Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sons of Medusa

  Most of us began playing miniatures games by playing Space Marines.  Most of us played Space Marines by picking some colors we like and a cool name for our chapter and going nuts.  Today I want to tell you about the Space Marine chapter of my childhood.
  My first space marines were ostensibly Dark Angels (because they were green and I'm not really sure what I was up to).  But it wasn't long before I read a bit of fluff in the 2nd ed. Ultramarines book about the Grey Knights, a Cursed founding chapter.  Cursed founding sounded pretty awesome (now my marines are Lamenters, I guess some things stick with us).  
  This was before Grey Knights were well known as the daemon-fighting chamber militant of the Ordo Malleus, so I just thought they were:
1) Knights
2) Grey
and 3) because there was a picture of some ultramarines next to them and one of them had a medusa head on its shoulder pad; had a medusa head as their chapter icon (I was like, 11, give me a break)

Anyways, this led me to repaint my marines grey and black with red bolters and bright green (Scorpion Green (now Moot Green) to be precise) eyes and chapter markings.  When I looked through them this morning they were too hideous to photograph, so I'm going to spare you those old models.  But to continue my story, one day it became apparent that Grey Knights were already kind of a thing and they totally were not my radical Cursed Founding guys in grey power armour.  Thus the Sons of Medusa were born (which I'm sure most of you know turned out to also already be a thing).  
  Anyways, since they already had skull decals with painted serpentine hair on their shoulderpads, I renamed them the Sons of Medusa and they had a fresh new backstory about how they pursued some Chaos heretics into the Eye of Terror and were forever cursed to bear the blight of the medusa.  It was actually pretty cool.
  A couple of years later a new Space Marine book came out and I flipped through it and saw this crap (see right).  Who are these impostor Sons of Medusa?  I felt betrayed.  But I was all like "I'm not changing because they're wrong".  So mine remained the Sons of Medusa who had nothing to do with those puce green jerks.
 So I told you that story so I could tell you this story (one of my friends says this all the time, you can hear him telling stories on Storytime with Blake and Highcove at iPodcast Magic Missile).  Many years later, after I'd left the Imperial fold to hang with the Tyranids (and sometimes Space Orks), I came back to my Sons of Medusa with a pack of Naga (from some game or another).  I crafted the Snake Marines.

   There are only two of them.  I guess I'd count them as Space Marine bikers if I had an army to go with them.  But the moral of this story is that even though my childhood wacky creativity with total disregard for sense was constantly crushed by real fluff, in the end it resulted in what I think are some pretty cool conversions and maybe even someday the basis for a kinda neat army (not that I'm likely to build it, but you never know).


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Then and Now...

  So I saw a cool thread on BOLS today about how far we've all come since painting our first models.  So I took some pictures to post in the thread, but I thought I shouldn't let it go to waste and so I'm gonna post it on my blag too.

  The first models I ever painted were a pack of Warhammer Cave Squigs.  I painted them with Testors oil model paints.  They turned out a lurid glossy purple with glistening white teeth.  Two colors.  But that was all it took, I went out and bought some more models.  Honestly I have no idea where my second models went.  They were a pair of space marine knockoffs for who knows what game.  They had big blocky shoulderpads and static poses.  I painted them red and blue and then drybrushed them with silver... cuz... ya know.  It seemed like a good idea at the time (did I mention I was in sixth grade?).  Anyways, my parents got me a Marneus Calgar and a Razorback for my birthday that year.

Mr. McCragge has since been repainted (he didn't look very good back then).  The Razorback is in pieces.  So the oldest models I have with their original paint-jobs are the Dark Eldar from the 3rd edition 40k starter I got that Christmas.  The Space Marines got new paint-jobs because I actually used them from time to time.  The Dark Eldar were never used again and some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.  History became legend.  Legend became myth.  And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.  Er, I mean the Dark Eldar.  So anyways, when I saw this thread I rooted around, found them, and took these pictures of a Dark Eldar from 1999ish next to a Lamenters Sanguinary priest from a couple days ago.

It's nice to take a step back and look at how far we've come since the days of globbing on crappy acrylics (or worse yet, oils) over a half-done base-coat and calling it a day.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chess vs. Craps

  For a long time, I have used a scale to compare games.  At one end is Chess, a game which has exactly one random element, at the other end is Craps, which has (correct me if I'm wrong (which I'm sure I am (but I'm probably close))) zero non-random elements.


         The Game of Kings                                                                                                   Show Me 7s!

  The defining factor here is that Chess is a solved game.  It is a (more or less) perfectly tactical and determinate game in which the better player will almost always win.  Craps (at the other end of this spectrum) is completely unsolvable and computers are no better at it than humans.  Maybe I should be using a different game for my example here because I am getting the sneaking suspicion that I am soon going to receive a thorough education in the tactical intricacies of Craps, but I'm going to stick with it because it's still a good example (says I!).
  Neither of these games is implicitly superior to the other.  Maybe that sounds all new-age special butterfly-y, but I think that these games simply cater to different audiences.  I prefer Chess (sorry Craps enthusiasts) and I think that most gamers would follow suit.  I feel pretty safe saying that gamers want to have some element of control over their win or loss in a game.  However, some amount of crapsiness (how do you like this word I've just made up?  Try using it in conversation (I do... it's fun)) can add to the fun of a game.
  If you look at popular miniatures, card, and board games, the Craps element of the game frequently outweighs the Chess.  I like to think that most miniatures games (once models are on the table) are somewhere toward the middle on the Craps side of the spectrum.  Some games like Warhammer are extremely Craps heavy, whereas WarMaHordes is shifted a bit toward the Chess side.  The difference in predictability meaningfully affects who plays each game and why.

 In the Grim Darkness of the Chess<>Craps spectrum, there is only war

  Chessier (not to be confused with Cheesier) games are (presumably) better for competitive play because they reward tactical thinking and often are won by the 'better' player.  Crapsier games are (also presumably) better for casual play because they shift some responsibility for results away from the player (your friend didn't just steamroll you... you rolled poorly).