Home Forums General General Old West skirmish as a minor project?

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  • #118914
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    I’ve caught the Old West bug. I blame Red Dead Redemption 2. It also doesn’t help that companies like North Star (including Crusader and Artizan) and Foundry make excellent 28mm figures for the setting.

    I’ve just now ordered some of those figures, but in so doing I also need to reaffirm to myself that this is only ever going to be a peripheral project. Maybe 20 figures in all (from which I can constellate variable gangs, posses, motley crews and incidental alliances as I see fit) and 1-2 buildings. The rest of the terrain will be generic wilderness/hinterlands stuff that I can use for other settings and projects as well.

    However, it’s not gone unnoticed to me that most people who take up Old West projects go the whole hog, acquiring enough Old West-specific scenery that they can put down a whole town on the table, often with a dozen buildings or more. Not seldom they amass enough figures to reach triple digits as well.

    In that light, does my low-intensity approach (roughly 20 figures and 1-2 buildings) seem a waste of potential for such a rich, colourful setting? How many people approach Old West gaming the way I intend to? I reckon I can still get plenty of gaming out of it that way (especially if I don’t tie myself down to a single storyline continuity, so I can keep mixing the constituent elements around), but part of me feels it’ll only be a poor man’s substitute for a “proper” Old West project.

    For that matter, I have similar thoughts about some other historical “adventure fiction-themed” skirmish settings as well: I’ve bought a small project’s worth of 28mm pirates over the years, but I’m not at all certain that I’ll ever be getting any pirate ships (they’re a big investment, and difficult to store and transport), or more than 1-2 suitable buildings for the setting, though I’ll have enough generic terrain to represent Caribbean wilderness or hinterlands easily enough. Likewise I’ve bought some samurai but definitely don’t intend to model an entire feudal Japanese town, temple complex, castle/palace or anything like that (at most I’ll be able to manage a road, a small peasant house or two, and some foresty terrain that shouldn’t look too out of place in the mountains of Japan).

    #118918
    Thorsten Frank
    Participant

    Same here. I´m thinking about such a “side” project since I´ve seen the rules in Henry Hyde´s Wargaming Compendium. Since much of the scenery is identical to my “spacepunkcyberwestern” project that would go well . But, as always, I want to go over the top and do it right – that would mean lot´s of stuff for small town and various types of opponents which would make this more than just “side”. And then there´s my inner adult, the one that would like to do it as realistic as possible, against my inner child, that would like to go full spaghetti – those two are the main reason I´ve done nothing yet.
    I participated a long time ago in a game that was modeled after the movies Rio Bravo/El Dorado which was really fun (If I recall it right it was based on an article in a mag, MW or WGI)
    Same is true for the two other settings you mentioned. For the pirate theme I´ve even taken a closer look at several rule books – but here, again, go fully realistic (and the 17th/early 18th century Carribean is one of the few settings I could because of it´s diversity) or a low fantasy approach.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #118934
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    I am completely the wrong person to give any advice on small projects, as my friends and I tend to go overboard.  For instance, one day I suggested that it might be fun to do some pirate skirmish, so we found some deckplans to print out and 4 of us bought small crews to see who’s crew would be the scallywagest.  In no time it turned into a 1,800 sq.ft. convention game for up to 50 people to play at once with 6 GMs (that are actually playing a meta game against each other as well as acting as game refs).  I believe we only have 38 boats built (and have rules so you can bring you own to play with, and people have!) but we have another dozen in the slips.  It is a very tongue-in-cheek game with some risque ship and town names, all in good fun (though we have been chastised and tiraded at for having slave as part of the trade triangle).  You can see some of it here: http://fistfullofseamen.blogspot.com/

    We also tried western skirmish, and it has again gone overly crazy.  It started with one small town named Beaverlick, and has now grown to be 8 tables and a big paddlewheeler for convention gaming.  It’s all about the gangs (we have the traditional good guys, bad guys, pinkertons, bandidos, Magnificent Bastiges, Nuns with Guns, Cowgirls, Appledumplings, androids, etc etc etc),  Each town represents a different state (like Ojo Moreno N.M., Twin Peaks N.D., Beaverlick WY, etc).  But the really cool thing is that each town fits into a 4’x2′ box.  This box is actually 2 parts that are 4’x1′ and act the backdrop (L shaped when open as they are hinged at the split) and are playable! What I mean is that each one of these backdrops is a location, such as a cutaway of a mine, a wilderness area, or a narrow pass, and is played like a side scrolling video game.  Players earn white (for good), Grey (for neutral) or black (for bad) bullets that modify how townsfolk and other gangs interact with them, as well as what missions/quests they can participate in.  We’ve been developing this for 10 years or so, and you can see how it all started here: http://beaverlick.blogspot.com/2010/

    I’m sure you’re seeing the trend.  We’ve also started development on a 1/48 scale mech game (I’ve never had so much fun running a garbage collecting crew around town trying to complete all of my stops while a battle rages!) and a large scale Full Thrust game (one of the cruisers we have built is over 3′ long with a playable interior for simplified boarding actions).

    After seeing that big story driven samurai convention game those French gents put on (I know it’s on here somewhere, just too lazy to look for it) I would love to do something like that, but I WILL NOT start it until I have done much more research, finished one of these other big games, or get the whim.  Lol.

     

    So yes, I say go ahead and start small.  Expand if you enjoy it.  It’s always good to have both sides too.  But do beware that it is really easy to get carried away!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #118952
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    The “various types of opponents” thing chimes with me. In 28mm, there are enough figures out there that one could easily make a dozen different themed “factions”, each internally consistent, self-contained and a dozen strong: the Pinkertons, the lawmen, the Mexican bandidos, the grizzled mountainmen, the Apache “renegades”, the Irish-or-German diaspora immigrants, the cattlemen, and so on. A project like that would make for some 150 figures, not counting civilians and animals (and all of that still wouldn’t come anywhere near to exhausting the availability of unique figures on the market, not even if one were to limit one’s field to Foundry and the North Star umbrella alone).

    The prospect appeals, but there’s opportunity cost to think about, and for the time being there are too many fantasy & sci-fi miniatures I want to acquire as well.

    So, what I’m thinking is that my ~20 figures will be a mix of all-sorts. Each figure will be characterful in its own way, and any constellation of them will be a viable faction for a scenario or a campaign. Factions will only be themed in so far as, for example, “a Pinkerton and his motley crew of local hired guns” or “some homesteaders, their fur-trapper uncle and the mysterious pair of vagabond gunslingers helping them”. I’m taking a page from RDR2 here: the protagonist’s gang includes a poncho-wearing Mexican guy, an over-the-top “Oirishman”, a black Native American, a drug-addicted old-time-religion preacher and many other colourful characters. As the fateful story of the gang plays out, none of them seem the least bit out-of-place in each other’s company, even from the start.

    As for terrain and scenery, if I did choose to model an entire town (which I won’t), I’m not sure I’d be content once I’d done it. Why would a town be the “ultimate” thing to have in Old West scenery? Pretty soon I would also want to model a ranch, an abandoned mining settlement, a riverboat, an eight-wagon camp, a fort, an industrial site (perhaps a large sawmill or oil refinery), a railroad bridge, and so on. That way lies madness. I try to remind myself of that so I don’t lose track of the simple beauty of a low-effort project. Some prairie-ish terrain (which I plan to have anyway), a couple of simple buildings and a handful of gunslingers to fight over it all will make for some excellent games already, rich with Old West atmosphere.

    #118979
    Thorsten Frank
    Participant

    Hm, just thought about that again. Hell, I´ve gone through my current list and for the above mentioned scifi project and ended up with at least 200 minis. WTF? When shall I paint them? How shall I pay them? And why will I do it anyway? As you say: that way lies madness…..
    And there´s a certain barbarian in a desert town I want to play too for a while now  (but don´t tell Mike, ok?) and  for that I secretly began to expand his world in my games.
    Anyway, the thing with the scenery is interesting. You can cut much costs if you use paper models for the houses. Not everyone´s thing but with smaller or one off games they are more than enough and look better as one or two huts and a few fences. And there are a lot for free in the nasty world of the world wide web.  There´s even an increasing number playing with paper figures again (like the disposable heroes in the early eighties for RPG).  I used for my 6mm Horizon Wars games reguarly paper buildings.  Another thing to think about is the use of 20mm/1:72 plastic soldiers (cowboys). As a child I had a large collection of those and, today I´ve got to say sadly, they were thrown away some day in the last 40 years. And that was a full collection from trappers with muskets over Indians and Mexicans to classic cowboy types.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #118980
    Mike
    Keymaster

    And there´s a certain barbarian in a desert town I want to play too for a while now  (but don´t tell Mike, ok?) and  for that I secretly began to expand his world in my games.

    w00t.

    #118984
    Thorsten Frank
    Participant

    And there´s a certain barbarian in a desert town I want to play too for a while now (but don´t tell Mike, ok?) and for that I secretly began to expand his world in my games.

    w00t.

    Nothing dramatic. Want to show Erland and friends some part of the world – and decided to build my own fantasy world. But first my wallet must say yes. Too many ideas, not much money and even less time.

    EDIT: why were you still awake anyway? Seems your sleep is as bad as mine.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #118991
    Phil Dutré
    Participant

    For minis, it really depends on the rules. I’ve been running Wild West games for at least 20 years, and we use a ruleset that allows you to play 1 or 2 figures per player. So 20 figures is more than enough. Of course I have 80 or so, but it could have been far less than that 😉

    As for scenery, yes I have a town with roughly a dozen buildings. Scenery items are shared with other periods: desert coloured mat, trees, rivers, hills, … All the bits and bobs you might use to dress up the battlefield can be shared with other periods as well. I’m also playing ACW, so that helps. A number of buildings (farms, church, stables, …) can be shared.

    But the real killer for me is that I have it all in 2 different scales: 28mm and 54mm 😉

    See http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/search/label/Shootist for some 54mm pictures (although most of the houses were brought together from different clubs specifically for this project).

    See http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/2016/05/wild-west-at-pmcd.html for some 28mm pictures, and which gives you some idea of the scope of my 28mm wild west setup.

     

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Phil Dutré.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Phil Dutré.

    Tiny Tin Men Blog: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/
    Wargaming Mechanics Blog: http://wargaming-mechanics.blogspot.com/

    #118993
    Mike
    Keymaster

    EDIT: why were you still awake anyway? Seems your sleep is as bad as mine.

    Time enough for sleep in the ground.

    #119007
    Mike
    Keymaster

    @PhilDutré blue cats?

    #119008
    Phil Dutré
    Participant

    @PhilDutré blue cats?

    Inside joke 😉

    Tiny Tin Men Blog: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/
    Wargaming Mechanics Blog: http://wargaming-mechanics.blogspot.com/

    #119019
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Personally I won’t be going for paper terrain or soft plastic figures (I’d sooner just turn the game completely 2D and play it on paper at that point), but I acknowledge the practicality of them for low-intensity projects.

    I’d probably still be looking for some sort of multi-use dimension with my 1-2 Old West buildings, come to think of it. One option would be to choose buildings that would also suit the boondocks of 1920s/1930s eastern North America, as I’ve been interested in Call of Cthulhu-style gaming for a long while (and have already purchased Deep Ones, I must admit). At the same time I could also do gangster wars (not ideal without urban scenery, but still feasible), although that would probably be an even smaller project, maybe 10-15 figures in all. The other option is to choose buildings that would also suit early 19th century California, as I’m drawn to the idea of gaming a swashbuckling-meets-western Zorro-style setting. That would probably also be a 10-15 figure project. Perhaps those buildings would even suit the early 18th century Caribbean? Even mid-17th century Western Europe? (Because Brigade Games makes an excellent little Three Musketeers / Captain Alatriste style range). Oh, my head is swimming.

    Returning to the Old West project, my “limit” of 20 figures is one I’ve set completely arbitrarily. From a budgetary POV there’s not much reason for me to stay that low. The ranges I intend to build my project out of (Foundry, Artizan, Crusader and the non-supernatural bits from North Star’s “Dracula’s America”) are mostly priced at £2 per figure, so I could easily get an extra 10 or 20 figures without much sacrifice. Other good ranges I’ve looked at are priced around £2.50 (Brigade Games and Black Scorpion) and £3 (Knuckleduster), and that’s also affordable. Painting those extra figures, OTOH…

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Rhoderic.
    #119026
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    if I did choose to model an entire town

      Of course you should!  Cinematic gunfights need to cover a lot of ground.  Jumping through windows and out back doors, diving behind watering troughs, getting cornered in the church that the street dead-ends into, all before everything gets burned down.  Action my man, action!

    Pretty soon I would also want to model a ranch, an abandoned mining settlement, a riverboat, an eight-wagon camp, a fort, an industrial site (perhaps a large sawmill or oil refinery), a railroad bridge, and so on. That way lies madness.

      No, that’s called “doing the hobby!”  🙂

    But really, it is easy to get carried away, especially in a project you are really into.  That is what has happened to us every time we have gotten to doing a group project, it gets out of hand and over the top because we loooove what we’re doing.  If you’re into the project and like where it is going, why not let it take you on a bit of a hobby trip?

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #119033
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Group projects aren’t really an option for me. I can find other people locally to play with as long as I supply everything else needed for a game, but that’s it. Even if my prospects were better, I’d still want total artistic control over my projects.

    As a hobbyist I’m already prone to overreach, but in a way that favours breadth over depth. Some would call me a butterfly, I like flitting between themes and settings. Efficiency becomes a matter of finding as many different uses for one and the same thing as I can, cobbling together new settings from things I mostly already have (or intend to get anyway), counterbalancing increases in scope with decreases in scale, and imposing “rationing” on anything that won’t be multi-use. I have a fairly low budget and not much living space.

    By the way, DSG, your earlier links are inspirational.

    #119036

    On time and space: I bought my Western figures during the Foundry “deal” days, so have more than I’ll likely ever get to*, but I picked out a few to paint right away, then made some simple adobe buildings out of foam core. Construction and painting took a couple of afternoons. As for space, I designed the buildings to nest within each other to an extent,  so they all fit into a fairly smallish box. Add a couple of bags of wooden barrels and pots from the craft store, for figures to hide behind, and I had a decent enough setup for a satisfying game set in Old California, or just over the border in Mexico.

    That turned out to be a good choice for versatility, too — they’ve since seen service in North Africa  (FFL),  Sudan, and will appear in India (soon, I hope).  And come to think of it, if I ever got to them, the Caribbean, Zorro, and a  “Certain Barbarian”  too.

    *Plus, a guy at a flea market offered me a good deal on a box of “about 30” figures, which, when I got home and counted, turned out to be “about a hundred”. Brother — no wonder the box was so heavy. Not that I’m complaining!

    #119038
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    I could go down in scale. In 15mm I could justify more buildings (perhaps still not enough for a town, but enough for the edge of one at least, with some second-story balconies and all that goodness) and higher bodycounts. But the 15mm Old West figures I’ve found (Old Glory) aren’t as exciting or inspired as what’s available in 28mm. The sculpting’s decent, it’s just that there’s a greater sense of anonymity about the figures, and not as great of a selection. The whole prospect feels slightly perfunctory somehow. I wish it wasn’t so, because I’m a supporter of small-scale skirmish gaming as a general concept.

    Similarly, I’d gladly do pirate gaming in 10mm if there weren’t only six different figures available that I know of. In 28mm I can get over 200 different figures from Foundry alone!

    HvS: That sounds much like my philosophy. I also just remembered that almost 15 years ago I bought some Elizabethan swashbucklers, and tossed them in the lead pile. Now I’m wondering if I could make a set of adobe-ish buildings that could stretch all the way from the late 16th century “Spanish World” to the late 19th century American Southwest.

    #119062
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    There’s always Peter Pig Wild West range in 15mm – not to everyone’s taste I know but I like these:

    Peter Pig

    and there is a range of buildings as well.

    #119068
    Thorsten Frank
    Participant

    EDIT: why were you still awake anyway? Seems your sleep is as bad as mine.

    Time enough for sleep in the ground.

    Spoken like the Wizard of the Mounds!

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #119096
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Is this “Wizard of the Mounds” some Comanche shaman? Or one of those entertainers that lug their tents from frontier town to dusty frontier town? A brand of tobaccy, perhaps?

    So I’ve been looking at easy solutions for buildings, mainly ones that I can also take “forward in time” to the pulp/gangster/Lovecraft era. Renedra makes a small farmhouse, ramshackle barn, general store and weatherboard church, all top-notch and in hard plastic. Modelling detailed interiors for them would be difficult, though. Another option is to get a few of the resin buildings from Ainsty’s “Trader Town” range. They’re more basic-looking but I could be content. Of course there are other manufacturers as well. I just haven’t looked at them yet.

    However, an alternative idea has formed in my mind: Dixon Miniatures makes an Old West railroad and train. The locomotive strikes me as prohibitively expensive, but maybe I don’t need it? My general philosophy to skirmish gaming is to play on relatively small areas, and to model large scenery items as “half-in half-out”, meaning I only model part of that thing jutting in from the edge of the table, implying the rest of it is off-table. A train is an exceptionally long thing – it’s not unreasonable at all that only part of it be modelled on-table. I’m a miniatures gamer, not a railroad modeller. I could get 3′ of railroad (so I can set up a 3′ X 3′ area, which feels just about right for my vision of a gunslinger skirmish) and two-three train cars (at least one of which would be a flatcar, which is cheaper and can be loaded up with cargo items that I already have) to represent a stopped train with its locomotive off-table. This in place of getting any buildings, at least for a start. It’s still not cheap, it’s roughly twice the cost of two buildings from Renedra or Ainsty, but I can use it for other settings I’m interested/invested in as well: European Victoriana, VSF/steampunk (railroads on Mars!), Victorian-era gothic horror, and early 20th century pulp, gangsters and Lovecraftian horror. Perhaps also 60s spy-fi, for those parts of the world where many of the trains were outdated for their time.

    I need to mull it over some more. Even without the locomotive, it’s not cheap…

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Rhoderic.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Rhoderic.
    #119142

    A possible alternative is the cheap train sets sold in big box stores like Walmart and Target, or whatever the equivalent is where you are.  Often around S scale (or gauge) which is fairly close to 25mm. Some are “old-timey”  (19th century) too. Often on sale for  $10 where I am.  Somewhat garish, and might need some work, depending on what looks good to you, but I’ve seen pics of these on the  game table that look very impressive.

    I believe Ochoin posted about an exhibition game his group does, though I assume theirs was probably HO. He may be able to provide some tips.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find  some youtuber has posted a tutorial.

    #119195
    Thorsten Frank
    Participant

    Is this “Wizard of the Mounds” some Comanche shaman? Or one of those entertainers that lug their tents from frontier town to dusty frontier town? A brand of tobaccy, perhaps?

    So I’ve been looking at easy solutions for buildings, mainly ones that I can also take “forward in time” to the pulp/gangster/Lovecraft era.

    Well, not exactly. It´s now believed that the famous archeologists Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft found hints and scripts in the remains of the Hopewell cultures and the ruins of Cahokia, especially Monks Mound, describing a battle between an Apache precursor, a Comanche precursor, the mentioned shaman and a “serpent king” and his whole army.

    Hm, those foam and photo realistic textures buildings in the other post look really really interesting. I´m really thinking about to integrate this technique in my own model making.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

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