Solo Thoughts – Ramblings!

Just lately I find myself with too many things spinning round in my head. Ideas for all sorts of things, things I want to do, things I need to do, and of course, things I should be doing and should already have done. But the more I have to think about the less I actually do; I’m a flitter you see. I can’t concentrate on one thing at a time; I have to jump around as my interest wax and wanes. So, I thought that if I put the things I have in my head down in writing it might help me to get a focus. It just means you’ll have to put up with my ramblings!

Anyway, in no particular order, here goes…

I’ve just clicked a reminder on Kickstarter. The campaign is Lasting Tales from Blacklist Games and is a co-operative tabletop miniatures game with a spattering of RPG included. It is for 1-5 players and if you pledge high enough you get a shed load of miniatures with it. I backed Blacklist’s Fantasy miniatures series 1 last year – the UK is last in line for delivery, but it is imminent – and I will be backing this one too, so I’ll have another couple of hundred minis to paint when all is said and done!

I’ve been looking for something like this that can be played solo and designer, Mark Latham, has done some interesting stuff in the past – Walking Dead: All out War and Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms – so I’m expecting good things here. I also think it will be something that Yasmin will be interested in, as she’s showing a greater interest in miniatures games just lately – I keep meaning to introduce her to Star Wars Legion, but it’s still too cold to have it set up in the garage at the mo.

Talking of miniatures games, we played Marvel: Crisis Protocol the other day. Our latest squad members were put through their paces and it made for an interesting game. The Crisis cards (I can’t remember exactly what they were) gave us a threat level of 19. I put out a team of six and Yasmin Five. This made a bit of a difference and I felt I had the advantage having greater numbers, as I could use the extra character to double up on an opponent.

I still think things were pretty even though, as Yasmin fielded her three Web-Warriors, Spider-Man (Myles Morales), Spider-Man (Peter Parker), and Ghost Spider, along with Crossbones and Red Skull. Unfortunately, I don’t think she unleashed their full potential, but it was her first time using them and we analysed the game afterwards. The Web-Warriors are all about manoeuvrability. They Whoosh around the battlefield and if you keep them moving they’re hard to put down – she played them just too statically. Red Skull was also a weak link but Crossbones was her powerhouse. I think Doc Oc or Baron Zemo would have faired better than Red Skull.

I won after four rounds, though it was close. I finished with 18 points to Yasmin’s 15. My squad consisted of Rocket and Groot, Iron-Man, Captain America, Gamora, and Nebula. Iron-Man and Cap work well together, and I put them on my left flank. Rocket and Groot are a powerful duo if kept close to one another and held my centre (Rockets long range means he can give covering fire to the others without having to put himself at risk). Gamora and Nebula I had on my right, and what a right it was! These two are awesome and they quickly took care of Spider-Man (PP) and swooped in to secure the centre with R&G. Meanwhile, Iron-Man let me down for the first time ever and was dazed one round and then KO’d the next. Cap did what he could but Ghost Spider proved too much for him and he was forced to give ground.

Iron-Man bit off more than he could chew contest an objective with Ghost-Spider.

Groot took a massive whack from Crossbones and then, when Myles finally got into the battle (Yas had held him in reserve which she admitted was a mistake), became Dazed, which Rocket took offense to and unleashed some big hits of his own. Gamora leaped into action – literally – and mopped up Crossbones with a little help from her sister. The fourth and as it turned out, final round, saw Yasmin try some desperate stuff with her remaining two Web-Warriors (Red Skull had been Ko’d by this point) and their manoeuvrability almost took it to another round, as she deprived me of a couple of controlled objectives, but in the end I had enough points to push me through to victory. Another great game!

Another great game is Tainted Grail and I’ve been trying to get it back to the table for the last few weeks, but so far to no avail. The weather warmed up and I thought I’d be able to get it set-up in the garage and play it over a number of evenings – I sorted out the characters I wanted to play (I ditched my old save game as I wanted to try it with two characters), gathered their decks and sorted all the others, re-read the rules to refresh myself, and added the mule from the expansions. Then things changed, the temperature dropped back down to single figures and things had to be put on hold. It’s a game I want to play again so I can get the review I started way back finished. There’s a lot to explore if I want to do things properly – different characters, all of which play a little differently and have their own story to tell; differing character counts, how does the game differ when played with a lonely single character to when played with three or four, and then there are the different play modes, such as story mode. I like to give a well-rounded review and cover as much as possible, but this one might be the exception to that rule.

For all those out there that enjoy playing Mansions of Madness, I’ve just put Valkyrie on my laptop. Valkyrie is an App that allows you to create your own scenarios for Mansions of Madness as well as Descent: Journeys in the Dark. You can also play the fan made scenarios too, which is why I downloaded it. So far we’ve played just one, though we did play it twice as we decided we could beat it easily and quickly second time through (which we did). After playing just a single scenario I can’t comment on the overall quality of the content. The one we played was interesting and entertaining, if a little easy. The story wasn’t as involving as the ones on the main game App, but we shall see how others fair – I’ll keep you posted as and when we play them.

As I’m on the subject of M&M, I’ve just started painting the minis. Now, they’re not the greatest of figures, especially the original core set and early expansions (things have improved), so I intend not to spend too much time on them. Indeed, the first two Hunting Horrors took me less than an hour, mostly with the airbrush – let’s hope the pace continues (yeah, right. This is me we’re talking about!). Just going through the editing of this post I can add that I’ve now almost finished the Deep-One Hybrids, too, which took me a couple of hours playing around with inks – so far so good!

Mansions of Madness - Hunting Horrors
Deep One Hybrids – awaiting varnish and transfer to transparent bases

I’ve been bursting to play Victory at Sea too. I’ve brought a couple of dozen ships – Davco 1/3000 – and created a spreadsheet on Excel so I can print data sheets for each ship in a scenario. I’ve got drop down lists for all the variables, such as weaponry and traits, so it should be quick and easy to prepare each scenario. Of course, I have to paint all the ships before I play, and hence the delay.

Being 1/3000 the ships aren’t the most accurate or detailed of things and so I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the painting, but I do want some semblance of accuracy in their paint schemes, which I thought would be easy enough to do – Ha!

After doing hours of research, things haven’t gone all that swimmingly. Some ships have tons of information about them, but even so, few seem to agree on what colour they were painted at a specific time. Take the Bismarck for instance. Now, there is a lot of information out there concerning paint schemes and much of it varies but tends to hold to a few set patterns. Part of the problem is that the ship underwent painting even at sea, and from its battle with the Hood and Prince of Wales in the Denmark Straits, to its Sinking three days later, it is believed to have undergone some minor changes, but nobody seems to agree to exactly what they were – were her turrets yellow, or not?

This kind of thing crops up all over the place when trying to recreate a paint scheme for a specific battle – were the decks painted or bare (King George V’ were allegedly painted at the time of the Bismarck’s sinking); Prinz Eugen didn’t have false bow/stern painted during the Battle of the Denmark Straits, or did she? – Ah! It goes on and I’ve tied myself up in knots, but it isn’t the only issue I’ve had to contend with.

The Hood was sunk wearing standard 507A Dark Grey paint scheme. But what colour exactly is this 507A Dark grey? Well, it turns out, that nobody seems to be able to agree precisely on what shade of grey it is, despite there being a write up of exactly what it contained chemically and some colour plates in the National Archives. Of course, these plates are old and no longer fully resemble the true colour, and the chemical make up of the paint, whilst supposedly standard, was varied depending on supply – there was a war on you know!

HMS Hood
I just need to add some highlighting and then Hood will be ready for varnish.

And so I found that every manufacturer of paint for military models has their own idea of what colour should be used to represent the paint colours of the period (it gets even more complicated when you start to dig into the Kriegsmarine paint schemes!). But that’s not everything – 507A and 507B turn out to be the same colour but with different reflective qualities, at least over a certain time period, when 507A was reintroduced in 1939, prior to that the colours had originally been different!

Admiral Graf Spee
The Admiral Graf Spee

In the end, I ordered AK Interactive’s Naval colours for both the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine after giving up trying to identify Vallejo’s alternatives. I’ve got to the point where I no longer care just how accurate they are. I am trying to paint the ships in at least the right general paint scheme for the battles I want to recreate, but as they are so small I’m not going to spend anymore time on banging my head against the wall. HMS Hood (length 262m) measures just over 8cm and The Admiral Garf Spee pockets Battleship (length 186m) comes in at less than 6cm, so you can imagine that the detail is going to be somewhat lacking.

Admiral Graf Spee
Size comparison!

I’m still in the process of adding measurements to the pictures of my Arkham Horror insert. I’ve been doing it for some time now. I say doing it, I’ve taken the pictures and transferred them to the laptop, in my book that’s progress!

I’m not making much progress on the Darkest Tales scenarios either, though I am actually doing something. We still have to do the character development after finishing The Haunting, such a small thing to do, but things like Marvel, Eldritch, Mansions, or watching the X-Files keep distracting us. I also need to bring everything together for the next scenario. I have it all in plan form, but need to create the detail – NPC’s need stats, I need to tie in locations, and I still haven’t quite formulated a motive for the big bad, though I’m nearly there.

I work on campaigns in the same way as I do everything else. It’s all pretty loose until it needs not to be, if you get that? So, for my campaign, I know the overall plot and where I want it to go and along which lines I want it to travel. But, I know players can often get in the way of a good story, so it isn’t worth planning everything out in great detail because things will change. So I tend to create all the detail just before it’s needed, unfortunately, I get sidetracked sometimes and things take longer than I’d like.

I have plans to write a couple of posts on how I create campaigns and scenarios – probably will do for the one I’m working on now – as it may be of use to any new GMs out there. I know when I started out I tried to get every possibility down on paper and it took me an age, only to find that the players weren’t interested in visiting that innocent looking cave I’d spent days developing, instead they wanted to chase down a villain I’d had to create on the fly during a visit to the inn!

Back to painting… I like to think my painting has developed over the last year or so that I’ve actively been doing it, and I’ve learnt a hell of a lot. It has been some time since I wrote my ‘Picking up the Brush’ series of posts aimed at the complete beginner and so I’d like to do a series of short posts highlighting things I’ve picked up along the way, such as looking at brushes, Zenithal/gradient priming/shading, and simple paint mixing for layering. Again, it’s something I’ve made a start on.

I wish I could spend more time painting. I think it could easily become a bigger part of the hobby than actually playing the games if I let it… if I had more time! With the warmer weather just around the corner I can get back to painting in the garage, which means I can leave everything set out, which means I’ll have more time to paint, yippee!

At that point I’m undecided how to proceed with the painting posts I put out. Part of me wants to continue shortening them, as I have been doing by cutting out all the processes I used, whilst another part of me wants to go in the opposite direction. By that I mean detailing the whole process, taking a picture at each step and explaining how and why I do things – again, I want to aim it at the novice and help build core skills. I dunno, it all takes time and that’s the problem, the whole reason why I have so many things on the go at once – I start something, don’t have time to finish it, and then get bored and move on to something else!

One thing I do want to do though, is include more solo stuff. I know I’ve drifted away as my daughter has become my gaming buddy, but she doesn’t like all the games I do, and I’m itching to get some of them played. I want to progress my Gloomhaven campaign and being able to leave it set up will mean I’ll get to lay three or four scenarios before I move on to the next game – I’m also planning an insert that should make it quicker for me to set-up/put away, but it’s taking some though to get it right without having to leave something out of the box.

I’m also aiming to do more play-throughs as well, maybe do a scenario of Gloomhaven, I think that would be fun. I’d like to introduce an element of story telling into them, along the lines of what I did with the Temple of Elemental Evil. Yes, what did happen to that? Well, I got bored. The trouble with the game is that it’s quite repetitive and I found that I was struggling to make things feel new within each scenario, as the same things kept popping up and there’s only so many ways to deal with a flaming trap!

I want to include some solo Battle Reports, both on Victory at Sea and Marvel: Crisis Protocol, and I want to have a crack at the Historical scenarios of Time of Legends: Joan of Arc, which should be interesting because it doesn’t play like a conventional wargame.

I’ve also got a few other projects on the go. One long term that I’ve been working on for a while now, and the other I’ve just started. Either, neither, or both may come to fruition, but don’t hold your breath, I’m not, and so I’ll not tell you what they are just yet!

Anyway, that’s my ramblings over with… for now at least, and I’ve now got something to refer to when I want to get some perspective on what needs doing next, so job done. You can also call me out when things don’t appear, “Oi! Solo Meeple, where’s this that you promised?” With the right encouragement (read, boot up the backside) I might get it done!

11 thoughts on “Solo Thoughts – Ramblings!

  1. Yep, I know what you mean by jumping from project to project. I typically have 2-3 scale models going and either a few figures or terrain pieces going at any one time. Last week I shutdown the scale model start-up process and am now in the final stages of finishing them up (I need to start packing away any dioramas I want to keep, as I move in 2.5 weeks!). It’s driving me to madness to not start a new project!
    Anyway, I love the MCP game write-up, but I love the picture even more! Tell me, are the sidewalks overlays or carved foam? I’ve been thinking about building modular tiles lately, but can’t decide on dimensions or techniques. Yours look great, so what methodology you used might give me some direction as well as a crafting project to time fill on both side of the move northwards!
    Thanks for reading my long-winded comment.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Eric.
      Yeah, the thrill of the new is always a distraction.
      Packing all those scale models safely is going to be a project all of its own – take care man and good luck on the move.
      As for the MCP boards – the sidewalks are foam board. If you select the painting menu and scroll down you’ll find the post Urban Game Boards, which tells how I made them; they’re pretty simple really, especially if you have the resources lying around.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You do know you’re having the same experience as a lot of us don’t you! 🙂 I sympathise with you on the ships colour schemes, but I tend to correct for scale anyway which makes most things lighter than they were on the real thing, and anyway they’re your ships so you might as well paint them in a scheme you’re happy with (if you want a challenge, try working out the colours of Finnish tanks in 1944 – I’ve never seen anything yet that I’d consider to be definitive)! Interesting that you mention ship record cards/stat cards because I’m moving the other way and aiming to set them up in Excel and use the digital copies in games on my Kindle Fire rather than printed sheets.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Lol, I didn’t for one second think I was the only one, but putting it down in writing helped to get me focused a little on what really needs doing🤓.
      I naively thought that ship paint schemes would be easy and well documented (well, they are but everyone says something different!), I never guessed I would be stepping into a minefield!
      The AK range is supposed to be lightened for scale, though I don’t think they meant that small a scale – the Kriegsmarine paints look good, but the Royal Navy Admiralty Dark Grey is really quite dark. Saying that, I have found several sources that show that it was quite dark, so who knows!
      I have thought about playing it out using digital copies and I guess I’ll make the decision when I finally get to play – I’m sure it would be easier, as I can just make notes and change things as I go along… I think you’ve convinced me!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. As for getting the right paint schemes on your ships, I think it helps if you’ve been on a sea journey e.g. crossing the English Channel, and had the chance to observe other ships passing by. Have you noticed how they (and the sea itself, of course) change colour and brightness *dramatically* depending on the lighting and weather conditions? And of course, what looks right for daylight gaming might not look quite right under house lights; do you allowed for weathering; and – since we are talking getting things ‘right’ – how exactly historically accurate are all of the other aspects of the game?

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Good points – I haven’t been out to sea since I was a kid, so I never really thought of it that way.
        Talking of ‘weathering’ I was reading some interesting stuff about the fact that most modellers ‘over weather’ ships of this period. The paint was typically kept in very good condition and many ships were constantly repainted.
        I guess it’s because I’m new to all this Naval business and never expected it to be this convoluted.
        As John says, they’re my ships paint them how I like, and also what you add regarding the accuracy of the rest of the game. On reflection, I think I’ll be happy with a vague nod towards the original paint schemes, after all, I’ll probably only ever play it solo so who’s going to care other than myself 😀

        Liked by 5 people

  3. Enjoyable write-up. 🙂 I enjoyed the details about the MCP game (helping movivate me to get another model done!) and I can certainly empathise with too many projects! The Dark Grey 507a saga sounds exactly like the one for “Field Grey” – I’d suggest that all of them are both accurate and inaccurate depending on (as heceres said above) the time of day and the lighting conditions – not to mention how weathered any one example may have been (or not) at any given time, variations in colour via batch (ever gotten two pots of the “same” colour from two different production batches that were noticably different?)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Azazel. I’ve since varnished the ships with a satin varnish and it’s made such a difference – I’m happy now 😁

      Liked by 2 people

      1. …aaand thanks to this post, I (finally) finished Crossbones last night!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I love the colour palette of those Hunting horrors! Really eye catching and beautifully painted.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Chris.
      I wanted to keep it simple and it doesn’t come any simpler than two colours – I love using yellows and greens together.

      Liked by 1 person

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