For Science

My ultra-awesome girlfriend got me Portal 2 for my nameday. Hence the halftrack's insides shall not be painted and weathered that much this week. And last week was dominated by the long weekend combined with a trip to CPH... Oh well, these things happen from time to time.

For science.


Model Expo 2011

One more Model Expo has been experienced and my legs & feet are still complaining a bit. The main thing is that lots of fun was had, so I'll be there again next year. We'll see if I manage to build anything for the competition 2012, most likely on the last weekend. IPMSFi's section (International Plastic Modellers Society Finland, Imps from now on for simplicity) has always had one drawback that I've complained about: the lights are surprisingly dim so photos are somewhat difficult to take w/o a flash. And the infocards of some models are difficult to see because of the smallness and a couple of meters between you and them. For some reason I don't carry a set of binoculars with me :) In any case the models are generally awesome - I'm always so envious of people's skills.

Amongst the RC ships some silly person had built a silly thing:
Oh well, at least I was amused.

The missile boat was neat, too, even though I'm not a huge fan of ships in general:

To me one of the main things in the whole Expo is the Imps stand. Not that it's a stand per se but a big ring of tables covered in various scale models. This year it was confusingly sparsely populated: several tables were empty. I'll add a bunch of photos below, I didn't even try to take pics of all the categories because either it was too dim to get good photos or stuff reflected annoyingly.
Small-scale tracked vehicles
Bigger warmachines I
Bigger warmachines II
Planes II

Planes III
Tiny boats, with a mighty fine U-Boat
Revell's Bismarck
Some Star Wars -themed models. I even found my own silly attempt

A Sergei built by the infamous Komulainen
While I was cropping and downscaling the photos I tried to keep the notes completely in (where applicable), just in case someone could read them. It's bothersome to try to check what the paper says when it's halfway cut. But maybe that's just me, the rest of the hobbyists know everything already so they don't need to read :P

Someone from the RC people had built a confusingly cool Sturm (a finnish StuG), I had to stare at it for a good while with a confused expression on my face. Sadly I didn't see it driving around, I guess it was just posing and looking awesome. And collecting some trophies, of course.

The Armoured Guild that takes care of the museum in Parola had brought a real M2 halftrack to their stand. I had to take a bunch of closeups for reference, just in case. Obviously this clean setup doesn't show how awful that would look on the field but it's a real life example that I can look at when building this and that.

On Sunday morning I had a nice chat with the Risteysasema dyde, he's a nice guy. I was going to buy a replacement blade or to for my old and worn hobby knife but he had sold them all already. So I bought a new knife altogether. Oh and I also got a bit of brass tube for 'Mech modifications. That stuff could be really useful when building a bit better looking guns like the different variations of Autocannons or a Gauss gun. I know I'm weak. For a moment I pondered on buying a Panther kit but then I saw the Königstiger with an early production turret (the ones that are also called Porsche turrets). After I'm done with that I've built one of each interesting Tiger variation: a normal Tiger (can't remember which production model), a Sturmmörser Tiger, a Königstiger, a Jagdtiger, and this one.


Project 2/2011

Now that I got my other tasks done, I started poking around with this long awaited halftrack. Not that I've got much done, except a bit of the bottom part of the vehicle. Surprisingly I had to start with some kind of a water tank and the driver's compartment. At this point an alarm started ringing in the back of my head: "think what you're doing and how, these things aren't going to be nicely paintable if you build too far too quickly". I took yet another look at the instructions and the pieces and it's a good thing I did.

If I build the complete thing first and only then start pondering on how to paint the insides, it's a bit too late. There'd be either a horrible unfixable mess or a bunch of unpainted patches. The latter is more tolerable but there's always an angle you can look from and see the flat basecoat or plain plastic that wasn't touchable with a paintbrush or the airbrush. And my builds tend to have those accidental bald spots more than I care to admit...

This is why I decided that I'll first assemble just the inner floor with its benches, but I won't attach the driver's console before that's painted as well. If that's for only one reason, it shall be that all the angles would deny any painting post-assembly.

So I cut the roadwheel axises off, cleaned the awful mess left by the moulding process. That way they both are round like axises should be and they fit better in their slots. To the bottom plate I added the drivers' controls, all three weird sticks. This I'll paint before assembling it any further, so I don't need to worry any more. Of course I'll need to cover the insides well when I paint the outside but that won't be a problem of any sort.

But before I go any further with painting, I have to consult the wonderful world of the internet to find out the interior colour and all that. Though I'll hazard a guess and say Dunkelgelb because we're talking about an open-topped Deutsche Afrika Korps halftrack in the North African deserts... what else could it be?


Alpha Strike!

Last week I preordered one thing when the infamous Laurentius reminded of this. BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Boxset, the starter set you need to play some awesome BattleTech. The guy who I talked with in the phone said "sold out, maybe we get more next week". On Thursday I finally got the email I had been swearingly and eagely waiting for, ran to the center of Helsinki to get some more stuff to further fill my TODO list.

This is what I got:

I chatted with the guy in Fantasiapelit and he said that they had sold the box out twice alread. And of course I had to wonder how the hell does that happen? I mean, you never hear anyone playing BT in here and the shop itself hasn't got any BT related stuff, either. His thought was "Everybody plays in their small group of friends, there's nothing like these 100 player open tournaments like with Warhammers or anything, it's just not as social". Based on my little experience, I have to agree, at least that's how it goes with me. Though I'd be happy to play with more people and share the fun.
But I didn't start this to tell what I chatted about with random people, to the point!

It's a nice compact set. The box art is mostly a good collection of painted miniature 'Mechs, all done by the awesomely skilled people of Camospecs. Most of the box contents are illustrated by the same people. Beautiful.
The right side of the box contains the playbuttons, both the 24 plastic 'Mechs from the previous iteration of BTIBS and two new plastic OmniMechs. I really hope that the Omnis are a sign of a Clan Expansion Set in the near future. The rest of the box is occupied by a nice bunch of printed material:
  • Introductory rulebook: an 80-paged rulebook that also tells what else you can find about the subject, such as the IWM & Ral Partha miniatures, FPG transfers for said miniatures, an ultra-awesome Camospecs (I at least use Cspecs as a source for painting my minis). The rules are obviously quite thoroughly explained compared to the quickstart rules, there are background stories and other such interesting things.
  • Quick Start Rules: what you need to start playing very quickly.
  • Inner Sphere at a Glance: a 55-page booklet that briefly tells the history of the Inner Sphere, a faction at a time, describing stuff about MechWarriors and 'Mechs and it also includes a TRO (Technical Readout) of the 'Mechs that come with the box.
  • A cardboard cheatsheet: all the necessary tables you need for a round of the game, so that you don't need to search around the rulebooks. You can't live without one, bonus points for sturdiness.
  • How the Core Rulebooks Work: tells how the different additional rulebooks and all that work together. If you go and get more rulebooks, that is.
  • Painting and Tactics Guide: a nice guide of what you need and how you use them, from paintbrushes to paints, a step-by-step guide that tells how to set up a mini from cleaning the mini to flocking the base. All that with tricks and tips, for example: how to paint a red or a white 'Mech as they're somewhat more challenging colours. Himmel... After that there's a really neat part with tactics that tells you with pictures and tables how to play the damn game in certain situations! This is really a wonderful booklet.
  • 24 Inner Spheren BattleMechs
  • 2 glorious Clan OmniMechs
  • Record Sheets for
    • BattleMechs
    • Tanks
    • Battle Armor units
    • Traditional infantry
    • empty 'Mech sheets for DIY 'Mechs
    • Summoner Prime
    • Summoner A
    • Hellbringer Prime
    • Hellbringer A
    Not a bad selection, though I believe in my gaming group we'll keep doing as we've done before. We print the things from HMPro based on what we use.
  • Inner Sphere map in poster size, from around 3060 based on a quick google search.
  • A couple of foldable cardboard two-sided maps. I opened one of them, it has the classic map on the other side with mostly flat terrain, a Depth 1 puddle in the middle, some light and heavy woods scattered here and there and a couple of max Level 2 hills on the top and bottom side of one of the map sides. The other side had a map I don't think I've played on with a hill, a river going through it and plenty of pavement and roads.
    The second map thingy is still in its plastic wrappings, I didn't get to open it yet.
  • 2d6: can't live without them :)
All of this with 50Eur. I've made worse deals in my time.

Obviously I attacked the miniatures first, they're what I've been collecting and painting for years and they interested me the most anyway. Some sick monkey had decided to call the OmniMechs with their freebirth names and each and every one of us knows that this is not how it goes. Inner Sphere names are for barbarians. Swearing I opened the Hellbringer's box (Omnis come in small cardboard boxes and the BattleMechs in a minigrip bag). Sturdy looking pieces, a couple of them still in the sprues (hex base, searchlight, knee pads, upper arms and two of those button-like things that go to the rear legs), Confusingly enough the CT, RT and LT are all separate pieces unlike in the IWM metal minis. To my eyes the details look good and so does the fitting of the pieces. All the bits are connected with rectangular pieces / slots to each other so you can't really pose them specially straight out of the box, but I wasn't going to dremelify these things anyway so the default pose is good enough in this case. Some cleaning is to be done, of course, but that's all.

Summoner Prime jumped out of the box completely assembled, which surprised me a bit. Maybe the idea was to show the new users how to assemble that HellB? Oh well, this one needs a bit of cleaning before it can be painted but looks pretty nice as it is.

Then we get to the tin cans of the freebirth scum. I was pretty curious of how these are because I've read quite a lot of complaints about the quality over the years in CBT forums. The first thing that struck my eyes (and my fingers) was the strange material. I guess this is the infamous "bucket plastic" that at least the IPMSFinland people are always complaining about. Feels a bit floppy and soft in general. It'll take quite a while to clean this ones up, but that's how it always goes so I'm not going to complain much :)
I can't really comment yet on the scale of the miniatures, but the vast majority of these are confusingly small compared to my IWM metal minis. Though I guess a large part of that is because I've been building an Assault Cluster so I haven't got that many light/medium 'Mechs to begin with. My two Novas excluded (Elemental Star + Light/Medium OmniMech Star, fast 'Mechs (a couple of Fire Moths, Stormcrows and such) to carry the Elementals to the battle), of course. Perhaps I get to compare my metal Atlas that I painted as a part of my Model Expo 2008 diorama "Nuisance" (a Point of Jade Falcon Elementals swarming a ComGuards Atlas during the battle of Tukayyid). I somehow suspect that they aren't from the same mould...

I guess I recognize a bunch of those, more or less correctly, even. Many of them are somehow faimiliar but I just can't get the name off of the tip of my tongue. There's a Commando, a Jenner, Hunchback, Atlas and a surprisingly small Catapult, a Cyclops, Dragon and maybe a Panther and a Spider as its friend... and a huge lot of things I can't name. Of course I'll find out with the booklets when I get to it.
I'm not sure if one of them is a Rifleman or not, but I guess it isn't. Maybe it's a Jägermech instead. They'll require some work and there's no way around it. In any case the important thing is that in a distant future my Clan Jade Falcon - Gamma Galaxy - 3rd Falcon Talon Cluster has a proper amount of targets available :)

Aforementioned Laurentius and I have pondered a bit on how to paint these IS 'Mechs. The clowns at Inner Sphere organize their BattleMechs in lances or four 'Mechs and there are two, three per company and three companies per battalion and so forth. I really can't remember those things well, I'm much more familiar with the Clan structure. In any case, there are six lances and they could all be from a different faction. For example the Dragon is clearly a DCMS thing and maybe the Catapult would go nicely with it in the same lance, with two more yet unidentified 'Mechs. It's a pity that the box didn't have a Hatamoto-Chi at all, it'd been another clearly Kuritan 'Mech that fits like a PPC bolt in a cockpit. Now I have to consult my Sources to choose what goes where. That Kurita Lance is going to be red, for example in the pattern of 2nd Sword of Light.

One of the lances is obviously going to be a Capellan one, maybe a Death Commandos scheme would be recognizable? Some of the heavier stuff goes to a Steiner lance, maybe in a Lyran Guards pattern and following that one goes to FedSuns, but preferrably not a disgustingly french-flag like Davion Guards unit, even though that's more than recognizable... Free Worlds League maybe needs one as well and the last one for ComStar because it's quite an important faction (Tukayyid).

On the other hand, FWL is such a boring bunch that maybe I should ignore them and paint one of the lances in a bit more important (story-wise) colours, maybe even a Free Rasalhague Republic or a more useful Mercenary unit. There are so many Mercs aroudn that it's not too easy to decide, but perhaps the Wolf's Dragoons are important enough, even though they're traitors. Kell Hounds are also important but maybe a bit overused, so something like the Gray Death Legion has such a cool name that I'm considering that one very seriously.

Oh and the posterified IS map:


First Vegas ending

Achtung, achtung, the spoiler alarm is still ringing!
As a side bonus: I'll start building again soonish, though it depends heavily on the weather (on a clear day it's so much nicer to paint on the balcony), but soon I'll stop talking about Vegas. At least I'll stop doing that here for a while :P

When I got my new task from Caesar (kill House, come back), I also talked a bit with Vulpes Inculta and the leader of the Praetorian Guard. Got some minor tasks, completed them promptly to gain some fame, marched back to Benny's suite to chat with Yes Man as the Wild Card -series of quests suggested.

At this point I had a good bunch of open quests, around ten of them. All except one (Red Lucy wanted some Giant Mantis eggs) were somehow related to the ending. I had already decided to see how this "sultan instead of the sultan" solution would play out, which meant working on the Wild Card quests.

The first task was to get rid of Mr. House somehow. After fooling around with a couple of terminals in Lucky 38 I ended up in some kind of a super secret place. There was a long catwalk in some kind of a weird hideout, somewhere deep underground. In the end another terminal and apparently a capsule or something. The hell was this? So, some hackzoring ensued! But no, none of that. It just opened, what kind of a quest was this supposed to be?
Oh well, open the stasis chamber, yeah yeah, I don't mind about any contamina... errr... who's exactly going to be contaminated? Me? Bah, let's do this already.
Hey, it's semi-mummified House! Mein goth... I even forgot to take a screenshot of it, I was so confused by the frail old man connected to the machine and the network. He was complaining about how all his plans and decades of preparation were ruined and why did I do that and blah blah blah. Off with his head, I shot him in the face with a minigun. Then I observed a huge amount of "quest added - BLA", "quest failed - BLA" and I almost got scared if I ruined the whole game. I'll comment on that in a moment.
In the end I had two tasks left. The first one said "go back to Yes Man" and the other one was still the same Red Lucy's quest.

So I marched back to Yes Man and he was as excited as always and wanted to go to Mr. House's termina. Ok, I walked there yet again with the robot. After a bit of in-game rebooting and updating of the rest of the Securitrons Yes Man gave a couple of more quests. Some of them I had already completed during my adventures. I had to go back to the power station that I mentioned the last time, though this time no one got angry when I just marched into the control room, flicked the switch to route more power to my robot army and left.
After that all I had left was to go to the Hoover Dam (the game at least asked if I knew what I was doing), flick another switch in the generator room (one of them) to get even more power for my robots and then kill all the Legion troops on the outside. While I was outside, I was sent to the infamous Legates' camp where I got to finally chat with him. Of course I hadn't thought of reading a "Meeting People" magazine to boost my Speech to 100 so I failed one of the many speech checks and the Legate decided that the time for talking was over. After a brief-ish struggle I killed him (and his face wasn't ruined! I felt cheated).

When I walked back towards the Dam a gate was blown up and a happy general who I hadn't even heard of before came in with his entourage of gas masked soldiers. He was happy until I had finished talking to him: I made sure that I was the boss and I had won. He didn't take it too well and got aggressive. Me and my small team, backed up by an army of Securitrons did a short job of them. Muah.
To finish the last task I just walked to talk to the Yes Man. He rambled a bit about what's going to happen and how he's going to update himself and that was it.
The hell?

Now about those "Quest X added", "Quest X failed"-things that occurred right after Mr. House passed away. Apparently until that point the end is still completely open. You can take it however you want, but that is the one that decides how the game will end. I had all four ways open: the Independent Vegas I got, House's Vegas, Legion ending and the NCR ending. When you take the deciding step towards a certain end, the rest of the quests will automatically fail and you can't get more from those factions.
Because of the end I went for, I didn't really get to receive the big no-quests like "Don't step on the Bear" or its Legion counterpart (can't remember the name now, sorry). Those descriptions both say that if you keep working against their interests, they'll stop giving you more quests. Ok. I just got them and they failed immediately because of how that part of the story goes, I couldn't "redeem" myself in their eyes. That also meant that I skipped a potentially big part of the story. Or not. That's the story I got this time. I just couldn't play all the factions against each other until the very end and only then decide who to go with just for the Final Quest. Cool, now that I figured it out.

Anyway, after the ending I just loaded an older save and kept going on from that. This time I went with Mr. House instead and see how his autocratic New Vegas would turn out. After that I'll go for the Legion's side and only last I'll bother with the NCR jerks.

At this point, after taking quests from "the House Always Wins, I" to "the House Always Wins, V" I've got more backstory and explanations. Of course it's because Mr. House is still alive to be able to tell me these things, Yes Man was a robot and couldn't tell me anything he couldn't read from the Platinum Chip. Now I'm supposed to get rid of the BoS people in the Hidden Valley and I dislike that a bit. But a job is a job and I'll get it done - a bit later. Because the quest didn't interest me at this point that much I decided to go to see what I had missed on the map so far. There's plenty of awfulness to be seen and killed.
One of the more awesome things I've already found is this NCR Ranger helmet:

It's perfect. I want many so my friends can wear them too!

By the way, I thought this was going to be a quick, short post over a couple of paragraphs only. Apparently I was wrong yet again.