Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lotta "What A Tanker!"

Keith's 20mm tanks stalk one another across a cityscape in What A Tanker! rules
Sometimes, I'm the odd man out in my group. For instance, many of my regular Sunday night gaming group love all things tank related. I've always abhorred tank games. Maybe I've been stuck in one too many chart-intensive, plodding micro armor games in my four decades of gaming. Whatever it is, my group knows I am not the biggest fan. However, Keith was insistent that we try out Too Fat Lardies "What A Tanker!" rules. He said they were not like most armor games.
Peekaboo! My Italian tank sneaks up behind Andy's British one and squeezes off a shot
Keith was definitely right. If I had to sum up the two things I dislike most about armor games it would be: (1) Their tendency towards dense rules sets that force you to calculate angles and thicknesses of armor; (2) Their unabashed love of anything German. Of course, that last one could be true of many World War II rules sets. More than one gamer has joked that if wargamers wrote History, the Germans would have won WW II. On that note, the French would likely have won the Napoleonic Wars, etc.
Our Sunday night gaming group engages in a swirling tank melee in a North African city
What A Tanker completely fixes those two things in my book. Tanks are given armor ratings, which is the number of defense dice they roll. With the tanks we've used, this has tended to be three to five dice. The rules fix the second thing I hate because a German "4" is no better than a British "4" (let's wait a second while the tank lovers run screaming from the room...). The way side and rear armor is covered is you needed different numbers to hit if you are shooting from that side (let's wait again, while the rest of the armor heads leave the room). Yes, no dense charts in this game at all!
Finding avenues of fire and playing cat and mouse is a big part of the fun of these rules
It IS a different style game, though. The dice dictate what happens and generate their own fog of war. You cannot do what you want to do some of the time...check that: MOST of the time. You roll a certain number of six-sided dice when initiative says its your turn to move.  The score on each dice lets you a different thing: 1's = movement, 2's = spotting, 3's = aiming, 4's = firing, 5's = reloading, and 6's are "wild," allowing you to use them as any number. So, yes, that means you may have a bead on another tank, be spotted, aimed, and ready to fire but roll no 4's. Your crew freezes, or random smoke has drifted across your vision -- whatever.
Joel and Brian check a ruling in this easy-to-learn set, while Mike S ponders his tactical situation
Although these pictures are from our third game, our first game featured me in a tank rated Fast, but not so heavily armored. I was able to race around and get on my opponent Brian's rear. Though my movement dice were fantastic, my shooting dice were awful. I fired away again and again, bouncing off his armor. Equally frustrated, he was unable to get move dice and get facing me. The game definitely works best with players controlling only one or two tanks each, we've found in our massive three games of experience. It also works best with lots of terrain, so you can play cat and mouse with the enemy. The dice provide the fog of war, so that your stalking doesn't always work out the way you wanted it to. I can recommend What A Tanker rules for anyone who normally doesn't like armor games. That said, my friends who DO like them also enjoy the rules. 
More What A Tanker action (don't ask me which tanks these are -- remember, I hate tank games! Ha, ha!!)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

3-D Printed Market Stalls

3-D printed market stalls from Analog Arcade Accessories and some 28mm customers at this impromptu farmers market
The next step in bringing my 28mm city to life is to paint up those miscellaneous things besides buildings that occupy a downtown area. First up here, are three 3-D printed market stalls. These will go along with some previously painted market stalls from Miniature Building Authority to make a farmer's market area. I picked up the stalls at Cincycon 2017 from a new vendor, Analog Arcade Accessories. They carry lots of things for the miniature gamer, including buildings, vehicles, crates/boxes, and of course, market stalls.
This is my favorite of the stalls -- I decided that it was lettuce and baskets of beans that were for sale
The market stalls come with the awning separate, ostensibly to make it easier to paint the contents of the stall before gluing on the roof. I made the questionable decision to epoxy them into place first and trust that I could get in there adequately with my brush. The stalls were fairly cleanly printed with little flash or "strings" to remove. I primed them black with Krylon Fusion matte black spray primer. I then brushed over them with a 50/50 mix of black paint and water to make sure all the crevices were covered.
I chose bright colors for this fruit vendor, so went with red, yellow and green
I decided to do the contents first, which also meant guessing what food items were in the various baskets or boxes. I went onto Analog Arcade Accessories Facebook page and scrolled through their photos to see if I could get some clues. I had correctly guessed that one of the stalls had fish. The others I had to do my best guess as I could not find labels for them. First, though, I painted the wood boxes or boards that the produce was sitting on. I gave it a light wood color and washed it with a black wash. Then I painted each food product in a darker and lighter highlight color to give them some depth.
A fish vendor completes this trio of market stalls
I really like how the stall with the lettuce and baskets of various beans came out. I think it is my favorite. I even used two colors inside the baskets themselves -- so the coffee beans were painted a darker brown with dots of lighter brown to give it some depth. The lettuce (or some kind of leafy green veggie) looks good, too, kind of spread out. However, I wasn't as crazy with how the fruits turned out. If you look closely, you can see the strings connecting the individual globes that are the fruits. I briefly thought about painting a green stem at the top of each -- it looks like this was modeled -- but decided I wanted the more mass effect of a crate full of fruit. Still, I think both look good. The fish vendor's products were the easiest to paint, with a medium gray base coat and a light gray dry brush. For effect, I put in a light silver wash over each fish, but it doesn't really show up in the photo.
A busy morning at the Farmer's Market in my 28mm city center
The wood of the stalls consisted of two layers of dry brushing: Howard Hues Camo brown first, followed by Colonial Khaki (my normal way of painting wood). The crates and barrels were trimmed with Iron Wind Metals Steel for their metal bindings. The awnings were done in three faded colors -- a faded tan, light blue, and light green. These were dry brushed white, then washed in brown or black. I was tempted to do stripes on a few of the awnings, but decided against it.

Unfortunately, I don't remember how much the market stalls cost, as it has been almost two years since I purchased them. Check them out on Facebook and pick up some of their products, if you're interested!