Sunday, July 31, 2016

Making Scifi Terrain The Cheap and Easy Way!

It seems that painting an Ork army has become my latest project and with that I realized that I didn't have much scifi type terrain to play games with them whatsoever. I wanted to remedy this and create some fast and affordable pieces of far future terrain that could be used for a variety of games - not just war in Space Rome but maybe war in Space Anime Japan or war in Space 15mm. I wanted a couple of buildings and I didn't want to buy commercial kits or spend a lot of time and money on them, so it was off to my local hardware store to scrounge for parts and ideas. I'm pretty pleased with the fruit of my efforts:

Now I have something proper to fight over!

All three buildings began life as plastic electrical junction boxes. These are readily available at any hardware or DIY store in the Electrical Aisle for next to nothing. Most run about $2-$3 US and are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The key is find interesting configurations that suggest something to you.


This junction box suggested a sort of hab unit to me. I added parts that I scrounged from my bits box - lengths of plastic rod, old slotta-bases, parts from dimmer switch I found for $1.50. I also cut out a door from thin cardboard and made a set of stairs for either side of the "landing" on the front. 


While purchasing the junction boxes, I also browsed the aisle for some connector pieces that I thought could be radar installations. So this box became a communications shack. Again, I just added junk where I could. The idea here is to just break up the broad surfaces with techno-texture to create areas of interest. I purposely avoided selecting sculpted plastic model parts though, as these always seem to clash with the homemade parts in level of detail. 


This box I turned into what I've dubbed the Hephaestus Class Omni Forge - some kind of industrial thing. Again, just more junk from the Electrical Aisle glued onto the box. Painting these things is super-quick. 90% of the work is done with spray paint. Dark colors to start, then lighter colors dusted over the top. I've tried varying the color on each building - having all your buildings in grey or gunmetal colors gets SUPER boring to look at and it isn't really what we are used to seeing in the real world. Each building took maybe an hour to build and an hour to paint. They were perfect evening projects. Here they are all finished up.




I built these three building for less than $20US and about 6 hours of work spread out over a couple of nights. Have a go at doing this yourself - its cheap, fun and looks loads better and is more durable than using the styrofoam from that new speaker system that you found out back in the work dumpster.

I've also managed to get some more work done on my Orks. I've added 10 Shoota Boyz and a Nob for them along with two close combat themed Nobs that will get added to my Slugga Boyz units. 

Love the cyber 'ead for the Nob.
I used some left over Stormboy 'eads to add variety.
The Powa Klaw will help add some much needed anti-vehicle
punch to the Slugga boyz mobs.
Another Powa Klaw. This is going to be a pattern. 
Now the Boyz have a proper place to pillage and loot!
Whew! Lot done since last time.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Deep Thoughts: The General's Handbook for Age of Sigmar

Yesterday I hiked myself down to my local Games Workshop store and picked up a copy of the latest game book for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: The General's Handbook. There has been a LOT of hype around the book's release and most of the discussion has been around the addition of tournament rules and points values and army structure. The short version of my thinking is the book lives up to the hype. A more complex version requires that we jump into the Way Back Machine and travel to the year 2003.

A lot of stuff for $25

An amazing resource for wargaming!
That year saw the release of The General's Compendium, a book created by the US Studio and an aid for playing battles in Warhammer Fantasy Battle 6th Edition. At the time, I was super excited because I'd been invited to contribute photos of some scratch built ship models that I'd been using for army displays. I had thought it a great honor and was super pumped for the books release.

I made a boat! Get on a boat!
I had a lot of pride that my Marauder ship made the back cover.
Little did I know just how cool The General's Compendium would be. It had rules for naval battles, map campaigns, running tournaments, and more. It was less a gaming aid than a source of inspiration. The General's Compendium was a guide to embracing the creative spirit that should be present in all wargames. It let players know that there was more to the game than the six scenarios in the rulebook or the rigid structure of their army lists. It encouraged storytelling and creating deep, personal connections with the tabletop armies you were spending so much time building and painting and tinkering with. Looking back at it 13 years later, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been involved with that book in even the most tangental way.

Fast forward to yesterday and reading through The General's Handbook I really felt as though it was calling back through time to the spirit of The General's Compendium. While lacking some of the inspiring scratch building of The General's Compendium, The General's Handbook really pushes the idea of letting loose your  imagination on the tabletop. It encourages every aspect of the game to the detriment of no other part. It is crammed full of ideas, scenarios and suggestions. Even if you aren't an Age of Sigmar player, I think you will find this book worthwhile as just inspiration for how it shows in how many directions miniature wargaming can be played. At $25US, this book is a steal.

It contains rules for running 5 different campaign styles, most of which could be adapted to other game systems with ease. I was particularly impressed by the map campaign system which only requires 2 pages of rules! That's crazy! No more getting stuck because you can't cross a river! Or not playing someone the whole campaign because they are on the other side of the map! Or having to devote the same time as to a college course to learn the rules! I was blown away.

Everything I read in The General's Handbook had me thinking "Oh, I want to play that!" My mind was racing with possibilities and coming up with ideas. I am absolutely chomping at the bit to dive into gaming with this product. With The General's Handbook I think GW has propped themselves up where the initial launch of Age of Sigmar faltered. In an attempt to let people do their own thing, they didn't offer as easy to follow set of guides as they have in The General's Handbook. As I told a friend, they wanted people to be creative and do their own thing; but the crowd wanted them to hold one mode up in the air to the animal kingdom and proclaim "This is How You Play!" I think The General's Handbook clarifies GW's current vision of having players view the rules as toolkit rather than holy writ.

Mufasa likes tournaments and structure, but Scar likes tinkering
with the rules and being creative.
Scar got a bad rap.
In closing, I think if you're most excited for this book because it includes structure and points you are missing out on a tremendous amount of what makes The General's Handbook special. Tournament play is like fast food - its fun and greasy and delicious, but if you eat it all the time it will kill you. So take a chance, eat a green vegetable and flex your creativity. I see too many people create amazing and wild model armies that then end up playing the same pitched battle over and over until they lose interest. Take the same passion you have for building models, painting models, thinking about tactics and strategies and invest some of it in creating scenarios or tinkering with the rules. It may not end up perfect and balanced, but the result will be games that will become stories you will tell for years to come.

So enough proselytizing; I managed to finish up all the Ork models from Assault on Blackreach this week along with 5 Ork Stormboyz. Damn, I love these models and am looking forward to building more. They ooze character and I'm looking forward to getting more to paint!

All three Deffkoptas finished up.
Stormboyz!!!! 5 of them isn't even worthwhile in 40K, but I love the look.
Arrrr! Looking like a proper Sky Pirate.
I tried carrying a red swirl theme throughout the jets - I was
trying to evoke the penguins in Tim Burton's Batman Returns.
"You merely adopted the Waaagh. I was born there. Moulded by it!"
Love the Bane mask.
Its important nobody knows who this one is.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bombshell Miniatures: Babes III Kickstarter in September!

Patrick Keith is a super talented sculptor with a knack for turning out awesome female sculpts who I've worked with in the past when I was a concept artist for Privateer Press. Patrick has a really amazing ability  to take my drawings and kick it up a notch. He runs his own company now called Bombshell Miniatures and he's done several successful Kickstarters. He just announced his latest, Babes III which will launch in September and features models sculpted from designs by yours truly.

Magic User
Dwarf Ranger
I make my living in mobile gaming nowadays, and in 2015 I started a series of warm-up drawings centered on women in a fantasy setting. More and more it was dawning on me as I looked at other game art just how poorly women were depicted as compared to men. I wanted to create designs of ladies that dressed practically and had agency. Originally, I intended to only do the original classes from the Dungeons & Dragons basic set. But then I expanded into AD&D. And then into modern D&D. And then into male versions of each class. And then into illustrations. Over the course of a year and a half, these sketches have kinda spiraled out of control.

Giant Spider Ambush!
Owlbear Owlssault!
My own hope for these scribbles (of which number about 80 drawings) is to group them together into a book. I'm re-formating the art into a sort of campaign/story/artbook that I'd love to get up on Kickstarter later this year. So keep an eye out for that!

The Sundered Kingdom


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Escenorama Ruins Project - The Beginning

Before jumping into working on my copy of Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower, I've decided to first try and complete a terrain set I purchased a few months ago from a Spanish company called Escenorama. I've been itching play some Mordhiem or Frostgrave and was looking for quick way to get some scenery done. Escenorama's Damaged Village set fit the bill perfectly, so I spent a little bonus money that I'd fallen into and held my breath since I was ordering from a company I'd never dealt with before. Happily, everything about the process was handled efficiently and smoothly.

A village in a box
My order took a little over a month to arrive and everything was well packed and bagged and there seemed to be no damage at all. The sculpts are nice and chunky and have a bit of a cartoonish feel - but I really don't mind that aesthetic. The resin quality seems well done, with slight warpage on a couple of pieces.
Everything in the set is modular and intended to help you build a variety of stuff.
Lower floor sections.
A nice selection of open and closed windows
Some cool doors.
Love me some barricades!
I was really happy opening everything up and over the course of inspecting everything I think I ended up getting a really good product for the price point. I'd put the sculpts and casting on par with Acheson Creations resin buildings, but not quite up to the level of Grand Manner. The ability to fill up the table with scenery this fast is also a big selling point for me.

The first thing I did was clean everything up with a good dunk in soapy water to help get rid of any lingering mould release agents still on the resin. As a test piece, I did a quick paint up of one of the barricade pieces. I undercoated it with a brown Krylon spray paint, then dusted it with a light coat of grey spray primer. Everything else was drybrushing and washes. I'm pretty satisfied with the effect for how little effort it took. Now its all a matter of assembling and painting the rest!

Hold zem! Hold zem here!! I love me some scatter terrain.
I've also been plugging away on my Assault on Blackreach Orks, managing to get the Warboss, Nobs and the first Deffcopta done. I also found 8 more Orks hiding in the boxed set - which when painted will bring the units up to 10 men. I had originally thought there were only two 6-man Boyz skwads and was really skeptical of their functionality based on old 40k knowledge. As far as I'd known, anything less than 10 Orks in a unit was a waste of time. I'm glad to have more models to act as a base to expand the size of the units later on.

Waagh, da Boss.
Finished up Nobz Mob.
Dopenob. Not the biggest fan of this one.
Git to da choppa!!!
Tried creating a spiraled Tim Burton Bomb on the nose.
These things are crawling with detail. Still gotta do two more!
That's it for now.