Wednesday, September 03, 2014

GenCon Infinity Gaming Tables

As those of you interested in the game no doubt already know, Infinity made quite a splash at GenCon last month. Their brand new IceStorm starter set sold out before the convention ended, with their limited edition figures going much quicker than even that. They hosted a few seminars, teasing at upcoming releases as well as the general direction the game and its aesthetics will be taking, and all of these things contributed to a general sense that Corvus Belli and Infinity were "getting it," and about to take off to the next level of popularity.

But amidst all of these shinys (and I'll admit I came home with stuff I had no immediate purpose for), what impressed me the most was the quality of the numerous tables set up to run demos, tournaments, and other events throughout the convention. I believe all of the terrain was provided by Warsenal, which, up until GenCon, I had seen as just another producer of yet more flat, uninspiring laser-cut MDF terrain. But I came away really impressed. Whether this is because Warsenal is just that much better at getting compelling designs out of layered MDF, or because all terrain products offered by such producers can look just as good when painted well and used as just another tool in terrain design, I'm unsure (though I'm heavily leaning toward the latter presumption).

These first two tables represent the most basic set-ups I saw, consisting entirely, or nearly entirely, of MDF terrain, and I think the difference in aesthetic appeal is most apparent.  While generally using the same kinds of pieces, the first table, uses a dramatic color scheme to both disguise any "flatness" in the buildings as well as to create a consistent theme across the board.
The second board uses pieces that are just as skillfully airbrushed, but the varied palette makes each building and terrain item appear much more as a one-off piece and so, instead of benefiting from the ability to blend into a cohesive whole, any shortcomings in the design of the buildings is more readily apparent.  Unfortunately, this is what most gaming tables look like.
This third table I see as the next step in the evolution from the pink table, above.  The terrain is still only MDF pieces, but a few additional colors have been brought into the scheme and just as skillfully applied, and, more importantly, the buildings are arranged in a way that tells something of a story.  I think this contributes to the "cohesive whole" suggested above, which in turn provides a character the individual buildings may not have on their own.
Finally we get to this table, which I think is the perfect representation of using these MDF kits as just another tool in creating great looking terrain. Here, by contrasting the buildings against the organic shapes of the rock formations and trees, I think the blockiness of the buildings is actually an asset aesthetically.  The painting and weathering on the buildings doesn't hurt either.
Of course, you could just use MDF kits to build terrain that specifically benefits from squared shapes and minimal relief detail, such as a pre-fab style base like this one.  In fact, this was my favorite board of all those used in the Infinity gaming area.  Not ideal for gaming, I'm sure, the tight corridors, piles of gribblies, and spectacular painting made this a really compelling piece to look at.
Speaking of painting, I'll leave you with a close-up of one of the painted Warsenal pieces. I think there's no question that making these kinds of terrain kits look their best requires a style of painting that forces the perception of texture and detail that isn't actually there. The Warsenal painters seem to excel at this, not only through their use of modulation on flat surfaces and source lighting, but in the use of weathering and hyper-exaggerating highlights.  Look at the white edge hightlighting on this green piece for example.  When skillfully done, this approach goes along way towards transforming these pieces from just simple wooden boxes.

Others in my occasional Infinity gaming group were similarly impressed, so hopefully it's just a matter of time before I'm able to start showing my own attempts to replicate the effects discussed above!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The GenCon Haul

Getting back from GenCon late last night, and then having to trudge through the day of depression that is the first work day back from GenCon, I'm just now starting to reflect on the convention that was and organize the pictures that I took. Most are of Infinity, which completely ensnared me this year, and I'll post those tomorrow. In the meantime, here's what I picked up this year.

In no particular order, that's the newest expansion for Memoir '44; the new Infinity starter set and convention-exclusive figures; the new Malifaux book, arsenal decks, and Nightmare and Miss figures; the new 5th ed D&D books; some classic basic D&D adventures to add to my collection; the convention special Privateer Press figure; the Pathfinder card game Ranger class deck; and a few KR Multi-case figure cases.

For the first time in years I exhibited some degree of restraint in the dealer hall, only picking up figures for the two games I am actively playing (Infinity and Malifaux), or hope to play again soon (D&D of any sort and the Pathfinder card game).  Enticing new games were passed by (sorry Dropzone Commander, Shadowrun Crossfire, and 13th Age), as were miniatures games for which I already have a few figures still languishing, unassembled and unpainted, in blister (sorry Bushido and Dark Age), or which I have tried, repeatedly, to get off the ground with local friends (sorry Heavy Gear).

The purchase I'm possibly most giddy about were the KR cases though.  I've eyed them for a while and had determined to pick up a pair once I got back from the convention after seeing the jumbled mess my recent move made of my figures.  Lo and behold the Warstore had them for sale at GenCon though, and for an absolute song of a price, so I walked out with three of them.  Given the other fun toys I picked up, it seems a bit silly to admit how much I'm looking forward to transferring my painted stuff over to their new homes.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Awakened from a Millennia of Slumber

Perhaps it's only been four months, but that might as well be a millennia in the blogging world and it was an appropriate title for these servants of the Great Old One, Cthulhu.

Obligatory crappy cellphone picture
These figures, from the RAFM Miniatures Call of Cthulhu line, were painted as part of the demo force for a friend's new game system, premiering in beta form at this year's GenCon later this week.  I'll hopefully have more to say about that system in the near future.

I'll be honest, I was unaware that RAFM even still existed until these figures were sent to me to paint.  In the late 90s I loved the company, primarily because they produced the first run of Heavy Gear figures, and even carried my keys on a keychain with a massive metal RAFM-logo fob hanging from it.  Since then they seemed to pretty much disappear from the radar, or at least my radar, so I was shocked to see a catalog full of some great old, as well as really slick new, sculpts.  Nearly universally they're all pretty simple, clean sculpts, like these fishmen here, unadorned with layers of fiddly bits.  While I love me some fiddly bits on figures, these were an absolute blast to paint.  If you're interested check out RAFM here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Malifaux Rotten Belle #2

So only a year after finishing the first of the pair, I've finally gotten around to completing the second Belle as part of my long outstanding commission. Does this mark the return to my painting desk? Have I found my way back to painting productivity? My pile of unpainted lead sure hopes so.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

2013 Retrospective/2014 Plans

With 2013 already quickly fading into the distance, and 2014 arrived in its full, polar vortex, glory, it's time for me to once again ruminate on the year that was and the year that I hope will be.  At this point in this blog's life, it seems that these annual posts are about the only consistent new content a reader could expect.