Tech 4 Frontier Gunfight

March 27, 2011

New, hopefully quick project in the works today. Details and pics to below.

The idea behind the game was that playing Traveller’s Azhanti High Lightning Rules (AHL) as a direct skirmish game would be fun, easy to learn and connect people to the Traveller world at a con.

The concept would be a fast play game playable in under 60 minutes that would allow character and skill based play (Traveller) in a recognizable setting (Wild West) that could be framed in a Traveller milieu (as TL 4) and would be enjoyable as a stand alone or walk up game.

I have a lovely set of 15/18mm Blue Moon Western figs on the painting block and a diminutive set of Peter Pig Western buildings that I picked up on ebay for a song. These will serve as the raw material for the setting.

I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a collection of role play “sets” for Traveller after the model of the movie sets that are often reused and reshot for different cinematic moments. The idea behind this particular set is “dusty frontier spot” which could serve as a backdrop for wild west,  mexican adventure (like the pursuit of Pancho villa), the Northwest frontier, or even Mos Eisley from Star Wars. The only difference being the specific uses would be the structures, figures and flora. The thought that some Firefly play might fit that setting didn’t escape me either.

So the observation is that such a game would have to have a small footprint. I’ve played larger con games on a huge 8’x14′ table and they are very difficult to keep running smoothly since inevitably someone is in the middle of careful decision making and intense combat while someone else is just moving up to join the action. A smaller format keeps the setup, game management and play time down to a minimum and focuses on the narrative action. Much better for role play/wargaming too!

So I bought a 24″ x 24″ board at Home Depot and started off by spraying one face of the board with Krylon Make it Stone! textured paint. I used the Travertine Tan color since it is a dusty tan with flecks of texture and color. The can says that it covers 6 square feet. I was able to get a thick and intentionally uneven coat of my whole board before emptying the can.

Here’s a pic of the board before texturing:

Unfinished Frontier Set

Unfinished Frontier Set

And after the texture paint has been applied:

Textured Frontier Set

Textured Frontier Set

So now the moment of drama…spraying on the square grid.

I took my handy Litko 1/2″ grid template and set to work. The template itself has a spray area slightly smaller than its full two foot size. After experimenting with fitting it in different configurations, I decided to fix the middle of the template down the middle line of the board. This configuration required me to spray the template three times: once down the middle and once on each side.

The first spray went well. I used Model master Sandgelb as the grid color since it seemed to stand out well enough without contrasting too sharply with the textured paint. Lining up for the second spray was a little fiddly and required a bright light and glasses to get everything set. After pulling of the templates and masks, I was happy to see a nice transition. The set of squares that I used for the template overlap came out distinctly darker which was an imperfection but a tolerable one.

I set out to line up everything on the other side taping down the templates and mask carefully to make sure I had a good alignment.

The Sandgelb paint, which I had not used before, was quite thick in the jar. My normal acrylic airbrushing mix of about 3:1 paint to thinner was not going to work so I went down to a soupier 1:1 consistency. This thinner mix sprayed a nice light tone on the set, but it also ran through the airbrush faster. Right before finishing the bottom corner of the final template spray, I ran out of paint and had to mix a new batch.

I pulled up the corner of the template to see what if any paint had gotten on the set before the brush ran dry. Definitely another mix was required. Apparently though, when I pulled the corner up, I also pulled the template slightly out of alignment. When I finished the spray and removed the template, I found that the overlap squares had become out of alignment and had a weird double exposure kind of effect. Very disappointing.

Here’s the outcome:

Frontier Set for AHL after removing spray templates

Frontier Set for AHL after removing spray templates

Some quick thinking was required to address the problem. I decided to use some 1/4″ GHQ Terrain maker tiles to shape a rock outcrop to position over the boo-boo.

Here the final result of the set:

"Dusty Frontier Spot" Set for AHL

"Dusty Frontier Spot" Set for AHL

Next step: painting the western buildings…

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