Monday, October 25, 2021

On the Painting Desk: Splash some Paint on It - Space Mecha

 My 2021 goals included painting up some anime inspired Space Mecha for my playtest games of Glittering Void.  I was intending on using some Dream Pod 9 miniatures from the With the Lightnings range.  However, I decided to take a leap of faith on some cheap plastic toy "Not Gundam" robots from Kikko on Amazon.  In a different post, I shared how I went ahead and customized each model and prepared them for painting. 

Recently, I spent time finishing them off with paint.  I was unsure how they would paint up, as they were never intended for painting had featured some shallow details and hard plastic.  Hard plastic used for toys often does not take paint well.  In addition, I had not given the figures a bath in warm, Dawn water so they probably had chemical residue left on them from the molding process.  

For paints, I decided to go with cheap, Big-Box store acrylics.  I had success using them in other projects, and since each mini was about 10 US cents a pop, I figures these were tailor made for the cheap stuff!  I used a brand called Apple Barrel and each bottle is about 50 US Cents at local retailers.  For brushes I also used old, Big Box retail brushes.  Nothing fancy for these guys.

No fancy Army Painter Paints this time!

 I decided to work with the New Olympian models first.  Other sources told me, they had been based on the Gelgoog suit from Gundam, but I have no idea what that even means!  In my head, I imagined the New Olympians to be a bit haughty and saw themselves as above other Solar Systemites.  Therefore, I wanted them to use a Purple paint scheme with Bronze bits, and an orange visor.  

I undercoated them with watered down white, and the paint seemed to hold Okayish.  Then, I gave them two undercoats of dark purple.  I then dry-brushed a lighter purple, and used an even lighter purple to add some highlighted panel lines.  As a final step, I washed the whole thing with Army Painter Dark Tone.  That gave me the general color scheme, but the Dark Tone wash did tend to cover the other painting work I had done on them.  

Next, I went back and picked out the weapons, and a spinal column on the sculpt in Bronze.  I also painted the visors an orange color, and added a white dot to the visor.  After that, I called them done.....

 Overall, they look suitably dark, intimidating, and still dark purple.  They look regal, mean, and ready to blow up some stuff in space!  The work on highlighting and dry brushing was mostly lost in the final effort though.  

Next, I took the Earth Alliance boys. I did not bother undercoating white this time.  Instead, I gave them two bases of a dark grey to start.  I then drybushed them two other shades of lighter grey on top, giving them a layered look. Next, I painted there weapons black, and then drybrushed silver on top of the undercoat of black.  Finally, I picked out some orange on the "Command Suit" on the shields to help them stand out a bit further.  Finally, I also hit them all up with a Dark Tone Wash.  

Overall, they look like utility suits churned out by a totalitarian state with no frills to the design.  Only what is needed.  Good, that is the right vibe for them.  

Since these are "Space Mecha" in a flying game, the last step was to get them mounted onto "flying stands.  That was not as easy as it sounds, because these models were never intended to be mounted on anything, much less a flying stand.  They did not have great contact surfaces, locations for base pegs, or good balance either.  Plus, some of the "flying" positions I put them in did not help my cause either.  

In this game, it is also important to be able to "rotate" the model to a different facing then the direction of the stand, so I needed them to NOT be glued in place permanently while on the stand.  Ugh! 

Here is what they ended up looking like.  

The New Olympians seen above, minus 1 down for repair work.  

The Earth Alliance, also down 1 for repair work. 

Not too shabby!  A big improvement over the paper standees I used, and much better than how they looked pre-converting and painting.  Now they look like actual gaming pieces and not just little plastic toy robots. Well, at least uniform looking..... 

I look forwards to getting them on the tabletop again soon!  Now, I need to figure out how to make some of the other suit types and factions for the game too.  

Become a Patron and get access to all the cool stuff, a peak behind the curtain of Blood and Spectacles, and early-access to playtest games!  

You can follow Blood and Spectacles Facebook page or Instagram for more fun! 

Check out the latest publications and contact me at our Blood and Spectacles website

Or purchase all out games at the Blood and Spectacles Publishing Wargames Vault Page!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Wars of the Republic: Wargame Design- All About That Base

I have been playing wargames for a long time.  Since 1984 or so?  One thing that always gets my goat is basing!  Nothing irritates me more than painting up a really nice group of models but not being able to use them in a given system drives me nuts!  I hate ripping off old bases and putting on new ones.  Even building modular bases and movement trays is a challenge for me.  

Therefore, when I started writing games for myself I was pre-occupied with basing and how to approach the topic.  One of my primary design goals is always to create something that is scale and model agnostic.  I want players to bring what they want to the table and then get to use it! Wars of the Republic is no different in this regard.  

As I approached Wars of the Republic I held this idea close to my heart.  I surveyed a variety of other ancient wargames to try and get the lay of the land.  I also reviewed the various model lines out there and took a look at what companies were creating as pre-made bases.  There were a lot of different base conventions and pre-made bases out there.  The question was how to make them all work inside the parameters of the game.    

Thankfully, I was able to look back at a few of my favorite Osprey Wargame Series books in order to find some solutions.  There are three major ways that allowed me to make Wars of the Republic as scale and base agnostic system.

  1. Measurement Units
  2. Focal Points
  3. Unit vs Unit
Measurement Units

This game does not have a set ground or time scale.  Instead, it uses generic Measurement Units instead of specific units like centimeters or inches.  The size of a Measurement Unit should be based on a few factors; the size of your minis, the size of your play space, and what you think looks good!  

For example, I have an 8ft. by 4 ft. table and I use single based 28mm models.  Based on my table size, model size, and what I find visually pleasing I choose 1 Measurement Unit to be 1 inch.  However, if you use 6mm on 40mm x 40mm bases on a 3ft x 3ft table, maybe you want to use 1 Centimeter as a Measurement unit.  Your choice really!  

The entire game is written using Measurement Units. Therefore, it can accommodate various scales and table sizes with ease. 

Focal Points

Each unit has a leader (or Focal Point) that is where all key measurements are made from.  This allows you to measure movement, shooting, and other line-of-sight issues.  This is standardized in the rules and the footprints of the units will not impact the way the game is played.  No matter what basing you use, you can always find this "middle point" of the front of the base and use that as the Focal Point of the unit.  

For example, I use 10-15 man units of 28mm models single based.  It is easy to put a leader front and center and use that as the Focal Point of the unit.  Another player may have 4 15mm models on a base, and each unit is 3 bases.  The focal point for that unit would be the front center of the middle unit.   It is easy to use this point for all measurements in game.  

Unit versus Unit

The game revolves around Unit vs Unit actions.  Therefore, you do not need to worry about removing casualties, changing unit footprints, and other factors.  You are not calculating action resolution based on unit size.  Units all move, fight, and shoot in a group.  Individual models do not matter except as being part of their unit. 

As you can see, Wars of the Republic is a scale and base agnostic system per the design goals.  Now, let's talk about different types of basing, and how they can be used in in game.

Single Based Models

As I have mentioned, I tend to use single based 28mm models for my own games and armies.  28mm is what I cut my teeth on as a young wargamer, and despite playing games at different scales this one just appeals to me.    

To create a unit in Wars of the Republic , the easiest way and the method I use is to simply get 10 single based models together.  I put the leader model in the front rank, put two mooks on each side of the leader.  I then fill in a second line of 5 models.  Ta-da!   For some units like Pike Blocks, I use three ranks as  a personal preference.  In reality, you can make your units as big as you and your opponent want.  I have seen units of 40 models! 

In addition, you can use any size base you want, and it can be round or square with no game impact.  I like to use washers to add some heft to my plastic models but any size will do.  The rules generally have suggestions about how to organize the different formations using 10 models of 28mm models single based.   

Multi-Based Models  

Multi-basing is a very popular option in wargaming as it makes moving units much easier!  Many people like to put four 28mm models on a single base, and then but three to four of such bases together for a unit of 12 to 16 models.  I have also seen folks do something similar in 15mm, and with various figure count to base ratios.  Some rulesets even specify model to base ratios.  

The rules share some tips on how to run multi-based units that I will paraphrase here.  Multi-based units use the center of the front of their central base as the Focal Point of the unit.  This can be indicated with a model or a small mark on the base.  Then, you can move them into a visually approximate version of the formation.  Things like Phalanx and Legion should be easy, while Open Order, Wedge, Rhombus, etc may require a bit of creativity.  If all else fails, a small token or marker should be sufficient for any formations that are not obvious for the unit.  

Multi-Models on Single Bases

I have a pretty large Successor army of 6mm models.  They are all on 60mm x 60mm bases.  Those are chunky units!  However, they work just fine for Wars of the Republic  too.  In fact, they were very helpful to playtest how scale and model agnostic the system really was!  Plus, the units look nice and beefy at this scale!  

You can run these just the same as the Multi-based Models for the most part.  The front center is the focal point of the unit.  The default is there most "effective" formation.  I.e. Greek Hoplites will be Phalanx, Romans would be Legion, Macedonian Heavy Cavalry is wedge, Skirmishers in Open Order etc.  If they change to an alternate formation, a simple token or marker was sufficient to remind me and my opponent they were in a different formation.  Easy. 


As long as both armies are on similar basing, you should be fine using any locally popular basing convention.  In fact, I am confident that even armies of different scales but similar basing can play games against each other.  The rules can cope with the most popular basing conventions in the industry so you and your opponents should have no reason to re-base anything to bring your armies and play games of Wars of the Republic .  

I started off by stating that re-basing to play games really gets my goat, so it seems appropriate to leave you with an image of my goat..... 

Become a Patron and get access to all the cool stuff, a peak behind the curtain of Blood and Spectacles, and early-access to playtest games!  

You can follow Blood and Spectacles Facebook page or Instagram for more fun! 

Check out the latest publications and contact me at our Blood and Spectacles website

Or purchase all out games at the Blood and Spectacles Publishing Wargames Vault Page!





Thursday, October 14, 2021

For those of you in Northwest Wyoming, you maybe interested in the launch party event for the Wars of the Republic at Gestalt Studios @ The Polar Plant in Powell, Wyoming. 

There we will have a chance to play the games hands-on, take a peak at some advanced copies, have some snacks, and talk about wargaming in Wyoming and beyond!  Good company awaits! 

If you have questions, feel free to reach out to

Become a Patron and get access to all the cool stuff, a peak behind the curtain of Blood and Spectacles, and early-access to playtest games!  

You can follow Blood and Spectacles Facebook page or Instagram for more fun! 

Check out the latest publications and contact me at our Blood and Spectacles website

Or purchase all out games at the Blood and Spectacles Publishing Wargames Vault Page!

1 comment:   

Monday, October 11, 2021

Wargame Design: Wars of the Republic- Osprey Games


As many of you know, after writing Men of Bronze; Osprey commissioned me to write Wars of the Republic for the Osprey Wargaming Series.  That book is slated to be coming out in November and I hope you will pick up a copy.  If you liked Men of Bronze, I think you will like what you find in this book too.  However, there are also some pretty big differences.  

There are a couple of key elements to Men of Bronze that I HAD to keep when doing Wars of the Republic

  • Scale, Model, and Base Agnostic
  • Choices
  • Simple Mechanics
  • Big Battles with Small Armies

Scale, Model, and Base Agnostic
One thing that really drives me personally nuts in Ancient gaming that to play different games, you need to put your armies on different bases!  Aaarrrrgggghhhhh!  I barely have enough time to paint all the models much less re-base them to play different game systems.  I hate that so, so, so much!  It is hard to explain how much I hate it!  Therefore, when writing any game I try to make them scale, model, and base agnostic.  

There are several ways to achieve this, but I did it the following way: 

1. There is no defined ground scale.  Instead, I use a MU or Measurement Unit.  A measurement Unit can be anything you want it to be.  With my collection of 28mm models, I use 1 MU = 1 inch.  For your 28mm you can use 1 MU = 1 half-inch or you could say 1 MU = .13 Yards.  It really doesn't matter is structured in increments where it will not matter.

As a rule of thumb, I would use this calculation though:

MU= (Width of table/8=X)/6= 1 MU

2. It is a unit-vs-unit game.  Therefore, the way one individual model moves does not matter much, as the base activation and action of the game is Unit interaction.  Therefore, you can have the entire unit on a single base, or everyone on separate bases, or any combination in between.  

3. The game uses focal points to act as the "center" of a unit for shooting, moving, etc.  Therefore, as long as you know where that is, the rest of the unit maneuvers around that point.  Typically, it is a leader model, banner, or some other central element.  

In theory, you could have an army of 6mm models fight against an army of 54mm models if you really wanted to.  It would look a bit weird, but the mechanics of the game would not change at all.  

To me, the heart of any good wargame is to create meaningful choices.  A meaningful choice is one that will have positive and negative consequences for game play later on.  So, if you do X here, it will potentially limit you from doing Y there.  There are a couple of ways I built this into the rules: 

1. Commander's Gaze- This is a resource used to win initiative, rally, charge, activate special rules, change formations, and make key re-rolls.  It is a limited resource and represents the commander and his officer's trying to influence the flow of the battle.  This can be used anytime to trigger various events, but when you run out.... it can cripple your ability to respond.  

2. Supporting- Troops can help and support their fellows.  However, if the initial unit is destroyed, so are any supporting troops.  A careful commander needs to decide when to support a defense or an attack, or when to wait for a better opportunity.  Support could tip a melee in your favor, but if failed could tear the heart out of your army.  

3. Interrupts- There is an initial bid for initiative to determine who can activate first.  However, after that your opponent can use Commander's Gaze to interrupt your action and try to take away the initiative at any time.  This leads to a free flowing battle, where you must be aware of when the enemy may try to take advantage and steal the initiative away from you.  

4. 1 Action Activations- When you activate a unit it can only move, melee, or shoot.  Therefore, you have to choose what is the best action for that unit in the moment.  No unit can do it all.  

5. Formations- Your troops can assume different formations based on their unit type such as a Legion, Phalanx, Wedge, Rhombus, etc.  Each formation provides a benefit in defense, attack, or movement, but also a limitation.  What is the best formation for your troops and when do you use them?    

Choice was a critical component when creating Wars of the Republic.

Simple Mechanics
Wars of the Republic uses the same simple dice pool mechanics as  Men of Bronze.  It is a permissive ruleset, so there are rarely any negative modifiers.  Instead, optimal tactics drive additional dice in your dice pool.  Most action is opposed dice pools with target numbers of 4+ on d6.  The side with the most successes is the winner.  The amount of successes above your foe dictate the effectiveness of an action.  

All dice rolls use the same mechanics, so it is easy to recall the rules.  If a unit has a stat that says 2, you roll two d6 and look for a 4+ target number for success.  90% of the time, that is the rule.  There are some morale, complications, or other factors that may change a target number to 5+ instead but the dice rolling mechanics are the same.    

Big Battles, Small Armies
The abstract nature of Men of Bronze led to a surprising amount of pushback (to me) in the online community.  In Men of Bronze a phalanx was ten 28mm models.  Many people felt like this was way too small for a Phalanx size.  Of course it is if we look at real life phalanx size!  However, the unit on the board is only a representation of a Phalanx in model form.  Wars of the Republic does not shy away from these conventions at all.  

1. If you look at the maps in the history books about historical battles, you will see a group of boxes.  These boxes move around the map.  The units in Wars of the Republic are similar.  

This allows a unit-vs-unit BIG BATTLE with as few miniatures as you are willing to field and fit your aesthetics.  I like to use units of ten 28mm models for infantry, cavalry, and light troops.  The rules allow you to use 2mm, 6mm, 15mm, 54mm or beyond with no change.  They are just representational boxes moving about the board.  There is no model to man scale and the game does not use a strict ground or time scale either.   

2.  Ten man units of 28mm models allow me to showcase formations without using chits or markers.  This avoids cluttering up the board and visually showing the formation, but there is no reason you have to do it that way.  The game works just fine if you use a marker to denote a special formation as it does actually putting the models in that formation.  Alternatively, you could just shuffle multi-based units around as well.       

3. I can typically only paint about 100 to 150 28mm models in a year.  I also really wanted to use the Victrix line of figures because I liked the look.  Therefore, I wanted a game that I could paint both factions for and play in a single year if I wanted to.  Wars of the Republic allows me to get two new factions painted and playing a year.  That is a huge plus for me.

In addition, the game also added rules for operating armies in "Wings" which allows for even larger battles for those with the collection and table space for it!  This also opens up the game for easier multi-player capabilities as well.      

So, what is different? 
I reviewed the feedback about Men of Bronze and really took it to heart and made some adjustments.  

One of the biggest adjustments was the way supporting worked.  In Men of Bronze when a unit supported another they would move behind the unit they were supporting.  This made sense to me in the grand scheme of Hoplite warfare, as they were actually getting behind and helping push!  However, this aspect of the rules got the biggest "negative" from players.  Probably as it left big holes in their battle lines!  Therefore, I have gotten rid of this mechanic.  A supporting unit just needs to move within the Zone of Control of the unit they are supporting.  So you can do it from the side, back, etc.  This will help create a "front".

I also updated when Discipline checks were needed.  In Wars of the Republic units would need to take a Discipline check for every courage loss.  That way, a unit could start to waver and lose formation benefits after only taking 1 Courage loss!  This helped with some of the tactical choices of the game.  This was intended to be in the original Men of Bronze too, but due to my own error it did not make it in.  

A dedicated Melee Phase was also added to help resolve combat interactions.  This is a big difference to Men of Bronze as you resolve Melee as they happen.  This was to help clean up some of the "who is supporting what" questions and when a unit is or is not supporting.    

I also broadened the game to take into account the unique fighting styles of various cultures, kingdoms, and empires through out the period.  This includes Roman Legions, Greek Hoplites, Macedonian Phalanxes, Thracian Peltasts, Parthian Mounted Bowman, Elephants, Scythed Chariots, and more.  It was a lot of different fighting styles and a huge period of time to cover.  To do this I had to add a number of units, formations, and special rules to help capture the feel of Wars of the Republic period.  However, I think it gives a good sandbox of units, fighting styles, and armies you can field for the time frame.  You can even use the rules to fight non-Roman conflicts anywhere in the Mediterranean to the End of the Republic.      

One thing that is a big departure from Men of Bronze is that this book had no room for a Brief History.  The Historical Scenarios barely made the final cut.  That KILLED me!  However, it was more important that I added formations, units, mechanics, and army lists.  After all, this book covers a huge swath of history!  However, as my editors assured me, there are plenty of places to get the history for those who wanted it to craft their own scenarios and to learn the background of their forces.  After all, most of the people buying the book probably know more about the subject than me!   

So there you go.  The core mechanics of the game have a few tweaks here and there but the core of opposed dice rolls, using Commander's Gaze (Arete Points), focal points, etc. all are in this rule set as well.  Therefore, if you liked Men of Bronze you will probably enjoy this ruleset as well.  There are a few tweaks to address some points of concern in the original rules.  Plus, now they are expanded to include more historical units and fighting styles. 

Become a Patron and get access to all the cool stuff, a peak behind the curtain of Blood and Spectacles, and early-access to playtest games!  

You can follow Blood and Spectacles Facebook page or Instagram for more fun! 

Check out the latest publications and contact me at our Blood and Spectacles website

Or purchase all out games at the Blood and Spectacles Publishing Wargames Vault Page!

Monday, October 4, 2021

On The Painting Desk: Let's Go a Viking!

 One of my goals for 2021, was to buy the Victrix Viking set to paint up.  I have the rules for a Viking age wargame in draft stage, and I needed models to populate the pages of the book.  I also need them for some playtesting and blog promotions.  I did not expect to get to them this year, as I was going to have to paint a lot of Romans! 

Well, in a big surprise to me I finished painting them all up!  That was 60 Vikings that I pretty much batch painted all at once!  This is not a process I recommend to the sane wargamer or painter.  The process I took was pretty simple and followed my normal approach.  

First, I assembled the models.  As usual, I used Washers as I like the heft they give as a base.  Plus, I can magnetize them for transport if needed.  Once assembled, I brush undercoated them all white to be ready to paint.  

From there, painted all their flesh.  There was a lot less of it than with the Romans.  I then painted all shoes in a three different colors of brown.  Then, I started painting all the pants in red, green, blue, yellow, grey.  I tended to do each color in batches.  

From there, I worked up in various colors for the different layers of clothing.  Some models had two or three layers before you got to their chain mail.  Several also had padded leather jackets beneath their armor as well.  This made the layering up stage a bit tedious.  However, I used an every 4th model style of approach to keep different color combinations.  This randomization really slowed down the batch painting process, but I tried to paint all the green of a layer at once, then the reds on the layers, etc.  

It was a long and slow process to get them to a point where the chain mail was ready to go.  I actually painted the weapons as well.  I used two different wood colors for the haft, one a darker and the other a lighter.  A unit of skirmishers did not even have chainmail or shields, so they were the first batch of models to get completed. 

From there, I moved onto painting all the mail.  That took a good chunk of Gun Metal to complete all 40 Vikings left.  Then, I gave them all an Agrax Earthshade wash, based them, and called them done. I then went and hand painted all the shields on the sprue and then put them on.  

Here is a note on hand painting Viking shields..... it sucks! I first painted them all with an Oak Brown.  Then, I broke them into four batches and base coated the shield faces white, red, blue, and green.  From there, I tried to half, quarter, and beyond as needed.  Then, a bit of silver trim and center piece, followed by a wash.   


In the end, the army looked like this:

First up we have the Jarl and his Noble buddies.  This unit was also built to represent berserkers, or Nobles with Danes Axes as well.  These were mostly from the Command Sprues in the Victrix kit.  I really love the guy swinging the Dane Axe over his head!  Great model. 

  From there, the Warriors with Dane Axe.  Again, I could switch the Jarl model to this unit and make the command squad in Berserkers and this could be Nobles as well.  The Dane Axe is an iconic weapon of the Viking Era.  

Behind the Dane Axemen, we have Bondi militia warriors.  These were mostly farmers and the like called up to perform military service.  They typically used spear and shield to form a shieldwall.  This allowed a sturdy defense that the rest of the army could use as a base and mobilize around.  Being farmers first, they were not as well equipped as the Viking Hirdmen. 

On the other flank, we have more Viking warriors.  The first group has hand weapons and shields.  These guys could form a shieldwall, but could also act as raiders by swiftly moving forward and attacking as individuals.  They could be used in a variety of roles on the battlefield as support or as the main thrust of an attack. 

We also have the Viking warriors with spear and shields.  These guys will be able to form the famous shieldwall that is a hallmark of Anglo-saxon and Viking warfare.  They are mostly hirdsmen and dedicated warriors in this lot.  

Finally, in the back we have troops without armor and only with hand weapons.  These guys can act as irregular troops or skirmishers on the battlefield.  They can act on the edges of the army, screen them, or move quickly through terrain.  However, they are not to be counted on in a fight, unless they have the advantage in position or numbers.  

Well, that is my Viking army from Victrix.  I painted them in the course of about two months, but I batch painted them all together in one block.  This puts me at just over 220+ models painted in 2021!  This is my biggest year yet as I finished several Roman armies, and a Viking army plus a few odds and ends.   

Next up, I probably need 1 or 2 more armies for the roll-out of my next ruleset that will be Viking themed.  I will need these armies for photos, battle reports, and social media marketing.  I am thinking about getting the Wargames Atlantic Dark Ages Irish, and/or Gripping Beasts Dark Age Warriors for Anglo-saxons.  If you have used either of these ranges, give me your thoughts about the range in comments or the Messageboard.   I am hoping to have this rule set out some time next year. 

You can keep up with the latest releases on our Blood and Spectacles Wargame Vault page. 

Become a Patron and get access to all the cool stuff, a peak behind the curtain of Blood and Spectacles, and early-access to playtest games!  

You can follow Blood and Spectacles Facebook page or Instagram for more fun! 

Check out the latest publications and contact me at our Blood and Spectacles website

Or purchase all out games at the Blood and Spectacles Publishing Wargames Vault Page!