CATCHING UP WITH OTHER BITS
The beginning of this week was a bit slower on the cretacea front. I personally think it's healthy if a project ebs and flows, full force progress can be a bit tricky and sometimes things fall through the gaps so it's good that i've now hit the "paint wall" and that i've got something quite meditative in the form of the dino collection to get through, if i haven't brain stormed a few good ideas by the end of the next two weeks then i'm happy to call the current book complete (pending edits and playtests).
I've painted one of the raptors and it came out really nicely. I decided to go with yet another slightly odd color scheme but i thought stark white raptors could be quite attention grabbing, so i pursued it and was not dissapointed with the results.
Truthfully a large chunk of today and yesterday where just basing hours, carefully painting around the dinos feet and there are still more to add to the collection, but i really want to finish this lot first or i'll never catch up! At the moment we have:
- A Brachiosaurus family
- A styracosaurus family
- A triceratops family
- A dimetrodon family
- An ankylosaurus family (though many of the models can act as stand in for other ankylosaurids)
- A t-rex family
- A gigantosaurus family
- a stegosaurus family
- a velociraptor / deinonychus family.
i'm really enjoying the progress and the collection is going to look awesome on display, just all laid out with the colors and shapes of these awesome animals on show.
They say you need to spend money to make it. I have spent a lot in the last two weeks on dinosaurs...of that lot i am using a small percentage of them, some are total "misses" and some close calls in scale and style mean i've used less of them than i thought i would. This isn't a problem but if i don't stop now i might have one! I have decided to paint up all the good ones for now, and then decide what i need to get movign forward for conventions (and my own greedy little collection hehe).
I think (ironically) that i only really need a triceratops or two and a T-Rex for cons (conventions) but i would like to have a good range to show people how easy and how fun it is to buy toys and use them in games. It's so liberating. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that i have spent much less than if i'd bought even just one of each dinosaur from a metal miniature producer, so that's a big bonus.
I have also finished the trees as the foliage turned up yesterday so i can now start doing the principle photography for the book (the images that clarify rules in the book are a crucial component of the update). They came out awesome and i've ordered a second pack of foliage to really bulk them up for conventions and catch peoples eye.
Yesterday evening my raptors arrived and i am happy to see that they're JUST in scale. They're certainly large, and maybe even a tiny bit to large but i think given the choice between these or "minisaurs" from dinosaur tubs, it's these for now until the world starts working again and i can actually put my eyes on some models at some conventions. Once i do i might find a better fit. I'm not very good as guestimating scales and sizes online, i get overwhelmed immediately (i suffer dyscalculia) so it's a bit of a shot in the dark just continually buying dinosaurs offline whom i cannot identify before i do. For now these guys will suit just fine and furthermore they're gorgeous, so i'm glad i got them. I can rest my raptor anxiety now.
To round off the day i started undercoating all the currently based models. I am so excited to do some big group "herd" shots and i can't wait to get some mad perspective shots with the big brachiosaurus! As per colors i stuck to natural ones except my gigantosaurus models which i am leaning into an odd but striking blue. Some of the models didn't take paint to well, so i'll probably try basecoat them tomorrow after a grey primer to help the paint stick.
All in all a really busy day, an interesting one regarding the craft and build side of things and an exillerating one regarding model photography as i just about managed to start taking pictures for the book rule clarifications at the end of the day. Awesome stuff. Enjoy this pic below that is in the book.
A DAY OF PROGRESS
Today was pretty wicked. I got so many pages of the book to a closer "finished" standard. This time around i am not shying away from depth when it comes to the tutorial section. When i was a child i would read the same tutorial pages again and again (literally for weeks) and i am i think a commission painter now due in part to these great pages of old. i've slapped some watermarks on these are they're close to finished so i don't want to give away to much but oh gosh somuch exciting stuff to read and delve into!
I'm excited for the fun feedback which i imagine there will be when the book goes out and people sharing their painted dinosaurs! It's going to be so fun.
I also started sketching again last night. I have been trying to draw side on views of my fave dinosaurs for the book stat cards (jus tin case scott harmon doesn't get back to me by the time of release RE his holotype imagery) and i decided to stop trying so hard and jsut sketch. This parasaurolophus is the result and i love him. Parasaurolophus is my favorite dinosaur and i really enjoyed drawing him, scanning him in and plopping him on the appropriate page. What joy.
You can see him behind the roar chart below.
All in all a great day. I can't wait to launch the KS but because i'm putting the production values so high i think the ks will run in a couple of weeks instead of the proposed "a week or two from now" and i will be putting the print supply toward the end of the year so that the game can exist in a "beta" period, and i can ask my most enthusiastic backers to have a read and give feedback. As a lone gamer in a house of non gamers it's hard to find consistent help for playtesting. Because the game is basically formed anyway it only requires ironing out, but i'm glad for the new playtest period and i think players will be glad to get a book that has had a chance to be glanced over before it get's printed. it's going to stint the release (marketing wise) but it's a nice way to do it for avid and helpful gamers (which i have discovered populate the Kickstarter pages in full.)
More to come soon.
BACK ON THE GRIND
The current w.i.p's. A nice mix of theropods, stegorsaurus, tricerotops (some other ceratopsids), some ankylosaurids, a few dimetrodon and a really cute little edmontonosaurus. I hope to get a few more of that guy.
I did a little converting on the Centrosaurus gang (i've got four!) so we've got a bit of variation. I also did some patching up with putty (as you can see on the two closest theropods).
Welcoming a legend...I knocked up an allosaurus stat card. I also painted a great Allosaurus model (photo coming) in a blue green color mix. I modelled the stat card after the suchomimus stat card but i made a few alterations. I also came up with a special rule (the first non advantageous special rule for a predator) which makes the allosaurus a seflish lone wolf. I see Allosaurus this way, they where fairly early dinosaurs and i personally don't imagine them as pack animals but rather a bit more selfish.
WORKING ON THE STAT CARDS
I am excited to share that i'm doing more work on the stat cards of the dinosaurs. After my solo playtest the other night i realised that the cards could have all three movement distances listed (sneaks/ walks / runs, charges and barges) as well some re formatting and that it'd be helpful to have the specials to hand. I decided to put the specials on the back, it's less distracting to just flick it over in my opinion than to have them written in really small writing at the bottom.
i'm much happier with this layout, it's still very basic and blank but i'm going to work on backgrounds or textures this week. I want to get the format perfect first.
Also now that i've gotten the template down i can begin to add other dino's. Firstly i want to add Allosaurus and Sarchosuchus, a few new predators would add a lot to the game. I also want to work out stegosaurus and brachiosaurus.
WHAT A MAD WEEK
There is something special about cretacea. When i work on it i turn into a fiend, working all hours, writing notes, coming up with ideas. I don't know why this happens, i like to think it's because cretacea is a "green light" for me and i can feel it in my bones. I have been working on the book this week but i have been focusing on the terrain and miniatures. In just one week i've expanded the collection to a much more comprehensive one, i'm waiting on just one more adult brachiosaurus to round out my herd (yes you "herd" that right...)
Secondly i finished a suchomimus pair (they're basic and not really suchomimus models but by jove is it very hard to find affordable therpods!) On top of that i painted a few other bits, undercoated tons of models and i got a big delivery in the post of probably a hundred dinos. Sadly many of them are "un usable" for my own colection but they may not be for someone else so i may just set up an exchange program on the facebook and keep them moving. People can take what theyw ant, add what they dont and send it on. It's a quaint idea don't you think?
Among the lot was some cute dimetrodons, a bunch of awesome ankylosaurs (including some great polocanthus stand ins and some baby ankylosaurs) lots of baby dinosaurs including stegosaurus and triceratops (herd animal babies are awesome for photography and campaign play), some great hadrosaurs, a few baby sauropods that i can make work and a but load of out of scale theropods. The last is a shame but i think i can salvage some bits from them.
I also started working on the giant redwoods i want to inhabit my main table for the game. I seem to have taken less pictures than i thought i did but i've gone with a basic loo roll/ papier mache and hot glue method (the same as i did for the first book) only i've put a few more hours work into them to make them seem more tree-ish and i also worked harder on the papier mache and hot glue bit, really taking my time to run the "veins" of the roots in the appropriate directions.
I will be working on the project over the weekend but i have a few other bits to get on with, so i will likely post little updates with a bigger one on monday. We are so close to the photography stage of the book development, i'm so excited and i just need to get some good T-Rex's done for that. The one i have currently is blue, which is cool but i think it'll hurt some of the moany older peeps who need their T-Rex...to not be blue haha, however i decided to keep him blue, maybe use him as a different dinosaur and paint a "traditional" T-rex to use for the pictures. Leep your eyes peeled for more.
RE DRAFTING DINOSAUR CARDS
Yesterday i powered through the end of the edit which included a re draft of the old dinosaur cards onto more detailed and expansive ones. They are basic at the moment and i haven't yet secured the rights to the Scott Harmon art but i'm crossing all my digits as his is the best i could find and i really want this book to look the best it can.
The pre existing herbivores
Re Drafting the pre existing herbivores was a lot of fun. The next ones to add to the list are Stegosaurus and Miragaia, both prominent and colorful examples of powerful herbivores from the time of dinosaurs. I hope to add more predators than prey in the new book, yet to keep things short and sweet where possible, adding more idnosaurs (monthly likely) after the book is finished. This will ensure we can cover all the dino's that people want as During this re draft for the herbivores i made sure that Sauropods where a class apart in their strength and as such the subsequent stomp and tail whip are more deadly than before from sauropods.
Few changes came to the predators but i changed Deinonychus speciality to it's claw attack as this makes more sense. As per adding more predators i'd like to add as many non therapods as possible but i imagine that's going to be hard (bit like trying to add predators for a modern safari game without using cats) so i will likely use special rules to further destinguish models. Some points costs changed also in both herbivores and predators. For both teams i added
1. Checks values
2. Enviroment (pick one per dinosaur).
3. Condensed bite and teeth into the same stat.
4. Attack rolls (e.g. each dinosaur now has the encesary math listed to roll for attacks to save time.)
5. Where possible i want to use holotype images to give flavor to these cards. I will also work more on the layout but for the time being it is functional!
A SOLO PLAY TEST - Carcharodontosaurus & Deinonychus VS Parasaurolophus & Saltasaurus
Itching to go and trapped in a lockdown i decided to boot up tabletop sim, move some trees around, import the character sheet JPEGs and play a solo game. I chose to go for 150 points which is the top end of a suggested starting match. I balanced it out with 3 Parasaurolophus (Paras for this article) and 1 Saltasaurus (Salty for this article) vs 1 Carcharodontasaurus (carco for this article) and 3 Deinonychus (Deinos for this article).
Next to each card i put a red token so i could track alertness and the relevant amount of black ones for their HP. This way i could lay them on top of the relevant hide areas as they got knocked out.
I played a four turn game using a marker to indicate who had initiative. In this game the initiative went Predators X2 followed by Herbivores X2. It was an even matching almost and it really helped the Herbivores to turn the tables later in the game.
I set the Carco up on the one corner and the raptors are on the other (barely visible behind some trees in the above image). They all failed their smell checks (except one raptor) and except the one guy they dordled about in the general direction of the prey models until combat ensued in turn 3.
The Herbivores tactically grazed the first turn gaining a whopping 4 grazing points for the team, in the second turn they managed to spot the incoming Carco and three of four became alert. The final becoming Alert as a meander roll bought him into a clearing and he suddenly saw the combats ensuing!
Combat was a messy (and literall) Tet-a-Tet with th Paras on the left flank running into pre-emptive combat and one of the Paras on the right flank also doing the same. Both un ocupied herbivores used their "bolster" rawr to increase the combat efficiency of the attacking herbivores. All of the herbivores on the board also have the "Herd Animal" & "Reptiles Song" special rules so as long as they consciously stayed within a certain range of each other the Herbivores where hitting very hard in this game. (A total of +4 on the left flank and +5 on the right meaning those poor raptors where fighting against +5 attacks even before the Paras own modifiers, for the record...most of his attacks where at +8 or so in this.
Right flank Para won this one for the herbivores!). Because of the hard hits the dinosaurs where almost trapped in combat, running away and risking attacks of oppertunity was un ergonomic so the two teams fought to the last bitter second, most of the time causing double score damages across the board.
The Salty on the right flank did wonders for his Para buddy and he really bostered his attacks a large amount with his bolstering rawr. I did find that if one thing stood out in this game it's that there is a discrepency between the distance of your roar and the strength of it, i think rawrs need a little looking at, but as with most of the re draft changes we are talking minor and only positive changes.
As the game hangs in the balance in the last turn the right flank para turns about and whips the raptors with his tail, a devastating +5 on top of his +3 (already) tail whip gives him +8 on the dice, he scores a 9, an 11 and a 12 and he knocks them out with one fell blow. So goes the story of comradre, if you support you're buddies, you make them unbeatable machines (not bad real life advice that).
END RESULT: The predators killed one of two target animals necesary to win the game. The herbivores managed to graze a total of 6 points, though not the 8 they need to win by grazing they outlived the Predators so they won the game. Those raptors will think twice before messing with that Parasaurolophus again!
THOUGHTS: Not many to be honest, i only wrote down two notes and i had a wail of a time. The hardest thing to justify in Cretacea is why predator players wouldn't jsut set their models up with line of sight to enemy models IF that is a possibility. The answer is "controlled and appropriate levels of meta gaming" so as to culitvate a good and fun atmosphere, i myself don't mind it, but i can't imagine a lot of gamers do. I might re jig that but i feel like it could be covered with a simple "this is jsut the rule" approach also. Let's see what people make of the new "meta gaming" dscription in the new book.
I also noted about Rawrs as mentioned before and also that it should be mentioned in the book that when a hide area is broken in a combat, and subsequent attacks in that combat (damages) are to be added to the character, they go to the HP but that the broken hide area may NOT be intentionally attacked again, as it is broken. I might make this so that it can be, but that it's at a -1.
Until next time i hope you enjoyed this, it was SUPER easy for me to do, so i think i'll do more as i go along!
Cheers for reading.
In this version of cretacea i'm initially aiming to be less precious about what dinosaurs i think people want to see and putting more impetus on what i want to field. I feel that this is a really authentic way to provide people with the truest and most passionately playtested types, and i'll enjoy working on others more when people start requesting them (i aim to cover as many dinosaurs as people want, one of the things i'm working on this time is a follow up plan, so i'll be releasing single page "insert" PDF's for your existing book at least month by month.
One of the dinosaurs i love most is Brachiosaurus, as suaropods go they're a bit wierd, and i love that. They've got those long front legs which kind of makes them look like they where put together backwards by a playing toddler and they have that mottled whale like skin that just dominates any image they stand in. I decided to repaint the two i have so far since i ordered £50.00 of dinosaurs of ebay last night and they're gonna arrive soon! Among them is some mommy and daddy brachiosaurus. These two in this image are only scaled correctly to play teenagers more or less, but i love the models so heck, i'll use the modificication rules to field them as teens then.
I used black spray to undercoat them then i stood further away and gently sprayed them with varying greys until i got a look i liked. Then i spotted them with white and black by gently pressing down the nozzles. When i got them to the paint table i picked out their fingernails and their eyes (i went for a sullen yellow) and i used a paint brush and soem brown eye shadow to work that lovely muddy "dust" on their bellies, legs and a bit on their necks. I think it's a really simple and quick way to paint them to a standard i'm super happy with. Plus i need to paint a few next week using the same method so i thought i'd keep it simple for now.
Seen here with my current ankylosaurus (but i hope to replace him very soon for a better one from ym ebay haul). I use basing paste for my dinos which is jsut polly filla and it keeps my basing simple and consistent and doesn't subtract from the mighty dinosaurs i aim to represent.
More on these guys soon. Here is another hint from the book re draft, Sauropod line of sight makes more sense as they are able to see over things (as in real life) but it is linked with grazing and alertness, so a grazing suarupod has a reduced LOS.
More hints soon!
FINISHING THE FLORA
I have these two cans of "textured" spray that i bought to experiment with so i decided to use them to coat these pieces. As it turns out the black was fine but the brown was almost red.
With that disapointment to deal with i decided to re coat black and then rely on the basecoat of paint, which truthfully i was hoping to avoid needing.
Lockdown has meant that i have to egt all the supplies i usualy get from different places in town (for a pittance) online instead, and spending ten to fifteen times more most of the time. I refused to risk buying burnt umber in bulk online (my main basing brown) and so i got one from wilko, sadly i had the exact same problem as the brown spray, this was also red, like martian earth. I decided to run with it.
It didn't dry any better, so i needed to work it in a bit with other browns.
Using some craft paint i half drybrushed / half smudged orange, yellow, earthy brown and a much darker brown onto them. Now they're starting to look good. I also made sure to limit my effort on the drybrushing as i wanted to leave all the colors underneath and also the black where it still showed. As i want these to be convention friendly terrain they really need to have high contrast colors, it will also look beautiful in the book with multi colored earth tones muting out all the bright greens.
Further into the adventure for contrast i painted some yellow, greay and light grey stones. I made sure the two grey tones where quite apart and i picked out some big ones and some small ones on each piece. I found that it looked best when i picked out a big one then maybe two of three around it in the same color, this gave a nice look as though bits of stone had erroded over time.
The last thing i did was to sue a large brush and lightly dry brush the whole lot with beige (i used a tester paint pot from wilko but any beige would do). I was very sparing then as and when i could see darker patches that seemed uneven i would dab a bit more one. The big stones especially got attention and it really makes them pop out at you.
For flocking i chose a spring/summer mix from ebay i got a while back and i also put sprigs of silflor flowers and tufts around the pieces. This final touch really brings it all together and something about them at this point just reminds me of the old flat hills you'd get in photographs in the lord of the rings magzines i collected as a child. Just bumpy and cool looking. I should say the yellow isn't quite so yelloe in real life, it looks very similar but the brown levels in the yellow i chose are just enough. These pieces would work just as well with three tones of grey or more tones of brown.
Something that always amused me baout terrain making is that between the laborious processes and drying times you can often spend days (literal days) doing some part of a job, then suddenly you get to the end, plonk on a bunch of details and BAM, it's just done. This was one of those cases.
To place the plants i would rip them by hand from their plastic branch and clump two or three together tightly then inserting them into the holes i drilled before while putting a dab of super glue in the hole to.
My hands got covered but the result is SO clean and so lovely and there isnt a big ugly blob of hot glue in sight! For the bigger bases i made sure to clump larger concentrations of plants in the middle so that we could really have some seriously thick obscurring cover.
The result is simply and absolutley beautiful, and because of the meticulous construction they almsot actually look alive, they'd certainly be super suitable looking inside of a natural vivarium.
I took a few set up shots on the battle mat (i didn't really set them up but if i took my time can you imagine, with lighting and a smoke machine and oh my gosh i just have so many ideas.) I hope you enjoyed this little two part tutorial and that it inspires you to get creating. I obviously had the tools for this to start but you could do something similar with poster board for so affordably.
Please send in your own dino flora for us to post and share your creations! We are using the email of our sister company EZPainter right now so send emails to email@example.com
DINO SIZED TROPICAL FLORA!
To really get my teeth into the prep for the game i've been painting all the dinos i have in my current collection. I am not being to picky about what dinosaurs i will play with this time around (although i'm picking ones that lean into slightly more naturalistic sculpts over the vintage styles). I am also being less picky with what actual dinosaurs are in the game, so i've some stegosaurus ready to reak havok and i've got a few big ebay job lots on their way in the post from which i hope to build an entire brachiosaurus family for a big heard shot in the book!
Something else i have been doing is building tropical forest bases as they look great with dinosaur games. I don't aim to be very precise with the flora i represent in this way, i'm going for a general look and maybe later i will make over enviorments to play dinosaurs in but for the core book we will return to tropical forests as they tend to look so lovely with the mulit colored hides of dinosaurs as their foreground.
I'm using the same techniques as with the first book only i'm using power tools (i've discovered a passion for woodwork during lockdown) so i've got some ply wood and cut out bases and sanded them down with a planer.
After this i mixed a liberally sized pot of gorrilla glue and basic pva (as i want the bases to be very strong, i'm hoping to make them good enough to take around to conventions but also portable and low impact) and i used sand from a bag of builders sand which is a mix of all sizes of sand and stones. I think this one was cleaned up and left after a job at our house before we moved in, so i can't speak to the quality and consitency of other builders sand. I used a large make up brush to apply the glue and a plastic cup to pour the sand over the bases, it got pretty smokey in there with all the dust.
The finished result is strong and has a lovely texture plus the bevelled sides scream of 90's wargames boards which is a look i adore, i have never really been one for total immersion, i personally like to be reminded i'm playing a game as i do. Consequently i left the bevelled sides mostly blank.
The next step is to drill holes in the wood for the plant stems. I used a small drill head and twisted it a little in the holes to bevel them a little as some of the plant stems are bigger than others. I also discovered that this might be a fun way to do egg nests in the future, perhaps just coating the sawdust piles with glue and adding some mini green stuff eggs or small rice.
Next i did a dry fit of the plants. I decided i'm going to pick them off as i use them instead of creating big piles of prepared plants, this way i can maybe add some bigger ones and smaller ones before i take them all apart. It also occoured to me i can use the plants from the original pieces, which is a fun idea!
To finish off the pre basecoat prep i attached some small rocks, and then some larger pebbles from outside of the house. After the small rocks i added another sprinkle of sand. After a stressful week it was really sensory and fun to get my hands in the sand box and sprinkle it over.
This is how they looked before the big pebbles. The one on the right has had the second sprinkle of small sand. You can see how it really helps to integrate those rock piles, give the impression of a fallen cliff face long ago instead of just a pile of rocks that someone dropped there.
Now it's time for the big pebbles. Some of these where a bit dirty so i generally avoided using them as the mud would create issues further down the line, i started by splodging them in the existing piles but i found soon that it was better to put a blob of glue down and then plonk a few pebbles in by hand.
The finished pieces are looking awesome, i will get some twigs tomorrow and spray the bases in the morning, give them a paint up, stick in the plants and add the twigs then finish them off with a few spritzes of spray for weathering. I'm quite excited!
Next up, big stones!
This week i had a read of Cretacea and i decided a few things.
1. This is an awesome game.
2. It deserves more love.
3. It literally holds a corner of a tiny market that i guess i hadn't realised it does. which is amazing.
4. It could be bigger, it could encompass every dinosaur in history, not to mention prehistoric models and maybe even gangs of roaming cavemen.
5. I have held my self back by not starting a new company for my games, and in doing so i hope to establish myself in the market more.
So with this in mind i started binging dinosaur shows (basically how i research for my books) and i've been making lots of notes and changes to the book.
The game is the same, not much has changed mechanically but i've just explained things A LOT better and i've made a conscious effort to make it easier to understand as well as including lots more exmaple and clarification sections.
Check out the below video for more info and a preview of some of my home painted dinosaur toys.
Keep your eyes peeled and follow this blog (rrs code at top right) for more info to come!
In this blog you can find regular updates regarding the development and playing of Wicked Wargames systems.