Monday, November 24, 2014

Hobby Update: The Heroes of Mars Attacks!

     Yet another busy week. I haven't done anything crazy in terms of hobby progress, but I continue to whittle down the giant box of Mars Attacks! Kickstarter stuff I have in my room. This week I finished up the last of the Martians from the starter set as well as most of the heroes. I still have some terrain bits,  Edwynn, Deke, and Ashley, and then I'll be finally finished with my first starter set. Hopefully by then I'll have more time to some games in and post some pictures of the fully painted set. I also got my Imperial Doomtrooper models for Warzone Resurrection in the mail this week. I'm still waiting on the Imperial Starter Army and the rules, but from these two figs, the level of detail is insane. The scale is a bit bigger than most other figures in my collection. Under normal circumstances I avoid larger scaled figures, but these ones look spectacular and I was a fan of the original Warzone game so I can make an exception.

The painted Mars Attacks! collection thus far. 

The Heroes of Greenville.

The first wave of the Martian invasion.

Beautiful figures by Prodos Games. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kickstarting the Golden Age: An Editorial on Kickstarter

     I want to try something new, and I've been thinking about trying my hand at writing an editorial for a while now. I'm actively trying to avoid making an inflammatory remark or allowing this article to turn into rant. I'm going to try and illustrate my perspective on the Kickstarter trend as best as I can articulate. Let's give this a shot:

     I've read a lot of criticism regarding the increasingly prominent use of Kickstarter in the context of miniature wargaming. I've read claims that Kickstarter is being abused by established companies to launch games that would have already been launched regardless of their Kickstarter campaign (Mantic is frequently the target of this complaint). There's usually an argument that Kickstarter shouldn't be used as a pre-order system. Another complaint on the use of crowd funding is that it has led to too many games being funded, thus flooding the market.
     I don't particularly care about the relative success of a company utilizing Kickstarter, because I don't think it's relevant. While a company might have the means to fund a project, Kickstarter is still a highly effective marketing tool. It gets their project publicity before it releases, but more importantly it allows them to gain a strong base of early adopters. Early adopters are a key factor in miniature wargaming due to the emphasis on community in the hobby: if there's an active community for a game, others would be more likely to participate. There are few miniature wargames one can play by themselves, and those with solo play aren't nearly as much fun as playing with a large, active community. Kickstarter is an effective way to generate early adopters as it generally offers a discount of some kind, as well as Kickstarter exclusive content. It's that extra boost for consumers on the fence about a product.
     I wouldn't attribute the variety of games available today to a flooded market. I would instead say it's a happy side effect of the growing popularity of games, and the ability of smaller companies to launch games through Kickstarter. The net gain for gamers is clear: we have more miniatures and more games for us to enjoy. The success of the many games funded on Kickstarter, such as Deadzone, All Quiet on the Martian Front, and Warzone Resurrection leads me to believe that we are entering a golden age in our once obscure hobby. Can all of this growth be credited to Kickstarter? No, certainly not, but it is the conduit through which we've gained so many great games. In the coming years, I anticipate even more expansion in the miniature wargaming with better games, better figures, and more variety. That leads me to the purpose of the article. I believe we are at the all time high point of miniature wargaming, not just in quality of figures (that's sort of self-evident), but in variety of games, quality of games, and the number of gamers.

Thanks for reading, I hope you've all enjoyed it. If you have thoughts or insight, please post in the comments section. If you enjoyed this article or editorials are something you would like to see more of, let your friends know about the article or follow us on Twitter on our page, Nothing But Sixes @nothingbutsixes . Cheers!

Hobby Update and the Dark Symmetry

     So I was working on the tutorial for the Mars Attacks! US Troopers when my camera bit the dust before I could upload the images taken during the painting process (I'm blaming the Dark Symmetry for the time being). Unfortunately, this means I can't put up the tutorial this week, but at least I can give you guys some images of what I've been working on lately. Thanks for your patience as I try and sort out these issues.

I've finished up my first ten US Troopers. These figures were tons of fun to paint and were packed with well-scuplted, crisp detail. Definitely my favourite minis in the Mars Attacks! starter set.

I based my colour scheme on the soldiers' uniforms in this wonderful bit of Mars Attacks! artwork. 

I decided to paint the soldiers with amber lenses for their ballistic eyewear. 

A WIP shot of General Tor. I'm still working on the robes, but all in all I'm pleased with how the figure looks painted. 

I'm almost done the starter set terrain, but I haven't finalized how I want to paint the windows yet. Any ideas or thoughts for the best way to paint them?

I've also put in an order for the Warzone Resurrection rulebook and the Imperial Starter Set, so look forward to some Warzone content in the coming months. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Nothing But Martians: A Mars Attacks! Painting Tutorial (Part II)

     Picking up from where we last left our Martians, we just have a little bit left to do. I also wanted to cover some of the special options that you'll have to paint when working on a unit of ten (including the commander, grunt carrying the Freeze Ray, and the knife wielding grunts).

Where we left the Martians at the end of the previous tutorial.

     Many people like to go for gritty, dirty looking figures. I know I usually prefer that aesthetic in wargaming figures. However I think the style and presentation of the Mars Attacks! franchise in the comics, cards, and film lends itself to a colourful, cartoony look. For this reason, I've chosen to add highlights to the Martians at this point. If you'd prefer a darker and grittier look, I would advise skipping this stage and instead apply weathering pigments to match your bases (for the base scheme I used, I would advise using Secret Weapon Miniature's Ash Grey pigment).
For those who like the cartoon style, I used a 1:1 mix of Citadel's White Scar and Vallejo Game Air Electric Blue applied in a careful edge highlight on the uniform. I tried to make sure I only applied the highlight to the upper edge of each  armour segment (see the picture below). You'll want to be sparing with your highlights as excessive highlighting can look very bad very quickly, and be a very frustrating setback.

Notice on the legs how I highlighted the upper edges of the armour segments. 

     You'll want to make sure you have a nice and thin detail brush going into the next stage. I applied Khorne Red to the lenses on the Martians' collars and well as their weapon sights. I then applied a tiny dab of Evil Sunz Scarlet in the lower corner of the lenses and another tiny dab of White Scar on the opposite corner. This method is an extremely simplified version of the lens technique I'll likely go into more depth with when we look at the Martian Robot or Saucer in future articles. If you're not comfortable working with this level of detail or you're having trouble with it, I would recommend replacing the Khorne Red with Evil Sunz Scarlet and leaving the lenses like that.

A Martian Commander displaying the technique for lenses. I chose to leave his gloves and boots green, but I will cover how I would go about painting them yellow.

Painting Special Equipment

Painting the Martian Freeze Ray

     While painting the Freeze Ray, I painted the main body of the weapon with the same grey colour scheme I used in Part I for the Disintegration Rifles, but I was careful to leave the details along the top as well as the muzzle of the weapon the blue colour that I basecoated the figure with. Then, I highlighted two opposite quarters of the muzzle (see the picture below) with a 1:1 mix of the Vallejo Game Air Electric Blue and Citadel White Scar. Then I added more White Scar, bringing the mix up to a 2:1 and highlighted the same areas, being careful to leave some of the first highlight showing. After that I applied a very thin highlight of pure White Scar, again being careful to leave the previous highlights showing. I used the same technique and colour mixes to highlight the other details along the top of the Freeze Ray.

Is it just me or did it suddenly get cold in here?

Painting the Martians' Knives

     I didn't want my Martians to have normal looking combat knives, I preferred the idea that they used a strange, alien material for the blades. I basecoated the knives with Vallejo's Scurf Green from their Game Color Range. I then made a 1:1 mix of Scurf Green and Vallejo's Falcon Turquoise and applied a heavy highlight to most of the blade, but still leaving some of the basecoat visible. I then highlighted the edges of the blade with pure Falcon Turquoise, and then again with a 1:1 mix of Falcon Turquoise and White Scar. Finally, I touched up the most pointed areas with a thin highlight of White Scar. If you want more contrast on the blade, you could apply a bit of Nuln Oil however I chose to leave the knives as they were. 

Painting a Commander with Yellow Equipment

     I really didn't like the models that had yellow boots and gloves that were on the box. I couldn't see them as anything but cleaning gloves and rubber boots, and they made the figure look out of place among the other Martians. Since the Commander has a distinct pose and a pistol, I decided to paint his gloves and boots like the other Martians as he already stood out enough. If you do still want to paint yours with yellow, I would advise basecoating the boots and gloves with two or three very thinned out coats of Vallejo's Sun Yellow from their Game Color line. Once your basecoat has dried, I would then apply Citadel's Riekland Fleshshade wash to the yellow areas followed by a highlight of Vallejo's Moon Yellow. Finally I would highlight the most raised areas of the boots and gloves with a 1:1 mix of White Scar and Moon Yellow. 

Attaching the Helmets

     The helmets have been a popular area of discussion since the release of Mars Attacks! as many people are wondering the best way to fasten them to the miniatures while others debate cutting down the helmet in size. I would not recommend cutting your helmets, largely due to the fact that when securing them the lip on the rear of the helmet will be your main point of contact and will give it a stronger bond to the miniature. Simply enough, I used Vallejo Gloss Acrylic Varnish to fasten the helmets as it's stronger than Elmer's Glue but won't fog the helmets like superglue will. Be very careful when attaching the helmets to ensure they're level and properly seated on the figure, as they look very bad when crooked.

Note the lip of the helmet on the backpack.

A completed Martian deathsquad ready for the tabletop.

A side-by-side comparison of Martians with and without their helmets, in case you're considering leaving them off. 

Tune in next weekend for the Mars Attacks! US Troopers painting tutorial! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mars Attacks! Starter Set Review

     Mantic's Mars Attacks! The Miniatures Game took Kickstarter by storm, closing nearly a year ago at $558, 076 with 2753 backers. After some delays the game is finally available at retailers, though many Kickstarter backers are still waiting for their games to arrive. As a backer waiting for a delayed pledge myself, I can say I've been anxiously awaiting my package to see if Mars Attacks! will be worth the wait. In fact, while waiting I decided to jump the gun and pick up a copy of the starter box from my friendly local game store.

Despite some minor issues, the miniatures still look great and paint up nicely.

       When you open the box, you'll find that the contents come in a plastic box insert. While the insert keeps the contents organized, it did not prevent the miniatures from being severely bent. The majority of the bent parts could be fixed with the hot water trick, I found several figures' bases had been bent which was a major pain in the butt to try and repair. Additionally, the plastic used for the Mars Attacks! figures will lose detail really quickly when you try to sand off mold lines. I recommend very carefully using a hobby knife instead when cleaning up your minis. Thankfully Mantic used a sturdier plastic for the scenery, so you won't have the same issues when it comes to assembling the your ruins. That having been said, I still liked the figures. I really like the scale (they're significantly less bulky than most heroic 28mm gaming figures), and they have a pretty good level of detail. They're particularly impressive figures when you factor in the price compared to what other companies charge, and they're definitely not a write-off  (like the 'Mechs from the original Catalyst Battletech box). Most miniature wargamers will be satisfied with these figures. 

General Tor must be a deep-sea diver, he seems to have a bad case of "the bends". 

The bent weapons on the miniatures were a quick fix. Bent bases, on the other hand, are considerably more difficult to repair.

      I found the cardboard markers were the weakest element of the starter set. The images are generally uninspiring and the cardboard pieces are really out of place on the tabletop next to the other components. For those who supported the Kickstarter, the markers will be soon replaced with plastic and resin pieces. That's awesome and personally I can't wait for mine to arrive, however for those who don't have access to them yet, the game might feel incomplete. A feeling of incompleteness carries into some of the rules as well. The were no rules to create your own scenarios, and they didn't include the points values for the models in the box. This box is a good starter point, but I wouldn't recommend it if it's the only Mars Attacks! purchase you intend to make. 

The plastic bugs and civilians will be a must-buy. The cardboard cutouts are functional but take away from the overall aesthetic. 

     Where Mars Attacks! really shines is in the background, and how well the rules represent the story that fans of the cards and comics will be familiar with. You can't become too attached to your models, and if your allergic to removing models from the table this might not be the game for you: Mars Attacks! is a game of wanton death and destruction. It has a simple and concise ruleset which I was able to finish reading through in about an hour and jump right into playing. Mantic advertises that the game takes thirty to sixty minutes to play, which is a surprisingly accurate estimation. 

The humour and art style used in the cards greatly added to the overall theme and feel of Mars Attacks! 

     Also big kudos to Mantic for using a line-of-sight system that works without arguments. If my model can see your model, any part of your model (including the base), I can shoot at you. If your model, any part of your model (including the base) is obscured, you count as being in cover. This game has also been the first miniatures game that has gotten any traction among my non-miniature wargamer friends, but is still equally enjoyed among the usual 40k crowd. I also really liked the inclusion of scenery in the core game, as it hugely improves the overall presentation and will draws attention away from the two dimensional paper mat you'll be playing on. The overall value you're getting here is pretty good and I was satisfied with the bang for my buck. 

The scenery goes together easily and looks great. 

The rulebook has the same dimensions as a comic book, and is about the same length too. 

The terrain included in the box looks great, I would recommend adding some trees (produced by Woodland Scenics) and maybe smoke and fire (produced by Battlefront Miniatures) to further enhance your battlefield and add some variety. 


     All in all, I enjoyed Mars Attacks! quite a bit. I'm still waiting to get my hands on the expansion books and additional content before I decide whether this game will become a longterm hobby commitment or just a fun time sink in the short term. Either way, I intend to keep playing it. I encourage others to give it a try, as long as you don't mind waiting for a little more rules diversity and flexibility. This starter box is a strong foundation for a great ruleset. 

7.6 /10 - A solid game.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nothing But Martians: A Mars Attacks! Painting Tutorial (Part I)

     The recent release of Mars Attacks! The Miniatures Game by Mantic Games has been an exciting time for me to say the least. I supported the Kickstarter, and whilst anxiously awaiting the arrival of my pledge, I cracked and decided to purchase an extra starter set. Much to my dismay, I was unable to find a tutorial to painting the Martians in a way that I found visually appealing. In an effort to help alleviate this issue for other gamers, I've decided to post the techniques that I've used to paint some of my Martians.

Phase I: 

     Once I've removed the mold lines from the Martian figure, I primed the miniature with the Ultramarine Surface Primer from the Vallejo Air range applied with an airbrush. It's important to apply this coat evenly and thoroughly over the whole model.
     When the primer has dried, I applied a layer of Magic Blue also from the Vallejo Game Air range. For this layer I tried to keep the airbrush at a slightly higher angle, so some of the Ultramarine Primer would be visible. This technique creates some easily done shading and acts as a sort of lazy man's zenithal highlighting.
     After the Magic Blue has dried, I applied a layer of Electric Blue from the Vallejo Game Air Range. Again, I apply it at a higher angle with the airbrush than the previous coats to continue the shading technique.

A Martian Grunt at the end of Phase I of painting. 

Phase II: 

     After letting the Phase 1 painting thoroughly dry, I began basecoating the other colours. It's important that your paints down at this point. While doing so is common practice for miniatures painting, I emphasize it now as the Mars Attacks! figures have very shallow detail (meaning it would be very easy to accidentally fill in detail if your paint is too thick). I also recommend painting your base prior to painting the boots as doing the reverse will likely make a mess of your invaders' spiffy green footwear (see the picture below for the basing scheme I used). 
     For the metal areas (the disintegration rifle, the chest piece, and the tubes going to the backpack) I used a thinned down 1:1 mix of Citadel's Eshin Grey and Abaddon Black. For the boots and gloves, I used Warpstone Glow while the Martian's head is painted Warboss Green. Finally, I painted the backpack Khorne Red. 

A Martian Grunt at the end of Phase II of painting. 

I later decided to paint the tube's connection ports the same colour as the tubes.

For the bases, I painted the base with the Citadel Astrogranite texture paint, followed by subsequent drybrushed layers of Dawnstone Grey, then Fenrisian Grey, and finally Praxeti White. I then painted the outer ring of the base Abaddon Black. 

Phase III: 

     For this step, I began by applying some quick highlights to the areas of the model that were painted with the Eshin Grey/Abaddon Black mix. I highlighted the raised areas with Eshin Grey, followed by a a careful highlight of Dawnstone Grey. 
     Next, I made a 1:1 mix of Nuln Oil (any black wash will do) and acrylic medium (or airbrush medium if you have that available). I then applied the wash ONLY IN THE RECESSES of the blue areas, gloves, and boots. I applied a more generous wash over the head, the grey areas, and the backpack. 

Excessive wash application may cause your Martians' heads to explode. 

Phase IV: 

     For the next step, I applied a coat of Evil Sunz Scarlet to the Martian's backpack. Be careful to leave the darker areas from previous coats visible.
     Now the really fun stuff begins with painted the Martian's head and face. First, I highlighted the entire head with Straken Green, and then highlighted the highest areas with a 1:1 mix of Straken Green and Rakarth Flesh. I then painted the eyes and teeth with Rakarth Flesh. I then carefully pained on pupils with Evil Sunz Scarlet.


Phase V: 

     Adding the colour change from the face to the brain is a quick and easy step, just apply a layer of Bloodletter Glaze to the brain, making sure that none pools in the facial recesses. 
     While the glaze was drying, I applied a quick highlight of a 1:1 mix Warpstone Glow and Moot Green to the boots and gloves followed by a highlight of Moot Green. 

Stay tuned for Part II, where I'll finish off painting the Martian and attach the helmet dome.