You'll find a little of everything here. Genres covered in this blog include (so far) prehistorics, fantasy, old west, swashbucklers, pulp, Blood Bowl, Ghostbusters, gladiators, nautical, science fiction and samurai in 6mm, 15mm, 28mm, 40mm, 42mm and 54mm sizes. You'll also find terrain, scenery, basing, gaming, modeling, tutorials, repaints, conversions, art and thoughts in general about the hobby.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Samurai terrain: Roadside shrine

This turned out nice for the amount of time I out into it. I had a piece of wood, some plastic, a few pieces of rubble and an old 65mm base with green stuff carved into flagstones sitting around the work table. It all went together in less than half an hour. After waiting an hour for the primer to dry, it took all of another half hour to paint it. Then 10 minutes to vegetate the base. Done!

Ok, so it took longer than that if you count the time I took to carve the flagstones (I don't remember how long- if it was early in my green stuff career, then 45 minutes, if it was later, then 10 minutes.)

The rubble is from Gale Force Nine which has a few sizes of rubble to choose from (small - grit basically, medium and large -- what I used here.)

The small autumn tree was made using some floral stem scraps I saved over from when I first made my large trees.

The tiles on the shrine's roof is just some cut-up strips of paper.

I used the larger base because I wanted to be able to fit one of my 42mm samurai (on 40mm base) onto the shrine base; the shrine could serve as an objective for a capture-the-flag scenario, for example. Mostly, though, I made it because I wanted to make my games a little prettier.

Update: Whoa. So as I was uploading these photos to this post, I came across a random file labelled "Shrine Base" last modified in 2009. It was the very base I used for this shrine!

I guess when I build something with a specific purpose, it'll get used as such whether I remember or not. (Oh, and 2009, I'm guessing the base took me about 15 minutes to sculpt.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Samurai skirmish: Yokai

Yoshida returned to the farmland outside of town, this time with Onodera and Nakamura in tow, both of whom taunted the samurai for having been bested by farmers. Since they knew the farmers would be expecting them, the Akusa men took the old road through the forest from where they could use stealth before attacking.

Onodera pointed at a large empty bowl at the side of the path.
"Look- there are a few grains of rice left in that bowl, and some burnt offerings."
"Ha," smiled Nakamura. "Offerings and incense left for the trees in hopes the forest would protect the farmers. Poor Yosh, you were bested by superstitious peasants."

And that's when the ground thumped beneath their feet. And then again. And again. Slowly, in the distance, and each thump accompanied by rushing leaves and snapping branches.
The three samurai stopped and looked into the forest. The thumping began to speed up, becoming faster like a trotting horse. And then it emerged

Onodera saw it first -- "It's a yokai!"
The samurai were terrified, but still had nerve enough to draw their katana. Onodera fought off his terror enough to attack the beast, a three-legged, three-mouthed, leathery mass of tentacles. The yokai was large but slow. Onodera was able to score a solid hit to one of the stump-like legs. But even with the cut, the wound seemed insignificant. Still, Onodera was no longer afraid, having seen that the beast could at least be wounded.

Nakamura moved in and also scored a hit -- another insignificant hit -- though it forced the yokai back toward the trees. Seeing the success of his fellow gang members, Yoshida took his best form and lunged at the yokai, but it was ready for the attack and smote Yoshida with one of its large tentacles. Yoshida's body tumbled through the trees. He was dead before he hit the ground.

Onodera came at the beast again. Even though he threw much of his strength into the attack, the yokai scored a lucky hit, shattering Onodera's right arm! He dropped his katana and was forced back. The wound was terrible, bleeding out through his torn kataginu.

Nakamura renewed his attack but was thrown into the trees by the yokai, smashing one of his legs into a tree limb. Nakamura was just able to get to his feet, while the beast withdrew to catch its breath.

Onodera picked up his katana with his left hand, and the two samurai stared down the yokai. But the yokai seemed satisfied; it stood for a moment, then turned past Yoshida's body and lumbered back into the dense forest.

Onodera and Nakamura stood there, still in disbelief that they had fought and survived a fight with a large yokai. Survived, but battered; Onodera without the use of his right arm and Nakamura barely able to walk, and both of them without any reserves of strength left but to return to town.

"Tomorrow, Ono -- tomorrow we will gather all the men, give them nagae yari and hunt down that beast."
"And then," added Nakamura, "we will deal with the peasants, so overestimated by Yoshida, that idiot."

The the two samurai turned from the woods, and stopped in their tracks. Across the road, the two Asuka thugs came face-to-face with 20 grim-faced farmers, armed with yari, otsuchi and naginata. One of the peasants called out to his compatriots. "Our pet will get meat with his rice tonight!"

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Samurai skirmish: A message to the rice farmers

The Asuka gang had moved into Kusatsu and sent agents to all of the farms to let the peasantry know who's in charge. Thinking little of the peasants, the Asuka only sent a few individuals to "talk" to the farmers.

Most peasants submitted, but the Takumi farm resisted; and they were quickly dealt with by the skilled swordsman Yoshida. The peasant Oboshi Takumi witnessed the massacre from the nearby wood and quicky ran to warn his neighbors of the approaching Asuka man.

Oboshi found brothers Yata and Hayami. After hearing Oboshi's message, they all armed themselves with yari the two brothers had kept from the last war. Within minutes, Yoshida walked onto the farm, and was confronted by three peasants protecting their livelihood.

Yata brashly went forward to meet Yoshida one-on-one. He knew he would have to throw all his strength into one or two attacks if he was to defeat -- or at least survive -- this swordsman. Yoshida  moved to accept the challenge and sent a strong thrust with his katana directly for Yata's throat. But Yata was not just another rice farmer, he had once been an ashigaru; His skill was not great, but it was good enough to just parry Yoshida's thrust.

Emboldened, the farmer swung the yari trying to slash with the broad blade, but was deftly countered by a surprised Yoshida, who was frustrated that he could not easily dispatch the simple peasant. The Asuka man quickly adapted to this unexpected display of martial skill and threw himself into a strong attack. The flurry of sharp metal launched Yata backward with a slash to his right arm, which was little return for the amount of strength Yoshida had given the attack.

Hayami moved to support his wounded brother while Oboshi moved off to one side to bait Yoshida away from the brothers.

Yoshida stopped, realizing if he attacked either the brothers or Oboshi, he could be attacked from behind. He had used a lot of strength fighting Yata already, only slightly wounding the man in the arm. One-on-one, Yoshida was the stronger man, "But even a pack of dogs can bring down a bear," he thought.

"Ok, little dung beetles," Yoshida said to the peasants. "I'll leave you alone today. And tomorrow I'll bring my own brothers. So prepare yourselves to rise to Buddha."

Game Notes

I played the peasants and let the NPF (non-player fighter) mechanics handle the ronin (though, I had him do an aimed attack at the beginning to try out the new rules.)
Since I didn't expect Yata to last too long going one-on-one with Yoshida, I threw half of his bonus dice into the first two attacks, which was just enough for the peasant to survive. On the second attack, Yoshida would also roll a LOT of bonus dice (luck of the NPF bonus die roll.) But even with all the bonus dice, Yoshida only just won the attack, causing only a slight wound to Yata's right arm.

After the farmers grouped closer together, I knew Yoshida would probably not survive against all three peasants at once. He could probably finish off Yata, but would be out of bonus dice before having to face the other peasants who had their full bonus die allotment, and who would also throw a lot of those dice into strong, single attacks.
So I figured that was a good spot to quit the game. There were no game mechanics making this decision for me, I simply made a solo roleplay assessment of the situation. Yoshida will go back to town, gather some more Asuka men and return the next day.

The Asuka will bring their swordsmen, and the farmers will gather a few more neighbors, and a small battle will probably ensue. I may have to dig out my Chain Reaction: Swordplay rules to play that battle.

Friday, January 18, 2013

42mm samurai: Weapons

Well, I dug my smithy hat out and made these weapons for my incoming samurai. It took about an hour to make all of them.

The green stuff for the nagikami guard and the hammer head was cut from pieces that had already cured, so there was no extra time waiting for that (this is why you should save green stuff scraps.)

The weapons are, from left, a katana blade (length will be cut to fit when I have the figure in hand); a nagimaki (with a shorter, heavier blade. Nagimaki's didn't have a strict standard, so this should be fine); a regular old yari (spear); a kakeya (heavy wooden mallet); and -- only IF I can pull off my ambitious plan -- a partially unsheathed sword-cane.

That last figure, I'm "iching" to try. But if I "can't see" it coming together, I'll have to "massage" my mind into another idea.

I'm starting to really enjoy making weapons, just as much as painting and converting figures. The original goal in making my own was to provide some weapons that wouldn't get bent or broken off during gameplay. While brass certainly isn't indestructible, it is a lot more durable than pewter or lead.

I've added other materials into weapon construction the past year, including green stuff, copper wire, model kit parts, sewing thread, plastic styrene, and jewelers chain. But my favorite technique will always be the banging away at a sword blade on my little anvil.

Here's a sampling of weapons I've made over the past couple years. These include weapons made for my 54mm apocalators, Qwik players and my primitive Waiteri tribesmen (I'm glad I took the time to carve out those flint spear points- they're among my favorite):

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hats, for the more fashionable samurai

Sorry for the crappy focus, but you get the idea :)
With some more Steve Barber samurai (mostly peasants) coming in the post, I got right to making some accessories for them. First up are a few new hats. One or two of the peasants will get one, and the samurai/ronin will get the other.

To make these, I used my method of making shields for my 54mm apocalators. You can read about that technique at the end of this blog post. Then I used a needle to inscribe the straw lines into a couple of the hats (leaving the other as a leather jingasa type hat.) And that's all there is to that!

Well, a couple things I'll need to plan for: To fit these hats onto the figures, I'll need to file the tops of the heads a little bit. I'll also need to add straps; I will add those after the hats have been fitted and glued into place.

Next up, I need to make some new weapons for the new figures, including another katana blade, nagimaki (glaive-like polearm), tsuchi (big hammer), ono (axe) and one or two yari (spears - though, I may already have a couple of these in the spare parts box.)

It's gonna be nice to dig out the hammer and anvil again!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Samurai duel: Hokawa vs. Tutaki

The two ronin, Hokawa and Tutaki, had once been friends, but when Tutaki took Hokawa's lucky omamori amulet as collateral over a gambling debt, Hokawa took offense. The omamori wasn't worth anything, but the two ronin knew that turning it over reflected poorly on Hokawa's reputation.

"You have my omamori, Tutaki, but if I seen you wearing it on the streets of this town, I will strike you down where you stand."

Tutaki did not heed the warning, and was seen the very next day walking around the market area displaying his new possession to friends and strangers alike. Hokawa's weakness in money matters was being aired out for all to see.
News of this reached Hokawa and he quickly made his way to the market with his katana unsheathed. The crowd saw the naked blade, and gave way, clearing the market. Tutaki saw the approaching Hokawa and drew his own blade, knowing there was no way out. The duel was on.

Tutaki was the stronger fighter with a slight edge in speed. He was also a hotheaded brawler, which made him stronger when he was able to follow up on his attacks.
Hokawa made up for his disadvantages by having the keener savvy. He also know how to position his body in defense so that if a blow did land, the damage would at least be minimized.

Hokawa attacked, lunging with his blade extended, but his wisdom gave way to rage and he over-extended, lost his balance and went straight to the ground past a dodging Tutaki who took a swipe with his own blade, gashing Hokawa's left arm almost to the bone.

Hokawa was able to get to his feet quickly. He didn't rush into another attack this time. He caught his breath, refocused and waited for Tutaki to strike.

Tutaki obliged coming full-bore. Hokawa took his stance and chose where he would strike Tutaki. Both blades flashed in the sun. A hit. Both fighters stood still for just a moment.

Tutaki's face showed a resolute warrior, but his kimono betrayed a gaping wound as blood rushed from his chest. It was a deep cut - a killing stroke. Tutaki fell.
Hokawa had focused all his mind and body into one attack, and it had worked. Tutaki's body lie dead in the market. For him, the omamori brought no luck.

Gaming notes

I used Two Hour Wargames' Red Sand Black Moon rules for this fight. I also tried (just once, at the end) the Aimed Attack rules, which worked to deadly effect. Since neither of the ronin were armored, any hit could be devastating; Hokawa lost all but one point of strength in his left arm on one hit (saved only because he had the "slippery" signature which softens damage), and Tutaki was killed from one hit to the chest. Since the hits do so much damage, the game went fast, lasting just two turns (and taking about 10 minutes.)

For the katana, I simply used the broadsword stats in Red Sand Black Moon. I've reskinned most of the weapons from the original game into Japanese weapons- there's no mechanical difference, it's just flavor to help me get into the game.

Last note: Some of you just might have recognized the events leading up to this fight. I set it up loosely based on the famous Wild Bill Hickock (Hokawa)-Dave Tutt (Tutaki) shootout in Springfield, Missouri, in 1865 (switching pistols for katana).
For those who don't know, during a poker game, Tutt took a pocketwatch belonging to Hickock as collateral for an unpaid debt. Hickock warned Tutt not to be seen wearing that watch in public. Tutt didn't abide and was seen the next day showing off the watch to folks in the town square. Hickock called Tutt out, and they drew down 75 yards from one another. Tutt missed, but Hickcock struck Tutt in the chest. Tutt stumbled for a few feet before falling dead.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Coming up next: A few more 42mm samurai

I dug out my 42mm samurai by Steve Barber and decided it was time for more. I'm ordering a few more peasants which will go to conversion city. I also picked up another of the newer unarmored samurais (advancing with katana) who I might convert into a ronin (file off the kataginu and add some wild hair maybe?)

Steve Barber doesn't have any new unarmored samurai just yet, but I'm sure there'll be some in the future. My plan is to eventually sell off my (42mm) armored samurai to fund a bunch of unarmored fighters, peasants and ninja as they become available; the armored samurai are still awesome, I just prefer a more Yojimbo-ish type of skirmish.

For those interested, I'm using the Red Sun, Black Moon ruleset by Two Hour Wargames. The rules are meant for fantasy gladiator matches, but work wonderfully for small (3 or 4 figures per side) skirmishes. And since these samurai and peasants have no armor, the skirmishes are a lot more of the one-and-done kind of bloody affairs (meaning you could probably add a couple peasants per side without adding too much more book-keeping.)

And for those whose ears perked when I mentioned I might be selling my armored samurai, If I sell them, they'll be sold as either one large set, or two smaller sets, and they sell for about the same price as I usually sell for ($200 to $300,probably on the higher side since there was a LOT of conversion work done on them.) But that won't be until much later -- unless someone suddenly offered me $1,000 for the bunch ... No? ... sure? ... Ok, just checking :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013


On the tails of painting my Mice and Mystics figures (and in the midst of painting my "Mouse" series), I did this little envelope sketch up for the kids of friends. I may go ahead and let "Mouse" fly using the same glider as Aero-Mouse. Perhaps Aero-Mouse is the great grandfather of Mouse and has passed down the glider through the generations.

I'm also thinking this would be a fun idea for Mice and Mystics (a mouse glider.) Maybe I'll post this over at Boardgame Geek.