Sunday, May 9, 2021
Sunday, April 18, 2021
It was brought to my attention this morning that yesterday was an important day in D&D history, since Dave Arneson (according to his club zine) scheduled the first Blackmoor game, described as a “medieval Braunstein”, on 17 April 1971. With that in mind, I hope that this digression from miniatures for a bit of personal D&D history is of some interest.
As I have mentioned before, I was a wargamer with both miniatures and board games before D&D was published, though a young one without too many opponents available to me. There is a long-running Original D&D discussion forum of which I have been a member for some time, and there is often a lively discussion about how we managed to play the game back in the day, given that the rules (at the beginning) were somewhat in the nature of some broad open-ended suggestions.
Here’s what D&D Book III, The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures, has to say about setting up your campaign:
The so-called Wilderness really consists of unexplored land, cities and castles, not to mention the area immediately surrounding the castle (ruined or otherwise) which housed the dungeons. The referee must do several things in order to conduct wil-derness adventure games. First, he must have a ground level map of his dungeons, a map of the terrain immediately surrounding this, and finally a map of the town or village closest to the dungeons (where adventurers will be most likely to base themselves).
Sunday, April 4, 2021
In addition to digging out my original Dungeons & Dragons for my birthday last week, I also took the opportunity to haul all of the 25mm fantasy boxes (of painted figures, that is) up from the basement. I needed to return the last set of troops sorted out for a batle to their proper storage locations, and I also wanted to conduct a quick census, since I was pretty sure that my estimate of numbers in my running project diary was off. (I had somewhat over 1600, by the way, rather than the 900 I had estimated—so I hadn’t caught up in a while.)
In the course of that, I took a look at all of the Minifigs ME figures I have painted so far, and decided that I was ready to get back to that project.
The family gamers have been meeting for a group discussion, and sometimes a painting session, on Saturday afternoons for a while. Painting seemed like a good idea yesterday, so I dug around in my supply of figures already primed, and came up with some ME hobbits that had been awaiting attention for a while. As noted in the title, these would have been the first purpose-cast hobbit figures released, back in the dawn of fantasy miniature production.
Monday, March 29, 2021
I was going to post something about this earlier this weekend, but got caught up in events. As I mentioned in my 2020 retrospective, my 60th birthday is this year, or, more specifically, last week...
While I don’t remember exactly when I was introduced to rules for wargaming in the spring of 1971, 50 years ago, I do remember that I received my original Dungeons & Dragons for my birthday in 1976, 45 years ago. So, thank you, Mom and Dad! I’m not sure what I would have been doing without games and the friends I’ve made gaming all of these years.
As you can see, my D&D set is still in playable condition. Since it’s worn and has my notes (mostly pencil) scattered throughout, I had no particular qualms about reinforcing weak covers and rebuilding the box with library tape last year. Sometime this year, I’d like to get at least a short campaign on the table for old times sake.
When I do, I’m considering staffing it with the vintage miniatures I’ve been collecting more recently. I probably will not restrict things to just the Minifigs that I started with, more recently painted examples of which are shown below:
More on that when it occurs...
Saturday, March 20, 2021
I don’t know how the rest of you think about this, but I have my miniatures divided up conceptually into “projects”, which is my term for a batch of miniatures that “go” together. This is usually a combination of period (e.g., Late Bronze Age, Hundred Years War, Renaissance, Fantasy) to include various IPs (e.g. Buck Rogers, Burrows and Badgers) and scale (e.g. 1/72, small 25mm, heroic 25/28/30/32mm, 40mm). For each project, I usually have a baseline rules set that I am using or planning to use. Some projects have multiple sets of rules. Usually figures are based consistently, but projects intended to support multiple different styles of rules sometimes end up with a mix of basing. My old school 25mm fantasy is probably the worst offender in this category, with a mix of 60mm squares with 4-8 foot figures for mass battles, individually mounted vintage figures generally on 25mm wooden bases with flexible steel underlayers, and figures mounted on steel washers (generally 1” or 0.75”). I have 60mm square magnetic movement bases to allow the individuals to be grouped for easier participation in mass battle games.
Monday, March 15, 2021
Things might be simpler if I had just one period of history (or type of fantasy) which interested me for gaming, but, for better or for worse, this is not the case. So, like the fellow in the title, I’m off in all directions this week.
I have been experiencing a fair amount of pandemic fatigue recently, and have gotten behind on keeping up with the rest of the wargaming blogosphere. Last month, however, Ross Macfarlane caught my attention with a few posts on Russian semi-flat figures. I poked around the web a little to see what sort of background information there was on the history of these figures. I like German flat zinnfiguren, even if I find them to be very difficult to paint, and I liked the look of these Soviet-era figures. I probably would have left it at that, but shortly after that, the Michigan Toy Soldier Company (MTS) had an article discussing the work of a new Russian designer in a similar style. The Warriors and Battles line includes a wide array of non-combatants, so my mind immediately went to some sort of roleplaying game, rather than a straight up wargame. In any case, I couldn’t resist buying some samples.
I am an old enough wargamer that I have been caught unprepared by the sudden unavailability of figures more than a few times. From these experiences, I have developed a general rule. If I can’t buy enough figures to stage some sort of game with the first purchase, don’t buy anything. With figures being imported from Russia (i.e. chancy supply chain) and the possibility that the appeal was a little speciaized, I concluded that this was definitely a time to follow that rule, and ordered a box with 8 SKUs—three knights with retinues, a group of peasants, a group of bandits, a pack of wolves, and a pair of individual ladies. MTS shipped it promptly, and I was very pleased with the figures once they had arrived.
I told myself that I was going to be good and try painting some of the figures before ordering more. I discovered that the soft plastic would hold the usual primers that I have been using on 1/72 scale figures, and that the resin could be primed with a Krylon primer advertised as being suitable for use on plastic.
The figures are pretty flat; with the soft plastic ones being even thinner than the resin lady shown above, but the sculpting nevertheless has enough texture to make shading a relatively straightforward matter. I found them to be fun and relaxing to paint, enough so that I ended up spending three hours at the desk painting the two samples, and needed a good stretch when I was done.
I was pleased with how they came out, and have set up five more and primed them.
I haven’t quite decided how I am going to base them. They are quite light, and I can imagine them easily being knock over at a convention by the wind, or fans, or passing attendees, so I am thinking that they will end up with rectangular steel bases to give them just a bit of heft.
While I was not looking for a new project, especially not another individually-based medieval project, here we are...