“These ARE the Droids I’m Looking For…”

Regular visitors to this site may have noted that I haven’t been particularly active over the past few weeks.

Well, gaming-wise, at least…

I have been busy doing other stuff. Like making my first visit to Scotland and the town of Edinburgh. This was a planned trip, probably the last holiday I’ll have with my entire family, as my oldest has now moved out and my daughter has just started university.

So, four days in Edinburgh, during which I climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat (251m) getting to the top before every member of my family…

“Smug? Me? Naahhh…”

And on the suggestion of Stevie, booked an excursion BELOW Edinburgh, into one of their famous underground vaults, which was very atmospheric and mildly spooky, as you can see from the picture below:

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I also took a fair few photos, mainly for reference purposes, but shan’t bore you with lots of pictures of interesting buildings, bits of Edinburgh Castle and Potter-eque alleyways, until such time as they become ideal for whatever tale I’m telling. However, this warrants showing – a genuine hexagonal Victorian postbox:

Not only did I have a nice break in Edinburgh, this was followed by moving my daughter into her halls of residence down in Portsmouth, which was a full-on busy day, so you can understand why I may not have been particularly active hobby-wise.

However, I have managed to get a few bits done on my ongoing alternate Star Wars project.

I realised that whilst I had my Dominion and Union troops, I needed a few characters to make my universe more rounded. So, looking through what multi=part plastic figures I did have, I created a ‘Protocol Droid’ by taking off the distinctive handlebar from one a Warlord Games Cyberman, combined various components from both a Void 1.1 Viridian Marine and a Junker with a few other bits to make a ‘bounty hunter’ and put together my free Legion of the Black Sun Necromancer to be a corrupted ‘adept of the Dark Side’. Once these have been fully painted, they will receive full in-universe designations, but for now this gives an idea of where I’m going with them;

But wait, there’s more!!!

Having found myself with an unexpected free evening, rather than waste it trying to find something specific for this project online (which I finally managed to do – see later in this post), I bit the bullet, got the paints out and sat down for a bit of an undercoating session – and achieved a fair bit.

The Union Militia were all undercoated in Docrafts Linen, their weapons in Docrafts Noir and a couple of them had their armour painted in Docrafts Jungle Green, as I’d decided that the Militia colour scheme would be predominantly tan and dark green, so inspired by the Rebel Commandoes, but not an exact copy. Skulking in the background is a GW Adeptus Arbites, which I intend on becoming another ‘bounty hunter’ for this universe.

My Dominion Legionnaires had an undercoat of Docrafts Noir, then were spirited off into my garage and were sprayed with some Poundland Gloss White, to try and give a bit of fast shading – which kind of worked. It does give a better indication of how they will end up – and yes, there are a couple more than there were last time. Remember, the Dominion IS Legion…

Incidentally, the ‘corridor’ I’m using as my backdrop is the free sample of the Dungeons & Lasers modular scenery that I mentioned in my previous post. I decided to de-sprue it and have a bit of a play. It’s good stuff solid, robust, well-detailed and how it goes together is really clever and simple. I’ll definitely be getting some of this stuff when it’s released, but if anyone wants to ‘late pledge’ for the Kickstarter, go here.

My Dominion Outriders were also given a similar treatment to their more heavily armoured brethren. I also shortened the Sharpshooter’s rifle, as once it had a lick of paint, it was obvious that it was too long. I still think they’re pretty cool and am looking forward to painting them, although for a full squad, I need to build three more Outriders, as the Sharpshooter doesn’t count.

Finally, I added some paint to my character models, although things did not go quite according to plan with some of them.

My ‘bounty hunter’ got an undercoat of Docrafts Dark Grey with his gun then being painted Docrafts Noir. The ‘protocol droid’ I had issues with – it had an undercoat of Docrafts Bronze, then a coat of Docrafts Shining Gold. However, for some reason the silver-grey plastic it was made from was still showing through the paint, so I then undercoated it again with Docrafts Noir and it now is the dirty brass colour you can see below. Archon Corax, my Vader surrogate, I tried to be clever with, by undercoating him with Gunmetal spray.

This was NOT a good idea, as this type of metallic paint relies on small particles to reflect the light and whilst this works fine on a larger model, like the bunker, it obscures the detail on figures, so I had to get out the nail polish remover and cotton buds to remove most of the spray paint. I left it on the lightsabre blade, as I thought this would help making it ‘shiny’. However, the rest of the figure got an undercoat of Docrafts Noir.

The final figure was the corrupted ‘Dark Side Adept’, who got an undercoat of Docrafts Dark Grey (which is actually quite light, as you can see from the pictures) and his pistol painted in Docrafts Noir.

Having read this far, you might be wondering how the title of this post relates to any of the preceding subject matter.

It doesn’t.

However, I will now explain. As this project progresses, I find myself populating my Star Wars-inspired universe with various figures to serve as proxies for the various troop types and ancillary characters. I have my Rebel trooper proxies and I have my Imperial Stormtrooper and Scout Trooper proxies. I also have Jedi proxies, both Dark and Light (although you haven’t seen the light one yet) and a couple of bounty hunters. I also have my first droid, but this was, up until recently, a bit of a stumbling block.

Humanoid robots are relatively common from several manufacturers, so finding figures for protocol, assassin or combat droids is quite easy. However, if you want proxy Astromech-style droids, you would have to buy either Fantasy Flight Games or the old Star Wars Miniatures game ones – which could prove a bit pricey, or make your own – which could prove to be a bit fiddly. I did find and download a template to make 1:50 scale papercraft R2 Units is a variety of colours, but this looked like it would try the patience of a saint – which I am not.

But Master Crow’s Web-Fu is strong…

Way back in May of 2018 Michael Awdry, of 28mm Victorian Warfare fame, was painting up some of his Imperial Assault figures and happened to mention a company called Combatzone Scenery, who made/make resin-infused plaster scenery for Imperial Assault, with which you can replace the cardboard tokens that come with this game. As I was not involved in a Star Wars-y project and did not own the game, I didn’t pay this much attention at the time.

However, my extensive practising of my Web-Fu in search of suitable proxy Astromech droids flagged up this picture:

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Following the link back, I found that this was the Robot Accessory Set from, you guessed it, Combatzone Scenery, in which you get 14 robots cast in resin “compatible with 28mm skirmish games such as Star Wars Legion, Warhammer 40,000 or Infinity”, available to purchase for £15.00. That works out at about £1.07 per robot. The cheapest official Star Wars Miniatures Astromech droid (R5-D4) I could find was £2.99. Okay, so they’re not exactly right if you’re a Star Wars purist – the MSE droids are too big, the GNK droids have their legs in the wrong place and the R5 units have the wrong number of eyes – but for my purposes, they’re ideal. They look close enough to the source material that you will be thinking Star Wars, but fit in with my slight tweaking of the universe. And they’re £1.07 each…

Incidentally, if you play Imperial Assault, Legion, X-Wing or Armada, check out Combatzone Scenery, as they have a wide selection of products that will enhance your games. Similarly, if you play Super Dungeon Explore or other Chibi style games, they have a whole section devoted to this genre too, so well worth a look and very reasonable too, compared to the cost of the actual official game components.

Join me next time for more Star Wars inspired fun and remember, just because you happen to bump into me at a wargames show, doesn’t mean I’ll let you take my photo…

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Never Break the Chain

One of the problems with being a wargamer is that you can be influenced by other gamers, be it in person  – at your FLGS or local club – or online – in a forum or on a blog such as this.

Whilst the majority of the time, this can be a positive experience, where you gain insight into a new painting style or have a manufacturer brought to your attention that you weren’t aware of, who stocks items that fulfill a specific need in your current project, there are times when something catches your eye or imagination and you suddenly find yourself having shelled out for a new game or figures from a new genre or scale, which are sufficiently different from your normal wargaming fare that you either put them to one side and promise you’ll look at them “later” or you stutter to a halt, as the overwhelming nature of the new project causes your brain to spasm

In other words, you broke the chain.

In my experience, in order to be successful and productive in our wonderful hobby, you do need to maintain momentum, as a two-week “break” from the hobby can easily slip in to a month or even a year if you’re not careful. This hobby momentum I refer to as the chain, so I can cheekily use lyrics from the Fleetwood Mac track of the same name for the post’s title, but also because is IS a chain – if you use it correctly.

Now, this is just MY theory on how to maintain momentum in your hobby pursuits, so feel free to disagree, but it works for me, so I’d thought I’d share it with you.

If you concentrate on a single genre or project for an extended period of time, unless it is something you are committed to or are extremely passionate about, you will experience burn-out. This can lead to a loss of momentum or, in the worse-case scenario, a loss of “love” for that particular project or genre.

Which is not good.

I find that having a small handful of different projects, which share a similar scale, means that I can easily transition from one to another when I start to become jaded with one particular project. It does help that the majority of my projects have an element of the macabre, so whilst I game Victorian Fantasy/Horror, Japanese Medieval Fantasy, Doctor Who, Ghostbusters and the current Alternate Star Wars project, some of the figures I use will turn up in multiple genres. And as Superhero gaming covers every possible permutation of genres and this was my first ‘love’ when I returned to gaming from the wilderness, it has kind of influenced the way I look at every other genre – so most of the projects I do are a blend of more than one thing.

Because there is this transition, this ‘sharing’ of resources and figures, I can easily slide from one project to another if I feel myself becoming “bored” with a particular project, so I don’t fall out of love with it, lose hobby momentum and break the chain, which, according to Fleetwood Mac, you should NEVER do.

Now, this transitioning can also be used in writing posts for your blogs. Sometimes, I’ll read a post which covers so many different projects or genres that it as though the author has just opened his head and spilled the contents on to the screen, without any concern or forethought as to how all these disparate parts come together. It can be somewhat jarring and reduces my enjoyment of reading that particular post. But, if there is some underlying theme or link between everything you’ve included in your post, then you can cover multiple genres or projects in one post without anyone even realising.

I’ll show you what I mean and you can judge for yourself how successful I’ve been…

So, way back in April of this year, I trotted off to the Excel Centre for the annual Salute wargaming convention and, being one of the first 5,000 through the doors, got my goodie bag with various freebies.

As a gamer with a limited budget, I am a fan of free wargaming stuff, although I sometimes can’t think of a particular use for the item when I first receive it. This happened with last year’s freebies, which ended up being sent to Stevie, as he’d missed on on Salute that year and was drooling over the free figures – and I had no use for them.

We’re gamers – that’s what we do.

Anyway, one of this year’s freebies was this;

This was a promo figure for Archon Studios new planned game Starcide, a sci-fi skirmish game, namely a Necromancer from the Legion of the Black Sun faction.

At the time, I had no real use for him. However, as I considered the various factions within my Star Wars-inspired project, I speculated on what would happen if a member of the Order of the Sentinels fell completely and started using their powers to siphon off the life-force of others to prolong their own life. I think they’d end up looking like a Legion of the Black Sun Necromancer…

Now, Archon Studios also had some promo examples and leaflets for their next project to be launched on Kickstarter at Salute, a hard plastic modular scenery system called ‘Dungeons & Lasers’, which allowed you to build either dungeons or sci-fi complexes out of set of interlocking components. Looked pretty cool and exactly the kind of thing I’d be interested in, so I grabbed a couple of leaflets to read up on it.

After the show, I visited their website and signed up for their email newsletter, so I could be kept in the loop. Prior to the launch of the Kickstarter for this new project, anyone who’d signed up for the newsletter received an email asking if they’d like a free sample of the new kit…

As I’ve stated before, I LIKE free wargaming stuff… so said yes.

This is what I got;

So, this sprue/frame contains enough components to create a small corridor with two walls… and an animal companion. It’s a fairly substantial bit of kit, as each floor section approximately 3mm thick and each wall section about 5mm thick. Floor sections are single-sided, with tabs that the rectangular connectors on the sprue clip on to, to ensure they don’t shift about. The wall sections are double-sided and in the production version will have different styles of either the fantasy or sci-fi decor on, so you can chooses which side you want showing. The way the bits clip together is really straightforward and the product is pretty robust.

The Kickstarter launched on 13th August 2019 and has now been successfully funded, but late pledges can still be made here. Lowest scenery pledge is $99, for which you get one base set of your preferred genre choice AND three extra rooms of your choice.

I know that I’ve previously stated that I’m not a fan of Kickstarters, but on this occasion, having seen the stuff in the…er…plastic AND if I had the cash, I would definitely buy in to this. Have a look yourself, as it might be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

I also received another unexpected email recently, from Keith aka the Angry Piper from Dead Dick’s Tavern & Temporary Lodging. He’d sent me a photo of an item he thought I might like and asked if I wanted it.

Free wargaming stuff? Oooh, yes please…

Anyway, this is the item, which arrived yesterday morning.

Yeah Baby… you know who to call..

28mm Outrider figure for scale purposes, as my Ghostbusters are currently packed away… somewhere. (There was something else in the box, but the less said about the better, right Keith?) A very generous gift, especially when taking into account the shipping costs, and one that I am extremely grateful for.

Just need to find a way to pay him back somehow…

Right that’s all for this post, which not only had tied into my current project, but also a once and future project and was all linked together with a single theme.

It’s almost like I planned this…