Monday, December 31, 2018

The Seven (Female) Samurai' - Onna-Bugeisha

A few months ago I saw these female samurai (Onna-Bugeisha) from Warlord Games and immediately knew I had to pick up a set. Funny enough, there's a bit of synchronicity involved as well as I've had a Samurai-themed game rattling around in my head for a quite some time and these figures fit the bill perfectly. 

I think these are some of the nicest castings that Warlord has produced. They are beautifully crafted, have realistic proportions and are elegantly posed - you almost think they are from a larger-scaled range. Just exquisite.

I have to admit I was a little intimidated when I first set off to paint these figures as I wanted to avoid just knocking them all out in solid colours, instead I wished to try a few patterns that would (very) loosely convey some of the amazing textiles these women would have worn. But, as many of you know, patterns can be tricky, and after a few tests runs on a piece of card, I found that the simple triumphed over the complex (thankfully for me, this is a mantra followed by Lady Sarah in her choice of men). To my eye at least, these fairly straight-forward patterns seem to do the trick in not overpowering or 'muddying' the figures' inherent great lines.

The central figure, about to draw her bow, is my favourite of the set.

The flowers on the bases are perhaps a little excessive, but they were such pretty figures that I thought they deserved the extra bit of ornamentation.

I also managed to get some buildings done for this period as well. These are all from Sarissa Precision. Nice kits and very easy to assemble and paint. Here we have a temple shrine, a modest village house and two rice storage sheds.

I have a few more items for this project to get done but we'll see where the brushes take me.

Thanks for dropping in folks 

...AND a Very Happy New Year to you all!!


Friday, December 28, 2018

German E-Boats for 'Cruel Seas'

Weirdly, as a prairie boy, I've always had a great fascination for naval warfare, being an enthusiast of the large ship games like 'Wooden Ships and Iron Men', 'Fleet Action Imminent' and 'General Quarters III'. So, when I saw the promo ads for Warlord Games' new 'Cruel Seas' I knew I had to jump in with both feet. 

The WWII coastal war setting really hasn't been done in a comprehensive way, meaning with purpose built rules and a full range of miniatures, so I think Warlord may be onto something really exciting here. As soon as I unpacked my copy of the 'Cruel Seas' I quickly assembled the core set miniatures and tried out the introductory scenarios with The Friday Night Raconteurs. Thankfully the hype for the game is not misplaced. The rules play very well and give a fast, furious, action-filled game without being too ponderous or 'crunchy'.

This past Friday, I hosted another 'Cruel Seas' game for the boys and really wanted to get some of the miniatures properly painted for the tabletop. Thankfully I had the day off so I lashed away and managed to get most of the Motor Torpedo Boats and E Boats completed for the night's fun. So, here are four of the German E-Boats ('Enemy Boats' or as the Kriegsmarine classed them Schnellboots), a brace each of the S-38 class and the later S-100 class.

These are 1/300 scale plastic kits (those in the UK will probably have seen them included with the latest Wargames Illustrated). Very easy to put together and a breeze to paint. I like that Warlord included two sheets of ensigns for both the British and the Germans.

I really like the design aesthetic of these boats, with their menacing low, long silhouettes, exposed torpedoes and decks bristling with all forms of automatic weapons. They really look the business.

S-38 Class E-Boats

The two S-100s here have the optional quad 20mm flak gun ('Flakvierling'), which, as you can imagine, would be a pretty ferocious weapon in setting where most of things you were shooting at were constructed of thin wood planking or thin steel.

Later S-100 Class E-Boats with quad 20mm at the stern

The paint scheme I went with is fairly stock to what most vessels in the Kriegsmarine would have sported. I put aside the supplied painting guide and decided instead to keep the colours anachronistically punchy to help them stand out on the tabletop. In the future I'll do up one or two boats in the distinctive (but more rare) splinter pattern camouflage to denote Veteran crews. (BTW, if anyone has a set of the MTBs/EBoats from the recent Wargames Illustrated that they don't want please drop me a note.) 

The British Vosper MTBs will be coming up soon.

Thanks for dropping in folks!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Opening Entry to AHPC IX: Frodo & Sam - The Beginning of the Fellowship

In keeping with tradition, I try to open the show with the first entry of the Painting Challenge. 


This past summer I began reading through the Tolkien canon following the chronological order of the stories. As I've not read the core books since my childhood the process has largely been a study in nostalgia. 

In working through the books what really impressed me was the tremendous importance Tolkien placed on value of allies, friends and companionship. This made me reflect that I'm very thankful for all the great friends I've made over the past eight years of the Challenge, and I resolved to make 'Fellowship' serve as the overarching theme for this edition.

Right, enough faffing about. 

Here we have the starting pair of the 'Fellowship of the Ring', Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. 

These are from the original metal range offered by Games Workshop at the start of the Peter Jackson trilogy. I have some of the more recent plastics, and while the animation and quality is quite good I find they still lack the crispness and definition of the earlier metal sculpts. 

Of course source material for the painting was easy to come by, with loads of books and movie stills available both in the home library and on the net.

The big base is a limited edition resin cast of Balin's Tomb which was offered by GW after the release of the first film. I actually forgot I had it, being it was buried in the shadowy depths of the Lead Shed. I only discovered when I was looking for some LotR figures after  being inspired re-reading the books.  

It's a nicely crafted piece, with loads of detail and nifty labeled base-slots for each of the nine companions of The Fellowship. I did a quick series of layered coats with the airbrush, a few washes and then picked out the details with a fine brush. I wasn't wild about the GW branding so I just left it black, but I did a bit of ink blending with 'The Fellowship' raised label and the character names to give them a graduated red-gold effect.

My plan is to add the remaining members to the Fellowship over the duration of the Painting Challenge, hopefully completing it before it wraps-up in March.

To paraphrase Bilbo, every great adventure begins with a first step. :)

Next Up: Some WWII Coastal Ships from 'Cruel Seas'

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Simple Play Aid for Adeptus Titanicus

Like many in the hobby, I often enjoy modding the games I play. Whether its through custom markers, bespoke player aids, or with special rules to help drive the narrative, I really enjoy adding that little extra gloss to our games. 

Straight out of the box 'Adeptus Titanicus' is a great set of rules. It's easy to learn, fun to play and most importantly (for me) does a wonderful job in conveying the flavour and spirit of the Titanicus/Horus Heresy fluff.

Nevertheless, there are a few spots in the game experience which I thought needed a little help.

The crux of the game is the players' managing their titans through the Command Terminals, along with their associated plastic status markers and cards. 

The stock Command Terminal for a Warlord Titan

As seen above, the stock Command Terminals are very attractive and well thought out in how they organize pertinent game information for the players to manage. They are made of heavy card, with small indentations pressed into the status tracks that match the nubs on the  plastic status markers. Everything fits together well, BUT there are a some inherent problems with the design. 

First, is that if the Command Terminal gets nudged during gameplay (and if you're like me, they will) there is a reasonable chance that the status markers will get knocked out of place. This is a problem as they are the only way of conveying the status of the titan. The second problem is that the card terminals take up a fair amount of space on the tabletop. The designers try to sell players on the fact that Titancus can be played on a 4' x 4' table, allowing extra space to accommodate the card terminals. While certainly this can be done, the 4 x 4 size looks and plays VERY compressed (at least to our sensibilities) as the forces seem to be almost on top of one another. Most players have access to a 6x4 playing surface and will likely play the game as such, so in this situation the command terminals end up sitting at the edge, or right on the battleground itself, which is not ideal if you want to keep everything tidy and in order.

So I began thinking of how we could make the terminals more usable and not so dependent on sitting on a flat surface. What I came up with is a fairly simple workaround. I went to our local office supply shop, and for under $2 each, found a bunch of 8x11 dry erase boards that were magnetic as well. 

I also picked up a selection of coloured magnetic 'thumb tacks' to use with the panels. I then colour photocopied the stock Command Terminals and special order icons from the game so we could place them on the magnetic slates. This way the magnetic thumbtacks hold down the  paper Command Terminals, do a nice job of marking the status tracks and also hold down the weapon cards. Easy peasy. In addition, the slates can easily be moved or placed on their edges without the markers becoming dislodged or sliding around.

Another bonus to these panels is that they can be used for a wide variety of games where players need to keep track of units and for make notes during gameplay. For us they will definitely come in handy for our games of 'Cruel Seas', 'Black Powder' and 'Necromunda'.

Next Up: Some suggested advancement trees for Titan crews