Sunday, December 23, 2012

Not Really Winged Victory

Sometimes things just don’t come together.   

As I wrote in I picked up some actual “Little People” pegs from the craft store.  I figured it would be simpler to use them rather than cutting down the doll clothespins like I have been doing. 

I assembled one for comparison; then decided to assemble all three.  Looking at them, they are just a skosh bigger than the cut down figures. 

  But as soon as I added arms and weapons they loomed even larger.  This left me with a dilemma.  What could I make that was just a bit bigger than a normal man?  Inspiration struck.  Men of Minas Tirith in its glory days, before the blood of Numenor became diluted with that of lesser men.  Then I had another idea, I could make men of the Tower Guard.  I needed to make winged helmets.  In my mind’s eye, I saw this:

What I got was this:

Refrains of  Elmer Fudd singing“I have my speah and maaaagicccc helmet” went through my mind.  Luckily, wings could be plucked easily, allowing me to go back the drawing board pretty painlessly.  

Time to get painting the figures that I have already assembled.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The family that games together....

Today I took the day off from job seeking to game with my daughter. She was too sick to go with my wife and mother-i-law when they braved the mall. While we were painting she asked me if we could play Schleich with Rules, her shorthand for wargaming. While I cleaned up the paints, she broke out her collection of fairies, historicals and animals.

They are rules we came up with when the Monkey was old enough to want to play with rules.  As she gets comfortable with new gaming concepts, we add new rules to cover them.  

The dreaded Snot Monkey sets up her forces

Dastardly Daddy already has a casualty
Fighting over the magical poofy flowers, because nobody really likes to share. My pony got there first.

Rolling the scatter dice.

The pony got it. 

Behold the carnage wrought by one fairy child on a pony.  So far I am not doing too well.  The dice gods did not favour me.

Louis XIV comes to my rescue, whomping on the fairy child, but not in time to save the Burgundian Court Lady.  

The Monkey's scatter dice rolls were dead on, reducing my reserve forces to one tiger kitten. Even my catapult was taken out.

Marie Antoinette gets ready to pimp slap Prince Charming.

Finally, the Last Airbender manages to stave off assaults from Marie Antoinette, the Flower Fairy and Jeanne d'Arc, leaving only the Princess with the Fan, who conceded gracefully. As did the monkey.

I have to admit that I was really tickled that my daughter asked me to play and I was really pleased with how she kept track of the rules, even correcting me when I messed up.  It all came down to some lucky dice rolls. 

The Monkey's Rules

Skirmish Rules for vinyl figurines.

These are the rules I came up with for playing wargames with my daughter, affectionately known as Monkey.

Basic move distance is the length of a hand (h), from index finger to wrist. We're using Schleich/Star Wars size figures.  You could decrease the distance for smaller figures.

Basic combat for everything except catapults is opposed die roles. 

WYSIWYG for determining what base number of dice (d6) a figure has i.e. the figure must have a weapon attached or have claws to count as armed/predator.

Categories- d6s are cumulative based on how many categories a figure has
Two footed- Move 1h, 1d6
Four footed- Move 2h, 1d6
Winged-       Move 2h; ignore terrain/opponents 1d6 
Armed/predator/fierce- Move as category +1d6
Armour/shield/helmet- Move as category +1d6 (defending only)
Fairy/magical/enchanted- Move as category +1d6
Mounted- Move as mount category, +1d6 for just Four Footed, +2d6 for fierce/predator
Charging- +1d6

Start the game:
Pick your figures.  Pick a short edge of the table to be your base.  Each player rolls a d6, high roll wins.  The die result is the number of actions a player has on their turn.  Each figure can use up to two actions. (Except the catapults and placed figures on the turn they are placed)
Actions are:
Placing a figure.
Moving up to max movement/charging
Casting a spell
Reviving a down figure

Players can use all some or none of their actions on their turn.  Once players complete all the actions they want, the turn moves on to the next player, until all players have had a turn.  Players dice again, highest role goes, down to lowest. 

Player selects figure to put on table from ones they picked. Figures can be placed on the table anywhere within 2h of the short edge.

Players can move figures up to max movement, have to go around knocked over figures/terrain, unless winged.  Regular movement is measured. 

Charging is usually how figures get into combat.  Player declares what figure is charging what target and charges.  If the distance is equal or less than the charging figure’s max move, combat follows immediately, with charging figure getting its bonus.  If the figure comes up short, it’s stuck out there until the player’s next turn.

If you had a man (1d6) with a sword (1d6) on a horse (1d6) charging (1d6), you would role 4d6.  If the opposing figure was a fairy (1d6) on foot (1d6) with a wand (1d6), you would role 3d6.  Each side roles, highest total wins, losing figure is knocked over and out unless revived. 

Casting a spell: 
Spell range is up to the figure’s max movement.  Player casting the spell declares what its effect is.  (I turn the king into a newt!) Die rolls are the same as for combat, except if the spell casting figure loses, it’s only out for the next turn.  It is defenseless and only rolls a d6 if attacked and can’t knock over an attaching figure even if it defends itself. If the target loses, it’s knocked over and out unless revived.

Shooting range is up to the figure’s max movement.  Shooting player declares target and rolls, defending player rolls. Low roll loses.  If shooter is loser, the figure can’t shoot for two turns.  If the target is the looser, it’s knocked over and out unless revived.

Knocked over figures can be revived by magical or medical figures.  Player declares that a figure is going to revive another.  Reviving player roll dice like they were attacking, another player rolls twice the target figure’s defense dice.  High roll wins.

Special Rules
Catapults and other siege engines are notoriously inaccurate and slow to fire.  Catapults can fire once per turn.  Use scatter dice. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Painted Roman Legionaries and Armoured Celtic Chieftains

I painted up two of my Romans, one with an Attic helmet and one with the more classic helm style. I’m happy with how the helms turned out.  I am more on the fence about the armour.  The armour is silver brushed over black, with lines painted for the segmenta lames.  My gut says to go the opposite, paint the silver lines over the black.  I’m going to try this for the next pair I paint. 

I painted the colours directly on the wood this time, forgoing the primer coat because I didn’t like how the paints behaved over the primer.  I think it went better, it certainly was more enjoyable. The paints don’t like the card I’ve been using for the shields; it’s the card that my paint pens’ blister pack was glued to.  It must have some sort of coating that inhibits absorption.  I may change to balsa instead, although I do like the ease of cutting card.

The second figs I painted are the chieftains for my Celtic war band.  They are senior warriors, with enough prestige and wealth to afford body armour and helmets. 

  I really like the helmets!  They are based loosely off helms “jockey cap” helms found in France’s Marne valley and Northern England.   The neck guard is foam and the ball is a 4mm bead spacer for jewelry.  The horse tail is white thread glued into the ball.    They are wearing chain mail armour.  Once again the armour proved problematical.  I understand now why medieval manuscript artists used a sort of visual short hand for chain mail.  I just have to figure out what mine is going to be. I tried two different styles, one with black and white dots and one with just black dots.  I don't really care for either.  I'm trying for something more like this 13th century drawing of St Mary kicking butt:

 The beauty of painted on detail is I can paint over it when I get better! 

When I was over at the local Michaels, looking for paintbrushes, I saw that they had some wooden peg people in their tiny little wood craft section (seriously, what is it about craft and hobby stores lately, nothing but clay, scrapbooking and jewelry making supplies), so I picked up a package of the “boy” and “man” pegs to see how they compared to the cutoff clothespins I have been using. 

The man peg is about 2 ¼ inches and will make a good giant or troll, since the clothespins are about 1 ½ inches, give or take.  The boy peg is 1 11/16, just a little bigger, as you can see here. 

  The head is really round though; I’ll have to make up some figs using the ones I bought and see how I feel about the look before I jump in and buy a whole bunch from an online retailer.  It just feels really wasteful to buy the clothespins, only to cut off 2/3s of them.  Though now I have a bunch of kindling for the woodstove!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Friends, Romans, Countrymen!

I began work on the opponents for my Gallic Celts, Roman legionaries.  Let me be upfront and state that these figs, like the Gauls and pretty much anything I make, are more inspired by history than historically accurate.  Why? Well, because, frankly my assembly and brush skills are not up to the task of making very accurate representations of the troops that I’m basing the figs upon.  This might have given me pause, except for the fact that I’m doing this for my own enjoyment and my daughter recognized the Roman right off the bat.

With those caveats in mind, let’s get on with the build.  As with the Gauls, I started with a trimmed down doll clothespin. 
  Originally, I was going to make the Romans less stylized and more like the troops Caesar led into Gaul.  When I did some research however, it seemed to me that visually, the legionaries of this period looked less quintessentially Roman than the later Imperial troops.  Really, they looked pretty dang Celtic!  Which makes sense, given that the Romans shamelessly borrowed equipment ideas from their opponents. 

So I went with a more Imperial style of trooper.  To me the visually iconic things about the Imperial legions are the rectangular scutum shield, brimmed helmet and segmented armor.  The scutum was pretty straightforward, a simple card rectangle.  The armor would be a painted detail and hopefully simple again.  The helmet gave me a little pause, until I came across a post on Dale’s Wooden Warriors blog, where he shows how he made a brimmed German pickelhaube helmet and another where he talks about using craft foam for brims and other details. The foam is cut so that it matches the curve of the head and glued on. After the glue dries, the foam is cut down to the size and shape you want. That’s how I ended up with this:

Which trimmed down to this:

I added the arms, sword, shield and base.  When I showed it to my 9 year old and asked her what she though it was, she said “A Roman soldier.” Success!

There is another iconic helm style that can be seen in Classical Roman art, what’s called the Attic helmet.  As in Attica Greece, not the place in your house where all the decorations go to be forgotten about.  I gave that helmet a try here, I’m still on the fence about it.  Of course, I did find out after I put two figs together that the Attic helmet is a high ranking officer’s helmet, not something a grunt hurling a pila would wear! Hence the inspired by history disclaimer.

I also gave one of my legionaries a round shield, thinking I would make him a signifer, the man who carried the legion’s standard.  He also wore a lion pelt over his helmet and shoulders. I have no idea how I’m going to make that!  

Painting is coming up soon.  My mother-in-law told me today that Joann's is having a sale on acrylic paints, so I'm of to replenish the supply I had leave behind in Germany.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My first painted little people or, A Gallic War Band

Today I painted some of the figs I assembled over the weekend.  They are young members of a Gallic war-band. Since they are fairly new to the trade, they haven't amassed enough fame or fortune to have  body armour.

Here's a view from a different angle:
My mother-in-law says they are "darling", but she could just be humoring me because I'm the family cook!

They are wearing simple checked plaid, mostly because according to "Caesar Against the Celts" by Ramon Jimenez, ( )  that's what Gauls wore at the time. Also, by brush skills are not up to something more complicated.  I may add some blue whirls to simulate woad tattoos, but that seems to be more of a Briton fashion statement.

Here's the whole band, pre-paint:
They are made out of a doll clothespin, with the legs sawn off.  I went that route because neither of my local craft stores had people pegs of the right gender and size.  Their arms are popsicle sticks trimmed to fit and the weapons are flat toothpicks.  The bases and shields are heavy cardstock.  I think I'm going to switch to wooden disks for the bases because the more I handled the figs, the mushier the sides of the bases became.

Once I finish painting the young guys, I will paint up some armoured warriors.  Then I have to make some Romans for historical enemies and some Fomorians for fantasy enemies.  

In case you didn't get what I meant by little people, here's a pic of some vintage ones.
Fisher-Price stopped making this peg style sometime in the 80s.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Toys gone feral

This blog is going to be a place for me to post my creations; as well as ideas about homemade war-game figures and terrain.

It is hobby season here at my house. At least for me it is. The 81 straight days of sun we had here in the Puget Sound are but a sad soggy memory.  I’ve lived in enough other rain soaked regions to not let the rain get me down too much, but when the temps drop and rain comes, my mind thinks of places warm, dry and snug and things I can do there.

Hey! Keep it G-rated man!  This is a family blog!

Ok, where was I? Ah yes, hobbies.  Man’s gotta have some or he’ll go stir crazy, and I have several. The problem is right now my work life is in a state of transition and we are living on a fixed income.  Meaning, I retired from the US military and am still seeking a civilian job and retirement pay don’t go too far in the Puget Sound. Most of my hobbies cost more than I want to spend at this point in time. 

I happened to come across the Yahoo group Wargaming on a Budget  The folks who post on that group make war-game figures out of paper, clay, wooden craft piece, clothespins and other household items.  I used to game pretty often and had an extensive collection of minis.  However, as prices began to climb and rules began to change, I left the hobby, mostly.  The thing I enjoyed the most about war gaming wasn’t the actual game (where I had the uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, regardless of rule set), but the making and painting of the minis, vehicles and scenics.  I’d still been futzing around with the figs I had right up until I divested myself of them, despite not playing in ten years. 

So this group inspired me, especially two or three of the members whose style of building and painting reminded me of the toys I saw at the German Christmas markets and Kathe Wolfahrt stores. Dale over at really captures that “old world toy” vibe.  

But why The Little People Go To War?  Well, my first batch of figs, a Gallic war-band made from cut down doll clothespins, popsicle sticks and card board were finished today. I sat there, trying to figure out how I was going to paint them, especially the faces, and then I realized they looked my old Fisher-Price Little People gone "savage and wild".  There was my theme, the idea I would keep in mind when designing terrain and scenic pieces.  

I know the post should have some pics, but my wife has the camera today and she and my daughter are out and about.