Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Return of the Great Adventure

Another year is coming to an end and I thought I'd combine talking about my future plans with a retrospective and explanation of why it has been so silent around here. Prepare to leave the world of tabletop gaming in the process and enter new realms of geek gaming! Yieks.

I moved to Berlin in February/March this year so that was a huge change, leaving my established wargamers behind. However, I had a great time on a few occasions here and I hope to find the time for more gaming in the local "scene".

I finally placed a huge order and bought all buildings from Tabletop World's current range. At that time! A few months later TW announced that all of them would be discontinued and so now they are OOP. I was somewhat sad and disappointed to hear about this, but they are slowly rebuilding the range with completely re-modelled versions of the old houses. Earlier this month they released a stunning new version of the Merchant's House and it is truly a beauty (even though the roofs are not exactly my thing). Especially the interior on that model, just as with the new monstrous watch tower, are superb and I can't wait to see what they come up with next. So far, I have painted two of the buildings: the Merchant's House and Medieval Inn.

Actually I did a lot of modelling and assembling on various pieces, few of them were finished (like the gallows) and are still lying here as work-in-progress. I have started writing about them but finished posts with photos will come only later next year.

Another big thing for me was the release of the 2nd edition of the Border Town Burning supplement for Mordheim. This project had me occupied for so many years, it feels really good to finally let it go. I hope to see even more people put the rules to use or let themselves be inspired by them. Along with the announcement of the very final completion of BTB we also opened the doors to the follow-up project "Mutiny in Marienburg". You can read about that on the Liber Malefic blog. There will be lots of Mordheim goodness coming from there, so watch out for that blog if you care for Mordheim.

This brings me to the future...

I already dedicated quite a bit of time this year into creating my own pirates rules set and I definately want to continue with that next year. Aside from working on those rules I want to finish painting the last two Tabletop World buildings I have: The Forge and the huge Ruined Coaching Inn. These two pieces will require a lot of time, attention and dedication.

Speaking of dedication: The greatest and most infuential thing for me this year (remember, I am speaking hobby exclusively! ;) was the discovery of the Adventure Game Studio. This incredible piece of software lets you create adventure games, the type of classic click-and-point adventures I enjoyed in the 90's, mostly the famous LucasArts titles "Monkey Island", "Indiana Jones" 3 and 4, "Loom" and more. But this is not the moment to talk about adventure gaming, I might do so if anyone is interested in the topic?
Still, I am currently totally enjoying creating my very own adventure world and game. It's just so much fun. I have done quite a bit of work on the game already so I end this post with a bit of preview material.
I can't believe you have actually read all of this rather lengthy post so if you really did: Thank you, and let me know what you think! If you just skipped the boring words looking for eye candy: Here comes the pixel art, totally out of nowhere. Your fault. Enjoy.
Have a great holiday season and a happy new year!
See you in 2011.

An early preview video showing the stairway of a rundown London house

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Captain Alatriste has arrived!

A few years ago a Spanish project revolving around Captain Alatriste caught a lot of attention on the Lead Adventure Forum. Based on the novels by Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte the group produced some great looking 28mm miniatures, most noticeable Alatriste himself:

After some time the project was rumoured to be dead and it seemed as if the figures would never be available. Now there are news about a re-design of the project and a deal with Zenit Miniatures. However, the best news is that some of the original miniatures are currently available on ebay - for the incredible price of 3,99 EUR (current ebay link).

Of course I didn't hesitate and immediately bought a set, which arrived only three days later!

So here comes the best part: Photos! (click to enlarge)

Here's a size comparison with a swashbuckler from Black Cat Bases and a Black Scorpion pirate (30mm):

Conclusion: Very nice miniatures for a great price (although 6 EUR shipping does hurt a bit, but they arrived quickly and savely and the overall price is still good). Now I hope that the other original miniatures, for which we have seen the lovely greens already, will turn up as well.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Border Town Burning Mordheim Supplement

The 2nd edition of the Border Town Burning supplement for Mordheim is now available from the BTB website. The new edition has been corrected and updated based on the player feedback during the last 1,5 years. This is, and will be, the most up-to-date version of the book; another revision is very unlikely to happen.

Aside from the new edition, there is another big announcement: The BTB team and a few additional conspirators have moved to blogger: Check out the Liber Malefic Blog for news and updates of the follow-up project to the Border Town Burning supplement. You will find me there posting the occasional Mordheim warband or building for the all-new setting, so I hope to see you there too!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Foundry Compendium

As my current wargaming endeavours are all pirate themed I am looking for as many resources I can find. I already mentioned Foundry's Scourge of the Seas book some months ago. But I am not only interested in background material but also in existing game rules. It all started with Legends of the High Seas and one book that caught my attention and that I really wanted to check out ever since its release was the Foundry Compendium. The subtitle reads: "Pirates to Darkest Africa - Rules, Campaigns, Painting Guides and Terrain-making". As promising as that sounds, it sure is a lot of stuff for a 96 page book. The articles are taken from previous publications but as I never had a subscribtion to any of the Wargaming Magazines (such as Battlegames or Wargames Illustrated) I could be sure that all the contents would be new to me. Now somewhat recently Foundry had their books on offer so I took the chance and bought the book at a nice discount price. Although I always enjoy having a gander at other periods, genres and games, my prime interest was the cutthroats parts so let's see what aspiring captains can find in this book.

These are the piratical articles from the Foundry Compendium:
Pirates in West Africa (5 pages) - A simple but full set of rules for playing a pirate game.
Any Port in a Storm (7 pages) - A Guide to creating a waterfront wargaming board.
It's Cutlasses Now, Men! (6 pages) - A Guide to scratch-building 28mm pirate ships
Pirate Personalities (2 pages) - Some tips on converting piratey miniatures.

The pirate "game" is of no use really, at least not to me as I don't enjoy this kind of superficial game rules. I understand this rules set was created for quick participation game purposes, but then why put it in a wargames book? I would rather play the free Island Mayhem pirate rules.

The next articles are by Foundry terrain guru Gary Chalk. I really enjoyed the waterfront tutorial - lots of eye candy and useful information. I like to see articles that encourage gamers to create their own terrain and scenery. Of course, I am already doing so myself coming from a skirmish game background, but I have rarely seen it done in my gaming groups and I think it's good to keep encouraging gamers.

The tutorial for scratch-building 28mm pirate ships can probably considered a classic. On various forums I have seen gamers using his plans to create their own ships. This is probably due to the fact that Foundry used to host a PDF file of the article (in its original publication form) on their website, then took it down for the release of the Compendium. I already mentioned the plans in my list of Pirate Ship Manufacturers along with links to example works. Although it is great to have the article in printed form, a PDF version of the plans would be much better when actually applying the knowledge to use. I am sure you can still find the PDFs somewhere floating around the web.

The last article deals with converting piratey themed miniatures (as if Foundry's Pirates and Swashbucklers miniatures range wasn't huge enough already). But it's not too bad as it does give some inspiration for unusual poses and it is always nice to have one's own personalised figures.

So, the conclusion? If you are only in for the pirate stuff you probably want to give this one a miss. The pirate material in this book is not really worth the money. However, if your interest is more widespread so that you enjoy the rest of the covered themes and periods, then you might want to give the book a chance. Personally, I enjoyed some of the other articles, especially as I had never concerned myself with those periods before (Romans, Aztecs) so I learned quite a bit. At the very least it is definately nice for the eye candy. If you can get it a reduced price, I would recommend it IF you are open-minded with regards to periods and themes.


Update: By request here is a breakdown of the rest of the book:

Today will Decide! (11 pages) - Skirmish gaming with Romans by Chris Peers
The Land of El Dorado (22 pages) - by Chris Peers
The Colours of War (4 pages) - Painting Guide for Aztec miniatures
Burned with Fire and Killed With Steel (8 pages) - "Quickfire rules for Roman gladiatoral combat" by Chris Peers
In Darkest Africa (5 pages) - Full rules for Dark Africa games by Chris -well-guess-who
Painting Darkest Africa (4 pages) - Painting Guide by Mark Copplestone
In Darkest Africa (6 pages) - continued
The World of the Greeks (8 pages) - A History lesson on Greek warfare by Adrian Garbett
Painting Spartan and Athenian Armies (2 pages) - by Steve Saleh

In "Today Will Decide" Peers presents rules for playing skirmish games with Roman Centurions vs small warbands of Gauls. It's one of those "fast-paced" games I am not too interested in personally, however, I did enjoy the somewhat lenthy discussion on why skirmish gaming - playing Heroic actions of individuals - does make sense with Romans despite the widely spread idea of the Roman discipline.

The "El Dorado" article is massive and actually presents what I consider a full rules set: Army lists, point values, campaign rules - all the good stuff I expect from a full rules set. Of course, if you enjoy the "fast paced" games, then you will consider those full games too and you might even prefer those simpler sets. I just don't. I expect a minimum of depth from any rules set. Together with the cool painting guide by Ian Heath this is a very good starting point for people looking to get into wargaming in central america.

I haven't read through the Gladiator article in full but it look promising to me. It contains presents rules for proper Gladiator fighting with rules for parrying, dodging as well as "dirty tricks" such as 'stomach throw' or 'sand in the face'. And you check for "appealing to the crowd (or not...)". I have tried gladiator rules in my old group before and I am very interested in alternative gladiatoral rules sets so I hope to try these out in the not too distant future.

The Darkest Africa rules are again more in-depth feature army lists and campaing rules (including a nifty map). Not really my cup of tea but definately a good starting point, or possibly additional material, for gamers interested in the setting.

The last two articles deal with the Greeks. The first is a history lesson on Greek warfare followed by a 2-page article on painting suitable miniatures. The space for these two articles should have been used to add more substance to the pirates part (for my liking) or the Roman part (for overall balance of themes). The way it is now, it appears somewhat random and only broadens the range of topics at the price of depth of the other themes.

I would have liked to see more weight on fewer topics than touching this many and only providing only few articles. Of course, the book is meant to appeal to many gamers, but this way does it appeal to people who are, say, interested in wargaming with Greeks? Does it appeal to people who are interested in Romans? I don't think so. If you are interested in those setting you probably have the material already and the stuff provided in the book is not sufficient to do as a starting point. In my mind it is for the Aztecs however and probably also for Darkest Africa. So the problem is that you don't know what to expect when buying the book - is it supplemental material for players who know their stuff or is it a good starting point for players who want to get into a new period? Unfortunately the answer varies from theme to theme, increasing the chance of disappointing the reader.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Threabare from Stone Sour's new album Audio Secrecy is currently totally blowing my mind. The record is growing on me quickly and I recommend it highly. Just don't expect anything Slipknot from it (except if you think Snuff)...

Alright, back on topic: Sorry for the recent lack of posts. Real life blah blah - I know, poor excuse. Actually even hobby-wise I have been very much into something else for the last few months, which is not tabletop related. I might briefly post about it here at some point, too. I still have to - and want to - finish the last two of my Tabletop World buildings, which are now out of production (who would have known).

I'll be back.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Palm Trees & Jungle Sections

No tropical jungle withouth palm trees. For 28mm wargaming there are plenty of options for usable palm trees of a variety of prices and quality. To enhance my jungle board I was looking for good trees and found many options. For a long time I was going to buy the A type palm trees from Pegasus Hobbies, especially because of Anthony Karl Erdelji's excellent article at the Painting Clinic. Still, these trees are not very cheap and I would need quite a number of them.

Recently, after reading Matakishi's Jungle article I bought ten palm trees at the Baker Company. £1,50 each is a very good price but the shipping costs to Germany of £6,85 (for ten palms) are ridiculous and don't get even close to the actual costs. However, they included one free extra palm tree, which mildly made me feel better. I'm not a fan of complaining about shipping costs (such as on ebay auctions) as you know them in advance and it still is up to you to make a purchase at the given conditions or not. But I was annoyed to see the cheap post label on the package.

The palm trees consist of a rather unusual wire plus fabric construction, which does look great eventually:

So what to do with them? For some time I have been itching to try out CD based terrain pieces and this is the perfect opportunity. I also have a few 40mm flat round bases from GW which are useful as one-offs. I used modelling putty to fill the holes of the CDs and put one palm tree in the middle, others were glued onto the CD. Then I added stones of various sizes and lastly sand.

And ready for base-coating:

Update February 2018: I finally got around to finishing these pieces as you can see in this post.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jungle Board

For Christmas 2008 my girl-friend gave me this marvellous four piece tropical beach set by Battlefield Architect (check out his ebay store for all of his cool items*):

With a length of 48" it is perfect for the skirmish gaming table.

I also ordered this set of five jungle terrain pieces:

Island Natives painted by Andrew Thomson

Although I used this scenery in a few photos for my pirate figures (most notably Redbeard's Sea Dogs, beautifully painted by Tom), I never got around to actually using them in-game, because I lacked a proper jungle board to go with the beach. Inspired by the countless posts of CD-based jungle terrain on the Lead Adventure Forum and Matakishi's Jungle article I chose to purchase some palm trees and finally finish start my jungle board. So after looking into aquarium terrain I will now do some jungle terrain for my jungle board...

to be continued...

*Update 22.09.16: His website and ebay shop is no longer available

Monday, July 26, 2010

Aquarium Terrain

The aquarium terrain of pet shops holds many excellent pieces of scenery for even the 28mm wargamer. The settings that are best "supported" are Egypt (sphinx, abu simbel, temple ruins, ...) and jungle (trees, rocks, temple, mausoleum, bridge, and - of course - plants) as well as ancient pillars and even temples. To top it off these pieces come perfectly painted to boot. Using aquarium plastic plants for jungle terrain is surely nothing new and has been done by wargamers for many many years. However, the use of aquarium decorations for architectural terrain seems to be surprisingly under-used considering how perfectly many of these items suit the standard 28mm scale and how affordable they are (especially when compared to similar resin products made specifically for wargaming). The above pieces are just some examples of the many goodies that are to be found at pet shops. And if you don't have a good pet shop nearby then you can easily find these items on ebay too - chances are that they are even cheaper there.

Inspired by the photos on the Lead Adventure Forum and especially by Alex Bews' pirate gallery I was really curious to find out how well they would work. I had wanted to do a jungle board for piratey games for quite awhile now and I already have a few cool pieces that want to get played on more often, but I lack a proper gaming table to use them for. So as a nice change from painting the (marvellous!) Tabletop World buildings, and because I am playing pirates now more often, I decided to try some of these items and placed an order.

I ordered three pieces from a very cheap ebay seller, but unfortunately he only one and couldn't ship the other two (which really annoyed the heck out of me). This temple cost EUR 10,40 and it is just great:

I have to say, I am very happy with this piece and I can very well recommend this stuff to anyone playing in a jungle setting, be it Lustrian Lizardmen, pirate treasure hunters, Indian expeditions or what-the-heck-ever. Actually I think with the availability of terrain pieces such as this jungle boards are the most cost-effective gaming boards you can create. By this I mean spending just a little while still achieving great results (as opposed to being super stingy and achieving "okay" results at best). Maybe a desert table with a few Egyptian statues, ruins and temples is even cheaper and easier because you probably need less terrain overall. On the other hand, aquarium plants are super cheap so that shouldn't be much a problem. Anyways, definately check out your nearby pet shops and let the available stuff inspire you.

Next time I'll post some pictures of my jungle board in progress - or photos of the Blacksmith's Forge from Tabletop World. We'll see where the muse leads me...

Til then

Sunday, July 18, 2010

German Board Games

Miniature Wargaming pointed me to this article at Financial Times, "Why we still love board games", talking about the ongoing success of board games and particularly looking at the German industry. Very interesting.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reading Tip: The Authentic Tudor & Stuart Dolls' House

I recently found this book on amazon: The Authentic Tudor & Stuart Dolls' House by Brian Long. It is an awesome resource for miniaturists wishing to create authentic historical doll houses of the Tudor & Stuart era, focussing on 1603-1625. The book is aimed at 1/12 scale doll houses but it is an equally great resource to scratch-builders of tabletop scenery. Covering all relevant aspects such as timber frames, roofing and interior, and giving illustrations and colour photos this book provides all the info you need to build an authentic half-timbered house.

Once I finish my batch of Tabletop World houses and have some free time I look forward to scratch-building a house with this book as a guideline.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dolls House supplies

I recently discovered Mollys House Miniatures, a supplier for dolls house accessories. (By the way, I found the link following this awesome zeppelin project on LAF - check it out!) Some items from Mollys range of 1/48th scale stuff is perfect for 28mm wargamers. For example, have a look at these dead cheap furniture (£1.90 for a pack). Not all of the items suit the 28mm scale - some look a bit small - but many of them are just perfect, such as the chairs and table. Comparison shots with Village Idiot from Hasslefree Miniatures (28mm to eye level):

You can easily furnish a full house with this stuff for very little money. The detail isn't perfect of course (cheap plastics mass made in China) but with a little repaint it will look really good.

That's not all, though. Mollys also has some excellent metal bits from S&D Models (who list the items under 1/43 products while it is 1/48 at Mollys). I ordered the Green Grocers Set of veg sacks, crates and scales. This will be a great addition to the stalls of my Gierburg market square. They also have some other useful stuff such as buckets and barrels.

And now for the highlight: Etched brass pub signs and weather vanes. This stuff is absolutely stunningly beautiful! I immediately started drooling when I saw these at the shop and I was afraid they might be too big for 28mm. Fortunately Mollys has good info on the sizes and I couldn't believe to find them suitably sized. Now I really really can't wait to start working on my recently purchased second Coaching Inn and make good use of these items.

Check out the 1/48 Garden/Outside category for these items with better photos and exact information on measurements. I can tell you they fit perfectly.

So far Mollys Miniatures and especially the etched brass signs qualify for my personal "Miniature Find of the Year" award. Awesome accessories for very little money (heck, one sign/vane costs £0.60 to £0.70!) - a must for every terrain builder.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blacksmith's Forge for Sale!

My Blacksmith's Forge from Forge World is now up for sale. It's not that I don't like it, but I have been thinking about how to arrange my Gierburg gaming table and it just doesn't fit in there. I would be very happy if the piece found a new owner who will treat it good. :)

Note that I am not intending to get the mere retail price considering the effort that went into preparing and painting the building. If you are interested or have questions please use the contact form to get in touch.

Update: The build has been sold.

Figure is for scale reference only

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gallows finished

The gallows (see WIP here) are now finished. Enjoy!
(Click photos to enlarge)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Scratch-built Gallows

As a break from painting the (fabulous) Tabletop World houses I chose to scratch-build something quick that I had been wanting to do for a long time: gallows. Every table needs gallows. You can use them in wild west games, pirate games, x civil war, Mordheim - everywhere. It's one of those standard pieces almost every gamer has tried their hands at so now it was time to do one myself. This will be the centrepiece of my Gierburg market square, where the citizens watch the charlatans being put to justice while doing the weekly shopping spree. I am also using it (already) in my current pirate games.

I searched the internet for inspirational images but didn't find anything particularly to my liking that I could flat out copy. So the design is a mix of various depictions I have seen and what I felt would be a good design for gaming purposes. Now without further ado here is the piece:

The piece is made from all sorts of wooden sticks from my "wood bitz box": coffee stirring sticks (a pack I bought on ebay years ago, which seems to last a lifetime), toothpicks, balsa, un-/used matches, tongue depressors and other stuff. It pays off to collect all sorts of wooden sticks over the years. The hinges of the trapdoors are bits of wire. I glued the various pieces with glue gel, by the way. It dries much quicker than PVA and was just perfect for this construction.

I made this small lever which will be used in the games to activate the trap doors - from then on it's only few turns until it's all over. The attackers will have to prevent the executioner and other enemy models from moving into base contact with the lever and pulling it.

The stairs have a bit of space between the steps so that miniatures on 25mm bases can be placed on the steps (a system I stole from Pardulon's stairs I used on the Governor's Mansion):

It was a lot of work filing all the wooden strips and sticks but I am pretty happy with how the gallows turned out eventually. Now on to base-coating and painting...

Update: See the finished gallows here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A New Old Coaching Inn

During my first visit to the Battlefield Berlin store I already noticed that they had two of DIMA's resin coaching inns in their shelves. You know, this one. Even though I already own one - no, actually because I already own one - I was very tempted. Painting it was the most fun I ever had painting anything and the building marks the beginning of my Gierburg board with all the buildings that followed. So during my last visit, after a great game of Flying Lead, I could not withstand temptation and bought one of the houses.

I don't think I will paint this up anytime soon, though. I have a lot to do with the remaining buildings from my Tabletop World order and I am more interested in those currently. But I will definately paint the inn some day. Maybe it will be the last building I finish for the board - a nice way of coming full circle. This time I will do some modifications to the building. Firstly, I want to remove the Mordheim emblems from the wall. Also, looking at the windows, they are quite thin so I could probably easily remove the "glass" and make them "see-through-able". Creating a proper interior for the house would be really cool and I think I will do something similar like I did with Resina Planet's Governor's Mansion by adding stairs, walls and interior. But that is still some time in the future. For now I just wanted to share my nostalgia. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Facades by Geboom

I don't usually do news posting on my blog but this has really inspired and impressed me:

After a long break Gerard Boom (aka Geboom; check out his website) has resumed his plaster carving work for tabletop scenery. I met him at this year's Tactica convention and it was great watching him do his thing and trying it myself. Now Geboom has posted some of the new facades for his "Amsterdam Canal Project" on his website (go to the projects section).

They're stunning. Geboom uses sketches from the Dutch digital archives for reference (search for "bouwtekening", or "voorgevel"). These first facades look very authentic and detailed. I can't wait for him to release resin castings of them and paint up a few myself.

After an update to the website the "Amsterdam Facade series" project is now available here.
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