Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mini Mayhem - The Game!

After about a 3-year hiatus (and about a 3-year hiatus before that...), at long last, I finally organized a game of my own homebrew rules that I composed from 2006 to 2009.  Among my friends with whom I meet weekly online on my hosted Hobby Hangout (via Google Hangouts), I've built up the expectations for Mini Mayhem to be the premier mass combat, fantasy/historical wargame, both in terms of gameplay and game design.  Of course, I may be a little biased....

Armored knights clash in epic battle in a game of Miniiiii Mayheeeem!!!

My friend, Chris, helped me give the game a run.  With only one game in the last 5 to 6 years, I was a little rusty on some of the rule nuances...  While we expedited a temporary solution for a few of the murky details, a couple of gross oversights probably cost me the game.  But I get ahead of myself...

Arrayed for battle!
My Orc & Goblin army on the left versus Chris's Chaos Legions army on the right.
A literal 'King of the Hill' battle.  Each army must win the hill-fort overlooking the river.  At all costs!

A horde of Goblin Squabs in the foreground, followed by two formed blocks of Orc Spearmen, Goblin Knight Rat Riders, Goblin Archers, Goblin Squig Riders, and, finally, pulling the vanguard on the left, Goblin Wolf Riders.

Tons of Chaos Warriors.  Holy crap.  Who designed this point system?!

The armies make their initial bids for position.  The Rat Riders make a beeline for the opposing armored knights. 
By the way, whoever heard of goblins being able to afford plate armor?  Well, I ruled that these guys had to be mercenaries, and so they actually cost extra army points.  They better be worth it!

Mini Mayhem uses an activation system that combines command & control tests with a reaction system.  If a unit can overcome the fog & friction of war, a unit can respond to any action that the enemy takes.  The system is efficient, because it allows a player to lump together routine actions until the opponent decides to react to something remarkable.  Activations can fully alternate, too, if command & control is sufficiently maintained.

The Wolf Riders shoot the gap! 
They use their swift speed to bypass the ponderous, ranked formations in a bid to harass the rear.
I don't know any other mass combat game that allows this kind of flexibility.  Unfortunately, I did break a 'minimum separation' rule to pull this off.  In theory, this maneuver can be done, but it might require a wider gap.
"See ya, suckas!"
The armies eyeball each other across the objective. 
The Orcs are grossly outnumbered.  They hope to gain the hill first in order to win a charge advantage, charging down the opposite side.

The inevitable fight for the flank begins.
Surprisingly, the Squig Riders hang tough.  The Chaos Hounds have a hard time piercing their rubbery hide, while the balloonish, hopping "teeth with legs" ravenously tear through the half-dilapidated road-kill.

Oh, no!  I totally forgot that the Chaos Marauders are a loose formation.  They react and reposition to plug the gap, just like a Roman maniple!  Did I mention that Mini Mayhem works just as well for historical battles?

The Wolf Riders quickly rip apart the Marauders. 
The Marauders didn't count on both the Goblins and the Wolves making attacks.

The deciding battle is joined!
A classic clash of lances on plate armor.

The Rat Riders are Routed!  Lousy mercenaries!
The Chaos Knights surge ahead to a shocked Orc unit, who are caught flat-footed and utterly destroyed!
So the mistake I made here was that the Rat Riders were supposed to have only been Shaken, not Routed.  This oversight probably decided the game, since the Rat Riders would have at least pinned the Chaos Knights for a counter-charge, if not actually destroy them in turn.

Even with the advantage of the downhill charge, the Orcs succumb to superior numbers, and the Chaos Warriors take the hill.
With all the key Orc units defeated, the battle is done.  Next time, Chaos Warriors!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Project walkthrough - Valhalla

This post is the first in a series of posts that will backfill the blog entries that I would have written over the course of the summer.  These are the projects that I wanted to keep hidden until I could reveal them at the Capital Palette competition at the NOVA Open convention.  My intention was to prevent contaminating the judges' opinions, either yay or nay.  At the Capital Palette, the entries are anonymous, so I wanted to avoid having the judges associate the entries with me, just in case they read the blog!

So this gentleman is the "The Great Gaul", by Yedharo Models.  For display figures, I feel more motivated to paint a figure the less known a figure is.  Some figures have a lot more exposure than others in the hobby press and at the shows.  I want to show something different and more obscure.  Of course, if I wait 3 years or so to start a project, like I did for all of my projects this year for the Capital Palette, I risk having my choices be painted and shown by other artists, long before I can present my own interpretation!

Another thing I wanted to achieve with this project was to distort what is presumably a historical piece and warp it into a fantasy piece.  Technically, this bust is my first historical project.  But I couldn't resist giving it a twist and slapping it with the fantasy palette.

I imagined the character looking up into the sky, beholding golden sunlight.  An omen before battle?  The sorrowful aftermath?  Valhalla?  I'll let you decide.

I had a difficult time deciding whether to paint the metals with the true metallic metal (TMM) technique or the non-metallic metal (NMM) technique.  For larger figures, especially busts, it's much safer and much more common to use TMM, using metallic paints.  I was torn, however, because I was curious if I could pull off NMM.  I decided I would try it on for size, for the challenge of it, and then just paint over it with TMM, if I wasn't pleased with it.

The bust was packaged with the top-piece of the helmet broken off and missing.

So I had to build one from scratch.  I started with a pin.
I tried out "brown stuff".  It's supposed to lend itself better towards sharper edges.
Not perfect -- but convincing.
Starting with some off-angle, zenithal priming and thin color-sketching.
I'm eager to test the key concept.
I start color-sketching the skin, general contrast, and the cloak.
Continue to exaggerate the contrast.  I start to think about the overall color composition.
It's hard to imagine the total effect, when the uncolored hair makes the guy look so middle-aged.  I had a younger guy in mind.  I color the hair, and I do my first pass on the eyes.  There's progress, but I'm unsure of my direction from here.
I try a warm color for the cloak.  I hate it.
This feels a lot better.
I work the helmet.  And work it.
The eyes are slightly off.  And I want the irises to be more apparent, and I want to add catchlights.
The skin was too yellow, so I enrich it with more reds, blues, and greens.
I attempt a second pass at the eyes.  I succeed in painting the catchlights where I want them, but they still look wrong.  I paint over them again.  "I'll try again later," I say.
Along the way I tried a tartan pattern on the cloak, but the colors weren't working.  "I'll come back to it," I say...

This is where I left off, before my job hit me with a surprise proposal.  I still had to do the feathers, the clasps, the torq,  the necklace, the leather, the tartan, the eye details, and some refinements. 
I finished most of the loose ends in one day, three days before leaving for NOVA!
I wasn't able to refine the eyes or paint the tartan.  Might have made the difference between Silver and Gold, but I'm very satisfied with the result.