Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Have some eye-candy in the form of a couple of seasonal shots from the archive. 

Painted these guys a good decade ago.  These are just a couple of the very few figures that managed to survive the Second Great Sell-Off.  These are so old I can't even remember who made these fun little guys.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Lead Pile Groweth

Just when you think you've got it all under of your dealers stops by to, you know, just to say, "Hey man, got some good stuff here.  Whattaya into man?"

In this case my dealer would be old Gavin Syme over at, which is fast becoming by go-to supplier for 15mm sci-fi goodness.  A full squad of totally-not-Ood, and enough to round out an even ten man unit of the Prang.  As if that ain't enough, the in-box has a few cars and jetbikes, too.

Oh,  I wish I could quit you!
All I have to do before I start these is paint the other 10 primed figures, and detail and paint up the rest of the rooftop terrain, and maybe make that magic stone circle for the 6mm fantasy that doesn't really do anything, but looks great and adds flavor to the battlefield.

Meanwhile, my copy of Black Ops finally arrived, so that adds learning a new ruleset to the pile, and as if that isn't enough, my name has been added to the stable of bloggers for another wargaming blog.  If the devil needs a playground he'll have to use some other guy's hands.

No way, man, I don't have a problem, I can quit any time (that I run out of money).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rooftop Inspiration

Been daydreaming about a new Big Box of terrain specifically for the infiltration missions that are an expected part of Osprey's Black Ops rules.  The top of one building - maybe two connected by multiple walkways or leapable gaps - should be plenty big enough for a stealth mission.  Heck, the Fiat plant in Turin had a whole race track on top!

A large factory or data center gives you plenty of wide open space,
rough ground, and heavy cover.
Large A/C units provide heavy cover and come in all
shapes and sizes, from single units... large multi-unit monstrosities.

...and to the unpracticed eye, the ventwork looks
pretty random.

A billboard mounted on the roof can serve triple duty as
cover, sniper nest, and gratuitous cheesecake. 
It doesn't have to be all black and gray - you can easily
block out smaller areas for rooftop gardens...
...and add multiple levels, skylights, "pits" leading down into
courtyards below to block movement. 
Every high-tech building worth infiltrating should have its own helicopter pad.
Rooftop access doors come in a variety of shapes
and styles as well.  Brick for the maintenance guys
and glass and steel for accessing the landing pad.
Mix and match to your heart's content.

Anybody ever seen a full table done this way before?  I looked, but didn't see anything in the usual forums.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Grand Wargaming Strategy, Part the Second

Is it too early for a New Year's Resolution?

While deep in the throes of last post's naval gazing, my subconscious maundering was given a second kick in the short pants by Oldben1.  Over on a thread he started on the Lead Adventure Forums he asked for ideas on how to get more use out of his existing stash of  painted figures.  My last post focused on how actual play isn't all that important to me right now, but a plan beyond "buy whatever tickles my fancy at the moment" will help keep my paint brush focused and my mind on what I could be playing if there weren't other things on my To Do list.  You know, minor items like stay employed, raise the kids, keep the house from falling apart.

With the book closed on building the Big Medieval Box, I've been revisiting my generic sci-fi skirmish collection and looking at ways to expand the inventory while narrowing down the focus of the game.  This has always been about a more modern version of Necromunda that is a more personalized, more narrative, and more kitchen-sink style game of small teams and big stories.

The plan for 2016 is to find a game where you've got one small team running up against a changing roster of opposing forces in a series of linked missions.  Sort of a "Captain Mal and His Sci-Fi Friends Power Hour".  That way I can get a narrative campaign going, but still have an excuse to use a lot of different miniatures.  For example, I have a number of different teams of security forces (Sharkmen from Khurasan, Space Mercs from GZG, NBC suits from Rebel, and Octopods from, not to mention a growing pile of random characters, civilians, and general ne'er-do-wells.

Last year the boy and I tried Five Parsecs From Home, but it just didn't grab us.  It's a fun game, but the forces are limited, and the in-game choices felt constrained.  So this next year's plan is to give Osprey's Black Ops a shot.  While I do have a delivery of vehicles on the way, there isn't much more that can be done with the small city-scape terrain set.  Sure, more scatter terrain is always welcome, but a stealth style game like Black Ops calls for a special set of terrain just for those secret missions and cloak and dagger infiltrations.

So that's where this blog is heading. At least as far as wargaming is concerned, it's going to be small unit sci-fi, and a fun and cool terrain set unlike anything that I could find on the internet.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Grand Wargaming Strategy, Part the First

Does it count as a manifesto if you know deep down that it's really more a set of guidelines?

The other day the inimitable Peter Del'Orto had a great post on why he doesn't wargame so much anymore. So that got me thinking about my own view of wargaming as a hobby.

Oddly enough, wargaming is largely my solo hobby.  My hobby time has to be squeezed into the odd nooks and crannies of the day when the kids are busy, and the only things left on the Big To Do list are too small to stress over and too big to start right now.  Which means that the bulk of my active hobby time is spent getting ready to game.  It's all moments of quiet solitude spent at the work table building terrain, painting, reading rules, and prepping orders of battle.  The nearest thing to human contact my wargaming provides is pretty much this blog and the blogosphere, and one or two forums.

Yeah, I get in maybe a game a month solo and one a month with the kids.  Let's be honest, depending on which kid it is, gaming with kids pretty much is gaming solo, just with more distractions than usual.  On average we're probably talking about one hour of game table time for every ten to twenty hours of work table time.

And you know, that's fine.

I get human interaction in countless ways away from the gaming table.  I get gaming time by playing D&D with a regular group of guys who abandoned wargaming long ago.

It's not a waste of time to paint figures that never see the tabletop.  The time spent relaxing with a brush in hand is worth it all by itself.  The enjoyment derived from thinking about all the ways this one figure might be used is not retroactively destroyed if that figure never actually gets used.

Think of it this way.  If you enjoy running, and spend a year training for a marathon, and then get injured and can't run the marathon, that time spent training isn't wasted.  You got out of the house.  You burned some calories.  You look and feel better than you would have if you'd spent all those training ours on the sofa.

So I say, stop worrying about the big collection of figures you haven't used.  Hobbies are processes, not goal lines.  It's great to have goals.  It's enormously satisfying to host a big, successful convention game.  But if you enjoy the process, why worry about the

That's why this blog is more likely to present, "look what I made last night," than it is to present, "look what I played last night."

And there ain't nothing wrong with that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Lead Pile Shrinketh

A long, long time ago, I painted up a few gangs for 15mm Necromunda games. One of the gangs consisted of GZG's space mercenaries. 

From the files

In order make a decent opposing force for my son's Space dwarves, I tried to add some power armor to the mix by converting up , and it didn't work.  Fortunately,'s Star Vikings make for a great match as the horns and blocky armor fit well with the space orc aesthetic.

Also, Baroka the Crime Lord is all painted up nice and tight. 

My yellow version looks much less menacing that the manufacturer's dark paint job.  This guy could almost be a kindly old mentor.  (Edit:  Looking at it again, I think I shall name him Diabeetus.)  I plan to use it as a bystander figure.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Quick and Dirty Comparison Shot

Let's add to the pile of comparison shots floating around the web, shall we?  Last week I showed you the three power armored figures added to my space orc/space mercenary/mangalore squad.  Here's a shot of the figures side by side:

Just noticed that one of the guys on the left is a little shy - his back
is turned to the camera.

On the left are the Star Viking figures from (SVP02).  On the left are three of Ground Zero Games' space mercenaries (SG15-X05). 

As you can see, the Star Vikings are a little bigger and bulkier than their GZG counterparts, but that's what you would expect for guys in heavy armor.  They aren't quite as detailed as the GZG troopers, but the blocky armor works well as some sort of exo-suit.  In addition to the unifying paint job, the swords are a nice little touch that brings the two units together.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

More 15mm Sci-Fi Figures

Hark!  The painting muse is upon me!

Three new figures from in the painted pile.  A civilian type alien, a grey dog or wolf, and an alien strongarm type.  The robed holy-alien will fill out crowds of civilians in urban/spaceport environs.  The dog was picked up for sentry duty.  The big guy?  Just another armed character.

His back plate served as a nice big canvas for some art, and in a fit of nostalgia he struck me as a former gunner for a Gunstar.  He probably mustered out of the Star League following the defeat of Xul and the Ko-Dan armada and now makes his way through the galaxy as hired muscle.

Here is the Star League's actual logo:  

Gotta get a t-shirt with this on it someday.  Now that every Tom, Dick, and Mary has a Captain America t-shirt, you have to go obscure like this to ferret out the geeky fellow-travelers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Complete One Hour Wargame

What with one thing and another, it occurred to me that you've never seen the medieval Big Box in all its compact wargame glory.  

One complete wargame
 As you can see, the Big Box contains the following:
  • A three foot by three foot ground covering cloth
  • One large forest and one small forest
  • A farmstead with associated walled field
  • A large hill and a small hill
  • One small pond
  • One rocky base representing rough ground
  • Sixty inches of roadway not including the crossroads
  • Sixty-eight inches of river including two fords and one bridge
  • Two complete 10 stand armies in the 6-mm scale
That's everything you need to make any one of the 30 battlefields shown in the scenario chapter of the One Hour Wargame rulebook.  You could easily use this setup for just about any of the rule sets included in the book, too.  Granted, you may want to swap out the farmstead for something more technologically or geographically appropriate (i.e. a clapboard church for the American Civil War or a petrol station for WWII), but that should be easy enough to do while building another matched set of armies.

When the battle is done, the whole setup fits into a box small enough to fit into the overhead carry-on compartment of your standard passenger aircraft.
All packed away for the night.
It might not be as glorious as some of the Infinity setups you see floating around on the net or have as many figures as a Featherstone participation game, but it's enough to scratch the wargaming itch, and you don't need a lot of scratch or space to put the whole box together.  As usual, the figures are the expensive part, and if you go with an outfit like Irregular Miniatures you can get each army for somewhere around sixty bucks.  That means this whole game costs less than half of an army for many of the Big Box game companies.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Octopod Command Squad

These 15mm octopods from's HOF line were supposed to be three adventurer types, but after painting them up, I couldn't resist buying another pack of ten to make a full team.  Those are still in the mail, but will make for some nice grunts to round out this force.

Not sure the purple skin tone provides enough contrast with the (classically styled) orange jumpsuits. On the table the colors don't pop nearly as well as they do in the photos.  Those gold colors are getting better, though.  I've been trying some tricks observed at the Lead Adventure Forums, and it's paying off.

In the back of my mind, I'm think that my collection has enough character figures for now - what it really needs is security forces for those heroic characters to fight.  The same thing happened with the Prang.  Three are ready for paint, but will wait until the other seven arrive from the UK.  In the meantime, there are still another 20 figures in the immediate queue that need some color...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Tyranny of Dragons, Session 13 - The City of Splendours

Again, this is a summary of a session in which your humble blogger did not participate.  For those following the story, these notes are cribbed from those of the DM.

The chapter begins deep within the heart of the great northern city of Waterdeep. The party was residing at Carlon Amofel's warehouse , HQ of the "Great Northern Equipment and Portage Co."  Earlier in the day they had tracked and tailed the Dragon Cultists and the treasure stolen from the village of Greenest to a similar warehouse across town owned by the treacherous (and now very dead) Aravan Foxtraveller.  They learned that Foxtraveller had recently acquired a building contract with the Lords of Waterdeep to re-build the Great Northern Highway between Waterdeep and Neverwinter. This highway has been abandoned after years of disuse and neglect.  In the last few years it had been swallowed up massive coastal swamp lands, collectively known as "The Mere of Dead Men."  As its name suggests, a area with the reputation for being haunted by dead men and other ghastly things, and that's not mention the ancient Black Dragon known as EbonDeath who calls the place home.

Spreading inquiries around town, and lubricating tongues with gold, the party learned that the Cultists were once again disguising their stolen treasure and hiding in plain site...only this time as road laborers hiding the loot inside crates marked "ACME Road Building Supplies".

Before anyone could make any major decisions, the party was paid a visit by a mysterious and gruff dwarf claiming to represent none other than Lord Arthagast Uhrilbinther, a migh mucky-muck within the city political scene. As it turns out, he is the very man Grim rescued from the slave pens of the Dragon Cult outside Greenest. Arthagast had long been a member of the Lord's Alliance, a secret political group run by wealthy merchants all across Faerun, whose goals and agendas are probably for the good and protection of all society.  This group is backed by large, powerful and sometimes ruthless private militias that "help and assist" in carrying out the Lord's Alliances decrees.  Also present at this gathering was Arthagast's wife, the Lady Remila Haventree, head of the Waterdeep cell of Harpers, her second lieutenant, Lady Elia and the party's old friend Leosin the Monk. Also present were a few other familiar faces...including the Paladin Ontharr Frume, representing The Order of The Gauntlet and The Ranger Stannis Longstepper representing the Emerald Enclave.

Long story short:  Arthagast proposed an alliance among the groups, "The Council Quiet", dedicated to stomping out the Cult of the Dragon.  Said proposal was readily accepted by all present.  And so as the first meeting of The Council Quiet got underway, it's first order of business was to induct everyone present - even the party - with full voting rights! The second order of business was whether or not to include Jamna Gleamsilver, a member of the Zhentarim, in the Council.

To secure the vote in her favor of inclusion within the council, Jamna told the Council of two of the identities of high ranking members of the Cult of the Dragon.  This council, collectively known as "Wrymspeakers", consists of five members (each representing the five colors of the evil chromatic dragons) who run the day-today operations of the vile Cult of the Dragon.

Achievement unlocked!  The party now uncovered the three out of five identities behind the leadership of the Cult of the Dragon.

Your first mission as field members of the Council Quiet was to continue following the Cultists and the stolen treasure to the Cult's final hoarding lair, and if given the opportunity, determine the identities of the final two members of the Cult's leadership, AND...if at all possible eliminate any of the Wrymspeakers as opportunities avail.

In order to carry out this mission, the party donned guises as hired guards "protecting" the road laborers transporting their construction and road building supplies north. And so once again the group found themselves on the road...only this time travelling through a known haunted swamp land hundreds of leagues round.

Over the 10-day trek through the swamp, this new caravan was constantly bombarded by the ever-present threats of the haunted mere. They were nearly overrun by an ancient army of the undead, stopped to parley with a group of lizardfolk slavers only to be ambushed by a massive force of vile bullywugs and their man-swallowing giant frogs...all the while ensuring the safety of the stolen treasure AND protecting the very cultists the party had sworn an oath to destroy! Oh, the irony of it all!

Where o' where can this crazy caravan of stolen treasure be headed?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More 15mm Sci-Fi Goodness on the Way

Now with actual photos!

My game time is limited to those rare weekend afternoons when the "To Do List" is somewhat shorter than my disproportionately long forearms.  Painting, however, that can happen any night of the week.  Not only that, but my primary opponent is travelling the American wilderness for the next week.  Which means that you lucky readers are probably going to be seeing more painted figures before you see more battle write-ups.

 Not only that, but some new shiny goodness is headed for my inbox in the form of Osprey's Black Ops later this month, so my table is in need of a few more adventurer types to engage in some operations of the black variety.  From the sounds of things, you don't need a lot of figures, but it might be nice to have a few small security forces to take on the dashing crew of a tramp freighter - a Trader who has gone Rogue, you might say.

As a tease, have a gander at some shots of black primed and dry brushed white lumps of 15mm sci-fi goodness.  The manufacturers are even more eclectic than usual with representatives from Bombshell miniatures,'s HOF range, a squad of their Star Vikings for use as heavy armored Space Orcs, and I think a Khurasan figure or two as well.  That should tide me over long enough to get some more scatter terrain purchased and painted up - there are a lot of really nice vehicles out there on the market these days, and my roads are looking pretty empty...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tyranny of Dragons, Session 12 - Chaotic Absent

Full disclosure:  Gaming and posting has taken a back seat over the last few months due to boring work issues.  The following recap is based off of the incomplete notes and recollections of the rest of the party, but mostly from a recap provided by our long-suffering and under-appreciated DM.  We will return to more in-depth reporting in Session 15.

When last we left our plucky heroes they had just defeated the obviously insane death wizard, Lucius Malvern, deep in the crypts below his stately but spider-infested manor.  Grim, the party archer, had located an ancient Summoning Stone and attempted to take it up for closer examination, but sentient artifact rejected his advances and instead sang a sweet siren song to the dark half-demon wizard Gilgamesh.

Gilgamesh, long interested in arts he insisted are more gray than black, needed no siren song, and quickly snatched up the stone which promptly the poor wizard's willpower.  Mordred, half-orc holy warrior, leaped to pull the stone from Gilgamesh's grasp in a vain attempt to disrupt the stone's sway over Gilgamesh.  Instead, the stone lashed out in a powerful arcane blast that knocked out not only Gilgamesh, but the elven fighter Yolo as well.

(Perhaps not coincidentally, the two characters knocked out by the stone were the two characters controlled by players not in attendance.)

The human cleric Aramis and paladin Mordred rushed to dump the stone into the extra-planar space of a Bag of Holding also found in the crypt.  The group then gathered up their dying comrades and fled the vile crypt dedicated to the worship of the demon Bhaal.  They fled to the sanctuary of Torm's Holy Chapel where the group was able to rest heal their critical wounds.

Now that they had accomplished their major goals of acquiring the Summoning Stone, claiming the Tome of Bhaal, discovering the fate of the two Malvern brothers/wizards and the fate of the Dragonspear Militia scouts, and dealing with the sudden but inevitable betrayal of the dragon cult's Capt. Alphonse and his men...the group decided to hot foot it back to their current employer, Captain Von Derffle, back in Dragonspear Castle.

They didn't make it far.  Just outside the entrance to the crypt, they found yet another of Cult of the Dragon emissaries besieging Malvern Mansion.  This group was led by the Drow Blademaster, Aravan Foxtraveller.  Aravan and his cultist emissaries tried to relieve the party of the ancient Summoning Stone artifact, through threats at first, but not for long.  Moments into the bargaining process, a shadowy Priestess travelling with Aravan revealed herself to be none other than...Frulam Mondath!

Remember her?  The party had captured her way back in Greenest.

She had escaped the dungeons beneath Greenest Keep and returned to plague the party, as all good villains do.  Another epic battle ensued, one in which the impressive Karren went toe-to-toe with the Drow Blademaster and skewering him with the blade of his spear "Fury".  Once Frulam and the new cultist emissaries were dispatched, the party made its way safely back to Dragonspear castle.

Note that the way to Dragonspear Castle was safe, but the castle itself?  Not so much.  Cultist reinforcements had arrived during the group's little side trek, meaning that the death of Captain Alphonse didn't buy the party as much security as they had hoped.  The new leader of the cult on this little journey north proved to be a Red Wizard of Thay, known as Azbarra Jos and he had a new Dragon Cultist commandeer at his side, Malak Rasheed.

With tensions still running high, the party, the cultists and the caravan left Dragonspear Castle and set out on the final leg of the journey to Waterdeep.  But of course there were still a few surprises on this last leg...First, the party was introduced to Jamna Gleamsilver, a gnome informant for the Zhentarim, who in turn apprised the party of a suspected poisoning attempt in the groups' morning oatmeal, and then murdered a cultist guard in cold blood during an "information gathering" trip into the covered cultist's wagons...this of course led to the party being accused of murder...luckily cooler heads prevailed and it was determined that the guard "fell" onto his own sword after a night of heavy drinking...seriously it could happen.

And with all that the group finally arrived in Waterdeep! The members of the party said their goodbyes to the caravaners at large, and...Grim and Jamna set off across the city to continue following the cultist's treasure wagons.  Mordred and Karren set off to the Holy Church of Torm, while Yolo, Gilgamesh and Aramis  All with the promise of returning to meet Carlon Amofel back at his warehouse later that evening...