Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dark Ages, really...

So today's lunch break really was for the Dark Ages, finally. I gave the Bones a rest and completed this figure, the 6th of the 15 figure Eureka Beowulf set. The focus is a little odd; I took this shot with my iPhone using a magnifying glass as an auxiliary lens to allow closer focus.

Monday, August 27, 2012


This past Saturday I dropped William off at school. It's an easy drive of an hour or an hour and a half away, so I can get more stuff to him in a pinch. However, until we do, that stack is all of his worldly possessions. There is a painting kit buried in there, but I don't really expect to see much painting in the near term.

His last pre-departure project was this steampunk mad scientist. It is a Reaper Savage Worlds/Deadlands figure, one of several samples I picked up the other week pursuant to the Reaper Bones Kickstarter project. He was inspired to paint it, so I thought it best to get out of the way and let him do that.
Norman is due to be home this weekend. We hope to get some NQSYW casting done. The recent game has stirred some demand for additional figures.
As time permitted this weekend, I worked on my storage box upgrade. I'm working on getting everything into the 4 and 9 liter sizes of "Really Useful Boxes". Most figures up to the 40s will fit in the 4 liter model, and the 9, which has the same footprint for easy stacking, will take the tallest figures I routinely use, 40mm Renaissance pikemen.

Thinking ahead to the Reaper-based fantasy skirmish makeover, I printed out a sample card building from MicroTactix yesterday (obtained from DriveThruRPG). Building it was my lunch project today. I haven't done much card modeling lately, but the necessary skills came back quickly. I am thinking that a) I should try the free models before investing in any PDFs, and b) if my miniatures are going to be plastic, it would be nice to keep the haul weight of the whole project down. I also had time to work on a stick of Bones kobolds, which I'll post when they are closer to being completed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Bones etc.

I had the opportunity to do some painting this evening. Pursuant to my interest in the current Reaper plastics Kickstarter project, I finished off a test group of three orcs. Well, almost finished... The orc on the right has had the spear replaced with brass wire for a standard, but I have not decided what sort yet. The orc in the center is slightly reposed to add the left hand dagger; also a little test. Apart from the spears not wanting to stay straight, probably acceptable for bulk grunts at low real costs, there isn't anything to complain about.

I also finished up a beggar that came in the pack with the blacksmith I particularly wanted.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Something completely different...

So I'm taking a break from painting and gaming today with a ballroom competition...back to miniatures tomorrow. :-)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Reaper fantasy teaser

With the Kickstarter on my mind, I hit the local game store for a handful of Reaper fantasy, both metal and plastic, to keep me busy for a while as I think about what sort of fantasy project this might be. First up was this village blacksmith.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Who turned out the lights?, or Back to the Dark Ages

In my Historicon report, I mentioned that I added some new Eureka figures and a set of Osprey rules to my Dark Ages project. Things have, as usual, been crazy-busy since then, although I have, at least, scheduled in some fun with the casting day and the NQSYW game.

I have dusted off the remainder of the Eureka Beowulf figures. After my Bones digression, I'm ready to sit down and do a few one-at-a-time figures before starting the next NQSYW unit. That's going to be a company of engineers, so it will be a little different than the usual 16 muskets in one or two poses plus one each of three command poses. That should allow us to take the initiative in the next game and be the besiegers in a fortress game.

So I did get a chance to pull out the paint for half an hour. At that level, I thought it best to start spreading some basic colors on a whole group of figures rather than work one figure start to finish.

Doing that for a couple of sessions will allow the figures to be finished more quickly...eventually.

Sometime soon, I'll be going through my wargames space opening all the boxes and grouping the unpainted figures together in 'project' storage.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bones Test

I had a little time to paint this evening, so I had a go at the Reaper Bones sample William picked up for me last week. Here's what it looks like:

Not at all bad, and despite my general impression of Reaper figures having an uncomfortable level of detail, this one was pretty easy. I've flexed the sword 90 degrees with no loss of paint. The Kickstarter looks like a "go"...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Northern Alliance Victorious!

The tides of war seem to have turned. Where once the steadfast soldiers of the Pragmatic Coalition marched from victory to victory, these days they struggle to maintain their borders against the unstoppable onslaught of the Northern Alliance.
Following the recent disaster at Friedrichsburg during the abortive invasion of Stanzbach-Anwatsch, PC forces have been maneuvering, looking for some sort of opening to exploit. Rumors of an unguarded (but strategic) bridge over a river in a quiet portion of the Schoeffen-Buschhagen/North Polenburg border prompted the PC high command to dispatch a force to seize the bridge in anticipation of further operations. General Nordstrom of Wachovia, as the senior commander present, divided the coalition forces into two divisions, intending to converge on the bridge. Unfortunately, his right flank column was delayed, a circumstance which was ultimately decisive. Finding a Northern Alliance force approaching the bridge as well, he ordered a hasty attack by the left column. His infantry, fording the river, were faced by a blue-coated regiment from Hesse-Hattemstadt. A fierce fight for the control of a walled chateau complex ensued. Meanwhile, North Polenburg cavalry had crossed the bridge and attacked the head of the right flank column, which struggled to deploy. On the far right, a second Alliance force, taking advantage of the delay caused by a large cavalry battle in the center, hurried into position to continue pressing the beleaguered right column.

Ultimately the right column was unable to effectively deploy, the Wachovians on the left captured the chateau but lacked the

supports necessary to hold it, and the cavalry in the center, though ultimately victorious against the North Polenburg dragoons,

found themselves facing a solid wall of North Polenburg infantry. Recognizing that Bellona, goddess of war, was not with them, General Nordstrom ordered the Coalition forces to withdraw.

Referee notes: Today's game was intended to refamiliarize other club members with Charge! We are starting the planning needed to run an NQSYW extravaganza at Cold Wars, so I'd like to pump up some enthusiasm in the club, if possible. Chris Palmer commanded his own North Polenburgers in this game, for the first time in at least ten years. I reused the Important Bridge, Scenario 10 from the Red Book, which we ran at Historicon just a few weeks ago. This involves a random roll for the entry of one force, and, based on the speed of Charge games, I thought it prudent to halve the result. Nevertheless, entering on turn 3 was still enough to leave them struggling to deploy, making it very frustrating for the right column commander. Norman (aka The Prince-Palatine of Wachovia) commanded the left column, and chose to lead with his artillery and infantry. I presume his theory was that the slower forces could use the lead, and make a stab at the chateau position. However, with his right flank delayed, and his cavalry out of action for the first two turns, the development of the action in the center turned out to be very unfavorable for the Coalition. Live and learn...

Unfortunately I ended up too busy to take too many pictures...

Bones paint test

I won't be able to do any serious painting until tomorrow. However, here is the Reapers 'Bones' plastic figure I'll be working with.

Initial impressions: excellent on lack of flash and mold lines. I had no hesitation about starting right in with paint. Reaper claims that you can paint them right out of the package, but I am generally more comfortable working over black, so I started with a coat of Liquitex black gesso. The figure seems quite flexible, about the same as the 1/72 plastics of the softer sort (say HaT rather than Zvezda). I bent the sword back and forth a bit this morning, and the gesso showed no signs of peeling or flaking.

The game is afoot...

Pragmatic Coalition and Northern Alliance forces clash in a game just starting.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Knights and Magick

I am envious (sometimes) of those people who can keep their mind and efforts on a single project for an extended period of time. Long experience suggests, though, that I will never be one of them...

I keep a finger in the role playing game world, in the forlorn hope that I might someday have some energy to spare for a game. I ran across the following on earlier this week:

This Kickstarter project is reaching the level where it is looking fairly tempting. long as I don't think about minor things like where the painting time is going to come from. I like the idea of plastics, especially for transportability, but not the need to build them from multiple tiny parts like most of the new hard plastic ranges. I also look at this and see all of the elements needed for a skirmish game project. Some of my favorite projects have been those with some outside constraint on them. The Medieval Mayhem project, for example, was originally built to a tight budget for a competition. So building something out of this one batch of figures might provide an interesting limitation. I sent my son off to the FLGS to pick up a Reaper sample figure in this plastic. I'll be attempting to paint it up this weekend, afer which I'll know for sure whether I'm in on this...

While brainstorming about this fantasy digression, I started thinking about the rules I might use. My Song of Blades and Heroes playtest in April was reasonable (despite Norman's distaste for the activation mechanic). However, my usual "go-to" rules for fantasy are Knights and Magic:

Knights and Magick was copyrighted by Heritage in 1980. I think that I picked my copy up at Origins in 1982, shortly after moving away from home for my first job. My original D&D/wargaming group had been playing it for some time, after spending 1976 to 1980 casting around for a set of rules that suited us and our figure collections. Chainmail, for example, required "too many figures", and the original D&D miniatures rules, Swords and Spells, didn't use dice for combat (which *still* seems odd). We also used to fight most of our games on a rather cramped little 3x4 foot table.

In a modern version of this, we had a nostalgia/reunion game in 2008, with a sixty or seventy figure skirmish on a similarly sized table at my parents house. Shown here are two other members of my original gaming group.

I think the overall result was fairly effective, and we had a good time with it, which was the point.

K&M is an interesting product. It was written by Arnold Hendrick, and developed and playtested by a team that included most of the cast of characters from the late, lamented Major General's Page. It is fairly straightforward, with an "I go, you go" turn sequence with one twist: all missile fire is done during the opponent's movement phase. (I borrowed this when I did my own Medieval Mayhem skirmish rules.) This has two happy effects : units can't run from cover to cover with impunity (or needing some sort of opportunity fire rule), and players stay engaged throughout both sides of the turn. Morale is checked to charge, to stand, and at casualty check point levels. Combat rolls are made against a target number read from a chart cross-indexing attacker weapon type with defender armor class, and modified by a figure quality rating and a short list of situational modifiers. The chart is a bit finicky by 21st century standards, but usable. I have copied selected portions of it when using the rules for things like historical Dark Ages skirmishing, to simplify the lookup procedures.

The rules are scalable. In the basic rules, it is anticipated that figures are deployed in units, perhaps of a dozen or so. Advanced/optional rules add a more detailed man-to-man level, with a active defense/parry ability added to figures, and the unit/leader rules deemphasized. It is noted that these rules should only be used in small games, as they'll add to the length of turns and slow down combat by reducing casualties. The rules are intended to be usable for historical and fantasy games, so there are optional rules for chariots, elephants, sieges, castles, and so on, as well as magic. That covers the first volume.

The second volume includes a guide to painting miniatures. The section on heraldry is particularly good; I've used it as a handout for a Historicon painting class. There are also sample army lists for typical fantasy armies such as elves and orcs, and for a range of historical armies from ancient Egyptians to medieval samurai.

Volume three covers scenarios. It includes a DIY point system which allows you to put numbers to whatever you might need. Then and now, I consider that to be a useful factor in rules. If I'm theoretically tied to the company for figures and point values, I'm not really interested. There are also some sample scenarios. Some of these are pleasantly bonsai'd. The smallest is laid out for a 2' by 3' table, and has force levels suggesting about 60 figures total. The rules will actually support games with even fewer figures, so I'm surprised that they didn't include an even tinier scenario. Nevertheless, the suggestion was there that you could get started playing in a small space with a small collection of figures and scenery and build from there. There is also, at the high end, a campaign system.

Volume four covers monsters for fantasy games. While keyed to the original Heritage figure lines, most of the monster types are generic enough that every manufacturer out there today covers them, and the generic point system from volume three should cover the rest.

Volume five is half-sized and covers spells. I'm not entirely convinced that the magic system is balanced in a point system free-for-all, but it is workable with a referee.

It is a very comprehensive package.

Reinforcements for Schluesselbrett

My effort to assimilate the box of troops we purchased at Cold
Wars last year continues. This group of infantry is now awaiting basing. I must say that I found it a little difficult to match somebody else's painting style. I'll be glad when all the unit roundouts are completed. I'm tempted to add a unit or two to these countries in my own painting style. However, the next task for these minor countries will be to get the rest of their cavalry touched up, filled out, and based.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Recent progress

I had the opportunity to do a little more work on an NQSYW unit today. One more good session should see them finished, in a style to match those obtained from the flea market last year. A sample of the originals is visible here, with flocked bases:

I hope to be starting on some engineers soon. These conversions were patterned after those done by my NQSYW colleagues previously:

The basing of my recently completed company of infantry is also proceeding:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

HAWKs meeting

I don't know that anyone has posted a shot of one of the HAWKs club meetings before.

We usually have two tables going, in a church hall we've been renting for 15 years or so. Last night's games were a test of a Look Sarge No Charts WWI game and a Napoleonic battles. I didn't catch what rules they were using.

Friday, August 3, 2012

HAWKs meeting

... Game in progress; next generation of gamers.