Thursday, 27 November 2014

Anglo Danes

These are not strictly Anglo-Danes, they are Gripping Beast Saxons with a few Wargames Factory bits to convert them to use great weapons. They are basically to remind me to use great weapons on the Anglo-Dane lord and his bodyguard. I made and painted them very quickly, I only rarely play this faction so didn't want to spend too much time on them.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

More thoughts on War of the Ring

I have posted recently on my impressions of the War of the Ring battle game. In my first post I talked about the overall flow and ease of the game, in the second post I pondered the addition of characters and magic. In summary, the game is quick and easy to play - the rules are simple and there's just one chart in the whole book. Crucially, the game interleaves all phases, so players are involved far more, there's very little downtime. The rules scale up to big battles too - this photo is a game we played at the weekend, pooling all our figures into one mighty conflict. There are around 50 companies on each side in this game, a company is either 8 infantry or 2 cavalry models. It's probably the biggest game I have ever played in, not a bad achievement for four nerds in a basement!

Of course, not everything is perfect. The game does have a few flaws, at least in my eyes. Combat resolution is an example. When combat is completed, the winner is determined purely by number of casualties. There are no other modifiers to this result. The loser rolls a single die - a 1 can lead to the unit being removed, a 2-5 can result in extra casualties and the unit is disordered, while a 6 means the unit fights on with no ill effects. There is no account taken of the margin of victory in this roll either, whether you lose by 1 casualty or 21 casualties, the roll is always the same. The net result is that invariably the loser sticks around for another round of combat, until he is wiped out. Opposing forces tend to meet in combat, fight for two or three rounds, until one grinds the other into the dirt. There's no fleeing and pursuing as per Warhammer. While this solves many rules problems (fleeing units seem to cause so many rules problems), it does feel a bit static and in need of some modification.

The other area of concern I have is morale. There are no rules for morale in the game. There's no panic tests, no psychology, the only concession is that when the final company of a formation falls to half strength, it is removed from the board. In a big game like the one we played, with formations of 6 or 9 companies, this can seem a bit unrealistic. There are terror causing beasts in the game (trolls, ents, etc) but a failed terror test merely results in the unit losing fighting capacity. Psychology/battle fatigue are not really represented in the game as it stands.

Overall, I like the game. The phases order and movement rules are particularly good, combat is easy to understand and resolve, while magic and heroes can subtly alter the dynamic. With a few tweaks to combat resolution and some kind of psychology rules, it would be an even better game.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Iron Scorpion: a little progress

The French Legionnaires are underway proper now. I have painted up a test figure. He's stood at the back checking his (unpainted!) rifle. With my recipe scribbled down I have started to base coat his comrades. It's not much to show really, but it does illustrate the direction I am headed.

The weapons and metals still have to be finalised, but these should not cause too many problems. I might tweak the red of the shoulder pads. And I have still to decide on a base - desert as per the starter box, or my more usual grassland. I am hopeful of a more substantial update in the next few days.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Iron Scorpion under way at last

Progress has been slow on the Iron Scorpion painting and assembly, not helped by a week's holiday. But now that I am back at home I am raring to get underway. A squad of French Legionnaires is my first painting project. As usual, I started with a white primer, then washed so I could see the details. In this case, the palette will be predominantly blue so I have washed with a blue/grey colour, but wiped it off the trousers and flesh with a damp brush. This really shows the level of detail on the figures, better than the renders on the back of the box. I love them even more now.

For the palette I have narrowed it down to two sources. The first is a purely historical picture, from the Putty and Paint website. This is a French Foreign Legionnaire and you can clearly see the influence it has on the sculpts, and the reason I removed the blue wash from the trousers. This pretty much nails it for me - blue coat, white trousers, grey boots, with small flashes of red trim.

However, just to muddy the water a little, I have also been looking at some concept art for the upcoming PS4 game The Order 1886. There are plenty of trailers on youtube, it looks visually quite stunning and I have been looking at this image, wondering if I should go along this route. The female on the right is of most interest, again blue coat, white trousers but with a darker red as a lining of the jacket. Maybe flashes of gold trim, the epaulettes of the shoulder pad and other brocade could be painted this way.

For the weapons I want a steampunk feel rather than historical, and this fits the bill perfectly. The soft gold and copper trim should contrast very nicely with the blue of the uniforms. More updates soon, I am really fired up for these figures. It would be nice if I could get the majority of the French and Antarctica troops finished for xmas, but at the same time I want to take my time and paint them to a high tabletop level. The first test squad will give me a better idea of how long it will take.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Making cheap wargames trees part 3

In this post I am not really making trees, but the magnetic bases on which the trees will stand. If you remember from part 1, the trees are based on 2p pieces, so I needed something with this size holes. My first port of call was the excellent warbases and I found that they did indeed make terrain bases. There are a number of sizes of base and hole to choose, though a 2p sized hole was not on their list. This is not a problem, if you ask them they will happily make the holes this size for you at no extra cost. You can also buy integrated "bottoms" too, but I don't need them.

My tray "bottoms" are simply strips of magnetic sheet superglued on to the mdf bases. I took the opportunity to use some of the offcuts I had accumulated from making movement trays. As you can see I did not attempt to cover the whole underside of the base, just enough to ensure each hole has a magnetic piece beneath it. When the glue was fully dried I simply trimmed off any excess. And that's it! I then flipped them right side up and added a little texture using small stones and sand in the usual way. I set them aside to dry overnight.

The next stage was to seal the texture. I mixed up some water and pva, to which I added a drop of detergent. Then I coloured this mix slightly with some earth colour. I applied this all over the bases with a big nylon brush - these can be picked up cheaply from art and discount book stores and are very useful for terrain work. Note that I have plugged the holes with (non-magnetic) 2p coins here, to prevent too much paint getting on to the magnetic sheet. After a quick blast with a hairdryer I applied a few more splodges of thinned brown craft paints, again picked up from bargain bins along the way to use in terrain projects. I kept this a bit random, though darker in the centre and around rocks was a general principle.

After another blast with the hairdryer it was time for the moment of truth. I knocked out all the non-magnetic coins, a couple had to be prised out as a little paint/glue had managed to seep in. This was easily removed with a bit of tissue. Then the magnetic based trees were popped in for the test. Two of these three trees actually stayed in with the base held fully upside down, the bigger (and thus heavier) tree survived at a 90 degree angle. Not bad at all, perfectly adequate for gaming. There's still a little work to do on the bases with regard to flocking and such like, but hopefully you get the general idea on how it all works.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Iron Scorpion figures initial impressions

I have made a start on the figures in the Dystopian Legions starter set. I love the aesthetic of the range, the merging of historical, fantasy and steampunk is perfect for me. The background looks interesting too, had a brief flick through the booklets included. So far, so good.

On the figures themselves: let me preface my comments by stating that I am not a fan of metal, my preference would be resin, plastic, pvc, then metal. The prepping is a chore that has to be got out of the way as far as I am concerned. There is no poseability as in plastic kits, it's just stick them together as shown on the back of the box. There are no instructions, so the back of the box diagrams are absolutely essential. The photo shows the French Legionnaires. They are very nicely designed and proportioned, none of the chunky nonsense that so many old metals suffer from. Cleaning is straight forward, the mould lines are very fine and, for the most part, easily accessible. Assembly is stress-free, one or two of the arms pieces were slightly twisted, but nothing too serious and the metal is pliable and bendable - note that when cleaning the barrels of the guns you have to exercise care that the thinner bits are not bent or snapped. The backpacks fit nice and snug on the models. As metals go, not too bad at all. I know that the Antarctica automatons are going to be a completely different story - a real scary story that maybe I should have posted for halloween, but more on that in a future post.

I am also making progress in deciding on the colour schemes. I have been collecting images to use as reference. The French will be blue, white and red of course, with the Marines a different blue and more metallics. I have collected a number of images from historical and steampunk/art sites, so have a good idea of the direction I want to go.

The palette for the Covenant of Antarctic troops is less easy to decide on. I want to avoid blue to easily differentiate from the French contingent. I am thinking along the lines of sea green and greys and whites. It will click into place at some point. I love this part of a project, researching background, colours and anticipating the painting. If only the prep was as enjoyable - le sigh.