This past week I started on the Sarissa Retro Americana Trailer, or "dumpy trailer park home". This was my latest adventure into masking and spray paint, with an emphasis on how to not peel off the paint with the masking tape. The answer appears to be paint + seal + mask and repeat. I did all of this with unassembled MDF as that was my best bet to get straight lines since there's an oddly angled front. The tricky part was also painting the interior walls, which happened to match the masked stripe of the outside, as there was a little bleed through holes/windows. It think I can cover it up with some interior grungy weathering. For something fairly simple I'm taking a complicated approach - so far I've sprayed 6 coats of paint/sealant between interior and exterior sides. My plans for adding windows are appropriately complex, and we'll see how that turns out later.
The weather was nice enough that I tried my hand at mass priming. Atop 2 cake boards with pseudo double sided tape I stuck 50+ Zombicide minis and primed. Primed like the wind! Most of the minis got about 90% coverage as I could not get the spray can to the right angle to hit all the nooks and crannies. When the time comes to properly paint, each one will get a touch up prime via my normal "stuck to a wooden block" method.
The above led me to stuck a dozen or so minis to wooden blocks and prime in my normal manner. 2 of those actually got painted! Zombicide Invader has 2 expansions - Dark Side and Black Ops. One of them was on sale for about $20, which is what got me interested in the game and then I subsequently went and got everything, as is my well documented way. The Abomination from each expansion piqued my interest enough to follow through with painting. My winning discovery this time was painting the boney bits. Thanks to Nathan at the Warhammer Store offering some advice, atop my white bones I added a 50/50 mix of Citadel fleshshade and sepia washes. While Daniel suggested some Screaming Skull highlight, maybe with some Steel Legion Drab mixed in to tone it down. I was happy enough with the washes to not add on Daniel's suggestion, but maybe next time...
There's changes afoot on the business side of miniature gaming that's going to affect me. Mantic Games is wrapping up the Walking Dead game - I'm guessing their license has expired. Mini-wise I think they've effectively matched the end of the comics, and that's what the game was based on. While I had fallen out of getting new boosters once The Kingdom and Whisperers expansions came out, their announcement that they were no longer going to produce items for the game after February made me think of how well I'd actually managed to keep up with the game. Although I don't game much, if you go back through posts for the past couple of years I think the Walking Dead game is the only one that shows any play time. As this has been a game I've actually enjoyed over the years, there's a good chance I will continue to enjoy it. I then did the "me" thing and ordered whatever I was missing that they had in stock. I think there's still a piece or three I'll be missing, and that's ok. For now.
The other news was that 4Ground, makers of the mall I've been posting progress pics of over the last year or two, will be shutting down in June. I've gotten a lot of 4Ground buildings (besides the mall) over the years, and I really like their stuff. Now that there's a deadline in being able to get anything from them, ever, I'll go through and make one last order. Probably a huge order. I'm glad there's no way to add more than 2 floors to that mall.
Round 2 of 3D Printed Commercial Walking Dead minis. This time there was more gluing, especially when it came to Spencer's arms. I also stuck to contrast paints and washes this time around, as I haven't been doing well with properly thinning my paints. The contrast & wash route is a good alternate for when my "proper" painting skills are lacking. Overall, I think this batch is perfectly average. Nothing exceptional, nothing horrible.
Heath's skin was a little bit of an experiment. "Black" (or whatever is politically correct these days) skin is never something I'm very good at. I'm not good at most variations of "White" either. As I was using contrast paints for skin this time around thanks to some Facebook painting group tips, I used one of the brown variations on Heath and got a very light tone. Maybe too light, but I think it works. It works well enough I don't want to overdo it and mess it up.
Aaron managed a weird green splotch on his shirt, which I didn't notice until I was taking pics. Ok, that might count as my big negative for the batch.
Next will likely be another long lull in updates. The 4Ground Mall has roof sections lined up to complete, as I've not done anything with the mall in months. I'm also prepping the other half of the no particular game wee lil' 25mm minis. There's 14 random minis left in the pack to prime and eventually paint. I have no idea when the painting mood will strike, but when it does these will be ready. I just hope they're sculpts I'm in the mood to paint.
My new route of working slowly on a mini, one at a time instead of all the colors of a batch at once, has leant itself toward not much content worthy of a post very often. Part of that is because I still wait until 3 or 4 are finished before I spray the final coat of sealant.
This batch of minis is the first of the Walking Dead since they switched to (I think) 3D printed + some assembly required. I'm not sure what I think about the new minis. I can play around with the poses a little. I can hold off gluing pieces until taking care of hard to reach places. One of the reasons I switched to painting minis instead of just old fashioned models was to skip the building process, as the building process used to be "tear off sprue and glue" but has transformed into "snip carefully, sand mold lines, fill seams with putty, sand seams" and then add too much glue. It's different. And I'm old, so how things used to be was good enough!
Old man griping aside, these minis were pretty good to put together and paint. It feels like taking my time and working on just 1 is paying off with better results.
This is not the post I hoped to make.
Ominous sounding, isn't it?
About 3 weeks ago I set up the kitchen table with game scenery and thought I would play a solo game of Walking Dead. It's been long enough that I forgot some important rules. No double movement in a turn was the biggie. I wasn't playing a predefined scenario that told me how many of what to place where. More importantly, I wasn't playing on the standard 20" X 20" board that is the game standard.
A big part of modern day gaming, especially for me, has been house rules. This was my chance to house rule up some big-board tweaks. I read somewhere in my game development adventure of years ago that a good solo game is won 25% of the time. I bought in to that, and how I found that playing games solo is more about the story of the game rather than winning or losing. Especially losing. For my big board test I would take 1 Survivor (with the point value close to a normal, small group) and try to reach a target convenience store and search for supplies. The board was setup with scenery, a plethora of zombies, and I was off.
The biggest house rule I changed was how Threat automatically rises at the end of each turn. It doesn't rise like that if there's more than one player, and that bothers me. I can see where it forces you to get to the goal faster. How fewer players equates to fewer potential interactions that will raise the threat, but I just don't like it. So I nixed that rule straight off the bat.
The first pass... well, that was where I found I glossed over some basics (like that movement thing I mentioned). Roughly 7 turns in I had reached my goal with only interference from the undead twice. Was I not placing enough zombies for the bigger board? That was when I looked back into the rules and saw that when you perform 2 actions in the Action Phase, you can't repeat any. Well. Crap. That test was a bust due to a basic rule being broken.
I reset the board and tweaked things a little more. I made some overly-complicated math problem to determine how many zombies to start out with on the board. The area I'd be using was 24" X 48", with me starting at 1 end and the convenience store on the far end. This time, I also took notes per turn which would help be both analyze how the rule tweaks played out, as well as force me to write down/repeat the steps of each turn so I, hopefully, wouldn't gloss over or skip anything.
And, it kind of worked. When it came to die rolls, I would roll 3 (sometimes 5) times to see what my worst & best outcome would be. Based on how things were going, I would pick the roll to use. Over the course of forcing the game to last 10 turns, I died twice before reaching the convenience store. When I reached the convenience store, I could make it inside if I scooted 1 of the zombies out of the way a little, else I would have died. If I did indeed scoot him and enter the store, I ended up dying 2 different ways by the end of the turn. I think that 1 game made me 0-5, which is not a 25% win rate. But half of those loses game with a win just out of reach, and that's the best way to lose - it makes you want to try one more time.
I've made some more rule tweaks. The number of zombies to start with isn't a calculus problem any more, but based on scenery points, the size of the play area, and starting survivor points. Where they spawn will still need some work, especially to not turn into another overly complicated math problem. I haven't played through the latest set of changes. After 3 weeks of scenery set up on the kitchen table I was ready to put everything away for a while and tidy up.
It's a lot of pictures, but here's what I snapped on the game where I made it to the convenience store before dying. Game play details are moot, but it's a good excuse to look at the layout.
Turn 1: (Starting Threat 1) Driving up and stopping at a barricade, it's time to switch to making it the rest of the way on foot.
Turn 2: (Starting Threat 3) Time for some strategy, as hopping the barricade will make it 2 on 1. Maybe a tactical retreat can work in my favor?
Turn 3: (Starting Threat 5) Start sneaking forward, but 2 on 1 melee ensues.
Turn 4: (Starting Threat 6) Still moving forward, but a Pandemonium Event Card looks to make life difficult.
Turn 5: (Starting Threat 6) The pass through the gas station looks like a good bet. The Distracted Event Card beings a zombie closer.
Turn 6: (Starting Threat 7) Keep trying to get to the gas station when a Car Alarm (via Event Card) starts.
Turn 7: (Starting Threat 8) While zombies are distracted and drawn to the car alarm, a chance to run by! Based on how many zombies are already at the car, trying to silence it really isn't an option. 1 of the zombies is drawn into combat as I run by.
Turn 8: (Starting Threat 11) Keep running!
This was the first time I would have died when I drew the Frayed Nerves Event Card which would have drawn 9 zombies on top of me. This was skipped, and instead the Walking Dead Event Card came into play which ended up spawning a few more zombies while only 1 came to attack.
Turn 9: (Starting Threat 14) Zombies are starting to group up between here and the convenience store. They're not getting distracted enough by that car alarm! I make my way to the corner of the convenience store to try to better my odds for the zombies that I know are going to get close enough to attack. Thanks to the Roamers Even Card, what I hope was going to be just 1 zombie to fight turns into 4. Based on worse case die rolls, I would have died. Best and middle of the road cases, Health ends up going down from 8 to 4.
Turn 10: (Starting Threat 16) This was the turn with lots of tweaks to see if the goal was possible. The zombie in the door skootched a little so I could make it inside, but drawing a Hoard Event Card pulled him in (I ruled that the door was still open and allowed the zombie(s) outside to follow along with a couple of his friends. Increased Threat from base contact and the ongoing car alarm pushed the Threat to 18 which is supposed to instantly end the game. Even if playing through the turn, and a miracle of not losing combat against 4 more zombies, there was no way to perform any search actions in this turn.
So there you have it. That's how I ended up spending the last couple of weeks. Based on how I like to play, here's my rule tweaks for trying out next time:
1) Threat 18
If the turn starts with a Threat of 18, the game is over.
If the turn ends with a Threat of 18, roll the black die. If a Badge is rolled, Threat is reduced to 17.
If the Threat reaches 18 during a turn, any threat that would be added is discarded.
This gives that One Last Chance that I tend to like in games - you know it's over, unless you can pull off just 1 lucky thing.
2) Actions that might interrupt movement if they fail. I can't really see clarity on some of these, but crossing barricades, going through doors, and (a homegrown rule) of checking for a locked door should be allowed during movement. That's probably the way it is, but I'm making a list of what falls into that category.
3) Locked Door Check. The rules mention Open Doors and Closed Doors, with Closed Doors requiring melee roll(s) to break through. In my zombie world, a door might just be closed and you need to check if it's locked or not. Here's where the good old Black Die comes in - on a Badge, it's unlocked and you can proceed through. Otherwise, it's locked and a traditional Closed Door. This was important when I got to the convenience store in the last test. I moved 1/2 my movement (1 action) and got to the door and checked to see if it was locked. It was unlocked so I proceeded through the door (Open Door, 1 action) and completed my movement. I didn't have actions available to close the door, and that's part of what ended up screwing me in the end.
4) Define the play area at the beginning. Although I kept to the 24" X 48" section I meant to stay in, I had zombies placed all over the board so that I could effectively try to wander off wherever I wanted. This was just needlessly overcomplicating setup. Even if it did look pretty cool.
I'm not sure when I'll next dig out everything and play again. Putting the map in frames, and then placing some shelf liner under the frame corners to prevent them from sliding around worked really well. The frames give me some "zones" to work with if I want, and don't raise up too bad and tilt scenery. The glare on the glass is a little annoying for pictures, but alternately they make for a great wet-street look.
Starting off the new year with the last things I painted in the last year. The first is the 2nd Walking Dead web exclusive Abraham that I received. 2nd because Elvis at Mantic didn't have the stats cards in stock when I originally ordered everything, and I told him to go ahead and send the model and, at his suggestion, they could ship the card later. They did indeed ship the card later - with the mini. I bet it's easier to just keep everything together, but it's still nice to think I got a little bonus.
The other things painted were Sara's Xmas present to me for this year. Last year she gave me a cross-stich of Tyler, her, and me. That combo we have affectionately referred to as Team TSR, no copyright lawsuits yet, for the past couple of years. Sara is all about Christmas. She was excited months ago when she "found the perfect gift". I'm impossible to gifts for. I loved the cross-stitch from last year because it came from the heart. I really doubted she could outdo that one.
Well, she did. There was a small box upon my desk. When I opened it, it was from Hero Forge. 3 minis from Hero Forge. Tyler. Sara. Me (sans glasses - I mean, come on!).
Hero Forge's print quality has gone up since they first came on the scene, and especially considering what I'm used to with my home printer. There were good details in these prints! The challenge for me was going to be painting them up as people I knew, and people that would see themselves. Yeah. No pressure.
The suited Tyler mini was ripe for a Christmas Suit. Tyler got such a suit last year and always talks about how comfortable it is, especially for a $20 suit. Since Sara, lover of Christmas, camps out in front of Hallmark movies for the silly season, she would get appropriate sweatshirt. And for me... well I would wing it.
Primer was primed. Paint was painted, and touched up, and painted. Tyler and I got grey highlights in our hair. Facial hair was drawn on. Clothes became Chrstimasized with decals.
And that's where things screwed up. I have the worse luck with clear decals. Decals which are mostly red and green, laying on top of Tyler's green paint and Sara's red paint. Well.... hell. That's the best way to sum it up. Tyler ended up with more of a camouflaged suit then Xmas suit. While I knew the text would be too small to read for Sara's shirt, all you really notice is a black smudge from the back of the truck & tree. I couldn't think of a way to salvage this save for pulling off the decals. I added the decals after sealing the minis, so the paint should have been fine, but I didn't trust it. And I really didn't want to paint everything over - I wasn't sure I could do that well again.
But there we have the last batch of 2019. Not as good as I'd hoped, but overall about in the middle of the quality that I expect.
The progress list.
It's time for me to go back and do a proper inventory of what I've got left to paint. While updating the spreadsheet for this painted batch, I notices I had more unopened Walking Dead boosters than I thought there should be. There were 2 that weren't included in the spreadsheet. Those 2 give me 6 more minis to paint. On my overall progress, the 4 minis I painted increased the total count by 6.
As such, one of my New Years Resolutions is to get organized. I love me some organization! Really. No sarcasm there at all.
I also have projects for 2020. That's going to be the next blog post, as the projects fall into the organization aspect.
As always, correct spelling is optional in any blog entry. Keep in mind that any links more than a year old may not be active, especially the ones pointing back to Russellmania (I like to move things around!).
Tags have been added to posts back to 2005. There may be an occasional old blog that gets added to the tag list, but in reality what could be noteworthy from that far back?
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