Friday, 11 August 2017

The Force Is Strong With This One


It's been a while since we last posted here at The Game Cupboard. In truth, we have been really busy painting the house throughout (in preparation for putting it on the market next year), but also we have been busy having fun and enjoying ourselves playing lots of games, and painting oodles and oodles of figures for the games we have been playing over and over.

Weeeell, it's so easy to sit and talk, and browse endlessly on line, and buy stuff, and paint, and start projects, and.......yet....... never see anything actually get finished! Threads of ideas: dozens of half started plans, units of undercoated little men (and monsters)... some finished, others half done, many just primed in their stark white or grey/black undercoat, even more just shining up at us from the huge pile of unpainted lead.  Same with rules... endless rule books in all their shiny glory, read through a couple of times as bedtime reading, but all that initial enthusiasm we felt at first, all gone.... all used up, the rules probably untried, unloved, unused.

Weeeeeeell, aware how easy it is to be just that way ourselves (we are human, after all, and the reason we can see mistakes and problems is because we have made most of them ourselves over the years), Hillers and I decided, with Tar` gone off to enjoy a wonderful new career, making new friends and visiting amazing and wonderful places. Our own kids in various places throughout the globe, all of them equally busy getting on with their lives; Hils and I thought we would take the opportunity to batten down the hatches a bit and spend a while just immersing in one another, our hobbies, and our home.

So we dug out some of our old games. Top of the list of game things we have been enjoying has been our interest in Star Wars. Hils always intended to return to it at some point, but this time round, she`s dragged me into it as well.... and you know what, I`m LOVING IT!


What IS it about Star Wars. We rarely get excited about it anymore, and yet it's almost an intrinsic part of our joint psyche.  Is there a person in the western hemisphere doesn't immediately understand  and smile when they hear: "These aren`t the droids you`re looking for" or "Luke, I AM your Father!" or the immortal classic: "May the Force be with you." Maybe we don't get excited like the children we once were when this franchise hit the big screens back in 1977... forty years ago - this year, as is:  but Star Wars is so ingrained in us at this stage, that it`s never far away, and we all share a joint understanding of its laws and its strange, intimately familiar, but never-the-less, weird and wonderful alien ways. 


1977, Wow. The world was a different place back then. But forty years later in a new world no one from back then would recognise today at all, and Star Wars still exists for a new generation of fans: and of course us old folk still love it too.

It has endured, it thrives, it continues to grow, with new films planned and just around the corner, including several cool spin offs (some even written and actors cast): and then we have the five hundred plus Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, and dozens and dozens of graphic novels, audio stories, and.... there's even Star Wars Lego World. Plates, mugs, t-shirts, posters, badges, toys, and of course, whole ranges of amazing computer games, war-game and rpg miniatures, board games, and even a Star Wars Monopoly family game haha. 

When Hils dug out our old Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Skirmish Miniatures, maps and rules, we started having a blast.. re-playing our favourite classic scenes from the movies and (and some of the cooler books like Alan Dean Foster`s "Splinter in the Mind's Eye" and "Han`s Gambit").
Mos-eisley


And so it was that, because Star Wars doesn't make massively big waves and lots of noise anymore, it just gracefully... is, like time itself. Thus, we failed even to notice when Fantasy Flight Games bought out "Imperial Assault" back in 2015. Playing with our old Star Wars miniatures is, in fact, what alerted us to this games existence.  Hils was noticing we had some horrible gaps in our collection and started to look about on eBay and places, hoping to replace the elusive but much desired pieces. "Bugger that for a game of soldiers!" she announced, when she realised these` choice` pieces sold for anything between, five quid per miniature, and upwards.... a tenner, fifteen pounds. IG-88 £30 plus £14:50p postage: and the legendary Boba Fett is a staggering £77 for A 28mm piece of pre-painted plastic - WOW!  So a little disillusioned for her, I started to widen the field a bit and started to search outside replacing the bits we needed from within the old 2004 WotC Star Wars miniatures range itself. 

A Twi`lek Dark Sider {Star Wars babes. good and bad, really are rather tasty, aren't they}. Twi-leks are a bit like Teiflings in D&D I always think, only perhaps even more sensually mysterious. 


And THATS what eventually led me to Fantasy Flight Games "Imperial Assault" and all its various expansions. The moment I read the first review on the big box base set, I said to myself: "Hello.. hello, I recognise YOU chaps." as I poured over the loads of unpainted miniatures which come with the game. The miniatures which Fantasy Flight use for this game are EXACTLY the same ones Wizards were using in their old "Rebel Storm" (and its subsequent expansions) way back in time. They must have sold the rights, and presumably the moulds to Fantasy Flight, and now... here were the old miniatures we loved so much being sold again, but by a different company. The original ones were all pre-painted, where as these are all unpainted plastic. A bonus to some, a crying shame to others, but the point is, HERE were singles being sold which included IG-88: here was Obi-Wan Kenobi, here was Boba Fett, here were ALL the miniatures we needed to complete our Star Wars wish list we so badly needed. And all at reasonable prices. FAR better to spend six quid on a Fantasy Flight Games Obi-Wan (all singles packs comes with lots of extra stuff too, new maps, cards, etc) than spending £24 plus postage for a Wampa from eBay or Troll and Toad. 

Diala Passil... Jedi Knight.

But what really caught my eye was the sheer amount of goodies that came in the big box sets. And so I splashed out and bought our very first base big set box set of Imperial Assault. This comes with 36 miniatures and a TON of cool full colour interlocking game play tiles.

The Legendary Boba Fett

"Hmmm these will be useful, anyway" I thought to myself. But you see, I had absolutely no intention of playing the game out of the box,  just wanted some of the amazingly cool components. The bulk of the miniatures alone worked out at about £1.40p a piece and there are a few AWESOMELY inspiring big models included as well, which you would easily pay £40+ pounds for from Games Workshop, and this made all those cool game tiles a lovely free bonus.


But then something amazing happened.


When the game arrived in the post and we opened it up, the whole thing looked so very attractive and playable, we decided to give the game a go. Wow what can I say, except.....


ITS   SO   so   so   sooooooo   FANTASTIC!!!!


Didn't take us long before we picked off the first small expansion set. But then the next amazing thing happened.

A big, big... I mean BIG parcel arrived in the post. No outward sign of who it was from at all. The box contained just about ALL the Imperial Assault expansion boxes and singles sets. Still no accompanying note inside (obviously had simply been paid for and shipped giving our home address as a final destination drop off point). We STILL don't know who it was that sent it, but we have a darn fair idea who it was grrrrrrrrrr, you bad bad girl you. >>>>Big, big, big, biggest hug in the world<<<<

Now THAT`S a really bad girl - Asajj Ventress

Yep, that`s open eyed shock on mi` ugly ol` mug.

The proud Father.

An Endless variety of suitably thematic Star Wars Tiles.


So our Star Wars collection is now.. well... vast... quite frankly. And our immense respect for Imperial Assault the game is immeasurable. It plays wayyyy better than FFG`s Descent (which it is heavily based off), better than any other game in our collection, and it has to be said, is beyond any shadow of a doubt, THE best, most thematically perfect rendering of a Star Wars table top wargame / rpg experience, to date... anywhere else in existence.

            Vampire Sith are as terrifying as they are beautiful in a Star Wars universe.

The scale match is perfect for our old existing WotC Skirmish miniatures (which is where this whole venture started in the first place, when Hils dug the old collection from the box and dusted it down) and we can add in lots of these to the game: and we even get the pleasure of painting all the new Imperial Assault stuff ourselves (as opposed to the old WotC pre-painted ones), which we have begun doing like crazy. 


We paint pretty fast so, will probably have everything done before too long... although Hils has a good point, and suggests we don`t worry about busting a gut over feeling the need to plaint everything at once: and enjoy mix and matching the painted with unpainted in our home games (if 9 out of 10 YouTubers can enjoy playing with unpainted, so can we... I hate painting snobbery intensely). Mind you, the speed we are getting through them, I think all 300 odd will be finished by the end of September - at the latest.


Best of all, not only are we now enjoying Imperial Assault straight out of the box, but with such a complete combined collection now in our hands, we are able simultaneously to continue using the minis to double up alongside our existing official WotC ones AND add in our own Clix, and Crooked Dice, and Blakes 7, and Planet of the Apes, Warlord Games  Doctor Who, and even our cool rapidly growing JD collection as well. Making the collection of Star Wars up to a good few thousand minis.

                            

Effectively meaning we can make the sci fi universe of our dreams.... while still enjoying THE best board game we have ever played, all at the same time. It`s a true win/win situation all round.

`Luminara Unduli` and her apprentice `Barriss Offee,` two of my favourite Clone War/New Hope cross over era characters of all time. Were on my wish list for a long time before I finally got lucky with a cool eBay purchase.



A few people may know, we had intended to make Doctor Who our main central theme to our future campaigns, and smoothly mix in (like making a light fluffy cake) elements from Gotham, JD, and Marvel/DC as well, in a sort of seamless cauldron of limitless ideas. But somehow, with everyone posting about Doctor Who at the moment, we didn't feel we were covering any new ground: and then the endless controversy *gasp, shock horror* over a new female Doctor hit the media, this just ruined it all for us. Our fault, we allowed ourselves to read lots and lots of articles on various blogs out there, and we watched lots of you tube opinions about it, and even listened to people`s opinions about it on the TV news and chat shows, and in the end, it all just turned us off the whole subject entirely. 





A Dark Sider Sith Apprentice.

Fan costume dress up is still massive for amateur and pro cosplay artists today. Proving yet again... that Star Wars babes ROCK!

Steampunk Star Wars


We STILL love Doctor Who and enjoyed catching up on it all so we were no longer just DW noobies... by watching all the DVD`s from the 9th Doctor all the Way to the 12th (including all the special episodes), despite all the spoilers which hit us left right and centre, which failed to ruin it for us, regardless lol, but we have decided, at the end, simply to put Doctor Who and all the companions and all the aliens within our own games, rather than play in a pure strain DW world. A bit like putting monsters in a game of D&D. We will put Who-verse into our games in the same way a D&D player might come across... let's say... Orcs in a fantasy world (Orcs of course, being an invention of Tolkien and originate in the lands of Middle Earth): i.e. Doctor Who won`t DOMINATE our games, but he will appear in them. Same for MC1`s J Dredd, DC`s Gotham Bat, Marvel`s S.H.I.E.L.D. and Dark Horse`s Hellboy, etc etc etc.

While not necessary to play with painted minis, it is of course really nice. Like many others, I do prefer to play with painted stuff. But I am never slow to remind myself that I enjoyed playing with unpainted toys as a kid, so why the hell not now too, if I feel like it.

I suppose for us, we`ve lived with Star Wars all our lives. Let`s see, I was about 14 (Hils would have been 10) when the film first hit the big screen and I can still remember, like it were only yesterday, the mile long queues to get in.. and people sleeping on pavements all night, hoping to get into a viewing the following day. For us Star Wars is as alive and vibrant as Cursed Earth or Doctor Who is for others, and is very, very current for the happy hobbyist gamer, what with games like Imperial Assault, X Wing, and Rebellion currently in print for the enthusiast to pursue.

What started as an on line search to flesh out our existing collection of Star Wars miniatures for our old game of "Rebel Storm" from nearly decade and a half ago; soon turned into a full on project, as we discovered far more than we were looking for, ending up with us seeing the barb... jumping happily onto the worm, and biting down hard on the hook: whilst we allowed ourselves to be {willingly} well and truly reeled in.


The rest is history *wink*



 Article by Steve


Monday, 31 July 2017

The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said, To Speak Of Many Things

And so time passes. The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round.. la la laaa!!!  the clock face spins and the transience of each moment melds into the orbicular  span of moments (still reflexes of impassionate time). The moment is now, yet as soon as you`ve said it.. its past.

It is like this with the hobby too.

Stevie talks about when the Star Wars skirmish miniatures first hit the shelves, and as he talks about it his eyes shine, and he speaks faster and faster as he gets more and more excited, as though it were only yesterday to him. And I suppose to a lifelong gamer it does feel like only a short time ago.

The first miniatures  skirmish game Wizards of the Coast bought out for the Star Wars franchise, was a set called "Rebel Storm" which was released unto the world on September the 3rd 2004 (subsequent releases continued for a number of years following this initial run, and covered the Star Wars prequel `Clone Wars` and even some of the `Expanded Universe`). Funny, even I can remember this game took the gaming world by storm (no pun intended there lol) along with its slightly older sister range of Dungeons and Dragons plastic miniatures. But you try now to find someone to talk to about this  game, and you will usually come up a solid blank.  A decade has passed, and already this game, like so many others, has passed from being popular, and into the realms of obscurity. Same really for Mage Knight, Heroscape, Heroclix, and the rest. Insane really!
Games have a limited shelf life it seems, and may go on being popular for a number of years (sadly, usually far less than this for most) but eventually, every game seems to have its day: and today`s mega "Warhammer" soon  becomes yesterday`s "Old Hammer."
Someone recently said something on YouTube, which I thought was brilliant.  

He said: 

"yep, but now that the game is dead, you can play it as an actual game and have fun with it. I built a collection, and when I want to play it I prepare two parties that seem balanced, let a friend pick who plays what side, and we fight. Sometimes a game needs to be dead (and its meta / tourney aspects with it) to become enjoyable."

In regards to Star Wars, to use as an example once again,  now that the game is old and `defunct,` you can buy relatively cheap `lots` on eBay, and for those choice special pieces, you can buy from  various online stores who specialise in selling singles. The game will play just as well as it did the day it hit the shelves, but without the collector needing to get caught up in all that hype surrounding the initial phenomena, while still popular and in trend.. but will save you a heck of a lot of money should you latterly choose to buy into it. Sure, some bits and pieces will be rare and hard as gold dust to acquire, but hey, isn't that part of the charm and appeal?

Plus surely, it makes you a true collector if you try to flesh out a retro collection in this way: which is another nice way of looking at it.

Yeah these beauties even come pre-painted, like so many miniatures of this era did, as each company followed suit and offered reasonably priced random packs of goodness for the gamer to tear open and play with straight away.. another sign of the changing times, that people now consider these pre-painted jobs lame and badly painted, and now prefer to sit and talk about gaming rather than actually getting everything out the box and having a good old barny on the table top.

But yes, retro games are just as good now, as the day they sat on shelves in their shiny new packets looking cool and interesting. Only difference now is, if you know where to look and are a little patient, you can score big, and buy reasonably cheaply, free from the clamour of the masses who all want in on the same game, which of course, endlessly drives the prices up and up. 


Stevie and Hil have almost entirely stopped buying new things nowadays, and turn more and more to their existing collection(s) to find new ways to enjoy old purchases. Their treasured Star Wars miniatures (as already discussed), The miniatures out of Descent Journeys in the Dark, Lord of the Rings 40mm TMG miniatures, to name but a few. Then there are games  like Flying Frog Productions ` "Shadows of Brimstone" and "Last Night on Earth" (and its cool stand alone/add on "Invasion From Outer Space"), all these were once new, but have a lifetimes playing potential still untapped and sitting unexplored within their cool-looking boxes. The list is endless. But ultimately, they are enjoying what they already own, and it makes me so happy to see this being done, in what has oh so fast turned into a `quick fix throw away` society. It makes me so happy to know the hobby will thrive in this way while I, perchance, must leave it all behind and move away from it entirely. Yes this will indeed be my last post on The Game Cupboard *sobs*. Not because I want to stop, but because changing circumstances  dictate I must now concentrate on my career. As we all know, if you set your course by a bright wandering star, and that star shines brightest over foreign climes,  then "we must away, ere break of day" or miss the boat entirely.  So it is with me, that my work has become my focus and priority. But I know my personal (small) collection of  precious gaming things will be in good hands with the guys.


There, how about that for a long winded goodbye hehehe. Never was one to do things the easy route **grins and winks**

Star Wars......... Brimstone...... Samurai.......  John Carter from Mars, the list of possibilities is long and expansive. But rest assured, the guys are bound to surprise and thrill you many times over, during the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years ahead.

Time for bed said Zebedee.  


Love you guys,


Tarot

Saturday, 22 July 2017

WHO`S GONNA DRIVE YOU HOME


David Stone?

Who exactly is this David Stone fella? I wondered to myself a while back. I asked a few of the more knowledgeable guys I knew, and they said "oh Daaaveeee, *sniff" yeah he does all the game trade shows,, the big ones as well as the small.... and not just in the UK either." 

Hmmmmm, I thought, everyone keeps saying how good his stuff is. Then, out of the blue, a small parcel arrived for Hils, a kind little thought to wish her well for her knee replacement operation (now postponed while her surgeon is on maternity leave). Two really cool resin miniatures he had cast himself. A cool Judge Heston (one of the best Ape sculpts for the 2000AD Judge Dredd series I had ever seen, and another really enchanting character from the same comic book.. Tweak! WOW what a cool likeness.

So THAT`S Dave Stone! I thought. Kind bloke, and a good sculptor as well.

Okay I thought, I keep hearing about his cool futuristic sci-fi resin cast cars, and so I ordered three. All different colours, and as I noticed he offers them either unpainted, or fully painted.... I went for the latter option and asked him to jazz them up for me. "lets see what he can do" I thought.

Jeeese this guy is conscientiously quick. I`d barely placed the order (or so it felt) and a rather large and well wrapped parcel arrived at the door.

All I can say is..... WOW!


They were beautifully painted, beautifully rendered, and excellently sculpted and cast; and WOW they were surprisingly big models too. Nice and chunky and would fit brilliantly on the streets of The Dark Knight`s Gotham City, or Judge Dredd`s Mega City 1, or on some alien planet in a futuristic mind-scape episode of Doctor Who or Blakes 7. These three models are truly exquisite.  Two of the `bug` shaped cars have their wheels turned road-side - hugging tarmac: and the third has the wheels angled up... and the hover engines activated so the thing glides effortlessly over the ground.

Best of all, when the order was placed, Dave wrote an email message asking: "what would you like painted on the number plates?"

"WOW, that`s cool." I thought.

Suffice to say, we now own three pro-sculpted, pro-painted futuristic vehicles, bearing custom number plates which read: "Tarot" "Hils" and "Steve" yeeeey!!  How cool is that, yeah?


The rest pretty much speaks for itself and I`ll let the photos tell the story.


Dave Stone On Line Store:

http://wargamesterrainworkshop.co.uk/












The escort was being paid well: "the customer wants me to dress like `The Cat` and whip him, that's fine by me....  that will cost him double is all." But.... she forgets her role play session for a moment and stares transfixed out of the window to the street below. Her eyes glaze over and a soft "meow" escapes her lips, as she spies three `Stone Mark II Sports Cruisers` roll past along Avenue 69.  "now THAT`S a roller" she puuuurred.






The futuristic Mrs Peel approves of her new gift from Steed. The new girl looks on enviously. Hoping that one day she too will be awarded such an extravagant luxury.

One of Jez`s motorbikes steals the show for a moment ^^


A Couple of the Liberator Crew teleport down to the planet for a moment.

"So the rumours are true then Blake?

"Yes, Gemma. The Stone Mark II Cruiser now comes in Metallic Green as well!"

---

Article by Steve.