31 March 2012

Solo Skirmish Infantry Rules

I've just uploaded my newest homebrew solo rules to my downloads page.  This latest game is called Our Space Age Army, and is intended as a d6 only skirmish game.  I designed it around my basing technique for 15mm figures, which groups 2-3 figures on one base.  The game certainly would work fine for 20mm to 28mm single-based figures as well.  The only limitation is a maximum of 10 units per side, due to the playing card mechanic for activation.  Of course, the player can simply group figures together as "units" and have as many figures on the table as he can stand.

I first designed the game for a fictitious Cold-War-gone-Hot scenario in 1960 Congo.  I wanted to use the Pentomic organizational structure of the US Army in that era.  Back then an infantry platoon consisted of about 47 troops.  My game was designed around 9 units, which is four 11 man squads broken into two fire-teams each, and a command section.  So although I call this a Platoon-level game, I guess the base unit is the fire team.  Since I wanted to show First-World nations alongside and versus decolonizing Africans, I designed a technology level mechanic into the game.  I realized that with the tech. level aspect, this game can be used for post-apocalyptic settings as well as science fiction ones.  In fact my playtest has not been set in Africa, but on an alien world, using Ground Zero Games' space suited infantry.

The game features infantry only rules.  Vehicles would be pretty easy to extrapolate.  I kept the rules fairly generic as well; for me I get all the "flavor" I need in a game from the miniatures themselves.  Special rules for troops just ends up in a rules-exception arms race.  My goal here was to make a one page set of rules.  Well, I crammed all the mechanics onto one page in 8 point font, but wasn't able to provide examples of play to clarify rules.  So if you have any questions let me know.

The document is 10 pages with the rules summary comprising the first page.  The rest of the pages feature all the charts necessary for play blown up to mondo-big size.  The intent is to either put the charts in cheap picture frames or glue them to foamboard and put them on the wall for reference during play, eliminating the need to flip through a book.

I've been playtesting for the last few nights and am having a ball.  I hate tokens in multi-player games as I find them ugly and cluttering, but they're essential for my solo play-style and allow a lot of chaos to keep me on my toes.  You'll need some tokens of your own, some d6 and a deck of cards as well.

Custom Action Tokens

Unlike some solo gamers out there, I cannot simply pick up my favorite set of multi-player rules and play, unmodified, a game against myself.  Perhaps I lack imagination but to me that feels too artificial with a dearth of surprises.  So I prefer games designed or highly modified for solo play, especially rules with intense randomization.  For me, an enjoyable solo experience is playing the part of each side's commander trying to force some order into an otherwise chaotic situation.  One of the best ways I've found to facilitate solo play like this is through the use of action tokens.  I'm playtesting a new platoon level skirmish game I made called Our Space Age Army, so I decided to construct some easy stack-able custom action tokens.

First I made the master token shapes using plumber's epoxy putty.  I smoothed out the putty and used tools to press in the symbols for attack, defense and move actions: cross-hairs, castellated line and arrow respectively.  I used a punch made from a scrap plastic tube to make the tokens round.  The putty cured and then I glued a nail to the back of each, making a master press.

Next I rolled out and flattened a strip of Sculpey polymer clay and pressed the shapes into it to an appropriate depth (about that of a penny).

Finally I poured water-putty into the depressions in the Sculpey strip and waited 100 to 200 minutes.  I removed the cured tokens without destroying the strip of clay; it's ready for more putty.  As the picture below shows, I still need to take some sandpaper to the edges, but the tokens are ready for paint.  I think they'll be plenty durable, but if not I'll add another mold-making step and cast them in resin instead. 


25 March 2012

DIY Spaceship Update

I got back from my business trip finally and returned to making miniature spaceships.  I made a resin cast of a new design right before I left but didn't get a chance to paint it before I departed, so I spent the weekend painting this one.

Well another rose-colored spaceship... not what I intended.  I wanted a fire engine red ship, but since I use ink washes heavily I add a lot of white to my base color to keep it light.  On the last two ship designs it worked fine, but on this one I think I would have been better served using straight red without toning it down.  The black ink would certainly be dark enough to pick out the detail, especially with drybrushing.  Oh well, I have the mold and enough resin to make a hundred or so casts so I'll make another copy and try a different paint scheme.

I like this ship design but not the photos.  I have too much sunlight coming in and washing out the color.  Also, all the tiny details combined with the almost flesh color of the ship gives the vessel an organic look, which is exactly opposite of what I was after.  Like I said, I'll cast another and do it up in proper mechanical grey.

 edit- Here's a few more pics.  I tried less light and while this makes the photos a bit dark, they show the effects of the ink and drybrushing better.

11 March 2012

DIY Spaceship Miniatures Continued

I poured a resin cast of my latest scratchbuild spaceship miniature design tonight.  I'm leaving on a business trip tomorrow and wanted to get this ship cast, filed and sanded, based and painted all tonight.

Unfortunately preparations for the trip took most of the evening, so I was only able to clean up the cast; attaching the lower hull, basing it on a flight stand and painting the whole thing will have to wait until after I return. 

The monochrome nature of the resin cast makes it hard to see the details in the picture below, but this miniature is my craziest design yet.  Maybe a little too over the top on detail, but I think it will paint up well.  The little object at the top of the picture is the exhaust nozzle for the ship's engine.  For the first time I'm experimenting with casting separate components which require assembly to complete the ship.

04 March 2012

Another Painted Resin Scratchbuild

I painted up the third resin cast of a spaceship design I sculpted; the unpainted cast first featured here.  I used the same basic techniques as last time, but took Matgc's advice regarding drybrushing and achieved a much subtler effect.  I'm happy with the results, although I may have used just a tad too much black wash.  Then again, the miniature through the camera eye looks completely different than it appears on the table, and the heavy wash helps me pick out the details across the room.