Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Month: October 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

The Walking Dead is shipping!

I’ve been pretty excited for The Walking Dead: All Out War miniatures game from Mantic for some time now and as of late last week, the first wave of Kickstarter pledges are shipping.  Mantic being UK based, I’m not likely to receive my pledge for another week or so but I decided to celebrate by test painting one of the free promo Walkers I picked up at Gen Con.


primed and ready

Early on in the campaign, I decided that I wanted to paint the whole game monochromatic (black and white) in an homage to both the comics and the black and white Romero zombie films.  I didn’t really do anything to this model to prep (didn’t even wash it) as I know this is basically just to test the concept and color palette.


Jennifer Haley’s monochrome masterpiece

I first saw the monochromatic technique in an advertisement for Miniature Mentor‘s painting series featuring Jennifer Haley doing this amazing ranger miniature.  I won’t be painting anywhere near that level of detail but I did pick up the monochrome video Miniature Mentor made with Jennifer and the techniques were interesting. It mainly centered around the paint mixes and blending techniques.

So with all my prep and study done, I started out with a simple bit of painting the clothes to figure out what will work best.  I use crappy hobby store craft paints and cheap brushes for all my work so my goal is usually “table top quality” and by that, I mean, it looks good enough at arms length.  The pictures I have here will be much closer but that should help illustrate what is going on.


First, I took several of the stock grey paints I have and put paint to the model to see how it would look conceptually.  The results were pretty bad. The greys that I picked up were “light gray” and “dark gray” but both of them had quite a bit of yellow to them against the slightly blue-ish light grey automotive primer I was using. Since I like the primer, I knew the stock paints had to go. The shoes were a last test of me simply mixing my craft black and craft white together (3:1 black:white).

This was pretty dumb of me as I watched most of that 3 hour Haley video and she only ever used two colors and mixed the ratios to get the different values.  I’ll be doing the same from now on.


Mixing worked much better.  I left the shoes from the last attempt but just covered the pants and shirt.  The pants were a straight 50/50 mix and the shirt was stock white.  Real painters rarely go full black or full white since it won’t leave them any room to shadow or highlight.  I don’t really care since I’m not going to be highlighting and the shadowing will be taken care of in the wash.  I finished out the model by diluting the dark mix (3:1) and filling in the wound holes in the zombie. To knock up the creepy factor, I dragged the brush downward a little after filling the holes to indicate the running of the open and old wounds.


I lied, I ended up highlighting his shoes a little, which likely isn’t even real highlighting as I was giving those kicks some laces. After that, I did a 50/50 dilution of water and Games Workshop Nuln Oil wash (my only painting splurge).  I like the grey base so I ran the wash carefully with a soft brush only over the areas of the model, careful to not get any on the base.  I actually prefer clear bases for models because I don’t want to mess with the extra work basing requires but I may keep these on their regular base.

As you can see in the comparison, the wash doesn’t really mess with too much but gets rid of that factory-clean look he had.  Under this harsh work light, the model’s shape is easy to see due to the natural shadows.  Unfortunately, on a darker or more evenly distributed light environment (like your playing table), those shadows will go away so the wash will help emphasize them.


So here he is on my dining room table in a more general lighting environment.  The whole process was quite simple and more fun that I anticipated.  It was refreshing to only use two colors and mix custom shades to bring the model to life.  I usually hate painting because I don’t have a lot of confidence in my color schemes but having done black and white photography for years, I felt right at home. This will be important because I’ll have roughly 60+ figures coming soon and it will need to be both easy and fun to get through that first wave of content.  Now I just have to hope the weather holds so I can also prime them for the long painting winter.

Showcase: Fury of Dracula

It’s October and time to break out the Halloween-themed games.  One game that tends to get pulled out every year is Fantasy Flight‘s Fury of Dracula.  I have the second edition but Fantasy Flight has since printed a third edition that I’m eager to see how it plays as well.


Fury of Dracula was the first game I ever completely pimped out.  We had a lot of fun with this game so every time we would bring it out, I would add a little more to it.  At first the pimping was practical.  I added a screen to help the Dracula player keep his location up and available but still away from the prying eyes of the hunter players.


This screen was developed by Boardgamegeek user Jeannis Leist and is a great accessory to the game as it also includes a lot of game details on the inside.


Along with the screen, Leist also made a revised game map that is upside down but with the city names right side up.  This is because the Dracula player sits at the top of the map looking at the map upside most of the game.


This helps keep things oriented for the Dracula player.  The map is on laminated cardstock so the player can make notes in dry erase pens easily.  The game originally came with a little map for Dracula but it is so small and upside down, it is almost useless.


Next, I printed out a custom tuckbox for the event deck from Boardgamegeek user Helen Holzgrafe.  Fury of Dracula has a peculiar event deck in that you need to draw randomly but the card back is different and yet supposed to be hidden.  That game tells you to draw from the bottom of the deck but Holzgrafe’s nice tuckbox eliminates that need.


The flap folds down to keep the card back hidden.

I then turned to the random tile draw action and my wife made this great little black bag with red silk lining.


I used fabric paint to make the Dracula symbol on the outside of the bag to complete the piece.  This was done a bit haphazardly by scanning the bat icon, blowing it up to the right size, and then printing and cutting it out on cardstock.  This cardstock then became a stencil that I used to paint the Dracula icon onto the bag.


With all the practical pimping out of the way, I decided to paint the minis as well.  At the time, this was only the second game where I tried to paint the minis so the sloppiness has a certain charm to me.






The game is one of our favorites and something I look forward to each year when Fall starts to come around.

Dropzone Carnage

We were able to get to our first 1500 point army build in a Dropzone Commander game last weekend.


It was great to see all the new units I built up over the last couple of weeks hit the table.

I built a list mainly to try out all the new units but I still thought it could do pretty well.

Thunder Time

  • Breach Drill
  • Thunderstorm (Commander) + Warlord’s Retinue
  • 3 Gun Wagons + Kraken, 2 Cyclones
  • 3 sets of Resistance Fighters + Jackson Halftracks + Lifthawk (w/AA)
  • 1 set of Resistance Fighters, 1 set of Occupation Veterans + 2 Battle Buses (w/AA) + Kraken
  • 1 set of Freeriders + 1 set of Attack ATVs
  • J19 Hellhog


I was also excited to have everything fit in one easy to carry box, safely secured in foam.


We played the simple Recon scenario but had an awkward 3 player game and I was sandwiched in between a heavy aircraft-based UCM force and a light infantry Scourge build. Brian was hosting and built a beautiful layout complete with almost a thousand bodies strewn all over the place.  It made for a creepy and fantastically thematic burned out cityscape.



initial setup and deployments

I didn’t realize just how focused my UCM friend was on air support until he jumped me in the first round and did everything he could to take out anything with even the slightest hint of anti-air capabilities. It wasn’t until the end of the round that I realized I was in trouble as I had nothing to contend with all his aircraft.


Those poor Gun Wagons fell pretty quick to his gunships as hiding behind the Kraken didn’t do any good against 36″ range on my non-countermeasured wagons.  The buses went down quick soon after (along with my set of Occupation Veterans cowering inside).  Glad I didn’t spend time painting the Veterans up yet…


With most of my forces committed to the right side dead or useless, I retreated to the Scourge side of things to see if that was any better.


The Scourge were not liking my big Thunderstorm being forced to come out on their side of the map.  They were even more disappointed when it leveled a small building filled with their Destroyers in one round.  And with that move, I found my calling in this particular map.  I would not be able to stand up against the UCM’s air superiority so I would just punish anyone foolish enough to get into small or medium buildings near me.


It worked pretty well as I dropped a group of UCM Praetorians in another building before they could check for intel.  Demo builds are something I’m going to need to look into more now.

By round 3, my Drill and Hellhog could finally join the fray.


I thought the Scourge was done with this area and was finally going to get aggressive to push back the UCM so my drill just popped up in their backfield.  I ran some Freeriders into the adjacent building and the Attack ATVs started peppering the other buildings with chem grenades to keep people away.

The Scourge decided to start backpedaling though and retreated right on top of me.  The time was getting late so we ended up calling the game at the end of the 4th round but the writing was on the wall.  My Resistance force couldn’t stop the UCM air command and the Scourge was too afraid to try (and had already lost most of their minimal infantry so would never compete on points). Even though I was able to keep pushing forward with victory points from my various infantry, the UCM was able to keep pace.  Another two rounds would have seen the end of my Thunderstorm and then the UCM would just start mopping up the rest of us.

It was a lot of fun and I was glad to try out a lot of new units like the Breach Drill, Fast Mover Hellhog, demolition Thunderstorm, and chem ‘nading Attack ATVs.  I’ll go back and revisit my list to figure out what I liked and what I’ll want to trade out for next time.

Laws of Attraction

So with all the Dropzone Commander priming I did last week and the upcoming game that was to take place this weekend, I got the itch to get some of my models ready for the table. I did forget about one thing: magnetizing.


These are 2mm x 1mm round neodymium magnets and these little suckers were the bane of my week. Magnetizing is a pretty common economical technique miniature gamers use to make their models swap certain weapon layouts between the same model.  Sometimes manufactures help encourage this by adding multiple model layouts in the same kit. Dropzone Commander is just now starting to do this but they are still pretty early in the process.

In my case, I have a bunch of Technical vehicles that can mount different gunners so I wanted to be able to swap them out easily depending on the game I was playing.  This can be a big pain to set up since you’re working with very tiny models, super glue, and micro magnets that tend to not play nice no matter how you set them up.


First thing is to drill out all the holes for the magnets to set in.  It usually helps to have a drill bit that is slightly larger than the magnet to give it some leeway as it drops in.  I test my magnets in the hole to make sure they will sit deep enough and that the hole isn’t too snug.

If you check out my first image again, you’ll notice the blue markings on the magnet.  Polarity is extremely important in this process as you’ll need all the magnets to work correctly so you can swap pieces without issue.  Since the magnets are so fiddly and tend to flip around a lot as you wrestle them into their hole, you’ll want to make sure you can quickly recognize if the magnet is facing the right way.  You’re also working with Superglue, so recognizing this quickly will be key.


are you too good for your home!?!

In the image above, I need the blue marking side face-up in the bed of this Technical.  I had 12 of these suckers and no matter how I dropped them into the bed, they all landed blue side down.  12 for 12. Thanks tiny magnets.


Now for the other side: the gunners.


For these guys, they were still on the sprue and it is much easier to paint that way so I decided to finish them up completely and seal them before tackling the magnetization.  The gunners work the same way: drill the hole, find the right magnetic orientation, mark with a blue sharpie, and the super glue into place.

Don’t be tempted to “test” out the model until that super glue sets as it will likely pull out the still-wet magnet and glue itself to the other magnet in the model and then you’ll have fun digging those apart without destroying your things.


Even though it can be one of the most frustrating parts of the miniatures process, the end is definitely worth it.  Painted up, I’m pretty happy with my Warlord’s Retinue.  For most of the Resistance faction’s Technical and converted civilian vehicles, I like the random paint schemes but the fluff behind the Warlord’s Retinue paints them as more of a single elite and unique unit so I figured they might try to stay with one consistent paint scheme even on their civilian vehicles.

As you can tell from the photo, I was also able to push through and finish up a few other models as well.


almost finished. needs some dirt still.

The Warlord’s Retinue is a secondary unit in the Resistance faction that can’t exist without it’s main transport, the massive Thunderstorm command unit.  This thing is the size of small structures and is a pretty fun unit in the game.


The main focus of the week was getting these two units ready for the table but I had a little bit of extra time to slap together some of the Attack ATVs that just came out in the Reconquest Phase 2 book.


I’ve also been dying to get one of the most unique units in the Resistance faction to the table so I did a quick job on the Breaching Drill and got it ready as well.


To break the monotony of painting a bunch of annoying infantry gunners and tiny ATVs, I worked on a really fun J19 Hellhog aircraft.


The VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft reminded me of one of my favorite GI Joe toys from back in the day so I went a blue color scheme. Not quite the midnight blue of the original but I think it still works well.


cobra rattler from the 80s GI Joe toys. photo from yojoe.com

So all in all, a very productive week for Dropzone.  Of course, all of this wasn’t without reason as I also was able to cap off the weekend with our first 1500 point game.  I’ve run out of time so I’ll tackle that game in a quick rundown later.


new shinies!

Prime Time!

Fall is here in Colorado and minis painters know that can only mean one thing: Winter is coming.  More importantly, spray paint-killing cold weather is coming. So like most minis painters that don’t have an indoor vent box, I’m doing my fall priming to get models ready for painting during the longer winter months.

Before I can even prime models though, I have to clean them.  I’m working on getting through my current Dropzone Commander backlog so today I’m working on Hawk Wargames miniatures.  Hawk produces some pretty clean models and I’ve only encountered one set out of all my purchases that had enough flash on the sprues to make life difficult. Seeing how I’ve bought at least 20 different little model sets from them, I’d say that is pretty good.


flash and moldlines/vents are common on all minis


all clean now. well except the resin chips leftover.

Now that my models are prepped, it’s on to priming.  I typically use Krylon flat spray paints made for plastic to prime my models and I vary back and forth from black to white to grey depending on what is available and if I already have a color scheme picked out.

To spray, I have a cardboard open wall box that I made and I put newspaper down as the spray surface. To make sure I get all the angles, I rotate the paper after each spray pass.  If the models are particularly small, I will sometimes use blu-tack to make sure they don’t go flying around with the pressure of the spray paint.


For infantry or individual figures, I take some large shop nails and either glue or blu-tack the model on the nail head.


For small figures like 10mm infantry that already come on a sprue, I rigged up a minis holder. I attached clothespins to each nail and have them grip the sprue.  The holder itself is a simple 2×4 with holes drilled in it.


This allows me to shoot the models in one pass and let them dry without a spray box.  It can also be useful to paint the model as you’ll have a nice handle and stand already available.

So it took most of the afternoon but the models are all primed and ready to “cure” overnight.  I have another Dropzone get-together coming up so I’ll need to start getting these painted up right away.


I have my work cut out for me.

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