Tuesday 27 December 2016

Jaakuna Ubume

This one one of the few miniatures that actually made me feel uncomfortable while I was working on it. It's basically a resculpt of the old metal version with better proportions and more attention paid to detail. Well, apart from one problem with her robe close to the girl's head on her back - looks like something went wrong there during the casting process... The design is just gruesome. An old, creepy lady looks like she's summoning four drowned from beneath the water and at the same time she's gently hugging a small girl...
I used vivid colors on Jaakuna's robe and girl's dress as they form the centre of the whole piece here. A plastic insert with all the details comes in a box so I didn't have to do much on her base. I finished it off with some Vallejo Still water mixed with blue ink for the glossy effect.
Her abilities in game can make life unpleasant for the opponent. She can surround herself with hazardous terrain and lure opponents into it. I haven't faced her in an actual game yet but I don't look forward to doing it.

Fight Club

I remember watching film adaptation of this novel several years ago. I was impressed by the relentless pace, seemingly random camera work and an underlying atmosphere of madness. 
I had the same feelings when I finally reached for Palahniuk's work. Knowing the story (I do remember the film very well despite seeing it only once years ago), I paid more attention to elements that indicate deteriorating mental state of the protagonist. I have to admit they're interwoven with the plot really well. At the same time I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the anger and negativity present throughout the whole novel. Getting through it wasn't easy but in the end I felt good about it and found new level of appreciation for the film adaptation.

The House on Cold Hill

A family moves into an old country house and soon they find out that it is haunted by an evil presence. Furniture moves on its own, strange whispers and screams can be heard at night, sightings of a mysterious old lady are reported... Soon their life becomes a nightmare and they begin a desperate fight for survival.
Sounds familiar? It should, as those are the elements that can be found in every other horror story. While Peter James uses them pretty well, he has nothing unique of his own to add to this standard. I was waiting for something to happen that wouldn't follow the standardized pattern of horror stories like these but was quite disappointed. Also, I found it hard to get involved in a story in which ghosts use computers and mobiles to freak people out. Some interesting twists were added in teh final section of the novel but for me it was too little and too late.

Sunday 25 December 2016

An Audience With The Queen #7 Titania

Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.
William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer's Night Dream"

Titania ruled the Fae in the ancient Malifaux. She was instrumental in the fight against Tyrants, but was betrayed by her own people who feared her rising power. She returns from imprisonment to Malifaux and quickly finds that her world has changed.
Titania brings something new to Neverborn - a fairly resilient master who can withstand some punishment, relying on Scheme Markers and auras. I haven't played any games with her yet so at this point I can't really say much about how she actually works in game. I hope to test her soon but I still need to paint Performers and Sorrows.
Painting her was fun, especially choosing different shades of white for her tattered skirt and flesh. I wanted it to have slightly purplish, unnatural look. The main challenge was attaching her to the base as I had to drill through her very thin legs before I pinned the model.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 offers an interesting view on how post-apocalypse world can look like. Instead of deserts scorched by the Sun and empty cities, we have a society of metro stations that function as independent states. Out of those, powerful factions emerge and fight for dominance in this underground world. 
The main character, Artyom, was born before the nuclear holocaust that forced people to live in the metro. He was miraculously saved from an invasion of rats that destroyed the population of his station. Now he lives on the VDNKh station with other survivors. The station is suffering from increasing attacks by creatures known as the Dark Ones. It is soon revealed that their appearance is probably connected with Artyom and his friends' illegal visit to the surface. The protagonist meets a man named Hunter, who tells him to seeks the legendary station of Polis if he fails in returning from his quest to gather more information about the Dark Ones. Soon after that Artyom sets off on a quest that will enable him to meet representatives of different stations and experience the worst that the metro has to offer.
I enjoyed reading descriptions of various factions spread throughout this underground universe. Their different cultures, styles of living and problems they faced were described in a very interesting way. However, what I didn't much care for was how the action was moved forward. It seemed to me that everything in this book is action-driven. There is some kind of scheme as Artyom arrives at a new place, struggles and just about he is to die, a miraculous rescue happens. It felt too far fetched after the first time and each successive situation like this one only decreased the suspense and any traces of credibility of the story for me. I liked the ending as it was ambiguous, but I don't think I will be reading more novels from this universe.

Tuesday 20 December 2016

An Audience With The Queen #6 Aeslin

I am that merry wanderer of the night.
William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer's Night Dream"

Aeslin is Titania's chief adviser and a model that I don't think I will ever field in an actual game...
She has some abilities similar to the Autumn Knights (mainly Hard to Wound + 1 and The Course of Autumn, which causes all engaged enemy models to perform a Wp 13 duel or gain Slow). Aeslin is an Expert in Casting and can discard a nearby friendly Scheme Marker to avoid randomization while firing into engagement. 
Her attack actions don't have an impressive damage spread but they allow her to place more Scheme Markers (and Titania and her friends like them a lot) or put Slow on enemies. She has two (0) actions, one of which allows her to discard a friendly Scheme Marker and force a - to all Ca duels on all enemy models within 6'. The other one may be very useful under some specific circumstances as it makes all friendly models within 6' immune to pushes and makes it impossible to place them as a result of enemy actions. Overall, Aeslin has decent synergy with the rest of the themed crew but I will probably still choose Widow Weaver over her as those -1 to Wp duels should make Titania's crew more efficient.
As far as painting goes, there isn't really much to write about. The major part of her model consists of a tree bark-like armor and there is only some skin showing. Despite that, for some reason I struggled with painting this miniature. Anyway, she is finally ready and I can start working on Titania.

Aeslin to główna doradczyni Titanii i figurka której pewnie nigdy nie użyję w grze...
Ma umiejętności podobne do innych Jesiennych Rycerzy (przede wszystkim Hard to Wound +1 i Jesienna Klątwa, wywołująca test Wp 13 u wszystkich związanych z nią w walce przeciwników - nieudany test oznacza Slow). Aeslin jest ekspertką w rzucaniu czarów i może odrzucić pobliski Scheme Marker, żeby nie losować celu strzelając do walczących w zwarciu modeli.
Jej ataki nie mają imponujących obrażeń, ale pozwalają jej położyć więcej Scheme Markerów (a Titania i jej przyjaciele bardzo to lubią) lub też nałożenie Slow na wrogie modele. Posiada również dwie akcje za (0). Jedna z nich pozwala jej na odrzucenie Scheme Markera położonego wcześniej przez przyjazny model i wywołanie - do wszystkich pojedynków na Ca u przeciwnika. Druga może być potencjalnie bardzo przydatna w pewnych okolicznościach, ponieważ daje wszystkim modelom z ekipy w promieniu 6 cali odporność na pushe i przestawienia modeli w wyniku akcji przeciwnika. Podsumowując - Aeslin ma niezłą synergię z resztą tematycznej ekipy ale i tak pewnie będę zamiast niej wybierał Widow Weaver ponieważ to -1 do Wp powinno sprawić, że cała ekipa będzie funkcjonowała bardziej efektywnie.
Jeśli chodzi o malowanie to nie ma tak naprawdę dużo do napisania. Główna  część modelu to koro-podobny pancerz, spod którego wystaje tylko trochę skóry. Pomimo tego, z jakiegoś powodu zmagałem się z malowaniem figurki. Najważniejsze, że jest już gotowa i mogę w końcu zająć się Titanią.

The Power of Habit

I've been interested in neurodidactics for a while now so when I heard about this book I was immediately sold. I picked "The Power of Habit" mainly out of curiosity but reading it was an interesting and rewarding experience. Charles Duhigg, New York Times business reporter, deals with the issue of habit forming and changing using a down to earth approach.
Many individual cases as well as wider studies are presented and reflected on in order to deepen the understanding of how this phenomenon works. Duhigg also writes about various habits within well structured organizations and goes through different stages that take place as these change. I found his observations very insightful and potentially useful for my work. Duhigg's book also encourages to look critically at many aspects of commercialized culture.
According to the author, in order to change a habit (both on individual and global level), three stages must take place:
1. There must be a cue that triggers certain action.
2. An action must be repeated every time the cue happens.
3. There must be some kind of reward at the end.
This observation, along with many other, may be seen as some kind of common general knowledge but an in-depth look he offers is intriguing and thought-provoking. 


Roadwork is another "rainy day" book by Stephen King. He even stresses it in the introduction that Bachman books were written during dark days with dark weather, whereas the King ones were created on regular days. As always, themes of social in justice, anger and frustration, are prevalent. 
The main character, Dawes, is adamant in his resolution not to leave his home and make room for a new road to be built. He understands that conventional methods won't help him, so he decides to go to extremes in his last stand.
The novel is short, but I didn't really find it compelling and felt completely detached emotionally from the problems described in it. Somehow Bachman's tone of narration makes it hard for me to get more involved in the story.
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