Saturday, August 30, 2014

Yowzah! It's New! It's Shiny!

I now own my very own copy of the 5e PHB. I am more excited by this than may be properly appropriate for a Gentleman Of A Certain Age.

I have to say, even on a very brief acquaintance, I can see that it contains a hell of a lot of fluff that I would have ruthlessly edited out, had it been up to me. But it wasn't.... those FOOLS!

It's got lots of good, useful stuff in it too, so that's all right.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Next up in the series of Useful Potential Innocent Bystanders is this one — Reaper 77084: Townsfolk: Innkeeper.

I wanted to make his apron and washcloth look disgustingly unhygienic, and I don't know that I've really achieved that, but I'm pretty happy with it nonetheless. The pockets and folds do make it look a bit like he's wearing a happysmileyface.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


In spite of my initial inclinations to leave all the townsfolk in stunning black & white, I started painting them in colours after all.

The first of them out the gate is this housemaid or charlady or serving girl or whatever you want to call her. She's figure number 77088: Townsfolk: Grandmother, though she doesn't look very grandmotherly to me.

This could be quite a flexible gaming piece in terms of time period; she could serve for pretty much any time from the 1300s to the 1920s.

Here's another version of the same figure.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

50 Shades of Grey

Not a black & white photograph.

There's some town-based action on the near horizon in my D&D campaign, so I thought it behoved me to get some innocent bystanders painted in preparation for the inevitable carnage.

These are from Reaper's Townsfolk sets, from their first Bones Kickstarter. I have another identical set as well, so there are plenty of potential victims to stock any likely scene.

I've under-coated these in black, and then sprayed a downward-raking coat of white to bring out the contours of the figures, and to provide some artificial shadowing.

I was going to over-paint with glazes and washes, but to tell the truth I kind of like them just as they are. I think I might just leave them monochromatic, for the time being at least. Then I can play my town action in arty-farty "Sin City" black & white.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A New Beginning

Last night we had our first go at D&D 5e, using the el-cheapo Starter Set, with me in the DM's chair running the supplied adventure, Lost Mine of Phandelver.

Inevitably there were some hiccups, since none of us really knew what we were doing. We've all played enough 3e to be comfortable with the fundamentals of playing the game, but it took us a little while to start to come to grips with the new survivability mechanisms. Also, since we were using the pre-fab characters, and none of the others had seen any of the character creation rules in the Basic Rules PDF, we had to do a little bit of deduction to figure out why some of the values given were as they are.

However, I think we're getting a decent handle on it, and it seems to play pretty smoothly and easily.

One thing that I think deserves special mention: the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic is a stroke of genius; kudos to whoever came up with that one. It's simple and intuitive, and it could be slotted into just about any RPG system (though it might get a bit cumbersome in the buckets-o'-dice games.)

One major down-side to using pre-fab characters is that players don't have the same emotional attachment to them as those they've built themselves; I have no doubt that when my PHB arrives, there will be a massive cull and replacement of characters.

The adventure is written with a neophyte DM (as well as players) in mind, which is handy because it meant I could devote more of my limited intellect to learning the new rules rather than juggling monsters and encounters. Something that I think would have been advantageous though, would have been to have the various maps printed on separate sheets — it's not a biggie, but it would have meant less page-flipping. (I've since scanned and printed them myself.) Also, having the monster descriptions/statistics in the same booklet meant I had to keep jumping from my place in the adventure to the stat-blocks and back... fortunately, the 5e monster stat-blocks are about a bajillion times simpler than the 3e ones, so it's not usually too bug a deal to scribble down the relevant info in my notebook.

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about this version.

Dice! Dice! Dice!

The dice of FUDGE,
plus the set of polyhedrals
that came with the D&D5e Starter Set
I stepped out on to my front porch this morning to find a little package waiting for me — a couple of blisters of FUDGE dice that I ordered from Evil Hat Productions.

Each blister cost $15, for three sets of four dice (so, $1.25 per die). That's not too bad for speciality dice; not the cheapest ever, but not overly expensive considering what a niche product they are.

I really like FUDGE conceptually, but I have to confess that I've never actually run a game myself. I played in one brief game that I enjoyed, but that's it. Therefore, these dice aren't really likely to see much day-to-day use.

But now I am PREPARED.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Now, about that Kool-Aid...

This just arrived this morning. I ordered it from Amazon, because it was on sale for a shiny penny (actually about thirteen bucks) and I thought it would be a fairly cheap and easy way to get to grips with D&D5e, and more convenient than trying to use the Basic Rules PDF at the table.

Plus, it includes another set of dice to add to my collection. You can never have too many dice. They look like quite nice dice too; the standard D&D set of polyhedrals moulded in a pearlescent dark blue with good, clear, readable white numbers.

Those free Basic Rules, by the way, have improved a lot since their first release. It's been split into separate files intended for players and DMs, and now includes information about a bunch of monsters. It still suffers from over-padding in some areas, and from a paucity of material in others (e.g. character backgrounds, magic items), but it's definitely better and shows signs of getting better still. My major complaint about it is that it's pretty much just a layout dump from the hard-copy design, so unless you've got a good, large-format tablet, it's a real pain in the arse to try to use at the table.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

28mm space opera miniatures

I don't have many 28mm space opera figures at my command, and even fewer painted and ready for gaming. These are all there are so far.

I have some more that I got in the first Reaper Bones Kickstarter, but they're mostly armoured infantry figures — there's not a great deal of variety there. And very, very few female figures of any sort.

I don't recall whether there are any more to come in the next Kickstarter; I think that's due for delivery some time about November.

Cyrus Button

I've finally got around to painting a figure for my character in my friend Joff's Traveller game — Cyrus Button, bodyguard, enforcer, and party accountant. It's one of Reaper's Bones plastic range (80016: IMEF: Nick Stone by Bobby Jackson).

Just in time for the campaign to fold. Oh well, timing is everything, they say.

We never really used miniatures in that game anyway.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Here, for your printing-and-folding-and-glueing pleasure, are some doors.

The link points to a PDF of about 650 KB, with 16 doors ready to assemble, and some simple instructions.

They should be printed on reasonably heavy card. My own laser printer won't handle anything heavier than paper, so I print on to sheets of un-cut self-adhesive label paper, and then stick that to black card before cutting anything out.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

WW1 Mk.IV Heavy Tank — 1:100 scale (Peter Pig)

I bought a Mk.IV tank from Peter Pig to accompany the WW1 British infantry I bought from them a while ago. In fact the infantry and the tank aren't right together, chronologically, as by the time tanks first appeared in 1916 the Brits were equipped with steel helmets, and this one — the Mark IV — didn't appear on the battlefield until 1917.

The model isn't too bad for the price (£6.50 plus postage) but it does have its flaws. Not the least of which is that the rails running along the top of the vehicle, to hold the unditching beam, are moulded as solid plates rather than as the posts and rails they actually were. No doubt this simplifies manufacture of the model, but I think it would be substantially improved if the rails were provided as separate white metal pieces.

I set to work on it with my Dremel(ish) drill to free it up, but the resulting resin structure is a little fragile.

Once the rails were cleared out, I ground down the resin under the vehicle a bit so that the tracks are hard against the table surface, and assembled the few parts that go to make up the model. These consist of the resin body, and white metal sponsons and unditching beam.

The sponsons suffered a bit from pitting, and needed some filing to get the affected surfaces flat again. All the rivet detail is impressed into the surfaces rather than standing proud, so it was a simple matter to replace it where I'd filed it away.

I gave the whole thing a base coat of khaki-green to begin with, and because I intended to paint it in the outlined disruptive camouflage pattern typical of late-war vehicles, I marked in the crazy-paving pattern in black.

I find it much easier to do the outlines first and then colour in the panels rather than the other way around.

Once all the camouflage had been applied, and the unditching beam and chains and what-not painted, it was just a matter of weathering the crap out of it. I don't go overboard with mud effects in this small scale, because they tend to drown any detail present, so instead there's just a lot of streaking and stuff like that.

I managed to bust a section of unditching rail while I was weathering, and the fragment flew off I know not where. I could fix it easily enough, but I probably won't bother.

And now it's done.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Joy Of Chaos

When running a game mostly on the fly, and letting the dice make most of the decisions, it is really easy to get yourself into some real trouble when it comes to building any kind of rational storyline, especially when your memory isn't that great and you don't look ahead to see the consequences of the half-arsed rulings you're making off the top of your head.

On the other hand, it can be a real hoot.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bark terrain pieces

I thought I had already put these up here, but when I went to find them I could not. So, here they are.

They're made out of bits of pine bark, glued together and painted. The poor 28mm overladen flunky is added for scale.

And of course a single standing stone is always handy.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Grrg-nak! Grrg-nak! Grrg-nak!

Here's trouble.

These three craggy-looking guys menacing the poor, soon-to-be-squished unfortunate in the middle are Reaper's Bones 77185: Large Earth Elemental by Kevin Williams.

I haven't gone to any great lengths with the paint job; pretty much just a base coat, wash and dry-brush to get them to a usable tabletop state. They look rocky enough for the job at hand.

They're glued to honking great 50mm washers, which gives them excellent stability.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Zvezda 1:100 T-35 — painted

Here's the plastic 1:100 scale T-35 from Zvezda that I introduced a few days ago.

I've painted it in a quick, plain Russian green scheme, without any markings of any kind. I may add some later; I think that when these were being used, the Soviets were still in the habit of painting red stars on their tanks.

I've photographed it along with all the 15mm Soviet troops I own.


I decided that it looked a bit too bland with no markings at all, so I painted on an old-style red star and hammer-and-sickle. This sort of thing makes me wish I had some waterslide decal paper for my laser printer, but the hand-painted markings will do for the moment.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

15mm 18 pounder from Peter Pig

It's taken me a while to get around to it, but I finally did. This is the British WW1-era QRF 18pdr, with crew uniformed for the first half of the war before steel helmets were issued.

I've based the gun with only two crew members permanently attached, as it's intended primarily for use with the Bolt Action rules, and I want to be able to remove casualties. I'd have made the last two removable as well, but then I wouldn't have been able to get them close enough to the gun — not easily, at any rate.

I have some spare crewmen (standing behind the gun base in the image above) which will probably end up being used for... something, I don't quite know what as yet.

I really like the figures from Peter Pig. I like them a lot.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Zvezda 1:100 T-35

After a bit of a delay, I just received an order from Plastic Soldier Company of a squadron-lot of Zvezda 1:100 scale T-35 heavy tanks.

The delay was due to PSC not getting their shipment from Zvezda on time — I hear that Zvezda's CEO just died, so it may have had something to do with that. Anyway, they did keep me informed about what was going on, so I'm not all that worried about having to wait a couple of weeks longer than expected.

The squadron deal got me five tanks for £12.75, plus about two quid fifty postage. So they ended up at about three quid (about $NZ6.00) each, which is not too bad at all.

Each vehicle comes on two sprues of fairly soft plastic — not as soft as, say, Airfix toy soldiers, but soft enough to cut (and mark) very easily.

They're snap-together kits, and though I did use glue on this one, they snap together pretty firmly, and I doubt that they'd be likely to fall to bits under normal handling. The models assemble very quickly; I'd be surprised if this one took longer than about ten minutes, and that includes a bit of time sanding away some mould lines around the turret.

The detail has been simplified a bit, but not so much that it loses the essential form of the tank.

One area that could have done with being detailed a bit less in scale is in the rivets. There is rivet detail on the side-skirts, but it's so fine and delicate that it's hardly visible at all, and may not survive being painted. I would have liked to have seen something a bit more definite.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with them. They're cheap as chips, and make excellent wargaming pieces. The best thing about them is that they cost less than a quarter what I'd have to pay for a T-35 from Battlefront.

Having looked at some photos of the T-35 with soldiers (German soldiers, as it happens) standing next to them, two things become immediately apparent:
  1. Those things are HUGE, and
  2. the rivets in the side-plates of Zvezda's offering are actually UNDER scale. Those rivet-heads must be easily 40-50mm in diameter.
I'm tempted to try adding some rivets to the next one I do... maybe a sheet of 3d rivet waterslide transfers is in my future.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Work Not In Progress

Here's an example of a figure I just can't seem to get around to finishing off. I've had it for maybe thirty years, and it's been stuck in this state for at least six or seven years.

It's a storm giant, from Ral Partha I believe, or maybe Citadel, about 70mm tall, and it's a pretty old miniature — mid '80s, I think.

It originally had something that was probably supposed to be a lightning bolt or fireball or something coming off its left hand, but I thought it mostly just looked like a turd, so I chopped it off and re-carved the fingers.

I've made a start on its vast areas of bare skin and the improbably large beard, but I've never been very happy with it and it's stalled at this point. Maybe I'll finish it off one day, but I don't know if I can be bothered with it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tin-Plate Tank

Not really tin-plate, but laser-cut aluminium shim.

Annette found this amongst a bunch of novelty items in a stationery shop a few weeks ago, and naturally thought of me. It comes as a couple of small flat sheets plus a turned barrel, and uses tab-and-slot construction.

It's not exactly a fine scale model, but it was quite fun to bend and build. The trickiest thing about it was that reflections from the shininess of the metal often made it difficult to distinguish where anything was when trying to match up the tiny tabs with the equally tiny slots.

She bought me another at the same time, a P-51 Mustang. That'll be next.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

About that Kool-Aid....

Well, I've downloaded and read briefly through the free D&D Basic Rules, and so far they've left me pretty unimpressed.

They're quite incomplete at the moment. Mike Mearls said that they would be "the equivalent of the D&D Rules Cyclopaedia", and maybe one day they will be, but right now they're not even close. They include no monsters at all, and they do include a huge amount of pointless fluff and padding — at the moment it comes in at just over 100 pages, and it could very easily have been edited down to less than half that.

That's not what's left me unexcited though. From what I've seen of them so far, they're pretty much just Pathfinder-Lite. They're a definite improvement on 4th Edition, but that was a pretty low bar. They're not a terrible set of roleplaying rules, they're just not very interesting.

Regardless of my own lack of enthusiasm for it, I really do hope that D&D 5th Edition is a huge success, because if it is it will bring more people into the hobby.  I don't much care what they play as long as there are lots of them, because the spillover effects of a large and thriving market can be very useful in feeding the niche product makers who might be more likely to produce something I'll want.