Tuesday, 30 August 2011

My Love-Hate Relationship with GHQ

It cannot have escaped the keen-eyed reader's notice that I use GHQ Terrainmaker tiles in a lot of my games. These are 4" across flat-to-flat polystyrene tiles of varying thickness according to need. The basic tile is 1/2" thick. Negative features, such as rivers, streams and ditches are constructed using two 1/4" tiles, while hills are constructed using 1" tiles. The whole system provides a fantastically flexible terrain system that is perfect for my normal games, which are fought on a 4' by 3' table for the most part.

I love this flexibility and I love the facility for making my own terrain as needed. You can do as much or as little with the tiles and they generally look fairly good even at the basic level of terrain-making that I do. Some people out in internetworld have done fantastic things with their tiles and make them look really good. For an example of this, check out Tom Stockton's website. His work is brilliant and an inspiration to me. Now if only I had the patience to do all that sort of work myself, but I do not, because I am a gamer more than I am a modeller.

However, I also hate the system. Why is GHQ's quality control so poor? The hexes I bought from Chiltern Miniatures when they were manufacturing them under licence over here were great. They were exact and fitted together well. The GHQ hexes that I have are occasionally squashed on the corners. They are not true hexagons and are often not precisely 4" across as they are meant to be. Some of the hexes I have are an eighth of an inch out in one dimension. It's a pain in the bum and ensures that my terrain often has fairly large gaps in it. I noticed this when photographing the Vikings earlier today. The 1/4" tiles that form an iced over river are smaller than the normal land tiles. They don't feature in any of the photos because of this problem with means that I had gaps in the terrain of 1/4" and more. Worse yet, those tiles then swum around within the terrain frame I was using because of the gaps. Bah! And Grrr!!

If only someone produced individual tiles like this that were precisely 4" across and were always perfect hexagons. Until then I shall soldier on, because I have rather a lot of the GHQ stuff and don't like the idea of all that wasted effort if I get rid of it. Of course, I suppose I could see about setting up producing stuff like this myself and trying to sell it. Might be a laugh. Anyone care to give me the start-up costs? I doubt I could manage it with the pittance I currently have in the bank.

There, I feel better for that whinge.

Some 6mm Vikings

This is the first part of my Baccus 6mm Viking army. These are enough stands to cover their use in our Rally Round the King campaign. All units are based on 40mm frontage by 20mm depth while the heroes are on 20mm by 20mm stands. This means I can easily use the same forces for Warmaster Ancients, should I choose to expand the army that far. At present I am undecided and shall probably just crack on with producing a 6mm Viking army for Impetus based on 60mm by 30mm stands. Perhaps I shall produce the full WMA army in the future or it may just happen naturally if the Rally Round the King army is successful in the campaign and expands to that size.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Castle Caldwell - a couple of CC3 images

I've been playing some more with CC3 and came up with the following image of Castle Caldwell (Basic D&D module B9). It is based on a revised floorplan that I found online somewhere.

The adventure map:

The castle on a bright spring morning:

I forgot to switch off the text from the player's plan of the area, but that is not too much of a problem. Time to switch to a scale bar, I reckon. I've also just noticed that the trapdoors on the towers are casting shadows so I shall have to move them to a different sheet from the rest of the symbols I used, but overall I am rather pleased with the effect and usefulness for our Labyrinth Lord game. I reckon I am going to get some nicely atmospheric maps out of this package. Yay! Money well spent, and I don't even have to paint it!!

I have produced maps of the interior and the dungeon beneath the castle, but I shall not post those until my players have battled through them, just in case they actually read this blog.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A Map of Northern Karameikos - More Adventures with CC3

Ok, spent a bit of today fiddling with a map for our Labyrinth Lord game. The end result is this map of the area around the town of Threshold (Click for a larger version):

Looking at it displayed on the screen I notice some areas where I need to 'feather' the edges of the woods to give a less blocky feel. I could probably get away with fewer mountains in the mountainous areas too and the glow around the edge of the text needs fettling slightly to make the text more readable. Still, it gives the adventurers a visual aid, and I can fettle the map and add things they discover as I go along. The more I play with CC3, the more I wish I had this sort of technology in the late seventies when I first started playing Basic D&D.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Wargods and CC3 - Version 2

Ok, a couple of instruction videos down the line and I think I am beginning to understand a few more things. Here's the next version of the campaign map. Have I made any progress? I think so. CC3 seems simple enough to get the basics quickly but probably has a lot more subtlety to it that I may well manage to learn later. Hmm, Steve's a CAD wallah. Perhaps I should just point it in his direction and see what he makes of it.

Mapping Aegyptus with Campaign Cartographer 3

I have been considering putting together a Wargods of Aegyptus mini-campaign recently. It would be the first episode in a series that ideally would see the harbingers rise from lowly Ka1 wannabes all the way to Ka10 and possibly one of them becoming Pharaoh or restoring Osiris to the throne. The basic campaign idea is a simple one. The Harbingers must find the clues, which are located at significant named spots. Once all the clues have been found there is a climactic big battle. Each clue will add a bonus to the warband that finds it, so finding lots of clues will give an advantage to the warband that does this. So, I wanted it to be a map campaign and had drawn up a simple grid on paper. Then yesterday I weakened and bought Campaign Cartographer 3, primarily for mapping my Labyrinth Lord campaign but I produced an Aegyptus map first. This is the result, my first warts and all CC3 map using the basic package and no add-ons.

I was very surprised at how easy it was to produce this map. A quick whizz through the basic tutorial followed by a quick run through the CC3 Essentials pdf manual. A trip to the forum yielded a couple of clues about approaches and techniques too, as I read a few posts by first-timers getting their own work checked out, followed by looking up the topics in the main manual. So, that was Sunday afternoon filled up. I then spent an hour knocking this map together in the evening. I've tinkered with the settings a bit more today, in between running errands for my wife, but a small investment of time has yielded a perfectly usable map. It's not brilliant but I am quite pleased with it as a first effort. My next task is to try the same map using a different basic map type and see how that works. The range of icons available in the standard Vector style map is not as great as in the standard bitmap fill map, so let's see what I can do with the latter.

Overall I am very pleased with the basic CC3 package and how easy it is to use. I am not a great digital artist and have only sporadically used CAD packages in the past, so I am not an expert there. I use Photoshop Elements a bit, but this is not the same style of package and I am no great digital artist with PSE either, but I reckon that with a little bit more practice and thought I could be churning out competent maps for my games quite happily using CC3. I also suspect that I shall be spending a small fortune on the add-on packages too once I really get going!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Bwendi Aerospace Navy Gets New Fighters

The Bwendi Bugle
Blowing the Bwendi Trumpet Since 1984 Old Earth Time

Gladcorp is very pleased to announce the development of the new Dendrobates Fast-Strike Interceptor. The Colonel's own Azureus Squadron took delivery of the first of these new fighters and may be seen here testing them above the Bwendi night sky.

Colonel Throckmorton P Gladiolus himself leads this squadron into battle and it is reported that he is very pleased with this new interceptor: "The flight was so smooth that I was able to perform combat manoeuvres while drinking my tea and I did not spill a drop. I can't wait to take a pop at the ADF in this beauty."

Figures: 1:300 Amrep Eagle by Brigade Models