I ran across this comic online. Pretty funny stuff. Gandalf meeting some RPGers.

Life of the Part Comic

Crucible Con 2018 was the first miniatures gaming con I have attended. I spent the weekend taking painting classes. Here are some pictures of the gaming tables at the con, though. There was row after row of tables with battle fields to play on.

Crucible Con 2018 gaming tables

The painting classes were done by Rick Casler. He is a local firefighter who does miniatures painting commission work and teaching on the side under the business name of Firestorm Miniatures and Painting. He has won international painting competitions in the past, but no longer competes. The classes were outstanding. We had classes, Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. On Friday night we learned about air brushing, pin washing, and edge high lighting while painting an Infinity miniature. Saturday, we didn't even touch a miniature. We spent the day painting boxes of white and black on little poster board pieces as a way to learn the different techniques of blending colors into gradients. We progressed to painting 3D images of first a cube and then a soda can on our poster board pieces. With those we learned how to make use of light and dark colors to shade images to produce a 3D look. I thought of this day as kind of a Mr. Miyagi wax on wax off day. Then on Sunday we got to apply the techniques we had learned on Friday night and Saturday to a miniature bust of Iron Man. Finally, all the techniques came together, and we saw what we were able to do. Although my miniature ended up looking nowhere near as good as the teacher's example piece, it did show marked improvements over anything I've done before. But most importantly I now have a lot of new techniques to practice on over the coming year that I would have never learned by just watching YouTube videos like I have been doing for the past year. The class was inspiring, and Chris did a great job. He was patient and always positive and complimentary to his students. I have taken two other miniature painting classes from people in the past and they were fun, but there was a tremendous difference between those experiences and the experience of taking a class from a truly world class painter. I'd highly recommend anyone in the Central Florida area, interested in painting, that has the opportunity, to take a painting class from him.

Here are the two example pieces the instructor did, which we learned the techniques from.

Infinity Miniature painted in painting class Iron Man bust example used in painting class

Here are some other miniatures painted by the instructor that were on display in the room. They come from the game Blood and Plunder, which is a historical miniatures game set during the 1600s during the age of piracy.

Here are some other miniatures painted by people at the con that I thought looked cool.

The games that had tournaments running during the con were Warhammer 40K, Age of Sigmar, Warmachine/ Hordes, Bolt Action, Kings of War, Infinity, Blood Bowl, and Aristeia. People were also playing Monsterpocalypse and Shadespire casually.

I didn't see any children or women competing at the con, but I may have missed them if they were there since I spent the majority of my time in the painting classes. The demographic seemed to be men from college age up through the 60s, however. My children are determined that they want to attend next year and compete. So perhaps they will be the only children competitors there.

In my opinion the hobby is an untapped arena for a positive family hobby. Children naturally love painting and building things. And the mental exercise involved in the game part of the hobby is wonderful as well. My children and I have a great time playing the games and painting our miniatures. I would highly recommend it to any parents.

Here’s hoping this hobby continues to come out of relative obscurity and gains the patronage it deserves.

Steam Park box

Steam Park has been a favorite of my children and mine for a few years. The theme of the game is that robots have decided to run an amusement park. You are trying to make your robot amusement park the most popular one around and in so doing earn the most money. Unfortunately, you make a lot of mess while you build and your visitors aren't the cleanest either. So you're constantly having to clean up messes while you're desperately trying to expand. What a wonderfully original theme! It reminds me of the old sim games I played on the computer when growing up. The game has a frantic speed element and a regular paced thoughtful period within each round. Its art work and physical components are awesome. This is just an all around modern classic. But read on to get a detailed look at the game!

Crystal Clans box

Plaid Hat Games is probably my favorite board and card game company. They have created several games that have been favorites of myself and my children. The first game of theirs that I bought was Mice and Mystics, several years ago. It was our family’s first dungeon crawl board game. It immediately became our favorite game. That game led to me deciding to experiment with full blown role-playing games with my children once I saw how much my children loved the aspects of role-playing games that were in Mice and Mystics. It was also the first game that I painted the miniatures for. Plaid Hat put out a PDF giving instructions on how to paint the game and I decided to give it a go. Fast forward years later and I and my children are loving the hobby of miniatures gaming and painting. Right now, my children are painting the miniatures for Stuffed Fables, the spiritual successor to Mice and Mystics. Both of those game, Stuffed Fables and Mice and Mystics, are my recommendations for the two best tabletop games for parents to play with their elementary school children.

But before Plaid Hat Games put out games with miniatures in them, they put out a card game where the cards stood in for miniatures. The game was Summoner Wars. Summoner Wars happens to be a favorite with the students in my after-school game club. The game is one of the miniatures games that wears its evolutionary descent from chess on its sleeve. Thus, it’s a good game to introduce to a school club that centers around chess. Of course, once the students played Summoner Wars they didn’t want to do chess anymore… But Summoner Wars is now out of print and getting harder and harder to find for purchase.

So, enter Crystal Clans! Crystal Clans is the newest 2-player card game from Plaid Hat Games. Once again, cards are standing in for miniatures. But this game is not simply Summoner Wars 2.0. It’s definitely its own game as much as any two miniatures games are their own games. Obviously, you will see some similarities to Summoner Wars, based on their mutual chess/ miniatures lineage, but those similarities do not define the game by any means. So, let’s take a look at the game…... and……. compare it to Summoner Wars along the way!

Monsterpocalypse Boxes

Monsterpocalypse has arrived! I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this game since I saw it announced. I love the Kaiju monster battle theme and liked the pre-released images I saw of the game. King of Tokyo and King of New York have been favorite board games of myself and my children for years now. The idea of transforming the board game experience into a miniatures game was very exciting for us. I even ordered the special GenCon exclusive Cthugrosh monster miniature off Privateer Press's website. But I have now gotten the two starter sets and built the models. My children have played their first game against each other (with me cheering both of them on) this evening. The first game took about 2 hours for my children to complete (subsequent games should be much faster). It was a down-to-the-wire finish with both of their monsters down to one health point a piece. They were holding their breaths on the final dice roll my son made. If he didn't make the roll and win, his sister was sure to make her roll on the next turn and win with her fully powered up monster... He happened to be ganging up all four of his small units with weapons on her monster, because his own monster was out of power (dice)... Units are extremely weak compared to monsters... It was anything but a sure thing...

So here are my detailed thoughts on the game.

Here's an interesting Ted Talk about the power of tabletop role-playing games.

This looks like it is going to be such an awesome miniatures game. You basically have Godzilla, Power Rangers, and Robotech forces versus Wellsian Martians, Cthlulu, and Alien Planet Eaters. What a great theme. In the game your monsters will be taking control of buildings to power themselves up. The terrain of buildlings is an essential part of the game beyond just providing cover, as in normal miniatures games. This terrain is destructible because giant monsters like to throw each other into buildings. Everybody knows that's what they do. If all the Kaiju movies throughout history and the Pacific Rim movies more recently have taught us anything, it's that. Thankfully, after watching all those movies the human race is prepared for when it happens. We all know to start running for the countryside when the monsters arrive. And knowing is half the battle! Thank goodness!

I'm glad Privateer Press are the ones doing this game, because they know how to make smart miniatures games with quality miniatures. And Privateer Press is probably the second biggest miniatures company out there in terms of market share right now. They are doing the launch right by releasing 4 factions right from the get go. So you'll see a nice variety of forces fielded by players right away. I have learned that's very important in making a miniatures game successful. (I'm looking at you, Fantasy Flight...)

I really hope this lives up to the hype!

KeyFOrge image from FFG's website

Fantasy Flight Games has announced a new card game they will be releasing this year called KeyForge. I think this card game sounds like the most interesting modern card game I've ever heard of. First of all, the designer is Richard Garfield. Richard is the designer of the world's first and still most popular collectible card game, Magic The Gathering.

The Duke is a modern take on a chess-like abstract game. It's been around for 5 years now and is out of print. There will be a new version of it coming out before long, however. So I have wanted to get my hands on a copy of The Duke for use in my after school strategy gaming club for a while, but it sells at exorbitant prices due to its current out of print status. I was finally able to grab a used copy from someone through the virtual flee market at Dice Tower Con for a low cost, however. So, now that I finally have my hands on it, how does it compare with its progenitor, Chess? Let's see.