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… Now

If you recall last time I pulled an old model off the shelf and decided to see how far I had come in the last 20 or so years. Additionally, I wanted to push my contrasts further than I normally do.

After a couple of nights of work – here are the results.

Then ... and Now

I am VERY happy with the results. The sword is likely the best I have ever done – and I can really see how shading as much as I have, and going as dark as I have (for me) really improve the end result.

I am least happy with the cloth – the red is something I want to use on other models, but I’m not happy about the transition to yellow – I want it to remain red. I think next time I may use an orange as the first highlight, rather than yellow and that should keep it closer to what I am after.

Let me know what you think!

Iron Arena Spreadsheet

For a while now (at least 12 months) one of my pet side projects has been exploring Google Docs for capturing Warmachine and Hordes league data. I started last year with Machinations, and with each league the template grew and expanded and became more refined as I learned more about the capabilities of the platform. I also started making my sheets available to other league administrators, and have taken their feedback into later iterations.

I really like Google Docs, as it allows for quite rapid development; sure I could likely use more traditional technology stacks (.Net, SQL, etc) but there is an infrastructure overhead that I just don’t need for these projects. Recently, I explored the use of public/hidden sheets and with letting players self-record their sign-up, league matches and painting efforts (I trust my players not to cheat the system). Even more recently, I explored the Forms aspect of Google Docs and I love it! It is a great way to have better control over the data quality without risking that users will overwrite a honed formula with their ignorance.

At the start of this year I helped run the Iron Arena at Cancon. For the unaware, the Iron Arena is a casual convention format for Warmachine & Hordes; players are free to organise their own games, play at their own pace and earn points which they can trade in for prizes such as posters, dice, widgets, models, etc. It is a really good format and had a lot of interest this year at Cancon. Recording information for the Iron Arena at Cancon was a paper-based process (due to only having around 50 participants) and had all the associated hook ups (human error, filing, time delays, etc).

Being a software developer by trade, I knew there had to be a better way.

Sheets

Main Sheet

Main Spreadsheet

The main spreadsheet is where all the magic is consolidated; it presents a total view of each player, their games, points, achievements and purchases. Behind the scenes are a number of key sheets that summarise/filter and transform the raw data into a format suitable for quick, (fairly) easy to understand formulas.

Player Sheet

Player Sheet

This sheet is a cut-down version of the Main Sheet, focusing on an individual player (selectable from the drop-down). This allows for auditing of player information (as a result of enquiries or issues) and acts as a sanity check for the main sheet. It contains the same information as the Main Sheet, along with raw data entries for double checking.

Forms

The forms are what drive the data entry. If needs be the raw data can be edited or created within the spreadsheet itself, but that is not ideal. At the moment, there are 3 forms that collect the necessary data.

Game Form

Game Form The game form (obviously) collects the game data. It uses fields and drop downs to help with data quality. I will likely expand this form to allow support for multi-player games. It contains fields for the game size and player faction, state, etc. As a side-effect of using Google Forms, I also get a timestamp of when the game was recorded.

Tournament Form

Tournament Form People who played in a tournament also got some bonus Iron Arena points.

Purchase Form

Purchase Form This form tracks purchases made by players (DERR!). The costs are stored in a reference sheet and so need not be manually tracked.

Charts

A cute side-effect of having all this data is providing visualisations. I hope to add more as I tinker.

Faction ChartState Chart

 

Final Comments

It is not a perfect system. There is next to no validation (so garbage in, garbage out) as as of right now Google Forms does not permit pulling drop-down contents and validation from spreadsheets; and correcting errors (wrong name, wrong faction, etc) is a case of editing the raw data (and thus subject to human error). And some parts are cludgy; The Tournament Form does not show what you’ve already entered it just lets you record a new data record; processing out the unique set has to be done with spreadsheet formula.

However we must appreciate this (from conception to it’s current state) has taken approximately 6 hours. If you can write a full database-driven, web-based data collection and exploration tool in under 6 hours – please send me your email address. Sure, a lot of this form has stood on the back of the hours I’ve spent refining my league sheets, but is the same for learning any new technology.

If you want to see it in action; knock yourself out. You should be unable to edit the sheet, but I can always open it up if you want to see how I did something or offer improvement suggestions.

Then …

After spending a month painting Convergence of Cyriss warcaster commissions (with much success) I thought I needed a palette cleanser before starting afresh on my own models.

Dually inspired by this thread about revisiting old models on the Oz Painter’s forum and this thread about painting with contrast on Hand Cannon Online website I thought I’d pull out some old models I had lying around to use as practice for improving my model contrast.

I present one of my first ever painting efforts. If you recognise the model, +5 Internet Points for you! For the less enlightened, it is an Orc from the original Hero Quest board game. Officially my gateway game to fantasy novels, Dungeon’s and Dragons, other RPGs, painting, computer games and general nerdom.

I’ll let you bask in its glory for a while.

Image

 

Wow. For reference, this was likely painted in 1993, when I was in Grade 10 – and approximately 21 years ago. If memory serves, I was using Tamiya Color Enamel, as I distinctly recall the paint tins and the smell of mineral turpentine.

Stay with me as I dig out the same model and paint it anew, and let’s see how far I’ve come.

Cancon 2014 in Review

I’ve finally recovered enough from Cancon 2014 to be able to put some thoughts down on paper. For those not in the know, Cancon is an annual 3-day celebration of gaming and gaming culture; everything from board games, miniature games, role-playing games and cosplay is there to be enjoyed and bought. It has been around for years and years and is arguable the premier convention in Australia.

This year Warmachine & Hordes had it’s biggest ever presence with approximately 130 registrations; we even qualified for an Iron Gauntlet qualifier and a Masters tournament. As a local Pressganger, I offered my services to help the tournaments run smoothly; which involved 2 x 12 hour days of administration, clean-up and the occasional game in the Iron Arena. I would have been there for all 3 days, but I was distracted by Meg Maples’ painting class.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow, I thought I’d pull out some of the memorable events.

TL;DR version - I had a blast!

Iron Arena

This was an idea that we tried last year; but went off this year. As well as participating in tournaments, players were able to play pick-up-games against anyone, at any points level, and they could take as long as they wanted. Each game earned you points that you could spent on prizes such as dice, tokens, posters, alternate sculpts, painting services and so forth. It was so popular that I was actually asked if someone could use an unused tournament table because there was not enough space!

Among the crowd of patient (at one point I recorded game results for 30mins straight because of the queue) and fabulous players, three people stood out for me. Ian Bennett worked tirelessly to collect as many achievements he could get to earn an Extreme Juggernaut, and I believe he got it. Josh Bates squeezed in games whenever he could; between tournament rounds, in the mornings, etc to earn enough points for 20 black focus tokens for his Nemo2 list. And Zach Jones worked like a dog to get enough points to earn himself a Bombardier Bombshell – it was a pleasure to hand it over to him as he was super excited to get it.

Painting

My skills have steadily been improving and I thought this year I had a good chance of placing. Little did I know that not only was Meg Maples’ entering in some models, but that a bunch of OzPainter forum guys were also entering! Take a look at some of these… (make with the clicky to embiggen them)

cancon-painting-3 cancon-painting-2 cancon-painting-1

I was blown away by the strength of the competition this year. Fortunately I was able to place second with my Archangel (first placed Hyperion was super cool); and scored a nifty shirt from The Sound of Machines. Kate was super nice and when my shirt did not fit she game me some dice as compensation. Even better, she liked my model enough to want a couple of extra shots of it!

Meg

I’d be remiss if I did not mention Meg‘s painting class. Plenty has been said before about the other classes she’d held around the world and I won’t reiterate the praise here. Suffice to say, this time around two-brush blending “clicked” with me and I learned to get over my fear of painting eyes with Meg’s “6 easy steps to painting eyes”. I even got some great colour theory out of the other classmates and will be working on that part of my game this year.

I took two models, but this is the one I did the most work on.

Dwarf Lord

I want to call out Mark Soley from OzPainters for bouncing both colour theory and base design off me (I’m sure I’ll translate his advice with some more experience) and for Elena Petrou in independently supporting the colour theory from Mark.

Bring on next year!

 

 

Raven Eyes of the War Dragon

I think it’s established that I enjoy theme forces. Quite a few years ago I posted an idea on the Lost Hemisphere forums about how “well” Lylyth2′s theme force (Ravens of War) gels with her Shard from the faction book (Eyes of the Dragon).

As I look at my mountain of models, it re-occurs to me that finishing off the theme force that actually got me interested in the faction may be an excellent way to re-invigorate the faction, add focus to my painting, and get a list that I would like to play for a while.

Lylyth, Shadow of Everblight (painted)
- Seraph (painted)
- Seraph (painted)
- Stinger (painted)
Blighted Nyss Striders + UA (painted)
Blighted Nyss Striders + UA
Strider Deathstalker (Fysel) (painted)
Strider Deathstalker (Kaevan) (painted)
Strider Deathstalker (Shaness)
Strider Deathstalker (Treyfal)
Blighted Nyss Raptors
Annyssa Ryvaall, Talon of Everblight (painted)

I have 2 Deathstalkers, Raptors and a unit of Striders to paint – should be doable by May (given I have other things on my plate in Jan/Feb/March
Right?

Spring Rampage

On Saturday just gone a local store held its latest in a series of Spring Rampage events. The idea of the rampage was to start small and work up to 50pt events over the course of spring. Rather than having prizes for each event, you would earn tickets for a raffle to be held during the final event. You’d get tickets for playing, but also for doing things like killing all solos, playing fully painted, playing tiered, etc.

I took two lists:

Vayl1 – 2x Ravagore, Angelius, Scythean, Legionnaires, Spawning Vessel, 2x Forsaken

Thagrosh2 – 2x Scythean, Seraph, Carnivean, 5x Shredder, 2x Forsaken

I have not played a lot of 50pt games, let alone 50pt tournament games, so this was going to be very interesting. There was an incentive to alternate lists, so that is what I did.

Round 1 - Morvahna the Autumblade (0-1)

For a definition of recursion, see recursion.
if I didn’t already think that zealots were the cockroaches of the Warmachine universe, my next bet would be Bloodtrackers with Witch Doctor and Morvahna. I was woefully under-prepared for this list and it tore me a new one. Out of spite, and with spiked dice, I one-rounded the Stalker with Ravagore shots.
Image

Round 2 – Archdomina Makeda (0-2)

Nothing good can come of leaving a straight line between yourself and Molik Khan. I over-committed heavies to the Cetrati, hoping to clear them quickly and then pressure Makeda with sprays and two beasts. They were too hard to kill and it left me with little to block Molik from walking across the zone and stabbing Thagrosh with pointy things. Archidon finished him off.

Image

Round 3 – Feora, Protector of the Flame (1-2)

Brett and I always have great games. This one went to dice down, and we both were surprised. A grindy game where aggressive Ravagores helped clear off the opposing Reckoners. Spawning Vessel was left in the open and got taken out early which meant I had to play more conservatively. Legionnaires tied up the Temple Flameguard long enough for me to clear the left flank. 

Image

 

Round 4 - Warwitch Deneghra (1-3)

Who, in their right mind, brings 53 infantry models! Madness!

Image

This was a long, tough game. Incorporeal models are hard to remove, so I just got up there and did what I could. I was coming back well, with most of the banes destroyed as Thagrosh got busy, but I was tied down for most of the game and locked out of the zones. Deneghra was running scared (that’s what I tell myself) before dice down was called.

 

Painting Progress

I’ve been looking at my back-log of painting and thinking about the best way to tackle it in 2014.

Thanks to Forward Kommander I now have an accurate way to track my faction breakdown, and here it is:

Warmachine

  • Cygnar – 53% (of 15 models)
  • Cryx – 0% (of 0 models)
  • Protectorate of Menoth – 100% (of 5 models)
  • Khador – 100% (of 17 models)
  • Retribution of Scyrah – 50% (of 36 models)
  • Convergence of Cyriss – 100% (of 2 models)
  • Mercenaries – 40% (of 5 models)

Hordes

  • Circle Orboros – 90% (of 10 models)
  • Legion of Everblight – 70% (of 124 models)
  • Trollbloods – 88% (of 9 models)
  • Skorne – 83% (of 53 models)
  • Minions – 57% (of 14 models)

What to tackle first? I want to finish off Cygnar first; that gets me my full Operation Stormy Seas 50pts completed and means I can put that scheme to bed (as tempted as I am to expand it!). I think I’ll then knock off Circle and maybe Skorne to get those ones to bed. After that, it gets fuzzy. Retribution is caught between a scheme that works, and a scheme that I like. They may be stripped yet and re-painted, I have over Christmas to decide. Legion has some second-hand models in it which I need to strip properly before I can start them – and I’m a bit over the scheme right now. Trollbloods has a Mountain King to do, and I’m leaving that for now since I want to try and come up with a scheme for them. I like the one I did for the battle-box, but I think it’s a bit passive when scaled right up to a gargantuan (that, and it’s very similar to my Legion skin tones).

How do you think I’ll go? I think I’ll likely buy more models tonight (Silver Line and a Stormtower is calling me for Cygnar).

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