Thursday, April 13, 2017

Interlude: Boxes of 1/72 scale plastic, a guilty pleasure

Like many wargamers of a certain age, my first battles were fought with Airfix plastic soldiers. New sets were few and far between in the early 1970s, and I was amazed with the wealth of possibilities when I dropped back into the historical gaming world around 1986. Well, I hadn't seen anything yet...

Anyway, probably as a result of early imprinting, I've always been excited by the possibilities inherent in a new box of plastic. Even when frugality and space considerations had me tracking my lead purchases closely, I always gave a pass to plastic, a reality which continues through today. So, when I decided to work on this campaign idea, I had no need to go any farther than the basement in order to round up a heap of potential resources for the new armies.

Son Norman helpfully pointed out that he had been concerned that I was biting off more than I could chew, given that I already had about 1 1/2 of the 5 armies I had placed on the map. He's probably right, but at least any elements finished will fit directly into his larger 1/72 fantasy/Hordes of the Things campaign map, so they'll see some use, and I needed the mapping pactice anyway.

I think that I will actually make more progress if I clean things up and prime them just a couple of units at a time, rather than by the whole army. The latter strategy is what I did with the Cold Islanders (various Vikings and Saxons), and might possibly bear some of the blame for the fact that the primed strips of troops I've been painting lately have been in a box for four or five years.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

1/72 Zvezda Viking leaders

With the campaign map in hand, I was back to painting more figures. These Zvezda Viking leaders (1 each per box) will be based as a Hordes of the Things hero stand for the Cold Islanders...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

1/72 Fantasy Campaign, Part 2

This one will just be a short update...using the techniques in Jared Blando's book on fantasy maps, I have drawn up and tinted an area movement campaign map for the proposed solo campaign. I threw in zones for a Necromancer contingent, some lizard men, and the dragons, all of which I could paint, though not in army strength.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

More 1/72 scale work

I have been continuing to work on my Hordes of the Things fantasy campaign armies this week. These three Revell Anglo-Saxons (from set 02551) are almost ready to join the Cold Islander barbarian forces.

I am expecting that these figures won't be based on their final configuration until I get more of the overall class (in this case, "warbands") done. That will allow me to ensure that I don't end up at the end with a stand of 6 figures all in the same pose. I revived this army sub-project after cleaning and priming the figures four or five years ago, so I don't entirely remember what I had in mind, but it was about six stands of six figures each for the warbands, and I'm currently up to about 8 of those 36 figures.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Vintage 25mm Fantasy Reinforcements


Part 2 on the solo fantasy campaign is still shaping up, but I did finally finish a few figures yesterday, so I though I would share them.

First up is a team of 18 Minifigs ME (Mythical Earth) elves from ~1974.  I got my start in fantasy miniatures wargaming with Minifigs, and I've been working the past two years to reassemble a representative force to supplement the handful I still have from back in the day.  As I was finishing these figures up, I ended up with another lot of 18 from eBay, so I hope eventually to have two units of twelve, a unit of six, and the three-figure command stand to represent the elves.

Minifig ME Elves

When I revived the old fantasy project, I looked at other Minifigs ranges on the Lost Minis Wiki.  I don't really remember seeing the Valley of the Four Winds figures in stores at the time, but today they interest me.  Among the other oddities in the range is this "giant armored woodlouse" (aka pill bug, or sow bug), so I was pleased when I was able to obtain one last year.  I'm not sure how it's going to feature in a scenario yet, but it's ready when I figure it out.

Minifig Valley of the Four Winds Woodlouse
Another eBay lot last year brought a pack of wargs, a mix of these Custom Cast/Heritage figures (catalog number 1011) and some old Ral Partha Wizards, Warriors, and Warlocks ones.  These were finally painted last month, when Norman came up for a game and paint session on the 11th.  Painting them turned out to be easier to get done than the basing. (not that the basing was especially difficult; just questionable time management on my part.)

Custom Cast/Heritage Wargs

The last thing finished off yesterday is this Iron Wind Metals "Elven Colossus", originally cast by Ral Partha as part of a small range of 54mm display figures.  IWM rereleased it as part of the 2015 Chaos Wars revival Kickstarter.  I did this one as fairly well polished bronze; there are just a few traces of verdigris in the deeper crevices.  The HAWKs members have been playing around a lot with verdigris effects in the production of scenery for Frostgrave.  If I were to do another, I might be "greener"with it.

Iron Wind Metals/Ral Partha "Elven Colossus"

Monday, March 27, 2017

1/72 scale fantasy campaign ideas, Part 1


As I've mentioned recently, Norman and I have had the opportunity to put our 1/72 scale Hordes of the Things armies on the tale three times in the past two months.  After the first game, I started painting some 1/72 scale fantasy figures, which I hadn't done in a while.  This has also left me thinking about a campaign...

Two Caesar 1/72 elves with a Reaper "Sir Forscale"
As is often the case with miniatures, several different influences were a factor in this latest visit from the muse.

One of the advantages of raising two sons in the hobby is that, until recently, I always had opponents available.  My sons, as it turns out, were raised with Hordes of the Things (and Charge!, but that's a different story).  In their earlier years, the figures we most often used were my 6mm collection, eminently portable, but perhaps not the most visually appealing figures possible.

6mm elves move through the woods

We also did various games with 1/72 scale plastic figures, which were easy on the boys' allowances.  

About the time Norman graduated from college, these two influences converged, and he started assembling some Hordes armies with the various leftover plastics.  Both he and William could paint the 1/72s to a high standard, higher than I could...at least until the Optivisor evened the playing field a little.  I took an old project I had and repurposed it, and then added a few stands of figures from the then-recently-released Caesar Miniatures 1/72 scale fantasy range.

With one thing and another, that project stalled, and I didn't get back to things until 2014.  With our first visit to Gencon coming up, I decided to assemble a Portable Fantasy Game, and used the Caesar figure already on hand as the basis of a 1/72 scale skirmish game using Song of Blades and Heroes rules, which packs into a 12-liter Really Useful Box.  A check of airline web sites suggested that the 12-liter was the largest which could reliable be placed under the seat for a flight.

Portable Fantasy Game box, top layer

This included a ground cloth, several foam filled hills, sewn for me by one of my son William's college classmates ...

Portable fantasy game box, second layer

various pieces of quilting fabric as roads, rivers, and forest bases, ...

Portable Fantasy Game box, lower layer
some trees, plastic rock formations, Dave Graffam card model buildings, old Gallia resin walls, and two boxes of singly-based 1/72 scale figures.  When it was all set up, the whole thing looked something like this:

PFG contents arrayed 
Or like this, from our family pick-up game at Gencon in 2014:

PFG in action, Gencon 2014
Because the ground cloth is 3 feet by 3 feet, it's also what we usually use for our Hordes of the Things games.  Last year, before William left for graduate school, Norman had organized a simple campaign, based on an idea from the Frank's Toy Soldiers blog.  It took several sessions for us to arrange to play the battles from a basic single-elimination bracket, but, with the possibility of gaining subject forces by a solid victory built into the campaign rules, it was a tense and interesting series of battles.  So, having the forces out on the cloth reminded me of the campaign, and left me wondering whether it was time to do something again.

William and Norman face off in a campaign battle
My basic idea is this:  the Portable Fantasy Game box has the scenery necessary for a variety of battles, and a bunch of individuals.  A 6-liter box (of which I have three used for auxiliary transport to conventions), should hold at least 30 of the 60x40 bases we use for most of the 1/72 scale figures, and the typical Hordes army is about 10 bases.  So, three armies should fit per box, or, allowing for some flexibility in units, five armies in two boxes. That would make for a reasonable campaign set-up, and I also realized that most Hordes armies would flex to become a  Dragon Rampant warband, so I would have figures on hand for three different levels of combat.

Next session: thinking about maps, rules, and how the levels of action might fit together.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saturday Games

Saturday was a good day for gaming.  We had another round of the HAWKs club Frostgrave campaign, using scenarios from the Thaw of the Lich Lord book (or whatever it's called).  This time around, the Lich Lord's cultists were bogged down with a treasure caravan, which proved an irresistible lure to the dedicated treasure seekers who prowl the dead city of Frostgrave.  My crew, led by Basil the elementalist and his apprentice Rosemary, found themselves poised to swoop down on the center of the caravan, where much of the richest treasure lay.  

Despite the efforts of the cultists to protect their ill-gotten loot, Basil and his henchmen looted two carts and found a few loose treasures beside, so I ended the day with five, when a "fair share" would be three.  I haven't kept meticulous records, but I think this may be the most successful raid I've had in the year-plus that we've been campaigning.

Basil and his henchmen consider the treasure-laden cultist cart

To add to the game, one of the seven players was my son Norman, who has recently finished painting a war band for Frostgrave out of spare Reaper Bones we've had around the house.  He came up from DC for the day, but it was a rough day for his band.  His apprentice was killed and the pickings were somewhat slim, as he found himself embroiled in an extended scuffle with another treasure hunter.

Son Norman showed up for the festivities
Later in the afternoon, he and I continued the series of Hordes of the Things games we have been running recently.  I mocked up a sample army of the Cold Islanders (Viking-inspired barbarians) that I finished a unit for this week, and Norman took an army led by an ancient magician featuring giant scorpion demons (behemoths in HotT terms).

Giant scorpion demons, from the TSR Dragonstrike game
 Unfortunately for me, I had not considered that war bands such as my barbarians are particularly vulnerable to behemoths, and his army swept the field in short order, with the only worrying moment from his point of view being a single unsuccessful raid on his stronghold by one of my two heroes.
The Cold Islander archers as completed
At least the archers came out looking satisfactory...I dug around in the "pending paint" box and decided that I would work on two stands of  two-handed axemen (blades in HotT) as my next effort for this project.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

1/72 Archer group

I finished up the rest of these guys today. Unfortunately some of the Revell figures had been rather flash-covered and my cleanup was less than perfect, so they'll be the rear ranks. I will be mounting these as two groups of six, suitable to represent "shooters" for Hordes of the Things.

Monday, March 20, 2017

1/72 Vikings

I'm way behind on blogging, but my older son and I have had the opportunity to play some Hordes of the Things with our 1/72 scale plastic armies recently. As a result, I've been inspired to dig out a stalled army expansion project for a fantasy Viking army and start painting. Ultimately, any painting is better than not painting, so I decided not to fight the muse.