Friday, April 29, 2011

[CCC] Trooper finished... again!

The battle-worn look is appropriate for the dark, grim future of 40K, but I didn't really think it suited the world of MERCS. I'm not sure what I'm basing that statement on - probably the MERCS rulebook, which is has bright, amazing artwork (from one of the creators of MERCS actually) and has the minis expertly painted in the same bold style. I do like my toy soldiers to look a little rugged though, so maybe a little battle weariness is OK.

Not the best picture to emphasize how bright MERCS is, but it's an awesome pic!

So after looking over the previous pics, and the pics from my battle report and finishing my [CCC] Incinerator, I decided I'd go over my Trooper again, to and try brighten him up a bit.

I started with a light wash of yellow over the areas I thought were probably overly dry-brushed and dull, then went to work touching up a few areas here and there. Anyways, here's my improved Trooper. Not sure if it made much more of a difference, but at least now I feel warm and fuzzy inside.


Sync out.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Faction and Completed FCC Minis!

Trolling the MERCS facebook page I came across the following teaser pics for the Kezai Waza - the South-East Asian / Australian faction:

I kinda assumed they would go with the Samurai/Ninja angle on the Kezai Waza. The name, to me, sounded Japanese so I thought that was the direction they were taking this faction. Who knows, they might be going that way with the way the faction plays, but the screenshot - while looking awesome - doesn't strike me with that Japanese feel. Looking great though, and I'm not at all disappointed.

Also, the mini's artist for MERCS, Angel Giraldez, has finished his stunning work on the FCC faction for the MERCS team:

Outstanding paint job, they look awesome! You can see better pics of this faction (as well as the work Angel has done on the CCC and KemVar) at Angel's MERCS Miniatures website.

Sync out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

[CCC] Incinerator finished!

I finally got around to taking some photos of my [CCC] Incinerator. As I mentioned in a previous post, I managed to screw-up the simplest of modelling work. I decided I could live with it - I don't think it's really noticeable until you know it's not there.

That's what I broke.
I tried not to make the Incinerator as battle-worn as I made my Trooper by being a bit more sparing with the dry-brushing. I think it looks better this way - the battle-worn look seems to suit the dark, grim future of 40k, but MERCS definitely has a different look and feel. Maybe I should go back over the Trooper in the same way, just for consistency.

The lighting at my place is terrible for taking photos of minis - I have to wait for a sunny day and take the photos outside in the shade or under cloud cover. Anyways, down to the pics!

I'm still undecided as to what bases to use - any suggestions?

Sync out.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New Wallpaper and MERCS Merchandise!

One of the best things about the MERCS online community is that the creators, Keith and Brian, have a high level of involvement through the forums.

Keith responded to a thread today, saying that they plan on releasing a fan-kit with lots of MERCS artwork that the community can use! Any more updates will be posted on the MERCS Download page. That's great news, and I'll be sure to pimp this blog with the official MERCS artwork. Keith has sated the thirst with an awesome wallpaper though, which I am proudly rockin right now:

I've been hanging out for any news on MERCS maps, counters and dice - yesterday Brian gave us an update on the situation, and to summarise:
  • Battle Foam will produce the MERCS bag - this is still in development
  • Gale Force 9 will produce counters, 2D maps, and 2D maps which can be used as a foundation for 3D terrain maps. The counters are being polished off, and the maps are being tweaked.
  • No news on dice - I've posted a query on forums so I'll update this blog with any news.
So, my personal thanks to Brian and Keith for being part of the MERCS community and responding to the cravings of their die-hard fan-boys!

Sync out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Battle Report: [CCC] Assault Leader VS [USCR] Commissar

I decided I wanted to run through my first practice game, so this afternoon I went across the road from work and bought up my first d10 dice! As 40K uses d6, I got a whole mess of those, but I've never had a d10 before. I know I'll need more to play a full game of 5v5 MERCS, but for now one is fine. Besides, I'm holding off buying dice and counters as I'm waiting for the official MERCS merchandise.

As a side note, I played against myself, for two reasons; 1) I wanted to make sure that I understood the rules well enough before trying to explain them to my friends, and 2) I don't have any friends :)

For my first game I thought I'd try a basic scenario:
  • 1v1 Annihilation scenario. This means I didn't have to try and apply team tactics or use coordinated assaults, or worry about objectives - just killing the other guy.
  • Use a 1'x2' field instead of the recommended 2'x3'. Plenty of room for a 1v1, and ensured I didn't spend too many turns trying to get into combat.
  • No ACM, to keep the game down to the basic mechanics. Advanced Combat Maneuvers are abilities which add a whole other dimension to the gameplay - a dimension I'm not ready to explore just yet.
  • I've also decided to add some fiction - I always appreciate story driven battle reports, so I thought I'd add that too. 
  • Note, that I'm using my painted CCC Trooper as an Assault Leader, and my unpainted but primed USCR Assault Leader
  • EDIT: Please note that Leaders do NOT benefit from their own Leadership bonus and I played this rule incorrectly throughout my report. In terms of fairness, it's OK because both sides were equally buffed by my mistake.

Deployment: So, after setting up the Battleground, [CCC] won the roll for table edge and deployed first, then the [USCR] deployed:

The rest of the battle was just a diversion. While the rest of his squad distracted the USCR bastards, Smith would take flank and retrieve the objective documents. This was going to be too easy - in and out before they knew the documents were gone. Already Smith was looking forward to sloppy joes' and a few beers after EVAC.
* * *
Yuri was the last line of defense. If his men failed against the attacking force, he was all that stood between the Yellow Jackets and the documents he was sworn to protect. He was a little on edge - it was difficult to stand idle guard while your comrades fought and died. A flicker of light caught his eye. It was probably nothing, maybe stray gunfire, but his paranoia forced him to pick up his feet.

Turn 1: Initiative CCC [6], USCR [5]
CCC: Move - 2MP through the cargo containers
USCR: Move - 1MP into the open on the road

Intel told him he wasn't far from the objective now. The song of battle rang through the night;  melodies of gunfire highlighted by suppressive bursts and occasional grenade detonations. All intended to make his CCC squad seem a larger threat than they were. His men had no intention of trying to capture the objective, but the USCR didn't know that. Swiftly, and a little recklessly, Smith ran forward.
* * *
Bah, nothing. Yuri was letting his anxiety get the better of his judgment - he shouldn't have moved so far away from his ward. He hated being on the defensive, having to be alert and on guard. He had always preferred being the aggressor in conflicts, on the offensive. It was going to be a long night.

Turn 2: Initiative CCC [10], USCR [4]
CCC: Move - 2MP flush to the yellow cargo container, then Snap-to-Cover to draw LOS on the USCR
USCR: Combat - Ice Grenade Gun (Range 3 = 3 cards > CONFIRMED)
                             - FN5 + 1(1/2 Cover) = FN6
                                  - roll[4] + 1(Leadership) = 5 (MISS)

His training forced him to edge slowly around the cargo container, even though he thought he was being unnecessarily cautious. Smith's vigilance proved itself, as he made a visual on a lone USCR defender. Maybe tonight wasn't going to be so boring after all.
* * *
Yuri saw the enemy and validated his paranoia. Feeling a wave of relief, he was almost happy that he wouldn't have to spend the rest of the encounter jumping at shadows. He had just the thing to welcome his new friend - a blast from his Ice Grenade Gun.

Turn 3: Initiative USCR [6], CCC [4]
USCR: Move - Move towards cargo containers, then Snap-to-cover
CCC: Move - 1MP onto yellow cargo container, 1MP flush against grey cargo container (out of LOS of USCR)

Shit. Smith realised his Semi-Automatic wouldn't be able to dent the USCR armour. He had to get to cover to weigh out his options. That Ice Grenade had missed, but his luck could only hold out for so long. He climbed up onto the cargo container, and moved out of his foe's sights.
* * *
Fuck. If his Ice Grenade hit, Yuri could've frozen the target and moved in for the kill at his own pace. Seeing the Yellow Jacket scramble up the cargo container and out of sight, Yuri decided he'd better find some cover of his own.

Turn 4: Initiative CCC [3], USCR [3] (CCC has higher Reaction, therefore goes first)
CCC: Move - 1MP onto grey cargo container, 1MP to edge of grey cargo container to draw LOS on USRC
USCR: Combat - Semi-Auto (FN7, WS2, 2 shots)
                             - FN7 + 1(Low Ground) + 1(1/2 Cover) = FN9
                                  - shot 1: roll[8] + 1(Leadership) = 9   HIT! > WS2vsAV2 = BLOOD!
                                       - CCC armour check AF2 > roll[6] = PASS
                                  - shot 2: roll[3] + 1(Leadership) = 4   MISS

Checking his pack, Smith breathed a sigh of relief. He'd never had occasion to use it before, but his EMP Grenade was his best shot at weakening that USCR Armour. He wasn't sure where that USCR went, but he knew he'd have a better vantage point from above.
* * *
Panic struck, but just one for a second, as Yuri saw his enemy right above him. This was not the ideal situation to be in. He drew his Semi-Automatic and fired - they were tough shots, but lady luck smiled on him as a bullet found it's mark.

Turn 5: Initiative CCC [9], USCR [7]
CCC: Combat - EMP Grenade (Range 2 = 2 cards > CONFIRMED)
                          USCR AF5 + 2(EMP Grenade penalty) = AF7
                               - roll[6] = ARMOUR FAILURE
                                    - +1 Leadership Roll is NOT added, as this is NOT an action
                                    - INCORRECT, the Leadership bonus is added for ANY roll
USCR: -2MP, -1AV (due to Armour Failure)
            - Attempt repair (Repair Skill 6)
                 - roll[4] + 1(Leadership) = 5 FAIL, Armour NOT repaired.

That. Fucking. Hurt. Already the armour was doing it's work and Smith was ready to sate his vengeance. He dropped the EMP grenade right on top of the fucker, and watched as the tough USCR armour sizzled and cackled with electricity.
* * *
Damn! Yuri had ALWAYS done his drills, and had an intimate knowledge of his armour - but with his enemy so close above him, his training failed him and his fingers fumbled uselessly as his armour continued to short-circuit and weigh him down.

Turn 6: Initiative USCR [9], CCC [4]
USCR: -2MP, -1AV (due to Armour Failure)
            - Attempt repair (Repair Skill 6)
                 - roll[2] + 1(Leadership) = 5 FAIL, Armour NOT repaired. 
CCC: Combat - Semi-Auto (FN7, WS2, 2 shots)
                           - FN7 + 1(1/2 Cover) - 1(High Ground) = FN7
                                - shot1: roll[9] + 1(Leadership) = 10 HIT > WS2vsAV2 (AF) = BLOOD!
                                - shot2: roll[6] + 1(Leadership) = 7   HIT > WS2vsAV2 (AF) = BLOOD!

Without hesitation, Smith unloaded his Semi-Automatic into his weakened enemy. Today, revenge was a dish best served with rounds of hot bullets searing through the flesh of your foes.
* * *
Yuri had a single thought flash through his mind. He remembered his mother smiling as she served his brothers dinner on the night he had been told he would join the USCR - what a feast that had been! He laughed - why was he thinking about such things, while his body was being riddled with bullets.

 Turn 7: Initiative CCC [5], USCR [4] 
CCC: Combat - Semi-Auto (FN7, WS2, 2 shots)
                           - FN7 + 1(1/2 Cover) - 1(High Ground) = FN7
                                - shot 1: roll[2] + 1(Leadership) = 3  MISS
                                - shot 2: roll[7] + 1(Leadership) = 7  HIT > WS2vsAV2 (AF) = BLOOD!

Rage had filled Smith - spawned from anger that he felt towards himself for being so damn cocky, then spurred by the pain he had felt as a result of his own recklessness. He sent another hail of bullets towards his target, and watched, somewhat remorsefully, as his foe fell, and did not rise.
* * *

Better luck next time!


Rolling for initiative at the start of every turn is a really awesome concept and is a complete game changer. With no pre-determined turn structure, each turn can only really be planned once the initiative rolls are decided.
I can imagine that in a 5v5 game, tactics have to be decided at the start of each turn, while your overall strategy should be clear, yet flexible, before the first dice roll. Your game strategy needs to be a fluid concept, as once the initiative order is determined you'll need to reassess what tactics you will use to implement your strategy.
Getting your FN to a reasonable rate of success is a little tricky and definitely requires the coordination of abilities and skills - and I can imagine it would be more evident in 5v5 games.

I've highlighted some issues in red which I wasn't really sure about - if anyone could provide some insight that would be appreciated!

So, I'd say it was a successful first game! Even though it was my first game, it didn't feel slow, and I didn't really need to refer to the rulebook that many times. I was able to learn the mechanics and get a basic understanding for the fundamental tactics. As the rules are highly realistic, at least compared to what I'm used to, it was easy to understand them and apply them to the game.

I also had a lot of fun writing up a bit of story, hope you enjoyed it!
I think next time I'll try a 3v3, for a bit more depth.

Sync out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MERCS Movement Question

So I'm still getting a handle on the rules, and I have a question regarding the card based movement. I've done a quick diagram below, as close to scale as I thought possible:

So, the brown thing on the top is a brick wall.
The grey circle is where I want my MERCS to be.
The black circle is where he currently is.
The funny shape on the right is the scale representation of the movement card.

The question is, can my MERCS move from the black circle to the grey circle?
The rulebook says you HAVE to move from the starting circle to one of the destination circles on the movement card, and you can NOT move anywhere else within the card.
Snap to Cover is not an option, as the grey circle is NOT within the base length range of the MERCS starting position.

Here is what the scene would look like layed over the movement card.

It's entirely possible I've completely missed something in the rulebook, but if someone could put me out of my nooby misery, I'd really appreciate it!


This question was posed on the MERCS forums, and within an hour my question had been answered by active members, and confirmed by one of the MERCS creators and author of the rulebook! (gush)

Thanks to everyone for their answers!

Shadow4ce pointed out that:
The miniature does not have to move a full card length when moving flush to an elevation change.
Quote from: MERCS Rulebook, page 54, Elevation Section, second paragraph

Which was then confirmed by Brian.

I knew I missed something - thanks guys! A testament to both the positive MERCS forum community, and the customer support from the MERCS team.

Sync out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

MERCS: Forums, Demo, Merchandise and Rules

So, just a few things I'd like to share on my MERCS experience so far:

I messed up my CCC Incinerator! 
I finished painting the Incinerator, but when attaching the backpack there is some basic modelling required which I managed to mess up.
There's a cable that runs from the backpack to the gun, a fuel-line which supplies the weapon with ammunition. As I was bending that cable around the mini, it snapped off - it was a cold morning and I wasn't careful enough. Well, it's not too noticeable - I think you'd only miss it if you knew it was supposed to be there. The mini still looks great though, and I'm still happy with it... I just hope that imperfect feeling doesn't nag at me too much. I'll get some pics up later on.

This is the cable that I managed to snap off!

MERCS Online Forums
The online forums are great - it seems like the community at this point is relatively small and still growing, but so far it has all been really positive. There are some people that are really active on the forums, and they seem like nice guys with a LOT of encouragement and willingness to help and answer questions. The MERCS creators are also active on the forums.

Demo Gameplay Videos
So one of the above mentioned active members has posted some Demo Gameplay Videos on Youtube. They're a good briefing on some of the key elements of the game - thanks SoulReclaimer!

MERCS Gaming Merchandise
I was shopping around for gaming tools, both online and at local hobby stores, but it seems like MERCS will be releasing their own line of merchandise: counters, dice, maps and carry cases. Being a sucker for the official gear I'll have to wait and grab these, assuming they are fairly priced (which is a fair assumption as the creators of MERCS aren't money grubbing like other *cough* GW *cough* miniatures wargaming companies). I hope I don't have to wait too long though, and that the local distributor is going to stock and sell them.

MERCS Rulebook
I've read through the rulebook a couple of times - it's a great write-up with lots of fluff, color pictures and in-play examples to help explain some of the concepts. I took my own notes on the rules, then rewrote them for myself in a format I was more comfortable with (a more step-by-step format, using terms that I was more familiar with for each process). I'm looking forward to running through a practice game against myself at some point.
In comparing the rules to 40k (which is my only other experience with wargaming), the rules are MUCH easier to understand and apply. When playing 40k, I found there were just too many rules to have a smooth flowing game, and I think that MERCS has the right amount of rules for me.
I was able to summarise the actual rules of MERCS into 3-4 typed pages, so no more flicking through a 90+ page rulebook as well as a 50+ page codex during games. The card system the game has is great too, as the cards act as little cheat sheets for quick reference during play.

The more I learn about MERCS, the more I love it!

Sync out.

First MERC Finished!

I've finished my first MERCS miniature - the CCC Yellow Jacket Trooper! I also finished the base coat on my next mini, the Incinerator - completed Trooper and WIP of Incinerator (click pics to enlarge):

The camera really helps bring out the imperfections. When I hold my Trooper in my hand I think he looks great - but the photos tell the story of my lack of smooth blending skills, which I attempt to hide with a simple dry-brush.
Well, I think the important thing is that I'm happy with mini. I think it looks great on the tabletop and on the shelf next to my computer. I follow a pretty standard painting strategy:
  1. Prime: as Yellow is a dominant color, I've primed with the Citadel Skull White
  2. Base Coat: see pics above. I usually don't spent too much time on the first base coat, as I do a touch up coat later...
  3. Washes: do all the washes for all the colors
  4. Touch-up: general clean up of the mini, going over pretty much everything that is NOT in the recesses with the original base coat color
  5. Dry-brush highlight: go over the whole mini with close-to-white colors. I've found that this gives the mini a worn, battle-weary, dull look which I've grown to like
  6. Clean-up: small touch-ups here and there where necessary
So I based my paint scheme on the scheme they've used on the MERCS website:

I never like using the absolute default paint scheme, simply because I believe personalising miniatures is one of the most interesting aspects of the hobby. What I usually do is take a good long look at the original, close the picture, then start painting my own mini. This leads to slight variations to the standard, or what I feel is my interpretation of the original concept.
Obviously my skill level in painting also changes the overall look of the mini - my inability for smooth color blends leads the mini to look more worn, as opposed to the picture above which looks brighter and much cleaner.
I did consciously add a red band on his leg, just to add a bit more punch to the mini. I quite like the way it turned out, so I'll do that with the rest of the squad and keep it consistent.

I'm still unsure as to what to do with the basing - the basing I'm most comfortable with is dirt, rocks and rubble. That wouldn't really the suit the battleground I've created though (see my last blog) so I'll think on that for a while.

Sync out.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Battleground Finished!

Using the Toposolitario papercraft terrain and cargo containers, I was able to finish my battleground in just one and a half days!

The terrain and cargo containers have been made to compliment each other, so the overall effect is a shipyard or cargo hold area - which I think fits in pretty well with the possible scenarios for MERCS. Here are the completed pics:

Considering the effort to outcome ratio, it's awesome. I printed out all the PDFs at work, and spent around $20 on materials ($5 foamboard on special!, $6 cardboard, $3 clear self-adhesive book-cover, $4 double-sided sticky-tape) which I got all from a local art-shop. Everything all up took less than one and a half days to put together.

Cargo Containers
I made 24 cargo containers, all lined with cardboard so that they would be able to support the weight of metal minis. The cargo containers are based on the same 5 amazing designs, with 6 different colors to choose applied to them (check out the PDFs here). Since I made so many, the possible combinations for gameplay layout seem endless. Here's the breakdown of my process:
1) Cut all 24 stencils, using a hobby knife, metal ruler and cutting board - I tried it with scissors first, but using the knife was a LOT faster and my cuts were cleaner.
2) I cut 24 cardboard liners for inside the cargo containers for some strength (there's no way the paper stencils alone would be able to hold metal minis on top of them), again using the hobby knife. This took a bit of trial and error in terms of measurements and getting the papercraft cargo stencils to fit over the cardboard boxes I cut.
3) I fixed all the papercraft cargo containers to their cardboard liners - this was better done with sticky-tape, as I found the glue curled the paper that the stencils were printed on.

I stuck the terrain to a solid foamboard, then covered the entire surface in clear self-adhesive book-cover (which I needed my wife's help to do). This is to prevent the paper tiles from fraying - without some kind of protection, moving minis around the board would've degraded the surface.
Note that again I used double-sided sticky tape, as I found that glue dampened and curled the paper.
If you look at the design of the terrain surface you'll see it's a repeating pattern - you can extend its size by just repeating the sequence of terrain tiles again. I think that's REALLY awesome - props to the creator!
For the 2'x3' gameboard I made, I actually had to shave off some of the edges - so I didn't need to take advantage of the repetitive design.

With the left-over materials, I'll probably look at crafting some low-walls (for cover) and bridges (to plank across cargo containers) to add some extra depth to my battleground. I'll get to back to terrain a little later though, it's about time I got stuck into painting my MERCS!

So for now, that's my battleground complete - easy, cheap and quick all thanks to Toposolitario!

Sync out.

Getting into MERCS

Artwork from the MERCS website

I have joined the cause! I've made the decision to commit to MERCS. At this point, I know very little about the mechanics of the game, but I do know:
  • There is a maximum of 5 models from each player on the board at once.
  • Games are played on boards of 2'x3', or 3'x3'
So with what little information I had, and my self-induced excitement driving me, I set off to prepare for MERCS!


After joining the MERCS forums, asking a few questions and reading some battle reports, I decided I would start with the CCC Yellowjackets. They struck me as the Space Marines of MERCS - good all-rounders, which would be forgiving for beginners. After ordering a squad of them (and their cards), I was happy to find that postage from a local distributor was much faster than I was used to! After only 3 days of waiting, I had received my squad! After priming them, I'd been left with the decision as to how to paint them. I prefer to totally customise my own paint schemes, but decided to go with the standard CCC Yellow Jackets color scheme:

More awesome artwork from the MERCS website

Although I'll probably add some changes to personalise them a little bit. Here's an unboxing on youtube - my unboxing experience was somewhat similar, except it involved me bouncing around the house causing general annoyance to my wife.

Both the models and the ordering/shipping process were above my expectations - I ordered from Defiant Gaming in case any Aussies were interested, so I'll be placing all future orders from them and would definitely recommend them. The following day I decided I would grab the rulebook and another squad, but how lady luck did favor me that morn! On my daily troll of the local wargaming forum I came across someone looking to sell a squad+cards and rulebook (NIB) for a very fair price! I jumped on his offer and now I'm eagerly awaiting the USCR squad and rulebook in the mail (for anyone interested, here is a video on the contents of the rulebook).

Artwork for the USCR squad

So, that's the models and rulebooks sorted. I have enough models to get a game going without having to proxy any of my old 40K minis :) I'll be posting pics as the models are finished, though it'll probably take me a week or two to paint them all.

Gameboard and Terrain

I had always wanted to have my own gaming table at home, but because 40K uses 6'x4' game boards, this was not an option. MERCS, being played on 2'x3' gameboards, is entirely feasible! I don't really have much experience making terrain, so I asked questions on the MERCS forums (everyone on there is REAL helpful and friendly btw) and was lead to Toposolitario.

A battleground from Toposolitario

This guy is fantastic! From his papercrafting site, I downloaded and printed out his gameboard and then the IKUBE cargo containers to go with it. The IKUBE cargo containers when just folded from paper are not strong enough to hold a metal mini on top of them, so I'll be lining the interior with some cardboard.

So my gameboard and cargo container construction has begun, and I'll be posting the completed results when I'm done. I suspect that I'll need to make some low-walls too, but I'll read through some scenarios in the rulebook before worrying about making some.

So, I've got plently of things to do:
  1. Read up on the rulebook when it arrives
  2. Paint my minis! They look fan-freaking-tastic, I'm almost scared to paint them cause I might ruin them!
  3. Get to constructing my gameboard and terrain! Although Toposolitario has made this extremely cheap, quick and easy!
 Sync out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

From 40K to MERCS

In my opinion, the biggest problem with GW Wargames

I was initially attracted to 40K because it's the dominant sci-fi miniatures wargame (I'm totally into sci-fi miniatures, although I prefer fantasy novels/movies to sci-fi... go figure) and there are lots of players in my area, with a large online community for support. So after trying my hand at 40K, I've decided there are fundamental elements to game that do not suit my lifestyle. This statement is in no way derogatory towards 40K or it's players - it's a great game and the people I've had the pleasure of gaming/hobbying with over the past year are awesome. 40K is just not the game for me.

The biggest factors for me are the costs - both the financial cost, and the time spent getting an army ready for the tabletop. The gift of hindsight grants me the ability to assess my protocol when it comes to my 40K miniature wargaming. It goes something like this:
  1. Browsing through various forums and websites eventually leads to: "Wow, those look sweet! Gotta get me some of those!"
  2. This is followed by online research as to the playstyle of the army, searching through forums for tactica and sample army lists (this probably takes a week for me - between full-time work and family commitments).
  3. Then it's time to buy the army in bulk, in order to save on some of the financial costs, as shipping from the UK isn't cheap. So that'll probably be a AU$250 cash sink right there for the miniatures.
  4. Waiting for the miniatures to arrive. Coming from the UK, where it is significantly cheaper than buying from local retailers (this takes 3-4 weeks from the UK to Sydney, Australia). During this time my wandering eye usually piques my curiosity, and is likely that this entire protocol will trigger again from step 1 - resulting in a recursive loop of fail. This explains why I have four half-painted 40K armies sitting on my shelves and in boxes.
  5. The minis arrive! I usually aim to paint one mini a day, which means in an army with on average 50+ minis - this takes me well over a month, if not two. During this painting process I tend to get bored of the repetition, it is again entirely likely possible for step 1 to occur again - hence triggering more recursive fail.
  6. The army has been painted/based and is tabletop ready! Now, to get to the tabletop, I need an opponent and a venue (I don't have table big enough at home) - so it's off to the local gaming club! They meet once a fortnight, and should life-commitments take priority, it becomes entirely possible that I'll only get to play once a month. Once I'm on the table, the whole process seems like a really big anti-climax - which is probably completely my fault for having unrealistic expectations from the 3-4 months it took me to get to the table. I guess a lot of people in the hobby gain most of their enjoyment out of painting and preparing the army, as well as gaming with them. While I do derive a lot of enjoyment out of painting, with so many figures to paint, army painting really does take the joy out of it.
After a year of spending lots of time and money, I reassessed the hobby and decided it was time for a change. I guess my age is showing, and with full-time work and my family I just can't commit to army wargaming. So I ventured out into the world of skirmish wargaming. I thought that Skirmish wargames would solve a lot of the problems I had with 40K - the lower model counts meant that I could still paint and play, but with significantly less of the costs.
GW games definitely dominate the wargames around here, so I needed to find skirmish games that still had a following as I would still want a community to game with.
The first wargames I looked into were Warmachine/Hordes and Malifaux, as they seemed to have the largest followings in my area.  I bought some Warmachine models, but didn't really enjoy painting them. They're cool but steampunk didn't have a place in my heart that sci-fi would. I got a Maulifaux starter box, which I realised too late would have the same result as the Warmachine. I looked at the Inifinity models, and felt nothing. They're sci-fi, and there's nothing wrong with them, but they just didn't do it for me.

Then I came across MERCS ( Apparently, a rulebook had just come out and there was a small community growing in the States. One look at the models and I was drawn in - they just look fantastic.

The flagship MERCS squad - CCC Yellowjackets
KemVar squad

Reading the fluff was refreshing too - it wasn't the dark, grim future of 40K, but a relatively bright and properous future (even though it's one dominated by corporate greed). A bit of research into the game, and I found a LOT of my issues with 40K would be solved:
  • Low model count, which means a playable force would be significantly cheaper (around AU$60 for 5 models + game cards) and take a much shorter time to paint and get on the table.
  • I found a local retailer that sells the MERCS line at VERY competitive prices. This means no need for huge orders to save on postage, and postage time is 3 days instead of 3 weeks.
  • Encourages collecting multiple armies - with only 5-6 miniatures per faction, I could collect all the factions and it would still cost less than a 40K army, and also take less time to paint.
  • The games are played on a 2'x3' table - something I could host at my place, meaning I wouldn't need to wait for fortnightly club meets and arrange games according to my schedule.
  • Games are shorter, 60-90 minutes as opposed to the huge 3 hour affairs 40K is. This makes it easier to squeeze in a game after work or before heading out for the night. 
    After reading reviews, it seems the gameplay is overall easier than 40K, which has a lot of rules. This suits what I'm looking for in wargaming - a more casual game over a beer with mates :) This is what I want to get out of my hobby - something that suits casual players, with fun gameplay and that I can fit into my ever-decreasing free-time. Between the awesome models, and the relatively simple ruleset (or so I've read), I might even be able to get my non-wargaming mates into the game, and (fingers-crossed) the wife.

    So that leaves me with my ideal skirmish wargame, but without any other players in my area! I'm hoping that MERCS takes off around here - there have been a few threads here and there on local wargaming forums, and seeing as this a new wargame still heavily based in the States I'll have to wait and see how it pans out.

     I'm considering trying to establish a community here for MERCS myself, but seeing as I haven't even read the rulebook yet - that's something that I'll consider later. Worst case scenario, I'll have a bunch of sweet models sitting on my shelves, which I will thoroughly enjoy painting.

    Artwork from the MERCS website

    Sync out.