Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

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Funky town

November 16, 2014

Not a single post since July, so it’s time to close down the…no, it’s not. While a super busy fall (and summer) has robbed me of nearly all of my miniatures gaming inspiration and brought about one of my unspiration periods, or funks as they say, I have no intention of getting out of minis. It’s been a lot more severe for a change – I don’t think I’ve read a forum or blog in months! So, on the off chance that some of you’ve been wondering where I’ve gone, I’m right here! My work assignment is ending in a few weeks, and I predict that will bring about a new enthusiasm for painting little lead men. Fear not, like the zombies this blog draws inspiration from, it’s quite hard to kill even if it tends to stand around doing nothing every now and then.

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Imaginary friends

January 16, 2014

When I’m getting started on a new project, I tend to immerse myself in it. I’m not really into doing intricate research to get every minute detail right, but rather I’m just consuming as much of source material as I can. In the case of Pacific Rim there’s of course the movie, the art/making of -book, the comic and the movie novelization (which I might or might not get), as well as a killer soundtrack. Then there’s the name generator mentioned in the previous post, plus another awesome tool: the Jaeger Designer.

The designer is a marketing tool for the film, and allows you to easily create your own jaeger posters with your own (albeit very limited) giant robot designs. I played around with it a bit and combined it with the names I created using the name generator, and now I have four named jaegers. While I don’t know whether they’ll make an actual appearance in-game, they’ve already got enough character that they’ll at least feature in back stories and get referenced in games. The designer is also a great way to try out different paint schemes for jaegers.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Emerald Havoc, Shrike Brigand, Lucky Diablo and Helios Tornado!

emeraldhavoc_small

shrikebrigand_small

luckydiablo_small

heliostornado_small

Now, a post like this might seem a bit silly. After all, there’s not much substance as such. No pretty minis, no built terrain, nothing. Still, in some ways this is the best part of a project for me: there’s not much actual work, my imagination is running wild and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. Things that hamper projects, like painting slumps, scheduling problems and bored demotivation aren’t yet a part of it. What’s not to like?

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2013

December 31, 2013

With less than six hours of the year left here in Finland, it’s time to take a quick look at what went on during the past 12 months, divided into handy categories.

Blogging-wise this was a very, very dry year. I scraped together a paltry 30-something posts, which is approximately half of my normal yearly output. I’ll try harder next year, so this might be my new year’s resolution. On the other hand…

Painting-wise this year wasn’t too bad! I managed to get a decent number of minis finished. Here’s a random selection:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Modelling-wise it was quite a nice year as well, with new terrain built and painted:

A guard scans the area with his LMG

Click for a larger version

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Click for a larger version

Gaming-wise the year was excellent in my book. We played a grand total of six Utopia games, which might not sound like much, but actually is. Additionally, a whole lot of computer games, board games and RPG’s, so nothing to complain about there.

All-the-other-stuff-wise the year was all in all very decent. I loved my visit to London and Salute in the spring, and will be doing that next year as well. Come by and say hi if you’re there!

With this rushed, last minute post I want to wish you all a happy new year 2014. Hope it’s a good one!

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2013

xmas2013

 

 

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Salute – there and back again

April 24, 2013

Like a good many bloggers, I too went to Salute, and this is my near-mandatory Salute post.

Of course Salute was a bit special for me, since it was my first one. We don’t have miniatures conventions as such in Finland, and I wasn’t at all expecting the sheer size and scale of the event. For the first hour or so I must’ve been walking around with my eyes wide and mouth open. Salute is HUGE. The large hall at London ExCel was filled with miniatures manufacturers’ stalls and games. Yes, games. More about those in a moment.

I spent four full days in London, and a good amount of that time was spent in the company of Frothers. Despite the FU-UK forums having a reputation for somewhat foul behaviour, all the forum members I met were amazingly hospitable and really made my stay in London something much more than it would’ve been on my own. So to all Frothers possibly reading this, thank you ever so much and see you next year!

Ok, enough of the sappy stuff. Here are some pictures, click for larger versions:

Some call it bare knuckle fighting...

Some call it bare knuckle fighting…

...others call it a gay disco.

…others call it a gay disco.

The action figure bare knuckle fightfest was a Frothers game, lovingly(?) dubbed the gay disco game. I got a game in, although we had to drop it halfway through, as my opponent had another game to catch. Fun while it lasted!

A zany rendition of the old Snit's Revenge boardgame

A zany rendition of the old Snit’s Revenge boardgame

The game deservedly won the "Most innovative game" prize

The game deservedly won the “Most innovative game” prize

Another Frothers game, this one was a 3D remake (aren’t these all the rage these days) of a 70’s boardgame, Snit’s Revenge. I took control of a team of Snits trying to bring down a Bolotomus. Unfortunately the Bolotomus’ immune system proved to be too tough for us.

A wonderful Victorian scifi game - definitely not my genre but lovely anyway!

A wonderful Victorian scifi game – definitely not my genre but lovely anyway!

Fog and rooftops, very atmospheric

Fog and rooftops, very atmospheric

Salute was filled with wonderful, wonderful game boards. I’ve no idea what they were playing, but I spent a good while gawking.

The Haunted House of Slaughter - "disturbing" doesn't do it justice

The Haunted House of Slaughter – “disturbing” doesn’t do it justice

Some of the Haunted House's cast and crew

Some of the Haunted House’s cast and crew

While I never got to play the Haunted House of Slaughter, I helped pack it away. I felt like I wanted to wash my hands afterwards. With quicklime. Lovely!

My favourite of the show, Akula's Planet of the Apes table

My favourite of the show, Akula’s Planet of the Apes table with humans for scale

Lovely detailing

Lovely detailing

An abandoned subway train sits under the field

An abandoned subway train sits under the field

I got to play on the table, here's my astronaut almost making it out through a storm drain before being captured by damn dirty apes

I got to play on the table, here’s my astronaut almost making it out through a storm drain before being captured by damn dirty apes

I had seen the Return to the Planet of the Apes table in pictures before Salute, and was expecting something approximately one third this size. It was mind-blowing. Akula is deservedly known for his mad projects! The game itself was fun too, with astronauts trying to flee to safety while pursued by apes. Good fun!

These are just a small glimpse! For a far more detailed picture coverage, see this blog.

Overall it was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait for next year!

…I’ll just leave out the bit about spending £180 on miniatures.

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Merry Christmas from Dawn of the Lead

December 25, 2012

Christmas card 2012

People tend to dress up their kids in Christmas outfits, take photos of them and them make Christmas cards out of them. I figured I’d do the same. Here’s the USCM (Ultimate Santa Claus Marines) deploying for yet another daring winter mission. You can click on the card to view it in its full glory.

To all of my readers, have a merry and peaceful Christmas.

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On winning – Warpg’s revisited

December 9, 2012

It has been over three years since I wrote my initial Warpg’s post. I’ve linked back to it several times, re-read it and still agree with what I wrote back then. I suggest you read that one first if you haven’t already, this one will make much more sense.

I was more than delighted when blog reader Andrew May commented a few weeks back:

 I keep coming back to this post to get ideas flowing, great inspiration here. Any chance of part 2? I particularly like the prospect of unwinnable scenarios!

Since I’m probably not the only blogger in the world who’s a sucker for compliments, I promised to return to the subject – hence this post. In this one I’ll touch upon the subjects that I mentioned at the end of the first post, namely narrated/GM-led games, cooperative gaming and unwinnable scenarios. These three tie together nicely to boot.

Narrated and GM-led games are definitely a step in a role-playing direction. Actually, to the point that the line between a wargame and a role-playing one is effectively blurred. The idea is definitely not a new one. Role-playing games sprang in the seventies from strategy games onto which different elements were bolted, so you could say we’re pretty much at the core here. In my view, they allow for a much wider scope for a game than just going along using different mechanics. The addition of a GM (Game Master) makes the game/story a lot more dynamic. All of a sudden the game can react to a given situation in literally countless ways. In a sense, it’s taking a step from “game” to “play” (but I won’t go there, there’s a massive academic swamp of term definitions that way). The rules become more malleable too, as the game takes a more story-like approach to the events. A good example of this is our previous game of Utopia, where the players were tackling Predators. We had a soundtrack featuring jungle sounds playing in the background, and as there was rain included, I mentioned to the players that it was now raining on the jungle battlefield as well. Later on we had this exchange:

Me: The Predator re-activates his cloaking device.

Player #1: Doesn’t he need to roll a die?

Me: No, it’s automatic, just takes an action.

Player #1: But you said earlier it was raining. We all know how the cloaking device responds to water.

Players #2 & 3: Hey, that’s true. You need to roll.

Me: Ok, sounds fair. On a roll of 1 the device won’t work.

<die roll of 1>

Me: The Predator, in fact, doesn’t activate his cloaking device. Apparently the combination of rain and the gunshot he just received has temporarily disabled the device.

…and all of a sudden we had a far more interesting situation. This might of course simply sound like players trying to exploit the rules, but in fact there was no rule to exploit here. I could’ve simply said that the rules don’t cover this and activated the device. Why was I willing to give the players an extra chance? That’s the beauty of GM-led games: a GM isn’t usually personally too invested. In other words, the GM controls the world and various characters, but unlike the player characters, the GM-led non-player characters aren’t an extension of the GM. As such, the GM can take a far more neutral approach to things, as it’s not a direct, fair competition between the GM and the players. If I was just another player playing the Predators, I probably wouldn’t have agreed, since that would’ve hampered my chances of winning. The GM doesn’t need to win. In fact, since he’s pretty much omnipotent, there’s no point for him in playing to win. I mean, if you can simply tell the players to roll three sixes in a row or all of their characters will die, then why stress about winning? Once winning is out of the window, the GM can concentrate on creating a fun and interesting game.

Cooperative games are tied to the same theme of winning. In competitive games the sucky (in my opinion) part is that in order for someone to win, another must lose. Usually losing isn’t much fun. Sure, you can do it in style and all, but you’ll often be left with a feeling of disappointment, frustration and such. While a staple in RPGs, this has been discovered more and more in other games lately. Board games, computer games, miniature games…cooperation is fun. If you lose, then everyone loses and you can share the disappointment. Then again, if you win, everyone’s a winner. On your side at least. Combine this with the GM approach above, and you have a very nice combination. If you lose, there’s no-one to gloat since the GM isn’t playing to win. If you win, there’s no-one to mope since the GM isn’t playing to win. A GM can also try to minimize the disappointment of the losing players: maybe they fail their mission, but not everyone dies. A loss can also be turned into an interesting story, and that brings us to…

Unwinnable scenarios. At first this sounds like a major letdown. Seriously, a scenario you can’t win? Where’s the fun? Let’s start again by ditching the need for winning. Suddenly also losing is deprived of most of its meaning – it’s a given, so why stress about it? While you’re going to lose eventually, there are plenty of small victories and glorious moments to be had. I suggest watching any movie about the Alamo for a good example of what I mean. You know what will happen – the defenders will lose and die. Doesn’t mean it’s a boring story. Since we already know what will happen, we can focus on the interesting path to the conclusion, instead of the conclusion itself. Take a scifi or fantasy classic – say Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings. You know the good guys will win and the bad guys will lose. Doesn’t mean there’s not a story in there, does it?

If I think of interesting examples of unwinnable scenarios, these might include scenarios that are not directly winnable but might affect the big picture, for example in a campaign game. “You must hold this ford for as long as possible against an overwhelming enemy” doesn’t offer much hope of winning, but will probably be an interesting game. “Try to get as far as possible into enemy territory.” “This is the last game of the campaign, make a glorious last stand!” and so on. Of course, in a GM-led scenario you don’t even have to let the players know that the scenario is unwinnable, although it just might be fair…

Three years ago, I wrote:

The one thing you have to bear in mind is that in the end it depends a lot on whether players are willing to sacrifice victory in favour of a more interesting game. I’ve found that the more players like to do this, the better the games get. Correspondingly the more people tend to focus on winning, the drearier the games get.

Having thought about it for a good while, I’d like to replace it with the following:

There are plenty of ways to define winning in a game, and the traditional victory point counting way is but one definition. Striving to win and striving to make an interesting, narrative-driven game don’t necessarily preclude each other. It depends a lot on game and scenario design as well as the players and the possible GM. A good game enables you to do your best to win without sacrificing interesting game content. At the same time a good game provides you with interesting content without requiring you to forget about winning.

I hope there was something interesting in this to all of you! For a lot of RPG veterans this is old hat, but I’ve been surprised by the fact that many wargamers see this as something groundbreaking. I apologize for the rambling nature of the post, and as a disclaimer I’ll say that not all of those thoughts are as fully developed as I’d like them to be. I’m definitely open to comments, critique and your ideas regarding the subject!

 

 

 

 

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Prometheus and the Alien canon

July 12, 2012

 

Warning, spoilers here if you haven’t seen Prometheus!

tldr: Is Prometheus part of the Alien canon? Not really, although it might be an Alien prequel.

I finally went to see Prometheus. Surprisingly late for a franchise fanboy, but nevertheless. This won’t be a review, as there are plenty of those around. This won’t even be a rumination on Prometheus‘ themes, as there are plenty of those around too. This will simply be an account of my thoughts on how Prometheus relates to the Alien canon.

I you’re one of those people who can’t really be bothered to read through a whole bunch of text for a simple conclusion, but the tldr (too long, didn’t read) is too short for you, I’ll just quote a piece of Wikipedia for you.

Lindelof suggested that the other parts of the script were strong enough to survive without the Alien hallmarks, such as the Alien creature which he believed had been “diluted” by the exposure it had received since, and the burden of “all the tropes of that franchise with Facehuggers and Chestbursters”. He offered that the film could instead run parallel to those films, such that a sequel would be Prometheus 2 and not Alien[…]

That’s basically it.

While I enjoyed Prometheus despite its many shortcomings, I don’t really see it connecting with the canon established in AlienAliensAlien³ and even the much maligned Alien: Resurrection. For me, it’s somewhat similar to the AvP films in that regard, although obviously superior (and remarkably similar to the first one).

Why? Simply put, Prometheus doesn’t feel like it. The whole concept of giant, god-like creatures creating human life in their own image…it’s a bit too space opera, a bit too…just a “no”. For me, the concept of Alien lies in the name. It’s literally something alien, very much different from us. While interesting similarities can be seen (the mother theme being the most prominent), at the end of the day it is not us. The Space Jockey is also something different – a massive humanoid with an elephant-like head – of which nothing is revealed. It hints at something far beyond our knowledge. It’s strange, alien.

Prometheus bypasses this theme, actually reversing it. In a very literal sense, the Space Jockey is us. By extension, the proto-Aliens, created by the Engineers, are created by us. The Aliens are no longer alien, simply our own creation. This pretty much flattens the Alien canon. While it doesn’t of course destroy it logically, it does so thematically. The whole Alien saga becomes something not about the Alien, but humans. Even the Space Jockey is revealed to be basically a giant human in a suit. AvP made the same basic mistake in a very similar way, having the Predators worshipped as gods and so on.

The internet is full of Alien fans doing their best to tie Prometheus smoothly into the Alien saga. While this can obviously be done (“Oh but it was probably a different ship and maybe there are two different groups of Engineers and the proto-Alien was simply a different version!”) I find it easiest to simply accept that it isn’t necessary. Prometheus simply doesn’t fit the established Alien canon, no more than the graphic novels and the like.

What about the obvious similarities then? As the creators themselves said, Prometheus is set in the same world as Alien. It provides a lot of fan service, enough references to make a fanboy froth at the mouth and things like that. It’s definitely something of an Alien movie. Ridley Scott has said that Prometheus needs at least two sequels to reach Alien. This sounds reasonable. It would also make for a new canon: Prometheus, Prometheus 2/3, Alien. With the sequels not existing, it’s very difficult to say whether it would work. The leap from Prometheus to Aliens is simply too big, that’s for sure. As it is, Prometheus is a fairly interesting what if -scenario set in the Alien universe.

Parallels can be found, one being the new Star Wars trilogy. The original trilogy was about Luke Skywalker, with Darth Vader being an interesting antagonist, dramatically revealed to be Luke’s father. Then along comes the new trilogy, and suddenly the whole Star Wars saga is actually the tale of Darth Vader – even if he only plays a fairly minor role (in terms of screen time) in the original films. Like it or not, if there’s a Prometheus trilogy and it’s linked with the Alien canon, then all of a sudden the whole series of seven movies becomes a story of giant god-like beings and humans as their creation. All because of a very minor character/plot element, the Space Jockey, being shown. It’s no longer the Alien saga.

I don’t know about you, but in my opinion Alien – the Eighth Passenger is a hell of a lot more interesting than Humans – the Seven Other Passengers.

That’s why, dear readers, Prometheus just might be an Alien prequel, but for me it’s not part of the Alien canon. For me the Alien saga will be about the Alien, and Space Jockeys will probably always remain a mystery. I’ll keep my Xenomorphs and Space Jesus separate, thank you very much.

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Crowdsourcing

May 29, 2012

Crowdsourcing is a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people. This process can occur both online and offline, and the difference between crowdsourcing and ordinary outsourcing is that a task or problem is outsourced to an undefined public rather than a specific body, such as paid employees.

As a blogger, I have approximately two things I need to do: come up with ideas and write the actual posts. Unless I’m feeling particularly blank, the former isn’t usually a problem, and the latter I prefer to do by myself. However, there are times – such as today – when I’m thinking of doing something a bit bigger, and would definitely like some help and feedback. Instead of calling it “politely requesting”, I’m going to get all marketing-trendy and call it “crowdsourcing”.

What do I need it for? I’ve been thinking a long time of doing a Gaming the movie Aliens review. I’ve already covered the main players, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines in their respective reviews. What about the supporting cast? Here’s what I’ve got on an idea level (and what I currently think is needed):

Ripley – There are four or five variants that I know: Leading Edge, Hasslefree, Woodbine, em4 and at a pinch Copplestone.

Bishop – Leading Edge and Woodbine.

Burke – Leading Edge and Woodbine.

Gorman – Leading Edge and Woodbine.

Newt  – Leading Edge, Woodbine and Hasslefree.

Ferro – Leading Edge and Woodbine.

Spunkmeyer – Leading Edge and Woodbine.

Colonists  – Various, including Heresy, Hasslefree and Woodbine.

Sentry guns  – Leading Edge, Antenociti, Woodbine, em4.

Power loader – Leading Edge, Prince August, possibly Reviresco.

APC – Leading Edge, upcoming Khurasan, Old Crow, Scotia Grendel…

Alien Queen – Leading Edge, Horrorclix, Konami, ERM.

And now I turn to you. What am I missing, either as categories or models? Feel free to flood me with ideas, I’d rather select from a bunch than run dry. Do note that I’m only talking about Aliens here, not the entire quadrilogy – so Jones the cat and the rest are out I’m afraid. I’m also trying not to get into the whole scenics/terrain thing to keep this somewhat in check.

Dear readers, gimme all your lovin’. It’s much appreciated!

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DotL 100K

March 19, 2012

Almost exactly a year ago Dawn of the Lead hit 50 000 views. Now we’re at 100 000 – quite a year!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some statistics:

Top 5 referrers (not including search engines)

The Miniatures Page – 14 766

Frother Unite! UK  – 2553

Lead Adventure Forum – 2282

Vampifan’s World of the Undead – 1600

Facebook – 1155

Top 5 posts

Alien miniatures review – 6176

Predator miniatures review – 5294

Colonial Marine miniatures review – 4714

HorrorClix zombies review – 2520

Colonial Marine painting tutorial – 2398

The blog is also nearing its 3rd birthday (April 25th). In that spirit I re-read my first ever post and I’m happy to say that I’ve been sticking to my original vision pretty tight.

A special thank you must go out to two of my most ardent followers, Sho3box and Vampifan. Thanks guys, your comments and feedback have helped shape both this blog and my views on the hobby.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has dropped by and even kept coming back. To put it in a manly and mature way, you people are

 

 

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