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Holiday in the Caribbean

September 24, 2016
Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Here’s a scenic piece that I put together recently, showing a pirate relaxing with his dog. I actually like this one immensely! The story behind this is a good explanation why.

It started out as a scene of a wounded pirate leaning on a tree, bleeding to death. Maybe I was having a bit of a downer day, but that felt a little too grim. Thus it changed into a drunk pirate sitting by a tree…but I already had a drunk pirate passed out in a pig pen. Around this time I remembered the miniature dog (an otterhound to be exact) I bought at Salute from fellow hobbyist and Frother, the wonderfully talented painter Jon “Dags” Atter. So the piece turned into a relaxing pirate, leaning on a tree with his eyes closed and a dog by his side.

Now, this piece made me especially happy. Normally most of the stuff I (and most other hobbyists as well, it’s wargaming after all) is framed by a context of violence, with the occasional dash of humour thrown in. Even in a fairly light-hearted setting like my Hollywood Caribbean, the majority of miniatures are armed and in fighting poses. Not this one! I think the piece manages to capture something of the lazy, hot summer day feeling that is closely linked to mental images of pirates and Caribbean islands. I think this piece pretty much captures the essence of my project.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

What also makes me happy is that it was super easy to build. It’s a model railroad palm tree combined with a Foundry pirate casualty, the aforementioned dog miniature and a pebble I picked up outside. I dressed it up with some static grass and a few Army Painter tufts.

I’m currently painting up a lot more stuff for my project, including a few special things for an upcoming Halloween game. Stay tuned!

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Pirate raid

September 13, 2016

After a long dry spell gaming wise, I ran a game of Flashing Steel for our regular gaming group. It was a fairly simple affair, with pirates trying to get away with as much loot as possible while the local militia and a few redcoats did their best to stop them. All photos in this post are by Mia Meri, and used with her kind permission. You can click on any picture for a larger version.

Pirate queen Violetta watches over her second in command Jack as the militia fights back

Pirate queen Violetta watches over her second in command Jack as the militia fights back

The outraged reverend watches as the chaos of the pirate attack unfolds

The outraged reverend watches as the chaos of the pirate attack unfolds

This guy has no idea of what's happening

This guy has no idea of what’s happening

The dastardly duo of Violetta and Jack

The dastardly duo of Violetta and Jack

Aerial view of the full battlefield

Aerial view of the full battlefield

Townsfolk team up with a redcoat to take a pirate down while a villager flees

Townsfolk team up with a redcoat to take a pirate down while a villager flees

Jack sneaking behind a building

Jack sneaking behind a building

Violetta and Jack prevent one of the townsfolk from going for help

Violetta and Jack prevent one of the townsfolk from going for help

Tempting loot for the pirates

Tempting loot for the pirates

It was good fun as usual! The soldiers, militia and townsfolk put up a valiant defense, but in the end it was the pirates escaping with their pockets full of loot. I was really happy to get my pirates and terrain boards into action. As the aerial shot shows, I’ve built another board, making this into a fairly playable setup. Still needs a few extensions to make it more square – and I want a shoreline!

It’s currently a good hobby period for me, with plenty of painting and gaming. I’m trying to make the most of it while it lasts. Comments welcome as always!

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From the painting desk #42 – Redcoats

August 27, 2016

Pirates obviously need opposition, and who better to fight them than good old redcoats. An iconic piece of Hollywood pirate imagery, the British soldier were always going to play a part in my project. I’ve actually amassed a fair few, and finally got some painted.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The miniatures, that I picked up at Salute, are from Casting Room Miniatures, who are an offshoot of Foundry. The soldiers are part of their wonderful War of the Spanish Succession range. I love them for their character – some of them really don’t enjoy their stint in the Caribbean. I imagine this lot has ended up here after lots were drawn, or maybe they came looking for a nice, sunny holiday. In my mind they draw inspiration from late Terry Pratchett’s city guard, turning a blind eye to the occasional bit of smuggling for personal profit and safety. Obviously a Serious Military Man is coming along to put these miscreants into some sort of shape…

As you can see from the photos, I had to build up the miniatures’ bases quite a bit, as they’re a fair bit smaller than my Galloping Major soldiers. I stuck some plasticard under the minis and covered it in putty, and it turned out quite ok. They’re still less bulky than the Galloping Major ones, but now they’re of a similar height. I wanted to base them similarly to my pirates, but to distinguish them I replaced the tufts I use on my pirates’ bases with flower tufts.

Another thing you probably noticed is that I used one of my buildings as background for the minis, and the pure white background was making everything look a bit too clinically clean. What do you think? I’d love to hear your input on this new, hugely dramatic change.

The minis’ uniforms forced me to spend a bit of time thinking about historical accuracy. It’s not a big issue in this project, as it’s Hollywood pirates after all, but this stuff is often (sort of) interesting. The War of the Spanish Succession was fought from 1701 to 1715, putting it just before the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean (1716-1726). The other redcoats I have are from Galloping Major’s American War of Independence range, and that war was fough 1775–1783, sixty years later. As it is, uniforms had changed by then. Funnily enough, the Pirates of the Caribbean films, that are a big inspiration for the project, are supposedly set around the Golden Age of Piracy, but feature British soldiers with much later uniforms, and so the historically inaccurate uniforms are the ones we associate with the era.

I solved the problem by not caring. I’m sure grognards would gag at this approach, but from where I’m standing, it’s a project with undead pirates, so a bit of historical inaccuracy regarding uniforms isn’t a deal breaker. This is an approach I’ve learned in years enjoying the hobby, and following fellow bloggers has reinforced this way of thinking. It’s painting with broad strokes, having fun and buying miniatures I enjoy painting instead of leaving them on the shelf because of trivial issues.

However, and creating a bit of a conflict, despite this approach I have a tendency to strive for some internal coherence. Even if I’m not too concerned with exact accuracy, there has to be something to tie it all together. In this case I think of two things: one is the idea of the redcoat, and the second is a sort of historical explanation. The idea of the redcoat is simply that in my mind the defining visual characteristics of the 18th century British soldier are the tricorne hat, the red coat and the musket, and everything else is fairly irrelevant detail. The historical explanation is a bit more fudged (obviously, as the game isn’t set in a fixed year), and basically focuses on the idea that troops in the backwaters of the Caribbean will have older gear, whereas fresh troops shipped in from England or the American colonies will have crisp and more modern gear. There you have it, I sort of had to get it off my chest!

These bring my miniatures painted this year to six, literally doubling my output. Oh my. At least I’ve built a lot of terrain!

 

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Building renovation

August 24, 2016

While celebrating my 34th birthday last Saturday, I visited a children’s flea market – lured in by a Playmobil pirate ship in the window. While I already have two ships, I left it there, but happened upon a nice piece of (I assume) aquarium scenery for five euros:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

As you can see, it’s a fairly niece piece with a fairly rubbish paintjob. The scale was perfect for 28mm though, so I went to work on it, giving it a quick repaint and applying some static grass and tufts. I didn’t want to spend too much time, merely get the hut to a nice enough state to be put on the table. As the hut looks a lot more basic than my normal plank houses, I painted it in fairly earthy tones to suggest a hut built out of scavenged planks, logs and driftwood. I’m imagining this as being the home of either a pirate hermit, or possibly a voodoo type – we’ll see!

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

And for the sheer fun of it, here are the before and after shots side by side:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Plus a final, overlit photo of the hut with some potential residents:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

For a fairly small investment of time and money I got a nice, sturdy little building to add to my setup! My table woes are also on the wane, but more on that in the next post. Comments welcome as always!

 

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Terrain board woes

August 3, 2016
The finished product

The board pictured is related to the case

Remember back when I showcased my pirate terrain board? Little did I know back then, that it would cause me a bit of a headache!

The reason for my woes is the tackiness of the board. No, I’m not talking about bad style choices, but rather the caulk not drying properly and remaining a little sticky – either because I painted it before it was completely dry, the paint reacting with the caulk or this simply being a feature of the caulk. I noticed this early on in the process, but figured that time would take care of it. Indeed, that’s what seemed to be happening, as the table was getting less and less tacky, making me breathe a sigh of relief. Imagine my surprised disappointment when I went to move my buildings and miniatures around on the board after they’d been sitting there for quite some time, and noticed that they were firmly stuck to the board! I didn’t break any pieces when pulling them loose, nor was the table’s surface broken, but it was enough to get me firmly thinking I need to do something to the table. While it is a completely playble surface as long as you don’t leave stuff on it for days, it’s things like this that just…bug me. I don’t like to call it perfectionism, but rather a super low tolerance for mildly annoying stuff.

So far I’ve tried one thing: painting a small section of the board with matt varnish, with the idea that it might form a non-tacky layer. This didn’t work. I’ve now done the same with watered-down PVA, and I’m currently waiting for it to dry. If this doesn’t work either, I’m left with a few options:

  1. Resort to flock and static grass. This isn’t such a bad idea! I’ve been thinking I should give the board more greenery anyway, and this would be a fairly straightforward operation. The only downside is the money and effort required for getting suitable styles of flock and static grass.
  2. Get a printed gaming mat. Quick, easy and simple. Downsides are price (50-70€ vs. materials I mostly own already) and my preference for textured surfaces compared to flat ones.
  3. Repaint my Zuzzy mat. Not an impossible idea. A bit of work, and would rid me of my usefully generic gray gaming surface…then again, it rarely gets used these days and it’s really nice. I actually hadn’t thought of this before I started writing this post!
  4. Start work on a new board. This is always an option, although it might be somewhat time consuming. I’d do it without the caulk this time, so basically a simple paintjob on the foam sheet and then see 1, above.

Of course, all of this will leave me with the question of what to do with my current board – unless I manage to fix it or end up flocking it. Binning it completely would hurt my soul, so I might perhaps find a new home for it somewhere where the slight tackiness isn’t a huge issue. Another option, as suggested by Paul of sho3box, is to cut up the board and use it as hills. This isn’t a bad idea either, and would mean that not a lot of my work would be wasted. Decisions, decisions…

Feedback, sympathy and ideas welcome!

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Super pop culture showdown!

July 27, 2016

You’ve heard of pirates vs. ninjas, haven’t you? It’s one of those pop culture tropes that just sort of sprung up, most likely [citation needed] through the following chain of reasoning:

  1. Everyone loves ninjas.
  2. Everyone loves pirates.
  3. Ninjas are tougher, though.
  4. No, pirates are.
  5. Pirates vs. ninjas it is.

I’ve long known Paul “Cheetor” Shorten – who runs the wonderful sho3box blog – from the miniatures blogosphere, as we started our blogs around the same time and were both initially blogging about zombie miniatures. He’s lately been working on his wonderful pseudohistorical fantasy Japan project (see the tags Shonen Knives and Kurîpu jima), and with me working on my pirates…it figures. When I made the travel plans for our Spring UK trip, we threw in a week in Ireland and set aside time for a blogger meet-up! This gave us not only the chance to spend some quality time with Mr. & Mrs. Cheetor, but also the opportunity to put the question of pirates vs. ninjas to rest through the gentlemanly art of wargaming.

I won’t bother with a long write-up of the game itself. It was a fairly quick one, using the Song of Blades and Heroes mechanics roughly cobbled together from various Ganesha Games titles. The dread undead pirate captain Armitage Shanks brought his dastardly crew to the peaceful town of Kurîpu Jima to steal their obviously cursed treasure.

To be honest, we kept the game short and sweet, spending much more time setting up the table and talking about miniatures, wargaming and everything related long into the night. The result of the game, perhaps luckily, didn’t solve the question of pirates vs. ninjas – Cheetor’s ninjas soundly destroyed my pirates in combat, yet what was left of wily captain Shanks’ crew managed to make off with the treasure.

Without further ado, here’s a bunch of photos! Most are fantastical reconstructions instead of actual in-game pictures. You can click on any photo for a larger version.

All in all, we had a great time! My sincere thanks to Cheetor and Mrs. Cheetor for accommodating us and making all this possible. It was a pleasure playing on such a beautiful table against such a gentlemanly opponent. I was very happy to finally get to meet a fellow blogger who I think of as a friend after years of online-only communication.

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Different upcoming zombie goodness

June 22, 2016

I can’t remember when I’ve last made one of these posts, but it was years ago. While this blog has obviously drifted far from its roots as a zombie blog with miniature gaming elements, I haven’t lost my interest in the genre. In the last few days I’ve come across two zombie movies that seem interesting and different enough to warrant sharing.

The Girl with All the Gifts 

(Note! The text below contains spoilers for the book of the same name)

The near future; humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”. Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects.

At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell. Despite having been infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world, these children retain normal thoughts and emotions. And while still being subject to the craving for human flesh that marks the disease, these second-generation “hungries” are able to think and feel, making them a vital resource in the search for a cure.

The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks. But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest. Melanie is special. She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau.

When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.

 

In general I’m not too partial to the idea of thinking zombies, but I do like the concept of this one. It also seems to be a refreshing take on the genre, even if we’ve seen the “this child is the key to the cure” storyline many, many times. It might be Britain as a backdrop, but this one also reminded me of 28 Days Later. That’s always a good thing. The movie is coming to UK theatres on September 23.

Seoul Station

Yeon Sang-ho earns his place in the zombie pantheon with this biting animated feature that takes a look at some of South Korea’s biggest social issues through a tale of a father searching for his runaway daughter just as a zombie outbreak is spreading throughout Seoul Station’s homeless population.

I have a soft spot for adult animation (oh, that sounded wrong…) so an animated zombie movie with a Romero-ish political take sounds like a treat. This South-Korean film is apparently doing the festival rounds at the moment.

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