Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wargaming on a Budget- Making Models

Several years ago, I found myself in a terrible place as a wargamer.  I was flat broke.  I was putting my money into other endeavors, so my budget for wargames was non-existant.  However, as I look back on this period of my hobby life being flat broke was a blessing!

What?  Yes, you read that right.  Being broke forced me to think about my hobby and what I really was trying to get out of it.  To participate in it, I could no longer just mindlessly buy games, supplements, and models.  There was no way for me to keep up with newer editions or rules changes.  Instead, I had to get my gaming fix through other channels and only buy what was absolutely necessary.

This is what led me into my first forays into Wargame Design.  I figured instead of trying to keep up with what was new, I would just try to make and play games that I wanted to play.  As I thought about the core things I needed to play a wargame, I broke it down into three main aspects:

1. Wargame Rules
2. Terrain and game Boards
3. Models and figures

For Wargame rules, you can find out how I got my start on a different post.  I have talked about it elsewhere, so will not get to far into it today.  I will also save Terrain and Game Boards for a different discussion as well.  Afterall, this post is about making models!

My initial forays into model making were scatchbuilds.  These typically were free form, stand-alone models.  Usually, I tried to make vehicles first.  The most common construction material was common cardboard with masking tape used to block out the edges.  For smaller details I would use cardstock paper.  However, other found items were also used, typically straws, toothpicks, sprue cuttings, and any other tidbits I could find around for free.

From there I naturally moved to working with paper. This is still a standard practice for me, especially when playtesting or trying out new games.  There is no need to go "all in" on a game that I don't even like.  Plus, it allows me to get to the playtesting quickly and try all sorts of different units out cheaply and with minimal fuss.  There were two main ways I used paper, the first was for simple cut-out 2-D templates.  I talk about that extensively in a different post.

However, I had a lot more fun creating, designing and building paper templates for existing and new 3D vehicle varients.  Typically, I would make the template design in MSPaint, trial it, and then make tweaks.  I made a variety of armored cars, tanks, tankettes, APCs, and even a super-heavy using this method.  I constructed two full tank companies.  I think you can still find most of my templates here.

This solutions worked well, but soon I wanted to do even more.  I wanted to make my own models and that meant taking the time to learn to sculpt.  Thanks to the internet, this is easier to learn now than ever with plenty of tutorials, video demos, and pointers.  You can find all sorts of advise on tools, materials, and anatomy.  However, I still wish I had a in-person meentor to help as that would have increased my skill exponentially and faster.

I invested in a set of dental tools, a set of clay erasers, some large corks, and a good exacto knife.  All of these ran me less than a cost of a boxed set of minis.  Then, I began using simple, everyday Sculpey and Super Sculpey.  I didn;t spend a ton of money on Greenstuff, Pro-create, or other materials.  I used Sculpey that you baked in layers in a toaster oven (or kitchen oven).

I have not really looked back.  From there I have made Blood Bowl players, squadrons of Aeronautica Imperialis planes, warships for Aquanautica Imperialis, individual models for various skirmish games, Battlefleet Gothic spaceships, and more.  Making models has become an enjoyable hobby in its own right and gave me the skills and confidence I needed to do what ever I wanted with my wargaming hobby.

Now, I find myself with a different problem.  I have some money, but no time.  I will let you know when I figure out how to solve that problem.

From here, I will just fill in the rest of the blog post with some random pictures of stuff I have sculpted/built.  If there is anything else you would like to see or learn more about just let me know.  

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