Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Smoke 'Em if You Got 'Em

More dropped weapons today.  This time it's the smokescreens first previewed here.  First up, a distant shot to show what they look like from a distance, and then a close up view of the texture.

As always, click images for more details.

These are scraps of soft, but stiff, packing foam used to cushion computer accessories.  I simply shaved them into the desired shape, hot glued them onto the appropriately sized counters, and then drybrushed the tops with  black paint.  My little cotton ball experiment failed in that cotton balls are too soft and fibrous - they start to peel away from the base before you even get them on the table.  These puffy nuisances hold their shape much better than cotton, and they don't blow around in gentle breezes.  

On the down side, they take up the most space of all the accessories in the One Box To Rule Them All.  So that means any additional cars I squeeze into the box won't have smokescreens or discharges.

Next Up:  Game On!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Up For Use

If anyone out there in internet land wants to use a few of my billboard designs...here you go.  I can't imagine anyone really wants to use the Hawaii or Kailua one, but heck, Uncle Albert is a classic, and who couldn't use Gold Cross?  All I ask in return is a shout out or link back to this here blog. Click on each one for a hi-res (600x300) copy.

Next Up: In the Boys' Room

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Box Within A Box

Not a lot of time today, so here's a quick shot of my space saving solution.  In order to keep it all in one box, I tuck my pedestrians into the bunker.  Appropriately enough, the safest place for them in transit is also the safest place for them in the arena.  The extra space gets filled with smoke screens/more foam to keep the little mans from rattling around.

Next Up:  Some High Quality Stuff

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ready to Paint the Arena Red

Here they are, the ten pedestrians ready to bail out of their cars and run for safety.  These were painted in a rush - 1 hour total for the lot of them.  I used The Dip method of painting, so they look a lot more grubby than I had hoped.  Live and learn.

 First a big group shot.

Some of my favorite little details.  My local arena is on the outskirts of Honolulu, so it only makes sense for somebody to sport a Hawaiian Flag.  The guy on the right is obviously sponsored by Coke.  You know that if any corporation can survive the apocalypse, it'll be them.

Another detail shot.  The guy on the right is the one that looks most like a terrorist, but I love the fact that he's sprinting and not just standing there like the world's most badass target.  Rambo in the center there is just asking for a few rounds in his chest.

Next Up: The Safest Place

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Shameless Commerce

Keeping with the local Hawaii flavor, 808 Armor is Hawaii's largest independent armor importer and installation service provider.  They also sponsor the weekly amateur night.  But their community support doesn't end with the Hawaii Autoduel scene. They also founded and run the Adopt a Mutant Foundation.  Remember, folks, for just the cost of one cup of coffee a day, you can provide enough irradiated fauxmeat and saltwater to feed a mutant child for a week.

Gold Cross needs no introduction.
When your six year old daughter spots you painting up your little mans and asks, "Ooooh, can I make one?"  This is the result.  "Lenore's Manatee Store" - pets, feed, aquarium supplies, you name it.  For all your manatee needs, think Lenore's Manatee Store.  It's also my favorite ad in the entire arena.

Next Up:  All Dressed Up

Revenue Streams

You're probably going to have to click on those pictures to get a better look at the billboards.  I realized this past week that something was missing from my arena - something to give it the look of a true sports facility and not just a random parking lot.  Advertisements.  Lots and lots of advertisements.

Following in the grand Steve Jackson games tradition, I've decided to keep things local.  The Hawaii Autoduel Arena (Drive with Aloha - Drive Well Armed) is the largest AADA sanctioned facility in the state.  With only four portable jersey barriers, it's not the most technically sophisticated arena around, but it is flexible.  And let's face it - autoduel fans aren't known for their high level of sophistication anyway.

Next Up:  My Fave

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pedestrians Double Crossing

On those rare special occasions when your driver actually walks away from a wreck, you need a figure for the other cars' aim.  Caesar Miniatures sells a box of Modern Militia (Asian and Somali Militia) that should serve just fine.  A lot of these guys are obviously Arab terrorist types with AK-47s and turbans and whatnot.  They'll look fine on the table top when painted up right.  I'm thinking flashy logo apparel.  One guy has a balacalava that looks exactly like the ones NASCAR drivers wear under their helmets, so he's good to go.
These little guys are 1/72 scale, so the scale is a little bit off.  But Matchbox cars have a pretty fluid scale themselves.  If you don't think about it too hard, they fit in just fine.  Thinking about using The Dip technique.  I actually prefer to drybrush white, then block in colors and dry brush one or two layers of lighter color for highlights, but that would mean buying three times as many colors, and I just don't have room for that.  So it's The Dip for me.  Stay tuned and I'll try and post a walk-through of the technique.
I had to special order this box from my new favorite hobby shop, Weller's Hobbycraft.  Right now I'm painting up 10 of the 36.  While writing this post, I realized that some of my 10 cars have gunners, so I may have to prime up a few more extras.  I'd paint up the whole box for pedestrian on vehicle mayhem, but they won't all fit inside the One Box to Rule Them All.

Next Up: Gunfight on Madison Avenue

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Slick New Drop Weapons

Two quick picks today of the latest drop weapons.  Oil slicks in both the standard and the high temperature variety.  One shot shows of the flame coloring, and the other shows how glossy the slicks look in decent lighting. The oil is a 50/50 mix of black paint and glue.  The flames are white construction papered colored with crayon and cut to fit.  They'd look better with more wavy flames, as opposed to the regular tooth-like pattern, but I wanted something that would pack up well and last through heavy play.  

Next up:  Cheese it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Car of the Day: Lo-Beam

I was tempted to use this car for the Killer Kart, what with the low slung body option and all.  But really, if you're going to drive with the most expensive weapon around, you've got to put it in a classy chassis like this one.  The basic inaccuracy of the laser is partially offset by the presence of a gunner.  Car like this, I figure the gunner's got to be a smoking hot babe, right?

Speaking of which, many thanks to the wife for letting me use one of her Swarovski crystals.  In an odd bit of synchronicity, today happens to be her *mumble*th birthday.

Next Up:  Shopping for the wife's birthday present.  I hope she'll be happy if I get her pedestrian figures for the game.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Car of the Day: Assassin

A rocket launcher, with a gunner.  That's a strong combination.  You're more accurate than most weapons, and do more damage than most weapons, too.  Not only that, but this thing is a tank. That gunner isn't going anywhere with more than 130 armor protecting him.

I don't much care for the simple cardboard bases that these cars sit on.  They are more gray and less brown than shown in these pictures, but until I get a chance to match some paint to the drop cloth I'm using, it'll have to do.

Next Up:  Lo-Beam

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Car of the Day: Dagger

Dagger, I barely knew her!  The micro-missile launcher mounted on the roof of the Dagger isn't in a turret.  It does, however, look just like every other micro-missile launcher on my other cars.  So it's got that going for it.  The ram plates on my car vary as much as the rest of car body stylings, though.  That makes it look like each one was hand crafted their respective drivers.  It also gives each one a little more personality, too.

Next Up: Assassin

Friday, May 20, 2011

Car of the Day: Omega-5

The title on this car didn't show up nearly as well as I'd hoped.  Ah well, this is probably my least favorite car.  Those body blades are useless until some 1:64 dudes show up in the arena.  Otherwise, this weakling has one heavy punch and that's about it.  You can really only use the overpowered ram plate on this guy two times, tops.  I just don't see him lasting very long when matched up against serious competition.

Next Up: Dagger

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Car of the Day: Slugger

Did you notice the name painted on the hood of this car?    All my cars have that, to help rookies identify each one. The design of this piece of Louisville steel calls for 5 heavy rockets - that's a lot of punch, but not a lot of staying power.  At least two are rear-mounted for that all important 6 o'clock shot.

Next up: Omega-5

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Under Heaven

For everything, turn, turn, turn.  But make sure you use one of these bad boys to make it accurate.  Copied, glued to foamboard, cut out, and covered with packing tape, this is one heavy duty turn key.

I thought about making multiple copies, but decided that one would be enough.  Really, only one person needs to turn at a time, and this is a good way to make sure that everyone knows whose turn to turn it is.  Passing the key becomes a physical way of indicating that you're done.

Next up:  My Best Friend, Louisville

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Now For Wrack, Now For Ruin

One thing that I cannot abide is two-dimensional markers in the midst of a three-dimensional game.  Even when it comes to something like debris tiles.  So here's roughly 20 pieces of D1 hazard.  That's not nearly enough for a proper 10 car battle royale, but I'd rather have quality over quantity.  If a few cars take big damage late in the game and can't drop debris because of it...I can live with that.

These were built using a bit of wire, a roboty Mage Knight figure, and one plastic Happy Meal matchbox car.  I cut everything up, glued it on at random and painted it with even less planning.  A quick dash of matte finish spray to keep it looking just the right amount of wrong, and that's it.  One hour's work for some nice little hazards.

Next up:  For Everything, There is a Purpose...

My New Box Set

With apologies to the Barenaked Ladies, here's a shot of my full Car Wars Box Set, all packed up and ready for the Friday Night Fights.

So that's ten cars in a compact foam protector, all of their drop weapons, the drop cloth, five terrain items, every rule book you need, and the 3x scale turn guage.  All packed into a nice, neat package.

So why Division 5?

That's a bit of a non-sequitor, but I'm glad you asked.  I'm looking for games that are light, fast, and portable.  By sticking with Division 5 fights, I know that I can get in a few games, and that no one will take things too seriously.

Also, to make the cars work, I had to fudge things a bit.  The compact cars should fit on 2" by 1" counters, but to make it work with the 1:64 vehicles, I had to use the standard 3" by 1" template.  In a game pitting cars of different divisions, that might make a difference.  By sticking with only the Division 5 cars, I can hand wave away the whole issue.

Also also, Division 5 has the most vehicle designs available for use.  I know some folks have backed out the equations and crafted well thought out vehicle design rules, but frankly, vehicle design holds no interest for me.  I've got enough on my hands with the painting and building and blogging.  Who needs the hassle of endlessly min-maxing each vehicle before use.  Just give me the dice, already!

Next up:  Debris Ain't Just a Kind of Cheese

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Drop Your Weapons

In Car Wars, you often want to drop your weapons.  Here are a few shots of the drop weapon templates for my next fight.

Here are two of ten spike counters.  These are simple star shaped confetti pieces with a short (2mm) length of cut wire run through a hole in their center to prop them up.  They are glued to a metal washer, primed in gray and then painted silver over black.  They don't look half bad, but I have serious doubts about their ability to stand up to heavy use.

In the background, you can see a couple of oil slicks. The base is done, but I need to gloss them up to make them look really slick.  So no close-ups until that's done. 
I really like this side by side shot of the Napalm and Sizzler.  I'm hoping to maintain some sort of consistency with the weapon barrels to keep the game as WYSIWYG as possible.  You can see that the two cars in the foreground are both packing literal heat in the form of flamethrowers, not just by the external tanks, but also by the round barrels up front.  I know the external tanks look vulnerable, but would you really want to drive a car with that much incendiary material inside of it?

I've got enough land mines to fully load up a Killer Kart - even though I doubt the thing will last long enough to use them all. These are standard washers with a big of 3-hole punched cereal box carboard glued to the top. I punched a few holes in the top to serve as rivets and painted them with the red shape-charge stripe, when it should have been frag yellow.  Whoops.

The CDs in this picture are intended as an easy to place minefield.  Keeping things fresh in an arena is always a challenge, and this is a low-volume way to add one more variable to the mix.  The washers came in packs of 30, so this seemed a good use of the extra land mines.

Not pictured, smoke.  You can see a few of the 20 pieces in the previous post.  To make them, I carved rough spheres out of a gray foam packing material, drybrushed the tops black, and glued them to stiff cardboard.  They work great for checking line of sight, but they take up space in The Box all out of proportion to their utility.

Up next:  The Box in all it's compact glory.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Most Important Thing About Car Wars

The Cars.  Without them, the game would just be Wars.  I've played the card game, and it is not fun at all.

I've got ten cars arena ready.  Here are the first five along with thoughts on the design of each car.

Killer Kart.  Solid, dependable little car with all the classics, a front-mount machine gun and rear mount mine dropper.  In Division 5, it's the one car that has a machine gun, which strikes me as odd.  The machine gun is reliable, cheap, and effective.  With this model, you can even drop the minelayer and go with the low slung and brutally hard to hit Racer Model.  

Sizzler.  For the autodeullist who loves playing with fire.  One big flamethrower and a gunner to make sure that it hits its target make this a nasty little car, even if it isn't as maneuverable as others in the division.  That tank was stripped off of some sort of Mage Knight clicky figure, and the flaming oil dropper was its shoulderpad.  Now they serve as reservoirs for the smell of victory in the morning.  The flaming oil drop weapon is on my list of things to do.

Napalm.  Twin flame throwers do as much damage as a single big one, but losing the gunner means there's room for the Division 5 trump car - a light ram plate.

Mini-Sherman. Talk about options, this car's got three separate weapon systems, including two rear mounts.  The name seems off to me (and not just because I screwed up the spacing on the paint job), but this should prove to be a durable little number. You can see a few puffs from its smoke dropper in the background.

Catapult.  The car for people who want to do one thing and do it well, this bruiser is almost the opposite of the Mini-Sherman.  With that one big cannon, it can dish out some serious pain, but that cannon also makes it a flashy target for everyone to gang up on.  I have doubts about this design, but it was too fun to pass up.

Next Up: Hit the Deck

Friday, May 13, 2011

Teaser Time

Here's a quick shot of the (almost) complete setup.

Click on the image for more detail.

There are still a lot of little fiddly bits to be addressed before this game is convention ready, but it's coming along very nicely indeed.

Detail shots of the various components of this arena are Coming Soon!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

If they should bar wars, please let those Car Wars stay

My first project chose itself.  While browsing the local used media shop, Jelly's (a store that deserves its own post), I stumbled onto a copy of Steve Jackson Games' Fifth Edition Car Wars for one dollar.  The book, Division 5 - Set 3, included everything you need to play but dice, and who doesn't have plenty of those lying around the house.
I'd played a fair bit of the classic black box car wars back in the day, but bailed when rules bloat crushed the fun out of it.  The 5th Edition, though, now that's a different story.  With only three movement phases per turn, and rules that fit into a small booklet, the complexity looks to hit the sweet spot for an old guy teaching his young pup a few new tricks.

Best of all, the game is scaled for use with 1:64 Matchbox cars.  The miniatures are waiting for me at any local toy store, supermarket, or drug store.  I say drugstore, because the ten vehicles I wound up with all came from Walgreen's in-house name brand toys.

Another trip to Jelly's a few weeks later turned up a second set of Division 5 cars, and a ten spot for the Division 5 Vehicle Guide means that I have 16 different base designs to choose from.  More if you count the variations on each vehicle.

And here's the box that will serve as the home of this first foray back into the wilds of miniature wargaming.  It measures 10" by 15" by 7" deep, which is the perfect size for the rule books.

Now all I need are some cars, terrain, and opponents.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Tabletop Pirate Looks at 40

It's been over five years since this grognard threw together a miniature wargame.  In that time I've sold off the bulk of a once formidable collection, failed at more than one business enterprise, moved across six time zones, and carefully prepared three children for life with a wargamer.  As my 40th year approaches, I find that sweet siren song of the tabletop calling once again.

My hands itch to roll some dice.

They also itch to hold a paintbrush and glue some fingers together.  That, after all - preparing to game - is the bulk of the hobby.  In past year's the ratio of solitary time assembling a game to social time playing a game tended to exceed 20:1, and anticipate this go around will be no different.

As is so often the case, you need three things for this hobby: time, space, and money.  To be frank, I have none of the three.  But I do have years of experience and a blank slate upon which to draw.  Hopefully this time around I can plan things out with more care, and not wind up with closets full of half completed and never played wargames.

To that end, here are the ironclad ground rules for the endeavor:

  1. I cannot begin to build the tiny warriors nor the terrain over which they will fight until I have finished my current game.  What's more, I have to play at least one full game of a project before I start on a new one.
  2. Every game must be self-contained.  That is to say, everything needed to play must fit into a single box.  (Hence the title of this blog.)
That's it for now, but I'm sure other rules will crop up as I am tempted by the well stocked shelves of the local hobby stores.

This blog is part braggadocio - works and works-in-progress will feature heavily - and part public confessional.  It's just another way of keeping myself honest and sticking to the 2 Ironclad Rules.

Thanks for reading along.