Thursday, October 16, 2008

Crimson Eagles - Rule Book

Well, I have finally finished the first complete version of the rules to Crimson Eagles. There is still plenty of tweaking to do on it, but those of you that are interested can play it with the rules as they are. Hopefully over the course of the next few months I will be able to clean up grammar and layout to make it clearer. My next goal is to finish the core aircraft sheets as well as some quick rules/table charts. You can find the rules here.
Another project has also been added to my time. I have selected to playtest War Rockets by Hydra Miniatures. I just started looking at the rules and they look like a lot of fun. It is going to be a enjoyable project.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Crimson Eagles - Markers

I've been working on putting the rules for Crimson Eagles into a form that I can share. It is going well, considering that I have notes scattered on bits of of paper and stuffed in a binder. They make sense to me, and we've been using them to play the game with - but as far as sharing them with the rest of the world, well that's a different story. I expect to be able to post them in a week or so.

What I do have to share this week is the Damage Markers and some of the board markers. There are 72 Damage Markers for both the red and the blue. I've printed them out on sticker paper and then mounted them on 25mm miniature bases. I use the econo bases from Gale Force Nine. They are inexpensive, and they have a nice feel for drawing - unlike a simple cardboard chit.

The Flak, Flare, and Sonic markers I also print out on sticker paper and then mount on 3.75 hexes. My hexes are made of 1/4" plywood that I make myself (an advantage of having a full woodshop) and paint blue to match the felt playmat. The plane markers are done the same way. They are used when we have multiple planes in a hex.

The board that we use is an old felt sky playmat from Geohex. It didn't have hexes on it so I made a template and airbrushed the hexes. The hexes are 4".

These pdf files can be found on the Gaming files page of my website:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Crimson Eagles - Aircraft Construction

I have finally reached the point where the aircraft construction system seems to be working. You can find them at: in the Gaming Files section.

Hopefully this will work.

I also have the pdf for the Master Manuevering Chart and the Master Plane Form available there.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crimson Eagles - Aircraft Design

After I worked out how the maneuvering chart should be I next began to convert the planes to this system. There are two areas of conversion; maneuvering and structure.

In Crimson Skies, aircraft can attempt any maneuver: it just gets more difficult the harder that you redline the engine (trying for more speed), or pull G's (harder maneuvers). The Canvas Eagle system allows a plane to perform all of the maneuvers possible for it's design. I wanted something in between: the speed of having predetermined maneuvers, but some way to push the edge of the aircraft. I decided to take a plane's max speed and G's and use those for the base. If the aircraft's speed and G's were greater or equal to the maneuver's speed and G's then it was allowed. For instance, a Warhawk has a max speed of 2 and a max G's of 3. It can handle all maneuvers with a speed 2 or less and G's of 3 or less. To add the feel of pushing the limits of the aircraft, but at the same time keeping the game from becoming one of endless die rolls as players attempt any maneuver, I allow a plane to try moves that are just above their design limits. I figure this by finding a plane's maneuver limits - max speed plus max G's. It is allowed to try any move that has the same total or less; but if the maneuver's speed exceeds the aircraft's it is a redlining move, and if it has a greater G then it is pushing the G's.

So for the Warhawk. It's maneuvering total is 5 = speed 2 plus G's 3. It is allowed to try any maneuver with the same total. Maneuver 3SF has a 5 = speed 3 and G's 2. But since the speed is greater it is a redlining maneuver so it is a possible failure.

Redlining moves are those that exceed a plane's max speed by 1, and Pushing G's are those that exceed the G limit by 1 - as long as the total is less than or equal to the plane's total.

Acceleration and deceleration are from the Crimson Skies statistics. Diving and climbing limits are based on a formula derived from the size of the plane, it speed, acceleration and G's.

After setting the plane's movement characteristics I began working on its structure. In Crimson Skies all the aircraft have the same damage chart with the exception of the armor. Canvas Eagles is based on historical data of the aircraft. Since Crimson Skies is based on sizes which have no comparison to reality I needed to develop a system from scratch again. After much trial and error I have come up with a base score that reflect somewhat on the different sizes. I take the number of units and divide by the speed plus G's to determine a unit for the fuselage and wings. For instance a Brigand has a Base Target Number of 6 which is equal to 38 in my system. It has a speed of 3 and G's of 2 for a total of 5. 38 divided by 5 is 7 with a remainder of 3. So the starting score of 7 X 3 for the fuselage and 7 X 2 for the wings with the left over points place where it seems to work. The engine and tail numbers are determined by the engine mass and acceleration or the number of engines and general look of the plane.The armor is then added all sections: engine and tail use the number of armor points from Crimson Skies divided by 10. The wings and fuselage receive the remaining armor divided by 10 and shared equally.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crimson Eagles - Maneuvering Chart

When I began this project the first step was to work out the maneuvering chart. Canvas Eagles has good, comprehensive system for movement. The problem lies in fitting the plane’s characteristics to it. There is no formula for matching a plane to the maneuvering chart; it is based on personal interpretations of how a plane historically behaved – was it good in turns, how did it climb and dive compared to other planes of the time. The problem with planes from Crimson Skies is that they are not real world aircraft and so have nothing to compare them too.

So I started by gathering data from the design book from the original game and also the construction process in the video game. After much trial and error I was able to create an algorithm that produced results matching those of the PC game. (I knew an astrophysics degree was good for something.) Now I have a number that lets me compare the various aircraft of the Crimson Skies world as to how well they perform against each other based on their Base-Target-Number (BTN), speed, acceleration, and G’s. Of course, the number is only a relative scale to compare a Crimson Skies plane to another Crimson Skies plane – poor to excellent. Next I began trying to match these characteristics to real world planes from WWII and their maneuvering charts from Canvas Eagles. The difficulty again was the fact that Crimson Skies planes aren’t real – they don’t have the little quirks of real planes. A BTN 6 plane with a max speed of 3 and G’s of 2 is just like all the other planes with the same characteristics. So comparing them to real aircraft does not work well, nor does it keep the pulpish feel of Crimson Skies. Back to the drawing board, though the algorithm is useful in classifying stability.

What I did next was to convert the Crimson Skies’ maneuvering chart to a Canvas Eagles’ type chart. With a few minor changes to bring in maneuvers that aren’t in one system but are in the other, or make some moves more difficult or easier depending what seems to fit best, I now have chart that appears to work. Restricted moves are now ones that are three G’s or greater from the Crimson Skies’ chart, with a few exceptions.

So here is the basic maneuvering chart.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Crimson Eagles

Yes, it has been a while since I last posted. Origins was excellent this year. Lots of friends, lots of games, lots of fun. WizWar went well - I plan to bring it to Origins again next year.

So what have I been doing over the summer? Splitting and stacking wood for winter (we heat by wood and I do it all by hand), canning (a great year for tomatoes and fruit) and homeschooling my daughter (we do lessons all year round). But I've also been working on my next gaming project - Crimson Eagles.

Crimson Eagle is a combination of the old FASA Crimson Skies and the WWI dogfighting game, Canvas Eagles. It's a project I've been working on off and on for the last couple of years, but have finally decided to get serious about it and try to have it done for Origins 2009.

I've had the original Crimson Skies boardgame since it first was released back in the late 90's as well as the PC version and the Wizkid's click version. My favorite has always been the original, though. After discovering Canvas Eagles at Origins several years ago I began wondering if I could combine the two game systems - take the fictitious 2-dimensional boardgame and make it work with a 3-dimensional miniature game based on actual aircraft.

It has not been as easy as it might seem. The Crimson Skies aircraft are closer to WWII planes than WWI. So my first approach was to see it I could make us of some of the WWII versions of Canvas Eagles. Knights Cross has been helpful. I spent a lot of time making mathematical algorithms to try an reconcile the two systems. Luckily there is plenty of statistics on the Crimson Skies' planes in the books and on the PC game's designs system. Ultimately, that proved to be a dead end. The physics of real aircraft is nothing like the made-up world of Crimson Skies, and what I really want is the pulp feel of that fictitious world. So back to the drawing board.

I want to keep the core system based on the Canvas Eagles/ Blue Max game for a number of reasons. First, why reinvent the wheel. Canvas is a well thought out system with years of testing behind it. Second, because Canvas Eagles is free to download it is easy for players to get. So I plan to stay with the basic game and make the changes necessary to bring it into the Crimson Skies' world.

Right now I have it to a point that it is playable. Over the next few months I hope to post the development of the game and a final set of rules.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

3D Wiz War: Part 11 - Markers & Extras

Well, it has been a while since I have posted. It has been a busy couple of weeks. Weddings and graduations to attend. Gardening and projects around the house. And most importantly, I have been concentrating on finishing my seminar for Origins: Homeschooling With Games. Which will be presented on Saturday, June 28.

Excuses aside, here is the final installment on my Wiz War series. This one deals with all the little details that finish it, mostly board markers and accessories.

The markers include warps, destroyed walls and lock indicators. The warps are for the exits. I used flat glass nuggets with the letters glued to the underside. Remove lock, jam lock, permawarps and bobby traps are stickers on extra mini bases. The bobby traps have whether its a fack or a bomb on the back. The destroyed markers are custom made acrylic from Litko. Since the wall sections on the game boards cannot be removed to show damage, I place the markers on the wall to indicate they are destroyed. I use glass nuggets of different colors for wizard life counters, monster life counters, and duration/turn counters.

I use alternate cards from I like the colors better than my original set and the fact that they are printed vertically rather than horizontally. I place them in card sleeves. I built a card tower to hold them for transport and storage. It then opens up into two parts for a draw and discard pile. I also made five card holders for the table - one for each wizard and one for Book of Infinite Spells artifact. They also serve as color indicators so you can remember which wizard your opponents are.

Since I built this game with the idea that I would be taking it to conventions, I knew that I would probably be playing it with new players who don't know the rules. So I made play mats with the important rules and terms on them. I customized each one with a picture of the actual wizard mini. They also have places to put the items that you may be holding. I laminated them to make them durable.

I made a binder with all the rules and rule commentaries that I could find. Very helpful with a game as chaotic as Wiz War.

Finally I made a storage/transport case. I made it out of MDF, which makes for a heavy unit, but durable and easy to finish. The bottom section has four slots to hold the board sections. They are lined with 1" foam rubber to protect the boards. The top compartment hold the figures in Sabol foam trays, with room for everything else. I painted it with black latex and then decorated it with sponge prints to look like a tower. I think the results are pretty good.

So that is it. I had a lot of fun with this project and I am very happy with how the whole thing turned out. It probably isn't all the way finished - I might add two more board sections to make it a six player game, and there are more cards out there from the gaming community that I would like to add. Which means more stones, sticks, monsters, and effect to visualize. I keep you posted.

I hope to see some of you at Origins this year. There are still a few slots open for the Friday event (#3701) at 10AM.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

3D Wiz War: Part 10 - Wizards

Well, you can't play Wiz War with out some wizards. I chose to use Mega Miniatures for two reasons. The first was that I wanted an older look to the figures. Many of the Mega minis are from older molds - 80's and 90's. There is a certain look that I thought matched the game better. The second reason was that at $1.00 a figure you can't beat the price.

The chests are plaster castings from the Cavern Floor Accessory mold (#282) by Hirst Arts. Its the same mold that I used to make the doors from.

I painted the figures in basic color schemes of red, blue, yellow and green as you would have in most board games. The bases are done in green stuff and textured to match the floor squares.

I painted two female figures to give female gamers a choice of minis. I really didn't need to do that, but being a father of a teenage female gamer I thought it was only fair. I let her pick the minis.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

3D Wiz War: Part 9 - Enchantments

There are a number of enchantments in Wiz War. The ones that I choose to model are either those that seem to get used more often, tend to last longer in play, or were easy to model.

The Ghost Form, Vampire Form and Werewolf Form are all D&D miniatures. No sense in spending time and money (I already had these) on figures that may or may not be used. And they don't look bad.

The Glue marker I used the same method that Hirst Arts did. I placed it on clear acrylic.

The Flame On marker is made of Sculpey clay. It is designed so that a wizard figure fits in it.

The Animate Object is also made of Sculpey clay. As I said before, I've never sculpted before this project so its a little crude. I glued a square of clear acrylic to the top so that I can place different items on top to make them look animated.

Monday, May 19, 2008

3D Wiz War: Part 8 - Items

The items were an easy group to make. The Wizard Blade, Dagger and Crossbow are all Reaper miniatures from their weapon collection. The large rock is just a pebble from my driveway painted and based. The Master Key is made of green stuff. For the Handful of Tacks I painted the ends of toothpicks and glued them to a clear acrylic base. The Teleportation Beacon is a tower made of green stuff. I made the top a separate piece. Both the tower and the top have micro magnets in them so that I can have the beacon be either on or off by removing the red ball.
On a more detailed note. Many of the miniatures I used are mounted on bases that have a lot of base showing; the weapons for instance. To make them match the board better I made an impression of the floor tiles with Sculpey clay. After baking the clay I used these impressions to press the green stuff covered bases into a replica of the floor tiles. So I now have bases that match the floor. Since I use so many bases for my miniatures I purchase them by the pint container from Gale Force 9. Their Econo Bases are great!

Friday, May 16, 2008

3D Wiz War: Part 7 - Objects

There are a number of cards that create objects in Wiz War. In fact an object is a broad term in the game. But today I stick with the items I made for the cards that specifically say "create object": safe, slime, stone, pit, rosebush and thorn bush.

The Fill Square with Stone was one of the easiest items to construct. I simply shaped a rough cube of blue Styrofoam to fill a game square, coated it with white glue, covered it with sand, and then painted it black with a dry brush of gray.

The Fill Square with Slime took a little more work. I first made a clay version of it. Then a mold of the clay. Then filled the mold with clear resin tinted with green ink. This is my first attempt at casting and mold making. Not bad, but it has a lot of air bubbles. Better instructions can be found here.

The Safe is a box of plastic card covered with green stuff and painted silver with a black wash. The bottom is open so it can cover items like treasure chests.

The Pit is just a square of floor tiles around a card stock base painted black. The Thorn bush and Rosebush are model railroading lichen soaked in a white glue and water mixture to make them stiff and mounted on a clear acrylic base. The rosebush has painted spots to indicate roses.

On an attached note - registration for this years Origins events has gone online. My 3D Wiz War game will be run on June 25th at 3:00 and on the 27th at 10:00 A.M. It is under the tabletop section of events.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

3D Wiz War: Part 6 - Walls

The walls and such were easy. The door for Create Door is just an extra door, and the small section of wall for Create Wall is simply a free-standing wall section.

For the Wall of Fog and Wall of Fire I used the images from Hirst Arts' download of Wiz War markers. I made bases for them by taking short floor tiles and gluing them to a card stock base with a gap in the middle to glue the wall section in.

The Wall of Glass is a piece of clear acrylic.

The Illusionary Wall to a bit more work. I first photographed a small wall section. Then processed it through Digital Imaging to fade it out. Finally, I printed the image on card stock to make an illusionary looking wall that matches my walls.

The Dust Cloud is an opened box made of frosted clear acrylic. It fits over a square and allows my to place figures on the square and be surrounded by a dust cloud.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

3D Wiz War: Part 5 - Monsters

When I started this project I knew there would be a lot of miniatures to make from scratch and paint. So the first thing I did when I started looking at the summon monster spells was to see if I had any pre-painted minis in my D&D collection that I could use in order to save time. The Ghoul, Big Black Bat, and the Fire Imp are D&D minis while the Skeleton and Troll are Reaper pre-painted miniatures.

The Democratic Monster is a D&D miniature repainted in appropriate patriotic colors. I chose the Warbond Impaler because it seemed to fit the description of a "horribly ugly monster" with lots of claws without being an easily identifiable figure.

I used Mega Miniatures when I could. Not only are they a great price, but they often have that old school flavor of miniatures that seems to fit the game. So the Wraith, Familiar, and The Buck are from the Mega mini line. The Buck should be larger, but it is hard to find a deer figure. I painted the cat to match my cat rather than making it black as per its card description..

The Alter Ego is another Mega Mini. I choose a suitably generic looking wizard and painted it in a black & white color scheme. Of course I should have used copies of each of the player wizard so everyone would have an Alter Ego to use, but this project was big enough already.

The Sub-Wizard is a familiar from a Reaper Familiar pack. I thought it looked cute. The shadow is a cardstock silhouette of a wizard I created in a graphics program. The Killer Ooze is made of silicone caulk on a clear plastic base with a Games Workshop zombie figure. I got the idea from Hirst Arts.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

3D Wiz War: Part 4 - Sticks

The sticks in Wiz War are magic wands. I could have simply used plain plastic rods on a base with a label to keep them separate on the board, but like the stones I wanted something more dramatic.

They are all based on 1" bases with 1/16" plastic rods to keep them uniform. I used green stuff to mold the features.

The Firefly Stick shows a stick wreathed in flames. I made six fireflies that the stick can cast, out of green stuff with acetate wings.

The Sticky Stick is of course a web with a plastic fly attached. The Warp Stick was made by putting the rod in a mass of green stuff and twirling. I then painted it to look like a black hole effect. I modeled the Shift Stick on a car's gear shift. The Blaster Stick uses the wand as a fuse for a cluster of dynamite.

Next: Monsters

Sunday, April 27, 2008

3D WizWar: Part 3 - The Stones

Part of the fun of building this game was in envisioning the different features like Sticks and Stones. There are no images of these in the game itself, only descriptions of what they do. The only pictures of them are generic stones and sticks with a "magic field" around them and a different color to help keep them seperate. Of course, the objects are usually not placed on the board - they don't need a marker unless they are "dropped", and they are most often simply put in the discard pile if they aren't being used. But if I was going to the trouble of building a three dimensional board then I wanted something more than just generic markers for these items.

I began with the stones. Having never sculpted miniatures before I thought that I had better start with simple designs. I decided to go with a basic stone-like look for each. Build them out of green stuff, make them look crude (easy enough). Some of the ideas were easy: like the Brain Stone. Others were hard: what does a Soul Stone look like? I stayed with a gray color sceme, based them on 1" circles, and labeled each.

The Soul Stone was the last one I made. It is actually a Reaper minis remounted to match the rest. The Power Stone is made to look like a battery, the Shadow Stone is a piece of Plasticard painted black to resemble a shadow of a stone and the Shield Stone is also a Reaper miniature shield.
The Speed Stone is of course a winged foot. A brain for the Brain Stone and a doctor's bag for the Health Stone. The Fighter Stone is a D&D mini rebased with green stuff over the legs to look like stone.
I used an open book for the Spell Stone, an eye-like object on a pedistal for a Vision Stone and the Blood Stone is a volcano shaped rock with blood filled cracks.

Next up: Some sticks.

Friday, April 25, 2008

3D WizWar: Part 2 - The Board

When I began this project, I needed to make two major decisions: would the walls be removable to show damage, and what size should I make the squares. The first took the most thought, planning and experimenting; the second was easy.

The square size was determined by the molds I had purchased from Hirst Arts. Since I already had the floor squares for the Egyptian terrain (#290), I was limited to 1" or 2" square spaces. By using four of the squares to make a space I would have plenty of room to fit monsters and terrain features on a space as well as fit in doors. Plus by using four blocks to make a square I would have a center mark for line-of-sight. I used 1/2" blocks between each floor space to make room for the walls and to use as space dividers.

Making the choice of how to show wall damage was a little harder. My first thought was to make each section of wall a removable piece. The difficulty with that method would have been that not only would each piece need to be a self contained wall, but I would need to make small columns between each section of wall to account for the spacers between each floor section. That would have made the board somewhat fragile to transport, which was a major consideration. Now Hirst Arts has molds for half thickness floor bricks that would have allowed me to recess the walls below the floor to make them removable, but when I began this project they weren't available. My next thought was to make an overlay to indicate the destroyed section. I made a u-shaped sleeve out of plasticard to slide over the wall. I then built section of destroyed wall and photographed it from both sides and the top. Then I took the images and pasted them to the sleeve. It didn't look bad, but not quite what I wanted, plus the problem of double thick walls where two boards join. Finally I had some custom "Destroyed" markers made by Litko. I just lay them on the wall - it looks great.

The walls are three bricks high. Since they are glued to the same board that the floor bricks are glued that makes the walls 1 1/2" high - slightly taller than the average miniature. I think it makes for a better dungeon feel than a shorter wall.

The doors that I started with where of an Egyptian look since I already had the molds. It wasn't really a good look for WizWar. But when mold number #282 came out I purchased it and switched all the doors to a more traditional dungeon door. Plus the mold has castings for treasure chests.

I decided to paint the board in sand colors. I could have gone with a more traditional gray, dungeon look, but I find the lighter color makes things easier to see and shows off the minis better. I painted the spaces and and walls one color, the 1/2" blocks between spaces a slightly darker color to help delineate the spaces, and a even darker color on the 1/2" blocks that the doors go on to make set-up easier.

I made stencils for the wizard homes and treasure squares. I then sponge stamping in four different colors. It gives a sort of airbrush design.

The blocks were glued on to 1/2" solid foam (I had a lot left over from building my Egyptian terrain). This makes the board sections very sturdy for transport. As a finally touch I glued matching tan felt to the bottoms of each section.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

3D Wiz-War

Two years ago I purchased a set of Hirst Arts molds for making Egyptian terrain for my pulp miniature games. While I was building the sets I realized I could use the floor squares and wall blocks to make a 3D Wiz-War board. I had seen pictures of Wiz-War boards using Legos and Dwarven Forge scenory and I thought those looked pretty cool. I have a Classic set of WizWar that we pull out on game nights for a quick and fun game. The paper boards and markers just don't have that extra something that miniatures do; so why not use the molds I had to build my own.

I began by building the basic blocks I would need as I was casting the parts for my pulp terrain, but there the project stalled. I knew I wanted to have it done for Origins 2007,but it just didn't happen. So this past winter I submitted an event for this years Origins and committed myself to finishing the project. A few weeks later Hirst Arts posted their own version of a 3D board. which gave me some more ideas and a final push to finish the project.

Over the next few posts I'll show more detail of this project. So check back often.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Miniature Storage

One of the problems of painting miniatures is the storage and transport of them. Sure, there are lots of different cases out there that you can buy, but why should I purchase them when I have a full woodworking shop. So I've come up with my own design.

I wanted it to be durable, a design that fit the theme of many of genre that I collect, and customizable for each theme. What I came up with is a ammo-box style box. I built it to hold the Sabol foam trays since these are easy to find at local game stores and come in a wide variety of thickness so I can use them for single figures up to armored vehicles. The design includes rope handles and simple metal hardware to complete the look.

Yes, the design is heavier (a little over 10 pounds) than a plastic case, but it certainly looks more distinctive when I show up at a game. I don't use them to transport a 3000 point army, just what I need for small battles.

Since I play .45 Adventures (a pulp setting), Battleground WWII, and 40K I needed designs to make each case unique. So I designed different stencils for each. The rocket corps and the top secret stencils are for the lids of my pulp figures. The Top Secret is from the crate of the Lost Ark from the end of Raiders. The German eagle and US star are for my WWII figures. The chaos and double headed eagle are for 40K figures.
I've had a lot of fun with them. Now I need a different look for my D&D figures.