Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Honest review of the Honest Land Farmers

  I broke down and bought them.  I fell for the pricepoint trap that Steamforged set and I picked them up.  Besides, I already had Tater.  Excuses.  Let's look at these guys.

  Oh hey, the PR image with the professionally painted models.

  So pretty, right?  Look, the contents of the box are fantastic.  I can't spin this any other way.  The box comes with the six models, a cute ball, a goal and a thematic piece of terrain.  Then it's got all the cards, and all the tokens you need.  The tokens are punched cardboard but that's fine.  I'm still going to buy the Muse tokens because I like the quality, and Muse isn't charging nearly enough for those fine tokens.  But for a new player, getting into the game or even an existing player coming in, everything you need is right there to dump on the table and go.  You don't even need a marker for the cards because there's health dials.

See?  So neat and organized.  Health counters too!
  That's kind of the theme to this box.  Dump on the table and go.  The "The Kick Off" box (next time, lets not add "The" to titles) was very much the same way, with albeit lousier miniatures.  I own that box too.  My 1 year old plays with Brick and pretends he's playing Dad's game while Dad actually gets to play the game.  It's perfect for that, and letting new players try the game out before buying actual, real, miniatures. 

  The Honest Land continues that trend with somewhat better miniatures.  It's along the same Pre-assembled PVC lines though, and that shows.  For starters, the pose and dynamics of the models has taken a drastic dive.  No more Minx sprinting through the woods, or Ghast whirling chains about his head.  The Farmers are very stoic, very much just standing there.  The most exciting it gets is the bear hug pose from Windle.  One would think that maybe this is just the requested aesthetic in the memo the sculptor gets with the concept art, except that the Blacksmiths are the same way with the exception of Anvil and now the new apprentice Alloy.  This would lead me to believe that this aesthetic is on the memo, but all the way back to the concept artists because, hey, China can't cast the complicated stuff in this cheap material we're switching to.

  Look, here's Tater.  The metal guy that came out like a year ago and made my Brewers temporarily playable.

  Not bad.  Decent quality, still pretty stoic.  He's got weird cheekbones but otherwise I don't mind this sculpt except how dynamic it isn't.

  Then we open the box.

  I can already tell you that they were warped coming out of the box, just sitting in the summer heat during shipping.  Hot water already got applied to Harrow's forks and Bushel's hook.  That's to be expected but I'd hate to leave these guys in the car for an afternoon at my new home in Northern Arkansas on a wonderful July 100+ degree day.  It wouldn't be good. 

  These are fine.  Cool quality for terrain.  I could see packs of terrain doing well.  In most cases it's better than the 2D stuff for people that prefer the aesthetic and it's better than a lot of homeade 3d stuff.  I'm fine with the terrain and the ball and it's cool.  The goal is interesting in the fact that it can be painted up pretty well, and this throws the "Best Goal" category at tournaments into a weird loop.  Do you vote for the best goal someone made or the best goal someone painted?  The guy who wins the best goal because he painted it the best is also likely to win best painted too.  It'll come down to the TO which is fine because that's what TOs are for. 

  It's interesting to note the quality on that goal too.  Look at the seed bag in the front and the texture on it.  That's pretty solid.  But then compare to the ground it's on and eh, the detail in the ground is somewhat soft.  I'm going to leave my Farmers on their bases because I plan on using a lot of grass anyways so it's not a big deal to me, but if you want to take them off, they pry off ok. 

  Nice little pegs to slot them into.  Whatever.  I glued Wendle back down.

  Alright, so lets get into the models here.  I've got Tater and Harrow right here, looking like brothers and learning their stances from dad.

  Look at Harrow's face and hair.  That's going to be consistently worse than any standard metal model.  The stitches are all over exaggerated, the detail on the feet is super soft and the seam line that runs around the collar of the model will mess with you trying to define what's the shirt and what's the work apron.  Overall, the model isn't bad, but the face detail and specifically the hair is rough.

  It feels like there's more detail in the back on this one.  The vegetables and all that nonsense.  Detail back here is actually improved I think.  The bag is probably a separately cast piece they glued on, which begs the question, if they're gluing pieces on anyways, why aren't these models just a little more dynamic?

  Jackstraw is the main culprit in the detail department.  This is a model I really want in metal or resin and will pay the money for it.  This is a beautiful model, Steamforged.  I love the character in this guy, and I'm from Kansas so this dude is right up my alley.  Let's be fair, the Farmers in general are probably what I relate to the most, coming from the breadbasket of the USA.  I love this model, but it's probably the worst in quality because of the fine detail that's simply soft and missing.  Sure, you can paint it in, but that's why we buy miniatures, right?  The arms have rough seams which can be fixed, but then you don't know if there's straps on them, or cloth, or if the cloth is part of the headpiece or separate.  The back doesn't have straps on it like the front, it looks like the rib cage so where do the straps go?  Nobody knows, it just kind of fades away.  I love this model, it's easily my favorite in the whole Farmer range, but I really wish I could get it in a different material.

  Now we get to Grange. You'll notice that his fingers are there in the crease of his arm but you have to find them or they just turn into wrinkles in his shirt.  His hair is softly detailed like Harrow's, but it's not supposed to be as unkempt so it won't translate as badly as Harrow's does.  The cloth wrinkles are soft, all the way across the board with Farmers.  You'll have to make sure your paint contrast is higher than normal and your highlights are crisp to really show any detail on these.  This isn't Grange's worst problem though.  Grange almost definitely is one piece.

  Grange has these saws strapped to his back.  Nevermind the fact that nobody can imagine fighting with saws.  Look at that flat plastic there though, between the blade and his back.  What are you supposed to do with that?  A metal model, you'd paint there and glue the saws on.  Not here.  You're just stuck with that.  Good thing it's under the shoulder and kind of hidden, right?

  Ha, no....  Because they did it between the blades too.  What is that?  Nothing.  It's cheap casting is what it is.  The detail in the pants, shoulder, straps, all that's not bad and workable.  This flat spot right here?  What's that supposed to be?

  Here's Bushel.  People are cutting off that hook and glueing it back by her hand because it's bending super easy in any heat or pressure.  She doesn't have 2'' melee anyways, so it's not a bad idea.  The detail here is, again, soft, and you'll paint most of any detail into her hair since there's next to no edges to highlight or work with.  Her face is pretty rough too, and good luck with the eyeballs that are actually just depressed sockets.  Trying to define her shirt from her overalls is also fun.  Blacklining is pretty much required with these models.

  Let's compare, shall we?  The dude in grey on the right is from the "Banner Saga" board game based on the PC/phone game of the same name.  He's a boardgame miniature, with a thick sword, soft detail in the clothes and everything else. Very much a boardgaming miniature.  Jackstraw is better than this guy, which is good.  I wouldn't consider the dude on the right paintable.

  Wendle, and another Banner Saga miniature.  The detail on the grey dude is exremely soft, even moreso than the previous Banner Saga miniature.  That's fine, that's to be expected.  Wendle has him beat.

  And now we're into Zombiecide: Black Plague.  This is one of Cool Mini or Not's leading game series and I love their sculpts.  I have not painted them though because of their detail quality, and how easily that plastic bends.  Every time we drove to Arkansas with this game, you'd shake the Zombies out and they'd be warped like crazy, which is fine.  See, Zombiecide is a boardgame.  However, Guild Ball is not.  I'm hardpressed to say that the quality here is better than Zombiecide though.  The faces are better with the middle guy, the detail is soft and on par with the Farmers, but the sculpt is super dynamic.  There's a lot going on.  The clothing wrinkles are even more detailed in some places than they are with either Guildball model. 

  This largely disappoints me.  This is where the divide is for miniature gaming.  I feel like SFG got on the "Tabletop Wargaming" boat, and they picked up the fragments of many Warmachine communities, but now they want off this boat and on the Board game one.  I understand the appeal, and I can't say that the price point is extremely appealing.  As far as players it's bringing into the game, I think it is bringing new players for sure, but not ones from the Miniature gaming side.  Traditional wargamers aren't enjoying the new sculpts or their quality.  Whether they will move on or not, I don't know yet, and if they do, will the new blood being attracted in be enough to offset it?  I don't know. 

  So lets try to paint them I guess.  I primed mine and then did a zenith highlight.


  I painted the ball real quick, and did faces.  Jackstraw, again, I love this sculpt.  With both him and the pumpkin for the ball and terrain, you have to add detail because it's not on the miniature.  I went a bit brighter with my highlights and dragged lines down the side to add more contrast without getting ridiculous.

  I didn't talk about Peck hardly at all.  Also extremely soft details and a resin miniature would have done him well.  Quaff, for example, had a lot of detail in his fur and so did Snow.  Peck, on the other hand, if you want him to turn out you'll have to paint most edges yourself to get anything from him.  Here, I've done all the shirts, and kind of like the pumpkin, really tried to add contrast to the wrinkles.

  Slowly making progress.  Added some stripes to the shirts because what kind of Farmer doesn't wear some sort of plaid.  You'll also notice I started doing jeans on some of the players, and on Wendle specifically you can see the texure I added on the thigh.  Those white lines like the jeans are worn and faded are painted in with a very quick, light sketching movement using airbrush paint.  

  Alright.  They sat on my desk at this point for a few weeks, and I finally made progress on them, but not in an area where pictures were any good, so we're skipping past the super tedious small things like all the various vegetables.  The same things apply that I've been doing.  Everything needs blacklined if possible.  You'll spend time trying to define things, and you can't use washes because the detail is so soft that it doesn't pick it up very well.  Here's the crew, pre terrain.

  I'm reasonably happy with them given the quality of the models.  However, if SFG is going to continue down this road, and may quit painting the models.  They're going to have to get better or give us a resin option.

  For terrain, I use my favorite Army Painter tufts (the only thing I buy from Army Painter, honestly.  I'm on the verge of building my own grass tuft machine though.)  The tall wheat looking strands are cheap cheap large brushes from Walmart.  I cut the ends off and hotglued them in.  It looks alright, gives it the full farmer feel.  I've got 3 harvest makers made up of just those grass tufts in a previous article.  The pumpkin is the ball, but I may trade around and get another pumpkin from someone and use them as the last two harvest markers I need.  I don't like the idea of kicking a pumpkin around.  Anyone that's ever lived through a halloween knows how well that'd work.

  Anyways, check out my... chicken. My black chicken.

  He turned out ok, but again, there's not enough detail to actually paint the detail.  You're on your own painting details in.  Good luck on the beak.  Is it flash? Is there on purpose? No one knows.

  Harrow.  Kind of a boring model. The best part was the basket in the back and all the cool colors I get to play with back there.  I don't even own purple, and I only own green because I did commission for a Cryx player back in the day.  

  On the plus side, Harrow was more exciting to paint than the next guy.

    The tools on that apron were horrible to paint.  No hard edges.  You're just fumbling in there with a brush and hoping for the best.  As far as that blocked in mold disaster back there around the blades, I just faded it in brown.  Idk what else to do with it.

  And my favorite guy.  Still want this guy in resin.  I really don't know what his arms are, or where the straps and cloth covering them begin and end.  Feel free to make it up.  Heck, quickshade the whole thing.  Oh, hey, that won't work.  

  Ironically, I used Wendle (Windle, I don't know.  Who's naming these kids?!) as my test model on everything because he's never going to see the field seriously.  Unfortunately, he turned out very well imo and I'm going to have to play him just because I like the paintjob.  Granted, I felt the same way about Stave for about two games so we'll see.  Anyways, the detail on Windle is better because he's bigger.  His pose is dumb, but otherwise, he's fine.  Also, the sculptor will cry on the inside if you paint the thing on his forks as anything but a carrot.  Do with that information what you will.  I like the sculptor, so I painted a carrot.


  I did not follow the studio's idea of what Bushel is wearing.  She's got jeans and stuff in the studio version, but none of that made sense to me so I did the coverall route instead.  I mean, what kind of striker wears two to three layers of pants?  Not a good one.  And definitely not any girls.  I mean, we're lucky she's not in daisy dukes.  

  Look, a ball.  Hooray.  Again, there's not enough detail for you to just paint the raised edges like a normal quality model.  It's up to you.

  The goal and the terrain.  Kinda neat stuff, but not anything I worried about too much.  I actually am not a fan of physical goals.  They slide on the mat too easy and I bump them a lot.  But they look cool.  I may use this as terrain rather than a goal.  

  So these guys are done.  I'm happy with the results, I love the rules, but I have to say that the future of SFG's models doesn't look great.

  I understand SFG's reasoning, I really do, and if that's the reasoning they stick with, I hope it pans out for them.  I hope they pick up more new players than they lose from guys that actually want tabletop miniatures and not Cool Mini or Not wannabes.  Maybe they can step up the quality using PVC, maybe they'll allow direct order resin versions.  I don't think I'll buy Blacksmiths unless I get them for a steal.  In fact, my next purchase is likely to be Shadespire.  A nice, compact low model count game, but with faaaaar better model quality.  We'll see.

  Look, the pricepoint is good.  If you don't care about painting, these models are perfect for you and there's no reason not to pick them up.  I'm more than happy to point new players to these and the two player box set. By all means, get in the game, and that seems to be SFG's direction.  I really like SFG's rule making ability and the game's balance and direction overall.  I have high hopes for the future of Guildball, just not the models.

  Enjoy your weekend, and I'll see you on the fields.