Thursday, December 27, 2018

Adventures in 3d Printing (2018 Edition)

Back in 2012, I printed my first ever 3d model via and reviewed the results in the 2017 blog post linked here.  With the proliferation of home 3d printing in the years since and the introduction of the first truly affordable (<$500 USD) quality resin printer this year, I decided it was time to re-evaluate the Shapeways options.  I tweaked some 3d files (relearning the process by brute force trial and error yet again!) including a model similar but not exactly the same as the previous one and printed it out at the current highest quality possible which is one step above the 2012 equivalent.  I apologize in advance for the long article but I felt that it would be best to post this in one go instead of breaking it up.

As you can see, I upscaled the model as my original scaling was meant to match the old WOTC Star Wars prepaint on the far right.  I was surprised by how small the original 2012 fig actually ended up so this time I increased the height from 37mm to 49mm thinking that it would be too big.  Instead, it's a comfortable size that fits most other scif I miniatures instead of dwarfing them like I expected.  Whereas before I exaggerated most features by extruding them out, I hoped that this time the larger size plus smaller printing layer height would allow exactly modelled is printing.  The large alien turned out just fine but the two others are very frail (especially the female alien shown below) and I wish I had "thickened" them a bit for durability .  Additionally, my tweaking this time around let me actually pose and combine the miniature with the weapons instead of using a clumsy sprue/base system to (unsuccessfully) keep it all together.

The Good

The most noticeable change since 2012 is the decrease in price likely largely brought about by the downward pressure caused by affordable home printers.  A friend of mine, Albertorius, got the Anycubic Photon earlier this year and his results exceed the highest Shapeways quality possible back in 2012 (Frosted Ultra Detail with a layer height of 29 microns).  I paid $10 more for 3 figs at a higher quality (16 micron layer height) than I did for the previous order of a single smaller figure.  The quality also is notably improved with individual polygon facets visible in the printing this time around as shown below on the chest with flash photography.  The facial features are recognizable but shallow so in retrospect I do wish I had extruded them out as I suspect some of the features will disappear with even thin succesive primer/paint/wash layers.

The tools on the website have also improved and you can now specify the model orientation in the print bed whereas before it was determined by the company not for max printing quality but rather for the most densely packed/efficient print run.  Unlike with home printers that use a scaffolding system to prevent failure (as shown here in my friend's Photon home printer), the fine plastic detail quality utilizes a solid bed of waxy support material that is then melted off with a solvent.  While it doesn't require any clipping, it does mar the surface somewhat leaving a rougher texture.  Last time, my model had the support border line run literally straight down the front of the model (shown below) leaving one side smooth and the other rough.  Admittedly, it didn't end up showing through after some careful sanding and painting but I was still concerned about it this time around.  I'm pleased to report that I was able to both successfully orient my model to minimize it and that the surface effect was less prominent this time where it did appear.  I apologize for the quality of the pictures but the opaque resin was difficult to photograph as it was too dark with no flash and the model would largely disappear with flash.

The Bad

The main complaint that I have is that I could have gotten a slightly better quality model for a bit lower price had I ordered over the summer when I finished the model instead of waiting for a free shipping sale that never actually came.  Over the summer, they switched the materials classification from Frosted Extreme Detail previously available to the Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic that I ordered.  Whereas the layer height (which they stopped listing at all on their website!) is still the same at 16 microns, the listed accuracy is 2-3x worse.  Now, to put that in perspective, the new worse accuracy still amounts to at most a 0.25mm deviation for my model size but it's still technically worse than before.  Additionally, they raised the price of my model by about 10% in October meaning that I paid more for that slightly worse model.  I'm still quite happy with what I got and it is a noticeable improvement since 2012 but it deserved mention for completeness' sake.

While the online tools are improved as mentioned above, the nitty gritty details on the website have decreased leading to worse transparency for the consumer as quality settings can be quietly changed behind the scenes without most users ever knowing.  Simply finding out the layer height of the highest quality setting involved me posting to their forum (no response), tweeting at them (also ignored), and then emailing customer service to actually get the information.

Finally, it did take a almost an entire month to get my order after paying.  This year, they introduced priority printing in addition to the expedited shipping that previously existed, neither of which I paid extra for.  Some of the delay is in all likelihood attributable to me ordering during the Christmas rush but the long lead time might deter some folks from ordering.  For me, I was comfortable getting a good deal while letting others pay for the faster service as I consider that a comfortable middle ground if not taken to the extreme.

The Ugly

Again, not too much to report here other than one miscast on the large alien figure.  As shown in the picture below, his gun is supposed to have multiple extended protrusions around the barrel.  Those apparently did not print out or attach correctly despite passing the automated and manual checks.  The automatic check did add a few gobs of extra material here (for example visible on the front surface of the hammer) but they're not as obvious in person as I initially feared.  The other two aliens printed out flawlessly with razor thin protrusions like weapon fins and head spikes surviving intact (although we'll see if they last long in use or storage!).  I've contacted the support team about reprinting just the large alien due to the miscast weapon and will update this post when that process eventually concludes.  As it is currently between Christmas and New Year's at the time of writing this post, I suspect it may take more than a few days to sort it all out.

 The Verdict
Overall, I'd say that 3d Printing has definitely reached the point where it is doable both from an ease of use as well as quality standard.  Whereas previously I rated the quality at about board game plastics quality, I'd say it has reached roughly the same quality as well done mass produced plastic kits from about a decade or so ago.  If you're not interested or able to invest in the new generation of $400-500 high quality resin home printers, Shapeways is a viable alternative for sculpts that you just can't get elsewhere (as long as the detail depth is adjusted for 3d printing and you're not in a rush) and the price is also lower than some of the more recent GW kits per model.  A friend let me know about another service that uses home 3d print farms so an evaluation of that option will hopefully be the next article in this series at some point next year.

As always, I'm keen to hear any questions or comments so feel free to leave them below.   I hope everyone had a merry Christmas in 2018 and will have a happy New Year as well in a few days!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

And another Winged Hussar arrived... fashionably late! :)

It's been a long while since I did a hobby update but I finally put some time into finishing off of one of the half done 2018 bucket list figs on my painting table.  I did a quick build post a while back for this guy back when I was trying to set up a local 40k RPG group at my local FLGS.  My RPG efforts unfortunately didn't garner interest in enough players and it frankly took the wind out of my sails for finishing those two figures.  In the months in between, I purchased some very sparkly silver primer (didn't realize just how sparkly until AFTER priming this fig!) and primed him but only recently finished him up.

In the linked post above, you can see some progressive Goldilocks variations on my Winged Hussar style.  This fig is still purposefully more ornate than a standard primaris model as well as a bit more "practical" (if you can use that term in an over the top universe like 40k!) in the sense that I added visible grenade and ammo bits.  I chose that loadout that visually would allow me to use him as both a tactical marine or an intercessor in RPGs.  That's probably more than enough text for what amounts to just a single figs worth of hobby effort.  Here is a 360 view of the fig as well as a comparison with some other previous ones using the same core starter set Lieutenant fig.  I suppose that it could show a progression of the same character across different ranks (L to R: Captain, Veteran Sergeant, Lieutenant).

And finally, for those of you who made it this far down, my next article will revisit something that I covered a few years ago... 3D printing and wargaming.  Thanks for reading and, as always, let me know what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

SHIELDS UP! Custom Ship files for the STSTCS PC Game

 A few weeks ago, I posted a step by step installation guide for the fan created PC version of the STSTCS miniatures board game by FASA.  Since I've been creating house rules for various fanships for a while, it was only natural that I'd try to add some of them into the game itself.  There were some issues in creating and saving the fan ships but I think I've succeeded in making them.  I've combined the files necessarily along with some simple test scenarios into a single zip file along with a readme.txt file with the instructions on where to copy and paste them.  I'm not a programmer myself so an auotinstalling mod is way beyond my abilities unfortunately.  Since I can't test to see if it'll work on computers other than the one they were created on, I'd appreciate it if anyone who attempts to add them let me know if it works.  Thanks again for reading and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tales from Terra Nova Issue 1

A while back, I posted a comic book style report of my last Heavy Gear game (which occured a while before the post too!) and mentioned that I was trying to figure out how to publish a PDF version of the complete report instead of the more disjointed single images.  In the intervening years, I've figured out how to do that thanks to my efforts with my SHIELDS UP! Star Trek house rules so I figured I'd finally post the full pdf version of my battle report.  Please note that the game took place prior to the release of the current rules so may reference mechanics no longer used in Heavy Gear in addition to my own FLASH! house rules.

Monday, November 12, 2018

What's in a blog's name? The Phoney War blog...

I've got a few different things to talk about this week on the blog that will probably result in a few smaller and varied posts on the blog.  If they were in any way related, I would put them together in one longer post but they're realistically not.  The first thing that I'll cover is the origin and meaning of my blog's name... SITZKRIEG!  Over the years, I've been asked one or twice how I came up with the name (usually with some implied dread).  I figured I'd finally address it in a quick post given the ridiculously volatile nature of politics here in the US right now and the penchant of certain people to use labels like "fascist" and "nazi" at the drop of a hat.

I'll start with the origin of the word.  Sitzkrieg, aka the Phoney War, was an eight-month period at the start of World War II, during which there was only one limited military land operation on the Western Front following the invasion of Poland.  It's a mashup of the German words "to sit" (sitzen) and "war" (krieg) and means "Sitting War".   It was a word play on blitzkrieg created by the British press to make fun of the Nazi war machine in WW2, not to glorify it.   When I was trying to figure out a name for my blog, I figured that a "sitting war" was a good way to describe what we as wargamers and rpgers do when we enjoy our hobby; we literally sit on our butts and make war with tiny soldiers.  The first version of this blog actually was started under the mechablog name and only switched to this once it became available a year or two later.   As a Pole who grew up on first hand stories of my own family's suffering at the hands of both Nazis and later the Communists, I'd never support either hateful ideologies.  Hopefully that puts to bed any potential thoughts that I'm some sort of wehraboo.  :) 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Attucks Class Attacks! (part 2 FASA version)

 A while back, I came out with a blog post (link here) for the Attucks Class by M. Christopher Freeman for use with the Star Trek Adventures RPG.  Normally, I try to cover new fan ships on my blog for both that current system as well as the classic FASA games but the latter gave me a bit of a problem.  The older FASA game didn't support "fighter" style combat which is the focus of this type of "aircraft carrier in space" style ship.  I decided instead to just cover that specialization in the backstory for the class and have instead stat'ed it up as a frigate in the classic game.  For FASA RPG purposes, the ship still has a large amount of fighter shuttlepods that GMs and players can use but they won't come into play in the tabletop miniatures game.  As always, I've included the full size images below of both the ship sheet and the counters (right click and open them in a new window for the full size) as well as a PDF link.  Thanks and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Gaming like it's 1989.. Installing the FASA STSTCS PC Game

I've heard about a fan made FASA STSTCS PC game by Jason Robinson for years but never tracked it down.  Recently, I came across a lengthy thread over on the STSTCSOLDA forum (link here) where some folks had gotten it to work on Windows 10.  With some handy dandy links from Ironnerd and tips from cowboy40 and others, I was able to get it mostly working on my modern PC.  The information is out there in bits and pieces on how to get it to work but I figured I'd try to organize it in one handy dandy spot for those willing to try it.

Just in case it's not obvious, I'm not a computer expert.  I've tested out all the information below on my own computer with no negative effects that I can discern as well as scanned all the linked files with both Malwarebytes and AVAST Antivirus software with nothing detected at the time of writing this.  That said... I recommend you scan the files yourself and proceed at your own risk.

The first step is to download the base game file installer v2.02 as well as the v2.04 patch hosted over on the trekcore website linked here.  There are two additional downloads (a ship counter and romulan pack) but in my installation both were included in the 2.04 patch and are unnecessary.

Unzip the downloaded files and install the v2.02 game making sure to note the file directory that you'll be installing it into.   Next, do the same with the v2.05 patch making sure to specify the same directory as the base game.  The screenshot below shows as a reference the default one that I used.  

If you try running the game now in Windows 10, you'll likely get a "transpicture.ocx" error.  If you do, you'll need to download the transpicture.ocx file at the webpage linked here.  As with the above, make sure to run your virus protection software to make sure that the file hasn't been corrupted in the time between my checking it and your downloading it.  Place the file in your c:\windows\system32 directory as shown below.  (Editor's Note: Possible alternative methods are listed at the end of the post!)

You'll now need to register that ocx file in order for windows to recognize it.  I had to download from Microsoft and install a Visual Basic run time program from the link here.  Again, this is from the Microsoft website but always run a virus check just in case as it is an exe file.

I promise we're getting close!  Next, you'll have to open a command prompt as an administrator by typing "command prompt" in your Windows 10 search bar.  It should be the first result on the top and you need to right then left click on it to "run as Administrator".

That opens up the old DOS style command prompt window and you need to type "regsvr32.exe transpicture.ocx" into it and press enter in order to register the OCX file.  In my case, it defaulted to the same C:\windows\system32 directory listed above where I put the OCX file.  You should get a successful confirmation after doing so if it worked. 

Finally, right then left click on the shortcut for the game on your desktop run the "troubleshoot compatibility" function.  On my computer, it selected running it under Windows 98 Service Pack 3 and the game hasn't fully crashed once.

You can now play the game!  Occasionally, the program will hang after the enemy AI's turn but I've found that the quick fix is to do one or all of the following in this order: press escape, click on tactical if it is showing and the press escape to return back, or press the windows button then reenter the game window and press escape.

I hope this how to guide helps folks rediscover this classic game from the 1980's.  I don't harbor any pretext that it'll be popular with younger gamers as it is a game design relic of its time but hopefully it'll rekindle some interest with folks nostalgic for the original.

10/2022 Edit: Thanks to Dr Kanukie for researching updated methods to installing this as programs that worked for me in 2018 may have changed in the years since.  I haven't tested these out yet myself as I haven't gotten a new computer since so all the usual caveats already noted above apply.  Dr Kanukie got the process to work by for 64bit systems like Windows 10 by putting TransPicture.ocx in SysWOW64 folder instead of the System32 one and using Windows XP SP3 compatibility settings instead of Window 98.

4/2022 Edit:  Sometimes for no explanation Microsoft seems to be changing the availability of certain files.  For now, the microsoft link above for the Msvbvm50.exe as shown in the picture does work.  I myself haven't tested the Visual Basic 6 runtime pack that replaced the original link (here) but hopefully the direct exe file link above will continue to work fine.  If the VB6 link alternative doesn't work, Tycen suggested in the comments below that it's also available at the following: vb6extendedruntime   As always, run virus checks first before installing anything as I haven't tested these last two methods myself.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Star Trek: What if? The Century Class for STA

What if the Federation never encountered the Borg and the Dominion?  What would the next heavy cruiser in Starfleet look like?  A while back, I discovered DJ Curtis' Century Class design in a mod for the Star Trek Bridge Commnader video game (link here).  I liked the sleek design of the ship and was happy to see that unusualsuspex on deviant did his own artwork for the ship as well.

Unusualsuspex was kind enough to allow me to use his gallery for some of my sheets so I was excited to do a variant of the Century for Star Trek Adventures.  In DJ Curtis' fan created backstory, the Century class was the followup to the Sovereign and the bearer of the coveted title of 1701-F roughly 30 years or so after Star Trek Nemesis.  Star Trek Adventures doesn't internally cover that time period and that fan created backstory has largely been replaced by licensed Star Trek Online in the decade since so I decided instead to reimagine the Century as an alternative to the Sovereign class.

To borrow from the title of a classic Marvel Comics series, what if Starfleet had never encountered the Borg or the Dominion and instead pursued the same focus on peaceful exploration that had lead to the creation of the Galaxy class?  Without the urgent need for increased tactical capabilities, I instead focused the ship onto the role of an advanced heavy exploration cruiser with a focus on science, medicine, and exploration.  The command speciality as the flagship of the Federation would be gone as would be the tactical upgrades of the Sovereign.  Instead, the ship would have slightly less overall power and lower top speed than the Sovereign but able to travel with increased efficiency (allowing it to cruise at max warp for many hours despite its size similar to the smaller Intrepid).  The quantum torpedoes would instead be replaced with improved shielding (the only tactical upgrade) as well as advanced sensors and automated laboratories.

As always, let me know if there are any mistakes in the writeup and feel free to comment below.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Derf Tender to the Rescue!

One of the easiest overlooked and least glamorous classes in the old FASA Star Trek game was the Derf Tender.  Much like Chief O'Brien, these ships were the no frills, hard working unsung heroes of Starfleet.  Funtioning as a mobile repair station, the ship capable of doing extensive repairs on deep space buoys as well as other ships and even small stations on site without the necessity of having them towed to a larger starbase.

Obviously this ship already has FASA stats but I wanted to also update it for the new Star Trek Adventures game.  As with the Pioneer class, I thought that the upcoming release of the Ops book would be a good time to introduce this TOS era engineering focused starship.  For the first time, I decided to use official talents not in the core book but instead from the Command Division supplement as they seemed very appropriate to the role that I wanted the ship to fill.  With a high powered tractor beam (backed up by a secondary grappler cable), I imagined this starship being capable of towing at low warp much larger objects up to and including the K series stations.  With a large dedicated engineering staff, it would have the capability to also repair multiple other ships simultaneously as part of a larger fleet.

As always, let me know if there are any issues and thanks for looking here at my custom fan ship sheets.  Normally, I make a single version of the stat sheet but I've decided for this class to instead make two.  CaptShade's art, whose art (link here) I've used for some of my other FASA conversions, graces the classic FASA style sheet below so thanks to him for allowing me to use it.  

 When searching for a more realistic style of art for use on the post's banner image, I found JAFisher44's 3D model pictured above (link here) for this little known class as well.  I decided to make another STA style sheet for the workhorse of Starfleet using his image as well.  The stats are the same on both so the choice on which to use for readers comes down to which style you prefer.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Blazing the Oregon Sector Trail with the Pioneer Class

It's been a while since I converted a Star Trek player ship but a recent flurry of activity in the FASA community made me want to scratch that itch again.  With the release of the Ops book next for the Star Trek Adventures RPG, I decided to release similarly themed ships starting with the Pioneer Class Utility light cruiser.

I'm a big fan of Cryptic Studios' Agents of Yesterday Expansion for Star Trek Online (link here!) and I decided to convert their Pioneer Class cruiser for both the venerable FASA game as well as the current Star Trek Adventures RPG.  Apaskins1991 over on deviantart has a huge gallery of Trek ship art and I was lucky enough to have him let me use his Pioneer class art for my sheets.

There isn't a whole heck of a lot of information about the Pioneer beyond that it's a light utility cruiser with a smaller crew complement than the larger, more famous ships from that era.  I imagined it in my FASA backstory as a light and fast ship able to perform many of the same roles as the larger Constitution but with a still impressive but shorter tour duration (perhaps a 3 year mission instead of the famous 5 year mission of the Connie).  Over on the STA side, I focused the build on more peaceful activity with a relatively even split amongst science, medicine, and engineering with less tactical capability compared with the Constitution class of the same era.

As always, let me know if you find any typos or other issues or just have any general feedback.  For full size versions of the image, just right click and open them in a new window or just download the PDFs if you prefer.

Pioneer Class STA pdf link

Edit: After finding JAFisher44's work (link here) in modelling classic FASA designs in 3D for my follow Derf Class sheet, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he also worked on a Pioneer model as well and was willing to let me use it for my sheet.  For those who prefer 3d model art to the classic orthographic drawings, here is a version of the sheet with that instead.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

This weekend's attempt at a Winged Hussar Tactical

I worked on a second marine based on my thoughts after seeing my first model close up after finishing it.  I used the other Dark Imperium body but changed up the arms and added other bits as needed to make him a veteran Winged Hussar tactical marine.

I borrowed the head from my spare Ancient as it was the only normal head that I had that wasn't specifically a Lieutenant one with the skull on the forehead.  It was my first attempt at adding the ribbing/fin to the top so, upon extreme close up view, it's a bit crooked.  The right arm and armpit shield/fur were a PITA to pose and I'm not entirely happy with the results as I would have preferred to see the fur more flat on from the front angle.  I also need to relearn the lesson of letting plastic glue dry fully before tinkering with further bits on the same area as I had alot of errors/reposing that I had to do when working on the right arm area because of a lack of patience on my part.  I skipped adding the chest grenades due to the busy marine looking a bit too busy and instead just added a pack on to the hip.  Finally, I wanted to add a chain to the gun as with the other but my test bit looked worse with it due to the stiff angle in front because of the foregrip on the autoboltgun. 

As always, let me know if there is something that I can improve on with this or alternately future figs.  I'm happy with the results of the single wing on these veteran (tactical and sergeant) figs as well as the overall look but there are, as always, definitely things that can improve.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Winged Hussar may be a hoarder! :)

I worked some more on my RPG model Winged Hussar sergeant this week after blutac testing out some configurations above.  I chose to go with the more "closed" stance Lieutenenant that typically comes with a bolt pistol and autoboltgun.  While I love the pose on the other one, I had already used it twice and wanted to do something a little bit different for this sergeant instead.   Here he is side by side with my previous infantry attempt.


The body and head are from the autoboltgun Lt but the left arm is from the other Lt whereas the right arm is from the Ancient (cut and reposed to angle away from the torso).  I cut away the moulded on shoulder pads and replaced them with a Deathwatch and Ravenwing pad instead so as not to use decals this time.  Since this is an RPG character, I figured he has to carry more with him typically on missions since he won't have the logistical resources of an entire Astartes company to resupply him with so I intended to use alot of extra bits on him.  About halfway through the build I started calling him "the busy marine" due to all the extra bits and bobs but I wanted him to have primary and secondary ranged and close combat weapons as a backup.  I liked the Reiver and Deathwatch style grenades on the torso so decided to do that here but chickened out on filling off the aquilla.  I had hoped that it would be more visible but it's pretty busy there on the chest and in retrospect I probably should have left those off.

As a sergeant, I wanted him to be less ornate than the Lieutenants so only gave him a single "wing" on his back (drilled into the top of the pack instead of glued in between it and the torso).  I initially planned on skipping the armpit shields and animal fur strip but had second thoughts about it because they're so iconic to so many historical Winged Hussar displays and art. It made the chest a bit busy (see the grenade thoughts above) but I decided to go with it anyways.  I changed up the short Ultramarine style loincloth to a longer Black Templar style tabard as well.  Finally, I previously used a small chain shoulder strap on the holstered bolters and decided to continue that with this model as well. 

Let me know what if any thoughts potential readers may have about the changes compared with the previous design.  I'm still undecided whether I'll paint him up in the traditional Winged Hussar colors shown earlier or if I'll put him in Deathwatch colors instead given that I added in the shoulder pad.  I intend the Deathwatch shoulder pads to be a permanent addition going forward with my custom chapter so they don't necessarily indicate service in that order.  The intended use for him though as an RPG character figure means though that service in the Deathwatch is an easy way to explain why this sergeant is away from his company/chapter of Space Marines.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Tweaking the Winged Hussars

So this weekend I finally properly restarted work on my Winged Hussars Primaris project.  As I mentioned before, the next fig will probably be focused not on the wargame but rather for use as an RPG figure.  I previously made various Lieutenant rank primaris figures (linked here) but this will be a more standard marine theoretically.  I say theoretically because I'm finding it difficult to make him less ornate as befitting a standard intercessor sergeant.

The top left row of three are from one Lieutenant base type fig whereas the bottom one is from another (please excuse the missing tabard on the bottom left).  I've incorporated the longer tabard instead of the shorter loincloth and also added a Deathwatch style shoulder pad on the left shoulder on the various examples.  The main difference is the body and rifle type.  The top one is more "open" and feels IMO more heroic but the bottom one has the helmet off allowing the figs face to be shown (not easily possible with the above figure due to the left arm).  Similarly, I think I prefer the bolt rifle (with the scope) but I also like the shoulder strap on the larger bolt carbine... but the reiver SMG style carbine (with the front handle) also looks cool and is a bit better proportioned IMO.  One option possible might be to cut the strap away and add it to the scoped bolt rifle instead.  Alternately, I previously used a small chain as a strap and could do so again instead.

All of the variants though with the combat blade left arm preclude the addition of the armpit shields and hanging fur strip that I think added alot to the design previously and linked it further back with the historical hussars.  On the right column, I tested out the pistol arm (and back mounted chainsword) as another alternative along with some chest grenades.  The more open left arm would still allow the shield and fur strip even with the grenades although I'll have to check for sure one I finalize the other details.  I like the addition of the extra grenades on the chest on various Deathwatch faction and Reiver figures and I think it fits well with the intended RPG nature of the figure which wouldn't have the full logistical support of an entire company of space marines and therefore need to be outfitted with more gear. 

At the moment I'm leaning towards the bottom far right pose and combination but I'm open to other suggestions.  Obviously I have yet to clean off the sprue connections and mould lines on some parts but they will be done before assembly. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Summer Hobby Update

It's been a while since I did a full hobby update but I finally have enough to report in.  Over on the tabletop hobby side, I've got a few pots slow cooking on the stove at the moment.  The release of Kill Team for 40k got me a bit excited about the tabletop game universe again.  It's a skirmish level ruleset that you can simply plug and play your existing 40k army figures into.  I've started to parcel out a dozen or two figs from each of my main 40k armies into a separate carrying case to use with Kill Team (and also double as RPG figs as well potentially).   Additionally, I've started to collect some more bits and figures to build a few more of my Winged Hussars custom chapter.  My goal is to have a combat squad of five primaris marines for Kill Team as well as an RPG character model.  While the overall look will remain the same for the Winged Hussars, I will be testing out a few variant bits like shoulder pads and tabards to fine tune the look with the next few figs.

At a recent game store swap meet, I also managed to trade for a two dozen figures (mainly 40k Kill Team figs) that included a few Rafm HG minis.  The big draw for me was a broken mostly complete (no head antenna) Kodiak gear.  I still haven't painted any of my previous HG Rafm conversions from last year but I just couldn't resist getting the original version of the Kodiak to complement the Destroyer Kodiak I built last time.

A while back, I mentioned that I was joining a Starfinder RPG campaign but that fizzled out after two games.  We didn't have a dedicated GM and no one else was interested so I volunteered on a strictly temporary basis.  Unfortunately, the "space fantasy" feel of Starfinder's setting and mechanics wasn't for me.  I wanted a full scifi rpg and it instead felt more like D&D in space.   My offer to transition the group to Star Trek Adventures were unsuccessful as the non-traditional nature of the setting (i.e. not-a-murder-hobo simulator) wasn't as popular as I'd have hoped.

The Wrath and Glory Warhammer 40,000 RPG is coming out soon and I picked up the free introductory adventure.  I'm a bit concerned about the depth of the rules/options in the core book due to the ambitious breadth they're attempting to include.  I can't help but feel the ruleset would have been better served by focusing strictly on Imperial campaigns instead of also adding in barebones chaos and xenos options but I'm leaving final judgement to after actually trying out a session as GM.

Friday, July 13, 2018

TNG Time... The Emissary and Patriot classes for STA

As mentioned before, I've mainly focused on TMP and especially TOS era can ships for Star Trek Adventures due to the lack of care variety both in the game rules and the source material.  I decided recently though to take my first dip in the TNG pool with my take on the Emissary and Patriot classes below.

Die-hard trekkies might recognize the image above as the original concept version of the Enterprise C Ambassador Class by veteran trek artist and designer Andrew Probert.  While I'm a fan of the version that made it to the screen in the Yesterday's Enterprise episode, the original is hands down IMO an amazing design that much better segways between the Excelsior and Galaxy classes. Years after the end of the show, this original version of the ship was fully fleshed out and updated to modern standards by the talented Tobias Richter for the Ships of the Line calendar.  Both artists were kind enough to allow me to adapt their work for my sheet and I thank them for being able to bring the ship into the game with the free fan stat sheet below.  Initially I was going to refer to it as an Ambassador refit or maybe even the Diplomat class but a synonym search for Ambassador turned up a name that I thought was more appropriate to Trek flavor for a diplomatic and exploration heavy cruiser... the Emissary Class!  I had to differentiate it from the on screen version of the Ambassador that already has official stats so I gave it advanced warp drive to showcase its streamlined look as well as improved hull integrity to put it a half step between scales 5 and 6 mechanically.  The obvious choice of the diplomatic suites talent that was not on the Ambassador class official writeup rounds out the third standard talent for the ship class.

On the other end of the size spectrum is the light cruiser Patriot class shown below.  I found this awesome design by Joe McMullen by happenstance while looking for images of another ship and was instantly hooked.

While I don't have exact dimensions, some of the images Joe made have a scale human figure in them showing the ship to be midway between the Nova and Intrepid classes in size.  When I matched the size of the bridge dome and the escape pods of the Nova class to these, the Patriot turned out to be about 10% longer and has a beefier saucer and secondary hull.  I decided to keep it as a scale 3 ship similar to the Nova but to specialize it for reconnaissance and electronic warfare instead.  In 20th century aviation terms, it's a mix between a SR-71 Blackbird and a wild weasel aircraft.  Equipped with sensitive electronics capable of both spying on and jaming the communications of adversaries, this small ship relies on its extreme speed (Warp 9.985 for up to 6 hours) and electronic capabilities as its primary defense.

As always, right click on the image to open it up full size in a new window or just click the pdf link for that format.  I'd appreciate any feedback folks might have and please  let me know if you find any errors.

Monday, July 9, 2018

A Dastardly Duo Approaches!

I initially focused on custom hero/player ships for the Star Trek Adventures game as obviously they'd see alot of play if used and the pickings for the TOS/TMP eras were pretty slim in the core book.   Equally slim though were the choices for adversaries in those eras and the subsequent expansions haven't really broadened the choices either outside of the TNG era.  As such, I decided to stat up two of my favorite ships from the classic FASA game for use with Star Trek Adventures.

Luckily for me, Brad Torgersen has a treasure trove of classic FASA ship images on his STSTCSOLDA website that he reworked to modern standards and graciously allowed me to use them.  Here are what I will call my dastardly duo double pack... the D-10 Command Cruiser for the Klingons and the V-7 ECM Cruiser for the Romulans.

I've included a section for breaches on the sheets using the NPC quick damage rules format.  If you prefer using the full player character ship damage rules, just pencil in the first few letters of the system damaged in each box instead of filling it in.  And, just in case anyone out there is playing a "villain" campaign and would like to use either of these as their player character ship, just add 2 points each to the systems and the departments divided up however you want and then choose two additional ship talents.  Once you update those stats (and any dependent ones like shields and weapons for example), you'll have a fully capable player character ship to use for your Romulan or Klingon crews.  As always, let me know if there are any typos that I missed or mistakes in the ship construction and thanks for checking this out. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Javelin Class Shuttlecraft for FASA

Master modelmaker Bill Krause was busy yet again this year creating another scratch built TOS era Star Trek model for the Wonderfest competition.  His design for a 1/24 scale N-Type Javelin Shuttlecraft took both the Best Scratch Building and Trekcellent Awards for Wonderfest 2018.

With a fully detailed interior complete with all the modern amenities expected in such a vessel and multicolor lighting throughout, it's not surprising that he came home with some more awards to add to his trophy case.  The full build process from concept to finished award winning model can be found here at Bill's WIP thread.  As with several previous of his designs, he was kind enough to let me stat his latest design up for tabletop gaming.  I'll eventually revisit the Javelin when some more supplements come out for the Star Trek Adventures detailing shuttlecraft rules but I've already come up with a sheet to use it for the venerable FASA system.  As always, just right click and open the image in a new window for the full size or just click on the link below for the pdf version.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Artel W Miniatures Review

I've been following a Russian miniatures company called Artel W for the past year but never quite managed to pull the trigger on placing an order despite my interest.  They do a variety of grimdark 32mm scale miniatures with realistic proportions that would be great for Warhammer 40k characters.

Back in January, they announced that they had received a cease and desist type of letter from Games Workshop and would soon be discontinuing some of their figures including some of the ones I was most interested in.  They were running a variety of very generous contests for the sets they were discontinuing and I was lucky enough to win one!  At that point (with free shipping even), I had no excuse not to place an order and added some more minis to the order.  It appears I wasn't the only one as they announced they were swamped with orders.  It took several months for them to work through the backlog but I finally got my miniatures this month.

It's definitely the nicest package I've ever received once I opened up the commercial mailer and online package tracking worked continuously from Russia to my doorstep.  This wasn't just for the contest winners as I've seen folks post the same with regular orders as well.  The figs were well padded and organized with no missing parts.  I have to say that I'm very impressed with the level of intricate detail that they put on their sculpts.  Seeing the pictures online is one thing but having those tiny pieces of resin in your hands and seeing no bubbles, miscasts, and only minimal flash is quite impressive.

Here are a few comparison pictures with official 40k figures as well as a few more zoomed in pics of individual figures.  I have to say again that the detail is quite impressive and daunting at the same time.  The realistic scale even at 32mm means that some of the slimmer figures (especially female models) have connection points that are less than 1mm in diamater and height/depth. 

Although I haven't assembled any yet (let alone tested the durability), my experience with other such figures in resin and metal lead me to believe that they're not particulary durable and will likely have broken parts simply from falling over onto their side with a wayward hand move across the table let alone a fall from a height of a few feet.  Below are a few size comparisons with GW figures as well.

Overall I'm definitely satisfied with my purchase (let alone the prize I got in addition to my order) and wouldn't hesitate to order again.  I actually regret not getting a couple more figs that are now discontinued but luckily there are others still on my want list like the female techpriest.  They've reported that the long wait times should be over this month (April) so future order should only take a few weeks with international shipping.

P.S. I apologize for the quality of the pics and lack of light balance but I've tried unsuccessfully indoors and outdoors to get nice pics close up with neither the lighting indoors or the overcast skies outdoors cooperating with my efforts!