31 December 2014

Friday Night Fights Boxer Sculpt WIP

I purchased the boxing game Friday Night Fights from Two Hour Wargames a few days ago and I am already hooked.  The game truly plays brilliantly solo, which is a rarity.  I'll be doing an actual review in the near future, as soon as I get a few more matches under my belt.

In the meantime I decided to sculpt a few boxers for my bouts.  Friday Night Fights can be played simply on a piece of paper with no counters whatsoever.  I wanted to teach myself to sculpt however, so I figured making some boxers is as good an excuse as any.

Pec implants, a samurai stance and giant left glove…

The figure scale is 40mm to the eye, standing straight up.  The medium is SuperSculpey Firm.  The figure's a bit rough but since it's my first, I'm happy with it.  The head is attached with glue right now; I still need to build up the neck region.  The last steps before painting will be to dress the figure with shorts and shoes, as well as give him some hair.

The base is intentionally large as I plan on providing areas there to write in the boxer's statistics to minimize referencing data sheets.

22 December 2014

Solo 1/600 Jet Combat: France vs USSR

The holidays are finally here!  In the short time I have off I've already experienced a burst of creating and gaming, including further play test of my home-brew solo 1/600 jet combat rules.

Continuing my Cold War gone hot scenario based around the Congo Crisis of 1960-63, the Soviets threaten to take direct action versus the tiny (one fighter) Katangan Air Force that has been harassing the army of the leftist Congolese government.  Not wanting to be seen as a weak tool of the US government, Secretary-General Hammerskjold (who survives his plane crash in my alternate history) begs the French Air Force to provide two Mystere IVs to keep the peace.

The French rondel was difficult

Wonderful Tumbling Dice jets take inks so well

The French pilots however are well aware that Belgian mercenaries fly the Katangan Fouga Magisters, and are loathe to fire on their fellow western europeans.  As such, they've "missed" the Magister taking off to strafe Congo trucks a few times, to the anger of the USSR.  The Soviets have had enough and launch a pair of Yak 25s, based out of Angola (another change to real history), to destroy the Magister on the ground.

I started the Yaks at the bottom corner of the hex mat, with the target airbase near the other edge.  I rolled 3d6 and dropped the lowest die, summing the remaining two scores.  If the dice sum was equal or less than the turn number, then the French fighters appeared on the edge near the base.  Weighting the dice rolls like that ensured randomness but also gave the Yaks enough time to make a strafing run.

The Mysteres did not appear until turn 9, one turn too late!  On turn 8, chalk two of the Yaks made brilliant strafing run and destroyed the Katangan Magister.  Mission complete, the Soviet fighters turned for Angola; but the faster French fighters were closing…

The pictures show the intercept turn and man was it fun.  The lead Mystere, high above his prey, turns to split the formation of Yaks.  Knowing there's no escape the Yak trail bird pulls hard into a climbing left turn, forcing the lead Mystere's hand.

Classic wingman support

The French lead banked hard right to keep the trail Yak in sight, just barely avoiding a hail of 37mm shells.  Cursing he increased the aggressiveness of the turn, seamlessly transitioning to a barrel roll.  As he returned to right-side up, boom! the speed brakes were deployed.  Straining against his harness he felt his stomach in his throat as he pushed the nose over hard, holding the nose right on the closing Yak.  Just one breath to let the Soviet close then he held the trigger, exulting as smoke erupted from the Yak's starboard nacelle and fuselage.

Speed and altitude differential saves the Mystere…barely!

The trail Yak was reduced two condition levels and just couldn't keep it in the air, crashing a number of turns later.  The French, pushing the limits of fuel, turned back toward their base, allowing the other Soviet to flee.

The Yak gambled…and ended up in the Mystere's sights

That was the "official" story, but in order to play test other concepts I actually frozen everyone's fuel and had two SU-9 Fishpots enter on the Soviet edge.  They fired two semi-active homing missiles at the lead Mystere.  The French lead, so worried about trying to break missile lock, then failed to take the lead Yak into account.  The Yak-25 avenged his wingman, crippling the lead Mystere right before the first missile slammed into it.

Overall another great home-brew experience.  I tested out a ton of changed rules, including new fuel, gunnery, missile and aerobatics rules.  Lots of good lessons learned, such as my missile rules are a little too powerful for this era.

23 November 2014

Solo RPG: Marvel SAGA (TSR) Custom Card Update

Just a short update… making progress on my cards, as shown below.

First ten cards done
In a future update, I'll describe how I use the letters on the bottom left-hand corners to generate random words for adventure ideas.  It works better than I could've hoped; I'm done with my old dice method.

17 November 2014

Solo Super Hero Gaming: Custom Cards for Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game (SAGA)

One of the stupidest things I've ever done was sell my comics and my games.  Over 10 years ago I purged my collection and left gaming behind.

Since then, as evidenced by this blog, I've discovered solo gaming and rekindled that passion for creating stories as only role-playing games can do.

A reading of the first volume of Jack Kirby's Fourth World Anthology has got me in the mood for creating super-hero tales.  It's also got me pining for my copy of TSR's Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game (MSHAG), using the SAGA system, which I sold off long ago.

Looking for a copy of the game online has left me speechless, as I had no idea how rare and collectible and hence pricey the game is.  While I might be able to get my hands on the rulebook, the cards necessary for play seem to be extraordinarily hard to find.  That got me thinking…do I need those cards?  Why can't I make my own?

Thanks to great RPGGeek user Almafeta, I know all the important details of the cards (Callings, Auras, Events, Values, Suits).  Using this data, I am working on making my own cards which will allow me to play this game again.  A picture of one of the cards is below.  I left off the character because frankly, that was always useless in our campaigns (Doctor Doom is just going to randomly appear?  Or worse, Sabra?  Come on.)

Borders need trimming

I'm making the cards with a Kirby feel, complete with cosmic crackle.  I've added a large white space in the center.  My thoughts are as the campaign develops, I can write certain key words (as the cards will be covered in plastic) in this space, reflecting additional information gained as the plot develops.  For example, after a pitched battle with strange creatures our heroes learn the monstrous adversaries are Deviants.  I would then write "Deviant(s)" on the card and if the card came up again, it could result in another revelation, or perhaps another battle.  These words could be especially powerful when combined with the Event on another card, or with a random word.

Speaking of random words, the other thing I added was the letter in the left hand corner.  The letters use generally the same distribution as Scrabble since there are going to be 100 cards.  The thought here is that these letters can be combined (randomly however, not like Scrabble) to form words.  These words, once formed, could then be transferred to the big white area (Plot area?) of one of the cards.  The next time this particular card with the random word is drawn, it could be used to send the story spinning off in a totally unexpected direction.

The SAGA system will be used for action resolution, but for "roleplaying" I need some additional mechanics since I'm playing solo.  I plan to use a house "magic eight ball" system I've cobbled together using ideas from the FU RPG as well as inspiration (but no real mechanics) from the Mythic GM Emulator.

12 August 2014

Janko's Tanks and Planes

Reader Janko used some of my techniques to make these cool little tanks and jets.  Very creative stuff; check them out...

10 August 2014

DIY 1/600 Air Combat Hex Mat

Actually, an internet vendor did it for me, but I had to create the pattern.  Best $25.00 I've probably spent in wargaming.

I found this website called Build-A-Sign so I went there and selected a 3 foot by 3 foot custom vinyl banner.

Next I went to Microsoft Powerpoint and started a new presentation with a custom slide size of 3 foot square.  I inserted a screen capture of an aerial view from Google Maps and resized it to fit the slide.  Since the original image was 72 dpi, this resulted in massive pixelation but I didn't mind.  I simply cranked up the transparency on the image to wash it out.

Next I created a 1 inch hex pattern in Powerpoint using a shape file and overlaid it on the aerial image, saving the whole thing as a composite image.

Finally I uploaded my newly created composite image as the custom background for my vinyl banner, selected "no grommets" (excellent that they have that option), and hit "order".  About 10 days later my vinyl banner showed up.  The hexes are perfectly 1 inch and while not extraordinarily crisp, still far better than I could do by hand.  Since the mat is vinyl and meant for outdoor display it's very tough and looks water/dirt proof, yet rolls up tight and is light.  The banner cost $25.00 with shipping being free and fast.

I've been busy building a vacuum-former, trying out new sculpting techniques, and of course working, but now I'm going to have to paint some more planes up!  Oh and post my solo jet rules...

SU-9 launching missile

3 foot by 3 foot square

1 inch hex patterns

01 June 2014

6mm Sci-Fi Micro Armor Terrain: The Seven Dollar City

I'm taking a break from some online games of Mythos to get back to scratch building.  I've neglected my 6mm sci-fi tank platoons for a long time, but I got some inspiration from a couple of excellent library books and my homebrew tank v tank solitaire rules are coming together again.

The only way these solo rules will be any fun is if the table features a lot of cover.  I came up with a way of making cylindrical towers from polystyrene cups that takes just a matter of hours.  After getting a proof-of-concept design 70% complete and learning a number of valuable lessons, I rushed off to the dollar store to get more supplies.  The total cost of materials was just under  $7.00 US, not counting things already on hand like glues, paints and bits for details.  I should be be able to get about 7 to 10 buildings from this purchase.

Below are some pics of the proof-of-concept building.  The tower proper is not yet complete, nor is it based.  I'm very happy with the roof detailing, but the ground floor needs some definite work to really make it look like a real structure (like a door perhaps...)  I'll finish up this building and then start mass-producing the others, based on the lessons-learned from this first one.  I'll take pictures of these subsequent towers and post a tutorial.
Scratchbuilt tank is 31mm long

Detailing on the roof really makes the building
Need to base and add ground-level details

22 May 2014

MYTHOS CCG Custom Adventure: The Dreams in the Witch-House

Here's an Adventure that can be used by any of you old stalwarts out there still playing the MYTHOS CCG by Chaosium.  The adventure is based off of Lovecraft's short-story "The Dreams in Witch-House".

One thing that makes the MYTHOS game so good is that Chaosium gave us a lot of the components of great Lovecraft stories in the form of Ally, Artifact, Monster, Location cards, etc.  They didn't however, make the corresponding Adventure cards that pulled all those pieces together to recreate the stories.  They left that up to us, which is a lot of fun.

Drop in your office program and print!

17 May 2014

Dead CCG Necromancy: MYTHOS Lives!!!

I started this blog with a focus on solo-gaming but recently I've had an embarrassment of riches when it comes to finding gaming opponents.  Currently I am involved in two games over the internet, both of which were the result of using BoardGame Geek (BGG).  What a great site!

The first game I'm involved in is the first scenario of the original Starfire Pocket Game from Task Force Games.  I'm playing it via email using the VASSAL system.  I reserve all judgement of the Starfire rules since I don't want my opinion colored by the play-by-email process.  The VASSAL program is really cool, but the game is just ponderously slow.  I'd really like to play this game live, against a real opponent.

The other game I'm currently involved in is what this post is about.  What fun!  I've convinced two gentlemen to play the old MYTHOS CCG by Chaosium with me via forum on BGG.  You can follow the action here.
My MYTHOS table, as of this post
The great part about this game is that both of my opponents and myself are all Lovecraft fans.  Furthermore, we all appreciate the fact that the MYTHOS CCG was all about story-telling, and not just attacking like most of the CCGs published.  Our busy lives make the Play-by-Forum format perfect, and the slow pace allows us to actually write small narratives with each card play.  Strung together these narratives make fun little tales.  Worthy of Lovecraft or Clark Ashton Smith?  No way.  August Derleth maybe.

20 April 2014

DIY Hex Space-Mat: the Rematch

Two and a half years ago, I tried to make my own space-themed hex mat with 2 inch hexes.  As this previous post describes, the attempt was abandoned after the methods I chose produced poor results after long hours of tedious work.

DIY hex space-mat and scratchbuilt spaceship
Recently I purchased a copy of the legendary Starfire and decided I would like to play this game with miniatures.  I also am hopefully zeroing in on a final set of homebrew rules I will be happy with and I grudgingly realized hexes just make space games flow faster.  So I needed a hex mat.  Again.

I decided just to buy a mat, but I wanted 1 inch hexes to maximize the 4 ft x 4 ft playing surface I have set up in the rec room.  I soon discovered my primary choice of vendor didn't offer hexes that small, and the most popular vendor that did has a reputation for slow mat production.  So once again, DIY seemed to be the only option.

I used my black vinyl space mat as the base.  The vinyl takes acrylic paint really well, so I just painted over all the old mistakes with black craft paint.

The poor results during my last attempt were due to general sloppiness.  I decided to do it right this time.  I clamped down all four corners using 3 inch C-clamps, ensuring the mat was taut.

The next improvement was to make a proper hex template.  I bought a polystyrene "For Sale" sign at the local dollar store (pack of two signs for $0.75!) to use as the template.  The sign is very thin but rigid enough, about the same thickness as bristol board.  I drew up the hex pattern in Powerpoint and printed it directly on the white backside of the sign with an inkjet printer.  Next I took an awl and punched small holes at the hex intersections.  Finally, I took a power drill with a small bit and made nice round holes at each point (as shown in the picture).

Hex-mat template: 7.5 x 12 inches

Now I'm in the process of using the template to make the mat.  I tape the template down at the corners and simply load the tip of a 1/2 inch brush with blue craft paint.  I lightly dab the bristles straight down on the holes and in about 1 to 2 minutes I've finished that section.  Moving and re-taping the template along with cleaning the brush and mixing more paint extends the time between cycles to about 10  minutes.  Since the template is only 7.5 inches by 12 inches, it's taking a while.  I'm approximately halfway done.

The picture below shows the results and I'm very pleased.  Some clean-up of individual dots will be required, but the mat will definitely suffice for my purposes and is dirt cheap.  Despite the tediousness of painting the pattern, the use of the clamps and a plastic template is keeping the likelihood of induced error to a minimum.  Eight more square feet to go!

A bit of touch-up required

22 March 2014

Giant Monster Sculpt WIP Update

My projects proceed at a pace best described as glacial.  The giant (80mm) monster sculpt I'm attempting is no exception.

I added the chest muscles, but still need to do the arms, back, and tail.  And the feet are just placeholders: I plan on adding hard Milliput claws and then building the toes and fingers of the hands around those.

I'm wondering about doing a head.  In my original concept, seen here, the creature is headless, with just eyestalks and multiple mouth stalks.  Of course I did this because I'm too chicken to sculpt a head.  But I might try it, if I can come up with an interesting design.

19 March 2014

Scratchbuild Spaceship with Globular Fuel Tank

I've been a bit bored with gaming in general, so I thought I'd try scratchbuilding a design that's been in my head for quite some time.

I used a craft bead to make the globular fuel tank in the middle of the ship, which was made using my standard technique detailed in this previous post.

The ship is primed but still needs to be based and painted.

61mm long

15 February 2014

Monster Sculpt WIP: Learn From My Mistakes

Started over: much happier with how this is going

So I started a sculpt of an 80mm tall monster quite some time ago.  I meant to track the work-in-progress here on the blog, but I ran into some problems.  However, this is a good thing.

One thing I've noticed with most tutorials out there on the internet is that nothing ever seems to go wrong: the tutorials show the project proceeding flawlessly from start to finish.  Of course we all know that is never the case and I think maybe more is gleaned from mistakes than from successes.  Therefore I present a few "don't do this" tips for sculpting a giant monster.

To recap, I was attempting to sculpt a giant monster and I wanted to use super-sculpey for my medium.

Mistake #1: In an effort to be "thrifty", I used multiple strands of very thin (32 gauge) copper wire as the armature.  For a sculpt this size, I needed much stiffer wire I soon realized, as every time I tried to manipulate any portion of the armature the entire thing twisted in unpredictable ways.  In an effort to stiffen up the armature, I decided to coat it with standard Milliput.  This helped initially but would prove to be an issue later...

Mistake #2: I let the Milliput set first.  I knew that polymer clay doesn't stick well to wire armatures, so I knew I'd need an undercoat of a different material.  I didn't think to use the Milliput as the bonding agent, applying the Super-Sculpey to the tacky Milliput.  Instead, I let the epoxy set, and then I used a layer of Sobo glue to bind the Super-Sculpey to the armature.  When the Sobo glue set I made...

Mistake #3: baking the armature.  I was attempting to make a solid "dollie" and I thought the initial layer of polymer clay over the glue and epoxy would make it solid.  Unfortunately, as I tried to apply subsequent layers of clay a few problems developed.  First, the fresh clay wouldn't stick to the baked clay without extreme pressure.  Second, this amount of pressure resulted in the armature cracking at the joints, and whole pieces of baked Super-Sculpey just falling off.  I tried to salvage my work, but as you can see in the picture below, the whole effort was just a mess.

Failed first attempt

So I did some research and found this great post on another blog.  Following this advice, I threw away the sculpt and started over, applying my lessons learned.  I used a clothes hanger for the armature wire, which proved much sturdier.  The next thing I did was apply "Greenstuff" Kneadatite to the wire and then quickly added the Super-Sculpey over that before the epoxy set.

Twenty-four hours later the Kneadatite had set and the unbaked clay was firmly attached.  By leaving the clay unbaked it was a breeze to add more layers of clay and shape them.  The sculpt is a long way from done, but this second attempt is showing way more promise, as can be seen in the first picture of this post.

I've always hated working with Greenstuff.  This new technique I was introduced to gives me hope I can make some 28mm figures using polymer clay instead!