Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top 5 Board Games 2013:

As the year is coming to an end, I came across many good games (old or new) that struck my fancy. My group of friends (including my wife) and I have actually played some of these games since last year and we like them so much, we kept playing.

Here are the top 5 games I get to play this year:

1.       Elder Sign

I’m not the biggest fan of the Cthulhu lore (yea I know!) and especially anything related to Arkham Horror, but this game has been simple enough for my less nerdy friends to understand and try out. We ended up playing this game every time we meet up for at least 3 months until we got distracted with other games/busy with our schedules.
The game is a simple dice game where all the players work together to beat one of the Elder Gods chosen at random in the beginning. The characters you play are the same characters from Arkham Horror and they have their own special abilities to help them conquer evil…for that night. The key here is to work together to beat the game and not each other. Each player go in turn to try to finish a task to lock the evil using the Elder Signs in time before the creature gets summoned and unleashed its wrath onto the world.  Average play time is roughly 2 hours or less with 5 to 6 people (maximum of 8 players).

Elder Sign is less than $50 on Amazon right now and you can grab it here

2.       Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island is another simple and quick game that you have to work together to beat the game. Each player moves along certain plains to gather the correct set of relics to prevent the island from sinking. Every turn the island tiles will disappear and the players’ movement would be more and more limited. Luckily, each “explorer” has their own abilities to help the players beat the game. Forbidden Island is made for up to 4 players and the average playtime is 1 hour or less.

Forbidden Island is less than $20 on Amazon, grab it here

3.       Settlers of Catan

Ah… classic Settlers of Catan! Wifey and I first introduction to European game, and I don’t even remember how or why we bought it. Each player need to gather up resources dictated by the 2D6 rolls and build their settlements, roads, and cities to earn enough points to win. They are allowed to trade whatever resources they need with the market or other players on their turn as the dice gods plays tricks on those who care not about dice roll probabilities. Watch out for those 7’s as the robber will come out from their hideout and rob your resources out of your hand. Simple and fun, Settlers of Catan has proven to be an effective gateway to introduce new gamers to “better” board games than the typical household ones like Monopoly or Game of Life. With the expansion, Settlers of Catan can support up to 6 people with an average of 2 hours or less game time.

Settlers of Catan and its expansions are available for less than $40 each on Amazon, grab them here

4.       Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is another introduction Euro game that even my non gamer friends grew to love! Similar in a general sense to Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride is a resource management/placement game where you’re given a set number of trains (resources) and earn as much points as possible by completing routes (mission cards). Players lose points for not completing the routes randomly drawn for them and since there’s a limited number of routes to go from point A to B, Ticket to Ride gets cutthroat real quick! With expansions, Ticket to Ride can support up to 6 players or more (the more players you have, the less trains people get, and you would also need different colored trains) and can be played within an hour and a half or less.

Ticket to Ride and its expansions are available for less than $50 each on Amazon, grab them here

4.       Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game

This is the ultimate game for me this year! The moment I saw Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures game, I knew I had to try it. Made only for 2 players (or 2 teams), Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures game plays similar to Wings of War (if any of you are familiar with it) and pits the Rebel Alliance against the Imperials in a galactic space battle (sound effect not included, PEW PEW!). Each player build up their list of ships they are bringing, each ships and their respective upgrades all have their own points. The tournament standard is 100 points and that usually gives you 2 – 4 ships depending on how generous you are on putting all your eggs in one basket. After deployment, each player dictates where their ship is going with these specially made dials and measuring tool and the player with the lowest pilot skill value moves theirs first and declare their available actions. During the combat phase (shooting phase), the pilots with the highest pilot skill value shoots first. So a pilot with skill of 9 will move last (for better positioning), and shoots first (to thin down the enemy that can shoot back). You keep repeating the same phases until one side is out of the game, so it’s like galactic space chest with so much WIN! Playtime is about 1 1/2 hours each game and what are you waiting for? Time to fly out on the Millenium Falcon with Chewbacca on your side!

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures game and its booster packs are available for less than $40 (boosters are around $15 – $20) on Amazon, grab them here

As I can’t get into too much detail of all of these games, I recommend going on YouTube and search for the gameplay videos there. I hope you guys enjoy some of my review of the 2013 Top 5 Board Games and let’s look forward for 2014!

Holiday 2013 Gift Guide

Holiday 2013 Gift Guide

As the holiday season comes along, a lot of gamers are frantically searching for gifts for their friends and loved ones. Here’s my gift guide for 2013:

Under $10:
·         Dice
·         Dice Bags
·         Token & Counters
·         Classic Games (e.g. Phase 10, Jenga, etc)
·         Accessories (e.g. tape measurer, dice box, etc)

Under $25:
·         Cards Against Humanity
·         Guilds of Cadwallon
·         Tsuro
·         Qwirkle
·         Smash Up

Under $50:
·         Star Wars X-Wing Core Set
·         Netrunner
·         Takenoko
·         King of Tokyo
·         Warmachine High Command

Under $100:
·         Super Dungeon Explore
·         Mansion of Madness
·         Krossmaster Arena

Other great games:
·         Elder Sign
·         Relic (Warhammer 40k Talisman)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Painting for Charity: Kobolds for Kids

Recently I signed up to be one of the volunteer painters for a charity project called Kobolds for Kids as recommended by Adam, a buddy that I met at Adepticon 2013. The project started out small and simple with their group pitching in to the Reaper Miniatures Bones Project on Kickstarter. Then they got into a conversation on how difficult to paint all 241 miniatures that you get from that project. So they decided to create a little painting competitions to encourage themselves to actually complete the project. Someone, however, suggested a better idea: “Instead of competing, what if we took the painted lot and auctioned it off for charity?” To add icing to the cake, they contacted Reaper Miniatures and they decided to donate a whole set of those 241 miniatures (from the Vampire level pledge). Now sh*t just got real!

Models I will be painting for Kobolds for Kids

I was already interested in the get go when Adam told me about the project because I wanted to do something similar but no way I would get the same effect as I would doing it solo vs. a bigger group like this. This project even got some big names in the industry that volunteered like:

·         Ross Watson – Creator of the Death Watch RPG and world class gamer (example of his work)
·         Wyrd Miniatures painting crew (Wyrd Games)
·         Wild West Exodus Miniatures painting crew (look at these!)
·         Andy Hoare (Lexicanum profile)
·         Scott Bogen – Creator of The Board Game Show podcast (The Board Game Show)
·         Russ Wakelin and Craig Gallant of The D6 Generation podcast (The D6 Generation)

“Who are Kobolds for Kids doing this for?”
The Kobolds for Kids team agreed that there are two charity projects that were important to them and that are where they will put their efforts in. The first project is the Boston Children’s Hospital. They have provided a life-saving treatment to more than one of the crew’s children. And the second project is a personal project for one of their gaming friend’s wife who was diagnosed with stage IV triple negative metastatic breast cancer.

“Why are you doing this Mars?
I don’t live in Boston, and I don’t know these people personally but I know they would need as much help as they can get. Some of you guys might not know this but I have watched someone who is dear to me battle cancer and it was not pretty. A lot of “what if we could…” statements and questions would run through my brain during those times. It would put me at ease to know that if I could just give back to the community with what I do best to help these organization and people, and hope that it would get rid of their “what if we could…” questions .

If you guys want to be involved with this project, please don’t hesitate to contact them at info@koboldsforkids.com

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sunshine & Moonbeam: Journey to Crystal Brush 2014


After a month long break from the blog, I’m finally back writing! Not only that I haven’t been writing, I also haven’t been painting for about the same time.

I have reasons (not excuses) why I haven’t been writing or painting:
  1. I have been working on finishing up Mini Wargaming DVD tutorial. So look forward to see my DVD tutorial being posted up there.
  2. Wife caught some kind of cough that wouldn’t stop for 2 weeks. She has gotten better and should make full recovery by this week.
  3. I have been tidying up the work area with a new shelf so now my computer and my paint station is all in 1 area.
  4. And lastly, I have been co-producing a live show on YouTube called Sunshine & Moonbeam: Journey to Crystal Brush 2014.
I want to take a moment to describe how this live show means to me, but it wouldn't feel right without describing how the idea came up in the first place.

As some of you might know, the WGC community has nightly Google Hangout sessions where people would work on their projects or do whatever they want. I, myself, got into the hangout circle roughly about a year ago when I started the Voices of Mars channel. The circle grows bigger and bigger and I met a couple of people: Myst1x and Maxxpayne390.

I’ve always wanted to do a tutorial series where I would teach new hobbyist or people who wanted to get into the hobby and don’t know where to start. The idea would start from “Where to Get Your Miniatures From” all the way to the basic way of painting your miniatures.

Now after a lot of conversation between me and the other 2 guys about how they wanted to go to Adepticon to enter the Crystal Brush competition, Myst1x (a 6-month old new hobbyist) challenged Maxxpayne390 to see who can win (more) at Crystal Brush 2014. At that point I didn’t pay much attention and just laugh it off. After getting to know Myst1x a bit more, we usually get into a lot of banter and one morning I greeted him with “Morning Sunshine!” and he replied with “Morning Moonbeam”. My brain clicked... imagine a spinning room… Tutorial series for new hobbyist, a journey to Crystal Brush, perfect Cinderella story, Sunshine & Moonbeam. BOOOOOOM! Sunshine & Moonbeam: Journey to Crystal Brush 2014 was born!

I then shoot out the idea to Myst1x, who then agreed to co-host the show and be my guinea pig despite his nerd attitude (read: social anxiety), who then discussed it with Maxxpayne390 and the rest of the hangout circle. Everyone seems to support the whole idea and plans were being written out as fast as you can prime a model.

I also had the idea of inviting different guests each week to help me “teach” Myst1x the basics of the hobby, but I didn’t want to ask help from people that are already well known in the field. I wanted to focus on the people who I spoke/interact with that have talents, but are not widely known in the community. I thought it would be a good chance for them to break out of their shell and introduce them to the WGC community as contributing members. I didn’t want them to be THE expert of the topics that are being introduced each episode. I wanted them to be someone that experienced the problems and found solutions, and sometimes they would actually learn new things by being in the show and interact with audience.

Here’s the guest list for Season 1:
#3 – David Pease BASING
#4 - AnimaWarForge (Trent) COMPOSITION
#5 – Mongoose Jack + PsyonicAugur PRIMING
#6 - Engineer Jeff PAINTING EXERCISE
#8 - Powerhouse Miniatures (Ian) BASE COATING
#9 - Tabletop Minion (Adam) WASHES
#10 - Darklyte HIGHLIGHTS

All of the guests invited were more than willing to come and spend their Saturday afternoon with us for roughly about an hour. Some were even more excited than I sounded when I invited them which then fuel my own excitement (vicious cycle of excitement).

Now with all that excitement, I thought “why stop there?” Crystal Brush is 35+ weeks away and with those 10 episodes could only fill out 10 weeks. I thought we needed something bigger, and the show did get bigger. As fillers before Season 2 starts, we have invited more people to come to the show and help teach. This time it won’t be only Myst1x that will be learning, but I will sit down with some questions on my own.

Here’s the guest list (confirmed) for the filler episodes:
#1 – Tightheadprop (Carsten) WEATHERING
#2 – Mistress of Mini (Isabelle) DIY/HOMEBREW METHODS
#3 – Wargamers Consortium (Chung) MINIATURE SHOWCASING/YOUTUBE

As we go deeper and deeper into the year, we will try to invite more people in but at the same time we don’t want to keep you guys waiting for Season 2. I won’t say much about Season 2, just have a look at the guests that have been confirmed to come on the show to share their wisdom

In no particular order and with great honor:
  • Derek Osborne – Director of Sales of CMON
  • Damon Drescher – Multiple Golden Demon & Crystal Brush Winner
  • Aaron Lovejoy – Multiple Golden Demon Winner
  • Curtis Shoemake – CMON Studio Painter
  • Vanhammer73 – Legend of Greenstuff
  • Lester Bursley – Golden Demon & Crystal Brush Winner, Youtube sensation ;)
  • James Wappel – Multiple Golden Demon & Crystal Brush Winner
  • Roman “Jarhead” Lappat – Multiple Golden Demon Winner & Crystal Brush 2013 Head Judge
  • Victoria Lamb - Multiple Golden Demon Winner & Victoria Lamb Miniatures
If you need time to pick your jaw off of the floor after reading that guest list, take as much time as needed. As you can see, this project has become bigger than I imagined and I don’t know how it can get any bigger than this!

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how I feel about this project. I’m very excited not only because I get to learn from some of the best painters in the world, I also get to share this with the audience over on YouTube. I hope you guys can watch the show (live or reruns) and stay tuned for more updates!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Competitive Painting Etiquettes

Competitive Painting Etiquettes

If you have been around hobby for some times you might’ve heard announcements around your local store about miniature painting competitions or converting competitions. These 2 events might not be as big as your tournaments but they do attract certain crowds. Some competition prizes goes as high as $10,000 like the Crystal Brush (hosted by CoolMiniOrNot) for example. Believe it or not, while not as “competitive” as tournament goes, people do take these types of competitions seriously. Like any competitions/tournaments, they each have their own rules and regulations to follow. But what if there are some gray areas that were found and even the organizers don’t even know how to rule them out? This is where you, as painter, have to think what is ethically right. What does it mean to be behaving according to the unwritten rule or etiquettes?
Do remember that a painting competition is usually a judged event. Whether it is community judging or a panel of judges, the event is entirely up to the organizers. Since it is a judged event, it is almost entirely up to the judge(s) to determine who the winner is. Now let’s take a look at some of etiquettes that you should know before entering any competitive painting events.

This goes without saying! Blatant plagiarism is notorious in the local level and usually the scale of the competition is so small, the plagiarist (or I call them D-bags) just get disqualifications. I am pretty sure there are higher consequences for international contests or bigger contests in general. This is like finishing a paper for your college exam by doing exact copy paste and turning it in with your name. I’ve witnessed this first hand where a model that my friend painted being turned in onto a competition that I was competing in. What’s even worse, the D-bag didn’t even feel the remorse for doing it when we (the organizer, my friend, and I – in front of a recording camera) confronted him. Please, have some respect to the painter and the model!

#2: DO NOT ENTER MODELS THAT ALREADY WON SOMETHING (without any modifications)
This is another simple etiquette that people usually have to be reminded by the organizers when they sign up. It is also usually in the rules and regulations of the competition. If you have won using the model, you shouldn’t enter it in other competition without making modifications to it. What kind of modifications are we talking about? Changing the skin color of the model, completely stripping the paint and paint it over, or adding 2 more layers of highlights are just some of the examples of modifications that you need to do before you enter the model into a different painting competition. Why is this a problem? Imagine the winner of Golden Demon or Crystal Brush turning the same models over and over knowing that it’s the best paint job in the entire competition. There will be no chances for him to grow as a painter by painting something new and there will be no chances for newer painters to win against him/her.

Like how gamers shake hands after a game is finished, this shows sportsmanship. No one likes a sore loser, or even worse, a bad winner. There’s actually a certain kind of satisfaction shaking your opponent’s hand (even though you lost) and say “Congratulations, awesome work!” or somewhere along the same line. And to be honest, I rather be beaten by a bad painter that has good sportsmanship rather than a good painter with bad sportsmanship.

Whether it is a small local competition or a huge international competition, do train yourself to bring your A-game. This means don’t bring your half finished work and turn it in expecting it to win something because there is no other entry in the category. The judges have the right to cancel a category out and you will be sh*t-out-of-luck. I’ve been in competition where the judge should’ve cancelled the category out because there’s only 1 entry but gave the guy what he deserved because it was a really well painted model.

This goes with everything in general. Pay attention to the time schedule that was given by the organizers. If they say 12pm is the last time you can turn in your model, then you should be there to enter your model at 11:45am. Because writing down your information and the model handling et cetera does take some time to get it right. You don’t want to rush the organizers because usually they are part of the judging panel and piss them off, and you don’t want to rush them in the risk of mishandling your information or your models. Relaxed and happy judge insures a smooth event!

These are just some of the etiquettes that I picked up according to my experiences in the competitive painting scene. If you have any other unwritten rule that you go by or organizers should know by now, please drop'em in the comment box down below. I'd love to hear what you guys think about this. Until then, Mars OUT!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Detail Shots on Vanhammer Blood Angels Captain Conversion

Here's some detail shots on the Vanhammer Blood Angels Captain model that I painted for Crystal Brush 2013. And here's the video of the showcase:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I've Been Busy!

Even though the competition is over, I'm still painting a lot! Also in the works: MWG Dvd, lots of showcases including a model done by Vanhammer73! And here's Wurrzag the Great Orc Shaman for a local competition coming up this weekend

Friday, May 24, 2013

Finished work! Gamex 2013 Sci Fi Squad & Diorama entries

Finally done! And I would have a total of 7 entries for Gamex 2013!

Keeping Yourself Motivated to Paint

If you are a miniature painter, at some point of your hobby life, you will be facing this age-old dilemma: I have so many models to paint but I don’t feel like painting at all! This is a classic example of what is called a “Painter’s Burnout”. Some people get this as soon as they finished assembling their models! They get excited when they take the miniature sprues out of the box. Smelling the new plastic, getting the tools ready, playing some fast beat music; these are all a typical scenario when you just got back from a hobby store. As soon as you’re done assembling the newest addition to your army, you tell yourself “I’ll paint these tomorrow!” Then you look to the pile of models you assembled a week back, a year back, 10 years back. It is a perpetual vicious endless cycle of a hobbyist life. With that being said, how do you keep yourself motivated to paint?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gamex 2013 Sci-Fi Squad entry all done!

Now onto the bases!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

WIP on Gamex 2013 Sci Fi Squad entry

My first attempt on wet blending seems to work pretty well on the power swords. Now I have gained a little more confidence on these models :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

A little distraction doesn't hurt!

So instead of painting my entries, I ended up having to finish 4 of these guys for the Malifaux tournament tomorrow! That's 2 Guild Hounds and 2 Watchers from the Guild factions.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Games 2013 Painting Competition, more entries!

More entries to Gamex 2013 Painting Competition are getting prepared. These are for Fantasy Large and Sci Fi Squad. The one on the left is a Dark Age model, and I've never painted Eldars before too ... This is going to be interesting

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gamex 2013 Diorama entry WIP... almost there!

It is almost done! I can almost feel it... just a little bit more..

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gamex 2013 Fantasy Squad entry done!

And they are finally done!!

The Dwarf Berserker is done!

Sorry for the bad lighting! But the Dwarf is done and on to the orc and the display base itself!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Gamex 2013 Diorama entry WIP

Loving the dwarf model but I'm having second thoughts about the Orc. Might have to re-base coat him a darker green.

Gamex 2013 Fantasy Squad entry WIP... bases loaded!

The bases are laser cut MDF from Andaya Laser Cutting. Even got it home delivered! The picture frame is just a $1 picture frame from Dollar Tree. Now I just need to paint the MDF and done with another entry!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Update on Gamex 2013 Diorama entry

Finished off the zenithal base coat for the skin... I can't wait to finish this diorama!

Gamex 2013 Fantasy Large entry

This Ogre Tyrant for my Mordheim Maneater Warband (converted with some custom sculpts with Vanhammer73's guidance) will be my Fantasy Large entry for Strategicon Gamex 2013 painting competition

Dark Age loot!

Look what the the cat brought in? Dark Age special package from CMON (courtesy of Derek Osborne). I will be playing some Dark Age after I started painting my faction - Dragyri Ice Caste. The other 2 factions you can see here are for my 2 buddies that will be spreading this game through out Los Angeles. Stay tuned for more.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adepticon 2013 Loot!

Adepticon 2013 Loot for your eyes!!

Strategicon Gamex 2013 Diorama Entry

Here's something I'll be working on for Strategicon Gamex 2013 Diorama entry. Classic Dwarf vs. Orc on a round plinth. Stay tuned for more pics!

Wifey's First Malifaux Crew

It all started out with wifey getting a demo at Wondercon 2013 and the next day she told me that she wanted a crew that is fast and hits like a truck! I /facepalm myself since I just created a Neverborn player!
Anyways, this crew will be my Fantasy Squad entry for Gamex 2013 painting competition