Monday, March 27, 2017

Bushido: Version 2 Lit Pagoda or, Kung Flu Hustle

Here’s some notes on my latest Bushido pagoda terrain build using aquarium pieces. Sorry for the delay on this, you might say I was ill. You might also say I had food-fever, eye chills, skin failure, gravity allergies and corpse throat.

2 Christmas’s ago I made two lit pagodas from aquarium pieces that I gave as gifts to my friends. I learned a lot from that build and made notes on things to do better next time, should there be a next time. Next time was last month, where I finally made one for my own Bushido table. You can see the first assembly notes here.

What was different this time with this build, a Version 2 pagoda, if you will? Well, after working and playing on the original Version 1 pagodas I noticed a few things that I could change for Version 2:

1.       You could add more playability The inside of the Version 1 pagodas was not as playable as I would like for all models.  A small based model would fit fine but multiple models won’t and medium-to-large based models are right out, especially in Bushido, since models can’t easily be placed inside the pagoda to begin with, mostly due to the circular curves of the entrances. This raises the point of having that weirdness where only one model can be placed. World-ending feature? No way, but that piece all lit up screams for more models under the light. Most miniature games run into this physicality stuff so players usually keep blank bases handy for this and that would be fine but I figured I could make it so that more than one model could be placed inside for the truly epic looking last stand moments ala Avengers: Age of Ultron, minus the pouting giga-heroes, weird Godzilla spouses-come-Miracle siblings and Robert California Terminator. Cuts at the entrances were made with a Xacto Razer saw so columns were straight and flush and that was all that was needed for multiple models and various base sizes to fit. It did lose some of the cool style though.  We are gamers, we can take trade-offs, sumus qui sumus. With these cuts, assume the resin on these aquarium pieces are made from unholy poison, so the dust is best kept outside of your lungs and eyes: wear a respirator, cut and trim/clean pieces outside, and wash your face and hands afterwards.

2.       Different runs of product will vary greatly: The resin was really brittle this time. Wow, I was really surprised that with the first two pieces from before that the resin was stronger, a daunting realization when one cuts away a lot more resin in Version 2. It looks to me that these pieces are blow molded in a way that allows for variation in thickness between castings, which affects the strength. Not much you can do after you buy it so keep it in mind when you shop. Thicker is better.

3.       Line of sight: gotta break it up more than before and with that, make it more sexy and scenic. A Version 2 pagoda was a chance to do more scenic stuff, namely, elevation and LOS blocking. Usually more art means less playable space in a game the better looking scenery gets so I tried to strike a balance; this is the most fun part to me, laying out raw, unfinished elements of the build, like the wood chips for rocks and playing around with figures on the mock ups to dial in stability and aesthetics. The Version 1 pagodas are great for a lot of Bushido missions where you may put an objective like an idol under the lamp in the center of the pagoda but the open space around the pagoda, while very flat and playable (you can always add scatter scenery to it) seems like a lost opportunity now. Since my Version 2 pagoda was supposed to be in the heart of the rain forest I made it a bit more rugged and old, but maintained looking. I used a new Gorilla Glue silicone adhesive to glue down the pagoda, after new cuts and same finishing as Version 1, and boy did it work great. Long tool time, quick grab and void-filling. It was forgiving to be able to lay out large masses of adhesive, have it grab the wood nuggets and let me slide, shove and stack them until they looked organic and best, playable for miniatures (given I had made a dry run before hand.) The adhesive did not shrink or crack which is a plus as well. After an overnight, the adhesive was dried and I finished with finger-tooled caulk.

4.       Painting and finishing: Pretty straightforward, I used Army Painter spray and colors to match this to the Plast Craft building I made before, using the same colors. I did add a small spring and pond, using MIG mud on the bottom, silicone caulk to hold some random plastic grass fronds I had in bits, and then Envirotex resin for water. I made a mix of scenic tufts, flocking and scatter leaves compliments the watercolor-like finish I applied to it.

5.       Tea lights: Version 1 pagodas have LED tealights, which look great in yellow. For Version 2 I added a flicker LED light I got on Christmas clearance this year and it looks much better than the always-on LED. The flicker adds a ton of character and is mounted with magnet, just like version 1 pagodas. The only modification I needed to make with the new tealights was to remove their casing since the white plastic covering the light was really big and dimmed the light through the white plastic case too much.

So there you have it! Version 2 pagoda all done. Expect to see it featured in an upcoming Bushido battle report.

Construction pics below.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bushido: Homemade Tokens

Ah, the dearth of tokens for this game is enough to drive one crazy. Yes, the (free) rules supply a token sheet and they are decent enough to get started, if not long-lasting, but a secret love in a gamer’s life is the damned peripherals. 

At very least, this game needs tokens very badly, where others you might skid by honestly without.

Colorized by Todd Allen Smith

So, time to get crafty and make some tokens my self. These sets I produced aren’t really all that ambitious at about an hour of staining and dry-down overnight, then another evening of sitting to punch, sort and glue the paper to the stained wood tokens. 

The only real experimentation time involved in this was some playing around with paper punch sizes and happening by my friend Todd who could color the PDF token sheet, after which I sourced the rest of the materials. 

I cut a good corner on the token production side by continuing to use coins I already had as Ki tokens, which:

A. Looks and sounds badass when you use them. 
B. Alleviates the need to make a ton of Ki tokens. 
C. Confuses Silvermoon Syndicate players who feel left out when they watch you using gold coins, as they bloody well should. Filthy animal keepers and carnies, the lot of them.

After reading more this week on releases and rules, I noticed the token sheet I used is missing Bleed and Ki Block. I fixed Ki block by taking the token for Ki and just drawing a slash across them, then gluing as normal. Bleed I will probably just make some blank paper tokens and add a bloody fingerprint. 

So, the method was simple. Stain the 1"wood tokens (sourced by Amazon.) I use water based stain so I could just use my hands. I dipped the token in stain, wiped off excess with paper towel. 

I put the tokens on wax paper and let dry, flipping them after 30 minutes of dry time to allow both sides to air dry overnight.

After staining, I punched the tokens out by printing 2 sheets of the PDF at 100% and using a .75 inch punch. I then sorted them out in pairs. I wanted all tokens to be double-sided, so, two sides to Prone, Run and so forth, except for the Tired and Exhausted tokens, as well as the Fire and Poison counters. 

So after punching, ahead of gluing, I sorted 1 tired and 1 exhausted together in 11 pairs. I then sorted Fire 1 with Poison 1, Fire 2 with Poison 2, etc. The logic here is shared by myself and my buddy Pete, where we like oneTired/Exhausted token for each model (just flip it as you go from Tired to Exhausted) and in making the Fire and Poison tokens together, it lends to cleaner play with less errors in how Poison tokens reduces down as models take hits, same for when Fire functions in a game.

Sorting ready, tokens dried, I used a fat round brush to coat the token with matte Mod Podge, added the paper token, smoothed and then topcoated right away with matte Mod Podge. Set aside, let dry. Once the first sides are all the way done you can go right back to the earliest ones you did in that sitting and repeat the gluing and top coating same as before, with the previously sorted paper token. The devil is in the sorting, so take your time. 

So that's it! Pretty simple save for the sorting. I do wish I was able to make these smaller but for the price they were fine and match the other peripherals I've built really well.