Saturday, 28 April 2018

Burning Rubber...

Gaslands, a game of post-apocalyptic car combat; Mad Max on the table, or Fast and Furious mixed with the Expendables. Cars, buggies and bikes go head to head in all out combat, or death races for ultimate glory. I wrote a review a few posts ago, and last post detailed the first two cars I finished for the game. The next two are now done...

The vehicles so far...
Like pretty much everyone I have seen in the busy Facebook groups, I used Hot Wheels cars for the base, and stuck a variety of weapons and spikes to them to make them more thematically suitable. The weapons I got from left over Heavy Gear sprues, and the spikes and other things from a number of FireForge medieval sprues I had left over. The mesh on the windscreen is an adhesive fly-wire patch cut to size.

This post is about the left-most car in this image...

And left-most buggy in this image...
For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to spray all the cars I worked on what was supposed to be a 'rust' colour, but which in the end turned out to be a glossy sort of maroon instead. I had to spray them all again lightly with a flat varnish so other paint would adhere. Then I tried the salt chipping technique to create patchy paintwork with a patina of rust, but this really just created patchy paint. For the last ones I found the water was pooling on the gloss, so this time I added some water, watched it pool, added salt, and pressed down on the salt lump to create a larger, flatter, and messier area, which was more the effect I was after in the first place.

Once the salt had been added I sprayed on a top-coat of blue. Every two vehicles I do will be different core colours, the teams will look rather patchwork as a result, which is the aim. Once the spray dried I used a toothbrush to remove the salt, revealing the maroon beneath. Again, the spray is glossy, so another light coat of flat varnish was due. I then painted all the various other colours, black for the weapon casings and tires, metal for the rims, screens and engines, light blue for the buggy windscreen, white for the skull motif, etc. Then I coated both liberally with Army Painter dark tone, which is essentially a black wash with an enamel finish.

I really laid on the wash. This was in part to smooth and blur the colour transitions and give them a dirty look, but also to dull down the gloss.
Once this was dry I started weathering. I added metal scars across the surface on the edges particularly, went over patches with a light brown wash, dribbling it down the sides to look like rust, and highlighted the engines, windows and weapons with a lighter metal tone dry-brushed on. Once this was done I turned to my Tamiya weathering powders, and used a Vallejo texture paint for mud around the wheels, before giving them a final flat varnish.

So that's the next two done. All in all these are really quick to paint. A couple of sprays, some small patches of different colour, a heavy wash, some highlighting and then the weathering powder. I think they look pretty neat, and should be good fun to get to the table. I am thinking about making a board a some point as well, we shall see...

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Gaslands! Assemble the Team...

Gaslands is a post-apocalyptic game of vehicular carnage, with teams of cars, monster trucks, buggies, bikes and a host of other vehicles duking it out for supremacy. I wrote about it earlier this month here, I talk about it in an upcoming episode of the On Minis Games podcast, and have otherwise been thoroughly enjoying the game.

While the games played so far have used cars raided from my son's toy collection, I thought it was high time to add some guns and whatnot to the mix. Being a responsible fellow, I decided the best and safest path was not to start smashing up my son's toys, so I bought a few sets of Hot Wheels cars from a local shop under the clever guise of buying them for my son. I need to pause here and say that for anyone interested in Gaslands, the Gaslands twitter account, and Gaslands Facebook page are both a wonderful source of inspiration, and well worth checking out if you're interested in the game...

The first games played were with simple Hot Wheels borrowed from my son...
Cars in tow I cast about for some suitable weaponry to add character to these supposedly post-apocalyptic agents of destruction. I lighted on two solutions, both left overs of various other projects. One was a set of sprues left over from Heavy Gear, a ready source of suitable weaponry. The other was a set of sprues left over from assembling a bunch of Fireforge Games medieval knights and whatnot. Good spiky bits that the average post-apocalyptic citizen would deem the height of fashion. Having found a ready supply of bits, I set to work work...

A rather visually pleasing mix of vehicles now suitably upcycled into the nouveau post-apocalyptic style, with appropriate wheel spikes, point bits and guns. I should add I also scuffed the cars with some sand-paper in order that the paint applied might adhere better. I also used a fly-wire repair kit to add mesh to the windscreens. In the the collapsing future, glass is hard to obtain. Many players go the full hog at this point, drilling the cars apart and stripping them down the metal, using a dremel to achieve all manner of goodness. I took the lazy route.

An 'Indian Red' first coat. Thick and glossy, if I had my time again I'd buy a different type of rattle can.

I decided it would be rather fun to attempt the salt chipping technique. This can be found on YouTube, but basically involves wetting patches of the car, sprinkling salt on, respraying, and then using a toothbrush to work the salt off. This leaves a rather nice patina look, but since the undercoat wasn't as rusty as I would like the effect wasn't as good as I had hoped. I should also add here that given the paint was glossy, applying water was problematic. The water pooled into little balls, curse you surface tension, and didn't work in the way I had imagined it might. What I did in the end was respray with a matt varnish, and then applied salt, pressing down on the clumps to force them to spread out. This worked better.

With some seasoning...

And sprayed again with grey.
All that remained was to brush the salt off. I should add that leaving a car for a few days with the salt attached causes the stuff to stick really well. With the cars I'm working on at the moment I had to use a blade to chisel the salty goodness off.

I masked one of the doors when undercoating this to keep the original Hot Wheels paint showing. Also, the patina effect looks more like massive corrosion, but shiny.
Following this I painted on any of the other required colours and then gave the cars a heavy black wash. I went back over again with the colours used in the base coat, and added some spots of brown wash to give a rust effect. Lastly I used a little Tamiya weathering kit I've had sitting around for years to add more rust, and some soot near the missile pod.

This stuff is great. You apply it with a little make-up thing, and it looks awesome. It does leave a powdery finish, which didn't go well under the top coat of varnish, but still, I really like this stuff.
So, all that done, my first two cars were complete and ready to take the field. I have a bunch of others to do next, but the first two are ready to roll!

Overall I am happy with the results. They didn't take too much time, and I think they look suitable. I have some more lined up to do next, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they come out!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

On Minis Games

On Minis Games is a podcast dedicated to miniature games and gaming, with the odd splash of board gaming thrown in from time to time. I have written a little about it in the past, but haven't mentioned it too much because over the last twelve episodes we've struggled with some technical difficulties, trying to work out why our feed won't validate for iTunes and a few other things.  Up until episode thirteen we weren't in iTunes. All that has changed now, and thanks to the fine work of Erik and Don of On Board Games, our feed is functional, has been validated, and you can subscribe through iTunes, yay! The iTunes link is here.

On Minis Games started thirteen episodes ago, but the latest episode sort of feels like a new beginning. In the latest episode we talk about why we play miniatures games. Some of that talk is about why we like games in general, but we tried to hone in on the couple of reasons we like miniatures games specifically.

Of course, like all games, the best part of miniatures gaming is undoubtedly the social aspect. Being able to hove off time with a friend or three, chat, throw some dice and experience a good story is brilliant. This is true of all forms of table top gaming I think, and why, while I love board games, role playing games and miniatures games, I have never really been captured by electronic gaming.

Mordheim, with some Perry miniatures.

Mordheim, with a Perry miniature and 4Ground terrain.

Aesthetic is a key component of miniature games; they are a visual delight. A table with painted miniatures and good terrain, well, there is nothing quite like it. It's like playing in a diorama, creating a window into that setting or world, and allows the story of what's happening on the table to be realised as much visually as through the game play. For historical games I enjoy researching the force I am collecting, finding out what colours are suitable, and carrying that through with the force.

Badgers and Burrows with Splintered Light minis.

Another aspect that makes miniatures games great is that they provide a sandbox. With a board game the board and pieces come out of the box and there are the parameters. With a miniatures game the rules provide the architecture for how pieces, miniatures, terrain etc, interact, and the players create the specific parameters of each game by choosing the forces they use, the terrain on the table, the scenario they play, and so on. Games are highly variable, and many of the rules sets I enjoy most are thematic and have a strong narrative component.

Dystopian Wars minis, from the old Spartan Games.

Gaslands! With Hotwheels cars and Infinity terrain.

Miniatures gaming is also a hobby, with the collecting, building, painting, basing and all the other aspects that that make it the rich experience it is. Some people will love some of these aspects, others will hate them, but they are there should you choose to indulge. I like painting well enough, but often struggle to finish projects. This is partly due to how I choose to spend my free-time, most of which is spent these days freelance writing for RPGs. More than painting, I love having finished painting. Being able to look at models I know that I painted them, being pleased with the results (for the most part), all of it makes me want to get those pieces on the table. I like having painted, more than I like the painting, but of course to get one, one must do the other!

My painting desk. A mess of unfinished projects.

There are a number of other things specific to miniatures games that draw me to this style of gaming. We talk about them on the podcast, which you should definitely check out and subscribe to!

Here is the link, and thankfully, you can also now find us on iTunes!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018


Gaslands, designed by Mike Hutchinson and published by Osprey Wargames, is a game where armour-plated machine gun-equipped cars duke it out against monster trucks with mini-guns and motorbikes with rocket launchers. It's the roller-derby of a Mad Max-like universe. Collisions, explosions, ramming and gun fire punctuate every turn in a staccato rhythm of mayhem and destruction. It's inexpensive, and it's great fun.

There is some sort of visceral appeal to the sort of vehicle derby that involves bikes, cars, buggies, pick-ups, monster trucks and big-rigs armed with rams, missiles, flamethrowers, and machine guns. Perhaps it hearkens back to the childhood, perhaps it comes from post apocalyptic visual extravaganzas like Mad Max, but it is appealing nontheless.

The most recent game I played against my son. He had a motorbike armed with a minigun and a monster truck with a couple of machine guns. I had two buggies and a car.

Back in my teens I spent some time playing a game called Car Wars, by Steve Jackson Games. It was great fun. Cars and every other vehicle you could conceive fighting it out in a rolling battle for supremacy. Cars Wars was great fun, and I have many fond memories of playing it, but it was also very detailed. There were rules for almost every possible combination of vehicle and weapon, and the game was heavy on the book keeping (I may be being unfair to Car Wars here, those are just my memories of the game).

His monster truck against my buggy... It didn't even stop to leave insurance details.

Gaslands is all the energy, cinema, and delight of a weaponized roller derby, without all the overheads. The rules are simple and straightforward, easy to read and understand. The game plays quickly, yet manages to find all the moments of high octane action and spectacle one would expect of such a theme.

Like Wings of War, X-Wing and a few other games, Gaslands uses templates to move, with the player choosing the maneuver they want to make, placing the template, and moving to the other end before making any attacks. There's more to it than that, but at its core, the rules are that simple.

What he rolled when his monster truck rolled over my buggy...

Templates are used to move the vehicles.

Rolling a slide or spin result always nets a hazard token, but isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes it's good to spin the wheels a little...

Skid Dice, you roll a number up to your handling when you move. A good way to get extra Shift results, but can cause you to gain Hazards, Spin and Slide.

Various tokens, none of which end up on the table. While you can buy laser cut copies like these, the game is playable by printing off the templates and tokens just as easily. There is also a conversion table so you can play using normal 6 sided dice instead of the Skid Dice pictured above.

Vehicle stat sheets - all the stats and all the tokens (and the green dice show the gear).

A game turn consists of a number of Gear Phases, starting with first gear and running through to sixth. If a car is in first gear, it will get to act in gear phase one, if it's in third gear, it will act in phases one, two and three. Every phase the car will make a move, and then make an attack. So a vehicle in high gear will have the opportunity to move and attack many more times than a vehicle in a lower gear. The balancing act of what gear to shift into, comes with the Move Templates, Hazards, and Shifts. Various moves are only available in a limited number of gears: a long move can only be performed in high gear, while a hairpin turn can only be performed in a lower gear.

After crunching my first buggy the monster truck slid and spun around to face my second... (my son re-rolled his skid dice hoping to get slides and spins, lucky bugger...)

His head-on collision with my buggy called for a whole lot of attack dice...

The buggy didn't stand a chance, but it's flame thrower did explode causing valuable damage to the monster truck...

Some moves will give Hazard tokens depending on the gear you are in. Attempting a sharp turn in a higher gear is more risky than in a lower gear. Conversely, some moves will provide Shifts, as long as the car is in a low enough gear to earn them. Shifts can be used to remove Hazard tokens and other negative effects, as well as to change gears up and down.

A little way away my car lines up his motorcycle...

Lastly, each after the move template has been placed, and before the vehicle is moved, a player may roll some handling dice. These can provide useful Shifts, but may also result in the vehicle Sliding, Spinning, or gaining Hazards. Too many Hazards and the vehicle wipes out.


After a vehicle has moved it may attack. The attack system is quite simple, a matter of lining up the target and making sure they are in range, and rolling some dice. The target gets to roll to evade, but the whole process is straightforward, and there are rarely any questions typical in wargames concerning things like line of sight, cover and so forth.

Both bike and car took damage, but the bike lost out...

Slides, Spins and Collisions are all a part of the game, and neatly and easily handled by the rules, while slides and spins can be negative things, they are also very often quite useful, allowing the vehicle to turn sharper than usual to get a bead on the enemy. Collisions are a lot of fun, and rather deadly, the type of collision is determined (Head on, T-bone, etc), dice are rolled and the results applied.
Chaos across the table... only the monster truck and car remain...

I didn't want to run too in depth with the rules, but seem to have meandered in that direction, so I will endeavor to get back to the core of this blog post...

I've played this game multiple times now with my son, and it is a blast. The rules are easy, the choices are meaningful and interesting, the movement system works, the pressure of watching the hazards mount up as you spin, slide, shift gears and complete tight turns is tense... the game is laden with narrative experience and highly enjoyable. I thoroughly recommend this rules set, it strikes me as the very epitome of beer and pretzels style of game - which to me is a game that is easy to get on the table, and where the minutia of the rules fades into the background of the game experience. It is thematic, cinematic and explosive fun. Well worth chasing down a copy and giving it a go. The best thing of all has been - we are playing the game using my son's Hot Wheels cars, so an 'army' isn't going to cost an arm and a leg.

We both come about to face off, lining up our weapons. Again he made good use of spin results to get the monster about... He was down to two hull points and I was down to one. It was the car with a mini gun against a monster truck with a heavy machine gun and machine gun...

For anyone interested, I'd highly recommend finding Gaslands groups/players on Facebook and Twitter, the game has a solid following and the modifications and paint jobs people have done on their cars is nothing short of stunning.

He got the drop on me and his machine guns did the work... A close game, and a lot of fun! He was cheering the machine gun dice roll all the way to victory. Great game...