Salute 2012

I went to Salute last Saturday.  It was my second time at the event having also made the trip last year.  MT came along for some immoral support.

I pre-ordered a fair bit of stuff from various sellers in an attempt to avoid impulse overspending.  That plan had… mixed results.

After wandering around, picking up pre-orders, buying some bits and stopping to admire some of the cool tables on display I did a lap of the hall taking photos.

After that we played a pair of demo games:

  1. 7TV from Crooked Dice is a ruleset that I own that I had yet to actually play that I have plans regarding.  The beautiful 7TV demo tables made it easy to convince MT to give it a go too.
  2. Project Pandora (Mantic Games), a sci-fi dungeoncrawl not unlike Space Hulk in concept but quite different in rules and gameplay terms.  I had pre-ordered a copy of the game and MT picked up a copy of his own after the demo)

The snaps that I took feature below.  All can be clicked on for a better look.  The occasional snap can be enlarged much more: they are marked with a caption saying as much.

Above is the demo game of 7TV that we played.  As you can see, it was particularly nice to look at.  I played the Project Time Lift forces (including Darius “The Man from 2000” while MT played the zombie astronauts and psychically dominated human forces near the crashed rocket.

Matt our demo instructor was great and showed us what we needed to know without smothering us.  I have future plans for this rule set so it was cool to get to play it with such beautiful miniatures and terrain.  MT picked up some Blakes 7 inspired figures from Crooked Dice after playing this (he remembers the seventies a lot better than I do).

Above is a photo of one of the other 7TV tables.  This one had more of a Sapphire and Steel or Doctor Who vibe, with animated scarecrows getting up to mischief in a quaint English town setting.

Another 7TV demo table.  I didnt pick up exactly what was going on on this table story wise, but it looked pretty cool.

This last 7TV demo table was bigger by far and was surrounded by people the entire day (which is partly why the photo isnt very good).  Like last years “You Only Live Dice” table, I watched the log of its manufacture on the LAF, so it was nice to see the “On Her Majestys Crooked Service” table in real life.

From one snow table to another, less dramatic one.  Despite the uninspiring white sheet the rest of the items depicting an incident with mammoths and cavemen looked good.  In many respects this is exactly the sort of game that I want to see at a convention.  I dont imagine that any of my gaming buddies will ever get around to assembling and painting loads of mammoths and cavemen for gaming with, but I am glad that someone has and that they brought it to Salute to show everyone.

Some kind of bug hunt game was taking place on the table shown above.  What I liked about this table was that it could feasibly be made by any gamer with a little space and a little patience.  The internet and conventions like Salute are full of miniatures and terrain created to an exceptionally high standard, with cast elements and super detailing being the norm.  I think that the bar is set so high as to be discouraging in some respects.  The table shown here illustrates that a decent sci-fi complex can be created without it being a colossal time and money sink.  Speaking of which…

Click on the photo for a MUCH bigger version.

This table was for demos of a steampunk/VSF game, but I cant remember what it was called.  Something German I think.  The terrain and miniatures here were exceptionally nice.

Another table from those German VSF guys.  Lovely.

I dont know what game was being played on this table as I passed by, but the town looked good.

Click to photo for the big version.

This Western game was in 6mm scale or similar.  Check out the cute stampeding cattle.

Another Space Hulk-esque sci-fi dungeon here.  Its made from Ainsty Casting parts seemingly donated to the RAF.  Im not so keen on the colour choices but I would be very happy to have access to somehting like that to game on all the same.

Some little hoplites doing their thing, shouting “FOR TINY SPARTAAAA!” in barely heard, high pitched 10mm voices.

Click to embiggen.

This was another beautiful table that I saw being constructed on the LAF, this time with a samurai theme.  I liked it more the longer that I looked at it.  Lovely banners and detail on the troops too.

The flying battleship miniatures shown featured on a number of tables.  I think that the game is Dystopian Wars maybe, but I am not certain, I might be way off.  Nonetheless every time that I saw that flying aircraft carrier model I had to stop to ogle it.

Lots of Steampunk/VSF around this year.  I dabble a bit via Malifaux, but its not really my preferred setting.   On the other hand if I had local players who wanted to try a skirmish game in more or less any setting then I would be happy to paint up a handful of figures for it.  Above is the new Empire of the Dead game from West Wind.  The Victorian London housing looked great, as did the conservatory on the back of the house in the top left.

Some mad looking VSF vehicles on this table.  I quite liked the huts on the bottom right too: they looked to me like something Tatooine or where kroot or something might live.

This was a zombie game that appeared to be set in some sort of Tim Burton-y, Paper-Mario universe.  The bases for the 2D buildings seemed to mark out the shadows of the buildings, which was interesting.  I found the whole monochrome thing intriguing although I never got around to asking the guys running it what they were up to.  Oh well.

The first of a few Freebooters Fate demo tables shown above.  It was a really nice looking piece that I imagine would be fun to play on two or three times, after which it would become dull.  Ideal for demoing a game nicely I expect and the sort of thing impractical to make or game with at home (unless you have vast space and time).  Ideal for viewing at a convention in other words.

Another really nice Freebooters Fate demo table.

Another nice looking table playing a period that I know nothing about.  I took the photo to remind me about the explosion markers.  They seem to be cotton wool or something but they have been placed on battery operated fake tea light candles.  The flickering from the LED was surprisingly convincing.  I should have asked the guys what they used to make the smoke as my wife has boxes of those lights for use with her ceramics stuff from which I shall be purloining in the near future.

Click for a close up.

Another game featuring those flying VSF aircraft carriers.   While the ships themselves were again very nicely painted, the level of detail on the island terrain was spectacular.  One of the visual highlights of the show for me.

There seemed to me to be less modern era game going on than last year, but its not like I kept track or anything.  This was a Yugoslavian table I think, but dont hold me to it.

Gigantic Japanese monsters beating the shit out of each other has considerable appeal to me.  Therefore this table also had.  A brief chat with one of the creators revealed that the buildings were made from lengths of drainpipe with printouts stuck on to the sides.  The sum of the parts was considerably better than that sounds I thought.

My own kaiju stuff is 6mm, to go with my Epic terrain and miniatures so each kaiju is roughly 100-130mm tall.  The kaiju in this game were much larger being more about 200mm tall if memory serves.  I would have liked to have had enough time to try that game out.

One of the heavily publicised games for the show was the Captain Scarlet road battle game.  It consisted of a number of tables laid out to represent a Gerry Anderson-esque super highway.  As well as 28mm versions of the Spectrum operatives and the like the game also featured some nice sci-fi civilian vehicles.  I have a particular interest in those sorts of things for populating my Judge Dredd games.

I enjoyed the model elements of the Gerry Anderson shows as a child (as I am sure that anyone bothered enough to read a blog about toy soldiers probably did) but I was never a fan of the scenarios or storytelling.  Even when I was young I found the shows tedious but I couldnt look away because of the sumptuous model shots.

The upshot of this is that I think that I would enjoy gaming Captain Scarlet and the like.  I might be able to subject the characters to the sort of scenarios that I felt were missing from the TV shows.

Click to see the demons on the bridge a little closer.

Another samurai demo table, although this time populated with a bit of the supernatural.  More beautiful feudal Japanese scenery.

The first Gruntz table.  If I had my time again then I would avoid 28mm altogether I reckon and stick to 15mm like this.  But I always say that.

15mm is just so cute though.  Its a good compromise between 28mm (which is just too big for fielding vehicles properly) and 6mm (which is just a bit too small to field infantry properly).  Still, Im not going to touch it.  Whatever about not having the self discipline to restrain myself from purchasing too many more miniatures, having to start another set of terrain in a different scale would cause me to crack up completely.

Lastly I took a few photos of the Malifaux tables.  This first one is made from Terraclips sets.  It looks OK I suppose, although the clips holding the sets together are a bit intrusive.  The surfaces themselves are a little busy for my tastes too.  As far as I am aware I think that the point of Terraclips is that it can be assembled in numerous ways, like a Lego set.  I very much doubt that setting up and tearing down a setup like that shown above would be very quick though.

The other Malifaux table was more traditional fare.  It looked nice I thought, a set up that I would be happy to have at home.  In the context of the spectacular tables on show all over Salute it was somewhat lost though.

Those lovely Sarissa Precision buildings always look great.

So that was Salute 2012.  Discussions are already underway regarding Salute 2013 attendance.


Malifaux: Santiago Ortega

Santiago Ortega

The first Ortega that I finished is this tough looking hombre.  Santiago is the Ortega clan beefcake.

The paint job came out fine, better than the Death Marshals, but not as well as either the Judge or Lady Justice.  The figure is quite cool looking but a bit fiddly to paint for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is one that is common with the majority of Wyrd miniatures that I have come across so far: its multi-part.

Multi-part miniatures can often avoid that somewhat flat, two dimensional look by adding an arm or gun or wing or whatever on an axis that the casting process does not allow.  Despite this, I generally prefer my human sized figures to be single piece as it makes them more durable and it makes painting easier.  Trying to paint Santiagos face behind his big ol’ right arm was a hassle, and it shows in the painting quality.

Santiagos duster came out better than those of the Death Marshals a few weeks ago.

Fiddly reason two is also a feature of the Wyrd style.  The figures are moderately heavily detailed (which is nice) but the detail itself while crisp, is very fine.  When painted well they look fantastic, but I find that miniatures with heavily cut detail suit my painting style (and my patience levels) better.

But I should stop moaning.  Santiago looks like a pretty cool alt-cowboy type and the paint job came out pretty solid anyway.

Lastly, here is a picture of Santiago with part of my next terrain sub-project.

Going to Salute 2012

In a display of blatant disregard for:

  • my finances
  • my hilariously unreflexive promises-to-self regarding ratio of painted miniatures to unpainted miniatures owned

…I have decided to attend Salute on Saturday next.  This year I will be accompanied on my trip to London by a gaming crony (MT) rather than my wife, which is probably a better plan overall really.

If anyone reading this is attending Salute and also interested in briefly meeting up to say hi and pose for a self-conscious photo then let me know and we can arrange something.

Like last year I plan to take a whole heap of snaps and post them up here afterwards, probably on Monday, but maybe on Sunday if I am not too fried.

For any interested, my shopping list features:

  • an obscene number of Judge Dredd related figures (because I gotta catch em all this time, as I missed them in the mid 2000s and it ate away at me on the inside)
  • sci-fi city terrain bits (because I promised myself a half decent looking non-gothic sci-fi city terrain set in 1989 and it simply has to happen some time soon)
  • some L4D infected figures (because even though I have already converted/painted up figures to represent L4D infected therefore making this purchase largely redundant, I still want the new Studio Miniatures ones.  Look no further for evidence of my stupidity)
  • Mantics “Project Pandora” not-Space Hulk game (because I will happily buy pretty much any sci-fi dungeon crawl game).

Artificial Boundaries

My recent mancave renovation unearthed a few bits and pieces that had been forgotten over the years.  The fences and walls shown here had been sitting in a box since 1992 or so.

Regular readers (there are some, honest) will know that I pretty rarely play fantasy games, preferring to focus on science fiction.

One of my (many) pet gaming peeves is the tendency for players to dump any old bits and pieces lying around onto their gaming table to serve as terrain, regardless of the setting, resulting in jarring suspension-of-disbelief juxtaposition.

Space troopers fighting alien bugs against a backdrop of tatty cardboard tudor buildings is a classic example. with regiments of yellow clad, ruffle-sleeved, twirly moustached pikemen wandering past ruined gothic city blocks being another unfavourite.

I have christened this The Doctor Who Effect: no matter what is going on in that show it always look like its happening in Wales instead of an asteroid circling Proxima Centauri or whatever, which I find very distracting.

I honestly dont understand why anyone interested in the imaginary and compromise filled world of miniature gaming is bothered playing if the game doesnt have some sort of visual narrative, of which the terrain is a crucial part,  Whats the point otherwise?  Appropriate terrain is at least as important as the toy soldiers themselves.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that despite having made these terrain pieces twenty years ago, I havent played many games that required either rickety wooden fences or somewhat unconvincing “stone” walls.  Until now that is.

My recent foray into playing Malifaux has meant that these terrain pieces have come out of retirement.

The fences are strips of balsa glued to each other and based on card.  The walls are balls of air hardening clay stacked into soft looking rustic walls.  Nothing fancy, but functional all the same.  It is satisfying to use the pieces properly for the first time in nearly two decades.

Since I took these photos I have gone back and stippled some colour onto the bases to get these pieces to fit into the Zuzzy mat baseboard colours a little better.


Some of my old 40k stuff today.  Plaguebearer Nurgle daemons.

Plaguebearers are Nurgles tallymen, embodying the futility of mortal existence by constantly making lists and categorising myriad life matters which cannot be measured.  Just like me.

Plaguebearers all bear the signs of rot and decay in addition to monocular vision and a horn (occasionally more than one).  Usually they are portrayed in brownish greens, like everything Nurgle tends to be.  I broke from the norm and chose to tie my plaguebearers colour scheme to my Sin Eaters marines.

In that era 40k daemons were summoned into play, popping into existence when certain game criteria are reached (its probably done similarly in current 40k, but I dont know for sure).

In an effort to make my figures unique and to tie them into sci-fi rather than fantasy Warhammer I added cybernetic elements to a number of the figures.

Conceptually I see those as bits of junk that coalesce into usable forms along with the daemon itself (being unliving embodiments of decay and all that).  If you imagine Tetsuo fusing with surrounding mechanical objects towards the end of Akira then you are on the right track.

Mainly I did it because I thought that it would be a fun project to make some goofy demon figures into cyborgs, ’cause I like cyborgs more than demons.

The figures are a mix of six of the original plaguebearers from the eighties, plus four of the nineties guys.  It is easy enough to tell which are which I think.

The cyborg weapon elements are all Necromunda Pit Slave parts, plus an old Warlord titan chainfist.

My favourite pair of these goofy freaks are shown in the first and final photo.  One guy has had his eye replaced with the screen from an Imperial auspex, complete with EEG style readout.  He also had a piece from a radar dish glued to his back.

The other guy has a rifle sight in place of his eye.  He also has a backpack with an aerial and a Nurgle symbol on it.  Far out.


The paint job is quite cartoony, aided and abetted by the comical sculpts and ludicrous bionics.  I like the look, even though they might jar a little with some more “serious” looking 40k figures (although at the time of writing Space Wolves mounted on wolves from space have just been released and even they are not as silly looking as the preposterously poorly conceived Dreadknight).

The plaguebearers have featured in very few games.  I once used them in a day long mini campaign and then in casual home games a couple of times.  They were always lacklustre in rules terms in those days.

I plan to use them for some skirmish games using Inquisitorial retinues and the like at some stage, hopefully during the next couple of years.  I might have them lead by Judge Mortis some time too: I can see Dredd Hi-Ex-ing a few of these guys.

St. Craniums Cemetery

Following on from Mondays WiP post here are some close up shots of some of the finished graveyard elements.

A few meandering points:

  1. I wanted to avoid green plants.  Therefore I went with rusty red on the undergrowth to get the terrain to fit in with the rest of my wastelands stuff which in turn matches the bits of lichen that I attached here and there.
  2. I am particularly pleased with how the mausoleum roofs worked out.  I am also happy with the three crows that feature throughout the piece.   By using a different technique to the last time that I tried to paint black birds they came out much better.  Its a very minor thing, but satisfying for me.  Sometimes it really is the little things.
  3. The large skull-faced gates (one of two shown) are both magnetised so they can be removed as and when required for game purposes.  I considered leaving the gates permanently open, but adding the magnets was more fun.
  4. I went for a walk around a local overgrown graveyard and took some photos in preparation for painting this stuff.  As It happened I simply went for the easy, more theatrical approach to painting the pieces rather than trying to duplicate complicated patterns of wear and plant growth on the pieces.  The end result is more Scooby Doo than some might like.  Visiting the old graveyard turned out to be interesting in itself anyway, even if it had little influence on how the models finally turned out.

Since I finished these I have dug up a few more bits that will be getting painted up to go with this set, but for now I have plenty to game with.  In fact I played a game with COM on the brand new graveyard terrain within hours of finishing it, which was satisfying.

Graveyard WiP

I have wanted a graveyard terrain set to game with for many years, but I never got around to picking up the many expensive crypt, mausoleum, gravestone and perimeter pieces required.

Then Games Workshop released the Garden of Morr graveyard kit last year.  It looked like a convenient and reasonably cost effective way to cover my toy soldier graveyard needs so I picked up a couple of sets last Autumn.

After some consideration I decided that I would prep the graveyard to fit with my wasteland terrain.  The classic movie graveyard tends to be a bit greener than that and for a while I was tempted to go for that more Transylvanian look.  I have a bit of an aversion to playing games on green, golf course like tables however and as I had already painted up some Renedra gravestones that I picked up at Salute last year to match the wasteland terrain, I went with that again here.

The Renedra gravestone kit is straightforward and very nice.  The Garden of Morr is fantastic.  It goes together very easily without need for clamps or rubber bands or anything fiddly.  It also looks really nice when assembled, even before painting.

The painting process took me a few hours each day for about four days or so. I tend to be slow at things like this so its possible that some time could be shaved off that I reckon.  Below are the steps that I used to prep the lot, which should give anyone interested an insight into how I approach projects like this, for better or for worse:

Parts were clipped from the frames, mould lines and the like were cleaned off and the loose gravestones were attached to cork tile bases.

Everything was sprayed with matt black acrylic car paint.

Next all of the pieces were lightly sprayed with grey primer spray from above.  I recently read somewhere that the kids call that “zenith highlighting”.  Who knew?  Cat provides cheerleading section.

All of the parts were then given a pretty heavy drybrush of white acrylic.  Note the Deadwood DVDs that were running on the laptop while I worked, helping to keep me in a cowboy frame of mind.

Some areas were tinted with washes of ink and/or thinned paint.  Detailing started in some areas.  Another cat provides aesthetic critique.  Note the DVD rental of Cowboys and Aliens which I had hoped would keep me in a Western frame of mind.   It didnt.  Dont watch it, its depressingly awful.  If I believed in souls then “soulless” would be an apt description.

More detailing. The most significant progress here was on the mausoleum roofs, although various other elements were also layered up.  This was usually done with a single tinted translucent colour so that the black through grey through white beneath showed through.  Painting GW Tin Bitz on the railings was the most tedious part of the whole job.

I am not really a GW basher: I have had plenty of fun with their products over the years even if I dont tend to have a whole lot of interest these days.  But there was a somewhat amusing element to this kit that I thought that I would mention.

GW products get a lot of stick about their propensity to stick skulls and skull motifs on any vaguely flat surface.   A graveyard seems to me to be one of the few places where its possible to get away with that sort of thing, but the GW designers decided to go berserk with skulls on the Morr kit.

Out of (morbid) curiosity I counted the skulls and skull motifs on the set.

A Garden of Morr features:

  • 244 “human” skulls
  • 115 skull motifs
  • Total 359 skulls per kit

I assembled two kits meaning that I quickly painted a staggering 718 skulls.  Hilarious.

A few skulls here and there is fine with me as I am not going for a realistic looking, architectural style piece.  The sort of graveyard that featured in Buffy or Scooby Doo is what I was looking for.  Even so, that really a lot of skulls.

If the vast amounts of head bone on the kit dont bother you then I thoroughly recommend it, its very practical in game terms and it assembles very quickly and easily.  I would not recommend buying the kit with the intention of removing most of the skulls and skull motifs as it would be a huge pain in the arse.  I am sure that some people would do it, but it would feel like a waste of time to me.

Photos of the finished elements of St Craniums Cemetery will be posted up on Wednesday.

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