Saturday, June 30, 2012

Naked Figures

Just fishing for hits with a title like that.  By naked, what I really mean is 'without paint'.  This batch is all Pendraken all the time.

SF1 - Marine in battle armor
SF2 - Marine
SF17 - Alien predators
SF21 - Civilian women
SF22 - Civilian men
On the fantasy figures, my technique has been to prime white, paint block colors, and then wash with a dark brown ink.  For the sci-fi figures, I'll be priming black, drybrushing white, painting block colors, and then drybrushing the highlights.  That should mean brighter, more cartoony figures, but I'm working without a net here.  We'll have to see how that works out.

Friday, June 29, 2012

They Blew It Up!

Those damn dirty alien-apes!  Damn them to alien-hell!
If only this came with a liberty-torch.
So this terrain piece is painted and ready for the table.  It hovers somewhere on the edge of difficult and impassable terrain.  The precise nature will likely depend on the scenario.  Either way, it blocks line of sight and adds a little more visual interest to the set-up.
The alien-Ozymandias - look upon his works ye mighty and despair!
 I toyed with the idea of painting the eyes a brilliant green, but didn't want to ruin the 'fallen statue' effect.
Note the sci-fi figure for scale - guess who's figures came in the mail?
On a side note: Welcome and thanks to all of you who have recently started following this blog.  Watching the number of followers creep slowly upwards is very rewarding.  Thanks also to those of you who hav eposted encouragement in the comments of recent posts.  I read every one of them even if I don't respond.  As with the followers, your comments are part of what keeps this little blog of little men trundling along.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

6-4-6 Updated Rules

My crazy easy rules need some tweaking, what with the addition of minotaurs, lizards, and predators to the line-up.  The new figures call for some new abilities - there's no sense in using different figures if they do the same things.  It also means we need new mechanics and to make the system a little more granular.  We can do this by adding in partial modifiers.  Check this out:

Lots of different abilities for shooting.  Aside from the obvious range difference, the big boys now get two shots per turn.  You've also got three different levels of accuracy.

Lots of different fighting ability.  The small aliens have an effective -1.5, now that they lose all tie rolls, and the normal aliens have an effective +0.5, winning tie combats.  That also means that combat with aliens resolves on the first round - one way or the other, somebody dies.  Not sure about the statistical effect of the queen's 2d6-pick-one and the predator's optional reroll, but it definitely means that they will feel stronger than the opposition.  A queen is stronger than a predator, but not by much.

The question in my mind is how strong that 4+ save for the predator is.  You can balance it out by giving the predators fewer models, sure, but the only way to sort the sweet spot for balanace is lots of trial and error playtesting.

Of course, the biggest question is how to organize the turn sequence of a game with this many different factions.  Deck of cards?  Initiative rolls?  Given that each player has a limited number of pieces, the wait time shouldn't be that long, even if you have to wait for five other players.  Still and all, probably better to have everybody move, and then everybody shoot, and then everybody fight - rather than one guy doing everything before play passes to his left.

I think that the right turn order will be the order in which the figure types listed.  Everybody moves in the order listed, then everybody shoots in reverse order.  The predators take their time and then hammer at you - they move last and shoot first.  The marines are patient and move only after they've seen what others are doing, but they shoot fast and hard.  The minotaurs are tough, but gumpy - they move early, and shoot late.  The lizard riders and good, so they can blitz in on most figures, but they won't surprise the marines or predators.  This also means that the figures who move earlier in the sequence are effectively slower than other models.  The small aliens are going to have a hard time catching a marine that doesn't want to be caught, for example.  The marine can always move away from the small alien every turn.

This means that nobody has to wait all that long to do stuff.  The humans and lizards have units at either end of the order, and the aliens are clustered near the center.  Since everybody does melee at the same time you shouldn't have much down-time.

Does all that make sense?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

By Request: Size Matters

I've had a couple of people ask me how the figures of various 10mm manufacturers stand up to each other.  Here's a series of comparative photos to demonstrate.  The guy on the far right serves as a universal indicator across all photos.
Irregular, Pendraken, Copplestone

Copplesone, Pendraken

Pendraken, Copplestone

Irregular, Pendraken, Copplestone
Hope this helps.  For my money, the variations in size aren't a big deal.  At 10mm, a 20% difference is barely noticeable.  As a result, for figures at this scale, what's really important is the look of the figure.  Dwarves better be beardy, halflings better be chubby, and elves better be...elfy?  Hard to say on that last one - it's like the legal definition of porn - I can't explain it, but I know it when I see it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Close Encounter of the Second Kind

"Visual sightings of aliens or physical effects on animate and inanimate objects."  Starting a blog post with a definition, how lame.  Hopefully the rest of the post makes up for it.

It's no secret that Matakishi's Tea House has been inspirational for this sci-fi project, and one of the things I've been promising is an alien artifact-cum-structure like the Face of Boo (as seen near the bottom of this page).  A child sized mask would take up the bulk of a 10mm scale table, so that idea wouldn't work.  Instead, I combed six different stores before finding this little gem in the discount store for the princely sum of two dollars.

I didn't even need a knife or saw for this one, just snapped off the head and limb.  Buried it in a mix of sand and standard white glue, and jammed a bunch of stones into the side of the hill.  That's one alien statue, buried in the sands of time. 
Thought about snapping off the feet and making an extra-terrestrial "Ozymandias", but the feet of this figure are just booted feet - they could be anyone's.  So this will have to do.

The arm helps make this idea my own - does his hand point to a buried tech cache?

Monday, June 25, 2012

We Rollin', Aliens Hatin'

The mystery MechWarrior vehicles look a lot better with a fresh coat of paint.  They've been de-weaponized so that the Buy 'N Large crew now have a little runabout (left) and a large cargo hauler (right).  The pink tires don't look right against the white background, but the red dirt turns gray tires this color, so it'll look okay on the game boards.

Technically, the windows should probably be a nice light pinkish.  The traditional bright blue windows are a result of the reflection of the blue sky.  On our !Mars planet they would reflect a pale salmon-white color.  I decided to go traditional, as the visual cue that these are windows is more important than true verisimilitude.

 Besides, a red planet with a blue sky is strange and alien.  Also, I already painted the windows on the colony buildings blue before I thought of this.  This way everything on the table matches.

I'm particularly happy with how well the teeny BNL logos turned out on the backs of these things.  This proof of concept is going to lead to logos on the crew's jumpers.  Probably not the front over the breast pocket, though.  Big ones on the back of the shirts.  I'm good, but I'm only human.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

No Son of Mine!

"But Dad," the boy tells me, "It's okay, everybody plays with unpainted terrain!"

"Not in this house," I bark at him.  "So long as you live under my roof, you'll play by my rules."  Which is a bold faced lie, as 40K is anything but my rules.  We'll let him slide on that one, but some things are simply non-negotiable - like using unpainted terrain.

These are the painted up craters that we built together a week or so ago.  He's off at something called, "Winner's Camp" (which I was excited about until I learned it had no relationship to tabletop gaming) learning how to be a good citizen and apply himself and work well with others by rock climbing and doing other team building exercises.  While he's gone I decided to be a good citizen and apply myself and work well with others by painting his craters for him.

Not too sure about the grassy areas on this one.  The painted grass is okay, but it just doesn't have the same visual appeal as static grass.  Unfortunately, I'm just about out of the stuff and don't have enough to finish these off properly.  They still look a whole lot more presentable than the monochrome version, though.

Lead by example, sometimes that's all a parent can do.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Turns Out We Have Vehicles

Rummaging through the treasure trove that is the box of random toys in my son's collection turned up these little numbers.  Perfect scale for 10mm gaming, but I have only the vaguest memory of picking them up years ago at the local library's used book sale of all places.  These were part of some clicky game or other - MechWarrior if memory serves.  We only ever had the two bases of them.  The bigger one was labelled "MIT M.A.S.H. Vehicle" and the other a "Demon Medium Tank".  No clue what those mean beyond the obvious.

They both need a paintjob, de-arming, and the BNL logo added somewhere.  These are civilian vehicles, a runabout and a cargo transport of some sort.  No game effects, but they will provide more cover for anyone who needs it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Landing Pad - Post-Paint

With this landing pad, I finally pulled the trigger on the whole 'sponsoring megacorp' thing.  This colony is brought to you by the fine folks at Buy 'N Large.  Anybody know where I can find a suitable Wall-E miniature?  Scale doesn't matter, if they are 25mm scale, they'll just serve as Wall-A or even Wall-I mining bots.

There's less to this build than it looks.  Just more random odds and sods.  Thick poster mount for the pad and ramp, bamboo skewers for the struts, and toothpicks for the safety railing.  The tricky part was that walkway up to the landing pad; I cut the width to suit and then just hand trimmed off a few millimeters until I got the length right.  Even at that, the miniatures still slide down to the bottom.  The blue plants and rocks will help it look like it belongs with the rest of the table.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Landing Pad - Pre-Paint

The human colonists now have a way to get on and off planet.  One custom made rocket landing pad with spare fuel tanks, access ramp, and matching rocks and plants to tie it into the rest of the terrain.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Full Table Look-See

For 10mm miniatures, nine square feet of table space is more than enough room for battle.  With a standard six inch move for the fast figures it'll take six full turns to cross the table, not counting detours to avoid terrain.
To keep the colors as consistent as possible, I painted up the eight perimeter tiles in one fell swoop.  To keep the colors bright, I dry brushed the sand white after the dark brown spray paint.  Spots of the white paint remained after drybrushing up the reddish tints, so it looks like this is a cold weather sort of planet what with all the snow tucked into the little nooks and crannies.
As of right now, this table still looks a little too open.  The aliens are going to need more terrain if they want to survive to get into melee with the colonists.  We'll see what else I can cook up.  Maybe a landing pad, more rocks, and more plant life are in order.  And some sort of alien artifact, too.  That could be fun.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

10mm Hills - Literally

These hills are 10mm tall - just enough to block line of sight for all but the biggest miniatures.  Rules-wise they block sight for everyone, but this way they'll fit into the one box. They are built of two layers of 5mm foamcore glued together and carved to suit.

The different colors serve to make the hills stand out.  These are 'step type' wargame hills built to accommodate the rules.  In this case, the rules stipulate that you end your movement at a linear barrier, and the base of the hills counts as one.

I actually like the layered look for these hills; it makes them looks like different strata from the surrounding red dirt plains.  Sort of like the sandstone bluffs you see on Old Terra.
Like this - only less dramatic.
Why not?  If you were going to settle on another planet, you'd probably pick a scenic place to build your home, too.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Quick Project

Banged out a quick terrain piece for the alien world last night.  The colonists need some excuse to move into the neighborhood, and this mining outpost gives it to them.

Lot of blank (advertising space on the front of this piece.  Might fill that up with a printed sign for the owner of the outpost.  Most folks go with Weyland-Utani for a game like this.  I'm thinking about going bigger.  How does this look?
That'd be different, and even more creepy.
Again, all found items glued to an old CD.  The main tank is the top of an old deodorant stick, and the big 'resource extraction' pipes are taken from one of my son's toys - the pipes on the right arm of this guy.  

Tell me that flaming cannonball
couldn't be used for all sorts
of interesting pieces of terrain.
The smaller tanks are plastic lids from (long story long today) soil sampling sleeves.  I did mention I'm a geologist, right?  If you keep your eyes open, you can save all sorts of fun plastic bits from the garbage can at your work place.
Small plastic circular bits,
a staple of the bits box.
Again, the piping is bamboo skewers and the door cereal box packaging.  The maintainence boxes are bits of balsa wood cut to size and shape.  Nothing particularly groundbreaking, but hopefully inspirational nonetheless.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Strange New Worlds

You can find a lot of places covered in red dirt on this old blue marble on which we live, so red dirt alone is not enough to convey the idea of an alien world.  For that you need aliens, and not just alien animals.  Alien plants go a long way towards that end as well.  Here are my alien plants:

These were build using an old TerraGenesis trick: melted drinking straws painted up teal.  The craft store sold wide diameter straws that worked great as a thicker diameter more mature plant.  Those plants mean the rocks and such in the following photos won't work on any other terrain setup, but they do a great job tieing all of this terrain together as a set.  And the bright teal sets them off from the surrounding dirt as well.  No question but that we're not in Kansas here.

Fantasy figure for scale, because my sci-fi
figs can't come fast enough.
As with the colony, the rocks are just driveway gravel superglued to old video game CDs.  The white rocks really set them off from the dark red surroundings, and that contrast helps conveny the alien-ness of the place, too.  Speaking as a geologist, it would take some interesting geologic processes to end up with those big bone-white boulders scattered around a red plain of fine sand like that.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Give Me Land, Lots of Land...

...Preferably mineral rich land on an uninhabited planet.  If you can't have that, the 'mineral rich' is more important than the 'unihabited'.  At least for rapacious human colonists.  To that end I picked up more 12-inch square boards to build a modular terrain setup for some tabletop sci-fi action.  At the 10mm scale, a two or three foot square setup should do it.  With one board left at home, another eight should od the trick. 

[Note to self: Craft board 3mm thick is so thin it warps no matter how long you press it.  Also, it doesn't work with the colony you built on 5mm thick craft board.  Back to the hardware store for me.]

In the meantime, here is the home base for the 10mm colonists and marines, built entirely out of found items.

For your inspiration, here's a list of what became what:
  • The three small hab modules consist of 15mm tall plastic lids with the tops of dishwashing soap containers glued on top.
  • The top of the round two story building is likewise a dishsoap cap.  The middle (UFO-shaped) part of that building is an empty car freshener, and the base is two empty tape dispenser rolls. 
  • The garage is the plastic container for a printer ink cartridge capped with a superglue lid (smokestack) and toy dispender dome.  The radio dish and other machinery attached to the garage is parts from a cut up action figure assault rifle.
  • The security perimeter is disposable razor handles and more round caps from...long story short, they're found items.
  • Windows and doors are cereal box cardboard, and cables are pieces of bamboo skewer.
  • The rocks are rocks.  Driveway gravel to be precise.  Sometimes you can't beat nature. 
Small supply dump with drums and crates in
the lower right corner.
Tape dispenser, car air freshener, and dish
soap cap - space age building materials.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sci-fi Terrain Boards

With all that rule nonsense out of the way, we can talk about the other fun stuff like figures and terrain. As always, I'm looking to keep it cheap and contained in a single "under the bed" style plastic tub.  That means 10mm figures, found items, and terrain boards. 

For father's day I'm hoping for a slew of Pendraken sci-fi figures.  (Read: I'm hoping not to get in trouble when the wife learns that I dropped more money on a slew of Pendraken sci-fi figures.)  The colonial marines and not-Alien aliens have caught my eye, and I've even banged out a simple convention style set of rules that fit on a 4x6 notecard.

Since those will take a fair few weeks to get here, let alone paint, might as well start banging out the terrain for them. First up is the colonist's base, made up entirely of found items.

The baseboard is 5mm thick craft board and is roughly 12" by 12".  It's the last one left - the hardstore sells these for fifty cents, but you've gotta time it right.  Hopefully, I'll be able to buy five more for hills and open land.  

This stuff is all built for the 10mm scale.  I'll include figures for scale after I get the right figures painted up. See if you can figure out what materials were used here, and I'll give you the full inventory when they are painted.  (Ooooo, look at the clever blogger, using a cheap cliff-hanger to score a few extra hits.)