"excuse me Sir, but your roof is too dull to look at;
please make improvements as soon as possible"
(don't you just hate the busybodies in the Neighborhood Association!)
Angry Piper's Terrain Challenge encouraged everybody to build/paint/refurbish/create some terrain. Never one to shy away from a challenge, especially one that plays into a favorite past-time, I promptly jumped on board. After an early start I got distracted by a little side project and discovered an enthralling set of rules in my one of my favorite periods but I gathered my energies and focused on completing the Tower. I am happy to say that I got it done this morning, just in time for the end of the month deadline.
Many decades ago I cut my wargames models teeth following the writings of Grand Master Ian Weekly. His monthly missives in Wargames Illustrated (in its original iteration) were my foundational gospel and I have always aspired to match his production quality. One of the feats of patience that I had heretofore never dared replicate was the covering of a roof with individual shingles cut from the ubiquitous "cereal packet". Having decided that the top of the Hexagonal Tower looked far too much like a heli-pad I resolved to put a pitched roof on it. Having made that decision I steeled my nerves to follow in the footsteps of my Bodhisattva and expand my experience by shingling the roof using his methods. So, armed with a pair of scissors, a bottle of Titebond and a Cheerios box I descended into the Workshop.........
my ultra-high tech workspace, a sheet of old plywood covers the game table to prevent spills (it also acts as a blotter for my drybrushing) a can of battleship gray housepaint and a three dollar paintbrush, the outside got a heavy drybrushing (twice) while the interior stucco walls got a straight coat of the gray paint, it is crucial to wait between coats to allow the paint to dry
I struggled to get a brown/tan/highlight color group that I liked enough to apply to the Hexagon Tower so I surrendered and went with gray. One interesting effect of adding the gray over the very deep brown was that a trace of the brown paint comes through and adds a sense of warmth to the color. There is still the pale gray and then the white highlight steps before I'm finished, but I'm liking things so far.
Having completed almost all of the structural stuff on this model I decided that it was time to throw a coat of paint on it. This is the latest shade of "Mistint" from Lowe's (why is it they are all different colors but are all labelled "mistint"?), the color left me wanting a brownie.......Anyways, I had been concerned about how well the stonework would show under a coat of paint, needless to say I'm pretty well pleased. I have grown weary of gray castles, does anybody know of stone-built castles that were of a decidedly brown color? If not I'm going to have to paint this one gray as well.
Truth be told I am always (as in ALWAYS!) looking at things in my life through a wargaming/modelling lens. The other day I was at Menard's buying brush-killer and I walked past the Halloween decorations on the way to the checkout. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted this little beauty. For a measly six dollars I had an 18" long reincarnated Dragon (imagine what a lead or resin model would cost!). A little filler to cover a joint or two and a quick spray paint prime and I will be off to the races with this. My youngest son's D&D group won't have a chance (none of them read my blog!).
now I just have to keep it hidden until I spring it on them
looking like the bottom corner of one of Maurits Escher's notepads, or a badly assembled DNA molecule model, I used up the extra bricks building stairwells that turned the correct direction
Having once again built my stairwell turning the wrong direction (they are SUPPOSED to ascend clockwise) I bulled ahead and put railings on them and installed them in the Hexagon Tower. Hopefully the next time I build a stairwell from the age of swordplay I will remember to have it turn the correct direction!
Part of the Hexagon Tower Project but perhaps worth examining as a separate issue. Spiral staircases were a common element of Dark Ages and Medieval architecture; easy to build, space-conserving and (if spun the right way) an aid to the defense. However, in modelling terms, they are a bit of a bother to build. This is a method that has worked well-enough for me so I thought that I would share it with everyone.
The first step is to find a sturdy dowel, between 1/8" and 1/4", you can go larger if you like but this will make your stairway proportionally bigger. I chose 1/8" dowel as I have a limited amount of space to work with. The next step is to cut a ton of triangular bits of blueboard or foam core. This is greatly eased by having access to a Proxxon Hot Wire cutter but can be done by hand using foamcore and (a lot!) of patience. But this is easier shown than explained:
I made Orders cards for Tercio rules, I changed the font to make it easier to read for my ancient eyes and added a lot of Assault Orders as I think it fits my combat style better. They are JPEG format, you should be able to right click on them and "Save Image As" into a folder for printing
displayed this way it looks weirdly like a sci-fi thing
Now that I have completed the Arena I am free to turn my attentions to the Hexagon Tower once more. Last we saw the tower the stonework had been completed and the two levels had been assembled. Last night I installed an interior walkway in the ground floor and added a roof for the second level. No great advance but every little bit is a step forward and I only have a week left to meet Angry Piper's deadline of August 31st.
A little while ago I convinced Joe to play a game set in the Thirty Years War using the venerable George Gush rules. After five hours of play we had almost reached a tipping point in the battle, what we HAD reached was the end of our patience and we packed up the game and had a beer. It wa sonly then that Joe suggested that he had a different set of rules that looked like it would give decent results and would play much faster. Having painted over a thousand of the classic Minifigs 15mm Thirty Years War figures (a zillion years ago when they were new) I was interested in anything that would make gaming the period fun again and I instantly agreed to give them a try.
These rules have been out for some time but this is my first encounter with them. They use an entirely different approach to the building of an army. Instead of buying individual figures and then organizing them into units as per Gush (and WRG, and a host of other 80's rules) under these rules one purchases entire units which have prescribed base sizes and combat characteristics. These units are assembled into formations which are commanded by generals. Generals have a set of basic skills and, if you purchase a more talented general they have access to a wider array of advanced skills.
At the start of each turn players deploy Orders cards (these describe what the unit is going to do this turn and offer a very limited choice of options) then they roll for initiative, the winner choosing to move a unit first or causing his opponent to go first. Play continues with each player activating and moving his general and units until all have been activated or have passed on activating. As units are activated they complete whatever their Order card reflects including firing and melee results before moving on to the next unit. Combat is conducted using d6 and rolling a set number of dice looking to achieve a target number on each die to score a hit, the target then rolls a number of die looking to save (a rather quaintly old-fashioned mechanic but it worked very well). Targets of fire or melee take reactions if their orders allow and receive and inflict casualties at the same time so the non-moving player isn't stuck waiting for his turn. Once every unit has completed its Orders the players begin a new turn and place new Order cards.
Having played games using similar systems I was concerned that this might be slow moving. To my delight and surprise the game banged along at a cracking pace. We had completed play after about two hours using armies that challenged the upper limit of the game-designer's suggested size. I was quite impressed and do think that this will be my go-to rules for this period for some time to come.
Having narrowly survived an invasion of grandchildren over the weekend I got right back to work on the coliseum base. In discussion with Kevin he suggested that the surface was too irregular. A quick overcoat of sand and wallboard compound toned down the texture and I got back to painting.
With August flying past at break-neck speed I poured my free time into the Coliseum Project. I finished the pitfall traps and got them painted and then betook myself to the sand bucket and drew forth a ration of sand. A neck and shoulder straining hour later the arena floor was coated in paint and grit. I have to wait until tomorrow for the paint to dry to see how it looks, but I'm confident that this undertaking is nearly done.
I made another liner for the large pit, this shows the door has dropped inward so that anyone on the lid has now been deposited at the bottom of the pit, I'm going to make different floors for this rather than build three more inserts; a snake pit, a bear pit and set of spikes
Continuing with the mission to complete the Playmobil Coliseum as quickly as possible (so I can get back to my tower for the Angry Piper's Terrain Challenge) I embarked on the addition of the subterranean features that Kevin had requested; put-traps and an oversize passage to allow him to send a tiger into the arena from below. This turned out to be rather more work than I had thought it would, requiring very precise cutting and (gasp!) measurements. Happily my efforts were equal to the task.
I decided that a test-case was in order before I began full-scale operations
I sketched out a small pit trap on some matte board and deeply scored the lines
Having glued the blue board in place using a combination of wood glue (my trusty friend Titebond) and hot glue I got down to the business of hardening the surface. As much of a fan as I am of blue board as a building material I do have to admit that large expanses of it get dinged up pretty badly if it isn't protected somehow. My first thought was to put a thin layer of Durham's Water Putty over the entire surface, but, with nearly twelve square feet of surface, that would have added immensely to the weight. I opted for covering the surface with a layer of wood glue and cardstock; this has worked very well on my larger pre-dreadnought models and adds very little to the overall weight.
after I had glued down the cardstock I added a layer of irregularly shaped construction paper pieces to hide the joint lines of the cardstock, I ran out of plain construction paper and had to raid my granddaughter's supply, thus the pink areas, the corners are going to be where the players are rolling dice so I reinforced those areas with a triangle of matte board
A little while back my good friend Kev (of Zodani Commando fame) told me that he had seen a great looking gladiator game that used the Playmobil Coliseum as a playing space. He showed me photos of the game that he had seen at Adepticon that looked great. He told me that he had ordered the coliseum and asked if I would be interested in building a base for it. Kev is a really cool guy and I love a terrain project so I said yes. Today he dropped it off and I got started as soon as I got home.
These are a first prototype of the type of army list I'm thinking about. No points values; just suggested values for the more common troops types. We are concentrating on the Peninsular War right now so there are just three lists so far. I need to do some research on the Portuguese before I am confident putting together an early list for them. Later I will update for the changes in the forces as time passed, and I will add minor forces such as The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies or German allies of the French.
I was so stoked about the Angry Piper's Terrain Challenge that I started at midnight and worked until 2:30am on this little project. As usual blueboard and my faithful friend Proxxie were involved. I wanted a castle big enough to be used as both a tabletop feature and used in RPG as a model that we can play inside. I was also looking for something decidedly different looking.
a nice, large piece that doesn't take up too much table space