Re-Scaping

In my last but one post (I’ll Put a Hex on You…), I discussed my plans regarding re-purposing my Heroscape hex terrain to make it less ‘cartoon-y’ looking. I have decided to christen this “Re-Scaping” because…I can.

Now, I am aware that not everyone is as familiar with Heroscape as myself, so I thought I’d do a quick history bit first. It was originally published/released in 2004 by Milton Bradley and was a complete turn-based miniature wargame, which came with 30 pre-painted miniatures. The main difference from other games of this ilk is that it came with interlocking hex tiles, which could be combined in whatever fashion you chose, to create your battlefield. Lego for wargamers, essentially.

Until it was discontinued in 2010, several expansions were released, introducing different coloured tiles to represent different types of terrain, including dungeon, snow and lava field tiles.

At one point, I had a copy of every terrain expansion released, bar the castle set, but various financial issues resulted in me selling off the Volcarren Wasteland (lava-themed), Thaelenk Tundra (snow and ice-themed) and the Battle for the Underdark (Dungeon-themed) sets.

This still left me with a fair amount of tiles of varying types of terrain, which are shown below:

Starting from top left and going clockwise, the green/brown tile is a Grass tile and the grey/brown is a Stone tile, both from the Rise of the Valkyrie base set. Grass tiles are those you get the most of. Next we have a cobbled Road tile, from the Road to the Forgotten Forest set. You get about 20 of these, so not enough to cobble the entirety of Blackwell. The black tile is an Asphalt tile and the light grey is a Concrete tile, both from the Marvel base set The Conflict Begins. I ended up with three of these sets, as The Entertainer was selling them off at £10 a set. The two-tone green tile is a Swamp tile, from The Swarm of the Marro set and the yellow tile is a Sand tile from The Arena of the Planeswalkers set.

Typically, each type of terrain comes in 1-hex, 2-hex, 3-hex and 7-hex tiles, with certain variations, like the 24-hex Grass tiles.

Those who are fully conversant with the game and the sets I have mentioned will have noticed that one type of terrain tile is missing – the cream/brown Sand tile which featured in the base set as well as a few other places.

This is because I took ALL my Sand tiles and with a can of ‘Soft Taupe’ Gloss Acrylic Spray from Wilkinsons (£4.00 for a 400ml can), re-coloured them all. However, whilst the spray gave a nice coverage, it did teach me two important things regarding doing this type of re-colouring. Firstly, don’t apply the spray too thickly, otherwise your interlocking tiles will fit a bit TOO snugly together and it will be a bugger to get them apart and, secondly, the colour of the can’s lid and the sample board showing the spray applied will not match the actual paint that comes out. Both the lid and sample board suggested that ‘soft taupe’ was a browny-grey colour. It is…but it’s not as dark as it appeared, as you can see if the picture below:

The bottom tiles are a light grey concrete tile on the left and a dark grey Road tile on the right. Above them is the ‘soft taupe’ tile, which is a pretty similar colour to the Concrete tile.

After some gnashing of teeth and a bit of compound swearing, I resorted to Plan B – in which the B stands for ‘Burnt Umber’. Utilising a bottle of Docrafts Acrylic of this hue, I grabbed the 24-hex tile that I’d sprayed with ‘Soft Taupe’ and gave it a liberal coating of this, as a test piece.

And do you know what? It came out rather well, as can be seen from the quick scene I set up below, featuring some of my other ‘Re-Scaped’ hexes that had cheap trees from China attached and a Time War Dalek, who is hunting squirrels…

So, as I now have a solution, I just need to give all my ‘Soft Taupe’ sprayed tiles a coat of Burnt Umber and I will have my first set of Re-Scaped tiles, which I think shall be dubbed Mud tiles. Should double up as patches of earth, dirt roads in the countryside or possibly compacted dirt roads in urban environments.

Of course, the comparison with the original Grass tiles now shows that they need Re-Scaping too. Luckily, Wilkinson’s does have at least 3 different shades of cheap green spray paint, so hopefully at least one of them will be a closer match to the colour I want.

I shall finish up with a small piece of good news – it appears I will be attending Salute this year after all, so keep your eyes peeled for the grumpy old crow stalking the aisles and descending upon the Bloggers Meet in a flurry of feathers.

Jez

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It’s a Kind of Magic…

Those who regularly follow this blog will know that I’m not usually the sort to buy boxed games. Not only do they tend to be somewhat pricey, but they also don’t really represent good value for money, in my opinion. And as I don’t have a huge gaming budget, they merely represent ‘nice ideas’ rather than potential purchases.

However…

Sometimes you come across, purely by chance, an absolute bargain and just have to snap it up…such as this:

This is the Magic The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers boxed wargame, which contains 35 plastic miniatures and 6 interlocking cardboard tiles to create your battlefield, which has a recommended retail price of £29.99. However, Amazon in the UK are currently selling this game for £8.48…

You read that correctly…£8.48 for a boxed wargame with thirty-five plastic miniatures…even if you don’t actually ever play the game, that works out at approximately 24p per figure. Bargain!

However, as I’m not known for knee-jerk purchasing, why exactly did I get this game?

Well, whilst it may be branded “Magic the Gathering”, this is just a variation of Heroscape. The only real difference I can see from reading the rules is that your hero character – the Planeswalker – can cast a certain number of spells per turn, as well as having special abilities like a standard Heroscape character. The movement, dice rolling and general look of the ‘army cards’ is very reminiscent of original ‘Scape, which is unsurprising really, as this game was written by Craig Van Ness, the chap responsible for the original game.

To be honest, though, I wasn’t aware of this until after I’d got it. I bought it because you got 35 figures for under a tenner and each one is an individual sculpt. But you also get these:

Six interlocking cardboard tiles, that cover an area of just over two feet square. The tiles feature pre-printed artwork depicting desert wastes with water features, and can be rearranged is several different configurations, depending on the particular scenario you’re playing. You also get two cardboard ruins (not shown) and two 3-hex sand tiles and 2 1-hex sand tiles – which ARE actual Heroscape tiles, but in a solid yellow colour.

But let’s move on to the figures. As Magic the Gathering has five different types of mana, unsurprisingly there are five factions, one for each colour. Each faction gets a pre-painted Planeswalker figure and two squads of three figures, representing the forces that particular faction can bring to bear.

The White Planeswalker has a squad of Rhino men, which are the weakest sculpts in the whole box and a squad of desert tribesmen types. I could look up the actual names, but it’s the actual figures you’re interested in, so you probably don’t really care what their “official” names are…

Next we have the Black Planeswalker, and her two squads of Undead – three axe-wielding skeleton/zombies and three ghoul/ghast types.

Next we have the Green Planeswalker and her elven archers and nature elementals.

The Blue Planeswalker and what it apparently illusionary doubles and “Leyline Phantoms” – which are the four-armed demon-types.

And lastly, the Red Planeswalker and her squads of phoenixes and firecats.

Each individual figure is a unique sculpt and is cast as a one-piece in a the relevant coloured plastic, except for the Planeswalkers themselves.

Other than the Rhino-men, who could have been cool – but just aren’t, all the figures are pretty decent sculpts. Some of the bases don’t sit flat, due to how they’ve been shipped, but as they plastic is fairly flexible, the old hot water/cold water trick should restore the slightly warped back to their correct poses.

Whilst the overall theme of the set is Fantasy, I think it’s fairly obvious that once you’ve got these figures, what you do with them is up to you. I’m currently trying to decide if the ghoul types would be better used as minions of Skeletor or some kind of Aztec tomb-guardians.

Lots of figures, lots of possibilities, not much outlay – typical Jez-type post.

Should you want a box yourself, it can be found here.

I’ll Put a Hex on You

The combination of a 3-hour daily commute and the reduction of your gaming budget does give you a lot of time to think about what you actually have sitting in boxes or on shelves in cupboards, rather than compiling a ‘wish list’ for the upcoming Salute…

Which, due to my current circumstances, I probably won’t be attending this year. Which is a bit shit, but them’s the breaks…

So, having discovered that my ‘cheap and cheerful’ vinyl gaming tiles have not stored well and need replacing before I can venture back on to the streets of Blackwell, I cast my mind through my ‘mind cupboard’, where I memorise all the gaming stuff wot I’ve got, to see what alternatives I already had.

Now, I DO actually have some modular, interlocking cobbled tiles…namely those that came with the Road to the Forgotten Forest expansion for Heroscape. They are pretty nice=looking, have the necessary texture and are pre-weathered, but you don’t get that many. For those of you unfamiliar with this product, this is what they look like;

Heroscape - Large Expansion Set - Road to the Forgotten Forest by Hasbro

You only get 28 hexes in this set, which just about covers a 10″ square. Even taking into account the churchyard and pavements – which could be constructed using other ‘Scape hexes, I would end up with not much in the way of cobbles, which are pretty much needed for this genre. So, a potentially nice idea scuppered by lack of available hexes…

However, this did lead me down the avenue of thinking about my collection of Heroscape hexes in general. I like the modularity of them, but am envious of those who play on detailed battlemats or custom boards…so was there a way to customise my existing Heroscape hexes to make them less plastic-looking and more game=board-ish?

Now, I’m not the first to think this, as there is a whole thread on the Heroscapers site for custom terrain and scenery, and the end results do look rather nice, but it involved painting and gluing and flocking, which even with the best will in the World, requires a lot of resources and time and the end result will shed. The whole point of the plastic hexes is that they are robust and can be lobbed into a box with no major issues. Can’t really do that if you’ve spent all that time applying flock to each individual hex top, can you? This is the kind of results you can get if you put you’re mind to it;

As the Marvel Heroscape ‘concrete’ and ‘asphalt’ hexes are uniformly one colour, I was thinking of using some cheap spray paint (hobby or car) to re-colour the ‘grass’, ‘sand’ and ‘stone’ hexes, so the grass hexes would be all green, the sand hexes would be all yellow and the stone hexes would be all dark grey.  A further application of stippling or sponging in a lighter shade on the tops would then give the illusion of flocking, but without little bits dropping off all over the floor.

So, if all goes according to plan, I get a modular battlefield that looks closer to those wonderful yet expensive rubber mats that all the cool kids are playing with, for the price of a couple of cans of spray paint. Of course, that still doesn’t solve my cobbles problem, but moving slowly forward is better than not moving at all.

Jez