Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Do I secretly enjoy painting miniatures?

According to Betteridge’s law, you already know the answer to that question. But I didn’t really know the answer until I started thinking about it over the past couple of days.

I’ve been saying I loathe painting miniatures for years now, and the evidence supports my position: I’ve owned Space Hulk since 2009 — longer than I’ve been blogging on Yore — and the miniatures are still only about 65% painted.

But there’s some counterevidence, too.

I started painting minis when I was a little kid

I was 10-12 when I painted my first miniature, a terror bear from the original TMNT comic. I had no idea what I was doing, so I globbed on some enamel paint — no primer, of course — and, as I recall, cried when I saw how badly it turned out.

But I also painted model tanks with my dad, and although neither of us were what I’d call good at it we weren’t too shabby, either. We did camo paint jobs, painted the detailed bits pretty well — all told, decent work. And it was fun.

I painted a crapload of mechs in high school and college

I dabbled in painting fantasy minis in grade school, but always got frustrated with the results. But high school brought BattleTech with it, and that was more my speed.

Like the tanks I painted as a wee lad, vehicles — and mechs — seemed easier to me than people. I followed White Dwarf tutorials and learned how to drybrush, which was fully a part of my arsenal by college. College was also when I learned to base my mechs with glue and gravel for a more naturalistic look.

The Dip Method brought me back to minis

The Dip Method is really just ink washing/shading, but there’s a magical insouciance to it, a devil-may-care attitude that got me to believe I could do a not-terrible job on my Space Hulk miniatures. Instead of a “proper” ink wash, you dunk the whole mini in floor varnish and shake most of it off — and it really does work wonders, turning a crappy base coat into a “good enough for tabletop” paint job almost immediately. (You still need to drybrush.)

But, years later, with only my Genestealers fully painted, I stalled out on the marines. For so long that my paints dried out. Twice.

Buuuuut I also didn’t abandon the project entirely. Martin circa age 12, poring over the same issue or two of White Dwarf over and over, dreamed of one day playing his own fully painted Space Hulk game. I didn’t want to disappoint the little fella.

Frosting a few graves

When I got into Frostgrave (which I’ve written about extensively here on Yore) I avoided painting — and miniatures — entirely, opting instead for Pathfinder Pawns and prepainted terrain.

But what hit me just this morning was that 90% of my enjoyment of Frostgrave to date was the process. Picking out terrain, testing my setup, hunting down aquarium decor, selecting the right sets of pawns — that was all fun. I’ve only played the game once (it was a lot of fun, but in hindsight clicked less for me than I wanted it to), but I did a huge amount of work to get my set to the point where I felt like I could do it justice.

That enjoyment of the process for its own sake (even though I didn’t realize it at the time) was key. Because I’ve always heard that that’s the key to miniatures as a hobby: enjoying the process of turning an unassembled, unpainted thing into a cool, vibrant model.

Which, I mean: duh, right? But it never really clicked for me.

Thich Nhat Hanh on mindfulness

In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh says:

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future –and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

Painting miniatures = washing the dishes.

I’ve always painted miniatures for the end goal, not for the painting. I painted so I could have painted figures for my games, not for the joy of painting.

A little Deadzone, as a treat

As I committed, again, to painting and playing Space Hulk this year, I decided I needed to will myself into enjoying miniature painting.

I also had a chance visit to a hobby store where I encountered Kill Team and the latest edition of Necromunda. Which made me remember how much I liked Necromunda in college, and how much I regretted not buying the OG core box with its amazing punchboard terrain — and down the rabbit hole I went.

But hours of research later, I concluded that Necromunda’s core set terrain in the current edition looks like a bit of a disappointment; I also had reservations about committing fully to this expensive game line. I wanted a core box, OG Underhive-like terrain that I didn’t need to paint, and a Necromunda-like skirmish game with a short play time and a low model count.

That added up to Deadzone, plus a set of Battle Systems Terrain (full-color punchboard, Underhive-style!), plus a neoprene battle mat. And I found myself excited at the prospect of assembling and painting those minis. I read the Deadzone book and felt the same magical feeling that I felt 30-plus years ago reading White Dwarf as a kid.

And so far, this combination of willpower, new perspective, mindfulness, and the joy of Space Hulk and Deadzone is working.

I’ve base coated a couple more colors on my Terminators (assembly line-style). They’re on my desk, ready for more paint at a moment’s notice. And when I paint, I’m not hating life. I’ve restocked my paints and bought a better water cup. I researched primer and sealer and decided to forego my familiar spray cans for the less temperature- and humidity-sensitive brush-on stuff, which really widens my “painting window.” Ditto shading; I figure if I’m brushing on sealer and primer I might as well learn how to brush on an ink wash, too.

Deadzone awaits, models still on sprues — my reward for finishing my Terminators. But my real reward for painting my Terminators is painting — and possibly the rediscovery of an old hobby, experienced with a new perspective, and its transformation into something that brings me joy instead of frustration.

Hold onto your butts

I joked on Twitter that I was considering turning Yore into a blog for posting pictures of my shitty Space Hulk paint jobs, but I was only half-joking. I do want to start blogging more about miniatures, inspired by the excellence that is Warpstone Pile. Not to the point of pigeonholing myself, perhaps; that’s something I try to avoid doing (and hey, my first Yore post is about my wife and I making a screen-accurate Jawa costume, something I’ve done exactly . . . once).

But: miniatures. Posts about them. I’m feeling it. I have a lightbox; I have Genestealers to share; I’m building a paint rack this weekend. Hopefully you’ll come along for the ride.

Categories
D&D Dice Miniature painting Miniatures Miscellaneous geekery Old school RPG community Story games Tabletop RPGs

A digest of smaller Google+ RPG posts from 2012-2015

With the impending shutdown of Google+ — my primary (and generally only) social network and outlet for gaming chit-chat since 2012 — I’ve been slowly making my way through stuff I posted there which, in hindsight, I should just have posted here on Yore.

Some posts stood alone, and should just have been Yore posts all along. I moved those over on their original publication date or on whatever day I happened to be working on them, whichever made the most sense.

But after doing that I was left with a little collection of posts that I like best in digest format — a sort of snapshot of some of what I cared about, tabletop RPG-wise, over the past seven years. It’s as erratic and unfocused as my overall post history on G+, so it feels pretty apropos.

Here they are in chronological order, lightly edited for clarity and to provide context.

February 7, 2012

High school wasn’t very helpful in figuring out who I wanted to be (better at sorting out who I wasn’t) but it was great for figuring out what kind of gamer I was going to spend the next 10-15 years being.

The past few years have made me reassess all sorts of things about how I game and want to game, but the past week or so — a full-bore nosedive into OSR games, hex crawl design, research, and the minutiae of D&D editions — has been mind-blowing and, I strongly suspect, formative.

I’m really curious to see where this leads.

March 22, 2012

This superb definition of hit points over on THE LAND OF NOD would probably have improved most of my D&D games in the past 20 years.

Hit points don’t represent anything solid or real or concrete in and of themselves. Rather, they are part of a complex calculation that boils down to this: “What are the chances that the next moment of mortal peril you experience will be your last.” That mortal peril might be a sword fight, a poison needle, a trap door … anything that might kill you. Most often, hit points relate to combat.

August 16, 2012

All three Engine Publishing books on Studio 2 Publishing‘s shelves at Gen Con (booth 419). That really never gets old!

January 17, 2013

I would love to replace my amethyst Armory dice set someday. The dice at the bottom are all that remain; the rest were chased under couches by cats and lost at friends’ houses while gaming as a kid.

Above them are the closest I’ve been able to get: an orchid Koplow set. They’re really, really close.

And at the top are my very first gaming dice, the d10 and d20 from Lords of Creation (from the very box they’re sitting on). I inked them with modeling paint and sprayed them with matte sealant, which was a pretty terrible idea.

Feb 13, 2013

I started collecting the FR series in 1990 or 1991; I have a vivid memory of reading FR9: The Bloodstone Lands — still my favorite in the series — in the auditorium as a freshman in high school. The arrival of FR8: Cities of Mystery today, more than 20 years later, completes my set of FR1-FR16.

For my money, this is one of the best series of gaming books ever produced, and these little volumes have been a source of inspiration to me for nearly as long as I’ve been a gamer. It feels funny to have them all.

August 25, 2013

After four years, Engine Publishing has a warehouse!

It’s still the office closet, but instead of working out of stacks of boxes (containing books) and moving huge “cheese wheels” of bubble wrap every time I need to ship a book, I can just do it. I have no idea why I waited this long!

December 15, 2013

I just found this while working on the basement. I think I made these in 2006 or 2007 (certainly no later, as I stopped running TT in 2007).

That’s probably the last time I had a business card, come to think of it. I always get less use out of them than I think I will, as much as I like having them.

January 8, 2014

With a hat tip to Brendan S for the idea, here’s a rough breakdown of my 2013 gaming purchases by the categories that sort of made sense to me as I went through them.

There are probably lots of ways I could have done this better, but hopefully I’ll escape the notice of the RPGSTPD (RPG Stats Tracking Police Department) long enough for you to observe my dorkitude.

March 6, 2014

I grew up shopping at The Compleat Strategist in NYC, first at the one on 57th and then at the one on 33rd. Much of my early formative gaming originated from one of those stores.

My friend Stephan just sent me this picture: Engine Publishing‘s two most recent books, Odyssey and Never Unprepared, on the shelf at the 33rd street Compleat.

That right there is blowing my mind.

March 6, 2014

Space marine terminator: “Brother Leopold, I found a flat spot on my armor!

Brother Leopold: “This space hulk will keep — let’s bedazzle the shit out of that flat spot. For the emperor!

Me: “Fuck you, I’m painting that red.

Five years after buying Space Hulk, I’ve finally started painting my marines. As you may have guessed, miniatures aren’t really my wheelhouse.

March 10, 2014

Lords of Creation (1983, designed by Tom Moldvay) was my introduction to gaming in 1987. I never owned its three modules as a kid, but they were all surprisingly cheap so I closed out the line on eBay/Amazon.

Revel in those covers! They’re totally fucking glorious. Plus, the “-akron” in Omegakron is Akron, Ohio and The Yeti Sanction is (as Brad Murray pointed out) a parody of The Eiger Sanction; this isn’t a game that takes itself too seriously.

April 27, 2014

Behold! For I am all of Spelljammer, and I am totally fucking awesome (and underrated).

I’ve loved Spelljammer since I first picked up the boxed set in 1989 or 1990 and moved my campaign there (as I did every time a new setting came out), and as of this weekend I finally closed out the line.

May 19, 2014

It’s 1989. A pimply-faced, floppy-haired Martin, age 12 or 13, was introduced to D&D a few months ago.

He’s standing in The Compleat Strategist on 57th Street in NYC, picking out dice to go with his AD&D 2e PHB, DMG, MC, and Time of the Dragon.

He picks these.

I knew if I was patient I’d eventually find the exact pack my first dice came in. I still have a few of the actual dice; some were stolen by cats or lost under friends’ couches. It’s like stepping into a time machine!

July 12, 2014

I first heard of Living Steel around the time I started gaming, when I was in my early teens. I picked up the boxed set and hardcover rulebook in college, back in Michigan (mid-1990s), and have been slowly acquiring the other supplements ever since.

Today I closed out the line.

It’s so not my kind of game mechanically, but the hook and the vibe and the guts of it are fabulous. I’d love to play it as written and using a lighter system someday.

July 31, 2014

I stumbled into collecting U.S. editions of Call of Cthulhu back in high school and have been slowly doing so ever since. It’s one of my favorite RPGs, and has been for over 20 years. I also enjoy the irony that until the forthcoming 7th edition its rules have remained basically unchanged for 30 years, making it one of relatively few games where there’s no compelling reason to own multiple editions.

Today I added an edition I thought I’d never see, the 25th anniversary edition (white hardcover), and thought that deserved a quick picture. Right to left, top to bottom: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, UK 3rd (also available here, so I mostly count it); 4th, 5th, 5.1; 5.5, 5.6, 20th anniversary, 6th softcover; 6th hardcover, 25th anniversary, 30th anniversary.

To my knowledge, I’m only missing two editions, and my odds of acquiring them seem poor: the designer’s edition of 2e, of which only 200 copies were made, and the “more limited” 20th anniversary edition (gold Elder Sign on the cover).

September 13, 2014

My desk, where I do Engine Publishing and Gnome Stew work, in the state it’s in about 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time there aren’t any piles on the end.

The piles are books I’m reading, need to shelve, need to review, or otherwise am currently using in some form.

November 17, 2015

From this excellent post about sales stats for RPG retailer BlackDiamondGames.com:

Also, because I know you guys like lists, here are our top 10 titles with the extremely high 17-40 turn rates:


1. D&D Next: Dungeon Master’s Screen
2. D&D Next RPG: Dungeon Masters Guide
3. Pathfinder RPG: Strategy Guide
4. Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters

Wait wait wait. What?! One of these things is not like the others.

Closing remarks

On balance, I greatly enjoyed my time on Google+. It had a huge impact on my gaming, from meeting my current Seattle group to learning about all sorts of cool products to making friends to changing my gaming philosophy over time.

But having gone cold turkey a month or so ago, when my gaming group stopped using G+ to schedule our sessions, there’s a flipside: I’ve found that I don’t miss checking G+ nearly as much as I thought I would.

That gnawing feeling of a social network needing to be checked, maintained, curated, and managed, and of needing to deal with the small percentage of assholes I encountered there (who consume an outsized amount of time and energy) — I don’t miss that at all.

Nonetheless, though: On balance, G+ was seven years largely well spent, and I’ll miss the connections and gaming choices it helped me to make. I’m taking a social network break, maybe for good, but I’ll still be posting here and I’m quietly active on RPGnet and RPGGeek.

Categories
Miniatures

Karl Keesler on rebasing HeroClix minis

Over on G+, Karl Keesler posted about how he rebases his HeroClix minis (and sometimes adds base textures and highlighting, too), and damn if that’s not a great idea. Here’s Karl’s intro:

I am always trying to find cheap ways to make my role playing game tables look cool. I often take modern looking Heroclix or Horroclix minis and cut the big bulky bases off and stick them on 25mm Armskeeper bases. They look better and I can use them on maps with 1″ squares in them You can buy these bases in packs of 80 or more. They are relatively cheap.

The Clix base is big and clunky, whereas nice uniform 25mm black bases are smaller, more streamlined, and take up less space. If you’re already not using the Clix base for HeroClix, why have it at all?

From repairing one of the minis that came in the bulk HeroClix lot I bought recently, I can confirm that even the ones whose little feet are attached directly to the Clix wheel (as opposed to being on a sort of micro-base atop the wheel) can be glued right back on, so gluing them to another base should be no big deal.

I glued Wrecker back onto his base with two dots of Krazy Glue, and he looks good as new:

Even if you skip Karl’s next steps — adding a texture and/or paint job to the new base, and then touching up the mini itself with highlights or other simple techniques — just swapping the bases looks like a dandy upgrade.

Categories
Miniatures Tabletop RPGs

Buying bulk HeroClix to use for other supers games

I recently stumbled across Scott Pyle’s Super Mission Force, read up on it — it’s a low-complexity superhero miniatures game that uses power suites to make character creation simple, and it supports campaign play — and thought, “That sounds totally rad! Except I don’t have any miniatures for it . . .

Enter HeroClix, which have been around for years, and which are readily available in bulk lots — perfect for someone who doesn’t care about them as HeroClix[1], just as miniatures. SMF is specifically designed to work with whatever minis you have on hand (just like Frostgrave (paid link), which I love).

The best I could do for bulk minis, with some duplicates and likely a few broken ones in the mix, was $0.50/figure on Ebay. Or so I thought, until I remembered that CoolStuffInc — a fantastic online game store I’ve shopped at for years — stocks loose/single miniatures.

Their HeroClix selection includes batches of 100 assorted HeroClix for $15, with the note, “May contain duplicates.” (They also have batches of 100 different HeroClix for $28, but those were sold out and in any case were pricier than I’d like.) I rolled the dice and bought four packs.

Zero minis enter, 400 minis leave

Here’s the first 100, which turned out to be the lot with the fewest duplicates of my four (dupes and broken are in front):

Those plus the second hundred (growing horde of dupes off to the left):

The final 200:

The breakdown

Here’s how my 400 HeroClix shook out:

  • 332 unique miniatures
  • 68 doubles (and multiples, etc.)
  • 3 broken figures, all easily repaired with glue

At $60 for all 400, that’s $0.15/figure, or $0.18/unique figure — much better than the best I could find anywhere else.[2] And duplicates aren’t a bad thing: Superheroes fight forces of goons, squads of robots, evil crime families, and the like all the time, after all.

The variety across my 332 unique HeroClix is staggering. A wide range of skin tones, genders (male, female, genderless, ambiguous, etc.), ethnicities, species, roles, and heroes/villains are represented in my lot. Also included are a dozen or so minis on flying bases, some mundane non-super folks, and a handful of giant-sized figures.

Compared to the other prepainted minis I’m used to, WotC’s old D&D Miniatures line, the paint jobs on HeroClix range from awful to pretty good, with the occasional excellent one — but I knew that going in. HeroClix get the job done, and what they lack in quality they make up for in variety. I don’t know of a better way to acquire this many prepainted figures, with this much variety, this cheaply.

Some of the fancier and more interesting-looking ones actually look pretty awesome, too. Here are a few favorites:

I also threw in a random assortment of $2 HeroClix maps for good measure.

Overall, I’m beyond thrilled with how this worked out. When Super Mission Force arrives, I’ve got a deep catalog of potential miniatures to match damn near any character concept we can come up with. I also bought a superhero RPG by the same author, 3d6 Supers!, that looks it will work well with miniatures.[3] I’ve loved superhero RPGs since I was a kid — I’m sure there will be plenty of chances to put these to use.

If you need a walloping great bunch of inexpensive superhero minis, this is a splendid option.

[1] I’ve played HeroClix and it’s neat, but it’s not my jam. And the older I get, the harder it is to read the tiny icons on the bases.

[2] Compared to CSI’s $28/100 different, which shakes out to $0.28/figure, this is the clear winner.

[3] I don’t always love using minis in supers games — Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, for example, is superb as a theater-of-the-mind game — but some supers games lend themselves to that approach.

Categories
Frostgrave

Frostgrave: 9 out of 10, would frost these graves again

I got a chance to play my first game of Frostgrave (paid link) last night. My friend Bobby and I got together, made warbands, talked about the rules for a bit, and dove right in. It was awesome!

The city felt right to me, crowded and full of interesting elevated positions. (Here’s my Frostgrave setup, with links to all of the terrain that goes into it.) Using Pathfinder Pawns for minis worked out great: They didn’t feel out of place at all, and having lots of variety was a big plus.

I stuck little sticker-dots on each base (front and back) so we could tell our pawns apart. (You can see them in this photo .)

The game itself is a blast. It’s easy to pick up — simple without being at all simplistic. It feels like a refined, tested design; there’s no fat on it, and everything that’s there is interesting. Quite a lot of D&D pokes through, too, even though the game has nothing to do with D&D.

I absolutely love the turn structure, with each “mini-turn” offering interesting things to chew on: the order in which they occur, how you position soldiers for group activations, the way leaving a bunch of soldiers until the final phase can feel like a bum rush, etc. Attack resolution is brilliant, and keeps things moving briskly.

We learned a lot, and although we called the game after about two hours (it was my bedtime), we could tell we’d be able to speed up play in the future. Even after just one play, spells started to come into focus: three Leap spells in a row got Bobby’s wizard to the tallest point on the board, and then off the board with a treasure.

I like the swinginess of the d20-based resolution system. It keeps things surprising. We had a thief/thug fight where one hit completely annihilated my thug, as well as a lucky arrow shot that knocked off 50% of Bobby’s wizard’s health in one whack. (In the photo below, his wizard is atop the tower, and my archer is in the foreground.)

Sitting here writing this, I’m already thinking of things I’d do differently next time, and rethinking my wizard and warband. I lost the game, which isn’t uncommon for me, but I had a fantastic time losing. That’s one of the surest signs of a great game for me.

Frostgrave (paid link) is a brilliant game, and I highly recommend it.

Categories
Frostgrave Miniatures

My Frostgrave setup

My first game of Frostgrave (paid link) is tonight, so over the weekend I spent some time setting up a sample city — “my” Frostgrave. I’ve done proofs of concept before (most of which resulted in buying more terrain), but this is the first version I really like.

I spent a lot of time researching terrain and looking at other folks’ takes on Frostgrave, and I often wished they’d break things down a bit more. This post is my answer to that wish: Along with pictures of the finished city, I’ll share my goals and list everything that went into my version of Frostgrave.

(Here’s a larger version of this top-down view.)

Goals

Here’s what I had in mind when buying and setting up my city of Frostgrave:

  • Don’t paint or build anything. I don’t really enjoy painting minis, and I have no interest in painting or making terrain.
  • Make it look as good as I can. I tried to get the most bang for my buck with every terrain element.
  • It should be crowded. Per the rules, line of sight should never exceed 24″ (and should usually be a lot less). It’s a knife fight in a phone booth, not a battle in an open field. I’ve seen some otherwise gorgeous setups that have lots of wide-open spaces in them, and to me that isn’t Frostgrave.
  • Incorporate elevation. Everything in Frostgrave can be scaled by default, and elevation is fun.
  • Make it feel real. Real ruins are cluttered (and some Frostgrave tables looks too clean and tidy to me), so I added clutter. Real cities are rarely just one color, so my Frostgrave isn’t mono-colored either. A city full of undead servants and crazy wizards, like Frostgrave before the big freeze, would have a death motif, so I added one. It would also be a weird place, so I tried to make it feel weird.
  • Keep it portable. Except for the battle mat, it all fits in a plastic storage box.

The other parts of the equation are miniatures and storage, which I’ve written about on Yore in the lead-up to this post:

My Frostgrave

I took photos of the city from all four sides, and then took a few “in-the-streets”-style shots to round things out. Weird factoid: I don’t own a table large enough for Frostgrave (although our coffee table is close), hence the carpet.

From all four sides

First view (larger version):

Second view (larger version):

Third view (larger version):

Fourth view (larger version):

Street views

Street view one (larger version):

Street view two (larger version):

Street view three (larger version):

Street view four (larger version):

Looking at the photos, I can see a spot or two where I’ve got a sight-line over 24″, but I have plenty of stuff to drop in or move around to eliminate that. I assume it’s easier to police LOS during setup with two people looking at it, too.

Maybe it’ll feel different in play, but just messing around with it I’m happy with how my Frostgrave turned out. It’s crowded and death-y, with lots of elevation, and there’s plenty of variety to the terrain.

Terrain elements

Hold onto your hat! Here’s everything you see in the pictures above:

  • F.A.T. Mat Alpine 3×3 (paid link): Holy shit are there a lot of battle mat options! But this one was my favorite by far. It’s basically a huge mouse pad, complete with a smooth-but-not-slick play surface and a neoprene bottom that makes it roll up smoothly, lay perfectly flat, and stay in one spot. The graphics are great, and I was surprised how big a difference this made over the piece of plain white felt I used in earlier incarnations. It’s worth it.
  • Battlefield in a Box terrain (the irregularly shaped dark grey ruins): These are out of print, but they’re awesome if you can find them. I have Collapsed Corner (paid link), Fallen Angel, and Buried Monument, and I love all three. Collapsed Corner, which is the tallest and most impressive of the three, is the best value.
  • LEN Design Concepts custom pieces (big grey squares, bridge, wide stairs): I was amazed how hard it was to find “hills” that don’t look out of place in a city, but this Etsy seller offers just the thing. I got in touch with him and asked if he could take the mossy green out of the paint job, and wound up buying four risers with fieldstone sides, a bridge, and two small sets of stairs as a custom order. They’re all prepainted, and the risers in particular are great for giving the city a much-needed “crowded streets” feeling. He was awesome to work with, too.
  • Mage Knight Castle Keep (paid link) and Gatehouse (paid link): These are awesome! (Here’s my Yore post about them.) I’ve got two keeps and one gatehouse in my Frostgrave, and they’re one of the best values in prepainted terrain. They’re out of print too, but often available cheaply (at least for now).
  • A big aquarium decoration (paid link): Aquarium stuff is an interesting option for prepainted terrain, but it’s often out of scale, expensive, or both. This huge head is perfect.
  • War Torn Worlds terrain (smaller square ruins, walls, tiny rubble piles): They’re out of business and this stuff is tricky to find, it’s worth the hunt. It’s made of recycled tire rubber, and it’s tough and looks good. I have 8 Ruinopolis sections, a host of walls (curved, ruined, modern, and fieldstone), and a few rubble piles.
  • Legendary Realms terrain (all the little stuff): This is my clutter — little resin bits and bobs scattered all over the place. (Here’s the Yore post about it.) I have large and small trees, graves, skull piles, seated skeletons, lizard god statues, stairs, knight statues, skeletons on slabs, 2″ bubbling pools, and wooden treasure chests. These folks are currently producing terrain, so for once I’m not recommending something out of production.

I’ve had a lot of fun writing about Frostgrave over the past few weeks, and I can’t wait to actually play it!

Hopefully this breakdown was helpful to you. Thanks for reading!

Categories
Frostgrave Miniatures

60 quarts of Frostgrave

The compactness of Frostgrave (paid link), both in terms of the size of the play area and the amount of stuff you need to play, is one of the things about the game that appeals to me most.

I started with none of what I needed, and went from “zero to Frostgrave” pretty quickly. As I picked up pieces of terrain, played with sample layouts, and thought about how to maximize my budget, I kept another end goal in mind: I wanted everything for the game to fit into a single box I could toss in the truck and take to gaming venues. I came pretty close!

100% of my Frostgrave stuff fits into this 60-quart Ziploc WeatherShield (paid link) storage box, excluding the battle mat:

It ran me about $20 locally, and it’s one hell of a sturdy box. It includes a foam seal that’s supposed to keep out moisture (handy in Seattle), and I like that it locks in six places for a snug fit. We’ve got some holiday decoration storage tubs that only have two latches, and they don’t hold up all that well.

I also like that its more squared-off than a lot of similar boxes. Sometimes they have deeply curved corners, bulges on the bottom to facilitate stacking, etc. that cut into the usable storage space for terrain. This sucker can swallow a lot of stuff.

Inside are three big pieces of Battlefield in a Box terrain, an aquarium decoration, a Plano box full of Pathfinder Pawns (plus a sidecar baggie of monsters), three Mage Knight Castle pieces, a ton of War Torn Worlds rubber terrain elements, the rulebook, some stickers for the pawns’ bases so we identify who’s pawns are whose, four custom “risers,” a little bridge and some stairs, and a big baggie full of Legendary Realms clutter to round things out.

I’ve finally got everything I need to actually set it all up and take some photos of my Frostgrave. When I do, I’ll include an itemized list of what goes into my take on Frostgrave to help folks track down things they might like to include in theirs.

Categories
Frostgrave Miniatures

My Frostgrave pawn storage solution

One neat thing about using Pathfinder Pawns (paid link) as Frostgrave (paid link) miniatures is that they’re flat, and therefore easy to store.

After raiding the Inner Sea Pawn Box (paid link) for spellcasters and soldiers, I cracked open the NPC Codex Box (paid link) and went through that one as well. While I was punching out interesting-looking pawns, I thought it would be fun to try to match them to specific types of Frostgrave soldier.

I pulled out every pawn I thought could match a soldier type, then sorted them all again and chose the best ones — this time, using my storage solution of choice for gaming bits: a Plano box. Specifically, a Plano 3700 (paid link):

I oriented it vertically to show the pawns better, but if you imagine it rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, the pawn slots are in the same order as they appear on the soldier table in the rulebook (left to right, top row first). Soldiers are followed by spellcasters, which occupy several slots.[1]

I rounded the pawns out with 4d20, a bunch of pawn bases, and two 3-foot tape measures (paid link). Close it up, and it makes a tidy package that fits neatly into my larger storage solution, a big plastic tub that holds everything I need to play except for the battle mat (which is too big to fit).

Some soldiers are better matches than others, but I love the variety in the Pathfinder Pawns. For this box, I chose only unique pawns — rather than every Viking-looking armored dude, for example, I just pulled one Viking-looking armored dude and included him with other unique pawns that fit that soldier type.

I’m getting together with a friend to play Frostgrave next week, so I’ll get a chance to try out this sort-and-store method, Pathfinder Pawns in general, all of my nifty terrain, and — best of all — the game itself.

[1] Monsters are in a plastic baggie, because 1) there just aren’t that many of them, 2) they’re different sizes, and 3) I don’t think they’ll come up often enough to need to be pre-sorted, unlike soldiers and spellcasters.

Categories
Frostgrave Miniatures

Legendary Realms prepainted clutter for Frostgrave

Legendary Realms makes a host of prepainted terrain and scenery, including some dungeon dressing that I thought would be a perfect fit for my take on Frostgrave (paid link). Noble Knight had a bunch of it in stock (as opposed to waiting for LR to make it to order), so I ordered some.

I picked up some lizard god statues, knight statues, crypt skeletons, crypt skeletons on thrones, and wooden chests. Here they are all together (larger version):

Piece by piece

The lizard gods are the best value in terms of size — Noble Knight had them for under $3 a pop. They add a much-needed dash of weird to my Frostgrave (larger version):

The knights are a decent size, too, but the sculpt is kind of crappy. Still, they do look appropriately aged/ruined for Frostgrave (larger version):

I love the crypt skeletons. Their little eye sockets are red (gems, maybe?), and although one of mine is missing its head, that totally works in this setting. Frostgrave was a city that used necromancy in daily life, so having skeletons in its ruins makes sense to me (larger version):

They also do a seated variety, which feels very sword and sorcery to me — also a part of my Frostgrave (larger version):

Lastly, I snagged enough treasure chests for four players (larger version):

Overall

I don’t love the knight statues, and the enthroned skeletons are a bit small for the price (though as dungeon dressing for a setup with walls and so forth, they’re a good size), but the lizard gods, crypt skeletons, and treasure chests are solid.

On the whole, I’m happy with my Legendary Realms stuff. Being made of resin, they’re reasonably tough. The paint jobs are serviceable, and they fit well into a city that’s been in ruins for a thousand years.

In fact, I wound up placing a second order for some more bits and bobs to round things out — dead trees, graves, skull piles, some rubble, and one or two other things.

Categories
Frostgrave Miniatures

Battlefield in a Box Fallen Angel and Buried Monument terrain

I’ve been picking up prepainted terrain for Frostgrave (paid link), and have had good success with Mage Knight Castle pieces and War Torn Worlds ruins and walls. Like those two lines, the segment of the Battlefield in a Box series that’s a good fit for Frostgrave is out of print, but I was able to snag a couple of pieces on Ebay.

Both looked like they’d block LOS and take up a good amount of space — important traits for Frostgrave terrain! — and from what I’d seen online they seemed to be painted up pretty well. Let’s take a peek.

Buried Monument

Of the two I picked up, Buried Monument has the smaller footprint, but it’s more consistently taller than the other (Fallen Angel). (Larger versions: one and two.)

I like the mix of cover, accessible elevation, and atmosphere that this piece brings to the table. It’s sturdy plastic, it sits flat, and the paint job is solid.

Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel is larger than Buried Monument, but it doesn’t entirely block LOS in as many places. It’s got a splash of color — that tile floor — and I like the angel detail. Of the two, it’s the more involved piece. (Larger versions: one and two.)

Another cool thing about that angel? A variation on the same statue appears on one side of Buried Monument, too! That really ties them together as being part of the same ruined city. Neat.

Buddies

Here they are together, in a top-down view:

And from the side, with a 28mm miniature for scale (larger version):

I’m happy with both of these pieces, and I’d love to find the rest of the “Gothic” portion of the Battlefield in a Box line, especially Ruined Fountain and Blasted Terrace.

I’ve spotted a couple more online, but at well above MSRP (fair enough, since they’re out of print). I’ll keep looking, though, because these definitely fit the aesthetics of “my” Frostgrave.