Monthly Archives: November 2013

Painting Bee

Rob Dean

My sons proposed that we devote a day this Thanksgiving weekend to a painting bee, with the slowest painter to buy the pizza tonight. For purposes of comparisons, we all worked on 1/72 scale plastics.

I chose to add some Spanish cavalry to my Punic Wars project, completing 7 in our allotted five hours. Norman was working on Bronze Age infantry, and William on some Almoravid infantry, but I’ll leave full coverage to Norman’s blog…

via The Sharp End of the Brush

Tagged ,

Callie, Female Rogue/Archer: Figure 48 of 265

Chris Palmer

As I mentioned in the battle report I did for my previous post, I needed an elf archer to complete a warband I was preparing for a Song of Blades and Heroes game last Saturday, so Thursday night I grabbed one of the remaining archer figures from the 30 New Bones set, got her ready, and painted her up Friday.  I had already soaked her in dishsoap and water previously, so I glued here to a black-primed 1” fender washer, and glued this to a tongue depressor with two drops of white glue. I let this dry for a couple hours, and then gave the figure a wash with some thinned black ink with a tiny bit of dish soap added to help it flowing into the recesses.  This has become my new favorite way to prepare Bones that I don’t want to prime black, but leave their natural white.  It really helps outline everything sculpted on the figure.
   When considering a color scheme for this figure, I wanted to do something that wasn’t the typical elf  dressed in green, yet, I wanted it to be something natural an outdoorsy looking.  So, inspired by the beautiful Fall colors we’ve had around here lately, I decided to try an autumnal theme for her outfit.

I began by painting her leggings with GW “Bubonic Brown”, and the shin and knee guards with GW “Vermin Brown”. Next I painted her tunic with Americana “Mississippi Mud”, and her cloak with Folk-Art “Barnyard Red”.

I then worked on her belts and her quiver.  These I painted in Crafter Edition”Spice Brown”. The bow I painted with Americana “Buttermilk”.   The two lines of stitching running down the quiver I painted with Apple Barrel “apple Maple Syrup” . The arrow shafts were done in Americana “Khaki Tan”, and the fletchings were done in Apple Barrel “Yellow”.  Her face I painted with GW “Elf Flesh”.  The last parts of her outfit I did were her gloves and shoes.  The gloves I did with with Aleene’s “Dusty Khaki”, and the shoes with Folk Art “Dapple Gray”. Finally I painted the metal parts of the bow, sword, and her quiver strap’s buckle, as well as the pin holding her cloak, with Ceramcoat “Metallic Copper” Both the bow’s and sword’s grips were painted with DecoArt “Cinnamon Brown”.

Lastly, I decided I wanted to do some sort of camouflage on her cloak, so it would look like she could easily blend into an Autumn woods.    I first went and randomly added small splotches to her cloak with GW “Blazing Orange”, and then went back and added random tiny dots on or near the orange splotches with the Yellow I had used on the fletchings.  When everything had dried, I gave the whole figure a wash with thinned Winsor Newton Peat brown Ink.
When this had had time to try I went back and added highlights to everything with the base colors, and on some of the more prominently raised areas with the base color with a little bit of the “Buttermilk” mixed in to lighten it further. I also painted her lips with GW “Tanned Flesh”, and then added a little “Elf Flesh” to it to do highlights.  After the figure had time to dry, I gave it a coat of Ceramcoat “Matte Varnish”; and when this was dry, I flocked the base. I wanted to carry the autumnal theme through to the base, so I glued some bits of old oregano I had to the base to represent fallen leaves, and actually painted a few of them orange, red, and yellow to look more Fall-like.  I also added some bits of orange flocking to the base. A bit of old twine made some nice dried grass.

Lastly, before I went to bed, I sprayed the figure with Testor’s “Dullcote’

I’m very pleased with how this figure turned out, especially for a quick paint job.  Luckily, the figure is very simply dressed, and well sculpted, so painting it was an easy task.

Figure 48 of 265:  Complete

via All Bones About It

Tagged ,

Bones Battle Report: SoBaH

Chris Palmer

My friend, Rob Dean, (who also bought into the Reaper Bones Kickstarter), and I have been plotting for a while now to get together for a game, to actually put some of our Bones on the table and play with them.  Rob had suggested “Song of Blades and Heroes” (SoBaH), a set of Fantasy skirmish rules he owned, that he had only played once before.  We finally made a date for this past Saturday, and we met at his house for a couple games of SoBaH. He lent me a copy of the rules to read the week before, and I prepared a pair of 300 point warbands to use: and Elf one, and a Medusa and Skeleton minions one.
   For the first game, I chose my Elf warband because it was small and had only a few Special Abilities. I figured it would be easy to handle for my first outing with the rules. Rob chose a warband consisting of 9 Orcs and an accompanying Troll.

Team Elf:  Sneak, Commander, Elite Archer, and Elite Archer

My Warband consisted of an Elf Commander, two Elite Elf Archers, and an Elf Sneak.    We played on a card table using some of Rob’s beautiful terrain and two paper building groupings he had recently constructed.  Since he had set up the table before I arrived, I took the role of attacker, and chose which side I wished to enter from.

A look at the table as Rob moves one of his orcs.

 From the first turn, we immediately saw the difference in our two groups, and how important the Quality numbers were.  My Elves, with a Quality 2+, only lost their activation on a roll of two 1’s on two d6,the bulk of Robs figures however had a Quality of 4+ which meant that they would be failing on rolls of 3 or less.  Both of us forgot the Free Move rule on the first couple turns, so Rob’s figures entered rather strung out, and hesitantly.  My high quality Elves on the other hand, wasted no time dashing on to the field.  I was eager to take advantage of the disorganized enemy, and rushed my Sneak forward into a clump of woods on my right to try and Ambush the approaching Troll, and perhaps knock him down in time for my Commander to reach him.  Ah, the best laid plans….. On the next turn, my Sneak (Combat  3) burst froth from the woods, and ambushed the shocked Troll (Combat 4) . She only got two of her three activation dice, so was unable to do a Power Blow.   We each eagerly rattled the first dice of the game, and threw….   Troll : 6,  Sneak : 1 = dead Sneak. Oh, well, it might of worked.

A stunningly bad, turn-ending, activation roll by “Red” the archer.  She also managed to break her bow string in both games.  This is how a figure gets a reputation.   She is a new Bones I painted up quickly Friday, to use in the game, as I needed a second Elf archer to complete my Warband.  Look for her painting guide article soon.  

Afterwards, my Commander rushed forth to engage the Troll, as my two Archers took up position on some nearby rocks to lend support.  The Commander performed valiantly, wounding the troll, and dispatching several orcs that ran up to aid it.  The Archers, likewise did their job of picking off stray orcs, and helping the Commander when ever he got a Recoil or a Fall.   In the end, with the troll wounded and several of the orcs fleeing the table when they hit the +50% casualty point and had to roll morale, the Elves were declared the winner.  The quality of the Elves won, as the Orcs were just never able to get any coordinated effort put together.  We both learned the importance in future Warbands of having someone with the Leader quality present if you have a lot of over 3+ Quality members in your party.

Another view of the battle, near the end.  The Commander is surrounded by dead orcs, and bow-less “red” runs down the rocks to knife an orc archer that has fallen from one of her mate “Green’s” arrows.  

We had time to squeeze in  a second game; so for this I switched over to my Medusa and Skeleton minions Warbands, and Rob switched to a slightly illegal (two personality figures) All-Human Warband.  He borrowed “Red” the archer to pose as a human archer to complete his line up.  We rotated the table 90 degrees so we each had a different side to enter on.

Team Medusa:  Skeleton  w/Hand Weapon, two Superior Skeletal Archers, Medusa herself, the second Skeleton w/Hand Weapon  and two Skeletons with Spears (I used the “Lionman Skeleton” stats from the rulebook to make them a little tougher than the basic swordsmen).

   To begin the game, I sent Medusa and her two skeleton archers and one spearman to the rocks occupied by my Elves in the previous game, while the other spearman and the two swordsmen went on a flanking march.  Things seemed to really be going my way as on my first turn of shooting, Medusa’s Poison  and Shooting abilities, and a good roll from one of the Skeleton Archers dropped two of Rob’s figures in the third turn.

Medusa and her Archer’s take aim, as the Spearman stands guard at the base of the rocks.  Two enemy lay dead in the distance from their arrows…the only two they’d hit all day.

On the other flank things weren’t going as well.  My warriors moved to engage the Human Magic User, only for one of them to get transfixed, as the Human’s Steel Golem came trundling around the corner.  His metal might made short work of the trapped skeleton, and he moved on to engage the rest, as a couple of the Human warriors came to assist him.  Meanwhile, Medusa had lost her aim, and she and her minion archers were unable to hit anything else for the remainder of the game.  ”Red” however, as I mentioned before, did manage to snap her second bowstring of the day.  As the Human Fighters and Golem made bone dust  of the flank attack, I quickly reached +50% casualties, so we called it a game, as it was getting to be time we both had to head to other engagements.

An aerial view of the battle.  On the right, the first skeleton stands transfixed on his white poker chip , as the Wizard shouts, “Kill, Rusty, kill!” to the Golem behind him.

  So not a bad first outing for my Bones.  And I really enjoyed my first exposure to the rules.  I can see there are lots of nuances to be explored.  Most of all, the games succeeded in giving me more impetus to paint my Bones to have more Warband options.
  For a look at the games from Rob’s viewpoint, see his excellent blog: The Sharp End of the Brush

via All Bones About It

Tagged ,

Song of Bones and Heroes

Rob Dean

I had an opportunity today to have Chris Palmer over for some gaming. We have both been painting Reaper Bones since the first Kickstarter was delivered. In the interest of providing some inspiration, we decided we would have a go at Song of Blades and Heroes. As games go, it has several advantages. It’s intended for small groups of figures, amenable to including all manner of figures, and fairly simple in mechanics.

This was only the second time I’ve actually played these rules. Norman and I did a test run of these over a year ago.

In anticipation of the game, I finished the bases of the paper model building groups I was working on the other week. As expected, warping of the inn base is an issue. I’m going to need to google around and see if anyone has posted solutions for keeping large pieces of foam core board flat…

Working on the scenery and some social requirements left me short on time to review the rules. That meant that the first game was a little slow as we worked through rules lookups. The second game was better, and I’m sure I’d have the key provisions memorized by the third or fourth game.

As an aid to learning, we kept the scenarios down to simple encounter battles. The first game involved a band of 4 very expensive elves against a band of nine ordinary orcs supported by a hill troll.

I thought things were off to a good start when Chris send an elf sneaker around to attempt to eliminate my troll. Any plan can look good with die rolls like the 1 vs. 6 shown above.

However, I read a recent review of the game which pointed out some issues when one side has an all-elite band because of the activation die roll mechanic. Chris’s elves all had a quality of 2, which meant they seldom failed at activation, where my standard orcs frequently failed, passing the initiative back to Chris. This is where some additional experience with the rules would have helped; adding a figure with the “leader” special ability would have helped my orcs considerably.

In any case, Chris’s elven hero was invincible, and gradually hacked his way through most of my orcs. After being reduced below half strength, a morale roll caused my wounded troll and one other orc to flee, so the other two decided to call it a day.

We reset the board and tried again with two different warbands. Mine was non-compliant (too many points in special figures), but we decided to go with it anyway. I had six mixed humans supported by an iron golem, and Chris had a medusa supported by a half dozen skeletons. I only got one picture from the second game, being distracted by the need to finish quickly.

I almost thought it was going to finish too quickly, as Chris’s first volley took out two of my figures. However, his skeletons were more fragile in melee than he expected. So, despite dropping my wizard with another arrow, my fighters and golem made short work of his skeletons. Bereft of her minions, the medusa apparently remembered an appointment elsewhere.

These were fun little games, and I look forward to an opportunity to read the rules more closely, and try another session soon.

via The Sharp End of the Brush

Tagged ,

Fall In! 2013

Norman Dean

Last Saturday I went up to Lancaster, PA, for a quick visit to the HMGS fall convention, Fall In! Dad had originally planned to come along, but was drawn away by other concerns, so it was just my brother and I. After a fortuitous stop at a gas station which provided us with an opportunity to supply ourselves with Thin Mints and Tagalongs from a local Girl Scout troop, we arrived at the site around noon. We made a brief survey of the flea market and dealer’s hall (no purchases of note), then sat down to assess the Saturday afternoon gaming options.

William was of a mind to play something medieval, and after some searching we both ended up with tickets for a Wars of the Roses game using the “A Coat of Steel” rules. The game was short a player, so William and I ended up taking command of the Lancastrian army (seemed appropriate given the venue) against a trio of Yorkists. (In retrospect, this was probably a mistake—the Wars of the Roses are an obscure enough conflict that anyone interested enough in it to run a game is probably has Yorkist sympathies…)

The scenario was fairly straightforward, but the game had a couple of interesting mechanics. First was the orders: each command had a limited pool of orders to start with. Once an order expired or was replaced, it was gone for good. (With the exception of a default move/attack.) While I do like the concept of orders being a finite resource (and my own rules, N.U.R.D, have a vaguely similar mechanic), I had a couple of issues with this in practice. For one thing, this particular scenario gave everyone basically the same selection of orders to choose from, which made things somewhat predictable. For another, I kept wishing I could give different orders to the various units under my command, rather than one for the whole force—so that my archers could keep firing while my Irish kerns moved up, for example.

As it was, our army basically advanced while the enemy stood in place and shot at us. After a few turns of this (occasionally pausing in our advance to return fire) we got to within melee range. This was where the other interesting mechanic came into play—when two units met in combat, each player would select one of about six “strategy” cards. The combination of the two players’ strategies would determine how much of each force engaged, what the stakes would be, and would possibly provide some bonuses to one side or the other before the dice were rolled. After a couple of rounds of this, I started to get a feel for the rock-paper-scissors aspect of this, and started to gain the upper hand in the card selection. Unfortunately for us, there was still dice-rolling involved, which didn’t go so well, and our lower starting morale combined with the effects of their archery meant that all our units broke first. (Not to mention a couple of our leaders managed to get themselves killed at inopportune moments.) So much for the Lancastrian cause.

My commander. What a guy!

We begin our advance.

These things were basically useless.

My units on the left were confused (see: my commander) and couldn’t advance.

William’s Welsh go in.

Scuffling in the center.

After that, we took another look through the flea market and dealers’ (William picked up some HaT El Cid figures for one of his projects) and took a look at some other games that were running. I had other plans for Sunday and did not want to stick around too late, so rather than looking for an evening game, we found spots in a workshop on 3-D printing for wargaming. While I’m not a convert yet, I’ll be interested to see what things will look like as this technology continues to improve, and I may look into the possibility of having some accessories commercially printed—20mm shields and spare weapons seem like they’d be within the realm of possibility, and could come in handy when doing conversions like my Byzantine cavalry earlier this year…

Civil War riverboats

Roman “Archimedes-punk”

…including some sort of flying galley. (Sky-reme?)

da Vinci’s war machines in action.

All in all, an interesting trip, though a brief one. Haven’t been doing much painting lately, and what with the holidays and other factors my time may be limited, but a NQSYW campaign remains on the near horizon…

via Junkyard Planet

Tagged ,

Premature Review of Battle Troll


     I mentioned in my Fall In post that I had played Battle Troll with Howard Whitehouse on Saturday evening.  At a friend’s urging, I wrote a short review.  I call it a premature review, because I haven’t played it enough yet to have a valid opinion.

Bottom line:
     I liked it.  There are a number of interesting ideas for games involving small numbers of figures.  I’m not sure how it would scale.  I’ve only played it once, so I can’t provide a valid review, but here are my initial thoughts.  I’ve provided a little more detail in case you wanted to include any of it in your blog.  If you don’t want to use it, let me know, because I might use it on my blog then.
     First, it was fun to play with Howard.  He’s a funny guy, and we probably would have had fun reading insurance forms.  The book, like all Howard’s books, is fun to read because of the humorous quips he throws in from time to time.
     We played with four figures on each side, two heroes and two huskarls.  Mark Ryan and Howard were the bad guys.  Lee Howard from Blue Moon and I were the good guys.
     Activation is card based.  Some folks have applied interesting twists to the original TSAF method.  A pitfall of card-based activation is that sometimes a lot of folks are standing around watching one person do stuff.  In Battles by GASLIGHT we use double random activation to address this.  Muskets and Tomahawks has modified the card system so that regulars go less frequently, but do more when they activate, while irregulars go more often, but do less when they activate.  In Battle Troll, there are two types of activation.  One lets everyone on a side act.  The other lets the player pick a hero, then that hero and anyone within two inches of him moves.  In a larger game, I can imagine that the “everyone goes” card might take a long time to resolve and so would make the other side feel disconnected.  In our first run through the deck, our side got a string of cards, so we approached, threw javelins, and then closed into melee while Howard and Mark stood there drooling on themselves.  Most of the rest of the game, the card draws were pretty even, but this first turn really favored our side.
     I didn’t really understand how the missile combat was working when I threw some javelins.  Howard told us what to roll, and we did it.  The results seemed reasonable.
     Melee is where I think these rules really came into their own and had some nice features.  I really liked the paper-scissors-rock feel of melee.  I’ve seen this done for jousting games, but never general melee.  The attacker chooses one of five attack cards, while the defender chooses one of five defense cards.  Some attacks provide bonuses if you are using the correct weapon (e.g., axes get a bonus on “slice” attacks).  The attack card and the defense card are then flipped over and cross referenced on a small table.  This cross referencing tells you how many dice the attacker rolls and how many the defender rolls.  The other interesting aspect of the melee is that these are sort of opposed die rolls.  You compare the highest die rolled on each side.  That means that someone with five dice who rolls all low numbers, can be defeated by someone who rolls a six on the one die he gets to roll.  The probability is low, but it’s still possible.  I liked that.  I also liked the way that the difference between the high die and the low die was a modifier in computing damage.
     The other nuance of this card-based melee system is that figures other than heroes don’t get to choose an attack or defense card.  Instead, they draw one randomly from the deck.  One of the five cards is an accident card, which you would never intentionally draw, but huskarls and karls may draw them randomly.  These can cause the figure to drop his weapon, cutting off his own toe, fall on his dagger, or other humorous events.
     Finally the impact of minor wounds was really interesting.  Depending on how wounded you are, you “offer” your opponent the opportunity to make you perform some number of re-rolls.  This could be anything from 1 re-roll for a slight wound to more re-rolls for more serious wounds.   These re-rolls are cumulative.  At one point, I was able to make Mark re-roll five times, which was great, because he kept rolling fives and sixes.  This is a nice way to handle the impact of wounds.  It also make you think a little about whether you wanted to have the player re-roll a die, because he might roll better!
From reading the book, it appears that karls can suffer morale failure from being pushed back several times or other things.  As we had no karls, our game had no morale effects, so I can’t speak to how well that worked.
     I think for a one- to two-hour game in a pub or on the kitchen table, these are really nice rules.  We only had eight figures on the table, but I’d bet it would be fine with as many as a couple dozen on a side if most of them were karls.  From limited use of both these and Songs of Blades and Heroes, I think I like Battle Troll a little better.  I haven’t played enough Saga to form an opinion.  I can see myself playing more Battle Troll in the future, but I’ll need to get a handful more figures to supplement the Vikings from a Tallahassee club project from eons ago.

via Buck’s Blog

Tagged ,

Reader Requested Paint Comparison

Chris Palmer

I had a reader of this blog recently request for me to describe the difference between two colors I used on my Spirit of the Forest figure. (See: ) Rather than try to use only words to do this, I thought it would save everyone a lot of time if I simply posted a photo of the two colors.
So, here they are, Americana “Khaki Tan”, and Folk Art “Barn Wood”.   As you can see, the “Khaki Tan” is a little darker and a little yellower than the “Barn Wood”, and by comparison, the “Barn Wood” is lighter and a more bluish tan.  These were photographed under my Ottlite painting light so should be, given the varied quality of computer monitors, true to their actual color.

via All Bones About It

Tagged ,

More Thoughts on my WWII Skirmish Rules


While running on Friday and again today, I have been thinking about revising the record sheets for the WWII skirmish rules I’ve been chatting about on this blog.  The level of complexity is easily scaled, depending on the number of squads a player wants to control and how closely the players want the game to resemble a role-playing game.  Additionally, the resolution need not be consistent throughout the game.  The “heroes” might be at the highest resolution and complexity, with a player controlling just half a squad, while many of the other soldiers might be represented at the lowest level of complexity.  This is not the same as Main Characters and Extras in GASLIGHT.  It is merely the level of personalization and complexity desired by the players.  In that vein, I have developed the following three record sheets, which will fit on 3″x5″ cards.

Unit record for the lowest and middle complexity units

The highest complexity unit takes both sides of a 3″x5″ card, as shown below.

Unit record for the highest complexity unit

I’ve also been thinking about how best to represent leaders in the game.  I want to test this in a game before modifying the action cards, but I think I will add a modifier to the shooting portion of the card.  This modifier will indicate a right shift if the leader is not present.  For purposes of this rule, the leader is not present if he is firing his weapon, stunned, severely wounded (not sure what that means yet), or otherwise unable to influence his squad or team.

via Buck’s Blog

Tagged ,

Barbie’s Elven Watchtower in 25mm

Chris Palmer About a year ago I found this Barbie Rapunzel tower at a yard sale, and I bought it figuring I could make something from it some day.  Well, with my number of painted Reaper Bones fantasy figures growing, I’ve started thinking about using them in some games, and I thought it might a be a good time to actually do something with this Barbie tower.    I wish I could tell you more about it, other than it said, “Barbie Rapunzel” on it and was copyright in 2002.  It had a Barbie head in the tower that was on some sort of flip-up spring mechanism (which I had removed at some point soon after getting the toy). When I searched online for something similar, all I could find was the Barbie Enchanted Tower, which stands 20 inches tall.   This one is much smaller, coming in at only 8.5 inches tall; and where the big one opens up to create a play area, this one doesn’t open.

To begin with, I glued the tower to an old CD.  I then added a few pieces to complete the tower look.   To the front panel, to hide the barbie logo, I added a cardboard door, and a set of old plaster terrain stairs I had lying around.  Also, to the upper level, I added a plaster stonework circle, which I had.  I  added a small metal jump ring to the door to make a handle, and a small square of wood to the upper floor to make a trapdoor.

Shown with a 25mm Reaper Bones figure for scale.

When all the glue had dried, I sprayed the whole thing with Krylon Matte Black with Fusion.  I then dry-brushed it with three different layers of grey, working from darkest to lightest.  My final step was to do a very light dry-brush with white on the corners and floral carvings. I then painted the door and the roof with blue.

At first I was going to cover up the embossed rose bushes with clump foliage glued on, but I actually ended up liking the carved nature of them (one each side of the door), and I thought they helped the Elven appearance of the tower.

The finished tower shown with some 25mm Reaper Bones figures for scale.

I did however, glue some foliage on the back of the tower to hide the Mattel logo and copyright information.

All and all I’m very pleased with how this came out.  It was fun little project, and will make a great addition to a scenario.

via One More Gaming Project

Tagged ,

Skeleton Archers and Swordsmen: Figures 44 to 47 of 265

Chris Palmer

Last week I finished up the remaining four skeletons from the Undead Horde Set: two archers and two swordsmen.  I began by priming the figures with Krylon Camouflage with Fusion Flat Black spray paint, and then glued them to black-primed 1’ fender washers.

To start, I gave all four a heavy drybrushing with GW “Bleached Bone”.

I then gave them a  lighter drybrushing with plain white paint, then when dry, I gave them a light wash with GW “Devlan Mud” wash. Afterwards, I went over them again with a light drybrush of the plain white.

  This was followed with painting the archers’ bows and the arrow shafts with Americana “Mississippi Mud”, followed by the quivers and their straps with Apple Barrel “Burnt Sienna”.  For the fletchings, I drybrushed a light coat of GW “Codex Grey” over the black primer.

  On the swordsmen, I painted one shield with GW “Blood Red”, and the other with plain black.

I then gave the bows, arrow shafts and quivers a drybrushing with Folk Art “Barn Wood”.  Next I added decorations to the shields with plain white, and then painted the end caps of the bows, the sword hilts, and the back of the shields, rims, and hubs with Ceramcoat “Bronze”. The swords I painted with Ceramcoat “Metallic Pewter”. The straps on the shields were next, with Americana “Charcoal Grey”. Then I painted some splotches on the swords with Duncan Aged Metal “Iron”, and the strap rivets with the “Bronze”. Lastly, I gave the shield straps and the swords a wash with the “Devlan Mud” wash. 
   When everything had dried, I gave he figures a coat with Ceramcoat “Matte Varnish”, and then flocked the bases.  Afterwards, I sprayed them with Testor’s “Dullcoat”.

Overall I’m pleased with them, and they mark the completion of the Undead Horde set. They were nice simple figures to paint, and it feels good to get another set behind me

Figures 44 to 47: Complete

via All Bones About It

Tagged ,