To Boldly go- and have cake!

My son's Black Ops Star Trek birthday cake

Star Trek Birthday Party Games

My son N has turned 12, and with that comes his themed birthday. This year he chose Star Trek as the theme, since we've been really enjoying the new Discovery show. My Mrs, who makes amazing cakes (both inside and out) createed a great badge cake in the "Black Ops" style, and it was up to me to provide the games. Having a couple of weeks to think about it, I went for two options.

 The first was to introduce the crowd of 12 year olds to the fun card game, Space Poo- because what 12 year old does not like saying those words together!   Things got out of hand (see what I did there?) quickly, and a raoucous good hour was spent. 

Then on to the main event- a Star Trek table top game!

But first, let's step back a few days before the party, where your humble narrator had nothing quite ready and just a bit of free time to rub together.

Star Trek Prep

Okay, so I have a set of Starship rules (See Starship on my blog) and I had gleaned about 8 pre painted ships from the Community Manager on the Star Trek Online game at work from the swag pile he had. This gave me enough Klingons and a cool Romulan or two, but only a couple of Miranda class Fed ships. Panicked I searched Ebay and Amazon, but nothing could get to me in time.

Then I called up my local game store Game Kastle, and asked. They had some primed and unpainted ships from Wizkids- perfect! A quick lunch trip and I nabbed three great ships. These I painted up two nights before the party.
Sexy Ships STO has lots of cool reference on how to paint ships

I added connector "nipples" to the bottom of all the ships and then they were ready to go 5 Fed, 5 Klingon/Romulan ships. Now to stat them out.

The Photoshopening

I pencilled in some stats playing on strengths of the sides. Feds get more armor and shields and more phasers than the Klingons, and some photon torpedo salvos.They also got a free fix it token to use once per game, as that is a typical thing that happens in the shows. 

Miranda class ships are cool!

Klingons got some phasers, decent amount of Torpedoes, and a short range disruptor that was like a shotgun of doom!  Oh, they also have cloaking... what am I going to do about that?  Quickly I took one of the outlines I had and traced it in vector, then cut clear plexi birds of prey. They would be used when the Klingon ships were cloaked. Turned out better than I had hoped.

The center warbird uncloaks and fires a salvo of photon torpedoes! 

okay, I had all the ships ready, now to build the game out for a 12 year old mind and attention span.

Stat Sheets

I wanted the game to be easily understood, with simple measuring and firing system. As most if none (turned out none, other than my own) had ever played a table top game, I figured odd dice would throw them so just stuck to D6's and incremented the weapons in those variables.

Movement was done by stick, as were gun ranges. Torpedoes went 3d6 per turn- and if you rolled more 1's than anything else, would burn out. 

With those rules pretty clear in my head, I stated out the weapons, and then went into photoshop to build out some easy ship sheets. Similar to Starship, each vessel has sheilds, armor and crit boxes, plus a compliment of weapons with ranges and stats on the page, so all you need is there for you.
Stat sheets- players mark off damage boxes, and erase when repaired.

The Game! (jumping back forward)

All was done, and set up a few hours before the guest arrived.  Sides were taken and the rules quickly explained then we just jumped into it. Everyone got how to play by turn 2, and by turn 3 the first ship was blown to smithereens- a Klingon bird of prey that got too close to 2 Fed ships and ate a torpedo!

Federation captains at the ready

The Klingon empire's finest!
Young Fossling commands the USS Hussar deftly into the asteroids

So, overall the game was a success, with a noise level of a horse race! Once the Klingons realized that they were both explodable, and that the Fed ships were more vunerable from behind, Two Bird of Prey ships cloaked and did a back end button hook, to successfully clobber three of the Fed ships from behind, while the larger Romulan vessel bravely stood up and tanked the Feds from the front.  Two turns is all it took and it was curtains for the Federation! Victory to the Klingons!
Cloaked ships get behind the Federations line.
Battle stat sheets are an excellent after action report card
All in all a good time was had by all- which then culminated in a traditional Fosshaus party- with a melee in the back yard!

I hope next years parties are just as exciting and challenging.


Prince of Rabbits

All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you...

I put this fun vignette together for Drew Williams, the sculptor of my Killer Rabbits and Triumph of Death minis, as a thanks for a successful Kickstarter. My scope was how to theme an entire D&D scenario around one mini. 

Anyone out there in blog land done something similar? 


Claymore Castings: Building up the Ranks

Just a few quick shots of some Claymore casting minis I painted up over Christmas break, and finally got some picture of. These models are really clean sculpts (Matt Bickley I believe) that have a lot of animation, and clean lines to paint up. My only "gripe" if you could call it that, with Claymore castings is that the weapons are sculpted in "real" scale, which does make them a bit fiddly for someone with all thumbs like yours truly. They do survive better on multibase stands.


Killer Rabbits Painting Tutorial part 1: Furry basics

Variations in fur using the same techniques

Killer Rabbits Painting Tutorial part 1: Furry basics  

This tutorial is set up to give you the basics on how I go about painting Killer Rabbits, in particular the fur.  You will note that I am all over the globe with my choices of paint brands; the ones I use, with a few exceptions are more preference than anything else- feel free to substitute them with your favorite paints.

For painting I’ve broken the process down into 5basic steps. Feel free to jump steps as you wish. Ultimately whatever makes you happy, and getting them done and on the table is the real goal.


I’d be remiss if I don’t speak a bit about priming. Make sure to clean any flash or casting lines on the minis first, then use a primer to coat the miniature in preparation to painting which can be applied with brush or rattle can. I prefer the latter. Good primers are actually microscopically porous in nature and help the paints adhere to the mini.  Primers come in all colors these days but, unless I have a particular project to deal with (say like painting a tank green) I stick to either white, grey, or black.  Since these guys are a medium fur colored, I opted for a grey primer. In particular I am using Tamiya brand fine surface light grey primer.  Let your primer dry for 24 hours before you start painting.

 About Fur Colors  

Rabbit furs vary in colors from black to white, dark brown to light tan, and can be either solid, or showing a lighter color underside –even mottled.  The monks seem to keep to a few variations- either due to the rabbits around them, or to the color choices available to work with.  Primarily we find medium tone of brown and grey predominant, with some lighter underbellies, which better helps show the form.

True to the medieval manuscripts, these miniatures are not sculpted with a fur nap to them, but rather are smooth. Some of the marginalia show a painted fur pattern in sections to suggest a nap; I do this on the lighter sections, as you will see.
Base colors for brown fur

Base colors for grey. Your pallete may vary

Paint the base color 

Apply the base color on the majority of the miniature. If you want to do a lighter fur underbelly, leave the chest, under the chin, the cheeks, and the inner arms and legs (optional and good for variation) unpainted.

Adding browns. Note colors used on the base as swatches

 Applying Under fur and skin colors  

Next, paint on the lighter fur color. For browns I use a lightish cream or unbleached titanium color, such as P3 Menoth white base, or Jack bone. 

For the grey painted rabbits, I use a lighter grey (Like Foundry light stone grey, or Reaper weathered stone (I don’t use white) or a very light cream color such as P3 Menoth White Highlight.  This latter color is great for a fur warmth against the greys.

When applying the paint for the under furs, I start at the center of the chest and paint outwards to the edges. If you feel confident enough, you can blend the base fur and the under fur on the edges a bit, which breaks up the line and helps read as fur.

After you get the underfur on, take a medium to dark “flesh” color and paint the inside of the ears, around the eyes and inside the mouth if it is open. Should you prefer a pink nose, paint it as well, otherwise paint it black.

Now I use Games Workshop Tanned flesh, or Vallejo Dwarf flesh for this. Again, this is a step you can pass up if you want, but I feel it brings more life into the rabbits- and Drew did sculpt those really nice ears!

Adding greys over light grey primer

Paint up the other bits 

At this point you want to fill in the miniature pieces that are not exclusively fur. Spear shafts and heads, bows, clubs, arrows, etc. These are really subject to how you want to paint them so I won’t really go much into it here. I will say that I do prefer to show off a lighter colored wood for the most part, and use Games Workshop Bubonic Brown or Vallejo’s yellow ochre for the base, mixing either with a bit of white for highlights.

A note about eyes. In most of the marginalia, the eyes are similar to humans with a large white surface and a round pupil- usually making the rabbits look a bit mad. I go back and forth on painting just a black solid eye with a bit of a highlight, or white with a black pupil like the monks did, depending on the model and what they are doing. Rabbits beating monks get the crazy eyes! Either way, leave a bit of the flesh color around them to help them pop. 

The Wash!  

After you have all your base colors in, let them dry fully, then give the entire mini a wash of Games Workshop Agrax Earthshade Shade color. This will help blend everything together and accentuates the lines in the sculpt like toes and face lines. If you think you’ve to too much on, just take a clean wet brush and pull it off like erasing. A small piece of a paper towel or your finger works too.

At this point your miniature is ready to be varnished and battlefield ready. Should you want to add a bit more to it, move on to the next step.

Added details by repainting areas- note brush stroke fur

You can really bring out a lot with just a bit of paint here.

 Finishing Details  

At this stage of the miniature I like to go back and touch up some of the details, picking out highlights on the miniature and suggesting a bit of fur on the chest.

Take the light fur color and go back to your chest and cheeks, painting to lighten them up. If you paint in small vertical strokes you can get a bit of a fur nap. Sometimes at this point I’ll add a bit of white and go back to do the line work. I also do this in a cross-hatching kind of way on the edges where the fur colors meet. If I get too carried away, I simply grab the base fur color and paint back the other way.

I then take the base fur color and repaint areas like the top of the head, edges of ears, shoulders and paws- things that stand out a bit.  play around with it and see what you like. You can always hit it with a wash again. Same thing applies to all the weapons and accoutrement.

That’s all there is really; time to base the rabbits up and you are ready to go!

Here are some samples of finished models. You can see how much variety you can get by using these techniques.

For Part 2 we'll focus on basing.



Killer Rabbits: Dogs and snails

Been working on the painted stretch goal rewards for my Killer Rabbits Kickstarter. Here's the Hare riding the Hound, and entourage, based upon this manuscript marginalia

Then on the other side of the fence, we have the rabbit riding a snail. This was a really fun piece to paint, as it's raining here and I had lots of snails for models.


The concept idea.

Off to paint more and more rabbits. Stay tuned!


All City Kings- N Guage style


I visited an old friend a few weeks ago, and he was showing off his cool N Guage train and set up he had. I painted this up to sneak onto his track next time I visit. :)

I really had a blast with this one night project: lots of good weathering practice and getting my old Graf chops back. I could totally do more of these! 


Fort McHenry Project: Naval officers

US Naval officers, ready to repell and other nautical words!

Naval Officers

I'm getting close to finishing up the Fort McHenry commission project (yay). The rangers have been more than patient with me, as I realized that this was a much bigger project than I thought it would be.

US uniforms, aft view
 These US and British naval officers are the last troops needed; now I have 9 civilians to do up, then focus on the ships, which are already half done. I am excited to see this all in the hands of the fort, and put to work.

British officers- all prim and proper

British stern costume