Sunday, November 14, 2021

More 1/72 Fantasy Campaign Figures

 With the week off from work, I was able to make some progress on painting.  I have been wanting to get some orcs done for my 5-country fantasy campaign, and started with a Hordes of the Things “Blade” stand:

These figures are all Caesar orcs, a mix of Set 1 and Set 2.

I also had some archers primed and ready to paint:

The final orc army will include the larger Caesar orcs as the “blades”, the smaller Dark Alliance orcs as the “warbands”, and Caesar goblins as “hordes”.  The warlords of the orcs are apparently pragmatic, and group together for field service anyone who shows up at the muster with a bow, so there are three Caesar orcs, a Caesar goblin, and 3 Dark Alliance orcs on the stand.

Having accomplished what I set out to do, and inspired by a recent stand painted by my son Norman, I decided to paint a HotT “Magician” stand with three figures from the Caesar Adventurers box as a reward.

Unfortunately, the fantasy vacation is over, and it’s back to the reality of work tomorrow.  My original plan for the project involved about 100 stands, and I’m at ~57 of those now.  As with any gaming project, the plan has had a tendency to expand, but may be revised back down a little as the completion approaches.  A few more orc stands would be desirable before getting on with the second year of the solo campaign, and the month isn’t over yet.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Zombie Jamboree and Trollfest (more 1/72 plastic fantasy figures)

 I am making some progress on the Rangers of Shadowdeep goal this week.

As mentioned yesterday, I finished up a quick subdued paint job on the zombies, using a lot of dry brushing and washes.  

Yesterday’s task was to finish the troll.  Some years ago (2014?) I used a Reaper Bones “ghast” as a troll in the early stages of the Portable Fantasy Game project.  Therefore I intended to use another, but I had three of them ready to go pursuant to a wish list for general role-playing game support.  Since they were getting a pretty simple mostly monochrome paint scheme, I decided to do all three.  I was also well along with a Dark Alliance War Troll, based on the usual 60mm by 40mm mass battle stand, so I finished it off too.  I had recently unearthed a primed (but otherwise unpainted) Caesar Miniatures big monster, dubbed a bunyip by my elder son, so it got painted, too.  That’s how it turned out to be Trollfest…

The whole group is shown here with a Strelets medieval city militia axeman for relative scale.

I also based up some expedient plastic spiders last night, so that just leaves me with a vulture to paint and some flies to base, and the Rangers of Shadowdeep will be ready to go, at least as far as figures are concerned.

Monday, November 8, 2021

October Overview — Almost All 1/72

 October was an interesting month.  I ended up taking an unexpected work trip, and found myself sitting in a hotel room halfway across the country for a weekend.  This is something that hasn’t happened to me in a while.  Knowing this was the plan, though, I packed my travel paint kit and a box of 1/72 plastic miniatures (plus a few smaller Reaper Bones to become 1/72 monsters).

I mentioned in the last post that I had been in a Rangers of Shadowdeep game at Barrage in September, and that I was inspired to work on getting that put together.

I paged through the book and drew up the order of battle.  My plan is to substitute Caesar Miniatures orcs for the gnolls, so I concluded that I needed a bunch of those, a troll, a “burrow worm”, a flesh golem, some zombies, some flies, and some spiders.  The last two categories will be simple plastic toys, for expediency.

I selected a Reaper Bones 5 Kickstarter figure as the burrow worm, and took that and the orcs with me, as my main objective for the trip.

When I got home I had nine orcs, some additional human adventurers, the burrow worm, the flesh golem, and a mounted knight (for other games) done, and managed to paint up two more knights to complete the stand before the end of the month.

The total production for the month was 31 figures, including 16 individually based figures for Rangers etc., an eight man city militia stand and a knight stand for the Portable Fantasy Campaign, and the first two stands of the Bronze Age Nubian DBA army for the Bronze Age project that I am failing to keep up with in conjunction with my son.

So it turned out to be a good month for painting after all.

The 30th of October was our monthly Stargrave campaign day. Captain Toby and the crew of the Herbaceous Backson were not having a particularly good day in salvaging the useful gear from the wreckage of a floating sky refinery.  However, the crew did manage to deploy a holographic wall for the first time.  As can be seen in the picture above, the holographic projectors appear to have been salvaged from a variety of Before Times advertising campaigns, with this one exhorting viewers to Eat More Empire Biscuits from Imperial Bakeries…

I had vacation time to take (or lose), so I am off from work this week and settling in for a poush to finish the Rangers of Shadowdeep preparations.  I’ve finished the zombies, so I just need to finish a troll and base the flies and spiders.  I am also settling in to reread The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe, so if plans take a sudden turn and things Roman find themselves on the table, it won’t be a complete surprise.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

September Overview — Zorn and 1/72 Fantasy/Medievals


September turned out to be a busy month in several ways, and I thought that I would blog about some of it as it was happening.  That, of course, did not turn out to be the case.  

I’ll start off with a disucssion of painting.  Included above is everything I painted for the month.  There are three 8-figure stands of 1/72 scale medieval city militia, from Strelets and Ultima Ratio, a single 1/72 scale Strelets axeman done as a fantasy individual, 3 Ral Partha orc leaders or champions from the 2015 (already?) Iron Wind Chaos Wars revival Kickstarter, a new Reaper science fiction drone for my Stargrave crew, and a couple of small pieces of scatter terrain. That’s 31 figures/pieces in a 30 day month, a rate I haven’t hit since the Before Times. I will do what I can with October, but matching that seems unlikely.

We had Barrage 24 on September 24th/25th.  I was involved in five games, and had eight total for the month, so that was good too.  One of the Barrage highlights was an opportunity to play in a game run by local GM Matt Kirkhart, who has been building his own miniatures out of bits of stuff from the craft store for many years.  This year’s scenario was a recreation of the climactic battle from the 1982 Conan movie, run as a 4-player co-op game.

We managed to save the captive princess and Conan survived, though it looked like he wasn’t going to be as effective a fighter as his companions for a while…

It was going to get its own blog post, but in the interest of getting the information out there at all, I wanted to mention that I have run across several references to the Zorn palette recently.  Anders Zorn was a Swedish painter of the late 19th/early 20th century famous for doing many of his painting with four colors of oil paints, a bright white, a bright red, an ochre yellow, and a bluish black.  With some advice my son gleaned from Internet painting discussions somewhere, I emulated this with four Reaper hobby paints:

The only blue you get is a faded denim/slate blue from mixing white and black; green is an olive from the yellow and the black, and caucasian skin tones are red and yellow with just a dash of black.

You end up with a somewhat subdued color range which seems to me to work well with medieval sorts of fantasy figures.  In the group shot that opens this post, the two stands of spearmen at the left rear were all done in Zorn colors.  It was a fun and relaxing little exercise, and a Zorn color selection is going in my travel paint kit next trip.

There are lots of ideas on my mind right now.  Norman has been working on Bronze Age DBA armies, so I am trying to get some Nubians painted.  Adding several 1/72 stands has me thinking about rounding out the planned armies for my Portable Fantasy Campaign, especially with the prospect of running something with 1/72 figures at Huzzah next year, and the Ral Partha orcs were intended to fill out a nicely themed one manufacturer orc army to give Nic Wright’s Fantastic Battles rules a try.  The Stargrave campaign is settle down as we learn the peculiarities of the rules and of our crews’ particular abilities.  I was in a co-op Rangers of Shadowdeep game at Barrage, and I’d like to get the pieces together to start playing the introductory scenarios.  So there’s lots to do, and I’ll try to be better about posting some of it…


Friday, August 27, 2021

1/72 Scale medievals for Fantasy and Ultimate Dungeon Terrain

 I might have mentioned that I am trying to relax a little about the painting, and just do whatever the Muses inspire me to do, confident that I always have plenty of things that have already been painted that I could be playing.

I spent most of my hobby time the week after my previous post finishing up the Ultimate Dungeon Terrain board.  One side is paved in stone:

The other side is painted green and flocked for outdoor encounters:

There is a Dungeons & Dragons (5e) game tonight, so perhaps we will have a chance to try it out, even if the scenery assortment available needs some expansion.

I painted a WizKids “bounty board” for potential use with this.

I wanted to try using extremely fine line permanent markers to create the notices. Expecting that they might not be “permanent” to the propellant in the spray varnish cans, I decided to protect them with a layer of  brush-on varnish, and was a little disappointed to find that the varnish was causing the ink to run a bit.  I finsihed it up by dabbing it on carefully, but the notices still look like they have been running a bit in the rain.

I finally finished a troop of eight mercenaries for the Portable Fantasy Campaign.  They are mostly Italeri Knights with a couple of supplementary figures thrown in.  When I started, I thought that the livery (sable, three bezants) would be simple to paint, but it turned out that putting down that many clean circles (or almost clean circles) was harder than I expected, and they kept getting set aside.  I finally completed them by the expedient method of painting one figure at a time to the finish.

Inspired by that success, I decided that I would paint some more stands for this project.  My order of battle says that I want a few spear stands, so I dug out a box of Strelets Medieval City Levy. This is a mixed box created from two of their earlier sets, one primarily spear armed, and one with a variety of mostly two-handed melee weapons,

Naturally, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and just take the spearmen, but selected a group of other weapons as well.

I also picked a group of 8 figures, with mixed polearms, pavises, and crossbows, from the Ultima Ratio Italian Militia set.  I posed them on a standard 60mm by 40mm base before getting started, to make sure that they would fit, and so that I would have an idea of how I wanted them to look when I finally finish them.

I had a slight skating mishap (toe pick!) last week, so using my lunch breaks at work for painting this week, rather than some sort of exercise, seemed like a good idea.

I finished three across two days, one Ultima Ratio militiaman (on the left), and two of the Strelets city levies.  They are shown here with a standard Reaper figure for size comparison.  As usually, I put a coat of thinned acrylic varnish on with a brush, to protect them while waiting for the rest of their stands to be finished.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Scenery Day

 My elder son lives about two hours drive south of here.  Usually he and his wife are the ones who make the trip this way, so I thought that it was time to be the travel team.  So, this past Sunday my wife and I packed up the car with two tubs, a bag, and a stack of scenery tools and materials and headed south.

I grouped the materials for a couple of projects in ziploc bags so that I didn’t have to dig for them, and could decide what I felt like doing on the spot. While our wives headed off for a museum visit and antique hunting expedition, we laid out the folding tables and tools and got to work.  For the past year or so, I have been starting to upgrade my scenery by building bases, especially for things that have a tendency to get knocked over a lot, such as trees.

I started with a couple of enclosure bases using up some rather thin stone walls from the Mantic “Terrain Crate” Kickstarter.  They won’t stand by themselves, so this is really the only option to use them.  From our Ghost Archipelago campaigning in 2018-2019, I had a leftover cage for a prisoner (needed for one of the scenarios), which I also based up.  Norman was working on scenery for the upcoming Stargrave game.

We got three bases each roughed out.  His science fiction bases got as far as priming, and my fantasy bases were somewhat further along (but will need some touch-ups).

We set all of that aside to dry and broke out the Hot Wire Foam Factory set.  Norman carved a series of hills, and I started in on building the base for the Ultimate Dungeon Terrain following the procedures in the linked YouTube video.

The next scheduled D&D game I’m in is coming up this Friday, so I’m afraid that it won’t quite be ready, but at least it’s well along.

We cleaned things up after that, and then set up a quick game of Hordes of the Things.  Norman had recently completed some dwarves and wanted to try a scenario based on the Battle of the Five Armies from The Hobbit, so he set that up while I was repacking my boxes.

I’ll let him give the details later, but the orcs were facing down an allied amry of dwarves, humans, and elves, with a behemoth representing Beorn and the Eagles (represented as a HotT “God” element) available under certain conditions as reinforcements.  We had time to play and then switch sides for a second play before the ladies returned and we headed out for some dinner

It was a good day overall; I hope to get the touch-ups done and the Ultimate Dungeon Terrain platter finished up this weekend.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Thoughts on the 1/72 scale ancients/fantasy/medieval project

 I have been fully vaccinated since mid-May, and the two and a half months since then have been pretty good for gaming.  HAWKs meetings have started up, my son has been up for a visit with his DBA armies, the monthly skirmish campaign has arrived, and I’ve gotten in a couple of solo and remote games as a bonus, a total of 12 games in 10 weeks.  A HAWKs sub-group also started a D&D 5th edition game this weekend, and therein hangs a tale.

5th edition allows the players fairly complete control over character creation, so the gamemaster asked what I was thinking about playing.  I said I thought that I’d like to try a bard, and, knowing the group likes to use miniatures, I thought about painting something new.  Despite the arrival this week of my Bones 5 Kickstarter package (originally ordered back in the fall of 2019), I didn’t have a figure from Reaper that I particularly liked. As one of my son’s said, I was basically looking for a male in doublet and hose with a lute. So I thought I’d have a look at Stonehaven Miniatures, a company whose miniatures I have backed on Kickstarter in large numbers, but of which few have been painted. I found just what I was looking for, and, better yet, found that I had backed that Kickstarter and threrefore had it around the house somewhere.  
However, ransacking the basement did not produce the box of “Stonehaven 2020 Adventurers”. Considering that it might take an arbitrary amount of time to find a single miniature in the hoard, I ordered  a spare.  Naturally, the box appeared on the next delve into the basement. 😳. When you reach the point where you are ordering spares of things you know you have rather than search for them, you’ve probably gone too far…

All of the gaming has cut into painting and preparation time, so that has had me considering the question of whether it would be better to decouple painting and playing…that is, play with what’s already done, and paint what I feel like painting without worrying too much about when it might be on the table.

That line of thought suggests that I have four “favorite” projects.  These are the 40mm home cast Not Quite Seven Years War, which I mused about recently, the 40mm home cast 16th century project, most recently played last September

Most recent 40mm Rough Wooing game; time to get these guys out again

small/true/vintage 25mm fantasy, which contains the majority of my oldest surviving miniatures,

These lizard riders have been in my armies since ~1977

and the 1/72 scale project.  Whether this is one project or several is open to debate. As far back as ten years ago, my son proposed that we deploy all the existing or planned 1/72 forces on a single map, along the lines of Tony Bath’s classic Hyborian campaign.  With all of the work he has been doing on the Bronze Age lately, he produced a draft of what he’s called “Myboria, the Second Age”, with the medieval, classical, and chariot armies generally divided up geographically.  Elements of the original map remain, but there have been some shifts in what miniatures we are considering likely to appear.

Myboria, the Second Age

I am currently splitting my very limited painting attention between two different sub-projects in 1/72. I am trying to fill out the other two Northalnds armies (elves and orcs), as well as add a historical Nubian DBA army for the ongoing Bronze Age expansion.

My Northlands map was an adaptation of northwestern Myboria

So, why 1/72 scale plastics? 

There is a nostalgia element.  I actually have a few of my own original pre-1976 Airfix Robin Hood figures in among the single-based fantasy figures. When I started wargaming with historical seriously again in the mid-1980s, I was finding the newer 1/72s (ESCI, Italeri, etc.) in the hobby shops.  This constantly tempted me to have a side project in 1/72.

Vintage Robin Hood figures from Barrage 2019 flea market

However, as I see it, there are two more objective reasons why one might take up 1/72 as a gaming scale.  The first is the transportability.  The light weight of the figures, even when based (as I do) on wooden bases, makes them easy to carry to conventions.  The second is cost. Even with increases in the prices recently, the average box is still about $15, and you can usually put on some sort of reasonable game with 2-3 boxes per side.  Less objectively, I also like the fact that most of the figures are cast in one piece (occasionally two) so I don’t have to try to assemble them, that their proportions are generally less exaggerated than the typical run of wargaming-specific figures, and that, for me, they represent the lower limit of what I can comfortably paint well enough for my taste, so are at a good spot for the combination of taking less storage space and being fun to paint.  

The Portable Fantasy Game headed to Gencon in the Before Times

There are a few downsides.  Because they are sold to a mass market, there is a tendency for the producers to stick to the tried-and-true topics, World War II, American Civil War, Wars of Napoleon, Romans and enemies, and the Hundred Years War, for example, although those topics have covered in some remarkable depth. (Anyone need some WWII German bicycle troops?) However, I guess that most of us are probably interested in at least one of the “common” periods, and if you have a yearning to refight King Phillip’s War, you may have difficulties even in metal.  The Plastic Soldier Review, in case you might not be familiar with it, has an extremely thorough coverage of historical (but generall not fantasy) sets that are, or have been, available. That is another downside; sets come into production and then disappear again quite quickly sometimes, and the recent disruptions to global commerce have not helped.  I have been trained, therefore, to buy promptly when there is something that fits into an existing project, but also not to start a new project unless you can buy everything you need to start all at once. 

The wide array of sets that have been released does give me a nice microcosm effect for fantasy.  I’ve got wagons, civilians, and farm animals, so I can set a scene in a variety of contexts, which is handy when you might be supporting a role playing game as well as a battle game.

Fantasy civilians gather for the market day

So, there you have it, why this works out to be one of my favorites…now back to some playing or painting!


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Recent battles

 We are currently enjoying what I suspect may turn out to be a respite between pandemic waves here, so while my vaccine remains effective, it has been time to do some face to face gaming.  As I noted a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to get the NQSYW on the table at a HAWKs meeting (back on the 16th), so I figured that “With MacDuff to the Frontier” would be a better fit for table size and time available than Charge!

On the day of the game, I had a look through C.S. Grant’s Scenarios for Wargames, looking for something that would be suitable for the expected limited number of players, and ended up deciding to use Scenario #4, Holding Action (2), which I had never tried before.  

I elected to translate the suggested force ratio to 12 infantry, 6 light infantry, 6 cavalry, or 1 gun with 4 gunners per unit.  Scenery, apart from the river, is relatively sparse, which also made a good choice for an away game.  This was just as well, because, despite my best intentions, I did not allow enough time for traffic and arrived at the meeting in time for a very hasty set up, and then launched right into the rules explanation and game.  As a result, I did not end up taking very many pictures, nor any notes, so reconstructing a detailed battle report is impossible.

Soldiers of the Schoeffen-Buschhagen Adelmann Regiment seize a Hesse-Hattemstadt battery

Western League defenders prepare as Fredonians assault the western bridge

Schoeffen-Buschhagen Hussars discover a usable ford

As the battle played out, the forces of the Pragmatic Coalition (Schoeffen-Buschhagen, Wachovia, and Fredonia were represented on the table) were able to successfully assault the bridges, and the Western League defense was crumbling by the time the Coalition light cavalry discovered a ford and crossed, with the aim of cutting off the retreat of the league forces.  However, the cost of assaulting the bridge was not insignificant, and there was some question as to how closely the Coalition force would have been able to press the pursuit.  All of the recent NQSYW games have been described as part of the campaign to knock the Archbishopric of Schluesselbrett out of the war, and it would appear that the Coalition has finally forced the defenses of the city of Schluesselbrett.

I spent some time last weekend working on NQSYW figures instead of working on my Stargrave crew, so I was compelled to take the field in yesterday’s Stargrave game, the first game that will “count” in our annual campaign, with the same test crew I used last month.

The battlefield; a squabble over a wrecked spaceship

We are still finding our way through the rules, so the game took a little longer than we expected.  It’s rarely my turn to be the lucky one for the day, but my crew brought home three loot markers, which turned out to be quite valuable in terms of the game’s currency.  I did have my captain put out of action at the end of the game, but, happily he merely had a “close call” on the post-game out-of-action survival roll. (Unlike host Chris Palmer’s captain, who was put out of action in the final turn, and died as a result of the survival roll, wiping out all of Chris’s gains in the game…)

As expected, everyone had a look at the rules, and there was a lot of smoke grenade throwing going on.

A brief moment of glory for runner Leftie, who put Don Hogge’s flamethrower man out of action with his knife

Captain Toby, Holly, and robot casecracker G357 looking for loot

Captain Toby reminds Holly that she will have minions to climb trees when she is captain…

Except for Chris, nobody had any catastrophic post-battle results, so most of the “out of actions” were temporary, and things weren’t quite as grim as several players had feared late game.  I hope to get a few more new figures painted up by next month, as well as some additional scenery.

Testing out the new “locked” markers

I think that I noted that one of the differences from earlier games in the series is that loot markers in Stargrave start “locked”, and must be unlocked before they can be carried off.  After last month’s game I went looking for some clear plastic hemispheres which I hoped would look like force fields, to use as “locked” markers. I found these  “bath bomb molds” on Amazon.  There were not very expensive for 30 of them in three different sizes, and seemed to work reasonable well.  With the different sizes, we were able to cover most of the treasure markers we were using.