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The nicer part of town

November 26, 2016

Work on the pirate-y town of Port George continues! You’re likely aware that I have a fair few run-down buildings for my town already, so it’s time for something different. My grand vision is to have two distinctly different sides to Port George. One is the grimy, pirate side that I’ve been building so far, with mainly wooden buildings, plenty of sand and all in all a hive of scum and villainy. The second is a “proper” side – a fairly prosperous British colonial town, with brick buildings, less sand and marginally less villainy, or at least of a different kind.

The idea is that both of these halves should work as standalone towns as well as combining into a larger whole – maybe separated by a river or something similar. With limited time for building terrain, the more uses I can find for things, the better.

Finding suitable buildings was surprisingly challenging, everything looking either too modern, too old or just stylistically off. As with all the historical accuracy in the project, I wanted to strike a balance between accuracy and pleasing aesthetics, with the latter taking precedence if the first wasn’t jarringly off. Again, “what would this look like in a pirate movie?” was a key question.

Eventually I settled on the following:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Sarissa Precision Chateau. I’ve been eyeing this piece for ages. It’s super impressive, with lovely detailing. A bit too lovely, as I managed to snap some fiddly bits while putting it together. Nothing catastrophic, luckily! This will serve as the mansion of Port George’s governor and will be the centrepiece of the fancier part of town. I’ve added Warbases roof tiling to the roof, obviously not shown in the catalogue image. The levels are separate, so the inside is playable too.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

TTCombat Venetian house. A nice, simple and suitably generic piece. I bought a pitched roof to go along with it. Both roof styles are removable, so if I want to use the building with a roof terrace, that’s possible as well. The line of Venetian buildings – intended for the game Carnivale, I assume – is really nice, and provides me with excellent choices for expanding the town.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

TTCombat Old Town townhouses. Some more TTCombat pieces, these are intended for Malifaux. Both are large, impressive pieces. The TTCombat stuff is much chunkier than the Sarissa building, meaning it’s both clunkier and sturdier – you win some, you lose some. All the TTCombat buildings have separate floors and the interiors can be used for gaming. There are even stairs connecting the two floors in the townhouses, as well as some super chunky furniture. My only gripe with the TTCombat stuff is the massive size of the doors. Even on a very large 28/32mm miniature the doorknobs are around shoulder height. It’s a minor thing and could be easily fixed, but I don’t think I’ll bother. Warbases roofing tiles will be added to the townhouses to unify them with the rest of the buildings.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Warbases modular #5. The Warbases modular buildings are super simple (and super cheap). I’m thinking of modding this with a portico and some nicer windows and doors. I think it has a tavern look to it, so it could function as a sort of go-between uniting the two halves of the town.

My attitudes towards laser-cut mdf buildings have changed in the past year or two. I used to think very little of them, but after climbing on board the mdf train, I’m definitely seeing the appeal. There’s a huge variety, ample chance for customising and the prices are very decent. Putting them together can be quite satisfying, too!

So, what do you think? Does this look suitably colonial? What do you think of mdf? Does it show that I’ve been alone, writing my dissertation at our summer place in the archipelago, and am starting to crave human interaction?

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From the painting desk #45 – Special characters

November 10, 2016

This post showcases two of my lately painted miniatures that you may have already glimpsed in the Halloween game report.

Up first is a voodoo queen from Black Cat Bases. Like most Black Cat Bases minis, the model is fairly tall and hefty. I definitely prefer this cartoony style to more realistic proportions, and love this sculpt despite its weird right hand. I’m normally not a huge fan of minis with super cleavage, but in this case it didn’t bother me – a certain amout of sexuality is a key part of the whole Hollywood voodoo queen character. In our Halloween game she was dubbed Madam Labadie, so the name sort of stuck.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I painted the character with a very dark skin tone and made her dress yellow for some contrast. I went all out on the feathers on her staff, figuring she had plenty of colourful parrots at her disposal. The painting on the little cat is loosely based on my girlfriend’s cat, shown with yours truly in this super happy picture. This was a really fun piece to paint altogether, and I finished it fairly quickly – although the Halloween game as a deadline helped! I based the voodoo queen in the same style as my pirates, so no flowers on her base.

The second miniature is an officer type from Galloping Major, who I dubbed captain Pemberton Smythe. Another lovely miniature to paint, the officer is a clean, chunky sculpt. As my project is decidedly Hollywood over historical, I went with the same strategy as with my redcoats, drawing inspiration from historical imagery to make something that fits my idea of a British officer. I think the end result turned out quite effective.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I only noticed while photographing that the models might both be in need of an extra blast of matt varnish. They’re not as shiny in hand as they appear in the photos, luckily!

If I’m not completely wrong, these two bring my number of miniatures painted this year up to twelve, and there are some more that I haven’t shown yet! Comments welcome as usual.

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Halloween in the Caribbean

November 3, 2016

Halloween came and went, and it brought a nice chance for some horror-themed gaming. I obviously wanted to do something a bit more pirate-y this year, so the theme was obvious.

Putting together a game to play with my friends, I went with my go-to ruleset, Flashing Steel by Ganesha Games. I tweaked and simplified it at places for ease of gaming, and then wrapped it in a nice little cocoon of story. The story was a suitable genre piece, with the dread undead pirate captain Armitage Shanks (last seen bothering the Orient) coming to claim charming young Rosalie Underwood for his bride for all eternity at the strike of midnight. To make things easier for him, Shanks decided to bring along an army of the dead as well as two horrible, imaginatively named lackeys, Ghost and Crab man. Luckily a group of heroes was there to thwart Shanks’ evil scheme! The protagonists consisted of dashing captain Pemberton Smythe and his two redcoats, pirate queen Valeriana de Torres with her voodoo priestess Madame Labadie and first mate Benson, Rosalie Underwood’s father with his priestly friend Father Wexcombe and trusted servant Belinda, and Daring Dragoon, the people’s swashbuckling hero.

What followed was an epic battle, with poor Rosalie’s fate hanging in the balance almost up to the last dice rolls of the game. What did we get to see? Our heroes cut down waves upon waves of zombies. Father Wexcombe banishing the ghost with holy water, only to get shot down by Shanks just moments later and brought back as a zombie. The terrifying Crab man crushing poor Daring Dragoon after the hero’s valiant charge. The pirate queen and His Majesty’s captain fighting side by side to buy more time before falling to the claws of Crab man and Shanks’ blade. The voodoo priestess dueling magically with Shanks, pulling the enchanted Rosalie this way and that…and finally, first mate Benson putting a pistol bullet in Shanks’ skull just as the witching hour passed and the forces of darkness withdrew.

It was a blast! We laughed a lot, we rolled a lot of dice, imitated death groans and roars of frustration (thanks Joonas!) and pushed little toy soldiers across the board, all the while overdosing on sugar. What more could you want from a Halloween game?

Shown below are photos of various quality from the game, taken by the various participants on their phones. You can click on any of them for a larger view.

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The defenders

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Preparing for the forces of evil

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One of the character sheets I put together

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First mate Benson pretty much spent the game standing in this spot killing zombies

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The Daring Dragoon’s fateful battle

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The Halloween theme extended to the snacks as well

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Another shot of our heroes, with the Daring Dragoon showing off

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SHAME

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Father Wexcombe’s heroic moment

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A closer look at pirate queen de Torres

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Belinda comforts the rescued Rosalie

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Our heroes hold off the zombie horde

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An aerial view of the starting positions

Shanks and his minions go forth

Captain Smythe half-hidden by a fountain

Captain Smythe half-hidden by some stocks

The battle is won!

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Belinda and Rosalie again – a subtext of romance was suggested

A blogger with that good old Innsmouth elegance

A blogger with that good old Innsmouth elegance

I think ending this post after that photo is appropriate.

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From the painting desk #44 – Horrors of the deep

October 23, 2016

Last year’s Halloween game was a success, so I’m running another one this year. With my interest going the way of pirates in the Caribbean, this year’s event will be themed accordingly. A few newly painted minis have joined my roster for the game:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

This crab man is one of the post-apocalyptic mutants from Ramshackle Games. A somewhat crude but characterful sculpt, his crustacean appearance makes him a perfectly themed old school Hollywood sea monster. The model was fun to paint, the different ridges and textures making him perfect for drybrushing. I drew some inspiration from real life crabs for the pincers, really making them stand out from pale orange/yellow body.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The second model is a Reaper Bones spirit. As it was a nice, translucent green plastic, I didn’t do a lot of painting on it apart from a very light white drybrush. After some consideration I painted in blue glowing eyes (which don’t look as horrible as in the photo), but left it at that. I mean, if you’ve got a special effect with the material, why paint over it too much? Instead, I devoted some extra attention to the base.

I’ve themed both bases in the “dark, unearthly ocean floor of death” style I used earlier on my undead pirate now permanently named Armitage Shanks. I added an old Warhammer tobstone and some broken planks to the spirit’s base to suggest a shipwrecked sailor.

These were a fun diversion, and will be going on the table in less than a week! Comments welcome as always.

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From the painting desk #43 – Gentry

October 6, 2016

I’ve been painting a lot in recent weeks! We’ve managed to set up a semi-regular thing with my friend Joonas and his wife Mia, where they pop in for an evening or two per week to paint, build models, write and whatever we have at hand. This has been a huge production boost – setting aside 5-12 hours more time for painting than usual obviously pays off.

Some of the produce of these painting evenings are the couple shown below. The woman is from Front Rank’s line of 18th century civilians and the man is part of Redoubt’s excellent French and Indian War range.

Click for a larger version

Yellow is a colour I’ve always disliked painting, so I made the conscious choice to try doing it properly for once. The lady’s dress seemed like the perfect chance, so I tried to create something eye-catching and bright. I’m fairly happy with how the dress turned out, although some of the blending could be a lot smoother and the undercoat should be a lot more even. It was an important step in reducing my dislike for yellow, though! I think I’ll paint some more in the future. I also dabbed some rouge on the lady’s cheeks, as that was in fashion back then.

With these, and a few other quick paintjobs that probably won’t find their way to the blog, my year’s painting total is up to a grand total of ten miniatures. I’m aiming for thirty by the end of the year, and it seems realistic at the moment.

I’m really happy that I’ve managed to attract a crowd of regular commenters. Your input makes blogging even more fun and worthwhile, so thanks everyone!

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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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