Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Plastic Soldier Co. - German platoon painted

Quietly over the past months I’ve been steadily working through my German platoon. There is a local con coming up in September and I think I might try to demo a few games. With my Brits done I wanted to also get a group of Germans finished to face off against them.

The detail for the German figures are pretty good. Some of the MG42 weapons are a little bulky and odd looking, but for the most part the figures are accurately modeled and equipped. I’ve assembled models both from the late war and the heavy weapons kits available from Plastic Soldier Co.

Some of the figures are from Zvezda pioneers and pak-36 sets.

Another handful are Airfix pak-40 crew members (which I couldn’t pass up as the AT gun also came with an Opel Blitz truck). The one below is also with a Zvezda pioneer armed with a flamethrower.
However you can see the bulk are from PSC. They certainly paint up pretty well and happy with how they turned out.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Alleycon 2014 - A local gaming/fandom con in Gwangju

Last year a small geek fandom con dubbed, Alleycon, was run at a local eatery in Gwangju, Korea. This Sept. 27 it'll be hosted in a larger venue at the Gwangju Women's University. Last year the event was pretty fun and it looks like it'll be bigger this year with some more guests and organized events.

Pre-registration I believe is closed, but seems there is still quite a few passes left so registration at the door shouldn't be an issue. Not certain about the costs, but all day passes should run between 20,000-30,000 kwon. Best of all many con events will have proceeds going to a local orphanage. So you can spend some cash picking up (and playing) some geek-centric items and ease that guilt a little knowing you are doing some good at the same time.

There'll be a cosplay contest, video games, some Q&A sessions via skype with some sci-fi authors, and a bevy of tabletop gaming. Along with set events, there will also be a room with open tables. So if you are itching to throw down and try out a game in your collection, this might be a great chance to try it out with a few like minded folks.

I'll be running a Bolt Action demo game and also a Savage Worlds WWII game. Last year I did something similar and had a good time running events as most of my players had not tried RPGs or miniature wargames before. So it's always a treat to give folks a chance to see what the hubub of gaming is all about.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More Than a Game - Board gaming in Bangkok

Occasionally I get to do some international travel. While I don't actively track down game stores, I certainly will jump at the chance of checking one out if I stumble across it. The last time I visited Bangkok, I was pleasantly surprised to find a local board game cafe at a mall near my hotel.

The cafe does not cater to the late hour gamer, closing at 9 PM during the week and at 10 PM on the weekends. However they do open a bit earlier ready for the lunch crowd every day. The place is well lit, with several tables in a nice open area.

There is a decent selection of games for sale and another full shelf of games for playing in the store. The cafe has a membership which allows regulars to spend time in the establishment playing games. However if purchasing a few drinks, you can also get a 3 hour chunk of time to play games which seems more than enough.

You'll certainly want to entertain getting something to drink and eat too. Coffee in the typical variety of serving choices are available as well as other non-alcoholic drinks. There are some nice desserts and a few key sandwich choices too. I have to say the waffle desserts are especially tasty. The staff was very friendly and eager to engage me when I came in. Given that they were willing to chat to a foreigner in English was a plus.

From my understanding one of the co-owners is an expat and wanted to try their hand at introducing board game cafes in Thailand. The staff explained that these type of game cafes are slowly becoming popular. And I'd say it seems like they are running a place with some great potential. If you get an opportunity to travel to Bangkok and are close to Chulalongkorn University, More than a Game is certainly a pleasant way to spend an afternoon over some coffee and board games.
Roomy tables.

Well lit tables at night.

Games for sale.

And games for playing.

A closer look at the games you can play.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hotz Mats gaming mats

Since I was sorta on a terrain kick making asteroids for Firestorm Armada, I wanted to get a better gaming surface than a black cloth. For a while I heard about Hotz Mats which make a variety of felt gaming mats that can serve for some really nice space tables. They are screen printed and have a variety of options with printed hexes or grids, or even mats that are double-sided with an option for one side being gridless. The mats come in a variety of dimensions with 4’ x 8’ being the largest.

So I went ahead and ordered two mats at 45” x 72’ with one being an earth green mat for my WWII and SAGA stuff, and another deep space mat for my Firestorm Armada games. The mats are felt. However they are supposed to be treated with a fabric binder that reduces the wear and tear of the surface, lessening the pilling you typically see with felt.

The mats are a decent thickness (if just a tad thin) and can get a bit creased. However really deep folds can be carefully ironed out. The surface of the painted side is somewhat stiff which I assume is the fabric binding material that is sprayed over the surface. This does keep models from snagging up as much compared to regular soft felt. I could push my ship model stands around without having them get caught up on the material.

The deep space mat is pretty nice for a generic background. A little color is thrown in aside from the star background which is nice. I think if I were to get another I might splurge for the enhanced deep space mat.

I am a little disappointed with the earth green mat. I was hoping maybe a little extra paint to add some texture to it. However it’s really just a bolt of green felt yet still has the fabric binder coated on it. This gives it a decent surface and likely a hex printed version would serve great. Overall the one I picked up is a plain, muted surface for wargaming.

Now to go a bit on the customer service of Hotz Mats. Bluntly, I found it lacking. I do know they pretty much make the mats custom order. And I would put money on a lot of the mats being done in one go, and maybe needing some time to dry out in the open. Coming from Canada, this might mean delays due to poor weather (humidity) mucking up the production.

It took my order an extra two months to arrive. Email responses from the company were also sporadic and I didn’t get any indication my order was shipped. So I will give a huge caveat for buying their mats directly. It’s going to be delayed. Don’t expect a prompt (or any) response to emails. I can understand production delays, but I’m a little less understanding with the lack of communication. Consider the 3-5 weeks deliver to only be valid if you live within the province.

Now I understand they are moving to a new studio. This might alleviate some production delays. If you order from them, I think you need to take a zen-like approach and just accept that after several months you’ll get what you ordered in the mail.
When they are delivered, you'll get some decent game mats. The mats seem like they can take a little punishment, and can easily be stored away. While the earth green game mat is plain, I have to say the space mat I ordered looks really nice. Hotz Mats are not bad products. Just expect a few more grey hairs from stress if you are needing them in a hurry.