Tag Archives: 28mm

Eureka Miniatures’ Mad Maximillian 1934: A new Obsession & Frustrations


So, yeah, this is a thing. I’ve been noticing these larger scale old timey racing and fighting vehicles at the Eureka booth the last few shows, and I’ve restrained myself.. until now.  Why? Because there’s a new set of rules for these vehicles, and I rather like them.  I have no idea who Mana press is, but they are publishing rules to accompany Eureka Miniatures’ figure line called “Mad Maximillian“.  I like it when rules show up.. it makes it a little harder for a great visual idea (1930s roadsters with machine guns) just fade away, another flash in the creative pan.  I suspect I could have cobbled something together out of my own White Line Fever rules, maybe, but those are somewhat futuristic post apocalyptic, Mad Maximillian is unique in that it is ‘In the past-post apocalyptic” if that makes any sense.  Set in 1932, a very alternative 1932 where gun equipped roadsters move from place to place in the landscape, trying to win trophies and gun down the opposition.  The “why” part isn’t’ really clear.   Has there been a world wide collapse?  A new war?  Civil Chaos?  The fluff is pretty cryptic, so things are flexible in terms of history.  Here’s a little bit of color text from the first page, as told from a fictional bartender:

I’m told. There’s still infected towns out there, rumour has it, where nobody dares to go.  Maybe it was them hi-falutin flappers, wheeling and dealing at the high-end of town.  Making all of their money on shares, off the back of us poor workers. And they goes and spends it on champagne and bugattis, caviar and fancy planes. Wasting all that money, right up until the Crash, when it all went bust! And who pays for it? Us – that’s who! And we’re still paying for it right now! Just look at what’s happened to the cost of Gas – it’s as precious as the booze I’m serving ya. And you know better than me what fuel can mean out
there on the Road. “No Gas, no Ride” – amen, brother.

So, somehow, the world has gone to pot, like it does.. and people are clamping period weaponry on their cars to take to the road and rustle up fuel and other scarcities.  I think.  You know, like one does.

The scale is 28mm, the art direction is rather whimsical, and I have been charmed, completely, by the idea.  Eureka is supporting this game by producing 4 basic car types plus a pack of accessories and stand alone crew purchases.   Their approach is to field the basic body types and have the end user customize to his or her heart’s content.  There’s the Flyer, a two seater with a gunner cockpit in the back, the Roadster, a one seater with a similar body but a more “finny” rear end.  Some odd 3 wheeler type of vehicle, and a gigantic “Interceptor” vehicle that looks like a twelve cyclinder roadster.

Conversions of period diecasts

Converting diecasts?  post-apocalyptic?  Well, if you know me, you know I’m all in.  Therein lies the confusion, and the fun.  The thing is, this is a 28mm scale game.  There really doesn’t seem to be a consistent industry scale for 28mm diecast.  I know (when I was designing WLF and converting matchbox and hot wheels) that 20mm equates to roughly 1:64 and HO scales.  There is no good rule of thumb once the scale creeps up!  I have recently purchased three great Old-Timey vehicles from Matchbox’s Models of Yesteryear line– and each time discovered what was being advertised on Ebay as 1:43 showed up looking suspiciously like 1:64 (matchbox sized).  So if you are going to do conversions with existing commercial diecasts, make SURE it’s 1:43, which, supposedly, is the rule of thumb for 28mm.  As far as “Models of Yesteryear” vehicles, this site is a really good source for research.   There are some great historically themed choices out there but A) you will need to do your homework (is it REALLY 1:43?) and B) be aware that the larger the diecast, the more likely it is being sold as a “collectible” vice game model, so the prices will be astronomical for the truly interesting models.   So far, the only for certain matching vehicle I have found has been a 1934 Ford Pickup truck which is perfectly in scale with the “Flyer” (see above).    Further conversion notes: You can get period authentic vehicle weapons (Lewis Gun/Vickers Guns) from Company B, which sells them separately.

“White Lightning” from the Mad Maximillian rulebook

With that said, some vehicles in the rulebook don’t appear anywhere else, which is confusing and a little frustrating. The rulebook cites (and pictures the “White Lightning” three wheeled motorcycle (above) but it isn’t for sale on the Eureka Website. Possibly it can be made by buying other car kits and using their accessories (I notice the really high fenders on the White Lightning are also in the “Roadster” kit, but that’s all I can identify from another kit). This could be a very expensive option for customization.

“Green Machine”, from the Mad Maximillian rulebook

Even with the customization kit for sale, there are some head scratchers. Note the gently rounded front end with two vertical machine gun slots on the “GREEN MACHINE” model from the rulebook. There’s just no way to replicate this design with parts you can purchase from Eureka that I can see. I mean, you can get CLOSE, but not exactly the same. I think.. it’s hard to tell from this angle:


spare parts, from the Eureka USA website

I’d like to build what they call the Firefly as well, which looks like it is the Flyer main body with a standardized custom front end, but, again, I’m stymied. There are no customized wheel covers in the spare parts package.

They MIGHT be part of another car kit, but given they cost either 22 or 30 dollars EACH, I’m not going to be buying one for cannibalization purposes.  So, Eureka!  Add these to your spare parts!

An alternative source of 28mm period vehicles
Credit: 1stCorp website, 20th century follies, three wheeled roadster

There are other sources of period 28mm vehicles out there, of course, just not many period authentic civilian ones.  I have gone to 1stCorp in the UK for additional vehicles in their “2oth century follies” and “WWI” lines.  I have picked up the three wheeled roadster (I now have plenty of machine guns to add) and a Motorcycle with sidecar (and 30 cal).   I probably will also get four wheel speedster with female driver and possible a suitable converted military vehicle.  So as it stands I’m at about 6 vehicles (depending on if the scales work) which is more than enough to jump into this game with.  I’m looking forward to this.. the terrain should be simple enough.  I have enough wrecked buildings and roadside clutter to make it work.

In conclusion, thus I have discovered another project to have fun with.  I’ll close with a few pics of my first roadster (the Flyer) painted up straight out of the box, as it were.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

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S-177 On the Seas of Tekumel, AAR


This is a general After Action Report (AAR) of a game from the recent HISTORICON 2015 show last weekend called On the Seas of Tekumel.

On the Seas of Tekumel. GM: Steve Braun. Fantasy. 28mm. Rules: Homebrew/Savage Tales. Tekumel is home to many non-human races and the high seas are a great place for them to meet up a settle their differences! See what happens when the insect-like Hluss bring their ancient Lightning Bringers to fight ships made of wood and iron. Join in the fun as the frog-like Hlutgru storm aboard your vessel.

Background: The Tekumel universe was created by Professor MAR Barker, back in the 1970s and possibly as early as the 1940s  (I’m not a Barker scholar, though I know a few).  VERY broadly speaking, Tekumel is a planet that has been colonized by many alien races — the humans who become the “Tsolyani” and the other alien races who have also shown up: Hlǘss, Ssú, Hokún, Mihálli, Nyaggá, Urunén, Vléshga.  Many of these are distinctly non-human in flavor, sporting six legs or radically different physiology, and certainly different philosophies.  At some point in the distant past of high science, a “Bad Thing” happened and Tekumel, its moons and other surrounding planets were transported to a pocket dimension.  As a result, there is no more contact with any of the alien’s home planets, and no more advanced technology, although many artifacts are here and there on the landscape.  Professor Barker took this setting and with the help of Gary Gygax back in the 1970s, created one of the world’s first roleplaying games, THE EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE, back in the 70s.  I owned a copy, which was much thumbed through but rarely played.  D&D was always easier to grasp (although far less elegant) and my gaming buds liked their RPGs like they like their coffee, dark, bitter and easy to grasp.  Empire of the Petal throne has enjoyed a long lasting niche popularity over the years and has gone on to be republished and expanded upon by the fanbase.   There have been five novels, by Barker (I believe), I only have read two of them and found them very interesting, if a little dry.

The Seas of Tekumel is a a brainchild of Steve Braun, whom I believe is a teacher in Maryland, and without a doubt a fan of Barker’s work. He adapted material present in the Petal Throne series (there’s a lot more to it now, contributed by subsequent generations) to a simple, fast playing game mechanic about naval warfare on the ship to ship level. To paraphrase one of his comments– if you are a diehard naval gamer that stresses over armor thickness and gun calibers, this is likely not the system for you. Units of movement are single small ships for the various racial types on Tekumel, all of them roughly 15mm in scale and of galley or large war canoe vintage. The simple sailing rules of movement preclude full speed straight on movement into the wind (which makes sense). Players play a single ship and its crew, which all have a secret goal to attend to.

The playing area was a standard 5 x 8 smaller playing surface– aquatic with small volcanic islands represented on them.. most with alien vegetation and some with structures. Dotted here and there were “opportunities” to loot sites for artifacts from the past.

I was assigned the H’luss, the native species of Tekumel, which are a sort of large six limbed insectoid race. They are depicted as being xenophobic in the extreme and rather hateful of the alien usurpers (which is how they view all the other races). Of all the races on the board, I was the one with a submersible, which looked like this:


The H’Luss Submersible, which I captained.

I had had this faction the last time I played and it was a lot of fun to play them. Unliek everyone else on the board I didn’t move normally== I plotted movement on a piece of paper and showed it to the GM to give him an idea of where my submersible was. Last year, I played it to the hilt and it made for some hilarious moments:


Picture from Historicon 2016 game

We had a much denser playing field than last year, it would seem.  I misread my goal entirely and as it had something in their about this being OUR water (being natives) I thought I had to look for a well!  Nope, he meant “Go steal alien tech and kill them all”.. so I wasted some time on non-existant subtlety, I admit it.

I made up for it by trying to reprise the old “surface and swamp the ship” trick which worked last year.  A large Tsolyani Frigate was parked on the same island as the Hlutgu, who were my victims last year.  I tried to surface under the (now empty) ship and drag it away, leaving the Tsolyani stranded.  It partially worked!

The Xenophic H’luss take the human frigate for a Missouri boat ride

Unfortunately a Tsolyani frigate is substantially heavier than the Hlut Go canoe and I ended up submerging quickly or it would destroy the boat. Mission accomplished, though, they humans were dispatched without a shot fired.

Out on the rest of the seas of Tekumel, the ships were fighting a hard scrum.  I surrendered any idea of taking the Humans frigate for myself, and indicated to the (giant lizardmen, forgot their name) that they could have it, even if they get more points from it. The smaller group of pirates with canoes were all swamped or died fighting. The various other ships got into a traffic jam in the center. The (big lizards) and (giant artificially made people) then got into it right above me, so I swam under them and came up behind them. I had to get some tech.  See that red McGuffin on the back of his boat?  That was part of a multi-piece “something” that it turned out I had to go look for.  Might as well start at the beginning.

I surfaced next to their stern and brought MY ancient artifact on deck to fire at them.  The results were.. unusual.   The weapon of the ancients fired, then blew up, making the back of the enemy craft (and his replacement captain) into plasma.  Oddly it didn’t do much to my boat, beyond killing one of the lower ranked H’luss crew.

And that was about that for the game.  It felt short but it was about 4 hours.  I didn’t get the chunk of artifact, but I did prevent my enemies from claiming it.  I had wasted a little too much time trying to achieve a wrong goal early on to acquire it it.  Victory was determined mathematically, based on things accomplished.  I narrowly beat out the guy who took the empty human frigate as prize, because the GM was being nice about me attaining my goals.  So the stunning victory of the H’lussi on the high seas underscores our basic philosophy: GET THE HELL OFF OF OUR PLANET, ALIEN SWINE

If memory serves, I think the HAWKS (Hartford Weekly Kriegspielers) had an entire “Tekumel track” at last Historicon, and this was just one of those games.  I may be hallucinating.  I know I played in this game, and had a great time with it– the rules were simple, the setting was exotic and the game told a story.  Well deserved bravo zulus to Steve Braun for putting on this game, I really enjoyed it.

Here is a slideshow of every picture I took for the Tekumel game

 

Pulp Science Fiction Miniatures 2/2


And here’s some more of the same series.

Pulp Science Fiction Miniatures Project 1/2


I’ve been painting up a lot of retro pulp style Science Fiction miniatures in 28mm lately, as I’ve referred to in some previous posts.  I’m more of a fan of the Commander Cody/Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers style of retro SF, personally.  Collecting figures in this very narrow niche can be a challenge.  I’m going to post two posts of Youtube videos I recently posted that give an overview of what I’ve been working on. I usually post verbiage and still pictures, but what the heck, this might be fun to do as an alternative (occasionally).

Here’s 1 of 2.

Discovery: Brother Vinni and Ganesha 28mm retro Science Fiction stuff


file under #smallwars

I recently made an interesting discovery.  I like my science fiction with a tinge of science fantasy, specifically of the pulp visual nature, prevalent in American culture from about the 40s to the 70s historically.  So I’ve been slowly pursuing a project you can see on the bottom right, under the heading “Science Fiction Bar Fight along the lines of the Draco Tavern” (Classic Niven Reference for the win).  I’ve posted on my retro SF efforts in the past on here.  Given the long winter of being homeless (see the post about the tree), I’ve had time to paint and have stuff painted.  My collection has grown dramatically.  Alas, as the Wargame Supply Dump has gone out of business I have jumped in and attempted to buy as much of his line as I can before it vanishes.

A lot of the current offerings in 28mm don’t have the exact right “fantastic feel” to them.. just a tinge of silliness and whimsy, like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Like fins and bright colors and big oversized ray guns and and goggles and leather helmets and such. I’m always looking for figures like this– I’ve been buying and painting GAFDOZ for years and recently made the aforementioned binge buy of WSD before it folded tents. The problem is where do you go from here? That’s what this post is about. Will it be possible to find more 28mm figures with the proper wacky pulp retro look and feel? Well, yes, but I’ll have to go about it judiciously.

One element of the amorphous “pulp SF universe” that I feel is is important is robots. I mean the big rounded edged clanky guys you used to see in the old serials. I found some candidates that make perfect sense in this setting.

I discovered Brother Vinni, a 28mm figure manufacturer who specializes in resin cast Science Fiction, Fantasy and Historical figures.  I believe? the manufacturer is from Russia.  I really like Brother’ Vinni’s small SF Line, particularly the “Nuclear Sandlot” category.  The humanoid figures tend to be more slender than the figures I have to compare them to– mostly in the GAFDOZ range, which are “beefy”.  However, robots don’t have to be in any specific scale, even androids.  One assumes there will be a variance.
The Nuclear Sandlot robots appear to be sculpted with an eye towards the FALLOUT computer game. If you’ve played it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. I picked up the Flying Bot  figure which looks like the robot major domo figure from the game. It’s easy to put together.  You’ll have to do some standard prep actions before painting– soak in water overnight, and be sure to drill the hole out a little.  The figure doesn’t come with a stand, per se, but does come with a transparent peg to mount on a stand of your choice.

Here is my version, after cleaning, drilling and mounting on a MDF circular base. Good choice, actually– this model can get a little top heavy and you’ll want something heavier to keep it upright.  I ended up painting the robot a gun metal color overall, with some bronze highlights, a bronze colored security weapon and bright red lenses on the security camera arms and main ray gun face.  I gave it a sort of thinned out black ink to give it a little grime and depth, and a couple of coats of medium shiny sealer– I’m giving all the pulp stuff a shiny coat because it seems to fit the subject.

I also picked  up two Observer Bots which also seem to be inspired by FallOut.  I plan to make these part of the game– any character with a comunications rig sculpted on it can use an observer bot to see down a hallway.  These tiny little floating soccer balls have a perfect look for pulp

Same approach to cleaning, drilling and mounting.  The observer bot has a little whip antenna that has to be attached, be careful, this will get away from you.  The hole for the stand up flight pole was totally filled in with resin so I had to drill it out carefully.  The model has holes in it for some sort of whisker antennas (four of them) but these were not included.  I suppose someone could heat up a piece of sprue to stretch out and make them from scratch, but I didn’t see the point of it.  That’s my only complaint about Brother Vinnie’s kits.. don’t advertise an element of a model in the assembled pictures that isn’t provided in the final product!

Last robot I got is ALSO inspired by FallOut, I think.  It matches one of the standard robot types found in the game, and Uncle Vinnie just calls this “Robot“.

This was probably the easiest figure to clean up, assemble and paint. The overall aesthetic is kind of like a pint-sized Robbie the robot character from Forbidden Planet.  He’s going to make a decent robot butler or some other kind of servant.   I also mounted him on MDF, painted an overall gun metal with bronze highlights, and gave him a little grime (thinned black ink) and a semi-gloss coat like the robots above.  “Robot” fits in well with the pulp figures I already have, being somewhat tiny but then again, who says robots have to be huge hulking figures to be useful?  Nobody, that’s who.

Now, on to some figures that I loved, loved, loved in the adverts, but the reality was kind of a mixed bag.  At least you have the bottom line up front.  On to Ganesha Games 28mm Science Fiction line, being manufactured and distributed Alternative Armies.   I was very intrigued by the latest releases that were recently trumpeted on the Alternative Armies website about Lord Phalag and his companions, Psi-Knights and Combot combat robots.   Lord Phalag is a Baron Harkonnen looking chap in a floating chair, looking very corrupt and dissolute, and slightly evil. He has an enforcer brute companion named Graul Granite who reminds me of the Thing from Fantastic Four, and some female alien type modeled to look like she has some form of psychic power or whatnot named Skarra.


(Image: Alternative Armies)

I was in as soon as I saw the floating chair. Now that’s a great sculpt. Very decadent looking.

Also of note were a gang of Psy-Knights waving about some sort of light energy beam sword weapons. Hmm. Wonder who these guys are supposed to be? You can take your guess:

Image: Alternative Armies

Well, I had to have those guys, too. I was pleased that Alternative Armies will through in a “Combot” robot with each purchase from this line and got one of those, too.

Now, here’s the rub. These are beautiful sculpts.. very pulpy, nice detail. I want to build and paint these. This is what showed up at my door.

No instructions. No bases. Nothing. Just kind of a jumble of parts. The feet aren’t even attached to a slot to go on a slotta style base. Nothing. The figure of Lord Phalag is my favorite, but I’m going to have to figure out how to put this thing together. Worse, I’m going to have to figure out the flying base too.. I know there are companies that sell these, but apparently Ganesha is not one of those. So how do I base them? (BTW, the website DOES say “sold without bases”.. and it’s my fault for jumping on this without reading, I admit that up front, but I wanted this thing to work.. and thus enthusiasm overcame common sense).

Well, it’s going to take a lot of work to make these figures work. I suppose I’ll have to find some slotta bases (I don’t have any). The figures are cast without anything at all on their feet so I expect I’ll have to drill and pin to make the figures stable on a base of any kind. The Chair figure of Lord Phalag is the big disappointment. I’ll have to buy a flying base of some kind (no idea what will work, they don’t say and they don’t sell one) and the resin part is pretty smooth. There’s some metal bits to finish out the figure but the resin is so smooth something tells me I’ll be drilling and pinning there as well. I’ll make it work but it won’t be a fast process.

In summary, it’s a mixed bag. I like the sculpts and detailing of everything I’ve purchased lately, but the Brother Vinnie models came together significantly more easily than the Ganesha Games stuff will. Everything seems to fit well with other pulp figures I already have, so I’m pleased, but grumpy about all the work I’ll have to do for the Ganesha stuff.

Small Wars: Vikings and Frostgrave


Since I’ve been somewhat hampered in my hobby pursuits by having my house almost destroyed, all my study packed up and the walls demolished, I haven’t had ready access to things that I traditionally spend the Winter on, like painting up miniatures for gaming projects.  I’ll live, of course, but I have a need to bump up my forces on a few nearer term projects, such as running a gaming camp this Summer.  Fortunately, my friend John Montrie, being retired, has been around to provide a brush for hire, and he’s helped bump up my forces when I’ve had to exchange money for time for the past few years.  And thank the Deity for that, too– I don’t think I could have gotten Big Danged Boats or Frostgrave off the ground without his timely assistance.  As he’s off to China for a few months I thought I’d pop up to Rockville and visit, eat some Mexican food and pick up some troops I had him working on.  Needless to say, I’m pretty pleased with the results, or I wouldn’t be posting about it!  At Fall IN I had picked up another pack of Frostgrave Soldiers (the standard 28mm semi-medieval Soldiers, 22 figures, plastic, Northstar Games).  I also picked up some newer Frostgrave specialty figures– the Lich and Apprentice, The Crowmaster & Javileneer, and the Elementalist II & Apprentice.  All in pewter, 28mm, Northstar Games.

First off, the Goons.  These are the troops that make up the retainers and followers of the wizard figures in Frostgrave:

I gave John very little guidance.. if he has a fault at all, it’s that he tends to use the same four basic primary colors (red, green, blue, yellow) as uniform highlights. I don’t mind that so much, it allows me to cluster the henchmen in handy groups.  Still, I wanted something different so I asked John to focus on darker colors and purples.  He delivered!

Here are the new major characters in pewter:

Crowmaster and Javelineer

I understand what the Javelineer does.. he tosses Javelins.  What the Crow Master does I’ll have to read up on.  Maybe the Crow flies around like another set of eyes and spies on people.

Beast Crafter and Apprentice

This looks somewhat obvious- the Beast Crafter is some form of shapeshifter that can transform himself  into animal shape.

Elementalist II and Apprentice

This is the second form of the “Elementalist” Wizard from Northstar.  I think I might like the older figures better.. more dynamic.  Eh, what the heck, they’ll make good thieves.

Lich and Apprentice

I don’t know what a Lich is in Frostgrave terms.. I always thought it was the animated dead body of a powerful wizard– and usually appears as a skeleton in wizard regalia.  This looks more like Elric of Melnibone all tarted up or something.. no matter, it’s a cool figure.

That brings me up to 44 Soldiers from two packs, 22 cultists.  With the Dark Ages Vikings and Saxon figures I have painted up for SAGA and Battle Troll, I have something on the order of 120 figures I could use for “Goons” for Frostgrave warbands.  I’m still going to get the barbarian pack(s) and I’ll probably add some variety figures in there too (like a couple of all female warbands, a dwarf warband, a Chinese Warband, and an elven warband), but I have enough soldiers and wizard figures to comfortably run games of 10 players or more– maybe even a dozen.

Viking Looters

Another project I’d like to start running this summer is the venerable VIKING LOOTERS game.  This is a venerable convention game designed by the great Jim Birdseye years ago.  The scenario couldn’t be more simple – you are a Viking and need to get back to the boat first with the most loot (represented by pennies spraypainted gold). Your movement rate is based on the amount of loot you carry. All players start at the same distance from the boat. The fun comes in that each player is dealt several cards. Each card represents an event, usually bad for someone, usually the Viking himself.  The cards cause an opponent to drop pennies, fight battles, become pursued or otherwise delayed from returning to the boat. A turn consists of each player deciding whether or not to play a card on an opponent, or passing (not playing a card). Once all cards in a turn are played (face down on the table), the GM reveals them in an order that makes sense.

Yes, the “screw the opponent” factor is high.  I know I have plenty of fighting Vikings on board– about 44 of them.  However, I don’t yet have enough of regular people doing regular things– like the Saxon villagers, herdsmen, wenches, old women, and various random characters you meet in the game.  I’m still working on the villagers, but found a pack of Old Glory “Revenge” line Viking looters in smaller 28mm.  These are Vikings doing what  you associate with being vikings– raiding, drinking and taking stuff.

Most of these were crafted to have open palms for adding “stuff” to them.. like chickens, weapons, gold and jewelry, etc.

You can see there are some villagers in there– I also have some clergy. I am getting some sheepherders done and I still need some wenches and stock animals. Pretty much standard Dark ages figures.

I plan to run this game at camp.  As you already know, I have a great Viking Ship I built from a kit that I can use for a prop.  Scenery is pretty minimal.  I’ll add in a swamp that surrounds the ship except on the River side, with just one plank leading up to the boat and a big ship guard trying to rob you as you come on board– you can’t make it TOO easy!

Anyway, I love Frostgrave and always wanted to get Viking Looters off the ground, so that’s going to be my new project for the year.

Frostgrave Sunday!


We had a short window last Sunday to get in a game of Frostgrave at the Comics and Gaming Store in Fairfax, VA. We were contemplating doing a published scenario, but didn’t have the right figures for it. So we did a free form Frostgrave game, my ad hoc level 4 Chronomancer versus level 5 (not sure.. maybe a Witch)?

I wanted to make the playing field dense. In Frostgrave, it’s far too easy to nail someone from the far side of the table, if there are no intervening terrain pieces to modify the shot (usually arrows). Also, the backstory of Frostgrave is Felstad (which the city this is supposed to be) is described as a dense urban environment, with narrow streets and all sorts of nooks and crannies.

We alternated putting out treasures, as per the rules.  There were four pieces that were relatively close– A, B, C, and D (see above).  E was a “lure” set in the “Orb of Power” which was a spell amplifier of sorts.  I figured I could score A, B and C from my entry point, even with Archers in the far area of the square.  I added a lot of standing terrain bits to break up line of sight.  When I play Subir, I can be certain of a few things; He’ll focus on spells that teleport, telekinesis, leap, or jump away from competitor gangs– or he’ll take option 2 and select spells that block me, like Walls.  One thing that he’ll always do is put a couple of archers up on a second level, where he can enjoy line of sight and pepper away as an annoyance.   He was true to his patterns– this was a night of Leap, Telekinesis, Teleportation and Archers set up high.

Subir’s fantasy sniper team.

I split into two teams, one lead by the Chronomancer and one by his Assistant.  My Chronomancer and his team hit the tower to retrieve Treasure B (above), and easily nailed C, but D was going to be hard to get to unopposed and E almost impossible.  There was also a treasure in the fountain behind the tower (not shown) that I’ll circle around to.

This is the Orb of Power, which is a Games Workshop Numinous Occulum model, repurposed (I have one too).  If the wizard stands in the Orb, he can cast spells with big pluses– think of it as a magic battery pack.  It was closer to Subir’s starting point than mine (point E in the photo above), so I didn’t really think I would get a treasure there, nor could I make use of the Orb.

My two groups moved close to each other and supported each other. Subir was much more spread out. I think he had the better idea.  Being a level 3 guy, I had some good hirelings.. A Man at Arms, two Archers, two Thugs, One Infantryman, one Thief.  A good mix of muscle and smash and grab.

The apprentice easily converged on Treasure C while the Chronomancer took Treasure A in the tower.  There’s another one in the fountain in the background.

he wanted to show off.

Or course, Subir would try a little razzle dazzle.  He telekinesed the treasure from the Orb of Power dome, and then LEAPed this thug (position A) to the second floor balcony where treasure D was.  He got to the treasure first, before my Infantryman could stop him (position B), crowed a little, and LEAPed out.

My Chronomancer basically did what Wizards do in this game.. got under cover, got up high, and got behind an Archer who provided cover.  My accompanying Thug moved the treasure to the map’s edge, as did the extra thug near Treasure C.

We did run the game with a rule I like to use– whenever you pick up a treasure, you roll on the Random Monster table.  This didn’t create a lot of distractions.. well, mostly, until…

No, it’s not Cthulhu. I don’t have a worm figure, and that’s what Subir rolled. Bad luck for him!

As Subir and his gang cowered behind some rubble, I tried something silly. I had placed a WIZARD EYE on the flat side of the wall, near that balcony Treasure D was on. I had STEAL HEALTH which works “In Line of Sight” to a target. So by extending Line of Sight, My Chronomancer was able to steal health from the Worm itself, from across the board. I even had to sacrifice a couple of hit points, to make a spell roll work, and immediately got it back from the demon! Now that’s a hoot! My attempt to intercept treasure D on the way off the board, which caused me to lose my Man at Arms, sadly, pincushioned with arrows.

Well, sadly, an urgent call from home cut our game shorter than I would like, or I would have nailed the treasure in the fountain, too. As happens a lot with Frostgrave, the game tied up 3 treasures to 3 treasures. I don’t collect warbands like Subir does so I didn’t roll for the treasures. I did lose a guy to an Archer attack, but that’s life, warbands are kind of expendable.

A great time, I only wish we could have played longer.

28mm Greek Galleys? Deal me in!


I’ve always been partial to galley warfare games, but usually at a drastically different (smaller) scale than what I usually play in.  What has come down to us about the naval warfare of the Ancient World is at best somewhat fragmentary.  There are some excellent books on the subject, including The Battle of Salamis by Barry Straus and Naval Warfare under Oars by by William Rodgers.  The thing is, we have a generalized idea of how these ships fought, and what they looked like from pictures and pottery shards.  We know these big battles like Actium and Salamis were fought in history.. but it’s hard to conceive in the minds eye of literally HUNDREDS of galley ships smashing into each other in a single engagement.  That’s why I’ve always played with galleys (when I have) in smaller scale like 1:1200 with an odd detour into 15mm sometimes.   The battles are just too huge to grasp what a single ship fighting another single ship action would be like.  The “Galley Period” for want of a better name for this period of naval science, lasted a long time and witnessed much innovation.  The swift, streamlined galleys of Salamis (481 BC)  bore only a superficial resemblance to the giant behemoths that fought in later periods.. slow moving ten banked monsters were at both sides at Actium (31 BC), for instance.  Yet both are “galley engagements”.   Much like how a 19th century 74 Gun Ship of the Line was a complex  instrument to navigate and fight, involving many concurrent, complex tasks, so must have the operations of a Greek Galley in 481 BC have been equally complex, with many concurrent actions transpiring to bring a ship to battle.  The Steersmen had to guide the ship into a path to ram.  The Rowers have to act in unison to increase the ship’s speed to make the ram a success.  The Overseer has to keep the pace and relay the Officer’s intentions to the rowers.  The Officer has pick his targets and deploy Marines and Archers.  The Archers are firing away at the enemy ship as they close.  The Marines are queuing up to  leap across the gap between ships and engage in brutal hand to hand combat.  All of this will only happen if the weather conditions are absolutely perfect; even a moderate swell could dampen martial ardor on galleys, which swamped easily.

So, as you can guess, there’s a lot going on in each of those tiny ship models we so casually assign number factors to, or damage points and ‘crew factors’.  Traditionally, we tend to ignore this level of action in favor of a more grand tactical view of ancient combat. … but.. .what if?  What if we had a scale where we could actually SEE some of this beehive of activity?  Would that make a great game, or a tedious one?  I suspect it depends on how much of the action you generalize.  In any event, the mechanics of any theoretical ship-to-ship galley warfare game would be a whole lot easier to envision in a larger scale, and as of today, that’s possible.  I noticed shared post on the Naval Warfare group on Facebook:






(image copyrights: Ironheart Artisans)

As you can see, this is a laser-cut nautical galley model in 28mm, not unlike my recent Maori war canoe purchase, only an order of magnitude more complex. The designer is Alex Landing, whom I exchanged a few pleasantries with on FB. His company is IRONHEART ARTISANS and as of today (9/30/16) the galley isn’t on their website but soon shall be. I was quoted a retail of 62 dollars each. Now that may seem a trifle steep but I don’t think so.. this is a complex model with a ton of parts. It will require careful assembly. The benefit is that the finished model will certainly A) look fantastic and B) provide enough room to model a ship to ship engagement in 28mm. I could easily envision a game design that models aspects of galley warfare that we rarely add to games, such as rower fatique, deck to deck battles, turning and navigating, oar sheering, and other fun period naval problems. I’m kind of excited about the idea of such a game, and now I might be able to make it happen. The figures wouldn’t be too hard to get– 28mm Greek peltasts and slingers for the Marines, plus Archers. The down side is that it will require a huge amount of playing area for relatively few players– can you imagine a six player game in this scale?

Stone Golem for Frostgrave


I have plans to run the Hunt for the Golem scenario published as an e-doc from Osprey Publishing.  As a scenario, it’s not overly ambitious, which is fine– I can handle 3 scenarios as a series of connected games.   It was harder than I thought finding a perfect stone Golem figure, though.  I’m not crazy about the construct figure from Northstar.  I wanted to go with a more classic formed golem look, as if out of Jewish tradition.  I couldn’t find anything from the old D&D miniatures line either.   However I did find something in the Bones line from Reaper miniatures.. paradoxically, it’s their version of a stone golem.

I like the look of this thing.. not exactly Judaic, but kind of Egyptian looking, which works, pretty much.

As with all Bones figures, you have to put the prep work in. I soaked it in water overnight, and wiped it off the next day to get rid of the mold release residue. Then I undercoated it in GW’s “Stone” color (really just a medium gray). Then I sealed it with a brush on dullcoate, and applied dark ink to capture the 3D, and a light off white drybrush to establish highlights.

The results are pretty nice! I might add a little moss and gunk on the legs, as I anticipate the golem has been stationery for a long period, and maybe draw some runes on him in places with a thin pen, as the golem is described in the source material as being covered with mystic ancient runes.

I’m liking Reaper Bones stuff.. definitely a useful line at an affordable price.

So I built a Maori war canoe in less than an hour…


Last night, I dusted off the first of my HISTORICON 2016 purchases, a lovely MAORI WAR CANOE I bought from the Eureka USA booth at H’con.  The canoe is a representation of a giant ocean-going war canoe designed to convey a large war party from island to island in New Zealand.  This is a laser cut kit vended by Eureka.  I’m not sure if the kit originates with them or was created by someone else and Eureka just sells it, as the kit came in a plastic bag with almost no instructions.   None were needed, really– just a picture of the final model:


Eureka Picture

If that picture looks familiar, it ought to. Check out On the Seas of Tekumel, played last Saturday night at Historicon.

The kit wasn’t cheap, but not overly expensive either.  Just under 40 bucks.  Like the Viking Ship from Laser Dreamworks I built a while back, it is built in layers that stack on top of each other, building a hull with flat keel and high gunnels.  In addition there are scrollworked sidewalls, tail and prow to add on.  Glue might not be necessary but I added it anyway.  This kit is built for 28mm figures but I’m guessing 15mms will do just fine– my plan is to use it as a new ship for Big Danged Boats.

The kit assembled in about 30 minutes max.  I’m doubtful that it even needed glue, but I added some PVA glue (sparingly) here and there where it was needed, especially around the scrollwork.  The result was very attractive, and surprisingly sturdy.  My plan is to paint the hull portion a brick red and the scrollwork a bright yellow.


For armament, I’m going to install some 28mm scaled portable siege weapons, and have the two large ballista stand in as Harpoon throwers, and the two smaller ones as straight up ballistas. I might even mount a few swivel guns on the gunnels.

I’m not sure which BDB faction will get this, but one things for certain, this model is a beauty, and will look great on the table. I’m glad I bought it.

 

Frostgrave at Comics and Gaming, Fairfax, 4/23


My friend Subir has been working hard on setting up a small but somewhat regular group to play miniature games somewhere near the loci of Fairfax City. We decided on Comics and Gaming in Fairfax City. This is a nice place, catering mostly to the M:TG crowd from appearances. They have a good selection of on the shelf gaming stuff supporting card gaming, board gaming, and mostly the big two or three of miniatures gaming. More importantly they have an annex room with a lot of standard 3 x 6″ tables.

SLADE THE NECROMANCER’s warband Click to embiggen.

Necromancer SLADE and Apprentice TIMMY late in the battle. Yes, Slade was laying low when he got down to TWO hit points. Click to embiggen.

After diving headlong into Frostgrave at the recent COLD WARS convention, I decided to bump up my Frostgrave holdings– I have (most of) the standard wizard types plus apprentices, in the process of being painted (along with a warband of generic soldiers). For Saturday I did a quick black primer of my Cultist figures and used my Necromancer figure, “Slade”, along with his apprentice, “Timmy”, then added a little flesh color here and there so they weren’t TOO embarrassing. Hey, I have my standards.

Frostgrave Cultists box, after assembly, pre-primed.

My Frostgrave warband, minimal paint slapped on (that day). Since they are a Necromancer’s warband, the black colors seem appropriate.

We are trying out campaign options for this game, which is new to me, since I’ve only run single skirmish games at conventions. This element of the game turned out to be a lot of fun. For starters we had to figure out where the Wizard hangs out (Page 137 of the Rulebook PDF). I chose a Crypt, since it seemed to work well with a Necromancer. Turns out I didn’t “get” what the benefits of a starting location were.. being from the Crypt, I can raise Zombies with a +2 effectiveness! However, since I can only have 1 at a time, what would the point of that be, it would only make a pretty simple spell just a little bit easier.

Slade (left) two thugs and an archer move out, with the boys giving the old man some cover.

Slade and crew (right foreground) work on one treasure token (purple) and Timmy moves under the overhang to mess with other players caught in the open. BONE DARTS away!

My main wizard, Slade, was under an overhanging building on the second floor, when someone got a bead on him and nailed him pretty good with an arrow from the second floor. Fortunately, not fatally.. but it did make him very cautious the rest of the game. Timmy made up for it by flinging the BONE DART spell right and left (it was my cheapest spell available). I nearly clobbered the Wizard on one of the opposing teams (dropped him down to 2 HPs), so he was as cautious as I was afterward– maybe more shy, since he exited off the board.

My opponent to the right played it cautious with his Wizards, keeping them under cover. and using spells that could move things and people (like Leap and Push) to get to the treasure quickly.

On my left, I was donnybrooking with Subir’s Thaumaturgic warband. He had a lot of levitating style spells, so his style was ALSO to hide his “Varsity” squad of Wizards and try to levitate the treasure off the table.

Well, the thing to do when everyone’s acting so danged cautious is act INcautious. SO I rushed the guy on the right and shot some arrows at his Apprentice Mage to threaten him.

Here’s my thug rushing the two archers covering the Apprentice to my right. I ended up killing them both.. eventually

Like any good skirmish game, Frostgrave is about finding and using cover and the terrain, and trying to take the best shot you have this turn. Here I am shooting at the Apprentice to my right.. it sure made him nervous.

The first game ended with us pretty much evenly splitting three pieces of treasure each by mutual consent. The tactical situation was at the point where there wasn’t much we could do to stop that outcome, so it seemed sensible to make good on what we had in hand. This was my first “campaign game” so my level 0 dude went up to 2 with all that treasure and experience rolling afterward.

The second game, it was kind of anti-climatic. The wizard I was up against threw down some wall spells which made excellent cover for me, but basically segmented the game into “this is my half, this is your half”.. so it was more of a treasure grab than a fight per se.

Yep, that’s a wall spell. On the gripping hand, he can’t shoot ME through it, either. Note my wizard climbing high up where he can shoot off spells from cover, and the thug going for the last red treasure on the roof. Nifty…

So, yeah, we were done about 9:00 with two games in. This experience confirms that I think Frostgrave is a hell of a lot of fun. We basically had a pick up game here with unpainted dudes, scratch built hodgepodge terrain, and I had a blast. Frostgrave makes for a very entertaining evening– it’s fast, easy to play and easy to teach. I was playing with a couple of guys who had some experience (one about as much as I have, one with a lot more). I don’t regret investing in this system and I look forward to expanding my holdings.

Things I noticed:

1) ash.pikselin.net, the Frostgrave warband maker, is SO DANGED HELPFUL. It keeps an editable warband roster on your ipad, saves it online to your account, and enforces the math of buying a warband. The only thing it doesn’t do (yet) is add the little plusses and minuses of campaigning.
2) I love my new fantasy urban terrain cloth for Frostgrave. It’s perfect (see the pictures).
3) I’m pretty pleased with my Necromancer, Slade, but his spells were bogus. I need to think it through a little better next time. I made some stupid choices.. my opponents loaded up with Push, Teleport, Heal and Leap, very useful for this kind of game, and everything I had was either too hard to pull off or not of much use for getting treasure.
4) I’m also really pleased with the NorthStar figures I bought, but they could easily work with other 28mm fantasy figures too.

So, yeah, that was a thing. I’m liking Frostgrave a lot these days. I’m definitely up for playing more of it with a regular crowd of players.

Figures that demand “there’s a game in there, I just have to find it”


Have you ever come across a line of figures that, really, you’d love to game with because they’re just fantastic, but there’s no real *game* associated with them?  This happens to me frequently.  There they sit, on the shelf, trying to send you a message and getting under your skin.  Like wearing too-tight underwear, it gets annoying, but not in that bad way.

Some TEN years ago I found the perfect Flashman figures.  (if the Flashman reference is vague to you, read here, then go and read the books and thank me).  They were made by Chiltern miniatures, which appears to have ceased being an independent concern back in 2012. They were beautiful and huge.  Not really 28mm, more like 33mm, and not matching anything I currently had in my collection, which was on the upper side of 25mm and lower side of 28mm.  They were posed exactly like the old illustrations of the novels.  Go to Amazon.com to see the comparison, and check against published pictures here, here and here.  It’s impressive sculpting.  I loved them and if you read the 2005 blog post, I bought every one of them, admired them, then put them in a drawer.

From TMP.

Why? It’s a favorite character of mine, isn’t it?  Sure it is.  The problem is how they are cast.  I could overcome the “they are huge” factor by fudging here and there, that’s not the real issue.  It’s just.. what KIND of game would they ever be used in?  A small skirmish?  Really?  Sure, Flashman is bellicose, but he’s really sculpted for a tableau here– I doubt there are many shoot-em-up war games that require a figure dressed in cricket togs or as the Crown Prince of Denmark.   I’m sure I could jam a figure into a full up skirmish game but he’s really sculpted to accompany figures from a pre-defined narrative.. the books.  So we’re back to where we started.. what kind of game could I make from these?  A roleplaying game set in the 19th Century British Empire?  Now that’s possible.  Sadly that might require a much bigger supporting cast of figures, and since most of the Chiltern figures didn’t match anything else of mine, into a drawer they went. Maybe I’ll flea market them some day.    The problem was I just couldn’t make a game out them.. and not being a rare figure collector, what’s the point?

The pre-written narrative is the challenge.  If it’s too restrictive, you can only do so much with it.  Another example.. I found a bunch of figures that were designed for Army of Darkness.  These were from Leading Edge, a company that specialized in reproducing miniatures directly from science fiction and horror films.  I think they are out of business, as well.

Well, there’s the rub.. I could definitely make a game out of it.   And that game would have to be something pretty close to “A bunch of undead critters storm a medieval castle in search of an unholy book to steal”.  Mind you, I wouldn’t mind that premise, I LOVE Army of Darkness’ final battle sequence.  I just can’t see making any OTHER game than the scenario these figures were cast specifically for.   I can easily find dozens of skellies, zombies and such in roughly the right scale, and paint them up.  I even have a Warhammer Mighty Fortress that might do the trick for the castle.  But, but.. is there any OTHER kind of game I could make here?  Probably a few smaller scale ideas like skirmish games and such.  Ash at the Windmill.. Ash in the desert.. etc.  But it would always be what it is, a game about the movie Army of Darkness..  not a bad objective, but it isn’t flexible.

When I was at Fall-IN! 2015, I finally bought a few packs of figures I’ve been passing by for a couple years now.  These are in the pulp range in 28mm:

In case you haven’t figure it out, these are figures of: Orthodox priests, Monty Python’s “Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition” figures, More modern priests and altar boy figures, Middle Eastern Women with Burkhas, and Orthodox Jews.  All with guns.

I’ve loved this line for a long time, and I knew someday I’d buy them (and others like them), it’s just the age old problem.. “Sure these are great figures, but what kind of game can you make with them?”   And after having a palaver with Otto Schmidt last weekend, we hit upon a great idea for a game that could every one of these figures and more like them:

What if the Apocalypse had happened?  Just not the one you were expecting?  What if.. everyone in this figure line was a character in Heaven?  Yes, that heaven.  Fluffy clouds, Doric Columns, Harp playing (if you want).  I love this idea.. the figures are sculpted as if ready for a big gunfight.  They all are playing into perceptions of Intolerance.. as if the player is getting a message that ‘to WIN, I must start shooting the nearest THEM group”.  What if that wasn’t “winning” at all?  What would they do?  After all, they are in heaven.  God wouldn’t want them to kill each other.  It’s heaven!  They made the grade!  They are here, they made it!

“But, but but… what about that group of people over there?  Aren’t I supposed to, you know, hate them?”  The ensuing game could be a lot of fun, but I could see where people might resent it.  Still, I like the idea and I’m going forward with it.  I just need to buy some suicide bombers and virgins now.

Saxon Warband just about done


I took a break from feverish working on HISTORICON projects to base up some SAGA figures for my SAXON Saga army.  I currently have painted:

1 warlord stand
5-7 HG armored mail and shield
9 Warriors mix of sword and spear, some armor
12 peasants using Spears
9 Archers

Here are some pictures

Warlord Stand: Gripping Beast plus unknown standard bearer (flea market figure)

HEARTH GUARD (HG) are elite fighters, deployed in small numbers. I believe I’ll field either 8 or 4 of these. This is a mix of Gripping Beast’s SAXON warband pack and some extras from flea market.

WARRIORS are trained, partly armored men who have been in battles before. Most of these are Gripping Beast
LEVY are peasants whose training consists of knowing which end of the spear is “pointy like”

ARCHERS are something I added on, mostly from Wargames Factory Saxons packs.

I might be able to finish it up with what I have on hand but who knows, any excuse to attend flea market.  My intention is to field a SIX POINT army, so he advised:

  • 3 more archers
  • 1 more hearth guard
    7 more warriors.

What does the Foundry look like?


If you’re involved in historical wargaming at all you probably know who or what the Foundry is.. formerly Wargames Foundry, formerly Guernsey Foundry.  If you’re a Yank like me, you’ve probably got no idea what their headquarter is like.  I know I didn’t before a friend of Bryan Ansell, the founder of Foundry, published this video on Youtube:

Small Wars: Saxon 28mm Warband from Gripping Beast (SAGA)


My Saxon War band
un-packaging!

Recently received was a 28mm Saxon Warband for the SAGA project. I won this on Ebay so I’m not sure what the MRP is on this thing, but since I won it from Architects of War’s Ebay store, I’m guessing its’ pretty close to 70 USD. That’s not at all bad for providing value.

At 2.12 a figure, that’s not bad for metal.

You get 33 figures:

  • 1 Warlord wearing chainmail, wielding shield and hand weapon (loose, to be added.. it will be a sword)
  • 4 Hearthguards, also armored at the Warlord level, with shields and mail and helmets. Less animated
  • 16 Warriors.. representing guys that have stood in a shield wall in SAGA terms, but don’t have more armor than a shield and maybe a helmet. All wielding spears.
  • 12 Levy.. these are the reluctant untrained chaps that are here out of feudal obligation. No armor, but they do have spears.

Quality is quite good. Not much of that lumpy bit of metal that makes a figure hard to stand up. No unbalanced figures. Mold lines were very clean. They were all quite sturdy, well sculpted without HUGE amounts of detail. That fits. Historically they wore wool cloaks and tunics, breeches and shoes equivalent to moccasins, maybe a big heavy belt in the middle with some pouches and knives.

The Warlord (left) and his 4 Hearthguard. Chainmail, shield, helmet, and wielding hand weapons. You can also see the spears that come with this pack.

Above you can see the Warlord and his Hearthguard. Click to enlarge.

Here are my dozen reluctant levy fighters. No shields, spears, and in need of enthusiasm.

Here’s my 12 Levy troops.. looking anxiously to their Warlord for some leadership.  Click to enlarge.

A stalwart band of Warriors who have seen the elephant at least one time and are ready to step up to the shield wall. Spears and Shields. One or two wearing a small helmet.

The 16 Warrior figures are the fellows who have stood in the shield wall and know what to expect. They will be the bulk of this Saxon Warband. Click to enlarge.

You get lots of stuff with a warband pack from Gripping Beast. In my case, lots and lots of loose, cast spears, some hand weapons, and their special flat green bases. I might have to buy some more, I don’t have enough for everyone.

Gripping Beast Saxons (Warlord, left, and two Warriors, right) compared to plastic Viking figures I’m using for SAGA.

Lastly, I thought I’d show you have the Gripping Beasts Saxons stack up against other figures I already have based and painted. In the picture above I have a Saxon Warlord facing a Viking Warlord, with two warrior types on either side squaring off. As you can see, they have a similar height, although GB figures are a tad taller foot to crown. You can solve that by using different base types. GB bases are very sturdy, but flat. (Click to enlarge photo)

Summary: I’m quite happy with my Gripping Beast SAGA Warband. This is everything I need to have someone to square off against the Vikings with. The warband is deficient in Archers, so I may make some changes there somewhere. Overall I’m glad I bought this warband and would recommend it enthusiastically. Great value!