Saturday 20 June 2020

Loot Markers

I have been looking forward to sharing these elements, for no other reason that I am chuffed to bits with them!  From very early on in the game's design considerations, I was keen to include some element of chance to the proceedings, this is not a new concept and is lifted directly from some of my more enjoyable gaming experiences such as Congo and Zombicide.  
I wanted players to interact with elements drawing what is in effect a chance card that could then have an impact on game play, be it positive or negative.  The cards themselves were considered a while a go, with my thought process laid out in the post, 'On the turn of a card'.  I was hoping that this element would bring some levity to the game, making it more about the experience than a strategic wargame.  
I knew that we could design a set of tokens to place in the game to represent these chance encounters and that their position could again influence decisions made, for example placed within range of the castle defenders would an attacking squad run the risk of interacting and winning a game changing panzerfäust or will they see their troops gunned down for a humble bratwurst?  Decisions, decisions.
Inspiration came from the great many examples of 'jumping off' points devised for games like Bolt Action and so having decided on 40mm MDF discs as a starting point, I began collecting together elements from left offer sprues and the bits box.  Most came together very quickly and are grouped in sets like the 'fuel dump' or food supplies, which were actually one piece resin casts from 'Bad Squiddo Games'.  The weapons caches were all based around some '4Ground' packing crates that I had kicking around and proved just the job to 'stage' the individual arms, the irony being that they are bought as pre-painted, but were then undercoated when I had everything assembled! 
I haven't really considered just how many of these stands would be available to players in the game, but given the size of the playing area I set myself the target of eighteen, for no better reason than that was how many bases I had to hand.  Initially the thought was that they would be generic to both sides, but as I started to mull the idea over I decided it might be fun to have certain markers that would be placed just in the castle and others available to the attackers and could therefore be themed accordingly.  This is where things started to get out of hand...
Discarded luggage, looted family heirlooms from the castle armoury or discarded Nazi documents all made it into the castle, I even headed the file paper with a German eagle!  Outside we can find a teddy bear's picnic on a hand painted rug and evidence of the revenge of a certain red cloak wearing heroine; anything was possible.  It was always my intention, if time permitting, to have some fun with these markers and this was definitely a situation were having the time just to tinker around has befitted the outcome.  My apologies for a rare moment of self congratulation, but I couldn't be happier with them and can't wait to see the markers take their place on the boards.

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Wednesday 17 June 2020

The Monarch of the Glen

More fauna and set dressing, this time in the shape of a couple of packs of 'Wargames Foundry' deer.  These were purchased off the back of the wild boar post, 'Bringing home the bacon',  where Paul of 'Paul's Bods' fame had suggested that Roe and Red deer were plentiful in the Austrian forests and by happenstance 'Wargames Foundry' were running a sale; the rest, as they say, is history.

When they arrived I couldn't have been more thrilled, beautifully cast and with very little work needed in preparation.  A modicum of research revealed that there were subtle differences in markings between the breeds, but a red brown sufficed as the base coat for both.  To be perfectly honest, I couldn't see past Sir Edwin Landseer's iconic painting of c.1851.  Just like the painting this stag boasts an impressive twelve point, or royal, set of antlers and it's easy to see how the Victorian painting embodied all that is majestic and mysterious about the lands North of the boarder.  
Sadly, by the twentieth century the painting had become something of a cliché, the sort of image that might adorn a tin of all butter shortbread or a bottle of whisky, but it still holds a sense of mastery to me and so I am happy to champion it in miniature, even adding a clump of purple heather on the base; a little bit of Scotland in a far off corner of some foreign field.
I have to say that they make quite a lovely family group, with the addition of a couple of fawns that I couldn't resit painting to look like Bambi.   I hope to return them to the wild when we finally reunite the boards, but have made a solemn promise to James' mother that no harm will befall any livestock placed on the board, so they really are only to be considered set dressing.
One unexpected advantage of being holed up during the ongoing crisis is that all those 'extension' tasks that were to be considered if we had time have now been completed; a case in point would be more livestock!  Stuck to lolly pop sticks, patiently awaiting their repatriation are creatures form a variety of sources including bunnies from 'Bad Squiddo Games' and 'Warbases', a couple of toads from 'Master Crafted Miniatures', some pheasants, again from 'Warbases' and a couple of fish, sadly not included in this photograph, from 'Wargames Terrain Workshop'.
I even managed to finish some wolves, yet again from the ever dependable 'Warbases' and a nun.  Originally from 'Conquest Games', the nun's head was flattened and a crude crucifix fashioned from some plastic strip so as to create a passing semblance to Mother Abbess from the Sound of Music.  I have absolutely no idea if these will have any role to play in the game, although I quite liked the idea of Mother Abbess just randomly moving around the board, joining everyone in song,
"Climb Ev'ry Mountain".
Regardless of their ultimate use it is good to have finally ticked off these elements that have been cluttering up the painting desk for so long.  I have been beavering away on the plot points or markers for the game and will hopefully be in a position to share those shortly and then, fingers crossed, we may have the big reveal!

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Saturday 13 June 2020

Thank you N.H.S.

Being of a somewhat sensitive disposition, I find the idea of public displays of affection truly terrifying.  Imagine my horror then, when the Saintly Mrs. Awdry announced that we needed to step over the threshold of 'Awdry Towers' and show our appreciation of the National Health Service with a spirited round of applause.  "But I have my slippers on", I explained, all to no avail, as I was ousted from the armchair and presented to the street.  This became my routine every Thursday night at eight o'clock, it was all very strange, but even I had to admit that there was a palpable sense of community and hope as I cringed my way through the longest minute of the week.
Social afflictions aside, I am of course delighted to show my support of the National Health Service and was thrilled when another opportunity presented itself in the form of this splendid miniature produced by 'Empress Miniatures'.  This representation of a WWII Combat Nurse is sculpted by Paul Hicks and money raised by its sale will go to British National Health Service Charity, RCN Foundation COVID-19 Support Fund.
I love this photograph of the Canadian medical staff that Paul had used as his inspiration for the sculpt and it transpires, rather charmingly, that Lt. Woolsey is the grandmother of a good friend of his.  There is a sense of calm and professionalism about the trio in the foreground, who will no doubt finish their mugs of tea and step back into the war without a second thought for their own safety; a spirit of duty and sacrifice clearly in evidence to this day with our own nurses on the 'front line'.

Stay Safe.

Thursday 11 June 2020

A work in progress#3

This will be the final work in progress post with regards to the gaming boards and comes about due to a much needed sort out of the photographs I had taken just before lockdown.  It seems strange looking at them again now, especially as the four boards have not been in the same room since December.  The opening set of shots detail the finishing touches on the first two boards with item like the log cabin, electricity substation and ground cover all in situ. 

We then move on to the final two boards and some interesting design elements had to be considered, most notably the shape cut out of one.  As the scale and height of the castle became evident we started to worry about the playability of the game, particularly at Salute.  It was painfully obvious that players, certainly those that were small of stature, would struggle to access the miniatures on the castle walls from the far side of the board.  So it is that we have the rather fetching organic shape towards the rear of the castle.  This board also holds one or two other surprises for no other reason than we were starting to feel more confident in the construction methods used.  To that end the mountain stream continues, but is polluted by the sewage drain from the castle.  Needing a place to forge the stream without penalty, I also constructed a simple stone bridge out of scrap pieces of foam and then there is the dinosaur fossil.  A complete fabrication and fanciful element, but everything is better with dinosaurs, right?

Te final board is, in effect, the base of the castle itself and if you look closely you can see a yellow tissue paper template that represents the structure's footprint.  I hinted at the remains of the medieval predecessor to the current Schloss with more foam pieces and both areas are tied together with trees that match the same pattern and colours used in the original boards. 

I really can't explain just how excited I am to see all four boards reunited and populated with the completed miniatures.  It will be an opportunity to see what finishing details are required, but also to reflect on what has been a very strange and unforeseeable journey.

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Monday 8 June 2020

28mm Electricity Substation

Just a quick post this morning as it occurred to me that we haven't really showcased this particular example of James' amazing work.  The electricity substation is a wonderful example of just how confident James has become in realising my intentions, it is as if he can see into my mind, a truly terrifying thought!  In this instance, I had happened across a reference of the battle in the Prison Journal of France's former Prime Minister, Édouard Daladier, which read...

two of the German soldiers who had come with [Gangl] had taken up positions, with their rifles resting on the window sills.  They pointed out [SS troops] firing at the "castle" from a few hundred yards away, near the little electric plant, on the edge of the forest.

James and I talked about this exchange for awhile, what it might look like, both agreeing that it would serve absolutely no purpose to the game, but might make another of those, oh so interesting, extras that we both enjoyed.
The next thing I know a fully realised substation has been designed and built by James, I was nothing short of flabbergasted!  Other than paint the groundwork, this is all James' handiwork including the specially designed electricity cable drums with their cheeky names.
Looking at it again, during this period of isolation, I was instantly transported back to a time when young Master Awdry, was routinely terrified by any number of public information films, in this instance Play Safe - Kites and Planes.
I shan't spoil the ending, but suffice to say it is a shocking tale of misadventure and the reason why James' substation know has a blue kite lodged atop the the transformer bushings.* 
*I may have just made up that technical term.
There was something rather enjoyable about fashioning a kite from some tissue paper and florists' wire, yet another wonderful diversion, but just had to be done! 
One last photograph below of the substation in situ, which I discovered when tidying up some folders last week.  There were a number of shots of the final two boards before I had to leave them, which I shall edit and share as a final work in progress post.

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