Saturday, July 15, 2023

6mm Games and a New 1/72 Challenge

 In the previous post I was painting some 6mm characters and commanders with the intention of using them in a game of Fantastic Battles by Nic Wright. I had mentioned back in March that my sons and I had tried them for a Renaissance game with Leonardo machines, and that the rules were not what I was looking for to run a multi-player convention game.  I wanted to give them another try, and my friend Chris Palmer agreed to be my guinea pig, er, opponent.  As I noted, I am interested in squeezing more gaming out of small spaces at the moment, so I wanted to use the 6mm troops.  I took my box of 6s and a Cigar Box Battles general purpose mat to Chris’s house and we played on his dining room table.  We used armies of orcs (basically impetuous barbarians) and Romans (doughty and drilled).  Allowing for some first time rules look up, we got through a battle in about two hours. As anticipated, this worked better in a more standard fantasy context, and as a two player game looking for that 1-2 hour game.  I look forward to playing it again, and will hold a formal review until we get at least one more game in.  As for an informal review, Chris ordered a starter army of 6mm elves from Baccus Miniatures after the game, so I think that it is safe to say that he was favorably impressed.

View from the Roman right flank as the battle opened

Another view, from behind the Roman center

This past week business took me to Colorado.  Since I knew that the first leg was going to be over three hours in the air, I decided that I would take the tray table game with me and try it out as intended.  Apart from the fact that the Roman legionary infantry did not make it back into the travel box after the fight against the orcs and I was compelled to improvise a bit on the order of battle, I am happy to say that it worked splendidly. The children’s play organizer did a good job of keeping dice and damage tokens confined.  I played two games, with each side (Romans and Sassanid Persians) having one win.  (I should go put the infantry back in the travel box before I forget about it again … ) It was nice to have something to distract myself from the fact that I was packed in a thin-walled metal tube hurtling through the sky six miles above the ground for a little while.

Now, on to the challenge.  Most of the miniatures content on YouTube is Games Workshop related, so I’m always interested when something shows up that isn’t.  There was a video posted on the Tabletop Minions channel last week (Friday, 7 July 2023) in which Uncle Atom presented a route to get into the hobby from scratch with a budget of $100.  The HAWKs presented a similar challenge back in 2003, although our $100 budget then specifically excluded the tools and painting supplies that were necessary to build the projects.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the $100 November 2003 budget translates into $165 in June 2023.  Add that to the excluded paint, glue, and tools, and it looks like we were pretty generous in our conditions back in ‘03.

Uncle Atom’s budget includes paint, brushes, and tools.  After considering the matter for a while, I went shopping.  Here’s what I came up with:

I decided to follow Uncle Atom’s advice and start at the Dollar Tree.  For $5.50, I came home with a craft knife, some glue, and a package of cheap brushes that I won’t care about when they get messed up.

For rules, I decided that I would use Nordic Weasel’s Knyghte, Pyke and Sworde, which is available at Wargames Vault for $9.99. KPS is a skirmish game using only standard six sided dice, with forces of up to 20-30 figures per side, but still usable at smaller levels.  So, as troops get painted, the games can begin before all the figures are finished.  Uncle Atom allowed that d6s were probably available for scrounging, so we’ll count them as free although I could have bought a package of them a the Dollar Tree for $1.25.

For figures, I decided that this was a good excuse to paint a set of 1/72 scale figures I’d been wanting to do anyway.  For $25 (including shipping!) on eBay, I was able to find a box of the Italeri Medieval Tournament.  This set was originally pointed out to me over on Benno’s Figures Forum when someone posted pictures of the civilians from the set they had painted.

This set includes some tournament knights and specators, plus a viewing stand and the barrier for jousting.

In addition, it comes with one set of the Italeri Hundred Years War English.

It also comes with one set of their opponents, the Hundred Years War French.

The box contains a total of 55 foot figures and 20 horsemen, which should be plenty for a reasonable KPS game.

In order to paint these figures, I would need some primer.  I already have a can, but I priced Krylon Fusion matte black at $6.98.  I’ve used this successfully on 1/72 plastics before.

Uncle Atom used an Army Painter starter set with 10 colors and a brush for $30, but in looking around on Amazon I found a pack of 16 Vallejo “Medieval Colors” for $28.74.   It includes a black and a white for mixing and an assortment of metallic colors, but is a little short on browns, so I’ll have to see what I can do with mixing.  At least most of the horses are caparisoned, so the lack of horse variety will be less apparent.       

To finish the miniatures, a large (60ml) bottle of Vallejo satin varnish cost $7.96.

I ordered a set of three small brushes from some unknown supplier on Amazon for $6.59. I am dubious about their durability and ability to hold a point, but we shall see.  I intend to use the cheaper Dollar Tree brushes as much as possible to save wear and tear on the little brushes.

I priced felt for a ground cloth from Joann Fabrics.  They’ll sell you a yard of 72” width felt for $7.99.  I haven’t gotten over to the local Joann to see what they have in stock yet. That would give me a 3’ by 4’ battlefield with some left over for other possible uses in a potential Phase 2.

So, there we have the plan. The grand total for all of that is $98.75, leaving a surplus of $1.25, enough to buy one thing at the Dollar Tree if necessary.

I am going to count a few things as free which might be reasonably found around a house.  I will need some sand for base texturing.  If I wanted the easiest and cheapest circular bases I could find, I would mount the troops on pennies.  Since I intend to use these troops after I paint them, I will mount them on steel washers which will engage with my magnetic transport boxes, but the pennies would actually work as well for most people.  I will use some white glue.  I will also mount the troops on large craft sticks for painting as I usually do since I have a huge box of them, although strips of corregated cardboard could easily be salvaged and would work as well.

The scenery situation is a bit dire, with nothing but the contents of the box and a ground cloth.  I’ll also count as free some buildings from the  Dave Graffam Models free sample selection. Those are still some way off in the future.  

Given the scenery situation, if I actually get this completed, my Phase 2 challenge will be to enhance the game with a $50 scenery budget.  That will still be under the $165 current value of the 2003 challenge. 

By the way, I might note that my 2003 challenge entry was a 54mm medieval project, using figures that are now out of production.  While I’ve added a few things to the original set, it remains one of my top 6 most played projects since I started keeping records in 1999, so I count it as a solid success.