Monday, August 14, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, August 14th, 2017 - The Ultimate Braunstein?




Urban adventures - always one of Phil's specialties!
A couple of inquiries have come in over the transom, and I'll try to address them and let all of you know what I'm getting up to, these days.

Why all the recent talk about Romans and Macedonians? I thought that this blog was about Tekumel?

It is, more or less, and you can blame Phil and his love of Ancient Egypt and the Successor period; I was introduced to these by him, and I'm finding them fascinating.

Are you painting these figures for a specific game?

Yes, four specific games actually. What I'm building is what may be my greatest game ever, in the forty-some years I've been at this kind of thing. One of the neatest features of gaming with Phil was his talent for running urban adventures. Simply going to the marketplace for a little shopping always turned into an adventure, and we had some really rollicking good times playing in them. I enjoyed doing up the figures and details for these games with what limited resources we had back in those days - and doing them now with all the wonderful figures and models that we have available to us now is really a joy for somebody like me.

Will this be a Braunstein, like the one you ran at Fantasy Flight Games' Event Center?

Yes, it will. It'll be a big game on the ground - maybe on the floor or on a set of risers, I'm not sure - about nine feet by nine feet square on one of my big canvas ground sheets that has been suitably painted.

You said four games - can you tell us which ones?

Yes. I'll be running them in my favorite world settings: Tekumel, Barsoom, Lord Meren's Ancient Egypt, and The Epic Aegyptus of Hollywood-on-the-Nile. What makes this possible is the same operating method of any large theater or film studio - generic 'standing sets', suitably 'dressed' with the appropriate set elements and props. In addition, I've got the miniature figures to run all four settings with the appropriate cast, and I may even break down and re-create the film crew that I did aeons ago for a "Call of Cthullu" campaign. ("Ready when you are, C. B.!" for you old film buffs.)

Each game will be different, with different 'sides' with different objectives. You pick your card, and you get some extras to help you with your mission / goals. Typical Braunstein, really.

When are you going to run these?

Next year, most likely. I have to build the studio sets from the MDF up, and this process got started this past weekend when I fell to work sorting all the neat stuff that my Daughter-In-Residence has managed to find for me. She works for the Swiss version of Michael's Crafts, and has access to the most amazing catalog of stuff that we simply do not see over on this side of the pond.

How can I play in one of these games?

Find and reserve a big enough room, set a date, and get in touch with me. You provide the venue and the players, and I'll provide the game. We'll work something out... :)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, August 6th, 2017 - Arrivals, Assemblies, and Primers

Two cohorts, assembled and with primer
The scorpion and crew

Infantry, personalities, guards, and the gaming scene

Pillars with flames, gongs, and rugs

Personalities and the extra gong set (for a gift)


It's been a busy week; the 'Legend of Cleopatra' figures arrived, just as I was finishing gluing up my two cohorts of Romans, so I got cracking and got everyone assembled and based. Did the primer coat yesterday, while dodging the rain, and I think they've come out very well.

The Romans are nice, as I mentioned, and about the only gripe I have with them is that they are so light. I've put them on TRE Games bases, for a little weight, and I think they'll be fine. The 'new' cohort has the wolfskins on their standard-bearer and musician, and the 'veterans' have bearskins. I will also do their centurions' crests in different colors.

The scorpion is a very finely molded and delicate bit of kit. I like it, and I'll have to give it a steel base or something. The one figure has his helmet in one hand, and a headband, as I'm doing him as Decius from the battle scene in "Gladiator" - everybody has to start somewhere, eh?

Over on the metal side of the workbench, we have nine Ancient Egyptian figures, all of whom will be useful  in my games. The Queen herself, and assorted officials, court ladies and attendants. I particularly like the gong set; we got a second set to do as a gift for an old friend and her shop in South Minneapolis. We have four pillars with fires going on top of them; I used white glue to assemble these, in the hope that I eventually come up with a way to make the fires actually glow. (1) The 'lionskin rug' was one item that the Missus insisted we get, just for the fun of it.

There's also a nice little unit of infantry, some armored and some not. They'll all make for good palace guards, I think, and I like the assortment of active and dynamic poses mixed in with the static guard post types.

We also have three Temple of Set guards, a Prophet of Set in armor with helmet, a Heroine, and a sample from the next Dark Fable Indiedgogo, for Anubis warriors. And, of course, the little gaming scene - we got the seated lady as well, as we can always use seated figures and furniture!

I've been asked what all these figures are for, and they are intended to be used in a series of Braunsteins on the order of my legendary (and infamous!) Great Mos Eisley Spaceport Raid. I have figures to do four variations on this game: Tekumel, the Ancient Egypt of Lord Meren, Barsoom, and the Ancient Egypt of Cleopatra. It'll be a big game, with lots of players and figures, and even more opportunity for mayhem and skullduggery.

In other news, I have also been working on getting the game room and game lounge rebuilt and reset. Today's task was moving the suits of armor on their mannequins, which took most of the afternoon - those suits are heavy, when you're not wearing them! The goal is to set up the lounge to allow us to enjoy my collection of vintage and modern movies in some style and comfort; we have the facilities, so we might as well get some use out of them. I also have to move Castle Tilketl in it's packing crate out to the storage shed, as well as some more boxes, bales, and bins that need to move out there.

So, the sorting and packing continues. A long process, but I think we'll all be a lot happier when we're done. More accessibility, more utility, and more fun in the offing! :)


(1) LEDs, for starters, and /or a black light with the flames in glowing paint. I'll think of something.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Weekly Update - July 30th, 2017 - Legions On The March - On The Workbench, Actually...

This is the newer box, with the scorpion in it.

A new box for me, with some issues for me...

As reported in these pages, I have gotten two boxes of Early Imperial Romans for use in my big-budget Techicolor SuperCinemaScope version of "Cleopatra". I had gotten a couple of boxes of the legionaries years ago when they first came out, to convert into Chris (Bear) Huddle's 32nd Imperial Medium Infantry - The Legion of the Translucent Emerald - for doing the Sirsum micro-campaign and specifically the Battle of Anch'ke. (They are getting new standards, by the way; I am just not happy with how I did the old ones...)

The 'Legionaries' set is the reissued box of Warlord figures, with three command and 17 line troops - you also get two troopers with the scorpion. All are the standard sprues, and they look very good; the decal sheet for the shields is even better, as it's got the central hole for the shield boss already cut out - earlier sheets had to have this cut out by hand, which is a pain in the butt. Use a very sharp pointed knife. There are not a lot of options on these sprues; you do get extra helmets and pila, which is nice, and the scorpion sprue does have more arm options. All in all, a most satisfying box of troopers.

The 'Veterans' set is also up top the same high standards, but no artillery. (Artillery I got, by the pound.) I have two small niggles about this box; one, some of the 'battle-damaged' shields are in very rough shape, to the point that I'd be picking up something from the ground to use in a fight. I'll replace the really badly damaged ones with spares - I keep everything, just for things like this - and I think everything will work out just fine. The damaged shields will get used in a repair shop diorama, and the spare helmets and pila in the armoury room.

My other - admittedly small! - niggle is that the figures are equipped with mancea (armored sleeves)on their right arms, and to my eye this just doesn't look right. I associate the mancea with gladiators, and we're not doing "Spartacus" this week. (Maybe later; I have plenty of gladiators.) So, it'll be back to the spares box, and the four tent sections of troopers will all have about the same look to them. This will get the effect I want, and keep the continuity girl happy. A very nice touch is that there are sets of greaves in this box, and I'll find a use for these - very handy!

I have three spare sheets of decals from the old boxes, so we're good there; I have two very old Minifigs / Garrison / Greenwood & Ball metal testudo sets as well, and  think I may have the Warlord resin one as well, as that would account for the three decal sheets that I have in stock - I think I should only have two. Red tunics, steel armor, bronze helmets as per the 1963 epic, and we're in business - they're attacking the Moon Gate, Caesar!!! Send out a turtle!

Speaking of which, I may have to do a little conversion; in the 1963 movies, when they send out the troops to attack the Egyptians, there's a drummer - not the usual and more historical trumpeter. So, for the sake of the effect, I think I'll slightly modify one musician and give him a drum to beat out Caesar's orders.

And I'd better get cracking on this project, too; if everyone who's talked to me about booking dates for events comes through on their plans, 2018 is going to be a very, very busy year!

EDIT: Whoops! Almost forgot to mention: I managed to get the massive 50" plasma screen up on the newly-modified shelving unit, and it's now running with a CD deck attached. The thing weighs 96 pounds, and I was surprised that I was able to lift it. The game lounge is now fitted up for our viewing pleasure; the game room proper is still equipped with the 42" and a CD deck, so we can watch what we want when we want. I may yet link the two screens, for that 'multi-plex' effect.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Weekly Update - Friday, July 28th, 2017 - "Cleopatra" And The Budget, or, Raising An Army

Miss Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra

Photo from Dark Fable Miniatures
I am happy to report that my ill-humor of the past couple of weeks has largely evaporated; the impending arrival of the latest batch of figures from Dark Fable Miniatures has improved my mood on end. I had thought that I might vent my spleen here on the blog, but after some reflection thought that I should spare all of you the unpleasant mood I've been in for a while. I may yet do a special page, detailing my annoyances, but we shall see; in the meantime, there are some updates and changes to the Rules Of Engagement.

On to Aegyptus, via Hollywood and Cinecittia!

As previously reported in these pages, I have backed the latest Indiegogo from Dark Fable, "The Legend of Cleopatra". I have also mentioned that I picked up some nice Victrix figures for her guards and army - the first 'historical' figures I've bought for use as (sort of) such since I got out of historicals back in the very early 1980s - and now I think I need some opponents for them to engage with.

This does, however, bring us to the question of just how 'seriously historical' I want to be, and the answer would seem to be 'not much'. Most of the time in movies, the Ptolomaic Egyptians are all dressed in very dubious 'Aegyptian' costumes, and their usual opponents the Romans of Caesar are all in lorica segmentata; the latter armor is much more Imperial, and Julius had his lads in mail; the usual gaming term is 'late Republican' or 'Caesarian'. I actually have plenty of the right troops, as a long while back I got some Old Glory figures from the right period. They were co-opted to be the medium infantry for my legion, All-Consuming Flame, and their shield designs are the Vriddi clan-glyph. Right armor, wrong paint job. So, what's a gamer to do?

Answer: think like a Hollywood producer for staging our miniature epics, and call the costume rental house for some cohorts. Yes, they'll all be in the wrong armor, but they'll all be instantly recognizable as Romans. I got the Macedonians for the same reason; by the time of the real Cleopatra VII, most of the countries around then had equipped their armies as sort-of-Roman, with everybody in mail and with oval shields. Thank you, but if I'm staging one of my epic games, then I want equally epic forces in the picture. So, as seen in "Cleopatra" (1963), Warlord Romans will do just fine. The F:GS has some for cheap, and I'll get them this weekend.

And yes, 'cheap' is a factor. I get $400 a year for my gaming budget (the Missus has her own gamig budget, by the way) and I have to spend it wisely. This year, I have this for a current balance sheet:

Dark Fable 'Legend of Cleopatra' Indiegogo - $145
Sea Dog Game Studios boats - $80
Victrix Macedonians - $84
TRE Games Ships - $16                                          

Total for 2017 - $325

So, we have the gold in our coffers, and the Legions will march once again. Bring plenty of popcorn; I'm setting up the game lounge to be a family viewing room - this after a major family meeting, last weekend - and "Cleopatra" is going to be a double feature, with Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor in the starring roles...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Not The Weekly Update - Sunday, July 16th, 2017 - Cranky and Annoyed, At Best

I now have a chaise to go with my deck chair, with parasol.

There's going to be no real post today, as I'm tired and cranky and don't really have anything interesting to all of you to talk about. Maybe tomorrow, if I feel like it.

Did have a very good time at IKEA Friday, and visiting with friends yesterday; it's the recent e-mails and messages that have gotten me down.

If I may offer a personal comment, some folks just can't seem to understand that their antics ruin a lot of other people's fun, and really manages to alienate them from the larger game hobby and game community; it's like watching "Game of Thrones" with all the nice bits removed. Lots and lots of unsympathetic people doing unpleasant things to each other, all in the name of power and prestige.

Have fun with that, people. You ain't welcome 'round here, no more.