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.