Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Making a textured base Stamper.

I cannot claim credit on this idea. I found it on a blog years ago. I would credit whoever I got it from but it is lost in the mists of time.

So this is the way to make a textured base like say cobblestones or Wood Decking for your figures without having to sculpt each one of them or buy premade bases. It's a little more work upfront, but down the road it pays off.

1.  Find a texture you'd like. In my case I used a cobblestone piece my friend Lou sculpted for me.

2.  Get some Modeling clay. I used an oven drying clay.

3  Using the clay, make your stamping tool with a small handle. Press it onto the surface of your chosen texture. Then Bake as directed.

4  Once your stamper is done, you are ready to stamp textures onto bases. The original post I got this from used a Plumbers Putty, so I did as well. I imagine you can use Green Stuff  or any other 2 part epoxy putty. So using your putty of choice, put a layer onto your base. Then stamp the base. You might want to wet it so it doesn't stick to the stamper.

5  Trim off any excess putty. Let it dry and your done. Depending on your putty you might want to cut it off before it drys or after. You can crank out a lot of bases this way.

The figure on the left has a stamped base on a fender washer. The figure on the right has base stamped on a GW slotta base.

 Cheers, Xin

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Stocking up the dungeon

With the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons coming out this year, I thought it was a good time to dive back into Roleplaying. Playing D&D was how I got into this hobby when my brother brought the game home from college in 1977. All it took was one session and I was hooked. At some point my interests switched over to Wargaming and RPG's got shelved for about 20 years.

I bought the Players Handbook when it came out and for Christmas I got the Monster Manual and DM's Guide. The excuses not to play are getting fewer and fewer. In the last few months, the focus of my painting has been to towards monsters. So here are some Reaper Bones Mummies I bought recently. I'm pleased they were painted with in 2 weeks of purchasing them. That is not how it normally goes...

Here they are, in my Dwarven Forge Dungeon. I double stacked the walls for a better picture.

They come 3 to a blister and are all the same pose. I tried the hot water trick to bend them into different poses, but I didn't use hot enough water. So I cut the head off one and turned it. I cut the torso of another and turned it so the arm is more forward.

I tried to cheat on the bases. Using grey's and browns and a brown flock so they won't look horrible outside or in the dungeon. It's a compromise that I can live with. Mounted on one inch fender washers and the bases covered with a gel medium to hide the molded base. Other than that, it was easy just dry brushing lighter and lighter colors.

 This is a Reaper Bones Mocking Beast. Or better known in D&D as a Mimic. This clever monster morphs into something like a treasure chest too lure in greedy adventurers. Once in close the mouth opens and chomp chomp chomp.

 Mounted on a one inch fender washer. The washer has a thin layer of gel medium for texture and painted in grays as this is a dungeon monster.

 I painted parts of it shades of pink as I imagine it's morphing during the attack to get at the adventurers

 Some adventurers want to see what's in the chest after defeating the Mummies. Here are 2 Reaper(left) and one very old Citadel figure(right).

I hope he doesn't lose that hand. I just noticed 2 things about this picture. First is I didn't finish the base, Bad Xin, Bad. Secondly, the camera mode I used washed out the subtle drybrushing and it looks like crap. or half done.

I am building a new "stage" to photograph my painted figures. Once done I will have some more Reaper, Otherworld and an old Citadel figure to show off.

Thanks for reading, Xin

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Battle of Five Armies, Battle Report

Last week my friend Lou was coming over to play LOTR Strategy Battle Game. We didn't have a plan other than we would play SBG. I had the day off so I was puttering around my basement working on too many projects at once. I was toying with the idea of doing a BOFA scenario. Just sort of a representative battle using figures I had. We would be constrained by time so we would have to keep it simple. About 30 minutes before Lou arrived, I decided to do it.

I have tons of pink insulation lying around so I cut some up and laid out the 2 spurs of the mountain. I added a 2nd level of foam for the gate. then taped it down to the table. I have some battle mats that we use at conventions, draped that across the table and we were almost good to go.

For the entrance to Erebor I had this gate I made years ago to play a D&D. So I pulled that out and it looked great. Next we added a latex River Running, and scratter terrain, rocks and bushes and things. I also added the Dwarven Statues that came with the Special Edition DvD/Blu-Ray Desolation of Smaug disk set.

Lou mentions that we needed a backdrop for the mountain, and maybe I had a sheet lying around. I told him to take 2 sheets of foam insulation and quickly paint them grey while I whipped up the army lists. What he did in 20 minutes was astounding. He painted mountains!

The army lists were pretty simple:
12 Galadhrim spears and shields with Tharnduil
12 Galadrhrim archers with Capt
12 Wood Elf archers with Legolas
12 Laketown Militia(Rohan) with Capt
12 Laketown archers(Rohan) with Bard(Rohan profile)
12 Dwarf Warriors with Dain
12 Dwarf Warrios with Capt
12 Gundabad Orcs with Bolg(proxy Mordor Orcs)
12 Orc Archers with Capt
12 Orc Archers with Capt
12 Warg Riders with Capt
12 Warg Riders with Capt
12 Orc Warriors with spear and shield
12 Orc Warriors with spear and shield
12 Orc Warriors with spear and shield

That's roughly the list. Not exactly street legal, but it was just us 2, and what figures I had available. The other thing we did was lower the Defence by 1 across the board. So fights with resolve faster.

Deployed, Elves on the left, Dwarves on the right, Men in the center.

That's a lot of bows.

 Evil advances.

I want to block off the ford, so I come off the hill. Lou the Orc player was going to ignore the Elves but my move to the ford made him come across. Archers showering anything in range with arrows. Not many hits early on.

This was Lou's one mistake. At the ford he tried to slip around my spears. And I got to charge him. This seemly small mistake would lead to lots of casualties. As we fought over the ford.

On the far right, Wargs slam into my dwarves, but being dwarves they hang tough.

Here I caught him trying to sneak past me.

I actually didn't do very well in the fights, but it stopped him and drew in more orcs. All the while I was killing off orcs with arrows.

 My line of Laketown Militia came off the hill to charge the wargs as they were going for my Militia archers. Anyone not in combat got hailed with arrows. A good number of Orcs got "unmounted"

The fight continues to rage on the hill and in the valley. Bolg and his body guard moving up in formation.

So what happened at the ford? Thranduil happened. I was tightly packed, and got charged by orcs everywhere. Almost surrounded. So Thranduil drops Natures Wrath. I could not have planned it better. I knocked over about a dozen models. Then my spearmen went on a killing spree.

 At this point it was late and the Orc general had enough. We both had casualties, but far worse were the orcs.

Last shot of the battle. My charge off the hill and about a billion arrows stopped any Wargs from getting to my Militia archers. The line of Dwarves held on the mountain spur so the orcs could not break into my lines.

Conclusions, it was a fun battle even if a little one sided. It was an equal points battle, so maybe if we do it again, we give the Evil a few hundred more points. Honestly I think we had more fun setting up, and the back drop the Lou painted in 20 minutes was stunning. For work of about an hour, I think the table looked great.

Thanks for reading, Xin

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Last Goodbye, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

Our Journey in Middle-Earth is almost at an end. The last movie comes out next week and that is conceivably the last movie set in Middle-Earth that we will get. Sad really, cause I can't get enough.

I do have issues with some of Peter Jackson's choices but overall I think this is the best Middle-Earth we will get for a long time.

Last week they released a song from the movie written by Billy Boyd(Pippen) and it is a perfect ending for the 6 movies.

Enjoy, Xin

Dwarven Forge Inventory

I finally got around to opening all  my Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles. It was a busy fall. Building Marengo, visiting colleges for my twin daughters, Hosting Thanksgiving. And through it all, I was still expected me to show up at work! Well the dust finally settled and I got some free time to play with the DF tiles. Wow, more awesome than I thought. 

First thing was to take inventory. So I laid out every set and matched the count on the box. 

All the tiles with Stretch goals. This is $355 worth of tiles. I thought I had spent a lot. But I was below Average. The average per backer works out to $541. All pieces present, 100 percent accuracy. 

This is one set of Cavern Tiles. I really regret not going in for 5 sets at least. I will be buying more sets as finances allow.

This is one set of Stretch Goals. You got a set of SG per set of Cavern Tiles. These are the Freebies. 
The stretch goals really drive the price per piece down and make this such a good deal.

 This is one set of the Water Tile Add-on pack. I will buy more of this when they are for sale.

 This is 2 Add-on packs. The top row is the Dungeon Passage Pack with 2 sided, 2 square wide tiles.
The rest is the Narrow Dungeon Passage Pack. Both useful sets, but not as critical to have tons.

This is the Narrow Passage Pack. This is a must. With narrow passage pieces and the angle pieces really allow you to make twisting cavern passages and rooms not squared up. Looks more natural the more you get away from squared off passages and rooms. I could use at least one more of this.

Sample setup I threw together. Used almost every piece. Zombie like voice "must acquire more"

Now add in adventurers and bad guys.

The Kobolds try to off the large party.

Pressed from both sides the Kobold Shaman summons a fireball!

This stuff is like Lego's for Table Top gamers. I really need more. 

Dwarven Forge should be the poster child for how to run and execute a Kickstarter. I wouldn't say flawless, but damn well near. My order was perfect. I know some people are saying they didn't get this or that, but DF is quick to fix the situation and the percentage of mistakes given the size of the KS campaign is remarkable low. 

I know there are some real horror stories out their in Kickstarter land, but I wouldn't blink an eye supporting DF for a 3rd time. Can't wait for KS3!

Now to paint them all....

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Painting Inspiration for Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles

I have been taking my kids to visit colleges this fall. After visiting Kutztown University we went to Crystal Cave also in Kutztown. We've been there before, but not for years. The kids wanted to go, and I wanted pics  of the cavern for painting reference. This was a great source of info and ideas on painting my DF Cavern Pieces.

Here are pics of what we saw. Keep in mind taking photos in poorly lit areas is tricky at best. They do have internal lights, but really only to highlight features. Also some of the rooms were huge so it "ate" my flash. All that said, I did get some good shots.

A couple of things struck me as we toured the cave and listened to the guide talk. The first thing is Humans have been damaging this cave since it was discovered in 1871. Lots of broken off stalagmites and stalactites taken as souvenirs . Just touching the stone formations can damage them with the oils from our skin. For stone structures, they can be quite fragile. The other thing, is the huge amount of time it takes for the various formations to "grow". Stalactites in the cave that have been growing for about 100 years are one to two inches long.

The amount of colors, textures and shapes in one cave was astounding.

Anyway, very cool and very informative.

 You can see where stalactites were broken off.

Some of the stalactites were "dead". Meaning there was no seeping water in that section, and they were drying and crumbling away.


This was the biggest chamber I think. The chamber before was formed when a huge chunk of the ceiling gave way and fell against the wall. Creating an upper and lower pathway thru the cave.

This is a column. Which is when Stalagmites and Stalactites join together. It's hard to tell, but this guy is about 15 feet tall.

Baby stalactites about 50 to 100 years old. They are 2 to 3 inches long.

The spotlight washes it out, but this is the only standing water in the cave. About a foot across and 2 inches deep.

Stalagmites cut off to make it easier for people to walk thru the cave.

 The pool again. It's building up a rim around it that will eventually cover the small pool, in 50,000 years.

Hard to see here, but the center of the picture is called cave coral.

Multi-colored flowstone. I loved this one.

Small field of Stalagmites.

Looking down from the "highest" point in the cave.

If you get a chance, I do recommend visiting Crystal Cave in Kutztown PA. It was very cool.