June 29, 2013

Infinity - What The?!?

"Man, those are some of the coolest models I've ever seen, but I just don't get the game..."

They're talking about Infinity the Game, by Corvus Belli.

They are a Spanish company, Corvus Belli ("War Raven"), and therefore not as mainstream in the US perhaps as Games Workshop or Privateer Press, whose native language is English.

I heard tell that the the Infinity rule book was translated from Spanish to German, by a German, who then translated it further to English. If you have tried to read the Infinity rule book, this story is not difficult to believe. At times, the idiomatic inaccuracies are more cringe-worthy than CSI: Wherever dialogue.

So the question I get asked a lot - or, rather, the statement I hear most is: "Infinity - I don't get it."

In general, people just don't know where to start. They start to read the rule book, and get discouraged by the linguistic flaws. Of course, why doesn't everybody just do everything perfectly in English?!? We seem to have little compassion for the "errors," when in reality... their English is a HELL of a lot better than our Spanish. We're the dummies that can only grasp a single language.

So, in this first "episode" on a series of how to grasp Infinity, I would like to help everyone get started.

It's true - even the current, "2nd Edition Revised" Infinity core rule book can make your head spin. So if you're reading it for the first time, let me tell you this: I was just like you. After playing consistently for over a year now, and reading through it anew with all that experience, it is not as bad as you think. Like anything else, hands-on experience will drastically increase your understanding. So - how do you get started without losing your mind (and interest) from just skimming the rule book?

Begin with the Quick Start rules. They have a schnazzy printed version, available at conventions and events, maybe even at your local game store. But it is also available for Free, online. Check it out here: Quick Start Rules

That booklet takes you through all the basic rules, simply and with examples. It even has everything you need to play some games - model stats, weapon stats, templates, tokens, a small appetiser of the myriad special abilities that are available... And features awesome artwork and style to boot. An impressive 30 pages that is sure to get you intrigued.

If you've used the quick start rules, and have indeed become intrigued... the next step is to figure out how to construct an army list, so that you know what models to buy. I've had a double-handful of questions about that, so I will completely cover that in the next installment.

For now, let me leave you with the core concept of Infinity that separates it from any other game you've played: The ARO.

In most games, you take your turn and then your opponent takes his. During your opponent's turn, you may get to make armor saves, or even fight back in Close Combat. But in Infinity, you get to react to every action your opponent takes.

Instead of "My turn, your turn," Infinity has the Active Turn and the Reactive Turn. When it's your Active Turn, you get to do Stuff. When it's your Reactive Turn (the other player's Active Turn), you get to react to everything he does that you can see.

Remember Overwatch from 40K 2nd Edition, or Necromunda? It's kind of like that, but everybody is on it all the time.

If you do something where I can see you do it, I can react to it. Maybe I dodge. Maybe I fire back at you. But if you act in my line of fire, I don't just have to sit there and take it - I get to play, too. As they say, "It's always your turn."

ARO stands for Automatic Reaction Order, and allows any miniature to react to an enemy's actions within their line of sight. And it is the thing that makes Infinity the most tactically realistic games I have ever played.

Sure, you can run from behind one building to behind another - but when you cross that alley, I am going to take a shot at you. After all, that's why I have been posted up in this tower for 3 days without moving. I don't have to NOT shoot, just because it's not my Turn. 

So have a skim through the Quick Start rules and have a go. You don't have to digest 3 books' worth of stuff in one sitting to play the game, and if you try, your head will asplode.

I know we have ben trained that we must spend $50-$100 on a rule book, codex, or supplement in order to play a game... Save that for now; use the Quick Start rules and spend that caish on sweet models. All the rules you need are free online. Free, I say! If you like art, graphic design, and fiction - THEN splurge on the core rule book. But everything you need is available free of charge online, so for god's sake buy some models instead.

June 26, 2013

Once Upon a Sword

So back in the day (Dane says it was a Wednesday), I won a Slayer Sword. It was 2005, it was in Los Angeles, and I won 7 trophies that Games Day, plus the Sword, with this Blood Ravens Space Marine Librarian.

State of the art painting, 8 years ago... heh. The internet has certainly helped miniature painting as an art form develop by leaps and bounds over the decades before. But back in the day... this is what won.

I still have the recipe for the Blue armor:

VMC 50 Dark Prussian Blue
GW Regal Blue
VMC 52 Intense Blue
VMC 54 Royal Blue
VMC 57 Medium Blue
GW Ultramarines Blue
VMC 55 Ultramarine <> VMC 66 Deep Sky Blue
VMC 67 Sky Blue
Blue Ink Glaze (thinned 10:1)

Geez that's a lot of steps! We certainly have come a long way since then. 

A friend of mine was apparently at the GW Headquarters in Nottingham, and sent me this photo last week:

Pretty nifty. Didn't know that even existed.

June 25, 2013

Painting the Underground Lasers Cubes

Over the weekend, I got all of the terrain pieces from Underground Lasers primed. I primed them Black all over. Then I used grey primer and sprayed them again from above at about a 30-degree angle so about two thirds of them were grey. Finally, I primed them white from a much steeper angle, so that about 1/3 of each piece was white.
This "zenithial" highlighting would inform where the highlights would be as I applied color. Some people call it "under-painting."

Tonight I sat down with a storage cube, and began applying color. I added shading with a light blue-green, turquoise, and finally P3 Coal Black, applied with an airbrush. Some of the deepest shadows received some P3 Sanguine Base to add interest. Then I added highlights with GW Shadow Grey. All these colors were applied with an airbrush. Finally, I dry-brushed some P3 Morrow White to pick out the sharpest edges. Then I briefly weathered it by using blister pack foam to sponge on some rust spots of P3 Bloodstone. It was a bit too light for my tastes, so I tried again with VMC Hull Red.

Fairly happy with the result, I grabbed the other 4 Cubes and repeated the process. Even with figuring out the recipe, it took less than two hours to paint the 5 cubes. The rest of the terrain should go even faster.

After I get everything this far, then if there is time I'll probably go back in with some orange-brown and apply some more weathering/dusting. Maybe some rusty streaks dripping down here and there. But I think for now, this is an acceptable level of "doneness" where speed is concerned. But I am super-stoked about how awesome this Underground Lasers terrain will look all together once it's all painted. And I'll take "For Reals" pictures once it's all done. The iPhone did OK, I guess...

The somewhat teal color scheme with dark-red rust came from Kevin Costner's pick-up truck in Man Of Steel. Sure, you're looking into his dreamy eyes. I was looking at how I would paint that truck bed...

And so we're a little bit closer to having another table completed for the Infinity Tournaments at Duel-Con this September. If you were thinking of joining us, ticket prices go up ten bucks at the end of the month, so might as well get yours now. Admission covers ALL EVENTS - it's not like GenCon where you pay admission AND events - it's all-inclusive. So far we have (Infinity) prize support from Underground Lasers, Warsenal, Micro Art Studios, and something from Corvus Belli as well.

June 21, 2013

Infinity Friday! Father-Officer Gabriel de Fersen

Father-Officer Gabriel de Fersen of the Hospitaller Knightly Order is an interesting bit of kit for Military Orders players. He's a knight, so that means he's tough in close combat and has good armor - but he also carries a Spitfire, and is a Hacker. Fills a lot of roles, and is pretty survivable. I would try to not have him as my Lieutenant (there is NO F in that word!), as I want him running around doing stuff, and that's always dangerous. But since he's a Hacker, he counts as a Specialist Troop even if he's not your Lt, and between Paradiso and the new ITS missions, you're gonna need specialist troops.

Different Red recipe than the one used on the Khador "Extremoth."This one is:

VMC 035 Black Red Base Coat
P3 Skorne Red (main color) <> VMC 020 Sunny Skin Tone
Shade with P3 Sanguine Base
Glaze with very thin Red Ink
Line with RMS Red Liner

The armor was fun:

VMC 162 Basalt Grey <> White
Shade Basalt <> Black
Glaze VMC 053 Dark Blue
Glaze VMC 069 Turquoise
RMS Blue Liner (linining)
Hot "glint" highlights with pure white

June 20, 2013

Underground Lasers Terrain

The last weekend of September in Mesa, AZ Battle Foam will be hosting Duel Con, and I will be hosting some Infinity events along with my Infinity O-12 Podcast co-host, Kip Parcell. We need to make sure we have enough terrain for an awesome event, and the fine folks at the brandy-new Underground Lasers hooked us up with a fantastic deal to fill one of our tables, and they sent along some cool prize support as well for the tournament winners.

The package arrived today, And after divvying up the pile into "Mine" and "Kip's," I put up the card table in the living room and set about assembling one of each of the different packs. I was a bit worried at first at the lack of instructions, but the kits are very intuitive, and go together really easily, with just a few glances at the pics they have on Facebook and their eBay store to answer any questions I had.

Each kit comes shrink-wrapped like this:
Laser cut into MDF (or HDF... I dunno, compressed wood stuff), very efficiently using all the space available. Mmm... that wonderful wood-burning smell...

I started with the ammo crates. You get 20 of these suckers for something like $12, on a single sheet of MDF - Kip and I split the pack. Scatter terrain is so essential for providing cover, especially in Infinity.
Ooo! Conversions! I used four short sides to make the stubby crate in the back left, and four long sides (with some plastic card) to make the wide box behind it. 

Going up a size larger, I assembled the Cargo Cubes (Or Shipping Cubes - on eBay, they use different names sometimes). The door friction-fits into its frame, and its side borders make removing it easy. The ingenious lipped roof allows you to stack multiple cubes atop each other.
You can see that all those TIE-Fighter windshields punch out, so if you're inside the crate you can shoot out. They're cut all the way through, but on the third cube I built, I painted some white glue onto the back side (what becomes the interior of the cube) to make sure they didn't pop out. Any pieces that were loose to begin with got some super glue, just to be sure. So you can have completely solid container walls, if you wish.

I thought about leaving those rectangular struts in front of each window off, but as it turns out, that's where the bridges latch onto, so they're pretty necessary.

Moving on up, next was the Long Container (or Shipping Container). 
Same ingenious roof and under-floor design that allows you to stack multiple atop one another - and a removable roof so that you can move figures around inside. Sci-Fi trailer park in the making!

Speaking of trailers, it's time for the Double Wide! The Wide Container is labelled Ground Floor on the product itself. It's a cool, square, sic-fi building, and I'll need to collect more than the two I initially purchased.
It has all the features I've come to expect - stackable, removable roof, easy, intuitive assembly. Notice not only does the roof have a removable access hatch (it can be replaced with an included ladder), but there's one in the floor as well. So when you stack them, you have an access point between levels.

That's as big as it gets so far. After all, they don't even officially open their web store until September! But, there are still "accessories." First one I put together is their billboard with their company logo. 
The feet are notched, so that they fit atop any of the 3 main structures. They sent us a 6-pack, and while Kip and I will each keep one for our collection (and continued advertising every game we play), the other four will be given out at the end of the tournament. During the tournament, those six billboards will let everyone know where the awesome terrain they're playing on is from!

Next is the Radar Tower (on the packaging, "Radar Dish"). This is a massive array that fits atop (and comes with) one of the Cargo Cubes. While most of the buildings will stay together without glue (although I used white glue on every joint), this one ought to be glued together.
Lastly are the Bridges or Walkways. They come 2 to a pack, and contain enough components that they can be assembled with or without the included ladders along their length.
These bridges connect Cubes to Containers to Buildings and so on, using those rectangular support struts that are suspended in front of each TIE-Fighter cockpit window, and make everything blend together seamlessly.

After I build the rest, I'll attack these with the Airbrush. I haven't seen a painted example of these yet, but I plan to go hard Sci-Fi with pale gray walls. Nothing super fancy, but excited to have a go all the same. Maybe some cool light effects on the giant radar dish using my new Minitaire Ghost Tints, just for fun...

June 19, 2013

Warmachine Wednesday!

This Khador Behemoth conversion is based off the Extreme Juggernaut kit available through Privateer Press Mail Order. It uses some cannon parts from the Extreme Destroyer as well, and the head and gauntlet backs from the actual Behemoth kit. Some PVC pipe for the cannons and a bit of green stuff later...


The Behemoth was supposed to be the largest Warjack in Khador's arsenal, and that gangly ill-conceived and poorly designed model that they have for it just doesn't do it any justice. I wanted it BIG.

The recipe for the Khador Red is:

Base VMC 035 Black Red (It covers black primer in a single coat - awesome)
P3 Skorne Red
P3 Khador Base
P3 Khador Highlight
P3 Heartfire
Shade with P3 Gnarls Green
Glaze with Red Ink thinned 10:1 with water

June 17, 2013

Technique Tuesday!

Maybe that will become a thing, maybe not. We'll see. But it is pleasingly alliterative^.

At the very least, "Technique" will become a searchable tag, or label, so that finding any painting techniques that I share should be a reasonably easy affair.

The first installment may not be all that edifying; but I realize that the way I will be sharing paint recipes might require some explanation.

First, Paint Brands!

I will frequently abbreviate them, so this will serve as the "Master Key" to deciphering the acronyms:

  • GW - Games Workshop* Citadel Colour
  • P3 - Privateer Press Formula P3 Paints
  • RMS - Reaper Masters Series
  • RPP - Reaper Pro Paints**
  • VGC - Vallejo Game Colour
  • VMC - Vallejo Model Colour
*These will most likely be the old colors that lasted some 20-30 years before somebody with a "great idea" changed the whole line. And that dude is a douchebag.

** It could happen...

Those are what I use most commonly. I use bits and pieces from other brands as well, but I'll let you know. But I do use those abbreviations quite a bit.

Use whatever will get the job done! From left to right:
Liquitex Ink, Tamiya Acrylic, Citadel Colour Ink (circa I'm old), Citadel Colour Paint, Privateer Press Formula P3 Paint, Reaper Masters Series Liner, Vallejo Game Colour, Vallejo Model Colour, Golden Artist Fluid Acrylic, Badger Minitaire Ghost Tint

Another "abbreviation" that I will use frequently is this double arrow thingy: <>

When I put that down, it essentially means to mix those two paints in increasing increments to build up highlights or shadow, until you've reached the second color in its pure, unmixed form.

So, for example, if it said "P3 Exile Blue <> P3 Frostbite," that would mean to add Frostbite to the Exile bit by bit until you've reached pure Frostbite.

How much depends on each individual person, and what they are comfortable with.  The smaller the change in value between one tone and the next, the easier it is to blend.  So for some people, they may find it easiest using 12 steps between Exile and Frostbite to get a smooth blend, while others may manage with just 3 steps.  Since it varies from painter to painter, I use the <>.

The Paint Desk, after a weekend project, so kinda all over the place.

So perhaps not much "Technique" this Tuesday, but a foundation anyway for how I will be presenting it. 

^(Other alliterative days I'm mulling include Miscellaneous Monday, Warmachine Wednesday, Recipe Thursday (just go with it), and Infinity Friday (kinda).  We'll see.  Probably not.)