Sunday, August 30, 2015

You won't like the wasteland when it's angry!

This Is Not A Test Wasteland Hulk

Base Model

Reaper Bones Clay Golem
With more regular blog updates planned, I needed to come up with projects to complete. I thought to start with something that I could use for This Is Not a Test and coincidence has it that the Baltimore City Jail was closed this week, which I put together in my head for a project. I figured the one thing every nuclear wasteland makes is a gigantic hulking monster and where might one of these come from? A prison of let's make a monster.

I have as stock selections the Reaper Bones I and II Kickstarter miniatures, which gives a few hundred to select as starters. There are a couple that may work as suitable base figures, but all would need to be adapted to some extent. I selected the Clay Golem (77170 $2.79), He simply had muscles on top of muscles which seems like a good mutation and one that would let you thrive as a hulking beast, potentially working under some gang leader.

Painting Process

Base Color
Recently, there was a step-by-step guide for a Librarian posted posted by Dave Taylor (Battle for the Craftworld - Painting the Librarian) that used a technique that I wanted to copy and it will work for this figure.

Base Color. As with all Bones miniatures, make sure you have washed it well with soapy and water before starting anything. There are plenty of posts on the Reaper forums about whether you should prime the miniature or not and what primers work. I have not attempted to prime any of my Bones. I started with a base color of Reaper MSP Sunburn Flesh on the entire miniature. Since I did not prime the figure, I just used the paint as it came. I had no issues with the hydrophobic nature of the Bones.

First wash
Depth. With the base color on the figure, I started to add the layers of depth to the miniature. There are lots of muscles, more than a typical humanoid and that creates lots of small spaces between the muscles. In addition to these spaces between the muscles, the larger muscles have some stretching to them that creates some extra grooves. Another complaint about the Bones material is a loss of detail. I have found that most of these complaints are because of the white color which makes seeing details hard. There are some smaller miniatures where the really fine details that were on the original metal version are lost, but by and large these are great figures.

I used the Citadel Devlan Mud Wash over all of the painted surface. The hydrophobic nature of the Bones is not an issue once a layer of paint is applies. I applied the wash liberally over the figure so a good amount of the wash would stay in the grooves and cracks.

Pants. After the wash was added, I realized that there was something significant missing from the figure. While it would have been fine with the small loin cloth bottom; it didn't hit the Hulk vision I had, I also did not think it wasteland enough. It also occurred to me that this would be perfect if this was the result of a nuclear radiation mutation on a prison inmate. Well to achieve the inmate look and to add some additional character to the miniature, I decided to add some pants. Well to be more precise the remnants of his prison jumpsuit.

Pants (Rear)
I used some Gale Force Nine green stuff to create the pants. Working is green stuff is still not something I have mastered, but as with all things more practice helps. I rolled out very thin sheets of green stuff since I wanted it to be close to the same thickness of pants. I actually woke up in the middle of the night thinking of this. I also wanted to make sure there was going to be some space between the pants and the leg.

Once the sheets were added, they were too long, so using one of my trusty dental picks, I started to cut off some of the extra. This worked out pretty well because the green stuff was just about 10 minutes old and very pliable. When I cut into it the green stuff stretched and pulled a little when cut which gave a great torn close look.

First Highlight
Getting deeper. I had to leave the figure overnight to let the green stuff set up and harden a bit more before proceeding. After about 12 hours, I started to add some of the up-coloring. I do not know if that is a real work or what the actual technique is called, but I started adding layers of lighter shades on top of the base coat. This is the technique outlined in Dave Taylor's Librarian paint job.

Second Highlight
I started by mixing a 3:1 paint mix of Reaper MSP Sunburn Flesh:Reaper MSP Suntan Flesh. I laid the color onto all of the muscle groups and any elevated surface. I applied this layer mostly to the top half of the figure, but did hit some of the exposed parts of the heel and ankle.

The next layer up was a 1:3 paint mix of Reaper MSP Sunbutn Flesh:Reaper MSP Suntan Flesh. For this, I tried to be a lot more cautious with the application. I started by adding to the top parts of the muscles and head and to the elbows. The second highlight made the entire figure look a lot like a painting of some sort and not all that natural because I did not do any wet blending. I would, but I don't know how. So to get this to look better blended, I used an additional wash of the Citadel Devlan Mud Wash. This took off the edges of the paint transitions and added some better shadow/depth to the muscle beds.

Finishing up. I, unwisely, did not follow Meg Maples' 6-Step Eye technique (blog post). As a result of not planning ahead, I had to use the magnifying glass to help me out (I really need a new contact prescription). I used the Reaper MSP Aged Bone as the base color for the eyes and an incredibly old Citadel Enchanted Blue for the iris. I didn't put in a pupil because I thought it made the figure a little crazier looking.

The pants took a lot to paint. Because I had to blend the color of the pants from the green stuff to the Bones materials and neither were primed, I used a bunch of layers. This just layer on layers of Reaper MSP Fire Orange to get a uniform color. The connection of the green stuff and the loin cloth of the Bones material was not perfect, so I used a very watered down Devlan Mud wash to the pants to add some depth/dirt and to cover up some of those areas.

Final Model (Front)
 The base was painted with Reaper MSP Ash Grey to give it the concrete look of the prison. A dry brush of a lightened Ash Grey. I got this by mixing the Ash Grey with some of the Aged Bone at about a 1:1.5 ratio. While this could have been a suitable finish, I wanted to do a bit more. I mixed up a yellow green color, but combining some Vallejo Game Color Flat Yellow with Citadel Goblin Green at about a 1:1 ratio. This went down as the base color for the toxic spill and was used as the nail color. Then a layer of the flat yellow was applied to the top of the toxic spill.

Final Model (Rear)
I attempted to use realistic scenic water, but there are not dips or anything to the base so it did not sit correctly. I had to come up with an alternate plan. I did not have any other model water materials, so I used what I had on hand, Citadel Plastic Glue Thick. This gave the right texture to the base and because of the thickness, it obscured the lines of the paint on the base and stayed where it was applied. The only minor difficulty was making sure there was no glue on the base that would make it adhere to the surface where it sat to dry.

I am happy with this model and the speed with which I was able to get it completed (48 hours). This has a lot less tiny details, but that allowed me to use a new technique which I appreciate. Looking forward to more Bones work for the wasteland bestiary.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

First in (style)...the Secret Weapon's 6x6 Rapid Assault vehicle

Secret Weapon's 6x6 Rapid Assault Vehicle

Secret Weapon Miniatures has long been a go to place for resin bases, they have a large variety and every style and size imaginable. Secret Weapon also has a fantastic line of washes and weathering pigments (Hands-on weathering pigments with Mr. Justin blogpost). But today, I am going to review the single vehicle kit offering, the 6x6 Rapid Assault Vehicle.

6 x 6 Rapid Assault kit contents
I purchased this after my many looks and considerations and after spending nearly an entire weekend hanging at the Secret Weapon booth at AdeptiCon. The kit contains 21 pieces which are a mix of resin and metal castings.

The hull is comprised of two main parts. The hull bottom has two quite large resin parts on the back, so you may want to have a saw at the ready. The bottom part has two hatches in the rear and components for the suspension for each wheel.

Hull top (detail view)
The hull has a lot of detail to it as you can see in the top hull image. Along the top and sides are a number of hatches, tools, vents and other details. There are also two ports to the rear of the right and left sides for gun ports. The top half of the hull has a whole to seat the turret. There is an elevated ring around the turret seat that hides the turret seating. The top of the hull has a square hole for the hull gun. There are two options for the hull gun, a machine gun or a flamer. The fit isn't super snug, but solid enough that you could easily add magnets for weapon swaps without any concern for wiggle.

Turret (detail view)
To assemble the hull, you first should attach the wheel hubs to the lower hull portion. The hubs have notches that will allow them to slide down onto the suspension components and fit rather snuggly. If you try to put these on after assembling the top and bottom hull pieces, you will have a lot of difficulty. The top hull half has small rounded buttons that seat into the cups on the top of the bottom half of the hull. The exhaust system fits flush to the rear of the top half of the hull. There are two pipes that will line up when correct. There is also a plate location that will be facing up when the exhaust is attached.

The turret assembly is a single piece with a notch for the main gun assembly. The turret has a small amount around the base that needed to be trimmed, but as with the rest of the rest of the resin components, there was very little clean-up necessary. There are six (6) different options for the main gun. The main gun could be an autocannon, multi-laser, plasma cannon, flame cannon (heavy flamer), heavy support cannon (mortar), machine guns, or a high velocity cannon. The turret guns don't quite fit as well as the hull gun, but the fit is good enough that you could magnetize all of them for quick swaps. The turret guns have some flak that will need to be removed as with any metal cast.
Main gun options...6 of them!

The wheels fit onto the body with a spoke into a whole design. The fit for each varies, but with some adhesive it won't matter. This is a fixed wheel design. The wheels have rims cast onto them. The tread pattern is a diamond shape and adds sufficient texture to finish the wheels.

This kit is a very solid and has a great deal of detail. I purchased this as an attachment to my Imperial Guard (Astra Militarum) army and to go with my Elysium vehicles that were purchased at AdeptiCon. This kit can be used in any number of games, but for now I plan on using this as a Chimera variant.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I scream, you scream, We fight for Ice Cream!

This Is Not A Test Battle Report

I was lucky enough to be recruited to run some demos of This Is Not A Test at NOVA Open this year. In order to learn the game, I spent a Saturday at Games and Stuff with the creator of the game, Joe McGuire. Read my This Is Not A Test, Repeat This Is Not A Test for my thoughts on the game rules and feel of the game. Here is how my introduction to the post-nuclear wastes went...

Table layout
Table Set-up. Thankfully, Joe has all of the materials at the ready for our demo/tutorial. The table set-up had a couple of roads running through, plenty of abandoned/wrecked vehicles, signs. There are also some centrally placed buildings. Each of these buildings are completely playable inside and out. There are areas of rough terrain (craters, toxic spills) and some wilderness terrain. All together, we put together a table with plenty of potential for good game play.

Joe made all of the terrain and teaches courses on many of the items through the Historic Miniatures Gaming Society (HGMS) if you get the chance to attend. The buildings are purchased (Plasticville) then customized specifically for the game. 

My faction (all upstanding citizens)
Selecting Factions. Joe for the demo has a set of prepared factions which he has spent time to balance out. This made selection pretty easy and for me, I just selected based on a few items; no robots, no mutants, and something interesting. Now that was a pretty limiting selection, but I wanted to really get a feel for the basic mechanics with the hope of playing additional games to get deeper into some of the other mechanics. In the end that brought me to the a police-like faction, though with a prisoner in tow, which was composed of five characters and included a range of close combat and ranged actions. We will get to the really interesting components as we go through the battle. 

Joe's faction (bad guys one and all)
Joe selected an alternate faction from those remaining to also stay pretty basic. He also ended up with five characters with a range of available weapons. He had one character with specific long-range availability for lack of a better phrase a sniper.  

 Deployment. We didn't follow a specific side versus side deployment. We both used a 6" deployment standard and deployed our characters onto the board. I selected to deploy my characters around some terrain and in a line to give potential for direction change after the first couple of turns. With This Is Not A Test, this is possible because the depth of the table is greater than the range of the weapons. No bombardment to worry over.

Joe deployed in more of a cluster around his leader. The leader provides a boost to activation when characters are within 6" of the leader, which he knew and I didn't. Joe also took advantage of the billboard at the edge of his side and was able to deploy his sniper to the top of the billboard to give height and increase line of sight.

Start the march. The aim here was purely to get closer to each other. There was sufficient distance that I couldn't hit him at all and coverage to ensure I wasn't able to get hit. Joe took advantage of starting his group around his leader to successfully activate most of his figures. He used the transit bus to protect his route.

My aim from the beginning was to use the diner and ice cream parlor as a funnel to where I could set up some crossfire. As such my first attempt was to take my leader and longest range shooter to attempt to take the top of the diner. The rest of the group was moved up with the goal to take control of the ice cream parlor to prevent any side attacks.

Control moves. I continued to make attempts at controlling the diner, but it turns out that failing an activation can really disrupt your plans. When the leader failed and wasn't able to climb to the top of the trailer, I had to come up with some alternate plans.

Joe was continuing to come up around the bus toward the back of the parlor and between the two shops. Joe had a clear path to the back of the parlor though and sufficient coverage to potentially overwhelm my guys all at once. The shops provided some solid cover to work and still maintain the plan of a cross-fire scenario between the buildings.

Change of plans. With Joe now pushing out to the open, I had a chance to start the melee. I moved into position and started the fire. I also noticed the rear door of the parlor and how that would provide some disruption to Joe's forces and started working my close combat hot head through since he was steadily working up toward the back of the parlor. I attacked through the back door to where Joe was, but was ultimately knocked back off of his character.

Joe (clearly a natural model) still had his sniper sitting pretty on the top of the billboard and waiting for someone to shoot. Thankfully, the cover was proving sufficient to prevent her from picking off any of my men while I advanced. This limited her capabilities and kept her out of action for a while. Joe took advantage of the covered offered to him and brought his leader up to the side window of the parlor where he was able to start attacking my hot headed prisoner. With a failed save, I hit the deck and went prone.

First blood. With the potential savage damage from his leader, I was forced to reconsider my plan. I pulled my prisoner back with the intent of running him through to the leader to occupy him. The rest of the plan was still holding and Joe was moving into the cross-fire.

Joe got some good shots off and was able to decimate the hot head, but now before suffering a loss himself. With the back door of the parlor no longer a problem, I was able to take out one of his guys. We were down a man each and his sniper was still stuck up on her billboard. Joe's leader threw a jam, which made his relic plasma weapon rendered useless unless he spent some time to resolve.

Turn 4. With the cross-fire in full effect and the madness of the back and forth, the bodies started to take shots. Now we were both getting plenty of hits, but also making plenty of defense rolls. I got numerous shots off on his leader, but he was able to evade all of them. We both lost another guy and we steadily moving toward the final showdown.

Joe managed to clear his plasma gun, which can be a devastating weapon. He proceeded up the side of the building where he had the strength of one weapon alone to make me reconsider my deployment. Joe took his sniper down from the billboard to bring her into action. He started moving her up into a support position and that necessitated drawing his people closer.

The trap is sprung! BOOM!
The trap is sprung. With Joe's move, I was able to spring a trap that I had hoped would work and win the day for me. Joe's leader moved up around the edge of the building near to where my prisoner had fallen. That was when I detonated his explosive collar. It is how he would have wanted to go I am sure. What should have been a great day for victory, turned out to be just a puff of smoke as once again Joe was saved with crucial rolls. Joe took the blast and then walked himself back.

I thought I had him on the ropes and pursued thinking could take some quick shots to put him down, that may have been a mistake. As soon as I rounded the corner, he had me and took out another of my men. Sure I got some shots off, but between his rolls and the number of wounds he could withstand the poor bloke didn't stand a chance. Now I was down to my last man, but I had an assault rifle and eventually Joe was going to fail a roll.

End Game. With Joe's leader damaged and looking to regroup with his sniper, I had only one choice. Take some drastic action. So I starting firing through the ice cream parlor making another round of multiple successes. I was finally able to find success and take down his leader, but that wasn't the end of it. He still had his sniper who decided it was best to make use of her position and live to fight another day than be another bullet-ridden body in the waste.

The end scene...a win for the good guys.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Skulls, Skulls, Skulls...

Dragon Forge Design's Skulls

Not so long ago, Dragon Forge Design's put together a very quick Kickstarter campaign to produce some heroic scale, 28 mm skulls case in resin for our modelling pleasure. I jumped on the Kickstarter very quickly. I've purchased some other Dragon Forge bases and was part of the Ancient Ruins II Kickstarter, so this was a natural extension for some modelling projects I had in mind.

Kickstarter $50 Backer Fulfillment
Now because this Kickstarter was so simple in design, literally getting the funding to take the sculpts to casting, it was really a matter of how many skulls do you need. I decided, the $50 pledge was sufficient and that netted me at least 200 skulls. Now if you want to count how many, there are four (4) skulls on each cast and I received a total of 57, which netted me 228 skulls. There was only one add-on to the Kickstarter, which was Mr. Bones, which I skipped. In hindsight, I am kicking myself, because who couldn't use some skeleton parts? Now you can get the entire set together, which is Skeleton, Skulls, and Bones!

Skulls (front view)
As I mentioned earlier, each sprue is cast in resin with four different skull designs on each sprue. I am planning on using some to add enhancements to one of the Bones I have from the original Kickstarter campaign. You may recall the Reaper BONES Altar of Evil, which definitely needs some additional materials to decorate the top. I think the current plan is to sculpt some decorations for the top, possibly to include a spell book, a candle-holding skull, and a chalice. That should round out the look of this Evil shrine nicely.

As for the skeleton, I will be purchasing one separately with my next Dragon Forge order as I have in mind the skeleton emerging from the Reaper Bones Fountain of Chaos where a pool of translucent goo (colored realistic scenic water) will cover the emerging skeleton.

So let's talk about these skulls a bit. The skulls have 4 different sculpts and provide some great modelling inspiration. You get one rather Skeletor looking head, one with a bit more of a grimace. One with what I can only imagine is a maniacal scream/laugh to terrorize and the final one without a lower jaw.

These can easily be used to swap out heads on GW Space/Chaos Marines or any of the similar factions. These can be used to ramp up some of the other Bones miniatures to give them the next level for an undead warrior. Or of course, you can use them to decorate altars, bookshelves, add to the hand of your Hamlet-inspired figure, or as basing materials. There are very few limitations to how you can use these beauties and hopefully with 200+, I can start to explore all of these possibilities.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This Is Not A Test...I repeat, This Is Not A Test

This Is Not a Test

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure to spend some time with Joe McGuire, the developer and producer of This Is Not a Test (World's End Publishing). We met up at Games and Stuff (a FLGS) so he could teach me a thing or two about his game to prepare for the NOVA Open where I will be running demos myself. I may even play a longer game or two if we can work it out. When you get the chance, check out the This Is Not A Test facebook page or the This Is Not A Test Official page to see more and hear about the game.


This Is Not A Test Rule Book

Let's talk a little bit about the game itself....imagine Washington, is full of waste, tribes of man compete for precious resources and the common folk struggle to survive. Well, you know enough about current DC, well the future isn't looking much better. Joe and I live a little bit outside of the beltway and our wives work down in the heart of the district. This Is Not a Test is a post-apocalyptic setting based in the mid-Atlantic region, centered primarily within the Washington, DC-Baltimore metropolitan area.

Following the nuclear holocaust, a lot has changed about this area I have known for the last 20 plus years. Washington, DC is a hot zone and not safe to be inhabited. The nuclear fallout is too severe to host human life. That doesn't mean nothing has survived there, but nothing that could be considered human. Rumors abound of the mutants who survive and hunt the Capital Deadzone. Combine these unintelligent, blood thirsty, scavengers (the mutants, not Congress) with the autonomous cybernetic units that patrol the streets and you get a inhospitable waste that tempts many for the countless artifacts and relics necessary to survive and thrive.

There is a better and more complete background available on the This Is Not a Test site, including descriptions of the known/explored areas including the Burning Lands, The Eastern Pale, Penns, Wild Highlands, and the Tri-State Wasteland.

Game Play

Let's talk about some of the game play features and the feel of the game. I'll have a follow-on post/battle report of the actual game I played against Joe, but will provide some review of the mechanics and the feel of the game. We played a standard skirmish version of the game, but the mechanics in the rule book also allow for longer term campaigns. Hopefully we will work on that and a longer running set in the blog.


Each figure has a set of seven stats. Move (MOV) determines how far you can move (inches per AP). Melees (MEL) is used to determine success in hand-to-hand combat. Ranged (RNG) is used for any distance-based attack. Strength (STR) is used to determine the amount of damage from a melee attach or to determine success for stat challenge. Defense (DEF) is the base for how tough the figure is and any defensive ability checks. Wounds (WDS) is a measure of how much damage a figure can take before being removed from action. Typical figures will have one wound. Mettle (MET) is the final stat and one that is used for a number of items, including reliability, intelligence, courage and nimbleness.

Each character can also get a number of additional skills. These skills create modifiers to actions which become very helpful. One of specific interest for the leaders of the factions is that any model within 6" of the leader get a +1 to activation. There are also a set of Mutations, which come into play from the nuclear fall-out, but we didn't play with any of these for our game.


The game is designed to really be played with quick set-up and to be completed in about 1 hour. Each side selects a faction and a set of players based on the faction selected to agreed upon amounts. We used rather well balanced sets of characters (5 each) from two of the factions. We played on a 3'x3' surface.

As with everything you deploy your models, we went with a standard within 6" of the edge since that was the average movement distance. The board as you can see was rather well covered with various terrain. This replicated pretty well a small town/highway area where some shops (a diner, ice cream parlor, and another shop) are around and playable along with plenty of wrecked cars and signs. Options for cover and flow aplenty.


Activation. As with all games, this is a turn-based skirmish game. Activation is decided by an initiative roll, d10/higher wins. Once initiative is decided, the winner selects which model will activate and must make an activation challenge roll (d10). Success means the figure has 2 AP; essentially can do 2 activities or one complex action. Failure on the roll means the figure can perform any 1 AP action. As you can see on the attached, that is still plenty. Succeeding the activation challenge also means that you continue to activate figures. You continue to activate figures until you are unsuccessful on a challenge or until you run our of figures. When activation switches to the other player, the same rules apply until all figures are activated.

Attack. If during your turn, you decide to make firing one of your actions you make an attack roll (d10). This is like many other skirmish games with modifiers for buildings, coverage, distance, etc. Once you hit, you mark the character but the hits are not settled until the end of the current activation phase. "Why?", you may ask...well this is to simulate that the actions are happening at or very near to the same time and as such the figures would not understand that until that period of time has ended. Very much, you could have multiple people fire on a single model, which makes the actions/game play a bit more realistic. 

So at the end of the activation phase, any models which were hit (grazed) must have the wounds resolved. The shooter will roll a damage roll (d10) and the target will roll a defense roll (d10). This is a challenge and has modifiers on both sides and whoever has the higher roll wins. If the target loses, they suffer damage which for low-level models will usually kill them, but for higher level characters they may take two or three before taking a dirt nap. If the target wins, they then face a Will challenge. The Will challenge occurs after the wound is resolved and applies to any figure that is alive after the wounds are resolved and were a hit was successful, regardless of damage. If the figure fails the Will check, the figure must them take an involuntary move to cover (up to 6"). If no cover is available, the character must "hit the deck" and go prone in place. A grazed character that successfully makes the Will check may make a voluntary move (up to 6") if grazed. This is again to simulate the reality of if you are shot, you take cover then figure out what to do next.

Movement. With movement, the mechanics are pretty easy. You get a set movement rate and each move at up to that distance is 1 AP. You can make a single move and then another action, but that will negatively affect firing or you can make a double move. Moving over or up objects reduces movement rate as does movement through difficult terrain. To climb to the top of a one-story building is 2 AP provided you are base-to-base with it. You can start a climb, but then will be faced with a climb check at the beginning of the next activation to see if you fall. This makes almost everything is accessible for movement in/over/around/through including buildings, which was rather nice. We spent most of our battle in/through/around the ice cream parlor. 

Once all of the figures are activated and have acted and the hits have been resolved you move onto the next turn. Our 5 on 5 game, was about 10 turns and lasted about 1.5 hours, which included time to teach me the game and for me to take a bunch of pictures. 

My take

This is a fun game for sure and one that is quick to set-up, quick to play, and provides potential for additional development and growth with a longer campaign. I have some ideas for creatures and other things that may through some wild cards into the game play, which I'd also like to explore and propose to Joe as I learn more. There are lots of game play areas I'd still like to explore, including mutants, robots, and creatures in a game; so keep your dial tuned...more emergency alerts to come. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.