Saturday, January 31, 2015

Undead Foot Sloggers

The blog has been a bit quiet lately, what with all the painting going on around the house.  Check it out - all the foot troops for the undead medieval army are done*.

Not a bad start.
Left to right: Levy, Men-At-Arms, Crossbowmen
All of these figures are from Irregular Miniatures.  This army was built using two matched Army Packs, one undead, and one army of the west.  We had to get a little creative to make it work.  As you can see in the picture above, the Levy are mounted in a fairly haphaazard manner, while the men-at-arms are in close order.

This poorly organized lot counts as Levy.

First unit of well drilled men-at-arms.
The twp photos above are both men-at-arms, but to make the army packs work the troops are mounted on the base by type - one is close order spear, the other heavy armored axemen.  The two bases function exactly the same under the rules.  They just look a little different.

More men-at-arms.
That's probably the best shot of the Necromancer King's banner - a white goat skull with flaming eyes on a green field.
Shooters, er, I mean "crossbowmen".
Yeah, the OHW rules assume that the long bow was gone and all armies of the period had moved on to crossbows.  Not sure I buy that.  Absolutely sure I don't buy more figures when the bowmen will work just fine.  One stand of bows and one stand of crossbows, each of which acts the same on the table, adds a little more variety.  And with the guys being this small, you can barely tell during game time anyway.
Actual crossbowmen.
With these done we can verify that the terrain works, too.

In the medieval rules, no one can enter woods, but this copse
will work great if I build a pair of dark age armies, too.
There's room for a partial stand on the rough ground.  Have
to decide on a game by game basis whether the whole base
is rough ground, or just the rocks.
As January comes to a close, this makes for a good time to check the progress of this year's big goal - a full set of terrain and two matching medieval armies for use with Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames (OHW).  So far we've got the terrain about 50% done (still need roads, rivers, and a town), and the armies about 25% done (half way to being halfway done).

 * Please ignore the bits of static grass clinging to the figures and banners.  I didn't notice them until seeing them in the photos.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Under Construction - One Page Dungeon

Hey everybody, big fan of the One Page Dungeon contest here.  One of my prouder gaming moments came a few years back when Bryce, of reviewed my last entry.  He's a cranky old bastard, and his personality shines in his many take-downs of the failures of most published work, let alone that of the work of hack amateurs like yours truly.  And yet he had this to say about mine:
"I WANT MORE OF GOOD SHIT LIKE THIS!... A decent goblin adventure, which is not an easy thing to do."
Why Bryce, ah do declare!  Like to give me a case of the vapors!

The deadline for this year is April 30th, so it's time to get cracking.  This year my own personal challenge is to whip up a quick and dirty one page sandbox campaign.  How's that for ambitious?  So far I've got the preliminary map complete.

Still need to stock it, add some rumors, maybe a couple of small landmarks if there's room after all that.  Still and all, so far so good.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tyranny of Dragons - The Boneyard

A running tally of those heroes fallen in their quest to prevent Faerun's Cult of the Dragon from ushering in a new dark age by summoning the dread god Tiamat.
  • Raane, half-elf illusionist - fell from the walls of Greenest Keep while attempting to sneak out to save The Mill from arson.
  • Henry St. John - dwarven warrior - eaten by a roper deep in the bowels of the Cult's lair near Greenest.
Note:  This post will be updated each time a character meets their maker.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

6mm - First Figures

Got the first couple of strips of 6mm skellies painted for the boy's medieval force.  He asked for a main color of purple, but wasn't sure what secondary color would work best.  This is a bit of a test strip to see if a second primary color is even necessary.  Throwing a lot of flashes of colors into the mix might be all that's necessary.

The conventional wisdom is that smaller figures require brighter colors, but I'm not convinced.  These troops look a little too cartoonish for me.

Also starting to consider photography strategies for the teeny-tinies.  Zooming way in just won't work the way it does with the larger 15mm and 25mm figures.  Using the nickle for scale forces the camera away and gives a pretty decent tradeoff between showing enough detail and showing what they'll look like on the table.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tyranny of Dragons - Vengeance and Death

With apologies for the cell phone pic.
When last we left our band of plucky heroes, they had captured the leader of the attack on Greenest, the mad cleric Frulam Mondath.  A quick scan of his office revealed a significant intelligence coup; the group had discovered marching order to head west to the coast and then north to Waterdeep, as well as detailed numbers of troops and supplies.

Risking discovery, the team pulled in their rear-guard, the archer Grim, and paused for a short rest.  Knowing that they would only get one shot at disrupting the plans of the Cult of the Dragon here in their base of operations, they elected to penetrate still deeper into the cavern despite being short on healing and spells.

Gilgamesh, the death mage, descended the rope ladder leading down into the pit trap within Mondath's lair to scout ahead.  The rest of the team fully bound up Frulam and stuffed him in his own trunk.  Down a short passage, Gilgamesh observed the great half-blue dragon (or is that blue half-dragon?) Cyanwrath at prayer within a large chapel to Tiamat.  Henry St. John, the dwarf, would have taken on 'that big blue bastard' by himself, but the rest of the team never considered leaving without dispatching Big blue.

Somehow they managed to sneak the whole party into the chapel and ambush the terrible dragon warrior, and his two aides standing off to the side.  The fight was fierce and terrible, but never in doubt.  Although he fought well, Cyanwrath fell to the combined might of the party - the coup de grace delivered by Henry's twin hammerblows.  Vengeance at last...okay, it had only been a week game time, but it felt like months.  Henry's satisfaction would be as short lived as Henry himself.

A small trapped chest held loot, but Grim solved that problem by using a pilfered key.  What might have been a fatal acid trap was safely bypassed.

dun Dun DUN...foreshadowing!

Still not smart enough to quit while the quitting was good, the party descended yet another flight of stairs to a large cavern with two large depressions separated by a rocky ridge.  The smaller of the holes looked empty, and the larger held two ambush drakes among a group of stalactites and three dragon eggs.  Grim made short work of the drakes from above, leaving an open shot at the dragon eggs.

Wasting no time Henry and Karren the half-dragon paladin descended into the egg hatchery, springing a kobold ambush.  Two blighters hurled casks of tarry glue while the other two hurled molokobold cocktails: whooosh!  The glue didn't stop the two heroes for long, though.  The two strongest party members yanked themselves free. While the rest of the party made short work of the kobolds, Henry advanced on the nearest dragon egg.

"Who want's a black dragon omelette," the dwarf asked.  A bad choice of last words.

More like passive aggressive perception amirite? 
Splattering the dragon egg awoke a massive roper guardian who immediately grabbed the unsuspecting dwarf and reeled him into a massive set of chompers.  What the party had thought was another stalactite was in fact a ravenous beast trained to eat anyone who touched the eggs.  The party fought valiantly, Grim in particular dealing massive amounts of damage.  Alas, to no avail.

Not shown, massive puddle
of tar-glue blocking the stairs.
Although they were able to stay out of reach of the towering monster, they just couldn't get to Henry in time.  Aramis dove into the pit, trying to distract the beast, get close enough to Henry to lay down some healing magic, anything.  But the cleric's heroism just couldn't overcome a series of really, really poor consitution checks by the dwarf (two critical failures, ouch).

Cue sad trombone
Saddened by the loss of their plucky friend, the party at last decided that they had delved too deep.  Ain't that always the way?  They gathered up their friends remains, their captive cleric, and returned to Greenest to turn over the intel to the proper authorities.

And now you know why the header of this blog looks the way it does this week.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tyranny of Dragons Actual Plays

As I've mentioned before, one advantage to playing a pre-packaged rpg campaign is the opportunity it opens up to swap war stories with fellow players who have been through the same meat-grinder. Also mentioned repeatedly has been my group's adventures, mis- and otherwise, along the Tyranny of Dragons campaign.  To expedite the process for the rest of the world, here's a list of actual plays found through a quick search on the old googlescope.  If you know of one that isn't included here, let me know and I'll try to add it.

Here's a whole mess of links to the first session of each campaign, the first session because not all these blogs have indices.  If the first one grabs you, you'll have to poke around these sites to find the rest of the actual plays yourself.  Also, a few of these are first session write-ups only.  You will be warned where possible.

I'll include brief notes where possible so you can avoid the frustrated wannabe fiction authors droning on about weather and internal monologues and other such tediums.  For the most part, you're on your own, as I don't have time to read and critique each and every one of these.

Actual Plays

Advice for DMs

Friday, January 16, 2015

Big Box Terrain, Part Five

Reality check!  Now that the new box has a nice selection of terrain, it's time to verify that the terrain will fit into the box with room left over for the armies.  The armies aren't here yet, so I cut some rough bases out of paper to see how everything would fit together.
Right.  So.  Those "bases" are two by three inches, or about sixty square inches.  As you can see, one army of ten bases will fill about two-thirds of a blue box.   There isn't enough room to fit both woods, the pond, hills and rough ground into one box, so things are already getting tight, and we haven't even built up the built-up area (read: village (read: in 6mm a village means one or two houses on a ) base).  We can stack some terrain on top of the drop cloth like so:

But we've also got nine feet of linear terrain to assemble in the form of six feet of road and three feet of river.  I had hoped to toss those on top of the drop cloth.  Might have to put the linear features under the drop cloth, and the woods or something on top.  We'll see.

The larger lesson learned here is that the One Box to Rule Them All doesn't have much room left for fancy dancy terrain features.  I'll have to finish off the basics and armies before doing something silly like a wizard's tower or magic circle of standing stones.  The good new is that it looks like there's room for a second drop cloth in the box.  I may just try my hand at painting up a 'fields and meadows' drop cloth like the ones done by Small World Productions.

Not mine!  Click for the awesome source
That drop cloth is canvas covered by caulk and sand.  That's to much effort and cost for my blood, but I may have enough fabric left over to try that paint scheme out for myself.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Campaign Creation - Inspirational Shortcuts and Political Mnemonics

Chris, over at the Hill Cantons has a great post up about Special Snowflakes.  Really inspirational stuff.  Those of you who run games should take the three minutes to read it, if you haven't already.  he's quite the muse, that one.  Make sure to stick around for the comments - those guys play a little game that is directly relevant to the bulk of this post.

He's got me dreaming of building a sort of Herculoids-Thundarr-Barsoomian world of sword and sorcery that would range across strange vistas and wide swaths of alien wilderness.  A real swashbuckling weird sci-fi fantasy mashup, the likes of which ol' D&D was built for.

But.  I've never been good at politics.  Building enough factions and nations and parties and personalities has always daunted me and stymied me no end.  It would be great if there was an easy way to use a pre-existing set-up as a model.  That way, when something unexpected happens, you could just refer back to your source material, file off a few more serial numbers, and drop your source material into the game.

Now, this is no real revelation.  People have been doing this sort of thing since D&D first crawled out of the primordial swamp.  We've all heard the stories of Castle Greyhawk dropping characters into a not-quite-Alice In Wonderland, or the Barsoomian influence on the game.  What I'm proposing is a variation on that theme.

Indulge me for a moment.  Let me give you a campaign example, and see if you can figure out the real world analog.

Imagine a continent rising between the Tranquil Ocean and the Stormpeak Ocean.  This continent is home to 60+ nations, most of which belong to one of five Empires:

  • The Stormcoast Empire to the east ranges all up and down the eastern seaboard.  It includes fourteen nations, and is widely considered the weakest of the Five Empires.
  • The Southeastern Empire also encompasses fourteen kingdoms holed up in the southeastern corner of the continent.  Many consider it the strongest of the empires, but it's nations are inward looking, rarely venturing out of their home empire.
  • The Tranquil Empire, anything but, spans the length of the western coast of the continent and consists of a dozen nations.
  • The northern portion of the center of the continent is home to the Decadent Empire.  Again, fourteen nations, most of which cluster around the Inner Seas.
  • Our campaign focuses on the southern portion of the continent - home to The Dozen, an empire that ironically only contains ten nations.  It once held twelve, but a generation ago it lost its northernmost kingdom to the Decadent Empire, and two of it's members fled for the Southeastern Empire.  It managed to sway a far flung kingdom of mountain dwellers from the Stormcoast Empire, leaving it with a nice round ten member states.
  • There are also a small handful of independent city-states scattered throughout the continent, the most powerful of which rivals any of the other kingdoms.  It is the Kingdom of The Lady, and it stands proud and defiant, a holy nation right in the heart of the Decadent Empire.  It's people are fierce warriors who paint themselves before battle.

One more hint.  The people of this world share a love for a sport called Gridmatch, a simulated war in which armored players crash into each other in lines, each trying to force the other backwards into their home zone.  So popular is this sport, that the entire world celebrates the ringing in of the new year by honoring a great holiday on which they always play the world championship game.

Go on, take a guess.  Here's a pretty picture for spoiler space.

It's college football.  Those are the five major conferences, with Notre Dame the independent kingdom in the heart of the Big Ten.  Think about it - all the relative strengths and weaknesses, all the politics, all the national colors and regalia are right there, already built for you!  We already know that the Perditia, the Machinists, (Purdue Boilermakers) were once mighty but have fallen on hard times.  The Mishillinacs march to war under a maize and blue banner on which is depicted a Feralbeast - typically against their hated rivals, the scarlet and grey clad Ionian Bughuskers.  (For those of you unfamiliar with college football, that's the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes).

All you need to do is file off the serial numbers and slap your own labels on.  Then most of the heavy lifting is done for you.  If somebody wants to know what's going on over on the other side of the world, you already know.

And you can use all sorts of things for this.  Other sports would work fine - Major League Baseball gives you six nations with five kingdoms each.  You want two kingdoms?  Use Microsoft and Apple.

You could even use this technique for religious wars.  Imagine crusades sweeping across the world as wars rage between the followers of The Jester the Caged Clown, the Monarch, the Crimson Queen, and the General.  We already know that The Jester's forces are huge, but poorly trained, the Monarch's forces are salty (so much salt!), and the Crimson Queen allows her followers the most freedom, and the General can marshal powerful mystic forces, what with his ownership of a secret compendium, a scroll upon which is written the very words of creation themselves.  One might say they hold the spice of life, if one doesn't mind giving up the game to his players a little to easily.

Something to think about the next time you feel daunted by the time needed for world building.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Big Box Terrain, Part Four

Miniature wargaming is a three dimensional hobby, so it is only right and fitting that it be fought on three dimensional fields.  Over the course of the last couple of nights, I put together a couple of hills, and here's how I did it.  These are all pretty basic techniques, so if you've been wargaming for years it's probably safe to skip the words and just enjoy the pretty pictures.

First up, the general contours.  We start with standard bases.  On the right is a blank CD.  On the left is a 3/8-inch thick precut wood shape bought for about fifty cents at the craft store.  Instead of another round or square base, this one uses a football shape, for a bit of variety.
The contours shown here are made of built up posterboard cut to size and glued down with white craft glue.  Before the glue was even dry, I spackled up some smooth hillsides, and stuck a couple pebbles in each to break up the monotony.  The posterboard is lighter than spackle and gives you a lot more control over the precise slopes for the hills.

After letting the spackle dry overnight, the pebbles had to be glued into place.

 For the record, this is the spackled used in this application.  Probably don't need the pre-primed spackle, but it's what I had handy.

6mm figure atop the hill for scale
The next day, I glued down a fine cover of beach sand.  A second day of drying and it was on to paint.  I painted these the same way as the woods - black primer, white drybrush, drybrush with various shades of brown.  Then each base was finished off with a coat of thinned down white glue, covered with static grass and left to dry.

The whole thing was quick and easy enough that I could even toss a water hazard onto the golfing green.  This piece was partially a test piece for the water color for the upcoming river project.  Bright blue might not be very realistic, but it just looks so darn sharp on the table.

With just a few basic techniques, I now have enough terrain to fill up a table.  More than enough to play a game, but the figures haven't arrived in the mail yet, so I've still got time to whip up some rivers and roads...

Aerial view of the selection to date

Monday, January 12, 2015

Big Box Terrain, Part Three

Remember that plain old terry cloth battle mat I showed you last week?
For those who don't.

It looks great!

Using a two-inch brush, I just dry brushed the whole darn thing in one short evening.  Before starting, I polished up the three terrain bases by adding static grass, as one does.  I've been using Battlefields' "Field Grass" for no better reason than it's what the local hobby shop carries.  That said, it's great.  The late summer vibe that it has works well in just about any setting.

The goal here is to make a mat whose colors and texture is close enough to the terrain and army bases that they blend right in.  Dry brushing with my own selection of paints gives me a lot more control and allows me to perfectly match the static grass.

My color pallette.
Here's a nice close-up shot of the drop cloth and the terrain bases.  You can even see how the dry brushing gives you a a nice layered effect to the surrounding grassland.  And the texture is low enough that it will work great with the 6mm figures that will someday water this field with blood.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Small Interlude: An Army Approaches

Had a few quiet moments to pull a couple of armies down out of deep storage last night.    Sort of.  A couple years back, the boy convinced me to buy a couple of armies for mass battle.  In a moment of wargaming weakness, I caved and bought two army packs from Irregular Miniatures, an Undead Battalion, and an Army of the West.

Two packs will run 25 quid, or about 40 bucks, and you get somewhere in the realm of five hundred figures.  That ain't a bad price.  If you play a wargame along the lines of DBA or other 40mm frontage games, each pack gets you a full armies worth of dudes in each pack, and you can cobble together a tidy little force.  The only real downside is that you don't get to pick your mix - which might be a deal breaker for some.

Here's my problem; if I'm going to use 6mm figures in an effort to achieve a mass scale look for the tabletop, I'm not going mount one or two strips of guys on a stand.  There'd better be at least 20 mounted figures per base and at least 30 foot soldiers per ground pounder base.  To get that effect, you really need to double down and buy two of each pack.

I only bought one of each.  To rectify the situation, I've combined the undead and army of the west into a single fighting force.  Behold.

Behold, I say again!
That's 21 to 26 mounted and anywhere from 30 to 60 foot troops on each base.  Now that's more like a mass battle.  Yeah, 300 dudes on a side is a skirmish in the grand scheme of history, but this is a fair step up from those 15mm armies composed of 30-50 guys each.

To sort out these tiny bits of lead, I drew a grid two inches by three inches (my preferred base size) on a blank piece of paper, and then just started grouping like figures.  All told, it works out fairly well.  We'll go through the army in more detail once it is painted, but for now the goal was to establish that the two packs of figures could be used for a single force.

They can, with a few packs left over, all from the Army of the West.  The undead troops can be mounted on base in a pretty scattershot way to represent the ill trained levies (the bottom right bases above).  The Army of the West included five stands of close order pikes, but the pikes are way to fragile for use.  It also included two strips of loose order cavalry.  They won't work for a heavy knight force like this.  In the end, that's just 7 strips out of all you see above that won't be used.  The savings was well worth the waste - and I may be able to use that cavalry with a dark age force later.  We'll see.

Issues to resolve as these get painted:

  • Can the human knights (back left bases shown above) be painted to look like skeletons, or will this wind up being the army of the lich king, with some human soldiers and some undead?
  • Mount the bow men in strips of five, or cut them all apart and mount them scattered about the base?
  • Bevel the base edges or leave them square?  Bevelled will blend with the terrain better, but square will let me pick a color for the edges to help distinguish army or troop types.
Oh, and if you want to see what the undead units look like with paint on them, check out this link right here.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Big Box Terrain, Part Two

Last time we looked at the forest base.  This time let's look at the canopies for the still as yet unrevealed new project era.

What you're looking at is a cheap and easy alternative to the method used by these clever chaps here.  Their forests look great, but they also look relatively expensive and time consuming.  My wrinkle on their idea is to skip the store bought foliage and use a cheaper alternative, the same green scrubbers that we all know and love from hedges around the wargaming world.

What you're looking at here is three different steps from scrubber to treetops.  I started with a basic roundish template for both canopies, and then just started gluing scraps and tufts of scrubber to the base.  It helps to rough up the scrubber a bit with the flat edge of an exact knife.  This pulls the fibers apart and helps disguise the clean cuts you get with these scrubbers.  After letting the glue dry, I painted the canopy black, drybrushed white, and then drybrushed them with every shade of green in the box.  Here are a couple of closeups for more detail.


Brushed white
Color added 
Note the inclusion of a few tan trees as well.  To really make the coloring pop, it helps to drybush with a faint touch of mustard yellow.

[Edit to add some advice, thanks for the reminder, arabianknight:
I couldn't find my hot clue gun, so I just used regular white craft glue.  The craft glue works fine on the green scrubbers, you just have to lay it on thick.  You don't want to craft glue with the clump foliage from Woodland Scenics, though, it doesn't hold that crumbly spongy stuff for squat.
If your tree stand width is less than the width of a green scrubber, you don't need a piece of board or cardstock underneath it.  The scrubbers have enough rigidity to hold their shape, and in fact the spongy texture will help keep the foliage from sliding around.  The larger tree stand shown here has cardstock underneath it because it is wider than the green scrubber - I glued two pieces side by side and then hid the seam by hiding it with more foliage. [/edit]

And here's a shot for scale.  That's a 28mm figure on the left, and a 15mm figure on the right.  These should work okay for 15mm, but are way too small for anything bigger.  On the other hand, they are perfect for my chosen scale - 6mm!

What?  A new scale?  What madness is this?

Well, it's the madness of big battle games.  This big box is being built for One Hour Wargames, which are mostly for pushing mass infantry around a table.  If I'm going to build a mass army wargame, it going to look like mass armies.  We'll keep collecting 15mm for skirmishing, but this box is all about the bases chock full of lots of little dudes.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Big Box Terrain, Part One

The terrain starts off simple. Free CD bases measure about five inches across, and that makes them about one sixth the size of my battlemat.  Perfect.  

Rough Ground

Sand and rocks from the yard, glued and primed.
As mentioned previously, the golden rulebook for this box is Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargame Rules (OHW).  In some eras some unit types cannot enter rough ground.  In some eras some can.  So we're left with a bit of a dilemna.  Do we fill the base with rubble, signifying a no-go area?  Or do we scatter limited terrain (which doesn't look as good but) which allows bases to fit into the area?  What to do, what to do?

Drybrushed white to lighten up the piece.
Paging Doctor Solomon to the baby splitting office!  The compromise is to make pieces with visually interesting terrain, but which include "blank" areas where you can stick a full base in the event some irregular troop does enter the area.  For the purposes of the game, the entire base is considered rough ground, even if the whole base doesn't look it.

Say, that's such a great idea, it might just work for woods, too...

 Wood Base

Here we see two different types of wood bases.  On the left a small light forest that blocks well ordered troops.  On the right a smaller copse that is/will be dense with rocks and prickly bushes and dead falls, and that will block all troops, RAW be damned.
These are both constructed of a simple base (CD on the left, craft circle on the right) to which short lengths of round toothpicks have been super-glued.  I used sticks about 3/5ths of an inch (left) and 2/5ths of an inch.  The nice thing about this trick is that you don't have to be all that precise with the lengths.  The tippy tops of the trunks are going to be hidden by foliage, so any gaps won't show.

Here I've added a few small stones and a sandy base make a more natural floor cover.  And things are looking good.

The woods on the left have a large open area where you can drop a full base of figures to show that they are in the woods.

Fully painted
We could stop right here if we were making terrain for World War One.  But we're not, so next time let's add some leaves and grasses.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

From the Ground Up

We're building this project from the ground up.  A bit of a departure for me, actually.  Normally I just sort of muddle through figures, rules, and terrain all in one big mish-mosh.  This time around it's going to be rules, terrain, and finally figures.

I'm starting with Neil Thomas' intriguing One Hour Wargame ruleset, as mentioned previously.  Neil recommends using a thirty-six inch playing surface with bases with a frontage of between four and six inches, but everything in the book is nice round numbers, so you can scale up or down to your hearts content.  (This fine fellow played a game on a board 30cm by 30cm, which google tells me is a real distance of about one foot.)

I bounced back and forth between a 36-inch field and 24-inch field and ran a whole bunch of numbers trying to be as cost effective as possible when it came to buying figure bases versus terrain bases versus box size and table size versus playing field size and then there's...wait.  These rules are not detailed simulations where accurate figure ratios and frontage per brigade are terribly important.  The author literally says, put enough figures on each base so it "looks about right."  I'm not constrained by anything but my own whimsy here, folks.

Well, my own whimsy, and my playing surface, which just so happens to be granite counter top a little less than 36 inches across.  Smaller could work, but let's push the envelop and make the game as big as it can be and still fit in the One Box To Rule Them All.

It may wind up being 31 inches.  It may wind up 33.7 inches.  It doesn't matter.  My figures are going on bases three inches across with a depth of two inches.  Maybe three inch squares depending on figure density.  Mr. Thomas recommends bases with a frontage of four to six inches for a table this size. So my troops have a little more running room around the edges. It'll be okay.

The next question is one of material. Ideally, this would be a chance to give a teddy-bear fabric cloth a shot, but while shopping for the cloth it became clear that teddy bear fabric is just too fluffy.  It'll take up too much room in the box.  The canvas that gets used with the sci-fi figures wrinkles like a beast, and has no nice grassy texture to it at all.  So let's split the difference and use a nice soft terry cloth.  Terry cloth does have a nice grassy texture, and it shouldn't wrinkle up as bad as canvas after being stuffed into a box for weeks on end.

As you can see from the above, the downside is that the edges are tough to cut smooth, and they tend to fray.  That's where marrying a crafty wife comes in handy.  My lady love stitched up seams along the edges of this piece of battleground, and...

Apparently, this fabric warps quite a bit when you sew it like this.  Erp. Well hey, no ground is truly flat.  These edges may just help break up the hard line of the edge of the world in a way that looks nice during game play.  So let's run with this a little more.

The only other downside is that this tan fabric is too monochrome at the moment.  So the plan is to dry brush mottled green and browns into it to make it look more natural. Before that happens, I'm going to complete a couple of bases of terrain to find my colors.  Then I can pick my paint colors for the cloth to better match the rest of my terrain pieces.

Terrain teaser shot.
The really nice thing about this set-up is that it should be really easy to customize.  If I can fit two armies and all the terrain into one box, then I can easily add a second box with two other matched armies from a whole 'nuther era.  Toss in a single base of a built up area to match the time period, maybe some period specific fencing and scatter terrain, and then I can game multiple eras with very little extra work.  Giddyup!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back To My Roots

New year, new project, new focus on the core mission: Wargaming that is cheap, portable, storable, and fun.

We'll get into the nitty-gritty later on this week.  For now, here's our goal - put together a fun wargame that can fit completely within a fairly small box.  So let's see what box we have to work with.

The big box store sells small boxes that are just the right size for a ream of letter sized paper for just a couple bucks.  This blue number is about nine inches by 11 inches by 2 inches, and it fits into a slightly larger box...

...pretty snug.  The blue boxes will work great for a pair of matched armies, and I can use the rest of the space for a drop cloth battlemat, terrain, dice, and rules.

We're off to a great start.