Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Some Ladies

Copplestone Barbarian

A couple of minis I've done lately, both ladies. The first is a Copplestone Barbarian, who I painted like the Marvel comics version of Red Sonja. It was nice not doing another one in brown. I have to say again what a joy it is to paint these figures. Every bit of detail is the right size and shape to easily get a brush tip on and they don't take very long to complete as a result.

The next is another Jasmine Throne battalion trooper.. This one done in the style of a guy named Jugger. The hair was a bit boring looking, so I glazed it with thinned blue ink and I think it's OK now. I have to be careful of adding too many extra colors to members of this unit, as they will look motley enough with all the different shapes and skin tones when on the table.

I am now painting the white armor by base-coating the armor in Codex Grey, highlighting once with Astronomicon grey and final highlighting with pure white. It's giving me a pleasing result and doesn't involve mixing.

Khurasan JTFB trooper
Of course I've also been painting secret creatures for Khurasan, and started on my Cthulhu investigators, but there's no photos yet.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Scene goodies

So Useful!

The postman brought me a delivery from The Scene this chilly morning. I ordered some wasteland bikers and zombie body bags.. But I also got this great collection of bits for making scenery and conversions.

Resin trash skips, busted up 44 gallon drums and lots of little boxes. Handy for all kinds of terrain and objective model ideas!

Lots of great stuff on the site, go check it out!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Vulk Missileman

Vulk smash!

This is a Khurasan Vulk Missileman from the (still unreleased) Jasmine Throne Foreign Battalion range. He's huge (mounted on a 25mm base) and most certainly alien!

Full background details can be read here.

His big claws were slightly worrying from a modeling point of view so I tried to bend them both to approximately the same length and anchored one of them to his knee and the other to the base during assembly. I tried to do it in a way that looked natural. The claws also confused the heck out of my camera, so the shots are a little blurry.

Even though he's supposed to carry a missile weapon, it looked more like a beam cannon to me, so I painted the end of it as a lens.

My choice of white carapace armor is making these guys very slow, but I'm getting through them one at a time. Next is the female rifle trooper!

I am sorely in need of some dullcote.. I must remember to order some soon before my unvarnished minis outnumber the varnished.

Comparison with 20mm based troops
Long Live The Legion!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Throwdown Progress

Old, printer-killing design

The fist change I've made to Throwdown is toning down the cards so they will be less stressful to the home printer. I liked how they looked, but they really would have ravished most people's ink cartridges.

New, less inky cards.

Other than that, I came up with a really slick (IMHO) solo mechanic that doesn't require the Automated opponent to draw a hand of cards. I've really enjoyed it in my test games.

In line with this, I've replaced using a snap-fire card on the figure of your choice with using it to "set overwatch" instead. This is a bit more limiting, but that is actually a good thing as it forces the player to plan ahead a little, and it most importantly it means that you don't need to randomize if the AI player has a snap fire card in hand. Now either side may or may not set up overwatch using the same (now renamed) card when available. 

The next biggest change I made was to change the Assault card into a move+attack instead of just a close combat attack. It really helped make close combat more of an option and made beast-type figures actually dangerous.

I really stressed myself trying to think up a word that was different to Overwatch, but I caved in and just went with it in the end.

Finally, I added a game mechanic for one-liners. I'm not joking.

The game plays very smoothly and fast (IMHO again.. Lets see what the playtests reveal) and has quite a different feel to most systems. 

I have sent out a very limited number of initial test copies, and will be sending a couple more in the next few days. If you have not received one, you are not forgotten, I just have to be careful how many I have on the go at this stage, more will be forthcoming.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Gutter Gophers

From today's TMP preview announcement:

"Many strange creatures evolved in the End Times, but few were stranger than the hairless beasts that lived in tunnels in the ground, or in city sewers, breaking out enough concrete and asphalt so they could use gutter drains as access points.  In the cities the scavengers called them gutter gophers, and the name stuck, even in the blasted wildernesses of the world.
They had evolved from something, but what?  No one could say for sure.  Were they giant rodents or, as some said, lions bred with the giant crickets of the desert?  How was that even possible?
No matter what their origins the creatures were a terrifying menace to all, especially at night when they preferred to hunt, scrabbling up from their holes, creeping silently, then setting on the unwary victim in a pack, snapping at him.  All it took was one bite and the venom did its job, immobilising the victim, slowly dissolving its muscle tissue.
Silent on the approach, when they finally did attack one pack member would rear up and loose a deep bass howl that froze even the stoutest heart in mortal terror."

I painted these soon to be released Khurasan minis very quickly. Basing them took longer than usual, as I cut up plasticard to simulate broken concrete... But the painting was super fast.

I basecoated them with Vallejo basic skintone, which is very pale.. Paler then Citadel Elf flesh. In fact I'm so used to Citadel foundation paints that I was a bit surprised at having to do 3 coats or so to get an even finish.

Next i washed the whole mini in Citadel Ogryn flesh wash. I went back and did some highlighting with the thinned original color after it was dry.

The teeth and eyes were painted in with yellow and bone respectively, then had Citadel Devlan mud wash applied over them with the tip of my brush to seep into the detail and "line" them. When dry, I did a dot of white to give them some pop. It worked well for the subject I think, and was easier than what I normally do (paint the item black and then dot on the color).

These are great minis for all my favorite genres: Sci fi, post-apoc and Cthulhu, they fit perfectly and disgustingly into any game I might run!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Guncrabs! New Painting Techniques!

Guncrab on 20mm round base

Jon has previewed these figures on TMP, so I can unveil the mighty Khurasan Guncrabs here today!
I love these figures, which are a part of the Stikks faction and take the place of biological power-armor.

Painting these was interesting, as I tried some new approaches. First off, I chose a bone scheme, so I could use these alongside my Micropanzer aliens and my Khurasan Parachnids. The Guncrabs have 6 limbs, so fit better with the Micropanzer figs than GZG crusties.

Using inks to tint a monochrome shaded figure is a recent technique I wanted to give a try. It's not really a replacement for my usual style, but it's a great compliment to it and gets some very pleasing results with a lot less fuss.

I basecoated the figure in Citadel Denheb Stone, a pale buff color. Next I Citadel Devlan Mud washed the whole mini, then drybrshed Denheb Stone back on, doing some minor touch-ups while I was at it.
This is pretty normal for a bug mini, but Jon asked for a darker color in between the armor plates. On my test figure I painted bright red in and hoped the wash would tie it all together.. It didn't.

Instead I used Ogryn flesh wash painted in between the armor plates and slopped around major joints. I did another coat when dry, in places it was still too pale. I then used tiny dabs of Vallejo violet ink in the same areas to create a bit more contrast.

I picked out the eyes and weapons in black before painting them in last. The eyes were just painted white, then hit with a violet ink wash to tint the edges, which worked well and is a lot easier than dotting in highlights. I weathered the boltgun metal on the gun with Citadel Gryphonne Sepia wash.

I really like these minis and am really glad Jon has previewed them because I'm keen to feature them in some games! I'm busting to show you the other new figures I've done for Khurasan, but we will all just have to be patient.

Monday, 13 February 2012


I was in the midst of adapting and modifying various games when I decided to get back to working on my own. Naturally, the last 6 months of influences and other great games has significantly colored my ideas about solo gaming. Here are the core concepts that have survived:

1. Limited control
This sounds weird, but is something I picked up from the indispensable Solo Nexus blog. He uses simple systems of limting control over EACH force to increase solo enjoyment. playing Combat Cards and THW games both demonstrated to me the usefulness of this technique in solo gaming. It's not half bad in head to head play either, in games like Memoir 44, which I love.

2. Minimal list prep
Being able to get the stats sorted and bullets flying as quickly as possible makes me more likely to actually play a game.
Example: THW games
Counter-example: AE Bounty

3. Minimal clutter
My original Gut Check rules featured a ton of counters. I now find this messy and visually unappealing. Rules which use the minis themselves to indicate status are great. A few counters are OK, but they should not be all over the place and if they are model-able it is a bonus... I like modeling!
Example: Blood Bowl
Counter Example: Gut Check

4. Minimal Dice rolling
As a solo gamer,  I don't like rolling huge buckets of dice, or long strings of dice. For a while I got quite attracted to the idea of using a few polyhedrals, but that's limiting the ease of use for some people.
Example: iTEN
Counter Example: Warhammer

5 Easy force construction using any figures
A key part of the Throwdown idea is just grabbing some of the minis you already have painted and getting to it. Keeping forces small helps this, the 5 figure pack as a starting point seemed great to me.
Example: Combat Cards
Counter Example: 40K

6. Cinematic
Huh? That's right, I'm interested in movie-like action games, not realistic simulations. I admit it. I want to make a game that actually encourages or includes action movie tropes.
Example: And One For All
Counter Example: Advanced Squad Leader

I started off prototyping with an ordinary deck of playing cards. (The idea was that everyone had access to these cheaply). In a couple of days, I had something that worked surprisingly well.

I have now made up a set of custom cards for it, as while the game is still currently playable with a standard deck, it requires a bit of looking at the reference chart that I'd like to eliminate. It's much nicer looking at a "shoot" card in your hand than having to remember what equals what. With the custom deck, your game options are written in plain english on the cards themselves:

The cards, ready for print
Feature list:
Modern to Sci-fi feel, meaning a focus on gunplay. Actual technologies are somewhat abstracted though.( It's John Woo rather than Arthur C. Clarke.)

Suggested force size of 3-10 models
Use any figures, any scale. (15mm on a 25mm grid is just the default.)
Fully customizable but simple force construction
Uses just 1 deck of cards and a 1 page QRS to resolve all action, no dice.
Play on a 1" square grid, no measuring. (Free-move traditional play also supported by replacing squares with inches)

The rules need some playtesting, and I will be emailing the usual Blogosphere suspects I think might like to help in the next week or so. Unlike Gut Check, I am going to try selling this set as a print 'n play PDF as a proper project in the hopes that it will force me to finish it. I'm confident I can create something that meets or exceeds the current standard of PDF rules in terms of quality and value for money. I'm thinking  US $5 as a price point.

As well as the card deck, I'm thinking of including some printable gridded map boards.

The rules themselves are only 5 pages at the moment,  but are free of fluff, examples (needed), or descriptions of the hobby. There is also a single page QRS that has all the info you need for a game on it.

More to come...

Friday, 10 February 2012

Fan Favorite?

This is the 39th calling for extraction.. Is anybody out there?!

I did not win the Ambush Alley Strike Force competition as you may know. I'm very pleased to see the awesome 15mm Khurasan goodness of the Jasmine Throne battalion taking second place though, really cool.

The voting for Fan Favorite is still open via a poll at this address, so if you want me to win, CLICK HERE and vote for the 39th Gemini Orbital Rangers - Make me the people's champion!

As you can see, I'm not doing very well so far:

Desktop board mk2

For solo gaming, it turns out that (in my current flat) the ideal place for a solo game is at my desk so I can read docs/type a report on my computer while I play, and more importantly the game will not get "tidied up" by my girlfriend.
Due to my recent burst of gaming enthusiasm for Combat Cards, I decided to build a gridded board that I could use my 3d terrain on. The results were cheap and easy, but I'm sure I will build a better one at some stage.
The ingredients are pretty simple. 16x16" square of Foam core, wallpaper, paint, sharpie marker and ruler.

Why 16x16? Because combat cards uses a system of measuring that is based on division by 2. Very long range is the longest board edge, Long range is half that, medium range is half that etc. A 16" long board means that the smallest increment is 1". Coincidentally, it's also the perfect size to fit on the side of my desk as you can see here.

The terrain is all my Proxie models walls and Ramshackle Games resin pieces. The walls fit very well along the grid lines, and most of the resin pieces sit well on the grid. A couple of them are a bit thin and I'm considering making bases for them. I know many folks prefer free measuring in a game, but it's something I endure as a necessary evil at best. Having a gridded board means I don't have to measure, which helps me feel immersed.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Armies Army Figures launch!

Photo credit Armies Army

Armies Army are now taking pre-orders for the new range of near future/sci fi troopers I blogged about here.

At £3.50 per pack of 10, they are a steal. I ordered 2 packs already. Go get some!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Combat Cards: Solitaire scenario

Tonight I debut a small board I made out of my Star Station Zero art (scaled up to 25mm squares this time), for playing Forlorn: Hope.. But I haven't got all my xenos painted for that, so I decided to bash together a game of Combat Cards.

The board is perfect for quick games because it fits on my desk, so no need to move anything around setting up a bigger game. I'm so pleased with it I'm going to make another one just for Combat Cards games, that will be similarly gridded but designed to set up 3d terrain on.

(Excuse the photos, I'm playing late at night and my lighting isn't the best.)

Just add minis!

The official scenario calls for a square map, but I just used my FH board instead. A quick count showed that the board was 14 squares long, which meant distances would be:
VL= 14
L= 7
M= 4
I would allow 1 diagonal move per card activation per figure.

I grabbed my good 'ol Khurasan zombies and things from beyond for the attacking force:

12 zombies (Swarms)
5 horrors (Creatures)

And my freshly painted Artcrime Productions mercs for my troops. I chose:

1 Sarge (Command) 2pts
1 heavy weapon 3pts
2 infantry 4pts
1 fire support 4pts
1 Armored 4pts
=17 pts

I set up as per the scenario, with 1/3 of my force separated off at one end of the board. The zombies would enter the board via the entry points on the map. I drew my first hand of 6 cards and started to play!

Turn 1
I played RAPID MOVE on the Valkyrie, CAUTIOUS MOVE on the sarge and hung onto 2 op fires and a recover card.

Zombies move, the Valk uses op fires and eliminates 1, shakes the other. (The Heavy firepower of the suit granting it a +1 shift against the smushy zombies and rendering the horror's light protection useless).

Turn 2

Bad hand.. I discard the whole thing. I still get no immediately usable situations (you get to play any new situation cards after you finish playing or discarding), but I got 2 op fires.

Zombies move.. 1 contacts  a trooper who op fires with his shotgun, blasting it it back a space.

Turn 3
Tension mounts. The Valkyrie blasts apart another zombie, while the the shotgunner fires again into the staggering zombie, blowing off it's arm (Out Of Action)

Zombies move. The armless creature lurches to it's feet and stares blindly at it's tormentor. No further contacts, just a lot of groaning.

Turn 4
The AGL manages favorable drift and blows up 2 zombies, one is a mess and Out OfAction the other is blown off it's feet (shaken). Sarge's SMG patters off a creature's thick hide, forcing it to fall back.

The Zombies move closer, 2 make contact and fight a round of close combat.. the first takes down an infantryman (OOA), the heavy weapon wrestles with a Zombie, both are covered in blood and screaming (both shaken).

Turn 5
The Heavy gunner recovers, smashes loose  a rack of barrels and rolls behind them (Dig In card). The Valkyrie accelerates into a creature (Assault move) and smashes it in a stupor, but is also knocked back by the collision.

Zombies move. The Sarge op fires, badly injuring a tentacled creature bearing down on him (OOA).

Turn 6
My men panic (My cards suck) I discard, but gain no useful situations.

Zombies move. At the back of the board, the shotgunner knocks out the legs of one Zombie (shaken), wriggles free on his back (falls back), but is grabbed by a third and feels the tearing bite of the monster... He pulls a pin on his own grenade, taking the zombie out with him (both eliminated).

In the central chamber a terrible melee ensues, leaving one of the troopers unconcious (OOA)

Turn 7
Bravely, the trooper goes BACK IN ACTION and eliminates the staggering Zombie that downed him in a close assault then moves over to the Sarge... Sarge cautious moves back into the room, the Valkyrie rapid moves back to cover his rear.

Zombies move.  My AGL op-fires and shakes one of them, halting it in it's tracks but not harming it further, as the 40mm explosive fizzes harmlessly in it's ribcage.

Turn 8
The combo I have been waiting for is unleashed! My Heavy gunner recovers. The Valkyrie moves into room.. The Sarge uses ISSUE ORDERSand all units within 2 squares OPEN FIRE!

The Zombies are knocked back in a wave of pus and gunfire.. The deck is exhausted and I have hit my time limit.. Game over, I win!

At the end of the game, I only lost 1 Infantry unit, and eliminated 4 Zombies, 2 creatures. Did the layout help me? Yes, the zombies could not bring superior numbers to bear often, but equally, my fields of fire were very restricted.

I really enjoyed the game and am sold on the Combat Cards system. Once I was rolling, the game moved very fast and I managed to get through the whole game just looking at my cards and the QRS.

Zombies are not an especially tricky opponent, so I'm eager to try my own system of solo play against a shooting enemy. I'm going to try drawing 6 fresh cards for the enemy force each turn and using logic to play them out. During my turn, any time I move a figure in range of an enemy model, it will get a d6 roll of 6+ to play a "free" op-fire card, This is to simulate the uncertainty of how may op fire cards your opponent may have in his hand. This means the "AI" has a slight advantage over the player, but is more than compensated for by the lack of covering fire IMO.

Next report, we'll see how it goes!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Proxie Models Ruins

2 bags were used to make what you see.
A while ago, I ordered some ruined building sprues from Proxie Models in the US.

Proxie models is a one man operation and he casts his own designs in plastic. The prices are very reasonable and are a boon to the 15mm gamer.

I have long thought of urban ruins as the best terrain for a small skirmish. My main influence here would be from early days playing Necromunda and realizing that we were having a lot more fun on a 4x4 table using vertical space than we ever did on a 6x4 table that looked like a farmstead crossed with a golf course...

The ruins sprues are made of a hard black plastic. The detail is not incredibly crisp, somewhat similar to plastic army men. Once I'd snipped them apart I decided to add some more detail while I was glueing them together.

The first thing I did was assemble them with superglue. It seems to be holding well. The second thing I did was to use PVA to glue sand on the exposed edges. The existing edges were kind of rounded off looking.

Some bits and pieces from GZG and The Scene got glued on, as well as some resin pipe works from Old crow. I filled in a few of the window holes with foamcore and coffee stirrers to add some tactical interest.

Walls 1-3

Walls 4-5

Due to the shapes I chose to build, I ended up with 2 short pieces that I glued to either end of a piece of foamcore. I hacked up the edge with a craft blade and am quite happy with how it turned out.

Wall 6

Paint-wise, they were heavily overbrushed with citadel foundation adeptus battlegrey, then washed with an ink/kleer mix of black and peat brown. They were then drybrushed with various greys and patches of knarloc green to ease the uniformity. It's a subtle effect, but make s a difference.

I used the same scheme for my resin pieces from Ramshackle Games, and the two sit together well on the table. The resulting battle-scape is closer to post-apocalyptic than hard sci-fi, but it will do well for both types of game.