Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Frostgrave Warband: Weasels

Weasel warband using Splintered Light Miniatures
I had to put painting more Frostgrave warbands on hold while I finished up some terrain and miniatures for my Wars of Insurgency (modern skirmish) scenario that I was playtesting this past weekend. Once those were out of the way, though, I primed up four unpainted Splintered Light Miniatures weasels. A couple of the figures required modification, which I will discuss below. This brings me up to six painted warbands. Considering one of my players has painted up his own mice warband, I am just about ready to begin play.
A heavily-armored weasel will be this warband's Heritor, most likely
First up is the leader of the warband, the Heritor. He was the most heavily armored and impressive looking of the five, so I chose him. Of course, if whichever of my players decides for the Heritor to be one of the other figures, that's their call, too. I was going for a somewhat pastel theme to this warband. So, I decided a rose or pink color would be interesting and different. I thought copper colored armor would make the color palette even more striking, so I added highlights and plate in that color. I really like this figure, although the "sniffing armpit" post isn't the most unique or impressive in their line, he painted up really cool looking, I feel.
The warband's Warden, or spellcaster -- a figure I modified to give a cool-looking wizard's staff
This figure began as an axeman. He held a small axe in both hands, which I thought I could convert into a staff. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I snipped off the axe at the blade and flattened out the surface. I glued a tiny golden bead to the top. I added a piece of appropriate width spear shaft to the bottom of the axe, and voila! It was done -- axeman to wizard! I gave each of the figures besides the Heritor a fancy, scrolled "W" (for Weasel, naturally!). I like this one's design the best, as I tried to make it look like arcane writing, too. I'm very happy with how this figure turned out.
The Weasel crew -- all from Splintered Light Miniatures (archer's bow added on)
And here is the crew for the Weasel warband. I decided to give front and back pictures so you could see the scroll "W's" on them. I added the bow to the archer on the right. I simply took a length of lead spear, bent it appropriately, and epoxied it to his back. From there, it was all paint. I like how it looks slung across his back. The one on the left was actually painted previously. I did at a tuft of grass to make him match the other four better, but otherwise he was untouched from before. I really liked the scroll W on the back of the swordsman in the middle. I was able to give it a lighter touch, which I think looks better than the thicker designs on the other figures.

What's next? I have six Satyr figures on my desk, primed and with their flesh base-coated. Once this batch is done, I think I will go ahead and let players choose their races, outfit their warbands, and we'll play our first game. I'm looking forward to trying out a Ghost Archipelago campaign, and hope the players enjoy it! 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Smokin' Some Cubans: Scenario playtest

The Angolans and Cubans have blunted the attack on their supply depot, and now are following up, scenting blood
It was a 3-day weekend with Martin Luther King Day, so why not schedule a playtest of my Wars of Insurgency scenario for this convention year? And while I'm' at, why not make it two playtests? On Saturday, I took my 6-player hypothetical engagement between an attacking South African and UNITA group with a Cuban/Angolan rearguard force. The skirmish takes place during the Cuito 1987-88 Cuanavale campaign after the SADF/UNITA have repulsed the initial Angolan onslaught, but before the grand finale at Cuito. The South Africans have intervened on behalf of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA rebels to preserve the buffer their territory has created, protecting South West Africa from attacks by SWAPO.
The Angolan and Cuban high command in the Dayton playtest, (from left) Phil Hayes, Cuban player Tom Miller, Barry Greene, and Randy Miller
The first playtest was at the January meeting of the Central Ohio Gamers Association (COGA) at Ravenstone game store. I sat in to make it an even six players -- what the scenario was designed for. To see pictures and read captions giving an account of that battle, check out my Facebook post on the COGA page. This blog post will focus on the Dayton game. We ended up with 7 players, so I took the two Angolan militia commands of three squads each and converted them into three commands of two squads. The extra command was no real advantage, but I did reshuffle some deployment. I moved Cuban force from the right flank to the village garrison, along with one of the Angolan commands.
Cubans garrison the supply depot located in an Angolan village -- the objective of the South African raid
Both commands took up covered firing positions, manning either the fenceline or the crates and barrels that were the supplies they were guarding. These were the South African objective, hoping to either destroy these or capture them and arm UNITA with them. The fence was light cover, most of the huts and crates and supplies medium cover, and the sandbag positions guarding each entrance were heavy cover. In the COGA playtest, the sole Angolan command guarding the village got shot up badly by the South African Ratel armored personnel carriers and the light machine guns of the infantry squads. In Dayton, the firefight would take a decidedly different turn!
More Cubans take cover in the center of the village, while a goat ponders the edibility of the Cuban order marker
Although the SADF/UNITA force used the same basic plan of attack as the COGA playtest two days before, the garrison was receiving fewer casualties. Doubtless, this was partially because the Cubans are Regular class soldiers, who have better survivability than the Militia class Angolan FAPLA soldiers. In my Wars of Insurgency rules, each figure has a base number of defense dice depending on their troop quality, which is augmented by the cover they receive. 
The attackers -- (from left) South African player Greg Horner, UNITA Matt Lawsom, and SADF Jim Casey
 There are a number of approaches the attacking South Africans and UNITA troops can take, from wildly aggressive to cautious. In the COGA playtest, they were very deliberate and fairly cautious. In Dayton, they had a somewhat similar approach, though the UNITA militia pushed forward more aggressively into the open ground between the patches of bush. The SADF hugged the bush a bit more, excepting the Ratels, which stuck to the roads.
On the left, a SADF Ratel provides covering fire for the UNITA advance.
While the South Africans were advancing on the flanks, and UNITA was pushing towards the center, the two flanking Angolan commands were likewise in motion. Phil's troops, proud in their red berets were more bold, dashing across open ground. They suffered occasional losses for their aggression, but in general, did a good job using the cover to avoid fire. On the left, Randy sent one squad to bolster the village defenses (and take the sandbagged position at the gate), while the other cautiously tried to outflank the South Africans attacking on their wing.
Phil's FAPLA troops pushed forward on the Angolan right aggressively, boldly sprinting across open ground from time to time
In the center, the firefight raged. The Cubans were doing a much better job of using cover to avoid casualties from the incoming attacking fire. They even eschewed the medium cover that the defenders stuck to in the COGA playtest to line up along the light fenceline. At times, they were jockeying for position to be able to get in shots. Patches of bush obscured their view of the attackers, but they put out a hail of lead nevertheless, which began to cause casualties among the UNITA militia that advanced through the open ground.
Angolan troops line up along the village fenceline, supported by the Cubans on their right, and pour fire into the attackers
And then suddenly, the key blow of the battle was struck. A Cuban RPG gunner fired a rocket at the South African Ratel on the right. It was a long range shot, with only about a 25% chance of hitting. It struck home, though. The roll for damage maxed out, while the defense roll of the South African failed utterly. Boom! A Ratel erupted in flame -- unfortunately for the attackers -- incinerating two thirds of the infantry squad riding inside. In one blow, one of the South African commands had lost more than half of his effective fighting force. A key mechanic of the rules is that dice thrown by the attacker hit on a 4-6 on 1d6, while defensive dice to avoid the hits inflicted save on a 5-6. So, no matter how solid your defensive position, no matter how well trained the soldier taking cover, there is always a chance the target will get hit. I base this probability on well-documented modern warfare engagements, such as "Black Hawk Down," when elite U.S. rangers were struck and killed by bullets fired by Somali militiamen.
BOOM! A South African Ratel (here, a stand-in Tonka toy until my resin 20mm Ratels arrive form Europe!) erupts in flames
The Angolans cheered the blow, and were energized by the success. First a Cuban squad, then an Angolan one, clambered over the fence to close with the stunned attackers. Perhaps they sensed a slackening of pressure from the cowed UNITA militia. Or likely the disappearance of one of the feared 20mm automatic cannons of the Ratels gave them courage. I class the automatic cannon on the Ratel as a heavy machine gun in this scenario, as it is a more deadly weapon in this type of mostly-infantry engagement. The Ratel autocannon was a mutlipurpose weapon which dealt out punishment to Angolan forces of all types in the Cuito Cuanavale campaign.  In the COGA game, the Angolan/Cuban players never really had an answer to this weapons. While in Dayton, they obviously did!
An Angola squad belonging to FAPLA -- the armed wing of the communist MPLA faction, which had seized control of Angola -- clambers over the village fence to close with their attackers
To compound the South African woes, the other Ratel was having poor luck with its firing. Poor Jim rolled subpar dice when trying to chew up Phil's flanking Angolan force he was opposite. What's more, when Jim did finally have success with the dice, Phil's troops made their save rolls -- showing that they had learned under the Cubans' patient instruction. My Wars of Insurgency rules are meant to be simply and easy to learn, but intended to take full advantage of the granularity of rolling multiple d6's. They allow for things such as differentiating training of troops, but also tactics such as spreading automatic weapon fire among multiple opponent's -- spraying them, so to speak. How much to spread, who to target, whether to advance slowly and hug cover or sprint forward...all of these things are player decisions which are just as key to the outcome as their dice rolling.
Emboldened Angolan troops cross their crop fields, closing the range with the enemy
Despite the loss of the Ratel, the South Africans kept up the attack. They were well-armed and well-trained, and knew that a couple good shots could shatter a militia squad. I classed the South Africans in this scenario as Regular class rather than Professional. Some may be surprised, but many South African regular forces were composed of reservists rotating their service time through. There was even a key phase in the Cuito Cuanavale campaign when the South Africans decided to pause their follow up of the beaten Angolans to re-train a fresh group of reservists that had replaced the combat-experienced ones that had just beaten the enemy at the Lomba River, but whose service terms had now ended. An excellent source for this campaign is "The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale," from the Africa @ War series by Helion Publishing.
A South African infantry squad pushes forward on the right flank
The battle could still be won by the South Africans, especially if their infantry drove off the Angolan FAPLA troops advancing to stop their flanking attacks. I classed the FAPLA troops of the ruling MPLA coalition as Militia rather than Regular because they were mauled by the South Africans in the actual battle. Despite Cuban training and leadership, they would often through their break and run if under too devastating of firepower. However, both Phil's troops on the right and Randy's troops on the left gave almost as good as they received. This served to blunt the final chance the South Africans had at taking the village.
Randy's militia squad on the far left stop the South African flanking attack, while their Cuban officer looks on approvingly
Once it became obvious that neither Jim's nor Greg's SADF infantry or Ratel were would make any more headway, they conceded, and called off the assault. Victory went to the Angolan and Cuban rearguard force, who had saved the supply depot. This victory would raise the hopes of the beaten Angolans and Cubans, and lead to their later repulse of the South Africans at Cuito Cuanavale, itself.

I was very appreciative to Randy Miller for inviting me to Dayton to playtest my scenario. All of the guys were great sports, and it was a pleasure to sit down at a gaming table with them. They said they enjoyed the rules, and were contemplating uses for them with troops they already have. To me, that is one of my favorite comments I hear from players after one of my scenarios: "Hey, these rules would work for (fill in the blank)!" Thanks again, Randy and crew, for having me!

Monday, January 8, 2018

More Cubans & African Village

I continue to work in high gear towards being ready for this Saturday's first playtest of "Smokin' Some Cubans" at the monthly meeting of the Central Ohio Gamers Association (COGA). I have actually had these two batches completed a few days ago. Extreme cold temperatures forced me to hold off clearcoating them until it warmed up a bit.
Cuban Officer, along with the RPGs and LMGs for my Cuban continengent
The first group is of the RPGs and LMGs for the Cubans. There is also an officer figure present, which will finish out my force of Cubans for the scenario.  To come up with the needed figures armed with these weapons, I had to do a bit of improvising. First, all three RPG gunners are figure modifications. None of these was carrying an RPG, although the bottom right figure had a rocket of some sort in his hands. I pulled out some of my already-painted Liberation Miniatures figs armed with RPGs and stared at them, hoping for inspiration.

Finally, an idea came. The rocket on an RPG looks an awful lot like a spearhead. I pulled out my unpainted pack of weapons for my Ancients figures and pulled out a few different varieties of spears. I eventually settled on 28mm spears, trimming the shaft down to the appropriate length. I took the length I'd cut off and trimmed it further to create the handles. It was a very fiddly operation epoxying these two handles to the spear, but it worked. I then epoxied the weapons themselves on to the figures and I had the three RPG gunners I needed. The LMG-armed figures all came from another source of 20mm figures (FAA, I think). For the officer, I am pretty sure these are WWII Germans in soft cap, but I would not swear to it. With appropriate painting and mustache, they become stand-in Cubans. I really like the officer with his arm raised -- I think he's my favorite of the bunch!
More resin buildings for the Angolan village
Next up are some more buildings for the Angolan village that will be fought over in "Smokin' Some Cubans." All but the large hut in the back are inexpensive resin pieces from Michaels hobby store here in the U.S. I did my usual black base coat, sprayed and second coat brushed on, with 2-3 dry brush coats over the top. Both had a Camo Brown second layer over the black. However, the hut walls and the wood gazebo were followed up by Khaki, while the thatch roofs were a Dun yellow. I toned this down with light gray over it, and a final black wash. My usual method for resin buildings, it seems.

The larger "Chieftain's Hut" in the back is actually from Acheson Creations Celtic line. The similarity of architectural styles and materials makes it a good stand-in for a hut belonging to a village bigwig.

The next post will be of the village's fences, which I have been working on for awhile, now. Once they are done, the village is ready for the tabletop -- at least for the first playtest!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cubans for Modern Africa

Liberation Miniatures Cubans in 20mm - can you see the cigar in the mouth of the guy second from right?
Each year I create a scenario that I will run at the various conventions to introduce my wargaming rules to the public. Like the second half of last year, I will be featuring my newest rules set Wars of Insurgency. This is a modern skirmish game with each player controlling 3-5 squads of anywhere from one or more vehicles or 3-12 figures (each representing one man). This year's scenario will be called "Smokin' Some Cubans." It will feature an engagement in the between the South African Defense Force (SADF) intervening in Angola on behalf of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA guerrillas. Their opponents will be Angolan and Cuban troops.

I have figures I need for SADF, as well as the Angolan and UNITA African troops. However, I have no Cubans. So, my last miniatures to be painted in 2017 would be 20mm Cubans -- most from Liberation Miniatures. I had a couple packs of Cubans in soft caps, not nearly enough for the size of force that will be fielded. So, I augmented them with some Liberation Miniatures government troops in steel helmets, as well as some of what I believe are World War II troops in helmets, as well.
More 20mm figures that will be used as Cubans - this time Liberation Miniatures government troops
I had intended to paint them exactly like a previous batch, beginning with a light olive drab and then adding a darker OD wash. However, I forgot what I started with as my base color and ended up choosing a darker green. Once they dried, I realized my mistake. However, contrary to my normal procedure, I had painted up 18 figures all at one. Rather than go back and paint over them, I decided to experiment with a new method. I went over the Timberline Green (lighter OD) with an even lighter dry brush of Stonewedge Green. Then, I followed this up with the darker OD -- English Yew Green. I realize these color names mean nothing unless you are using the same Delta Ceramcoat craft paints. I liked the effect these three colors gave. Different than the batch before, but still a shaded olive drab with depth.
More 20mm figures that will be used as Cubans -- these are WW II figures from I honestly don't know where (I take figures out of their packs and put them in ziploc bags, so don't remember...maybe FAA?)
I painted their equipment a variety of lighter and darker colors -- mostly in green hues, but an occasional khaki, as well. I was happy with how these came out. My favorites, of course, are the actual Cubans in soft caps. They have that "Fidel Castro" look to them, so I duplicated the moustache and beard on most of the other figures, as well. The guy with the cigar in his mouth (not sure if you can see it here) was classic.

Incidentally, these are my first experiments taking pictures with the Nikon Digital SLR camera I got for Christmas. I still have a lot to learn about it, but these came out fairly good. I need to figure out the macro setting, though. These are obviously not taken with macro...

Friday, December 22, 2017

New Frostgrave Warband: Raccoons

Splintered Light Miniatures Raccons explore a ruined city
I am steadily fleshing out the warbands of Splintered Light Miniatures animals available to my players in my upcoming Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago campaign. So far, Badgers, Pine Martens, Bears, and Jungle Rats are ready to seek treasure among the islands of the South Seas. Adding to that list is this Raccoon warband.
Front and rear views of the warband's Heritor and Warden
There is a pretty wide variety of poses and armament in the SLM Raccoon line. Appropriately enough, their clothes are in a "pirate" theme -- with head scarfs sashes, and fancy jackets. I am not sure, though, if there is one obvious commander figure for the Heritor. So, I chose this one, mainly because of his dashing but faded, green waist sash. It seems to make him stand out a bit from the pack. I didn't have a lot of choice, though, for the warden figure -- if I wanted to be strictly accurate. The rules say wardens don't carry a shield or wear armor. So, I picked this guy -- the only one I had unpainted that didn't have a shield -- for the warden. To make him stand out as the warden, I painted up an Iron Wind Metals animal as a raccoon and placed him on the base alongside the warden. I don't think the casting is really of a raccoon, but it is a small, furry creature. Painted up like a raccoon, with the distinctive bandit mask of black on the face and ringed tail, it does the trick.
Raccoon crew checking out some overgrown columns in the ruined city
The crew were also painted in similarly faded, pirate glory. I love the striped stocking caps or head scarfs. They add a lot of character to the figures. I tried to also give them a look of bright colors that have faded with too much exposure to sea and sun. As far as size goes, the SLM raccoons measure about 16mm from sole of foot to tips of heads. They are a bit stocky, though, so they don't look out of place up against the other animals I'll be painting up. They're shorter than the bears and pine martens, but about the same height as the jungle rats.

I'll be taking a short break from the Ghost Archipelago warbands to paint up a batch of 20mm Cubans for my upcoming Wars of Insurgency scenario. I'll be running a game simulating a skirmish during the counterattack by South African and UNITA forces after they had repulsed the Angolan army as part of the larger battle of Cuito Cuanavale.

Monday, December 18, 2017

New Frostgrave Warband: da Bearss!

For my upcoming Frostgrave campaign, I had some warbands that had a few figures already painted. "Da Bearss" (nod to an old Saturday Night Live skit) is one of those. And yes, I am tempted to name the leader "Ditka" -- but I'll leave that up to the player who decides to use this warband! The two figures that I will be using as crew were completed previously as part of a Lead Painters League entry. The others are all new, though.
The Bear warband's Heritor and one of its warriors -- a Ral Partha Grizzly Bear
First up is the Heritor and a Ral Partha 25mm Grizzly Bear. I will use pretty much normal crew stats for the Grizzly, perhaps making him a Specialist hand-to-hand type. I love Ral Partha (or Iron Wind Metals, if you prefer) animals. They are realistic looking and are great size to mix with the Splintered Light Miniatures that will make up my warbands. The Grizzly ("Butkus"?) was easy to paint up. A dark brown base coast was followed up with a Camo Brown dry brush. Khaki highlights were then dry brushed in. I then went back and darkened the legs with black dry brushing. He looks effective and fierce, I think.
I hand-painted the Heritor's shield, though the shield itself is a modification of the figure
I chose this figure as the Heritor, though truthfully, all of the SLM Bear miniatures are impressive looking. I picked him mainly because of his heavier armor. I don't know why, but for these figures I like to do leaders with polished bronze armor -- using some gold paint for highlights. I used steel chainmail, though, to give him an interesting composite mix. The shield is actually a modification of the SLM figure. There is a peg hole in the back where a scabbarded, two-handed sword is supposed to go. I decided I would give him a shield in case the player controlling the warband wanted his Heritor to have more armor.
The Bear warband's Warden -- love the two-handed warhammer!
Next up is the Warden, a bear swinging a seriously impressive two-handed warhammer. I picked him for the warden because they are technically not supposed to wear armor. This figure has only a couple shoulder pieces and an arm brace, so "close enough," I say! I decided to go with a rust color for the bears' eyes in this warband. The original paint job on the other two had black eyes with tiny white points to be light reflecting off, but it looked too maddened and crazed to me. I always Google images of animals before I paint them, and bears' eyes seemed to be this honey brown color in the images I found.
The Warden's familiar - a Ral Partha brown bear that, ahem, barely squeezes onto his base with him
I've also begun placing an animal on the base of the wardens as a "familiar." It will make it easier for players to differentiate the various members of the crew on the tabletop. Since I'm using what Splintered Light Miniatures makes, I don't quite have the variety and choices that a human warband would have! The bear is a Ral Partha 25mm brown bear - quite a bit smaller in size than the grizzly. I painted him up similarly, though. He should probably be a bit darker to be a true brown bear, but I like how he turned out nonetheless. He did j-u-s-t fit onto the base with the Warden.
The warband's crew members -- both were previously painted up and based (though I added the tufts)...love the guy holding aloft he axe - you can almost hear him roar!
Here are the previously painted figures from two separate Lead Painters League entries. One is armored (once again, bronze plate armor) and the other less armored. I was tempted to cut off the axe head of the unarmored one, fashion it into a staff, and make him the warden. But honestly, it is such a freaking cool figure! I love the way he's holding aloft that two-handed axe...you can almost hear him roaring a challenge to his enemies. So, I just couldn't bear (sorry) to mutilate this pose. Both poses are great -- I also love the giant, two-handed morning star. The sculpted, bronze cuirass is pretty cool, too.

These are the tallest SLM figures I own. They measure about 29mm from the soles of the feet to the tips of their ears. They tower over some of the other animal lines -- especially the mice and squirrels. The badgers aren't too much shorter, and their wolverine figures rival them in height, but fall a bit short (as U of M Wolverines tend to do...ha, ha!).  I really like this warband, though -- it is probably my favorite of the ones I've painted.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

SE Asian Jungle Ruins: Staircases, Statues, & Columns

A row of statues of ancient warriors being slowly reclaimed by the jungle
Here are some more jungle ruins I created for my upcoming Furgrave (Frostgrave:Ghost Archipelago) campaign. I'm really happy with how they turned out.  I decided to do some research into what a temple ruin looks like when found in the jungle to get some ideas for small pieces to scatter here and there about the board. I pulled out a book I'd bought long ago about Angkor Wat called, "Angkor: Heart of an Asian Empire" by Bruno Dagens. This small paperback has a wealth of paintings, sketches, and photographs of the Cambodian temple complex when Europeans first stumbled upon it. I grabbed a post-it note, and began to leaf through the pages, writing down notes like, "Lion on pedestal," "Row of warrior statues," "Staircase," "Pools," and "Bridge."

This 1995 book by Bruno Dagens was the inspiration for this batch of terrain

Next, I went through the various boxes and ziploc bags of figures and terrain items, waiting for inspiration to strike. I had the Hirst Arts plaster terrain that my friend Tim had given me earlier this year, which included lots of stone pediments of various sizes and shapes. I got the idea to assemble a staircase out of these. On either side of the staircase, I would have a statue on a pedestal. Looking through my lead animals, I found a pair of Iron Wind Metals 25mm lions. They were rearing and striking out with a paw and looked perfect for the part. I needed to make the steps wide enough that my 1" figure bases could fit on them, so I pulled a bunch of pieces out and decided on three steps. I decided that the jungle had overtaken whatever the staircase led to and would simple glue on foamcore and set various plants into it.

Construction done on the ruined staircase
It took only an evening's work to assemble the staircase, simultaneously doing the other three pieces below. I used Tacky Glue to hold the plaster pieces together, and epoxy for the lions atop their pedestals. I like how building it up with various layers of the pavement pieces gives it a worn and deteriorating look. You can see the blue foam core, which I trimmed to a slop with an X-acto knife behind the statues. Once assembled, I spraypainted the entire piece matte black.
The finished ruined staircase - note the model railroad bushes (pink, red, yellow) glued into the ruins itself before flocking.
Since spray paint never seems to get into all the crevices of plaster or resin terrain, I coated the entire piece with a 50/50 mix of acrylic black paint and water afterwards. It sat out to dry overnight, sinking into all the recesses and shrinkwrapping itself onto the stone cases. This made it easy for the next step, which was dry brushing. First came a medium gray dry brush, then a lighter gray in highlight areas. Then I turned to the foam. I pulled out a handful of wire small trees and shrubs from the model railroad terrain lines out there. I poke a hole in the foam and then filled it with Tacky glue. The wire stems were inserted into there.
Another picture of the staircase - I love the way the lion statues on either side set off this terrain piece!
The ground flocking came next. I painted the areas that would be covered by grass with white glue, sprinkling on Brown medium railroad ballast. This was followed up by a 50/50 glue and water coating on the ballast, which was sprinkled with Woodland Scenic Turf Earth. The next layer was more Woodland Scenics blended green turf. Finally, various pieces of clump foliage were glued to the ruin, in cracks in the pavement, leading up the sides to represent the advance of the jungle, and onto various pieces of stone.
The two rows of warrior statues assembled
I really liked the idea of a row of warrior statues on an extended pedestal -- perhaps used to line a walkway to a temple? However, I had no suitably scaled SE Asian figures (all of my Ancient SE Asian armies were in 15mm). When digging through my various bins of unpainted stuff I found a bag of plastic figures of warriors from different periods from history. I think they belong to a board game called "Mythology," maybe? Even though they weren't technically Asian, I thought they'd look good as statues.
Squirrel adventurers explore a temple complex guarded by a row of warrior statues
Once more I assembled the pedestals using Tim's generously donated Hirst Arts plaster blocks. I decided to go with two rows of 4 statues. I would base them as two separate pieces so I could either have them facing each other in an entrance way, or create one longer walkway. I used the identical method to prime, paint, and flock the two warrior rows. I was really happy with how they turned out. Now, I'm thinking I need to make a row of paving stones to create an overgrown walkway alongside the statues to really make the piece jump out on the tabletop!
This was perhaps the easiest of all four of the pieces to assemble -- the wooden pegs make great columns, I feel!
Finally, I thought of creating some random groups of columns to show portions of temples or buildings peeking through the jungle. I had in my previously purchased boxes a half dozen wide, wooden pegs that look for all the world like fluted columns. I decided to take more of the plastic figures from the Mythology game and place them atop the pedestals on the columns. More Hirst Arts plaster pieces, and some smaller bits atop the columns, and this piece was assembled and ready for painting.
Looming from the jungle, a row of 3 columns marks the location of an overgrown building to be explored
Painting and flocking was done identically as above. I am thinking that it would be neat to have a number of these types of pieces for the tabletop. It would be especially cool to have some pieces with random, tumbled columns, or broken statues on the ground. Definitely food for thought! An added bonus is that I purchased nothing for these pieces -- it was all stuff I had sitting around in my collection, in various drawers or closets.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Frostgrave Warband: Badgers!

I feel I am making good progress at getting my Frostgrave project closer to the tabletop and our first game. Tonight I finished up another warband -- Splintered Light Miniatures 28mm Badgers. These are some really nice figures, I feel. Unfortunately, four of them were the same pose. So, I put my skills to the test on making them look different. I think I did a pretty good job at giving them the appearance of variety.
The Badgers' Heritor leader, left, and their spellcasting Warden (and familiar) right
 First up, are the warband's leader (Heritor) and its Warden (spellcasters). The leader is the guy on the left with the giant morning star held over his head. Although the lighting in my photo doesn't show it, his surcoat is a deep purple. I actually snagged this miniature from my friend Keith Finn in a trade because it looked like the perfect leader figure for this warband. Alongside him is my favorite figure of the warband (or should I say figures?). I love this Badger pointing as if he's casting a spell or about to hurl a blast of magical energy towards an enemy. What makes it all the better is the tiny, unclothed badger in a mirror pose. This small badger was a giveaway from David McBridge of SLM, tossed into a purchase I made at a convention. What better figure for a tiny familiar than this one? As soon as I got these figures out in preparation for painting, I thought I had to put the two of them on a combined base. He has magical symbols painted on his lavender tunic, with the largest one on the back (which you can't see in this pic).
A Badger archer and axeman investigate my newly-produced ruins pieces looking for abandoned treasures
One of the modifications I did to the figures was add a bow strapped to the back of one of the Badger Axemen. As you can see in this picture, I did a very medieval looking surcoat over the armor that the figures wore. Some of the armor I painted in bronze mail, the others in steel chain. I gave them a checkered pattern on their surcoat, which I thought turned out fairly well. You probably can't tell from these iPhone images, but there is highlighting in each square, as well. The other badger, in yellow and black, was also slightly modified. I converted his double-bladed axe into a single-bladed one. I know, not the most labor-intensive modification, but it does give him a slightly different appearance. Hopefully, with the different color schemes they'll appear less uniform on the tabletop.
I converted the spearmen on the right from the axemen on the left - I like how it turned out!
Finally, the most fiddly of my conversions -- the spearman. I snipped off his axe and added a spearhead to the top and extended the axe handle to the base. It is every so slightly crooked, but then again, miniature spears made from soft metal often end up that way as wear and tear from using the figures! I like how the slight lean forward of the pose looks as if he's resting on the spear, supporting some of his weight. The red, white, and silver pattern is fairly medieval looking, and I like how it turned out, too. His companion axeman in blue and yellow is the only one of the four axe poses that is completely unmodified.

I'll be offering up this warband to my players to use in my Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago campaign. I definitely like how these figures look. They are some great examples of Splintered Light Miniatures quality poses and castings. Next up on the painting desk is some more terrain -- scratch-built ruins using the Hirst Arts block that turned out really nice!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas ads for First Command Wargames

I had fun making these up -- Christmas advertisements that we plan to post on Facebook and other places. Hope you enjoy them!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Paleo Diet: Clever Use of Fire!

An idyllic day in Cave Man world...about to be shattered by man and his newest tool - fire!
So, we decided to try Paleo Diet again, now that we understood (or think we understand) the helpful benefits of fire when fending off the attacks of nasty beasts we are hunting. Each of the five players had two hunters and one dog. All of chose to have one of our guys armed with fire, while the some chose bows or spears for the other hunter. I decided to give a club a test, considering it was a +1 to hit creatures (the problem being you have to move into contact, unlike the spear which you can shoot at Short range and the bow at Long).
Objective Number One - a rocky outcrop with a pack of four sabertooth tigers
Keith set up a board with a rocky outcrop on one end -- the lair of a family of four sabertooth tigers. He said the predators had been snatching the tribe's infants and young, and the womenfolk had demanded we come back with their skins or no fun around the campfire tonight -- or any other night in the near future! Mike W and Allen were dispatch to tackle the sabertooths, while Joel, Mike S, and myself were to bring down some bison from a herd that had entered our hunting lands. The herd, we noticed, was being stealthily stalked by a shortnose bear and a pack of wolves. So, we would possibly have competition for the meat!
Objective Number Two - a herd of bison that had wandered into our hunting grounds (note the bear stalking them)
We're not 100% sure we're doing the reaction tests correctly, but the way we decided to play it was this:  (1) Hunter rolls his choice of 1, 2 or 3 dice to activate. (2) Any failures are immediately checked for reaction by the closest animals (two failures, two animals; one failure, one animal, etc.). (3) Hunter takes his successful actions, which the possibly triggers possible reactions. We had noticed in our first game that predators will not attack a hunter who is within 1 Medium with fire. So, as long as we don't get split up, our pair of hunters should be fairly invulnerable to attacks...right?
My two hunters, Og and Ugg (with fire) and their trusty hound approach the animals
Hard-luck Allen found out one flaw in our plan immediately. He failed on his first two attempts at activation, prompting the charge by two hyenas who were outside of Medium, but inside of a Long distance. Allen dispatched one and chased off the other, which set the tone for the evening. We were wildly more successful than our first attempt at hunting prehistoric big game. My group ended up being the most successful of them all. Keith had handed me two fairly troglodyte looking figures, which I named Og and Ugg. We snuck through an area of brush (flaming brand in hand), which scattered some woodland creatures and a startled the bison when we emerged from the patch of woods. However, Joel and Mike were in position and we began a game of ping pong, spooking the bison in a circle between our three bands which had surrounded them.
Dashing forward, Og and Ugg strike down a bison with their clubs -- meat on the menu for this evening!
On my next turn, I charged into contact with the first bison and ka-THUNK! Two clubs came down on it and bison burgers were on the menu for the evening! Og, Ugg, and their pooch proceeded to take down three bison. After the hound dispatched the third one, he began howling in celebration, which lasted for three turns (three straight turns of 3 failures on my dice -- ha, ha!). Meanwhile, Og and Ugg decided to go help Allen and Mike W with the sabertooths. We spooked a pachyderm off with our fire, then closed within a good "lope" distance (Long). On my next turn, I rolled two successes for activation, again. We charged in and thwacked the big cat (they're not really felines, are they...?) on its noggin. Both Og and Ugg hooted in celebration. Not only would they enjoy lots of good bison for dinner, but their women would be happy and they would be able to partake in dessert, too!
My hunters pummel a second bison into dreamland, while the hound drags down another
All in all, we were very successful as hunters this time around. No dead humans, though one hound was savaged and killed by a sabertooth. Perusing the rules afterwards, we began to wonder if we were doing it wrong. We were uncertain if the animals are supposed to test reaction after every activation our hunters take. So, if Og gets 3 successes, does he do one activation, then check for reactions before doing his next one? Keith said he would check the FAQ and find out. Otherwise, we are getting a good idea why man was able to become the dominant species!
Elated with our success, we track down and kill a sabertooth tiger, too -- Og and Ugg are unstoppable!