Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Wargamer's Life: A One Act Play

 
Me:  I'm going to do more playing and less painting in 2018
Also Me:  I'm going to build four matched wargaming sets
Me:  That's not gaming, that's still painting
Also Me:  But it's 10mm, that hardly counts
Me:  It's painting
Also Me:  Have you seen these guys?
Me:  Say, that's pretty - ah, hell with it, you know what?  Paint away.
 
Fin.
 
Irregular Miniatures, take a bow
 Forty dollars netted me another big slew of 10mm skirmish figures.  Since these were bought specifically for this project, I could target actual needs.  The first two orders of business were to build some actual matched factions, so the new contenders are heavy on the high elves and greenskins.  I threw in a few cavalry troops, too, just to keep it interesting.  The new horde includes a few new heroes and some more skeletons to round out the undead faction.

Each kit will get three more skellies and a pair of bowmen painted up in a woodsy, maybe even wood elf style.  At this scale, they can do double duty.

I painted these bases a nice garish green with a hint of yellow to suggest grass, but they don't match my existing figures.  Thinking on the matter a little more, I should use the ground cover to my advantage.  Since the figures are so small, it might make sense to match the ground color to a faction as well.  That's more painting (Me: Naturally!  Also Me: Shaddup, you.) but whatever helps keep the gaming moving.  I'm thinking a nice gray ash color for undead, bright green for the elves, and desert brown for the orcs.  Then the heroes can have a more subtle green/brown base.

And all of them should work fine with the drop cloth.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

End of the Box

To fantasy up the four small wargame boxes, I needed something with a touch of magic.  Hence four wizard towers.  Yeah, they all look a little different.  So do the ponds and the houses and the woods.  And most of the figures.  It's nice - they all have that personal touch that turns this from another boxed game to a personalized gift from a friend.
 


So that's a total of eight terrain items and fifteen inches of hedges.  Not a bad little setup.  The really nice thing about this setup is that the colors are so garish.  That sounds odd until you consider the purpose of the setup.  Visual appeal might be everything, but this set will be shown via lo-res webcam, so to keep things straight, the pieces really need to jump off the battlemat.  For the terrain, the water is bright, the tower has red splashes, the house is a bright yellow, and the forest has that nice dark shadow.  When used for actual play, it will be a lot easier to recognize these pieces that if I had made the usual attempt to closely match ground color to terrain base color.

Of course, now I'm starting to wonder if my figures
are going to show up at all.  Something to consider...
And here it all is boxed up and ready for storage.  The figures are stuffed in a plastic box under the broken ground.  With a drop cloth and a little bit of newspaper, this bad boy should make it half way around the world with no problems.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Four Ponds and a Dropcloth

Scroll up to see what the bland, tan drop cloths used to look like.  They each cost a buck and half at the local Wal-Mart.  I found them in a bin full of quilting squares and they were the perfect size, but were basic fabric, so I had my crafty wife sew up the edges to keep them from fraying.
 
 
 I also threw together four ponds.  They are just MDF with sand glued for land and blue paint for water.  The water got a couple of coats of glossy clear-coat to give them a little shine.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Four by Twenty Figures

Last post I showed you my current project's status.  For those new to Chateau Abox, I'm building four identical game sets, so that I can do some online wargaming with a tactical component.  If you ain't pushing lead, you ain't miniature wargaming, after all.  By using 10mm figures already in hand, and not already in use, I was able to put together a fun little set.

 
This all fits inside a small shoebox sized plastic tub, along with the figures:
 
Opening up the blue-handled box, we see the small host of random figures:
Which parts out to a 5-man adventuring party, two ogres with four orc slaves, a minotaur and his three man dog-head retinue, and five skeleton warriors.  Not bad, but needs more Dakka.  I've got another 40 figures per box on order from Irregular that will really round this out and make this box sing.  You'll see.
One thing to point out is that the adventuring parties all consist of a wizard, an elf, a sword and board human, a dwarf axeman, and a hobbit.  They aren't the same fighters, they aren't the same elfs, and they definitely aren't the same wizards.  For example, one wizard is basically Gandalf and another a fire-wizard, and the one shown is more necromancer than anything else. Eh, close enough for 10mm figures shot on camera, right?  This whole thing is a little more abstract than is my usual wont.
That said, I'll have to make sure my planned wizard towers match the figures.  Did I mention the wizard towers?  Oh yeah, we need some serious fantasy terrain to really make this special, and we're going to get 'em.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Hill Worth Dying On

Banged out four quick hills this weekend.  Two layers of 1/2-inch foamcore shaved to size, mounted on useless CDs, and covered with PVC glue and sand makes for an impressive height on which to fight. 

Generally, I prefer to make my hills gentle so that figures can stand anywhere on them. This style of hill provides a binary on-off that suits the needs of the project.  Remember that the goal is a cheap 4-piece setup that will still look good on camera.  By forcing the players to declare "this figure is on the hill", this system should prevent any confusion when playing long-distance games via computer camera.
Now that is a commanding height.  It should also be obvious that this hill blocks line of sight for figures on the ground.  The default assumption is that the centerline of the hill serves a LoS blocker for figures trying to see a wizard standing on the top of the hill.

One last shot of the hill next to the house for scale, and then let's look at a typical terrain set-up.  Here you can see the drop cloths I bought for this project.  The drop cloth needs work, but I thought it might be nice to see how the stream works as a corner cut-off, and how just five terrain items and a little bit of hedging can make for an interesting set-up with lots of tactical decisions.

One of four
Looking at this, I do think each box could use one or two more items of terrain, so that each battle doesn't feel quite so much like the last.  This is a good set-up, but still limited, because you probably need this many pieces for a good game.  It would be nice to swap out a couple of items, too.

[Edit to respond to Sean's comment because Blogger is acting like an idiot and won't let me comment:  They work really well.  Cheap, durable, thin, and consistent in size and shape, they also take PVC glue and sand like a champ.  One word of warning, though, you have to go pretty heavy on the glue and spraycoat primer to completely cover up the shiny rainbows.]

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Wargaming Wednesday Returns!

In an outreach effort dedicated to reaching out (hence the name) to more non-wargamers, I've resumed posting about wargames at the Castalia House blog.  Each Wednesday, the publisher's blog features a post related to wargames called, not surprisingly, Wargames Wednesday.  I share duties with a number of other smart and erudite wargamer types who focus more on the hex-and-counter style wargames.  This week, I detailed a quick rundown of A Song of Blades and Heroes, and next week will see a write-up of my first stumbling attempts at playing the novel and quirky sci-fi game Rogue Planet.

Over the last month, the blog ran a series of posts detailing Avalon Hill's Battle of the Bulge that is well worth a read for wargamers of all stripes.  Here, for your dining and dancing pleasure, is a link to all five parts of this in-depth analysis of a classic wargame:

Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part I
Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part II
Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part III
Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part IV
Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part V

If you like that, stick around - the team there regularly produces the best news and analysis of today's fantasy and sci-fi culture available today.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Four Times the Fun

I lied.  In my last post, I promised a big new project for 2018, but after a conversation with a good friend, I tabled that big complex for something a little more intimate and a lot more likely to see some actual gaming time.
 
Behold!
 
The start of a big new small project
What you're looking at here is the start of a new terrain system built for 10mm skirmishing.  Right now the shoe-box sized system has just four small terrain items.  As you can see, we have a bit of broken ground, a small house with six 2.5-inch hedge pieces, a small wood, and a stream.  The round terrain pieces are based on CDs, and the stream on 1/4-inch MDF.  The stream has both a bridge on the left and a ford on the right, and the odd angles to either side allow this piece to be placed on the corner of the terrain mat (forthcoming).
 
 
The house is a small, wooden, children's toy block.  The kind with the raised and painted letters on the side.  I trimmed down the corners a bit and fixed cardstock to the front and back, then used balsa strips for trim and cut pieces of towel for the roof. A small woodpile and some bushes add a 'lived in' look to the small hut.
 
Here's the kicker.  I'm building four of these sets.

 
While clearing out some older unused wargame items, I realized that I could break up my collection of 10mm fantasy figures into four identical groups of figures.  Why am I doing this?  You can probably guess, but I'm not giving the full reveal because I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Stay tuned, loyal readers, it's going to be a great year for wargaing.