Test of Honour: North Star Painted Ronin

I’ve been playing a bit of Warlord’s Test of Honour recently at TCOW. It’s a fun little Japanese skirmish game that comes with a bunch of plastic figures in the box.

The box set is a great deal, but to be honest the plastic figures are all pretty similar. They’re fine for rank and file Ashigaru who are dressed largely in a uniform, but for the heroic character figures the Samurai plastics didn’t really grab me. Fortunately there’s a bunch of figure manufacturers that do historical Japanese. Perry Miniatures Samurai caught my eye initially, but they tend to sell large packs of similar figures, clearly for bigger systems than Test of Honour.

Instead I went for North Star’s metal figures for Ospreys’ “Ronin” game. I wanted a more characterful bunch of Ronin so grabbed the ‘Ronin Buntai’ box.

They’re well cast metal figures that only required the usual amount of filing and removal of flash to tidy up. They come with a set of separate scabbards for their weapons which are slightly to small to hold the weapons themselves, but you don’t really notice that on the finished figure. As they’re metal I also had some fun filing down the swords a little to give them a little edge.

They were painted up pretty quickly, and I had fun experimenting with different colours and light patterning to represent Japanese textiles. They also mix nicely with the plastic Warlord figures and the single Warlord metal I have from their Ronin box, which is pictured here.

I do still plan to paint up some rank and file Ashigaru to fill out their ranks with Spearmen, Archers and Teppo matchlocks, just to give me some extra options when building warbands. The Ronin look great on the table, and are a colourful bunch of figures both visually and according to the Test of Honour rules.

Test of Honour: Painted Scratch Build Village

I’ve painted the start of my scratch built Japanese village for Warlord’s Test of Honour. After some experimenting, the paint scheme I went with was a mix of cheap ‘dark umber’ student paint lightened with gesso, watered down and applied with hog bristle brushes. The stiffer brushes cover quickly and help work the paint into the balsa detailing. Once dry it was all dry-brushed a couple of lighter shades to pick up the balsa grain. After another round of drying everything was washed down with a 50/50 mix of water and liquid black shoe polish – again to help pick out the natural balsa grain. The paint scheme was to try and make the wood look sun faded and generally weathered.

The tree/rock pieces are an attempt at making some simple LOS blocking terrain. They’re MDF bases with chucks of garden bag limestone epoxied to them and detailed with some ancient model railroad plastic trees I’ve had in my garage for years. Originally I planned to try and make trees with foliage, but the material that came with the kit was so awful I’ve left them barren and autumnal looking. That also inspired me to throw around some of the leaves I’ve been cutting with my Greenstuff World leaf punch. That’s the little splashes of colour you can see on the building roofs. They’re glued down with PVA and add some nice detail to the roofs, while also hiding a few of the dress-makers pins used to hold the plastic tiling down.

I’m happy with the end result, and have the start of a good set of Japanese terrain to run Test of Honour games over. I need a few more larger pieces and some kind of 3′ x 3′ gaming mat to put it all on. The plan is to go with a quick and dirty drop-cloth and caulk style mat in a similar shade to the ground pieces I’ve already made. This is meant to be a fishing village so I’m going for a sort of gray volcanic sand look for the ground. I also need some more detail pieces like old fishing boats and maybe nets of some kind. Simple fishing boats should be pretty easy to scratch build out of balsa.

Now I have to get cracking on some Samurai and Ashigaru soldiers. Unfortunately the Warlord plastics aren’t really to my tastes – they’re quite low detail and a little unpleasant to paint. I’ll probably end up using the rank and file Ashigaru archers and spearmen, but have recently ordered some metal North Star ‘Ronin’ figures for my Samurai/Ronin heroes.

Test of Honour: Scratch Built Village

I recently played in a demo game of Warlord’s new Test of Honour Samurai game at TCOW (my local wargaming club). I enjoyed it enough to pick up the reasonably priced starter box from Mighty Ape. Warlord have a YouTube video un-boxing the starter set, which shows you everything you get in the full box.

The set includes several cardboard template buildings which you can get you playing the game right after assembling a few figures. However after years of watching Akira Kurosawa classics like ‘Seven Samurai’, ‘Rashomon’ and ‘Yojimbo’ something possessed me to dig out my scrap foam board and balsa wood from the garage and start scratch building. The photos show what I’ve built so far, in a week of evenings.

The first goal was to simply replace the cardboard template buildings with something equivalent in footprint. This means I’ve built a richer man’s two story house with a tiled roof, a small shrine building, and a simpler single level dwelling with a traditional wooden roof held down by stones. The buildings are meant to be clad in exposed wood, based on some turn of the century photos of Japanese houses. I don’t have any materials handy to make anything that looks like a sliding door, so opted for simpler doors and windows.

The larger plan is to build enough terrain for a 3′ x 3′ poor, coastal fishing village that has been infested with no good Ronin that a local Samurai needs to clear out. The next challenge is going to be coming up with a suitable paint scheme to represent weather faded wood.

Westfalia Halfmen Kickstarter Painted

Westfalia Miniatures had a Kickstarter for a lovely looking set of 28mm ‘Halfmen’ that closed back in March 2016. I backed it for a bunch of figures which arrived late 2016 after a few production hiccups along the way with the casting process that was used.

The final figures are lovely little resin casts that are great fun to paint. They’re fairly light on detail, but not on character and really look like a bunch of pugnacious little Halfings ready to take on the world. They were also pretty clean casts, with only two slight miscasts in around 12 figures.

I picked up a fairly mixed bag from the Kickstarter: a Wizard and Apprentice, and several swordsmen, pikemen, crossbowmen as well as a command squad. I also got a bonus Goblin and couldn’t resist a female human swords-woman (she’s going to be Snow White in the warband). The figures are all available on the Westfalia website now if you follow those links.

I bought enough figures to run a large Frostgrave warband, although I haven’t played that system in a while! If they don’t get used for Frostgrave, they might be used for Song of Blades and Heroes. Regardless they’re lovely little figures and great fun to paint as a break from WWII or sci-fi stuff.

TCOW: Bludgefest IV!

The TCOW wargaming club held another Bludgefest this weekend at club meet. This is a semi-regular bring and buy, where club members and various hangers on bring their unloved toy soldiers and try and convert them into cash, or more likely trade them for different toy soldiers. Everybody seems to walk away happy and there are some fantastic deals to be had across a wide range of war gaming stuff because the TCOW gamers are a pretty eclectic lot.

I’ve scored some bargains at past Bludgefests, and this Bludgefest was one of the better ones in terms of the stuff for sale. I was restrained however and only took $40 in cash along to spend. That got me what you see in the photo:

  1. The Orc sprues from the new Blood Bowl release for $23. Lovely figures, but annoyingly large bases. These guys will be combined with some Dreadball Orcs a TCOW friend kindly gifted me, and spare WHFB Fantasy Orc heads to make a Blood Bowl Orc team.
  2. A box of the good old plastic Skaven Clan Rats for $20 (despite what the price tag says – I haggled). I couldn’t resist grabbing these guys as they’re great for Mordheim warbands. I’m also not a fan of the modern GW Skaven one piece plastics.

If you’re a war gamer that lives in the greater Auckland area, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the TCOW Facebook group to see when they’re holding their Bludgefests. Pretty sure anybody with cold hard cash is welcome to attend!

This is Not a Test: 28mm Kelvinators

28mm Scale Fridges After I created a set of ruined 28mm furniture for This is Not a Test, I had grand plans to sculpt a bunch more common, 1950’s household items. First up was a Kelvinator style fridge which I’ve finally got around to completing and casting in resin.

Here’s two of the painted pieces in a scene for scale. They turned out quite nicely, and are constructed of three layers sandwiched together. A back layer for the coils, the main body and a separate door. As I’m garage casting I use one sided molds for everything, just because it is the quick and dirtiest way to mold anything reliably at small scales.

28mm Scale Fridges The fridges all have a back too which turned out reasonably well considering it was a little fiddly to sculpt. The radiator tubing at the back was mastered from a bit of 1mm garden wire that I spent far too long carefully trying to bend into fairly regular pattern. Next up I plan to try mastering a 50’s style big-box TV set.

Frostgrave: Hirst Arts and Foamcore Building

Wizard House Painted Front We’ve been playing a few warm up games of Frostgrave recently on my old Mordheim table, and it’s quickly become obvious I need a lot more cover! Frostgrave’s combat is considerably more brutal than Mordheim’s, and a few lucky rolls with archery or line-of-sight spells can spell a short end to your warband. I’m used to the dreadfully mediocre archery of Mordheim and my table is usually set up with fairly wide open avenues of fire.

To combat this the first thing I’m going to do is start playing Frostgrave on a 3′ x 3′ table which will allow me to pack my existing buildings into a smaller space. The next thing I’m doing is finishing some outstanding terrain projects to add a few more bits and pieces.

Wizard House Painted Rear First up is this ruined Wizard house, which is based on a Hirst Arts Fieldstone foundation that I built as an early experiment with the excellent Hirst Arts Ruined Fieldstone mold. The photos include an old Mordheim Pit Fighter Hired Sword for scale.

The upper floors are built from foam board with balsa trimmings and the whole thing was speed painted in a weekend, hence the somewhat heavy handed dry brushing on the Hirst Arts blocks. To keep things a little more interesting I tried added a bay window to the first floor, as well as a bit of signage out the front which is meant to indicate an Alchemist or Wizard’s goblet of some kind.

I’ve also thrown together a handful more balsa wood walkways and ladders for the table, and plan to build another three for four fence sections too. As well as carefully considering Frostgrave spells that actively block LOS like the Elemamentalist’s “Wall”, Illusionsist’s “Invisibility”, or the Witch’s “Fog”.

This is Not a Test: Pig Iron Productions Militia

Pig Iron Production Kolony Militia I’m painting a variety of figures at the moment, and latest off the paint station are these three Pig Iron Productions figures for a second “This is Not a Test” warband. They’re built from a couple of the Pig Iron Production sets: the heads are Kolony Militia covered helmets, while their torsos and legs are Kolony Rebel parts.

I mixed the heads and torsos because I wanted a bunch of raggedy-assed looking military survivors. Perhaps they were in the National Guard before the Fall happened, or perhaps they’ve raided an Army depot afterwards. The Kolony rebels have nice variety of tattered uniforms, but the helmets and gas masks still make them look like a unit.

I’m also experimenting with painting a couple of different camo options on them too. I’m trying to produce a camo scheme in 28mm that sort of suggests modern “digital camo”, without having to paint a million tiny squares. Here I’ve tried to paint a couple of desert schemes, as well as a sort of autumn woodland scheme. I plan to try a few others, perhaps a blue/grey urban scheme, and a scheme which is a little heavier on the green for a woodlands camo.

The figures are based on a mixed variety of resin bases I’ve picked up from Mighty Ape sales. I’ve used both Secret Weapon Miniatures bases, and Micro Art Studio bases.

These Pig Iron Productions metal figures are just a joy to paint. They’re pewter so feel lovely and heavy in your hand, something I miss with resins and plastics. They have plenty of variety in poses and detailing to keep the painting interesting. For example I didn’t notice that figure on the left was wearing some kind of rigid carapace armor or vest until I primed him up. He also has a bunch more webbing packs, so half way through painting he became the team’s medic. Pig Iron Productions figures aren’t cheap, but they are lovely and worth what you pay for them. I absolutely recommend them if you’re looking for any kind of sci-fi or post apocalyptic soldier in 28mm. I’m looking forward to painting the rest of the warband.

TCOW: Bludgefest!

TCOW Bludgefest 2015 This weekend at TCOW, I was supposed to play a game of This is Not a Test against another clubbie. Unfortunately I miscalculated on the amount of fantastic bargains that would be available at the ‘Bludgefest’ swap meet that was going on at the same time. The photo shows about 1/3rd of the nerdy goodness that was available for trade or purchase.

I spent the whole afternoon talking nonsense, and pawing through various boxes of sprues and metal soldiers on a bunch of tables set up in the sun. It was glorious! I parted with a few things I didn’t need any more, Star Wars Armada (which I found a disappointing game with very expensive expansions) and a Warmachine Cryx starter set. That gave me plenty of spending money to pick up a bunch of random stuff from the various tables, which I probably also didn’t need…

TCOW Bludgefest 2015 Haul My haul consisted of two partially stripped sprues from the older Warhammer Skaven Battalion box, which gave me enough bits for two Rat Ogres for my unpainted Mordheim Skaven warband for $3. I also picked up a bunch of OOP Skaven metals from various releases for a $1 each, which gives me plenty of character models for the warband too. Deathmaster Snikch in particular is a beautiful bit of sculpture. A rather impractical figure for Mordheim but he’ll be fun to paint.

The half price Panzer II will go into my DAK force, since it did actually appear in North Africa, unlike my early Pulp painted Panzer 38(T). It’s the older Warlord resin model, which is still a lovely bit of kit. In Bolt Action the Panzer II is only 10pts more expensive than an SdKfz-222 armored car, has exactly the same armament, but is a full tracked and enclosed light tank. It’ll probably be just as effective as my Panzer III against infantry and armored cars, but at around half the points cost.

Finally a gent was flogging off his ‘Toughest Girls in the Galaxy’ Kickstarter figures. These weren’t cheap, so I only grabbed three. They’re lovely sculpts, even if one of the figures has an annoying miscast issue which I only noticed on assembly. I plan to paint them up as civilian volunteers as part of my second This is Not a Test warband.

Next TCOW I must remember to actually play a game of something!

Outrider: Customised Hot Wheels

Outrider Custom Hot Wheels Outrider is a simple, but elegant car combat game that uses cards for movement and polyhedral dice to customise the car statistics. I bought a copy of way back in 2013 from DriveThruCards. The product is still for sale there, or you can get the basic rules from the BoardGameGeek Outrider page for free.
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