Sunday, 25 November 2018

Battletech!

I've been tinkering with miniatures and wotnot through 2018 but I haven’t had time to blog about it, so here is the first of a few updates. 

The Joy of Six is now a regular fixture in our calendar. This time around, I happened upon copies of Battletech and Citytech on the second-hand stalls. I always liked the idea of Battletech but information about it was hard to come by in the UK during the eighties. On top of that I was unimpressed by the miniatures or the hex map playing area, so I ended up going down the Games Workshop route instead. I suspected the rules would be terribly clunky by 2018 standards but, after some coaxing from El Deano, I bought them anyway. 


Battletech has a reputation for being complicated but, at first glance, the core rules don't look that bad. A squillion supplements were released for it back in the day so I suppose the game probably drowned under ‘too much special sauce’. I decided to give it a whirl so I’m looking into ways of speeding up the flow of the game with some modern tech, using laminated profile sheets and dry-wipe markers and replacing the ridiculous number of tables with a card-drawing system.

The first thing I decided on was no hex grids. My miscellaneous mechs are on 40mm round bases because that’s how I like ’em, and I put a hexagon on top of each base so I didn’t have to reinvent the rules for movement and fire arcs. For my first attempt, I used a pencil and compass:


I wasn’t accurate enough though so I gave up and did it the unsophisicated way. I drew a hexagon in some drawing software, printed it, cut it to size and used it to trace the outline onto some plasticard.


Here are the results:



The second thing I decided on was a modular ‘ruined city’ board, thinking that some kind of flattened urban landscape like Stalingrad would be quick to build and fairly practical for moving miniatures around on. I first sealed the MDF with the assistance of one of the rat bastards:



Then I chopped it up into 15cm squares:


I searched online for 6mm buildings but I wasn’t very happy with the options available. I found a lot of them to be either too old or ‘sci fi’. I bought a set of 3D printed buildings from eBay to get myself started:


As you can see above, they are nicely done but they have too many gothic windows and are just too ‘40k’ for me. On top of that, I couldn’t seem to arrange the buildings on the tiles in a way that seemed to work.


Fed up with the project, I shelved it over summer. My interest was revived in October when I saw all the lovely buildings on the Iliada Game Studio Facebook page. After a couple of weeks dithering over what to buy, I was lucky enough to snag a big box of ‘slight seconds’. I have no idea why Ali considered them to be seconds but I’m not complaining!



They have exactly the postmodern, Brutalist look that I had in my mind’s eye. My only niggle is that the left and right tabs don’t alternate so you can’t put pieces together to make longer structures without cutting them off and reducing the strength of the construction.


Still, it’s a minor issue and overall I’m really happy with them. I haven’t even bothered to paint them, except for covering up the scorch marks on the edges of each section. Because they are card stock, it was easy to experiment with making ruins and new building shapes:


The next problem was the terrain tiles. I solved this by upping the size from 15cm to 20cm. I wasn’t happy with my cutting so, this time, I bought pre-cut, 12mm thick, 20cm MDF squares from eBay:


The larger size gives me more room to create more realistic street layouts. The buildings below are laid out as Khrushchev blocks:


I have a lot of small offcuts of mounting board so I am using them to make pavements:



I bought nine tiles, giving me a 60 x 60cm game board (that’s two feet square to those of you still living in 1964). So far, I have five tiles ready to paint and four more in progress. Perhaps rather optimistically, I’m hoping to have them ready by Christmas…

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Hoplites

Before it went on hiatus, my ‘Greek myth’ project continued with a set of Victrix Hoplites. These are very nice multi-part figures. The poses are limited but the upside to this is that the individual miniatures work well as a unit. They come with cast-on bases but I put mine on larger round bases from Renedra:


Here are the first two batches, based with Das putty covered in sand. There are also Games Workshop minotaur and medusa figures, and a giant scorpion from Ral Partha (I think), which have all been sat in the loft for twenty-odd years. More about those in future posts!


And here they are, undercoated and ready to paint. My tip of the day is…


…don’t use grey spray primer. It was all I had at the time but it made life unnecessarily difficult. The primer kept showing through the base colours so I had to paint most of the miniatures twice to make the colours solid. It was especially tedious with white, which got three coats in places.


I was on the verge of abandoning the project altogether at this point:


Fortunately, adding some details and a few washes of paint improved them:


After a bit of research into what Hoplite shields were made of, I painted the reverse of the shields separately then glued them to the miniatures. I then painted the shield fronts white, ready to accept the decals. The decals are from Battle Flag’s ancients range and fit the shields perfectly. One great advantage of the shield designs is that the eye goes straight to them, diverting attention away from a so-so paint job.

Here are the finished miniatures:




For some reason the chap in the middle reminds me of Matthew Kelly during his stint on ‘Game for a Laugh’…

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Satyrs

My ‘Greek Myth’ project is on hiatus after an accident with an over-zealous tin of spray primer from Wilko, but I’ll post the pictures I took up to that point. Who knows, perhaps it will inspire me to continue eventually.

Foundry make some very nice satyrs that I think are true to the depictions on Greek pottery, but I discovered some of Citadel’s beastmen types on eBay (my knowledge of Games Workshop’s range gets hazy after 1990) and I was won over by their ‘Ray Harryhausen’ looks. Here they are, fresh off the courier’s van:


Unlike most of the stuff I get eBay, they were nicely painted already and it was a shame to butcher them. But the process of ‘de-Games-Workshopping’ had to be done.

First of all, I rebased them on to 25mm round bases. They don't look as cramped, and I want to use the miniatures for skirmishing rather than forming them into blocks. The shields had to go too.




I had an extra standard bearer from a different eBay purchase. I cut away the standard, drilled holes in the hands with a hand drill and inserted a spear from Gripping Beast’s nice range of acessories.


There was also some kind of club handing from the belt which looked far too primitive to me, so I cut it away and added some fur detail to the newly-exposed metal with a scribing tool.





BIGGEST BATTLE STANDARD EVA!!!


And I just wanted to see it this was possible…




I have no real use for the other standard bearer either but I’ve kept it intact for now. Here are the miniatures – undercoated with PlastiKote spray primer because I’m never using Wilko primer ever again!


I ended up with twenty-four miniatures so I split them into units of six and got to work on the first batch:




I filed down and rounded the stumps for the GW plastic shields to accommodate Gripping Beast’s 10mm Smooth Bucklers. I painted the reverse of the shields with Inscribe Raw Umber before glueing them to the miniatures. I wouldn’t have been able to get at them after glueing.


This shot is just to show the curvature of the shields:


I left the front of the shields white. The washes on the shields below were just an experiment that I painted over.


The shield designs are from Battle Flag’s lovely range of waterslide transfers. They were kind enough to produce a slightly smaller version of their Greek designs to fit the 10mm bucklers. They took account of the curvature of the shield and, with the aid of decal softener, the transfers fitted perfectly! I was very pleased with them, and they’re just what the miniatures needed to move them from fantasy to myth.


A bit more detail on the bases:


Then outside to varnish them:


I added a few Silflor grass tufts and some Woodland Scenics ballast. Here is the final group of satyrs, ready for the table:


You can skip this bit! For my benefit, when I paint the next batch in a thousand years’ time, these are the colours I used…

Base: Humbrol Dark Earth,

Skin: DecoArt Medium Flesh with Americana Flesh Tone highlights, or Americana Flesh Tone with Inscribe Porcelain flesh highlights.

Fur: Inscribe Burnt Sienna with FolkArt Buckskin Brown highlights

Horns: mostly Docrafts Antique Gold with Vallejo Ivory highlights, or a wash of FolkArt Berry Wine with a transition from Anitas Country Blue to Inscribe Raw Umber over the top. Note that as horn ages it gets darker as it grows away from the head.

Tongues: Inscribe English Rose

Spear tips are Vallejo Oily Steel. Shafts are DecoArt Tan

Cord around the spear head and the waists of the satyrs: Docrafts Antique Gold

Loincloths: various greens and turquoise colours. I’ll probably paint the next batch in different colours for unit identification without having to resort to banners and flags.

Severed heads: Americana Flesh Tone with a wash of one of the darker greens I used for the loincloths, then a few highlights with thinned Vallejo Ivory

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