Monday, 21 August 2017

Hotwire (WiP; G.I. Joe Project)

I don't often do WiP posts, but as I have hit a painting slowdown this month (so far in August I painted 6 DUST Quonset Huts glimpsed in the last post, but haven't finished any character models yet), I thought I might do so at this time to help gee me up!

This mini will become Hotwire, a recent addition to the Cobra forces in the G.I. Joe mythos. Basically he seems to be a deranged engineer-scientist specialising in modification of BATs (Battle Android Troopers).

One of the things driving decisions for Brummie and me in our choice of characters to add to our G.I. Joe Projects is the availability of source minis. Hotwire is a case in point - while we were scouting options, I checked out Studio Miniatures' Survivors range and picked out two good possibilities. One of those options led to Hotwire, who started off as a not-Doc Brown type (Back to the Future). It is not a character I would have even considered except for the relative ease of conversion I saw in the source mini.

I set to work on his lower trouser legs and arm cuffs with a file, to turn the areas into boots and gloves respectively, and added a bit of green stuff for a trouser near a boot top. I also added a layer of thin plastic under his shoes to make him a tiny bit taller to fit the other minis and bulk out his boots. I am reasonably pleased with how that bit of work turned out and hope he paints up well enough that he looks 'right' and the work seems correct. I have a few days off so I plan to finish several minis this week, including Hotwire, motivation permitting!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

First Squad Wars Play-tests

This week saw the inaugural play-test games for Squad Wars, using a mix of minis from mine and Brummie's growing G.I. Joe collections. My initial feeling was that a lot of things worked as I hoped and a few things need tweaking, which is all good.

We managed both a small and a medium sized game in less than three and half hours, which is without having played the game before and so I it felt it was fairly speedy overall, all things considered. That time included making a couple of cups of tea and stopping to have discussions about whether or not certain things worked to create a satisfying game-play feel, so ultimately probably closer to three hours or less in total for the two games played.

The games helped identify a few issues to fix - nothing fundamental but certain special rules and how they can be applied differently to improve the experience.

Brummie was really supportive and kindly gave feedback and insights, as well as noting the log of changes to be made and also took two of the pictures in this post (thanks very much mate!).

I wish I had taken more pics myself but I was understandably focused on the games themselves and talking Brummie through my ethos for certain design choices. I opted away from making a Battle Report at this stage as the key thing is getting the fundamentals right in terms of using time well.

Anyway, suffice to say, it feels on the right track of what I want and I hope to get more Squad Wars gaming in with Joes versus Cobra before too long.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Steeler (G.I Joe)

Steeler is a bit of a touch-stone for me, so I am very happy to add him to the G.I. Joe ranks. Back in 1983, my 10-year self was fortunate enough to receive the Z Force Battle Tank and Steeler as a Christmas present, and I loved it. Motorised vehicle that could go forward, backwards in different directions? What was there not to love! That Action Force (Z Force was one of the four arms of Action Force in the canon) tank was a repaint of the original G.I. Joe set of the MOBAT and Steeler. The character was adapted to the Euro-centric Action Force and the colour scheme changed.

I decided to use the G.I. Joe version colour scheme as my primary influence, recalling a kind of bright olive green for his fatigues on my toy version so working that in instead of the standard green I have been using. Then there was the case of differentiating three different types of 'black' and ultimately it was a fairly straightforward paint-job.

In the Marvel US G.I. Joe comics Steeler is a character who has some key moments in earlier issues then is featured sparingly afterwards. But he has a tank to command, and that is the key thing!

I hope I can carry some of the momentum of the past couple of months into August and progress further into my G.I. Joe Project.

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (13)
G.I. Joe team: 10*
Cobra: 3**
Arashikage: 3*
Iron Grenadiers: 1**
Oktober Guard: 0
Red Shadows: 0

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Red Ninja Viper (Cobra)

Red Ninja Viper (or Red Ninja depending on which version of the source action figure you refer to!) is my latest addition to my G.I. Joe Project, serving the enemy forces of Cobra. I prefer the longer Red Ninja Viper name as it just sounds cooler to my brain and ear.

The character is far from a leading light of the canon, and is among a plethora of ninja types that thread through the G.I. Joe mythos. It is a character 'after my time' so to speak, and only one I came across while researching options for the G.I. Joe Project. In Squad Wars games I am probably going to pitch him as an individualised character, but effectively an 'extra' type for bulking out the Cobra forces with some extra individuality - that may change though. The mini itself was a spare copy of Storm Shadow that I had from a friend's private commission, so be sure to expect a white-clad ninja before too long.

For painting I went with a bit of a hybrid of the various incarnations of Red Ninja/Red Ninja Viper. I started painting the mini at the same time as Jinx but fell behind with this one while stuff like Stalker, Timber, Shipwreck and Short Fuze got finished instead. Thankfully I have been able to retain some painting momentum and was able to get the mini finished while working a little on some other characters.

I reckon Red Ninja Viper may get a run out before too long as Brummie has recently gone into painting overdrive (check out his blog to see what I mean - link here), meaning that collectively we have a lot of characters to choose from to start gaming with.

Coming up I have a mix of Joes and Cobra in various stages including: Baroness, Duke, Gung Ho, Rock N Roll and Roadblock. Of course with my random approach to painting that could mean something else entirely like a Cobra Ninja gets painted instead....

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (12)
G.I. Joe team: 9*
Cobra: 3**
Arashikage: 3*
Iron Grenadiers: 1**
Oktober Guard: 0
Red Shadows: 0

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Short Fuze (G.I. Joe)

Short Fuze marks my ninth Joe character finished, and eleventh mini for the project as a whole. I started this one a whole ago but slowed down as I found a few bits awkward to paint. I picked him up again this weekend and was able to make more headway, enough to want to finish him.

Most of the original G.I. Joe team had very similar uniforms, so expect a few more that don't look too dissimilar before too long in among the more varied later characters. Regardless of the uniforms though, I will probably mainly stuck to the same base green colours for fatigues and helmets to add a little coherence. The original figure had black webbing straps and a green backpack; I decided to go for a dark olive colour as a bit less stark than black. In my overall painted minis tally for the month, quarter and year, I am counting Short Fuze and his mortar as two separate minis - that seems fair as they are on separate bases!

Short Fuze was the team's first mortar specialist (but not the only one!). In the canon he is a solider from a military family, with a logical and thoughtful side although with a noticeable temper. Reading the comics, he is certainly not a top tier character, and is generally just 'there' in the wider ensemble.

In developing Squad Wars, Short Fuze gives me a chance to try out the rules for mortars which naturally have a few wrinkles to them.

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (11)
G.I. Joe team: 9*
Cobra: 2**
Arashikage: 3*
Iron Grenadiers: 1**
Oktober Guard: 0

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Shipwreck (G.I. Joe)

'In the navy, come on people and make a stand' - ah, Shipwreck is my latest G.I. Joe Project addition, and with his naval attire he will stand out a mile among the mainly greens and browns for many of the G.I. Joe team uniforms!

Shipwreck is a tough petty officer who calmly faces any situation, not easily rattled. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, there were a fair few naval personnel in the G.I. Joe ranks.

The mini is from a private commission which I was thankful to get hold of. I decided to swap the pistol weapon he had for something heavier looking to give a little more 'grounded' look - the irony of that choice is not lost on me given he walks into battle with a parrot on his shoulder! The painting was nice and straightforward, and once I had blocked in the main two blue colours and flesh, I started working from the waist down before tackling the remaining bits.

One of the most fun things for me in this project so far has been creating the rules cards for the minis; basically distilling how the characters are described in their file cards and the Marvel comics into a set of rules that feels right. Suffice it to say a lot of cards are done and a lot of conversions bubbling into mind.

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (10)
G.I. Joe team: 8*
Cobra: 2**
Arashikage: 3*
Iron Grenadiers: 1**
Oktober Guard: 0

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Prepping for Squad Wars Play-tests

When play-testing I like to have game materials to make things easier. For Pulp City, this meant facsimiles of game cards where possible, as well as a copy of the rules text to hand.

While developing Supers Unlimited and Squad Wars under the Kitbash Games banner, I have taken things a step further. These projects are obviously deeply personal to me, and so I want to get things as right as possible. Just having a very rough draft copy of the text to look at helps me think about how pages could be laid out, the sequence of things, etc. In the past I would work with pdfs of simple Word layouts. This time, and to help my own personal thought processes, I decided to go a step further and get mini books printed.

In addition, with my G.I. Joe Project underway - and which will be the main vehicle for play-testing Squad Wars - I decided to get cards for the various characters printed up as a motivator to play. That may sound unnecessary, but from my time with Pulp City I saw that testers gave more feedback if they had print outs (from Word) at roughly game card size for characters than a primary Word document not formatted down to game card size. They gave more feedback again if they had draft versions of the final cards. So from that learning, I have developed cards as something to hang games of Squad Wars onto, and will do the same with Supers Unlimited at some point.

Since both games feature 'build your own' rules for Characters (they have some nominal IP, but that is to help give some contextual pointers and supply pretty pictures to look at!), players can just as easily use a roster sheet, whatever takes their fancy, they don't have to use cards like I have developed (although templates will be made available at some point).