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Review: A-Case Magnetic Painting Grip

Painting holders… love them or hate them, am I right? Personally, due to sheer quantity of miniatures that go through my desk I’m used to paint miniatures mounted on shot glasses. Standard painting grips are bulky and take up too much space, not to mention price and need of at least few dozen of these to keep up a comfortable work flow. This is why I was never truly interested in any Painting Grips available in the market… until now!


Magnetic Painting Grip

A-Case is a well known, one-man company from Poland, specializing in probably the best magnetic carrying cases for miniatures that money can buy. Let me put this up front: I am a big fan of A-Case product line and grew tight with the company. I might be a bit biased here. That being said I try my best not to get influenced by sympathy for A-Case, to a point of being very sceptic about any new product lines. Luckily I got samples for thorough beta testing. After some brutal, ruthless hobbying, I can honestly say all my misgivings got put to rest. More so I grew fond of Magnetic Painting Grip to a point of pre-purchasing multiple sets and extensions and switching to work with it almost exclusively. 

Quality:

At first glance A-Case Magnetic Painting Grip (MPG) might put you off. A mix of stylish design with a rather unorthodox production method result in a feel far from popular Chinese plastic we all are used to. A huge advantage of 3d printing is being able to fully integrate magnets and metal plates within the body, leading to increased durability and comfort of work. Apart from visuals, which are highly impacted by bare metal plates* (see update below), the MPG feels great and I had no quality issues amongst multiple Grips and about a hundred exchangeable heads I currently possess.

 


Visuals:

I really dig the shape and visual aspect of the MPG. The mix of colors and texture, specific to 3d print, makes it look sturdy and fit hobbyist’s workspace nicely. My only beef is with bare metal plates* (see update below), which look out of place. Still, these are almost always hidden beneath a miniature so it’s not a big aesthetics issue. All the while bare metal means better magnet compatibility.


Functionality:

Here’s where MPG shines. Large integrated magnets combined with a variety of exchangeable heads makes it, in my opinion, the most interesting painting grip in the market. Different head shapes can be used to distinguish different painting levels, or mark units, which is paramount in bulk painting. Switching miniatures is fast and comfortable. Weight is balanced between light and solid further increasing the comfort of work. On the downside the MPG might be difficult to keep clean, but the same is true for all painting grips, regardless of material.
Additionally:

  • MPG is fully compatible with BluTack and similar miniatures mounting methods.
  • The exchangeable heads system is fully integrated with A-Case transportation cases allowing for some awesome transportation shenanigans.

After spending couple hundred hours painting Warhammer 40,000 miniatures with this thing in hand I can say it feels like made just for me. Goodbye shot glasses, as from now on the MPG is my go to tool.


Price:

Price wise the A-Case Magnetic Painting Holder comes close to competition, depending on how you look at things. With a set of five caps it definitely wins over multiples of other handles, but is less more expensive than its immediate competition of Redgrass Games:

  • A-Case Magnetic Painting Grip (5 caps and handle) comes at a price of approximately 30€
  • Games Workshop (single) is 9€
  • Green Stuff World (single) is 12,25€
  • Redgrass Games Painting Hangle bundle (5 caps and hangle) is 25,48€

*UPDATE:

As of November 2023 the item has seen some improvements. In response to users feedback the bare metal plates got exchanged for black powder coated beauties and new types of caps/heads got introduced as well.


Summary:

To sum things up: Magnetic Painting Grip is a brilliant design that fits, but is also not dependent on the “magnetic” theme of entire A-Case brand. MPG is comfortable and user friendly. It also is fully compatible with A-Case transportation cases which adds additional value. Based on feedback the item seen improvement and is currently my very favorite painting holder of all time. And I’m talking purchasing multiple, multiple copies level of favorite. I sincerely couldn’t recommend it enough.

What’s your opinion? Have you used one? Let me know in the comments.

Where to buy:

A-Case online store

Scarhandpainting

Review: Gamers Grass Laser Plants

Introduction:

Gamers Grass – is a Portuguese company producing a wide range of high quality basing accessories. For me Gamers Grass is a trustworthy, go to supplier of everything basing related. If you hadn’t had an opportunity to get to know their range, I recommend previous articles: Review: Gamers Grass Tufts, Review: Gamers Grass Flowers. Third time’s a charm and today I will go through GG’s innovative line of products: Laser Plants.


Quality:

For those of you who follow my articles it is a well known fact that I am a quality freak. When I choose tools and material to work with I always prioritize the very top of the line. At this point with dozens upon dozens of Gamers Grass products testes – I’m just positively biased towards their releases. Easy to say GG done it once again, introducing a high quality line of products that make me feel like a little kid coming to a hobby store for the first time. Everything looks breathtaking!

Hype aside, the quality is amazing. Prints are clean and on point, with crisp detail. Color depth looks great and each particular plant is well cut. The plants are much more durable than any paper counterparts found in the market and material is far less problematic than typical brass favored by modeling companies.


Visuals:

When it comes to visuals Gamers Grass Laser Plants look stunning. Nothing that I saw in the market can even compare. They are colorful, interesting, diverse and just beautiful. Ready to turn any base in to a small work of art.


Functionality:

I never was a fan of laser cut / etched plants. This is because although they fill a very specific niche in basing products, what used to be available in the market was never functional. Paper is difficult to work with and is susceptible to damage, etched brass plant are easy to form but also very easy to chip the paint off of. Both usually require painting, and it translates to a lot of time spent on painting something that is secondary to the actual miniature. Sure, there are some pre-painted paper plants available, but the quality of paint job is not that great and it is just too easy to break tiny stalks, ruining the base.

Here’s where Gamers Grass Laser Plants come in. Each plant is precisely cut from what seem to be a thin plastic sheet. They are easy to take out of the sheet and very – VERY – durable. Prints look great and are good to go from the moment of opening the box. No need for additional painting, although it can be done. One issue I found is repositioning the plants without creating hard angles, but after some testing I was able to produce good results by soaking the plants in hot water beforehand. These are really fun and easy to work with, which is not something I was expecting 🙂


Price:

Time to take in the price factor. I’ve done quick research and putting Etched Brass plants aside (as the market is full of these and price range is just too vast to compare) here’s how it looks like against immediate competition:

  • Gamers Grass is 6,95€/22 leaves of Bracken (pre-painted, plastic)
  • Green Stuff World is 6,50€/22 leaves of Fern (flat green, paper)

Summary:

I have a limited experience with laser cut / etched brass plants and all was rather disappointing. On the other hand Gamers Grass Laser Plants are very simple to use from the get go and look amazing. With stunning visuals these plants stand out amongst the competition and are fairly priced on top.
I might be a Gamers Gras shill at this point, but these plant are awesome and I appreciate the innovation.

What’s your opinion? Let me know in the comments.

Where to buy:

You can order through Gamers Grass official store, or try out your luck in a local hobby store. To make things easier for you, Gamers Grass prepared this awesome Store Locator.

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Review: Gamers Grass Flowers

Introduction:

Gamers Grass – is a Portuguese company producing a wide range of high quality basing accessories. For me Gamers Grass is a trustworthy, go to supplier of everything basing related. If you hadn’t had an opportunity to get to know their range, I recommend this article: Review: Gamers Grass Tufts. Now, all that introduction done, allow me to share my excitement over a new series of products: Flowers.


Quality:

Painting miniatures is my hobby, but is also my job. Good quality tools and products used for modeling can save a lot of time (and nerves). This is why I strive to use only the very best stuff. I’ve been working with Gamers Grass range for quite some time now and can honestly say they meet my high standards.

Flower beds are precisely shaped with base being thinner in a natural way. Not many stray stalks protrude out of the main body. These are all done very precisely. The bottom is covered with a strong adhesive, capable of sticking into a variety of surfaces. I have no negative feedback to give about these. Most importantly, due to a more natural shape and no powdering Gamers Grass flowers present themselves much better than competition. Just see below:


Visuals:

Visually Gamers Grass Flowers present themselves great. A palette of colors to choose from, some strong, some a bit pastele, makes the range fit into all variety of projects and styles. There’s also a variety of shapes which makes flowers look more natural. 


Functionality:

All flowers types are user friendly and there’s no quality difference between particular colors . There’s a clear separation between every piece on the sheet. Glue is strong and sticks to a range of different surfaces. There’s not many stray hair that require removal after application onto a base. Once used, flowers hold their shape nicely. Joy to work with. Additionally they come in two formats, one being four different colors packed into a single blister. This is a great way to get a lot of variety in a single cheap purchase, or a cool anniversary bouquet for your partner!


Exceptions:

I generally don’t expect modelling flowers to make a good impression. This is because usually they are messy and not very user friendly, dragging other beds out of the sheet alongside them, leaving powder everywhere etc. That being said, the Gamers Grass Flowers are awesome. Easy and Fun to use, clean, well shaped. Just awesome.


Price:

Time to take in the price factor. I’ve done quick research and here’s how it looks like against immediate competition:

  • AP 77/pack is 5,99€ translates into 7,78€/100 pieces
  • Paint Forge 50/pack is 3,56€ translates into 7,12€/100 pieces
  • GG 70/pack is 5,95€ translates into 8,5€/100pieces

It seems that Gamers Grass is the more expensive, even though not that much.


Summary:

To sum things up: I have tested about a dozen different suppliers in the past few years and compared to competitors, the Gamers Grass Flowers stand out both in quality and functionality. Visuals are great, range is wide. Price might use a tweak, but in my opinion the product is totally worth the extra. Also due to reality we now live in, more suppliers will probably increase their pricing throughout the year. Call me a sucker and a fanboy of the Gamers Grass range, but for me price is not a decisive factor when compared to such high quality!

What’s your opinion? Does quality top price or vice versa? Let me know in the comments 😉

 

Where to buy:

You can order through Gamers Grass official store, or try out your luck in a local hobby store. To make things easier for you, Gamers Grass prepared this awesome Store Locator.

Scarhandpainting

Review: Mantic Kings of War: Armada Ships

Mantic Games – a UK based company made up of hobby enthusiasts that brought about such titles as Deadzone, Kings of War and Warpath into the tabletop wargaming world. On top of that the company released some successful board game titles including Hellboy, The Walking Dead and DreadBall just to name a few. Just recently Mantic Games released a brand new Kings of War: Armada – a game of sea battles set in the already established world of Kings of War’s Pannithor. Today I would like to take you on a short cruise through two Armada sets – an Orc Booster Fleet and a Basilean Booster Fleet – to see how the miniatures present themselves straight from the box. Grab the railing and let’s set sail into the unknown!

I would like to move away from the usual Quality, Visuals, Functionality etc. review format. This time around I will go ship-by-ship with a summary at the end. Let’s get started!

Basileans:

First set to go is Basileans. I love the design of Basilean ships and decided this will be my main fleet. Purchased seven sets in total so you see I’m pretty serious about this. Anyhow – the design is great and each individual ship has a lot of character. Basilean ships seem a bit high fantasy, but also look realistic enough to feel like real ships. 

Gur Panther

Elohi

Slopes

Impressions:

Basilean set is impressive but not without issues. The Gur Panther and Slopes are of a very good quality with crisp detail, just few air bubbles. Elohi in the other hand turned out to be damaged (hull part missing one lantern) and with one mast below expected quality. Anything between bent and air bubbles I have no issues with. This is to be expected with resin models and is easy to deal with. Damaged parts and miscasts are something entirely else and I will be placing a complaint about the Elohi. I can’t stop but wander if this is a rare occurrence, or is this something Quality Control accepted as a valid product.

Orcs

Time for some Orcs! Amongst humans, dwarves and undead, the Orc ships stand out as ragtag, crude, scrap-built hulks. This seems classic Orcs, regardless of what game you’re coming from, and I like this about Mantic – they go “classic” a lot. 

Hammerfist

Blood Runner

Rabble Squadron

Impressions:

Except for one shifted casting sail and some bent masts, this set turned out to be of a very good quality. A lot of uneven detail clearly forced Mantic to divide the sculpts into more parts – some cannons and hull elements being packed on their own. Everything fits though and I can say this is the quality I would expect from such a set. No issue beyond standard miniature preparation to deal with.

Price:

Kings of War: Armada stuck me as a rather cheap to get into. With two players set priced at 90€, Booster and Starter Fleet both being 40€ and an additional large Ship being 20€ you’re looking at a pretty low entry point. You can get into the game for about 50€. Furthermore you can get to an entire fleet with backup models for about 100-150€ more. Seems very well priced for a full skirmish tabletop game experience.

Booster Fleet price of 40€ for four resin ships (six to be precise, but four playable miniatures) is a legit price, especially taking into account these are large resin miniatures. 

Summary:

I won’t lie – I’m totally biased towards this product. I’m hyped for the game to a point where I ordered couple sets on top of a huge pre-order, just to get them few days before the main order arrival. There are clearly some issues with particular parts which I hope will get resolved. Either way a rating is required of me thus on a scale where 10 is awesome, 8 is good, 6 is ok, 5 is mediocre, 3 is bad and I don’t want to even mention 1 – I’d say Kings of War: Armada Booster Fleet sets are a solid 8 plus. They rub on “awesome” and are of much higher quality than most resin miniatures I worked with up to now. What’s your thoughts? Is this rating fair, or do you disagree? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers!

Where to buy:

Mantic Online Store is the way to go. 

Alternatively if you’re from Poland – I highly recommend any of these two stores: Vanaheim / Minibitwa

Scarhandpainting

Review/Tutorial: AK Interactive Diorama Series

Introduction:


AK – Interactive – a Spanish company behind a well established series of products for modelers. They managed to become one of the most recognized brands in the modeling world with continuously evolving range of paints, brushes, weathering products and effects.  I have been a fan of their products for years now. Recently I decided to take another step and expand a range of  texture paints at my disposal. Knowing the quality of AK’s products and lured by sweet pricing I went berserk and got a lot of Diorama Series textures. 
Now I’m here to share my impressions. 

Usually I do the entire Quality, Visuals, Functionality thing. This time though I decided to take a different approach and just jump right into testing the actual products, with pictures taken at every step. Consider this to be a Review/Tutorial hybrid. I will share my thoughts in the summary, so no worries 😉

Terrains Asphalt

Very happy with this one. Not too grainy. Perfect coloration. Two steps process with a final touch of white markings airbrushed through a stencil. End result – very satisfactory.

Terrains Dark Earth

Say goodbye to sand on PVA glue! This puppy is now my favorite two-steps basing for fantasy miniatures!

Terrains Dry Ground

Would have never expected to go with such a color, but seeing the end result I’m getting strong Star Wars The Last Jedi / Mad Max Salt Planes vibes… many possibilities! 

Terrains Sandy Desert

No need to explain – just look at this! Two steps and your miniature is based on a desert!

Terrains Concrete

This one didn’t hit the mark for me. I expected a more paste-like, smooth surface. More of a Dark & Dry Crackle end result (below). Either way the product itself is solid, just not what I expected, thus once dried, I didn’t follow up on it. I plan to give it another go on my next project so who knows…

Dark & Dry Crackle Effects

This one required a third step to bring out the cracks as they are super tiny. The end result is very interesting. I’m sure that a mix with Dark Earth will bring magnificent results. Right now it looks like a trampled ground, or a road. Will definitely use.

Wet Crackle Effect

Well… not what I’ve expected. Tried few times, taking different routes. End result is pretty disappointing. So much so that I just skipped further work with this.

Light & Dry Crackle Effects

Now that’s “crackled”! Three steps and it looks great! I bet it would look even better with Terrain Dry Ground. Count me in babe! 

Impressions:

Working with these products was very comfortable. These are definitely high quality and very user friendly. I used a large brush to apply all the effects and simply cannot stress enough how great and easy it was! Growing up on Games Workshop’s products, moving onto these I felt like if I switched a worn out car for a new one, straight out of the factory! No more “fishing” for dry’ish conglomerates of grains to try and smear them onto a base. Nothing of the sort! Smooth. Great to use. Very easy. Zero stress. Just awesome! 
Now Wet Crackle Effect turned out to be a disappointment, but all the rest behaved as they should and brought awesome results. The rest is so good that I’m willing to give Wet Crackle a benefit of a doubt and assume I’ve used it incorrectly. Will go back to it at some point and try to bring forth it’s full potential. 

Other than that – these are pure gold! I love them. I will be working with them from now on and definitely prefer them over other products that I used until now. 

Price:

Price factor is very important, especially with paints. You know how it is – you spill half of it, then use up like a one third and the rest dries out 😛 Just kidding, still I’m sure we can all agree that for many hobbyists pricing matters a lot. Just take a look at this:

  • AK Interactive Sandy Desert 250ml = 8,95€ (10ml = 0,36€)
  • Vallejo Desert Sand 200ml = 8,5€ (10ml = 0,42€)
  • Games Workshop Armageddon Dust 24ml = 6,3€ (10ml = 2,62€)

What else is there to add? 🙂

Summary:

Except for the Wet Crackle, the AK – Interactive’s Terrains series is a solid 10/10. On top of being extremely easy to use and very efficient, the effects look great. Full recommendation on my end. 

I hope you enjoyed this little Review/Tutorial. Share your thoughts in the comments below. Cheers!

 

Where to buy:

You can get these straight from AK’s web store, or if you happen to live in Poland, go to a well equipped Vanaheim online store.

Scarhandpainting

Review: Gamers Grass Tufts

Introduction:

Gamers Grass – a Portuguese company focusing on delivering a wide range of basing accessories. Formed in 2015 by a group of hobbyists, Gamers Grass brought many interesting products to the market. Alongside well established Tufts, Flowers and Shrubs, their range consists of ready to use Bases, but also basing Bitz and very colorful Alien Tufts. It was the latter that drew my attention to Gamers Grass, which instantly resulted in some shopping. 
Now it’s few days after the delivery. I have thoroughly tested a range of Tufts/Shrubs/Flowers and done some research, hence I am ready to share my opinion with a wider public.

 

Quality:

As a full time miniatures painter I cannot allow myself to use products of questionable quality. This is why quality is the first thing I look out for when purchasing hobby related items.
That being said Gamers Grass Tufts and Flowers strike me as well thought through, top quality products. They are mostly precisely shaped, with near to none stray hair. Each Tuft has a bit of adhesive at the bottom and can be applied straight from the sheet. Adhesive strength is comparable with Army Painter’s tufts, so less “goo” than for example Paint Forge’s and GW’s, but perfect for my personal taste. I apply some Super Glue either way.
Most importantly, except just few, the Gamer’s Grass Tufts hold their shape firmly. Not much hair fell off when I was removing the tufts from the sheets and applied them onto the bases.

 

Visuals:

Visually Gamers Grass Tufts look stunning. Apart from classic tufts, there’s Alien and Spikey series, which are like nothing I’ve seen previously in the market. All tufts are fluffy and solid and thanks to a wide variety of colors and shapes – they turn bases into little pieces of awesome. 

 

Functionality:

Most Gamers Grass Tufts are very user friendly. Separated on the sheet by a clear line, easy to pick and apply. Once picked, they hold their shape. I could go on, but let’s just say they are a joy to work with.

 

Exceptions:

Like with all product series not everything is perfect. Amongst the batch I purchased there are two products that not entirely hold up to the standards described above.

12mm Wild Winter Tuft is a bit too messy for my tastes. There’s not enough separation between particular tufts and there’s a lot of “leftover” coming off the tufts during use. It looks pretty dope once separated from the sheet, still I had issues separating particular tufts from one another. 

Similarly Wild Spikey Green and Wild Spikey Beige Tufts are very messy to work with. Whereas they look insanely cool, it is very difficult to remove them from the sheet intact. They loose a lot of strands in the process. 

Fortunately these issues doesn’t translate to the entire range, which for the most part is full of top quality, high end products.

 

Price:

Time to focus on the price. I’ve done some math comparing price of standard and “Wild” tufts from Gamers Grass, Games Workshop and Army Painter. Here’s where I’ve landed:

  • AP 77/pack+77/pack= 11,98€ translates into 7,78/100pieces
  • GW Middenland Tuft 200/pack = 12€ translates into 6€/100pieces
  • GG 144/pack + 70/wild pack = 9,9€ translates into 4,63/100pieces

Easy to say that when it comes to price Gamers Grass beats it’s competition hard and that is a great news! 

 

 

Summary:

To summarize, when it comes to professional hobby tufts Gamers Grass is totally in the lead. The vast variety of unprecedented lush colors and types is by itself a good reason to try their offer out.  To top it all there’s perfect pricing. Their range as entirety is super solid. I will definitely use these from now on and wholeheartedly recommend you to test it yourself. 

 

Where to buy:

You can order through Gamers Grass official store, or try out your luck in a local hobby store. To make things easier for you, Gamers Grass prepared this awesome Store Locator. So what are you waiting for? I invite you to, at the very least, take a peek at their offer 😉

Scarhandpainting

Review: Army Painter Super Glue

INTRODUCTION

Today is a special day. The Army Painter – a worldwide supplier of hobby products, such as paints, colour primers, glues, brushes, tufts and more, is now twelve years old! It’s hard to believe that the company which entered the market in 2007th introducing a medium sized offer of hobby products grew to be a giant we know today. I remember when Army Painter appeared for the first time in a hobby store I ran. Easy to say I fell in love with some of their products and stuck with AP to this day.

So, let’s celebrate Army Painter’s 12th birthday with a review of my favorite AP product of all time – the Army Painter Super Glue!

FEATURES

  • The Army Painter Super Glue comes in a handy bottle containing 20ml of Cyanoacrylate.
  • The bottle is equipped with a long plastic feeder that helps apply the glue in precise dozes. It is also easy to clean up from glue residue which helps maintain the glue.
  • In contrary to regular tubed glues you can apply Army Painter Super Glue without fear of an air bubble spilling glue all over the miniature. All thanks to partially translucent, medium hard bottle that provides much better control than regular soft tube.
  • If maintained properly the Army Painter Super Glue can stay functional for about 3-4 months after being open. After that time it thickens slightly with every passing week, up to a point of turning into a gel about half a year from initial use.
  • Once applied onto a properly prepared surface the glue binds in just few seconds and I can tell you – it holds like a bitch! I rarely use pins thanks to this glue’s holding power.
  • It can be further reinforced using Army Painter Magic Glue Activator, which fastens the binding process and hardens the end result even more than glue by itself.
  • Forget Plastic Glue – from now on Army Painter Super Glue is all you need!

PRICE?

The Army Painter Super Glue comes at a suggested price of 4,99€. Compared to a small tube of glue this might come across as expensive, but taking into account how much stuff you’ll be able to glue with a single bottle of AP’s glue and the fact it will stay functional long after first use – it’s totally worth it! Not to mention Games Workshop glue, which comes in four 5ml tubes, that once opened don’t stand a chance against Army Painter’s king of a glue!

SUMMARY

I simply love this glue. I use it for twelve years now and used up more than a hundred bottles. I prefer it over any other Cyanoacrylate glue and I totally recommend you to try it out. I just can’t imagine hobbying without it. For me it’s essential.

WHERE TO BUY?

Best to ask in your local hobby store, but if you want to support the great company Army Painter had become – head to Army Painter Website and order from them directly.

Scarhandpainting

Review: A-Case Hybrid Series Magnetic Cases

INTRODUCTION

Moving painted miniatures to a tournament or painting competition can be a real challenge. I bet that every single miniatures painter had one or more miniatures damaged while being transported. Sad truth is that no matter what we do, situations like these happens. Still, when it comes to safe transportation of our beloved miniatures, we’re not completely helpless.

In the world of miniatures painting there are two well established ways of professional miniatures transportation, both with their own pros and cons: Foam Bags and Magnetic Bags. Today I would like to talk a bit about the latter and present to you the A-Case Hybrid Series from A-Case, one of the leading companies in the market.

QUALITY

During my years as a hobby store manager and a hobbyist, I’ve seen my share of transportation bags. This imho allows me to say that when it comes to quality A-Case is king. Everything fits, everything is smooth, no thread going wild along the stitches, inner metal casing of great quality plus the overall feel of an exclusive product.
New A-Case Hybrids saw a lot of improvements compared to previous series, such as a much sturdier construction, reinforced trays, strapped side pins to keep the trays in place and more.

VISUALS

I know this part is totally subjective, but Dayum! The new case looks so good! Everything from design, through quality makes it feel prestigious, both in the inside and the outside. To be fair the sole look is what made me crave a Magnetic Case of my own when I scrolled through facebook and saw it time and time again. Just couldn’t resist. At least now you know why I’m so hyped about it.

FUNCTIONALITY

Coming from a position of an orthodox foam fan I have thoroughly tested this carrying case during last month. Apart from obvious features like light weight, comfort of use, adjustable strap with a shoulder pad, handle, large pocket and removable trays the Hybrid has some cool features that improve on the case’s functionality. A Velcro strap on top and at the front allows to attach badges, while water resistant material will keep your miniatures safe in case of bad weather. My favorite though are side pins to immobilize the trays in place. In previous series these might get lost but now attached with flexible straps they will follow the trays around.

PRICE

It’s not easy to compare A-Cases to other transportation cases as there’s really no high tier competition in the market. Yes, there are some magnetic cases out there (Battle Foam, Tablewar etc.) but most is just out of this league. The A-Case is more expensive than foam counterpart, but it offers a totally different method of miniatures transportation. One that does not involve your paint job touching anything, even as soft as foam. One that allows you to transport large quantity of miniatures in a rather small bag. Most importantly one that is durable and will last for years to come. In addition A-Case offers free shipping around the world and in some cases (like US) that means huge savings.
For me the pricing of this exclusive product seem fair. Taking the cost of miniatures and time/money spent on painting into consideration, it seems like a reasonable price for solid, comfortable and very aesthetic protection.

SUMMARY

To summarize, if you’re looking for a solid and comfortable way to transport your miniatures – A-Case is the thing. It looks great, it is very comfortable to use, made of high quality materials and with utmost care for detail. A bit on the expensive end of the hobby, although still reasonably priced. Personally I love it, as A-Case totally revolutionized my approach to Magnetic transportation and ended twenty years of my foam addiction.

WHERE TO BUY?

A-Case Hybrid Series is available at:
A-Case website,
A-Case Facebook,


I hope you find this review interesting. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments at Facebook or Instagram. I would also appreciate if you considered sharing this content with your friends, who might find it useful. Finally if you are looking for a professional miniatures painting service, be sure to contact me with this contact form. I always reply within 24 hours, after which please check out your spam folder.

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Hobby Advice: BLU TACK – Your best friend…

Brushes, paints, even entire hobby desks – they come and go. It doesn’t matter how much I like particular pot of paint or a hobby tool. At some point everything gets old and I simply got used to part ways with almost every hobby related item. There has ever been just one friend that stick and grew alongside me throughout the years. I dedicate this article to my fav support teammate. Let’s talk Blu Tack!

Blu Tack is an adhesive, reusable putty-like mass. The most known “original” comes by that name, but you can find different variations of the stuff all over the internet and not all come in traditional blue. It can be used to attach lightweight objects to any dry surfaces, but also as a painting tool.

He Protec

Spilled paint, toothpicks all over the place, airbrush on the floor in a pool of spilled exhaust waste… not for me. While I drown in righteous fury, punishing miniatures with relentless brush strokes, my friend Blu Tac holds the objective – keeping the surroundings in one piece. Literally…

but He Also Attac

Once the creative fury abates, allowing me to paint with sniper-like calm, using both precision and cunning – Blu Tack takes the fight to the front line, lending me his strength by pinning targets in place and covering important areas…

Plus He Grows with You

Most importantly Blu Tack is like a mythological hero. It doesn’t die, it doesn’t get old. It builds mass with every new batch added to the body. It is a friend that throughout our painting adventure never let me down and always had my back. I know I can count on it, no matter what new challenges we will face next! Blu Tack is love. Blu Tack is god!

Do you know and use Blu Tack in your hobbying, or did you just learned of it through this article? Lemme know in the comments or at Facebook! Cheers!

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Review: Board Game Aristeia!

“175 Years into the future, humankind has reached the stars. As the hyperpowers vie for influence in the shadows, citizens use their permanent connection to Maya, the Interplanetary Data Network, to revel in a bespoke deluge of thrills. Of course, no form of entertainment is as sought after as ARISTEIA!, the Human Sphere’s favorite extreme bloodsport.”

ARISTEIA!

Aristeia! is a game of futuristic gladiatorial combat set in the universe of Infinity the Game. As far as I’m aware this is the first board game released by Corvus Belli, Infinity the Game’s producer. I was raised by a board game industry thus once in a while, if a miniatures filled board game happens to appear in my collection, I use this opportunity to review it. I decided to share my feel of Aristeia! with you. As with all my reviews this one will be totally subjective, so – you have been warned 🙂

COLLECTOR'S EDITION

The reason I bought the game in the first place – a set of eight metal Aristeia! characters. I knew what to expect from plastic miniatures, thus decided to spend more and get the best quality product. Metal miniatures are standard for Infinity the Game players, but are something totally new for regular board game muggles. To all of you who might not know Infinity the Game quality – these are one of the best miniatures in the market. They require a lot of preparation and must be put together before use, but would reward all the work put into them with great quality of detail.

IN THE BOX

Now, let’s leave awesome miniatures behind and see what’s inside the game…

The ‘Box’,

The box is solid, standard board game quality. Hard paper, smooth with no grating. It is not the quality that some of the most popular board game producing companies (FFG, CMON) spoil us with, but is still acceptably durable. In comparison to Corvus Belli’s usual front designs like Operation Icestorm which literally screams ‘Fuck yeah! So much action inside!’, Aristeia front is kind of dull. There seem to be a lot colours with not much coherency whatsoever, which is further emphasized by white background. My reaction to the box is that it would have difficulty catching my attention in a board game store – but hey – totally subjective.

‘How to Play’ ergo Rules,

A 15 pages long, ‘How to Play’ booklet. This one will lead you through game components and then a pre-setup game with pre-defined rolls and actions. Going through this should make you understand the game’s mechanics and feel comfortable going into your first ‘serious’ game. The booklet is designed to introduce some rules at certain point. If you are a seasoned board game player you would probably get bored in the middle and skip ahead to a real deal game… Seem nice for less experienced players tho.

‘Access Guide to the Human Sphere’ ergo Fluff book,

An interresting addition. Corvus Belli is well known for providing a deep background for their products. Aristeia! is not an exception. With this 14 pages long booklet we get to know the setting and the characters of Aristeia! A really nice way to get a bit more into the game and ‘feel’ the characters. Here’s also where you will find the best graphics of the game in high resolution.

Two-sided Gaming Board,

Made out of hexes and looking like a giant hex is the Hexadome board! Usual board game quality. After setup it lays flat on the table. It is rather clear to understand. I am a bit dissapointed that both sides have identical layout with only difference being the visual design. Hoped for two totally different gaming areas that would provide much more variety and replayability.

2 Control Panels,

When I look at these I want to quote Dutch from Predator poronouncing “What the hell are *you*?” with utter distaste. Supposedly fancy shaped to fit the board at the start of the game – utterly retarded once you realize that instead of helping they do the opposite. On top of that these look like out of entirely different game – they just don’t fit the visual layout of Aristeia! and mess up entire futuristic sci-fi feel of the game.

If you haven’t read the rules of the game – I advise to skip the list of issues below, not to get confused too much.

  • Why there’s only 5 (6) spots on the Movement and Actions counters? Apparently with Tactics invovled – some characters can have more. Why not use tokens to keep track of these instead?
  • Do really both players require a Turn counter? Why not just a single, separate turn counter?
  • Why such a fancy shape? If these were rectangular instead, they would fit the long edges and save space on the gaming table, not to mention being much less susceptible to damage (with no sharp angles).
  • Why are they in the game anyway? Why not use tokens to count Action and Movement Points and keep Initiative Cards before you set up from left to right, Infirmary characters on the left, Bench characters on the right?

Overall Control Panels are a waste of resources, needless gadget – I am trashing my own and adding a ‘Aristeia! Control Panel’ to the list of words that trigger me.

A shitload of Tokens, including Obstacles, Damage, States, Victory Points, Frags, Green/Orange, Blue/Orange, Red/Blue, Red/Green, and Underdog.

When it comes to quality, once again this is just a regular board game quality. No grating, regular hard paper stuff. Gameplay wise these are clear to understand and easy to use, except for the pain in the ass tiny  droplets, which really might have been the same size as ‘Damage 3’ tokens. Visually tokens present themeselves poorly. Once again a feature that doesn’t feel right and is far from fitting the supposedly futuristic aspect of the game. Tokens look like from some poor, booring game without theme. Quite dissapointing – and that’s actually strange comming from Corvus Belli, known for caring about visual and theme aspect of their products.

8×8 Stickers, because reasons…

I don’t want to talk about this. I know what they are for. I think they look poor as fck. I get why they are designed in this simple manner. Still look poor as fck.

‘Reference Guide’,

I am used to Reference Tables placed at the back of rules. This one is much more interresting, with 30 pages filled with answers, examples, rules claryfications, Scenarios and a list of about 90 topics and key words. There’s a Quick Reference Sheet at the back of this small size booklet and once you are done with ‘How to Play’ you can switch to ‘Reference Guide’ for life. I find this one to be a really great idea, even if it’s not entirely user friendly and rules redirect us to other rules, which then redirect us to other rules – classic ‘Spanish style’. Fear not! You’ll get used to it at some point.

I would still like to get a proper Rulebook and then use ‘Reference Guide’ as an ingame help.

14 custom D6 Dice,

A set of custom, easy to understand dice. Symbols are concave which transtales to almost infinite lifespan of such dice.

52 Tactics Cards,

Standard size cards with ‘Tactics’ – special actions players can use during the game. This piece is the one that could really use grated paper to provide much more durability. Gameplay friendly, with clear areas and strongly exposed rules section. Visually – I have mixed feelings. A lot is going on in the cards with Aristeia! characters jumping, kicking, shooting, hacking. There’s a comic like expression, suspense and feel to the pictures and yet pastel colours render it a bit silly and flat.

Visuals aside – what I would like to see is a mark in top left corner for all ‘Standard’ Tactics. This would quicken the process of finding Standard Tactics among other cards. Adding two colours distinction between these marks would also make a ‘How to Play’ part of our experience more pleasant, like ‘give orange dot cards to your opponent, take green dot cards yourself – now dig for cards numbered… whatever’.

8 Character Cards,

At first might seem a bit overwhelming, but in truth these are simple and easy to understand. Pretty nice design. Quality of paper is the same as Tactics Cards with an exception of visible cut markings on top. A pack of sleeves would render this irrelevant anyway.

8 Initiative Cards,

These are just awesome looking 42/63mm cards. Visually they present themeselves really cool. I think that adding a textured background and more edges is what makes these graphics outshine the rest.

8 Plastic Miniatures,

Bag’o’miniatures – a set of 8 miniatures, made out of soft ‘board game’ plastic. These come already put together (by some Chinese prisoners) and ready to play. Some have issues and all seem to be improperly glued onto the bases. If not for that then quality is almost the same as in Zombicide or most of FFG’s games. If you hoped for quality and detail simmilar to Infinity the Game – these would be a huge dissapointment, otherwise they are a regular board game miniatures and would serve their purpose perfectly.

Oops! So this is how one of the miniatures came in. It is not uncommon among board games – not a faulty design or production, just an accident in transportation. Complaint placed – will await a replacement.

Thin plastic box organizer,

So, the Organizer is a great thing that I come to appreciate, if delivered properly. This one is clearly made for the purpose of holding a factory issued game untill it get’s unpacked.

  • It lacks space to place Tokens in. Sure these can be packed into zip-bags and placed underneath the organizer, but removing it from the box time and time again would definitely damage soft plastic it is made of.
  • Why not place another niche or two in that huge flat area on the left? I don’t know…
  • Once sleeved, cards barely fit the area designed to hold them so no way to fit more cards once an expansion hits the stores.

Could have been a cool feature, would go to trash instead.

RULES & GAMEPLAY

Aristeia! has a well designed engine, that offers a lot of options to competitive players. Most of the time it made me think about which option to choose from rather than how rules work. Alternate character activation, Tactics Cards and special ‘Switch’ activated effects kept me occupied throughout the round, all the while rotating Scoring Zones and planning my characters Activation sequence pleasantly stimulated my brain cells. I appreciate that Aristeia! has some elements of deck and team building, providing options to construct a deck of Tactics Cards and a team of selected characters. This is yet another feature that competitive players might find interresting. Once I got to know the key words and rules mechanisms of the game seem simple and enjoyable. I especially appreciate a fast and not complicated end phase of every round, which does not disturb action.

The way in which rules are served is a bit of a downside. Some things that are meant to be intuitive ended up being confusing and entire process of being led hand in hand with a pre-designed turn from ‘How to Play’ was exhausting and not very pleasant. In the other hand everything is there in the booklet and many in-game situations are covered so once through it – I quickly knew how to proceed.

Some crunchy mechanics are:

  • Line of Fire rules described in a confusing and overly complicated way. In some situations is not clear on the gaming board. A hard paper ruler in the box, so that players could use it to check the exact Line of Fire would do the job of easing gameplay. Still I am certain that with more experience this one would stop to be an issue.
  • Adding Attack/Skill results in your head, instead of on the board. This one is a bit problematic. There are no Dice, nor Tokends destined to be used as markers for all the ‘additional’ Damage / Shields / Special that are added to the Attack / Defence roll. Let’s say I roll three dice and scored: Damage, Damage, Shield, Special. My opponent clearly sees the result. Then I add a misterious one Damage from my character ability, then use a Switch to exchange one Special from the roll for another one Damage… but there’s no way to indicate this on the board. In a competitive game this might lead to some bad blood situations and in a friendly game this is just very confusing. I would gladly see an additional set of WHITE dice with Damage / Damage / Shield / Shield / Special / Special symbols to use them as markers for any additionl results added to the roll so that my opponent and I myself can see the exact total of the Attack, before we apply any Switches.

IS ARISTEIA! FOR CASUALS?

If you hope to bring this game to a friendly meeting and just start playing with your Settlers of Catan friends – I strongly recommend not to. Corvus Belli did a fine job of introducing symbols and intuitive elements, but the game is still full of key words, special skills, triggered mechanisms that might confuse board game muggles. This game is a fine piece for two seasoned players who would like to clash against one another and win eternal glory in the Hexadome!

IS IT SIMILAR TO ANY OTHER GAME?

In my opinion gameplay-wise Aristeia! is very similar to World of Warcraft Miniatures Game, which at some point I enjoyed a  crazy lot! This makes me look at Aristeia! from a friendly perspective and I have some hopes for the future of the game.

IS ARISTEIA! BALLANCED?

In a straight out of a box ‘How to Play’ way – nope. Some ballance comes with Experience but you won’t be able to achieve perfect ballance untill you and your opponent both have a box of your own. Once there, you will be able to build a Team and Tactics Deck from among all available components and the game would become ballanced. For less competitive ‘one box’ play I see potential in drafting heroes or just switching teams with gaming buddy from time to time, so that no one would end up feeling like his team is underpowered in certain aspects.

IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN QUALITY OF METAL AND PLASTIC ARISTEIA! MINIATURES?

Yes and it is a gargantuan, Pacific Rim sized difference. Just take a look at the pictures and see for yourself…

ARISTEIA'S FUTURE

From what I am aware there are some big plans for Aristeia! Organized Play. We already know what to expect from the first expansion ‘Soldiers of Fortune’, and these are meant to be introduced every seazon. Seasonal expansions would make for good replayability and should keep players interrested. In my opinion Aristeia! has some potential and is certainly much more suitable for competitive play than Infinity the Game. Would it become as popular as X-Wing? I hope not, cause this would mean cancerous individuals soiling community built and cared for by Corvus Belli. Still I keep my fingers crossed for CB’s success, even tho they seem to diverse some of their attention from my favorite game.

SUMMARY

Even tho I spent almost half of my life in a Hobby Store Aristeia! is a conundrum to me. In one hand it is clearly an interresting game and I enjoyed the gameplay. Aristeia’s mechanisms aren’t anything that I haven’t seen before, but the way they work with each other translates to a really thinked through set of rules. On top of that the game has a lot of potential both in competitive and hobby aspects. In the other hand some components are just fucking ugly and it hurts my eyes to look at them. Taking Metal Miniatures out of the equation, for me Aristeia! is totally gameplay over looks. Would I purchase this game if not for trust Corvus Belli earned from me? Nope. Would I purchase this game if not for Limited Collector’s Edition miniatures I want to add to my Infinity the Game collection? Nope. Yet this is due to my prefferences, not the game itself and once I actually got Aristeia! I must say it is a nice game. Price also seem legit and I bet that with 59,9€ starting price there will be ways to get the basic set for less than 50€ – and that is not bad for a game set enabling you to participate in Organized Play. On a scale where 10 is awesome, 8 is good, 6 is ok, 5 is mediocre, 3 is bad and I don’t want to even mention 1 I would say Aristeia! is somewhere between 6 and 7, and that’s only because of some ugly components that drag the note down.

If you don’t care about the looks of Tokens and ‘Trigger Word’, if you like illustrations on the cards and feel like going through a bit spanish’ish rules – you should totally give this game a try. If my expectations for visual aspect of the game were met I would totally rate this game an 8. Im sure that Aristeia! will reward you with a fine and interresting gameplay, so long as you approach it with a proper mindset.

Agree/Disagree? There’s a comment section below where you can stand for your opinion 😉

Store.CorvusBelli.com,

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