31 May 2012

6mm City of the Future WIP update

I poured wall number four last night and finished its detailing.  The roof just finished curing so later tonight I will scribe the panel lines and attach it.  Then only basing and painting remains.

The building is shown with one of my scratchbuild 1/300 tanks for scale comparison.

Thanks for looking.

The tank is 34mm long

29 May 2012

6mm Futuristic Building Scratchbuild (Cont.)

Work continues on my 6mm futuristic cityscape.  My molding attempts mentioned last post didn't work out, so I restarted.  Three walls completed so far.  I'm pleased with the results, but this method is far too time consuming to use on another building.  While waiting for the putty to cure however I experimented with an alternate method using the styrene from egg containers.  Much simpler so I should be able to get a decent city block completed by summer's end.

27 May 2012

6mm Sci-Fi City Block WIP

I'm starting to drill down to a workable set of 6mm science fiction rules, and eventually I'll need some terrain.  I'm going with my old standbys, Durham's Rock-Hard Water Putty and Sculpey, in order to construct multiple futuristic buildings using the same technique I used for my 10mm primitive houses.

Negative image of wall section

I produced one wall section (pictured below) and started a second, the opposite wall, which is curing now.  I plan to mold both of these two walls; right now I'm also waiting for the first layer of silicone to cure over the first wall section.  My thought process is that with molds I can replicate two walls of the same dimensions en mass.  Then I can vary the distance between these two walls on each building, avoiding a block of absolutely identical structures.  Also, I've only scribed about 2/3 the panel lines I wanted to in the wall section before I molded it.  That way whenever I pour new sections, I can scribe the panel lines differently for each, giving each wall its own character.  Each building will have a unique roof section as well, created with the same technique.

So far the method is not the cheapest in terms of materials and time.  I've been at it for a few hours and will end up using about half a tube of silicone for each wall section.  Still, once the molds cure I can crank out buildings a little faster.  

25 May 2012

Song of Tracks and Turrets?

All my homebrew rules start out as justifications for my scratchbuilding habit.  I get most of my satisfaction by building terrain and miniatures from nothing, but inevitably my girlfriend asks "but what do you use them for?"  So, like everyone else with a blog, I'm constantly producing my own game rules.

My spaceship game Greater Space Battles surprised me with how much fun it turned out to be, and I thought to replicate that in other genres.  So far lightning hasn't struck twice; ideas that seem great on paper fall apart on the game table.  In particular I just can't seem to nail down a fun and simple micro-armor game to go with my new scratchbuilds.  Well, I've decided to start with a published game known for being simple, fun, and solo-friendly.

Ganesha Game's Song of Blades and Heroes is a super-cool little miniatures game with a neat little activation mechanic that forms the basis of a number of derivative rulesets.  The author maintains a constant presence on the game's Yahoo group, patiently answering questions and providing updates.  One update I'm interested in is the 6mm spin-off of SoB&H that he's currently writing.  Unfortunately it won't be out for some time, and I want my tanks fighting now... so I'm trying to figure out how to adapt Song of Blades and Heroes for tank v. tank combat.

It turns out I'm not alone, in fact check out these cool 6mm forces on Space Cow Smith's blog, which he pitted against old Battletech 'mechs using the SoB&H rules.

One thing about Song of Blades and Heroes is the combat is very simple, just an opposed die roll with modifiers.  While great for modelling two swordsmen dueling, to me this just isn't the right flavor for hi-tech vehicular combat with large energy and ballistic weapons.  I'm trying to come up with modified shooting rules for SoB&H, but so far am a bit stuck.  So I'm reaching out to the gaming blogging community since I know this ruleset is popular with solo gamers.

Who else out there is using Song of Blades and Heroes to game sci-fi micro-armor combat?  How are you doing it?  

17 May 2012

Atomic Tank Platoon: Vehicle Construction Rules

I've been tweeking my micro-armor game Atomic Tank Platoon.  I've simplified the action resolution rules, using both bonus and penalty dice to define a tank's mobility and its weapons' capabilities.  More importantly the rules have expanded onto a second page featuring vehicle construction rules. 

The vehicle design rules make extensive use of dice rolling.  While the player still has plenty of decision making during the design process, the dice add quite a bit of randomness.  I realize that some people may not like this, but I see a number of advantages.  First, as a solo player I'm always interested in adding "unknowns" to my gaming experience.  Second, the dice rolling allows the rapid creation of new designs without having to pour over charts or use computer spreadsheets.  The randomization of the dice prevents (as long as the player doesn't fudge any rolls) the design system from being "broken" to create super-vehicles.  Finally, I think the dice rolling nicely simulates either those flashes of genius and innovation in vehicle design, or more commonly, those unexpected flaws that appear during testing, resulting in size creep and cost overruns.  And besides, like with rolling up a character in your favorite role playing game, it's just fun to see what the dice give you; you never know what you're going to get.

The second page also features a consolidated example of vehicle design and an associated vehicle readout for the sample tank.  The readout is in the shape of a 120 degree arc, which can be used for measuring turns and firing arcs in addition to its function as quick reference of the vehicle's capabilities.

Finally, hello to Andy, whose new blog features some incredible looking 15mm figures and terrain.  Check it out.

14 May 2012

6mm/15mm Sci-Fi Squinch Dome Finished

I'm eager to continue playtesting my sci-fi tank game, especially with proper terrain and miniatures.  To that end I've been back to scratchbuilding and tonight I finally finished the squinch dome I started some time ago.

I'm pleased with the structure itself, especially the high-tech walls, but not my paint job.  Looking on the finished product, I should have went with a bright yellow for the dome and squinches, not green.  As you can see from the third picture, I was going for a dazzle camouflage pattern on the arches, but with the white and black it ended up looking like a Holstein cow.  So I abandoned that attempt and instead switched to painting panel lines, which I think turned out surprisingly effective.  Still, I think next time I will carve the panel lines in the arches.

The building may look silly on my table-top with its garish color scheme, but I learned a lot of great techniques that I can use to mass produce similar buildings.  That'll give me plenty of practice at painting.

GZG 15mm Heavy Vac-suited trooper for scale

A small shelter at 15mm...

... or a university library at 6mm

13 May 2012

Move, Shoot, Communicate; Simple Sci-Fi Micro-Armor Rules

Posted to my downloads page is a set of solo-friendly micro-armor rules I'm calling Move, Shoot Communicate: Atomic Tank Platoon.  Really the game is fairly generic and could be used for almost any setting or era where combatants fight in small teams using firearms.

As the title implies, the focus is on moving, shooting and communicating, and the basic mechanic is rolling "situational awareness dice" to see if a unit can earn actions.  The game is d6 only and the typical amount of situational awareness dice is 4d6.  Earning an action requires rolling greater than a threshold established by the unit's quality, a`la Song of Blades and Heroes or Chain Reaction 3.0.  My game has a couple twists to hopefully set it apart from those great games and keep the spirit of fire team operations.  First, the activating figure is randomly chosen from only among those figures which can see the enemy (unless of course no unit on a side can see any opponents).  This represents the chaos on the battlefield that erupts upon contact with the enemy.  Second more significant is the communication mechanic.  After a side activates a unit and rolls situational awareness dice to earn and execute actions, that side may activate more units.  Subsequent units get one less situational awareness die each however (from 4d6 to 3d6 to 2d6 to 1d6 for example).  Spending one earned action on communication instead of moving or shooting however prevents the dice degradation.  So if each unit burns an action on communication an entire force may be able to act, each rolling 4d6 to determine actions.  Alternately units may eschew spending time talking on the radio, making only a small number of nonetheless dramatic attacks or movement.

I've playtested the game and it's decent fun.  It works better with larger numbers of units (~8 to10 minimum) and the token and marker requirement is minimal.  Give it a try.

EDIT- Although I haven't playtested it with new dice, I'm convinced the game will work better with d10s vice d6s.  This will allow seven different levels of armor, resulting in Defense Thresholds of 1 to 9 when coupled with a technology bonus to represent active defenses for contemporary and advanced units.  Of course, this requires reducing the move increment to 4cm versus 5cm. 

02 May 2012

Proper Micro-Armor Scratchbuild

My rules suck.  Well, at least the tank vs. tank game I recently posted does.  I tried it out with a few proxy figures and found them to be clunk-tastic.  I tried to use my infantry skirmish game (which I've had a lot of fun with) as the basis for the fighting vehicle rules.  The action token mechanic works great emulating an individual trooper choosing between keeping his head down and returning fire or dashing around.  It just didn't work for vehicles though.

So I've scrapped those rules and come up with new ones.  My thoughts about communication being the most important aspect of the tank platoon still influenced my design, but the mechanics are fairly different.  I need to test these before I post them however, and that brings me to the point of tonight's post: I made proper micro-armor scratchbuilds.

I used the same techniques detailed last post to make the putty masters of the components, but this time didn't mess around with crappy molding or casting materials.  I applied the silicone mold last night and demolded after 16-17 hours.  I usually wait 24 hours but got excited; the molds didn't seem any less cured however, probably due to their small size.   I mixed and poured the resin, demolded the cast parts, trimmed them up, and assembled two tanks in about two hours.

At about an hour per tank this is a big time investment for a 34mm long miniature.  Luckily my new rules are based around an individual platoon of three to six vehicles, so the number of models is low.  And since I'm using something like 0.4 cubic centimeters of resin per component, I know my financial cost per miniature is miniscule.