Friday, September 15, 2017

Housing Development

I don't know about this.

In an effort to save some money, I bought resin houses for my fantasy villages that came in six flat pieces.  The guilty manufacturer shall not be named - they are likely a hobby outfit doing this in their spare time, so you'll have to look elsewhere for bad press.  (Unpainted lead mountains, like blood, are thicker than watered down paint pots.)

My assembly results were not so hot.  It took a lot of filing and shaving to get these things to look even halfway decent.  The glue didn't hold pieces together long enough to keep one corner straight while setting the other one.  Right now, the results look pretty haphazard, and not all of that is my fault.  Look at those houses int he front right.  They have some sort of overhanging eaves, but no matching sidewalls.  I split the difference, but it still doesn't look right to me.

A decent base and a stellar paint job might cover up for a host of sins, but I just don't know about this project.  I may have to chuck these in the circular file and start over before all is said and done.

Monday, September 11, 2017


Sometimes these quick little posts represent a lot of work.  This isn't one of those times.  My forests took a total of around four hours start to finish.  I'm a fan of the Toob Trees for my wargaming needs.  They are a little undersized, but at a buck each for durable plastic that takes paint like a champ they are hard to beat.

Splintered Light 15mm Barbarian for scale.
Since these will be used on my skirmish table, I mounted them individually on metal washers.  These both provide weight and a little more size to help the trees stand upright, and give me a chance to paint and grass/flock them so that they blend into my terrain shapes a little better, too.  

The pine tree nearest the camera here has a larger base constructed of a pre-cut wooden disc.  These were used in a few cases to allow for the addition of a few rocks and logs to add to the variety of the trees.  This is my go-to system that allows for dense wood terrain pieces where you can move the trees around to allow unlimited movement of figures within the base, and adds the flexibility of using the trees individually as well.

By varying the painting styles a little, you can get a uniform look with just enough variety to help the trees stand out a little better.  I don't know if it shows up in the photos, but in this case every tree has the same base green, but I used three different mid-tone shades on them.  Then I used two different highlights (bone white and an ochre yellow) for a total of six different looks on the trees.  Using different weights of dry brushing provides for even more variety.  Trust me, these trees don't look nearly as white in person as they do in these shots.

My storage solution is a pair of flat plastic boxes.  Just a little something to keep them from banging around too much.  They have a matte varnish sprayed on to protect them, but every little bit helps.

These should work equally well in my sci-fi games as my fantasy games.  Which means I may have to reorganize my terrain boxes.  I think maybe I need just one 'generic terrain' box, with separate boxes for sci-fi and fantasy touches...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Terrain Base Quick Hit

You may have noticed that my wizard's tower included a wooden base.  That one was 3-mm thick wood, but after a recent pet shelf building exercise, I found myself left with a few extra pieces of MDF and Oh Em Gee is this stuff a lot easier to work with.  The scales have fallen from my eyes, and I now understand why so many guys use this stuff.  It's easy to cut with a coping saw.  It's easy to sand with a belt sander.  It's easy to paint and holds its shape like an aging supermodel.

The ones with more rocks don't need any extra items, they can serve as unwooded rough ground.  Any one of these can take a few individually mounted trees and serve as the bounds of a small copse of trees that block sight and make travel difficult.  The rock and logs come straight from my yard.

It occurs to me that I'm doing this a little backwards.  Normally I buy the drop cloth and match colors to it.  This time I've been too busy to track down the heavy canvas that is my first choice for drop cloths.  C'est la vie.  It will be ready when it is ready.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Tower of Skratch-Bi'ilt

Full confession:  I've spent a lot more money than usual on wargame terrain lately.  My side gig paid off, and I've dumped a lot of the extra dough into terrain that I don't have time to build.  Plus, it was my birthday.  You're going to start seeing a lot of pre-bought buildings which goes against the core mission of cheap, portable wargames on a budget.

But not this day!

I couldn't find a decent wizard's tower in 15mm scale, so I built one.  What you see here are three large cork stoppers glued together and secured with toothpicks.  A little plastic-card from a debit card that I think was left over following a trip to Dave and Busters makes for great decorative spiky flourishes, and a pair of gears from the box make for a fine magic wheel thing over the door.  The rest is pretty self explanatory.

After a quick paint job, we get a little something like this.

I originally conceived of the dome as a sort of observatory and tried to make a telescope bay, but it turned out rough and delicate.  A second wood ball was pressed into service and painted gold because MAGIC!

The blue symbols are the twelve signs of the zodiac, the sigils on the red doors represent the four Archangels, and the chalk above the door...well, it's a Catholic thing.  My Papists bros know what's up with that.

Friday, August 25, 2017

City of the Dead

Graveyards can be tricky terrain pieces to build.  They have a lot of fiddly bits that become very delicate and damage prone.  For my fantasy terrain box, that's one hassle I'd like to avoid, so I just bought a resin graveyard from Monday Knight Productions.  This piece measures four inches on each side, and with all those lines of tombstones, you need to be careful how it affects play.  Depending on the ruleset each lone of stones could act like a linear obstacle, or you could treat the whole piece as rough ground.

The piece is scaled for 15mm, but look how low that outer wall stands.  You could easily use this piece as a 10mm terrain piece, too.

As I was entering the tags for this post, it occurred to me that this piece is fairly setting and era independent.  People always have and always will die, and stone walls around the city of the dead crop up all over the place.  There is no reason that this piece couldn't be used on my sci-fi table with no changes, except that it will live in my fantasy box and I'm likely to forget about it when pulling out the sci-fi box.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mined Out - Bloodstone Temple

Lead Mountain is tapped out.  There's no more gold in them thar hills.  How does that happen?  I mean, sure there are a few mounted Musketeers and an odd bit or bob that could use some paint, but I'm raring to add to the 15mm fantasy, and that means there's only one thing to do - hit the bits box!

One busted up Lion King CD, some card stock, a few wooden dowels and washers later and behold!  The lost Bloodstone Temple.  The round wooden disc under the sacrificial black stone might just hold the entrance to a lost tomb, but how to open it?  

This is one of those 'found mysteries' that make miniature wargaming so much fun.  I set out to make a set piece for a battle map, maybe a nice objective for two factions to war over, and the only decent stone that worked for a sacrificial altar was a little too slanted on one side.  Placing a wooden bit and painting it as a nice red granite slab elevated one end of the altar, but it also makes for the perfect covering for a short drop into a lost tomb.

Monday, August 14, 2017

More Fantasy Figures

Are these good guys or bad guys?  Sometimes it can be hard to tell.  They are all from the DemonWorld line of figures, that's for sure.  

Wizard, Barbarian Warrior 3, and Barbarian Princess
 That center figure could be a male or female.  You don't often see that kind of versatility.

These two fellows are the worst kind of good guys.  The one on the left is the Supreme Dark Lord, as evidenced by his shield emblem.  (It's actually a Dark Paladin figure from Ral Partha Europe.)  His minon, a Vile Faceless Minion, is a Black Knight figure.

One of the things that slowed my figure production over the last several months was the recording of a number of audio books for Castalia House, including a number of books by Martin van Creveld, a John C Wright book, and a pair of excellent short story collections.  Reading Jerry Pournelle in high school you would have bowled me over if you'd told me that one day I'd be professionally reading his works.  Truly an honor.  It's also an honor to work with Vox Day and serve alongside his Vile Faceless Minions.  So much so, that I stole their logos for the above figures.

But this isn't all about advertising my professional work using my hobby blog.  Rest assured, there is madness to my method.  The money earned from my audio work has been enough to fund a fairly major project that I'm excited to share with you lot.  I'm still in the planning, purchasing, and preparation phase, but rest assured that you're going to see some major new additions to the blog before too much longer.

Meanwhile, here are the SDL and his VFM, heading off into the sunset. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Warren Abox Paints Again!

The year of our Lord Two Thousand and Seventeen has been one heckuva roller coaster, but things might just settle down around Chateau Abox.  Those of you that followed me over to the Castalia House Blog saw my little Three Musketeers Project, which (much to my regret) has yet to see any tabletime.  You also know that I've been busy launching a writing career using the name my long suffering parents bequeathed to me.  Add in a couple of other backstage projects and a long stint overseas, and my output has been astonishing.

The good news for fans of Warren Abox is that Castle Meatgrinder has a few new additions for team good, team evil, and team squishy moderate.  Let's take a look at the big bad boys that the PCs won't want to meet until after they have broken out the blue-covered Moldvay/Cook book.  All of the latest additions to the collection are DemonWorld figures, available through Ral Partha Europe.

Ogre chieftan (DI016C) on left.
Two armored ogres (4017A) on the right.
Barbarian Princess for scale.

This big bad demon is from the Icelords of Isthak lineup.  The official paintjob calls for blue and white, but you can make them a more generic demon with a different paint scheme.
Dai Re'Coon #1 (4213A)

More to come later.  Don't worry, you won't have to wait another seven months for an update.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Coming Out of the Box

If you liked this project,
you'll love 2017's project.
Completing Castle Meatgrinder, a large wargaming project from start to as-near-to-finished-as-any-wargame-project-ever-gets, was the least of my 2016 successes. Over the course of last year, my fire adopted a number of new irons, and by the time the Holiday season rolled around it was all I could do to keep them all in the air and not get burned.  So 2017 is going to see a few changes around here.

Long story short, Jeffro Johnson - one of the first bloggers that I really connected with - has asked me to write a bi-weekly column for the Castalia House blog.  In addition to that, one of my favorite authors, Schuyler Hernstrom, has asked me to collaborate on set of war game rules.  I eagerly agreed to both of these, and the natural result of these new project is my coming out of the box.

Oddly enough, neither man asked Warren Abox to participate.  You see, I spent 2016 moonlighting as a writer and a literary critic over at another couple of blogs, and it was under that name - my real name - that they came to know me.  Of course, my decision to enter the literature lists was a direct result of my contact with him via our shared online war gaming circles, but I tried to maintain some separation between my nom de guerre and my nom de moi.  I even went so far as to publish a handful of guest posts at the Castalia House blog under both of my monikers, without letting the blog editors in on the secret.  They are now!

Over the last six months, it has grown more difficult to maintain that separation. For one thing, I just don't have the time nor the energy to maintain two profiles at the same time.  For another, my reading and war gaming are not really two separate hobbies, but two of the many struts that support hides covering the geeky little teepee in which my heart dwells.  With the advent of the blog series and the (as yet under wraps) fantasy wargame, it's time to ditch the anonymity and bring these two hobbies closer together in my online work.

You're a reader here, so your primary concern is probably, "what does all this mean for the blog?"

Rest assured, it's not going anywhere.  It may slow down a bit as my focus shifts.  More of my nerdery will wind up pasted at Seagull Rising, and my 2017 War In A Box Project will be documented over at the Castalia House blog.

I have no intention of shuttering this site completely.  Anything of a purely wargaming nature will wind up posted here.  The bulk of my painted miniatures and most of my actual play posts will appear here.  All the brainy stuff, the literary analysis, and likely even the RPG related posts, are going to be moving over to Seagull Rising.  This means that War In A Box will maintain its typical tight focus on wargaming that you've come to expect over the years.  If you want to learn more about me, and about my writing, then you're of course welcome to check in on Seagull Rising from time to time.

On Wednesday, I'll be kicking off a big wargaming project over at the Castalia House blog that you won't want to miss.  Don't worry, I'll post a quick link here to remind you, so you won't miss it.

Oh, and lest I forget!  Thank you for painting and pushing lead with me, even if only vicariously, for the last five and a half years.  It's been a lot of fun, and I look forward to continuing the enjoyment for years to come.