Saturday, April 13, 2024

Thracian Saga Army (finally) Complete!

    The last six figures for my 28mm Thracian Saga army from Crusader Miniatures
Just in time to participate in Adrian John and Jim Beegan's Saga tournament at DayCon 2024, I finished my final batch of Thracian infantry this week. I began playing this army before it was finished because it was easy to proxy my Dark Age Picts as Ancient Thracian barbarians. Both are known for their colorful cloaks and tribal look, so I figured it was a natural. Now, I finally have enough for six points of all Thracians with their equally colorful cloaks, beards, javelins, and huge chopping weapons known as rhomphaia. 

    A rhomphaia-armed warrior and a javelin man - I am not going to miss painting Thracian cloaks!
All of the figures from this army come from Crusader Miniatures, who have an amazing selection of 28mm Ancient miniatures. From my initial purchase, I have maybe 10 or so figures left unpainted. So, I am fairly confident that I am finally done painting for this army, though. My ratio that I have fielded so far for my Thracian warriors is 1/3 rhomphaia and 2/3 javelins. One day, I may paint up more of the choppers. However, I think it is easy enough to mix in a few javelin-armed figures into a mostly rhomphaia armed unit. Now, if the rules writers one day "nerf" javelin armed troops and I decide that I want more choppers in my list, I can always pick up another pack or two. The ever-friendly and convenient Badger Games shows up at many of the big events and carry Ancient Thracians (that's where I bought mine from!). They were very generous with their prize support for last year's Advance the Colors Saga tournaments, so I will continue to patronize them -- and encourage others to do so!

    I thought this final batch turned out nicely -- I particularly like the guy on the left
This batch contained my last three rhomphaia figures that I'd purchased and three of the unpainted javelin-armed ones. I thought about painting up some of the figures from the command pack, instead. However, I like to save extras of those for Saga warlord stands that I paint up and give away as prizes. Speaking of which, one of my projects in the near-future will be to paint up two command stands for the Saga tournaments that Saga Ohio is running at Origins Game Fair this June 19-23 in Columbus, OH. Thanks to Rusty Parker, Dan Neal, Joe Dihrkop, Lee Parker, and James Tolbert for organizing and running two tournaments there (Friday and Saturday -- and a teaching and open play session on Thursday).

I have less than a dozen figures left after painting this army, I probably won't do those...yet!
As usual, I replaced the lead spears with wire spears from Lon Weiss at Brigade Games. I also chose the javelin-armed poses that allow me to epoxy the butt of the spear onto the base of the figure, in addition to the hand. I feel that separate weapons should always try for two points of contact to get a good bond. I also shave off some of the left forearm with an X-acto knife to give a flat surface to epoxy the crescent shaped wicker shield onto. Once all the gluing was done, I brushed primed them white (as usual). As with the other Thracians, I chose mostly faded colors for the tunics. On the other hand, the Thracian cloaks are mentioned in Greek sources as being brightly colored and decorated with geometric patterns. So, I used bolder and darker colors for most of those. Having painted several dozen plus Thracian cloaks by this point, I was struggling for inspiration for these final patterns. I decided to Google "Greek" designs and scrolled through the patterns that came up. I used that for inspiration and am pretty happy with how these came out. I purposely did NOT go back and look at the figures I'd already painted. I figured I was only painting six miniatures in this batch, I could dig deep for fresh inspiration.

    This army certainly let me exercise my creativity with their colorful cloaks and shield patterns
The Thracian caps were done in a variety of browns and red-browns. Some sources say they were made from fox skin or fur. The boots were done in a range of leather colors, too, from light to dark. These six figures actually painted up very quickly. I knew I was on a time crunch to get them done by this weekend's tournament, so couldn't dally. One thing I did do differently was switch my black and brown wash I have been using for several years. Instead of using Vallejo clear matte paint with drops of brown or black, I am trying something new. I really like the Vallejo vehicle washes, and have been using the black a lot for my Sci-Fi troops. I decided to premix a bottle of each roughly 50/50 strength with water. Do I like it better? Not sure. The previous matte with color was getting decidedly "snotty" in texture and leaving a gray-like glaze. This new concoction seems to cover more unevenly, though, and give an almost cracked look under a magnifying mirror.

I'd be happy to hear from others if they see anything negative in the brown or black wash on these figures. Otherwise, expect another update soon with how things went in this weekend's tournament. I am taking the Thracians, of course. Many highly-experienced players have signed up, though, so I was not expecting a top tier finish. My guess was I'll end up 1-2 in three games. I am a little rusty on Saga at the moment, despite Jenny and my warm up game last weekend. Note: Just came home from DayCon. I ended up 2-1, losing to Bob Boggs' Successor army and defeated Lee Parker's Milites Christi and Jenny's Eastern Princes. So, a relatively successful outing for those six brand new figures and their compatriots...!

Monday, April 1, 2024

Sci-Fi Scatter Terrain from 3 Companies

    Three Sci-Fi scatter terrain pieces (power generators?) from Diabolical Terrain
As I get closer to staging my first game of Xenos Rampant, I felt that I should paint up some of my recent acquisitions in Sci-Fi scatter terrain. These primarily came from three different sources. One is a regular attendee at area conventions -- Diabolical Terrain. Owner Ron Weaver is big into 3-D printing. I have purchased post-apocalyptic terrain from him, ruined buildings, wrecked vehicles -- you name it! Last October, he had some Sci-Fi scatter terrain on his shelves that I picked up. They are from the Lunar Kolony range. If you're interested in picking some up, Diabolical Terrain will be at DayCon 2024 in a few weeks. I know that I will likely be buying more stuff from him there!

    This large drill unit is 3-D printed from Sea Dog Games (makers of the game Sailpower)

Another vendor is a relatively local one, Sea Dog Games. The owners live in the Central Ohio area, and are regular dealers at many regional and national conventions. You've probably seen them running their large-scale sailing ship game, Sailpower. They were one of the early adopters of 3-D printing, and have quite a diverse range of terrain. Some of the modern dumpsters you see in my Mean Streets games are from Sea Dog.

    The largest of the scatter pieces I just painted (refinery?) and two smaller ones from A Critical Hit
Finally, at Cincycon 2024, I discovered a new vendor in 3-D printed terrain: A Critical Hit (link to their Instagram page). I showed a number of the things I bought from them in a blog post a week or two back. You are seeing of those painted up in this post. Blair uses a number of interesting looking colored materials in her prints, intending for them to not necessarily need painting. All of the ones in this were painted up, of course. Two of them are probably my favorite pieces from this batch of scatter terrain. I hope to keep seeing Blair and A Critical Hit at upcoming shows - great stuff!

    This is probably one of my favorite pieces of the lot - another power generator from A Critical Hit
For all of these pieces, I prepped them identically. I start with a spray of Krylon acrylic matte black. Once dry, I brush on a 50/50 mix of water and black acrylic paint to make sure all the crevices are filled. I like to use metallic paints for my Sci-Fi scatter. For example, I have four different shades of what would be considered steel. The darkest is Iron Wind Metals "Steel." Next up, are a trio of craft paint shades from Folk Art, continuing from dark to light: Gunmetal Gray to Pewter and finally, Silver. My favorite accent color is also from Folk Art and is called "Metallic Brown." 

   Another 3-D printed piece from Diabolical Terrain and another thing I'll call a power generator!
I actually purchased and used something very new that I only recently became aware of in painting. Have you heard of "color shift" paints? They go by other names, too, but typically involve the color painted on looking different (or "shifting") depending on the angle you view it and how the light strikes the painted object. I first saw it at Cincycon 2024 in a game run by John Leahy (owner of JS Wargamer Printing -- more 3-D printed goodies!). John had painted a unit of flying Arachnids in iridescent colors. He explained what color shift paints were, and said his had come from Vallejo. Another model paint maker, Turbo Dork, also makes them. At a recent visit to Michaels Crafts, I was surprised to find that the craft paint brand Folk Art also make color shift paint. I bought a bottle of their "Black Burst" to try out, because it looked like a good metallic color for scatter terrain.

    A color shift paint from Folk Art called "Black Blast" - can't really tell from the picture, though
How did I like it? Well, I feel it does gleam and reflect light more than a typical metallic paint. This was not one of the prismatic color shifting paints, though. Maybe I'll try those next. Anyway, it goes on much thicker than typical craft paint. It says it is acrylic, but it has an odd smell. Most craft paints are relatively odorless, I think. What's more, it is self-sealing, Folk Art's website says. In other words, you don't want to spray seal it. I accidentally got a bit on my thumb and can verify it did not come off when I first washed my hands. I had to specifically try to scratch and rub it off. Their website also recommends black priming first, then doing a gloss coat over the black. I did the first, but did not try the second because I didn't read their website till after I'd painted that terrain piece. More experimentation is in order, I think...

    A second look at the Diabolical Terrain (you guessed it) power generators!
Speaking of techniques, what I have begun doing on my Sci-Fi scatter terrain (or even the weapons of Sci-Fi miniatures), is to paint it gunmetal gray first. Next, I highlight areas in pewter, with only the brightest highlights in silver. Finally, I do a reasonably heavy black wash over the piece. Take a look at the really large piece in this update -- an oil tank? That demonstrates how I have been doing this type of terrain. It goes very quickly and look good on the tabletop, I feel.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Severed Heads on Posts (fatigue markers for my Thracian army)

    Some fatigue markers for my head-hunting Thracian army for Saga
One of Saga's game mechanics is fatigue on a unit. I'm a big fan of making any markers required on the tabletop "scenic." When I started playing the Dark Ages skirmish game a few years back, my first fatigue markers were extra shields I painted and glued to a flocked, circular base. As I kept playing, I have tried to get more creative or make the markers match the army in some way. For my latest army, the "barbarian" Thracians from the Hellenistic era, I decided to play off of the fact they were known in some sources as headhunters. So, why not severed heads on poles?

    Steps 1, 2, & 3: magnets on bottom of bases, glue carpet tack upright, and then first layer of flocking
Luckily, with the proliferation of plastic kit boxes for miniatures these days, the ancient wargaming world seems to rolling in extra heads. My friend Joe sent me about a dozen and they sat unused on my desk for about six months. This month, I finally decided to finish off the Thracian army and made the fatigue markers priority #1. After that, I would do the final half-dozen figures so that I don't need to proxy Pictish figures. Thanks to Joe, I had my heads, but now what do to with them?

   Step 4: Paint ballast with 50/50 white glue and water and then dip in Woodland Scenics blended turf
At Historicon last year, I bought a bunch of small circular bases to use as fatigue markers. Since I didn't have any magnets specially sized for them, I had to cut some from an adhesive magnetic sheet I'd purchased at Hobby Lobby. Once those were popped onto the bottoms, I then glued carpet tacks to the center of each. These small black nails have a rough, fluted surface that would dry brush well as wood. I used tacky glue to affix them, knowing that I'd have a couple layers of flocking on top of them to help keep them in place.

    After drilling out the bottom of the heads with a pin vice, they were glued onto the carpet tack
Next, I painted white glue onto the top of the base around the nail. I swished it around a tub of brown fine ballast from Woodland Scenics. After it was dry, I brushed on a 50/50 water and white glue mixture and sprinkled Blended Turf from the same company. Next, the markers received their first spray sealant coat. Now, it was time to affix the heads to the nails. I used a pin vice to drill out the bottom (neck area) of each head, starting with a smaller pin and then widening the hole with a bigger one. Once all heads were prepared, and one -- sadly -- was lost to the wilderness of my 1970s shag carpet in my painting area downstairs, I was ready to go.

I used model cement to attach each head to its post, not worrying about any excess dripping down the nail. That could be well, gore...right? Anyway, this went easier than I thought it would. I was worried about losing another head to the shag carpet demons! Once the heads were atop their posts, I brushed primed them white. From there, it was a simple matter to paint each head and then paint the post itself, too. I did leave out the pupil in my normal method of painting eyes, theorizing the eyes would have rolled back into the head. At least that's the way art seems to always depict severed heads.

    Finished and ready for the tabletop -- severed heads on posts as fatigue markers for Saga!
I really like the way these turned out. To anyone thinking of replicating the process, I would suggest finding heads that have their mouths open, appear to be shouting, or whatever. Mine look entirely too contemplative and philosophical about their fate as a fatigue marker. So, there you go! Progress on my Saga Thracian army AND a little tutorial on creating colorful, scratch-built fatigue markers. Feel free to take my idea and run with it...just watch out for runaway heads trying to escape to the shag carpet when prepping them!

 What's up next? Expect some Sci-Fi scatter terrain as I get prepared for my first game of Xenos Rampant (soon, I hope!)...

Miniature Painting & Purchasing Tally for 2024

  • Miniatures acquired in 2024: 64
  • Miniatures painted in 2024: 41 (note - severed heads not included in this total...ha, ha!)

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Mounted Gorillas (and pics of all Planet of the Apes figs)


    Zoomed in view of my mounted gorilla general leading my entire Planet of the Apes force
My Planet of the Apes figures are from three different manufacturers. The first batch I ever painted, years ago, were from Eureka -- their "Boiler Suit Apes." I am assuming the name refers to the coveralls their wearing, but I could be wrong. They are excellently cast figures and very animated. My next batch I picked up were from Sgt. Major Miniatures. The line is now carried by Battle Valor Games, who picked up many other of their lines besides the Planet of the Apes figures. Thrown into the mix recently were the 3-D printed miniatures from JS Wargamer Printing. Since I had only a single pack of three Battle Valor mounted gorillas, I bought one of JS's Gorilla Cavalry packs of four figures earlier this month at Cincycon 2024.

    My five Gorilla Cavalry to round out my Planet of the Apes detachment for Xenos Rampant
How do they all mix together? Well, I would have a good chance to see that as I set out a squad of five mounted gorillas! This squad is a last-minute addition for my Planet of the Apes detachment for Xenos Rampant. I used all three of the Battle Valor metal figures and two of the JS 3-D ones. Height-wise, they looked okay together. I based all five on the pill-shaped bases I'd picked up from Litko awhile back. As I brush primed them my usual acrylic white, it was easier to some differences. The most noticeable was in head size. The proportions of the metal figures tend to be somewhat exaggerated, while those on the 3-D printed ones are sometimes a tad slender or small. My hope was that, once painted up, these differences would be lost on the eye.

    Three mounted gorillas from Battle Valor Games -- metal minis, more my style and liking
With the Battle Valor figures, I had to glue the metal rider to the horse, as usual. With the 3-D ones, it was the upper torso that needed to be glued to the lower body, which was sculpted onto the horse. Unfortunately, this pack of Battle Valor figures had the most flash I have ever had to clean off from either them or Sgt. Major. I don't know if these were old ones or new ones, but it took some major X-acto knife work to clean them up. The 3-D printed figures, of course, required no cleaning up.

   3-D printed mounted gorillas from JS Wargamer Printing - clean, slender figs...our hobby's future?
For horse colors, I pulled out my Saga Mongol army and picked out five color patterns that I liked. Why reinvent the wheel? If I have horse markings that I have done and liked, why not recycle them for another period and army? The 3-D printed horses were noticeably more slender, though, but not quite as dynamically posed as the metal ones. I really liked how all five horses looked painted up, though. So far, metal and 3-D printed were running pretty even and looking good enough together.

    Good look at my entire force of 28mm Planet of the Apes figures from three different manufacturers
It was when I got to the riders that the differences were most noticeable. The metal figures are MUCH chunkier. They have the exaggerated, raised detail common on metal miniatures that I am used to painting. The detail on the 3-D printed figures was shallower and somewhat muddier -- especially on the gorillas' faces. I know that is not a characteristic of all 3-D printed miniatures. For example, I like the ones from Wiley Games -- they seem more similar to what I am used to painting, detail-wise. It's not that I dislike the 3-D printed figures. It just seemed different - almost like I was painting 1/72 plastic figures with their shallow detail rather than 28mm ones. I think if a whole army or project was done in the 3-D printed minis, I would be fine with them. Supplementing an existing project with a pack or two of these is when you notice the differences.

    The first apes I painted up -- a force of well-armed chimpanzees from Eureka Miniatures
Will there come a day when the majority of our figures are 3-D printed rather than manufactured in the traditional sense? Perhaps. I just hope the designers retain the convention of slightly exaggerated, raised detail that makes our miniatures easier to paint. It's hard to dry brush figures with more realistic, properly scaled details, for example. I think that in many cases, plastic multipart or "kit" boxes have begun to outnumber metal ones. With the historical backlog of metal releases, choices in metal probably still outnumber those in plastic or 3-D. However, in NEW releases, I think metal has begun to fall behind. Of course, this is all my own opinion, and directed mainly at 28mm scale. In smaller scales, metal may still outnumber plastic. I'm not sure and haven't done any detailed research into it. Just rambling!

    Mounted General Urco leads my force of gorilla infantry to take over the world of humans

I painted my mounted gorillas to match my previously painted foot ones with leather armor and dark purple uniforms. Both metal and plastic painted up easily and well, I feel. All five are "rank and file" types, so no fancy leaders here. I will use them as Berserk Infantry (yeah, I know they're mounted) for Xenos Rampant. I can see the gorillas eagerly wanting to charge into close combat. I want to use a variety of troop types in my XR detachments so that I can get a good feel for how they all work. Speaking of which, I will be borrowing a couple detachments from my friend Keith at our usual Sunday evening gaming. I expect six players for my first game, so will field my own Bronze Legion, Machines, Anadorans, and Planet of the Apes forces. I expect to be making unit cards and designing a Quick Reference Sheet this week.

   Some character types - a chimp general and bodyguard, Dr. Zaius and Maurice the Orangutan
What's next? I am finally getting around to making my fatigue markers for my Saga Thracians. That will definitely be my next post. In addition, I am going to try to get some 3-D printed Sci-Fi terrain that I bought from Sea Dog Game Studios and Diabolical Terrain finished up for my first XR game, too. Stay tuned -- lots more on the way!!

    More Eureka Miniatures -- these are billed as Gibbon Monkeys and another cool set of figs!
    Another shot of my Planet of the Apes forces assembled, with the Gibbons protecting the right wing

    Maurice, Dr. Zaius, and the gorilla cavalry guard the left wing of the battleline

Miniature Painting & Purchasing Tally for 2024

  • Miniatures acquired in 2024: 64
  • Miniatures painted in 2024: 41

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Final Squad for Anadorans Finished - Whole Detachment Pics

    With the latest squad finished, the Anadoran Detachment for Xenos Rampant is complete!
The final squad of my "blue-skinned aliens" (who I have decided to call Anadorans just now) are finished. So, that's my fourth detachment for Xenos Rampant finished, which means I can start planning our first game. These are once again plastic Stargrave miniatures from one of the Mercenaries boxes. I think I am getting reasonably competent at gluing the various arms, heads, etc., together and making them not looking like mad vivisectionist's nightmare.

    The last 5 "blue-skinned alien" Anadorans prowl through a power facility off-world
With the previous squad, I had exhausted the box's supply of that particular alien head. I had to improvise with other head choices that I thought would look well. Those who look closely will notice these guys actually have relatively human schnozes while the first batch from the Mercenaries box had the much cooler and alien looking sunken noses. Otherwise, I attempted to paint everything identically to the last batch. 

    I admit I do like the variety of weapons that you can equip figures with in the Stargrave boxes
The uniforms were done in craft paint Khaki, with a lighter "Wild Rice" dry brush. I did the straps, ammo pouches, holsters and such in white. The armor panels are done in Iron Wind Metals Steel first, then a craft metallic brown over top. The skin on the faces is a Sky Blue base coat with a wash of watered down Vallejo acrylic medium blue. Any visors are done in Steel again.

    I like the color scheme on the Anadoran uniforms -- not flashy, but practical and utilitarian
The weapons I followed my usual Sci-Fi formula. I used a craft paint metallic gray for a basecoat and pick out other areas in the metallic brown and a bright silver. The uniforms and straps get a brown wash, while the metal and weapons get a dark black vehicle wash (which I need to order more of ASAP!).

    My entire Anadoran detachment assembled - two squads of elites, two of heavies, and one walker bot
After finishing up the flocking to match the rest of the figures in this Sci-Fi project, I decided to set out the whole Anadoran detachment of troops. This consisted of two squads of Elite troopers (using my post-apocalyptic survivor squad, The Nightstalkers). They are supported by two squads of Heavy Infantry using the Stargrave Mercenaries. I also gave the Anadorans one of the crab-like mechanical Droid walkers (the one painted in blue, of course!).

    A narrow view of the Anadorans gathered -- I think the two types of figures look nice together
I think the force looks pretty nice on the tabletop. It is a very similar force composition to the Bronze Legion. Maybe once I have a couple games under my belt I will tweak it some more. 

What's next? I have five Planet of the Apes gorillas on horseback that is almost halfway complete sitting on my painting desk right now. They are a mix of the Battle Valor miniatures and JS Wargamer Printings 3-D figures. Seeing how I am progressing, I would expect one more update this week with them before I take off for a week-long spring break. I have adjusted my Aquired vs. Painted numbers below to reflect the Anadoran squad being completed.

Miniature Painting & Purchasing Tally for 2024

  • Miniatures acquired in 2024: 64
  • Miniatures painted in 2024: 36

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Cincycon 2024 Purchases

    Some of the 3-D 'Scatter Terrain' I bought at Cincycon for my Sci-Fi games
Heading down to Cincycon 2024, I had a pretty good Miniatures Purchased to Miniatures Painted Ratio for this year. I had painted 31 figures so far, while purchasing only 15. I knew that once the convention season arrived my surplus would take a hit. Well, it did in a big way, as you'll see below.

    Not sure what they are supposed to be, but they'll look cool on a Sci-Fi tabletop!
Despite buying from only two stands at the convention, I still dropped about $100. I do feel an obligation to support the vendors at shows I attend. They take time out of their schedule to show up and give us somewhere to browse and shop. Often times it is a money-losing proposition for dealers. They go more as a form of advertising, to get their name out. They hope that, later on, people will remember them and make purchases from them online. Or at least that's my take on it!

    Mounted gorillas for my Planet of the Apes force - these are 3-D printed from JS Wargamer Printing
The first vendor I bought from is one that I've mentioned on here before. Cincinnati area gamer John Leahy started JS Wargamer Printing a year or so back. My Terminators that I painted up where from him. He carries mounted "Planet of the Monkeys" gorillas. I thought they'd be a great troop addition for my Xenos Rampant "Planet of the Apes" detachment. I have three mounted gorilla figures from Battle Valor Games, and I need some more to flesh out a squad of them. There's a troop type called Berserk Infantry (or something like that) in the game, and gorillas charging in to close combat would be perfect for these.

    I am a big fan of 'The Last of Us,' so if I'm purchasing zombies I'll definitely get some infected!
My other purchase from John was part of a new project that I will be working on after I get Xenos Rampant underway. I have finally decided to take the plunge and do a zombie branch-off for my post-apocalyptic games. My idea is it will be a mash-up of Gaslands Refueled and Wiley Games rules. Each of my players will have a vehicle -- pickup truck, SUV, van, whatever. They will have three characters in it and will be road-tripping across the United States. They're heading from the zombie-infected and densely-populated East to the wide open spaces of America's Great Plains and West. Less people means less zombies, so the thought is to make it to the relative safety of "flyover country."

    John from JS Wargamer Printing had three types of zombies -- this was the other type I ordered
The problem is that I own no zombies. Well, I didn't before Cincycon! I sent a message to John asking if he had any zombies he could print up. He did have some files. One is of standard zombie apocalypse folks and the other is the "infected" variety from the great streaming show, "The Last of Us." His prices are hard to beat, so I ordered two packs of 10 each. So, that's 40 zombies plus 4 mounted gorillas. John also gave me some freebies -- 3-D printed figures of Planet of the Apes Dr. Zaius, Cornelius, Zira, and the humans George Taylor (Charlton Heston) and Nova. 

    More of the 3-D printed scatter terrain I purchased at Cincycon - this from A Critical Hit
Since they were free, should I count those as purchased? Well, I guess I could technically call it "Acquired," just in case I trade for miniatures in the future! So, I added in 49 miniatures. That raises my total to 64 acquired for 2024. And no, I haven't finished any other batches, so I've sunk to 31 painted vs. 64 acquired. Oh WAS a good ratio while it lasted!

    Two picnic tables, a phone booth, and Coca-cola machine from A Critical Hit
The other purchases were from a vendor that was new to me. They are called A Critical Hit (Instagram link), or email Blair Oyler at Critical Hit's shelves had quite a bit of 3-D printed scatter and buildings. Much of their printing was done in appropriately colored material so that they wouldn't technically require painting. I would at the minimum do a wash on these, but will likely paint most of them up. I showed my friend Keith their tables and he immediately snapped up even more than I did! Good stuff!!

    A few more from A Critical Hit -- I will likely paint the pipes but do a black wash on the container
Most of these purchases were Sci-Fi related. They'll likely end up on the tabletop for various Xenos Rampant games or Wiley Games skirmishes. It's been awhile since I've painted up a big batch of terrain, so I may likely pop in these pieces and others ones I purchased at Advance the Colors last October from Sailpower and Diabolical Terrain. You can never have too much atmospheric scatter on the tabletop. Now, storing all that terrain is a different thing entirely...!

    You can see the interesting colors that A Critical Hit print their terrain in with the second piece

What's next? I am almost done with the next batch of five "Blue-Skinned Aliens" squad. At some point, I really do need to come up with a name for that faction! With that squad complete, they will be ready for the tabletop. So, look for that update soon...!

Miniature Painting & Purchasing Tally for 2024

  • Miniatures acquired in 2024: 64
  • Miniatures painted in 2024: 31

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

The, Kings! Came Out to Play at Cincycon 2024!

Streets of downtown Columbus degenerated into a chaotic gang fight on Friday night at Cincycon 2024

With it being the 45th anniversary of the release of the movie "The Warriors" -- which was my inspiration for my Mean Streets rules -- I thought I should host a scenario that is a nod to it. My convention scenarios are often six player free-for-alls. However, I thought I would have two players representing a single gang and the other four being independents. The two player gang, aka the Warriors, would be trying to get from one side table edge to the other. 

    The table at Cincycon 2024 all set up and ready for players to "come out to plaaaaayyy...!"
Perhaps surprisingly, I don't have miniatures for the Warriors themselves. So, I chose one of my larger gangs, the Eastmoor Kings, and have them stand in. As you may know, my gangs are all named after Columbus neighborhoods. The Kings are an African-American gang, while the other four in the scenario would be the Indianola Mohawks (punk rockers), Franklinton Flippos (clown masks), Santanas (Hispanic gang), and the Linden Daos (black martial arts gang). I decided to give each Kings player one extra figure compared to the independent gangs to give them a fighting chance to get all the way across the table.

    Santanas keep watch on their corner of Bridge Street, making sure no one trespasses on their turf
All of the gangs would be given a variety of ways to earn victory points. Simply knocking out a member of a rival gang would be worth points. For the independents, each had one of the other three as worth extra points (you owe them payback for a previous beat-down). In addition, they had a criminal mission to carry out in a rival gang's turf, such as the Linden Daos had to enter Mohawk territory and "steal some smokes" from a cigarette kiosk. Finally, those four gangs also had two buildings to protect from rival gangs "tags." Players always seem to enjoy the "tagging" mission, and this would give a reason for each gang to protect its turf. 

    Just across the street, two of the Linden Daos strike an aggressive pose, marking their turf
The Kings, on the other hand, had the main mission of reaching the bridge that stretched across the table and catching a bus home. Just like with the Warriors, they had been double-crossed after going across town to a gang parley. Seeing how things in my gang warfare games typically devolve into -- shocker -- street fights, I figured the Kings would struggle to make it unscathed across five feet of tabletop. As it turned out, I may have underestimated the redoubtable street thugs and their canniness!

    My 6 players gathered around the table -- you can see the big bridge (King's goal) in the foreground
Scenery-wise, I had a couple new debuts for my Mean Streets games. The big one, so to speak, was the nearly three feet long stone bridge I had recently painted. See my earlier post on assembling and painting this monstrosity. Also new to the tabletop was my 6'x4' fleece city mat. I had picked up this mat with a concrete pattern from Shieldwall Gaming Club at the Hold the Line convention last Fall. I wasn't sure if my asphalt streets I made from cork material would look good on top of the concrete (since a street is lower than the concrete sidewalks). I set it up in my basement and was very happy with how it looked, so took it along instead of my acrylic tiles I'd used previously.

    You can see the back side of the Silent Slumbers motel here, along with Smith's Smoke Shack

Another new appearance on the table was the Silent Slumbers motel, a two-story resin building from Miniature Building Authority. This hefty model looks great on the urban tabletop, especially the back side with the air conditioning units and wires. Although no fighting took place in the motel, it was the scene of a couple big rumbles in front of and behind it. I did another thing to my scatter terrain. More than a year ago, I painted up a dozen or so streetlamps from pieces of bass wood purchased at the craft store. I don't know why I put them in a ziploc back and then forgot about them. I decided to take them along this time and put them on various street corners. I loved how they looked and feel like kicking myself for not debuting them in my games sooner!

    Early in the game, the Kings concentrated and ganged up on the Indianola Mohawks
The Mohawks, Daos, Flippos, and Santanas all deployed in their city block turf. I probably made a mistake in telling the two Kings players -- my friends Derek and Homer -- that they could deploy just off-board anywhere along the edge abutting Flippo and Mohawk territory. Most GMs have learned that miniature gamers can be counted on to their best to "break" a scenario you felt you balanced. What did Derek and Homer do? Well, of course, they came in like a ton of bricks on Michael's poor Mohawks, concentrating on one half of the side edge. They ignored the Flippos, who made things worse by ignoring the Kings entirely the entire game, too! Next time, I think I will be more specific in where they can come in and ensure that one of the independents isn't ganged up on and outnumbered from the outset.

    Derek's Kings swarm the back alley behind the motel, facing off against the Mohawks there
Homer sent his five Kings down the center street and immediately jumped Mohawks gang boss Sid and his main squeeze, Maybel. That turned out to be not the best idea, as Sid knocked out one and then another of the Kings punks who tried to invade Mohawk turf! Things were not off to a good start for the Kings with one player losing two of his five figures! Derek came in on the back corner behind the motel and apartment building. There they were met by Mohawks warchief Iggy, who held them off for a couple turns before succumbing to superior numbers.

    The Santanas cross the street to threaten Daos turf, trying to stare their rivals down
On the opposite end of the table, a dramatic standoff was underway. The Santanas crossed the street from their turf into territory controlled by the Linden Daos. The Daos had set up with their warchief and a punk to guard Wallace's Brewpub, while the Gang Boss and another punk sat poised to raid Smith's Smoke Shack and bag some points with their special mission. Upon seeing the Santanas assembling on the edge of their turf, they raced back to regroup. The two stared each other down for a moment and then the Santanas blinked, and headed back across the street into their territory. Perhaps it had something to do with a lone Flippo racing over and spray painting Sam's Quickie Mart (Santanas turf) with their clown-faced tag!

    Sidney and Dwayne of the Daos chase down Manana of the Santanas, prompting Cruz to come help
Either way, it was a mistake when they turned their back on the Daos. As half of the Santanas raced towards the Quickie Mart and the other two retreated back to the Pot O'Gold motel, the Daos sprang into action. Several of them chased down the two heading for the hotel and jumped them there. Never turn your back on a street gang looking for trouble! 

    Outnumbered, Sid and Maybel fight a valiant battle to defend their turf, but ultimately succumb
Meanwhile, things were heating up in Mohawk turf! Sid battled Eastmoor King after King, with Maybel wading in with their chain to lend a hand. However, once King gang boss Tyrese got in on the action, things got much more difficult. As vicious as he was with his fists, Sid simply couldn't fend off all of Homer's boys. The gang boss went down, and Maybel took that opportunity to scamper away and head for home. She had taken a few blows herself, and knew that if Sid couldn't stop these outsiders, she didn't stand a chance.

    The police arrive seeing a street fight between the Santanas and Daos taking place on the corner
The rest of the Mohawks had also battled stubbornly, but with Michael's whole gang down or off-table, he was the first beneficiary of my "cop rule." If a player is taken out early, I give them a police car and two officers to drive onto the tabletop on any street edge. They can come and get payback at the one who knocked them out, or show up in an entirely different place. Their choice! I began using this mechanic after a running of Mean Streets at Cincycon when two brothers, Steve and Mike Cole, played in my game. They live to pound on each other in miniatures games and one took the other out quickly in that game. I've used it ever since, and many a player has enjoyed the second lease on life in the game and had a blast playing the cops! Michael hammed it up perfectly, finding a police siren sound on his phone and playing it as he brought the patrol car onto the table.

    Police use their billy club on El Lobo after the Daos fled (or were knocked out by the Santanas)
Just before the police arrived, though, a bloodied Manana had scampered away from the furious fists of the black martial arts gang. Warchief Cruz battled on, calling for help. This soon appeared in the form of both Gang Boss Julio and his buddy, El Lobo. Encircling the two Daos, they pounded one into the pavement, ignoring the commands of the police. The Daos soon decided it was time to retreat rather than take on their rivals and the police! The Santanas refused to back down until the second officer stepped out of the patrol car and added his weight to the struggle. Perhaps it was the sight of the cop's drawn revolver, but the Santanas soon fled back down the road and turned into the alley behind the hotel.

    The police chase the Santanas off the streets into the alley ways, calling for them to halt
What were the Flippos doing all this time? Now, that's a good question! Every once in awhile at a game, you have that one player who decides to do things his or her own way. Rich was playing VERY safe with his four Flippos. Most of the time, he spent holed holed up in side one of the apartment blocks in their turf, guarding it. He sent the occasional punk outside to tag the Quickie Mart (Santanas turf). It wasn't until the Mohawks had been taken down and the Santanas and Daos were brutally mixing it up, that the clown faced creeps emerged from their enclave.

    The Flippos spent half the game guarding their apartment complext from interlopers in this game
They raced in a tight mass towards the back door of the Quickie Mart. Their mission had been to duck inside their and steal some food for tonight's party. Gang Boss Marvin shouted out orders and the four clown-faced gang members efficiently slid inside and began grabbing food off the shelves. Once their pockets were stuffed, they exited out the front door, considering even more mayhem.

   Santanas, having a rough night, beat feet down an alley way to avoid the pursuit of the police
Meanwhile, the game was winding down. Gang boss Juanita was the last one left in the Daos, and she headed off to tag a few buildings to rack up some victory points. The Santanas took a right turn into the alley between the motel and the Quickie Mart. With a couple of their guys beat up pretty well, they were ready to call it a night, too. They certainly were wondering why the Flippos, Daos, and cops all had decided to pick on them. It had made things difficult, and they'd never got a chance to hit up Wallace's Brewpub for some beers for the party planned tonight!

    The Eastmoor Kings cross the halfway point of the table -- which I was really happy with!
Meanwhile, things were going very much like their inspiration film for the Kings. They'd taken a few hits and losses along the way, but they were steadily progressing towards their goal: getting home. After the fight with the Mohawks, Derek's contingent did manage to knock out one of the Daos who was a little less slippery than he should have been stealing smokes from the kiosk. Otherwise, they stay "on mission" and stealthily made their way through the streets of Columbus to the bridge.

    We almost had another dust up at the 11th hour when the Flippos and Santanas met on Bridge Street
The 3-hour time I'd given the game was winding down and most of the players seemed content to get off table and tally up their points. The Flippos briefly considered having a go at the nearby Santanas. With their clown pockets full of food, though (and all four gang members healthy), they decided to head back to their base and celebrate the night's success. They could always claim the Kings kept running because they were too scared to mess with the Flippos, right? The Santanas had come very close to getting two of their ranks knocked out of action, so, as much as they wanted that beer at Wallace's to cool off, the sight of 7 black-clad Kings in the vicinity dissuaded them. Besides, the cops were out looking to bust people, so better to lay low.

    Eastmoor Kings arrive on table near Swingle's Shawarma, whose customer is obviously oblivious
When we counted it up, the Kings had won on victory points. I averaged Derek and Homer's scores and they racked up 13 points. The Flippos were next with 10, on the strength of their tagging and food hoarding. The Daos, despite having only one member left, took third place with 7 points. The Santanas were close behind, and the poor Mohawks took it on the chin having to face both Derek and Homer's gangs simultaneously and unaided. In retrospect, I will probably keep the missions for the independent gangs. However, I will get rid of the "target" points for knocking out one of the other four you owe payback on. I may keep the extra points for the Kings, though, to encourage them to make it tougher on their march through town. 

    No such thing as a fair fight in a street battle -- even with the cops looking on!
All in all, the players had a blast, they said. I thought the scenario ran well, and is certainly a keeper. Look for it at both Drums at the Rapids, May 17-18, at Fort Meigs in Perrysburg, OH. I will also run it Thursday through Saturday at Origins Game Fair, June 19-23, Columbus, OH.