Category: SAGA

Wargaming supplies in Seoul: Neighbor Hobby

Scouring around for places to pick up paints and supplies I stumbled across likely the new Mecca for hobby supplies for me, Neighbor Hobby. It’s nestled away unassumingly in the lower floor of an office building. But despite it’s location, they have a pretty amazing stock of model kits of all sorts.
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There is a great selection of military models. Unfortunately for fans of Bolt Action, they carry only Tamiya 1/48 kits, but they seem to have a full selection from that line. As 1/72 and 1/76 scale kits go though, they have a great choice of tanks, soldiers, and terrain. With buildings I usually use 20 mm, even for 28mm stuff as it keeps a smaller footprint on the table and looks okay. I find true 28mm scale buildings just a little too big and even the smallest 2 story house seems to dwarf the rest of the table terrain. So having a lot of building model kits for sale was a pleasant surprise.
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Now for paints, brushes, and other supplies you are set. There is a great selection of paints from Testors, Tamiya, AK Interactive, MIG, as well as my go to for painting, Vallejo. It’s a wonderful amount of choices and stock for both brush and airbrush painters. They also carry a complete selection of Testors and Tamiya sprays. Well worth checking out.
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To get there isn’t too difficult. Take subway line 2 to Hongik University and get off exit number 3. You need to cross the street and footpath park and take a side street, then go right. Once you hit a main street go left and it will be in an office building.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

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The entrance is actually a bit odd. Going behind the building from the parking lot you enter on the first floor. You will follow a long hall towards the elevator, and can find the shop directly.
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However if you enter the front of the building you are actually on the 2nd floor and have to take the lift down to the 1st floor.

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All in all Neighbor Hobby is a fantastic place to pick up military models, paints, and modeling supplies. It certainly is one of the top places to get wargaming model supplies in the city. It’s also in the same neighborhood as Rolling Dice so a great stop to get a double scoop of geek supplies while in Seoul.

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Paint scheme reference cards

PaintRefAThis week just a small tip for folks delving into miniature painting. If you are like me you might have a lot of different game systems and army projects going (sometimes several simultaneously). Once an army is done, going back to add a few troops or units is always an option. However it can be a tad difficult to remember what paints were used before for that force.

Another issue is that occasionally your miniatures will get some dings and dents. You may find needing to touch up a miniature or two. So trying to think back what paints you originally used for a base coat along with the proper wash might be a problem. It’s compounded if you’ve been painting a slew of other stuff since then too.

To get around this I use note cards. I write down the paints used for base coats, washes, and highlights. Additionally I pair this information up with the appropriate parts of the models. Along with the name of the paint, I also place a small dab of the paint color on the card.

This way I know exactly what colors I used for say, the webbing on my US Marines, along with the colors used for the drybrush highlight too. The color reference is also there in case I have problems tracking down a specific paint. I then have a hue to compare to if seeking a replacement paint from a different manufacturer. Another plus is I can take the card with me into the shop to directly compare.

They are very handy. I’ve got a slew of unfinished 15mm Russians I’ve been sitting on for a couple of years now. At least with the paint reference cards I have some confidence I can revisit them again using the same color scheme as I had done in the past, ensuring that my army will have a uniform look. So consider keeping track of the paints you use on your minis. While I find note cards handy, but even a notebook is helpful. After all you never know when you might have to touch up a couple of minis (or add another squad to your force).

Random Sci-fi adventure generator

TravellerArtASo my sci-fi Savage Worlds game is chugging along. Generally it’s a big sandbox game. The players are flying around in the Scalawag and seeing what trouble they can get into. I employ a sci-fi version of a job board. Each system they jump into they have a few options on employment opportunities. For my game I scooped up the idea of Traveller’s FTL travel. You jump so many parsecs and it takes about a week in this alternate space, regardless of the actual distance traveled. In effect is this age of sail feel for the game, allowing players to potentially run from the law or bounty hunters (and making pursuits after baddies all that more aggravating).

I also fell in love with an idea from Traveller Patrons books. Essentially when the PCs get a patron, after making the initial meet and accepting a job, the GM rolls a d6. While the typical results mean that opposition or the expected situation is what the patron described, there is a chance things could be far more difficult, or that the entire situation is not what it initially seems. I loved this concept as I’m certain I tend to telegraph any secret intentions from NPCs. Not to mention this sort of mirrors events in real life. Sometimes things are a lot easier than expected and sometimes well… sh%t happens and everything goes pear shaped.

A fan made supplement I’ve long gushed over, Savage Space, has a great adventure generator. But I wanted to tweak it some. I expanded the potential outcomes and settled on a series of 8 x 8 tables. As a GM you roll two different colored d8 to represent the rows and columns of the tables. In general an adventure framework is:

Players must [Do][Something] at [Location] against [Opposition].

So I have a series of tables for the Do, Opposition, Something, etc. As a twist, sometimes the players might have to go through some hoops to complete an adventure. Success or failure from previous adventures might impact future tasks, so I created another chart to mimic that. This would also potentially throw in complications to the adventure. To add some structure, certain types of adventures would utilize particular types of side missions, and additional charts I whipped up reflect that.

The end result you can find in my downloads section. This adventure generator isn’t perfect and sometimes you get some wacky combinations that need to be reworked some. However I’ve been surprised how flexible it is. It really has become a great way to spark adventure ideas and a helpful tool for creating a foundation for a potential mission. Hope folks find some use for it in their games.

Wargames Factory Saxon Thegns

As I mentioned awhile back I’ve been dragging my feet some painting up my SAGA warbands. I wanted to have some flexibility with my models and opted to pick up a few more sets of figures to build both Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Dane warbands. Further a lot of battle board abilities for Anglo-Saxons revolve around 10 man units. Having a lot of warriors seems the way to go, so I wanted quite a few models to explore these abilities more.

Wargames Factory’s Saxon Thegns come 32 figures per box. There are plenty of head, shield, and weapon options. A few standards and horns are provided. While not specific for SAGA you also get a lot of bows which are great for other game systems (cough…Frostgrave…cough) and if looking to combine this with other plastic unarmored Saxon sets, a good way to have plenty of bows for your levies. There are also hefty 2 handed Dane axes allowing you to deck out some hearthguard if wanted. My one complaint with the weapons would be that the spears look a little anemic.WargamesFactSaxC

My other complaint would be the necks of the models. The manufacturer suggests cutting down the neck some before assembly. This is a bit of a pain and can be difficult to get just right. Fortunately the models are plastic and with the right amount of glue and pressure, you can get them assembled in due order. I would recommend going for a more viscous plastic cement. The figures fit well together, but you might want to fill the gaps in some for the arms.WargamesFactSaxA

The hands are modeled open to allow different arms to be placed in. The thumbs look a bit odd sticking out but once you’ve got weapons set in the hands, they don’t stand out. Overall the models assemble pretty easy aside from the slight hiccup with the heads. The detail on the figures are not bad. Some of the body and arm details are muted, but overall they look good.

You basically have 4 bodies for the set. Yet with the options for heads and arms, along with different angles you can assemble them, the end result is enough different poses to make up for the lack of body types. One more ding to the set is that no bases are provided. So expect to buy some bases along with the box.WargamesFactSaxB

Another manufacturer out there for medieval plastic sets is Gripping Beast. Likely people will want to know how well the 2 figure lines compare. The pic below is from each company for Saxon Thegns. The one on the left is from Wargames Factory and the one on the right is from Gripping Beast. I think they are very comparable for scale and can mix and match them freely. If anything the Gripping Beast figures seem a little more stocky in the arms and shoulders. Yet once painted up and based, they don’t really stand apart from each other.WargamesVsGrippingBeast

There are a lot of positives for the minis in this box. The Wargames Factory kit does have a lot of different weapon and shield options. The head choices aren’t bad (though are a chore some to glue onto the bodies). The price is also reasonable for what you get and I’m glad to have picked them up. However, I’m on the fence about recommending these Thegns. They aren’t bad figures. It’s just that for armored plastic Saxons I think there are better options out there.

Hotz Mats felt fields

A long while back I mentioned that I picked up some battemats from Hotz Mats and wasn’t that impressed with them. At the same time I made my order, I decided to pick up some flocked felt field sets from the same company. Despite me not being keen on the treated felt mats, I gotta say that I do like the flocked fields they offer.

I bought 2 sets of the 20-30mm range felt fields. The fields vary in sizes and colors that look pretty good for that scale. Seems they offer smaller scale mats for 6-15mm. The pics I have here are of 1/72 scale Germans. It does seem that smaller models would look a little off with the larger scale mats.
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The felt fields are durable though and the flock is tightly adhered to the material. Mind you I keep them stored relatively flat tucked in a box of other terrain, so if tightly rolled up I’m not sure how they would hold up. But I have to say they’ve been through some heat and humidity and still look nice. Through normal gaming wear and tear you’d likely have some fields that would last for years.
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The felt fields range in size having one large section, 2 smaller fields (a little over 6″ long), and a mid-sized field. A good mix for a set which looks nice. Throw in some small stone walls or bocage and you’d have a nice bit of rough terrain or light cover for your table. If looking to get some rural terrain and not too keen on modeling your own, they are a good option and worth picking up a set or two.
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Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns

While I enjoy SAGA I need to admit Frostgrave has sort of taken over my painting drive. I assembled my SAGA warbands a long while back but actually giving them a coat of paint has been a chore. I’ve really been dragging my feet on them. Love the game but my spark for painting the figures consistently seems to flare up for only a few days and then die down to a smoldering ember for months.

But I’ve managed to get some troops painted up. One big draw for me getting into SAGA was the relatively low model count and cheap options for figures. I decided to pick up a few sets of Saxon Thegns from different manufacturers as I wanted to build both Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Dane warbands. That way I could switch around some of the hearthguard and warlord models, but keep much of the core force of warrior models the same.

I opted for one box of Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns. They are a nice set of plastic figures for a decent price. You get a whopping 44 minis, including a sprue to make a standard bearer, horn blower, and some details like a cloak to deck out one model making it your warlord. For Anglo Saxons a lot of battle board abilities revolve around 10 man units. I’ve puttered around with a few hearthguard but I’m now leaning towards using more warrior units to take advantage of the 10 man abilities. So having a lot of extra figures is welcome.GrippingSaxonB

The plastic figures are well detailed with some nice armament options. You get 5 bodies per sprue with a few extra to make up the command elements. They assemble well and are pretty easy to glue together. Square bases also come with the set including some larger bases for single ranks. I’m using round bases instead but it’s nice to have some included in the box. I’m no expert but the gear and figures seem historically accurate and it’s nice to see a ton of spears in the set also.

I’m slacking on the historical accuracy some though. To keep things clean with WYSIWYG with the warrior units in SAGA, I’m keeping them in mail armor and dropping the shields. This is passable with the figures I’ve got, but I’ll admit the right arms are sculpted to accommodate shields. I decided to base them without shields, saving those for the hearthguard.GrippingSaxonA

Now another manufacturer floating around with nice medieval plastic sets is Wargames Factory. I imagine a lot of folks would like to know how they stack up and could you mix and match them. The pic below is of two Saxon Thegn figures from each company. The one on the left is from Wargames Factory and the one on the right is from Gripping Beast. I think they are very comparable for scale. The Gripping Beast figures seem a little more stocky in the shoulders and arms, but painted up they don’t really stand apart from each other.WargamesVsGrippingBeast

Overall if I was pressed to stick with one set over another, I’d go with Gripping Beast figures. The minis have a little more detail. There are some nice small bits that stand out (like necklace crucifixes) with the Gripping Beast Saxons. They really are fine minis for a good price and work great for getting up a core force of rank and file figures for your SAGA warband.

Cigar Box battle mats review

Ever on the quest to find some cool gaming mats I stumbled across Cigar Box Battle Mats and had to pick a few up. A while back I had gotten some Hotz mats for my Bolt Action and Firestorm Armada games. The star field mat was okay while the green mat was a little lackluster. Further, they were treated felt. The surface looked like it could handle pilling but it was stiff and kept wrinkles if folded up.

The battle mats from Cigar Box are made out of a thin fleece material. It’s very supple and has a sheen surface that will not snag on miniature bases. Most come in 4′ x 6′ with a few mats measuring 36″ x 36″. You can machine wash the mats and the surface appears to be screen printed making it look pretty resistant to your normal wear and tear.

The star field mat is very muted, but has a nice generic look. All of which allows you to plop down whatever terrain you have and not look too out of place clashing with something printed on the mat itself.

The generic grass field has a nice textured look to it. As the material is so yielding, you can put hills under the mat. This is something I found an issue with the Hotz mats as the treated felt was rather stiff. For a basic open field, the Cigar Box mat looks good with just a little contrast to break up the entire surface.

Digging through the store, there are also more elaborate patterns which can highlight roads, fields, and forests. A few even are set up to portray classic civil war battles, but could work for different historical engagements too. There is a pretty impressive variety and fortunately some generic mats are also available.

I think one ding to the mats would be that you’d have to double up if needing a 4′ X 8′ mat as the size options are limited. The mats are also ideal for free miniature movement as there are no hex or grid options.

The service was quick and I got my order via international air mail about a week after it was shipped. They were also very quick to respond to any queries via email. I highly recommend these mats. They are durable, provide a good gaming surface, and look great. Well worth picking them up for your games.

Litko game tokens as holiday gifts

Say you want a stocking stuffer for your significant nerdy other, or want to give a small gift to a gamer pal. Litko makes quality plastic acrylic game tokens and other miscellaneous game items, offering a great gift for them. A long while back I made no bones about my preference using tokens and markers around the table. Having a tactile marker to represent a condition, bonus, or temporary status is great over just using pen and paper. So I’ve had a long affair of enjoying Litko products for years now. They’ve got wonderful stuff for just about any gamer you’d like to get a gift for.

The wargamer – They offer tons of sets and individual packs for tokens. From command and casualty markers, to range band and blast templates, Litko offers some fantastic tokens and markers.

The board game fan – Litko has branched out and now provides game token sets for popular board games too. Imagine spicing up your Pandemic game with these tokens…

Not to mention some really wonderful X-Wing token and marker sets…

And I’m certain Netrunner players would enjoy having these on the table…

The RPG player – Litko also offers a lot of sets and tokens for RPG games also. You can find lots of tokens to mark temporary conditions….

and complete sets are also available like this one for Savage Worlds.

They offer some more interesting items like paper figure miniature stands…

or markers for indicating which character miniature is holding a torch…

And other bits for gamers – Litko also makes a variety of bases for miniatures and other really clever items like counter dials….

and a variety of portable dice towers which can be taken apart and thrown in a zip lock bag. Perfect for those gaming tourneys.

So I encourage folks to give them a look. Several online retailers also carry their products. And if you aren’t sure about what they’d really like, well just give them a gift certificate instead. Hope folks enjoy the holidays with family and friends (and get some games in too).

Scratch built scouring pad trees

My Bolt Action platoons are shaping up and I’ve been on a bit of a kick to get some terrain whipped up. One thing I sorely wanted were trees. However I’m just not able to bite the bullet and pony up cash for them. Looking around for pre-made scenery, trees are a bit expensive. A long time back I had gotten a bulk pack from woodland scenics where you could construct your own trees. It was a mess to put together and while great for a diorama, it just couldn’t handle the wear and tear for my wargaming table.

One tutorial I dug up described using cleaning pads for pine trees. Just right for my budget, so I jumped right in and looked into making some up. I picked up some scouring pads for less than a dollar and kept some skewers from some street food after a late night of drinking. I liked these skewers as they were thick ¼” diameter wood pieces.

I cut the pads into rows and then in approximately 1 ½” to 2” squares. I then trimmed the square pads into rough circles. I made sure to save a lot of the small corner bits of pad after cutting the major sections into circles. Some of the pads I cut into smaller circles of about 1 inch to serve as the top section of the tree, and followed this up by cutting the tree ‘trunks’ into 3-5” lengths. I found while larger trees are more realistically scaled, they are almost too big for wargaming.

As the I had to get the center wooden piece through the pad sections, I made a small cut in the center of the pads. Then came the more tedious bit. To give the pads some bulk, I teased apart the pad material for each section. This would almost double their thickness by simple pulling the material apart some.

With a hot glue gun, I added a dab to the center dowel and skewered a single pad section, moving it down to little over ½ the length of the wood. I repeated this, adding more glue higher up the wood shaft, adding more sections. I ensured the last section was a smaller diameter circle piece. All in all, I found 4-5 pad sections was enough for the trees to give them some bulk.

For the tops of the trees, I used the leftover parts of the pads from making the circle sections. Really teasing them apart, I could add 2-3 sections to the center wooden piece after placing some hot glue. This gave a nice small tapered top to them.

To mount my trees, I cut up some old software CDs, carefully rounding the edges. I placed a thick drop of hot glue in the center and then set the tree on the base. I decided rather than using watered down PVA and flock for the bases, I’d use a drybrush over a layer of modelling ballast. I wanted to do this partially to keep from getting flock all stuck up in the trees and also to ensure the trees could take a little punishment with storage and transporting.

I put down a layer of watered-down PVA glue and after letting the model ballast dry, set to painting it. I gave each tree a good coat of green spray paint. A nice part of this is that the paint will also act as a sort of cement for the ballast, and stiffen up the pad sections of the tree too.

After letting them dry, I painted the trunks a nice brown coat, and followed it up by drybrushing the bases with a lighter green to simulate grass and low brush. More chunks of flock could be added if needed, but overall I liked the effect it gave.

Note I did not highlight the trees any. I feel one solid color, with potentially a wash was enough. Drybrushing the tree leaf sections would likely only highlight the overall pattern of stacked pads even more. With one solid, uniform color of green, the detail of the tree leaf sections are muddled some. Afterwards I went ahead and gave the trees a matte varnish spray.

I think they look pretty decent and you simply cannot beat the price. I may very well likely pick up a few model trees and expect if I mix them in with the lot I made, they will look even better on the tabletop. This was a pretty fun project and an evening’s worth of work (minus the time needed for letting the trees dry due to spray painting). Now to just get some more games in!

Hotz Mats gaming mats

Since I was sorta on a terrain kick making asteroids for Firestorm Armada, I wanted to get a better gaming surface than a black cloth. For a while I heard about Hotz Mats which make a variety of felt gaming mats that can serve for some really nice space tables. They are screen printed and have a variety of options with printed hexes or grids, or even mats that are double-sided with an option for one side being gridless. The mats come in a variety of dimensions with 4’ x 8’ being the largest.

So I went ahead and ordered two mats at 45” x 72’ with one being an earth green mat for my WWII and SAGA stuff, and another deep space mat for my Firestorm Armada games. The mats are felt. However they are supposed to be treated with a fabric binder that reduces the wear and tear of the surface, lessening the pilling you typically see with felt.

The mats are a decent thickness (if just a tad thin) and can get a bit creased. However really deep folds can be carefully ironed out. The surface of the painted side is somewhat stiff which I assume is the fabric binding material that is sprayed over the surface. This does keep models from snagging up as much compared to regular soft felt. I could push my ship model stands around without having them get caught up on the material.

The deep space mat is pretty nice for a generic background. A little color is thrown in aside from the star background which is nice. I think if I were to get another I might splurge for the enhanced deep space mat.

I am a little disappointed with the earth green mat. I was hoping maybe a little extra paint to add some texture to it. However it’s really just a bolt of green felt yet still has the fabric binder coated on it. This gives it a decent surface and likely a hex printed version would serve great. Overall the one I picked up is a plain, muted surface for wargaming.

Now to go a bit on the customer service of Hotz Mats. Bluntly, I found it lacking. I do know they pretty much make the mats custom order. And I would put money on a lot of the mats being done in one go, and maybe needing some time to dry out in the open. Coming from Canada, this might mean delays due to poor weather (humidity) mucking up the production.

It took my order an extra two months to arrive. Email responses from the company were also sporadic and I didn’t get any indication my order was shipped. So I will give a huge caveat for buying their mats directly. It’s going to be delayed. Don’t expect a prompt (or any) response to emails. I can understand production delays, but I’m a little less understanding with the lack of communication. Consider the 3-5 weeks deliver to only be valid if you live within the province.

Now I understand they are moving to a new studio. This might alleviate some production delays. If you order from them, I think you need to take a zen-like approach and just accept that after several months you’ll get what you ordered in the mail.

The game mats are decent, seem like they can take a little punishment, and can easily be stored away. However simply put Hotz mats aren’t worth getting as there are better gaming mats out there that are comparably priced. What really pushed it over into the no buy column for me is the abysmal customer service. Seems you’ll get your mats… eventually… when they decide to get them into production… and bother to ship it. There are other options available for gaming mats which provide much better customer service. I can’t recommend buying Hotz gaming mats.