Wednesday, 23 November 2016

An Audience With The Queen #5 The Thorn

From you have I been absent in the spring, 
When proud pied April, dressed in all his trim, 
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing. 
William Shakespeare (Sonnet 98, 1-3)


The third and final of Titania's most trusted elite guards is connected thematically with spring. Once again, choosing different shades of green for a vivid, but cohesive color scheme was a big challenge for me. I wanted to make sure she isn't too similar to the Tooth at first glance. The model itself is
Her stats are the same as other Autumn Knights. One thing worth noting is that her attack seems more potent as it has a very good range od 3' and ignores armor. There are also two (0) actions that allow her to push opponents towards her or push herself towards friendly scheme marker.

Ostatnia z trójki najbardziej zaufanej elitarnej gwardii Titanii jest tematycznie związana z wiosną. Po raz kolejny wybranie jaskrawej i zarazem spójnej kolorystyki okazało się dla mnie sporym wyzwaniem. Chciałem, żeby na pierwszy rzut oka nie była zbyt podobna do Zęba. Sam model jest bardzo ładnie zaprojektowany a kwieciste ozdoby tylko dodają jej charakteru.
Jej staty są takie same jak u pozostałych Jesiennych Rycerzy. Warto zauważyć, że jej atak wydaje się bardziej efektywny dzięki bardzo dobremu zasięgowi 3 cali oraz temu, że ignoruje pancerz. Dodatkowo są jeszcze 2 akcje za (0), które pozwalają jej pushować wrogie modele do niej lub samej przesunąć się w kierunku przyjaznego scheme markera.


Here's one that has a spring vibe to it:


Shaq Uncut



Shaquille O'Neal has always been my favorite player. His skills and his personality on and off the court were things I admired. He was one of the most dominant centers to have ever played the game. His considerable size, together with fierceness under the rim, made life hard for others guarding him. 
"Shaq Uncut" is written very well and it becomes clear early that it's a Shaq novel. You just can't imitate this unique style. It's not only about the swagger, Shaq has a talent for making his statements short, witty, and to the point.
Shaq's years in the Orlando Magic was my favorite period in the NBA. I followed each of their games closely and was very disappointed when they came up short against Houston in the finals. Reading Shaq's take on this part of his career was interesting as it gave me more insights into what was happening behind the scenes. Obviously, there will always be tensions between team members but I had no idea about how divided this talented team was. According to Shaq's version, there was nothing racist about it, but most of the black players kept their own company whereas the white ones (led by a veteran Scott Skiles) had nothing to do with them. They didn't have much in common and I can easily imagine now how it must have affected the team both on professional and personal level.
A significant part of the book deals with Shaq's relations with Kobe. When I compare it to Jackson's version, I can see many similarities but it seems to me that Shaq finds it a bit too easy to distance himself from this conflict. He isn't really critical of himself but he stresses the fact that his children loved uncle Kobe and seemed to root for him more than for their dad. 
Shaq has a larger than life personality and he's become famous for his shenanigans off the court. It was interesting to read about his motivations. Also, as O'Neal matured, he became more sensible with his fortune and started investing it wisely. His thoughts on promoting products and his approach to establishing a brand were quite refreshing too.
In terms of facts from Shaq's life, there weren't many surprises for me here. However, there were numerous fascinating little tidbits about relations between players, many anecdotes, and lots of "behind the curtains" insights. To my mind, that is precisely what makes books like this one so interesting.

Friday, 11 November 2016

An Audience With The Queen #4 The Tooth

Though she be but little, she is fierce!
William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

The Tooth is another of Titania's Autumn Knights (I guess sex doesn't matter in Malifaux) and she is connected with the season of Summer. She brings pretty much the same options to the table as The Claw does. The only difference is a (0) action that can force an enemy to be pushed towards her, hit her once, and be hit once in return. Situational, but I guess it might work under some circumstances.
Painting this model meant one thing - stepping out of my comfort zone with color choices. I don't normally use bright green shades so this was a bit of a challenge for me. I try to make sure it's easy to notice which season each Knight is connected with. I hope this one will be easy to recognize.


Ząb to kolejna z Jesiennych Rycerzy Titanii (płeć chyba nie ma znaczenia w Malifaux), a jej tematyczną porą roku jest Lato. Do gry wnosi praktycznie to samo co Szpon. Jedyną różnicą jest akcja za (0), która zmusza przeciwnika do przysunięcia się w jej kierunku i zadania jednego ataku, tylko po to żeby odpowiedzieć na to atakiem wręcz. Ciężko ocenić użyteczność tej akcji, ale w pewnych sytuacjach może okazać się przydatna.
Malowanie tej figurki oznaczało przede wszystkim jedną rzecz - opuszczenie strefy komfortu w kwestii wyboru kolorów. Nie używam na co dzień tak jasnych odcieni zieleni, więc było to spore wyzwanie. Staram się, żeby od razu było widać z jaką porą roku jest związana dana postać. Mam nadzieję, że tutaj nie będzie problemów z rozpoznaniem.



And to finish off, what can be better than 30 minutes of solid atmospheric black metal.


Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success


Phil Jackson is another iconic figure that I consider one of the most prominent in the history of NBA. His calm demeanor has always impressed me and his legendary attitude to coaching has molded many talented players into true stars.
"11 Rings" is actually about much more than basketball. Jackson recalls his experience both as a player and as a coach and offers fascinating insights into his relations with other players. He describes each championship run from his own unique perspective; the way he dealt with conflicts, media, attitude problems and his (often unorthodox) methods of building team spirit. The book gave me a new perspective on many events that I followed and now I perceive some players as more complex whereas some other seem much less heroic.
Jackson's work with the likes of Jordan, Rodman, Bryant or O'Neal required him to use all his psychological and philosophical as he was trying to establish good relationship with each of them. On a purely practical level, his unusual methods have brought him record-breaking eleven championship rings. However, on a deeper level he was able to make many players not only better on basketball court, but also in their everyday lives. From this perspective, a lot about HR management, PR, etc. can be learnt from his story. I particularly enjoyed his method of "controlled improvisation" and after giving it some thought came to a conclusion that I could describe my approach to work similarly.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

An Audience With The Queen #3 Winter is coming

Now is the winter of our discontent 
Made glorious summer (...)
William Shakespeare, "Richard III"


Titania's Autumn Knights are her elite personal guard. They are armored by forest itself, with bark, branches, and vines wrapped around their bodies. Out of all the Knights, three have become the most eminent. Each of these is connected with different season of the year (apart from Autums, this one is reserved for the Queen) and the Claw walks the path of winter.
Painting him wasn't easy as I had to figure out a way to make his armor look like bark and avoid overly plain colors there. I added some snow effects to play with his theme and slightly break the dark shade there. I also made sure that his weapon looked like The Winter spear.
Like the other Knights, the Claw is a true tank. With Armor +1 and Hard to Wound +1 his average Df of 5 and relatively low number of wounds don't look bad.  He also forces enemies activating close to him to perform a TN 13 Wp duel, and get Slow when failing.  The Claw can also use one of his (0) actions to either push enemy into base contact with him (and get - to Df on a trigger), or to discard a card and push 4' into base contact with a Scheme Marker. Claw's offense looks solid with a Ml 2'/Rg 8' initial value of 6. The triggers allow him to place Scheme Markers and gain benefits if there are friendly ones near him.


Jesienni Rycerze to elitarna gwardia Titanii. Ich pancerzem jest sam las, co widać po korze, gałęziach i pnączach, które ich oplatają. Spośród wszystkich Rycerzy, troje wyróżniło się szczególnymi osiągnięciami. Każdy z nich jest związany z inną porą roku (poza Jesienią, ta jest zarezerwowana dla Królowej), a sam Szpon wędruje ścieżką zimy.
Malowanie nie było łatwe, musiałem wymyślić jak sprawić, żeby pancerz wyglądał jak kora i nie był przy tym zbyt jednolity.  Dodałem trochę efektów śniegu, żeby nieco rozbić ciemną kolorystykę. Postarałem się też, żeby jego broń wyglądała naprawdę jak Zimowa Włócznia.
Tak jak pozostali Rycerze, Szpon jest prawdziwym twardzielem. Armor +1 i Hard to Wound +1 sprawiają, że jego przeciętny Df 5 i stosunkowo mała liczba ran nie wyglądają tak źle. Dodatkowo, wymusza na pobliskich wrogich modelach test Wp13, a porażka oznacza spowolnienie.  Szpon może też użyć jednej ze swoich akcji za (0) aby przysunąć przeciwnika do swojej podstawki (i wręczyć mu - do flipów na Df przy odpowiednim triggerze) lub zrzucić kartę z ręki i przesunąć się 4 cale do przodu w kierunku Scheme Markera.
Ofensywne umiejętności wyglądają solidnie z dwucalowym Ml lub 6 calowym Rg o bazowej warości 6. Triggery pozwalają na wykładanie Scheme Markerów lub czerpaniu korzyści, jeśli cel jest w pobliżu jednego z nich.




Friday, 28 October 2016

The Couple Next Door



Appearances are all too often deceptive. I wrote this about one of the previous books I read, but in "The Couple Next Door" this theme seems to be even more prevalent.
A young couple visits their next door neighbors for a late dinner. They decide to leave their infant daughter at home and they take a baby monitor with them. As the dinner prolongs, they take shifts in checking on the baby. Nothing unusual happens until they return home and realize that a serious crime has been committed.
As new facts are revealed in the investigations, surprising twists in the plot make the action more dramatic. New facts about the protagonists are revealed, and their motivations seem to start making sense only to lose it again after new details are revealed. It is a very well designed narrative. The moment everything begins to start making sense, a new dynamic is added that adds a new level of complexity. 
I found it hard to put it away as I was sucked into the story. It is very well written, often surprises the reader, and has one of the best final lines I've even seen in a novel.
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