Monday, September 17, 2018

Death in a Gorilla-Haunted Jungle Clearing

Joel's Squirrels arrive first and survey the battlefield, eyeing the Central Treasure with the pirate loot
After freeing the prisoners of the Ratmen, the Raccoons and Squirrel crews agreed to share the information they provided. As it turned out, the prisoners belonged to a notorious pirate and treasure hunter -- who none mourned as he lay slain by the ratmen. However, the Raccoons and Squirrels were able to convince the freed crewmen into telling them the location of their buried treasure. They immediately set sail for the island, little realizing the Mice, Pine Marten, Jungle Rat, and Crushers crews were tailing them.
The archway of the Central Treasure was hotly contested by the Mice and the Pine Martens
According to the survivors of the pirate crew, the captain's treasure lay buried beneath a massive stone archway, decorated with stone heads staring out in all directions. Six ships anchored off the island, and six crews crept stealthily through the jungle. The haunting sounds of gorilla calls made the treasure seekers nervous, as they searched for the archway. We were playing "X Marks the Spot" from the Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago rulebook. We used one central treasure and then each player placed two minor treasures. All began 31 inches from the central treasure, though only the Pine Martens and the Mice seemed to move towards it in the early going.
The Crushers' Hunter Yoti, at top, and Badger crewman Buckey eyeball a treasure to see if others will go for it
Since we had five players, I stepped in to make it an even six, using my Crushers crew that fared relatively poorly last time. In addition, I realized I had not even spent my Heritor's experience -- d'oh! Still, we had a successful outing. We decided to be flexible and move forward without making a beeline for any particular treasure. We had the Pine Martens on our right, and our nemesis the Mice on our left. With both our neighbors going all out for the central treasure, that left us with the opportunity to snatch up a number of minor ones.
Bentley secures the treasure while Yoti sneaks around the giant stone stature to stalk another treasure he spotted
I not-so-wisely sent both my Wolverine Heritor Hugh, and Wolverine Warden Jack, off by themselves, splitting my group as far as command and control. Hugh used Wraithwalk a number of times to move through thick patches of jungle with no penalty. Jack cast Beast Strength on most of the crew, after another "successfull" Beast Call. To my friends' amazement (and amusement), I continued to defy the odds on rolling up a random encounter after successfully casting Beast Call. If the last game went 6-7 turns, then this one went about the same. It wasn't until the final turn of this game that I actually rolled a 10+ on a 20-sided die to summon a random encounter. That is about 11 straight misses on a 50//50 chance!
Our nemesis, the Mice crew, snag a treasure early on...while unfortunately leaving their Warden to snipe at us again with lighting bolts!
Still, some monsters showed up after players quickly began snatching up treasures. Two gorillas and a Frog-man Warrior showed up, with each monster killing a crew members. This was a fairly lethal game, with the hated Mice losing their Heritor an almost losing their Warden. Specialist crew members from two other crews died, as well. My Crushers were doing great, though. We suffered no casualties and managed to snatch up four treasures -- the most of anyone. Along the way, we wrought vengeance on the Mice -- whose Warden continued to take Lightning Bolt potshots at us whenever he had the chance. My hunter Yoti and Warden Jack ambushed him, though, wounding him and forcing him to use Windwalk to get away.
This time we counter-attacked the Mice vermin! Yoti delivers a deep wound to their Warden, while Jack prepares to engage one of their crewmen (who would later be finished off by Yoti)
Buckey and Bentley, my loyal Badger crew members, each snagged a treasure and made it off-table. Both Yoti and the Heritor Hugh grabbed treasures, then dropped them to go Mice Hunting. Eventually, both made their way back to their treasures. With the Mice Heritor dead and the Warden fleeing the table, we decided to call it a victory and withdraw.
Two members of the Jungle Rats crew advance past a large, stone idol in search of treasure
Meanwhile, the battle between the Mice and the Pine Martens for the central treasure went back and forth. The Pine Marten Heritor grabbed it and moved off, only to be chased down by a Wraithwalking Mice Heritor. A deep gash from the Mice Heritor's two-handed sword, saw the Pine Marten summoning his crew to his aid. Two responded, but the Mice had the better of the three in the second round, as well. Frustrated, the Pine Marten Warden cast Wind Blast and hurled the Mouse nuisance away. A crossbow bolt and Raccoon arrow weakened the Mouse Heritor, who decided to flee. The Raccoon archer took one long range shot at him as he fled into the jungle and amazingly scored a hit, dropping him.
The Jungle Rats' Warden secures a treasure, which will be handed off to a crewmen to carry back to their ship 
After losing one crewman to the Frog Warrior, the Squirrel Heritor charged into the fray and cut the interloper down. Content with one treasure, the Squirrels then withdrew from the clearing. Another gorilla had appeared, and with Raccoon arrows flying everywhere, they decided to the call it a day. The Jungle Rats were dodging the attacks of gorillas, and cursed as the Pine Martens disappeared with the central treasure. They moodily and reluctantly withdrew, shaking their fists at the harassing fire of the Raccoons. All crews except the Squirrels got at least two treasures, with my Crushers taking four and the Squirrels one. As more gorilla calls rang out through the jungle, the treasure hunters decided to hurry back to their ships with what they'd found.
Although in position to contest for the central treasure, the Squirrels decided to hang back and fight off the Frog Warrior who wandered into the glade
After the game, the players decided to increase our crew size from five to six. We felt that we needed more because a crewman who takes a treasure off board is lost for the rest of the game. We made it a point to move more quickly, and have multiple players taking their turns at once if they were far away from each other. This six-player game lasted about 2 1/2 hours, which is about what we want on a Sunday evening. Two specialist crewman died and the Mouse Heritor ended up with a permanent leg injury. Otherwise, the only casualties were standard crewmen. The players seem to be picking up the rules more now, plus it helps two of my regulars have purchased the rules and read them. We don't play it often enough to remember everything, so it is a group effort. All in all, everyone seems to be having fun exploring the Ghost Archipelago -- which is the goal, after all!
Keith's Raccoons were the true spoilers of the day -- snagging two treasures early then launching arrows and casting Brambles to frustrate our snipe at the other crews

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Another Sarissa City Block Building

Sarissa Precision City Block 28mm (Style #2) building for my modern Africa games
A week or so ago, I received a shipment of three additional Sarissa City Block buildings. Terry from Wargame Tools picked out three slightly different ones for me on his recent trip to Europe, and brought them back with him. All are three different numbers in this line, one of which I ordered with an additional floor expansion to create a 3-story building. I absolutely love the simplicity and ease with which the Sarissa MDF buildings go together. And since I need lots of buildings for the upcoming Wars of Insurgency city fight, set in a fictional, modern African country, I have been working on these steadily, lately.
Three quarter view of the building, with my modification - a small, rectangular roof structure (door to stairs)
I decided to do a slight modification on this building. Since I like how the roofs are set up perfectly for figures to fire from them in games, I added a small building to show where the staircase to the roof comes out. I probably went too "no frills" on this. I simply cut a square bass wood dowel to the appropriate height, and then placed a wooden square on top of it for a roof. A had a door (or was it a window shutter?) from one of my earlier log cabins that I hadn't used in my bits bin, and pulled it out and glued it to the small rectangular structure atop the roof. I wasn't overly pleased with how it came out, so will try something else next time.
Style #2 has more industrial style windows, I feel. The reddish-orange tint is more brick than rose, unfortunately
Since the City Block line are essentially identical buildings, just with different window patterns, I also wanted to make them different in the colors I paint them. The first Sarissa building I did was in a golden yellow stone color. This one I thought I would attempt a weathered rose color. After assembling the building and spray priming it black, I applied the first coat -- Howard Hues Middle Eastern Flesh. I like this color as it is a kind of dull, faded red with orange undertones. When I applied the base coat, I attempted to not put it on so thickly that it would seep into the laser-etched lines between the stones. For the most part, I was successful, and the black shows through as the joins between each stone block.
This view illustrates the dry-brushing I did roughly in the center of each laser-cut stone block
The next step was probably the most time consuming. I dry brushed the central area of each sqaure etched stone block with Howard Hues Colonial Khaki. This lightens and fades the orange color. I had not intended for this building to look like brick, as the etched stones are way too big for that. I was disappointed it looked a bit like brick in color, though. I should have realized it, though, as this is a very similar color combination that I've used in the past on brick buildings. To salvage it, and give it a bit more red cast, I did an acrylic wash of a red brown. This gave it less orange and more red of a look, plus softened the brush strokes of the khaki.

Once again, printed off wooden floor patterns to put on the inside floors. The walls on the inside were a light gray -- nothing fancy. Just something to have a little color when the roof or second floor is pulled off to move figures into or out of for game purposes. Next up -- the three story building!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

TT Combat 28mm MDF Apartment Building

TT Combat Apartment A - a 28mm laser-cut MDF building I picked up for my modern skirmish - with 20mm figs
I purchased three 28mm modern MDF buildings to use with my 20mm Modern Skirmish games. I've found that an advantage of my 20mm miniature scale is that I can use buildings from both 15mm and 28mm and the figures don't look out of place. I bought them from Terry at Wargames Tools LLC, who is a great guy to work with. He always had awesome stuff at his booth at conventions.
The big problem with this kid -- the second story does not come apart from the first! See my corner supports for a work-around scratch-built floor
I built the Sarissa Precision building that I'd purchased at Historicon 2018 earlier, so it was time to build one of the two TT Combat Apartment (A and B) I'd picked up. First off, I found the kit had a LOT more pieces! There were lots and lots of individual pieces that need glued in for the windows. What wasn't in the kit was what disappointed me most: There is no second floor. Nor is there a way to remove the second floor from the first floor. You CAN take off the roof, but the first and second story walls are solid state. Hmmm.
Those incised lines are decoration - not a seam, so the building is 'solid state' other than its removable roof
As any gamer knows, the whole point of having buildings with removable roofs is so you can put figures in them! It baffled me that TT Combat would do it this way. My only previous experience with their line is my cargo container ship. And it wasn't constructed in a way to make it easy to remove the bridge from the second and first floors, now that I think about it. I decided to create me own second floor, rather than just bag it and call the two $25 purchases a loss. I cut four pieces of bass wood of the same height to put in each corner of the first floor. I then cut a piece of black styrene plastic to rest upon the supports and be the second floor. I was fairly happy with my work-around, and got back to painting.
My scratch-built second floor (with printed patterns glued on)
For MDF buildings, I spray paint them flat black first. Then I put on a base coat (a craft paint sky blue for this one), and then dry brush a lighter shade (white in this case). I then do the trim and windows, which would be a medium blue with dark orange accent. The stone portions I painted in medium gray with light gray dry brush, which I thought would go well with the light blue. Next, I had to decide how to paint the fence/railing in front of the building. After doing some Google Image searches, I decided to go with a wrought iron look. I painted over the spray painted black with more black to ensure all the nooks and crevices were filled. Then, I brushed on some highlights using Iron Wind Metals Steel.
A close up of the front and the first floor windows, with 20mm African Militia from Liberation Miniatures firing out
Once the entire model was painted, I mixed up a black wash and brushed it over the entire thing - both blue and gray stone portions, as well as the wrought iron. There is some decoration incised on the outside of the building between the first and second floor. I went back and forth on it, and decided not to paint it. I thought it would look to gaudy painted in a bright color, and felt if I did it in the same faded blue, it would be too overpowering. Perhaps I made a mistake not doing this. Perhaps not.
I like the stone and plaster look design of the Apartment Building (with a close-up of the flower garden)
Finally, it was time to do the roof (whose blue and gray portions were painted alongside the building itself). I once again used Woodland Scenics mixed gray ballast for a roof surface. I did it on the Sarissa Precision building, and really like how it gives some 3-D texture to the MDF building. Finally, I flocked the area between the railing and the building to be a flower garden. I built up the grass with fine brown ballast and turf earth from Woodland Scenics. Then, after flocking with Blended Grass, I placed tufts of purple and yellow flowers on top of the grass. I really like how it gives it that final touch.
Militia on my second floor - plus the two wood pieces you can see I epoxied into the floor so you can lift it out easily
Well, not quite final touch! I also had printed out wood and rug patterns that I'd found on Pinterest on the internet. I trimmed these to the correct size, and glued them down with white glue to be my floors. I really like how they brighten up the interior and give it an almost finished look, despite their obviously being no furniture.
The roof, with its Woodland Scenics coarse mixed gray ballast textured floor
By this time, though, I had happened upon my next biggest disappointment with the kit -- one that was no fault of TT Combat. Since the second story is solid state with the first, the building is too tall to fit in my terrain boxes! Noooooo!! Honestly, this may be a deal breaker for me with this build. I am seriously considering selling it after I use it in my game at Advance the Colors next month. The scenario is a city fight, and I will need all of my buildings to fill the table, I imagine. So, if you are interested in this building, contact your realtor, as it just might be for sale...!
Militia stake out their turf in my modern skirmishes in Africa