Monday, February 13, 2012

Podcaster Spotlight: The Independent Characters - Geoff Hummel (Part One)

Geoff on the left, Carl on the right!
This week we continue our interview series with the gracious hosts of The Independent Characters. Geoff Hummel is co-creator of the podcast and hails from California (like Carl). 

Geoff: First off, I'd really like to thank you and the Fresh Coast crew for giving me the opportunity to answer some questions and cover areas I normally wouldn't get the chance to on the podcast. I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to be in the 40k hobby and the different ways that people consume their 40k. Blogs, videos, podcasts, and forums all have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and highlighting these can really help people decide how they can make the most out of limited hobby time.
Nurgle? Nope. HARKONNEN.
Dune: The Tabletop Game - what faction are you playing?
Wow! Now that's actually a really tough question for me. I'm not sure that I'd really care which faction I ended up playing if such a game did exist. I'm the kind of guy who loves borrowing armies just to give them a try. The only 40k tournament I've ever done really well in was with a borrowed Khorne Daemon army. What really interests me more than the factions in a Dune game is how the Dune property could take many different approaches to tabletop gaming. I'd love to see an integrated system where players could roleplay meetings of the Landsraad, fight Epic or 40k scale battles, and even play out skirmish missions or dagger duels with miniatures! I wish I had the time to write a system like that, because I'd sure love to play it.

What armies do you play, have you played? What armies are you looking at in the future?
My first army was (predictably) Space Marines. When I decided to take the leap from Mordheim to 40k, I had no idea what I wanted to play. The only thing I was certain of was that I absolutely DID NOT want to play Necrons. I thought the idea of Terminator knock-offs on the battlefield was absolutely absurd. When a great deal on some Marines came around, I went ahead and jumped on it and scored a ton of Tac Marines, Terminators, Assault Marines, a couple Landraiders, and a Rhino. This formed the core of my force for a long time until I slowly added more units like a Vindicator, Bikes, and a Speeder (among other things). I was drawn to Salamanders, and so I ended up collecting a good number of Flamers and Meltas for my 4th Ed Marines.
Tau4Eva's not gonna like this one

When I was looking to start a second army, I was really drawn to the Eldar. In particular, I love the plastic Wraithlord model. As an anime fan, I was drawn to the sleek mecha feel that it had. Very agile and deadly looking rather than a lumbering Battletech type mech. I was again fortunate in grabbing a core force pretty cheap, as another friend unloaded some random stuff he had that also included the entire Windrider Warhost. I scored a Grav Tank Warhost from an online retailer at a decent discount and I was off collecting (mostly dust) another army.

I'm really anticipating the Tau release. I am very drawn to the style of the army in terms of both look and play. I think that if recent releases are any indication, we'll be blown away by what the Greater Good will gain in rules and model kits. I feel like there's always a certain amount of anticipation tied to a Xenos release. Marines tend to get cool toys but can be a bit predictable. With the aliens it seems like anything goes.

How do you usually play Codex: Space Marines? Three of our bloggers are enjoying that codex right now and looking forward to a Badab War campaign this year.
I played Vulkan Salamanders for a long time. They're a lot of fun, but my army was missing key elements that add depth. I played dual Land Raiders backed up by Tactical Squads but the build was just too fragile. When I added Fast Attack elements such as Attack Bikes and Land Speeders everything really seemed to fall into place a bit better. I dropped one of the Land Raiders and so my threats were spread over more units and I could control board space a lot better as well. I learned to support units a lot better and to make sure I was in a position to capitalize on any mistakes my opponent might make.
These days I tend to use Lysander (who is a TH/SS unit all by himself) or for a smaller game a Power Armor Librarian. If I want to play something more fun I'll throw in a Dreadnought with a Multi-Melta and Heavy Flamer. At this point I consider a Command Squad with four Flamers to be a sort of trademark unit for me. People tend to underestimate how many wounds I can stack, especially with Vulkan in the mix. They don't have a lot of close combat punch, but with a Company Standard they can stay stuck in with a lot of units that might otherwise steamroll them.

Salamander sergeant has to get some lotion for that ashyness.
I got really lucky in picking Salamanders in that I already have a force that's Badab War ready. After Adepticon I plan to spend some time kitbashing together a few of the special characters that Forge World has released both in their books and in PDF downloads. Also, Carl is giving me a certain HQ Dread for my birthday, so you can bet I'll be working on Brearth Ashmantle over the summer. My current roommates have been talking about running a Badab campaign, so I hope that it actually comes to fruition.

What attracted you specifically to the Salamanders?
I wanted to pick an established Chapter that I didn't see very much. I remembered bits and pieces about them from the Armageddon book years back. I like the green color of their armour, but without a doubt I find few things in 40k as satisfying as laying down a flame template and making a WHOOOSH sound as my toys shoot liquid fire all over my enemies!

How familiar are you with the Salamanders 'fluff', and how important is it to you in terms of modeling, painting, building armies etc?
I am quite familiar with the fluff side of 40k. I read a ton of Black Library material, old White Dwarf articles such as the Index Astartes, and codex/expansion fluff. As far as modeling and painting go, I haven't put a whole lot of effort into my force. They're very basic right now, but I'd like to spend more time converting individual characters to add personality to my otherwise bland force of Snot Green Power Armour. In terms of army composition though fluff is very important to me. I actually really like the old rules from both the Armageddon book and the 4th Ed Marine Codex and try to build my force to reflect them whenever possible. For instance, I try to never include more than one of each Fast Attack choice. I think it would be neat to write up a fandex for my Salamanders where I could field mixed squads of Termies, two flame or melta weapons for my Tac squads, and have my guys go slower than Initiative 4 opponents but faster than I3. Maybe one day I'll write something like that up....

Painting green (especially over black primer) can be quite time-consuming I've found. Do you feel like this has influenced the dislike for painting you've expressed on the podcast?
I've never really found green to be that difficult of a color to paint. Two coats seem to be sufficient when I use a brush. My trick was getting Carl to airbrush most of my force for me. That was a HUGE time saver! I think my dislike of painting derives from not being a very patient person. I'm not very artsy to begin with so sitting in one place for several hours repeating a task over and over isn't relaxing for me. It's actually somewhat stressful. It's just not a part of the hobby that I get pleasure from, but I do appreciate the fact that a painted force adds a lot to the game. If I could afford to pay someone to paint my stuff, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

What other games do you play besides 40k? Do you enjoy the video games? Would you consider starting a new system? (Fantasy, Warmachine, etc)
I mostly play hobby board games and deck-building games, although I've been playing a lot of Magic lately too. I don't play many video games but I had a blast running through Kill Team. If I had a computer that could handle it I would love to try Dawn of War (and the same for a console and Space Marine).
I'm always willing to try playing other systems. I own a bit of Fantasy, but just don't find the game that compelling. I like the fluidity of movement in 40k. It feels more gritty and real to me. Lately I have been looking at Warmachine since my roommates play. I've always been a bit put off by the models though. As the quality of Privateer Press' stuff goes up I'm going to have a harder time staying away from it. I did try Malifaux once and I think that if any game could pull me in it would be that one. I really like a lot of Wyrd's models, but the gameplay seemed a bit too combo driven for my taste.

What do you think GW could do to fix Tyranids?
Ah the poor Bugs! I had really high hopes for this book when it dropped. I'm a strong proponent of 5th Edition 40k and a lot of that has to do with the added dimension of Reserves, Outflanking, and Deep Striking. No force seems to be able to pull these off as completely as the Nids. But a lack of models supporting the new release coupled with some lackluster rules (and an almost crippling FAQ) has meant that I've seen very few six-legged opponents across the table from me. I think that assault grenades on a few key units would go a long way to helping them out. Finding a way to relieve some of the pressure on the Elites slot would be a cool move too. If nearly all of their tank busting power is in Elites rather than Heavy Support, they're going to have a hard time competing in an environment filled with mechanized MSU.

Do you guys run your own tournament or GT?
We don't run any large events right now, and odds are we won't ever commit to doing anything on the scale of a GT. I am about to run a small convention tournament (24 players) this weekend and I'm very excited about it. It has turned out to be more of a challenge than I had originally thought, as I'm not much of a detail oriented person (as I'm sure Carl would attest to). In the future, you may see us do a large gaming day such as a narrative event locally or even perhaps a large campaign...

Watch this blog for the continuation of our interview with Geoff Hummel, co-creator of The Independent Characters!


  1. It's nice to put faces to my favorite 40k podcast. Nice interview.

  2. Geoff is the host of the IC, his assistant mostly handles the grunt work, :)

    Good read.