Strange how life can lead one full circle. As a child I was entranced by the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for reasons both numerous and varied but one of my favorite scenes is at the very end with the two old fathers crawling around on the floor, toy soldiers lined up beautifully on both sides, throwing pots and pans at each others’ forces. Oh, but I wanted to play that and would set up my plastic army men to experiment with various missiles from marbles and rubberbands to cylinders fired from a Lego cannon (there is always room for Lego) but nothing really seemed to satisfy. Once I began painting metal and plastic figures even the idea of dice bouncing off them brought shudders and my old dreams quietly crept back to my subconsciousness.
A couple years ago my friend Tom had an idea for a game, called Wooden Wars, he wanted to play with his kids. Now, like a fair number of my friends, Tom (http://skullandcrown.blogspot.com/) is a game designer, both computer and actual, so this is nothing out of the ordinary for him. I hope he forgives me for showing the earliest test pieces. Its all part of the process after all.
Add the fact that he is also an amazing artist and one gets games that are as beautiful to play as they are to look at. What he described, rubber balls bouncing across the floor to strike lines of flat, wooden Napoleonic soldiers, instantly brought back my dreams and had my inner five year old itching to go.
That it was the very same movie scene that partially inspired him (OK, H.G. Wells was the major inspiration-for so many things) convinced me to paint my forces as the Army of the Free Republic of Vulgaria. Obviously my troops would have to be proud volunteers of the post-Bomburst revolution, clad in the emerald and violet of their homeland.
Being a long time war gamer it should be of no surprise that a fair number of my friends are into Napoleonic miniatures of various scales. While I had studied the general history of the era (birth of Nationalism and all that), had a great appreciation for the amazing spectacle a full minis battlefield can be, I had no interest in painting any of my own, let alone doing further research into the particulars.
Once Tom had handed me the first “sprue” of cannon and crew that all changed and I couldn’t get enough details of the uniforms, units, flags and stories of individuals. That Tom’s excitement for anything can be highly infectious is not to be denied (anyone play Pirates!?) and he kept steering me toward new resources.
All my ravenous interest is ironic, really, as my army is that of an imaginary country but it really crystalized my theories of lifelong learning being fueled by play and pushed me to start blogging, or pontificating as some would have.
That is a brief look at the early days of one of my favorite games. Soon I’ll be showing newer units, convention games and even exploring other planets with Queen Victoria’s Robot Wars. Until then, I leave you with a couple of convention shots in order to convey a hint of the enthusiasm this game seems to generate.
Here it is, that which my friend, Tom, named the table glacier. It has actually cleared quite a bit since the beginning of summer as I have been really trying to clear old projects out. I decided to address this after reading an article linking cluttered desks with creativity. All I have to say is thank goodness! There is some hope for me yet. This is important because I have long admired the abilities to organize and stay neat that so many of my friends possess. While I will continue to covet their usable work spaces I will chastise myself less, or at least try to, in future.
Since I am still working on a full post about Wooden Wars I will start simply with the General and his newly finished ADC watching over the training of my next infantry unit. They must be drilled and trained by Pacificon for those who wish to see them in person and action. More on this great game and the flats used to play soon (or go to http://skullandcrown.blogspot.com/). Peaking over the bag of 15mm SciFi infantry in back is a young cadet currently going through Officers Candidate School.
No, they aren’t casualties but they are finished. Here is the tray of “trained” troops waiting for final sealant. With the flats it is especially crucial as they will be the targets of rubber balls but, to repeat, more on that in a future post. Heck, just go to http://skullandcrown.blogspot.com/ and check it out for yourself because no one says it better than the creator and no one paints them prettier than Tom. Then come back when my humble offerings are complete in future and bring your patience. While on the subject of future blogs, there are also three of the Reaper Bones Kickstarter minis here that I will also be addressing in a near posting. So I have a backlog. Please refer to the first photo if this is surprising. The last is a Reaper Chronoscope of Doc Savage done for a friend’s collection.
Two more Kickstarter reward figures each about halfway finished. The first is the ogre hero from the Mantic Games first campaign, Kings of War and the second is another from the Reaper Bones package. As I mentioned to Necron99, despite neither running nor facing a beholder in all my years of Role Playing Games I couldn’t wait to start painting this guy. I don’t know if I will ever use him in a game and I don’t really care because it is such an entertaining figure to paint. I even went crazy detailing the base with the scattered detritus of it’s prior victims.
Here is the last piece of a mummified Slann priest I’ve been working on for ages. All that’s left when I finish it is to cover the base with jungle plants, add a plastic cylinder and the lizards will have another weapon with which to make my life miserable. No, it isn’t for my own collection but rather one I face regularly so I will at least get to enjoy how lovely it is zapping my flank with some cold blooded magic.
I may not have found the surface of my work table but I have painted a lot of the miniatures blocking it. I used speed painting techniques for part of it but also ended up packing away pieces that I hadn’t looked at for a year or more. Those are under the table in the picture heading this blog. I have also greatly limited what I will let myself prep to add to the pile, understanding basic math after all but just can’t resist gluing together more of those wonderful wooden flats! Got another unit of infantry waiting on the sprue after all.