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.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

To Build a Game Room

One of the nice benefits of living on a hill, besides the view, is that when we added the addition to our house it was necessary to build a basement under it. True, we could have just put in a slab, but it actually would have cost more because of the fill needed to support the foundation. So after I had completed building the North Wing as we call it I had a lovely 30' X 14' basement. We did what any game playing family would do - we turned it into a game room.

For the first few years it worked very well for us. I had drywalled it, given it good lighting, put down some old rugs, and had lots of unfinished shelves to hold our game collection. But it was still just a glorified basement. So this past year I decided to redo it. Since it was going to be for game playing I decided to let the games pay for it. I began by selling off my Warhammer 40K army. Not only did that give me plenty of cash to remodel the room but let me buy more games and have a great time at Origins.

I started by putting in a ceiling and painting the floor. The color scheme for the room is black and deep red with lots of white to keep things bright. Next I put in more shelves and finished all of them in black - to show off the games and models better. I built a game table to replace the old, flimsy one. Put down carpet. Built a small partition in one corner to hid the dehumidifier (a must in NE Ohio - especially if you want to keep games in good condition). Constructed a paint/modeling station and a bar. There are definite advantages to having had a wood working business and owning a woodshop.

Finally I was able to put everything back and decorate. I framed some of my favorite posters as well as purchased new ones. Put up a dry erase board. Filled the shelves. And have been enjoying ever since.

The first photo shows the room from the entry. Starting on the left you can see the wall with the dry erase board and then the shelves for RPG's, paper models, war games and my collection of Knights of the Dinner Table, Dragon, Dungeon and White Dwarf magazines. The far wall is for miniatures; the center section under the window are glass shelves to display my best minis. The right far shelves are double deep to hold terrain boards. The stacking containers are for the Heroscape collection. Then comes more wall space, the family game shelves and finally the paint station.
The second picture is looking towards the door. You can see the family and eurogames shelves, the door and then the bar. The table is actually two separate 4' X 4' tables. I usually leave it at as one table for Dungeons & Dragons and miniatures, but when we have a large game night it is easy to pull apart to have two game tables.
All in all it has been a lot of fun and a good investment of my time and money.
I've add more photos.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Forlorn Hope - Tallarn 14th

One of my many hobbies is miniature painting. Back in the spring of 1998 I began to assemble a Warhammer 40K army of Imperial Guards. I really liked the looks of the Tallarn units so I decided to create an army based on a Lawrence of Arabia type theme (after all the figures do have a somewhat WW I look to them). I came up with a general plan of how I wanted the army to look with a unified theme of color and markings. I had never done any serious miniature painting before, only an occasional figure for Dungeons & Dragons and I had recently finished some Man O War ships. So I was taking on a large and unknown task. But physics majors are anything but humble and I had just finished building our home so I was ready for a new activity.

Why did I pick 40K? Yes I know there is a love/hate relationship with Games Workshop: the prices are too high, the rule system isn't good, they don't respect their fans/customers; but the figures are really good, and you can always find someone that plays. One of the biggest draw for me (besides the cool figures) was the fact that there was only one game store in town (the next nearest was an hour away) and they had a large and active 40K community. The other plus was that since I owned a game company (it was educational so I didn't carry 40K), I could get the figures at cost.

First I planned my army. The key figures would have names taken from Lawrance's life and adventures. The paint scheme would all have a unifying color: desert colors with different colored of head scarves for each platoon and stripes on the vehicles.

I limited my purchases to $30 dollars a month (which went pretty far at cost). The entire project took until the spring of 2006, since I didn't work on it constantly. A major problem that arose was the change from 3rd to 4th edition of the rules. That caused some restructuring of my army and the need to add the brown platoon. They are not Tallarn, but Cadian. I reasoned that they are replacement troops.

By the time I had finished the army I had come to a realization. I really enjoyed painting and modeling, but I didn't enjoy 40K. I find the universe too dark and game dull. Yes, the game has great potential, just read some of the article in White Dwarf magazine, but unfortunately most of the players just want to slam their armies together and roll the dice. A flanking maneuver is considered high strategy around here. Sure, I had some good games at Origins and other special events I traveled to, but those were few and far between. Plus once the local game store closed there wasn't even the so-so players anymore. I even tried using Star Grunt as a rule system, which is really good, but no one else around here plays it.

So last year I put my army up for sale. Asking at various game store and the online community I was told that I could expect to sell it for $600 to $800. Yes it was painted nicely and yes it was a large army, but the figures were old and 40K players just wouldn't pay much for it. Well it took my several month to sell it: on ebay and to local gamers, but I was able to sell it for list price of the figures as well as the time and energy spent on it. So for those of you out there thinking about selling miniatures at a price that covers your work it can be done, but it will take a little of your time and energy.

So here are the pictures of my Tallarn 14th.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Where have I been?

Well it certainly has been a while since I posted anything on this. My last entry was back in July of 2007 just after Origins. I had such good intentions. Oh well.

Since then we have moved back to our home in the country. The stay in Columbus was only temporary. For the most part it is good to be back here.

Durning the summer and fall my daughter and I worked on remodeling the game room. It was a fun project and it looks really nice. I'll do a post on it soon.

This past winter was spent moving back in, working on projects around the house, and acting/producing a chuch play on the Last Supper.

So now I have lots to post about and some down time to do it - hopefully I can be more regular.