Miniature Mondays: a battlefield to call your own

More on Old Skool Skirmish today.

Eru-kin 01

Diehard miniatures join the ranks I’ll be using for my personal games. Some great models in their growing range. I particularly like the Eru-kin (above), though there are plenty of other gems lurking in the mix. The Eru-kin will do nicely as models for my Toad Lords retinue. Speaking of the Toad Lords, I’ve been working on the background for the SF version of OSS, and it’s broadly done now. That means I can work out which models I can use in each retinue – always a help when sorting out what needs to go on eBay:)

In fact, you can use whatever models you want in OSS. It’s not married to any specific manufacturer. Just pick whatever miniatures take your fancy, define some appropriate stats and equipment based on what the model looks like and is carrying, and off you go. At least, that’s the idea. And it almost works…

As I’m still sorting out some working space to actually do any practical modelling, I’ve been limited to planning what to make for OSS. Mostly I’ve been thinking about scenery.

For a while now, I’ve been pondering about the slightly unsatisfactory nature of most gaming battlefields. By “unsatisfactory”, I mean that they look like games rather than real environments. What I want, I think, is a battlefield that looks like people actually live and work there. It’s a place in a real/fictional world in which there happens to be a fight, rather than a battlefield that’s been set up for this battle. This fits the sort of scenario common in OSS, where fights break out between different retinues in an ad hoc fashion rather than along any sort of front line trench equivalent: dastardly assassinations, outrages at the marketplace, duels of honour, protection rackets gone wrong, interplanetary incidents, and so on. All sorts.

Add to this the fact that I’ve decided to start from scratch with OSS, and build everything afresh. That’s much more exciting than simply reusing the same stuff I’ve fought all sorts of games over. Let’s have a new environment for a new game.

Having scribbled a bunch of notes while I was travelling about, I realised that I needed to organise myself properly. I came up with way too many ideas I liked to fit into a single battlefield, and decided to break them down into themes. That worked out really well, and allowed me to find a thematically appropriate slot for each of my ideas. Some bits turn up more than once, and it may be that some bits of scenery can be used in a number of different themes. To start with though, I’m assuming each themed set of scenery will be discrete and separate.

What makes this a vaguely plausible project is that an OSS board is tiny – only 2 foot square. This suits the small retinues and the intimate (and decisive) nature of the fights. It also means you need to make fewer bits of scenery to fill the table. All good:)

So what’s my first theme? Tricky choice. After some deliberation, I’ve decide to start with a Plaza. This should be a relatively simple build, though even here I can hide a lot of visual interest. Hopefully, being simple, I can get it done faster than some of the other options.

What do I mean by Plaza? Here, Im thinking of the sort of urban space between buildings, where town planners have created a sort of concrete park – a space for the megacorporation’s salarymen to sit and decompress for 10 minutes between meetings, while they eat their pre-packed sashimi, Soma, or Soylent Green. Somewhere that adds a bit of greenery to a concrete and glass environment, though in a very controlled way. In other words, a broadly flat area with interesting stuff in it to fight around – but with a reason for it to be like that.

These pics are a few of the best ones I’ve found online and should give you the general idea of what I’m after. None of them are exactly right, so I’ll be picking bits from here and there and stirring them in a pot to come up with something new.

Plaza 01

Plaza 10

Plaza 03

Plaza 06Plaza 05Plaza 08Plaza 07Plaza 11Plaza 04Plaza 02Plaza 09

Posted in Miniature Mondays, Old Skool Skirmish, SF skirmish, Skirmish games, Terrain | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Played Nina & Pinta last night

I’ll be doing a full review of this once I’ve played a couple more games (I like my reviews to be based on at least 3 plays). However, I just thought I’d post my first impressions of this new game while they were fresh.

Nina & Pinta is a new game from Ragnar Brothers which I backed on Kickstarter. You may have seen them running demos at the UKGE. It’s set in the golden age of exploration and you basically sail back and forth to the New World setting up colonies and bringing back stuff. And attacking each other.

One unusual weirdness is that there are three New Worlds, named after Columbus’ ships: Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. It’s the first in the Ragnars’ “Quantum” series, and plays a little on the notion of multiverses. In the photo below you can see the three New Worlds radiating out from the centre. Each is based on the same map, but each land tile is randomly chosen, so you don’t know whether the Andes bit will actually be mountainous, or something else. There are also a scattering of gold mines, ancient civilisations (to plunder), and so on.

Being a bear of little brain., I forgot to take any pics, but Ben snapped one, so I can bring you a shot of the game just as it moves into the end stages.

Nina & Pinta 01On first play, it felt like there were three broad stages to the game. The first when you’re exploring the maps, when you’re more interested in grabbing stuff than fighting; the second when you’re filling up the land and starting to squeeze each other for resources; and the end game when there was quite a bit of carnage.

In the photo above you can see that all the land tiles have been explored, but there aren;’t lots of towns on the board. Lots of building and fighting is about to ensue.

As I said, I’ll come back with more detail another day. For now, let me just drop this game into your consciousness. I had a great time playing, and look forward to having another go. It also has a solo variant which I’m intrigued to have a go at as well.

A definite thumbs up so far:)

Posted in Board Gaming, Nina & Pinta, Review | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mantic UniCast Model

This is the last bit I’m going to be doing about UniCast for now. If you’ve been reading my other articles on the topic then you’ll know the drill by now. If not, then why go and have a quick read? I’ll wait.

This particular example is interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a test piece for Mantic. If they’re happy then they may do more. I’m sure everyone that hates their restic family of materials will be happy about that.

In case you were wondering, this is a limited edition model for the German Dungeon Saga release. I think. Something like that.

The second intriguing thing is the reason I think this is the least technically impressive of all the UniCast models I’ve seen: this model was originally intended to be cast in metal. It shows. You can see this most obviously from the infills under the loincloth and sleeve which would be necessary to remove it from the mould in a single piece if it was cast in pewter. A testament to how much more flexible UniCast is. How the undercuts on the other side (under his beard) would work in metal, I don’t know. Perhaps he was going to be a 2 piece model in metal. He’s one piece in UniCast.

This is also interesting because it’s the first UniCast model I’ve seen with a bent bit. I assumed it happened, so this is just confirmation that it’s behaving as expected. I’ve not tried bending it back yet and I’d guess that the old hot water/hairdryer tricks would work.

Anyway, on to the photos:)

German LE DS 01German LE DS 02

General front and back views.

German LE DS 04Bent sword.

German LE DS 03Backfills behind the loincloth and under the arm. Entirely normal for metal models, and presumably a thing of the past if you sculpt specifically for UniCast.

German LE DS 05

Fills behind the straps too. Again, with a sculpt that was designed for UniCast from the outset this could presumably be avoided. Odd that the model’s right side seems to show gaps and undercuts around pouches, beard and other bits which wouldn’t cast easily in metal.

Yes, I like UniCast. It seems able to create models that you simply can’t do in anything else (in a single piece), and I’m impressed. Yes, I also know that Prodos has some issues as a company, and that’s important too. I just hope that their obvious technical cleverness can help them out of those issues, because it would be a crying shame to lose this baby with that bath water.

 

Posted in Dungeon Sagas, Mantic, UniCast | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Miniature Mondays: in the beginning

Miniature Mondays is a regular slot for me to talk about playing with toy soldiers. For the moment, this will be a sort of project log for the Old Skool Skirmish rules I’ve been working on, together with the models I’m using for it.

OSS started as an amusement for myself: the sort of design puzzle I invent periodically as an exercise in making interesting stuff. It wasn’t intended as a finished product, though it may now end up as something I stick on a POD site.

GrumpyIt was Colony 87 (left) and Macrocosm (below) that sparked my original idea. If you could make retro figures, why not retro rules? I liked the notion of writing things in a slightly different style to my usual one, just as an experiment. In any case, what constituted retro rules? That seemed like an interesting question. Was it a case of including X or leaving out Y? I think the answer is a bit of both.

Of course, nostalgia is a funny thing, and a very personal one. OSS feels like an 80s game to me, but it might not to you. It depends on your personal experience with them.

 

Since I decided to try my hand at this, I’ve been rummaging among the mountains of lead I have already, and surfing the web to find other interesting possibilities. There are loads of great figures out there, many seldom seen and deserving of a bit more love. I’ll come back to these companies when I’ve had a chance to ask them whether they mind me associating their models with my game. Some people are funny about that sort of thing.

DiggersMy aim is to avoid figures that remind me of other games I know well (because that’s distracting), so I probably won’t be using Necromunda figures, for example. That’s just me though, and the rules will allow you to include whatever you like.

 

Posted in Miniature Mondays | Tagged | 14 Comments

DZ2 FAQ up

deadzone-2nd-edThis has gone live on the Mantic download page.

Posted in Deadzone, FAQ | Tagged , | 27 Comments

Made Me Smile :)

Just found one of the most amusing Kickstarter videos I’ve seen. Thought I’d share it with you:)

Posted in Random Thoughts | 4 Comments

Adding Some Structure

I’m trying some different ways of organising my work, my posts, and my gaming.

For this site, whilst a rigid format is probably unhelpful, I think a bit of structure is useful. With that in mind, I’m going to try out some fixed days with fixed topics.

What I’m going to start with, and what I think will fit well, is Miniature Mondays (MM). At present, I don’t have any miniature game client work. Sure, several of the board games I’m working on will have miniatures (some of them really quite lovely), but they’re board games with miniatures rather than miniature games per se. A very different beast.

This leaves me a bit of head space to reclaim miniatures games as a hobby, sort of. Or at least mess about with them for my own amusement rather than someone else’s requirements. Until the next client job comes along😛

MMTo start with at least, MM will effectively be a project log for the Old School Skirmish game I’ve been working on. I’ve got some ideas for articles, and I’m sure more will come. For now though, just know it’s coming, starting next Monday.

What I won’t be doing much or any of on MM is reviews. I think of these as a separate thing, even if I end up using the models in OSS. Reviews are both a chance to dig into a game or model range in detail, and often to use it as a springboard to talk about a specific feature that has a wider implication. I’ve also got more miniatures I’d like to review than will fit into one day a week, so it won’t really work anyway. Naturally, I’ll still be talking about models a lot on MM, just not in review format.

 

Finally, before I add any more of the ideas I’ve got for days, I need to go through the UKGE stuff and resolve the FAQs. Aiming to get the decks cleared of all that by the end of this month:)

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