Adios Warmachine and Malifaux, hello Guild Ball!

It has been close to two years now since I have felt really engaged by Warmachine or Malifaux, it got to the point where I didn’t even bring models for either one to the Kingdom Con 2015 convention. Warmachine was my first miniature wargame and I still owe Paul a big debt for running my first demo game and getting me into the hobby during the summer of 2008. I started with the Protectorate of Menoth starter box (warcaster Kreoss, two light warjacks and a heavy warjack). I expanded my army over time with models that I liked for either fluff or abilities despite what the Privateer Press forums might say about them. While I had quite a few solos the units were quite a challenge, I started off with minimum units (six models) plus the unit attachment (two more models). I think that Holy Zealots and Idrian Skirmishers were my first two units, I quickly expanded to full ten man units though since the benefits were well worth the point cost differential.

From the start I liked the idea of the cavalry unit since they were fast and Exemplars but the price point put me off at something like $50 for three models IIRC. I never did get the Vengers, the closest I got was buying the Exemplar Gravus cavalry solo on sale. as my army expanded and I started playing bigger games (50 points instead of 35 pooints in Mk II terms) I kept adding units, first a full unit of Exemplar Errants then a full unit of Temple Flameguard. With the old packaging where you could buy a pair of models in a blister on the cheap I ended up going to 12 models in each of those units so I could run one full sized squad of each or split them into two minimum squads. I of course had the UA for both.
All of that added up to a shedload of painting. I never really grasped the concept of a tabletop standard for my painting, I think the extremely ornate armor of the Protectorate had something to do with that. I ended up with an army that was mostly blocked out (except the TFG which were more primer than paint) with some detail work but I never did any highlighting or shading to speak of and only a few solos even got washes. One thing that I really appreciated about the Protectorate models is that for fluff reasons they all wore metal masks so I didn’t have to paint any faces or eyes!

By early 2010 I was ready to expand my horizons into another miniatures game and discovered Malifaux at Kingdom Con in April. I remember driving back from the con on Saturday night with Paul and stopping at Game Empire to see what they had in the store (which wasn’t much since they had a booth at the show). I made my first purchase in June of the Arcanist (Ramos) and Resurrectionist (McMourning) box sets and the first edition book.

There were two things I liked about Malifaux from the get-go: it was skirmish based with a small model count and minimal units (which were usually only three models) and the strategies & schemes. The former was appealing since it kept the buy-in cost a bit lower and the latter because it afforded more complex game play than just march forward and bash in the face of your opponent when compared to Warmachine. I know that Warmachine had tournament scenarios but they weren’t used much if at all in casual play and even so they were really just a means to getting players to engage rather than turtle up. It wasn’t too often that I saw someone win on scenario points.

Being only my second minis game the alternating activations of Malifaux was probably the biggest change for me but one that I didn’t really appreciate much at the time. Now that I have picked up Guild Ball which also uses alternating activations (instead of “I move & attack with all my models, then you do the same”) I have found that it really adds a lot to the game. Not only does it keep both players constantly engaged (instead of partially tuning out during an opponent’s 20 minute turn in Warmachine) but it also forces the player to adapt on the fly since they don’t get to set and and execute a big strike all in one turn. In face there is no such thing as an alpha strike with alternating actvations (although there are factions in both Malifaux and Guild Ball that will allow you to activate more than on model in succession due to special abilities).

I enjoyed Malifaux when I was able to play it but there just wasn’t a big scene for it in my area. These were the first models where I tried out resin bases and they worked out rather well. I used Micro Arts studio for both factions, ruined factory for Arcanists and cobblestone for Ressers. Unfortunately I never did get fully motivated to get all my models painted and kept buying more before I finished painting what I already owned. I even crafted elevated bases out of wine corks for my Night Terrors but never got past priming and base coating them in brown.

Ultimately what killed Malifaux for me was M2e (i.e. second edition). I can’t say that there was anything inherently wrong with it, in fact it was nice that more emphasis was put on gaining victory points on the schemes each player selected and a bit less on points from the randomly selected strategy used by both players. No, it was the changes to the models and the art style that really turned me off. Instead of having Masters who had a huge number of rules and abilities on their cards (some of which I would need a magnifying glass to read today) they kept a few rules/abilities and then let the player choose additional ones by spending soulstones (points) on upgrades; those points came from the pool used to hire other models for the army. The art direction took a hard turn to what I thought was the silly. That might have worked for another game but it just didn’t work for Malifaux in my opinion.

At some point I turned to an alternate Warmachine faction to get some variety (since I just wasn’t getting in any games of Malifaux). Believe it or not I picked up some filthy Morrowans aka Cygnar aka the nemesis of the Protectorate. I think it was the electrical attacks that really drew me to the faction and after the battle box my first unit was the Stormblades. I painted them (somewhat, the ‘blades are still in an all olive drab base coat) and got in quite a few games with them. I even picked up the much maligned Ogrun Assault Corps mercenaries (with the required attachment to make them in-faction) since Cygnar didn’t have any medium based units.

I saw the writing on the wall for Warmachine as far as I was concerned when they released the first battle engines in 2011. These were huge models on 120mm bases which was more than twice the diameter of the largest bases we had before (50mm). Their points cost in-game coud easily be over half of the allotment for a smaller game and the monetary cost seemed excessive to me at $85 list price for just one model. Later the colossals were release which took this idea even further. They had the same 120m bases but were much more powerful, harder to take out and hit the wallet even harder at $130 and more per model. This just wasn’t the game I fell in love with any more.

All of that said I am still loathe to sell or trade off my armies (well maybe Cygnar). Part of me wants to at least get what I have painted up, especially since I bought some neat resin flagstone bases for my Stormblades and some shale bases for my Bastions. I am not sure how much of my collection I will get painted or if I will get in even casual games in the future; I am definitely not into the hyper-competetitive tournament scene. At least with Malifaux I know at least a couple of local gamers who share my dislike of M2e and might be up for some version 1.5 games in the future.

In my next article I will explain why Guild Ball was such a good choice for me.

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Weekly Beer Update #4

This is too funny: I had intended to do a weekly blog post about beer at some point but this one got stuck as a draft. I think that was four years ago! I have more trouble writing on a regular basis than I expected but here it is. I don’t think that I will be continuing with this idea unless something unexpected happens.


2/19 Indra Kunindra from Ballast Point Brewing Company (bomber). This was a collaboration with a homebrew contest winner and was brewed with curry spice, coconut, kaffir lime leaf, cayenne & cumin. My wife noted the coconut aroma from the glass but my poor sense of smell didn’t pick that up. This one was a bit too spicy (not hot but just too much spice for me).

2/21 The Dogfather imperial stout (bomber) from Laughing Dog Brewing (Idaho)

2/22 Moose Drool brown ale (six pack) from Big Sky

2/24 Bison Organic Chocolate Stout (bomber) from

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Book review: By by Rich Bottles Jr.

ByBy by Rich Bottles Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are familiar with Rich Bottles’ work then you probably won’t be shocked by anything in this book. However two points if you are not: (1) Shame on you, he is a really good writer and if you like bizarro then you should have read at least one of his works by now. (2) There is a lot of really perverse sex in this book including multiple scenes in Hitler’s Berlin bunker so you have been warned. If you are easily or even not so easily offended this is not the book for you. The trigger alert on the back cover was hilarious and should give you an idea of what the book has in store for you.

I am really glad that Rich put together this compilation as it would have been a shame for any of these stories to not have been (widely) published. It kicks off with “Bitter Night”, a nice Nazisploitation piece that feels like a speculation on how effed up Hitler and his cronies might actually have been. I thought the opening quote before the story was quite apropos.

The author states in the foreward that “There’s No Place Like the Sanitarium” wouldn’t have fit anywhere else but the aborted bizarro Wizard of Oz collection that never saw print but I disagree. I really enjoyed the story and feel that it could be included in any compilation. It really gave me a new perception of Judy Garland even if it is fictional.

“Exciter” was tailor made for me since I grew up with 80s metal and really appreciated all the inside jokes and references. 

I had already read “Hamster and Gretel” when it was published in another book and really enjoyed it. It is a creepy one but just as enjoyable here as in the Hamsters! collection where I initially encountered it.

“Unarmed and Dangerous” was a wild ride, I thought it had a really neat storyline and the two main characters were quite interesting. This one really shows the author’s creativity as the main character Thomasina is unlike any other character I’ve run into when reading bizarro material. I was enjoying the story then it took a twist that I totally did not see coming which was great.

“A Town Called Rupture” closes out the book with a bang. The storyline and setting were great, Michael and Patrick were awesome main characters. Once I again I was so engrossed with the story that I didn’t see a plot twist coming at all. I haven’t read much bizarro (if any) set in the old west so the setting was a very nice change of pace. This is another one where the opening quote (this time from Annie Oakley) was quite fitting.

View all my reviews

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Kindle mangles PDF

For some reason my Kindle is displaying the PDF of Bigboobenstein by Jeff O’Brien with some funky fonts. I looks fine on my iPad though.

And yes, I bought a physical copy directly from the author but couldn’t wait for it to arrive to start reading it. After reading the intro by Dustin Reade I need to go watch the movie I Spit on Your Grave now.


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Pax Titanus giveaway

I really enjoyed reading my ebook of Pax Titanus as part of a group read earlier this year. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I am going to buy a hard copy so that I can help Tom get a book deal. Yes, it was that good, five stars from me. If you are squeamish stay away as this is true bizarro and not for the faint of heart.

Check out Tom’s post for all the details.

Pax Titanic May Spectacular

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Steam Crow

I was fortunate enough to talk to Daniel and Dawna of Steam Crow at Wondercon yesterday. They put out some really fun art and I joined thier new Steam Crow Scouts program. Check it out, there has got to be at least one thing you like there.

Steam Crow Scouts

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Geocaching Find #500

After about 16 months I finally found my 500th geocache which I specifically picked for this milestone. Fear Factor: Up the Rat Hole by the DAK Girls. It is difficulty 2 and terrain 5 and was physically challenging.

We (myself and NavalAv8or) had to get into the drainage tunnel which is only about four feet high and walk at least 35 yards in. You can see the next challenge on the cache page.

This picture was taken as I exited the tunnel while trying to keep my feet dry. I definitely made a good choice for a big milestone. Here is my full log entry.

Returning from geocache find #500

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Time to re-read Utopia

I decided that since one of my reading groups at Good Reads is discussing the definition of the dystopian genre that I should to back and re-read a book from one of my college lit classes: Utopia by St. Thomas Moore. Pack rat that I am I still have my used copy bought at the UCSD bookstore in about 1988 or so.

I think this read may be more interesting because there are at least two distinct highlighting styles from the previous owners of this book (one in black ballpoint, one in orange highlighter) so I will be melding those into my interpretations.

I bought this used copy at the UCSD bookstore in about 1988 and still own it in 2014.

I bought this used copy at the UCSD bookstore in about 1988 and still own it in 2014.

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Learn Point & Shoot Photography

I am really looking forward to some great tips on how to shoot better pictures with something besides a DSLR. The new Pocket Lenses web site. They have tutorials and I am really looking forward to the podcasts since I know Sonny puts out great audio content as well.

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She’s Alive!

Well that was a false alarm. Apparently my spatial recognition skills failed me in the dark the other night as my geocache is just fine. The bush that got massacred was near it but the container was undisturbed.

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Games for sale/trade

I am trying to clear out some old, dusty games that just don’t get played anymore so that I can get some new shinies. Below are all the things I am bringing to Kingdom-Con to sell or swap.

Board/Card Games
(See my Board Game Geek collection page and filter by Trade)
Ascension: Apprentice Edition
Blood Bowl (first edition, 1986)
Building an Elder God
Food Fight
Gangs of Mega-City One
Pennant Race (1983)
Rezolution (minis book)
Risk: Plants vs. Zombies
Star Trek: Expeditions
Supremacy (1984)
TAG: Terrorist Attack Game
Times to Remember
Top Gun (1986)
Victory in the Pacific (1980s)
World War II: European Theater of Operations (1985)

* Dystopian Wars v1 rulebook and cards

* A bunch of Star Wars CCG cards from Cipher (1990s I think)

* Axis & Allies miniatures collection (including carrying boxes/bag), see my collection at Miniature Trading

I’ll probably bring along my Boris 2 collector cards since the gamer audience will probably be interested.

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Short-lived first hide

Well that was certainly depressing. You may have seen that I hid my first geocache about a month ago. I was walking my geodog Jackson a couple of nights ago right past GZ and discovered that the bush had been “landscaped” away. It looks like someone took a hatchet to it six inches off the ground and just hacked it away.

I couldn’t find the container in the dark by flashlight so I disabled the listing and I’m going back in daylight to look for it again. This has to be the shortest-lived first hide and quickest death by landscaper ever.

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Wall of Shame: Minor Progress

Well “progress” is debatable but at least I got out some of my Protectorate of Menoth models (Warmachine) and the Ogrun Assault Corps to paint last night. My hobby room is still backed up with boxes so 80% of my time last night was setup and finding tools. I never did find my 30mm back arc marker though. Hopefully I will make noticeable progress every night for the next ten days until Kingdom-Con starts.


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Geocaching Milestone: #200

I had a tremendous amount of fun finding my 200th geocache yesterday (12 April 2014): GCTDBJ A Bridge to Nowhere which ended up being a great choice for a milestone.

Below is what I logged at for this find:

I wanted something special for my 200th find and this one certainly did not disappoint. I parked at a wide spot in the road and had a fun walk in to GZ.

I had fun scrambling over rocks and around bushes to make my way to GZ. The view was awesome and I am really glad that I had gone out of my way to come out here.

I found my #200 milestone at 1420 but spent over 20 minutes in the immediate area just looking around and taking pictures. I was so distracted I forgot to log a discover on the TB.

Major props to the CO for hiding this here, giving it a favorite is a no-brainer. I can’t believe that in eight years this one only has 70 finds, everyone caching in San Diego county (heck even up in Riverside county) should make the trip for this one.

Funny epilogue, I was so giddy making my way out that I made an ill-advised leap from a small rise and totally biffed the landing. I left with a couple of bloody knuckles and a dinged up knee but still couldn’t be happier. (Rated 5 stars with GCVote)

A Bridge to Nowhere GCTDBJ

A Bridge to Nowhere GCTDBJ

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North County Real Estate Mogul

Geocacher düg had his North County Real Estate Mogul series published on Sunday March 23. It consists of 18 traditional caches, six series of three houses each. Each set of houses has clue that combine to reveal the coordinates of a hotel. Finding the six hotels will reveal clues to the location of the final puzzle cache, Advance to Go!

There was a flurry of activity the first three days. Amazingly The Thirsty Ladies group (Trixxster, Silver Horde and The Lost Clan) somehow had the stamina to drive over 130 miles in 13 hours to complete all 25 caches in one day and nab FTF (first to find) on the final puzzle.

I wasn’t able to start my hunt until day two but I have found at least one house per day for five days straight and am having a great time working on the series. I hope to finish up on Sunday. I have two houses, six hotels and the final puzzle left to complete.

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