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Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to register for the game in advance!!!

So, as we get close to the Big Day, below are the steps you need to take to register in advance for our game.  Why should you do this?  Well, positions in the game will be assigned based on sign-ups.  The most coveted positions in the game will go to those who sign up first.  Which positions might that be?  I'm sure you can all figure that out on your own.  So, here are the needed steps:

1) Pay for ConQuest SAC (use link to the left to register and pay)

2) Send an email to
saying you've paid for the convention and that you want to reserve a spot (or spots) in the Pirate game.

3) Await verification and confirmation from the convention (it will be from Gabe)

Use copy and paste if you need to.  And, please, only send an e-mail if you've already paid for the convention, otherwise you might jeopardize your position in the 'hierarchy.'

It's going to be a spectacle, it's going to be fun - and I might be in a straight-jacket by then!  : )

The Captain rose from a silk divan
With a pistol in his fist
And shot the lock from an iron box
And a blood red ruby kissed
"I give you jewellery of turquoise
A crucifix of solid gold
One hundred thousand silver pieces
It is just as I foretold
You... You see there before you everything
You've ever dreamed."

"Rescuing Gina Lobsterbrigitta"

Well, we did, indeed, pass 5000 hits before the convention.  And we're up to 16 followers from all around the world.  That's cool.  Yes, the tropical plant life will be appearing soon, but patience young Grass-Chopper, waiting is until waiting is fulfilled.  I do believe the wait will be more than worth what you'll get to see.  And I guess it's at least 27 species of plants, don't have time to count it closer than that just now.

What's this about Gina?  That is the name of the scenario, "Rescuing Gina Lobsterbrigitta", and she is a principal objective in the game.  And, yes, there is a figure for her along with her two boon companions, Thursday and Bobby Stowaway.  The thing is, however, she isn't always the most cooperative creature roaming about on two fine legs.  So, not only do you have to find her, you have to get her to want to be rescued.

Now back to that greenery, I'm just wondering - when I post those photos and publicize them in the usual places - if we will get to 6000 hits by the convention?  Who knows and its not important, but we just might.  It is really, really cool.  For me, the creator of these pieces, it's like being a kid let loose with a wad of cash in a candy store and no restriction on how much I can eat!  I can sit and look at these pieces for a distractingly and enjoyably long time.  Too long!  Don't have time.  Must work.  Must.

...sixteen men, no, no, musn't talk so about Gina's 'upper torso'...   YO, HO, indeed!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Getting Close to the "End" of Terrain Building

Today's post shows some 'in progress' shots of the terrain as it gets colors added.  Once I'm done with the post I will be working on the 'greenery'.  Some of it is done but not yet photographed.  I have one piece near by that has at least 16 different plant species on it.  All total, I've probably collected somewhere between 20 and 24 plant species to populate my tropical terrain.  Indulge your patience and enjoy these photos while awaiting "the jungle."
 A very careful observer of the above shot will see all 18 pieces of terrain scattered about my garage.  Next to the spatula on the right is a piece of my "wedding cake" hills that will, eventually, be textured and painted to match.  This is a small piece, I have much larger pieces and many of them, some of them are three piece sets that add up to 3" height.  In the left foreground are piles of the "small terrain", all told there are 72 such pieces.  I realized something was missing and have 8 very small pieces I'm adding - needed these to add flora to the lagoon pieces, the others are just too big to fit.  When all is said and done, exclusive of the beaches, we will have built 100 pieces of terrain for this game - including the two piece volcano.
A closer in shot of the four main islands in there 'all together' arrangement with the first four colors added, the "browns" with the last one being a light tan color.
 An even closer shot but with some sort of lighting variation (the flash, maybe?) that shows the stippling effect - comes out blotchy at this stage.
 This shows some of the green having been added and some of the smaller islands being used as hills - just to give a sense of variety of uses for this terrain beyond the pirate game.
 Another closer shot of the terrain and hill/island.
 And another, this is where I noted the need to be careful about how I painted the bottom edge of the set-on pieces to have them blend in better.
 Some trees - from a kids toy set, repainted.  Remember these and try and find them mixed into the 'jungle' when I get it done, photographed, and posted here.  Really.
 A little trip over to the palm nursery yielded a bit over 300 palm trees that are already being 'planted' in there new homes.  They are simply cake decorating palms that have been given a spray painting session - I believe I used nine or ten different colors, browns and tans and greens for the trunks, and various shades of greens for the fronds.  I'm not sure how well the color variation will show on the computer but, in person, they look really good.
 A shot to show the three different sizes of greenery bases.  The two circles, 18 each, the oblong, 36 of those.  And, as mentioned above, there will 8 even smaller circles for the lagoons.  These have wood bases, the tops are insulating foam carved with a serrated steak knife, full strength wood glue binds them together.  Simple and, when you see them in there final form, very effective.  And durable - already passed the "drop on concrete" test.
 A staged photo with some troops in it!  That is all six redoubts, assembled and painted by Nils, with two pirate groups inside.  I had all the gabions and the stakes and decided it was time to put them to good use.
 Just a closer shot of same.
 And a cropped seagull's view.  As I get closer to having everything done, I actually can take time to make the photos more 'friendly.'  Who knows, someday soon I might even be able to put together a narrative thread illustrated by more photographs.  Don't hold your breath!  After the game comes the honey-do list.
 Another overview shot, I believe at this stage two of the four greens had been applied.
 And another cropped shot.
 Another color added.
 And a closer shot, again showing things still look blothcy.
 And another view of the small terrain - now given a coat of spray paint to 'seal' the insulating foam.  Also, a field that will be used in the game - from JR Miniatures.
And last, but by no means least, a shot of the terrain with the last color on it.  The last color applied was a yellow-green that is very decidedly on the yellow end of that spectrum.  It was applied with a very dry brush using a light dry brushing technique (some of the early steps benefited from an ever so slightly damp brush for the stippling effects).  This was the critical and unifying step that pulled everything together.

Careful study - very, very careful study - will reveal that all 8 colors are still visible in the final view.  You might also look carefully at the 'back' edge of the piece to the top right.  Except for the last two colors added, all the other colors are there to help the edges blend in to each other.

By the way, that very last dry brushed coat is why the sand was glued on before any painting was done.  To get that effect required the 'teeth' or 'texture' or both that the sand provided.  All the other effects can be achieved on a smooth surface but you just can't get the same highlight effect without that texture.

And thinking beyond the pirate game, at some point I will have an equal number of small bases worked up for deciduous trees and the same for coniferous trees.  And also, though maybe not as many, some sandy desert pieces.  Once all is acquired and built, including the 8 large pieces still to be assembled and finished off, I am going to have an incredibly diverse and highly functional collection of terrain.   Oh, and I am still planning on building an "actual" mountain range - that is down the road a bit, even though some of the raw material is at hand.  Will also be adding some 'mesa' pieces for Apacheria and some rocky pieces.  Yes, you can call me "The Terrainiac"!  I wear that moniker proudly.

Now, I have some jungle to go hack my way through.  Where did I leave my machete?

...and a bottle of rum...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rebellion in the sea!

Just a quick note to thank Mike of Rebel Minis.  I ordered some of his new pirate range and will try and have them ready for the game less than a month away.  He graciously consented to providing prizes and sent along two of the skeleton armies, one for each of the game's outings.  Not only that, but he sent the whole along priority mail!  So, a big thanks to you Mike.

By the way, the figures are nice and crisp and clean with minimal flash and will prep for painting very easily.  Nice looking figures.  The only down side is this means more work to get done - I love the challenge.  Or, is it that challenges love me?

Also will have a pack or two of artillery as prizes for the game, or so it seems at this moment.

Photos are not ready yet but all of the large terrain pieces are complete and look good to my eye.  Hope to have most, if not all, of the small terrain done tomorrow or the next day.  Then only need to finish the volcano and the separate beaches.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Troops en masse

Just a quick post this week as we move in to crunch time, only 29 days left to get everything done!  Below are some shots of the figures laid out to be seal coated - the photos are before the seal coating is put on.  The greens and browns showing on the cloth is from spraying the palm trees to give them a more 'naturalistic' look than plain, monotone plastic.  Once done here, I'm back to work on the small terrain, 72 total bases of greenery (not all of which is green!).
 The pirates are in the background, the Dutch in the foreground.
 A lower angle shot with the Dutch up front again, note the commander on horse back and the casualty figures - one for every 24 figures.
 A reverse with the pirates closer - and the five governor vignettes on the left.
 The French governor with pirates behind.
 An overhead of the British governor.
The French governor.
 I do believe that is the pirate "governor."
 The Dutch governor.
 And the Spanish governor.
 If you look closely you'll see a group of women in colorful outfits - they are piratical women: what they do with their time I'll leave to your imagination.  Of course, the children are innocent!
 Here the French get the foreground, the British and Spanish further back.
 And the other way around.
A lower angled shot.  The French casualties have not yet been delivered by their painter but expected soon.

By the way, the table is 2 1/2' wide and 6' long, just to put things in perspective.

Not seen in the above photos are the native troops I am still finishing up or any of the game master troops that are still in the painting que (yeah, I know, time grows short.  Yeah, I KNOW!  eek!)

48 figures per command, plus two casualty figures, plus for each nation a governor vignette and a commander stand, plus one extra command for the pirates, that's French, British, Dutch, Spanish, and Pirates - twenty-six commands in the photos above.  You do the math!


"Spare us," the galleon begged
but mercy's face had fled
Blood ran from the screaming souls
the cutlass harvested

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Skipper, someone found a skeleton in the scuppers!

What's that, you thought I said there were no skeleton crews in our game?  Well, of course I said that.  And it's true, there aren't.  But for those who like such things - and I suspect there are one or two of you who do, here's a little something to whet your appetites:
 Pirate hunters!
 Melee crew.
 Sea witches.
 Skeleton crew.
And command with Mermaid.

I don't think the items in the background go with the figures (especially in the command pack - but maybe?).

All of the above are from Rebel Minis and Mike, the Grand Supremo of that firm, advises he hopes to have them up for sale on his site by this weekend.

Mike credits David McBride with painting these.  Of course, it is possible that some of the figures in the above photos might have a role in our little game.

As to our game, no new photos for a few more days yet but much work being done.  Only two pieces of large terrain still to be 'sanded' prior to painting.  The small terrain is well in progress.  For those who've been paying attention (ever wish you were named Attention?) you'll know there are 18 pieces of large terrain to create 16 islands - the lagoons are two piece sets.  Well, for the small terrain, there will be 72 pieces in three different sizes, 36 irregular shapes for the palm groves and 18 each of two round shapes for grasses and other tropical plant life - though there may be some bleed over from one to the other on those bases.  You will absolutely want to check back here for when the photos of the small terrain are up - pretty cool stuff; I do believe there is a special supply of envy-green paint available for those in need.

Six days off the Cuban coast 
when a sail ahead they spied
"A galleon of the treasure fleet,"
the mizzen lookout cried...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Play Test Report - Oh, the agony, the agony...

Okay, so I have a little time today to let loose on how the play test went.

In a word: chaotic.  But controlled chaos that did exactly what it was supposed to do.  And that was to let us discover what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong in both the rules and the scenario.  Both are being revamped to improve how the game will play and how the objectives will 'guide' the players.  Also, got a better insight as to what the players of the game will want.  More blood!  More sunken ships!  Imagine that?

Lest I forget, I want to express my gratitude to all those who chose to participate in the play test and, especially, to just about everyone sticking around for the discussion session afterwards.  All of the ideas were heard and many of them are being used to guide us forward.  The only idea that didn't work, and only because of the scale of the game, was to have each player go in turn.  Non-starter, that, because if we get the full 32 players then 31 people wait while one person acts.  While not every idea brought forward, at the post play test meeting or since, will be used, I'm happy to hear them all.  If we did use them all that wouldn't work very well since some of them are opposite of others.  But, again, appreciate all the input.  It shows me the level of interest in making this event a success.  THANKS!

Some of the best elements of the play test were the passers by who showed considerable interest in the game and a few even joined in the game - including a 10 and 11 year old pair of girls who seemed to have a really good time and their mom got a kick out of us letting them join in.  And, as one member noted, many of those passers by expressed interest in our local club.  Since that is one of the main reasons for all this effort - to entice people into our hobby and our club - that was very rewarding to hear.

There are pictures below and, for those wondering about the environment, we are fortunate to meet in a public library meeting room with plenty of tables (we used 16 for the game space and a couple more for setting things on - and there were still tables left for one group to play another game in the small side room that we get to use most of the time), central heat and air, decent lighting, a wonderfully supportive staff, and fast food not far away.  Oh, and electronic key access for both before and after patron hours room availability - we had the room from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM if needed.  Some of the staff even came in and enjoyed looking over our 'very unfinished' setup.

A couple more things before we get to the photos.  I've decided we need to use magnetic stands placed next to the ships to hold the figures on so we have a visual record of where the ship's crew is - our ships are a bit cluttered for placing figures on the actual decks (though some clever players did put their captives on the decks ).  It was also pointed out that the town occupant's objectives needed to be adjusted to ensure a more active role, similar feedback on the merchant vessels as well.  One suggestion I am going with is to have the town folk going out into their fields to harvest and/or plant in order to keep the colony fed.  And maybe they just might be planting their wealth to protect it from dastardly pirates - or the tax collector!  Still rummaging around the back corners of my brain on what to do with the merchants but one word keeps cropping up over and over again: smugglers.

As you will see in the photos, lots of work still to go despite the immense amount of effort already put in.  Oh, and a special thanks to Aaron for the 'illuminated smoke puffs.'  I'm counting his pair of hands as the twelfth set working on the project.  More puffs, Aaron!  Lighting optional, of course.

Okay, now for the photos, the first batch are from work sessions, the play test comes a bit later.
 The above is our very own Davey Jones, but players don't want to encounter him!  He is very bad news and his appearance is entirely of a capricious nature.
 The 'young' man above is Poseidon and he might do you good or he might do you ill.  And he is likely to be run by a player - will be if we get 32.
 Same with Ms. Caplypso here - she gave those young girls a real kick.
  And here is a display of the 'forces of nature, the 'troops' for Poseidon and Calypso.  The younger set should get some joy from this - and the older set will be duly annoyed by the interference.  Hey, the game master has to have fun, too!
 A couple of paired islands laid out to decide how to add a little extra texture.
 Testing out the arrangement for the pirate town.
 Rob, our flag maker, assisting with terrain building.
 A better view of the pirate town, room for figures to combat in.  Rob's insight helped out here.
 And the town area laid out in varied sand texture to define its limits.  Note that the green and brown patches of grass are now cut to shape and glued in place.
 Here are the four main islands set up as a unit (not as for the game) with two town 'squares' set on and a couple of 'green works' stands and some troops.  Do you see them?  By the way, the town squares are from Lemax's Xmas stuff, sheet cut in half, this is the brick, also used the cobblestone.
 Here is a closer shot of the troops and a piece of foam holding up a couple of grass tufts.  Those are British.
 And here are a couple of palm trees, not yet colored to taste.
 A lower angled shot.
 Here you go, the sand textured pieces - the four smaller islands and reefs and the two lagoons.
 This is the color all of the sand will be by the time of the game - that's four colors of brown under four colors of green.  May be some bare sand on the beaches - and they might be in varied colors of sand.
 The beginnings of the volcano, cork squares.  Small island on left, main volcano on right.  The volcano will be built in two pieces - with some special effects planned!
 Another view of a couple of islands, sanded, with a couple of the smaller islands added on top.  Just to give me a sense of the versatility of these pieces beyond the planned game.  Not as they will be used in the main event.
 Several units of figures placed on for a sense of scale.
 A closer look at some of the French, painted by Charlie.  About time his figures made an appearance here!
 And more.
 The palm trees and figures to show how well they match in size.
 Not the final arrangement, but one of the native shrines.  It will be on its own stand by game day.
 And there it is on the two native islands - paired here rather than separate as they will be for the game.

 This is the eastern table looking south, on the right is one of the native islands with its two villages.  And of course a few ships here and there.  All of the palms are just stuck into some raw insulating foam for this day but they will be on nicely textured bases soon enough.
 Here is the west island, that is the British town in the foreground.
 Dutch town in the foreground here and more ships roaming about, looking north.
 And the Spanish town with Mike seated to the left furiously gluing together artillery to paint and assign to the ships in need.  Only 60 pieces to get done.
 And we can't leave out the French, that is the town Chris painted.  He missed out on play test because he was recovering from surgery.  We're pretty sure he wasn't wounded by any fire from any of the ships!
 A closer in shot of some ship to ship action.  Something I am working hard to improve - already have some new charts and order mechanisms in place and working with Joe on the combat side of things.  It will flow much smoother on game day.
 The Dutch town again with a bunch of figures roaming about.
 The native player under severe attack by the pirates - and a good sport who took his beating well and then provided constructive feedback at the end of the day on how to make the natives work better.  Thanks!  And, sadly, I'm drawing a blank on his name right now.
 One of Aaron's puffs after the shrine was bombarded by the Dutch.
 The poor Spanish!  Here they are under attack by the pirates allied to the British.  The town raised a black flag and paid a heavy ransom - and lost some of its female citizenry who 'elected' to spend time with the pirates.  The British beat a retreat when the black flag was hoisted.
 Is that ship closing in for the kill or about to get raked from stem to stern by the ship dead ahead?
 A general view of ships in action, north of the pirate town I believe.  The ship on the right, from George's collection, is a non-player ship to add to the visual appeal of the game.  (Though it might get put into action along with the several others he has.)

Well, if I counted right, that's 38 more photographs for your enjoyment.

Now, what about the 'great disaster'?  The night before the play test, as I was pre-loading my vehicle to save time in the morning, I found that the four main islands were stuck solid together.  I'd allowed many hours for the glue to dry under the green and brown texture that was added (no sand on those pieces yet) but apparently not nearly enough time.  Probably didn't help that they were stored under compression to avoid warping.  After a few choice expressions, I very, very carefully pried them apart one at a time using two nail pry bars.  Except for a bit of damage on one beach that will be easily concealed, the only other result was some of the texture got a bit messed up, one green piece pretty much gone and many patches in need of some careful work to remove the veneer that lifted off.  That was it - unless you count the frazzle to my nerves!

Lots of work to go but getting excited to see it all set up and people roaming about having a good time - and cursing their luck - or would that be gloating over their success?  Yo ho!