Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Japanese Troops are on the Table

Well I didn't have time to get them primed but I did get them prepped, cleaned and mounted to their painting sticks:

Princess Pumpkin, guest of the Emperor, surveys the troops  as they prepare for priming and painting.

So I pretty much got everything done for December I wanted to do. These guys will be first up for completion in 2012.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

My 2012 Hobby Goals aka Wishful Thinking

Over the past few days, I've I made a list of all of my gaming related "want-to-dos" and frankly, I'm shocked. Both the variety of periods/genres as well as scale is greater than I realized. Which is odd, given that all but my HeroClix figures fit side-by-side on a single book shelf maybe 2' long x 8" wide.

In any case, how to decide which would make it to the top of my list for 2012?

Since I accept the idea that a stated goal is simply a guideline to help me focus my time, energy and financial resources, and as I have limited amounts of all three,  I believe goal setting is a worthwhile activity. By publicly stating them, I hope to gain the same positive effect it had for me in November and again in December (more on that in another post to follow).

Given the reality that my interests ebb and flow from period to period, genre to genre, I've opted not to lock myself to specifics, for the most part, while still creating quantifiable goals:
  • Weekly painting/terrain making/scenery construction/etc.
  • Monthly solo gaming
  • 100 posts to this blog

While I'm pretty sure just about anything I might do is covered by this list, there are three bigger projects that I especially intend to make progress on or even complete (nothing ever seems really completed so I mean at least enough that I can play the games I envision):

  • 1/72 WWII Pacific Island Assault
  • 54mm Morschauser Horse and Musket
  • 2mm Napoleonics
Of course, all statements contained herein are subject to revision once my plans meet reality.

So, what are your gaming related goals for the upcoming year?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Ever since I was a toddler, we've celebrated Christmas gift giving on Christmas Eve morning and this year was no different. We made the trek up north to my parents' house on Friday, so we could keep that tradition. The best part: a few years ago, the gift opening and celebrating seemed to be over lightening fast, like something was missing, but with my niece and now my son, it really feels like the celebration it should be.

To keep this post about table top diversions, and not about holiday warm-fuzzies, here's some highlights of the gifts I received:
Upon seeing the War at Sea starter, my girlfriend asked "Two players? I guess I'm the other player?" I explained actually, no, my plan is to play solo and she then asked if she could be the other player. She wants to play.

Maybe not on the order of magnitude required for a Christmas miracle, but I'll take it! 

Hoping everyone has a Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it, and if you don't, I hope you have a nice relaxing Sunday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Los Pistoleros

My girlfriend returned from her business trip and since then I've been painting in my free time at a furious pace (well, furious for me), The result of which is that I finally managed to complete (sans basing) the remaining pistoleros:

I tried to stain paint him entirely with Citadel washes, save the hat and flesh. I probably should have gone for something more colorful than 2 shades of brown.

Two variations of face painting.

The hombre on the left was stain painted with Citadel washes - save the flesh and hat- much better than the first  figure, in my opinion.

This sets me up for the possibility of an Old West skirmish game/campaign in 2012. For that, I'll need to finally put my Whitewash City CD to good use.
I'm still hoping to get some game playing in before 2011's end.  I recently converted an Elves Under Hoof scenario to make it suitable for WWII in a pulp-ish fashion with the miniatures and terrain/scenery I have at my disposal.

Finally, speaking of miniatures, after I went crazy late last week from the stress of being the sole care giver for my son, I placed an order with Khurasan Miniatures for a small pile of 15mm science fiction goodies. While some of them will be useful in my VSF games (e.g. others will function in a more pure science fiction game (e.g. which is something new for me.

Oh, and I'm still thinking about my goals for 2012 (hobby and other wise) and hope to have that nailed down and posted sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What a week!

My girlfriend is traveling all week for work and our mother's-helper has scarlet feve (I didn't even know people still got that).

Fortunately, I'm working from home this week. But I'm trying to do that and take care of the blueberry at the same time. Plus take care of our two cats.

And keep the house looking reasonably live-able.

I hope to one day take a shower and eat something other than cereal.

Needless to say, not much happening on the hobby front.

Still, i did get the latest issue of Lone Warrior (although I've only skimmed it) and managed to get in a test game of Song of Blades and Heroes with 2 goblins and 2 kobolds - both free paper flat downloads. But that's the extent of it.

See you when I come up for air again!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hobby Lobby Coupon Alert!

While on the Hobby Lobby on-line store this morning to order some pencils and a sketchbook (I have decided I want to learn to draw - just for fun), I discovered they're having a 40% off any one item sale AND $3 flat rate shipping.

So, in addition to the pencils and sketchbook (both inexpensive), I ordered some model trees which I got for 40% off! 

I know I said previously that I'd use paper trees, but that was in comparison to cake decorating trees. At a $1.50 a tree, I'm willing to get the pre-made model trees that look nice. 

There's also a 40% off coupon good for in-store purchases available for printing as well. I may go and do an in-store purchase of a new decent paint brush, if I have time tomorrow.

The sale expires on December 10, 2011.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some thoughts on 2012

Over at Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog, he's begun thinking about his 2012 wargaming goals

Go take a look if you haven't. It's quite inspiring (and a little mad) and has me thinking about what I might like to set down for my own hobby-related agenda in the upcoming year.

On the one hand, I'm hesitant to say I definitely want to do such-and-such, since it's a hobby, should be fun, and frankly, I tend to like to go where the wind takes me. That said, I think some longer range thinking could give me some focus so when I do find myself with some time to spend at the painting/gaming table, I have an idea of what I'd like to do already.

My guiding principle is that, in order for me to call something a hobby, I have to devote at least one hour a week to it. That's it. If I can't do that, it's time to reevaluate why I say I participate in the activity.

On the short list (and likely final list but I'll wait on that):
  • Post 2x a week to this blog
  • Complete 60% of my Little Wars anniversary project
  • Complete two 2mm knitting canvas armies (Napoleonic France and Russia) for gaming Table Top Teasers
  • Play at least one wargame a month.- this could be hex-and-counter, board game, miniatures or some combination thereof.
There's a lot more items on the long list - hence the name "Long List" (seemed kind of obvious, but just in case). A lot of those items can be tied to the last bullet point, which makes that a handy goal to have.

Among those that I consider likely to happen whether or not I write them down:
  • A Wild West campaign using the original Six-Gun Sound rules from THW, my 25mm cowboys and pistoleros and Whitewash City buildings.
  • 15mm VSF games/campaign involving the French Foreign Legion, lizard folk, Prussian infantry, G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. character minis in a Lost World setting using my own rules or the old free edition of Adventures in Jimland
  • WWII games in Europe, Eastern front, and Pacific Theater in various scales and rules
  • 25mm Fantasy games/campaign using Chronicles of Blood and/or Song of Blades and Heroes with paper flats and possibly, later in the year, minis.
  • Heroclix games galore
Then again, publicly committing to them may increase their likelihood of happening. I'll think more on this over the course of the month.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December Goals

One of my big take-aways from Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month is the value of publicly declaring my goal.

I've seen this on a number of productivity sites (I read a lot of them, which, ironically and not surprisingly, reduces my productivity) but hadn't really given it much of a try. The idea is that, by declaring a goal publicly, we motivate ourselves to achieve it for fear of falling short in the eyes of others. 

If I can consistently get results like last month, I'll consider it a surprisingly worthwhile technique.

So, for December, my figure preparation goals are:
  • Paint five 25mm pistoleros - this will complete the Monday Knight Productions Wild West figures I got for Christmas some 5 years or so ago.
  • Prep and prime box of Waterloo WWII Japanese
  • Print and assemble two paper-flat fantasy war bands to try out Song of Blades and Heroes
Because I spent nearly all of my hobby time painting last month, this month, I want to also include learning some new rules:
  • Read and play a few test games of SBH
  • Learn the core rules and play a test game or two for Heroclix (thanks JF at SoloNexus for getting me started on what looks to become a new addiction!)

This might be rather ambitious for me ordinarily, but it turns out I'll have nearly two weeks off from work thanks to the upcoming holidays. Which means, all told, I should get in at least16 hours of hobby time between now and January.

Hopefully, I'll also get in a VSF game, WWII, and dungeon crawling too.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

D&D B/X: Take 2

I rolled up two by-the-book 1st level d & d b/x characters. And by "by the book", I mean 3d6 per trait, rolled in order. I then used the as written rule that allows gaining one point on the prime requisite for every two dropped from certain other traits (CON and CHR are excluded)..

The results?

A cleric of moderate ability (save his Wisdom) and with an unfortunate unwillingness to say anything other than the truth (that was rolled randomly on a table I found on the web) and a paranoid thief with a disfiguring scar and a glass left eye. The latter two were gained as a result of a Charisma of 7 and some die rolls on the aforementioned tables.

The cleric rolled 100gp, which means, after i buy all of the other kit, plate mail will likely be out despite it's ridiculously low price tag of 60gp.

The thief rolled a legitimate 18, which is 180gp to start - kind of overkill for a guy who wears leather armor and can't use a shield. That said, he'll probably be rather entrepreneurial and farm out some of the adventuring to hirelings, i.e. bank roll the adventure - maybe hire a couple of fighters or arm some 0 level muscle, hang towards the back, and claim/steal most of the reward when combat is done. I may even have him try to hire another thief to check for traps and such, who, for my own amusement, will try to pilfer from the party himself.

The only deviation from b/x that I'm making worth noting at this point is that I'm treating the cleric as an  Undead Hunter (I'd say Vampire Hunter, but they hunt zombies, skeletons, wraiths, ghosts, etc. so "vampire" seems a bit too restrictive) and not simply a fighting healer. As I have defined this particular order of clerics, their (his) spells are available as a result of deep meditation and not, to their knowledge, granted by a deity. It doesn't change the class characteristics, but it does provide a motivation for the characters actions and a possible plot hook.

Speaking of, I need to equip the party and generate an objective for the first* delve.

*please note my unbridled optimism that the characters will survive.

D&D B/X Session 3

After an hour spent cleaning off the table (I swear, everything manages to find its way to my gaming/painting table regardless of where it actually should go), I sat down to play the third installment of my D&D dungeon crawl.

23 turns and I think the picture below sums it up:

And people tell me spiders aren't scary.

So, Orecchiette, in typical old-school fashion, didn't even make it past the ruins, let alone enter the 1st level of the dungeon. Bewie, the hireling/porter, turned and ran from the room - his fate and whereabouts are unknown.

For my next attempt at a dungeon crawl, I'm going to change the way I handle the dungeon generation/encounters (which I'll detail later) and I'm going to play two characters and see if that changes my luck. It'll be a different dungeon/objective too. 

Off to roll up some characters.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Is this what they meant by "reindeer games"?

Elves Under Hoof had been on my wish list forever (I mean years. like 3 or more.) until last month when I finally ordered it from WargameVault (along with Song of Blades and Heroes which I hope to play this month sometime).

I've only played the first scenario (the game includes 4), An Igloo Too Far - and finally won on my fourth attempt. It was a close one and a Pyrrhic victory at that. Both Comet and Cupid went to that Christmas Town in the sky.

Here's a picture of the game after turn 5, right before I successfully rolled for reinforcements to end the game in my favor:

With the elves closing in, Vixen is prepared to go down with a fight. Suddenly, off in the distance he hears the reassuring snorts of an oncoming rush of reindeer commandos.
A fun game with good replay value and only $3.99. 

I'm a sucker for cartoony artwork and anything Christmas, so that might explain my enthusiasm in part. The fact that it's designed to be played solo is a big plus.

Added bonus? The scenarios and "ai" look to be easily adaptable to other periods (is "the great Elf War" a period?)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month Final Tally

At the start of this month, I had painted only two minis in the last two years (and those two in the last year). 

Now, as a result of my participation in Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month, I have 35 painted minis to show for it. 

That's a 1750% increase in productivity!! Remember kids, under perform so when you do make an effort, you hit a grand slam.

Admittedly, basing is not done, but as my standard of basing is pretty low, it'll be a quick job to finish them. 

And now, I present, the class of November 2011:

15mm Minifigs USA Prussians

25mm pistoleros and cowboys from Monday Knight Productions and 1 DIY custom Master Shake

15mm Brigade Games G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.

Hats off to JF at Solo Nexus for promoting the idea of Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Update (yes, another one!)

With just two days left in November, I am of happy to note that I have 30 figures painted with 2 more nearly done. 

Here's a look at a custom mini I did just for kicks   - he's roughly 1/72 scale, made of Sculpey and a paper-clip. I fully expect him to show up in a game fighting zombies or nazis or nazi zombies.

"Run Prussians, run! For I, Master Shake,  am here from the future to squash you!"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Proof!

The blueberry slept through the night last night, for the first time! You'd think I'd have managed to get some painting done, but no. Instead, I snapped this with my cell just so I'd have some kind of proof I am making progress on my goal for Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month:

Pictured: A 750% increase in painting output compared to the last two years.
I've got 14 more Prussians started and they could be done by tomorrow night.

I hope to finish a pistolero or two tonight after the blueberry goes to bed this evening.

With less than 10 days left, I am already pretty happy with my accomplishment so far.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Painting Progress

Professor Panglos and Mademoiselle Cunégonde captured by lizardfolk! Prussians believed to have orchestrated the attack!

We've got company here this weekend, so I'm just stealing a few minutes to update on my progress:

Completed (sans basing):

  • 3 25mm cowboys (would have been 2 but I ruined one and had to repaint it)
  • 1 25mm pistolero - maybe one of my favorite paint jobs to date
  • 10 15mm Minifigs Franco-Prussian war Prussian infantry

Nearly done:

  • 1 15mm Brigade Games G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. figure

Primed and waiting for some attention:

  • 1 25mm custom mini made from Sculpey
  • 6 25mm pistoleros
  • 2 15mm Brigade Games G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. minis

Glued to the painting stick awaiting priming:

  • 14 15mm Minifigs Franco-Prussian war Prussian infantry.

This is the most painting I've done in forever. With 11 days left in Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month, I hope I can at least complete the pistoleros and the G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. minis and finish basing everything that's ready for it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Undeclared In-Game Activity or "Well of course my character did that, I just didn't say it"

My gf and I have been reading Game Night by Johnny Nexus aloud each night as part of the blueberry's bedtime routine. One theme which runs throughout is what do we need to roleplay and what actions do we assume based on the idea that the character exists in the game world and is acting even in those moments not explicitly being played out on the tabletop..

In the book, the GM often uses this to punish a player by leaning to the "you never said you were doing that even though I'm not making everyone declare such things" side while the players use undeclared activity  to attempt to acquire magic items, money and other advantages which they justify by essentially declaring it common sense that their character would do whatever it is, regardless of explicitly declaring it to be so.

Clearly, the "right" approach is probably somewhere in between.

I've been thinking a lot about this because in my own solo dungeon crawl, as I began preparing for the next session (whenever that may happen upon me), I realized that Orecchiette and Bewie had left Zoulford's body behind after he was killed by a gas trap.

This bothered me the more I thought about it (when I realized this had indeed happened). Why didn't he? And why didn't Bewie say something? The reality is that in the heat of the gaming moment I forgot and also that my hirelings are nothing more than one-dimensional pack mules that occasionally engage in combat. I'll address that second idea eventually (probably not today), as I find it disquieting. But with respect to my character, does my forgetfulness automatically mean my character forgets? Or would his nature drive him to drag Zoulford out regardless of what I would declare so that after the fact, I could simply declare it to be so?

As a neutral character (in b/x there are only 3 alignments: Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic), there is no in game requirement that he do so or consequences to face if he does not.  But what kind of hero does he make if he doesn't? Is he blind to his own humanity? Or maybe just the suffering of others? Is he a jerk?  Self-centered?

Certainly, as gamers, we allow for a good deal of assumption in our play. When we successfully defend against an attack, we may give some description of how we did so, but it isn't imperative - although one approach may make better reading afterwards, the result is all that is important. In fact, we can add the details afterwards while writing up a blog entry even. For the in game moment, we assume we blocked it somehow, probably with our shield.

I admit there are systems that do force such details, but I would be surprised if they did not assume other actions happen, whether explicitly declared or not.

The crux of the matter as I see it, is how much does the assumption impact the game as you want to play it.

Like the Allfather in Game Night, I was tempted to essentially reset reality and allow that they had carried the body out. After all, me-as-player could argue, why wouldn't they? But then I decided this is not the same as say, assuming that the character is urinating as needed or breathing or blinking. It would, I feel, reward sloppy gaming on my part if I allowed myself this retroactive rewrite of history.

I also believe it's more interesting from a character development standpoint to leave the situation as it is. Perhaps he is a bit of a jerk - more Zapp Brannigan-ish than I might care to admit. Orecchiette is human and like all humans he's flawed - hero or not. He will have to live with his decision to press onward however he feels about it.

For me, as the DM, whether it's completely in step with Orecchiette's personality or not, I think it shows something of a lack of concern for one's employees, and I'm docking him one charisma point as a result.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

STGAM: Painting Update

As proof that I continue to make progress on my Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month project, I offer this rather shoddy picture taken with my cell (which explains the lack of flash) just moments ago here at my desk at work:
A motley cast of characters awaiting priming.

Monday, November 14, 2011

STGAM: Return of the Dead part 2 (11/11/11 Solo Wargaming Appreciation Day game)

A dreadfully boring patrol, Corporal Hardcastle was about to open up his pack of custard tarts when Pvt. Peacock spotted the zombie Krauts.

With the action finally heating up, the Tommys find themselves facing a steady stream of undead.

Bloody hell! As one wave is dispatched, another arrives to take its place.

The best kind of officers, Hardcastle and Lance Corporal Deacon join the battle with fists and cold steel! Look at how they turn their backs to the submachine gun armed Axis officer.

The Zombie-Beauftragten* shoots as accurately as a blind man in a  London fog. After wounding both Hardcastle and Deacon with shots in the back, Corporal Hardcastle spins and opens fire. The zombie controller dead, the zombies halt in their tracks and the Brits carry the day.

Some thoughts on the game:
  • Using dice to determine location and the number of zombies greatly impacted the game. Where as with cards, you cycle through the encounter deck, thus guaranteeing you will have each of them once per pass through the deck, with dice there's always a 30% chance of having a "no encounter" result. And I had more of those than I would have liked. 
As a result, at one point, the Brits cleared the table of every zombie! Not exactly nail biting that way.

  • Removing zombie saving throws sped things up as hoped hoped, but I'm not sure whether or not the tension was sacrificed as a result. It's hard to tell in light of the previous issue.
  • On the other hand, my "order of operations" greatly simplified zombie turns. In the last game i'd examine each, try to determine best action, etc. With my simple list it was a matter of a quick glance and then applying the orders.
  • Two submachine guns went a long way towards ensuring my squad's survival this time out.
  • I should have added a rule for the Axis officer to bail if he is unable to knock out any opponent after he takes damage the first time or if he's reduced to 1/2 or less hp, he'll retire from field. As it was, he dealt some damage, but within range of my entire squad, and with a lack of zombies to distract me, it was a simple matter to take him out.

* provided by Google's translator

Friday, November 11, 2011

STGAM: Return of the Dead

Today, in addition to being Veteran's Day, is Solo Wargaming Appreciation day. 

I honestly don't recall hearing about it until yesterday afternoon but since I already game solo, and I'm participating in Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month, I decided to make use of my lunch hour for a game. However, with little time to plan, I opted to revisit the game I played earlier this month. I used the same ruleset and scenario, but made the following changes:

Rule Changes
  • Instead of 3'x3' board, use a 2'x2' (my desk at work is only so big)
  • 6 board edge entry points for zombies instead of 10  randomly placed encounter markers
  • The axis officer controlling the zombies will enter the board using same method, but be placed behind or within nearest heavy cover
  • Instead of 4 American G.I.s I would field 4 British infantry (WWII) - this time with two submachine guns instead of 1. As per last game, it's one hero(4 hp), one sidekick (3 hp) and two "other good guys"(2 hp each). The nationality is superficial, the weapons assortment is not.
  • Distinguish between heavy woods (-2 cards to hit) and light woods (-1 card to hit)
  • Allow an aimed shot (for head shots to kill zombies) for -1 activation point AND -1 card to hit. 
  • Only allow aimed shots to be used after 10 zombies are killed - this allows any hit, number or face card, to count as a head shot (this is to attempt to model the fact that the soldiers don't know that head shots kill zombies when they first encounter them)
  • Zombies get no saves against hits - either knock downs or kills (face cards)
The last two were intended to speed up the game a bit.

 I also created an "order of operations" if you will, for the zombies in order to get more of the zombies on the table involved in the action in a more logical, less random way:

Zombie Order of Operations
  • All in melee, standing, will attack
  • All in melee, knocked down, will stand and attack if possible
  • All within 1 move, standing, will move and attack if possible
  • All within 1 move, knocked down, will stand if possible
  • All remaining knocked down, will stand if possible
  • All remaining, standing, will move if possible

The Axis officer would move according to the scenario description with the following modifications:

Axis Officer: Suggestions to Keep Me Honest
  • Advance is done through heavy cover first. Will use light cover only if heavy not feasible
  • Will not end move in open ground
  • Will not advance further than nearest light cover to heroes and will attack from there

Finally, there were two unplanned changes:
  1. I used a die roll to determine encounter locations
  2. I used a die roll to determine encounter type
These should have been card draws, but I forgot the second deck. These two changes may have more effect than I would have liked.

I'll try to post a report later today if I can but if not then by early next week. I also hope to get some painting in soon to make some more progress on my goal for Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month and I'll report on that as well.

Corporal Hardcastle leading his squad of Tommys into the maw of death!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

If a tree falls in a forest...

Last night, in those few spare minutes between the blueberry falling asleep and my own retiring to bed, I slapped together some examples of the Oversoul trees. One, assembled as intended, the other, an example of making a more 3d type of tree from two identical flats.

I snapped some comparison shots featuring a 15mm, 22mm and 25mm figure (not on his base yet).

Here's the first:
"Hey fellas, I think there's an even nicer Christmas tree over this way!"

and the second:

Each man, with firm resolve, takes their post to defend their tree.

I chose deciduous for the second because the Oversoul forest includes two identical trees which allowed me to experiment with cutting one in half from the bottom up, and one from the top down, each time, stopping in the middle.

Honestly, the effect of the latter isn't overwhelmingly better than the former, in my eyes. The only real benefit I can see it having is that, for a picture taken at the table-top level, you'll always have a tree image. Whereas, the first would not - unless I rotate the trees.

That's not exactly a problem from my point of view.

And from the top down, I find the X shape of the latter to be somewhat jarring, compared to the way the first almost disappears. At a normal viewing angle, I find the first far more pleasing aesthetically.

Both of these were printed at 79% and I think that shows. I'll probably go with 100% or larger even, and maybe extend the trunk length a bit. And I still want to try green card stock and either printing the outline of an evergreen on it, or free handing them with thick marker. 

In any case, I've definitely eliminated the cake topper option with this test.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

To tree or not to tree

I've been thinking a lot about trees lately.

Don't you wish your life was this exciting?

After looking at my AAR photos from my Nov. 1 zombie game, I'm reminded of my dissatisfaction with my lack of appropriate foliage for non-tropical locales. As DIY as they are and happy with my trees as I am when gaming a battle on the surface of Venus in 1889 or on a recently discovered island off of Africa's coast in 1885, they have the wrong look for the forests of France in 1944.

Now, believe me, I'm not looking for "realism" in my miniature battles - I use pieces of felt to dictate the area covered by woods and use step-type hills. I use paper flats when I play fantasy games (rpg or Chronicles of Blood). And how many identical figures do I have in a given unit? Unless they're either clones or brothers, it's far from realistic. 

And, yet, all of this works for me (at least at some level. I really have trouble with not seeing a figure=1 man). But the wrong type of trees? Unacceptable.

Let's chalk this up to a character quirk.

In any case, and before I start to sound more than a little nutty,  I've decided I want to do pine/evergreen and I'm considering the following options:

The front runner? Paper trees. Yes, paper trees. Oh how I do love irony! 

That and there's something about paper flats and models that appeals to me. Yet another character quirk.

While there are a couple of commercial products over at Wargamevault, I really like the style (and price:free!) of Oversoul's Forest (the link is about 2/3s down the page).My primary concern is the ink consumption for my deskjet. Since I have no intention of covering the table in a one-to-one  replica of the Ardennes forest, this may not be as big an issue as it seemed to me at first brush.

I've also got some ideas to work around this issue using green card stock, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to do a feasibility test. Never mind where to get a decent weight green card stock. 

In the meantime, assuming I have a chance to game any time soon, I think I may dig out those weird looking semi-flat plastic trees that came with the cheap bag of dinosaurs I got for Christmas a few years ago.

Monday, November 7, 2011

STGAM Painting update

In order to meet my goal for Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation month (which I'm abbreviating as STGAM in my subject lines), I decided to spend my few hours of hobby time this weekend painting.

The pistol packin' "Garibaldi"Jones about to be run down by some 5 year old kids dressed in Prussian attire.
My output was by no means exceptional but it was still progress none-the-less and I will easily quintuple (?)  my output of the last two years:

Painting completed:
  • 1 25mm cowboy - the above pictured "Garibaldi" Jones (his name comes from his red shirt. I crack myself up) (awaiting basing)
Started, not finished:
  • 98% of 1 G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. size unit (10 figures) of advancing Prussian infantry in 15mm (I believe these are Minifigs from their Franco-Prussian line). All these guys need is their red cuffs and some minor touching up (and basing of course)
In the queue, primed and ready to be painted:
  • 2 25mm cowboys (not pictured)
The following need to be cleaned and primed:
  • 7 25mm pistoleros
  • a second unit of 15mm Prussians + officers and standard bearers
  • 2 15mm units of French Zouaves
  • 2 units of 15mm French Chasseur d'Afrique
  • 15mm G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. character figures from Brigade Games
  • There's more, but I think this is enough to start with

Friday, November 4, 2011


Last night the blueberry took an hour long nap after dinner (usually he naps while we're eating) during which my girlfriend played the new Sims Pet expansion and I got in some unexpected hobby time.

OK, I don't have any photos to prove it and besides they'd be pretty boring since I didn't finish anything, but paint was applied to minis! *cheers* 

Disclaimer: I should also add that no one will be impressed when I finally do post photos of the completed figures. Thankfully, I play solo so it's not like my opponent is going to rib me because they look like they were painted by a blind baboon having a seizure while bouncing on a trampoline.

Anyway, most of it was just touching up spots I missed during priming, but I did get started on one of the two remaining 25mm gunslingers I have had sitting around forever in a primed state. 

Unfortunately, I also decided to experiment with using Citadel's Devlan Mud wash on another of the cowboys that I had given a very simple block painting. I've used the cowboys as palettes for experimenting with techniques so trying this out wasn't out of the ordinary. The result, however, was that the mini looked like he'd been rolling around in a mud puddle or a coal mine even. Most definitely not what I was going for. 

I suspect the problem would not have occurred had I been more patient and let the first coat of wash dry before I decided that it was too light. I should be able to salvage it to my low standards with some liberal use of dry brushing.

I plan to complete the cowboy I started, fix the one I ruined, and complete a third sometime in the next few days. After that, I'll move on to the Prussians. Damn those Prussians!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Día de los Muertos, WWII style

Yesterday was the start of Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation month. It was also the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). So what better way to kick off the month than with a solo game with zombies?

Turn 4: I was still very confident this would go my way
For the rules, I used Stephen Gilbert's Solo Semi-Skirmish & Role Playing Wargames System and the scenario Terror Beneath Their Feet from Rattrap Productions. Per the scenario, my objective was to either kill the Axis officer controlling the zombies (not on table until 10 zombies are killed) or destroy the controller itself, all the while dodging, shooting and bludgeoning zombies as they pop up all around us.

Foolishly, I ignored the most basic rule of the horror genre: Don't Split Up! and I made it worse by leaving cover to do so - all for the sake of offing some knocked down zombies. The result of which was that two of my squad with the lowest hit points were out on open ground. I'd say the zombies smelled brains, but they couldn't have - who would run from cover in front of a bunch of zombies?
The zombies close in on Pvts. Hawk and Standing.

Sarge and Pvt. Kneeler fight their way over to the hapless duo.

 Things are under control again. I breathe a sigh of relief. Prematurely.
A few turns later, all hell broke loose.  Both Hawk and Standing were done for (I didn't get any pictures of their grisly demises). Kneeler and Sarge managed to keep off the zombies long enough to get the Axis officer on the board - who decided to join in the fray by spraying his submachine gun from cover.

Between the officer's accurate shooting and the arrival of more zombies (I had every zombie mini I own on the table), Pvt. Kneeler was inevitably  done in. 

It was all up to Sarge.

As a final act of desperation, he ran for cover while he unloaded his Tommy gun at the Axis officer. If he could just bring down the officer, the zombie threat would be neutralized and he'd be safe. If not, all hope would be lost.

As an aside, in Gilbert's rules, card draws are used to determine hits. The submachine gun gets 6 cards. 

I held my breath and drew:



Although he fights on, driven by a desire to live and to crush the Nazi war machine, the zombie horde soon overwhelms him and it's just a matter of time.

It was a fun game although it dragged a bit. This is more than likely due to my modifications of the rules to handle zombies and the requirement that only a head shot can kill them.

I definitely like the rules as written but since the most you can have is 10 pts of actions per turn (which at best means 10 figures move on open ground), most of the zombies, who numbered 30 on the board by the end of the game,  often appeared to be standing around doing nothing (perhaps they were moving imperceptibly?) .

Melee is not quickly resolved given that saves are allowed on each hit.  This is great in a small skirmish Pulp or VSF game with a handful of characters/figures per side, which I believe is exactly what the rules are designed for. But with unlimited hordes of the undead, who require a head shot (which I ruled was K, Q or J) it really slowed things down- resulting in knockdowns (hits on zombies that don't kill them) and a general slogging match between sides. 

Overall, though I liked the effect it had, particularly at the end of the game where it really felt like a desperate fight against a zombie swarm.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sunday Night's Cemetery Tour

On Sunday night, we headed to Oakland Cemetery for their Halloween tour. I had no idea the cemetery contained so many graves of US Civil War (or the War of  Northern Aggression if you prefer) soldiers. Primarily a Confederate burial site, there are, none the less, 16 Union soldiers buried here- and, according to our guide, no one knows why those 16 are there. Also, amongst the soldiers' graves, there is one woman buried beside her husband, and again, no one knows why or how she got there (you know, other than that she died)..

The Blueberry was not in a great mood so I missed most of the presentations by the Oakland "residents" but I did manage to view the Confederate Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

Confederate Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The picture, taken with my cell phone which has no flash, absolutely does not do justice to the memorial. It has to be seen in person. It has a weight to it that demands solemnity and reflection, even in spite of the levity of a Halloween tour.

I found it beautiful and touching, if not for the dead that it honors, then just for the image itself - the mortally wounded lion gathering the flag into his arms in a last attempt to defend it, or, perhaps, seeking comfort in it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Free Stuff from WargameVault et al!

Despite having to work today, usually a day off, it hasn't been a bad day.

For one, I managed to score a number of freebies over on and as part of their Halloween jack-o-lantern hunt (think Easter eggs, but with jack-o-lanterns). 

Throughout their sites, DriveThruRpg people have hidden jack-o-lantern icons that link either to a trick or a treat. All of the "treats" are horror-themed pdf downloads you'd normally have to pay for, while the "tricks" vary from weird videos on youtube to funny "very demotivational"-type images. Each site is different, so stop by them both!

My cat, Pumpkin. She is not a jack-o-lantern. Nor does she have any downloads for you.

Just on title alone, two that stand out are Fear and Faith by Ganesha Games and Werewolf: The Apocalypse Rev. Ed. These are quality products by respected gaming companies (and ones I've considered purchasing at various times). Right there, that's over $26 in free stuff. Even better, it's stuff I'll probably use.

Unfortunately, I can't remember where the links for those were hidden exactly. Just focus on the pages anyone visiting the site might look at - main page, new products, your account pages, etc - and you'll find most of everything.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Friday, October 28, 2011

November is Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month

Official logo of the Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month 11/11

Next month is Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month and me without a date for the prom!

When I first read about the idea back in April, the blueberry (my son) was not yet born and I had no possible way to gauge what life would be like once he arrived. So, other than an occasional thought here and there, I mostly resigned myself to waiting until next year to participate. 

But now that I've got enough of a handle on this whole parenting thing to know that I'll almost definitely be able to do something, I've made no effort, no plans, so what to do?

Given that I can't say for sure how much time I'll have available, I'm hesitant to truly "go big". So I turned to my extensive gaming related to-do list to see what modestly challenging tasks I could complete.

After whittling the list down, here are my front runners:

  • Paint those damn Prussians . Not just the 10 figure unit I primed two years ago, but the officers, standard bearers, and the second 10 figure unit.
  • Finish the last two 25mm cowboys (also primed two years ago) and base all 7, so that I can finally start in on the Wild West games I envisioned. I can do this along with any other choice I make.
  • Prime and paint the seven 25mm pistoleros for the Wild West games
  • Clean and prime and paint all 40+ USMC and 40+ Japanese so I can start in on my WWII Theater stuff  (this might be the hardest of all, as not only am I not a good painter, but I'm not fast either)
  • Complete enough paper buildings and wall sections to make a nicely cluttered European-style block for WWII gaming. My concern here is having enough printer ink - unfortunately, my inkjet printer uses a rather expensive 3-color cartridge.
  • Paint, cut and base my ~3mm Russian and French armies from plastic canvas
  • Create two block armies per David Crook at A Wargaming Odyssey to fight out Tabletop Teasers. My local Target has generic blocks for around $5-$6 for 48 blocks. I'd need address labels and that's about it.

And now it hits me, maybe I should just see how much I can get painted with a minimum goal of 10 figures done. I realize that number sounds really low, but I've only painted maybe 2 figures in the last 2 years. That would be a 500% increase in productivity! Now that would be going big! See, it's all in how you spin it.