Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stadium Renovation Pt. I: How to Make a Customized DIY Blood Bowl Pitch

My oh my, has this post been a long time in coming. Way back in 2012, when I first started this blog, one of my very first posts was about how I wanted to make a custom Blood Bowl pitch our of foam board.

A lot has changed in that time. For one thing, I picked up a real Blood Bowl pitch on the cheap. That meant that I didn't need a cheapo DIY solution anymore - if I was to make a custom pitch, I had better make it fancy.

For another thing, I happened to inherit a 2' by 3' whiteboard.

So over the next couple of posts I'm going to show you how I made the first thing out of the second thing. Note, however, that this technique can be used to great effect for skirmish boards as well, as Orlygg so aptly demonstrated here. I do, however, take it one step further, as you will see.

So, materials:
  1. A whiteboard or bulletin board. Best if you inherit it, but they can be had for around $30 at an office supply store.
  2. Foam Core. I chose this over Orlygg's plasticard because is is cheaper and can be easily carved to achieve squares (or cobbles, or whatever)
  3. Some kind of filler. I used woodfiller.
  4. A buncha PVA
  5. Some sand
  6. Craft paints
  7. Screw-on rubber feet (optional)
  8. Picture hanging wire (optional. If you dabble in sculpting like me then you probably have some around.)
  9. Picture hooks. (optional)

So for the first step you'll want to prepare your foam core by stripping all of the paper off of it. Here's an astoundingly easy method for doing so. 

Once that's sorted out, you can smear some PVA onto your board. You don't actually need that much, but coverage is important. I used a scrap of cardboard as a kind of putty knife to get a smooth, even layer.

Lay the foam on there. Lay some books on there too. Some big, heavy ones.

Now let it dry for at least a day. 

Just like basing a mini. Imagine the cavalry figure that would go on that base.

When you come back it'll be time to fill, carve, and texturize the surface of the foam. The first part of that is easy. Just fill in the cracks with your wood filler/spackle/putty.

Next, you want to create the squares on the board. In my opinion, the best custom pitches have squares that are carved or cut into the surface rather than drawn or marked on. I find that more markings cause greater visual distraction, making it look more like your figures are playing on a board and less like they're playing on a hard-packed stretch of earth and crushed opponents.

So using a carpenter's square and a soft pencil, lightly sketch the grid onto the board. Follow over it with a ballpoint pen, pressing hard and scoring the line two or three times to get a nice deep impression. You'll want to keep using your square even though the lines are marked, because your pen is going to want to wander off course. (You could get really fancy and use an x-acto mitre to cut actual angled grooves like this, but I opted for the far simpler method - though my board is not nearly as impressive as Thib-0's. That guy can really craft.)

Once your grid is down, you can apply the sand. Pretty straight forward really, just watered down PVA and sand. Staple of the hobby. (Okay, I guess you could use coffee grounds or tea leaves if your worried about damaging paint jobs.

My workshop table, as sprawling as ever.
Now your board will look something like the above. You're going to have to walk away again, I'm afraid.

Once it's dry, it's time for paint. I didn't prime mine because I couldn't be bothered to mask the frame. You can do that if you like. Then hit it with a bunch brown craft paints and follow it over with washes of various yellows, greens and dark browns for a nice mottled effect. Finally, you'll probably want to drybrush it. It's a slog, though, so be warned.

Check out my proud coach's headgear top left.
Above you can see the beginning of the endzones and score tracks. Masking tape works okay, but be prepared to do a couple of thin coats (another staple of the hobby) since applying too much at once will result in the paint bleeding under the tape and requiring touch up (which is odious, and a pain).

I'll be back in the next installment with pictures of the painting and flocking process. In the meantime let me know what you think. Note, however, that getting fouled while in the comments box may result in penalty kicks.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Felbray Trow & Felzig Hurl

Hard of heart, fierce of mind,
False of word to oath unbind,
Swift of wit, slow of tongue,
Deaf to songs of glories sung.

In wait behind a withered tree,
or stalking 'cross the stinking lea.
A trap to spring 'midst the cairns
to drown you in their sacred tairns

 Be you ware upon the wold--
be you not rash or over-bold--
For within the shadow come the beasts
a-waiting for a soggy feast.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Heaper of Teeth

One finds strange things alone on the wold;
Rodent skulls arranged in spirals and figures of eight,

Low-growing trees tied from root to twig in colorfully died wool
And hung with trinkets of less identifiable origin,

And heaps of teeth, tall as a man or more, left to moulder darkly in the day,
And to glimmer yellowly at night.

One must then think to oneself, alone on the wold:
Something must be making these heaps...?
Something must be taking these teeth...?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Belle of Doom

One of the first posts I saw from the Chicago Skirmish Wargames club was a battle report for their exhibition game of Mech Attack, played in 28mm. So when fellow CSW member Karl called for volunteers to paint up the giant robots for this year’s Little Wars, I jumped at the opportunity to really blow the lid off it. And I figured I’d show the results here. (If you want to read this year’s Little Wars Report, it’s posted on the CSW blog here.)

Here’s what I had to start from:

This project was made somewhat more difficult by the fact that I do not own an airbrush, and that it’s not allowed to sell spray primer within Chicago limits. If I had been cleverer, I could certainly have asked one of the club members to snag me some primer from the ‘burbs, or even to give it a quick spray for me…but I was a little slow on the uptake and decided to base-coat it all by hand.

Fortunately, I read on King’s Miniatures all about how Windex is magical, and that made the whole thing (relatively) breezy. Just loosen up the acrylics with a bit of the blue juice and slap it on. Make sure to work in thin coats, though – I would load up my brush and then give it a quick dab on a piece of paper towel to make sure I wasn’t over-applying. That way the paint went on thin, covered well, and dried super-quick.

Since Little Wars is primarily an historical wargames convention, I decided to spoof up some WWII aircraft style nosepaint, with open jaws and angry eyes to intimidate the other mechs. I also put a tribute to the CSW logo prominently on one of the missile pods. 

On the left arm, I put some ‘unit designation’ type numerals, which are actually the model numbers for the original Gundam…kind of a reference to my first love in terms of giant robots.

Finally, I thought the historical gamers would appreciate some pinup girl art in the style of classic WWII bombers. (I was also inspired by this awesome paint job.With that in mind, I decided to call the Mech the Belle of Doom. And here she is, sporting a morale-boosting figure, a glowing mechanical eye, and a giant ray gun: 

Let me know what you think by jumping into your own mobile armor and using the beam sabre to carve your thoughts into the blasted battleground that is the planet earth. Or you could, you know, use the comments box:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Encounter in the Valley of Mud

What follows is a report for a solo game of Song of Blades and Heroes that I played a few months ago. The weather was cold, the tea was hot, and the battlemat was dry, so I thought what the heck. 

I set up some scenery, took my deck of characters, and randomly dealt out eight per side.

Laird Bilebroke and his banditry, having heard rumor of an incursion of Dwimmer-beasts into his haunts in the surrounding regions of Skeldkryk, hear a distant wailing chant that alert them to their foes. They prepare for battle. 

The Warder of the Wyrd approaches from the west with a number of hunchymen mercenaries accompanying his foul twilight kinder. He aims to befoul the waters of Skeldkryk and to carry off all of the children born upon the seventh day. The Shivering King has also chosen to ride with the Warder, for dark purposes of his own.

The Dwimmer-folk take up positions on the west side of the valley of mud. The hunchymen Clodgy Fern and Gorish the Gaveler secret themselves with Indoomiel in the marshy copse, hoping to cover the advance of the rest of the band with Indoomiel's bow.

The others take up position on the ridge line overlooking the sordid vale. On the other side, Bilebroke orders his main contingent into a defensive posture around the ruined stead on the hill, while the Lord of the Lichens leads a vangaurd along the North flank, through the forest of pillars.

Sighting his hated adversary, the Shivering King spurs his horse at the Chewer of Knees, whispering vile curses as he hefts his sword. The rest of the line advances slowly down the hill, watching with growing hunger to see the outcome of the King's fearsome charge.

Bilebroke takes up behind the wall to watch the fight. He is tempted to abandon the ruins and commit his men to battle, but Crutchkerl, noticing movement in the dank spinneys to the southwest, wisely counsels caution. Falsneer the Perjurer prepares to blast any who approach with cursed fire.

Aelfnir and the Lord of the Lichens leap upon the Shivering King, but he throws them back and knocks the Chewer of knees into the mud.

Seeing the abundance of vulnerable flesh, the Keeper of Livers charges down the hill and batters Aelfnir back. The Shivering King prepares to finish the Chewer of Knees as the hated demon struggles in the mud. He weeps in anticipation.

Bilebroke's advanced gaurd struggles to defend itself against the powerful Dwimmer-beasts. If they do not manage to turn the spearhead attack of the Keeper and the Shivering King, then they are likely to perish and cede the valley. In desperation, Crutchkerl attempts to bolster them with puckish majicks, but only succeeds in making Aelfnir violently ill.

(Games of SoBH are often determined in such crucial moments. Attempting to buff Aelfnir so that he could take down the Keeper of Livers, Crutchkerl rolled snake-eyes to activate, causing a turnover and giving the rest of the Warder's troops time to engage and overwhelm the vangaurd.)

Yea, it was the Warder who turned the fickle tide of enchantment and paralyzed Aelfnir with flux. He has, after all, to honor his contract with the Keeper of Livers; the demon sinks his axe into the unfortunate madman, and then with his talons seeks out that loveliest of organs...

Gorish and Clodgy advance up the hill under cover of Indoomiel's bow. Meanwhile, the terror of churning mud continues. The only chance Bilebroke's men have of arresting the slavering advance is to kill the Warder of Wyrd himself. In vain, the Chewer of Knees tries to force through the Warder's guard. They stand fast, but Squamous Filch falls and is nearly suffocated by the Chewer's demoniac breath. Seeing his frightful advance, the Warder tries to bind him with majick and Bale Grimly holds aloft the Comely Visage, attempting to subdue the Chewer's will, but to no avail.

At last Bilebroke deigns to enter the field. He vaults the wall and  with dread aura assails the Warder of the Wyrd.

The Warder scorns the Hunchy-Lord and stands to meet him, drawing his wicked curved blade. However, the Laird's wrath is not to be stayed, and the Warder receives a maul to the face as payment for his impudence.

There is a crack as of a tree struck by lightening, and a smell as of bog-rose and camphor and the Warder is gone. Without his will to direct them, the Dwimmer-beasts begin to scatter. The Chewer of Knees tears the legs from Squamous Filch as he tries to crawl away; the Lord of the Lichens catches Bale Grimly upon his heels and decapitates him in a shower of blood (or so it seems - in the aftermath of the battle, his body is nowhere to be found, and neither is the Comely Visage). Dismayed, the Shivering King and the Keeper of Livers withdraw into the forest of pillars.

The hunchymen on the other flank finally make good their assault. Gorish splinters with his gavel the bony face of the Creeping Scyther. Clodgy Fern roars as he tries to carry the wall, but he is unprepared for the determination of Skjorn Boarkind, who knocks the over-eager hunchyman off balance.

Meanwhile, the Shivering King, goaded by the Chewer's jeering howls, turns his steed and once again charges his hated foe, but the demon nimbly avoids the dread knight's sword and strikes him a blow that would have unseamed him, were it not for his jeweled cuirass.

The remainder of the vanguard once more rally around the Chewer of Knees. Bilebroke's ire is now palpable and his remaining adversaries fly before his terrible aspect. The Lord of the Lichens cuts the Keeper of Livers down in the mud as he tries to escape.Hearing the cries of their earstwhile compatriots, the hunchymen on the southern flank are un(hunchy)manned and turn to flee as well.

(Laird Bilebroke has the Terrror special rule, which proved to be highly effective in this situation. As he charged the Shivering King for the first time, the SK had to pass a morale roll. When he failed, the Terror rule stipulates that Bilebroke could then shift his charge to the Keeper of Livers and force another morale roll. The KoL also failed and was cut down, bringing his warband under 50% and forcing another general morale roll, which pretty much meant the end of the fight. It's a good example of how the morale mechanics and certain special rules can combine to overcome high combat-score adversaries.)

Seeing the hunchymen butchered atop the hill, Indoomiel turns to run, occasionally loosing an arrow to try and discourage pursuit.  Unfortunately, the Lord of the Lichens, heedless of the barbs, rides down Drendolfin Indoomiel and carries his head on his sword.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Keeper of Livers

Redly together they quiver,
preserved in a fumigant river,
released from your bowels to slither
and dance for the sorrow of men.

Through gullies with rocks all a-shiver,
past gardens he keeps just to wither,
where his hermitous adepts do dither
while singing their unquiet hymns.

Rejoice, child, for now he comes hither,
your succulent body to sliver.
They name him the KEEPER OF LIVERS
who sing of his slavering ways.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flayer of Shins

                                             What is that pennant that waves side to side?
                                             Above yonder ravening, villanous tide?
                                             The icon depicting a Toad-o'-the-pit
                                             on a stitched fabric of cured, leggish hide.

                                             Growing, the scabrous image of dread,
                                             Before which the armies of sane men have fled,
                                             Before which the ravening legions have bled,
                                             Yea, growing, the mammet draws nigh.

                                             'Coming,' the ashen-faced messengers told,
                                             'Burning with fire and pissing on gold,
                                             The Flayer of Shins is consuming the 'wold,
                                             and bearing his foul banner high.'