Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tanksgiving Update: Two heavy tanks finished!

I finished these two tanks up today for my Tanksgiving Marathon.  This brings me up to four finished tanks.  Both are based on a $3.00 toy tank I picked up at the Dollar General store.  The green one is pretty much just a paint up and the camouflage one has had it's tracks removed and replaced with hover drives I scratch built from cheap razor handles.
Obviously the design owes a lot to my M1 Abrams MBT but it is a bit more narrow in design.
In my setting these tanks are produced by the same company.  The hover tanks obviously has less armor but greater speed.  The design designation will be the Laird MBT and Laird HHT respectively.  I've painted the hover tank up for my Hell Knights army with the company markings.  The tracked version I have painted up to be a part of a generic mercenary motor pool I am building so I have gone without giving it a company or national marking and have instead simply given it a name and number.
I intended to photograph these with some miniatures to show their scale.  They are pretty big.  Defiantly "heavy" tanks although they are not as big as the two Ligers I just finished. I'm happy with the way they turned out and they will likely be making an appearance in my campaign very soon.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tanksgiving Progress Report: Heavy Anti-Grav Tank built!

I've been working on converting this $3.00 Dollar General tank to a hover tank for the last couple of weeks and it is basically built.  Enough to show it off anyhow.  The underside is a bit of a mess so I'm probably going to do a bit more finish work on it.
The drive is made from cheap shaving razor handles also purchased at the Dollar Store for $1.00 per 12 pack.  I used 8 to build the drive.  I used the same system on my "Hobelar" light anti-grav tank also for the Hell Knights.
The tank is shown here with my Hell Knights Mercenaries who use anti-gravity or "hover" vehicles exclusively.  This tank will probably be designated the "Laird" and it will likely be the heaviest tank in the Hell Knights arsenal.  
Hopefully I will have it painted up and ready for the table in a day or two.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tanksgiving Concept: Converting tanks to APCs

 I was looking for an APC solution for my Wolfhound Friekorps which would be as economical as possible.  One of my goals with that army is to make it as cheaply as possible and use a lot of toy conversion.  Using the Wargames Factory Shock Troopers is a good start because I can get a box of them from for about $15.00.  So far I have picked up a couple of boxes and some heavy weapons troopers so I only have about $45.00 spent on a heavy platoon so far.  I also picked up a couple of $5.00 toy tanks so the entire army is still under $60.00.  The problem is that there are far fewer toy APCs to convert than toy tanks.  My first thought was to find some type of toy Humvee and convert it but I didn't really feel like that would suit the style of the army.  I'm trying to build a mechanized armored cavalry platoon for under $100 so I needed a cheap solution.  That's when I came across the idea of converting tanks into APCs.  The Israeli Defense Force have converted a number of tanks to APCs over the years.  Above is a Achzarit APC built off the hull of a Soviet T-54/55.  
 Here is another shot of the Achzarit from the back showing the added troop hatch.  I really like this concept in particular for the Wolfhounds because it fits some of the things I have in mind for their background.  They are not a very resource rich mercenary company but they do improvise a lot.

 Here is another IDF APC called the Namer based on a Merkava tank.  This is obviously a much more modern design than the Achzarit.
 Here is a shot of the Namer with some U.S. soldiers using it during a test.  It is a very large APC which I think might be good for the powered armor troopers I play to add to the army in the future.
 This is an IDF Puma.  More of a combat engineering vehicle than a true apc.  I just wanted to include it because I thought it might make a nice project.
 This is a VIU-55 Munja.  A Serbian combat engineer vehicle also based on a Soviet T-55.
 This is an IDF Nagmachon based on a Centurion Sho't hull.  It is ugly as sin but I think it might be an interesting concept to design for a future project.
 The IDF Nakpadon is based on then Centurian as well.  It looks very heavy with all that reactive armor.
 Another shot of the Nakpadon.
This is an Indian Tarmour based on a T-55 as well.  It's also pretty ugly but looks like a simple conversion.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Port Doxie Project: Nose Art WIP!

I started painting up the ship today with the nose art.  I found this cool Twi'Lek mudflap girl and I thought it was perfect for the ship.  Right now I'm just laying in base colors because I'm going to do an over all wash with burnt umber and a spot of dark blue.  I will then paint the details in a bit more before weathering the ship.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Port Doxie Project: Model built.

I finished the model I am going to use for the Port Doxie today.  It was a very simple kit.  Just 52 pieces and it is all snap fit.  It went together well enough.  I used a spot of glue to hold down one of the side pieces and I had to glue the guns in place but other than that everything fit just fine.

Next I'll be coming up with a design to paint onto it and some nose art and then the weathering.  I'm not entirely sure what I am going to paint on the ship yet but I'm sure I'll figure it out now that I have it together.

I found a gallery with several more shots of this model being used with some WotC 28mm Star Wars figures on this page.  I'm feeling even better about this choice after looking at these other photos.

300 Post!

Well this is my obligatory 300 post mark post.  I just want to say thanks to everyone who has been following my blog and providing me with feedback and critique!
I really enjoy this hobby and I enjoy sharing it with other gamers and seeing their own creations.  Thanks for sticking around!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Port Doxie project. A YT-1300 for our Star Wars campaign.

While I'm taking a break from running our Savage Hyboria game one of the other members of our role playing group has started a Star Wars Edge of the Empire game.  The group has a YT-1300 transport we have named "The Port Doxie".  I picked up this Revell Snap Tite Millennium Falcon kit to represent our ship.  This kit is actually very under scale for the 28mm miniatures we will be using for the campaign but I knew that when I picked it up.  Although the box doesn't list the scale most modeling sites list it at about 1/72 scale and I would say that is pretty close.  It is a pretty chunky kit and it looks a bit on the thick side but this is for a game piece and not for a scale modeling project.  I would have rather had the AMT cut away kit but they are no longer in production and are getting harder and more expensive to come by.

The advantages of this kit is that it is not only in production but also very easy to put together.  I've put together my fair share of models but it is not my favorite part of miniature war gaming so that is a bonus for me.

As far as the scale thing goes that is also a trade off.  Yes it does look a bit small but if you check out this post in the Lead Adventure Forum you can see a finished version of this kit used with the WoTC 28mm Star Wars minis and it looks pretty good.  Also a true to scale model would be twice that size and take up a large section of the play table.  That's a pretty reasonable reason to scale back on larger ships especially since this is for a role playing game and the scene may change several times in a session.  Another thing to consider is that when they filmed The Empire Strikes Back was built substantially less than full scale to save money.  I've heard it was perhaps even 50% smaller than it would have actually been, so in some ways this model is more true to scale to the only actual full set build.

Ultimately it is what I could find in a price range I could manage and it should work as a game piece.  With any luck I will have it built and painted by next Sunday which is our next session.  Of course it will be a custom paint job because it isn't the "Falcon".  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tanksgiving Update: Wolfhound Super Heavies Finished!

Well my first two tanks for the Tanksgiving Marathon are finished!  I just finished up these Wolfhound "Liger" super heavy tanks for my Wolfhound Friekorps army.  Here you can see them both with a unit of Wolfhounds for scale.
I'm pretty happy with the way these turned out considering they are just $5.00 toys from the Dollar General store.  Hopefully the rest of my projects will go this smoothly.

Looking ahead to 2014 Projects Part 1

 We plan to work on two terrain projects for 2014.  The first one is "Titania City" which is the capital city of Titania the moon of Uranus and the planet our current "Station 42 War" is set on.  Unlike the station and surrounding areas which are very hardscrabble, dirty, frontier style locations Titania City will be a beautiful domed city full of elegant buildings and green spaces.
 There are several serious challenges to this project.  It is much easier to do hardscrabble, frontier, futuristic buildings and terrain than the slick and polished futuristic look.  Another issue is that while we want the city to look beautiful and clean we also want it to look lived in and established.  That will be a kind of hard thing to pull off.  The buildings need to show a bit of age and usage but not be heavily weathered like the station and other locations on Titania.
 Also building multi story buildings always brings problems of scale and playability.  Too many tall buildings can make it very difficult to play around as you tent to knock things over and damage them as you try and reach across the table to move models.  
 All of our current Titania based terrain is as fully playable as we can make it.  That is the roofs come off the buildings and the doors and windows work.  We feel this is very important with certain scenarios especially with role playing games.  Doing multi story buildings is not as simple as it might seem and dealing with them in play can be a hassle.  When you have to pick up upper stories to move miniatures around you can end up jostling the furnishings and miniatures in the upper levels and on the top which can lead to lost game time and even damage.
We will probably limit the number of stories in most buildings to three or four but make the stories a bit higher than usual and design  some of the buildings to have non playable spacers between some of the stories.  We will also probably make some "Space Needle" style buildings where the elevator shafts aren't playable.  
 The other project will be a very dirty and industrial city on the dwarf planet Ceres.  In fact in our "Solar Empires" setting Ceres is covered in one huge city similar to Coruscant or Nar Shaddaa from the Star Wars setting although not quite as overbuilt as either of those settings.  Although it is part of the Martian Soviet Socialist Republic, Ceres is the commercial port of Martian held territories similar to Hong Kong or Vladivostok and it is very commercialized by comparison.    
 Many of the same problems exist for this project as for the Titania City project.  Many of the structures will need to be taller than the ones that we have built and will require multiple stories to pull off correctly.  The good thing is that the dirty/industrial look is much easier to pull off and several of those larger structures can be purely industrial in nature.
One of the solutions I have considered is to make a multi-level table using milk crates or smaller storage crates to support each level than having smaller buildings on each level that are only one or two stories tall.  then having a cloud layer similar to the New York scenes from The Fifth Element and then making underground complexes for the lower levels.

Both of these projects are huge undertakings compared to Station 42 and I don't plan to finish either in one year.  In fact both settings will hopefully consist of several tables of terrain covering the points of interest in each city rather than attempts to do the entire city on one table.  Obviously that would be impossible for Ceres and would make Titania City unrealistically confined.

We are hoping to make at least enough to cover a 4x8 foot table for each project rather than trying to cover the 5x12 foot table that Station 42 sits on.  That table is already more complicated to reach across and we doubt it would be possible to put really large structures on it and still make the thing playable.

This may be more project than we can realistically handle but we are planning on setting our next campaign on Ceres and we have really been wanting to do Titania City for role playing games.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tanksgiving Update. Wolfhound Super Heavies painting WIP

Here is my first Tanksgiving update!  I've got the basic paint job finished on this two super heavies I am doing for the Wolfhound Friekorps.  I found some heavy machine guns to add to the turret for some additional fire power.
Next step is to put a wash on them then do the weathering.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tanksgiving Marathon! Pass the armored pie.

As Tanksgiving approaches we take this time to reflect on all the armor projects we have collected and have yet to build.  Yes it's time to think about how tankfull we are and how tankfull we hope to be in the coming year.
The wargaming wife and I get a 5 day break for Thanksgiving this year so I have decided to do a tank and AFV building marathon from now until December 1st which is the last day of our break.  Hopefully we will be able to get in a large tank battle to wrap the project up.
I don't know if I will get all of these done in that amount of time but hopefully I will be able to finish a few of them.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Station 42 Phase 2: Tarmac complete!

 I finished painting the tarmac today.  I think it came out really well.  This is probably the easiest terrain project I have ever done but certainly not the cheapest.  I went through about 6 packs of cork tile and 5 cans of spray paint.
 I actually forgot one section.  I intended to make a piece to sit under the refinery behind the Venture Star offices but I can knock that out easily enough tomorrow.
 I added triangle pieces to the landing pads to make them look more interesting and I think it also helps delineate the roads.

Station 42 Phase 2

We never really have been happy with the layout of Station 42.  It always felt a bit too linear and didn't really feel like it had enough buildings.  Another issue it had was that there were really no places to land space ships except the edges of the board and a few random spaces in the middle which also served as roadways.  The roadways themselves were very open and long creating long and wide lanes of fire which didn't feel very "urban" in nature.

One of the ideas we had when we did the initial set up was that since most of the building were on stilts they could be easily moved with cranes or VTOLs and placed in other configurations.  Another idea we had was that the station could be expanded on with more buildings and other structures.

So this is the rough layout of what we are doing now in phase 2 of the project.  We now have three large landing pads made from cork tile that I am going to spray pain black dusted with grey to make an asphalt look.  Each landing pad will get a warehouse/office which are shown here using some random buildings from our other terrain sets.  We will be building custom buildings for this purpose ASAP.  We will also be adding 2-3 inch high modular walls around each of the landing pads as we have time to produce them.

We also added some tarmac under many of the buildings to give it a more finished look and make the roadways more apparent.  The smaller adobe buildings will be used as small shops and will get removable signs.  I'm considering making all new shops but I already have these and their construction style ties them into many of the surrounding locations.  I also like the variety they give the station.  

There are also three smaller landing pads.  One in front of Rosie's workshop.  One at the Venture Star complex and one that you can see in the upper right on the table.  We may also add one in the lower right of the table but for now that is going to be the Hell Knights occupation base.

The base will start as a camp but be expanded into something more substantial.  The Hell Knights will also be occupying Rosie's workshop as well as making use of the landing pad in the lower left corner of the table.

We may also remove the NOVA security station and replace it with civilian parking spaces or simply convert it into another business.

I think this layout is far superior to the one we have been using for the station.  It is not only more visually appealing it should provide more interesting play.  
In story the idea behind these changes is that Smith and Wilson Agriculture have purchased Station 42 and have made several upgrades to the facility.  The Hell Knights have also become the new security contractors for the station.  NOVA Securities has been fired by the new owners and Rosie has fled the station after she aided the rogue Planetary Guard forces that were defeated in the "Battle of Station 42".  Smith and Wilson began making these changes shortly after the battle.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Reflecting on "game night".

We had another Forgotten Islands Hyborian game last night.  It was the final session to our "Tomb of Voltannox" adventure.  Unfortunately I am two games behind on doing reports for this campaign but I am taking a break while another player from this game runs a Star Wars game for the next few sessions.  I hope this will give me the time to not only get caught up on the reports but also to get caught up on a few of the projects.

Sometimes I wonder why I have been putting so much effort into my games.  I've been playing with painted miniatures and finished terrain in my current games and I've been trying to do a "good" job of it.  Not only that I've been doing my best to do reports for almost every session.  All of this requires a lot of effort that a lot of gamers don't bother with
Of course there are people out there doing a far better job of it than I am.  I've seen some pretty amazing games out there with nicer terrain and miniatures than I have.  There are times when I think I should push myself a bit more and try and up the quality of my work but I really think I have found a good balance between what is reasonable and what I can afford and have time to produce.

I usually don't sit down and really try and do my "best" on miniatures these days but I also don't play with unpainted figures and terrain.  I have found over the years that what I enjoy most about this hobby is playing games with finished miniatures.  I don't enjoy playing with unpainted figures and I don't enjoy just painting miniatures to display so I have had to find a balance that works.

I think I'm finally getting to the point that I feel like I am playing the kind of games I have always wanted to play.  I have had the ability to do these kinds of games for a long time but what I lacked was the focus and commitment to see projects through.  I had a lot of nice miniatures but not much in usable collections.  I had some nice terrain as well but not enough of any one type to put a good board together for any kind of game.  I had to decide what I really wanted to do with my games before I could get organized enough to get these kinds of things done.  Doing so has not only made the hobby far more enjoyable for me but more affordable and easier.