[minis+] [excercise] I want a world playset collection like...

edited April 2012 in Story Games
Ok, I haven't posted a new minis+ thread in a while now. I thought for this one, we could do kind of a group excercise.

For this one, I want you to think about what kind of minis world/playset collection you'd like to put together, to form the physical part of a game.

Very often the costs associated with minis use can be intimidating. So can the thought of building/painting stuf, or even just trying to find the right kind of stuff to use in the first place.

After all, outside of the stuff you find on the shelves of the FLGS, very often you'll have to go searching for the right kind of thing for you and your interests.

This thread is for interested parties to post about a kind of world playset they'd put together if they could.

What do I mean by "world playset"? Just really the cllection of mini people and critters and the toy landscape and vehicles. You'll want a general idea of general use stuff, stuff that can be re-used but also re-arranged and recombined. You don't necessarily want super specific to start with.

What I want you to do is go ahead and post something, give a quick description, and maybe a couple of adventure ideas or vignettes/snippets of action or interaction. Then the other thread participants will help track down links and give suggestions on how you might do something like that with resources they already know about, or give suggestions on related stuff you might not know a lot about that would help you build that kind of thing.

I will ask that no one participating go out of their way to break the spirit of the discussion. Please nothing that goes wildly, wildly out of reasonable human working budgets. No gold plated figures from a zar's tomb or something. Also, let's be reasonable with some of the initial suggestions of world playsets and collection concepts, shooting for stuff that we know could reasonably exist before we get real out there and super-weird.

If you don't have a particular set in mind, I'll give a starter excercise. A while back, Sam! was asking about a John Carter-ish setting. Take that one and run with it folks. What would he want/need to start off that kind of world playset for an JC inspired game setting?


  • edited April 2012
    I'm building an Iraq war tabletop/mini hybrid thing called Task Force Roach. I bought three boxes of minis (that's 120 figures from Caesar - "modern urban resisters", "modern US forces" and "Modern US Special Operations forces") and a pre-built Bradley model from Dragon. I got them from the Michigan Toy Soldier Shop which is a little bit shit unfortunately.

    I am in the process of making an Iraqi village out of spray-painted scrap lumber with windows, doors and signs modge-podged to it, and it looks OK so far. It's a lot of work but it's modular and looks cool.

    I have some Roach-worthy creepy crawlies from the dollar store and my desk drawer.
  • If you were to expand that further Jason, what would your next direction be. I now TF Roach talks a little bit about some not-directly-in-combat stuff, like interviewing civvies...
  • edited May 2012
    I don't know, really, my initial vision was mostly miniatures-related, because I want to see what emerges if I overlay a compelling story atop nerdy tactical play. I think i showed you my rules; it's all very doctrinal.


  • World playset... It all depends on what kind of stories you are interested in.

    I could see Jason's TF Roach as having a lot of interest with civilians if he wanted to take it that way. In fact the civilians are the most important in a counter-insurgency campaign cos they are the prize.

    In 15mm (Which I like for tactical games - it gives the big event feels without taking up a lot of space) I have a bunch of generic civilians. I could really do with some characters to add to this. I have various news reporters/TV camera men etc but some fem fatals, Peter Lorries, Sam Sapde types would do well. They bring in the intrigue and romance elements. When it is just combatants - well - all they do is shoot one another. BORING!

    A lot of my figures are Middle Eastern types. They bring an air of exotic to the table and work well in Sci Fi games. I see a lot more potential in SF for stories than modern because you can do anything with them. Star Trek guys encounter every kind of people.
  • That's a nifty pic Jason. Very much in line with the kinds of playset physical materials old HG Wells was using with his boys and adult pals.

    Even without getting into non-mililtary small unti action stuff, what about just plain stuff you might add for landscapes? River beds, hills, maybe some sort of farm or orchard type stuff?

    One thing I did see that might really work well for you with that scale of minis is an article about using wood chips like people scatter around their bushes on their lawns to make some really dramatic looking, rocky hills. I'll see if I can find it. IIRC, it's a pretty easy project and cheap too. Combine it with some concepts about making not-to-scale-but functional mountains from the old Major General Tremorden site, and you could have some really nifty country side for long scary patrolling.

    BTW, Have you seen The Beast of War (1988)? It might be translatable to a more modern situation that you can use for scenario ideas, while still staying focussed on military actions.

    I know you've said that you have severa different collections that are essentially world collections. I also know you're an old veteran minis gamer, so there's probably some decent overlap between them ( rocky sandy colored hills could bepart of Sudan, Afghanistan, The Old West, John Carter's Mars, Tattoine, or withe a bit of foliage on top, even a piratestory island, for example).

    As just part of this excersise, could you name off a themed playset that uses a bunch of stuff you already have, and tell us why it went all together in your mind?

    You mentioned a more SciFi type setting in passing. Maybe use that for an example idea. Something maybe Traveller-ish or Firefly-ish, where it's SF, but there's still a lot of call backs to near past type clothing and so on ( mostly so you don't need to rebuy eveything). Just tell us what you'd absolutely want to use, what you think you'd want on hand for flexibility ( especially playing a secon or third game in the setting), and what you don't have but you'd want to add to that collection, assuming you had some time and money to do so.
  • edited May 2012
    Also, not on topic, but I thought maybe someone would like to see these newSteampunk paper tank models. Maybe those would act as inspiration for a playset collection for someone for this excersise?

    Those woodchip hills I mentioned. I've actually met this guy, and he does great stuff. His photosof the project might make the whole thing a bit more intimidating than it actually is though.
  • That woodchip diorama is amazing. I'm not going to do anything like that but it is impressive.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarThat woodchip diorama is amazing. I'm not going to do anything like that but it is impressive.
    Having seen that guy's stuff IRL, I was blown away. I tend to do a bit simpler stuff myself, but it's a cool concept, even if one does it on a smaller or simpler level.
  • With the bark bits it helps to give it a quick painting of Durhams Water Putty. It is used to fill in cracks in floors. It dries rock hard (that's what the can says and they don' lie). It doesn't shrink when drying. A think coat will add a lot of strength to the piece.

    Oh! One thing about terrain bits. They are bulkie as all get out. Build a few generic ones and used them again and again. They are a lot easier to make than to live with.

    Humm... Thinking of a play set...

    With the 15mm sets I tend to buy whole forces at a time or collect interesting looking buildings or vehicles. So I have space marines, Star Wars like storm troopers, a could of spacefaring aliens, "Alien" movie aliens, greys, zombies, civilians (I'll reuse my stock set), and even modern soldiers if need be. Typically I want to field 20 to 40 stands of guys. For civilian and Horse and Musket era or before I put two figs per stand (I will certainly do this with zombies) for modern and future troops I put one figure per stand. So I'm looking at 40 or so figures (two or three blister packs). Buying a whole force costs around $100 so it isn't cheap but they will last a lifetime.

    I like movies like "Ghosts of Mars" "Aliens" and "Star Ship Troopers" for scenarios (Do you want to know more?) Rather than Firefly or Star Wars. I also love the vibe of 1950's Sci Fi. Frequently I come up with scenarios off the cuff just before a con. It grows out of the figures an terrain I have on hand rather than the other way around. So if I see a cool type of figure I buy them. I still haven't painted the zombies or grey aliens but I know I will and when I do I'll use them.

    I feel all pontificating here. Kind of fun but silly really. Just gather up a bunch of compatible toys, put them on a table with simple terrain, and start making up what happens. That's what we did as kids and I think that's what I do now (just with a few rules.)
  • edited May 2012

    Just browse. Even if Gothic Grimdark In Which There Is Only War isn't your thing, the modelling is still fantastic.

    (My tabletop, to be constructed over this summer, is going to be semi-arid, and as there's lots of Mideast/Indian civvie figs available (Eureka and others), those will by my indigenous types. The nice thing about the 40K setting is that I can justify almost any kind of period dress and equipment, and mashups thereof.)
  • Jason, et al., you all might want to check out these rules. They're good and crunchy and typical modern skirmish-y, but wait until you get to the stuff at the end...
  • Breaking News is super interesting! Way more complex than what I want but I love the rules for embedded journalists - that's going into my game for sure.
  • edited May 2012
    I built some minarets for a game set in Nephren-Ka, this big old desert full of monsters and whatnot. Might be cool for a TFR-type game set in the Middle East.

    Started with a spool, a metal water bottle, some little circular wooden bits that I got at the craft store for a dollar, and a couple shiny xmas ornaments.


    Here, I glued some other bits out of my odds-and-ends box onto a glass jar (which I think may be the bulb case from a ceiling fan or something).


    You glue 'em together with a hot glue gun, spray 'em silver or gold, add some shiny plastic peel-and-stick gems, and voila:


    Also, the palm trees came from AC Moore (don't forget your 40% off coupon from their web site, which is often honored at competing stores like Joann Fabrics and Michael's).

  • Your stuff is so lo-fi and cool Rafael!
  • Thanks, hombre. I try to keep it simple, because ultimately, I use every single one of these mini playsets exactly once, and then it goes into the garage, so I can use it again "someday" (as in, never). So there's no percentage in spending too much time on it. Keep it quick and dirty, like one of those feral sewer rabbits.
  • Say, komradebob, I could use some help. Here's what I'm looking at:

    Sci-fi setting. Dystopian cyberpunk BAMA-Sprawl city. Shadowrun-kinda heroes, hacking and stealing and scamming and being cynical futuristic cyborgs and whatnot. Mission type: data raid -- not necessarly in Cyberspace, maybe an actual meatspace heist.

    So how could I build something like that on the cheap? Any ideas?

    NOTE: If I were to go into cyberspace, then I'd hit some thrift stores, buy some real cheap computers, and rip out the motherboards and sound cards and use those as terrain. And then they can warp in and out of it. But the city... that's where I'm stumped.
  • edited May 2012
    Rafael, look into printable paper terrain. You can either build them as paper models, or stick them onto boxes of the appropriate size. Also, I'm stealing your minaret idea, that's fantastic. And those Wolfen...how could I have forgotten about them?

    Jason, glad you liked Breaking News. The media rules and victory/defeat point accounting are excellent.
  • Noah, that's a good idea, but I tried papercraft, and we kept spilling our beer on the terrain. So now I'm looking for sturdier stuff. Wood, metal, and so on.

    I've kind of been looking at linoleum tile with a nice 1.5" square pattern. Pre-delineated spaces.
  • I know a number of people who go the linoleum route and speak really highly of it.

    I think your playset looks great. I tend to stick to some pretty basic stuff myself, just for cost reasons. If I eventually end up with a group of folks doing more minis oriented stuff that isn't motly me, I'll slow down and do some more intricate stuff, but for now that quick-cheap approach works.

    I use a lot of paper terrain myself and yeah, spills and crushes are a problem but not too bad of one.

    For futuristic cities ( or really a lot of fantasy terrain) I tend to go for the old styrofoam pacakaging from electronics and modify it. I'd say make friends with your stock clerks at the local department store tv/radio department or just hit up your pals. A dark cyberpunk type city could be built with that kind of thing mostly, but stick with "lunar" range colors and only small bits of "solar" colors for detailing and weird lights. If you spend money for any terrain stuff, think about those hexagon building sets that you find on a few differet minis sites ( they look very industrial/necromunda-ish).

    Other things? Hmm. HIt the discount store or thrift stor for cheap plastic shelving units and cut and re-arrange them to make akind of multi platform city space, then hit them all with Krylon spray paints with the for-plastics formulas, again in Lunar color ranges.

    Also, I really like the gutted computer terrain concept. I'd love to see you run with that and kinda make up a cyber dungeon for netruns. That would be cool as hell. You could put all kinds of weird day-glo objects in there as various security and traps.

    Minis wise, Cooplestone if you have the money. If not, hit megaminis, or actually look for old unopened Shadowrun minis on e-bay. I tend to see a number of them come up at close to original price. Apparently there are lots around gathering dust in obscure FLGs. You might also look at the EM 4 futuristic minis for ideas.
  • edited May 2012
    For other cyberpunk minis, check Rezolution, Sedition Wars, and Antenociti's Workshop.

    I'm looking at the linoleum squares, glued back-to-back. I've heard other good things about those, that they don't warp under paint, and the edges match up well - I can't mess up the cutting!
  • edited May 2012
    If you spray paint styrofoam it turns into coral. Which is awesome if you need some coral. Maybe black for some alien assimilated corruption type structures? You could do half a building and paint the other half with black poster paint. Do this out of doors.

    Rafael - if you want to be the boss of future town you need some LEDs and button batteries. I can hook you up.

    Search Amazon for Lithium 3V CR2032 for batteries and 10mm LED bulb for lights.
  • Rafael

    First off - Cool minarets. The beauty of Islamic archetecture is that you can do it any way you like. They can be balistic missles (like your's) or squat towers barely above the roof.

    I have some ideas on how to make a futuristic city. Computer and other equipment styrofoam packing stuffers. These premade styrofoam pieces come in interesting and futuristic shapes. We already associate them with technology (they house our toys after all). You can pretty cleanly cut them up with a box cutter or a reciprocating knife (I prefer the box cutter myself). Slap some paint on them and place them on a table cloth and you have a city. If you want to get fancy you can glue them to boards so they won't fall over but this is not necessary.

    BAMO! You have a cyber city on the cheap.

    But adding the LEDs would make it totally pop!

    Oh, don't use spray paint on styrofoam - it melts it. You might use that to make a special effect though - a melted building...

    Chris Engle
  • The best bet for styro is the cheapest house acrylic you can find, and about a two inch wide synthetic brush, the one piece wedge type oneseant for cutting work along ceilings.
  • We playtested Task Force Roach tonight and I thought it went swimmingly. It would be better with some civilians and especially some embedded reporters. The two sides play very different and it is fascinating - the Marines have to be methodical and care for their wounded and work as fireteams and the insurgents have complete freedom of movement and deadly indirect fires. My city is a good size, not too small but not overwhelming, and it packs down into a milk crate.
  • edited May 2012
    Jason, I strongly suggest you look into Force on Force.. It started off as exactly that, Regulars vs. Irregulars, and did it better than anything else I'd ever played. Its basic rules are very simple, and everything stacks on those nicely. Okay, reactions can get a bit messy, but they walk you through them. A half-dozen units moving about with gunfire everywhere is...messy. The writers (Osprey publishes it, Ambush Alley Games wrote it) are very helpful and there's a growing community. Their scifi version, Tomorrow's War, is rapidly becoming the go-to for the exploding 15mm scifi market (and people tired of 40K). Breaking News' embedded journalists and painful victory conditions would adapt rather well.

    Then again, I'm curious to see what you've come up with - is TF Roach something you've written, or...?

    (Also, your post reminded me of the best console shooter ever, Full Spectrum Warrior. You've got two fireteams of 4, there are insurgents running around everywhere. If you're out in the open, you're almost always dead. In cover, alive...mostly. If one of your men was injured, you had to take him back to the aid station, where he might recover, be taken out and replaced, or taken out and not replaced...and now you're down a man. If one of your men died, the mission was over. Brutal game. I loved it.)
  • edited May 2012
    More or less finished:


    I painted roofs, added a souq with little shops and some industrial stuff and a few more second-level blocks with just windows for dimensionality. Where that circle is, Rafael is building a statue and garden type deal. I got some carpet samples that look like lentil and millet fields. Built some roof bits - AC units and stuff, cover, and also a bunch of billboards. Built three wrecked buildings with damaged interiors, to swap out after artillery fire missions or airstrikes. Scratch-built an RQ-7 UAV. It's about 24 ft2!
  • Jason:
    I'd love to see what you'd come up with if you built a parallel game, with the camera focus from the other side of things.

    I think I've seen, um, one minis game ever, that was from the POV of the irregulars trying to take on the big guys invading/securing the place.
  • You've seen my rules; you can play either side and both can kick some ass. But really the insurgents are OPFOR and I think playing them won't be quite as interesting as written. All their strategic choices get made up front while the coalition guys get to adapt and improvise and introduce new units (and JDAMs).

    One thing I'm considering - I'm running this at nerdly, and i wonder if my town can be repurposed as the map for a game of Archipelago. That's the way to play the Iraqi side, I think.
  • edited May 2012
    You might look for some HO model railroad people for the civvies. Prepainted ones are terrible and expensive, but unpainted ones are pretty cool and depending on the set can be pretty flexible in terms of where/when they represent the locals.

    Watch out for Preiser though. They consider HO to be 1/87 rather than 1/72, which makes the people very tiny compared to the soldiery you're using. I bought a bunch for an Occupied France game I was looking at putting together, and was saddened when I realized the scale difference.

    I'd be greatly interested inthe results of the Archipelago experiment.
  • edited May 2012
    "Over there is Preiser Sur Mere, a village of midgets. Do not enter at night, mon frere, it is not done."
  • What would be crazy for TFR is if one player controlled the embedded reporters. Goal: get within X inches/cm of a firefight, so that you can 'take pictures'. But don't get killed! Bonus points for snaps of a thirty-foot scorpion.
  • To be pedantic (and since I'm a long time model railroader who cares about these things):
    Posted By: komradebobWatch out for Preiser though. They consider HO to be 1/87 rather than 1/72
    HO scale IS 1/87...

    OO scale is 1/76

    1/72 has always been a "close enough" convenient modeling scale.

  • Rafael: Escorting an embed is one of the potential missions for the coalition player, but I see now that the embed must be controlled by the insurgent player.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: ffilzTo be pedantic (and since I'm a long time model railroader who cares about these things):

    Posted By: komradebobWatch out for Preiser though. They consider HO to be 1/87 rather than 1/72
    HO scale IS 1/87...

    OO scale is 1/76

    1/72 has always been a "close enough" convenient modeling scale.


    Why can't you model RRers talk in #mm scale like normal people !?!? [j/k]

    The good-enough issue comesup with gaming minis all the time too, of course. A 25mm scale mini from 1985 and one from 2012 can be vastly vastly different. If you go even earlier, 25mm scale minis often match up pretty well with 1/72s, which makes them really bitty compared to more recent 25mms ( not even counting "heroic" portioned 25mm and 28mm minis).
  • Model railroaders fo actually talk in mm... but not the way you're thinking. Technically, OO scale is technically defined as 4 mm = 1 foot (yea like wow, let's mix metric and imperial...). HO is 3.5 mm = 1 foot.

    The trouble with mini's mm scale is that it isn't a scale... So manufacturers can decide for themselves what 25mm measures....

    Though model railroad manufacturers have been known to fudge scale also...

  • Posted By: ffilzThough model railroad manufacturers have been known to fudge scale also...
    Actually, I'm really glad you're in this discussion, because I want to eventually talk about some of the techniques Model RRers use for representing a whole bunch more space on a layout, and do it a bit differently from what folks might think of when they think of RPG/Minis wargaming representations ( which tend to be thought of in very exact terms).

    For example, maybe yoi could talk about how model RRers can represent a very large countryside space, with areas (in scale locally on a layout) representing say a town or built p area, have another area representing maybe a stock yard, another a mountainous region and so on, while fitting it all on a large single table.

    I don't have the exact lingo down for your other hobby, so I'll have to ask your patience. I'm mostly trying to ask about how simplification is used to bring that altogether, and if there are some guiding philosophies/methods to it that could be translated over.
  • Model railroaders have a term "selective compression." A big use of that, say you have an industrial building with 20 loading bays. Such a building in HO might fill your whole 4'x8' table. So you build a model that resembles the real building but only has 2 or 3 or maybe even 4 loading bays. Model railroaders will also model a town by modeling the most important industries (since they are important to the "operation") and then some number of other buildings that help set the tone.

    So in this mindset, if you want to have a minis game covering a countryside with several towns, model each town with 1-5 buildings, picking representative structures that help define that town.

    Another technique that model railroaders use is separating the layout into scenes with some kind of scenic barrier. That could also be used in a minis game, you would just pick some appropriate barrier. Model railroaders preferably use room walls, or if that's impractical, use a vertical panel, and if that's impractical, use a hill or some such. Then you define the conditions to move between scenes including the possibility of some number of turns "off screen" to represent longer travel time (which model railroaders will do also, if they have a long tunnel between scenes, they might hold a train in the tunnel for some defined time).

    Yet another technique that model railroaders will use to make the scene look larger is to place smaller scale structures in the background to create forced perspective. There are probably some ways to use that technique, but it's less useful since in a minis game you want all the play space to be playable. Model railroaders are willing to sacrifice some of their scene space to have non-functional (stuff thats not track or buildings being serviced by the trains) scenery to help set the scene.

  • edited May 2012
    I suspect that some form of, what do you guys call em? "Flats" or some sort of shallow depth buildings might have some use too. There's a paper/pdf model maker named stoelzels that has recently added the option for their 20th century city kit for facade + limited internal space structures that are kinda-sorta along those lines for 25/28mm gaming.

    For myself, tree clumpsor lichen areas often form a similar barrier between areas, especially for the transylvania collection or general fantasy gaming collections.

    There was also an old site for Victorian era minis gaming that had some great suggestions in this kind of vein, too.

    For adding mountains on a table at a scale that fits they had this:

    And for dealing with large vehicles, like ships that you want to use, but wold be too large to be practical, they had these suggestions:
  • Oh, yes, 2d "flats" or very shallow buildings and terrain can be helpful also.

  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: komradebobJason:
    I'd love to see what you'd come up with if you built a parallel game, with the camera focus from the other side of things.

    I think I've seen, um, one minis game ever, that was from the POV of the irregulars trying to take on the big guys invading/securing the place.
    ETA: Which game was that?

    Also, check out Ambush Alley's Force on Force rules. The asymmetrical engagements are interesting, and fun. Both sides have random events, and relatively balanced but different capabilities.
  • Posted By: Noah DPosted By: komradebobJason:
    I'd love to see what you'd come up with if you built a parallel game, with the camera focus from the other side of things.

    I think I've seen, um, one minis game ever, that was from the POV of the irregulars trying to take on the big guys invading/securing the place.
    ETA: Which game was that?

    Also, check out Ambush Alley's Force on Force rules. The asymmetrical engagements are interesting, and fun. Both sides have random events, and relatively balanced but different capabilities.

    It was a self-published game by a guy named Leo Cronin set during the Tan War.
  • Hi

    in terms of land/scene compression one trick used by wargamers is to use smaller scale terrain with the miniatures eg 6mm buildings with 15mm troops. This allows more scope for modelling larger areas since most battle (as opposed to skirmish) wargames use man:figure ratios in order to conserve space and painting time. Even if you are using 1:1 (skirmish) rules it can work as it makes the figures the focus of the action and terrain somewhat fade into the background. Tastes differ of course.

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