30 September 2010


The game that got started in miniatures games:


AD&D Batttlesytem. As I remember (this was a loooon time ago) it was essentially a clumsy adaptation of the already clumsy AD&D mechanics to large scale battles. The box came with a large number of cardboard counters for troops. Our first games were on a friend's basement floor, the borders of the battlefield and all of the terrain being marked out in masking tape on the tile surface.

Eventually we discovered miniatures and terrain building. From there, things evolved. I still occasionally talk to some of those old friends. I'm the only one who still plays with toy soldiers.

The reason I was thinking about my start in the hobby with Battlesystem is recent discussions around the internets on the visual aspect of the game. The thing I don't understand is paying boatloads of money for figures, then not painting them, or using construction paper terrain. If the visual aspect means that little, why not stick with cardboard counters. They certainly worked as well back then. If I only wanted the game, with no visual "theatrics" that's probably what I would do.

Speaking of board games, we received a wedding gift from one of my fiance's out of town friends. I've never met him, but he's my new hero. We got...

28 September 2010

Painting At a Slightly Larger Scale

I spent three days at the annual Ingenuity Festival this past weekend. About 15+/- artists were painting "murals" on the floor. A little over half were completed ahead of time, the rest of us worked as the festival was going on.

The festival now takes place on the unused lower half of one of the bridges spanning the Cuyahoga River, connecting the two halves of the city.

Here I am just before the start of the Festival, on a sunny 90F degree Friday afternoon, at one end of the bridge.

My work space was a sheet of plywood strapped down the the open metal grating at almost dead center of the bridge, over the river. I kept waiting to lose a paint brush or a cap from a tube/jar of paint, either through the grating or over the edge (just beyond those thin wooden slats.) I managed to keep everything together.

A couple of photos from Saturday afternoon. The temperature dropped about 30F degrees, and the wind reversed direction. I was working almost directly opposite the festival "centerpiece," an artificial waterfall pouring from the top of the bridge to the river below. The high winds soaked me and my painting throughout the chilly day.

I continued painting through Sunday, though I called it quits in the early afternoon so that I could wander the festival some more and view/participate in some of the other events. In spite of having to fight with the weather and conditions, which were a major setback (acrylic paints on a wet board that people would walk all over after dark) I had a lot of fun. I also learned a great deal about painting "in the field" in less than ideal conditions. Actually, it made it a bit of an interesting challenge -- though I could have done with a bit warmer weather if I was going to be soaked all day.

As far as the rest of the Festival -- it was great. I really enjoyed all the other art, music, dance, theater, food and, of course, all the great views from (and of) the bridge.

I'm back to work on the "mystery sculpt" and almost finished.

I also have less than two weeks before my wedding, and then few days after that for some much needed R&R, away from civilization (in a cabin in the woods.)

After that, I've got a work desk full of figures to paint. First up will be some overdue commission work that I need to complete. Then a few surprises...

18 September 2010

Chalk Festival, Ingenuity & More Mystery Sculpting

More non-wargaming or miniature painting stuff... (but don't worry, more of that soon!)

Last year I posted about the Cleveland Museum of Art Chalk Festival, along with some pics of past chalk drawings. This year I ran down for a quick afternoon of drawing. My fiance (wife in a couple weeks!) was sick and had to bow out. I feel bad, as she's the one who got me into the festival in the first place and I know how much she enjoys it.

This year I sort of got stuck with a small space to work in. So it was about 1/2 the size as usual, and I finished in a very short time, had to sacrifice some of what I had planned & some of the detail. A bit disappointing, but trying not to let it bug me.

I stuck with the same cartoony theme I've done since the first time. I've got to admit, I like it when the kids recognize the rabbit & snail from the previous years. :)

While on the topic of festivals & public artsy stuff, I will be part of the Line of Sight
"mural" project at the Cleveland Ingenuity Festival
this year. I (and a number of other artists) will be painting a "mural" on a big 8'x4' board throughout the festival. It's a really cool festival, and this year it has moved to the location of last year's Bridge Festival, on the lower level of the Detroit-Superior bridge, in Cleveland. A great site!

Came home and after some other things and a nap, I've been working on the "mystery sculpt" again. Here's part of it (1 of 2 pieces.)

The other part is curing under a lamp (I hope), as I want to work on it more before going to bed.

16 September 2010

Mystery Sculpting

More work in progress on the mystery sculpting project.

No, nothing to do with toy soldiers, strictly speaking. Except that it's helping me blow through all my too-old green stuff (frustrating as it is to work with...)

12 September 2010

War of 1812 (Black Powder)

I played my first game of Black Powder. A friend put together a small battle from the War of 1812, an American incursion into Canada after the Battle of Lake Erie.

As the British, we were outnumbered and on the defensive, but with a slight advantage in quality.

In the photo below, the Americans are on the left, British on the right. I was in command of the British left & center. My partner had the British right and some ambushing Native Americans in the woods on the flank.

Middle of the game, you can see how bad things were, in terms of numbers. Still, my meager line regiment and skirmishers managed to hold off the superior numbers for most of the game.

I have read the rules a few times, but this was my first game. My impressions?

First, it's an easy game to learn, and plays out quickly. I generally don't like games that are too simple, but I think that Black Powder (like various flavors of Warmaster, etc.) capture all the important points of a large game without getting bogged down in details.

I also think it would make a good game for convention events, for this reason.

I do have a few minor criticisms. As with the assorted Warmaster based games, movement seems a little too easy and simple sometimes.

The counterpoint to that, which, as the GM pointed out, balances the movement issue a bit is that it's way too easy to become disordered. Becoming disordered can really lock down parts of the battle.

Personally, I'd prefer if both ease of movement and becoming disordered were toned down a bit, so instead of a balance of extremes it was a balance of moderation. But the game is still very enjoyable and I'm hoping to play some more.

09 September 2010

Sculpting, Campaign, Registry

I've been thinking about the "Imagi-Nations" concept that some of the 18th century wargamers (and/or just history enthusiasts) indulge in. It got me thinking about something similar for an ancients campaign. Would that be "Imagin-Ancients"? If no one else lays claim to that, I declare that I've officially coined the term.

When I have time to start gaming again in another 4-6 weeks (oh, I see the sun rising on the horizon!) I may work up a map and some simple rules as an excuse to try to organize a small campaign.

Not really wargame or miniatures related, but I've started working on a small but long overdue sculpting project. I formed out some of the massing last night. I'll reveal more as it evolves.

And lastly, earlier this week when we were working on some of our wedding book-keeping and tidying up our online registry lists, I was suddenly inspired and asked my fiance:

"Hey, can I put Arkham Horror (board game) on our Amazon wedding registry?"

The reply: "Sure."