Thursday, February 28, 2013

Battleship Pocheapkin

The latest addition to the human fleet for the game I've taken to thinking of as Big Thrust is fully built and painted.  This bad boy was hand made out of foamcore and lots and lots of found items.  Old medical syringes, superglue lids, a pen lid, bamboo skewers (again), disposable razor handles (again), and lots of cereal box cardboard.  The two-tiered level with the red band around it is two peanut butter jar lids glued on on top of the other. The most expensive part of this ship was probably the super-glue used to hold her together.

If you look close you can see two little white doors with blue dotted windows.  That should give you an idea of the scale of this battleship.  It's not as majestic as some others, but rules-wise it'll pack the same sort of wallop.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Frigate Paint Test

So very tired. Operating in a bit of a fugue state at the moment, what with sleeping in a hospital and the every-two-hour feeds. Had a great post showing the paint process for the big spaceships ready to go. Deleted it in my torpor. Not even sure if that's a real word or not, so tired. Anywho, the loss of a bunch of pictures is a bit of a bother, but that just forces me to stop being coy and make with the goods. Two human frigates are pretty much done. Here's a look at the nearly-final look of my first Big Thrust fleet.

These are the first two frigates. The cruisers and capital ships are assembled and spray painted. I made a big push to get them done and spray painted before baby comes home. All that's left to do is the hand painting. And the protective coat. (Gloss? Flat? Which one will look better on the field of battle?) And sleeping, but that'll have to wait a few more days. I'll sneak in a post on the paint job and some shots of the bigger ships in progress sometime in the next few days, too. Might as well tie full advantage of this paternity leave while I can, right?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New Miniature!

Ten months ago, I commissioned a one-of-a-kind miniature, and it just arrived last night...

Something tells me things are going to slow down here at War In a Box.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Foam Core Cruisers

Turns out those deodorant bottles are frigates, and we're moving on to assembling the cruisers and battleships.  At least that's the terminology for Full Thrust.

The first attempt at the bigger class ships didn't go so well.  The plan was to fill odd shaped shampoo bottles with Great Stuff foam, wait for that to harden to give the bottles more internal stability, and start slapping on bits from there.  After 24-hours, the foam inside the bottles were no closer to hardening than they were after one hour.  So those got put into the circular file, and Plan B put into action.  

Plan B for this project is basically the same as Plan B for every wargame project of mine - foam core.  Lots and lots of foamcore.  A big sheet of foamcore provided enough material for the skeletons of three cruisers and one fleet carrier.  Here's an example of the skeleton side by side with a detailed ship ready for painting.

We're looking at all sorts of bits and bobs there.  The most recognizable are the Schick disposable razor handles, bamboo skewers, the top of a 25-cent ball for a dome, and a toothpaste tube cap for the thruster.  It'll look way better painted up.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Big Thrust

Well over a year ago, I posted a teaser for a miniature wargame project using all sorts of household odds and ends.  With a wargamer's birthday coming up in a little over a month and a half, it's time to put this plan into action.  The plan is to host a big game of Full Thrust, and I mean big in more than one sense of the word.  We're looking at engagements of roughly 40 ships total, and ships that are too big to fit on a table.

In less than an hour and a half, I was able to throw together eight small cruisers using empty deodorant sticks  for a base.  They all have slight variations, and yes the design is pretty minimal.  We don't have a lot of time, so we're just looking to break up the profile a bit.  The paintjob is going to really sell these as small spaceships (I hope).

When all is said and done this fleet (the human fleet) will have 8 frigates, 5 cruisers, a battleship, and a fleet carrier.  The alien fleet will use an entirely different construction method, and will have an entirely different look to it.  Instead of the harder edges, it should look much more organic (think phalon or 'nid), and the best part is that it will be even easier to build and detail than this fleet.  Watch this space for more details.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Three Bridges

Put some color on three bridges for Notromunda this week, and they sure are bright.  Starting to worry that my pulp sci-fi urban terrain might wind up being downright garish. I think that the red pearl stickers help bring these together, even if the primary colors I'm using clash at times.   Here they are in isolation, but really, I'm probably going to break out the full table and see how things look when put together so far.  And if it ain't working, then I've still got seven buildings left to paint, so there's time to salvage the table if it winds up too four color comic book.

Long and thin and exposed.

Shorter, fatter, and no exposure.

Longest, thinnest, and plenty of cover and plenty of sniper hideouts.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tomorrow's War: Scenario Unit Cards

The next name on my dance card is Tigers by the Tail, featuring the hot tank-on-tank action of 5 DPRG Chonma Ho's escaping from a pair of M70 Perkins.  This is the second scenario included in the main rulebook of Tomorrow's War, and to expedite the game I've made up the following unit cards.  Print out one for each tank, and you've got a handy way of tracking whether the commander is buttoned up, which crew members are dead, as well as each tanks special attributes.  Sort of.  I've left off the ones that are already factored in to the tank's stat lines.

The photos aren't mine.  I shamelessly grabbed them off Google Image Search and shamefully forgot to track who is responsible for them.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tomorrow's War: Odds and Ends

Got a couple of points to add to yesterday's Tomorrow's War post.  They didn't make the final cut because the AAR was getting a bit long.  Neither is enough to justify a full blog post, but they are each perhaps worth a brief mention.

The Shroom House

You might have noticed the little red number serving as a farm house.  It's the new style for my Pocketmunda terrain, bright white with bright colors.  While painting, the swooping red trim looked sharp.  When done, my son though it looked like a large mushroom.  Not the intended purpose, but we artists have to put our work out into the world and let people form their own interpretations.  The red dots are small opalescent beads picked up cheap at the craft store.  They'll be a regular feature on these paper-mache houses and should help tie the urban board together.

Fog of War Deck

Also mentioned and shown, but not discussed in yesterday's post is this lovely little Fog of War Deck.  It's printed off the pdf (available from the publisher here) onto thick parchment cardstock and trimmed as neat as possible.Simple, elegant, and evocative, I enjoy these cards way out of proportion the effect they've had on the games we've played.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lost & Found, A Tomorrow's War AAR

The boy has been pestering me to buy and paint a full unit of Rebel Mini's slick new Sons of Thunder alien dwarves.  He's a bit jaded on the skirmish level gaming after seeing four of his Mangalorc gang killed in action and his leader captured by his sister's all girl gang.  He's ready for some one-offs, and you can't really blame him.  His enthusiasm was infectious, resulting in me cracking open the Tomorrow's War and boning up enough to run through the introductory scenario, Lost and Found.

I'd read a few after action reports (AAR) on this scenario, like this one, this one, and this one.  That helped resolve a few questions before they'd even arisen, and meant that I knew what to expect out of the game...or did I?  We'll get back to that, but first, and interlude:
One of the cool things about Tomorrow's War is that it is scenario driven, and not points driven.  That means that most everybody is going to cut their teeth on the game by playing the scenarios detailed in the main rulebook.  It's a minor point, but it's worth mentioning that it does help you feel like part of a community when you play the same game as others, even if those games are separated by 1,000 miles and two years.
With that out of the way, let's jump right into the action.

Here's the table setup at the start of the game.  You've got the Ladies In Blue (the USMC for those of you following along at home), a small high-tech squad of well motivated and well trained professional soldiers attempting to move north to make contact and rescue the famous movie star, Wally (a downed pilot per the rules as written).  Shown here, the ladies are represented by three fire teams whose movement and fire is shown in yellow.  They are represented by a mix of Rebel Mini Black Widow mercs and Laserburn Law Officers.

Opposing them is a mixed force of alien mercenaries (by GZG) and yellow suited aliens (by Rebel Minis) broken up into four fire teams shown in bright green.  The rules list these as the DPRG, a larger force of motivated, but not nearly as well equipped or trained regular troops who want to keep that robot on the table through Turn 8, and rack up as many kills and POWs as possible while doing so.

In turn one, the ladies send Fireteam Alpha sprinting north while Fireteams Bravo and Charlie take up flanking positions.  The Allied Forces lurk in the woods for the turn, waiting for a more opportune moment to light up the battlefield.  That moment presents itself moments later...

The two flanking units exchange first fire.  This would set the pattern for the bulk of the game.  Meanwhile, Fireteam Alpha slowly approaches Wally, trying to stay under cover for just one turn to make a safe dash for the pilot in the following turn.

But before they could make that dash, the Allies triggered an old booby-trap of their very own, set in the eastern woods during a previous engagement - likely the one that turned a set of ruins to the north into a giant crater.  The net effect of the Fog of War card less bomb for the UXO boys to have to collect later.
Meanwhile, in the center, the Ladies were ready to score the first victory points of the day by making contact and answering the age old question of, "Where's Wally?"  As the flankers continued to trade blows to no real effect, Allied Fireteam Three lit up the Ladies Fireteam Alpha like a Christmas tree.  A brutal exchange of fire left the Allies unhurt and the Ladies pinned, which allowing the Allied Fireteam Four to rush right up to the old farmhouse, where they psyched themselves up for...

...the big grapple.  With the ladies in the center depleted and demoralized by the previous turn, the still fresh Allied Fireteam was able to hold them off and found themselves...

...dead or captured.  This photo is blurry to represent the bitter tears of anger and frustration your humble editor felt and the pain and humiliation of losing two brave ladies KIA and seeing another paraded around Allied-ville, to say nothing of the secrets pried out of the most adorable trash compacting robot ever to grace the silver screen.

All hope was not lost, however.  If Fireteam Charlie could make a solid blow on the right flank and a quick push for Wally, the day could be salvaged...
Yeah, this doesn't help.  Technically, this is the start of Turn 5.  After tallying up the Allied VPs gained through POW, KIA, and heavy casualties inflicted the score stood at 11-0.  With no way of scoring more than 10 VP (3 for contacting Wally, 7 for getting off board by game's end, and all this with only 4 remaining combat effectives), I conceded the game.

Post Game Wrapup

The major turning point actually came in the second turn when the USMC/Ladies lost the initiative never to recover it.  That was a real backbreaker in that it  forced the USMC/Ladies to keep reacting to events rather than driving them.  The total inability of the USMC/Ladies to win a Reaction contest wasn't helpful either.  Again, the well trained force just didn't have the drive or motivation, and paid dearly for it.

Before playing this scenario, it seemed like the general consensus around the internet was that this scenario is overly balanced in favor of the USMC/Ladies, but now that I need links to those reports, all I can find are reports that it's a close game and evenly balanced.  Go figure.  At any rate, we didn't find the game overly balanced.  A few dice breaks either way could easily have turned the tide of the game.  While it's hard to tell after just one game, it also seems like the Ladies/USMC could have benefited from a more aggressive strategy as well.  We will be punching up the terrain a bit and playing this again next chance we get.

Oh, and hey, the crunch in this report is pretty light, but if you can think of anything we might have done wrong here or rolls we might have missed, feel free to let me know.  This was only our second game, and while it went faster than the first, it still feels like we're missing something fundamental in our play.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This Blue and Pleasant Land

All of these trees set me back by a dollar.  That's one dollar for the whole lot.  Don't you just love wargamer swap meets.  Shame they only happen twice a year around these parts.

Normally, these are glued together to form four tall trees suitable for 28mm figures.  What you see represents a portion of a single sprue of plastic trees that I think were included in the 5th Edition Warhammer 40k box set.  The tallest three trees use the three bases left on that sprue, the rest are glued directly on to washers that had the holes filled in with cardboard hole punches.  Quick and dirty - that's my style.

The two dark green trees will go into the hydroponics level of The Big Ship, and were painted to match the rest of the earthborn trees therein.  The rest of the trees have a bluish tinge to give them a more alien-planet feel, and they'll be used as scatter cover in my urban terrain set-up.

As you can see, this foliage fills up a smaller building, leaving plenty of room for more scatter cover in the other buildings.  At the rate this is filling up, we might just run out of steam on the project before we run out of room in the box.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Another Reason I Don't Play 40k...

That bastard Nurgle just won't leave me alone, and the Emperor doesn't seem to be doing squat to protect me.  Three weekends in a row I've been laid low by some dumb cold or flu or Warp-Pox, too sick to paint and that's really saying something.

Still and all, even with a nasty string of failed Fort saves, I've been able to get some paint on the plastic.  Now if only I felt well enough to photograph and describe the darn things.  I'd do it right now, but I've got some moaning and whining and generally acting like a big fat baby to do.  Stay tuned for something just as green, but a lot more pleasant.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rooftop Scatter

Before we get to today's scatter terrain, let's review, shall we?  Your humble editor has been whiny about how 'dark' his tabletop looks.  For once, he decided to run a test paint job before getting too deep into painting the small city's worth.  Here's how that worked out:

Still needs some color, but it's clean and bright.  With that out of the way, let's look at an experiment in rooftop scatter terrain.  Rooftop scatter is important when you've got rules that encourage the use of cover AND the use of the third dimension in the form of lots of ladders and bridges.

Ordinarily, you can just glue rooftop cover (A.C. units, chimneys, and whatnot) to the roof, but this stuff is getting nested, packed, and stacked, so it's imperative that the stuff on the roof can be removed.  Enter the chimneys:

Those are plastic...not sure what they are called.  They are knobs that you can buy to replace the spinner knobs that you turn to turn on the lights.  They run about 40 to 50 cents each, but they provide decent cover for your figures, and all you have to do is prime them black and dust them with silver paint.

These have been attached these to washers, again, for added stability.  The gray painted washers just look like some sort of flange, so it's all good.  Probably going to need more than four of them, but they are cheap and easy enough to make in those lulls between shipment of figures.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Barrels - The Quintessential Scatter Terrain

It just wouldn't be a miniature wargame without a few barrels on the table.  Check that one off the list:

Nothing too novel here.  Those are all electronic doo-hickeys ripped out of an old and irritating childrens' electronic piano.  They are glued to a base for added weight and stability, then painted up largely as is.  The one little box there breaks up the monotony a bit.  White barrels with colored logos helps brighten up the table and keep it at least moderately pulpy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Brightening Up the Place

Getting out of the GW all-dark-and-gothy-look is proving harder than anticipated.  I'm just so used a dark palette that my work keeps ending up not nearly as bright as anticipated.  There is one way to brighten up the table though - lights.  These look like streetlights, don't they.  I found them as wooden pegs for some furniture use or other, but they looked like some of the street lights used in the streets around these parts.

They are mounted on washers for weight and stability.  Otherwise, all I did was paint them.  These represent the first of the new phase of work on the project - lots and lots of scatter terrain.  Guess what's on the table for tomorrow...

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Old Park

In retrospect, this park isn't very pulpy.  At some point, that statue of a long forgotten hero of the DPRG will have to come down for a nice art-deco style sculpture.  For now, though, a finished terrain piece is worth two in the "someday" column.
The real reason that I used that statue is that it was a spare - it was donated to the cause by GZG as an example of their Tomorrow's War line.  It's a great sculpt with lots of nice little details, and everyone should buy lots of them to keep Tuffley in business, but the DPRG isn't a force I intend to collect any time soon, so up on a pedestal it goes.
The base of the statue is the bottom part of a Chapstick tube - the part you twist to get the chapstick to come out - the bushes are green scrubbers lightly brushed with bright green and yellow paints, and the rest is all matte board and cereal box mounted on a copy of the movie Shark Tale.  It's nice to get some entertainment out of that useless DVD this way, because you sure as heck can't get any by watching it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Two Dollar Jungle Templates

At long last, the Abox clan can rumble in the jungle.  The local craft store chain is selling some sort of plastic plant doo-hickeys for about a buck, and two of them are enough to make a slew of jungle stands.  In this case, I've mounted the plants themselves on individual washers so that they can be moved out of the way for miniatures entering the woods dark and deep.

These are going into the boy's big box of Warhmmer 40K stuff, to help round out his collection.  The plants are probably a little too big for practical use with my own beloved fifteens, but those tall spindly beggers could easily be cut down to size to make three times as many tree stands.  I've got something else lined up for the One Box of sort-of-Necromunda-but-not-really.  A dozen or so tree for a buck!  Stay tuned, true believers.  Excelsior!