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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to build a gaming table in 2.5 years... or three days

When I first started in this hobby, I always dreamed of having a gaming table in my own home.  As a young gamer, owning your own gaming table was a status symbol that informed all and sundry that you were a serious player in the gaming community, possessing the means of running games independently free of the constraints of GW or any other gaming store.  The more time I spent in the hobby, the more my ideals changed, as gaming tables became more and more available and countless tutorials on the web showing you just how easy making a gaming table really is. 

 Then, about two and a half years ago, I decided it was time I tried my hand at building a gaming table.  As eager as I was, I knew there’d be difficulties ahead, especially since I’m not the most hardware-savvy person in my family.  There is a reason why geeks such as me are architects, engineers and / or safety officers and not builders, boilermakers or handymen.  Because while I can plan out a build to the nth degree, the end product usually ends up looking more wonky than Empire architecture and nothing like the original design.  I have the utmost confidence that as a builder I would make structures that I, as a safety officer would condemn within seconds of laying eyes on it.  To compensate for this I looked to Mark of Project Circle to help me out.  As a stalwart veteran of all things gaming related, I had no doubt that he would possess the necessary know-how and ingenuity that would help make this table great.  Considering the end product, I’d say my thought process was right on the money too.

 Year 0 / Day 1

Considering our combined powers of procrastination, it was quickly decided that this was a project that we would take one day at a time.  It just so happened that the time between each day ended up being roughly about a year.  The powers of procrastination are strong in us!  The first day was spent trolling our local hardware store, collecting all the items needed to build the frame of the table and the table top itself.  Most hardware stores will cut timber to length at your request and I heartily encourage everyone to take advantage of that offer, if only to get the table top cut to size.  Once home, Mark and I measured and cut the framework to size before assembling it and making the small adjustments needed to ensure it was square.  Retrospectively, considering we had the tabletop already in our possession, the smarter idea would have been to fix the framework immediately to the underside of the tabletop, rather than marking the frame separately and fitting it once it had dried.    This would have saved us some anxiety in the future, but life is all about learning isn’t it?

Year 1 / Day 2

With the framework now attached to the tabletop (with some minor ‘adjustments’ to make it flush with the frame), it was time to texture the bastard.  When using textured paint, the important tip here is to always remember to read the instructions on the side of the paint tin.  This will ensure that your end result not only looks good, but also allows you to slide movement trays across its surface without any issue at all.  Being the gung-ho painters we are, we chose to ignore this simple rule in favour of a ‘lets get this done so we can watch Anime’ approach.  As a result, the end result was still quite impressive, with the table sporting an amazing amount of texture, but unfortunately the texture was such that all movement trays were only capable of moving 3 inches before stopping dead and causing the entire front rank to fall over.  This problem was overcome easily enough however, with the table being repurposed from a Fantasy ‘snow table’ to 40K ‘city-fight table’.  Decision made, we left the table to dry and returned to watching Anime.

Year 2.5 / Day 3

Fast forward another year and a bit and we’ve reached the present day.  Once again Mark and I organised a hobby day.  Paint was purchased, paint rollers secured (we’d broken the handles of the other ones last time) and an Anime series chosen (Bleach for the win!!).  Within the first 45 minutes the basecoat was down and drying and we headed off to watch the last of Season 2 of Bleach.  Once that concluded we returned to the painting area to check on the table which was dry and ready for the next two layers of colour.  Note to self:  DRY-BRUSHING A 6 X 4 TABLE USING AN ACTUAL BRUSH IS NOT A GOOD IDEA!!  Mark suggested that we use a section of sponge instead to get that mottled effect which worked really well... when Mark was wielding the sponge.  My side looked kinda wonky as splotches of Bubonic Brown appeared periodically across the tabletop.  Thankfully my sponge control improved with the application of Bleached Bone as a second highlight, while Mark’s side remained an example of a sponge painting master-class.  I suspect he’s done something similar in the past, but I’ve as yet failed to discover the secret to his sponge control.  My current theory is that he is part of an ancient group of Shaolin Monks who specialise in some sort of sponge-orientated combat, though I’m reluctant to ask him about it lest he see’s me as some sort of security threat and is forced to kill me with my own paint-covered sponge...

Painting Tool or deadly weapon??

So there you have it!  How to build and paint a gaming table in 2.5 years... or 3 days.  However the true test of the table is in its ability to blend in with the terrain that was build specifically with it in mind.  As the pictures above can attest, it seems to blend pretty darn well.  I have to say I've very happy with the way this table has come out and I really look forward to playing a game of 40K on this table when I get a chance.  With this table done, I can prepare myself to paint the second table I have, one that my father smashed out in a single afternoon.  By jingo that man can wield a hammer and router! Hmmm... Sounds like a potential title for Black Library’s new magazine focusing on carpentry fiction.  Either way, painting this table will be my next gaming table project, which I aim to have finished by the end of the year. 

Catch you all later


Saturday, March 24, 2012

It’s not easy being green... (Pt 2)

At the end of my last article, we’d just left Handsome Bob at the Astartes Beauty and Recuperation Day Spa to be immersed in Dettol as a means of determining how successful it is when stripping plastic miniatures.  After leaving him immersed for 12 hours, I came back to see how the stripping process was going.  Much to my delight, the top layer of paint had lifted, but remained attached to the miniature, making him look like he’d gained another 200 odd kilos (being that a Space Marine weighs around half a tonne, he’s looking a little tubby).  Pulling him out of the solution, I began to scrub him using the same brush I use for the Simple Green.  The first scrubbing succeeded in removing the top layer of paint, but not the undercoat; which caused my brush to turn black and create a goupy pseudo paint coating that was somewhat sticky and resistant to water.  Scratch one cheap-ass toothbrush. 

As an aside here, I’d like to say that if you’re looking into stripping any miniatures at all, toothbrushes are one of the best ways of scrubbing the paint off the models.  Here in Australia, any of the Cheap Stores like Crazy Clarkes, Wayne’s World etc will sell packs of multiple toothbrushes for under $5.  These are perfect for the job and they’re 100% disposable.  I got a pack of 9 or so brushes for $3 which should easily last me until I finished stripping the mini’s I have at hand.

Here’s my boy again after his second trip into the Dettol.  It seems as though the chemical eats through the glue I was using at the time (either really old superglue or white glue, I can’t rightly remember) and has separated Bob from his ride.  This is great for me as it allows me to get in nice and close with the brush and scrub off all the extra paint around the backs of his legs and inner thigh (if Handsome Bob is really lucky, he might get a happy ending out of this). 

After the second run over with a brush, the results aren't much better.  There’s still a great deal of black undercoat still on the model and it feels very tacky, as if the spray paint was still wet.  I've thrown both the bike and Handsome Bob into a batch of Simple Green to see if I can’t get the last of it off, though I’m skeptical that it will make a difference. 

Here he is, in all his stripped glory.  It turns out that the Simple Green didn't much make a difference with the undercoat, though it was able to remove that tacky feeling which is a bit of a bonus.  Overall, I would say that the use of Dettol to strip plastic models was successful, especially if you can’t buy Simple Green in your local area.  You can leave the models in the Dettol for days without any ill-effects and so long as you don’t mind the goupyness and the smell, it is quite effective as a stripping technique.

With Handsome Bob now stripped, I think I’ll send the rest of his posse into the drink as well.  This will allow me to paint up a unit of Swiftclaw Bikers which I believe have potential in a Space Wolf List.  If nothing else, it’ll give me an excuse to build a new Wolf Lord riding a Space Marine Bike.  Everyone loves a T5 Wolf Lord right?  My WIP pic for this article is a Dreadnought Arm I've been working on for some time now.  With the Assault Cannon arm done, I feel it’s only fair that I get his other arm done too so my Dread won’t feel inadequate when he makes it to the Table.  He’s currently standing proudly on my hobby desk, his assault cannon trained on me as a means of ‘encouraging’ me to work faster.  I dearly hope that once his arm is done, he’ll stomp off and smash some Xenos or something in celebration rather than demand I paint his chassis as I still have no idea how I’m going to paint him...

Catch you all later


Monday, March 19, 2012

It’s not easy being Green... (pt 1)

For many years now, I’ve been periodically stripping and re-painting metal models that I have in my collection.  Considering the ever increasing cost in miniatures, particularly from Games Workshop, such a move would be seen as a good idea.  However with the majority of my collection now made of plastic, the process of dunking your models in nail polish remover and leaving them to soak for a couple of days is not longer a viable option.  That is, unless you’re looking to paint a mushy glob of plastic that used to resemble a space marine...

Looking on all the forums, you will no doubt find people asking the same question:  How do I strip plastic models?  The usual answer to this question is ‘Simple Green’, which from a U.S perspective is a sound enough answer as it is readily available from a variety of stores.  For us Aussies, it’s a little more complicated; as Simple Green is not as readily available (actually in my experience until recently it has been downright difficult to get your hands on it).  Mark over at Project Circle suggested that Dettol (a disinfectant) may be capable of stripping plastics and being a very curious person, I thought why not put the theory to the test?

 Meet Brother Sergeant Handsome Bob.  Handsome Bob has been a valued member of my Salamanders Army since their initial founding when I was just a young tyke living in Brisbane almost 7 years ago now.  As you can see, my painting skills have developed quite significantly since then (at least I hope you can....) and he has volunteered to undergo the procedure with the aim of being made beautiful again.  Just call me Dr Hauser: Plastic Surgeon to the Adeptes Astartes.  Handsome Bob is going to be immersed in a bottle of Dettol for a couple of days so we can see just how effective it is as a paint-stripper; but progress shots will have to wait until the next article!

On the upside, I have a WIP picture to show you.  I’ve been working on getting my Hunters painted for my Mordheim Warband and the progress has been going well as you can see below. 

Catch you all later


Thursday, March 15, 2012

WoC Update – Musical Marauders

Aside from all the extra topic-specific painting projects I’ve been working on, I recently was able to dedicate some time to painting more models for my Warriors of Chaos Army.  After the success of my Standard Bearer for my Chosen Army, I decided to spend some time working on another member of their Command Group.  Like all of my Chosen, I’ve used a combination of Gold and Silver on the armour, with a blue to emphasise the Daemonic nature of the chest plate.  The only issue I have with the model is that the horn is stupidly large when not off-set by the presence of an even larger horse.  I used the bare head from the Chaos Warrior kit for something different and I’m really happy about how the face came out. 

The second model I've finished working on is yet another Marauder.  At my last count, this means I only have another 3 Marauders to go before I can begin do the unit filler to complete the unit (and not a moment too soon I can tell you!).  At this stage, I’m becoming more and more inclined to skip details or highlights just so I can get the buggers done and since I’m using the washes, the final outcome isn’t suffering too badly which is good. 

While I’m still working on several painting projects at the moment, I’m also dedicating some time to putting snow on the bases of some of my finished models.  The process is a little drawn out, but the finished product is more than worth it.

Catch you all later


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Return to the City of the Damned – Possessed Norse Style!

There has been talk amongst many of the members of Kingaroy Wargamers about the possibility of running a Mordheim campaign now that my Norsca in Flames campaign has concluded.  Thus far, I have to say that my overall experience of playing has been quite positive, with both my Possessed Warband and my Norse providing me with not only fun games, but exciting conversions as well.  The good thing is, that with the vast number of warbands that are available, it is almost assured that everyone’s force will be different which is a very exciting prospect.

At this stage, I’d like to build two different warbands – The Possessed and the Norse.  The Possessed are mutated warriors who worship the Chaos Gods and who are determined to bring death and destruction to all who cross their path.  Led by a sorcerer, they sport all sorts of mutations that allow for a great deal of customisation and unusual weapon options.  I’m hoping to post pictures of my WIP Possessed Warband in the near future. 

The Norse is a warband of mighty warriors hailing from the frozen North, who also worship the Chaos Pantheon, but are untouched by their influence (for the most part). These are your typical Viking raiders, replete with wild, bushy hair and warpaint aplenty.  Of the two, this is the simplest warband to create for me, requiring nothing but a box of Marauders and a box of Chaos Hounds to make a complete army.  Seeing that I have about 70-odd marauders in my bits box and another box or two on my shelf, I think I’m set. 

Currently I’m participating on two different Mordheim campaigns, both of which have me using my Norse warriors to great effect.  It’s good to change things up every now and then and by playing Mordheim, I’m able to move away from the large-scale engagements that are usually associated with playing Warhammer Fantasy or 40K and focus on a small number of miniatures, providing countless opportunities for conversions etc that will make these guys unique.  As can be seen above, using minis from my Chaos Army, I’ve been able use painted miniatures for my Jarl and both Berzerkers.  My Wulfen is the latest painting addition, having been converted from a beastman using a multitude of components and a small amount of green stuff. 

Before I go, here is my current WIP project for my Norse Warband – one of my Hunters.  Armed with Spear, Shield and Bow, these guys are a fun defensive line, peppering my enemies with (mostly ineffectual) bowfire before stabbing them with a very large pointed stick.  My warband currently has two of these fellows and both have proven themselves to me, managing to kill two beastmen with a single arrow and turning two separate Beastmen heroes into shish-kebab all in the same game (not to mention in consecutive turns).  Now if only I can get both of them to graduate to hero status...

Catch you all later


Monday, March 5, 2012

Terrain Update – More Craters!

As a bit of a break from painting miniatures, I decided to dedicate some time to finishing off the last two craters that I bought from Amera Plastic Mouldings.  Like the others, these two were undercoated black before being base-coated using scorched brown. Once dry, the entire surface was stippled with Bubonic Brown and Bleached Bone before being given 2 coats of Devlan Mud as well as a layer of Badab Black in the centre.  

Once the washes were dry, I painted the edges of the terrain piece with Chardon Granite before sealing both craters with a matte spray-sealant.  Never be stingy when buying your sealant, especially if it’s inside a spray can – you don’t want all your hard work going to crap because you wanted to save $15 after painting an entire Space Marine Company.

With these two craters finished, I'm proud to say that the last of my Amera Terrain has been completed!  This means that I not have access a wide selection of craters and tank traps of differing sizes as well as two sizable barricades that are capable of easily cover for an entire unit of Space Marines.  All I need now is to paint a couple of buildings and I'll have the makings of a city-fight table.

My WIP pic this time is a building that I’ve been working on for quite some time now.  With one of these buildings already complete and another waiting to be based; getting this one painted ready for the table will mean that I’m one step closer to having a 40K table whose colour scheme matches my Salamander Army. 

Catch you all later