Sunday, September 27, 2015

Treasure Tokens - Scrolls

This will be a quick tutorial to start off my series on making treasure tokens. 

We are making scrolls today! 
This morning, you might have made coffee the “old-fashioned way”: with a filter.  I recommend unbleached basket filters for crafts.  You can use them straight out of the package, but soaking them in tea or coffee (or just using them to brew) softens any manufactured edges and ages them perfectly.  Set out coffee and filter in the sun outside to dry.

SIDETRACK:  You can wash the coffee grounds and dry them in the oven or outside to use as dirt for basing and terrain work.  Dried, used coffee grounds are great for terrain and bases!

Sorry for getting side-tracked – back to the filter.  Once the filter is dried (likely that night unless it is Summer) you cut pieces from it.  I made my strips 7/16th of an inch wide, or just under an inch (approx. 2.3 cm).  I made the length 2.5 inches long for each scroll (6.5 cm).  You can cut them longer to make them more bulky, but I wanted these smaller. 
As you can see from the first photo, even after you scrape off the coffee, there is residue.  That side of the filter will be the outside of your scroll, but you still may or may not want the residue on there.  Take a stiff brush or an old toothbrush and sweep your filter with medium pressure until you have the right amount of residue for your project.  My scrolls might have been on the ground, so they would have collected some dirt.  I brush it twice to clear off any large pieces, but the rest of residue clings to the paper.

Take a toothpick and press it to on the inside edge of the cut paper.  Then, roll the paper up on the toothpick like a spool (see image below).  Pinch lightly so it does not unravel and slide the tooth pick out.  Take a small dab of white glue and apply it to the inside of the edge and then light press so it sticks together.  You can unroll a part of the scroll and glue it farther down the length to give it the look of the scroll unraveling, exposing its arcane symbols and esoteric text.  That can be applied with a fine point pen – I do not recommend ballpoint.  I really like Uniball pens. The gel ink offers sharp edges and the thinner tip means less to smear for those left-handers like myself.

 After the glue dries, you have your scrolls, ready to be added to Scheme/Scenario Markers, on bases, or somewhere on your miniatures.  You can wrap some twine around a single scroll to give it the look it is being stored or transported; you can tie together a  whole bundle of them an put them on a cart, in a crate, or on a bookshelf.  You can also get some thin satin ribbon to make the scroll/bundle look more precious, regal, or official.   The ones I made are going to be the scrolls belonging to a learned hermit and were left behind in the hermit's haste to flee , so they are not bundled, one has partially unrolled where it lies.
There are more tutorials to come in this series on treasure.  We will making chests, sacks, books, potions, and anything else catches our eye.  Any suggestions?
I hope this sparked some imagination and I wish you a great day as you enjoy your journey!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Ancient Well Takes Shape

Now, we want to start adding filler to shape the well and create a mood that fits its potential environments.  I want it fairly weathered and asymmetrical; I am thinking abandoned towns, ancient cities, and dank dungeons.   So, I am only going to add enough spackle to fill in the gaps and make it appear the mortar has either eroded away or only a small amount was used in the original project.  This is what we are starting with:


You can see quite a bit of gaps allowing light to shine through - that's ok; I think of these gaps as room for the model to develop personality.  Let's get those gaps filled and see what becomes of our mysterious well.
Normally, I always add a bit of water and a bit of paint to prepare the spackle for application.  When the spackle is wet, it is easier to work.  Adding a little bit of water, the spackle still holds it shape and has some spring to it; good for vertical fills and connecting two points.  Adding more water creates a slurry, good for when you want gravity to work for you and have the spackle settle into low areas.  I advise starting with a bit of water, as I almost always do, because you will be wetting your tools and fingers as you go, so the spackle will get wetter as you need it o without turning to soup.

I also recommend acrylic paint being mixed into the spackle.  The paint will make the spackle crack less when it dries, gives it some springiness once dry (resists chipping….a bit), as well as helps in the later painting stages if your spackle is supposed to be some other color than bright white.

I wanted to use up some spackle I was using for my desert terrain before it dries, so this spackle in the photos will be reddish in color because I had used a burnt sienna acrylic paint to tint it.  I would recommend using two drops of black and four drops of brown paint because it makes a nice “dirty” base.  The reddish color needed a lot more work than I had thought.  It was not as bad as  if i left it bright white, but it still required an extra few steps of inking after the spackle dried before the painting began.   I carved a popsicle stick and toothpick so I could get the spackle into every single gap, no matter how small or inaccessible.

Next step is adding the spackle.  I start with the inside gaps.  Any place light shines through (hold the well up to a lamp or shine a flashlight onto it) gets spackle pushed in.  I use my hands, but you can use a popsicle stick, too.  Either way, remember to dip your finger/tool in water periodically so the spackle releases easily.  You want the spackle to fill all the holes.  Below is a snapshot of the inside filled.  You do not need to worry too much if it cover your stones.  The next step is when you determine how much of the stone ends up exposed.  The amount of coverage depends upon the look you want to achieve. 


Now, get a sponge or some foam.  I use the foam that I pulled out of my miniatures carriers.  You can also use the foam that is packed in most miniatures when they ship.  Grab a cup of water.   Wear some clothes you don’t mind getting splashed (just in case) and put down some plastic or paper.  With the wet sponge, wipe across the spackle-covered stones with medium pressure.  This will smooth the spackle, push it into the lower crevices, and remove it from the upper part of the stone, leaving it exposed.  Again, you will wash as much or as little to get your desired look.  Keep the sponge wet and continuously clean it out with fresh water so you are not just smearing spackle everywhere.   I used medium pressure and I did the entire inside well once, let it dry, went back to that night and wiped it again to get my final look that I liked. 

 I wanted a look where the mortar has worn away and the only remaining mortar holds the stones, for only a few more years.  If I didn't remove enough spackle, I would wash it again for a third time.  If I remove too much, I have to add some spackle and then wash again.  I like the inside so I repeat the same steps for the outside.  This is what it looks like after the outside is done:


I then let the well dry for the night.  In the morning, I will begin the staining of the spackle and then the painting of my well.  Until then, make your miniature world in your image!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ancient Well

This will be my first Malifaux/Frostgrave crossover terrain piece.

 Supplies Suggested:

Small lid -- the lids from mini cups are perfect. Diamond sells a bagof 50 cups with lids are the greatest for various projects.  If you can’t find a bag of mini cups, the local take-out or salad bar has them.  Order a salad with dressing on the side and you will have what you need after a healthy lunch! (Make sure you wash the cup and lid well if repurposing)

Wax paper  -- Protects your work surface and allows your glue to dry evenly.  I like the results much better than newspaper, but reusing the flyers they endless stuff in your mailbox are an ok substitute.

Small stones – I bought a bag of gravel from the local hardware store.  The gravel is various sizes, but for this project I pick out stones that are big enough to fit 3-4 onto a penny.  This creates a scale where it seems feasible the stones were hand carried to site and manually assembled.  This well is going to look ancient, but can also be used in settings where it looks like the denizens did the best they could with the material at hand.

Wood Glue – Flexible and strong.  A little more expensive than White glue, but a bit cheaper than Hot glue and I prefer than either when it comes to gravel.

Paint --  I am picturing this being used for Frostgrave mostly, so I imagine grey stone.  Inexpensive, Craft acrylic paints in Black, White and Grey. 

Spackle – This is the mortar.  Get a tub of spackling paste from your hardware store, you will use a lot of it in your coming terrain projects (great for hills, cliffs, cabins, water features and basing, too!)


1.   Find a lid that is slightly smaller than you want your finished product.  Cut a piece of wax paper that will be slightly larger than your finished product.  Place the lid centered on the wax paper, with the inside facing up.  The lid is not only going to serve as the guide for your well’s circumference, but it also  holds your “water”.

2.       Squeeze your glue (I recommend wood glue over the other options) onto the wax paper around the outer edge of the lid.  This glue will not only connect the stones, but it will also bond the stones to the lids.


3.       Start placing your stones around the base, flush against the outside of the lid and to one another.  Do not worry about spacing them, there will be enough gaps and space due to irregular shape and roundness of the gravel.  I create an irregular base, randomly alternating between large  and medium –sized gravel pieces.  You can create a more uniformed look by just using medium -, or even two small, –sized gravel pieces deep, but I like the irregular profile and it allows the second and third level of stones to settle in interesting ways.


4.       Once you get the initial base surrounded with gravel so it looks how you want it, let the glue set. 

5.     Now comes the fun part….. Well, fun in a fiddly  I-hate-gravity way.  The second level is you finding the stones that naturally settle into the gaps created by the base layer of stones.  It doesn’t have to be perfect because you are adding the “mortar” later to fill gaps and smooth the outer and inner profile.  The second and third level are your chance to create your well’s personality.  Will the stones be of uniform size, shape, and spacing, or are some going jut out, tilt, or even be missing in places?  It all depends on the story you want the well to tell.  I went for the middle ground.  Most of my stones are the same size, but some stick out more than others and some are rounded and others have sharp points.  I want the look that the builders had to use available material which might not have been ideal, but it was still useful and had a lasting result.  I also wanted to give the impression that the stonework was starting to shift from over the centuries so I allowed my pieces to sometimes move how gravity wanted them to settle.  I suggest letting each level settle and for the glue to set before going to the next level.  This is the project that will take a few days, but each day is only 30 minutes or so of gluing.

This is what my well looks like after the final level.  I went with 3 levels.  For 28-32 mm scale, I think anything higher seems impractical from the fluff of citizens getting water and also from a terrain perspective of giving cover, but not blocking LOS.


Next entry will discuss the addition of mortar and paint.

Let me know if I skipped anything, you have any questions, or was unclear about a step.

Have fun building your miniature world!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

4-Player Story Encounter markers

There are story Encounters that use the four suits in their set-up and the players Scenario.
Below is an image of such a game's set-up where we had to deploy four 30mm markers representing the four suits onto the table  and the players later pulled aces or jokers to see which one of the markers was their target.  If you pulled an ace, your goal was to Interact with that particular marker and then hold onto it for the rest of the game for 3 VP.  You could get another VP for grabbing one of the other Markers.  Joker meant you could grab any marker, but each one was only worth 2 VP.   Max for Scenario was 4 VP, so Schemes were still important and even more important for the player with the Joker.


Deployment from Bird's-eye view.


The silver rounds on top of the 30 mm markers have 1 of the 4 suits written on them.
 Each marker was placed on the table by a player prior to drawing their Scenario win-condition.  Most placed the Markers mid-table.  The silver rounds are Fantasy Flight plastic tokens I bought on sale and they are pretty great for writing on with a dry-erase marker, but they do stand out and I am always looking to replace them with more thematic tokens when I can.

I found some cake toppers that I am in the process of staining and dinging-up to replace a the silver tokens for these Scenarios.

I am liking how they are turning out thus far:


It has been so long since the game, I do not have a Battle report, but here are the participants seen in the set-up.

Top Left:  Ten Thunders' Kang and 3 Rail Workers
Top Right:  Arcanists' Snowstorm, 2 Ice Gamin, and December Acolyte
Bottom Left:  Guild's Sadhir and 3 Westrels
Bottom Right:  Resser Valedictorian, 2 Rotten Belles, and Effigy

Guild left the game on the 3rd turn and the game ended with Arcanists and Ressers tied.
Ten Thunders could have actually won the game, but the player dedicated the crew to attacking other than following their Schemes and Scenario (I believe they pulled the Joker which meant they could get 2 VP for grabbing any of the markers).  Combat is a means to an end in this game rather than the sole purpose of the crew which I love about Malifaux.  

Resser Proxies

The Resurrectionist faction lacks powerful range attacks, most of their models are easy to hit, and they are slow - so why play this faction?   Where Ressers really shine is attrition: keeping bodies on the table that can keep hitting and making those all-important Interacts.  One way they do this is by replenishing their numbers with summoning.  Without upgrades, Seamus and McMourning really suffer in this area and when Poison or Terrifying are countered, they are even more at a disadvantage.  Two Upgrades available to Ressers can lessen this disadvantage: Maniacal Laugh and Spare Parts. The top of my list of Upgrades for Seamus is Spare Parts;  I have the original sculpt of the Rogue Necromancy but it was to pricey to spend 2 SS for one situational summon a game, if I was lucky.  Not sure if I will ever take Maniacal Laugh, but I thought I might as well have it available if I wanted to try out my Corpse Bloat/Maniacal Laugh combo sometime.

Due to the lack of Guild Autopsies from Wyrd and my delay in purchasing Mindless Zombies (because their box costs almost as much as a Master Crew box), I have not been able to get the full potential out of Seamus who is being pummeled by an endless supply of opponents immune to Horror duels.  I take the Effigy, but 4 SS is an expensive Arcanist tax and the model is usually the first to die so I only get minimal return on my investment.  Summoning will give Seamus the needed bodies to keep the enemy at a distance so that he can fire is gun and jump around around the board completing Schemes and Scenarios.

I raided my box of zombies that came with Season 1 of Zombicide and used some tacky to temporarily adhere them to some 30 mm bases.  From there, I wanted to paint the horde that would become Mindless Zombies while adding a gun and sword to the zombies that would become Guild Autopsies before painting them, too.  Here is my progress so far.

 Guild Autopsies:  I know the original sculpts from Wyrd were emaciated, deteriorating, and shambling, but I went with a more well-fed zombie.  I am thinking these particular guards died from an unhealthy mix of sitting at a desk and eating lots of fried foods.  The Tweedle Twins never passed their physical, but their dad was a high-ranking official so they both got cushy clerical jobs. 

Base painting for two models.
Next step is to add gun and sword..
Left Side:  Sword in scabbard turned
out OK,  Gun looks a little better
from this angle.
Right Side: Sword and gun added.
Barrel bend is more obvious
from this angle, but the look of
the grip seems decent. 

Mindless Zombies:  Dipping into my Zombicide Season 1 box again, I pulled some smaller models to be this horde of meat shields.  I don't see using more than 3-4 at a time, but I painted an extra just-in-case

Tacky used to stick models to 30 mm bases and then added a base coat.

     Added a wash.  Will probably add another wash.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Budget Carrier

Transporting your miniatures can get as expensive as buying and painting your miniatures. 
When you are first starting into miniatures or just starting a new game, you will be more interested in your money going towards building your army.  Here is an idea for an inexpensive, possibly free, way to transport your minis in relative safety.

There is a caveat:  your models are not secured in-place so they will rattle around a little while transporting and they will definitely bounce around if you do sharp turns or tilt the carrier.  You get what you pay for, but it is more than adequate with gentle care.  My painting is not to the level I want, so I am not too concerned about wear from bumps and scrapes from transporting; also, all of my minis are works-in-progress. 

Start with a sturdy cardboard box; it will possibly be what your minis were shipped in or if you bought your minis from your Local Game Store, ask your LGS if they have any lying around.  Next, get some empty egg crates -  make sure there is no yolk or any other stuff that can get on your models.  Cut the tops off of egg crates.  I gave my a good shake and dusting to get out any little bits that could chip or rub my minis.  You can add a little glue to the bottom of the crates to secure them to the box once you found a good configuration.I buy 18-packs of eggs so I was able to fit two crates in the box and it left just enough room for the container I have of tokens.  Notice in the picture that the crate accommodates all base sizes.  If you have the bubble pack that the box was shipped with, it can go over the top of your minis to make transport a little more secure.

In time, you will branch out to expensive carriers and foam or magnetic bases, but for the beginning it is more immersive to spend $20 -$50 on more minis rather than transportation for 6-10 models.

Happy gaming!

Miniatures Monday - July 27th

Miniatures Monday at Battleground Games in North Charlotte!

This was the second game for Andrew.  He just was initiated into the world of Malifaux and selected Mei Feng and her Crew Box for Arcanists as his intro. The miniatures look great and she is just amazing on the table.  I think she is the toughest Master I have had to deal with so far!  I will add my spin on the battle report in another post, but for now I wanted to share the table we played on, our deployments and a snapshot of the 6th turn when the final blow was dealt. 

Andrew and his crew of Arcanists did prevail against Seamus' band of Resurrectionists.  It was all about completing his Scenario and Scheme. Mei was a melee powerhouse the entire game so the Arcanists had 3 VP from Reckoning, while Seamus only was able to get 2 VP.  I was able to Assassinate Mei while keeping Seamus at 12 Wounds, but I failed to keep four scheme markers down on the center line for Line in the Sand - that Emberling was dropping Scheme Markers like it was getting overtime at the USPS. We shared Strategy and Schemes and had them declared since this was his second game and it is best to slowly acclimate to the rules and add the complexity in layers.  All in all, it was a great game!

Well played, Andrew, and welcome to the game!

Seamus and the beginnings of my Fox Hunt crew!

Mei and her Rail Crew!

Lots of corpses in the end.  I think Kang and the Emberling were all that remained of the Rail Crew.  Seamus and the Carrion Effigy were all that remained on my side.  I was able to summon only 3 Dead Doxies due to bad Fate hands.