Monday, June 20, 2016

A Bit of Sci-Fi

Chalk these two little guys up to the lead mountain.  They've been based and primed for a long time, just kind of hanging out in the queue waiting for inspiration to strike.  It never did, so I finally just knocked out a quick bronze and silver pattern respectively.
 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cirsova, A Review

Growing up in a stolid middle-class family with a sizable and hence expensive brood of children that pushed our life-style into the ranks of the lower middle-class, our entertainment was chiefly picked up from the free library and the low-rent flea markets that dotted the Midwest countryside of the 1980s.  The library was a great source of fantasy and sci-fi from the 1950s through the 1970s, but devouring those only came after the love of the genre had been instilled through exposure to the second-hand comics and short fiction magazines heaped up on the ten cent tables.  The bright and action packed covers and lurid titles of the stories may have been designed to appeal to kids of a previous generation, but they worked just as well on this child of the 1980s.

Like so many members of my generation, my love of the short fiction magazine faded over the years.  That loss of interest was chalked up to putting away childish things and the rise of digital entertainment against which no mere magazine could possibly hope to compete.  Both of those rationalizations made little sense when Project Gutenberg made authors like Burroughs and Howard available for a nostalgic re-read, and demonstrated that the old stories still held up.  Re-reading Tolkien every few years helped prove that the newer works generally didn’t live up to the high reputation of their predecessors.  An occasional foray into the magazine stacks at the big box bookstores only provided more evidence that the time of quality short fiction had passed for good.

The Cirsova announcement went unremarked on this blog.  Short fiction magazines were dead, why risk yet another disappointment.  The editor did claim that Cirsova was an attempt to recapture the spirit of adventure and exploration of the outside world.  That should have counted for something, but countless scoundrels have hidden their mediocrity behind the popular names of the past.
I'm just going to leave this here.
Despite wanting to believe, I just couldn't bring myself to order a copy.  When P. Alexander offered up free review copies, my last remaining objection fell apart, and I quickly volunteered.  Within minutes, I realized that my skepticism had almost cost me the prize I had been seeking.  While not exactly the Holy Grail of classic sci-fi/fantasy, this magazine manages the impressive feat of perfectly recapturing the feel and spirit of those old flea-market treasures.  The opening story features a sword wielding barbarian cutting his way through the wilds, tangling with evil wizards, and rescuing princesses (of a sort).  The writing doesn’t meet the level of a Howard, but that’s a high enough bar as to be an unfair standard.

The rest of the stories in the magazine consist of an eclectic blend of adventure yarns that run the gamut from  a solar system spanning planetary romance complete with evil queens and betrayals, to an alt-history tale where a lad must save London from a fleet commanded by the wizard priests of the victorious Spanish Armada, to a small set piece featuring a young Asian slave girl attempting to assassinate a demon-slash-prince.  If that seems like a crazy amount of stuff to pack into a single sentence, rest assured that it’s a crazy amount of stuff to pack into a single magazine.  Cirsova does just that, however; and does it with aplomb.

As can be expected, the level of writing quality varies among the stories, but even the worst prose is readable and doesn’t distract from the story itself.  In fact, each of the authors writes with such a strong voice that no two stories feel like any other.  Some are light, some heavy, and one is even a long form epic poem that does what this curmudgeon expects of poetry – it rhymes.  If that marks this reviewer as an unlettered barbarian, so be it.  The epic poem has wonderful rhythm and pacing, leaving this reviewer to speculate that if modern poetry was all this good, it wouldn’t be such a joke among the hoi polloi.

The magazine is not perfect.  The planetary romance story runs longer than it should.   Unlike the rest of the stories that leave the reader wanting more, this one wears out its welcome before wrapping up. 

That’s it.  That is Cirsova’s sole downside.  A hack would claim the magazine being too short as a second complaint, but that sort of modern-day drollery is no more fitting in a review than it would be in this magazine.  It looks like future editions of Cirsova will indeed be longer, for which we can all be grateful

In short, Cirsova is just like the old stuff, but new.  I can think of no higher praise.

If you agree, you can get your copy - digital or real-world - from Amazon.  You can also back the Kickstarter for the second issue.  I hope you will do so, because I've already backed it, and the more people that back it, the more likely we are to get more Cirsovan goodness.  The world needs more Cirsovan goodness.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Jumping in the Social Media Pool - League For Gamers

I'm not a huge fan of social media.  That toxic purple sewer burned me out on third party sites where the powers that be tow the Party line.  I deleted my Facebook account when it's spergy CEO abandoned it's neutrality in favor of under-the-table activism.  Twitter?  Warren Abox ain't jumping on that ship - not while Captain Jack Dorsey is steaming full steam ahead for the iceberg of Full Convergence. The latest sign of Twitter's impending implosion is the banning of Mark Kern - one of the chief brains behind a little thing called World of Warcraft - for engaging in crimethink.

Clearly, they want to send a message - if you don't submit to the Narrative you will be outcast - and this wargamer reads them loud and clear.  They won't have to worry about old Warren Abox spreading hatefacts around, or potential ad dollars they could earn from his eyeballs, because he found a better social media site.

Logo 7abaada69261148b03f1eb67c98b92d07a5efed8ad073d1a96741f472f111989Mark Kern's own, League for Gamers, "a consumer focused gaming league encompassing video games, and also board games, and pen and paper gaming. We come together to promote positive gaming, good sportsmanship, research, learning and advocacy for our hobby."

That's all I needed to hear.  To add a little sugar on top, it even has a group dedicated to Tabletop Wargaming.  Join in the fun, or there won't be any.

[Edit:  Was just informed there's already a tabletop wargame group on the site:  HERE.  Deleted mine, because who needs the duplication?]

The Watcher In the Dungeon Lake

Two more simple Reaper Bones figures to add to Castle Meatgrinder.  These are called "Spell effect: Tentacles" (#77367), and are carved by one C. Staples.  While they might work well as spell effect markers, (I could see these painted in a black and neon green to add some magic to them,) they work just fine as straight up tentacles from the water:

The bases are carved to look like crumbled stone - presumably they are meant to show summoned tentacles bursting through the floor - but these are painted in a bright foamy blue to show that they churning the water of the water room. 

Again, 28mm figures make for great towering monsters in 15mm scale.
What are they attached to?  Who knows?  They fight as independent monsters, and once you've done damage enough they'll sink back under the water and you can pass the sunken room in safety.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Wha-Hey! Pillar of Good

One of the few safe havens inside Castle Meatgrinder is a vaulted room with a heavy stone door.  The center of the dome shaped room is dominated by a massive stone column carved into twin angels standing back to back.  They radiate the light of God, and prevent entry by the denizens of the Castle.


This piece is one of the Reaper Bones items, the "Pillar of Good" (#77246) carved by Sandra Garrity.  The Bones figures are ostensibly scaled for 28mm figures, but something like this looks great in any scale.  That little minotaur is actually a Pendraken 10mm figure, but as a "big" 10mm he makes a great "man sized" 15mm figure.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Someday, My Pets

Is there anything more pathetic than 'nothing to see here' updates?


Cleaning the living room revealed this sad tale of my long neglected hobby.  What you're looking at is the dust shadow left by my bag o' brushes which have sat untouched lo these many moons.

Champing at the bit, though.  Shouldn't be too much longer before I've got something to show you.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Field Report: Chico, California

This field update comes to you from the heart of the State of Jefferson.  (It's currently known as Northern California, but from the yard signs seen around the area that's subject to change as soon as the locals get a say in state politics...don't hold your breath, the big metroplexes that run California ain't giving up all that tax revenue or all those water sources any time soon.)

Chico is the big local city, about 100,000 people, located at the far northern tip of California's central valley.  Although not a huge city, it dwarfs the towns and villages that serve the largely agricultural area.  It is also home to two university's, so there's a large enough contingent of gaming's target market to support at least one game shop.  That would be 'Bat Comics and Games' located on the downtown strip.

Inside is mostly comics and general nerd paraphernalia, with one wall of gaming supplies.  No gaming space, which strikes me as odd, but this is primarily a comic store.  That may be a good sign, indicating more gaming groups doing their thing at home rather than the weekly mini-conventions that dominate gaming in my home town.   They had a couple of feet of older discounted products on the shelf, so there's some opportunity for finding that rare ouit of print gem, but nothing that caught my eye.The staff was friendly and helpful, and parking was easy even on a Saturday morning.  

They didn't have any of my preferred product in stock, but 15mm fantasy in one of those strange little niche products that make me feel like a hipster when asking about it.  ("I only drink craft beer and listen to bands you've never heard of, too.  *sniff* ")  One great little feature is a glass case full of the most random assortment of miniatures I've seen in person in a long time.  Old Partha true-25mm fantasy, plastic pre-paints, and a host of them I can't even identify.  They had these cute little guys that I couldn't pass up for just a buck each.  


They are a little cartoony, but that fits great with the pulpy feel I've been pushing in my sci-fi.  They should make great little unmanned drones and patrol bots in15mm sci-fi games. Only a buck each, and no shipping costs for once.

All in all, Bat Comics and Games is worth a quick stop if you're ever in the area.