Sunday, 25 February 2018

DreadBall: Saturday Matinee game

 andIntroduction

Yesterday, my friend Steve came round and we spent the day gaming.  There was a bit of  talking and eating as well, but mostly it was gaming.

What did we play?  Well, we started with Congo, where the McCoy and Glover white men expeditions faced off across a crocodile-infested river.  Then we had our first two games of Paleo Diet.  All I'm going to say about this for now is that there were mammoths; more on this another time...

Finally, we filled the last part of the day with an introductory game of Dreadball (using the Version 2 rules).  This was introductory in the sense that Steve hadn't really encountered the game before, whereas I have played quite a few games.  This is what happened...


DreadBall

This isn't going to be a blow-by-blow account of the match, as that would take far to long to write (and would probably be quite tedious to read as well).  Instead, I'll mention some of the highlights and low points.

Starting positions: both teams are playing a zone defence.

Steve is playing the Orks and Goblins: the Mean Green Team.  They're in the red armour, at the far end.  For those who don't know DreadBall, the team consists of 2 types of player:
  • Ork guards are strong and tough; they're very good at stomping things.
  • Goblin jacks are fairly average ball carriers.  Being jacks, they are also quite fast and are theoretically capable of slamming an opponent (though in reality, I wouldn't generally advise it).
I chose the Judwan team who are dressed in dark green armour; I don't yet have my own team name for them.  The Judwan are humanoid aliens with exceptionally long limbs.  They are also notable for being pacifists and refusing to injure anyone deliberately.  The team consists entirely of:
  • Judwan strikers: good ball handlers, but only wear light armour and are rather fragile.


The Plays


Early in the match, one of my strikers grabbed the ball, ran up the sideline, dodged around all the goblins and threw the ball on target for a 3-point strike.

Score: +3 to Judwan



One or two rushes later, an Ork guard decided to do some marauding.  He charged down a defender and hit the poor Judwan full on.  In the slam, the Ork scored 7 successes (rolls of '6' count as a success and grant a re-roll, thus allowing the possibility of extreme results on rare occasions).  The Judwan dodged poorly and came up with just 1 success.

7:1 isn't just a loss, it's a catastrophic loss.  The poor defender took 6 hits to armour, failed to make very many saves (unsurprisingly) and was consequently smeared across the neodurium and removed as a casualty (damage of 4 or more cannot be recovered during a match).

Following this removal of the Judwan, a goblin jack ran in to score 1 point in the now-undefended strike zone.

Score: +2 to Judwan




Right, my response had better be fairly decisive.  Shortly after this, my star player ran the ball from deep inside my half up to the centre line.  I don't normally do passing plays, but this time I felt lucky.  The striker threw the ball to a waiting Judwan player, who then ran down the pitch to score in the highest-value zone: a 4 point strike and multiple fan checks!

Score: +6 to Judwan.  Note that the game ends as a landslide victory if either side manages to move the score to 7 points in their favour.  I was very close to ending the game early in this manner, but not quite there yet.



Now for something that I hadn't thought through properly.  As soon as a strike is scored, a new ball is launched automatically along the centre line.  The ball is small, hard and fast - a bit like a cannonball, really.  I expect you can see where this is going...

My star striker was standing on the centreline and therefore took a 5-dice hit from the newly-launched ball.  Fortunately he didn't have his back to it, but unfortunately his dodge still wasn't quite good enough to avoid injury; he had to leave the pitch for treatment.  D'oh!



The goblins responded quickly, using Slippery Joe (their star player) to pick up the loose ball and run in an easy 1-point strike.

Score: +5 to Judwan



OK, let's end this.  The Mean Green Team have left their deep strike zone uncovered (their guards were busy trying to hurt a solitary Judwan striker, who kept managing - just! - to dodge out of the way.

A replacement striker ran on for the gangly aliens, thus freeing up one of the existing defenders to run the length of the field.  A careful combination of action cards and coaching dice allowed him a good shot at goal; his throw was spectacularly on target: 4 points!

Score: +9 to Judwan: game over with a landslide victory in rush 10 or 11 (I forget exactly which).


Conclusion

This was a decisive win for the Judwan, but remember that their coach (me) was considerably experienced, whereas the Mean Green Team were run by a novice.  I think that the difference came in two ways:
  1. Steve played quite conservatively, frequently using 2 actions to achieve (safely) what might have taken only 1 if a little risk was accepted.  For example, for a player to Dash 1 hex if they are not quite in the desired position at the end of their move is not a huge risk, but it might take a few games before a coach understands the cost/benefit ratio of such a decision.
  2. On a tactical level, a novice player may not recognise the best moves for their players, either to disrupt an opponent's attack or to facilitate their own.  DreadBall rewards those who think ahead at least one or two rushes and positions their models accordingly.
So, I'm feeling a bit guilty at administering such a drubbing to a new player, though in my defence I did try to advise on tactics as well as rule interpretations.

In any case, the Orks are probably quite happy, as they did manage to send one opposing player to the morgue!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Heroes of the Neodurium

Introduction

I've been playing a few games of Dreadball recently.  Dreadball 2 came out at the start of the year and we're finding it to be a distinct improvement; games are fun!

With that in mind, my model-making has been directed towards reducing some of the pile of unpainted miniatures that I have for this game.  At the last count, I had 4 unbuilt teams and a number of stars ("Most Valuable Players"/MVPs), plus some auxiliaries such as fans and cheerleaders.

The MVPs seemed like a good place to start.  Since each was an individual, any one figure wouldn't take long to paint and I ought to be able to finish a few quite quickly.  Here's the tally so far...


Rico van Dien


From the manual, Rico is "handsome, well-educated and hugely rich".  He's a show off, loved by the crowd for his showboating style.  Rico also has perfect teeth...

I've painted Rico in the colours for my human corporation team (the "Sky City Slammers"), but of course his armour is rich and glittery compared to their much more modest blue & silver.


Galdo


Galdo is a rather foolish Kraaw with massive gambling debts.  Some underworld boss has decided that the best way for him to repay these debts is by starring in Dreadball matches, where he will either earn riches or perish miserably.  Either way, the criminal underworld will have extracted its revenge...

In Dreadball 2, Galdo is listed as captain of the Rebs team.  However, since I don't have that team (and have no real intention to obtain it), I'll use him as a regular MVP who can be hired by anyone.


Lyra the Fixer


Lyra is an ex-assassin who enjoys the "legitimate" violence of a Dreadball match.  She's fast, nimble and vicious!

It's not clear to me what species Lyra represents.  Her protruding face and the large claws on her feet suggest something alien, but she could just about be a modified human instead.  Like much else about her, this seems to be shrouded in mystery.


Asylum


In the past, Asylum has been treated for homicidal, drug-induced rages; he's now allowed back onto the Dreadball pitch.  It seems that remnants of his old personality still exist, though: his style of playing is distinctly aggressive!

Most humans who play Dreadball have full armour suits.  Asylum just wears a mask...


Alo-Khan


What's an Asterian war robot doing in Corporation space?  Well, its personality banks have been fused with the memories of a Kalyshi rebel and now the authorities look the other way and let it play Dreadball.

It's fast and nimble, but Alo-Khan is still a war machine at heart.  Sometimes it forgets that this is just a game...


Number 88


An enigma wrapped up in a mystery and served up as a puzzle?  All that anyone knows about Number 88 is that he/she/it is an incredibly fast and agile striker.


Eko'o


Eko'o is a Yarasa hunter, kidnapped by a Corporation team from his primitive home world and forced to play Dreadball for the amusement and titillation of the masses.  Just don't expect him to be happy about it (and don't turn your back on him, either!)


Buzzcut


Buzzcut is an ogre, in every sense of the word.  He's huge, savage and sadistic.

I've painted Buzzcut in a vaguely "rugby union" style; he looks a bit like a caricature of a prop forward.  I suppose that I was channelling the rugby players from "Asterix in Britain" at the time...


Blitz


Blitz is a Fyrit; a four-armed, hot-tempered bipedal lizard.  With all those extra limbs, he's especially good at pummeling opponents.


Conclusion

I'm quite pleased to have finished off all these MVPs reasonably quickly.  The individuality of each model meant that I didn't become too bored, as might have happened for a large group of identical figures.

You may have noticed that I've used clear perspex hexes for the bases of these figures.  Obviously, this has required cutting the models from their original bases.  In a few cases I am a bit concerned about the new joints, especially where there are few/small contact points between the model and the pespex.  However, on the whole I consider this to be very successful and I plan to base all my Dreadball teams this way from now onwards, though I probably won't rebase my existing teams.

I expect we'll be playing a few more games in the near future.  If we limit ourselves to one MVP per team per match (seems reasonable) then it will take quite a few games just to try out this lot - let alone the others that I have still to complete!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Congo: Reinforcements (and wildlife)

Introduction

Today I've not got anything special to talk about, so I'll just show some recently-finished models instead.  These are all for Congo (or could be used for any other game set in Darkest Africa, I suppose).


Forest Tribes


I finished another five warriors for my Forest Tribe about a month ago.  For the purists, they probably belong to at least 2 different tribes; the combination of hide and wicker shields would probably not occur within a single group.  I'm not too bothered by this, though in a game I'll probably try to put them in different squads (perhaps they're allies from a neighbouring tribe?)

These models are from North Star; they're well sculpted and cast.  Natives like this are really easy to paint as there is very little in the way of clothing or equipment to detail!


Ruga Ruga


The Ruga Ruga are mercenaries with a reputation for being flamboyant, though somewhat shabby in appearance (and possibly drug-takers as well).  These six Foundry models will be used by my Arab Slavers, though they could be hired by white men or natives as well.


Ascaris


Above are some more armed followers for my White Men column.  They're Foundry models, but very compatible with the North Star or Copplestone "Darkest Africa" figures.  I think these are some of the more useful poses for skirmish games; I'm not a big fan of the "every man in every squad is shooting" look.


Animals


This is the North Star African Elephant.  It's a 3-part model: there are 2 body halves and a separate head.  The body parts fitted together very well, but the head was an exceptionally poor fit.  Still, plenty of filler seems to have worked well in hiding the join (and it's somewhat hidden behind the ears anyway).

Personally, I think this is one of the nicest-looking 28mm African Elephant models out there.  It's also priced quite reasonably.



As part of the same package from North Star, I obtained 3 hyenas.  Now I've seen a number of 28mm hyena models and most of them are somewhat...disappointing.  In particular, a lot of sculptors seem to have difficulties with the hyena's classic "sloped" profile, with long forelegs and much shorter rear legs.  These models, on the other hand, are excellent!  They really do look like the animals they represent (though I've possibly gone a bit dark with my painting).

Note that I've based my hyenas on smallish 40mm x 20mm bases, rather than the more common 50mm x 25mm cavalry bases.  They're quite large models (for hyenas), but they're not as big as horses!



Finally, here's a leopard - also from North Star.  It's a nicely-posed model, though perhaps there's something not quite right about the tail.  Anyway, I'm just glad that I don't have to paint more than one of these beasts!


Conclusion

More forces for Congo - can't be bad, right?  Also, this is a very useful expansion to my collection of African wildlife (currently one lion and a crocodile, I think).

Mind you, I still need some hippos.  I like the Foundry models (waterline and otherwise), but they're very expensive.  Hmm, we'll see...

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Movement Frames and Trays

Introduction

In case you hadn't noticed, "small unit" skirmish wargames are very popular these days.  For myself, I play (or at least, collect models for) both Saga and Congo, though there are plenty of other games which use similar numbers of models.

The common factor in all these cases is that they use a squad (for want of a better term) as the basic group for movement, combat and so on.  In Saga this will be sized from 3 to 12 models and models within a squad must remain within a certain, proscribed distance of each other.  For Congo units are from 3 to 6 models (but may have one or two characters, auxiliaries or other supernumeraries attached permanently to them) and each figure must touch at least one other model from the same squad.  These groupings are fairly typical of many modern wargames.

Where am I going with this?  Well, it's a bit of a pain to have to move every model individually, so some people buy or build "movement trays" to allow the entire group to me moved at once.  The remainder of this article will examine a couple of types of movement frame.


MDF Movement Tray


There are a number of different companies who supply movement trays made from MDF; these are from the excellent Warbases.  Such trays are always made from 2 sheets of MDF stuck together; the top one has holes to suit the desired figure bases and the lower one is solid.



MDF bases are relatively cheap, extremely flexible (the number, size, shape and layout of slots can be customised extensively), but here are two things to consider:
  • Because of the nature of the material, slots in an MDF tray are usually spaced out by 5-10mm
  • In turn, this requires that the MDF needs some work to paint the bases.  I could have just used a single colour on the examples above, but I felt they looked better with some texture, dry-brushing and static grass.  None of this is difficult, but it's extra work.


3D-Printed Movement Frames


There is an alternative to MDF.  A recent browsing session brought Winterdyne Commision Modelling to my attention.  They make a number of 3D-printed "no effort" movement frames.  I thought that I'd dip my toe in this water as well, so I ordered a few of these recently.

First thoughts: Winterdyne don't produce anything like the variety that is available in MDF trays.  That's OK; it looks to me as if this is a starting venture and I imagine the range of products could increase if there was enough demand.

For now, you can buy trays with:

  • 5 or 10 slots exactly
  • 25mm, 32mm or 40mm circular holes
  • "Ranked up" or "offset ranks" positioning [i.e. no semi-random variants]




For Congo in particular, I really wanted frames with 4, 5 or 6 slots.  It turns out that the 10-slot frames can be cut apart with a sharp knife and a bit of care, as shown above.  This would allow creation of frames with any number of slots from 2 to 10, though at some effort.

I don't think it would be at all easy to glue bits together (for example, to produce a 12-slot frame); this would probably be better handled by petitioning the manufacturer for different products instead.



How do they look?  Very well, I think.  These frames hold the 28mm figures almost as close together as they would be if no frame were used; there aren't any large, open gaps between them.

I could have painted the frames to match the figure bases and this would have been very easy: a single base colour would have been enough.

However, another thought has occurred to me: perhaps the frames should be coloured according to the faction to which their troops belong.  In genres where many warriors from opposing forces look similar (for example, Dark Ages Europe or tribal Africa or any civil war), painting the frames red and blue would enable friend and foe to be distinguished quite easily.  Of course, this could be applied to the MDF bases as well.

Note: Winterdyne also produces a flexible movement frame where each slot is something like a link in a chain.  With one of these frames, a unit could vary its layout from (say) a line to a compact cluster at different times in a game.  I'm not totally convinced by this concept: on the one hand it's a very clever piece of engineering, but on the other it seems to be an over-complex solution to a fairly simple problem.  Others can make their own minds up...


Conclusion

I'm torn between both these forms of movement accessory.  At the moment, the MDF versions have overwhelming flexibility in shape, size and so on.  However, because of the way they are manufactured a squad based in one of these will always occupy significantly more area than the individual figures.  That's fine (even desirable) for skirmishers, but less suitable for those troops who wish to be nearer to each other.  Of course, "close ranked" MDF trays are also available; these tend to be hollow, rectangular frames which work well enough for drilled troops but which look a bit odd in a skirmish game (or so I think).

 I could see the 3D-printed movement frames catching on quite quickly.  If so, then the range of different types might expand quite rapidly and this would make them much more attractive.  Even without this, they are less effort to prepare for the table - indeed, no effort at all if you accept the black colour and the default 5- or 10-slot layouts.

Alternatively, I could just continue to move each model individually, for the ultimate in flexible formations (cheaper, too!).  Ah, what to do... ?

Saturday, 27 January 2018

An Arabian Dhow for 28mm Figures

Introduction

Recently, I saw a blog post online about a card model of a dhow that was suitable for 28mm figures I'm very annoyed with myself that I cannot remember whose blog this was; my sincere apologies to the author.  However, this is something that I had been considering for myself as a useful adjunct for my Arab slavers (for the Congo game) or possibly for Pulp Alley games set in East Africa.



Once the idea was there, it didn't take much effort to find the source of this kit: it was made by a Russian outfit called "Umbum" and sold through the "Russia Best" website.

Interestingly, this website is in English [at least when I view it] and so it's quite easy to navigate.  Even more interestingly, their catalogue lists a number of other ship models which might be suitable for wargames:

  • Arabian Dhow
  • Greek Bireme
  • Medieval Caravel
  • Russian Ladja (like a small Viking ship)
  • Hanseatic Cog
  • Oriental Junk
There's no scale given for these kits, but the dimensions of the finished models are usually available on the web page.  I thought that I'd take a chance and so I ordered a dhow and a bireme [for my Greek Argonauts].  This article is about the dhow; more on the bireme another time.


Costs & Delivery

I was a little bit nervous ordering anything from Russia, as their postal system doesn't have the best reputation in the world.  However, I figured that at $8 (USD) for each kit plus about the same again for postage it wasn't too expensive to take a chance.

I ordered these models some time before Christmas and in due course, 6 or 7 weeks later, I received my package with various customs seals and labels attached to it.  It's not clear to me whether this timescale is normal when ordering goods from small Russian companies, or whether the Christmas holidays [and their associated effects on postal services] contributed significantly to the delay.  Anyway, I now had my kits...



The Dhow Kit


The Dhow kit came in a very large, very flat box.  On opening it, I found the following:
  • 1 large sheet of printed parts.  This is quite heavy cardstock, but nicely printed on both sides and die-cut very well.
  • 1 instruction booklet.
  • 1 sheet of paper (?) or plastic (?) sails.  I couldn't quite work out what the sails were made from; these are a very different material from the rest of the ship - much thinner, though still quite strong.
  • A hank of cord to use for rigging.
  • A set of "standee" figures and [oddly] foam bases for them.
  • 1 sealed toothpick!  This is nominally to help push out any small parts, though I didn't find it to be necessary.


The Instructions


I was very impressed by the instruction manual for this model.  It's easy to follow [it uses colour and simple diagrams very effectively] and it is language-neutral throughout.  Quite a delight!


A Suitable Size?


When I bought it, I took a chance that this model would work with my 28mm figures.  In the picture above, you can see the 15 (!) standees alongside a few of my Foundry Arab slavers.  Allowing for stylistic differences and the unusually thick foam bases, I'd say that the kit's card and my metal models are extremely compatible in size.  


The Build


Construction of the dhow was extremely straightforward.  The parts fitted well and were designed to be simply pushed together.

If I had done a "dry" build, I don't think the kit would have taken long to complete.  However, I intended to make this a very permanent model and so I used a paintbrush to apply white glue along the seams at various stages in the construction.  This meant that I had to leave it to dry quite often, thus slowing down the build quite a lot.


A sharp knife cuts off the tabs that protruded from the deck

One other issue that I wished to address was the presence of tabs.  Due to the push-fit nature of the  model, there were occasional tongues of cardboard intruding onto the deck or the sides of the hull [Note that these should NOT be confused with the protruding rigging points or the supports for the bases of the masts!].


Tabs/tongues cut flush and then painted with deck colour.  See if you can spot them all!

Once the glue was dry, I cut these tongues/tabs flush with the surfaces from which they protruded.  I then applied some paint to the exposed edges of the cardboard to hide them.


More construction tabs, this time on the sides of the hull.

After tackling the tabs on the deck, I assembled the hull.  More construction tabs stick out of the sides; these were also cut flush and the raw ends were painted to match their surroundings.

When the assembly was done, I painted all the remaining exposed edges of cardboard with a colour to match the surroundings.  Mostly this was one of two shades of brown, though the decorated prow of the ship, rigging points and some parts of the waterline needed a dark grey.


Rigging

The completed, fully rigged dhow

There's a lot of ropework on this ship!  It may look complex, but the instructions were very clear and easy to follow.  Two things are probably worth mentioning, though:
  • The stays for the mast are not symmetrical!  The mast is braced differently depending on which side the sail has been placed; I had to redo some knotwork when I realised this.
  • The string supplied with the kit was quite thick, inflexible and possibly wax-coated.  This made it difficult to tie the knots which were suggested in the instructions.  I ended up doing simple hitches instead, with glue to hold them in place and clamps to keep the tension whilst the glue dried.
In hindsight, the rigging took rather longer than the rest of the construction [and wasn't as much fun, either].  However, it does add greatly to the appearance.


Conclusion


I bought this model to assess its suitability for wargaming.  I'd say that in many ways it has surpassed my hopes in this respect:
  • It's cheap.  Even with the cost of international postage, the dhow should be within the financial reach of all but the most impoverished wargamers.
  • It's sturdy.  This model is really designed as a toy, so it's built from heavy-duty materials.
  • It's easy to build.  Apart from possibly the rigging, the parts went together quickly and easily.
  • It's a perfect scale, at least for 28mm figures.
  • It's pre-coloured, even on the inside of the hull [which cannot be seen in the finished model!].  The only painting required is to touch up the raw edges of the cardboard; I'd recommend strongly that you do this.
Of course, I have to balance this with a disadvantage or two:
  • Because of all the [realistic/unavoidable] rigging and deck clutter, it's actually quite awkward to place 28mm figures on the ship.  I managed 3 or 4 on the foredeck without too much trouble, but could only place a single Arab on the aft deck - and that required some dexterity.
  • There are no instructions or alternate parts to permit a docked or anchored ship [i.e. with the sails furled].  I don't imagine it would be too hard for someone to make such an adaptation, though.
So, if you want a dhow, or a whole fleet of them, for gaming then I'd certainly recommend this Russian kit.  I might replace the string provided for rigging with something a bit thinner and softer, though.

Now all I need to do is find somewhere to store the model...

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Last of the Christmas Models

Introduction

The Christmas & New Year holiday is well and truly over; I've been back at work for 2 weeks now.  However, I'm still sorting through and putting away models which I painted during that period.  Here are some of them - it's quite a mixture!


Damsels in Distress



These are some classic "damsels in distress", from Bob Murch's "Pulp Figures" range.  Specifically, they come from pack PWM 10 - Cringing Captives.  I plan to use these in games of Pulp Alley or Congo (fairly obvious, I would have thought!).  As such, I don't really need the other two figures from the pack; sawmills and railway tracks aren't really a feature of Darkest Africa, where my games are set.

Note that I've painted up both of these models in an identical colour scheme.  This will enable me to use one as a replacement for the other in a game, thus indicating whether the heroine is currently tied to a stake or not.


DreadBall 2

From L to R: score marker, turn (rush) marker, new style referee 

Early this month (i.e. January 2018), I received my Dreadball 2 Kickstarter package.  I'm not buying any new teams, as I already have 12 (I think), of which only 8 are painted.  However, I did receive the new rules, new cards and new game markers.

1st edition DreadBall supplied cardboard counters for the score and rush markers.  This worked well enough, but the 2nd edition has some rather nice models instead.  The new score marker is a miniature trophy, while the turn marker is a robotic commentator/linesman in a floating disk/chair that is liberally equipped with spotlights and/or cameras.  There is also a different figure for the robot referee.

I did need to replace the support pillar on the floating chair with a transparent post.  This was mainly because the moulded pillar was somewhat bent and wouldn't have produced a very good effect.  Still, that conversion/repair was easy enough.

Note that I'm experimenting with transparent bases for the figures which will be on the pitch.  The referee is the first such model to be completed.


Lady Godiva - Fiction and Reality

Lady Godiva: the myth

The fictional tale of Lady Godiva is simple: a Saxon lord was oppressing his people.  His wife (Godiva) asked him to lower rents or some such, to which the husband replied that he would do so only if his wife rode naked through the streets of Coventry.

Of course, he didn't expect her to do this, but she arranged for the local townsfolk to close their doors and window shutters and then disrobed and rode the streets, unobserved by all.  Her husband was true to his promise and treated his people better thereafter.

A later addition to this tale: one man did steal a glance at the naked lady, but was immediately struck blind as punishment.  His name was Tom; from this incident we get the phrase "a Peeping Tom".


Lady Godiva: the reality?

In reality, Lady Godiva was a virtuous Saxon noblewoman who would be much more likely to look like the figure above.  It's entirely possible that she did indeed soften her husband's harsh rule - but not by riding naked through a town!


Super Dungeon Explore: Last of the Kinoko

Finally (for now), I have finished my Super Dungeon Explore "Kinoko" warband!  These are mostly aggressive, mobile mushrooms, though they also have some truffle pigs.  Here are the final two groups to be painted:

Kinoko spawn points

Kinoshrooms - minions
There's not much more to say about these; either you'll like them or you won't...


Conclusion

I completed a goodly lot of models during the Christmas/New Year break just past; these are just some of them.  It helped that we didn't go away and that the weather was not good enough for us to be outside much.  Still, it's very satisfying to have made such progress!


Sunday, 14 January 2018

28mm Bees: Revisited

Introduction

At the end of last year, I showed my recipe for creating a swarm of bees for my 28mm "Wicked Witch of the West" army.  This idea seems to have gone down well, but a couple of responses particularly caught my attention.  Paraphrased, the commenters said "if you did this with a tube or dome then you could place it over a 28mm figure to show that a model was enveloped by the bee swarm".

I found myself returning to this idea again and again; I just couldn't get it out of my head!  Eventually, I thought that I'd just have a quick look online for cheap sources of plastic domes, to see what might be available.  Of course, it didn't end there and so the remainder of this article describes what happened next.


Snow Globes


In the UK, there is a company called "Baker Ross" (I imagine that similar suppliers exist in other countries too).  They make cheap craft kits, often in multi-packs.  It looks to me as if their products are aimed at kindergartens, primary school classes or possibly birthday parties for young children.  However that may be, I discovered that they make a range of small, plastic snow globe "kits".

A box of these snow globes cost just over £5 (including postage).  There were several sorts available (mermaids, princesses...), but as far as I can tell the only difference is the pattern on the cardboard insert for the centre of the globe.  Since I would be discarding this anyway, I didn't really care which version I bought.



Each box contains 4 globes; the globe comes with instructions and is basically a glitter-filled dome covering a plastic insert & base, which in turn acts as a holder for a patterned piece of cardboard.  The idea is that you colour in the card, slip it into the central holder and then fill the globe with water via a plug in the base.


A 28mm African villager surrounded by a swarm of bees

I wasn't at all interested in these items as snow globes, though!  It was trivially easy to cut the dome away from the plastic base.  Once it was separated, it took a little longer to wash out all the glitter and then paint my bees.

The painting was done according to the recipe in my previous article; bees were painted on both the inner and outer surfaces of the dome.  I'm not sure if painting them on the inside (which was certainly a bit trickier) helped to add to the impression of depth or not.


L: spray varnish.  R: brushed-on acrylic varnish

When the bees were dry, I varnished the dome.

My first attempt ruined the model: I used my normal aerosol satin varnish and the dome went completely frosty!  I'm not sure that there's anything I can do to save this piece; I've tried re-varnishing it lightly (which sometimes works), but it remains completely opaque.

Fortunately, I had several more domes available.  For my second attempt, I brushed on an acrylic varnish.  This hasn't compromised the transparency at all, though on close examination the brush marks are evident.  It'll do...


Conclusion

At 50mm wide and 55mm high, these domes are easily large enough to engulf most 28mm figures (excluding pikemen, horses, or models who are waving exceptionally heroic weapons in all directions).  So, they will work as I designed them to do.

Of course, I don't have any immediate plans to use swarms of bees to engulf models in any of my games.  But I could!



Finally, I now have several base remnants, as can be seen in the picture above.  I'm racking my brains to think how they could be used; so far all I can come up with are dungeon doors (or secret doors in fireplaces, as seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)!