About Me

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My name is Gavin McClements. I am a wargamer and family man, living in Los Gatos, which is a suburb of San Jose, CA. Building terrain is one of my favorite aspects of the wargaming hobby - in fact, lately I've become more interested in making my battlefields "pop" than in actually playing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Card-making tutorial for Unit cards

With the latest 15mm rulesets out there, a lot of them beg for custom unit creation, and THAT begs for custom unit templates.

This video is a quick guide to doing just that in Word. I copied it and had my own cards up in no time!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Storage and transporting of miniatures

I love organizing my stuff. I'm not really that organized, but I like having the stuff I use a lot available for transport and ease of use.

For example, I use this case that I got at Home Depot for $25 to hold my Trading Card Games deck boxes:

Well, I found another option for this same case over on the Green Rivets blog. There, he mentions THIS case which seems to be the same one that I have, but the one he shows seems to have actual pluck foam. Cool!  I have some options already for my Blood Bowl teams, but I may go this route again because I like it better.

After all, I am a "one case fits all" kind of guy. I'll post some pics of the storage/transport options I made for my 15mm army up when I get finished.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mammoth is camo'd up, lined, and has a new, shiny cockpit

I got the lining done on the Mammoth this evening. Being a larger model, I felt that this sucker could lure me in with its wiles and trap me all night, so I went for a more minimalist approach than on the APCs by Khurasan. Still, it took me a bit and I was pleased with its results.

.That cockpit scared the tar out of me. I have never actually done one, but I always try to do my research and so came up with this.  Of course, it made me realize that the sensor sticking out of the cockpit needs to be lined (tomorrow!) and I realize that the searchlights on the torsos just dont look quite right, but hey, Im like 99% happy. I need to splash some red on the missiles in the launcher on the left arm, add my battle damage to the vehicles as a lot, seal it, then add the weathering pigments from Secret Weapon, seal it again, and then maybe base it. 60mm base, anyone?

Pigment tutorial

While doing some quick video research on weathering pigments, I stumbled across this video on Youtube. I'd say its "quick", but maybe I should say FAST :)  Anyway, worth a look because it shows "how to" in the way I like to see...just get it done, already!

Weather Model Train Cars: Oil wash, clear cote, rust pigments

Of course I'd be remiss if I didnt link Robin's also:

Washes and Pigments

Lastly, I found another video that has been helpful:

Hammer40k's Weathering Pigments

I'll admit I am a little confused on how to "finish" these models. Robin's pigments were brushed over a sealer, which is a step I dont plan on doing until the end when its done. Hammer's is finished with rubbing alcohol (wtf?), so Im still looking into this...

[AHA! Being the smart cave troll that I am, I went to the source: www.secretweaponminiatures.com and yea, they have a Tutorial section at the top. Including how to use their pigments. Check out their "super secret" unlisted Youtube video to see more...and yea, they use rubbing alcohol too. Guess what I'll be using?]

Outlining on the 15mm vehicles

After getting the camo mostly done, I wanted to do some outlining with Devlan Mud like I saw on one of Robin's videos on his Gruntz feed on Youtube.  It went on nicely, I think, and gives a reasonably subtle hint of 3D when used only along creases and corners.  Here are some quick shots of it.

Here you can see elements of the tank, such as the headlights, that I tried to throw in for detail. The are highlighted with 2 colors, but its really hard to tell from this angle and at this scale:

An overhead shot:

So at this point, Ive finished with the camo, the tired and treads, the head and tail lights, and the outlining. Well, the Mammoth hasnt been outlined yet, but I can only take so much cramping to my neck, back and hands in one sitting :)  After I get the Mammoth highlighted, I will try some weathering pigments from Secret Weapon instead of my normal drybrushing. This is, after all, my project of experiments (new scale, new painting, new outlining, new weathering techniques...cool!)!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Balls to the wall...

Enough talk, I thought, and swiftly proceeded to set up the airbrush and grow a pair. You cant learn if you dont try, right?

First I used Blue-Tac (poster-tac, same thing) to wrap a few of my vehicles. It was kind of fun but definitely tedious and tricky. I found it an interesting exercise in thinking in reverse, in that the spaces I wanted to be tan, I had to cover, and the places that were to be green needed to be exposed. But of course, looking at it, I saw white (to be tan) and tan (to be green). Interesting to say the least:

Then I discovered that the airbrush I had came with no instructions. Awww man!  Well, I powered through it, and was about to give it the college try:

I didnt mix enough paint and had it sputter on me very quickly. Turns out I used half of the bottle. Yikes. Anyway, I had some scary moments figuring out air pressure, etc, and had some sputtering and spitting while I did my test sprays, but in the end, well...I got the models covered :)

At this point I was a wreck. I couldnt tell if I had done a decent job, or if I had completely blown it. I was as nervous as a soon-to-be dad waiting outside of the delivery room! But eventually I came in after the paint was dry and slowly peeled it away...

...I felt like the Joker unwrapping his bandages for the first time...

Well HEY, not half bad, eh?

Still, there was WAY too much green for my taste (I used Vallejo's Model Color Medium Olive), and so I set about hand painting the other two vehicles to compare and contrast.  Here are two APCs side by side. The darker green on the right is the airbrushed version, and the one in the foreground has been brushed:

Take a wild guess which I like better?

The APC weapon mounts havent been done as of this pic, obviously, and the washes, pigments, details, etc are still to be done, but overall I am really happy with this. The darker green versions arent my favorite, but will allow me to skirmish against myself (or a friend, lol) with 2 different forces using the same models, so that is cool.

The plus side of the airbrush was that my back didnt start killing me right away. I hunch when I paint, and as I type this I am squirming like a mother :(  However, the brush was just too reliable and easy (more time, but big deal). Painting the resin was interesting, as it was porous enough that the paint sank right into it, but it made for easy blending.

Anyone want to buy an airbrush? :)

15mm first layers of desert camo applied

I'm one of those guys who doesnt like doing things that he doesnt know how to do. In this case, Im stuck on using my airbrush. See, my wife bought me a cheapie years and years ago upon my request...and I've been too chicken to use it ever since.  However, after watching Robin's video on airbrushing I decided to brave it.

LOL...so I havent done it YET!  However, I have taken the bold move of preparing the models to be airbrushed. Brave, see?

I decided on a simple, possibly even boring, US 3-color desert scheme for my test run. I started out with the Army Painter Skeleton Bone primer. After each model was primed, I used a drop of PVA glue to stick each member of a squad onto large craft sticks for ease of handling.  These are my Khurasan 15mm Federal Marines models for use with Tomorrow's War and Gruntz.

Here is the lot ready to go:

Next I added some Vallejo Game Color "Earth" to the models in large swaths, with an artistic free-flowing motion. The intent is to replicate what Robin did in his video (and I had seen elsewhere) with the poster-tac. I will overlay the poster-tac along the brown lines, intending to blend the green into it with the airbrush.  We'll see how well that works :)

This is more of a close-up of my 6-year-old daughter's humorous "threatening" note to me to go get the pumpkins...lol...but it also shows the recipe for Gunk that I use as an additive when painting (I got it from the awesome article over at Reaper's forums:

I did manage to get brown onto one squad of 6 marines, but discovered as I started to do the second squad that some of the underparts of the infantry hadnt caught the primer. And since the primer is going to be, well, the primary color for the army, I ran them out and gave them another dusting of the Skeleton Bone. I will admit that with the craft sticks attached, it let me lay them on their sides and get a better angle. I should have done this first, I think.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I want to roleplay again!

I began my gaming career as a miniature gamer (well, Battletech at age 14) and a board gamer (Avalon Hill games of all types, all WW2). I began my roleplaying career with Champions 4th Ed by HERO games/ICE, and moved on from there.

Before my children were born, I decided that I needed to roleplay again, and so convinced some friends to buy D&D 3.5 and I ran a campaign that lasted for 2 years. It slowed as my daughter was born, and I was introduced to World of Warcraft (/sigh). After we wrapped up the campaign, a friend took over, and I continued playing for a few years, but lately I have been out of it again.

A few posts on my FLGS forums have netted me nothing, and Im finding that Im in a real bind when it comes to finding games! I worked at said FLGS and know the "quality" of our average gamer, and that kind of scares me. I don't tend to play pick-up games as I just dont have patience with power gamers and rules lawyers (at least ones I dont know!).

So I went to EN World (http://www.enworld.org/ which is a GREAT RPG forum - one of the best, actually) and posted in the Gamers seeking Gamers section. Wow, I feel gay.  Here is what I wrote:

"Ive played so many RPGs I wont be able to list them all. I've spent the most time playing various forms of Mechwarrior, Palladium games of all types, HERO games (Champions, Fantasy Hero), but have dabbled in many other types (like Shadowrun, Alpha Omega, Mutants and Masterminds, D&D from AD&D 2nd ed to 3.5, but havent actually played 4th ed yet).

I am looking for something NOT D&D, really, but only because I'm not in the place where I want to spend gobs of dollars on expansions and extra books needed for whatever game I play, where future expansions are less and less balanced or "fair", etc.

Oddly enough, I really, REALLY want to try Champions/HERO 6th Ed and will buy what I need to, but I am also interested in learning new rules.  I like combat (I LOVE combat, which is why I am a miniatures wargamer) but can deal with roleplaying and problem solving as long as it isnt the absolute main focus of the game or campaign.  I love fantasy and sci-fi equally, but dont really tend to get into the Wild West or alternate settings like steampunk cowboys, Weird War II, Victorian, etc.

I value cleanliness and bathe regularly - yes, I also expect it from my peers. Odd, I know. Oh, I brush my teeth and wear cologne as well. Who knew such gamers existed?

Personally, I am married with 2 children, hold down not one but two jobs (both of which I am quite proud of), and I play drums and make terrain for my games. I love Call of Duty and car racing games on my PS3, and watch an awful lot of MMA on TV."

I guess it is a personal ad, isnt it, so why not get all gushy? I most recently played Alpha Omega by Mindstorm Labs, and think the game system is good, but the group I had needed some help. Roleplaying takes a LOT of effort on the players, and even more from the DM, so maybe I am in love with the romantic CONCEPT of roleplaying and should just stick to miniature wargaming? I have some awesome friends who make great partners when we can game together, but their reliability is questionable enough that even my tabletop gaming is reduced in frequency enough that Im, well, you're reading what Im doing now :)

Just my own personal pining for something new. Which isnt new from me at all. Just ask most of my gaming friends...

Khurasan 15mm force about ready for paint

I haven't been idle! I have assembled and primed my Khurasan figs, and Tomorrow's War arrived and so I've been devouring that. Reading delays game time, but offers much more in return, so look for some BatReps here in the next few weeks.

First, let me show off my Mammoth. After throwing on a chin gun, I wasn't sure what to do for the chest sponsons, as I just didn't want more weapons mounted there. However, a trip through a friend's bitz box turned up what I thought were land mines, but turned out to be 40K Imperial Guard canteens! A dap of superglue later, and this is how this beast is turning out:

I cannot wait to paint this thing. It weighs enough to be a paperweight, so don't make it mad in combat!

I also had some issues with my adventures in texturing the bases of my figs. The Golden pumice gel was grainy and fought me every step of the way, although once I tried it without sand added, it was much more pliable.

Going off Robin's recommendation over at Gruntz, I bought some of the Windsor and Newton's Minteral Gels from Dick Blick. I bought the Mineral and Sand textures, and with shipping, paid less than retail for the two. I was quite happy when they arrived.

I took a comparison shot of the two, but my phone decided not to email it...so here it is on the bases of some of my Khurasan Federal Marine Special Assault Brigade:

First let me say this: these textured gel mediums were SO MUCH easier to work with than the Golden pumice gel! They were soft and creamy, and went where I put them. They were ALMOST easier than PVA and sand, with the bonus that they layered and textured up nicely, allowing me to hide the bulky rectangular stands these figs came on.

The Sand texture on the right, was creamier than the Mineral gel (left). I am eager to see them primed and painted to see how they hold paint, but I finished the other 3 Power Armor guys in the Mineral gel.

Finally, a shout out to Army Painter's colored primer. I was hesitant to use this, as I always seem to get mixed results when using unknown primer, but this went on smooth and silky, and I was quite pleased with its results. Here is the majority of my forces primed in Skeleton Bone:

Now all I need to do is prime the Power Armor and the Mammoth when I get home from work today. Eventually I will need to assemble and prime the APC weapon mounts, but that can wait - the vehicles are useable without them!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Basing my 15mm soldiers

Yesterday I started tackling the basing of my Khurasan models. Ive always felt that pennies looked a little too big on 15mm models (after all, if 28mm models are on 25mm bases, should the bases of models half that size be, I dont know, half as big?). So instead of using pennies on most of my models, I decided to use washers that were 5/8" across.

I also watched an inspiring video by Robin of Gruntz on basing his models, http://www.youtube.com/user/trybeinganihilist#p/u/31/QZm0rz8zotA, where he uses a gel medium mixed with sand to texture his 15mm guys. Well, I've based an awfu lot of 28mm and 6mm models, so I was up for something new. Getting my coupon from Michael's (you DO subscribe to their weekly emails, right? I mean, its a free 40% off whenever you want it!), I went an got my stuff:

Following his video, I added a fairly liberal mix of fine sand, and I began working away.

Can I just say that this was one of the most painful, frustrating techniques I have tried in awhile? It took me over an hour to get 20 models done. Maybe it was the same in the mix, but the gel fought my the whole way. Using toothpicks, I finally gave up trying to get the medium in between and under the models, and just did the surrounding edges. Finally, I decided to try the gel medium without any extras:

The model on the left has the sand. The one on the right has no sand. When all is said and done, I think the one on the right will paint up just fine, and while not as easy as white glue, it was easier and less frustrating to manipulate than the sandy version.

To clean up the middle of each base, I will be putting a tad bit of white glue and sprinkling sand over the base (you know, ye olde standard basing technique). I will also do this on subsequent armies. For now, Im stuck with this.

Letting these dry up so I can prime them later this week. The sun is supposed to last for a few more days, so I'm working diligently but not frantically.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My 15mm Army has arrived

My 15mm models from Khurasan have arrived! These are the Federal army guys, and here I have them (mostly) arrayed into squads for assembly.

You can see the pennies ready for basing, and soon I will have these cleaned up and based. The weather is going to be great this weekend, so Im rushing to get things primed while I can.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mammoth 15mm conversion draws closer to completion!

My T-Rex is slowly getting bigger! Yes, the awesome, fearsome Mech I've been converting for my Gruntz and Tomorrow's War armies is growing up. The problem I had with the arms being waaaayy too small (thus giving this predator the T-Rex look!) has gone away. Thanks in no small part to my friend Chris Foster and his extensive collection of everything Warhammer 40K, I was able to secure some Space Marine Dreadnought arms to give this Mammoth a new outlook on life.

First the old arms laying side by side with the new arms:
You can see how the arm on the left has a slightly modified gatling cannon on it. Chris had slapped on a gun from an old Mechwarrior Clix model onto it, and I thought it looked like what I wanted, so I kept it.

After a few changes to the missile arm, adding some plasticard and a washer to distance the arm from the shoulders, here is how things are looking so far:

A closer version of the missiles. I shaved the tops and backs off these guys, gluing them together, and I pinned them into the arm after cutting off the Close Combat claw. A bit of plasticard rod sloppily covered in putty completes the top:

So of COURSE I had to see how it all fits together!

The dorsal mount is off a Reaper CAV model, the Mastodon.

The arms aren't so puny any more, are they?!

The chin gun, not shown here, is from this Nightshade's dorsal gun:

I am not 100% what to do with the hollowed out scoops on the left and right side of the Mammoth's cockpit. Originally those were for mini-gatlings so anti-personnel defense, but I think I will fill them in and make them look like sensors or some such.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Adventures in Applied Kinesiology / Muscle Testing

This is a rant. I know this is a blog dedicated to my passionate hobby of wargaming and miniatures in general, but I have a subject I really want to unload on. Please do not read this if severe and harsh language, or undisguised sarcasm and venom, bothers you, or if you hold sacred a belief in all things holistic when it comes to health and healing.

First, let me preface some of this. I believe in food sensitivities, and I believe in natural remedies and cures. However, I do use modern medicine, and would never think of not taking an Advil if I had a headache just because I wanted to try more natural solutions. I have lost damn near 25 pounds in the past 2 months just by isolating and getting off foods that I have sensitivities to (which in my case includes wheat, corn, and a few other things).

That being said, this rant is about applied kinesiology / muscle testing / holistic medicine and the people who practice it.

My wife has always believed in this style of medicine, while I have always had a fair level of mistrust and disdain for it. However, recently she discovered another practitioner in our area who a lot of people she knew were using (her last contact moved away nearly 10 years ago), and so she began getting into this again. My wife loves nutrition and health (mental and physical) and studies it like I study wargaming rule books. She has taken my children to see this woman, and my sisters have done the same. I refused to go, but I was willing to test naturally for food allergens, so we began an elimination diet. This is the diet that promptly led to my weight loss, and it has continued to drop. How can I argue with those results?

So my wife wanted more, but knowing my hesitation, she bribed me to go with something I couldn’t refuse. Yea, call me a sucker, but I agreed, and yesterday I went to see this nutritionist with my wife.

You see, in our haste to get there on time, we didn’t have time to do some of the exercises we needed to do to “set” ourselves (heh…seriously? Is this like doing calisthenics before going for a checkup at the doctor?). So I had to place my non-dominant hand on my belly button, make a “gun” with my right hand (using 2 fingers) and rub my neck just around my collar bone. It was painful, but I had to do it for like 30 seconds (only 2 fingers, are you sure? My spellbook says I need to use 3…). That accomplished, we were ready to begin. (But why my belly button? My ass is more connected to my stomach than my defunct belly button is! And non-dominant hand? Damn, I should have used my right – she wouldn’t have known!?!)

My wife began by reading off foods from a list, while I sat in a chair. The lady stood in front of me, and with my left arm outstretched, she held both my wrist and my forehead, and as each food was read aloud, she would “test” me by pushing on my arm. If she found less resistance after a word was spoken, it got a “No” instead of the “Yes” I would get when I had “good strength” to a food. Or word. Either one :P

My first issue: REALLY? You want to read a word aloud and see if my arm has weakness to it? OK, do you all remember that experiment we did in like 5th grade, where you stand in a doorway, and with your arms at your side, raise them straight out and up until the backs of your hands are touching the door frame? Push outwards for 30 seconds to a minute, then step forward and out of the doorway, dropping your hands to your side. Your arms start to rise on their own, don’t they? So yea, arms do weird things, ESPECIALLY when my arm is fatiguing and all I want to do is drop it back to my side.

My second issue: The bitch was pushing my arm differently! The first words on the list were fruits, and it was, “Yes, yes yes…no”. Yea, but on that “no” she pushed with 2 fingers instead of one! Oh MAN, I needed to bite my lip. I had promised my wife I’d be nice, dammit, and so I would hold back any biting or sarcastic remarks…but she definitely continued to push my arm differently each time I got a “no”. At one point my wife said sagely, “Your lack of resistance is so obvious, I can see it from here.” Wow. That’s because she is pushing differently! Was I the only one who could tell this?

Every now and again as the test continued, after I got a “no”, my wife wanted to know if I was allergic to the food instead of just sensitive to it. So the lady would put her fist on top of my head and “bonk” me, and could instantly tell if I was or not. Wow, I’m SO LUCKY she was so smart! (A fist on the head is better than two on the forehead?!)

Now, here is how this thing supposedly works. Words have power, right, and so saying the name of the food triggers something in our minds, and it reacts to the electrical currents in our body (remember how we had to “set” ourselves painfully? This is why!) and can weaken your muscle strength magically. Seriously, it really works. Really (you caught the sarcasm, right? Please tell me it was really obvious from there). So what about the words my wife was mispronouncing and I had never heard of? Doesn’t matter, my MIND KNEW! (Turns out I was sensitive to the mysterious, mispronounced food). I wonder if foreign languages would work? Maybe I should go back with a list of words in Chinese or Mongolian and find out! Oh, and they had to “clarify” during the testing, “We are going to test the ORGANIC versions of this food” as if that made a difference. S-M-A-R-T SMART they are. So much for the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” HAH, wrong, sucka’s!

My third issue: The elimination diet was hard, but to be on it, I took out all foods known to be common problems for people and ate only simple foods for like 2 weeks to get off “bad things”. I got off sugar, caffeine, grains, dairy, and even most fruits. I ate some meat, some veggies, and not much else at first. When I felt fine and had no stomach aches or bloating, I started adding foods in. One of the very first foods that my wife and I isolated and tested in the beginning was bananas, and as soon as I ate one (all by itself, remember, as I was using a scientific method of isolation and controllable variables) my stomach started cramping up. Going right back onto my “safe” foods, I tried again 3 days later, and got horrible cramps within 10 minutes. Well, that’s how the diet worked, and I found quite a few foods I couldn’t eat. THE LADY GAVE IT A YES AS SHE BLEW BY IT ON THE LIST! I immediately stopped her and said, “Umm, that’s wrong!”. That was like 4 foods in. How could I trust her with the rest of them, giving that she couldn’t tell the one that I KNEW to be bad?

Well, the answer was that we were rushing things, see, and I hadn’t done enough exercises or some such crap. Give me a BREAK! I cry complete and utter bullshit on this, and no, hurting myself with my non-dominant hand and two fingers instead of three does NOT “set” you such that a mispronounced mysterious food can be detected as a sensitivity!

OK, at this point I was fuming inside, and while being quiet, both the lady and my wife knew I was furious (at the end of it, the lady said that she was sad that I was “bummed” and it took a lot of self control to not blurt out, “Oh, I’m not bummed, lady, I’m biting my tongue because you are full of shit”, but see, I was biting my tongue! I'm such a good boy!).

The very last bit? I don’t know if this is the BEST part of the 30 minutes, but it was certainly one that I had the hardest part being nice. My wife inquired as to supplements that my body was craving (trust me, I opted out of that test before hand, but I still got a 5 minute version), and she indicated that she had brought along two bottles of vitamins with her to see which one was ok. One by one I was handed a bottle to hold in my right hand, and the strength test was administered as it had been. (Really? I’m holding PLASTIC, lady, and you have NO IDEA what is inside! Maybe it was the plastic I was ok with?) Oh PHEW, I was ok with those. Now, more words were uttered (namely names of vitamins) and I was tested on each, and THEN she uttered NUMBERS to find out how many doses of each I needed daily! 6 here, 2 there…holy crap. I think both ladies were believing everything being said. I was ready to scream, and SO ready to be done with all this.

When I finally was dismissed, I fled. I felt angry, violated, and incredulous all at once. I felt sad that people actually believe this crap. I don’t really care if you do, and I don’t really care if she got some foods right. I know she got at least one wrong (“My body isn’t sensitive to it, but my stomach is, see, so when it relaxes we can add it back in” or “That vegetable is part of the nightshade family, so it makes sense that you cannot eat it” (green beans. Seriously)) so how can I trust her without knowing what else she got wrong? Even psychics get some of their readings right, and I sure as fuck don’t believe in psychics.

As to the bribe my wife offered me? It would make you jealous if you knew what it is was…and you know what? I released her from it, because I don’t want anything related to that visit at all. I'm done with it. I told her not to buy the supplements that she was told to buy for me, and I may just start eating what I want again just out of pure rebellion, because I feel disgusted by the whole thing. I love my wife, but I feel violated and angry that I was tricked into going to something that I KNEW I was 100% against (“You weren’t tricked, you agreed!” Yea! Because you offered something I REALLY wanted! You would have agreed too!), and now I don’t want my kids going either. I don’t want the diet. I don’t want the supplements. I don’t want to hear about it, and I don’t want to think about it. I’m fucking pissed off and God dammit, I want to shout it to the world. But I won’t. /sigh

If you’ve read this far, you’re a moron J  I had to vent somewhere, because I can’t go off on my wife (I still love her, after all, and she is only meaning well) but I want to get my feelings and thoughts out where I can read and analyze them, and maybe share with a few lost souls who stumbled here by accident. Feel free to share your opinions on the subject, but even if this form of holistic medicine is 100% legit, I don’t buy it, I don’t condone it, and I will never be a part of it again. ‘Nuff said :P

[Postscript: After I left the office, my wife stayed for her own appointment. When she got home she was mad at me, predictably, and said that after I left, the lady was so shaken that she needed to go drink a glass of water. WOOT! Vengeance! I'm driving people to drinking (even if its only a cold glass of holistic H2O)!]

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Adventures in 15mm conversions

I posted my journey into 15mm Sci-Fi as a preface for this post.

I used to play Heavy Gear before it changed scales (and I really enjoyed it, which is more than I can say of the new Blitz rules). And with 15mm becoming my new thing, I decided my forces needed a good sized mech of some type, and so I found my old Mammoth strider model.

It is SUPPOSED to look like this...

Sadly, I lost the weapons, but hey, I had the bulk of the beast!  So I started shopping on Reaper Mini's website in the CAV section, and I was quite proud of myself for some of my finds. Let me show you what I found:

Missile arms from the Specter:
Gatling arms from the Rhino:

The astute among you might notice that the shoulders are even similar, so yea, I was quite excited for these to arrive. There is nothing like waiting...

...and finding out the parts you ordered won't really work :(  From this angle, the Gatling arm doesnt look too bad:

But from this angle, well, this just aint right:
Even from the front, it just doesnt balance well:

Well, crap. There goes that. Sure, I can fore go the dweeby missile arm and just use both gatlings, but heck, every Mech needs a good Anti-Tank Missile, right?  I'm really bummed out, and need to start exploring more options. Man, I wish I could find those missing Mammoth arms right about now...

My journey into 15mm Sci-Fi

As a long time player of 28mm, I discovered 6mm a few years back and fell in love with it quickly. Not only were the models amazing at this scale, but they were inexpensive, the terrain pieces I could buy were fantastic (and cheap as well!), and the ruleset I chose, Epic: Armageddon, suited my tastes perfectly.  When presented with 15mm by some friends and fellow gamers, my reply was, "I dont really need another scale" and I left it at that.

Slowly, however, I realized that I just havent been playing much of anything in 28mm scale. I have lost my enjoyment of Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy, Infinity bores me now with its lack of scenarios, I dont use my cowboys much (Legends of the Old West was fun, but a bit too simplistic for me to reach for it often anymore).  Malifaux is one game I really enjoy, but as a whole, 28mm seems to just take up a ton of precious space in my craft room, and Im sitting on quite a bit of money that, if I sold my models and terrain, could feed other addictions. You know, like models in another scale?

Enter Tomorrow's War. Well, before that, enter Ambush Alley, like way back when it was a new publication in PDF only. I bought it and read it - other than a metric ton of grammatical and spelling errors (which I offered to help edit for free but was turned down), I liked the rules. Of course I never played them, but I always held the system in at least moderate regard.

Rabbit Hole: As an aside, I love games that allow custom creation of models. I have delved into this in almost every scale that I have played, including spaceship games, Mech games, man, you name it. A few years ago I discovered and started volunteering my time for a developing game called Unbridled Fury. I think my name is still in the credits, but I really liked how robust his creation rules were. It was the editing experience I got on this product, combined with his creation rules, that really create a benchmark for upcoming products.

[Yea, I'm easily swayed by the shiny, I admit. As an artist, presentation is SO MUCH of a factor for me when looking to buy something, whether it is a book, a set of rules, or even just a model]

Where was I? Oh yea...So when I saw Tomorrow's War on either The Miniatures Page (TMP) or Tabletop Gaming News (TGN), and seeing reviews for it in TMP's forums, I couldnt help but take notice. And notice that the prevalent scale seemed to be 15mm.

Another rabbit trail: The ruleset my friends were using for their 15mm games was Future War Commander, which I owned. I admit, I was really underwhelmed with the rules, even though they allow for custom unit creation. I just couldnt get into them (I bought them for use with my 6mm stuff) and so never planned on investigating or investing much into 15mm....

Well, the same thing that got me into 6mm was once again threatening to drag me into 15mm, and that was the amazing presentation of cool models on pages like TMP and TGN. Seriously, it was hard enough to resist models by Exodus Wars, Dark Ream Miniatures, and Plasmablast. What chance did I stand against Micropanzer, Khurasan, Rebel Minis, Critical Mass, and Ground Zero Games?

So I mentioned that Tomorrow's War was on my radar to a few of my 15mm friends, and I get the immediate feedback that there is yet another game to check out: Gruntz. Choices! Cool!  So now I own Gruntz, Tomorrow's War (the hardcover) has been prepaid for its arrival later this month, and my Khurasan Federal models are on their way in the mail. No, I havent sold any of my 28mm figures or terrain like I swore I would do (to free up money and space), and yea, Ive already started building terrain for 15mm (groan).  But I am excited. Big time. As soon as my models arrive, I will convince a friend to run through Gruntz with me (here's to hoping the cleaned up version 1.1 is out by then!), followed by a furious reading of TW when it arrives.

Stay tuned for more in my adventures into the world of 15mm. Ive decided I can skirmish in this scale, buy cheaper models in this scale, paint this scale with a decent level of detail, and go for Flames of War-sized wargames all at once. Pride of Lions is a fantasy ruleset Ive had my eyes on for awhile for fantasy...so my prospects are looking might good.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Blog

Like we need another blog out there, right? Well, this is mine.

My official alter ego is Kealios Achilles-Fang, who began life as a winged elf in a fantasy story I wrote while in college, but who really came alive as my first MMO-style character as a vampire on BatMUD. Since then, I have used this in pretty much every game I have played online, from Everquest and World of Warcraft to simple games on Facebook, etc.

This is going to be a place where I place pictures of my wargaming hobbies and chronicle the games and systems I love to play. Thanks for reading.