Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kings of War - Round 2

I got in my Round 2 game in our ongoing KoW league this weekend. It was Salamanders versus an alliance of the Kingdom of Men and the League of Rhordia.

This was the terrain setup:

It was a pretty open table... not too great for me since I don't have a lot of shooting! But I can't really complain since I was hosting, hehe. I didn't feel like digging out any woods and grabbed whatever terrain I had handy.

This was my first game on my new TableWar 4x6 mat... yes, I got MORE mats! But that's another story.

 Once we got the terrain set up we picked table sides and deployed.

My fire drake did not get to do anything before he was charged by knights and wiped out.

And the knights were unpainted, no less! How dare they!

I was so upset about getting beat by unpainted models that I swapped out my opponent's unpainted scouts with my own painted ones! Unfortunately for me, they had no loyalty to their owner and shot up multiple units in my army during the game:

My buddy Bill had a cool laser pointer that projected lines from overhead rather than having to "shoot" from a model's eye view. Gotta get me one of these! Very useful for determining charge arcs, line of sight, etc.

In the end the whole game pretty much came down to a combat between his knights and my horde of Salamander primes. The knights won. The game was lost... but wait!

The scenario we were playing was "Invade" and the goal was actually to get units in your opponents half of the table. Because of this, I actually ended up with a "win" even though I had less models left at the end.

While we were meeting up to get our KoW game in, we also played a game of Frostgrave. We got the kids involved too! My son is a Frostgrave expert by now, but since Bill's boys were playing their first game we kept it simple - a Necromancer, Apprentice, 4 Thugs and 2 Archers each. Same warband on both sides, and only picked 3 spells. We set up a nicely packed terrain layout (which was pretty symmetrical, just to keep everything even for both sides!), and got going.

The game took a while, even without rolling for random monsters! But they had a good time and want to play again... so it was a success!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Thaw of the Lich Lord

I started the "Thaw of the Lich Lord" campaign with my son last month too. We've really been having fun playing Frostgrave, and it has definitely put Mordheim on the back burner in our house since it was released!

This is the first attempt we've had at playing any of the campaigns. I have a feeling it's going to be a slow one, since I'd like to get the right terrain in place for each of the scenarios! Right now I am working on the terrain for the next scenario, the battle on the frozen river.

Here are some pics from the first scenario.

I beat him in the end, but a big part of the reason was his terrible luck with the monster rolls. All of the monsters either popped up in his deployment zone, or randomly wandered over to him! Haha, poor guy!

February roundup

So after my big burst of painting on President's Day weekend, I never finished anything else by the end of the month. I did manage to start a bunch of stuff, but that's another story! Hopefully this month I will be finishing some more board game models, a couple of Reaper Bones, and maybe even some more ECW troops.

But anyway - I did manage to finish a quick terrain project by the end of the month. Walls! I have a bunch of the old foam Citadel walls, and I love them. They are rarer than hen's teeth these days though, much like the Pegasus pre-painted castle ruins. If only I could go back in time and stockpile sets of these! I am very jealous of this guy:

Here are my walls. I hemmed and hawed over a million different projects to get some terrain done, and in the end this was all I had time for. The fieldstone walls are scratchbuilt, they are just aquarium pebbled glued in a few layers to popsicle sticks. I've had most of them built for a while, I just built a few more and painted them all.

The more formal looking walls with capstones are by MiniMonsters. They are resin. Sometimes I hate spending money on things I think I can scratchbuild... but boy were these more convenient to get done than the others!

Gotta be at least 4 feet of walls all together... I built the scratchbuilt ones to fit around my corn field:

It looked a little strange without a barrier around it. Of course I forgot to take a picture of them together, d'oh!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Comparative Mat review

Sometimes, I have good intentions - but I'm too lazy to act on them!

Recently (a few months ago actually), I had placed yet another order for more gaming mats, and I decided I would write up a comparative review of some of the different companies. I never got around to finishing it - and now it seems it's obsolete! Looks like Fat Mats, by Frontline Gaming, are not even available any more. Oh well... I took all the time to take the pictures - so I might as well post it anyway! Scroll down if you want to skip right to the pics:

A couple of years ago a buddy of mine got a gaming mat for his X-wing games. It was a black mat with stars on it... simple stuff. He loved his but I poo-pooed the idea for "serious" wargaming, because I had always been a fan of 3D terrain boards.

Fast forward to today, and I am a full blown Mat addict. I think the turning point was when I read this review on a blog last year:

Now, here was a blogger who had always shown awesome terrain on his blog, but now he was extolling the virtues of game mats. I figured hey, if it's good enough for him, I'll give it a try!

Since then I've ordered from a bunch of companies. I've seen youtube videos of battle reports that take place on various mats, and read many reviews, but I hadn't noticed too many side-by-side comparisons of all the different mats out there. So... here is one!

I've ordered from the following companies so far: Urban Matz, Deep Cut Studios, Frontline Wargaming, Gamemat.EU, and Game Matz.

One company that I have not yet tried is Kraken Wargames. Ironically, it was the Kickstarter for this company that got Cianty into mats, and it was his blog which got ME into mats! However, I have not been able to find any way to order from them and have them ship mats to the USA. If I try to go to their web site, it forwards to their Facebook page. I found one retailer in Germany who is selling their mats, but who apparently does not ship to the USA.

Oh well! They will be a part of my mat collection some day I'm sure...

There is one other company I have not tried yet - Inked Gaming. The reason I am holding off on them is that they offer a custom mat service, where they will create your mat out of any image you supply. I really want to try it, but I have not been able to decide on an image! So until I do, my Inked Gaming order is on hold.

For now though, I've ordered "off the shelf" mats from all of the previously mentioned sellers and I figured I would share my thoughts on them, especially since a bunch of the guys in my local gaming group are interested in mats now!

First of all, for the most part, the mats are all very similar (with one exception, which I'll describe). I've ordered Mousepad style mats in every case, as some companies offer different styles - vinyl, fabric, etc. Cigar Box Battles is one company that I did NOT order from since they describe their mats as being made of some type of Fleece material. I did not want any cloth or fleece mats, because I don't want them sliding around on the table. I didn't want vinyl, because it can be difficult to get them to lay flat and they are sometimes very glossy.

So in terms of the material, I went with Neoprene (mousepad) from all the companies even though it is the most expensive option, and found that it's pretty consistent across manufacturers. The main difference between all of them is the design selection, price, shipping rates, and "extras."

The first company I ordered from was Urban Matz. I got the 4x4 Cobblestone, 3x3 Snow Territory, and 6x4 Grass mats. They came with their own carrying cases, which were labeled. Overall, these were good mats, and I was quite happy with them - happy enough, in fact, that they got me started on a mat ordering spree.

I could have ordered more from Urban Matz, but they do not have a huge number of designs to choose from, and I wanted to see what other companies had to offer.

The next company I ordered from was Deep Cut Studios. Their mats were of similar quality, but they have a larger selection of designs to choose from. One minor detail to note about their mats is that they have squared rather than rounded corners. Another thing to remember about their mats is that they do NOT come with cases. This was especially disappointing because they were the most expensive of all of the companies that I ordered from.

Gamemat.EU was the next company I tried. Their mats were similar to Urban Matz, good quality but again, limited selection of designs. Their mats did come with cases, which was nice.

After ordering from all three of these companies, I finally tried some North American suppliers in order to try to save on shipping. Frontline Gaming had good mats, and came with cases. Their cases also have the nicest labels of any of the manufacturers I had bought from.

And finally, was the last company I ordered from. I think the universe was telling me to take a break from buying mats when I got these. I was excited to see that their web site advertised the mats as being "not just another mousepad." I thought... could these somehow be more awesome than all of the mats I had already bought?

I went ahead and ordered three, but they were a huge disappointment. The rubber material that backs these mats is not neoprene like the other mats, but more like a recycled tire rubber. It's very stiff and hard to roll up the mats. On top of that, the designs are not printed on a smooth silky fabric material like the other companies' mats are. Instead, it's on a "hairy" cotton-like material, which reminds me of some type of cheap commercial carpet. The mats will be prone to getting "pulls" in the material as terrain and models is moved around on them, I think.

A picture is worth a thousand words so here are the pictures of the mats:

These first mats are the ones from, and my least favorite of the bunch. They have some nice designs, but I don't like the material. And they didn't come with bags! These are all 3x3 mats. The model in all of the pics is a 28mm Reaper Wizard.

They are difficult to roll up, and don't lay flat very well after being rolled up.

The fabric material that the design is printed on is frayed at the corners and edges, and looks like it will be prone to getting "pulls" as you move models and terrain around on it.

This is a 3x3 Swamp mat by Frontline. I liked the design, but there was a raised corner on this one design that refused to lay out flat, even after leaving it out for days.

Frontline mats also came with a logo on them, which I didn't like. It was not too obtrusive though. And they came with nice bags.

I loved the Frontline Urban mats! I got one of each design for Mordheim, in 4x4 and 6x4.

And finally, a 3x3 Frostgrave mat by Frontline as well.

Here is a comparison shot of the 3x3 Frostgrave mat by Frontline (the "Alpine" design), alongside the same size mat by Urban Matz. This is their "Snow Territory" design.

...And alongside another Frostgrave mat, this time a 4x4. This is the "Arctic" design by Gamemat.EU. They actually have a newer design now called "Winter Realm" which I like even better!

Another Gamemat.EU mat, "Forgotten Realm" design in 6x4 size.

This is the 4x4 Cobblestone map by Urban Matz. Love this one for Mordheim!

All of the neoprene mats roll up nicely.

Unlike the mats...

 All of the mat companies should include a bag with their mats!!!

6x4 Grassland mat by Urban Matz.

Here are some mats by DeepCut Studio. They have really nice designs but seems to be the most expensive of the bunch, especially if you live in the USA. They had 3 designs that were meant to work together to create a continuous 4x12 landscape of ocean/beach/grassland though - this was too cool to pass up! They have a logo, but it's very subtle and doesn't distract from the design. They did not come with bags...

I only have an 8x4 table in my game room so I couldn't unleash the whole design together! But you see how each of them pairs up with the next one.

So there you have it, my current mat collection. It's only a matter of time until I get a few more!