Wednesday, 6 July 2016

7TV: The Cameraman

Introduction

7TV is a regular skirmish wargame in all respects apart from one.  The nominal setting is that your models do not represent spies, minions, futuristic freedom fighters or cultists at all, but rather they represent actors who are playing these roles during the filming of a TV show.

Up till now, this hasn't made any difference at all to the game and players could choose to ignore the whole "making a TV show" thing if they wanted.  However, Crooked Dice recently released what I hope is the first of many "Production Crew" miniatures: the cameraman.  And yes, 7TV does have special rules for this model, so he can take part in games as more than just set dressing!

Of course, using a cameraman (or 2, or more) is entirely optional; the game works very well even without any crew.

The Cameraman


So, what can I say about this model?  Well, firstly, it is quite a big piece; it's supplied with a 40mm round base.  The camera itself comes in 2 parts (body and pedestal), as does the operator (his right arm is a separate piece).

The moulding of most of these parts was very good, but I had to apply some remedial filler to the camera.  The top was very sunken, whilst the left hand side of the part was also a tiny bit bowed in.  Some of the repairs can just about be seen in a work-in-progress shot somewhere in this earlier post, if you're interested.  I'm hoping that this was just a single bad casting rather than an issue for all production from the same mould, but I cannot be sure.


The camera fitted to the pedestal well enough (though I pinned it for strength).  However, I had some issues fitting the operator's right arm in any position that looked plausible.  In the end, I use a combination of filing & cutting the parts and more filler to hide the gaps.  This isn't a huge issue for a model-maker of my experience and I think the result doesn't look awkward or uncomfortable.

I had to think a bit when it came to the base.  The rest of my models are typically fitted to textured bases that depict dirt, grass, roads, rubble or other outdoor surfaces.  However, the camera wouldn't really work in such an environment - at least, it would be virtually impossible to trundle it about on anything other than a hard, smooth floor.

In the end, I chose to mount the model on a really smooth base and rely on stippled paintwork to make it look like a studio's concrete or lino floor.  I did add a trailing cable made from a small length of wire, just so there would be at least some texture present.


When it came to painting this miniature, my research online suggested that a 1960s/1970s camera and pedestal would likely be different shades of grey.  I used a slightly greenish grey for the camera and a straightforward battleship grey for the rest.  After a dark wash, I then added details:
  • Control panels and cover plates were done with a variety of gunmetal, silver and white colours.
  • I painted the small dome on the top of the camera as an identification mark.  I suspect that this isn't quite what the sculptor had in mind as this protuberance is rounded rather than flat-sided.  If I were to change anything about the camera, it's this: I would replace this dome with a small cube instead.  Anyway, this miniature is now "camera 2" (no, I don't have a "camera 1" model!)
  • Finally, I added my TV company's logo to the side of the box.  This is formed from a white disk (hand painted) with a simple "CTV" logo in the middle (from a home-made decal).  Why "CTV"?  Have a guess!

Conclusion

This is a model that is perfect for 7TV (at least, as long as you want to go along with the "making a TV show" backstory).  It probably doesn't have many uses outside of that game, though!

I had some slight issues with the casting and fit of the camera - nothing that couldn't be fixed quite easily, but mildly irritating all the same.  I don't think that anyone would know this just by looking at the model, though; it's a fine piece once finished.

At the time of writing, the camera and operator cost £5.00 from Crooked dice.  This is very roughly 1.5 times as much as the price of one of their single 28mm figures, which seems quite reasonable given the size of the camera.

So, I'm now hoping that Crooked Dice will bring out more "Production Crew" models, with suitable rules for 7TV of course.  I've a hankering for a sound-boom operator, a makeup artist and a harried scriptwriter, at least.  Perhaps there also ought to be figures for the financial backers (who've arrived on set to find out where the money is going) and for the local rep. of the Electrician's Union (threatening to shut the place down if his comrades don't get the right number of tea breaks)?  And then there could be stunt doubles, a tea lady (with trolley, of course) and ... I'm getting a bit carried away here, aren't I?  Let's leave it at that, for now.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Super Dungeon Explore: The Kodama

Introduction

I've finished off a number of models recently.  This has left me unsure which I should show in my Sunday post; should I tell you about my 7TV cameraman or my Frostgrave "blue" warband?  Eventually (and somewhat obviously, given the title of this article), I chose instead to display my Kodama warband for Super Dungeon Explore.

I'm really pleased with the way that my Kodama turned out; see what you think.

Spawn Points

All warbands in the Super Dungeon Explore game have either 1 or 2 spawn points.  These are the locations where replacement troops are placed, thus providing the heroes a near-endless supply of enemies.  For the Kodama (animated plants), the spawn point is called the Old Growth Hollow; they get 2 of these:

Old Growth Hollow (front)
Old Growth Hollow (back)

Now, I think that the Old Growth Hollow is one of the creepiest models in the game.  Not only does it look damp and decayed (those bracket fungi only grow on rotting wood), but it is surrounded by skulls and glowing green crystals.  There's definitely something not right here!

Minions

An SDE warband has (typically) 6 low-grade foot soldiers.  In the game, these are collectively called "minions".  For the Kodama warband, the minions are called "Mooks"; they look something like a very angry cabbage or cauliflower!

Mooks (front)
Mooks (rear)
 You can see some "work in progress" shots of my Mooks in the article I wrote recently on blending.  It might be interesting to compare these shots of the finished models with the incomplete versions in that post.

Elites

The Kodama are spoilt for choice when it comes to Elite warriors.  Many warbands (not all) have 2 types of elite, but the Kodama have 3.

Turniphead

First up are the Turnipheads.  These are best used as support troops; their medicinal radishes can be used to heal their friends.  They also have some ranged attacks, but they're not especially good at hand-to-hand combat.

Turniphead (front)
Turniphead (back)

Wisps

The second class of Elite model in a Kodama warband is the Wisp.  These are not plant-creatures at all, but rather are sylph-like, magical woodland creatures with the power to lead travellers astray.  Again, they don't do well in melee combat, but these spirits have magical abilities and can easily compel adventurers to stray into bramble thickets or into the reach of some more violent foe.

Wisps (front)
Wisps (back)

Sprout & King Sprout

Finally, a Kodama warband also has access to a Sprout (the little green guy in the pictures below).  Now the Sprout isn't particularly terrifying; it's not very good in hand-to-hand or ranged combat, it doesn't have any real magical powers and there's only 1 of it.  However, if it is destroyed or if it chooses to do so then it can shapeshift into King Sprout.

Sprout and King Sprout (front)
Sprout and King Sprout (rear)

  King Sprout is a terrifying monster whose tendrils & roots can reach quite some way; it is also large enough to block many passageways and thus force the adventurers into confronting it.  Indeed, King Sprout's only real disadvantage is that it cannot move, so the Sprout had better be in the right place when it shapeshifts else the heroes will just ignore it and go some other way!

Conclusion

The Kodama are an interesting bunch.  Most of their models don't have a lot of hitting power (though they often have the Virulent ability which gives them bonuses against a hero who is already poisoned).  However, their elite warriors have a lot of abilities that can be combined to produce some really interesting tactics.  An obvious example might be to block a passage or doorway with King Sprout, with a pair of Turnipheads behind to heal it every time it is injured.  Let's see what the heroes make of that!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Blending

Introduction

I don't often do "how to" articles; the Internet is awash with those already and there doesn't seem much need to add to the number.  However, just occasionally I come across something where I've used a simple technique and haven't seen anything describing it anywhere else.

This was the case for my recent post on painting horses for wargames, where nobody else appeared to have published a straightforward, step-by-step guide.  Mind you, I'm probably mistaken here: there are almost certainly such articles around - but I've not seen them.

With that in mind, here's my version of blending...

Colouration for Kodama Mooks

To illustrate this technique, I'm going to use a model from the Super Dungeon Explore range.  This is a Mook, from the plant-man Kodama warband that ships with The Forgotten King (SDE version 2 started set).  Here's a part-painted mook from my assembly line:

Mook with khaki base coat

Now, the colour on this model is definitely a bit on the bland side.  This plant-man warrior has been base-coated in khaki, but there is very little detail beyond that.

I want my mooks to look a little bit like a fancy cabbage, with some vivid colour in the leaves (especially towards the tips):

Fancy kale (image not my own)

Right, now that I've decided what I want, let's apply some colour to the tips of the leaves:

Mook with dark pink tips to the leaves

This doesn't look good, I think.  The colour transition from the dark pink to the dull green is too abrupt and unnatural - not that aggressive plant-men are necessarily "natural", but I think you know what I mean!

Blending

So, here's what I'll do: I'll create bands of colour between the pink and the khaki with different proportions of the 2 base colours:


4 zones in total should do.  At each end the colour will be 100% of one colour or the other.  The 2 "inner" zones will be mixes with different proportions of pink and khaki, so that we transition more gradually from one of the "primary" colours to the other.

Obviously you can have as many or as few transition shades as you desire.  The more you have, the more work you'll need to put into the model, but the colour shading will be finer...


First transition applied (2:1 pink/khaki)
Second transition applied (1:2 pink/khaki)

These models are still not completed (there's painting to add on the shield, eyes & base.  Additionally, I might give the entire miniature a thin, black was).  But does the leaf look better now?

Here is a group shot showing the full effect of the transition colours:

Stages of painting, from 100% khaki to 4-tone blending.

Conclusion

There's nothing particularly difficult or revolutionary in what I'm doing here.  For the record, this is technically "dry blending": I'm applying each colour separately and waiting for it to dry, rather than mixing the wet colours on the model.  However, even if it is simple to do, I think the result is a vast improvement over the original single or two-tone colour schemes.

These mooks won't win prizes at any modelling competition, I think.  But they'll do just fine as game pieces!


Sunday, 19 June 2016

A wet Father's Day game

Introduction

It has been a very rainy Sunday today.  Originally we had thought that we might visit the local Pipe Band event, but the weather put us off (oddly, this competition seems to be jinxed.  Every year it rains heavily on the day it is held, even if it was sunny the day before and will be bright again the day after).

So, my wife and daughter were off at the associated Highland Dance competition (more medals for my girl), my older son is away dog-sitting; that left just myself and my younger son in the house.  What could we find to do on a wet Father's Day afternoon?  Why, play Super Dungeon Explore, of course!

Lootimeter Mode

We decided to try the "Lootimeter" fan-based variant of the SDE rules; this version promised a quicker, more exciting (and more even) game.  I'm not totally convinced by "quicker" (it probably is, but we're too inexperienced to tell), but it was certainly exciting and very close!

Note that I wasn't going to write up this game at all; I wouldn't normally report on board or card games.  However, halfway through the session my son commented that the game looked much better with painted models (previously we had played 2 or 3 games "out of the box", with bare plastic figures).  At that point, I decided to take a few photos so that others could judge for themselves.  After all, SDE is a miniatures game, of sorts.

In recognition of dads and children everywhere, here are a few vignettes from the second half of our Father's Day, wet Sunday game:

The Questing Knight and the Royal Warden take down a band of Rocktops (turtles).  All that is left of these creatures are some empty shells.  At this point, my 3rd hero (the Thundervale Huntress) was galloping off to destroy the turtles other spawn point, thus preventing them from coming back...

The turtles may be gone (mostly), but there is a new enemy on the next tile!

Turtle casualties so far.
 
The Warden ducks and weaves through fire& brimstone to tackle the next spawn point - but a bunch of rabid squirrels are spawned as he enters the new tile.

Hah, what do you know?  The squirrels are friendly and will assist the heroes instead of the Dark Consul (i.e. the monsters)!

The Thundervale Huntress returns from her successful side mission, but she has been badly injured.  Shortly after this, she was killed by Bashful Boris, the mini-boss.  Boris was then slain in turn by the remaining 2 heroes.

The Forgotten King (big boss) arrives, but the Questing Knight piles into him and reduces him quickly to half his starting health.  This triggers a Boss Timeout, wherein the King summons more turtle helpers.
 
The wounded King flees, leaving his followers to finish off the injured Knight.  He is pursued by a vengeful Royal Warden, who is in turn chased by the nearest Fireflow Denizens.  The tooled-up Warden reduces the Forgotten King to a single health point, but is taken down to one point himself.  The game will go to the first player to fail an armour roll; it's the Warden who falls!  The evil Dark Consul wins, but only just (I'll get you next time, see if I don't!)

Conclusion

You'll note that not all of the models in this game are painted.  I'm working on that, though given the number of miniatures that I need to complete, it might take a while.  There's no doubt in my mind that painted figures look better, though the evidence of the last duel suggests that unpainted ones fight just as well!


Monday, 13 June 2016

The Workbench: June 2016

Introduction

I'm still finding it difficult to make progress on most of my ever-growing range of projects.  Partly this is because I've been playing a bit of Race for the Galaxy with my sons (which is an excellent card game; I recommend it highly).  Of course, the fact that I've just whipped them in 2 successive games is a bonus; such victories are anything but certain now that the boys are growing up a bit!

Anyway, the main reason/excuse for not doing much model-making is the increasingly-cluttered workbench (yet again!):



The Overloaded Workbench

OK, so once again I have boxes and trays balanced on each other, 2 or 3 layers deep.  For the record, I really hate that, yet it just keeps happening.  I can't figure it out...

Focussing in on the central portion only, here are some of the works in progress:



Super Dungeon Explore


I haven't made much progress on my Kodama warband (intelligent plants).  In part this is because I'm not happy with the paint I've applied to the (blue/green) Wisps so far and that dissatisfaction has halted further work until I decide what to do about it.

On the other hand, Mr. Bitey (the zombie rabbit pet with the rotten carrot strapped to his back!) is coming along nicely.


Kroot


These aren't my models, but rather are the work of my younger son.  They're still cluttering up my workbench, though!  As well as taking space, he also uses my bench for some of the time that I would otherwise spend painting my own models.  Still, I regard any interest from my children as something to be nurtured, not discouraged.


The Cameraman


I bought this fellow from Crooked Dice at the Carronade show this year.  As you can see, I've needed to add a bit of filler to the top of the camera; there was a bad hollow in the casting.  Most surprising, given this company's otherwise excellent record.

The cameraman is now just about ready to be undercoated.  I'm hoping that Crooked Dice will follow up with other members of the production crew: a sound-boom operator and makeup artist would be excellent.  Perhaps also a scriptwriter rushing forwards with a last-minute rewrite of the current scene!  I can hope...


Frostgrave


My blue Frostgrave squad are still languishing at the back of the bench.  I really should just get on and finish them; there can't be much left to do on them now!  That would be quite a weight off my mind as these guys have been quite a millstone around my neck.  Hmm, perhaps I'll get a cup of tea first and think about it some more...

Monday, 6 June 2016

Showcase: Gargoyles

Introduction

This won't be a long posting.  I was due to write an article yesterday, but it has been too hot to do much.  For about 2 weeks (from memory), we've had bright, sunny weather, culminating today in a temperature of 31 degrees in the office all afternoon and 32 degrees in the car on the way home.  I'm exhausted and limp.

Now I know that some of my readers might not think that such temperatures are anything particularly unusual, but remember that I live in Scotland.  We're just not prepared for such heat, either mentally or physically (and I'm referring as much to our buildings, cars and so on as much as I am to my physique).  20-25 degrees is OK, but today went somewhat beyond that and has drained me.  No new painting or anything much else in the evenings...

Right, here are some models that I prepared earlier.  Several years ago, that is.

Flying Bugs


I don't normally buy Games Workshop models (not new, at any rate.  I have collected quite a few cheap pieces over the years from eBay and the like).  In this case, I made an exception.

I remember spending quite a while looking for second-hand GW Tyranid gargoyles to go with the rest of my bugs before I came to the conclusion that only the simple "troop" types were at all common on second-hand sites.  Additionally, I wanted to arm these with spare claws from another kit rather than with the "bio guns" which are supplied, therefore I really didn't want models that had already been glued together.  So, it had to be a from-new kit.

Note that I am not planning to use these in any GW games, so the "non-standard" weapons doesn't matter.  To me, these are just dumb animals rather than biotech-wielding, space-faring aliens.  Perhaps the hive has bred the flying critters as specialist scouts or long-range scavengers, as opposed to the larger numbers of walking/scuttling, earth-bound bugs.



I've altered the bases a bit, mostly to angle the "flying posts".  If built out-of-the-box then these gargoyles would be very much rearing up, but I wanted my bugs to be flying forwards.  I think it saves them from looking as if they're about to stall, though I do recognise that such aerodynamic niceties wouldn't matter to many gamers!

The colour used is the usual two-tone black and tan scheme that I apply to all my Tyranid models.  I decided very early on that if I was going to paint large numbers of bugs then complex camouflage or display markings were out!



Finally, I gave some thought to the storage of these models.  It's often hard to find adequate ways to protect models with many bits that stick out.  Flying models such as these are especially bad in that respect; they have wings, tails, basing posts and claws protruding all over the place!

Being plastic, my completed gargoyles are very light models.  I attached a disk of magnetic sheet to the underside of each base and searched for an old biscuit tin (cookie tin, if you're in the USA) in which to house them.  This has worked extremely well; my bugs won't even come off if I turn the tin upside down and shake it, yet they're not stuck on so firmly as to make it impossible to remove them by hand.  It wouldn't do for heavier, metal models, but this is just fine for these tyranids.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

SDE: Heroes and Pets

Introduction

Here are some more chibi miniatures that I have painted recently for Super Dungeon Explore.  I know that such figures don't appeal to everyone, but this will probably be the last such post for at least a while; my painting speed has slowed right down.  Partly this is due to the unseasonably hot weather we've had for the last week or so; I really don't feel like spending much of my free time in a small, stuffy work room!

So, on with the show...

Heroes


To start with, the Thundervale Huntress is a very large model for a hero.  She's a centaur, but has horns as well as a horse's body.  A bit strange, but then there's nothing particularly normal about anything in SDE, so it'll pass.

The game art had the huntress with blank (glowing?) eyes, but I decided that I didn't like that too much.  Instead, I just went for a regular human eye.



Next, we have the Fae Alchemist, an elf who specialises in maniacal chemistry.  She (yes, once again it is a "she") is laden down with various flasks and bottles.  In the game, her various potions range from the slightly experimental to the highly dangerous!  A bit of a loose cannon, if you ask me.

I'm not at all happy with the way that I've painted all of the flasks on this model.  Apart from that, I think that she's my favourite of the heroes presented here.



Finally, Princess Emerald is a steampunk-styled big game hunter.  She's an excellent ranged support character with some abilities that can cripple an opponent, but she won't do so well in melee.

This model is unusual in that she only has one foot touching the base.  I had wondered whether that might prove to be a weak point, but so far there is no sign of drooping or breakage.

I've just noticed that I've got a bit of frosting on the base; the paint must have been ever so slightly damp when I varnished the model.  That's probably because I've been experimenting with acrylic flow medium for my washes; it takes a long time to dry properly.  Bother; I'll need to fix this model up!


Pets

Super Dungeon Explore v2 has rules for pets.  Basically, these are creatures that you can rescue; they will then assist your party, though their powers are limited.

Pet cards can be shuffled into the treasure deck; should the party draw one then the pet is theirs!  However, treasure cards are already rare and there are many other items in the deck, so it seems to me that pets won't be found very often, if ever.  Pity...

Anyway, here are the 6 pets that come with the Forgotten King v2 starter set.  I've got a 7th one (the undead rabbit from the Stilt Town Zombies expansion) on the painting table at the moment, but he won't be finished for at least 2 or 3 days:

The Colonel
Admiral Fuzzybottom
Mr. Chompers
Lord Gruff
Miss G. Snorts
Madam Hilde
Well, they were fun to paint, even if I suspect that they'll see little game time.


Conclusion

Next time, something completely different!  I don't know what yet, so if you have any suggestions then I'm listening...