Saturday, June 26, 2010


So recently I wrote a skirmish rules system based on the things that annoy me about wargames.  Well, I went ahead and published the .pdf for all of you to give it a playtest if you like...

Its free to download- the price of admission is sending me some feedback on how it went so I know if its worth dedicating a huge chunk of my time to developing.  Just because I have some crazy ideas on what sucks about dice mechanics and the bad habits game designers fall back on, does not mean it directly translates to a fun games experience for all.

Skulldred is maths lite, stripping back all the bullshit like comparison tables, effect result tables and so forth, and instead focuses on getting the very core basics of the game right, so if does not matter if you have a handful of vanilla troops or a freaky warband- everything is on the table, easily remembered, dramatic and fun.

Anyway... love you to give it a go! 

The Zen of Lead pile

Winter is the perfect time for spring cleaning, and there is nothing like digging down through your miniatures workspace and finally seeing what color the table is underneath.

Brown.  Apparently.  Who'da thunk it?

I read an thread recently about a poor soul desparing about how big his backlog of miniatures is, and some guy... get this... said the best thing to do is sell a bunch of them and paint one a day.  Sell them?  I am having a hard time getting through my pile, but its my pile.  I sifted through ebay and lovingly grabbed each damn one.
So, if I do the maths how many years will it take to paint them all?

Who cares.  If your collect miniatures, your a collector.  This... shelf full of little baggies is my lead pile... is my collection, and every little chunk of lead is a beautiful thing.  Yeah, even the Asgard stuff.

Each one represents, at best, a little slice of fantasy- a work of imagination and creativity.  A mini is no less an artful thing- painted or not.
Having dipped my toe into sculpting, I know how much work goes into the original- the mould and the whole damned process.  The models in my collection have been drooled over, bought, painted, played games, lived in boxes (whilst its owner got a life), hit boot sales and finally travelled 12000 miles around the world to get to me.

So if your lead pile is getting you down, don't let it.  Think of your collection as something enhanced by painting- don't think of it as a huge to-do list.  Its still going to be there when you do get some time.  Think of it, perhaps as a menu for your next painting project.

Mind you, if you do take the advice and want to sell them, gimme a look first yeah?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Skirmish rules, what to do?

So I have had flu for a few days, and apart from painting a new banner and blogging, haven't been able to acheive much.  Codene and coffee do not good minis sculptures make- and I certainly don't want to be touching my business accounts with this lack of concentration and a thumping headache.

So in my waking hours I have been laying on the couch- which is next to the wargaming table I posted up a few days ago, and my thoughts have been turning to systems.

 I wrote a draft of simple skirmish game system that you can play when you have the flu.  Or drunk, or terminally stupid- all of which is a good thing in my book, vis-a-vis game systems.  Something that you can dungeon bash with, do small skirmishes and probably 50 miniatures a side battles if you want.

So I am pondering now what I should do with it.

My issue is that it would occupy a similar space to what Andrea has done with his wonderful Songs of Blades and Heroes game series- and I would not want to steal any of his fire- SBH becoming the standard of indie gamers skirmish systems is a good thing in my book.  Just take a look at all the wonderful little warbands people are putting together cheaply and joyfully, and compare that to the mainstream games to see what I mean.

That said, my game (beta name Skullbash) it is a neat little system that some players may enjoy, as it has quite different mechanics to SBH.  You never modify a units target numbers, you only ever add dice to your handful for each strategic bonus, its all out in the open and you tot up the dice before the roll- so it gives you that dramatic 'hangs on a dice roll' feel.  Results can be seen at a glance the moment the dice settle.  No tables.

So what are your thoughts?  Should I bother doing a beta playtest release?  I guess if it is a cheap PDF download or a POD print yourself jobbie then both could coexist nicely.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What Mabden wants... Mabden gets.

Remember picking up white dwarf magazine and flicking through it until you hit that mottled green bit- 'coz thats the bit with the cool pictures of miniatures?

Mabdens comment inspired me to make the effort and go full eighties metal.

Much better on the eye, methinks.

Rather than rip art off, which I find deplorable, I took a few minutes to paint a homage to John Blanches Chaos Warrior that has a thing against H's, this time without the helmet, and look, turns out it was ME all along!

Bwa ha ha- die H's.  I mean, bwa a a.


Whats in the box? Smells like the sweet air of freedom.

So every time I am in the city, I tend to pop into a game store and blow a little of my hard earned on some new Reaper figures.  Look, I know I don't need them, and I can stop any time I want.  Its under control.  That?  Oh that pile of unopened Reaper boxes is just my backlog- I will get around to painting those soon.
So I was looking for a way to keep myself from the store, you know, perhaps if I can find something else in the city to interest me I won't keep coming back with those little green blisters, and you know, dear reader, I finally have.  Sorta.

Its called Reaper minis on-line delivery service.

I just got my first box delivered this morning and I can say this- my game store is just about to miss out on all that fat cash, 'caus mate- this is MUCH better value!  With the exchange rate, free UPS shipping and a copy of Casket Works thrown in, I managed to pick up a huge box of figure for the same price as a single store visit.  How much?
Look, that doesn't matter...  look, see- leeeeeaaaadddddd!!!!!

What matters is I no longer have to be asked by the clerk every time I go in the store if I am on the system- (even though be both know the system isn't hooked up and that data is just sitting there), smell that authentic living in the trenches odour of Flames of War players or spend hours riffling through unsorted figure shelves whilst my back is screaming for the sweet release of maybe a sit down and a cup of tea.
  Nor do I have to wonder why the guy never remembers me or that conversation we had only yesterday when I was in the store with a desperate need for Bugbear figures.
  Look.... LOOOK!!  Delivered to my door- a whopping great box, full of even more Battlenuns, ropers, demonic lashers, dire wolves, dire bears, dire straits and lots and lots of women clearly inappropriately dressed for the adventure they are having!


You know, it occurs to me that I may just have a problem.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Songs of Blades and Heroes: Barbarians VS Nasty Orcses.

Flu has put aside any hobby aspirations this weekend, but I do have something to post for you.
Tonight my wife Kathryn soundly destroyed my orc warband at Songs of Blades and Heroes.  Again.
  Its the first game we played in a long while, and it was nice to get to use some of the scenery I made a while ago.   I remembered to take a few snaps on my iphone during the match as you guys would probably like the retro citadel lead.
1980s Barbarians, vs. Orcs.  The Partially painted Perry demon is on the barbarians side.

Boxed set orcs attack!  Monster starter box set orc, Nick Lunds Chronicle Mighty Ugezod Shaman

Felled Forrest:  I finally got to use one of my scenic peices in a game
This piece is made from branches mounted on mdf and blended in using woodflex poly filla.  The root systems are made by soaking twine it it pva glue.  One tip I picked up here- shave the edge of your MDF down to a thin edge- the small 3mm lip is enough to tip a mini over- if you match flocks to your battlemat then the sharper edge means it blends in nicely.

Kat's Reaper Chicks do a victory dance before heading off for mead.
Left to right (Viking Girl, Lorna Huntress, Cavegirl, a converted succubus, Female Pit Fighter and another cave girl- all from modern line available now!)

Monster starter set Orc hangs with One of Golgfags second(?) generation Ogres.

Another closeup showing the nice roots you can get with pva and string.

What I wanted to do with my game board is capture the feeling of the environment I grew up in - dank, mossy, peaty, muddy forrests of oak and chestnut trees.  I have to source some fallen leaf scatter to complete the look.  At some stage I hope to make me some riverbed modules (complete with ducks, swans and perhaps a submerged monster), derelict, overgrown cottages and rotten, creeper covered bridges.

And finally we have a new look here at Kingsminis- based on the old retro ads from 1980s white dwarf- complete with blue faded photo images.  Hope you like!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dungeon of Dave photos

Hey folks,  the picture drought is over.  After all, thats really why your all here right?  Inspirational nerdiness.

Well this is some pictures my wonderful wife Kathryn took of my latest hobby project- an old school dungeon tile set.  I always was envious of my mates who had the Games Workshop Dungeon Floorplans and Halls of Horror boxed set, a feeling instantly resurrected on seeing a picture of it in the Heroes for Wargames book.

Modern Reaper Kobolds descend on the Retrodel Dungeoneers!

These prototype boards are made from 3mm MDF board, with very thin resin casts of flagstones on them.  I sculpted a 5x5 square original, then cast it using pinkysil silicone in a lego frame.  I would say for my next batch I would reduce the thickness of the MDF, as these are very chunky.  Satisfying, but chunky!

F4 Mercenary 'nob', a mildly converted AD&D female thief (green stuff added- no damage to original) and a C11 Halfling "Renko"

Finally back on subject, the adventuring party is made up of 1980s Citadel figures - for your shopping pleasure they are... left to right, F4 Mercenary 'nob', a mildly converted AD&D female thief (green stuff fur trims and corset added- no damage to original underneath) and a C11 Halfling "Renko" who has appeared elsewhere in this blog.  You can just see the foot of Fluffy the Chaos Hound in the top left too.

Once I have the basic floor tiles, I am planning to sculpt and cast some suitably chunky doors and arches.  I am not sure I will go as far as making walls yet - my wife keeps giggling at photos of 3D dungeons and saying things like "ooh, what a cute doll house".  Do walls get in the way I wonder?

So I dont know about you, but I am totally disliking the direction of AD&D 4th edition- and after a quick skim through think I may try to bend my DMs arm into playing Pathfinder rules instead.  As far as I am concerned, 4th ed is not Dungeons & Dragons.

I am not alltogether happy with the Reaper Kobolds- the Otherworld ones also do not do it for me - though they are great figures they are not what I have in my head when someone says Kobolds!  I did actually do the textures of all the Kobolds in the video game AD&D Online: Stormreach, by the way.  Something I am very proud of because it was a massive job to do all the different tribes.  Anyway, the modern lizard Kobolds are not what I picture either.  Maybe I might tackle sculpting some Dungeon Critters after my Dwergs line is released!

Cheap dry erase Gaming Board

One of the D&D dungeon boards I tried recently was a home cooked dry erase board and my prototype  works really well.
  I made mine out of 3mm thick MDF because its sturdy enough to take a knocking from players, deep enough to get your fingers under and has the benefit of being able to be lifted and moved with the miniatures still on it. Great for when you walk off the end of one board, and need to place another tile.

Basically grab some 3mm thick MDF and cut it into exact square pieces- small enough to fit in your gaming bag or minis case.  You want this to measure a multiple of your game grid- so something like 10"x10" if your doing D&D scale- or if you use modern lipped 'warmachine' bases- go with a 3cm grid (30x30cm).  I prefer 3 cm myself as it gives minis with outstretched swords a little room.  Less scratching.

The next step is really what sets the board apart- besides the price.  Grab some cheap craft acrylic paints and paint it up to look all dungeon-ey, grassy or ye olde parchment-y.  Whatever.  If your crap at painting, you can spray glue a print out of a textured surface instead.  After you draw your grid on with something like a Sharpie (though I suggest painting on soft grey lines instead so you can see the dry erase lines clearly)- simply laminate the surface using a roll of sticky book cover laminate.  This takes a little practice to get right- but a few air bubbles won't be a problem.

Because the grid is under the laminate, the lines will never rub off.  You also don't have to worry about scoring grid lines- which I can tell you now is a real bitch of a job.

Once I am finished my reversible game board will have cost no more than 20 bucks Australian to make.  For that I got 9 10 x 10 grid double sided dry erase boards.  Nice.

Another handy tip- if you accidentally put permanent marker on a dry erase board, scribble over it with a whiteboard marker.  You should be able to wipe it off.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Stripping paint off minis

I strip my minis using Dettol.  Its safe, easy to use and cheap- and it does an awesome job.  The other bonus is the caps are handy for blue-tac'ing  figures to when you need to handle them.  I simply stuff my figures into old glass coffee jars, top them up with dettol and leave them for a day or two.  You can actually leave them in for a few months with no problem, and its probably a good way to protect them whilst your getting around to painting them.

Do use cheap heavy duty rubber gloves when come to brush off the paint, as the sludge is very sticky andno matter how much you wash, that Dettol smell hangs about.  Enamel paint is a bitch to get off, as it has a high density of color and tends to sludge up your scrubbing brush and leave other figures in the jar tinted- if you get the chance, do these figures in a seperate jar to save scrubbing all your figures like a madman.

Picking needles

After rinsing in warm, soapy water (lead does not rust), the figures are ready for picking over and polishing.  I pick over using a thick sewing needle mounted into an old paintbrush handle with milliput.  Mount your needles so most of it is in the handle, and go for thicker needles - thin, long needles run the risk of snapping and pinging up into your eyes.

Since you don't want to scratch the mini- grind down the tips of my needle a bit.  Also, hold the picker loosely using as little pressure as possible hook out any remaining slivers of paint.  Dont worry about the fine stuff, the next tip will save you all that pain.

Blue Tac Ball of Doom

Take a fresh ball of blu-tac (one that that you WONT be using on your rented appartment walls)and scrunge it into the model, twisting it around like a lemon on a juicer.  You should find that all that crap gathered in the chainmail is now on the blutac, and your model is polished up on the upper surfaces.  Nice trick, huh?
If you have a seriously old model, you may need to consider a dremmel with a soft brush.  Read the warnings and be careful- these are not toys yeah?

I managed to save a seriously deteriorated Death Jester and Ninja recently by neautralising the lead rot using a baking soda solution then creaning away the damage with a dremmel.  I used a mask and gloves for this, as I do not want lead poisoning.  The theory is that acids cause leadrot, and baking soda is alkaline.  Works in theory, but I will let you know in a few years if it worked.  Stay tuned.  :)

Chemical Baths

A highly dangerous manouvre is inducing lead rot by bathing the figure in acid (lemon juice or vinegar), then in baking soda.  THIS IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.  As I understand it, (I get my facts from TMP) what your doing is basically turning the surface of your model into Sugar of Lead- which is absorbed into the body easily and will give you lead poisoning very quickly indeed.  Apparently it is deliciously sweet.  DONT TASTE IT.  The soda will neutralise the corrosion, and the result, I am told is a shiney as new mini.  Risky, risky, risky.  I would probably consider it to save a $300 ultra rare mini, but I would be throwing away all my gloves and containers if I did.

Smoothing the Surface

So once the figure is stripped down, qite often you will find the surface is a little pocked here and there.  You can smooth this out using Milliput grey/green mixed with water.  Often called milijuice.  Brush it onto the smooth areas, taking care not to get it in any details.  Once very close to dry, give the model a polish and later perhaps a bit of a fine sanding and you should have a silky smooth surface to paint on.  I tend to do this on exposed skin, like barbarians and trolls, and very old models which tend to be quite roughly sculpted.

Prime and forget

If your lead pile is getting mountainous, prime your freshly cleaned figures before storing.  Never store your figures in a wooden or cardboard box- they tend to be mildly acidic.  Disposable chinese food containers are also good for storing unpainted minis.

Doh... not another Devourer
One last tip about stripping is to not leave your big jars of minis so long you forget what is in them and buy more.  I got most doubles that way, and yep, this week discovered three more I had doubled up on.  Tsk.  Bad collector.  No ebay this week for you.

Anyway, this is just a quick post whilst I am having a coffee break.  More proper posts with pictures and everything once my new Bederken minis go off to the moulds.  Please comment- it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and more like posting up pictures   :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dungeon Floorplans

My current exploits in the hobby have been centred around making an old school D&D style dungeon game board and its been quite an interesting adventure.  I have tried all manner of ways of making flagstone floors, from printed and etched, hydrostone, polyfilla, cork, stamped and so forth.
  Tonight I cast my first resin flagstone sheet directly onto 3mm MDF backing, and bingo.  Exactly what I was looking for.  Resin casting is usually not cheap, but the amount you need for a flagstone sheet is tiny- and the silicone mould I made will survive long enough to make at least a seven level dungeon- so really its only about half a bottle of pinkysil and a box kit of resin.
The result is lightweight and sturdy, and it would take me an afternoon to cast up everything I need to make a decent nights gaming table.  Nice.

  My floorplan uses a 3cmx3cm square size, rather than the traditional inch you find with dungeon tiles, as some players have warmachine bases on their minis, and the extra room means models don't rub up against each other.

A couple of discoveries during the journey worth sharing- polyfilla woodflex is absolutely brilliant for making wargames scenery- it does not crack or flake, and gives a rocky texture that wont scratch paint of minis.  Two thumbs up.  The second is that you can harden Balsa wood- which is news to me, and totally opens up a whole new modelling route for me.  Simply paint on superglue, or (or slow set resin) and voila.  Clumbsy, impatient modellers like me can make stuff that doesn't crumble!

Now, to write a set of dungeon rules to go with my new toy!

C'ya nerdlings.