Monday, October 24, 2016

My workbench: Assembling this Plastcraft "terrain" is a bit tricky but it pays off..

A while ago, I bought this cheap Plastcraft terrain, which is made of colourized foamboard of some type.

I decided to assemble it tonight after coming home from work. 

This is my first foamboard terrain, and I was a bit surprised when I opened up this kit to see that there were no instructions.

Seriously, no instructions? One has to go to their website to get them.

Anyways, I tried my best to follow them, but they seemed at times obscure.

Slowly but surely I started to build it..

Where it got messy for me was the back shed and the lean-to in front..

I seem to have been missing a piece in the back to complete the shed..

Undaunted, I just glued on some parts to hide the slots, and it seems to have worked. I used the corrugated roof for the side shed floor..

When I tried to build the front part of the shed, some of my foam snapped in two, so I improvised, making it look even more ramshackle than in the picture.. which turned out fine..

The gas pumps were okay, though I might have to dirty up the gray part..

All in all this took me 30-45 minutes.. Not bad. I just might get some more of this foamboard terrain.. though I caution everyone, its a bit fragile.


I painted some white in a splotchy fashion on the sign.. Looks fine to me..

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My workbench: Mantic's 20th Century Brick City modular block ruins sure are fiddly but worth it.

Continuing on with my crash work on building up some post-apoc terrain, I got Mantic's brick city ruins.

I opened up the kit and found no decals and no instructions..

However, it's soon easy enough to piece together as there 3 types of fasteners, a long piece, and corner piece and a small horizontal piece..

I was worried that I was going to run out of the small horizontal ones at first, but when I started to use the large horizontal ones more and more, I had enough, though I couldn't do every single connection, just the important ones. 

The pieces are very modular and you can build anything you want.. whole buildings or just walls.. and is fully scalable...  There are two sides, one brick, and the other plain or what I assume was a concrete side.. I did all but one in brick..

I found it best at first to lay out what I wanted before gluing things together..

The hard part in the beginning I found was assembling the buildings.. I found things kept popping out at first, and for my first building, I had to use green stuff on the unseen inside of the building to keep the walls intact..

However, I soon figured out if you do the corners first, it all locks into place easy after that..

The only tricky part really is fastening the ceiling on complete buildings.. takes some patience, but it should not be a problem for veteran modelers.

Once it is complete, buildings are pretty steady and very solid.. 

Walls are even easier to make..

Before you know it, you got yourself a city block..Very fiddly at first, but the end result is not bad..

Painting was done quickly...

I found my brick colour was too bright and "happy" for post-apoc, so I dirtied it up a bit, though I may have overdone it. It's still fine.

On the flipside of the walls..

As I said, I did all but one in brick. The concrete one had me remember I bought this fast food lip balm a while back for just such an eventuality. I had a kitbashing idea.. 

I drilled a hole on the bottom burger and pinned it to plastic to stick it on the concrete building after drilling a hole in it. My plan was to turn it into a fast food joint from the old pre-apoc days.. I stuck the fries on the front part of the building.. 

I also had some plasticard and foam letter stickers, so I made a sign.. I was trying to decide what to call my little restaurant and finally settled on "Burger Hut"..

It all came together nicely..

Please feel free to vote on this at Coolmini, with 1 the lowest, 10 the highest and 5 good enough for tabletop play, here.

The kit comes with a whole pile of street furniture (stop signs, telephones, mailboxes, etc), but I'll paint them another time..

Good kit, Mantic.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Star Trek Ascendancy is an enjoyable 4X romp in an old beloved universe..

I sat down with my friends Jim and CB to play Gale Force 9's Star Trek: Ascendancy today..

Jim and I grew up with the original Star Trek, and we've been fans for at least 40 years, so getting this game is a no-brainer. Jim bought a copy, and after today's play, I might get one myself. Much like Star Wars: Rebellion, this game has great mechanics and a theme I love.

The object of the game is to be the first to collect 5 Ascendancy points, achieved through collecting cultural points, which can be done in several ways.

The game has all the 4X trappings, fleets, resource management, a map to explore..

There is no board but planetary as well as space lane / corridor tiles that can be played on a mat. I started off on Romulus, with Jim on Earth and CB on Klinzhai (or whatever the Next Generation name for the Klingon home world is nowadays).

The space corridor lane mechanism allows you to shift the position of planets being explored up until two corridors are touching it, locking it in place afterward. It's a great little mechanism that allows the map to change a bit as we are all exploring the galaxy.

The galaxy starts new and explored, but soon, it is teeming with discoveries as planets are discovered.. This is very much keeping with the exploration theme of Star Trek, as opposed to kill-the-enemy incentives seen in some 4X games.

We started off fresh as the morning dew, but them space lanes started to pile up..

The best part are the event cards that are really nods to episodes from the TV shows, including thankfully from my beloved TOS show.. Star Trek fans will love this aspect especially.

Every time I discovered a new planet, there was some adventure..

Some examples:

Encountering diseases..

Meeting primitive people (and then conquering them)..

Encounter at Farpoint

Xeno-archaeology goodies..

Virgin planets to be annexed..

The Horta

Apollo the "God"

etc, etc.

There were way more encounter cards in the game than planets, so we only scratched the surface of possible encounters. I think this really adds to the replayability of the game in the future.

The game emphasizes exploration as I said, and the three of us were curling our space lanes back into each other to avoid contact with the other early in the game, to allow gathering some resources and prevent attack.

The game has a trade deal mechanism, like you see in the TV shows, but there is always the spectre of war in the game. It's on the horizon and once all the space lanes are mapped out, an enemy using warp can be on your doorstep before you know it.

I was suspicious of Jim from the beginning. He seemed to be headed in my direction at first..

then curled away until we inevitably connected space corridors in the middle.

Then boom, boom, boom, Jim invades me, taking one planet and besieging another of mine..

I heroically rallied and attacked with a quickly built-up fleet of 13 ships (4 in Fleet # 2 and 9 in Fleet # 3)..

I beat Jim back two planets before the game was drawing to a close..

I got 5 Ascendancy points, but so did Jim. In case of a tie, it is the player with the most worlds. I had 8, Jim had 9.. CB only had 3 points.

A close game indeed..

As I said, I enjoyed the simple mechanisms and the theme especially, and will likely pick up the game myself. Lots of variety and ways to go.

Thumbs up!