Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August Painting Break

Kind of like summer vacation back when we were kids – I’m halfway through a miniatures painting break in August.

As I posted here I finished up those Scots Covenanters I started after Memorial Day. I do have some items in the “que” I want to paint but I’ve no deadline. Also, we’ve been getting some record breaking temps in Portland the past few weeks (upper 90s and into the 100s) though some respite this week (only in the 80s). I’ve got some DVD movies to catch up on and a staycation to have the week prior to Labor Day.

The “Saga Club” has taken off and the first play-day was a success at 7 people showing up. We had 3 simultaneous games going and most of the players got 2 games in. The next one is August 26th and it’s looking like another 3 tables with 7 people coming to play. Again, PDX-Metro Saga is for people that have an army and want to play Saga. I cannot offer demos for PDX-Metro Saga days; this monthly day is for playing.

Frankly, I’ve been running demos for 3 years straight now and I’m not really the best person to be doing that. Time for other people to take up the mantle, people that are much better suited than I – my rules knowledge is basic at best and my temperament is “getting old and grumbly”.

 Put 22 ozs of cider in me though, and if I’m in a good mood, I will happily play 2-3 games!

Other things I am doing this month, not wargaming related:

As I have mentioned I have not bush-crafted, let alone even went car camping, in almost 2 years. It’s getting harder to do those things and what used to be simple trips thought out in the last minute are now treks I need to plan for. I used to be able to want to go camping Saturday morning, pack up the truck with my pack and a cooler, and take off no more than 2 hours out of Portland. This became more difficult a few years ago as the population has dramatically rose and all my “spots” are now filled with people. Even car camping takes reservations months, if not a year, out in advance.

I’m not quite sure about what to do about it. During my staycation I do plan to explore some of the local Portland trails though, like in Forest Park. I’ve put together my old haversack kit and I’ll set off end of the month on a weekday to see what is up and get myself back into some woods-bum action. At the least I’d like to brew up a cup of coffee in the woods and have a smoke.

On this tip I made an order for some outdoorsy gear from Varusteleka out of Finland. Fast becoming my favorite online seller of MilSurp gear. My first order from them was a Jaakaripuukko (hunter’s knife) in the 140mm stainless steel blade configuration. If not out of stock I would’ve gotten the 110 carbon blade. I also got a sheath for the knife. Altogether it was $80. I also got 2 Polish bread bags (due to my obsession with common items a soldier would carry), a repro Finnish field cap from WW2, and some reflective decals. Delivery, from Finland, was in 8 days for $9.99. 

I’ve lusted after the knife for a while and also really wanted to be a Varusteleka customer since last year. I finally pulled the trigger due to some videos that came out this summer about the knife and comparing it to other knives like the Mora Garberg – full tang knives in the sub $100 range that are heavy duty woods users. Garbergs are $99 and I’ve been wanting one all year but my lack of woods-time prevented me. I also like the Jaakaripuukko aesthetic better as well as the cool leather dangler sheath. That said I will get a Garberg later I hope and I will compare the two knives.

My Dungeons and Dragons game is going strong. My paladin, Sir Evanagrio de la Guerre, just hit 5th level! In D&D5e every 5 levels is an “echelon” in power and prestige I guess? So hitting level 5 is a milestone. I’ve a mini all painted and ready to be used for “higher level” Evanagrio but he’s not quite there yet so I’m sticking with the current Evanagrio mini.

Coincidently I just took one of those dumb online “which character are you” tests via Facebook. Obviously a way to mine your data. I take few of those and I normally get an answer I don’t like – always some 2nd-rate character and usually the funny fat guy – but this one was for Game of Thrones and I got Oberyn Martell. I thought “Cool, he was sexy and almost killed The Mountain, though he ended up getting killed by The Mountain.” So I looked him up to see if there was anything I was missing about his character (there wasn’t) but realized this was exactly what my D&D character was! Cool, I love it when a character I’m playing has a literature or show based parallel I can steal from!!

 Sir Evanagrio is a Paladin from a noble family. He is seen as a hero by the common folk as he likes to defend them. He is a duelist – loves single combat. He is from southern land thus has darker skin. Evanagrio has a known lust for carnal action too. He’s also developed an insatiable urge for vengeance against demons. 

Other than using poison to gain unfair advantage, that is Oberyn Martell.

The Viking recreation stuff is moving along. Hoping to start a wool fabric hood (using the Skoldham find as my inspiration) this weekend. I might also make a leather pouch for “mundane items” I need to carry with me while dressed up – something to carry wallet, phone, and Swiss Army knife.

Got back into some shows after ending up getting bored with TV earlier this year. Namely Game of Thrones after being out for 2 seasons of it. I might have even blogged about it here?? Firstly one of the lawyers at my firm started a GoT Fantasy League. Buy in was $5. Out of 16 teams I am solidly right in the middle with my team of Grey Worm, Milisandre, Jaqen, and Yohn Royce. So far, a pretty mediocre team with Grey Worm being my only star player, and Jaqen probably being my poorest choice in that he might not even show up in this season. I was hoping for more with Melisandre but looks like she’s out too. At least mine are all alive!

Second, the show got better. Every episode has had a major reveal or a plot device realized. Also we have not seen one sexual assault. Past seasons those were layered on top of each other each episode to the point of tedium. “Really? You’re going to emotionally manipulate me with rape scenes again?”

I’ve also realized (while watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2) that long and very dynamic CGI scenes cancel out in my brain after about 10 minutes and I just fall asleep. Awww … 46 years old and finally out of the demographic!

Anyways, thanks for reading and sorry for this filler post! I plan to write about my Cro-Mags patch and my history with them next. Stay tuned – so much excite!!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Scots Covenanters, ECW, The Last Foot Squad

Today I finished up the last of my Covenanter Foot Regiments. I now have 3 full "pike and shotte" foot regiments for any gaming I may want to partake of.

All but one of the figures are from Warlord's Foot Regiment box set. The one that isn't is a Perry. Long story short I messed up modeling some of the plastic figures so had to fill the hole with the Perry guy. All of the bonnets were bought separately and added in lieu of the other hat choices Warlord gives you.

The officer and sgt. I painted up based off some pictures in an Osprey book. I wanted to layer them a bit more but just wanted to be done as I have been working on the whole regiment since after Enfilade in May. So, 2 layers it was.

And here is the whole band. I'm going to do a separate stand for Ensign and Command.
Now that I am done I am not in much of a hurry to paint up anything any time soon. Maybe 8 more figures to add to my Pagan Rus for Saga.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Every Day Carry

I have a slight obsession with Every Day Carry aka EDC. It blends with some of my other interests like disaster prepping (that’s more a “what I do” as opposed to “interest”) and historical re-enacting.

Modern EDC options

Otzi the Iceman's EDC from 5000 years ago.

Thing is, my tastes lean more towards the mundane than cool high-speed-low-drag tactical gear and guns. I’m a common man and have some common tastes to live my common life. I do appreciate some of the knowledge I’ve gleaned over the years from some of the pro-level tactical guys and I think I have a good gauge on what I need for my life and what I don’t. It’s a fine balance between:

I need to be ready to repel another country’s army from my lands
Glock 19 is the new standard for side arms
Basically, I want to be able to take part in my own active defense but I’m not fighting ISIS or China.

My interest in things in people’s and my own pockets is not in guns though. I’ve always had a fascination with wallets, pocket knives, watches, flashlights, change pouches… things of that nature. I don’t collect either. Sure, I’m hunting for some pretty specific things like a good Sunday Puukko or a pocket organizer but I don’t blow a ton of money on something when I find what is working great for me and my tastes for “what is working great” are pretty low compared to others.
Gotta' keep them from flopping around in the pocket and tearing things up.

Really nice (to me) puukko knife

What I have in my pockets daily, 100% and if I don’t have it I made a mistake:
1) A Coach wallet. Pretty fancy for a guy like me, the inlaws got it for me for Xmas a few years back. It’s a little thick but it does its job (hold cash, licenses, cards, bus pass, etc.) and the only real peculiarity for me is I like to have a flip-out window for my bus pass and it needs to hold cash as I like to have cash. I really appreciate this gift from the Parhams and, being a Coach, makes me feel luxurious in a simple way.
2) A hanky – the good old paisley endowed western hanky you can get at Fred Meyer for cheap. Wipes up messes, soaks up sweat, first aid, blow my nose in it.
3) Keys on an old spring clip – I got the spring clip after graduating Navy bootcamp in 1990. I remember my first day of liberty after graduation. Everyone wanted to go out in a group but I needed some alone time so the first thing I did was go to the PX* (first time I had money in my pocket for months) and I bought a piece of pizza, a Dr. Pepper, a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, and that spring clip for keys as I was told I might end up with some keys to care for. I sat alone and ate that pizza and sipped the Dr. Pepper. Then I lit a smoke and smoked it.
4) Fenix E12 pocket light – my favorite flashlight right now. AA battery, small, up to 100 lumens. Hit my sweet spot after I bought it and have had it for 3-4 years now. Perfect for office and outdoors (and when outdoors I do bring other lights).
5) Leatherman Juice XE6 – Gretchen got my name engraved on it and gave it to me for Xmas. Handiest pocket tool I ever had (out of the 10 or so I own!)
6) Bic lighter – for my smokes, for emergencies.
My iPhone is either in my back pocket with my hanky or a jacket pocket or vest. Same with smokes but I don’t smoke often so a lot of the time smokes are not on me.

On me, right now as I type.
$.79 cents in San Diego RTC Navy Exchange February 1990. I still use it daily.
There it is, lower left of picture, hanging off my belt loop. M2 quals, 1990

A few years ago, it's a bit beat up now.
For work I also carry a commuter bag, an old Timbuk messenger. It’s getting worn out so I’m looking to replace it but I’m in no hurry. My phone and cigarettes go in the bag a lot. Also in the bag are some boo-boo kit items (bandaids, pain killers, Pepto and antiacids), hand sanitizer, some pens and pencils, ear buds (phone), a fixed blade knife, and a larger flashlight (Surefire of course!). In and out daily are lunch, reading material, a drink, and maybe socks.

I’m not going to talk much about a firearm. I have a concealed carry license and many options to carry different pistols.

Some people may think this is scary looking.
On Facebook and Tumblr I am subscribed to many different “EDC” fan pages. 90% of the time I’m a bit meh about it as the masses into EDC are more into pistols and fighting knives.  Anything not pistols and knives lean towards a pistol and knife aesthetic and are too tacticool for my blood. Black guns and coyote knives that look hooky and dangerous, chunky pens that also stab, flashlights that can start fires, “grey man” bags with tomahawks and short rifles, a back pack 90% of trauma kit … it’s quite funny sometimes as the people carrying this stuff are not congruent to people who will be using this stuff.  Sure “it’s better to have it and not need it yadda yadda…” but I’ve got a 10 pounds of shit on me daily limit. I’m fine with what other’s carry I just won’t do it nor see a real probable need and think the Greyman Tacticool look is rather obvious and quite noticeable and exactly opposite of Greyman Philosophy. Thing is when I see the "scary stuff I know it's mostly aesthetics and color and not actually any more scary than other things.
Just as effective tools, probably more expensive, not as scary looking. 

Actually, a very wise man once taught me that a true greyman is “congruent” to their surroundings and that has stuck with me since. Thanks ODA and I wish I knew your real name. This is why my “philosophy” is to be me which is “an office worker that likes heavy metal and ice cream”.
When you dress like this I immediately think "That guy has a gun or wishes they did." They think they are blending in. They are also just as fashionably minded as any other consumer out there but refuse to admit it.
What I like to see on blogs and FB pages and such are the quality things that really tell you something about a person (other than I’m Gonna Fight In A Fucking Big War!). Like, a pocket knife that looks like Grandpa hung out with them or an old Zippo that has an old Infantry unit insignia. Maybe a watch with a clown on it or something. Other than the personal things like that I also like real simple and elegant but highly functional pocket carry items like a 2 or 3 pocket organizer (for pen, knife, lighter?) or a pocket notebook and wallet combo. One thing I’ve always wanted was a hanky with a simple map of Portland on it.

*Edit I typed PX and that's the land lubber Army name for it. We called it the Navy Exchange. I think that most people know what a PX is over an NEX. How true that is I don't know.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Works in Progress - Scots Covenanters, Modern SWAT, Paladin for D&D

After watching Wizards Friday night at The Hollywood Theater (see previous post) I had a pretty easy weekend with some free time... not so the next 2-3 weekends. So I took some time to try to wrap up some miniature projects.

First there is the slog, the thing I have been working on consistently for about a year now - English Civil War Scots Covenanters. I wanted a third foot regiment of pike and shotte, looking at 36 figures in 28mm. I bought a Warlord P&S infantry foot regiment box, added some Scottish bonnets to the order, and got to work in June.

Faces first!
Faces were based in a light brown. Then washed in Army Painter ink, Then heavily dry brushed in AP Barbarian flesh and highlighted in a a Vallejo Pale Flesh. 
I'm now on the last company of musketeers and looking forward to being done.  The big difference on these figures over the other 2 regiments I painted last year is they are Warlord plastics (as opposed to Old Glory metals) and I'm multi basing them over single based on 20mm squares.

The last year has been a haze of grey and blue paint!

Next for show and tell are some Old Glory SWAT figures I picked up a few years ago. Painting them for some modern (Osprey's Black Ops) gaming in the near future. These figures painted up really fast as the pallet is very simple. So much so I did not like the blue and black they originally were so I threw in some dark grey on armor plates and tactical harness and popped some red onto lights and scopes.

Not a lot of experience in modern bases so tried a gravel and cement look. 

Speaking of modern miniatures here is a female figure that I picked up from Hasslefree Miniatures a few years back. I like to have a stock of these in my storage trays. Not done and exercising my layering on a smaller scale as this mini is pretty tiny.

For my D&D game, the one where I play a Paladin, this is my "higher level" figure for my character. He did find a sunsword so I decided to portray that in the figure and took it as a cue to try out "reflection" effect on the armor of the miniature. I think I did OK my first time out but I'm definitely not there yet.

I like to have a lot of monster miniatures laying around. I use them, mostly, as tools to practice painting and modeling techniques. This "brain eater" (aka Grell from D&D mythology) I'm using as a study in layering with watered down paints. The brain part was base coated in purple. I then painted the brains in pink. Then I layered in a watered down red and the effect was pretty good I think.

I'm sure I'll let y'all know when I'm all done with painting Scots Covenanters! Have a good week or whatever and thanks for reading.

Wizards on the big screen

This weekend opened with getting off work and going straight to The Hollywood Theater for Wyrd War's special showing of Wizards on the big screen and the first time the sound track was released on vinyl... and the album being released at the show was of 200 special editions made, specifically, for the showing. Of course I got one.

Two of the protagonists Avatar (the good wizard) and Weehawk the elf hero.

Antagonist Blackwolf, the evil wizard.
I met my Dungeons and Dragons group before hand for a few drinks. Gretchen "called in sick" as she was not felling well and stayed home. Bummer as she really wanted to go and many of our friends were there.

Wizards is 40 years old having been released early in 1977. I was 5 or 6 years old when I saw it that year and it came out right before Star Wars. I remember it being one of the first movies I saw a commercial of on TV and telling my parents I wanted to see it. Being the 70s the MPAA (and studios) were not sure what to do with this movie. It got a PG. In hindsight I'm sure it was my first exposure to Nazis and what they did as it played a big part of the movie.

Bad guys went straight up nazi.
Ralph Bakshi made it, famous for other animated movies like Fire and Ice and Lord of the Rings. He is famed for use of Rotoscope - animating over live action film footage - and infamous for being a curmudgeon. He is part of my own mythology. The sound track was by Andrew Belling who was also at the show Friday and he did a great Q&A and I love that dude. He was very touched by seeing a sell-out crowd and said how amazed he was to see such a big audience for something he did 40 years ago.

Famous "They got Fritz!" scene.

Some other animation from the beginning exposition part of a younger Avatar and Blackwolf.

The movie sits in a weird spot in my memories from 40 years ago. I was at the age that my memories are breaking out of dream-like and into legit memories. Some scenes in the movie are engraved in my hardware while some were totally gone. For instance:

1) Battle scenes - I totally remember some of those scenes. Both the focus of some of the animation scenes as well as some of the Rotoscoped background scenes.

2) The character Elinor - I have zero memory of her. That said I have always like curvy women and maybe seeing this when I was so young is part of that? Also, see above comments on this movie being rated PG - hahaha!

Other than a 4 minute scene when she put on a poncho Elinor is in the whole movie like this. PG or not? No judgement here.

Another great gig put up by Wyrd War - Tiffany and Dennis and their kid - They do an incredible job of putting together really cool shit and I'm glad to call them my friends too. They are my people.

Follow Wyrd War via their Facebook page:
And also see a video of Maria Karlin of Federales singing with Andrew Belling playing the ballad in the movie.

EDIT: 7/16/17 at 20:42:
The Battle for Art Blog, by Dennis Dread of Wyrd War,  link is right here and you should click and look at it.

EDIT 2: Did I mention how cool and sweet Andrew Belling is? Exuded coolness.

Monday, July 10, 2017

“Saga Club”, Scots Covenanters, Dungeons and Dragons, and Future Projects

At this year’s Enfilade a few guys referred to me as “Portland Saga Guy”. Not offended or anything, nor did it go to my head like I AM THE PORTLAND SAGA GUY!!, but I took it as a cue that I could get something Saga-centric in Portland going with some help from a few others – namely Spencer. Like Uncle Ben said to Peter: "With great power comes great responsibility."

I put a few e-mails and Facebook messages out that I was going to create a Google Group and call it PDX-Metro Saga. Not a club, not a league, just a group for active Saga players in the Portland-Metro area. The goal is to get together for regular play once per month at Guardian Games. Requirements being:
1) You *want to play Saga once per month.
2) You have a table-ready warband.
3) You have other accessories like dice and stuff.
4) You have a couple games under your belt… basically; you played it once already and are ready to learn.

*Want does not equate to “required to”; totally understandable that we are grown-ups with grown-up things to attend to that have much more importance.

I got a surprisingly larger number of volunteers. Nothing huge, like 40 people, but better than the under 10 I thought I’d get. I was happy.

Our first official game day for PDX-Metro Saga is July 22, Saturday, at Guardian Games. I am bringing my Pagan Rus war band. Others are bringing Normans, Anglo Saxons, and Vikings. Some have decided to surprise us and not tell us what they are bringing. It’s not required that you tell or not.

I’m excited for this day and hope there is a bright future for Saga in Portland.

I got in a game of Pikeman’s Lament at Spencer’s house a few Friday nights ago. My first game I learned a lot. It’s easy for me to pick up as the rules engine is Dan Mersey’s X Rampant. I’ve played that a few times and my knowledge base there is solid in the basics. I like Pikeman’s Lament a bit more that Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant for a few reasons:
1) 3 inch rule is reduced to 1 inch.
2) Units activate a little bit easier thus less chance of a failed activation roll and losing your turn – probably the rule I hate the most in not just X Rampant engine but in gaming in general.**
3) A little bit of personality… or mechanical abilities… for your officer, adding some role-playing… touching on my love for role-playing.

** I love X Rampant rules engine. It is simple, elegant, has enough options to flavor up important things but open enough to allow for all kinds of model options… it just hits a sweet spot in all the games I have played. It’s all good except the failed activation rule. This is not the place to get into it but I have many opinions on that rule.

Spencer and I played with our English Civil War collections – he with his Royal English troops and I with my Scots Covenanters. The game was even until the Royal cavalry started shining and doing lots of damage to my right flank, in a village and where my Lancers and a saker were deployed, and my left flank, an open field were we both deployed the bulk of our foot regiments. I was able to, finally, get my brave pikemen into the fray but it was too late by then. Lesson learned was to protect your musketeers with those pikemen.

Lancers going down the village road.

IRL how it played out is I did not figure out what my pikemen could actually do until the last half of the game and by them the English cavalry had done their damage and chased off some of my musketeer companies. WHOOPS! Those crazy Scots!

After posting this picture I realized that it feeds into that whole Scots / sheep joke mythology. For this I apologize. I like this picture of my miniatures though.

Anyways, fun game and a fire has been lit up under my butt to paint up more and play this game more with Spencer and whoever else.

Dungeons and Dragons has picked up. After a long hiatus from RPing, and an earlier campaign this year kind of coming to an end too soon, I joined up with NE Portland RPG… sounds official and all but it’s just some friends from Cinema Babylon running a game and they invited me in. We play in a dank basement! It’s not that dank but it’s still a basement.

Austin is the Dungeon Master and he’s running me, Peter, Dylan, and Andrew through the D&D campaign Out of the Abyss. So far it’s been a lot of fun and we’ve been playing weekly. My character is a Paladin from a country called Amn (fantasy analogue of Spain). He is young and an idealist but his time tromping through the darkness of The Underdark is grating on him a bit. He’s already been slain by a demon, then risen and taking the Oath of Vengeance, turning him a bit grim in his outlook. It’s all cool and shit.

Demons! Oh my!!

I’m not planning to really add much to my miniatures collection this year, at least I don’t have any plans to buy a new rule set and paint up a new army. My only plans right now are to:
1) Finish up my Scot Covenanters in my lead mountain.
2) Source and paint up a small war band of Mongols for Lion Rampant.
3) Paint some niche figures to round out existing war bands in Saga – some Varangians, some Pagan Rus warriors, stuff like that.
I'm Rus because of the Santa hat and rectangular shield.

I’m also going to be working on some 54mm and 70mm figures I have had for a long time and need painting. That also includes working on some craft techniques I normally don’t use while painting for my table top miniatures. It’s about time for me to get out of my comfort zone and try some new stuff there, though I do not have the time or space for an airbrush which is what a lot of people suggest. That’s just too rich for my blood and out of my economic class!

Reaper Miniatures Sophie in 70mm - and me working on some blending techniques.

I have an interest in some modern-type games – Black Ops being the main one. In my lead mountain are modern bikers and SWAT figures so I suppose I can paint those up and get a couple squads going there. I have the rule book too so there is nothing holding me back. I also used some birthday money in May to buy Project Z for some post-apocalypse zombie fun. I’ve opened that box but have not painted any miniatures though I have some miniatures usable for the game already done up from past games I have played in the genre.

A little tradition I picked up last year, based off my “if Guardian is allowing me to use their space to play war games for free I best drop a $20 every time I go there” plan, was to by a Reaper Bones Tiik warrior or baron every visit. Well, that collection has built up and now I’ve got about a dozen fish-dudes looking for a job… Dragon Rampant anyone?

Fish people all grabby with those hands.