Friday, 10 June 2016

paper dungeon - simple doors

I bashed out these doors for D&D using an Amazon book mailer and a 1.2mm Staedtler pigment liner- one of my favourite pens! Combined with the stand bases, they work great and couldn't be much cheaper.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

MicroKoW- the first game

My opponent and I played our first game of 10mm Kings of War on Tuesday night with 1000 fully painted points apiece. The game played smoothly- the reduced size didn't feel at all fiddly, and I really enjoyed it, despite losing pretty comprehensively to Tim's orcs!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

first bits of a cereal packet dungeon

There are lots of ways to make dungeons for D&D, from gorgeous but expensive Dwarven Forge stuff to ones that cost effectively nothing. Here are some 'proof of concept' bits for a dungeon, made from everyone's first craft material: a corn flakes box. There's a bit of white-tack on the back for weight and friction. They took a few minutes with a pen and some scissors and I quite like the way they look.

The other thing that white-tack is good for is quickly knocking up some stalagmites or boulders. I like the fact that this method of creating the dungeon is just a couple of removes from a basic diagram- it's clear and simple and cheep and cheerful- all my favourite boxes ticked!

Monday, 6 June 2016

RPG Adventurers

Since reviewing those Caesar goblins, and coming to the conclusion that they would be of far more use for RPG encounters than for wargaming, I've been bitten by the D&D bug. I've been looking closely at 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons as well as a few alternatives, and have been listening to quite a few podcasts of live 5th ed. D&D play (favourite so far being Adventure Zone). I've also been taking stock of my old-school RPG minis, and wondering what needs adding. I've been trying to stick to stuff from the '70s or early '80s, and the latest addition, the Hinchliffe Dwarf on the end, fits the bill and rounds out my party of adventurers nicely. I'll thank you to ignore the fact that he is the same size as the humans, and taller than the elf- we'll put it down to sub-species variation!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

old school wood elf

had a spare half hour so I dived into the ice cream tub of shonky old 25mm lead from decades of yore and fished out this chap to paint. I've no idea who he is or who made or him or when, but he'll do very nicely as an elven archer for my collection of shiny lads for old school RPGing and skirmishing.

Review - Caesar Miniatures 1/72 Goblins

This is a kit that very nearly hits it out of the park, but a few eccentricities and shortfalls keep it from being a really excellent product in my view.

Most fantasy wargamers who exist in the 28mm ecosystem that has become the norm for the past few decades won't be looking at 1/72 scale kits, which roughly equate to 20mm. The difference between 20 and 28mm doesn't sound like much, but in an equivalently proportioned 3d figure, the difference in mass is about 2.5x, and the comparison on the tabletop is glaringly 'wrong'. If, as I do, you have lots of old 25mm stuff from distant ages, and you compare with a 1/72 kit that's more generously proportioned, you may be able to intermix the two, but not often.

However, when it comes to goblins, and fantasy races that are distinguished from humans largely by their relative size, we can be far more liberal with scale. What size, exactly, should a goblin be? In the earliest days of sword-and-sorcery wargaming, in the early '70s, when Gary Gygax was playing his fantasy version of Chainmail and there were simply no fantasy miniatures to be had, he used scale differences very creatively- a 25mm knight was his human, 1/72 was a dwarf, 15mm was a hobbit or a goblin, larger scales like 40, 54 or 90mm served as ogres and giants.

Let's see if the Caesar 1/72 goblins are any use to us 25/28mm wargamers.

The models come in a compact little cardboard box, with cheerfully silly artwork, and the slogan 'you could resist Goblins no longer!' emblazoned across the front. Let's see exactly how irresistible these little chaps are.

They are packed into a tiny little plastic bag, sprueless apart from a little tag of plastic hanging from each one, with decently sized integral oval bases.

For 28mm wargaming, the scale of these Caesar goblins is absolutely spot on to my eye. They look large enough to be 'proper' infantry rather than a swarming, ankle-high horde of vermin, and they won't be lost in empty space if placed on individual 20mm bases. Also, compared to just about all other goblins on the market at anything like this scale, these are a huge bargain at about £8.99 for 35. Historical 1/72 figures are usually a little cheaper for a few more figures though- so even these suffer from the 'fantasy tax' a little.

The plastic is less 'greasy' than some 1/72 toy soldiers, but the general bendiness won't be unfamiliar to anyone who's laid hands on an airfix figure. I would recommend the standard precautions when painting these- wash thoroughly with Fairy and warm water, optionally soak overnight in a vinegar solution for more of a 'key' to the surface (though I've never bothered). Start with a coat of PVA (thicker than you think- it'll shrink a great deal), paint with acrylics and end with a good coat of varnish. Painting should be nice and quick- these fellows are very simply attired in little loincloths and bare skin. Two colours plus brown and'or silver for weaponry should be sufficient. Detail is as good as it needs to be, and the figures do not lack character- though I slightly suspect the hand of CAD design here- limbs are a little stiff and proportions a little too consistent perhaps, but maybe I'm wrong. Colour varies quite a bit across the selection I received, from bright silver to dark grey, but the feel of the plastic seems consistent.

The glaring weakness for me is in the choice of weaponry. In the pack of 35 goblins, only four are armed with bows. eight or ten would have been nicer, and more useful for most fantasy gamers I would think, though I can't speak for RPG players. Eight of them have a spear/javelin, but the four who are armed with a sort of double handed stone axe could easily be converted to spears. Then we have another eight who are holding stones to throw, or cartoon spherical bombs, with a litte fuse coming out! All but useless, especially in those quantities. Four have a wooden club- perfectly fine. There is a single standard bearer- perfectly cromulent, plus easily convertable to another spearman if preferred. The remaining seven wield either one or two ornate daggers with exotic undulating blades, giving the set as a whole a rather discordant selection of weaponry spanning the stone age to the age of black powder, stopping off at the renaissance on the way. If the bomb-throwers, rock-chuckers and dagger-brandishers were replaced with more bows, clubs and spears, this kit would be superbly useful. Indeed, if the selection were more representative of the box artwork, I think it would be no bad thing at all.

I bought this box with the idea of perhaps knocking out a quick, cheap and dirty goblin army for Kings of War, but to be honest the bum-ache and wastage involved in getting my money's worth from that odd weapon selection and the inherent difficulties of the material have made me think twice. These will come in handy for dungeoncrawls and the like though- I keep threatening to run a spot of D&D or something similar, and this box should amply fulfill that purpose, even without paint.