Monday, July 10, 2017

Mind the gap!

Hosting several games of Queztalcoatl Rampant, the Lion Rampant variant Kevin Smyth and I created, got me thinking about how to better enforce the rule that requires all units to maintain a 3" gap between themselves and other units. Players tend to want to mass their troopies as tightly as they can and I found myself many times reminding them of the 3" gap rule.

Back when I was playing DBA and DBM, we all used some form of "Barker marker," a 40mm square marker that we used to ensure that we stayed away from the danger zone that extends out from a unit's front. For DBM, there were template sets you could buy that provided a handy way to stay outside of distances that affected your movement, etc.

I wandered as I pondered and chanced upon a pack of Litko 3" circular bases, at which point the volubly loud exclamation "Aha!" escaped my lips (scaring the cats and alarming the neighbors). Those 3" bases were perfect for templates that players can use to gauge proximity to other units as they move and thus escape the gamemaster's chiding and condemnatory gaze—although it won't correct "conga-line" tactics.

The bases are 3mm thick, so easily picked up by their edges as they lie flat on the table, but I wanted some kind of "handle" that made placing them and picking them up a bit easier. I also wanted to terrain them in some way to harmonize with the bases on the table. For the Elizabethan Irish project, I thought something like an old, weathered Celtic cross slightly askew would look nice—although I have yet to find a suitable 1.5" to 2" high Celtic cross to use [dear readers, suggestions are welcome]. I also thought that for the ECW, something  like a lonely gibbet—with or without the hanging corpse of some malefactor—would be nice. Such can be acquired (e.g., from Irregular Miniatures) but I haven't ordered it yet.

In the interim, I wanted something generic that I could use for any X Rampant style game: Lion Rampant, Dragon Rampant, The Pikeman's Lament, etc. Poking about at Hobby Lobby recently, I came across a packet of 1" wooden drawer pulls. I suppressed another "Aha!," but was quite glad to have found them. They would make the perfect handles for generic templates.

Pulls and bases pre-assembly
I started by roughly determining the center of the 3" base and gluing the pull to it. After the glue dried, I stained the pull using the Minwax Tudor stain that I use for dipping my figures. I didn't let it sit long at all before wiping it, so the stain effect is fairly light.

When the stain dried, I spread some of my beloved Golden Course Pumice Gel medium on the bases as the foundation for terraining them. After the gel dries (I gave it about 48 hours), I trimmed off the excess and glued some model railroad ballast to make rocky bits.

Twin bins of rocky bits
I paint the gel medium and rocky bits with a coat of slightly watered down Vallejo Mud Brown from their airbrush range (which is already a bit thinned). Then I drybrush the lot with Vallejo Yellow Ochre. After that, I drybrush the rocks with a Vallejo Deck Tan and then highlighted with Vallejo Bone White.

Looking muddy
I flocked the bases with patches of Woodland Scenics Earth Blend Blended Turf. I go over the patches with a second application of the blended turf using diluted Mod Podge. The double coating gives a bit more texture to the flocking.

I follow up the turf with an application of Woodland Scenics Coarse Turf. I make a mix of the Light Green and Yellow Grass colors. It breaks up the monochrome affect with the coarse turf the way the blended turf does for the fine turf colors.

When the glue has dried for the coarse turf, I take a small tweezer and pull out the fluffier bits of the coarse turf. I like to trim it down, otherwise it looks a bit much. I really just want it as additional texture and color, so I don't want it overwhelming the surface like kudzu.

Kudzu: The vine that ate Alabama (there's a house under there)
Finally, I added a few Scenic Express flower tufts. The final product turns out quite nice and is usable for any of the Rampant family of rules.

Handy-dandy gap-minder units


  1. Nice idea - and wonderful basing/flocking. Better than my figure bases! :) Yes, I agree about the players wanted to form up their "retinues/warband" in tight linear formations - shez, you'd think they're playing Napoleonics :) Although I really like the mechanics of LR, I find the 3" rule a bit of a chore to retain during game play; that and the large number of dice with multi-player games - tends to clutter up the table.

    1. The "attack columns" are one thing, but the shooting conga line of death defies logic--apart from being legal by the rules.

      My hope is that the templates can help resolve the effort to keep 'em separated. I like fistful o' dice games, but yes, with multiple players, you can have more dice on the table than you have figures.

  2. Creative and wonderful job, details are truly impressive!

  3. That's a really nice idea for the LR family of games, it's cropped up a fair bit in games we've played, now I know I've seen a celtic cross, if I can remember where it is I'll get back to you!
    Best Iain

  4. I remember, warbase do an mdf one, looks nice £2.00
    Best Iain