Posted in Alex, Gaming, Mommy, Olie, Papa, Reggie, Reviews

Review: Assasin’s Creed

I can’t say I was a real aficionado of the game series: I knew the game, and honestly loved its aesthetics, but I’m not aware of all the details. I had great hopes for the movie though. C’mon: a brotherhood of assassins in stunning costumes, doing parkour among historic monuments… what’s not to like?

So, we went to see Assassin’s Creed. The movie is enjoyable, even if I regret that they don’t explain the Animus technology a bit more. For example, I didn’t understand the technology was in the hands of the Templars, and that the assassins were basically guinea pigs, a tool to retrieve the location of the “Apple of Eden”, because that is not the case in the games. The story deviates also on several points:

Reggie noticed the Animus machine is not the same as the game (where it is just a chair, and that, if we were in Spain, the character should be Altair, not Aguilar.

Olie (who is a real fan of the games) found the fighting scenes really cool and well choreographed, but the “intro”, with the eagle flying, when going to the Animus a bit draggy and useless. In the game, you suddenly become the character, which is better.

We all agree that the movie was aesthetically fantastic:

Reggie thought the parkour and fight scenes were good and that the costumes looked a lot like the second game: elegant and powerful.

For Alex, the décors were excellent: especially during the scene where Cal escapes for the first time and ends up on the ledge of the balcony overseeing Madrid. 

Geek Mommy thought that the fact that they visually stayed very similar to the games for the parkour and fight scenes was a very good point.

Geek Daddy agrees with everybody, but found that the décors of Spain were a bit too dusty, and that the monuments were not as central as they can be in the game. You see a ledge here, a cornice there, but basically, the characters are just jumping in a big dust cloud.

Negative comments are not easy to find though, but they mostly focus on Marion Cotillard’s performance:

Geek Mommy found her acting very monotonous, and Alex thought her dilemma (following her Father’s way or helping the Assasins) was not clear. During the whole movie she acts as if she doesn’t want to become a Templar or that she dislike her Father (who seems more a way to finance her research), but as soon as her Father dies, her only idea seems to get revenge…

We tried to find some Easter Eggs:

  • Reggie says that behind the “new” Animus, we could see the original, game accurate one.

  • When all the ancestors appear to The hero, we can see one character from every game

  • For Olie, the costumes were nice, but most hoods lacked the curve on the forehead, that is so distinctive of all AC’s characters…

In general, a good movie. Reggie gives it 10/10 and Olie a 8/10. Alex liked the fact that the movie keeps all details and logic fitting together : it is a world on its own. Geek Mommy is eagerly waiting for a part 2!

(All pictures are property of 20th Century Fox)

Posted in Alex, Built, Gaming, Olie, Papa

Warhammer modular board 3×3 (part 2)

You remember my little Part 1 for this built…

Summary of the previous episode: cut foam, sculpt foam, paint, glue the grass and foliage… (Long story, VERY short…). I have been asked how we put the grass, so I will give you a bit more details this time: dilute some glue and spread it, using a brush, on the zones where you want your grass to grow. 

You can do it little by little, in small areas, no need to cover the whole tile at one go. Sprinkle generously the fake grass and wait for a while, the fibers must absorb some of the glue (a minute or 2 are enough). Then, you shake the excess on a newspaper (in order to be able to gather and re-use it later). You can do the whole board like that, and then arrange your bushes, trees and others features!

Over the river, we built some little bridges with toothpicks and glue, so the warriors would be able to cross without getting wet…

So, basically, we had our 9 tiles ready and looking like a nice little part of the Shire. I noticed that the boards didn’t stay together very well, and knowing my zouzous, this would mean the game would be quite messy in just a few minutes. I therefore looked for an idea to stabilise all this. Magnets came to my mind (after all, they can be put together and separated quite easily), and I looked into this. As you know, magnets have a positive and a negative side (“North” and “South”), and it was not a good thing when you want to position the boards in a number of configurations: what if 2 South were in front of each other? The board would have moved on its own… not good…

That’s when it stroke me: if each tile side has a positive on the left AND a negative side on the right, they would always attract each other, regardless of the position of the juxtaposed tile…

I’m not sure I am very clear here, but hopefully you will understand in a few minutes… (if not, drop me a line, I’ll explain)

Basically, I needed magnets. Lots of magnets. 9x4x2=72 to be precise. As usual, we went to Daiso, and bought 75 magnets for $10… ok, they came in colourful and decorative plastic shells, but with a good pair of plyers and a bit of patience, we ended up with the magnets alone.

Now, please take your magnets and mark all the positive sides (or negative, I’ve never been able to tell them apart…). Whatever side you chose, you must mark the SAME side on every single magnet. A good trick is to stick all of them together, and, starting on one side of the “worm”, mark the side that is at the edge. You remove that magnet and do the same on the next one, and so on…

Now, on the side of each tile, trace a line in the center and mark 2 spots, exactly 2.5cm away from each edge.

Make a whole on each spot and place 2 magnets: one with the positive side up on he right, and one with the negative side up on the left. Repeat this on every side of each tile, and be careful not to invert your magnets!!

Once everything is in place, you just have to cover the sides of the tiles with a nice piece of duct tape, that will not only hold the magnets into place, but also give your tiles a nicer finish than the raw foam…

Once in a while, confirm that the tiles are ok and attract each other when placed side to side. The tiles come into place together, but you can remove them easily. This should be perfect for a nice game.

On the sides with the river, i cut the tape so the light can go through the “water”.

And on the sides with mountains, I added some tape at the back of the rocks to complete the finish.

And there you have it!!! Once this tedious process is completed on all 9 tiles, you can put them together in any configuration you want and start to play!!! Hope you have a good time!!!

As for us, the kids need to finish painting their armies before we can really enjoy a game! A little more patience, and we will be there!

Posted in Alex, Built, Gaming, Olie, Papa, Reggie

Warhammer modular board 3×3 (part 1)

During STGCC 2016, the kids fell in love with Warhammer. They had a workshop where you could learn how to paint a figurine (I think they went there 3 times) and, by the end of the Con, we had spend a hefty amount on 3 armies, paints and related accessories…

They have been assembling their armies and are very near completion (Maybe I’ll do another post about painting these little dudes). Being the “Geek Daddy” that I am, I couldn’t let them play on a simple table, and decided they needed a board with a real fantasy terrain to play seriously. “Do or do not, there is no try” and all that sort of things…

So, I started studying how to make a board. From most videos found on YouTube, it quickly appeared it would be waaaaaaay more fun to do a modular board (so no battle would be the same). I therefore went to buy some supplies, which cost me an additional amount around $150 (I had a few things already, so it is difficult to put an exact figure). This seemed like a reasonable amount for the luscious board we had in mind… Sooooooo, let me walk you through the process, from start to finish.

We started with some slabs of blue foam (60×120) that we divided into 30×30 squares. We needed 9 of those. I would recommend using a table saw for this, but, as we don’t have one, we tried with a cutter knife, trying to be as straight as possible. I know the tiles will not be as neat and fitting, but we decided that it would be ok. As one of my workshop teacher (I dunno if they still teach that, and it is a pity) would say “let’s not be more royalist than the king himself”, so, if there is a little gap here or there, we will just play pretend…

We needed to sand a bit the edges though, as some tiles were not really fitting nicely. Try a few combinations, sand everything that stands out, and you should be ok.

Then came the planning part: what kind of terrain formations would be on our board? After a quick doodle, we opted for a mountain (divided into 4 tiles), a river (divided into 3 tiles) and 2 flat tiles. They can be arranged in a number of combinations that promise different battles almost to no end (and if we have any leftover, we can always do another tile or 2 to increase the possibilities exponentially). So, we started sculpting, gluing, digging, reusing every piece of scrap to make cliffs, hills, river, and other relief features.

We used a kind of wood GAP filler to add extra features and create a smooth transition between our stones and the flat land.

The initial structure was there, and we needed to make it look beleivably real now… Reggie wanted a lava trench and lunar craters, but the other 2 explained to him that the ambiance of the game was more attuned to LOTR, so we decided for a “Shire” kind of finish…

We started by painting the soil in brown and the rocks in black (our base Color). All this was done in acrylic paint.

Then, by a series of dry-brushing, we gave our stones a light gray tint, with almost white highlights.

The bed of the river was given a green shadow, with some dark and light areas, to simulate depth. Come to think of it, if I had to redo it, I would put the dark in the center and the light on the edges, closer to the banks. The river should be deeper in the center after all…

At that stage, the board is already playable, if you are ok with a Martian landscape.

Now comes the part with the fake grass!!! The kids were like “Dad, what are you doing with packets of marijuana???”, but I explained to them it was flocking and miniature trees… I still wonder where they get all this… It gets me worried and amazed at the same time…

I diluted a bit of pva glue and soaked all the areas with grass. Poured the basic grass everywhere, especially on the edges of each tile (after all, we don’t want a straight line in our landscape). And, I gathered whatever was falling for use in the next tile. The green grass covers nicely the brown of the soil, and you still can see a bit through it, which gives a very realistic look. Then, around the stones, I applied (with normal pva glue, full power) some under bushes, lychens and miniature trees.

The “Shire” was starting to look like something!!! 

Now, call me stingy, but I didn’t want to use the official “water effect” product sold by hobby stores to fill our river…. It cost an arm and a leg, and the idea was also to do this on a Budget…. So, I turned to my trusty Daiso 2-parts epoxy glue. At $2 per packet, it is unbeatable… 

I started by blocking the edges with scotch tape, to get a “mold” of some sorts.

I used 3 packets per tile (the river draws an elbow shape on each tile). I mixed everything and poured generously in the river bed.

Now, this is something I didn’t know (because I always mix small quantities of epoxy glue), but, in these large quantities, epoxy gives a VERY EXOTHERMIC reaction…. Once I poured the whole thing in the first part of the river, it started to smoke (!), reaching temperatures I wouldn’t imagine!!!! I was, of course, scared that the whole tile would melt, but in the end nothing happened. There are a lot of bubbles appearing though, so, if you go for a “quiet lake” kind of look, this is probably not for you.

The final effect is not too bad, and I must say I am happy with it. 

I will do a part 2 to this post, with the finishing touches.

Thanks for reading!!