Back to Star Wars

Work has been unbeliveably busy this week, and gmaing-related activities have had to take something of a back seat.

We still got our weekly Star Wars game, the Dawn of Defiance campaign in though.  There had been a six month break in the campaign (game time), with everyone off doing their own thing. What that boiled down to was us spending the first part of the evening levelling up, and then watching the players decide (argue) how to spend their half million credits won from the Sabacc tournament last week.

In the end, Andy (playing Joshua, a human soldier) inevitably bought himself some ‘kick-ass armour’ while the rest ploughed their funds into a brand new transport (they were going to go second hand until Nick told them that a brand new one would give me less excuses to make their lives difficult – I ask you. . .).

Then it was straight into Episode IV, Echoes of the Jedi.  The players were briefed by Master Denia to find a holocron on a devastated world that used to behome to a Jedi Academy.  They managed to bluff their way past some orbiting pirates (by name-dropping an old adversary, Darga the Hutt) and then, on landing, found themselves in a comedy scene where two inept groups of alien scavengers are arguing over a droid.

The players managed to negotiate this one as well (while fending off attacks from Dark Side lizards), but not before the aliens managed to fleece them for 5,000 credits for a ‘holy holocron’ that turned out to be nothing of the sort.  We left the evening just as the players had entered the Jedi academy and had moved into the first sub-level.  I am expecting to finish this adventure next week, and it is going to turn out to be quite a hot one!

I have another ‘painting day’ scheduled this weekend with ‘the girls’, but I fear work may pull me over to the computer while they paint.  Which will be a shame.  However, I’ll bring my paints along and maybe I’ll get a chance to finish off a Terminator Librarian I have barely started for the Dark Angels.  And then, of course, are the ten Stormboyz who have been staring at me for a few weeks now. . .

A Busy Weekend

The big event this weekend was the monthly D&D campaign.  The players managed to finish off the Sunless Citadel, just squeaking through to 3rd level in the process.  We spent a fair bit more time on this than I had expected (there were some ‘arguments’ over how exactly one should open a door. . .), and we did not get on to the Forge of Fury – that will be coming next.

All of this did not leave much time for miniatures, as I also had to start prepping the next installment of the Dawn of Defiance Star Wars game for the coming week.  However, I did manage to polish off a few small items.  First up were two new Dreadnoughts for the Dark Angel’s 3rd Company.

This makes three Dreadnoughts for the company now (I’ll probably stop at around 4-6, and call the company complete – I’ll do pictures of the whole motley crew then).  Also, my first Ironclad.  I quite like how this model ‘bulks’ out.  The missile launchers and arms really give it some mass without going over the top.

The Dreadnoughts were easy to paint but candidates for the easiest models in the world to paint have to be these chaps, some models I managed to purloin from certain well-connected people.

Spray black, light drybrush of grey (blue might be an idea to try, of course), then cover with varnish for that authentic Aliens look!  I only had satin varnish lying around, but it seems to work quite well.  Gloss might be a bit too much.

Of course, these chaps need someone to fight and, as I said in a previous post, these models are perfect for the new jungle table.

The light skin/web tone on Predators was made for Bleached Bone and the Ronseal-Magic-Glop mix (though better painters might disagree!). I did spend some time trying to work out how to handle the armour of this guy, but in the end settled for Blot gun Metal on the plates and Chainmail on the blades and mask – then covering them both with the magic glop.  Works pretty well and the model paints up pretty quickly – could see myself doing an army of these.  Speaking of which…

This guy has a very nicely sculpted maskless face, and I left the plasmacaster off his shoulder as well for a bt of variety.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to the jungle to begin a new Hunt!

Dogfights Over Bespin

Work has been very demanding this week, so I have only managed to slip in a few gaming-related activities beyond pre-scheduled stuff.

Earlier this week, my Stormboyz received their first base coat (black jackets and trousers) and… that was about it.  I built an Ironclad Dreadnought for my Dark Angels and got another (normal one) through the post – bringing the total up to three for the 3rd Company.  Two or three more, I think, and I will cal the 3rd Company finished.

Built a Venomthrope as well for the bugs, and finally have enough static grass to finish off the three remaining jungle terrain pieces I have, though the table as a whole can be called pretty well finished. And, today, I received two new models that will be just perfect for battles in a jungle – more on those at a later date.

However, the big gaming event this week was the regular Star Wars Dawn of Defiance campaign.  We hit the middle of the third episode at full speed, with Kat (human noble/rapidly turning Jedi) beginning the big Sabacc tournament where over half a million credits are up for grabs.  She didn’t expect to win, bu th purpose of the tournament was for them to find out details on an exchange between the Empire and a Hutt that was serving a mysterious operation known to the players only as the Sarlacc Project.

The others players were either spectating or working security in the casino, and the session started quietly enough.  They met a few of the gamblers, including an Imperial Officer, and started wondering just how to start gathering clues.

In the four day tournament, Kat was somewhat surprised to make it through the first rounds and start the next day as one of only 15 competitors (there were more than 50 to start with).  They endured a few decoys and ambushes outside of the tournament but, all too soon, the last day of the tournament came into view.  Kat had already managed to squeak through to the final day and the other players waited with bated breath to see how she did (true, there was a mission to follow, but we are talking about half a million credits here!).  The main clues to the mission were revealed in the last stages of the tournament, with the Imperial Officer handing some important information to a woman who was then revealed as the Hutt’s agent.

All well and good, but how did Kat do in the tournament?  Up to this point, all she needed was to pass Wisdom checks at escalating DCs to go through to the next rounds, but now she was rolling off directly against the other competitors.  She lacked the Gambler talent, but a judicious use of a Force Point saw her clinch the pot from the others and win the day!

What was more interesting was what happened next – one of the knocked out competitors tries steling the pot from under the casino’s nose. At this point, the players went near berserk (“that’s my money!”).  The scene ended with the main thief dead in the casino and his comrades being chased through the streets by a vengeful Andy (playing Joshua, a human soldier).  It took a few minutes for the players to remember they had a mission and now that the Hutt’s agent and Empire had exchanged details, they had very little time to decend to one of the lower docking bays to confront the Hutt and find out what exactly was going on.

The scene in the hangar bay did not go as written – the Hutt managed to get away (well, he slithered for his life when one of the players jumped in a Z-95 Headhunter and started blasting anything that moved), but the players got what they needed; the Empire had seen its hand forced by their actions on Cloud City and was steering a Tibanna gas hauler straight for a transport filled with slaves in order to remove any evidence (the Empire trading slaves for gas for Project Sarlacc).

Cue a massive dogfight over Bespin, with the players in Z-95 Headhunters (Sandrine – playing a Twilek Scoundrel – in the party’s transport, manning the turret after having her headhunter shot out from under her by cloud cars) going up against a squadron of TIE Fighters as an Imperial Star Destroyer flew ever closer to the action, trying to destroy the gas hauler before it ploughed into the slave ship and made a right mess.

Nick (playing Teebo, a Duros Scoundrel) came into his own at this point.  The character had always seemed a little cowardly up to now because, it has to be said, he is not much cop in combat.  However, all that changed in the the Headhunter, where Nick’s investment in the Pilot skill and vehicle-related feats paid off big time – Teebo became Born Again Hard, threading his way through the TIE Fighter formation to bring his guns to bear on the gas hauler.

The hauler blew up, the slave ship (now in the hands of the slaves) escaped and, just before the Star Destroyer got into range, there was time for the Big Bad (an Imperial Inquisitor) to threaten the players before they too jumped to light speed.

We are starting episode four next week, which is the start of the second ‘part’ of the campaign, but there is a six month ‘gap’ between the parts, much like there is between the actual films.  It will be interesting to see what they plan to do during that time.  I know Kat wants to go crystal-seeking for her lightsabre, and the party needs a ship as their lift up to now will be off doing other things.  Stay tuned, as they say.

So, I’ll be reading up on the fourth episode this weekend, but the big event will be our monthly D&D campaign (The Rising Tide).  We are still on the preliminary adventures, getting the players used to their characters, but I expect they will finish the second level of The Sunless Citadel fairly quickly, and make a good start on Forge Fury.  After that we will be getting into the campaign proper with an altered Red Hand of Doom that will start setting the tone of the campaign, and move the party to the geographical location needed later on.

Dread Mob!

I mentioned before that I had picked up a new Ork Dread on eBay a week or two ago.  It wasn’t a large job repainting the little fella, but the jungle terrain kinda interferred with my painting time this week.  Anyway, yesterday, I finally got to finish him.

I think you can see why I was tempted by him!  I don’t know the chap you did the conversion, but I could not resist.  The basis was an old 2nd edition Ork Dreadnought, but he has added bits from a second edition Predator, the hard top from a metal Sentinel and a few other bits and pieces.

I now have a genuine Dread Mob and, best of all, they all look as though they are one-off Mek creations which, as I have mentioned before, is the whole point I am trying to get across with vehicles in my Ork army.

I have one more Dreadnought to add to this group – the all-new, all-singing and dancing plastic version GW have just released. This one will be a little delayed in getting to the field, as I am planning on giving him a Kustom Field Generator, probably basing it on the generator carried by the current Big Mek. We’ll have to see.

Next projects up… well, I still have some more sodding jungle terrain to finish (now good for Goblin Green paint, but ran out of static grass this time) and a unit of ten Stormboyz who have barely had a single basecoat between them.  The next large-ish project will be another unit of ancient Britons for my growing horde and the start of some chariots for them.

Star Wars Catch Up

The ongoing Dawn of Defiance campaign continues apace.

Over the past two weeks, the players finished the second episode, A Wretched Hive, where they infiltrated a Hutt’s court in the hope of finding out more information about a secret Imperial project (Project Sarlacc).  This went moderately well, with the Hutt fleeing to Bespin after the players released one of his prisoners – a Jedi Master from the Clone Wars days.

Kat, playing Elethial, a human noble with the Force Sensitivity, went dippy upon discovering Master Denia, as she could now properly train as a Jedi (I had banned anyone from taking levels in that class unless they could find a teacher – Kat had been convinced she never would…).

Starting Episiode Three, Queen of Air and Darkness, the players mooched over to Bespin, only to find that there is a huge Sabacc tournament taking place (over 500,000 credits up for grabs!).  They also know that there are some Imperials within the tournament (or nearby) that may be involved in the Sarlacc Project.

They beat up some Ugnaughts, but just did not seem to be engaging in the game this week – missing leads, being reluctant to take part in the tournament (how cool is taking part going to be?), and so on.  The scenario is actually quite a cool one with a good mixture of intrigue and fast-paced action, so rather than labour on I called an early end to the game.

We’ll pick it up again this coming week, where Kat (Elethial) will be taking part in the tournament, Nick (a Duros named Teebo) is her ‘plus one’ guest in the crowd, and the other two have managed to get hired by the casino’s security.

This adventure has an explosive end, so it will be interesting to see what happens next!

Operation: Jungle Ruins

Last year, I had a dream. . .

I would have a gaming table full of jungle goodness, with nice thick trees and some interesting ruins to fight over.  It would be done quickly and (relatively) cheaply.  This year,  I finally got round to doing it.

I have, for a long while now, frequented fish shops (where they sell tanks, and weeds and stuff, not a fishmongers – you know, an aquarium-place) in the search for wargaming scenery.  Most of it is useless, being the wrong scale or just plain inappropriate (though a sunken pirate galley, in pretty much 28mm scale, is quite funky).

However, there are always little gems that, when compared to ready-made material sold for wargaming, are really quite cheap.  Most are along the lines of dead trees or interesting rock formations, but recently I picked up these two pieces.

Both are fairly typical of the kind of thing you find in fish shops.  The first is a BIG piece, nearly a foot high and cost something like £35.  However, that is pretty much the top end and, for a centrepiece on the table, not bad value at all.  The second is more typical, and I think was around £15.

These two pieces inspired me to do a whole table as a jungle, with these ruins in the centre to fight over.  Perfect for battles set in Lustria, on 40k Death Planets, or for romps of AvP!

However, this meant I would have to actually do some work and put together clumps of trees and shrubs and stuff, to get the right jungle-feeling across.  Fortunately, fish shops have this soprt of thing in abundance.  Added to that, certain items were going two-for-one, so I duly loaded up and walked out with bags of the stuff – the sales assistants must have thought I had the biggest fish tank in the world (either that, or they sell to wargamers all the time. . .). You can see the kind of thing below.

As well as these larger pieces, you can get ‘sprues’ with smaller bushes on – now, Games Workshop supply something very similar, but don’t bother.  Fish shops will do them cheaper, in larger bundles and with more variety.

I wanted stiff bases for the jungle terrain that would last for years, so cardboard was out (been down that road before).  I immediatly plumped for plywood, but had forgotten how expensive it was these days (been a few years since I last scratch-built an R/C plane). In the end, I chose MDF and, lacking anything like a decent workshop, put upon the Old Man to cut me out some interesting shapes (12 ‘small’ and 6 ‘medium’ size).  He even chamfered the edges!

The next step could not be easier – simply super glue an arrangement of trees and shrubs onto the base, leaving enough room to place miniatures.  For the smallest shrubs on sprues, I left part of the sprue on the bottom of shrub, to aid in stability and sticking.  It will all be drowned with PVA soon anyway.

Like so.

Now, at this point, I was going to treat them in the same way as I do all the bases on my miniatures – sand the whole base, douse in Scorched Brown, drybrush in Bubonic Brown, and then add patches of static grass.  However, halfway through the first piece I twigged something felt wrong.  Checking the Catachans Codex confirmed my suspicions.  A brown base would just look odd when doing a jungle piece.  It needed to be green!

This was, frankly, something of a relief, as it immediatly meant my time spent on the project had just shrunk considerably – after all, I just needed to cover the base in Goblin Green, PVA it, and add static grass. Simples.

It was about this time that I realised that the task I had set before myself was a little more sizeable than I had first thought.  Also, eighteen terrain pieces was probably too many for your average wargaming board.  Also, MDF eats paint like a sponge, so I was using far more Goblin Green than I had planned. Within six pieces, I had run out.  I managed to find half a pot more lying around the office, but a mail order to GW was going to be needed.

The next trial was that Goblin Green on MDF leaves a very smooth surface that PVA glue has some issues with.  After the first lot of static grass had been allowed to dry, I saw there were some small bare patches here and there – just enough to look a bit shabby.  I touched those up with more glue and static grass and, on subsequent boards, allowed the glue to dry for a few seconds before dragging the brush at right angles to the original stroke.  This provided enough granularity for the static grass to dry firmly.

Incidentally, whenever using static grass, whether wholesale like this or in clumps on a miniature’s base, don’t just sprinkle on top of the glue like you would with ordinary flock.  Put a whole bunch of static grass on the glue and press down with your thumb.  It sticks much better this way and, when you are doing clumps on miniatures bases, will dry within 2-3 minutes.

The terrain ended up looking like this.

And with a larger tree.

Not bad at all for what is a very simple project, eh?

My board at the moment looks like this – I have some more jungle terrain pieces to add but, as you can see, it is a very fightable piece of real estate already.

You can see another couple of jungle ruins I picked up, and the withered trunk near the middle (the grey thing) is another stand-alone piece supplied by the fish shop.

Overall, I spent about £150 on this, including paint, shrubs and glue.  Time-wise. . . what you see above probably consumed 2-3 hours, not including drying time.  With a bit of planning and forethought, you could easily whittle the cost down to less than £100 and, if you made your own shrubs, even less.

Either way, it is a very easy, low-effort way of putting together a new gaming table and it will at least feel different from fighting yet another battle on the green fields of Kent!

I’ll leave you with a couple of Orkses, who are very much enjoying the ambush possibilities of their new home.

Eyes Bigger Than Belly

Ever started something only for it to dawn on you soon after that the project is much larger than you thought?

This weekend I have been working on the jungle terrain table I mentioned a while ago.  Thought I was being so smart, I really did.  Had a little ‘cheat’ method of getting good looking terrain up and running quickly.  Unfortunately, I failed to take into account several things.

I’ll give a full run-down of the jungle board in perhaps a week or so when it is finally complete.  However, these are the tribulations I have hit so far;

  • MDF sucks up Goblin Green like it is going out of fashion.  Drained all my reserves and am now waiting for a delivery from GW.
  • I thought two small pieces of terrain and one medium would be about right for a 2′ x 2′ square.  So, 12 small pieces and 6 medium for a 6′ x 4′ table, right?  I had failed to take into account that I have several (in some cases very) large ‘centre pieces’.  So, I either have a very crowded board, or I am doing way more terrain pieces than I actually need (actually, this is not a huge issue – it will scare the average 40k gamer, but for other games will lead to some pretty intense jungle fighting).
  • PVA on Goblin green that has been painted onto MDF can get very patchy, leading to small bare areas dotted around the terrain piece.  Had to modify my gluing technique for this and re-glue the patches on earlier pieces.

Anyway, the end is in sight.  I have about five terrain pieces left to finish, which should be wrapped up next weekend.  I’ll get some photos done, and show you how I made this table, step-by-step.  Despite my complaints above, it is a very easy project that looks good due to the use of one non-gaming set of items.  Total cost is likely to be around £150, but if you take a more reasonable approach than me and don’t do quite as many terrain pieces, you could easily shave £50 off that and complete the whole project in one lazy Sunday.

I managed to get six more Tyranid Warriors done this weekend, a requirement forced by the new Codex which made me reorganise my existing units and add some more warriors.  Photos coming.  I also started work on a really cool Ork Deff Dread conversion I picked up on eBay.  With the new Dread out recently and the 2e version I picked up, i wasn’t going to add any more Dreads to my Orks, but once you see this chap, you’ll understand why I went ahead.  The new plastic Dread is being sidelined for now until I can get hold of something that will work as a Power Field Generator, allowing me to field a genuine Armageddon Dread Mob.

So, the plan now is to finish off the Dread this week, along with the rest of the jungle terrain.  I have also made some progress with choosing miniatures for the 10mm fantasy armies I mentioned in an earlier post (under the Roleplaying category).  Again, I’ll get some photos of what I have chosen and why.  I can just see that this is another project that I thought would be over quickly, but may actually take much longer to do. . .