Monday, March 9, 2009

Sin City Dispatch #14: Posting to the power of D'oh!

Hey everybody and welcome to another long overdue issue of the Dispatch!

In this issue, we will start with what has thrown my schedule into such total disarray as we Look Behind the Curtain. Next, we'll head to the Workbench to look at more terrain for Warmachine, specifically a stone circle and watch tower. Finally, we will wrap things up The Parting Shot as we ponder one of the deep, dark questions of the Dispatch. So sit down and strap in, because we are about to hit the ground running!

A Look Behind the Curtain

As people might have noticed, my postings have been getting further and further apart. It has been a very crazy couple of months with my job changing my start time on a very regular basis, plus I have also been caught up with our rapidly growing local Warmachine/Hordes community. We have managed to go from two players to eight or so in just less than a month and now we are finishing up the first week of the 2009 Call to Arms League. This has had me especially busy since I volunteered to build terrain for the League. Here is a WIP pic of some of the stuff for the League.

Still more work to be done for the upcoming week but thankfully most it has either already been built or it is being represented by the wonderful world of cloth templates. You gotta love the green fabric forest!

As for the games themselves, we have modified the rules slightly to make it easier for the new players. Officially, League games start at 500 points and work their way up from there. This would leave a bunch of people hanging out in the wind since they are brand new to the game and what fun would that be? Instead, we are actually allowing 350 point and Warpack games so that everyone can participate. I really feel that this has been one of the big draws for people and has helped us quickly grow a fan base for the game which really makes sense. How much fun would it really be to jump into a game that everyone else already owns a massive army for? Instead people are getting a chance to learn the basics of the game and then start expanding from there which is always a better way to do things.

From the Workbench
Of Stone Circles and Wooden Watchtowers

For this installment of the Workbench, we are once again going to be taking a look at terrain. With the League going on and all, terrain has been in the forefront of my mind these days so I figure we might as well take a look at some of the pieces that I have been working on.

First up is an oldie but a goodie; a large circle of standing stones that I made using 1" blue foam.

I actually built this piece a couple of years ago after reading an article in No Quarter magazine about carving ruins into terrain pieces. The whole idea of creating a centerpiece for a scenario by doing this really hit home with me so I set to work making it. Once I had it assembled, I originally tried to paint it as a black stone to give it an evil and malevolent look but it just didn't quite work. I was also getting out of Warmachine at that time and decided to just set it aside for a while.

Flash forward to the present and I found this piece looking much the worse for wear in our garage and decided to give it a second life. After gluing the stones back onto the base, I repainted the whole thing with a heavy dry brush of medium grey paint and then lighter dry brush of light grey. Since it was already black, dry brushing was the best way to bring out the surface as well as the various etchings. I had originally glued some ballast down onto the piece as well to give it a worn look and this time I painted over these rough spots with some dark green and then highlighted with a lighter shade, giving the effect that moss had grown on this long abandoned edifice. Overall, I really like the effect and I definitely want to do something in the future using this as a centerpiece for a game.

The next piece is something that I am working on for the League. One of the scenarios calls for two 2" diameter watchtowers to be placed on the battlefield. At first I was not sure how to best create these towers. The simplest route would be take the cardboard from a toilet roll and just cut it down to size but I didn't really like how that would look. Given that the League is called "Retaliation of the Wild", it really seemed like these towers would probably be some kind of wooden construction instead of stone so I decided to change my approach. While the piece is supposed to be circular, I decided to make mine square instead just to make it a little easier to build. Next I broke out the materials that I was going to use.

Yes, that's right. Call me crazy but I decided to make my watchtowers out of wood. The larger pieces (which will become the legs for the tower) are 1/4" square while the smaller ones (used for detailing and added support) are 1/8" square. I actually bought these at Michael's in a random bag of basswood cuttings. Just be sure that you buy the one with the small bits in it as they also sell a bag with large blocks of basswood.

The next step is to cut out the base for the tower.

For this, I just used some spare foam core that I had lying around and cut out a 2 1/2" square piece. After I beveled the sides, I also marked off a 2" square on the foam core so that I could see right where the posts would be glued down.

Once this is done, it is time to cut the various pieces of wood to the lengths that you will need.

The 1/4" basswood is cut to a 4" length while the 1/8" basswood is cut so that you have four 2" pieces (for the sides of the tower) and eight 4 3/16" pieces (for the cross supports).

With the pieces cut it is time to start gluing. Using the hot glue gun, glue the four 1/4" pieces onto the foam core to form the supports for the tower.

Try to get these as close to perpendicular to the base as you can but don't worry about getting it perfect as the other pieces will help pull it all together.

Next you are going to attach the 2" pieces to the tops of the supports as shown here.

These pieces will pull the supports so that they are vertical and also mark the edge of the top of the tower.

This gives you the basic shape of the tower but it is not very stable which is why you add the cross supports. To do this, put a spot of hot glue in the corner on the base and another at the top of the opposite pole so that it looks like this.

Then you put a spot of glue on the opposite sides (top and bottom) so that you create an "X" like this.

You continue with this all the way around the tower so that it looks like the picture above. An important thing to note is that as you are gluing these pieces, the first one goes on the "outside" of the support while the next one goes on the "inside". Here is a picture to show you what I am talking about.

Once this is done, it is time to add the top of the platform. For mine, I just used some more of the basswood from the pack but it might be a good idea to glue some supports across the grain if you do this just to give it a little more strength.

Last but not least, I glued this piece onto the top of the tower and voila! A semi-instant wooden watchtower!

This is all well and good, but some of you might remember me saying something about it not being very stable. That was before all of the supports were added which help to make this whole piece much stronger. How strong? Well, I decided to do a little strength test to check it out.

That is a full 12oz glass bottle of Guinness sitting on top of the tower, making me think that it will be more than strong enough for you average gaming. Now it just needs to be finished up with some basing and painting, then it will be ready to roll.

That wraps up another installment of From the Workbench, but if you have any questions or comments I'd love to hear them! Feel free to drop me a line here on the blog or you can email me at and I'll respond as soon as I can.

The Parting Shot...

So, what is this mysterious question that I was referring to? Why the question of what exactly happened to Dispatch #13 of course! Right now it is sitting here on Blogger in its draft form because I thought that I had already posted it when in fact I never finished it. Once I actually type up the missing article, I will be posting it as well but be warned: some of the information is from a Valentine's Day gaming event and I am not going to go back and change any references to time! So no, you will not have fallen through some gaming blog temporal anomaly, only victim to my refusal to re-type chunks of the blog to fit the real world's perception of "time", aka me being a lazy bastard. That's all for now, but until next time, may all of your dice come up Dragons!

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