Sunday, 26 March 2017

X-Wing Space Station Modelling

With all the extra space ships etc landing in my X-Wing collection and how great the asteroids look, I thought that modelling up a custom space station would be a cool next step. The idea was a modular station that could be assembled in a variety of ways to make it more interesting but also to perhaps better match various scenarios.

So I did a bunch of sketches while binging on Netflix then dived onto 3dsMax to start modelling them up. The goal is to 3D print the pieces, so that probably means the geometry need not be superb, but it is good practice. I am not sure how much detail I will be able to get with cheap 3D printing, but I wanted a decent amount of starwarsie looking detail on them without going too crazy. Since we are 3D printing we arent looking at smoothing and to keep things fast I opted not to go super high poly.

So here is the set thus far all modelled up:


For those interested, these screenshots show the geometry which took me quite a few nights to get done over the last few weeks. The level of detail on the actual ships is really high, plus the production gives us really thin elements that I am not going to get on a basic 3D printer. I am just going to test a print or two and see if it matches enough or if some significant post-print work apart from painting will be needed. I made a template model first which had the pole connectors, then from there went to town with poly modelling to create all the shapes and details



Thursday, 2 February 2017

X-Wing Storage and a Raider

With the recent creation of my 3D asteroids for Star Wars X-Wing I knew I needed some sane way to store and transport them. Since they already had metal stands (for weight) I did a quick test on a fridge magnet to see if I could use that to hold them upright in a box. While the pull on them wasnt really what I hoped it seemed to be sufficient to keep them up and apart as long as I took care of the box - this would be part of my model collection so care would always be taken.

So I glued a big fridge magnet (a real-estate calendar from last year actually) to the bottom of a plastic box and hey presto asteroid storage:


While we are here, these photos show the storage boxes I am using to store all the rest of the bits and pieces. They have little compartments that are well sized for individual little ships and configurable for larger things too. These all pack very neatly into a shopping carry bag too.



On a related note, look at the marvel that came today! Yes the huge Imperial Raider set which not only comes with the closest thing to a Star Destroyer for the game but also a Tie Advanced, a suite of cards (including Palpatine and Tarkin) and a campaign of special missions as well. I mention it here specifically as my storage solutions will need to evolve to cater for this spectacular addition...



Apart from the addition of a few more ships when I find them on special, the next project I think will be the creation of a little space station that can hover over the tabletop. This will give the forces something to fight over and it can be an objective in itself with shields and hull plus a little turret. I have been sketching ideas that draw upon various geometries found throughout Star Wars (esp droids).

Oh and a good reference for painting and modelling posts for the game is on the FFG Forum

Monday, 30 January 2017

X-Wing Playmats and Asteroids

Star Wars X-Wing is one of the prettiest games you can have grace your tabletop. On the weekend I picked up one of the FFG playmats (the one featuring the 2nd Death Star). It looks just gorgeous with a nice level of detail and layout of Endor and the space station. At one point I wasnt sure if I wanted this or just the generic star field, but decided I could make a circular flat moon that can cover up the death star to make the mat into a more generic location. That is a little project to come later, for now check out how pretty it looks:

New playmat closeup (expensive but gorgeous)

With this uplift in visual quality I decided that Sunday would be Asteroid-day. The game comes with flat carboard markers asteroids but creating actual 3D ones to float above the battlefield the same way the ships do has been on my todo list for a while.

There are a few options for doing this, mostly involve using foam of some sort, painting then mounting them. I did consider modelling and 3Dprinting some but that would be a longer process.

So armed with some packing foam I started testing. First if I could model up some roid looking shapes and then how painting might work. You can see here that the modelling was fine, but my paint test using enamel showed that the meltyness of the paint was just too much. Yes, you get a nice effect as it eats into the foam, but my foam must have been too light as it ate into it toooo much (or maybe if I was super patient and used lots of really fine coats).

roughing up an asteroid - knife was used, but fingers did most of the work

modelled a suite of roids from the foam trying to get some interesting shapes

asteroid field on stalks ready for some spray paint

So I popped out and grabbed some black spray paint that works on plastic, which did eat into it a tiny bit adding more randomness to the shapes - made for a good basecoat of black. The paint was just black rust-guard for metal which also bonds to plastic that I got from the hardware shop. I used Games Workshop modelling paint to touch up the bits that needed it which actually takes a while with this many asteroids on the go.

spray painting, this shot is after the black with a dusting of modelling white on top

painting in the orange using nice watery paint so it gets into the nooks and cranies

Then I tried a few colours before settling on adding orange. I made this pretty watered down and only in certain parts of each asteroid. Kind of makes it look like rust and just makes them less monochrome. Lastly drybrushing some white over each asteroid brings out their complexity, detail and shape. Lastly I added a little more white to ridges and particularly prominent bits of each.

The bases I wanted to be simple black stands which could just be placed on top of the 'official' asteroid markers. This means they could just be picket up whenever they got in the way and the game rules could play out using the carboard.

stand testing using bolts, washers and such

They needed to be heavy enough to stay upright with a big foam asteroid on top which is more about dealing with any breeze wafting over the board. I got some bolts and washers which I superglued onto a thin piece of card and to each other. I sprayed them with the same black and they were ready to go.

assembled, glued and spraypainted weighty stands for the asteroids

Assembly was just about sliding the larger asteroids onto a stand and then making holes for skewers to attach some of the smaller ones to them. I superglued them in place after they were all setup and hey-presto a whole suite of asteroids.

I am not sure how durable they will be with transporting etc, but they look super on day 1. Maybe they look a bit 'deadly' compared to how other people may want them to look - I think it may make us players think twice about getting too close.

Completed asteroids lined up on the new playmat

new asteroids sitting nicely on top of the cardboard playing pieces

closeup showing the rusty feel with the drybrushing over the top

Scary looking asteroids - all pilots beware

So it took me a full day to make these, basically season one of Star Wars Rebels which I had on during construction.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Game design and Star Wars

While I may have dropped the ball on updating this poor blog over the last little bit there has still been lots going on.



Let's start with the release of Rogue One, one superb little film that scratches the Star Wars itch with great enthusiasm. I watched it again yesterday and revelled in the starwarsiness of it all. I had just been getting back into the Fantasy Flight X-Wing game and seeing all those space battles unfold on the big screen reinforced how great that game is at bringing that same feeling to the tabletop.

The most fun games of X-Wing so far for me have all involved multiple players in some form of teams. The game is just super fun as it evokes the star wars dogfight feel, the different ships, special characters and the whim of the Force and its effect on the dice. Even with my smallish collection there is lots of variety to behold - yet the lure to purchase more is so so strong.



One of the reasons I wanted to mention all of this is something we have been talking about amongst our gaming groups - designing games to make losing fun, as fun as possible. What logic you can bring to the design of a game that can make losing really enjoyable. In a competitive game (where there is conflict between players) it can end up being not so fun for the losing player/s depending on the game. X-Wing is (I think) a fun game win or lose (the wonderful Shut Up and Sit Down review makes a similar point).



What makes it so fun to lose, I think there are a few factors. First the game is often well balanced, meaning it can come down to a roll or two that decides the fate of your pilots - but that is far from enough. The Narrative that grows out of the play is engaging win or lose - this type of storytelling has more in common with sport where it is emergent from the play. In this case it can manifest with the abilities of Chewbacca, R2-D2 or Darth Vader which informs the narrative even more. Other things that can make losing fun include time - the game is relatively quick to play with a chance you can make a comeback with a lucky roll always there. The 'way' you lose sits very well with the strong theme and it just looks so good on the table that there is a certain amount of joy in just watching. I will give this some more thought and post pack when I have more to offer...

This pic shows my Y-Wings under-performing the other day but looking super-great while doing so. "Gold squadron starting their attack run!"


Now I just need to organise some more gametime...