Bamboo Bases

As I’ve had a number of Bushido figures covering my desk over the last few weeks I thought I’d add a few minutes to each build to add some nice bases to the figures (the usual grass and rocks just didn’t feel right for my Silvermoon Syndicate). Luckily I have some experience in making Bamboo bases from previous figures so I thought I’d get some more into production. The nice thing about this is that it can be a very quick technique (unless you add extra details) and doesn’t cost anything to do.

Materials

The first thing you will need is some masking tape, a few strands of cheap spaghetti and cheap Superglue (the watery stuff from the Pound store is ideal for this). You will also need some sandpaper or an old nail file, a piece of scrap paper is also handy and of course a base to fit it in.

Making a Bamboo Mat

First thing is to make a Bamboo mat big enough to cover the base area (smaller if you only want to partially cover your base).

To do this lay strips of the Spaghetti (you are using uncooked I hope?) onto a strip of the masking tape. These need to be big enough to cover the width of your chosen base.

Once these are done coat the Spaghetti with your cheap Superglue and stick a piece of paper on top (this helps to hold it together during cutting and sanding). Then leave it somewhere well ventilated to dry.

Once dry peel off the masking tape leaving you with a section of Bamboo Matting.

Cutting to Fit

Next mark up your Bamboo Mat to show you where you need to cut it. I’m making an insert for a 30mm base so a £1 coin just happens to be the correct size (a 30mm base is almost the correct size for a 40mm base insert).

Next you need to cut off the majority of the unwanted Spaghetti. I find the best way to do this is with a jeweler’s saw as a knife can tend to make the Spaghetti shatter. Start by cutting off the larger sections and then work down until it is more of less the right size and shape (I could have cut this one down further).

The final stage is to sand off the rough edges and get the Mat down to the right size to fit into your base. For this I use an old nail file but you can use whatever sandpaper or abrasive you have to hand (try to avoid anything too rough as it can chip the Spaghetti). This will probably take you a few minutes but take it slow and keep checking the Bamboo Mat for size and fit as it’s easy to sand off too much.

Final Effect

So here is the final base with Bamboo topper.

If you want you can really go to town by adding other features to the base. Here I’ve added some stone paving and rope binding between the Bamboo sections. The rope binding is made by drilling a small hole between each piece of Spaghetti and then sewing fine wire (strands from an old electrical cable) between the pieces.

 

 

Posted in Modeling, Oriental, Tutorial | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tactical Musings of a Ronin

First let me say that I’m no Bushido master, in fact even acolyte is pushing it quite a lot but there are a few thoughts and ideas on tactics that I would like to share to help encourage any other new players out there.

Overall Tactics

Bushido is very much a game of tactics and long term strategies. In fact I would say that it can be a very unforgiving game if your not thinking two or more turns ahead. Now you may say that all games need you to have a long term strategy but in Bushido it’s not about just making a flank advance or capturing an objective. In Bushido you really need to be thinking about where you will move each of your characters and what you want them to do next turn, while all the time trying to guess what your opponent is going to do.

So why is it so important to be this detailed in planning your actions? Well in Bushido you don’t get victory points every round or at the end of the game. In most scenarios you only get victory points for objectives at the end of rounds 2, 4 and 6, which has some very significant implications for your strategy and gameplay.

First and most importantly you must never forget that there are only 3 victory points available for the entire game. In practice this means that winning that first victory point at the end of turn 2 is probably the most important thing you can do all game. With this in hand you have a chance of winning even if your opponent wins the victory point for turn 4 and if you can snatch the point for turn 4 yourself then the game is yours no matter how clever your opponent is.

Secondly never try and capture an objective on the odd numbered turns unless you can be sure you can hold on to it. There are plenty of tactics and abilities that can force your character off an objective allowing your opponent to claim it for themselves so it is often better to position yourself for an objective assault or tie your opponents up in melee in turns 1, 3 and 5.

The Way of the Dragon

So here are a few tactical ideas I’ve tried so far that will help get any new players on the road to becoming a Samurai Lord.

Door to Door Salesman

You know just how annoying these people are, stopping you from doing something important when you are in a hurry. Well you can do the same thing very effectively by making a melee attack against them. Not only does this increase their condition by one it also ties them up for at least their next Action (unless they kill you of course). I wouldn’t suggest using a Charge for this tactic unless you really need the extra movement to engage, are sure you can kill them or they are already Tired, otherwise their return Attack will have an advantage as you will be defending while exhausted costing you 1 of those precious dice.

This tactic is not only one for your combat characters, in fact the cheaper less able characters are often a good choice in this role. If you are not likely to kill your opponent but simply want to tie them up (so they can’t grab an objective for instance) then simply push all your points into defence. You may still take some damage but more often than not it won’t be enough to kill you in one attack (OK sometimes it can 🙁 ) and if you have an ability such as Sweep Defence that renders your attacker Prone all the better.

Distraction Takedown

This little gem is a great way to seriously ruin your opponents characters day fast and often works well in combination with the Door to Door Salesman tactic. For this to work you need two characters reasonably well spaced out but both in reach of an opponents character.

Start by attacking your opponents character as normal, if possible taking them to an Exhausted condition. If this kills them then congratulations, you can stop the tactic now as it’s not needed, but if they survive then continue. The main reason for this attack is to force the opponents character to turn to face your first attacking character, leaving it’s back exposed to your secondary attacker.

Now if your opponent hasn’t seen the double takedown coming or the character is exhausted on your next Activation use your second attacker to make a surprise attack on your opponents poor character. The Surprise attack will reduce their melee dice by 1 and your first character will reduce it by a further 1 (to make this even nastier if your first attacker has the Sweep Attack or Sweep Defence ability use it to render the opponents character Prone for another -1 dice) and if they are exhausted that’s yet another -1 dice. This should be enough to render most characters unable to mount any sort of attack or defence.

As if that isn’t bad enough there are a few extras that you can throw at this nasty backstab which can finish off even the strongest characters (unless you get seriously unlucky). Always use the Combo Attack ability if you can, with the probability that you will get a good success level being high being able to chain that damage is to good to miss. Always use Ki to boost your attack dice if you can, this can be a good time to use your booster characters with abilities like Channel to beef things up. If you don’t have Combo Attack then use Sweep Attack or an ability that causes Prone if you can. Remember that this attack will also make your opponents character exhausted if they weren’t already so with luck your first attacker can finish the job on their next activation.

With luck this will end with their main combat character off the table and unable to take or defend an objective.

Tokyo Holdout

This is a simple strategy but can grab you a victory point at the last minute. The rules for taking objectives state that you mustn’t be in Base to Base with an enemy model of be within their Zone of Control (which is 1″ from a model’s base). For this to work you need to position your figure exactly opposite them and in Base to Base with an objective. As the smallest objective is 30mm in diameter this means that the two figures are more than 1″ apart (1″ = 25mm) and so you can still turn the objective towards yourself even though you are both in Base to Base contact with it. Next you need to delay activating your character until your opponents character has become exhausted and is unable to turn the objective themselves. Now all you have to do is turn the objective as your last action to either Neutral or towards yourself, denying your opponent control or even gaining it yourself.

This strategy is ideal to turns 2, 4 and 6 where victory points are gained but can be useful at any time. Do this right and your opponent will be powerless to stop you snatching victory from them.

Posted in Oriental | Tagged | Leave a comment

Martians Rise Again

Good news today. Following the demise of Robot Peanut Studios ‘All Quiet on the Martian Front‘ was bought by Ironclad Games and has once more risen to dominate the earth, bigger and better than before (well at least you can download the rules as a PDF ) with all the figures now available again. If you haven’t played this it’s an excellent game that I can highly recommend.

Go check it out here.

Posted in Alternative History, Modern | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bushido Tokens

Most games these days rely on tokens to keep track of figure states and Bushido is not exception. Now you can of course just download, print and cut out the tokens from the Bushido website (couldn’t find them when I looked, they are hard to find) but I always find this a frustrating endeavor resulting in tokens that barely last a couple of games. Luckily there is always a company ready to release laser cut tokens sooner or later, in this case Blotz have stepped up to meet the need.

You will find a range of tokens available to meet most if not all of your game needs. Each is laser cut from 3mm acrylic and you even get a choice of colours at a very reasonable price. I recently picked up a few bags of basic Ki, Tired and Exhausted tokens from my local game store (support your local FLGS!) in white acrylic. White is a good colour for basic tokens as I can colour code the inking so that I don’t have to remember what the symbols mean (keep forgetting which is which already 🙁 ).

Like most acrylic tokens the one thing you don’t get is inking of the text or symbols, this is something that you have to do yourself. Luckily this is quick, cheap and easy, so I thought I’d show you one simple technique.

Inking Your Tokens

So we want to get our tokens from an unreadable uninked state to a readable inked state.

For this the first thing you will need is some way crayons. If like me you don’t have young kids to borrow them from you will need to go buy a set, luckily these are available in most supermarkets and will probably set you back £1 or less.

For the next step I strongly suggest putting down some old scrap paper to work on as it makes a horrible mess. Using your wax crayon (in whatever colour you choose) rub it across the etched side of the token until the symbol is entirely filled with the wax. You will probably break a few crayons doing this but that is normal so don’t worry about it.

The next step is somewhat dependent on whether you removed the plastic film from the tokens before waxing them (did I mention that the tokens have a plastic film front and back that you have to peel off). If you left the film on now is a good time to remove it, you will find that if you are lucky this will take most of the unwanted wax with it without removing any from the etched area (this doesn’t always work).

This next step will have to be done whether you left the film on or not but is easier if you left it on while applying the wax. Take some paper towel and rub the surface of the token until all the excess wax has been removed, taking care not to push into the etched area as this will remove the wax from where you want it. When that is all done you will have your finished token all ready for your gaming table.

Once you get into a routine inking your tokens in this way is very fast, it took me about 15 minutes to do 10 Ki tokens. To make life easier I used three different colours for my three token types but you can use whatever colour(s) you like.

 

Posted in Oriental, Review, Tutorial | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Bushido – Japanese Minka

Bushido like any other tabletop game needs some terrain to vary the gaming area and make your games more interesting. I’ve always been a great fan of making or converting cheap terrain, not only does this save money but it is also a fun part of the hobby and ensures that you have some truly unique terrain pieces on your tabletop.

As this is Bushido I thought it was a good idea to add some traditional Japanese buildings (or at least things that look like them) but as a Bushido gaming table is only 2’x2′ these had to be fairly small, such as small dwellings, Tea Houses or Shrines. Following a quick trawl on the Internet I found some ideal models of small houses (called Minka or “house of the people”) measuring just 15cm x 17cm x 11cm high and packed with conversion potential. These are made by TTCombat and retail (at the time of writing) for only £6.95, this is too good a price to pass up so of course I bought two.

The models come nicely shrink wrapped with easy to understand instructions and comprise two laser cut sheets of MDF plus a laser cut sheet of greyboard (thick cereal packet card) and a couple of greyboard roof sections.

Basic Assembly

To make things faster and easier I’m going to assemble this in multiple sections so that I can paint them more easily. As there aren’t too many parts this isn’t going to be a problem and will make some of the conversions I want to add easier.

The first thing I’ve assembled is the base. This is just a raised flat platform with a plank texture cut into it. It took about 30 seconds to glue (I’m using PVA for this model) the four riser rails to the underside of the base and then add the steps which come in two sections. There are only steps on one side of the building but you could easily add some more using off-cuts of the MDF sheet the parts are on.

Once this was dry (in fact I didn’t wait for it to dry as it was a tight fit so the parts didn’t move while drying) I built the four main walls. To keep them at a right angle while the glue on the joints dried I slotted the parts into the base but didn’t glue them to the base. This was them secured with an elastic band to pull the parts together and left on a warm window to dry thoroughly.

Wall and Doors

The next stage is to add a little colour to the wall and door panels. To do this I’m going to glue pieces of the white card I tested earlier on (it glued nicely without warping) to the outer wall surfaces and the door back panels.

You will need to do these one at a time and let each one dry before you trim it and move on to the next. I’ve found the best way to glue these is to use a large brush and work quickly to put a thin but even coat of glue on the MDF and then press it on to the card. The thinner the glue the faster it will dry and is less likely to cause the card to warp. Once everything is dry you can see that the card gives a much better finish than simply painting the MDF white and is just as quick (not allowing for drying time).

Painting

While the card is drying you can of course be getting some paint on the frames. As these are only greyboard I’m going to use artists acrylic which is a lot thicker than model acrylic. This prevents it soaking into the card and causing swelling and gives a better coverage (a lot cheaper too). To add some detail I’m going to paint my screens black so I’m doing the door screen panels now as well. These were done using regular acrylic as there wasn’t much to them but remember not to water down the paint or it will soak in. A good tip here is to save the card pieces you remove from the frame to use as templates for cutting inserts later. The card can also be cut down to use as additional frame details if you so wish.

Once everything is dry glue the frame to the walls taking care not to get glue on the exposed wall sections. I’ve placed the building on the base for this to help align the frames but it isn’t glued in place yet.

Screen Panels

To add some interest I’m going to add some additional screening to some of the panels (I may do a version of this later that has screening on all the panels). For this I’m using some plastic canvas stuff I picked up in the sewing section of my local craft store. These are just plastic mesh (no idea what they are supposed to be used for) and come in various sizes, I got a pack of 10 4″x4″ sections for £2.

Now using the frame insert bits I saved earlier (told you to save them 🙂 ) and a sharp knife I’ve cut out sections to fit in the panels I want to add a grid to.

As this is a soft plastic regular acrylic paint won’t stick to it very well so I’m going to have to use an alternate route to painting them. First I’ve stuck them to a piece of wide painters tape to stop them needing to be handled while painting them and stop them from blowing away. Next I stuck the tape to the top of an old pizza box (any excuse to eat pizza) and gave them a spray with a car primer for plastic body kits. This stuff is formulated to stick to all sorts of plastic (also the best primer for resin) and is a great base for the main colour. Once the primer is dry I sprayed them with a matt black enamel paint (spraying these intricate parts is better than trying to paint them and quicker), the enamel will once again bind well to the primer and give a more hard wearing finish than acrylic would. Now leave them to dry.

Roof

While all the bits are drying I’m going to build the roof. With things like this it’s usually to assemble the roof first and then feed glue into the joints afterwards. To help keep everything lined up and in place. Once everything is dry you can remove the roof for painting, you may find that the roof beams are a tight fit in which case now is a good time to give the slots in the walls a file down (removing a tight fitting roof during gameplay can be an issue).

I’m using the card panels supplied with the kit to help keep the ends aligned. Once the roof beans are painted I will be gluing this in place but I don’t intend this to be the final roof. Instead I’m going to be adding lines of corrugated card to look like more realistic tiles.

Touch Up Time

At this point I’m taking five minutes to go over any edges that need a bit of extra paint. Primarily these are the edges and corners where the white card is showing.

Last Leg

Almost on the home stretch now. Once the paint touch up is dry I’m going to finally glue the walls to the base. This will mean that I can handle the model without risking getting my nice white wall dirty.

Next the grills I cut and painted earlier are carefully glued into place. These had curled slightly as the paint dried so I had to use a couple of clamps to hold them flat until the glue had dried.

The card panels have been glued onto the roof ready to have tiles added (I’m not going to cover this in this tutorial due to time but I might add it later).

Finally the doors are added and everything is good to use on the gaming table.

Final Touches

There are still a couple of things I am planning to add as soon as I get time. The first is a tiles roof made from corrugated cardboard as I have already mentioned. The other is to add some hanging lanterns to the corner of the roof using some appropriately shaped beads.

Having now finished the building I can only recommend this model very highly. It’s great value for money and offers so many opportunities for customization you could fill a fair size table with simple variations on this basic shell. I bought two of these and for my next version I’m planning more side screens and red framing instead of brown to look like a Tea House or small Temple.

I hope this has been some inspiration for your own builds and you have enjoyed reading the article.

 

Posted in Oriental, Review, Scenery | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments