Monday, June 18, 2018

Aquarium Pieces as Ruined Temples

An Aquarium piece from Blue Ribbon representing Cambodia's famous Bayon Temple at Angkor Wat
One of the perks of the long hours and hectic schedule of teaching in a public school is that I often receive gift cards for Christmas or at the end of the school year, as thanks from appreciative parents. I'd accumulated a few Amazon ones this year, so decided to finally pick up some aquarium pieces I'd seen others using and I had been wanting for a long time. Specifically, the Blue Ribbon Angkor Wat pieces. My Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago campaign will be set in a post-Apocalyptic Southeast Asia, so they will go great with the scratch-built temples I made for my Pulp games a couple years ago.
The ruined Bayon Temple looms out of the jungle, encrusted in vegetation
I was able to get three of them. Number one on my list was the Bayon Temple -- the famous ruin with the heads which look out in four directions. The piece is fairly large -- 9 1/2 inches tall by 6 inches wide. The first thing I noticed about these pieces is how well painted they actually are. I had assumed it would be a cheap, assembly line paint job and that I would be repainting them. Instead, I decided to keep the paint jobs as is.
I was surprised by how good the "out of the box" paint job was, so decided to keep it, adding only flocking
The only thing I did was re-flock the vegetation on them. In this temple's case, I added quite a bit. First, I painted select parts of the temple with white glue, then I flocked that glue with Woodland Scenics mixed green. Once that was dry, I blobbed on white glue on top of the flocking and applied darker clump foliage by Woodland Scenics. This gives it more of a three dimensional effect, as well as makes it look more encrusted in jungle vegetation.
A giant Khmer head rises up out of the jungle
 The next piece I purchased was a giant statue of a Khmer head. All of the vines you see are part of the terrain piece -- the only thing I did was to apply actual flocking to the piece. I thought the factory artists did a decent job of dry brushing the brown of the vines over a black base coat. I really like how this one has a tumbled column in front of it. The size is fairly massive, too -- 7 inches tall by about 6 inches wide. The back face of it (not shown), is simply carved into stone blocks. 
A close up of the statue, showing the clump foliage and flocking I applied.
I thought they did a good job creating this statue, realistically showing the seams in the stones that were used to create the massive face. They also got the thick, Khmer lips and drooping ear lobes right, as well. Good research and nice sculpting.
A Kneeling Buddha rises out of the jungle, a relic of lost civilizations
The third and final piece is a kneeling Buddha statue, holding a broken column in its cupped hands. Strangely, this one was already covered in the factory's poor attempt at flocking. They used a tall, green static grass that looked very odd and unrealistic. I painted over all of this with white glue and re-flocked it all. This piece definitely required the most reworking. However, it fits well with the Southeast Asian theme for my archipelago.

All in all, a great addition to my terrain for my games. I can't wait to see my table layed out with all of the temples! Should be fairly striking...

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Monster Named "Kevin"

On the hunt for chocolate - a "Kevin" prowls the jungle
I posted my first Prehistoric Bird picture awhile back, but I had two more unpainted that I wanted to get around to being ready for the tabletop. Because with my luck, the first random encounter with one of these in my Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago games, will be followed up by an identical roll on the table and a second one will appear. So, I now have three "Kevins!"
I painted two more of these 28mm Prehistoric birds from Iron Wind Metals to go with the one I'd finished awhile back
As I explained in my earlier post, I am a huge fan of the animated movie, "Up." One of the characters is a South American prehistoric bird that is adopted by a boy who shows up and promptly names him (actually her) Kevin. I even painted the miniature to look as much like the bird in the movie as I could. Some may scoff at this, but how do we really know what color schemes are appropriate for prehistoric creatures...?
Color scheme inspired by my favorite animated movie of all time - "Up."
This post is also from Iron Wind Metals, formerly Ral Partha. It is a bit more aggressive than the first (but taller) one I painted. It reminds me of the scene when the main character is trying to shoo away the bird and it closes in on him menacingly. Anyway, one good side not of getting ready to run this game is I am painting up a LOT of creatures I have had sitting in my bins unpainted for a looong time.
"Oh, please be my prisoner!" Kevin and Doug from the movie Up
Next up? For deer stags and a wraith. And then I will begin on a new breed of Splintered Light Miniatures animal crews for players to choose from, since mine are now officially all selected.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Head West for a Western Game

Mike's MDF buildings that were our town we had to defend from claim jumpers
One of our regular Sunday night gamers, Mike S, drives over from Springfield, OH, pretty much every weekend. So, we thought it was time to return the favor and headed west out to his place this past Sunday. I think most having Memorial Day off the next day convinced them that the extra drive time to get home was okay, but we started early to be on the safe side.
My leader Dakota (spitting image and grandfather of the Pulp character in our games) peeks around a building
Mike has been wanting to do Westerns for awhile, and has been collecting and painting 28mm characters. Still he asked Keith and I to bring along some of ours, so we had plenty. Each player had two gunfighters -- one was the leader type who had two action cards in the deck, and the other was the follower type, with only one. Mike was using Gunfighters Ball -- the intro version being a free download from Knuckleduster Miniatures. We had played games with it the previous weekend at Drums at the Rapids in the Toledo area. Mike adopted the rules modifications that two GMs there recommended. In hindsight, we decided to back off the modifications next time and play the rules "as is."
Joel's man in black also peeks around a building to take a shot at Steve's claim jumpers taking cover in the trees
There were eight players, three of which (Joel, Allen, and myself) were the townies -- defending our settlement from claim jumpers, who accused us of cheating them out of their proceeds. Things looked bleak for us when a couple random deadeye "head shots" from Steve V and Jason S took out one each of Allen and my characters. At that point, the other five must have felt sorry for us and began shooting at each other. This turned it into a free-for-all on their side, while us three never took a pot shot at each other. In the end, with bodies laying all over the table, the claim jumpers skulked off into the woods and we had held onto our (ill-gotten or otherwise) gains.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Rats! More "monster" progress...

Splintered Light Miniatures Rats -- who will be taking on the role of "Dricheans" in my Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago
My upcoming Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago campaign is taking a slight spin-off from the worldview that the creators of the game envisioned. Instead of human adventurers exploring the South Seas, I am using the Splintered Light Miniatures animals as my races. So, my players have chosen from among my Badgers, Mice, Bears, etc., to fill out their crews. Similarly, I am modifying the "monsters" they will encounter. One of the races said to inhabit the Ghost Archipelago's islands are called Drichean -- essentially Bronze Age humans. I decided to substitute these out, as well, and make the islands "rat-infested."
My favorite rat is the one in the center here - the dark gray with light gray drybrush fur came out best, I thought
Here is what should be the last of the monster I have to paint up to be ready to game -- my Dricheans, Splintered Light Rats. I painted them in a variety of fur colors, with a tendency towards dark gray. So, in that way, they are not a whole lot different than my Splintered Light mice that I've painted up. However, they certainly look nastier, which is on whole the difference between a mouse and a rat...ha, ha! I gave them solid but dull colored clothes, and primitive looking shield designs. For decoration, they have copper rather than bronze or gold.
Rats guarding a treasure token somewhere on a "rat-infested isle" in the South Seas
Also pictured in each is one of the dozen resin chests that I painted up as treasure tokens for Frostgrave. One of the main objectives in games of Frostgrave for the adventuring parties are scrambling for (and fighting over) treasures located on the board. One of my friends had given me a bunch of these that he had cast up from Hirst Arts molds, and I also had a couple Acheson Creations ones. I also painted up some with stone floor bases (not pictured) for those that I'll tuck inside ruined temples and such.

At this stage, I just have the odd monster or two to paint up, in case my players encounter multiples of the same monster. So, look for me to actually run my first game in a month or so. I still want to create player aids - such as cards for the monsters and spells. Not everyone has rushed out and bought the rules, so I think having these will move the game along much better.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Toob Lizards!

Touched up giant lizards from the clear plastic "Toob" creatures that you can find at craft and toy stores
I apologize for the very short update, but I wanted to post a photo of some more monsters I finished for my upcoming Ghost Archipelago games. When going through the list of wandering monsters, I saw the "Giant Lizard" category. I have one painted 25mm Iron Wind Metals Komodo dragon, but I hadn't thought to stock up. So, I needed more, in case more than one makes it way onto a board. I don't buy them very often, but the craft store Toob creatures can sometimes come in handy for miniature gamers. In this case, they had some that looked good, and would fit the bill.

I touched them up by dry-brushing them (light green for the green lizards, and pink for the red ones). I re-applied the speckled pattern, and touched up the eyes and mouth. Finally, I gave them a black wash and epoxied them onto a base and flocked them. I think they look pretty good for a little over $1 each.

Next up: Splintered Light Rats (which will be taking the place of the "Dricheans" on my South Seas Islands).

Monday, April 30, 2018

Little Wars 2018 - War-torn Village in Angola

The climax of one of the games at Little Wars 2018, as South African armor and troops burst into the Cuban-held village
 From the first weekend of March through the last weekend in April, I attended three conventions and ran my Wars of Insurgency game seven times. Getting all the troops ready for the big show in Chicago has consumed most of my painting and modeling time. I swore to myself that I would have my resin Ratel-20s for my South African Defense Force squads ready by Little Wars. And just to prove how much I enjoy deadline pressure (haha...!), I vowed to get another 16 20mm Cuban figures ready, too.
The calm before the storm -- the village supply depot that the South Africans and UNITA will be assaulting
Well, I made it...barely! I finished packing my freshly Dullcoated Cubans at 1 am on Thursday morning, about 8 hours before I'd be leaving for the show. What is it about running games for conventions that bring out the drive to get stuff ready? Maybe it's the P.T. Barnum in me wanting to put on the best show that I can. Or maybe it's just masochism! Either way, this seems to happen more than once with me, where I put a deadline on myself for a project that ends up being to have it ready in time for a convention. And guess what? My next show is Drums at the Rapids in three weeks -- and I just pulled out six more SADF figures that I want painted up in time for that convention!
The Cuban defenders guard the perimeter in depth, awaiting the assault on their supply depot
Anyway, the venue for Little Wars was amazing. The Westin Hotel in Lombard, IL, is swanky and four star. The ballroom that held all the events was spacious, incredibly well lit, and had nice carpet which made standing most of the day less uncomfortable. There was quite a few empty tables except at peak times (Friday evening, Saturday morning/afternoon), which meant noise was much more bearable than you often encounter at gaming conventions.
A FAPLA force (Cuban-trained Angolans) is redirected by the Cubans to guard the village's left flank
Every single spot was full all four games, which made me really happy. Plus, many seemed to be friends of people who'd played previously, so Smokin' Some Cubans must have been getting good word of mouth. My players were a great group, and most seemed to clearly have fun. I didn't have any pissy or whiny players that you sometimes encounter at conventions or club meetings. They were polite and showed good sportsmanship, deferring to their opponents. In my opinion, nothing can ruin a game than the one jerk who's criticizing everything that happens, seeming to announce to the world why his troops are not having the success they obviously should be. Instead, my players were great, and their fun became my fun, as well.
Enthusiastic Cuban defenders deploy forward, eager to finally engage the hated South Africans!
Inspired by their Marxist brethren, the FAPLA force advances to meet the South Africans on the left
The games all fought to a conclusion, with no draws where we ran out of time and the outcome was a tossup. The South Africans won big in two of the games, the Angolans in another, and the final game seemed to lean towards a SADF victory, as well. More troops and armored cars entered inside the village than I'd had in any previous running of the game.
The South African force, supported by two Ratel-20 armored vehicles, advances through the brush towards the village
I hope you enjoy the photos. I took more photos early in the convention, and seemed to encounter photojournalist fatigue later. My new iPhone takes nice pictures, I feel, and these are definitely some of my favorites I have of the scenario.
A contingent of UNITA Angolan guerrillas moves towards the village center, supported by a SADF Ratel-20
After Drums, where I will run it twice on Saturday, I will put Smokin' Some Cubans away until October. Who knows? Maybe I'll even design a totally new scenario for our HMGS Great Lakes flagship convention! It all depends on how much free time I have this summer, and how motivated I am, of course!
Jonas Savimbi's UNITA troops close in on the village, using the armor and village fields as cover
A squad of Cubans flees back towards the village as the fire from the SADF/UNITA assault becomes intense
One of the South African players points out a target inside the village in my Saturday evening game
The South Africans, with two squads of UNITA guerrillas following, overwhelm the Cuban defenders

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ghost Archipelago monsters & creatures

Iron Wind Metals 25mm Prehistoric Bird, which will wander the Ghost Archipelago as a random encounter
 I don't want to look to see how long it has been since I updated Lead Legionaries last. Some real life problems intruded in a major way, and I have spent much of the last three months helping my parents out, and staying at their place. Life is slowly returning to normal, and with that, painting and getting things ready for my Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago campaign.
15mm Drakes, which will replace Giant Wasps as a danger in my Ghost Archipelago campaign
I have been working on my stock of monsters and creatures to be ready when they are called upon with the system's random encounters. I am taking a bit of a shortcut, though, and heavily revising the chart. Part of my changes are to align it more with my Fur-grave theme. Snakemen, for example, are replaced by my already painted up Frogmen. Similarly, the Dricheans will become Splintered Light Miniatures Wildcats, and Tribals are my Pygmy Cannibals from my Pulp games.
These 25mm Iron Wind Metals Lions are a natural stand-in for Tigers on my islands
Other changes are simply to use my current collection of miniatures and substitute something similar. For example, the Screamer Monkeys become Baboons, Tigers are morphed into Lions, and the Mountain Goat will become Stags.
Don't tell them, but Baboons have a nasty enough disposition to take the place of Screamer Monkeys in my games
Finally, there are simply some things I don't want on my tabletop and I would rather have more fantasy creatures for them to fight. Giant Ticks? Nah! Giant Wasps? How about a bunch of colorful Drakes, instead? Yes, I know I can go out and buy those Toobz plastic figures at the craft store (and did for my giant lizards, which DO make sense for this island and fit my aesthetic sense). However, it simply makes sense to use the figures I have collected over the years for random monsters, rather than those that were in the creators collection. I mean, if they're going to GIVE them to me...ha, ha!
Some things on the encounter chart don't change...gorillas will always be gorillas!
So, look for more monsters on this page in the future -- and certainly more promptly than this last update!
These 15mm Gargoyles will take the place of Giant Bats in my campaign

This figure will be what I use if my players encounter a Spirit Warrior or similar Undead
And Balrogs are demons, and demons are Soul Stealers...right?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Smokin' Some Cubans at Cincycon

Angolan troops move to protect the entrance to the village during my game, Smokin' Some Cubans
 I took this year's Wars of Insurgency scenario for a couple runnings at Cincycon 2018 in Hamilton, Ohio. I had a full table of six players on both Friday night and Saturday morning. Although attendance seemed a bit down -- particularly Friday night -- I was happy to attract the players. Not all game masters were so lucky, so I was appreciative.
The players in my Friday night game engage in firefights across the table
Friday's game played to a fairly solid conclusion, with the South African and UNITA force having a clear path to the village. Saturday's game could have gone either way, though. It was a bloody firefight from start to finish.
South African troops intervene on behalf of UNITA in the Angolan civil war
I still have one more thing to do before, though: paint my SADF Ratel armored cars. The resin models arrived a couple weeks ago from the UK, but I've been so busy with school and helping out my parents that I haven't even touched them, yet. I set myself a deadline of DayCon 2018 to get them done, so wish me luck!
Cuban troops guard the entrance to the village
Here are some pictures from both days -- hope you enjoy them!
The SADF and UNITA players survey the battlefield
Angolan troops advance to outflank the South African attack
The battlefield as troops utilize the cover to close with the enemy
The Angolan and Cuban commanders plan their response as the South Africans and UNITA close in
Supported by Ratel armored cars, the South Africans close in on the Angolan village
UNITA troopers advance under fire from the village defenders
Wide angle view of the battlefield

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Fur-grave: Gallery of the Warbands

I'm ready to start my Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago campaign with my regular Sunday evening gaming group. The South Seas setting really appealed to me because I had so much appropriate terrain painted up already from my 28mm Pulp games set in Southeast Asia. As you have likely seen from earlier posts, I will be using the anthropomorphic figures from Splintered Light Miniatures as my warbands.

I have been busy painting up warbands for my players to select from for the last few months. Each warband will be half the size the rules suggest (5 figures, instead of 10). This is because we will have bigger groups playing, most likely. For their convenience, and as an introduction, here they are all gathered together. Some may show 6 or more figures painted, but that was just to give them some variety or choice!.
Badger Heritor and Warden (with familiar on base)

Badger Spear and Axe
Badger Archer and Axe
Bear Heritor with Animal crew
Bear Warden with small brown bear familiar on base
Bear crewmen
Jungle Rats
Jungle Rat crew, with Heritor in black at front left, and Warden in middle with staff
 Pine Martens
The Pine Marten warband
Pine Marten Heritor and Warden
Pine Marten crew
More Pine Marten crew
Raccoon Warden (with raccoon familiar on base) and Raccoon Heritor
Raccoon Crew
Satyr Warband
Satyr Warden
Blurry image (sorry!) of the Satyr Heritor
Satyr spear and archer
Satyr Sword and Archer
Weasel Warband
Weasel Warden
Weasel Heritor
Weasel Crew

 Assemble Your Own Crew
In case any of my players want to create a motley warband of various, random Splintered Light Miniatures animals, I am giving this option on a first-come, first served basis. As you can tell, I really like SLM's animals. One thing, though, is that many of their cool creatures are single-casting, or have just a couple poses. So, we'll see if any players decides to go this route. For their convenience, here are the rest of the SLM animals I've painted!
Three mice (not blind), suitable for either crew, Warden, or even Heritor
Three Squirrels
Two Skunks
Two Opossums
Two Wolverines
Two Beavers
One Coyote Warrior
One Prairie Dog Warrior
Wildcat Warrior (or Heritor?)
Armadillo Warrior
Fox Warrior