Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kickstarter Tempations and Idle Musings

As of this writing, Bones 2, a Reaper Kickstarter to make more miniatures in their special plastic, is on it's last day. It's doing fantastic. It remains to be seen if it does better than the previous one, but by almost any measure outside of that, it's doing great.

I myself am not THAT impressed with Reaper though. Mind you, it's not that they didn't deliver, but they had a lot of the same problems other companies did with their KS.

1. Poor communication when things weren't going perfectly. At one point they told the backers outside US that they didn't have to ship them their products. WTF Reaper.

2. Metal miniatures have died. In my gut, I knew this was going to happen. I paid for the Metal for a Year after specifically asking, "So with all the Bones Plastic stuff coming out, are you going to be able to handle making metal miniatures still? "Oh yeah, no problem. 12-15 a month per normal." Nada for many months. I'm hopeful that metal miniatures will make a comeback during the "China is working on this part of it" phase but now that Reaper has at least one machine in their own factory, someone's got to man that sucker too right?

3. Bones are not for everyone. Reaper oversold a few of the points of Bones like the detail. Several figures were pulled for Q&A issues. Many more simply don't have the details in them that the metal versions do. There is also the bendy weapon or part issue. There is also the "hey, my paint isn't adhering to the miniature" or "my primer is wet and sticky three days later." Minor issues but when you're selling something that's supposed to be paint and play right outside the box with no primer and with the same detail as metal for a fraction of the cost? Yeah, potential problems.

4. The cases had problems. I didn't have the glue issue that a lot of people had, but they were way too damn small. It's like Reaper said, "Hey, miniatures are still true 25mm right?" Thankfully I have a lot of miniatures that are either old or small, like bugs, goblins, and giant rats, so they went into those boxes.

5. Miscellaneous. People may not be happy with the selection, people may not think they're getting as good a deal as last year, people may still have figures from last KS that they haven't even looked at, etc... etc... etc...

Now, having said all of that, I'm down with it. The figures are very affordable and provide you a chance to dabble in genres you might not normally do so. In addition, there are a lot of NEW figures and until Reaper picks up their metal again, if they ever do, well, this is a quick way to get them.

Now supporting this KS? That in and of itself is a problem.

You see, there are other Kickstarters I'd like to be down with as well. And honestly, a lot of people told the companies, "Hey, Reaper is doing Bones 2 about now. You should wait." and for the most part, the response was something like, "Well, there's always going to be another Kickstarter around the corner."

And to be fair, there is a certain amount of truth in that statement. For example, Darklands by Mierce Miniatures just finished up. That took in over $100K, more like $150K with conversion in there. Mars Attacks is another one out there right now. 

Another one, Jounrey:Wrath of Demons, is a board game with some awesome looking figures. It's doing fantastic.

But having said that, NONE of them are sucking the air out of the room like Reaper is. If you're a smaller fringe company whose figures are going to be competing with Reaper for say, Fantasy stylings, you wait. End of discussion. Well, end of discussion if you're really on the fringe and haven't blown past your previous Kickstarters with huge strides eh?

For those I'd like to support...I'd love to support ShadowSea. It's based on the Song of Blades and Heroes engine and I've had previous editions and a lot of the miniatures. I've supported previous Kickstarters and unlike some companies, the guys here are pretty clear in the communications and get things done in a fairly timely manner. But... ah, the dreaded but... It's no huge bargain at the base prices. It's not that the prices are terrible. This is especially true considering the great detail and high quality of the sculpts. It's that well, it's expensive. This is where doing it later would have benefited them. I can't say that the totals have been directly effected by Reaper's KS but I'd be willing to bet money on it.

Another one, Elven Adventurers, is by a company that did two previous KickStarters and did a fantastic job with them. I'd like to support them but... well, I'm not 'feeling' it. The elves are a little goofy and they've throw in all sorts of weird mini-stretch goals that are popular, but aren't necessarily my cup of tea. They're funded too so I don't feel too bad about it.

The other problem in terms of money, is well, the real world sometimes has stuff on sale!  For example, Fantization is one of my "to go to" shops when I need something. They are carrying Scale 75 paint. I like the paint line. They are having a 20% sale. Well, bam, there goes some money. Money that could have went to another Kickstarter.

It's why I'm amused when people talk about not budgeting for Kickstarters. Yeah, you can not budget to pay the rent either. See how far that gets you. I'm not saying you have to spend X amount or Y amount, but if you don't know how much you're spending and aren't keeping track of things, it's an easy way to get into trouble.

Me? It looks like Reaper is allowing you to add to your pledge up to December 20th so I may go with just the Vampire level and try to support Shadowsea, but even so, it's going to be a close one.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Not Quite a Battlereport

I finally managed to drag my sorry ass out of the apartment to play a game of Warmachine at the dreaded Dice Dojo. Public parking wasn’t bad but I did forget to add money to the meter. I think Chicago is at the point where you have to keep feeding those bastards till midnight or something in exchange for them not slapping your face on Sunday. That may not have went through yet either though. The good news is that I didn’t get a ticket. That would have stunk.

I watched a game at first between a Cygnar force with a lot of mercenaries and a Retribution force. It was interesting to sit back and watch because I’ve played so few games. It’s also interesting to note that sometimes even a game between experienced people can become a grind.

Another thing I enjoy about watching games, is that you get to see how other people paint up their miniatures. I’m a lazy SOB when it comes to picking out the colors and will almost always go with the ‘standard’ colors. In the Retribution case that meant a lot of white. The guy I was watching? He went with a dark red kind of purple color with black. Worked fantastic. I thought he might have used an airbrush on it but nope, just a lot of glazes. Another reason it’s important to see these things so you can know what’s going on in terms of what people are doing.

Lastly, I noticed that the people playing were using cards with clear backs. That should be a no-brainer but alas, I am senile and didn’t think about that. Mind you that’s not really that important for me as I not only have the cards, but have the program for Android that keeps all the cards for me.

I then went into the actual store itself. I like to try and buy something when I’m doing some gaming in the store. I picked up a heavy warjack for my Retribution forces that I'll turn into a Hydra. I should be like some of the others and just do the whole magnet thing but in this case, the power progression list (from No Quarter 34, back in the day!) has two different models so it would be hard to swap out with a magnet regardless if I need them both on the table.

After going back into the room, John offered to play a game with me. I brought enough figures to hit 15, 25 or 35 points. Mind you my actual game experience is minimal so I’m always hoping to do some low point games just to get the feel of it. Not only that, but those low point games tend to run quicker as well. John wanted a 35 point game though so that he could practice. I figure what the heck, I brought it, might as well use it.
There's John during the set up calmly mocking my own quick set up of Retribution forces.

Taking out the mage hunter commander, a unit attachment for the mage hunters, I notice that while in storage, his crossbow arm has popped out. I have yet to fix him. Felix, a far greater master of these games than I, mentioned to me his dislike of that particular figure due to its wide stance. Takes up too much room and the connection point isn’t that deep. I’m going to agree with young man on that one.

The game was a good learning experience. John was running Circle and stomped me into the group. Part of that was my fault, but ironically enough, John messed up a few bits himself so the beating could have been much worse.

Let’s see if I can remember bits that I could have done better.

Well, first off, having a ‘standard’ list with Mage Hunters on it playing against someone using Hordes isn’t that greatest. You lose on of their special features, the extra die on damage against War Jacks. That taught me I should have an alternative prepared if I’m going to be playing people who have Hordes list.

Second off, I didn’t use the Mage Hunters enough. I had them essentially hiding in the mountains. It worked well in terms of providing some cover and what not, but since John had a unit attachment that allowed his forces to regroup after attacking, that was pretty useless overall.

Another aspect was not getting my War Caster in there enough. I was moving along the other side of the board from my two units and thought I could get John in a pincer type move. That failed horribly. Well, not horribly really. It just wasn’t effective.

My war Caster has stealth and I was camped on some serious focus when doing part of the crawl and managed to survive many an attack that way. But I just couldn’t get in range of the enemy enough to do them any serious harm.

Which gets to the other thing I learned. I had a Manticore up against Megalith or whatever that big Stone Walden is called. Massive defensive on that guy. My Manticore actually had a spell on it that would allow it to get to make another attack if it missed. I had three focus on it at the time and instead of say, boosting damage, I boosted my number of attacks. All three hit but all three bounced off of that big boy. Next time, spending focus on damage boost to get some potential damage going on there.

John won by War Caster kill, which was the ‘scenario’ we were going at. He wiped out my mage hunters and my Invictors but I still had all three war jacks as well as a House Shyeel Magister. If I had kept the group a little more together it may have been a slightly different game. I might have taken out a few more of his units . As it was I think I got most of one of his Tharn units. That whole stealth thing is a nice two way street where if the enemy and you have it, it becomes a bit of a hunt and hide.

I’ll be putting that other heavy jack together soon and thinking about some heavy hitters in terms of damage for the poor Retribution.

The good news though, is even though John stomped me into yesteryear, he didn’t it in a gloating fashion. After the game he provided a few bits of advice, such as when I should have popped my caster’s feat. His army was quite heavily into the magic. He also encouraged me to move things around if he thought it was going to be a complete catastrophe for me such as when he thought my War Caster was going to get snipped crossing the field.