeing a few of these buildings together, acting as a spur to gaming.

Going forward, I have ordered some pre-paint stone walls; I have 3 resin pieces representing assorted wares to prepare and paint; and I have another Damaged High Street House to be built, and a second Hovel on order. I have some coursework pending in the next couple of weeks, so productivity on these will probably slow a little, but hopefully I will have all that I want completed in the next couple of months. Then again, I do have a kit waiting to be built...