We took Rogue Stars out for a spin again last night, and despite the rulebook suffering a lot of the usual Osprey problems we had an enjoyable game. Osprey has a hard word count on their Osprey Wargames series which often leads to very condensed rules, short on examples. Unfortunately, I think Rogue Stars suffers from this a fair amount, and people have reviewed it rather negatively online because of this. There’s a lot of reading between the lines, and common sense has to be applied in a game simply because the rulebook includes a lot of content in a fixed space.
Having said that I’ve always enjoyed Ganesha Games’ interesting activation mechanism in their skirmish games and Rogue Stars improves on this by having an activation/reaction system too. This means you’re always involved in the game regardless of which side is active. It also leads to some very interesting choices about how many times to try and activate a character vs how many reactions you’ll give away. The reacting player also has to be careful about how readily they react and what they do as there’s a cost involved for them too. It really is a clever system and works better than any other skirmish level system I’ve played.
We played Space Cops vs Bounty Hunters, with Kieran fielding a lovely set of old Grenadier/Copplestone metal soldiers with rounded helmets that looked exactly like Space Cops should. I dusted off my usual motley band of Necromunda Scavvies and called them Bounty Hunters. The Rogue Stars random scenario/complication system gave us an Abduction scenario with a whirling space vortex of doom in the centre of the table which rather complicated things for everybody! It was a ding dong fight with people getting knocked down, arms blasted off and dropping weapons all over the show – which promptly started sliding towards the vortex. We called the game after the Abduction target was blown to smithereens when a hail of heavy laser shot ruptured his flamer tank, and it was adios muchachos. A shame really because he’d been happily flaming Space Cops in the limbs and heads until then. We’re definitely keen to play some more Rogue Stars in the future, particularly since we can bust out a random selection of sci-fi figures and build them into a force.
I’ve had a few folks question me about various small 3D bits and pieces that have appeared on this blog as well as the Facebook page. Many of these were created with the intention of releasing them as scatter terrain pieces. They are now released as a pack of 28mm scatter terrain on Thingiverse, including the portaloos, tape drive, lockers and drums: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3270343
The first of my planned three vehicle packs are up on DriveThruRPG today!
This pack lets you print and build a variety of six-wheeled sci-fi Outpost Utility Trucks in 28mm scale.
This pack will be followed by the Halftrack Recovery Vehicle before the end of 2018. The Halftrack Recovery Vehicle will also work with the Outpost Utility pack, allowing you to mix and match parts for even more variety on your sci-fi tabletop.
And we’re now running on an Amazon instance. Hopefully this is cheaper in the long term, but we’ll see. Also thanks to some inattention on my backing up the original blog, things are a little ragged around the edges here for the time being. However folks should still be able to access all the old content at least. Feel free to let me know if there’s any particular oddities you notice along the way that need to be addressed!
Given the current US exchange rate, and the fact that very few folks view this hobby blog (around 2k a month), the cost of running this blog has become prohibitive. It’s costing me around $130NZD a year in hosting at the moment, which while not a lot, is $130NZD I could be spending on this hobby instead, or something more useful like food or power bills.
Unless anybody can suggest a cheaper hosting option than ASmallOrange.com, who I currently use, this site is likely to disappear on Sept the 4th. It’s been a good run considering I’ve had this site since 2002! And met lots of local war-gamers through it.
In place of this website I’ve embraced the dark side of the internet and established a Facebook page, where I’ll continue posting my hobby work, for free (well, plus Facebook gets all my IP): https://www.facebook.com/tabletopterrain/
Now that I’ve designed a few bits and pieces in Fusion 360, I’ve decided to publish them all under my Thingiverse account. I’ve benefited hugely from the free war game terrain folks have published on Thingiverse, so felt like I should try and give something back to the community there.
Under that account you’ll find my original designs for:
Several of these projects are still ongoing and may have additional content added to them occasionally. Additionally any new designs I create for 28mm war gaming are likely to end up here too. Hopefully somebody finds them useful! Comment with a link if you do, because I’d love to see the designs in use.
Kim from Kreative Scenery recently picked up an Anet A8 3D printer from GearBest.com and was getting very good results from it while printing 15mm terrain. At around $200 NZD the Anet A8 is a steal, so I ordered one as well. That’s my Anet A8 in the photo, assembled a couple of weeks ago, and with various printed parts added to the stock kit.
As a change from browsing Thingiverse for parts to print, I’ve also been learning to use Autodesk Fusion 360 to create original designs. Amongst the CAD and 3D modelling programs I’ve tried in the past I think Fusion 360 is by far the most powerful, and intuitive. Something about the way the project timeline and the browser feature work make it an ideal tool. I think it may be because the UI feels like an IDE such as Visual Studio. I also find the way you sketch things in different planes and then render them into 3D objects using a variety of simple extrusion operations really clicks with me.
My first completed, original design is a pair of simple frames that can be combined with cheap corrugated plastic-card into an almost instant 28mm scale shipping container. One frame holds a set of closed doors, and the other is a simple holder for an additional piece of plastic-card. I designed this because I want to build a post apocalyptic factory table for This is Not a Test. These frames were also easy to create in Fusion 360 and print reasonably quickly – so I won’t bother casting or molding them. Plus 3D printing allows you to use undercuts and back cuts that one sided molding won’t allow. For example the frames have a 1mm trench on the back that the plastic-card slots into for gluing.
Here’s the container quickly dry fitted, and next to an earlier container I laboriously built by hand around a kid’s wooden block. Mr Zippo is for scale. The painted container is one of a set of three I spent something like a week of hobby time building and painting. Thanks to the 3D printed parts I cranked out three more assembled containers in an evening this week, and they’re already more detailed and better looking than my hand made effort. I glue them together and then add a little more 3mm plastic trim around the edges for reinforcing. If you ignore the printing time, they take about 10 minutes to assemble and finish. The other advantage of just using the frames is I can vary the container length simply by using different lengths of plastic card. They’re pretty stable out to a 10-12″ long container. Being little more than hollow plastic boxes they’re ridiculously light weight so stack very nicely. The frames are designed with 2mm holes in the top and bottom, so could be joined together with plastic rod or pill magnets.
I plan to vary my original design to create an empty frame and a pair of free standing doors that will slot into holes, like a Lego door. That’ll give me the ability to model some open containers as well. I also plan to create an alternate end to represent a ‘reefer’ or refrigerated container. I’m then going to print and assemble around another ten containers and call that done. They’ll probably get bulk painted with a couple of cheap spray cans.
Even with this simple project I can see an almost endless possibly of custom war gaming terrain opening up. The only thing holding me back is finding time to design and print everything I want!
I’ve been playing a bit of Warlord’s Test of Honour recently at TCOW. It’s a fun little Japanese skirmish game that comes with a bunch of plastic figures in the box.
The box set is a great deal, but to be honest the plastic figures are all pretty similar. They’re fine for rank and file Ashigaru who are dressed largely in a uniform, but for the heroic character figures the Samurai plastics didn’t really grab me. Fortunately there’s a bunch of figure manufacturers that do historical Japanese. Perry Miniatures Samurai caught my eye initially, but they tend to sell large packs of similar figures, clearly for bigger systems than Test of Honour.
Instead I went for North Star’s metal figures for Ospreys’ “Ronin” game. I wanted a more characterful bunch of Ronin so grabbed the ‘Ronin Buntai’ box.
They’re well cast metal figures that only required the usual amount of filing and removal of flash to tidy up. They come with a set of separate scabbards for their weapons which are slightly to small to hold the weapons themselves, but you don’t really notice that on the finished figure. As they’re metal I also had some fun filing down the swords a little to give them a little edge.
They were painted up pretty quickly, and I had fun experimenting with different colours and light patterning to represent Japanese textiles. They also mix nicely with the plastic Warlord figures and the single Warlord metal I have from their Ronin box, which is pictured here.
I do still plan to paint up some rank and file Ashigaru to fill out their ranks with Spearmen, Archers and Teppo matchlocks, just to give me some extra options when building warbands. The Ronin look great on the table, and are a colourful bunch of figures both visually and according to the Test of Honour rules.
I’ve painted the start of my scratch built Japanese village for Warlord’s Test of Honour. After some experimenting, the paint scheme I went with was a mix of cheap ‘dark umber’ student paint lightened with gesso, watered down and applied with hog bristle brushes. The stiffer brushes cover quickly and help work the paint into the balsa detailing. Once dry it was all dry-brushed a couple of lighter shades to pick up the balsa grain. After another round of drying everything was washed down with a 50/50 mix of water and liquid black shoe polish – again to help pick out the natural balsa grain. The paint scheme was to try and make the wood look sun faded and generally weathered.
The tree/rock pieces are an attempt at making some simple LOS blocking terrain. They’re MDF bases with chucks of garden bag limestone epoxied to them and detailed with some ancient model railroad plastic trees I’ve had in my garage for years. Originally I planned to try and make trees with foliage, but the material that came with the kit was so awful I’ve left them barren and autumnal looking. That also inspired me to throw around some of the leaves I’ve been cutting with my Greenstuff Worldleaf punch. That’s the little splashes of colour you can see on the building roofs. They’re glued down with PVA and add some nice detail to the roofs, while also hiding a few of the dress-makers pins used to hold the plastic tiling down.
I’m happy with the end result, and have the start of a good set of Japanese terrain to run Test of Honour games over. I need a few more larger pieces and some kind of 3′ x 3′ gaming mat to put it all on. The plan is to go with a quick and dirty drop-cloth and caulk style mat in a similar shade to the ground pieces I’ve already made. This is meant to be a fishing village so I’m going for a sort of gray volcanic sand look for the ground. I also need some more detail pieces like old fishing boats and maybe nets of some kind. Simple fishing boats should be pretty easy to scratch build out of balsa.
Now I have to get cracking on some Samurai and Ashigaru soldiers. Unfortunately the Warlord plastics aren’t really to my tastes – they’re quite low detail and a little unpleasant to paint. I’ll probably end up using the rank and file Ashigaru archers and spearmen, but have recently ordered some metal North Star ‘Ronin’ figures for my Samurai/Ronin heroes.