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Monday, October 16, 2017

Mini Monday- Mechs, you gotta love them

Warhammer from RoboTech Toys

So this week's Mini Monday topic is probably spurred by the fact that
I am currently painting some 24 Battletech mechs for a game this week.
As I sit here and paint, I find myself admiring the various mech models in my force.
The Table Queen looks up from her Japanese building project and shakes her head,
'You boys, like Mechs way too much and they are so tactically foolish. Just big targets I say!"
Humph! Obviously she doesn't see alure of the Mech as a modern rendering of the knight of the field, the dashing airplane pilot or
the cunning tank commander. Aye, I love mechs and have them in all shapes and sizes. In this day and age they are everywhere.

You got your classic Battletech mechs
Battletech Mechs

Anime mechs, which can come in all shapes and sizes.

Wierd World War II mechs
28mm Dust Mechs

Steampunk mechs
Cygnar Jack from Privateer

Hard Scifi mechs
15mm mechs Picture from Rebel minis

Even GW has mechs!
Picture from Games Workshop

Few or many? You can play Classic Battletech with every pilot and mech named. Or Alpha Strike and
run a freaking Battalion of 40 mechs! 

What's not to love? So what mech tickles your fancy?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mini Monday: Painting with a bit of Speed.

Mini Monday: Some tricks on painting quicker.

Warning; Now before I start this week's topic, let me clarify that this is
just My Opinion and Style. It's what works for me.There are many other ways to
paint and prep figures and you are free to choose whichever you like. So don't get your knickers in a twist!

Okay so you got a project in mind, 40k Army/huge Zombie game/ACW brigade, and now it's time to paint those figures.
Also you would like to finish it some time this year so that you can play and move on to other projects.

Now painting armies/forces in a short amount of time is my forte. At last count I had some 16,000 painted minis, or at least that's what Stelios told me.  So today I'm going to give you some painting tips that work for me.

1) Fully assemble your miniatures. And I mean totally. Glue those shield on, attach those riders to their horse or vehicle. No painting anything on sprues or seperately. Sometimes it has to be done, but avoid it if at all possible. I also rarely if ever wash figs, usually only if they are cheap plastic or resin.

28mm Plastic Romans and 15mm lead VC

2) Glue the figures individually to a painting strip. ( I use foamboard because it's ridged and the figs come off easliy when done.) Line similiar poses up. Try and get 5-10 figs per strip.
(Of course less if cav or vehicles.(Note big 28mm vehicles will have to be painted seperately, no duh, right?)
Why strips? Because it saves you the time of having to pick up every figure multiple times. If you're painting rank and file leave 1/2 inch between figs for more detail or leaders leave an inch. Allows you to touch up between figs better.
Matte, Satin, Flat Black

3) Spray the strip of figures flat black, try to get all the angles. You can go back and touch up with a brush if you miss anything, but that takes time so spray away! ( Now don't go into shock, but I always use  cheap flat black spray cans from Dollar General and Family  Dollar. Yeah I hear the grumbles but please note above, 16,000 painted minis.)
Primed Black

4) Now, I'm not going to go into every specific of my painting method, just the main points. I basically use the 3 color drybrush technique. Blue pants? Coat area with dark blue, follow with a drybrush of medium blue and then touch up with a very light drybrush of medium blue. It creates a layering effect. No washes needed.
White shields? Start with a tan, dry brush with off white ( or mix a bit of white into the tan then drybrush) and then a light drybrush of white. Etc.
Some extra advice, don't be worried about accidently getting some paint on parts of the figure you have yet to paint. Don't touch up anything until the end, and then touch up the same color on all the figs on the strip. Ex.  You painted and trimmed all the union caps, now go back with a medium blue and touch up all the little mistakes. Also touch up the blue pants at the same time.
ECW Cav in process. I usually save the metal areas for last.

Foundry 28mm Chinese in process

5) When done varnish the figures while still on the strip. I usually use a satin coat of spray. I like a little sheen but not too much. Now here I usually buy Krylon at the local Michaels. My only advice when clearcoating is to spray a handy black piece of paper before coating the figs. That way you don't accidently get the 'snow effect' too much moisture or mistakingly use a black spray can to clearcoat (done the latter twice)
Finished figs still on strips awaiting basing.

6) Pop figs off strip and add decals or flags  if needed.

7) Glue to multi base and then grass/detail base.
Some completed Empire and Chaos figs

8) Done! Time to take the picture because the figs are now Miketastic!


Monday, October 2, 2017

Keeping the Mojo going

When it comes to gaming we all have big projects.
Whether it be that 200 figure Egyptian army, several teams for Blood Bowl, a US marine force for the Pacific, or a Napoleonic army for Blucher
These projects all have one thing in common, you really want to finish them.
You battle to keep that original Mojo burning,
but often that finish line seems pretty far away. And we all fear that if the Mojo goes away, then
that project will get shelved and may or may not get renewed in the future.

SO how do you keep the Mojo going? How do you get yourself to keep painting all those figs? Worse how do you stop form getting distracted?
Well here are a few suggestions.

Books: Read anything that has to do with your project. History books, fictional novels set in the period, all the fluff you can get your hands on. So if you're painting a Marine army for 40k pick up some of the GW novels. Painting ships for the Battle of the Nile, pick up a historical account or one of those countless Age of Sail novels. And if you are into Colonial gaming Flashman is a must!
 Movies: Painting Zulus. Then I'm sure you must be watching Rouke's Drift or Zulu Dawn. No matter how many times I've watched the assault on Helm's Deep, I always want to paint more orcs! WWII gamers are pretty spoiled in this catagory.

Music: Get the soundtracks to various movies or console games and play them as you paint those minis. My wife always knows when I'm painting pirates because the soundtrack to Pirates of the Carrabean comes on. Spanish Civil War. a cd of songs from the conflict. Youtube is a great source for this.

Rules: Read through the rules you intend to use. It'll get you excited to play, and you'll be ready to play.

Magazines: Pick up a gaming magazine for a bit of inspiration. GW gamers are lucky enough to have the White Dwarf that often has battle reports. While Historical and Pulp players have multiple support magazines out there with scenarios and articles on various armies.

Podcasts: Now this is a pretty new source for us older gamers but one that I have found very enjoyable. Look at I-Tunes for some podcasts that might deal with your period or game. Plenty for Flames of War or Bolt Action players as well as the GW universe. I've also found a whole series on Napoleon and Dan Carlin's Hardcore history is a must for Roman, Mongol, WWI and WWII players.

Test games; Don't wait till you have all 200 points of that army painted before you play, You need some motivation to keep going so paint up to 50 points and play a smaller game. Trust me this will always get you inspired to go home and paint some more. Again at 50 points, 100 points etc. The more you play with  the army the more Mojo you create. Many game systems have a ladder campaign designed just for this 

So good luck and keep that Mojo going!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Our growing FoW group.

So Eli suckered me into Flames of War a few years back with Arab Israeli War, then it was Team Yankee and now WWII. We usually play about 2-3 times a month and mostly WWII. Lately our games have been growing as more people show up to play our weekly or biweekly game. Today I ran a quick 200 point desert battle for 4 guys still getting their feet wet. It was a blast! Our FoW group really has some of the easiest going players in the store. And now we're up to potentially 10 players for Eli's big Kursk game in a month or two. Just some pics of todays game.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Anniversay battle of Lepanto 2017

Well everyone showed up at Discover games, so we had 9 players and 114 ships.

Ottoman fleet smashed into the Spanish/Italian fleet  and had just started to turn the Christian left when their certer collapsed.

A win for the Westren Alliance! Going to have to adjust the gun factors just a bit for the next big game but overall I think the game mechanics worked very well.

Turkish force, Sorry about white movement trays, a last minute addition

Ottoman Right vs Christian left

Fierce fighting in the center


Monday, September 25, 2017

Mini Monday; Terrain

Building conveys the flavor of the Far east

When you attend a convention how do you decide which game to play?
If it's a boardgame or an RPG then you usually look for your genre, a new release or
a good description in the convention program.
The same is true with wargames except you also look for the nicest table terrain. Nobody walks
by a table with Minas Tirith without stopping to take a look. If it catches your attention then you're
going to give it a few moments of your time and maybe consider playing it even if it's not you genre
or the newest game in town.
Eli's WWII city fight

Terrain creates the atmosphere for the game. D-Day usually has a beach. Battles in the Sudan a suitable arid desert.
Western gunfights and Samurai skirmishes need some buildings to fight in and around. The Chaotic Northlands should be, well Chaotic!
Don't you expect a castle in Excaliber or a Roman column when watching a gladiator flick? Would you be as excited if all your movies had blue screen

Pirate Action off the coast of Africa

Terrain also creates tactical problems to solve. Getting off the soft beach on D-Day. Marching across a desert that can hide all sorts of enemy
in wadis and embankments. Getting a sharpshooter in that belltower or  only being able to get a couple of guys on a hero because he's at a doorway. Not knowing what that chaotic plant does or if that mystical gateway is active or not.

Charlie's Dungeon

Now at Discover games in Georgia, we're pretty lucky to have a few terrain enthusists. Charlie's tables can almost be a diorama at times. Signs and casual items along the docks or fountains with water that looks like it's flowing in his dungeons. Eli with his WWII terrain that could be right out of a Flame of War book. And myself with an occasional themed table. We all hope that our layout help the players get a bit more into the mood of the period or genre not to mention that they look nice and tend to attract attention and players.

Ancients battle in the Near East, simple sheet

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you have to layout a scale model of Helm's deep or Rourke's Drift before you can run a game.
Start with a decent playsheet that reflects the enviroment your game is set in. You don't wanna be using a green sheet for your naval games and Gettysburg.
Make a few basic terrain pieces that work with that sheet. Green hills on a green cloth, desert hills on a desert cloth. Just basics.
Add a nice building that gives a sense of the time period of your game. Watchers will immediatly see a Japanese styled building and assume far east, once more you're setting the mood and making your game more attractive.
You'll also find that making and/or painting  terrain is usually a lot easier than painting minis.
Give it a go.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Have you painted that 'Intimidating Figure yet'?

The Intimidating Miniture Figure? We all have one or many. You  know, that miniature that you really want to paint but keep putting off because you don't think you can do it justice. We see it/them in the gaming magazines and just immediately want them. In fact you usually go ahead and buy it but then it sits in your hold bin forever as you work up the nerve or the perfect color scheme.
Often for historical wargamers it tends to be intricate shield designs, highlanders with plaid kilts or maybe that hard to do camouflague.
For Sci-Fi and Fantasy gamers it maybe geometrically painted space elves or those accursedly beautiful old Confronttion minis from France.

Sometimes it's the assemly that can be daunting. Sabrina, my wonderful painter wife, once had a Waterloo moment with this dear fellow. She almost put him away for good after he came apart the third time while being painted.

I've faced quite a few bugbears in my 35 years of gaming, ancient Greeks, Landsknect and Ottomans among them. Each force felt a daunting task but as you can see I finally put them to rest.

It just takes patience and time. The more you paint the better you will become at it. What felt impossible in your first year may seem easy as cake years later.
But here are a few tricks.
When painting armies with shields, put your first attempts in the rear ranks, newest in the front. Same with leaders, paint the rank and file first and the leaders last. Usually you'll perfect your style as you go along so the latter are often better.
Don't be afraid to ask for advice online or from local gamers. There are many old pros that are quite willing to help out. Just be aware of the style you're looking for when looking for help. Are you going for decent wargame quality to build armies or demon award quality? I learned the dry brush technique from my mentor Terry Wills years ago because my aim is large armies.
So what's your bugbear waiting to be painted?