From the excellent people running Dark Fantastic Mills I purchased this Doomcap Shrooms Bundle earlier in the year. If you want to run fantasy games, you should, I think, have fantasy scenery. If you want to fight amongst perfectly ordinary trees, run a historical game, those are fun too.
These mushrooms are all 3d printed in FMD; you can see some layering here and there, especially across the broad flat tops of some of the bigger mushrooms, but other than that they’re wonderfully sculpted and beautifully detailed pieces of scenery. And BIG – check out that roughly human sized figure in the Dark Fantastic Mills shop photo above!
With “fantasy scenery should look fantastic” in mind, I cut loose and did up this lovely batch of 3d-printed giant ‘shrooms (and their smaller brethern) in gloriously weird colours. Reds and purples and vivid blues and greens, all the colours I usually use sparingly here and there came out in force.
I started with a dark grey spray primer coat, then did a rough drybrush of pure white. All of the colours after that got cut at least 1:1 if not more with glaze medium, so the original drybrushing mostly showed through and the various colours layered and blended fairly smoothly. I’ve posted this link before, but go watch Dana Howl’s 24 minute intro to glaze medium on YouTube, it really has changed the way I paint and these giant mushrooms would have looked much less interesting without her influence.
Some of the DFM shrooms still need another round of highlighting or glazing to finish them off, and the biggest one, the massive slope-topped multi-trunked one in the last photo, still needs it’s base finished, flocked and detailed.
I’m really pleased with these Dark Fantastic Mills ‘shrooms. The bundle isn’t cheap, but you get huge dramatic pieces of scenery for your money that really stand out on the table! Go check Dark Fantastic Mills out, they’ve really harnessed 3d printing to make scenery that couldn’t easily be made in other materials and their designs really are fantastic.
Painted this guy up fairly quickly over a couple of days, after getting it a few weeks ago from Forge of Ice. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do the statue up in bare stone, painted, or a mix, but it wound up being mostly painted. Basecoat in black, and then lots of drybrushing in various tans up to a bit of pure white, and then I used inks and washes to add the colour while keeping the drybrushed highlighting visible.
The final product looks like an ancient statue painted a very, very long time ago, which seems right for something either in a ruin somewhere or populating an unimaginably old Lost World temple complex!
I also have this fun sabretooth tiger skin rug in progress, and I like the blends I’ve been getting so far on the fur, thanks partially to using glaze medium. Just a few details to finish up on this one.
Forge of Ice is one of those one-person companies that makes all sorts of cool stuff, and after knowing about them for several years I finally got around to making a small order from them a few weeks ago. Most of the fascinating little one person companies are British, but Forge of Ice is in fact based in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Forge of Ice mostly does Lost World style stuff, small dinosaurs, oddball caveman-style accessories and stuff. I’m not doing much Lost World style pulp at the moment, but I have in the past and I’m certain I will in the future. Besides, I could always cross-pollinate my current weird 17th Century stuff with Lost World, couldn’t I? Hmmm…
Anyway, what did I get from the frozen depths of central Alaska? A pair of Snake Priestesses, a batch of five peacocks, a sabertooth tiger rug, and the centrepiece of this little collection, a resin Doom Serpent Idol.
The serpent priestesses are elegantly slim 28mm figures, both slender women with large snakes wrapped around their arms and shoulders. I have no immediate plans for them, but they’re awesomely pulpy and clearly need some sort of group of underpriestesses, guards, and temple lackeys to order about in their sneaky attempts to do whatever it is snake priestesses from a Lost World plot to do.
The peacocks are some of the first figures Forge of Ice released, several years ago, and I’m thinking that as well as being just general fancy set dressing, with a couple of house rules they could be mobile alarm units in a Pulp Alley scenario where players are trying to sneak up on a fancy house and don’t dare disturb the peafowl least the damn things scream the place down and alert guards or something! (if you’ve never heard a peafowl scream, they have a glorious bloodcurdling horror movie shriek. It’s awful.) The smaller female peahens and the male peacock with his tail down are both single piece castings; the peacock in full display mode is two pieces. There will need to be a bit of filing and puttying to get the body of the peacock and his tail to match up nicely, but nothing outrageous.
The saber tooth rug was just too much fun to pass up, I suspect I’ll use it as weird decoration in someone’s study or something!
The Doom Serpent idol is a fairly serious chunk of fine grey resin, about 3″ tall and just over 2″ wide at the shoulders. I’m really looking forward to painting this one up, I’m thinking a sort of blond/tan sandstone look like we see in Egyptian statues, with some coloured painted bits here and there, will look great.
Hopefully one of these days Alex gets around to getting Forge of Ice an actual website, but in the meantime go have a look at his Lead Adventure thread (you don’t need a LAF account to see it) and ping him by email, by the message service at LAF, or via Facebook Messenger to get your cool weird Lost World loot from the distant north!
Ordered a few things from the excellent and varied ranges of Bad Squiddo Games back in March; things took longer to get from the UK to here than I’m used to, almost like some major world event is disrupting trans-Atlantic flights or something. However, everything was dispatched from the UK in good time and I am certainly not going to blame Anne of Bad Squiddo or the various postal services involved for a lack of air mail capacity…
I got a fairly mixed bag of stuff. A few ladies that will probably show up mostly as players or civilians in my English Civil War/Weird ECW games, a fine herd of pigs and some farm scenery, a bunch of cats, and some small scenery to add detail here and there, including a whole lot of mushrooms and toadstools for suitably creepy weird fantasy/horror forest bits.
Everything is really cleanly cast and beautifully sculpted. The scenics are mostly by the very talented Ristul and in an interesting slightly flexible grey resin; the white metal sculpts are by a variety of sculptors and all really well done.
Not pictured above is the pigs, my favourite single part of this purchase. I indulged in the Pigtopia bundle deal which got me ten pigs and six bits of pigsty/farm scenery. I’ve already painted the pigs up, basing them in small groups on 40mm bases.
I painted the pigs up to vaguely resemble one of the oldest heritage breeds of pig in the UK, a black-and-white breed that I now can’t find or remember the name of. Anyway, they painted up nicely and I look forward to watching them chase players around the table or be part of someone’s provisions on the hoof in a scenario.
I managed not to take a single photo during either of the two games Corey and I ran today, but nothing about the visible setup we’ve got has changed in a week except that all my 1:1200 scale boats are properly based, on 20mm wide by 40mm long by 1.5mm high clear acrylic bases ordered from Litko.
The first game we ran was very small, a pair of Royal Navy Fairmile D MGBs (Motor Gun Boats) escorting a coastal freighter, under attack by a pair of S-38 mid-war Schnellboote. The S-boats roared in, fired all four of their ready torpedoes at the freighter while taking scattered gunfire from the MGBs, blew up the freighter, and roared off. As they were exiting the board one of the pursuing MGBs ran head-on into a stray mine (Coastal Patrol has a random events table that can be pretty lethally random!) and was blown out of the water.
For the second game we gave the Germans a convoy to escort, a freighter and a tanker somewhere along the coast of France early in the war. They had an armed trawler and two Raumsboote (R-Boats) escorting and were under attack by a quartet of tiny, lightly armed Vosper 73′ MTBs. This game ended in an absolute draw, as nobody lost any ships, although part of this was because we were messing with the Coastal Patrol torpedo rules and concluded that we’d taken them from massively powerful (any vessel struck by a torpedo is considered sunk automatically) down to nowhere near powerful enough because although the trawler and the freighter got hit neither took any serious damage. The Vospers all roared off into the night again, although one of them was taking on water quite badly, pumps just barely keeping up.
For both games we were (just like last weekend’s Coastal Patrol games) ignoring the rules for spotting, target ID, blinds/dummy markers, and all that stuff. I’ll be making some blinds and markers before our next games (of either system) so we can incorporate those rules, which are sure to change the on-table dynamic again.
Narrow Seas vs Coastal Patrol
So, compared to Narrow Seas, what are the rough similarities and differences? CP uses a TFL-style actions-per-activation system, with vessels getting between zero and three actions (diced for) every time their card comes up in the activation deck. This leads to some tense decision making, which I like. Do you maneuver your ship, run damage control, or fire, and at who?
One thing we definitely liked about CP vs NS is that CP’s turning circles are considerably smaller than the NS turning arcs. This makes the vessels feel more agile, and increases the effective size of the table.
CP’s firing is much simpler than the NS system, and involves much less dice rolling. We did seem to miss a lot more with CP than with NS, though, which isn’t really unrealistic with small vessels moving quickly over the water!
There are definitely a few rough spots and gaps in the Coastal Patrol rules. Some of the game mechanics don’t seem to be fully explained (damage from collision/ramming, for example) and although Making Smoke is an available order and Smoke Generators are listed as shipboard equipment on some of the damage tables, there are not in fact any rules for how smoke is intended to work… That said, there is a file of Coastal Patrol house rules out there that fill most of the gaps easily enough, but which I can’t currently find online to provide a link to!
We will be coming back to Coastal Patrol, and might stick with it as our main coastal naval rules, but we’ll have at least one more bash at Narrow Seas as there are definitely some things it does better than Coastal Patrol.
This afternoon we actually got the tiny ships onto the table and had a game using the Narrow Seas rules.
First, of course, I had to use blue-tac and scrap card to base up my tiny ships.
We ran two British coastal merchant ships escorted by a quartet of RN Fairmile D MGB gunboats, being menaced by a quartet of S-boats somewhere along the coast of England. We ignored all the visibility, spotting, and illumination rules for this game, it was purely run-and-gun.
The Germans kicked up to high speed to maneuver toward the sluggish merchantmen, while the MGBs tried to intercept.
The game ended with three of the four S-boats getting away at high speed, while one S-boat was being scuttled by it’s crew close to shore after taking massive amounts of damage. The Germans fired seven torpedoes, only one of which hit, but that was enough to send one of the merchants to the bottom almost instantly, while gunfire also sank one of the MGBs.
I’m honestly not sure how much of the Narrow Seas rules we were doing correctly, but the basic system seemed to work. Consensus was that damage was awfully dice-intensive to resolve, especially if a ship got hit hard and was up to the Heavy/Wrecked end of the damage table. We also realized we were doing the cascading damage wrong partway through the game, however, so a careful re-read of the firing and damage rules is clearly in order.
As a scenario balance thing, Fairmile D MGBs are scary, scary beasts, each of them having significantly more firepower than an individual S-boat. More S-boats or fewer “Dog” boats, perhaps swapping an armed trawler in for one or two of the Dogs, would probably make the game “fairer”. On the other hand, the Kreigsmarine did manage a minor victory, and trading one S-boat for a coastal freighter and an MGB is more than fair.
We had a good game overall and will definitely be back to Narrow Seas sometime soon; we also want to try out “Coastal Patrol” from the Summer 2011 TFL Special as TFL rules are much liked in these parts. My proper bases are enroute from Litko, and I’ve now got a list of counters I need to produce to make the game run more smoothly.
Way back in December 2018 on Twitter, Bears Head Miniatures showed off pictures of their new Beholder-alike floating eye beastie, Narthoks the Excellent. I made an offhand comment of, “With that expression, somehow I see him as the wholly unexpected barkeep behind a very strange bar somewhere, towel draped over one tentacle, goblets and beer mugs in the other tentacles…”
…and naturally I had to join their Kickstarter, even though I had no particular use then or now for a Beholder, in bartender guise or otherwise! (is a bartending Beholder actually a Beerholder? A Barholder?)
So what did I get for my offhand comment? Narthoks is a big chap, roughly 2 and a half inches across at the tentacles and about 2 inches tall from bottom of tentacles to top of head/topmost eyeball. Taller than that once he’s on his flying base, of course. He’s got a towel and glass in his frontmost tentacles, a cocktail shaker in his right-hand tentacles, and a bottle and glass in the left. All the bar-ware is scaled to Narthoks, which means the glasses and shaker are the size of barrels from a human viewpoint!
The figure is resin and nicely cast, with only a bit of cleanup along seams and some casting flash. He’s in two parts, tentacles and base/neck (?) and then head, and while the seam between them has more gaps than I’d normally like to see, the textured nature of his skin makes disguising this seam easy once you break out the greenstuff.
Narthoks’ underside is various shades of bright blue, his topside is mostly Imperial Purple, shaded down with Nightshade Purple and highlighted with Amethyst Purple. The eyeballs were painted Pure White then glazed with a variety of yellows, reds, and oranges.
Final highlights on Narthoks’ body were a mix of Amethyst Purple, Pure White, and glaze medium, 1:1:1; this is most visible on the eyelids and on the bits just above the “horns” along each side of the body. The eyeballs have all had a coat of gloss medium, although as I haven’t given the whole miniature the usual coat or three of protective matte varnish, this gloss will have to be redone in due course. Ah well.
Narthoks comes with a standard clear plastic flying base; I ran a length of paper clip wire up into him for a painting handle and to help pin the two halves of his body together. I’ll trim that short and slot it into the post of the flying base, but I might replace the clear plastic base with something more bar-like, either flagstones or a wood floor. I’m actually tempted to get a small display dome for Narthoks and put him on one corner of my home bar cabinet as a mascot of sorts, as I currently have absolutely no actual gaming-related use for this awesome figure!
I picked up a few things from Fenris Games back in June or July, and the first pieces are finally getting completed and onto the gaming table!
These are “Viking Runestones 2” from Fenris, cast in pale grey resin. Each is about 2″ tall. The carved runes on the front are very finely detailed; I wouldn’t be surprised if they had been laser engraved on something (thin acrylic?) and that was then embedded in putty or something to make up the rest of the stone.
I’ve got a few other bits and pieces from Fenris in progress. All of their stuff is really high quality, their range is huge, and shipping was fast. Highly recommended!
The Assault Group (TAG) has a huge range of Thirty Year’s War/English Civil War/general Renaissance figures that I’d heard good things about, including that they were fairly compatible in size and style to the Warlord figures that make up the entirety of my TYW/ECW collection so far.
The only major piece missing from my 17th C forces so far are guns, so I ordered TAG’s English Battery Builder pack which has a culverin, eight crew, and accessories. To give me some game options I also picked up a falconette light gun on it’s own. That gives me a light gun, a heavier field gun, enough crew to do a full six man gun crew per the Pikeman’s Lament rules for either of them, and some nice extra bits for base decoration – gunpowder barrels, piles of shot, that sort of thing.
Then I waited.
And waited some more.
Then I got an email apologizing for the wait.
This wasn’t a surprise by this point, because a significant number of posts on the TAG blog are, in fact, posts explaining how backlogged their orders are.
Then I waited a while longer.
My initial order was made on June 22nd. The “we’re backed up” email came through on August 4th. My order was apparently “completed” on August 11th. It showed up in Canada on September 11th.
That’s… goddamn glacial. In nearly two decades of ordering stuff from overseas for wargaming I don’t think I’ve ever had an order take so long from initial order to the toys actually showing up, even back in the late 1990s when I was just starting out and an order to the UK or the States meant snail mail, paper order forms filled out by hand, and an International Money Order.
So, don’t order from TAG if you’re in any sort of hurry for your toys. I have a generous backlog of painting and loads of scenery projects to distract me, thankfully.
Now that they’re finally here, what about the figures themselves? I quite like them, the casts are very clean, the sculpting is well proportioned and nicely detailed, and while they’re mostly a little bit smaller than the Warlord figures they’ll look fine in adjacent units on the table!
Warlord’s plastic figures are actually slightly bigger than most of their metal figures; their metal ones are a pretty close match for TAG’s while Warlord plastics are bigger. Odd that Warlord has that difference between the two materials they produce figures in…
The two guns are four parts, two wheels, the stock (carriage?), and the barrel, and fit together easily. Mold lines and flash are minimal, just a few minutes cleanup for the whole lot.
The two crew packs are available separately as English Artillery crew loading and English Artillery crew sighting, each consisting of an officer/sergeant figure and three crew. The loaders have a powder scoop, rammer, and swab; the sighting crew have two with large timber levers to adjust the gun’s wheels and a gunner doing the actual sighting.
The culverin is also available separately; it comes with the gun, a powder barrel, a water bucket, and a small pile of cannon balls. The falconette has the gun, a wedge, water bucket, and a bucket of small shot.
I still haven’t quite settled on how I’m going to base the guns and their crew, but I’m looking forward to assembling and painting them up; the whole unit should be pretty quick to paint up, and while I usually base figures before painting them, I might well tack these guys down to craft sticks to get them painted before I make any basing decisions. Basing might involve a custom movement tray of some sort ordered from Warbases that can fit six crew on 25mm bases and the unbased gun, to match the 2mm MDF movement trays I’ve already got.
I’ll probably order from TAG again; they have some different figures that Warlord don’t offer, I like their sculpting style, and variety is always useful, but the insanely long order times are offputting.
I picked up a batch of simple lasercut MDF trays sized for 25mm bases on one of my recent Warbases order. Pikeman’s Lament uses either six or twelve figures per unit as standard, so I bought a batch of six-base skirmish trays (listed on Warbases’ site as “Dux Brit/Zombie Trays“) and a pair of twelve-base three by four regiment trays for when a PL pike unit is in Close Order, both cut for the 25mm MDF bases I’m using for my English Civil War/Pikeman’s Lament project.
Each tray is two layers of 2mm MDF, lasercut and with the two layers already glued together straight from Warbases. I’d been thinking of replacing the bottom solid layer of 2mm MDF with something thinner (probably .030 plastic card) as I am not a huge fan of big thick bases, so having them arrive pre-assembled forced me to consider different options.
As an aside, if you really did want un-glued movement trays, or even just the tops so you could do your own base layers, I’m fairly sure Martin and Warbases crew can set you up that way. Chuck them an email and ask!
I finally broke out my grossly underused Dremel tool, poured a pint of excellent beer, and sat down on the back patio with this unwise combination to modify my movement trays to my liking!
A Note Of Warning: Power tools capable of 30,000 RPM and alcohol is not a recommended combination. Sanding MDF without wearing some sort of filter mask is also not recommended. Even though I was outside while doing this, I can still taste MDF dust on the back of my mouth over a day later. Wear a dust mask of some sort. Don’t combine power tools and beer, even very good beer. Dear readers, be smarter than me. Thank you. Also, should you not be smarter than me, don’t send lawyers after me. They’re scary. Thank you again.
A couple of minutes with a sanding drum on the Dremel per base rounded the top edges off nicely, and the corners of the regiment bases. I touched up a few scuffs from the Dremel by hand with regular sandpaper, knocked the nasty MDF dust off, and then brought everything – including the beer – inside to my workbench to add a bit of sand here and there to the trays.
With that done, I put the Dremel away, poured another pint of beer, and put a bit of sand around the edges of the trays, being careful to keep it out of the holes. Dark brown base paint followed, then some drybrushing after that was dry, and finally some of my usual flock/turf mix here and there to help blend everything together.
These movement trays are a great value and will make “big” skirmish games a bit easier to manage! I’ll definitely be getting more, especially of the six-base irregular trays, and might contact Warbases about some custom irregular trays for my cavalry, who are mostly on 20mm by 40mm rectangular bases, or my artillery, when I add some guns to my Pikeman’s Lament forces. Having the entire force on similar movement trays would look really sharp and make games a bit more streamlined, especially if I’m running convention games for other people.