Monday, February 11, 2019

A few 1/72 plastic NPCs

Continuing with the Portable Fantasy Game, I finished off a few more figures this week. The second figure from the left is, of course, from the Airfix Robin Hood set; the remainder are all from Linear-B's Age of Tudors box of civilians.  When you are looking around for fantasy/medieval civilians in 1/72, you have to be open to what you can fashion in my fantasy world is going to be very flexible.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Portable Fantasy Game

I have had a little time for painting this past week, and worked on some 1/72 scale plastic figures for the Portable Fantasy Game.  I decided to pull out all of the already-completed individually based figures, and do a quick visual inventory.  Here's an overview of the 112 figures completed so far.
Individually based figures for the Portable Fantasy Game, as of 3 February 2019

For scenario planning purposes, I took closer shots of them in groups.

Non-human monsters
The monsters are a mixed bag; there are a few Reaper Bones (downscaled, as it were), a few figures from Age of Mythology sprues, and a demon from a Dante boardgame of some sort.

Mounted humans (Strelets and an Airfix Maid Marian)
There will probably be a few more mounted humans before this is "done".

The Adventurers (Caesar Miniatures)
I noticed after I took the picture that two Caesar adventurers are hanging out with the elves today.

A merry group of men from the Airfix Robin Hood set
One of the unfinished figures is another Robin Hood fellow; I expect to have a full set of the poses (and perhaps a few duplicates) before calling this group done.  They hold up pretty well, for figures sculpted over 50 years ago.

Elves (Caesar Miniatures)
The archer lady in green near the center and the Legolas look-alike, second from the left in the front, are the wanderers from the Adventurers.  I have a standard bearer for the elves on my painting desk.

Undead (Caesar)
While I'd be happy for more skeletons, the Caesar set has only five poses, so I started with two of each.  There's a necromancer in the set that I haven't painted yet; I pulled one out and cleaned him up.

Fantastical men of the Western Isles (Red Box Irish)
The Red Box Wars of the Roses Irish look pretty fantastical to me, especially that gallowglass leader on the left end of the front row.

Some NPCs (Mostly Linear B Tudors)
Plastic civilians aren't too common in 1/72, but I've painted a few.  Strelets has more, in their transport sets, which will be added eventually.

Some drafted historical medievals (Accurate and Strelets)

Back in the day, fantasy figures were usually supplemented by historicals...

Mystics? (and a dog)
The blue wizard is a Hat Celtic command set Druid.

Goblins and Orcs (Caesar)

More Orcs and Wargs (Dark Alliance)
I've got plenty of additional orcs, between the two boxes that Caesar now makes and the many that Dark Alliance has produced.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

January Ghost Archipelago Game

As I mentioned in the previous post, the HAWKs started the year's Ghost Archipelago campaign on the 26th of January.  There are at least nine of us participating, although we don't get everyone most months.  We agreed to restart this year with new crews, so I decided to go all in, and paint an entirely new crew.  This group is all figures from Reaper miniatures, although enough different sculptors are involved that they don't have a particularly consistent look to them.  I found myself doing a little red and yellow motif on most of the specialists, although the crew is fairly motley. 

The Crew of the Manticore

I've been doodling ideas for a banner, so I went with the red and yellow there too.  I have a banner bearer converted, but I haven't started painting her yet.

The cup represents her ancestor's drink from the Crystal Pool; the eyes in the lower version represent the Heritor power of "Intuition"

From the Log of the Manticore

A sketch of the encounter

     We made landfall on a small island, hoping to find a clue to the location of the fabled Crystal Pool, or at least a few treasures to make the search easier.  To my dismay, no fewer than seven other ships were seen approaching the island as well.  I chose, therefore, to lead the landing party, taking along Quartz (my Earth Warden), and the mercenary trio Oak, Ash, and Thorn.

Spying a stream in the distance, I led Oak and a few crewmen to the left, toward a thicket, where we found a concealed chest.  Quartz and the archers went to investigate the curious stone head.

A treasure

As we approached the thicket and secured the treasure, a Heritor, whose name we later learned was Safar, appeared across the stream and loosed a volley of arrows.  One hit me, causing a serious wound, and we backed away, not, however, before we secured the treasure.  Oak and the crewman Surecast found another in a hollow fallen tree at the edge of a deep pond.

For some reason Safar and his crew retreated hastily [ed., a beast attack distracted them], so that Oak and Surecast had no problem securing the treasure from the tree.

Quartz and the archers Ash and Thorn exchanged arrows briefly with Safar's crew, but were then set upon by a few crewmen from the ship of a Heritor called Arkhan.  These appeared mostly to be natives of the Archipelago, and they fought with skill and ferocity.

Thorn beset by a crewman of Arkhan's

Thorn was sorely wounded, and I went to her aid.  As best I recall, I must have partially parried a blow from the tribesman's weapon and then been knocked out by a glancing blow.

Quartz informed me after than Thorn dragged me from the field, although both of her companions, Ash and Oak, were slain.

When I awoke, I was aboard the Manticore again, along with a wounded crewman called Redhand, and a few small items of value.  This was a dubious reward for the loss of the skilled fighters, and I fear that it bodes ill for our search for the Crystal Pool...


It was definitely a rough game from the player perspective.  Arkhan's crewmen proved to be more than a match for my specialists, and knocked out my Heritor as well.  I collected three basic treasures, but didn't get near a central treasure.  Oak, a 100 gold piece Mercenary, was permanently slain by a goat that had wandered onto the field, and Ash, an archer, by one of the crewmen.  Next game, I will be swapping in two freshly painted crewmen; I have a few more before I have to recycle any of the dead figures.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

January Activities

We are pretty well settled in the new house, although I have not yet staged a miniature war-game there, not even a small one on the dining room table....soon.

However, there has been some painting done since the last post in September.  I have been working on Oathsworn Miniatures Burrows and Badgers figures, among other things.  My brother and I are planning on hosting some B&B goes at Gencon this year, and I am comfortably well along with the painting.  As a small war band skirmish game, each player needs about 5-6 figures, so the 16 I've finished so far represent three players' worth of the six that we'll need, and my brother has two, so this should be comfortable.

January painting
I also have been working on a few vintage figures this month, with the Archive wolves and wolf runner shown above (original catalog number 820) being the most unusual.  I've had these figures since they were new in the late 1970s, but got stalled on repainting them a couple of years ago.  I found them while stowing boxes on the new basement shelves and decided to finish them.

Back to the Ghost Archipelago
We started the club Ghost Archipelago campaign yesterday, and my freshly painted crew start off by losing two specialists permanently killed.  One hopes this isn't a taste of things to come...

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Civil Strife in Arden

 My elder son Norman came up for a visit including some gaming last weekend.  It was the monthly HAWKs Ghost Archipelago day, so we had that game in the morning, but we also set up a 40mm Renaissance game in the evening.

Ross and I are planning to take 40mm Renaissance to Huzzah again next year, so we found time for a "Skype" game a couple of weeks ago (actually Google Hangouts these days) and considered the state of the rules.  After discussion, Ross decided that he liked the rules we had used at Huzzah in 2017 well enough, so that's the version I dusted off for the this game.

I was also considering the question of whether I could run a game at Barrage for four players.  A few posts back, I showed a picture of my full inventory of figures.  With about 50 stands of troops, each player would get a dozen or so, and this game convinced me that wouldn't be enough to keep things interesting.  Norman and I ran this one in under two hours with nearly everything I own (less some artillery) on the table, and it was still pretty fast.

Here is the table set up:

And from another angle:

 We put this on the Alpha Gaming Table (4x6 feet), and it worked fairly well.  We are setting up to move, so the house is full of boxes of stuff being packed, unpacked, sorted, thinned, etc.  That left the gaming table surrounded by some rather tight clearances, and we bumped it a few times.  Being light for transport also translates into being subject to bumps, but we didn't hit it hard enough to bring down the trees, so that was acceptable so far.

I improvised the scenario; as we have used before with the rather generic forces available, we are in the fictional land of Arden, where the usurper Duke Frederick is attempting to seize power from his brother, the rightful Duke Senior.

I'm playing around with battle records...

 As can be seen from the diagram, Frederick's forces entered along a road in two groups, a cavalry group leading followed by an infantry group, with the objective of taking the town.  (The town buildings, by the way, are some Fat Dragon Ravenfell fold-flat structures.)  Duke Senior's forces were an advance guard holding the area with shot, swordsmen, and a cannon, with cavalry and infantry reinforcements expected.

Usurper's horse advances up the road
Usurper's gendarmes and foot

The usurper's forces soon ran into the defenders, and their light horse was unable to make much progress. 

The Duke's cannon was firing with good effect down the road, and Frederick order his light lancers to take it.  Unfortunately for them, the cannoneers had time to load a charge of scattershot, and broke their charge. (Melee roll went against the horse.)

Duke's cannon holds against the horse
By this time, Duke Senior's horse had arrived on the scene, and a cavalry fight raged up and down the road between the enclosure at the edge of town and the fields to the north.  

The Duke's foot arrived from the north shortly after that, and crossbowmen  lined the river bank to shoot with good effect into the masses of the usurper's advancing pikes.  

Recalling his objective, though, Frederick sent his swordsmen and some extra shot around to his left in a bid to take the town.  

The Duke's gendarmes attempt to drive off the usurper's forces
They were met by Duke Senior and his gendarmes.  Upon seeing the situation, the Duke decided that running down the foot and leaving Frederick with his lancers to their rear was not a good plan, and charged the usurper in a bid to clear the cavalry with the intent of turning on the foot afterward.

Unfortunately for the Duke, the cavalry fight did not go well.  Frederick had the advantage, and the Duke attempted to save the situation by joining the fray personally.  He was unhorsed, and, with their leader down, the remaining horse fled the field.  

With that, there was nothing but a handful of shot in the enclosure which could dispute possession of the town with the usurper's foot, a task for which they had little enthusiasm.  They too withdrew, and night fell over the battlefield...

We got in about ten turns and the battle ran up and down the length of the table, so it felt pleasantly active for a game.  I noted, however, that I would need more pikes (a lot more pikes) before I could reasonable stage a multiplayer game out of my own resources.  This project originated as two Armati "introductory scale" armies, and I ended up with a relative surplus of cavalry stands when they were rebased onto the 60mm square bases.  Some painted figures have fallen into my hands from gifts and flea markets, but they have all been swords and shot, so my collection still has the look of a couple of advance guards.  

I'm still hoping to get some additional pikes painted up this fall and winter.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Holiday Musings

Sometimes it seems like everything in life is set on "fast forward".  I've been in that mode for months, always hoping that there would be a day when I was decompressed enough to stop and think about things for a while.  Today, it seems, is finally that day...

I unloaded the notebook in which I keep the current log of my miniatures games from my briefcase in  late March, so I spent some time this morning combing through photos, notes, and posts on the Reaper Forums to reconstruct the games I've been in lately.  I was a little surprised to find that I have managed to be in 24 miniatures games so far this year, despite the frantic pace of things.  I won't get anywhere near the usual annual goal of 52, but it looks like I shouldn't have any trouble meeting my minimum goal of 26, given that a Ghost Archipelago game is scheduled in two weeks, and the HAWKs will be running our Barrage mini-convention at the end of the month.

William was in for a visit (from grad school at the University of Michigan) two weeks ago in conjunction with a friend's wedding, and I took a day off from work to spend some time with him.  Because we are moving relatively soon, he was digging through his stock of possessions remaining here, including his 1/72 plastic Hordes of the Things armies.  Between that and the couple of stands I had recently finished off during a business trip, we decided to unpack some scenery and play a couple of games.  I was using my Airfix Robin Hood-based medievals, and William was using a mixed bag of El Cid figures and Arabian Nights.

William deploys some troops

Outflanked by the flying carpet
We split the two games one and one, with the flying carpet resulting in the destruction of my new nights in one game, and being ignominiously blown out of the sky by a spell in the other.  It was good to get the figures on the table, but we did discover that we were a bit rusty on rules mechanics, especially when it came to what to do with blocks of spears two elements deep.

Some test figures from Hero Forge
After Gencon, I started playing around with the custom figure design systems at Hero Forge.  I picked up a free sample figure last year, which looked pretty good, so I wanted to try something.  I have been reading an urban fantasy series called Bordertown recently, and decided that I would work on some fantasy-flavored moderns.  Here are the two samples I ordered, as received, a modern bard (with a violin) and a suit-wearing spell caster with an umbrella. (Actually an umbrella sword, but concealed...) I have no idea what I am going to use for rules, so I have been resisting the temptation to order any more until I actually have a game of some sort organized.  I'll post a picture when I have them painted.

Revell Saxon horseman as a Cold Islander hero for Hordes of the Things
I also recently finished up a single 1/72 scale figure as a hero stand for my Portable Fantasy Campaign Cold Islander army.  1/72 plastic is, of course, very practical for a variety of reasons, but I'm not always inspired to paint it.  I don't like to disrespect the Muse, though, and since that's what she led me to last week, I just said "works for me" and carried on.

It would be easy to argue that I have too many projects going on at the moment, but I don't really want to address that right now, so I am trying to just paint and play some games rather than spend too much time on "should" and "ought to".

Alpha Gaming Table

In pursuit of that, I have also recently invested in an Alpha Game Table, a 4x6 foot single piece unit which folds up into a 48" by 18" by 9" package.  I don't know how durable it is going to provide to be, but I will post a full review once I've lived with it for a while.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Gencon 2018 After Action Report (Long)

Gencon 2018 has come and gone, and all that’s left is to complete the paperwork.

As usual, planning for this started back in January, when badges were purchased to allow us a shot at the room lottery.  Unfortunately, we didn’t end up with a downtown hotel room in a connected hotel, so my brother and I decided that it would not be a good year to host any miniatures games.  

My sign-up time draw for events in May wasn’t particularly good either, so I wasn’t able to get in to any of the “rare” games I had wish-listed.  Nevertheless, I had high hopes for a good convention, knowing that I could always fill any downtime by checking out the exhibitors, playing games demos, or doing some roleplaying with Games on Demand.  

Our crew was diminished this year, since 2nd son William was tied up with grad school events and wasn’t going to be able to make the trip.  That left my brother, Irene, elder son Norman, and myself.  Irene and I scheduled a flight in on Tuesday evening, so that we would be able to take in the unofficial Wednesday activities, and Norman joined us on Wednesday evening.

As the event approached, Norman and I looked into volunteering as gamemasters with Games on Demand, but when push came to shove, I didn’t, due to a lot of activity going on in my non-gaming life.  I hope to do better next year, but it was probably a good thing to have this as a “rest” year. (Gencon is never very restful, but I wasn’t running anything, so it was sort of a rest.)

This was our fifth consecutive Gencon. I probably wrote up the story before, of how my brother and I had attended once before, in 1980, and how a group of guys playing a pick-up fantasy miniatures game in the hallway seemed to be having more fun than almost anyone else we ran across.  So I wanted to make sure that I had fantasy miniatures in case we needed a pick-up game of our own.  I have been working on the “Portable Fantasy Game/Campaign” for just such eventualities.  I added a magnetic dungeon floor section to one of the box lids this year, and therefore loaded my overflow box with magnetized dungon walls, so that we could game whatever might come up.

Portable Fantasy Game 2.5 Liter Expansion Box

The Tuesday of the flight finally arrived.  Everything was packed, and the lists were checked twice.  Apparently I actually left enough time to do that properly, because I didn’t  have to buy replacements for anything left behind.  The Portable Fantasy set fit neatly into the overhead container:

My brother picked us up at the airport after an uneventful flight, and we overnighted in Bloomington, hoping for an early start back to Indianapolis the next morning.

The availability of games on Wednesday seemed a bit limited this year, so I guess we’ll be signing up to run something next year.  We were able to find three spaces in a board game demonstration for something called Motora.  This turned out to be a worker placement game themed around tribes on an island with gradually diminishing resources.  Players needed to balance their tribe members between foraging, fighting, and attempting to control idols to fulfill victory conditions.  Including teaching the rules this took about two hours, so it is  on the long side for a Eurogame.  We all thought that it was fun, though, and would expect to back the Kickstarter to produce it when it starts off.

We hit Scotty’s Brewhouse after the game, for lunch and a free die.  It looks like the trendy thing this year is to add macaroni and cheese to sandwiches. (In fact, I went to a different brewpub, in Utah, the week after the convention, and found that they were also adding mac and cheese to sandwiches...) My brother and I concluded that we should really have signed up to run something on Wednesday, since the games available were all sold out, indicating some underserved demand. We played a few of our carried contingency games (Flux, Travel Carcassonne) while waiting for the kickoff party.   I was determined to try the special Gencon brew this year, and the line wasn't too bad, considering.

We eventually picked son Norman up from the airport, and checked into the hotels for the night.

We got off to an early start the next morning, with a couple of 9:00AM events.  As we got to the convention center, people were waiting for events, and gaming tends to break out under these circumstances:

Waiting games...

Norman-son had developed the schedule matrix for the convention, as has become customary the past few years.  As can be seen from the matrix, I started the official first day of the convention off with a demonstration of Mantic's Kings of War fantasy battle game.  I have had a copy of the rules for some time, but haven't played it previously.  

The game zone was well signed.

As a demo session, the organizers set up a series of one-on-one battles.  We were each invited to choose an army.  I picked one which looked loosely like a Hundred Years War medieval army with some knights and archers, plus a fantasy unit of flying knights.  The gimmick to Kings of War is that figures are not removed, and units are of variable sizes, from detachments to regiments.  Hits cause an increasing penalty to morale checks until a unit routs.  We found in play that this doesn't take too long, so it was a pretty quick game.

I chose the army with the archers...
My main issue had to do with army choice; while all the armies were designed to the same point level, my opponent had a demon army led by a fireball-throwing efreet, and the magical attacks were breaking my units pretty quickly.  My archers routed before they could shoot.  It might be worth looking at more closely at some future point, but I would want to read the online commentaries and see what the regulars have to say about the point-buy system.

Irene met up with me after the game, and we took a walk through the exhibit hall.  Irene and are are working on moving to a new house, so we had an agenda to look at gaming tables.  I was impressed by the Prophecy table introduced last year by Wyrmwood, and was interested to see that they had introduced a new model, the Sojourn gaming table.  I ended up putting a deposit on one, so the new house will be equipped for games. 

Irene wanted to try some "escape rooms" during the convention, so she went off to try one while I settled in for the first of my speed painting events for the weekend.  I ended up in three, two using Reaper miniatures and one with Iron Wind.  I was pleased to place first in the first Reaper event I was in, so that got me a seat in the Reaper finals on Sunday and an extra miniature.

Reaper, Iron Wind, Reaper, and Reaper finals, from left to right

45 minutes each for the preliminary figures, 60 minutes for the final

This is the fourth year in a row that I have made it into a speed painting final, so I guess I have some idea of what I'm doing.

Irene and I were signed up for an escape room on Thursday evening, but there was a scheduling difficulty on the part of the escape room business, so we agreed to reschedule it until Saturday afternoon.  

Auction winnings

We ended up at the auction, as in previous years.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but over the weekend, I did end up with a couple of replacements for games I once had in my collection.

Consignment store area at the auction
Games and items not sold at auction often end up in the consignment area at a fixed price, and the consignment area was busy as usual.  I ducked in there a couple of times, but didn't get anything except a Games Workshop terrain book for my brother.

On Friday, Irene and I had signed up for a dance event, called "Dance to the Front Lines".  This was run by Counts to Nine Productions, and was one of several historical dance seminars they put on.  As I expected from the description, this was basically in the English Country Dance line.  After years of ballroom training, this was not too difficult, and I found it relaxing to have someone else tell me what to do. (In ballroom, as the leader, it's my job to decide what to improvise next...)  Regrettably I was too busy dancing to take any pictures.

The next two speed painting events (results as shown above) were back-to-back on Friday afternoon. Signing up for back-to-back events at Gencon is really only possible if they are in the same location.  I ended up second in the Reaper round, which would have qualified me for the finals if I hadn't already been qualified.  I won the Iron Wind round, and picked up a couple of blisters of old Ral Partha sculpts as a prize.  

Irene and I were signed up together for an escape room on Friday evening, with a lab theme.  I don't want to spoil these things too much, but it was an interesting first experience.  We had to actually use some of the lab equipment, including a centrifuge and a glove box, which was somewhat unexpected.   This particular escape room was run by a franchise colocated with the Spaghetti Factory, so we stopped in there for some dinner to round out the evening.

I was signed up for a mold making workshop on Saturday morning.  My brother did this last year, so I had some idea of what to expect.  I had not had time in the run-up to the convention to sculpt any small terrain item, so I stopped off in the open crafting area while waiting for the workshop.  The craft area is part of the Spouse Activities track and is sponsored by the Brother sewing machine company. I knew that they would have various bits and pieces to work with.  I built a base using a couple of dominoes with a dragon design (which turned out to be too big) and picked up a floral design bead which I eventually embedded in a clay rock.

Gencon has an official sewing machine?
I am waiting on some appropriate casting plaster, but here's my completed rock formation mold, with the bead representing a carving, and a sigil of some sort engraved on the other side.

Mold making

Our rescheduled escape room event was on Saturday afternoon.  Irene and I were teamed with a family with about four kids, so channeling the kids' enthusiasm into something useful was the main challenge.  We finished that one about twenty minutes early, so we had plenty of time to make it back to the Westin for our second Counts to Nine dance event.  At four in the afternoon, it was more heavily attended than the previous one, and was a lot of fun.  

We also stopped in for a ballroom party with the Dancing and Dragons team in the evening, which rounded out our Gencon dance experience. 

There were still a few one-day badges available at the beginning of the convention, but by Saturday, the last of the Sunday-only badges had sold out. 

Plan ahead...

Irene and my brother and I wandered around after the party and some dinner, and found our way to the open gaming space at the J.W. Marriott.  This was newly added this year.

About half of the open gaming space

When we wandered by on Saturday night, it appeared to be pretty active.  It would have been a little difficult to drop a pick-up miniatures game there, since the tables were only two feet wide, but it looked like a great opportunity to try out your need board game acquisitions or relax with an old favorite or two.

Norman-son and I hit Games on Demand on Sunday morning.  Norman had spent some time on Friday and Saturday night running some games for them, so he had a priority choice ticket.  I ended up with an early seat, and tried out Ross Cowman's new game BFF from Heart of the Deernicorn.  While the topic (middle school friends) isn't my usual cup of tea, I was curious about how the story-telling mechanics were going to work with a series of location-based segments (termed "hangouts" in this context).  I don't know that story games are going to be my regular fare, but it's good to stretch my improv skills now and then.

While we were occupied with Games on Demand, Irene was doing a final check of the exhibitors, and ran into Nelly, host of Nelly's Nerdy Adventures, a video log of her various convention experiences, including Gencon.  My brother originally introduced me to this...

Nerdy Nelly

Norman-son had gotten an alternate seat in the Reaper speed painting final, which was out last scheduled Gencon event.  As expected, enough there were enough no-shows that he got a seat.

Me, head down in the painting

Norman, also head down in the painting

This turned out to be good for him, because he ended up winning the competition:

Norman's finals figure, back view

All of Norman's speed paints; note the ermine pattern on the inside of the wizard's cloak

Between the snowflakes and the ermine pattern, his amazing freehand skills blew away the competition, so he ended the convention on a high note.

After some dinner, my brother dropped us off at the airport.  Most of the outbound traffic on Sunday evening was Gencon attendees.

Open Gaming at the departure gates

The airport was prepped for us; open gaming tables had been set up in the departure areas, so we settled in for some more Travel Carcassonne while we waited for our plane.

One last game, then farewell to Indy for another year...

We finally arrived home around midnight, and I would have liked to have taken the day off afterwards for recovery, but the timing didn't allow for it this year, so it was a long week, ending with the trip to Utah resulting in the painting displayed in the previous post.

Overall, though, it was another great convention.  After five of them, I think we have the system down pretty well, and our planning and activities this year were about right.  Looking forward to next year!