Thursday 28 November 2013

An Historic Achievement

We played a game of Star Trek Catan the other night, at which I lost utterly. That's not the historic achievement though; I usually lose at boardgames because I am the world's worst Player of Games.

The historic achievement is demonstrated by the unbroken string of red starships (they're mine) right across the board.

For the first time in my life, I managed to use up every single road (starship) in a game of Catan, creating an unassailable Longest Longest Road.

Alas, this came about mainly because I seldom had the resources to build anything but roads, but that's not the point. The point is...


Saturday 23 November 2013

New Washes For Old

I use washes a lot when I'm painting figures. I use various experimental recipes of my own devising, but I also use commercially available washes a good deal — they have the virtue of predictability, which my own concoctions sometimes do not.

The wash I've used and liked the most is the old Citadel Devlan Mud. It's no longer available, having gone out of production a couple of years ago, so I'm having to find an acceptable replacement.

I've airbrush-primed this figure with Vallejo's polyurethane acrylic surface primer white, and then washed it in sections with three commercially available washes:

  • On the figure's left (front and back), the old Citadel Devlan Mud.
  • On the right-front, the new Citadel equivalent, Agrax Earthshade.
  • On the right-back, the nearest Vallejo equivalent I could find, their Umber Shade.

All of the washes were applied undiluted, straight from the pot (or bottle).

Visually, there's not a hell of a lot to choose between them. They all dried to a good matte finish.

  • Agrax Earthshade is the lightest, and it pools the least in open areas. Judging by the smell, it has an alcohol component. It's very similar in hue to Devlan Mud, and I quite like its lighter, looser fluidity.
  • Vallejo Umber Shade is a little bit thicker, and it pools a lot more on flat, open areas. It's a touch warmer in tone, but still pretty close in colour.

Of the two, I think I prefer the Citadel wash, but the Vallejo offering is certainly quite usable and I don't feel that it's money wasted.

Monday 18 November 2013

Terrain: Roads

A couple of years ago I bought some resin terrain pieces at the annual CWS bring & buy. These were actually being sold as river pieces, but the "water" surface is actually quite lumpy and gritty, so I thought I'd finish them as dirt roads instead. The pack was $10.00, so about a buck per piece.

They're OK, as far as they go, but I think in future I'll just make roads out of pieces of paintable silicon caulk-impregnated fabric, which is both much cheaper and more flexible, and lies flatter on the table.

Friday 15 November 2013

Laser-cut Casualty Markers

Continuing in my forays into the wild world of laser-cutting, I've designed these casualty markers designed for use with games like Hail Caesar, Pike & Shotte, Black Powder and so forth.

The idea is that they're used with standard 12mm six-sided dice to indicate the number of casualties a unit has taken thus far.

I've created them in two parts, as you can see at bottom-right: the base, pierced with a hole for the die, and a little collar. The bottom of the base would have some thin card glued to it, so that the die wouldn't just fall through if the base is picked up and moved.

What I haven't quite decided on just yet is precisely how I'm going to assemble them. I have two options in mind:

  1. As you can see in the example to the left of this unit of Peasant Rabble, the collar is used to deepen the recess for the die. This has the advantage that it makes it less likely that the die will fall out when the marker is being pushed around the table. Also, it means that there's room to create a little casualty mini-diorama on the other half of the base, which can look quite good on the table and makes the marker feel more like part of the battle scene.
  2. In the example to the right, the collar is mounted to one side of the hole pierced through the base, creating two shallow sockets instead of just one deep one. This has the advantage that two dice of different colours can be used, which can be useful for the morale mechanic used in the games I referred to earlier — in which the number of "casualties" can vary within a turn, with only casualties in excess of a unit's "shaken" morale value counting against them in a break test, after which those excess casualties go away. There's an added advantage that the marker can accommodate units with a higher morale value than 6 (though I could also do that with a d8 or d10, or even a d12).

I have a bunch of them cut already, so perhaps I'll just do some of each and see how they go.

It's dark in the dungeon...

Wednesday 13 November 2013


I doodled away at this while I was watching some entirely unrelated TV show (Agents of SHIELD, as it happens).

It's a critter from the 1983 AD&D Monster Manual II, a minor demon called a Babau.

The thing is, I still think of anything out of the Monster Manual II as being a new-fangled, possibly suspect, creation that may or may not be worthy of inclusion in the hallowed precincts of D&D. I guess that's because the book didn't appear until I'd already been playing AD&D for a few years, and I didn't even see a copy until the very late '80s. By the time I saw it, TSR was in its death-throes and was putting out a hell of a lot of pot-boiler garbage.

I didn't finish its right hand; I got bored with drawing and stopped. I might finish it off some day, but I wouldn't count on it. It will certainly never get any taller, because I ran out of leg-room on the page.

Monday 11 November 2013

New Old Character Sheet Design

I just found an old AD&D character sheet that I designed years and years ago. It was intended to be printed double-sided, laid out on A3 to be folded down to 4 A4 pages, the theory being that it would act not only as a character sheet, but also as a folder to hold all of the gajillions of scraps of paper players seem to inevitably end up with. It was designed when we were playing an AD&D 1e/2e hybrid, so it's not quite either 1e nor 2e.

It was originally drawn out in technical pen and photocopied, but I just spent a couple of hours converting it to a vector format in CorelDraw so that the resulting PDF file-size isn't too huge. If you use Acrobat's "booklet printing" feature, it will print in the intended foldable format, or you can just print it as separate pages. I've tried printing it on A4 paper (and thus ending up with an A5 booklet), and though small, it's still quite usable.

You can download it here if you want to take a closer look. It's about 163 KB.

Edit: This links to a more readable A5 version if you want to print it as an A5 booklet. All of the text has been reformatted to Helvetica — much easier to see.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Sir Fnord the Pretty Darned Nifty

This is the figure I use to represent one of my oldest and most-played characters, Sir Fnord. It's a Grenadier figure I believe, or maybe Citadel — they were the two manufacturers I patronized most regularly back in the day. It was painted some years ago (maybe ten years? I'm not entirely sure) and since then some changes have made themselves manifest.

For a start, the static grass around his feet used to be green. Now it's a dead, arid tan, and the PVA it's stuck to is lifting away from the plastic base.

Also, his shield: I printed the blazon on my Epson inkjet printer on to photo paper, and then laminated the shield out of three sheets stuck together around a bottle (to get the curve) and then trimmed to heater-shield shape. The fleur-de-lis used to be black highlighted in blue; now those highlights have turned green as the cyan ink fades away. Eventually the highlight will be yellow.

Close-up photography is terribly unforgiving of paint jobs, which makes me all the more impressed at some of the work I see on sites like Cool Mini Or Not.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Laser Cutting

I've just recently been given access to a laser cutter, and the opportunity to try my hand at designing some stuff for production on it.

I did this little MDF cabin, with a lift-off roof, and some sabot bases for converting my skirmish-based 15mm infantry to use in Flames of War (should that ever be necessary). I just glue some magnetic sheet underneath and trim it flush with the MDF sabots, and Bob's your uncle — the washer-based infantry stay in there quite securely. I'm tempted to do the same for my medieval figures as well, so that I can easily transpose between Hail Caesar and DBA/DBM/HOTT/FoG.

At the moment it's all very simple stuff — proof of concept really, rather than a serious attempt. However, I'm learning already how to achieve what I'm aiming at, and now I'm ready to try my hand at something a bit more ambitious.

I'd like to have a laser cutter of my very own, but even though the price has come down drastically for small desktop models, they're still well out of my reach. Maybe one day.

Monday 4 November 2013

Is that...? No! Yes? Maybe....

I'm beginning to feel those vague stirrings that indicate that maybe starting GMing again might not be entirely out of the question.

Then again, it might just be wind.

Friday 1 November 2013

Kea-Griffon: Finished at last

Finished, at long last.
Not much different, visually, from the last WIP I posted, but now the wings have been faired in (badly) with the body.