Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yippee Ki Yi Yay!



Well, I've been dropping hints for some months now that I'm working on an Old Western project. I've been wanting to do a 19th century skirmish wargame for a long time now. I considered the British colonial wars, especially the Zulu War, having fond memories of playing the Sword and the Flame a few decades ago. I thought maybe the American Civil War, the Boxer Rebellion, and even the Napoleonic era (there's a well-reviewed set of rules called Sharp Practice). But, shoot, I'm an American, and though I'm East Coast elite through and through, the Old West still looms large in my cultural imagination. I grew up watching The Magnificent Seven, High Noon, and Rio Bravo on UHF. So Old West it was going to be.

I looked at about a half dozen rules sets. "Gutshot" and "Cowboy Wars" both had a lot to recommend it. But I was looking for simple, fast, and bloody. Fortunately, I picked up a copy of "Fistful of Lead" at Historicon. The rules cover about four pages, they use a deck of playing cards, and they look like fun. Boom. All three of my criteria met. I'm thinking about some house rules (like holding an action and giving gunfighters different ratings for Shootin', Fightin' and Guts), but I don't want to lose too much of the elegant simplicity.

I found a sheet of insulating foam about 8'x2' in the trash of a construction site. Using a foam cutter I sculpted some hills, painted everything light brown, then scattered sand into the wet paint. Total cost so far, about $1 for craft store acrylic paint. The sand I got from my daughter's shoes. She brings home a fistful of sand after school every day. I've been saving it.

I picked up three resin buildings from the Old Glory booth at Historicon. With my 40% discount, all three wound up being $42. I then sculpted two more houses out of balsa wood, foam core, and Starbucks coffee stirrers. I also made some adobe huts out of foamcore ($1 a sheet at the Dollar Store) and bamboo skewers. Then, some cacti from Pegasus models and I'm ready to go. Total cost, under $50.

The figures are all Old Glory. The Mexicans are Zapataistas, but they can double for banditos when they're in a less revolutionary mood. The gunfighters are also from the Old Glory "American Experience" line. It took a little practice to get back into painting 28mm figures after doing 10mm for so long. I'm working on my techniques for painting eyes, shading, and sculpting bases. I've even begun adding tufts of tall grass to some bases.

As always, click to enlarge the photos.

First, two long shots of the table.



Here is El Gato Gordo and his band of ruffians in the adobe village. One shot used the flash, the other didn't.




Here's a wide shot of the town.



Here's Clint and the Airedale Gang. If you've ever met an Airedale Terrier, you just know they're tough.


The building in the right foreground and the grey one with blue trim are my scratch-built houses.

My kids think the outhouse is funny.

Finally, we have Duke and the Scruffy Bunch. If one gang was going to be named after a former dog, then the other would have to be named after a former cat.

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