Monday, 23 June 2014

It's alright, we're coming on. We're gonna get right back to where we started from.

Blimey!  It seems like I've spent so much time and effort working on the Big Birthday Bash these last three weeks, I've neglected to post anything about it.  Unfortunately I'm not going to correct that in this post, not until I can find the time to do a proper photoshoot of the figures, terrain and vehicles in progress. so for now the game will have to remain Top Sekrit.

Work on the game has been going well.  Mi Hermano Pintor Jonesy has been coming round on a Sunday afternoon and over the last three weeks we've managed to get 90% of the figures painted and ready for the Army Painter Quickshade.  Almost all the terrain I think we'll need is either already made, on the workbench or on order from eBay.  But it has led to some interesting behaviour I think a lot of wargamers might relate to.  Even as I'm working on elements of the BBB, my mind keeps drifting onto other gaming possibilities, and I find myself spending valuable time researching these "future games" on the net.

For example, the BBB game is.... generally and vaguely set in 20th century America.  Ish.  So for a couple of iconic terrain buildings, I went to eBay in search of some of the legendary Plasticville O' gauge building sets.  Now these are hard to get hold of here in the UK, where OO gauge is by far the dominant model railway scale, and postage rates from the US can be quite harsh, but with a bit of careful shopping, you can get buildings for anything in the £10-20 range, which compares favourably with similar sized MDF wargame buildings.

(I've since found a couple of UK dealers who sell Plasticville kits.  On Tracks and Dark House Games, both are roughly comparable in price, but you can sometimes get a better deal from one than the other depending on what you're buying and how many you want.)

Anyway, after securing the two buildings I needed for the BBB scenario (the Gas Station and the that another clue?) it occurred to me that these would make a great start in the process of modernising the Victorian city terrain.  That got me looking at some of the other buildings that were available, especially the rival K-Line buildings - similar in style, but out-of-production and even harder to get hold of.  While these buildings are generally styled after 1950s small town Americana (in fact many of the kits have been unchanged since they were first designed in the 50s), I thought many of them would work incredibly well for a Caribbean island city, especially one that's a tourist destination.

Cast your mind back to the second-ever post on this blog, outlining the island Imagi-Nation of Paradiso.  Back then I'd been planning on doing this in 15mm, But the concept of Paradiso way predates that post, going back to an idea I'd had back around 2003 for a 28mm demo game using Copplestone/Grenadier Future Wars figures in a tropical holiday resort setting. Ever since then the idea had been fermenting slowly in the back of my mind, and I'd picked up the odd poundstore bit here and there for the concept.  The suitability of the Plasticville buildings for the concept may just be the straw that's broken the camel's back, as I currently have nearly 20 buildings purchased, open auctions for about 30 more and a further 10 on my watch list waiting to see how the auctions do.  There's also an order for about a hundred 28mm scale palm trees that seems to have just happened.

Although Jonesy and I have agreed that the next project for our Sunday painting school is going to be 15mm sci fi (he has some starship crew and some not-Klingons) for some coffee-table sized skirmishing, it looks like 28mm Paradiso is going to happen sometime in the not too distant future.  Again I now have most of the terrain I'll need either ready or on order, and all the figures for various factions awaiting paint jobs, Perhaps most significantly, there'll be some nice synergy between the Paradiso figures and terrain and those for the BBB, opening up some more fun scenario possibilities.

Then again... no sooner had I resigned myself to that idea, I then noticed how with a little conversion work some of the more rural Plasticville buildings would work well in a rural English Village setting, more suitable for VSF or that VBCW malarkey.  And off I go again....


  1. To misquote the old TV "A-Team" line . . . "It's great when a number of plans come together."

    -- Jeff

  2. My initial thoughts are, "what a lot of time, effort, money just for a single day" and then I remembered what we did last year.

    It sounds like you have on-going uses in mind for these buildings and scenary anyway.

    As for losing focus and going onto other projects then that's just natural, it happened to us when we were trying to buy stuff for the new bathroom. (we kept seeing stuff we'd rather buy for another project we had in mind). I think the human brain works in "opportunistic" mode most of the time. A bit like when you solve a jigsaw,.. you scan the pile of bits looking for something particular but if you spot something recognisable and you don't pass it over.

    So you could say it's your brain working efficiently - though it does have a negative impact on your bank account. Oh well, you'll never need to worry about what to spend your money on!

    I'm curious, how much does detail play in your enjoyment of the hobby? If you had generic building shapes where you could print out slip-in wall decals as required, would you still feel like they were good enough to play with?

    Perhaps the number of palm trees order answers the question :-)

  3. To start with your middle point - it's definitely a wargamers trait, if not a general human one, to pick up and horde bits and pieces for a future project on an ad-hoc basis. You'll often hear us talk about our "lead mountain", which is our collection of unpainted figures.

    For me one purpose of a project like the BBB is to convert those ad-hoc purchases from something that just takes up shelf space to something that we can have fun playing with going forward. The genesis of this BBB's game was a set of figures I'd bought purely on a whim 3 years ago, supplemented with a few similarly themed figures from other manufacturers. Then just recently someone gave me some vehicles that I thought might just work well with them, which led to a game featuring them being proposed for the BBB. The "project" has involved assembling, painting and otherwise preparing those components, finishing off my wargaming trees (since this setting will require more forests than I've had in the past), and buying what was needed to finish laying the scene (buildings, a modern road and a small stream).
    After the day, pretty much all of the stuff prepared for the BBB will be available for use in future games, or serve as a starting point for future expansion. The least usable thing going forward will actually be Sekrit Weppun XXXX, total value £10 + three or four hours work, which is closely tied to the theme of the day's game. However (a) it's a great gag that has me giggling every time I look at the model and (b) it's served as a testbed for techniques that I will be using for other models in the future (this will make sense once all is revealed)

    Your final question about the importance of detail is an interesting one which I'll answer in the next blog post.