Friday, July 24, 2015

Trumpeter 1/72 UMSC LAV-R - build log Pt.1

After some time, that I spent on terrain pieces for Frostgrave, I needed some proper modelling - so I took out that USMC LAV-R I bought for Skirmish Sangin.

The kit is pretty basic - I did not count the pieces, but I managed to put it all together in an hour or hour and a half.

The most complicated part is the undercarriage, but considering how fiddly it could be, the result is awesome. This is the highlight of this kit, everything goes very well together and holds where it should be. I really enjoyed this part of the build.

After this, the rest of the model is pretty simple - just a bunch of various details that you glue on top and sides of the vehicle. The crane is probably the weakest part - even without looking at any reference photos, you can tell it's pretty basic. But given the intended use of this vehicle and the fact I'm pretty clumsy on the tabletop battlefields, I decided to just build it as it is.

Both halves of the vehicle go well together, you than close it with a rear panel and you're done!

Really, this has been an awesome kit - pure joy of  a tiny vehicle coming together very quickly with no issues at all.

Next up is painting, although I will have to fill in two tiny holes on the crane first - Mr Surfacer will suffice here. Then it's primer time, probably a bit of pre-shading and then onto my first randez vous with NATO 3-tone scheme.

It's a shame Trumpeter has closed down its small scale armor line, as this is a kit I would like to build again in future (multiple LAV's out there), but due to it being out of production it's not as easy to get your hands on it.

Can't remember I had so much fun with a kit.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

First Frostgrave Ruin finished

A brief entry this time - the very first ruin I created for Frostgrave is finished.

As described in the previous post, I glued the two wall together using superglue, then used a bit of the DAS clay to fill in the holes between them and also to create the corner bricks - this is a nice way to add additional detail and hide some of your mistakes etc.

After that I glued the whole structure to a piece of thick plasticard slightly bigger than the house. Using PVA glue and various types of sand I created the ground and after it has all dried out, I went ahead with the base paint - a black primer spray paint followed by a black acrylic applied with a big brush to go where the spray paint didn't.
This took a bit more time than I expected and next time I will be priming the base before applying the glue and sand. It will probably be a bit messy, but the whole process with finding the spots where the white plasticard is still showing is not something I want to repeat.
First layer of Vallejo grey was applied followed by 2-3 additional ones - each a bit brighter than the previous one - you want to end up with a very light grey, otherwise the whole thing tends to look a bit too dark.
With the walls all painted, I turned to the terrain - dry brushing it with a black-brown mix, to be followed by some grey drybrushing - not as bright as the ones I used for the walls as I wanted to avoid them looking the same.

The kids love it!

Anyway, this was really fun, although I absolutely hated it after the first grey drybrushing session - it was just too dark and ugly.
But after a few days, I took my other greys (I have so many different shades of grey it's not even funny - and I still need more!), went ahead with the lighter tones and voila! the whole thing started to look good.

Check the photos and let me know what you think, like and don't like about it!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Frostgrave ruins + Modelling with air hardening clay How To

With my first Frostgrave game behind me I knew I needed some more terrain and since the game is situated in a frozen city, we're talking about ruins - lots of ruins.

There's definitely plenty of suitable terrain on the market, 4Ground just released a brand new ruins set Ruins of Daldorr but even though these are lovely, they tend to be a bit pricey + I do enjoy building terrain pieces myself. All you need is a piece of cardboard (I use 2 mm thick one), PVA glue and DAS clay (or any other similar air hardening clay)

My first mini set was a set of two broken down walls - I plan on glueing them together as they will form what is left of one house.

My first two walls for Frostgrave, all done in 90 minutes.

The 'how-to' of working with cardboard and DAS clay is pretty simple - cut the cardboard as you want your walls to look like, then take a piece of clay, take a rolling pin so you end up with a pretty thin layer of clay (1-3 mm thick). Apply PVA glue to the wall and put the clay on it - you want to press it together hard, so it stays there.
Now comes the hardest part - waiting. You need to give the clay some time to dry - the harder it is, the more precise your scribing will be. My approximate drying times are as follows:

  • For medieval/fantasy rough stone walls - around 45 minutes
  • For bricks - an hour, hour and a half

Of course anything longer than that, you end up with pretty much solid layer of clay, that requires quite some force to be scribed (nothing impossible, just my personal preference to work with clay that is still 'alive').
The drying times depend on thickness of your clay layer, temperature, current moon phase, ... so best thing to do is to try and see - when the clay is still very fresh, creating any precise shapes will be close to impossible - there will be too much of wet clay coming off - give it a few more minutes and you will be good to go for the rough fantasy/medieval stone structures.

For scribing I use a set of sculpting tools, but pretty much anything with a sharp edge will do - even a toothpick! Usually I create some sort of a grid to help me get the stones have a similar-ish size and then carry on with the most fun part - every single stone/brick needs to be scribed, usually more than once - first the rough shape of everything is scribed, then after the clay has dried a bit, I go around the second time to clean after myself, to make the edges sharper, add a detail or two here and there.

It's also pretty easy to glue another layer of clay on top of another one - just wait for the first one to dry completely, then add a new one.

An important note - you want to do this before you glue the individual walls together! You can do it all on a completed structure, it's just so much easier to do one wall at a time, not needing to worry about 'how to hold this, how do I get here'.

My next project for Frostgrave is a bigger house, or actually ruins of a bigger house and with me being currently not at home, I had to use every piece of cardboard I still had, so it wasn't a properly planned project - I just made one section of wall, then moved onto the next one.
The house is approximately 15 x 21 cm, the highest wall is close to 7 cm. I will need to glue some of the walls together and then I will move on to clay laying.

All the walls ready for stoning!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Frostgrave - first impressions

Thanks to a friend of mine who got a review copy I was able to try the new Osprey game Frostgrave before its release and boy, it is fun!

Frostgrave is a fantasy skirmish game where you lead a wizard and his warband onto a battlefield in search of treasures - only you're not alone, there's a second (or third or more) band of filthy pillagers looming the table as well.

So what do I think after my first game?

  1. The game is fun, there are no dull moments where you need to wait for your opponent - with the system of activations (wizard-wizard, apprentice-apprentice, henchmen-henchmen) you always wait just few minutes at most - just the right amount of time to think through what you want to do next.
  2. The wizard is a lame spell caster at the beginning - you need to be aware of that when selecting the spells and you better choose some easy ones for start - I decided to go with Necromancer and having an offensive spell (Bone Dart on a 8+ roll, gives +5 shoot) made quite a difference - I was able to cast it pretty much every turn, maybe even twice (Apprentice can cast the spells as well). Remember you also get experience from every successfully cast spell! 
  3. The table needs a lot of line of sight blockers - and by lot, I mean A LOT. After all, the setting is a ruined, forgotten city, so you would expect lots of walls, ruins of old abandoned buildings, maybe close to city fight with narrowish streets. This is necessary to mitigate the effect of LOS effects such as that lovely Bone dart spell of mine or the shooting henchmen.
  4. It's not about that one battle - as said earlier, the wizard starts with very limited spell casting abilities and you won't cast a lot of spells (and I'm not even talking about the really cool, difficult spells here) at first. Thus this leads you to play Frostgrave as a campaign. This means you don't need to win it all at first - get some treasures, maybe kill an enemy or two, level up and you'll see how things go the next time you meet your opponent. You roll a die for each treasure you've found to see what was inside - gold, spells or magical items
  5. Henchmen are disposable - use them, let them get killed if necessary, you can always replace them - they are here to help your wizard, so don't get too attached to them!
  6. Random encounters - this being my first game, we played without them, but I would suggest to use them if you have the minis - the way they work, they add a bit of uncertainty to the game - if I pick this treasure will a monster spawn somewhere? It might even spawn on my opponents side!
  7. The rulebook is lovely - lots of great pictures, photos and the book being a hardcover it's pretty sturdy - I'm sure this grimoire will last!
That's pretty much it, I really enjoyed it and can't wait for the game release, so I can start playing.

My wizard

The battlefield from my side of table