Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wrapping up 2013

It's the end of the year. Time to wrap up what I managed to accomplish in 2013 and make some plans for 2014.

I'll need to find time to polish off this monster in 2014 too!

Painting Totals for 2013 

28mm foot: 111, 28mm mounted: 17 which is about half of what I knocked out last year. It was an eventful year with a move to a new house and a new job which didn't leave a lot of time for painting. Hoping to get back to 2012 totals in 2014.

I failed to get up to 6 divisions per side for Hail Caesar, but I did manage to get a pair of basic forces for SAGA completed, and I made a dent on my Reaper Bones. I also managed to resist adding new periods to the lead pile which is good, and with a mountain if lead already on hand I think I'm going to focus on getting it painted up.

Games Played: 6 
One fewer than last year! Again, I spent 5 months in temporary housing with no room for wargaming. That said, we did play quite a bit of King of Tokyo and Pandemic. I'm quite eager to push some lead around in the new year.

Conventions: 1 
Urgh! Scheduling this year really put a crimp in convention attendance (we moved into our new house during Fall In), but I did manage to get a few new friends to join us for Historicon and they're already making plans to attend again this summer. So overall I count that as a win :)

Games to Play in 2014 

I finally have enough painted figures to give SAGA a try. It's long been my back burner side project, and I would have preferred to get some dark ages battles before the game line had wrapped up it's entire run. Still, I've heard lots of good things about SAGA, and the demos I've played at cons have been fun, so I'm looking forward to take a deeper dive into the rules.

Fireball Forward
I've really enjoyed every game of Fireball Forward I've played at cons, and my buddy Mike and I are jonesing to get it on the table. My soviets are ready to go, and Mike's Germans are nearly so. We just need to get them finished up and a few of the markers and flags necessary for the game and we can give an infantry game a whirl. I'd like to get some tanks on the table too (something I think Fireball Forward does well), so hoping I can get both some panzers and T-34's put together and painted up quickly too.

Hail Caesar 
We have a good handle on the rules, but Mike and I have been talking about making a few adjustments. I think we're both ready to move beyond straight up slugging matches, but our first attempts at scenarios pulled from the old Tabletop Teasers weren't quite satisfying. We're also thinking of trying a fantasy version of Hail Caesar as well.

Command and Colors: Ancients 
I picked up the board game this summer, hoping to get my ancients fix while in temporary housing awaiting the completion of our home. Only got as far as getting the stickers applied, but I'm hoping to get in a few games, albeit with a full hex marked table and 28mm figures rather than the blocks and board.

Dungeon Delves 
I've got quite a few of the Reaper Bones figures painted (and many, many more to go) plus an unopened box of Dwarven Forge terrain. Looking forward to doing some orc bashing with my son, and I'm pretty sure my regular game group will want a few sessions of dungeoneering as well. Not sure if we'll use Song of Blades and Heroes, an expanded version of
Dungeon Crawl Junior, or good ol' DnD.

I don't mean the one with the white and red pegs. I played a pretty fun WWII naval game at the last Historicon, and I've quite suddenly gotten the urge to do some spaceship gaming too. I like the idea of a simple felt cloth and a handful of vessels duking it out, but I'm not quite sure what period or theme I'd like to tackle yet.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dungeon Crawl Junior

We're finally getting settled into our new home and with our Christmas shopping and parties wrapped up I managed to get some minis on the table. My son and I have messed about with a variety of D&D type games, but no matter how simple I tried to tweak the rules, they always still felt too complicated. I did some on-the-fly game creation this afternoon that stripped them down to the bare minimum and had two hours of fun with the boy today. He was able to internalize the rules quickly and ran a dungeon crawl for me for over an hour. Details on dungeon crawling for kindergartners after the jump.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving, from the Native Perspective

Here's a great article on Smithsonian's site about the colonization of New England by the pilgrims from the American Indian perspective. There's a lot here I hadn't heard before: the system and rules of fealty between the various native villages, the harsh rites of passage to enter adulthood, the natural technology that was superior to the classically "advanced" European homes, and more.

This bit makes me want to paint up some eastern woodland natives for some skirmishes:
Armed conflict was frequent but brief and mild by European standards. The catalyst was usually the desire to avenge an insult or gain status, not conquest. Most battles consisted of lightning guerrilla raids in the forest. Attackers slipped away as soon as retribution had been exacted. Losers quickly conceded their loss of status. Women and children were rarely killed, though they were sometimes abducted and forced to join the victors. Captured men were often tortured. Now and then, as a sign of victory, slain foes were scalped, and in especially large clashes, adversaries might meet in the open, as in European battlefields, though the results, Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island Colony, noted, were “farre less bloudy, and devouring then the cruell Warres of Europe.”

Great article, lots of power struggles and political machinations by the various Native leaders, and fodder for painting up and playing out some conflicts between the two societies.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Black Friday and Holiday Wargame Specials

I've been scouting a few wargame deals popping up this year for Black Friday, and many appear to be running through Christmas. Have you seen any other great holiday game or hobby specials I missed?

Wargame and Miniatures Sales and Deals

Tabletop World's Christmas deal.
"Yes dear, I bought these for our
'Christmas Village'.  I'll just hold on
to them with my wargame things
for the rest of the year."
  • The WarStore is running a 25% off special for a bunch of Flames of War items. Use their 'BlackFriday' coupon for an extra 5% off. Runs through Dec 2.
  • Lone Gunman (15, 28mm fantasy and some modern) is offering 25% with code '5years'
  • Crossover (28mm super heroes) is offering 15% with code 'blackfriday'
  • Legio Heroica (15 and 20mm Ancients, Medieval and Renaissance) is offering 20% orders over 60 Euros, 25% off orders of 120 Euros.
  • Victrix is running a great "buy two boxes, get one free" deal now through Jan. 5.
  • CP Models has a "buy 5, get 6" deal on all of their figures (20mm WWII, 28mm historical, sci fi and horror, and more) now through Dec 31.
  • Tabletop World is offering some awesome free terrain for large orders (starting at 80 Euros). I love the look of their models, and this looks like a great deal if you are looking to invest in some beautiful terrain. Runs through Dec. 31.
  • Architects of War 10% to 30% discounts on many, many miniature lines, free minis with larger orders, free shipping (U.S.A.) on orders over $50 plus more specials popping up every few hours. Ends Dec. 1 
  • The WarStore is running a 25% off special for a bunch of Flames of War items. Use their 'BlackFriday' coupon for an extra 5% off. 
  • Fantasy Flight Holiday Sale  DEEP discounts on Dust, Wings of War ($5 per plane!), board and card games. 
  • Clear Horizon Miniatures  Now through Dec 20, three packs of 15mm sci fi troops for $23USD, a 15% savings.
  • Two Hour Wargames 20% off until midnight on Nov 29 with code 'bf20'
  • Effigy Miniatures 40% off everything until Dec 1 
  • Hydra Miniatures retro sci fi sale starting Friday
  • Indus Miniatures "War in India" figures, 20% off through Dec 5. with code 'black20'
  • Syr Hobbs Wargames Buy four packs, get the 5th free. Plus free fire and smoke counters on order of $50 or more. 
  • Ground Zero Games Free minis with each order, plus a discount voucher for the new year! Offer expires Dec. 20th.
  • GHQ 20% off orders of $100 or more. Be sure to read the details of implementing the coupon code on their forum. 1 day only! Ends at 12:01 AM on Nov 29.
  • Splintered Light (15, 20, 28mm Fantasy) Black Friday only, 20% off with code SLM13
  • Miniature Building Authority  10% off everything, plus some deeper discounts. Black Friday only I believe.
  • Miniature Market  Over 800 items on sale Black Friday, many at liquidation prices.

Wargame Gift Guide

Need to find a great gift for that special wargamer in your life? There are quite a few boxed sets and games just waiting to be discovered under a tree.
Bolt Action Pegasus Bridge boxed set.
Awesome! A laser cut model of the bridge, 30 figures, support weapons, decals, scenario sheet and more. You'll need the Bolt Action core rules to play though.
Fall of the Reich
Just released this fall, Plastic Soldier Company's rules for fighting the desperate defense of Germany. 
Ronin - Skirmish Wargaming
Want a taste of samurai action without committing to painting up armies for a new period? Osprey's 'Ronin' rules along with figures produced by North Star offer an easy way to get the clash of katanas to your tabletop.
Judge Dredd Starter Set.
Boxed sets of the miniatures (like the Cursed Earth Desperadoes and Justice Department Judges ) have been available for a bit, but Warlord has recently released a boxed set containing 18 figures, starter guide and rules.
The Wargaming Compendium
Henry Hyde's Tome. A massive collection of wargaming advice from one of the hobby's experts. I've heard it's great for anyone just entering the hobby, or old hands looking for new tricks. Definitely on my list this year.
Mega Hobby Set (Limited Edition) 
OMG look at this thing! Paints and tools are usually a "necessary evil" purchase for me (I'd rather get a pack of figures) but this is downright drool-worthy. Paints, brushes, sprays, tools, glues... so much stuff to replenish the hobby table.
Warriors & Warlords: The Art of Angus McBride Angus McBride is my favorite illustrator of military and fantasy subjects. This volume is a collection and history of his work. I know that I've picked up a number of Ospreys just to get access to his color plates, and paging through a volume dedicated to his artistry seems like a lovely way to spend Christmas morning.
Edge of the Empire RPG
Just released this year, I know a number of wargamers were indulging in some roleplaying with Fantasy Flight's new Star Wars RPG. I think this would be a great treat for gamers to share an aspect of their hobby with kids who might have a little more familiarity with the Battle of Hoth rather than Pickett's Charge. They also released the Star Wars: The Card Game which looks similar to the Lord of the Rings card game that we enjoyed in our house.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reaper Goblins in their Fall Collection

I've spent the last few weeks applying my creative skills to my son's Halloween costume rather than figure painting, but I managed to finally polish off these goblins to join my earlier Halloween Reaper Bones figures.

I had some challenges with this group. The milliput I used to extend the flagstone bases didn't dry properly and needed to be replaced, the reposing using the hot water technique failed to set, and the detail and sculpting on these figs was still pretty shallow. Once I got to painting though, things moved rapidly. I have a ton of greenskin goblins in storage, so I opted for a slightly different color scheme for these guys.

In any case, I was happy to get them finished and they turned out well enough for tabletop skirmishes. And with these figures wrapped up I'll likely be going on a brief painting hiatus. Our new home has finally been completed, we have a settlement date, and I expect to be moving out of our temporary residence within the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to unpacking all of the figures, games and terrain currently in storage and getting back to rolling dice soon!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Flesh and Bones. More Halloween Reaper figures

I dug out a few more horror themed figures from the Reaper Bones pile. First up, a Frankenstein-esque flesh golem, cobbled together from a variety of corpses.

Flesh Golem

"C'mere, give us a hug."

Another extremely bizarre pose, and despite the flexible Bones material, I was unable to contort his arms into anything more fitting. Maybe he should be throwing his arm around his best bro' Sasquatch.

I used three different skin tones: a cold gray, a dark chocolate and a grisly tan to suggest the creature was stitched together from at least three different corpses. Seams received a wash of dark Vallejo Game Color Charred Brown, with brighter red highlights. Stitches got a stripe of black to get them to pop, followed by a highlight of tan.

Arrius, Skeletal Warrior

This undead warrior was part of the Grave Danger set from the original Bones Kickstarter. I wanted to do something a bit different with his armor, so opted for a deep green coupled with a coppery brown for his cloak and trim.

This is a nice figure, a decent pose, and while his armor is a bit extravagant, it isn't covered in skulls or spikes. His cricket bat weapon is a touch odd, but I figure you could remove it and replace it with a sword or something.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More Spooky Reaper Bones: Vampire, Rat Swarm and Bat Swarm

I'm having fun picking out more of the Halloween Bones from last year's Kickstarter. Sticking to the theme is also helping me crank out some of the less interesting sculpts, like these swarms of rats and bats.

The mass of bats had some pretty shallow detail, and a confusing collection of wings, heads and bodies. I used some pretty stark gray drybrushing and a combination of brown paint and inks to pick out the furry bodies, but this still a pretty chaotic mini. If I had to do it again I might go for a pure comic book feel and pick out the bats in bright, blood red to give them a little character.

To match the flagstone bases of the giant rats, I sculpted some dungeon floors out of milliput for these rat swarms. It was fun! I started adding flagstone bases to a few other minis, and even picked up some sculpting tools. Hoping to break out the green stuff and do some more extensive sculpting, as even flagstone bases are tricky for me. Practice makes perfect.

For the vampire, I wanted to keep attention on the actual figure, so eschewed using bright colors on his cloak, saving the deep red for his armor (inspired by the design of Dracula's armor in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula movie from the 90's). Skin was a simple gray three tone with blue ink wash

I was tempted to add a glass of red liquid in that outstretched hand. "I never drink... wine."

I've been checking out the Bones II Kickstarter currently running, and I'm not quite as hot on it as the original. Reaper seems to be loading it up with miniatures that are pretty similar to the ones from Bones I. I might pick up a few of the individual add on figures, but with a stockpile of Bones figures on hand, I think I may pass on the core set.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How Ghastly! Reaper Bones Rats and Ghast

With all of my terrain building materials in storage, I'll need to postpone my celebration of Flocktober until a later date. Instead, to celebrate the Halloween season I've decided to knock out as many spooky Bones from the Kickstarter bundle I received this summer.

Reaper Ghast

This fella has some ropey musculature and a weird pose, but I think overall it's not a bad sculpt. The detail in the face seemed a bit soft, but we'll just chalk that up to decay setting in.

Reaper Rats

Rats don't seem too exciting, but these little guys have quite a lot of personality. I gave them a black undercoat, and hit their undersides and legs with lighter grays. Ears, paws, snout and rail got a base of medium brown. I picked out some ridges on their tales with a few stripes of pink and touched up their ears with the pink as well.

I'm expecting a shipment of the Dwarven Forge terrain and tried out some of Stefan's painting techniques on the flagstone bases of the rats. Black undercoat with a drybrush of dark gray, a few stones picked out in medium brown and then an overall drybrush of greenish tan.

So much kickstarting! Reaper just launched their second Bones kickstarter. I thought I could resist, but already I'm being tempted by the quirky monsters they are offering.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Back With Some Vikings

Sometimes life can really get in the way of painting up tiny little men and throwing dice to see if they kill each other. It's taken a month to get our latest real life crises sorted out, but I finally managed to find some time to get back to the painting table. A raiding party of SAGA vikings after the jump.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gateway Games for Kids: GUBS

How do you transition a kid from the simple (but unchallenging) children's games like Candyland to something a little more substantial that the whole family can enjoy? I think I stumbled on to a great gateway game, completely by chance.

My son just turned five, and because we play a lot of games in our house he's acquired a decent collection of children's games. Candyland was great when he was two to teach him the concept of a game, and while he was thrilled with Chicken Cha Cha Cha and Curious George Hide and Seek Zoo , they didn't quite have the tactical complexity I look for in a game.

During our recent pack and move we unearthed a mint copy of Gubs, a game I had picked up from Barnes and Noble the previous Christmas for about 10 bucks and kept on hand as a back-up present in case we needed to fill out a visitor's stocking or provide an impromptu gift. With most of his toys and games packed up, we decided to give Gubs a try, hoping to eek out even 30 minutes of entertainment from it. I was surprised to find that it turned out to be a great little game and taught some important concepts I know we'll be able to build on in the future. A complete review of this little gem after the jump.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reaper Bones: Zombies

Working through more undead, I painted up the zombies included in the Reaper Bones kickstarter box. Having read about the hydrophobic nature of the Bones material I decided to try a different technique with these shambling undead. I wasn't too fond of the two disco boogie undead, so didn't mind sacrificing them in the name of science.

I cut the raised arm away from the figure's head and then used the boiling water technique to reposition the hand.

I gave these guys a base coat of green brown, followed by a brown ink wash, and highlights of the original green brown and finally a mix of green brown mixed with a light flesh tone.

I chose not to thin my paint with water for the base coats on these figures to see if I could create a tighter bond of the paint to the Bones plastic. Unfortunately I think the thick paint ended up obscuring details and introducing unnatural clumpy texture to their skin. I continued to finish them as normal, but they wound up looking as if I had given them a hasty drybrush job.

While the painting experiment itself was a bust, these knock kneed zombies turned out to be great sculpts. My paint job didn't do them justice, and I'm hoping to pick up quite a few more to create a real horde of zombies.  The malformed rotten zombies didn't improve much in my opinion though, even after painting. Maybe they could be clipped away from their base and used as dungeon dressing?

Previous Articles: I've already written up a few articles about painting Reaper Bones. You might want to check out:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Painting Reaper Bones for Newbies: Skeletons

Did you get your Reaper Bones shipment? Do you suddenly have hundreds of miniatures beckoning to be painted? I've seen a huge upswing in the number of new painters who have jumped into the hobby with the Bones kickstarter which is great, but I can see how tackling a project like this could be a little intimidating for folks new to the hobby. Since I'd be working on painting up my own Vampire package of Bones, I thought I'd share my thoughts and tips for anyone working their way through the mountain of plastic Reaper delivered to us.

I'm getting started with the Skeleton warband. My tips for getting started painting Reaper Bones after the jump.

Monday, August 5, 2013

LEGO Goes to War: Brickfest 2013

We took the boy to the local LEGO fair again this year, and among the many custom creations were a number of historical or military themed models. I think whatever neuron gets triggered in wargamers to allow them to obsess over tiny plastic soldiers must be shared by Lego fans too. Snaps of the creations of our kindred spirits after the jump.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Conquest Miniatures' Norman Cavalry

Over the last year I've painted up a few Vikings, a whole village of levy archers, and just now completed the Darth Vaders of the Dark Ages - a dozen Norman knights. It's hard for me to see the Normans as anything but bad guys. I'm not from the UK, and don't have any sort of emotional ties to any of the various post-Roman clans, but reading about the initial conquest by William the Bastard it was hard for me not to identify with the plucky Harold and his army of underdogs who fought off viking invaders and Harold's nutty brother before finally falling to the Norman invaders. The Normans don't seem to have acted like anything but thugs in their adventures in Italy and during their Crusades in the Middle East either.

I was eager to get some of these signature units painted up for SAGA or larger wargames. Conquest Miniatures' plastic Norman Cavalry set seemed an affordable way of getting these classic dark age knights on to the table. My thoughts and a review of Conquest's figures after the jump.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Videos! New Total War: Rome II Trailer and History of Scotland Documentary

Total War: Rome II

I have a feeling this game is going to derail my painting this fall. I spent dozens of hours and late nights with the first Rome Total War, and I'm looking forward to the updated version. There's still quite a lot of Hollywood in this (Naval preparatory bombardments? Gigantic African elephants?) but I dig the focus on Hannibal and the Punic wars.

It looks like Total War: Rome 2 is set to release September 2, with free Greek city states downloadable content for preorders. Not sure if I should take advantage of the preorder or wait for the holidays when I'll have the time to devote to it.

History of Scotland

I was also hunting around YouTube for something to watch while I finished up some Normans for SAGA and stumbled upon a BBC production of the History of Scotland.

The first episode covered everything from the Romans fighting the Caledonians up to the appearance of "Scotland" as a political entity following the Battle of Brunanburh. Lots of fodder to spur games of Hail Caesar, Dux Britanniarum and SAGA. My knowledge of Scottish history is essentially nil, but I loved the first episode and I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the series. BBC always gets the best stuff.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Historicon 2013: Saturday

Saturday was our big gaming day, with games scheduled from 9am until 11pm. Luckily they were all a blast. Check out monsters, mutants and an ironclad after the jump.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Historicon 2013: Friday

We had a whirlwind of gaming and I fell behind in my Historicon updates. Friday was good, a leisurely morning in the vendor hall, a fun Lord of the Rings game, and our first try at World War II naval action. There were also tons of great looking games I only managed to snap some photos of.

Pics and thoughts after the jump!