Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all health, lots of gaming and tons of new figures in the new year.

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What happened to Iannick?!

Yes, indeed, what happened to me? Why have I gone AWOL for months and months?

Well, mostly because of this...

This is a picture of my garage, and the water you see is dripping from my main floor. Yes, I've had a massive flooding due to a ruptured toilet pipe (speedway) which ruined pretty much my entire first floor (because obviously it had to break while I was away). Rotten bad luck, apparently. Wooden floors, ceramic floors, kitchen modules, bathroom, bottom of walls, everything was ruined!

And the worst part?

Our house was put up for sale a week before that! How unlucky is that?

So Laurie and I spent more than 2 months living in a hotel, with 2 cats, while our first floor was being redone pretty much completely (thank God for insurances). We came home a few weeks ago.

In those months, we managed to find a beautiful house (with a basement!! all mine. GAMING ROOM!) and we made an offer on it, which was accepted. Between last year's health problems and this year two water problems we figured Karma owed us.

Now we just have to sell our current home. Anyone looking for a lovely (and completely renovated) townhouse in Montreal?

So as you can guess the hobby took a back seat to real life crap. In fact, I even avoided most of the blogs and forums I follow, because it was too difficult to not being able to participate in all of it (so if you noticed my absence it wasn't personal). I also cut all hobby spending (this whole process is kind of freakin' expensive!). Basically, I completely moved away from my hobby out of necessity.

Now I'm back home, half my stuff is in boxes, my main painting area is no more (replaced by a nice living room know home staging) but I feel like painting again. And out of sheer foolhardiness I joined the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge for this I guess this blog should be slightly more active, well that is until I move. Yeah, probably a few more hectic months in front of me. 

So really, this post is just my polite way to tell you all that I'm still alive!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Top 10 "Livres dont vous êtes le Heros" (Gamebooks) cover art

Today, a nostalgia post; the Top 10 greatest "Livres dont vous êtes le Héros" (Gamebook) covers. Those were especially popular from about 1982 to the early 90s, and I'm pretty sure all geeks of my generation read at least one! I still have a massive collection.

In my younger days I was a huge reader of books (well still am today). Not very gifted in sports as a child, I would spend my evenings and week-ends reading comics and novels. When I was around 10 or so, I discovered "livres dont vous êtes le héro" (choose your own adventure books) and I fell in love. Almost every friday for more than a year, my mother would bring me and my brother to a used bookstore in downtown Montreal (it has of course disappeared since). This store had a massive section of used LDVELH ("livres dont vous êtes le héro") and I would buy one book with my meager weekly allowance, and, armed with a pen and an eraser,  spend the friday and saturday reading and playing it. These opened the door to everything else; RPGs, Warhammer, etc. 

One of the great things about those books were the covers and interior art, illustrated by some of the masters like Blanche, Miller, McCaig, etc. Of course the covert art were meant to entice young readers and they were very efficient in doing so! So here is my top 10 of the best covers. Please note that I picked the french edition, because I read these in french as a child. I also think Gallimard, the publisher of the Folio Junior collection, did a great job with the look of these books; every series had a small logo in the bottom and on the spine, which makes them look great, and especially on a shelf. 

The series logo
 In a future post I'll give my top 10 stories (alas a great cover did not always equate a great story, and vice-versa!).

The name of the artist is next to the name of the book.

10. Les Cryptes de la Terreur (The Crypts of Terror), Geoff Taylor

I used to love Dragons, and I still do! The four "Loup Argent' covers had a common blue palette and I always liked it. Not the most original cover, but it's just aesthetically pleasing. And did I mentioned dragons?

9. Le Combattant de l'autoroute (Freeway Fighter), Jim Burn

 It's the car man, it's all about the car. What boy did not wanted to be behind those wheels?! Not surprisingly, the iconic Défis Fantastique (Fighting Fantasy) makes an early appearance on the list.

8. La Cité des Voleurs (City of Thieves), Iain McCaig

As a child, undeads, skeletons and Zombies always made me uneasy in a good way, and this one was no exception.

7. Le Seigneur de l'Ombre (The Lord of Shadow Keep), Leo Hartas

Did I mention I used to love Undeads? There's even blood on the scythe and on the tree next to it. Now that's some creepy stuff right there! And a great book name, too. Today this would probably be the subject of a Twitter censorship initiative! #whywontsomeonethinkofourchildren

6. La Sorcière des Neiges (Caverns of the Snow Witch), Les Edwards

I always loved the forever look of despair on the frozen Ork. So evocative of the book's atmosphere.

5. Les Terres de Légendes (The Lands of Legends)

Ok, I'm cheating. This was actually a RPG world book, published by Folio Junior, and not an actual LDVELH. But come on, look at that bad ass centaur and tell me it doesn't deserve to be on this list?!

4. Le Temps de la Malédiction (Realm of Chaos), John Higgins

As a lad, one of the few good fantasy movie available was the 1981 cult movie Excalibur. Full plate armour? Oh yes please! And that is a mighty fine illustration of a knight in full plate (he seems to be in somewhat of a pickle but that's another story). I also love the somber, grey palette. Something about that book's name also...

3. La Forêt de la Malédiction (The Forest of Doom), Iain McCaig

The whole Forest of Doom is represented there, with that single creature. Well done Mr McCaig, well done...

2. La Cité des Pièges (Kharé, Cityport of Traps), John Blanche

John Blanche. Nothing else needs to be said.

And now...your number 1!

1. Le Labyrinthe de la Mort (DeathTrap Dungeon), Iain McCaig

This illustration is so iconic it's insane. It inspired countless Game Masters in the creation of countless dungeons quests, and the image probably still sleeps in a corner of every fantasy geek's brain. It was the first LDVELH book I ever read. I saw that cover, and I bought it. It was the only sensible decision to make at that moment. THAT's what fantasy is supposed to look like*.

Well this was a very difficult list to make, because there's a lot of great covers. I'm sure you disagree with some of my choices, and have your own favourites. That's what the comment box is there for, folks!

*Not so subtle dig at a certain well known company's recent offering.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Blood for the Blood God!!

Wow, it's been 2 months since my last post! Apologies to my readers, but all kinds of real life issues got in the way of my painting and blogging, especially a nice water leak and the subsequent discovery that my shower had been leaking for some time without our knowledge and thus had to be replaced, along with the bathroom floor! Yeah, the joys of owning a house. Anyways, I shall not bore you further with such trivials (but oh so expensive) details of my life, so back to miniature talk.

To this point my Chaos force has been made up of worshipers of Chaos in all its undivided glory. My plan was to create to create a core of Chaos undivided troops, and then I could add contingents of worshipers of the Chaos gods. My army is a dark and brooding undivided force and as previously mentioned I plan to include equally dark and twisted Nurgle and Khorne contingents to it.

So after working hard on the undivided troops, it was time for a first diversion and so I started working on some Chaos God's specific units. The first such regiment is a unit of Khorne warriors; crazed and bloodthirsty warriors who like to kill, maim and spill blood. As a child Khorne was my least favourite Chaos God, mostly because I thought he was too "cliche", too easy. But when I started collecting back the Champions of all four Gods, I gave Khorne figures a second look and they quickly grew on me. I especially like the figure I used to represent my Champion, Arkil Gorefury (the one with the juggernaut head obviously), he's a fantastic figure (although they are all pretty awesome).

The unit is made-up mostly of Khorne champions designed by the master Jes Goodwin in the 80s as part of the massive and now iconic Citadel Realm of Chaos range. There is also a few Citadel chaos warriors (and a single Marauder chaos warriors) from the same era which style fitted Khorne and which I really liked, like that crazed cleaver wielding warrior in the last row. I wanted a unit clad in dark red, and I had to experiment a lot to find the perfect recipe, red being a notorious bitch of a colour to paint and highlight well. To blend the unit with the rest of my army,  I went with dark green as a secondary colour, and picked details in the "poison green" (bright green) which I have use throughout my Chaos force. I also got to experience the forgotten joy of ranking-up a unit made-up of mostly champions. The current set-up is the only one that works!

I painted these guys in small batches of three, since they are unique and characterful sculpts which don't lend themselves well to mass production.

That cleaver wielding one, so violently weird
I chose to give the warriors without helmets African skin tones; I thought it worked really well with the look of the unit and colour scheme. It also happens I recently discovered, while painting a biblical army, that I really enjoy painting black skin!

The lone Marauder miniatures (3rd from the left)
The standard bearer is a conversion, I cut the sword he was carrying and replaced it with a pole. I'm quite happy with the whole figure and the standard; I haven't painted a standard in literally 20 years and mostly I got the bloody and dirty look I wanted. In my youth I wanted to use chains to decorate my banners like I would see in White Dwarf but never did it, so 25 years later I did not miss that chance! I find it looks as good as it did in the 80s!  

Arkil Gorefury and his cadre of maniacs
Awesome sculpt, so full of details
This regiment should look pretty good as elites in my Chaos army, and they were well worth the effort. They look much better in the flesh too, damn red is also a pain to photograph right!

Yesterday I started cleaning and assembling a very special unit. Call it unfinished business...the Piece de Resistance of my army.  And I'm going to take my sweet ass time on them!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Elric of Melniboné

It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the sleeves of his gown emerge two slender hands, also the colour of bones

The last bonus theme of the Painting Challenge was "antihero". It was also the price paid to join the challenge, as each participant must donate one painted antihero of our choice to Curt.

This artwork adorned the wall of my bedroom in my pre-teen years
My choice was an easy one; I would pick *the* antihero of fantasy literature, the White Wolf himself, Elric of Melniboné. For many gamers, the fantasy bug came courtesy of J.R.R. Tolkien's Bilbot or Lord of the Ring. But for me, the love of the genre started after reading Michael Moorcock's Elric Saga. To this day the six first original books are probably the novels I have read the most often in my life, and I still pick them up once in a blue moon. It probably also explains my love of Warhammer Chaos (heavily influenced by Moorcock's work).

The story of Elric, last emperor of Melniboné, is one of life and death, fate versus free will, evil vs good and of course Law versus Chaos. Bound to Stormbringer, a weapon he loathes but needs, Elric tries to bring morality to a life which should be devoid of the mere notion.

Plagued by his destiny, the things he tries to control have quite often been decided by higher powers. A tragic figure, but a fascinating character. A true antihero.

The figure I chose, Elric the Whitewolf, is a figure from Citadel, released in the mid-eighties to be used with the "Stormbringer" roleplaying game as part of their "Eternal Champions" range.

It is I believe pretty rare and often fetches 15-20$ or more on Ebay. Of all the figures I gave to Curt for this challenge, it is the one I'm most attached to, but I know it will have a good home and Curt definitely deserves it!

I shall end this post and this year bonus round themes with my favourite last line of any novel, the last line of "Stormbringer" :

"Farewell, my friend. I was a thousand times more evil than thou!".

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Battle for the sarcophagus; a Realm of Chaos battle report

Chaos is a ladder

Last week I had some grand visit as Jean-Baptiste Garidel (also known as JB Assless, of the blog Leadplague) came over from France for a game and a beer. Yes, people will cross oceans to play with me! Well...that and his sister-in-law happens to live in Montreal.

So the day was spent talking about miniatures, the good old days and of course we had to play a game of something Oldhammerish. We decided to go with a small Realm of Chaos Warband clash. You can read about the Duke of Blangis, JB's Slaanesh Champion (and warband) here. As for me, I created a Chaos undivided warband using figures from my Chaos army.

The warband of Doran Greenskull

The man himself

Doran Greenskull, Chaos Champion

Human, level 15 hero.
Armed with chaos weapon, chaos armour and shield (3+ save).
Mark of Chaos Undivided
Chaos gifts: Chaos armour, Chaos weapon.
Chaos attributes: Cloven hooves, powerful legs. 


And his retinue...the Marsh Horrors

9 Beastmen

4 Chaos Dwarfs

and last but far from least, the mascot of this company of death, "SlobberPuke", affectionately nicknamed "Slobby"

Before the game started, we rolled for our chaos weapon, and my character got the "Skeleton horde" blade, which I thought worked quite well with his bone armour.

We played using the detailed narratives of Realm of Chaos, more precisely the "sarcophagus" scenario.

You can find the Slaanesh version of the events on JB's blog

Before we start, let's take a minute to admire the brave combatants fighting for blood and glory

JB, in front of his depraved warband

Me, in front of my black & green servants of Chaos
 The table was a small 4x4, representing a forest with a tall Chaos monolith in the middle.

I positioned SlobberPuke (the troll) on one flank, my dwarfs on the other, and in the middle my Beastmen and my Champion. The goal was to reach the monolith with the beastmen, while SlobberPuke would scare anything in front of him and my Champion, hidden behind the beastmen, would challenge the Duke to an easily won combat. Easy as pie, right?

The warband of Doran GreenSkull, son of Chaos

The warband of the Duke of Blangis, servant of Slaanesh

The warband starts moving, as even SlobberPuke remembers to go forward

It started bad early, as in the second turn, before I thought it was necessary to hide my champion behind the Beastmen, the dark elves crossbowmen managed to wound him (who had a 3+ save) from long range! After a nice start (first turn), the Troll forgot where he was and got lost looking at the...oh is that grass...

The dastardly Slaanesh wizard then decided to cast "Pavane of Slaanesh" on my poor Beastmen, rendering them useless as they started to dance (and knowing Slaanesh, god knows what else *shiver*).

Me : "So, how long does that spell lasts?"
JB : "Let me look in RoC. So it lasts...all game"


The Slaanesh minotaurs quickly move next to the monolith
I tried to hide my remaining dwarfs from the murdering crossbows while still (slowly) advancing them and l also kept advancing Doran and SlobberPuke towards the Monolith.

Robbed of the protection of his trusted Beastmen, Doran uses the monolith for cover
On the other side, the Minotaurs wasted no time and reached the Monolith, while the Slaanesh cultists, probably drunk on hedonistic drugs, made the mistake of getting a bit too close to the troll, who, sensing a good dinner of white meat, managed to find the intelligence to charge!

The crazed (and very nicely painted) Cultists of the Duke
The Cultists, completely unaware of the Troll fearful appearance, did not flee and stood their ground.

Doran Greenskull, meanwhile, extremely frustrated at seeing his loyal Beastmen reduced to nothing more than "So you think you can dance" contestants, got around the monolith in an attempt to get in position to charge and cut in half the depraved Duke.

So close...
And then once again the Chaos Gods, fickle masters, abandoned their servant. The three dark elves managed to hit him twice, and twice the Champion of Chaos missed his (very good) saving throw. That was too much for the already wounded Doran, who fell on the ground merely inches away from his target.

Oh the tragedy!
Angered beyond reasons to see his beloved master lay motionless on the ground, a proud chaos dwarf charged the decadent sorcerer.

Vengeance!! Cried the skull masked chaos dwarf
On the other flank, after quite a few minutes of pushing back and forth with the cultists, Slobby (the troll's nickname) found his groove and started eating cultists with appetite. The cultists stood their ground as their numbers kept dwindling. "Hmmm...Slaanesh Cultists"

Hmmm...weren't there 20 of us not long ago?
Never ones to give up, a single dwarf, his brother massacred by the unsporting crossbows, managed to reach the dastardly elves!

Vindication! The dwarf kills one of the dark elves. Ha!
The Minotaurs finally managed to open the sarcophagus, exposing what looked like a magic sword (which turned out to be a daemon weapon!), and then turned their attention on the poor lone dwarf facing the Slaanesh Champion. The Duke managed to deliver the final blow to the dwarf, and to Doran's ego. The battle was lost...

The poor little guy stands no chance...

Doran and his followers managed to escape while the Slaneesh fiends danced and rejoiced in their master's victory. While Doran himself avoided any serious injuries, being only knocked unconscious from an arrow hit to the helmet, others in his warband were not so lucky. Poor Blightaxe, one of the four dwarf, died from his wounds not long after the battle, may he rest in peace. Another of his comrade caught an infection, and was never exactly the same after that (-1 T). But the Beastmen escaped without a scratch...ahem...

As Doran exited the forest, he cursed under his breath "Next time, sorcerer, next time..."

  • Well it went about as bad as it could've for Doran Greenskull. The lack of magic and long distance weapons really hurt him, especially combined with some bad luck throughout the game. At one point SlobberPuke managed to get a "1" (only score needed to fail) for his strength roll three times in a row, while the cultists succeeded numerous rout rolls. And the troll still managed to be by far the most useful member of the warband!
  • It had been a while for both JB and me since we had played a WFB game (well in my case since playing unmodified 3rd edition rules). It reminded us of some of the things that did not work very well. For example needing a "5" to hit when troops with identical WS face each other. Or the lack of combat results modifiers to LD during melee. These put together meant the Cultist vs Troll battle literally lasted forever.
  • And then of course there is the magic, always so unpredictable and powerful. The spell against my Beastmen meant a quick defeat for me! As JB said, nothing is fair in the Realm of Chaos. Next time, I will split my Beastmen into small units. Lesson learned! 
  • It was good clean nostalgic fun and JB was a very good guest. Hopefully I will get a chance to get my revenge one day, although there is literally an ocean between us. Can't believe this is 2015 and we have neither flying cars nor transporters! Get your shit together, science!
  • JB came to Montreal with a surprise gift for me; the Oldhammer Goblin, the limited figure sculpted by the master Kev Adams for last year's BOYL (Oldhammer day). I'm collecting a Kev Adam 4th edition goblin army so it was just a perfect gift! Thanks again JB!
  •  JB got his first taste of real poutine as we went for dinner after the game in a traditionnal Montreal "casse-croute" (fast food restaurant). Since he finished the whole plate (and the accompanying two hot dogs) I assume he enjoyed it!
  • It really does take forever to write an AAR