Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge: Pregame

The stars aligned this year and I'm finally able to participate in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. The challenge runs from December 20 to March 20, and participants score points for painting up figures during that timeframe. There are prizes for those who manage to hit various point thresholds, duels between various challengers and thematic bonus rounds, but it's primarily a fun diversion for the miniature painting community to help motivate each other in getting our figures painted up.  I've been an observer for the last 4 or 5 challenges, but a variety of work and life situations always prevented me from signing up. This year I finally get to take a shot at it.

Here's what I'm hoping to finish during the challenge:

  • Fireforge Medieval Foot x48 (240 points)
  • Gripping Beast Arab Foot x40 (200 points)
  • Fireforge Cavalry x12 (120 points)
  • Rogue Trader era GW figures x20 (100 points)
  • Ancient Spanish Foot x16 (80 points)
  • Ancient Numidian Elephants x2 (30 points?? They're pretty beefy)
That's a total of about 770 points, and represents half of my lead pile. Since this is my first year I'm aiming for only 400 points, but I hope to exceed that and polish off all of these figures. I'm looking forward to the contest, but I'd love to hear any tips from "old hands" who've racked up points in previous years.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Star Wars Armada

The new Mon Calamari MC-80, a luxury liner converted for war.
It makes up for a weak hull with powerful shields

Looking over my blog I see I haven't been posting very much, which is odd because I've been playing a ton of miniature games over the last few months. Most of my games have been of Star Wars Armada. Check out a report on my most recent game after the jump.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Making Terrain Boards Part 6: Grass and Vegetation

I was tempted to leave my terrain boards in their barren, desert-like state, but eventually forged on and added grass, shrubs and vegetation. Check out my technique after the jump.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holiday Miniature and Game Sales! Black Friday 2015

It's time for the annual round up of holiday sales starting on Black Friday. Tons of board games, war games, miniatures, and hobby tools for the discerning die-roller in your house. Plus, there's a new Star Wars movie coming out in a month, which means there's a bulk freighter's worth of associated game and hobby gifts that will likely bleed over into the wish list of your tabletop gaming geek. Let's get started after the jump!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Making Terrain Boards Part 5: Dirt and Stone

Yet another in my ongoing terrain board construction series. In this session I add some dirt and stone and the terrain boards begin to take on something resembling their final state. Join me after the jump for the details.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Star Wars Armada: Painting Rebel Starfighters

I've been playing a lot of Star Wars Armada lately.  Easy to learn, enough decisions each round to keep interesting, local opponents and c'mon, "STAR WARS", have made it my go to game this summer. The paint jobs on the capital ships look good enough for play, but the bare plastic fighters were driving me nuts each time I got them on the table. I finally found some time over the long weekend to rectify that. Painting tips and pics of my first batch of Rebel starfighters after the jump.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Making Terrain Boards Part 4: Building Hills

I spent some more time on my terrain boards, adding hills and mapping out some roads. It took some time to get everything juuuuuust right. See my progress after the jump.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Making Terrain Boards Part 3: Cutting the River

The key feature of the terrain boards I'm building is the river that winds its way across all three surfaces, providing a tactical challenge for figures that can't cross it or needing to capture bridges and fords across it. See how I did it after the jump.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Historicon 2015

I'd written off Historicon this year after we made plans for a week long vacation in California. I couldn't spare the additional days off, and resigned myself to visiting one of the other HMGS cons later in the year. My son really wanted to attend Historicon though, and after he pleaded with my wife and I we drove down for a short Saturday only visit. My pics from our trip after the jump.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Update

I saw a lotta cool stuff recently

I haven't posted lately because my summer has been so busy. Work continues on the terrain boards, but I've been doing quite a bit more hobby and gaming related activities as well. Check out my adventures after the jump.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Making Terrain Boards Part 2: Base and Edges

With planning complete (see Part 1 here) I moved on to the early stage of construction for my skirmish terrain boards. This is my first stab at terrain boards and I'm learning as I go. Check out my progress after the jump.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Making Terrain Boards Part 1: Planning

A portion of a beautiful terrain board from Wargames Illustrated Historicon 2014 display

I've always loved the diorama aspect of wargames,  but my focus always tends to drift towards painting up figures rather than making terrain. The fields, walls, buildings and trees that cover our wargame tables have such a great impact on the look of the game, they may actually be more vital to creating the overall look of a wargame rather than the figures themselves.

I have plans to create a large 9 x 5 foot grassy terrain cloth, similar to my desert wasteland cloth, but that requires a 9 x 5 foot table which I don't have. Constructing that large wargame table is at least a year in the future, but I couldn't stand my plain green terrain mat anymore. I've begun working on some terrain boards as the basis for skirmishes set in northern Europe (Saga, Lion Rampant, WWII ETO, fantasy battles, etc.)

Update: I've made a lot of progress since this first post. Here's a full list of my terrain board posts.

Research and Resources

I've never built a terrain board, so I searched for examples and tutorials by those who have more experience creating wargame terrain. I learned a ton these folks and highly recommend checking out their sites and videos:

The Problem with Terrain Boards 

I looked at tons of terrain boards and tutorials built by masters of the hobby. Despite their skill at replicating the natural world with bits of foam and paint, there are a few artifacts that always creep in that spoil the illusion for me: seams and corners.


I love the roads on these boards, but it's a shame there are so many seams

There are very few straight edges or 90 degree corners in nature. The seams between terrain boards jump out as unnatural, not only because they create a visual distinction between two otherwise unbroken area of ground, but because seams are so straight. I toyed with the idea of creating terrain boards with curving, scalloped edges that would fit together a bit like the interlocking halves of a yin-yang symbol but decided the trouble wasn't worth it. Instead I'm opting for a simpler solution. Many terrain boards are built on 1' x 1' or 2' x 2' squares. To reduce the total number of seams on the table I'm opting for large 2' x 4' terrain boards. Storage will be a bit trickier, but I think the reduction in total seams will be worth it.


One of the advantages of terrain boards over terrain cloths is the ability to created sunken features like streams and rivers. I wanted to include some sort of water feature but I wanted to avoid the other telltale sign of wargame terrain, the river grid. Because terrain boards are usually designed to be reconfigured into different arrangements, features that cross from one board to another (such as roads and rivers) need to enter and exit each board at the same place so they can be swapped out interchangeably. Unfortunately that leads to rivers entering and exiting boards in completely straight line, or making a hard 90 degree turn to exit one of the other board edges. When all of the boards are laid out the river snakes across the table in linear fashion, all straight lengths and 90 degree turns. Despite how good the rest of the terrain looks, the unnatural configuration of such a feature blows my suspension of disbelief.

Gorgeous terrain I can only dream of emulating, but aargh! the elbow corners in that river!

I was determined to avoid any sort of river grid. I experimented with a few layout options before striking on my solution. My river would enter and exit each terrain board at the same point, but at a 45 degree rather than 90 degree angle. By offsetting the river in such a way I'm hoping to avoid the dreaded river grid syndrome, while still allowing the terrain boards to reconfigure into different layouts.

Miniature Terrain Boards for Miniature Terrain Boards 

My 1 inch by 2 inch foam core mockups

I did some initial planning on grid paper, but to get a real feel for the boards I created some foam core mockups that I could draw on and move around. Integrating the river feature limits the number of configurations for the boards but I can get a total of five different layouts from just three terrain boards. Check it out:

I've also got some plans to integrate some dirt roads or trails, but I want to get some of the larger geographic features worked out before I commit to those.

This is a pretty daunting project and I'm learning as I go, but I'm making steady progress and I'll post updates as I go. If you have any tips, tricks or recommendations, please let me know!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Back with Reaper Bones Marsh Trolls

I took a diversion into nostalgia by picking up a dozen old Rogue Trader figures but after stripping, cleaning, reassembling and customizing those old beakie marines I didn't have the steam left to paint them up. Recognizing the signs of hobby burn out I took a little break until my painting juices got flowing again. Happily, I got the urge to paint again just a few weeks later and used my fresh enthusiasm to knock out a few Reaper Bones figures from the first kickstarter.

Most of the Marsh Troll paint jobs I've seen color them green, but I wanted to give them a bit of contrast when they take the field next to my green snake and lizardmen. I gave them a coat of Folk Art mustard yellow and then various washes of Army Painter and Winsor & Newton brown inks.

The swamp plants are bits snipped from some decorative plastic greens I found at the local craft store. On such a large base could probably add quite a bit more foliage, but I was hesitant to obscure too much of these monsters.

I also knocked out a few more female "player characters": a paladin and a halfling. I'm definitely noticing both the strengths and weaknesses of the Bones material. The plastic is extremely cost effective, but on small, man sized figures I've run into a number of obscured details. Noseless faces, shallow detail, and difficult to remove mold lines make Bones less than ideal for hero characters. For large creatures or monsters (who might look more vicious sans nose), Bones are fine, but I think I'll be sticking to metal or hard plastic for man sized figures in the future.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Renedra Mud Huts

Taking a break from painting figures to work on some terrain projects. I plan on using these Renedra Mud Huts and Acheson stone walls for some Crusades games, but I have quite a lot to paint up before I can pit Franks against Saracens.

It's more likely these get into play as part of a sci-fi skirmish, so I've tried to keep my colors consistent with my desert wasteland terrain mat. I figure these can sub in as primitive habitation for alien natives or something.

Getting the colors and weathering correct proved quite a challenge. I repainted the huts two or three times, and used all manner of washes and weathering powders and I'm still not totally satisfied. All well, life's too short. Time to call these done and move on to another project.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Gripping Beast Dark Ages Baggage Horses

I knocked out some baggage animals by Gripping Beast. These should be useful for Saga or a host of other games where they can serve as game objectives. I'm fairly happy with the sculpts, but the shaggy hair was a bit tricky on them. A bit too shallow to hold a wash or pick up drybrushing.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Trying out "To the Strongest"

After finishing up my latest batch of Romans I was eager to get them on the table. Rather than pull out my trusty Hail Caesar rules though, I decided to christen them with "To the Strongest", Simon Miller's new diceless, grid based wargame. Check out our first stab at the rules after the jump.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Quick and Easy Grid Markers for "To the Strongest"

I picked up Big Red Bat's "To the Strongest" the other day, a new set of ancient and medieval wargame rules that use a grid to regulate movement and distance. I didn't want to mar my game mat with grid lines or ugly stickers, so I whipped up some "table scatter" style rock piles to mark the corner of each grid point. They were pretty easy to put together:

Step 1) Drops of white/PVA glue on wax paper

Step 2) Model railroad ballast. When the white glue dried I added a few drops of Woodland Scenics Scenic Glue to each pile as well.

Step 3) I added some additional white glue and grass flock for about half of the stone piles. And done!

I set up the table for a trial of "To the Strongest" and was pleased to see the stone piles clearly marked the game grid, but combined with other table scatter and terrain did not call too much attention to themselves.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Warlord Games Romans vs. Wargames Factory Romans

I polished off another 48 figures for my late Republic era Romans, this time using the plastic sculpts from Warlord Games. I started my entry into ancients wargaming with Wargames Factory's release years ago, and now Warlord's latest will be joining them on my table. To see how the two manufacturer's output match up join me after the break.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Year's Dungeon Bash

After this summer's dungeon crawl I was eager to make some tweaks to the rules and run it again. The holidays seemed like an awesome time to get some friends together so we grabbed some beers and dice on New Year's Eve and ran a wintery dungeon crawl. All the details after the jump.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Year End Round Up

If it's not lead, it doesn't count as adding to "Lead Mountain", right? Right?

It's a new year, so time to review my hobby accomplishments this year and plan for next year.


This year I completed:

  • 28mm Foot: 67
  • 28mm Cavalry: 20
  • Elder Gods: 1
  • Small Buildings: 4
  • Dwarven Forge Dungeons: 7 sets and countless bits of dungeon scatter
  • 15mm Vehicles: 8
That doesn't seem like a ton compared to previous years, but those dungeons took up lots of time to complete, I painted and repainted the 15mm vehicles a few times as I learned how to use my new airbrush and weather tanks, and I have dozens of painted figures that just need to be based before I count them as complete.

I've tried not to add to my lead pile (although the Christmas presents pictured above that arrived this year aren't helping, but that's not my fault!) and worked to steadily chip away at it as I can.

I attended four conventions this year, including Barrage, my first small local con. With my work and family vacation schedule tying me up during the HGMS cons, I'm looking to branch out again to some smaller local cons to get in my quality gaming.

Unfortunately I've come to realize that my usual gaming group isn't going to be able to get together for sessions as regularly as I'd like. Distance, work and family obligations certainly put a crimp in our free time, so I'm trying to locate some wargamers a little closer to home.

On an encouraging note, my son is really picking up steam as a game opponent. I don't post most of the games we play, but we're usually rolling dice with a board game, RPG or card game most weekends. It's nice having an opponent in house :)

This year I managed a few games of Hail Caesar, we finally got into SAGA (which is a blast), and I ran two of my home-brewed Dungeon Bash games. Not bad, but I'd certainly like to be playing more in 2015.

I'm going to remain conservative this year, and concentrate on projects and periods I've already started. I still have a massive amount of Reaper Bones to work through, quite a bit of Roman and Celtic lead to paint up, an expansion of my SAGA/Hail Caesar 1st through 3rd Crusades figures, and a handful of Martians to tackle. That's plenty to keep me busy for the year.

The real trick is going to be finding folks to play with. Oh to live in England where you can't throw a stone without hitting a beardy fellow wargamer (or so I hear). So how'd you do? Did you complete your 2014 hobby projects, or is the 2015 Backlog just that much longer now?