About Me

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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Does WH40K have to mean £40K?

I have to admit that I am currently being strongly drawn to Warhammer 40K! I'm not really sure what the motivation is - nostalgia, aesthetics or possibly that it gets played at the club a lot - but nonetheless, I want to put together a Space Marine army. Unfortunately, when I looked up the GW website I was horrified to discover just what the cost would be! A starter box of about 35 figures and 3 vehicles sets you back a whopping £140! And that probably only amounts to about a third of what you really need to play a decent size game!

But this got me to thinking about the value of an individual figure and the context in which it seems OK to pay over the odds for them. First off, the material seems to have a big value. Most people I know seem to value metal over plastic because of the heft of the miniature. And to be honest, I actually fall into that category. For some unknown reason, it feels better to pick up a miniature that has a bit of weight to it. But then we look at resin figures. They are as light as plastic, but are much crisper and more detailed than their metal counterparts. But in the end, once a figure is painted to a reasonably high standard, does it really matter what it's made of? I have come to the conclusion that it probably doesn't. 

Take the recent move away from metal towards plastic for Malifaux. The prices have remained unchanged; you are still looking at £25 odd for about 6 figures. But this doesn't seem like a bad deal. The figures are very well detailed and full of character. Also, look at the figures you get in the WH40K box set Dark Vengeance. I think that the quality of these castings sets GW head and shoulders above almost all plastic figures I've ever seen! And you get about 50 for £61.50 (and a good bit cheaper if you shop around!). And the Finecast figures are just superb! I actually bought a Blood Angels Chaplain (shown below) a while ago just to paint and was most impressed with the quality of the resin (perhaps this was the seed of my heresy!). Whatever problems they used to have, GW have sorted it.
Warhammer 40,000: Dark Vengeance
A Chaos Space Marine character from Dark Vengeance. This is plastic!!
Lemartes, Guardian of the Lost
What's not to love about this?
So, boutique games or top quality plastics in small numbers? I'm totally fine with paying for plastic what I would pay for in metal. BUT!!! The game changes when you're trying to put together an army of 50 or so figures or more. In this case, you can get metal figures of perfectly good quality for about £1 to £1.50 each. If you were building a platoon for Chain of Command or something then you could get a whole platoon in metal for about £50 at the most from Artizan. And in this case, plastic figures usually offer a cheaper alternative to build your forces, albeit for a slight drop in quality, in my opinion. (I'll admit that the new Perry WW2 stuff has changed my mind about that!) 

So, why do GW think it's OK to charge £25 for 10 Space Marines when you need about 40, plus characters and vehicles, etc? We know they can cost this stuff cheaper. One look at the Dark Vengeance box set shows you what they can produce for a pretty reasonable cost. A rule book, templates and about 50 figures for £61 seems fine. You'd pay that for a decent board game these days. Of course, the argument that they can charge what they like holds. If that's what people value their product at then that is their business. I, however, do not!

So I am refusing to pay the RRP for anything from GW if I can help it and I include some of the discount online retailers in that. There are some good 25% discounts to be had, but the shipping just bumps it back up. My project, therefore, is to acquire a Space Marine army for what I actually think it's worth. This will probably mean eBay for the most part, so we'll see how we go. I aim to try and average out at about £10 a unit, so getting close to about £1.25 per figure taking big stuff into account. Of course there may be some characters that I have to buy new, but as long as it's offset by some cheap as chips bargains, that will be OK. I'll no doubt let you know how it pans out!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Dirk Drake and The Iron Menace

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, we find our redoubtable hero, Dirk Drake (played by Nick) in the thick of the action as he plunges into the bazaars and alleyways of Cairo in a bid to save Professor Barnabas Smythe from the clutches of the evil Executive (played by George)!

After delivering the Stygian Idol into safe hands, Dirk and his Daredevils have made their way to the African continent to track down the Executive. Arriving in Cairo, an urgent telegraph from The Black Smoke awaited him with information that the Executive were attempting to deliver the Professor to a contact dispatched by their mysterious employers. Using his contacts in the docks, Dirk locates a low level thug in the employ of the Executive and 'persuades' him to show him to the contact's location. Will he get there in time, before the Professor is spirited away, never to be reunited with his poor daughter, Selina?

A suspiciously quiet suburb of Cairo!
Professor Love and his daughter Lavinia inspect a suspect crate. The lid is a little too tough for Lavinia, but her father helps out and inside they discover a strange device. Could this be the Sonic Generator that they have heard rumours about?
The barking of Chomper alerts Daredevil Ernie Mallon to the location of a missing agent!
The Executive crowd behind a building. Some of them have barely recovered their nerves after the encounter with the Mkubwa Shetani!
But Mr. Janssen, who was slightly delayed by a certain giant ape, appears and guns down Dirk's stalwart ally.
Dirk Drake directs the informant to lead him to the contact. "In the mosque!", he bleats out!
In his haste, Dirk doesn't spot the loose bricks in the walls and the wind is knocked out of him as he tumbles to the other side.
Meanwhile, enraged by the appearance of Janssen, Chomper charges. The Nordic villain simply levels his revolver, though, and the canine champion slinks off to lick his wounds.
Free from any interference, the rest of the Executive move up, dragging the poor Professor with them
Dirk Drake leaps up and quickly checking that nobody saw him fall, dusts himself off! He drags the snitch into the mosque to discover that the Executive's contact is...a Nazi! Dum dum duuuuuum!
As the Executive's leader, Mr Stamper, grabs the missing agent, Ernie Mallon comes to his senses and leaps in. He is no match for the tough villain, though, and is soon back in the dirt again!
Hearing raised voices from the mosque, Janssen runs to the window and curses as he sees Dirk Drake interrogating his boss's contact, General Ernst Von Krauch. He levels his gun, but Dirk is just too fast and Janssen is winged by a bullet and goes down.
And, once again, Mallon picks himself up out of the dirt and comes at Chaney from his blindside. He seizes him and bodily drags him over the wall!
Distracted by Janssen, Dirk fails to notice Von Krauch lift a telephone on the table next to him.
"Our plan has been discovered. Kill zem all!"
From all around the area, the sound of jackboots on packed dirt can be heard and suddenly both the Executive and the Daredevils find themselves surrounded by elite Nazi troops led by the menacing Eisernen-Maske (played by me)!
The Germans appear...
...from all directions!
After quickly dispatching the troopers coming between the tents, Billy Priest urges Lavinia Love to escape, which she doesn't hesitate to do!
The Germans advance, guns blazing away, mercilessly cutting down any and all before them!
The Eisernen-Maske leaps the wall and draws a bead on Dirk Drake! Bullets fly and Drake lands a shot on his sinister assailant, but the bullet glances of his metallic headgear!
Keeping his cool, Drake pulls the terrified snitch and enraged General through the window to safety. Outside he finds Billy Priest and Janssen back to back, fending off their common enemy. Bitter enemies suddenly united by a far more malevolent threat!
Showing his true mettle, Billy Priest, the Daredevil's resident crackshot, dispatches German after German...
...before covering his pal in their retreat with the captives.

Despite his captives being shot down, poor Professor Smythe finds himself falling into the clutches of the Nazis after all! As Stamper, Janssen and Drake flee the scene of carnage, the picture fades to the tinny, muffled laughter of the Eisernen-Maske!
Brilliant fun!

I wanted this scenario to be a show stopper entrance for the Iron Mask's league and I think it delivered! There were two random minor plot points, the sonic machine and the missing agent, and the Executive and Daredevils both started in possession of fixed minor plot points, the snitch and the Professor. The major plot was the contact in the middle of the table. A character had to be in possession of one of the fixed plot points to complete the major plot point, which was quite a tough one at 3 successes on Cunning.

The twist in this scenario is the 'double cross'. No matter which faction completed the major plot point, General Von Krauch will lift the telephone and give the order to spring the trap. If it's the good guys, then the presence of the Nazis is discovered and all witnesses must die. If it's the bad guys, then the Nazis double cross them and simply eliminate them rather than paying up. This meant bringing an entire fresh league on quite late in the game, but I took care to try and keep some balance by taking a leader, the Eisernen-Maske, and only a couple of allies and lots of followers. The troopers were all followers with 2d6 Shoot and the NCOs were the Ally characters, both with good shooting skills too. Also, as I hoped, the effect of the Nazis was to unify the other 2 players, so that it was a bit more even.

All in all, another rollicking, two fisted Pulp Alley success! Stay tuned to see if poor Professor Smythe can be rescued and his secrets kept from the evil Nazis in the next thrilling episode!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Separation anxiety

We're currently getting some work done to the house and it meant having to disassemble the desk I was using as my painting station. It'll probably be at least a week until I have a suitable space to paint in again and it sucks! Turns out that TV kind of sucks in general! Guess I can catch up with some reading and sleep for now! :)
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