Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Brief Overview Series Ep. 4: Taluva

This is episode 4 in my brief overview series. Thanks to everyone who has sent me comments on BGG and YouTube. You wanted more, so here you go. This time I look at Taluva. Someone recommended I post my videos on Vimeo instead of YouTube, so I'm trying that this time around. Enjoy!

Brief Overview Series Ep. 4: Taluva

Saturday, January 19, 2008

At last, a visit to the Copper Kettle Company!

My good friend Jack recently blessed me with his kindness. For Christmas, he went the extra mile and acquired for me a copy of a game I've been eying for a long, long time: Copper Kettle Company, commonly known as Kupferkessel Co. Kupferkessel Co is a game which has no English version, so it is hard to find in the US. Only one or two online sellers ever carry this game, one of them being Fair Play Games. I had made it known to friends and family via wishlist that Kupferkessel was available at Fair Play Games. Why had I not acquired it for myself? First of all, the game was rarely in stock, and had a tendency to sell out pretty quickly. Second of all, I never buy games at Fair Play Games. All of our game group orders have been through Thought Hammer or Boards & Bits. I didn't want to take the step of ordering a single game and paying full shipping fees.

Jack, knowing all of this, worked behind the scenes to acquire a copy of Kupferkessel Co. for me, running a game order without my knowledge. Before I go on, I'll share the interesting story Jack shared with me. He happened to order the game when it was in stock at Fair Play Games. To Jack's dismay, the game order never arrived at his house - UPS had lost it. So, for Christmas, he handed me an image of Kupferkessel Co. and told me the tale of the shipping mishap. Fair Play Games had courteously sent him replacements for every game except for . . . Kupferkessel, which was now out of stock. Then, in mid January, Jack showed up at my house with Kupferkessel in hand. Fair Play had finally obtained and shipped out a new copy.

For what it's worth, Jack assured me that Fair Play did everything they could to make the situation satisfactory for him, offering discounts, free shipping, price matching, etc - everything they could do to rectify the situation. Go, Fair Play Games!

The box, with a size reference.

My First Impression

By the next day, my wife and I had played Kupferkessel 4 times. It turned out to meet all of my hopes and expectations. The experience was improved by the efforts of two helpful BGG users:

Nick Pitman (MonkeyMagic): He designed an English rulebook downloadable as a PDF. It has the exact same format and size as the actual manual. When you print it out on your printer, it pieces together to form a booklet. There would have been NO WAY for us to learn this game without this wonderful contribution from MonkeyMagic.

Michael Weston (delta1119): He designed a quick reference page that explains everything briefly on a single page, front and back, which fits in the game box. This page was invaluable for our first few plays.

These helpful fellows made this German game easy to learn and play. So, on with the review.

Things my wife and I liked right away:
  • The game is quick: about 20 minutes
  • The components are great: big, easy to move pawns; wonderful art by Franz Vohwinkel
  • The rules are easy to understand
  • The mechanics are original, reminiscent of Mamma Mia
How the Game Works

The game board is made up of a 6-by-6 grid. The grid is created by placing square-shaped cards from a shuffled deck, so the board is different every time. Each card depicts a wooden cubby hole containing ingredients. What kind of ingredients, you ask? Why, the ingredients necessary for witches and wizards to complete magical potions. There are 14 types of ingredients, with 4 of each type, valued 1 to 4 points each. The ingredients include (as far as I can tell):
  1. Roots
  2. Mosses
  3. Pumpkins
  4. Raven Feathers
  5. Bats
  6. Whiskers
  7. Mushrooms
  8. A Chest Full of Snake Scales(?)
  9. Eyes of Newt
  10. Vines
  11. Frog Slime (?)
  12. Cobwebs
  13. Ostrich Egg Inscribed With Arcane Symbols (?)
  14. Dragon Blood (or maybe it's just steaming red wine?)

The cards, loaded with quality art.

One player uses a white pawn, the other player uses a black pawn. The pawns are about 3 inches tall, made of wood, and shaped somewhat like a figure wearing a witch or wizard hat. The mechanics are simple: you move your pawn around the board a number of spaces (determined by the top card of your cauldron) and then take a card from the row your pawn is next to. Refill the now-empty slot from the draw pile and it's the next player's turn.

What you get in the box.

As you accumulate cards, you put them on top of your "cauldron", which is just a stack of cards. If you have played Mamma Mia, this is much like the oven. You are not allowed to look back in your cauldron. Instead, you are required to remember what you've placed in your cauldron, which is actually quite easy to do, so don't run away just yet.

There is a scoring reference card for each player than reminds you of how to score your cauldron at the end. This is the interesting part of the game. The designer has devised an interesting scoring method. Knowing how scoring works is what empowers you to make good decisions as you pick up cards.

Scoring reference, front and back.

The game also comes with a small stack of recipe cards. These are an additional way to gain points. Again, these behave like the recipe cards from Mamma Mia. When you are going through your cauldron stack at the end of the game, if you meet the conditions on your recipe cards, you get the points for them. These are part of the variant game, included in the rule book. We played with recipes from the beginning. They are simple enough that you need not leave them out. They help to give you something to work for, so I recommend using them.


My wife and I have played this game a handful of times since acquiring it, and I have only won one time. I thought my wife would like this game, and she does. And she's good at it. I have lost too many times to blame it on luck. For some reason, playing this reminds me of playing Lost Cities with my wife. It's something about having cards with points on them, and making useful combos out of those cards. My wife is talented at this particular type of thinking.

Despite my losses, I keep coming back for more, inviting another play. The process of play is enjoyable enough to offset any losses. First of all, the game is short. In about 20 minutes, we're done. It's kind of fun to imagine walking around the magic shop, browsing the shelves for ingredients. Second of all, the game is easy. You move your pawn, you take a card. This decision is typically quite simple because you have in mind a specific set of things you want to collect. The only difficult decisions will be deciding between two or more cards you need from a single row. I realize that this makes the game sound like it's very luck based. Yes, there is certainly some luck and randomness, but you always have the sense that you are deciding the best course of action. For instance, the card you draw determines how many spaces you will move on your next turn. So, you can theoretically try to arrange your number selections in a way that maximizes your efficiency in moving and taking cards.

Let me leave you with a couple more observations.

1. When in doubt, collect your own color. Each card has a number and a color on it. There are a few different colors to choose from. Included among these are black cards and white cards. Black cards count as double points for the black player, and the reverse for the white player. The only caveat is that if you only get 1 of a card type, it counts negatively. If it is a card of your own color, the negative points are doubled.

2. Not all recipes are equal. More complicated recipes don't necessarily earn you more points. There is a recipe which requires you to collect a whole bunch of plant ingredients. This one is only worth 10 points, while the 15-point recipes are actually easier to complete. You will need to keep your recipes in mind as you play, making decisions about how much effort you want to apply to the recipes. There is no penalty for failing to complete a recipe, so don't be afraid to just bail on a recipe that isn't working out. Go for sets of 4 of an ingredient instead - especially in your own color.

I recommend this game to anyone who frequently plays 2-player games. This seems like a great wife game to me - partly because it has been successful in my case, but also because it just has the makings of a wife game. Sure, that's a subjective claim, but that's my vibe - do with it what you will.

Unfortunately, the game is not easy to obtain, at least not for US residents. This game is an import for us. The components have no language on them, so the English rules are all you'll need to download from BGG. Keep your eye on the online sellers like Fair Play Games. Then, when they get their stock in, nab a copy before they're all bought up!

Designer: Günter Burkhardt
Publisher: Goldsieber
Players: 2 (with a 3-player variant)
Playing time: 15-30 minutes

My rating at the time of writing: 8 (rated after 6 plays)

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Year's Alphabetical Playthrough

My primary gaming partner is my wife - she loves playing games. So, just before the new year, she had a clever idea:

"In January, we should try to play through our whole collection of board games alphabetically."

This sounded great to me because I like the idea of every game in the collection getting played. Our standard system of choosing a game is to allow the loser to choose the next game. But we decided it would be fun to follow her proposed system for as long as it took.

We cheated just a little by starting our Alphabetical Playthrough on New Year's eve. We wanted to play something, and my wife was in the mood for Alhambra, which happens to be the first game in our collection, alphabetically. Our goal was to play each game that was playable and fun with just 2 players. We skipped run-of-the-mill American games like Rook and Clue because we don't ever really play those. We also skipped games with listed player ranges of 3 or more, with the exception of Lost Valley which we enjoy with 2 players.

One other benefit of playing through the entire collection was to see if there was anything we could decide to trade or sell. My goal is always to trim down the collection to our tastiest selections so that we always enjoy any game we choose to play. If a game has become somewhat uninteresting to us, we get rid of it.

You'll notice that near the end we stepped out of the alphabetical cycle. This was because we received a new game order in the mail and decided to incorporate those games immediately. This meant that, before moving on, we had to first play the new games which would have been played earlier in the cycle.

So, here you go: the list of what we played for the 12 days it took us to tackle our current board game collection.

Day 1 - Dec 31, New Year's Eve

1. Alhambra
2. Arkadia

Day 2 - Jan 1, New Year's Day

3. We stepped out of the alphabet system this day to play Coloretto with family who was visiting. Otherwise, this game wouldn't have gotten played.

Day 3 - Jan 2

4. Balloon Cup

5. Bohnanza
6. Castle Keep
7. Citadels

Day 4 - Jan 3

8. The Downfall of Pompeii

9. Fairy Tale
10. Hansa
11. Hey! That's My Fish!

Day 5 - Jan 4

12. Jambo
13. Kingdoms
14. Lost Cities

Day 6 - Jan 5

15. Lost Valley
16. Mamma Mia
17. Masons
18. Mykerinos

Day 7 - Jan 6

19. Oltre Mare

Day 8 - Jan 7

20. Pick Picknic
21. Plunder

Day 9 - Jan 8

22. Quicksand
23. San Juan
24. Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition (we received this in a game order that day)

25. R-ECO (this was also in the game order)

Day 10 - Jan 9

26. Pillars of the Earth (part of the new game order)

27. Taluva (the last game from our new game order)
28. Through the Desert
29. Thurn and Taxis

Day 11 - Jan 10

30. Ticket to Ride
31. Ticket to Ride: Märklin Edition

32. Treasures & Traps

Day 12 - Jan 11

33. Winner's Circle

34. Wyatt Earp

During these 12 days, I also played a few games of Orchard with my son. It was a nice experience going through the collection in this way. It was a chance to give everything a play. The experience was confirmation for me that, if my wife wasn't such a fan of both, I would trade away Lost Cities and Kingdoms. Everything else is worth keeping around for a while. My wife sounded ready to trade away Balloon Cup, but decided we can keep it since I like it.

Of the new games we acquired during this period, my wife won our first plays in 3 of the 4 games. In fact, I'm pretty sure she won the majority of the games we played. She's a strong strategist, especially in the games her brain clicks with. We didn't play any of the games that were already put on the shelf as trade material. We may try running through this exercise more often because of the benefits already stated: A chance to test each game to see if we still like it, and an opportunity to enjoy all the unique facets of our collection.

I hope your Christmas and New Year's gaming was as abundant and enjoyable as ours! Thanks for reading Games on the Table in 2007 and for your continued visits and comments! Keep on playing for the fun of it, not just to win it!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Caylus Magna Carta vs. Pillars of the Earth - who wins?

If you've been following board gaming for the last year or two, you have certainly heard the word "Caylus" from time to time. And if you were paying attention during last year's Essen fair, you could not have missed all the talk about Pillars of the Earth. And, if you listened carefully enough, you would have heard one or more comparisons between Caylus and Pillars of the Earth. Then, in 2007, Caylus Magna Carta came onto the scene. It was rumored to be a shorter, simpler, card-based version of Caylus.

Before I go on, let me mention that I have never played the original Caylus. I have avoided it because I have heard that it tends to take hours to play. I've heard it said that it can take 3 hours. This kind of game would never get played at home or in my gaming group at work. That said, I have played both Caylus Magna Carta (which I own), and Pillars of the Earth (which my friend owns). My purpose here is to compare the two games, sharing with you why I think one of them is a better game overall.

I'll start with a brief summary of each game.

Caylus Magna Carta (CMC)

As master builders, each player will construct buildings on the road winding up to the king's castle. Each player will also have a chance to contribute work to the castle itself, gaining prestige for doing so. A provost will travel up and down the road examining your work. If he doesn't come by your buildings, you don't gain any benefit from those buildings. Once the castle is completely built, players tally up their victory points to see who wins.

Pillars of the Earth

Pillars is based on a fiction novel of the same name. Players are essentially project managers overseeing the building of a cathedral. You will have to manage the gathering of resources, trading resources for money and victory points, and utilizing various abilities to be the most successful project manager.

So, why compare the two games? Here are the similar features found in each game:

- community building project
- workers you control
- utilization of raw materials such as wood and stone
- careful management of limited resources
- game rounds are played out in a number of phases
- the use of abilities which are available for any player to take

While I haven't played it, I understand that the original Caylus is similar as well.

First off, let me describe what I think are the strong points in CMC:

1. Players decide what abilities are available by the buildings they place. Each building has an ability, and this ability is available to every player. There is also a benefit for the building's owner if someone else uses their building.

2. There is a pretty good variety of building types. I would I have liked to have even more choices, but as it is, there is a reasonable selection to choose from.

3. The game is card based and so the cards serve multiple functions, which is always a cool feature. The cards contain buildings, they contain abilities, they contain victory points, they can be flipped to at as a prestige building, and they make up your game "board" as you play.

4. The game has a relatively short play time at 60 minutes or less, which typically earns high points in my book.

Now, I'm going to look at Pillars of the Earth in terms of what it does better than CMC.

1. Art and production: CMC is published by Rio Grande Games, who typically has some of the highest quality productions out there. In this case, they seem to have used Ystari's original design. The tokens, wooden bits, card stock are high quality. I would say the artwork is good. The color choices may not have been the best, but the building on the cards look pretty cool.

2. Pillars of the Earth is published by Mayfair Games and has art by my favorite game artist, Michael Menzel. I can say with confidence, Pillars has the most beautiful board I've ever seen in a game, in real life or in pictures. The game is almost worth playing just to look at the board. The art is actually the primary reason my friend Jack purchased this game. Menzel is a master of using light and shadows, as well as painting all the tiny goings-on of the people all over the region depicted on the board. The weakest components are the cards. The stock is not great, but it's good. The wooden bits are nice, and the worker meeples have a very cool shape, as opposed to the plain cylinders used in CMC.

3. While theme is pretty dry and unexciting in CMC, the theme is rich in Pillars. As I mentioned before, Pillars is based on a book, and you see characters and events from that book throughout the game. In CMC, you have to imagine that you are a builder - the only visuals are the buildings on the cards. In CMC, you have a card depicting the castle you are building. In Pillars, you have carved wooden pieces which, through the game, actual build a 3D cathedral in the center of the board. Your cards depict craftsmen working hard at their trade. You can also gain character cards depicting some unique figure from the story. The 13 different stations on the board offer a way to interact with the world, as you place workers in the quarry or the forest, or as you buy and sell at the market, or hire workers from the castle.

4. CMC rounds are played out in 6 short phases, while Pillars rounds are played out in 3 long phases. The result of CMC's method is that the game ends up feeling "fiddly". What I mean is, you begin to feel like you're constantly moving bits here, taking them from there, and all for little gain. In Pillars, the timing seems more smoothly paced, and the moving around of bits doesn't feel quite so awkward.

5. While I like the short length of CMC, it is the rare case in which I actually wish I had more time. This game feels like it ends too quickly. If no one buys a castle token, two castle tokens automatically go back into the box. Before you know it, the game is done and you've hardly accomplished anything. Resources are difficult to acquire and without resources you can't build much. So, you'll build a few buildings, always struggling to gain more resources, and WHAM! - the game is ended - count up your few meager points.

Pillars is a game that is likely to always go over an hour. My guess is that two experienced players could finish in an hour. 3 experienced players could probably finish in an hour and 20 minutes. Usually, I don't like game to go over an hour - I just don't have many large time chunks in my schedule to allow for that. But, Pillars is a game that wants to be played until the end. It wants a full 6 rounds. When we play at work, we always have to cut the game short after 3 or 4 rounds, which leaves us really wanting to play to the end. So, just as CMC is an exception to my normal game length rules, so is Pillars, in a positive way. It doesn't drag on like some games (as is my unfortunate experience with Settlers of Catan).

6. As I mentioned above, everything you do in CMC involves gaining or spending resources - food, wood, stone, and gold. It takes a long time to accumulate very many resources. Then, when you have a few, you must choose to spend them on adding another building to the road, or to contribute to the building of the castle (which earns you victory points). Sometimes I like tough decisions in games, when they feel meaningful. In the case of CMC, this isn't an enjoyably tough decision. Good game designs allow you to feel like you are accomplishing something, always progressing. CMC makes it feel like an upward climb on a hot day - "Am I ever going to feel like my work is paying off?" The tough decisions don't feel enjoyable or stimulating to me. Add in the Provost, who can rob you of your benefits, and the game becomes even more restricting.

Pillars, on the other hand, guarantees that every player can gain an adequate number of resources each round. Rather than forcing you to agonize over where and how to place your workers, you get to choose how to distribute 10 or more worker meeples. Where you gather your resources is determined by a card draft. You might not get exactly what you want, but you will always get something. Any unused workers can even be utilized to gain you more money! Neither game allows you to easily stockpile resources, but Pillars sure takes away the pointless headache of resource collection found in CMC.

7. I am always a fan of abilities in games. These can be offered in any number of ways. In CMC, they are offered as the benefit of a certain type of building, as in games like San Juan. In Pillars, you gain abilities from your craftsmen (which can change during the game), through various character cards, and through the 13 stations on the board. In CMC, the abilities are utilitarian and somewhat limited, but work fine with the game's mechanics. In Pillars, you have so many useful options to choose from, and they present a wide variety of advantages. In terms of abilities, Pillars is much more intriguing and varied, often based on some aspect of the story.

As you can see, having played both CMC and Pillars of the Earth a few times, I prefer Pillars by a long shot. Pillars seems to do everything better. The two potential downsides of playing Pillars are that it will take a bit longer, and it is likely to feel heavier for new players. There are a lot of options and things to track in Pillars. But, once you have played 2 or 3 times, you should feel comfortable with the workings of the game.

I finally ordered a copy of Pillars for myself. With Mayfair's new restrictions on pricing, I was very hesitant to buy it. Also, I was wary of ordering since my wife hasn't yet played the game. As I thought about Pillars more and more, in relation to CMC, I realized how much I enjoyed the game. Because some sellers were still offering deals beyond Mayfair's 20% restriction, I faced a gamer's dilemma: if I didn't buy now, and decided to grab this great game later, I'd have to pay too high a price, which I wasn't willing to do. So, there it is. Pillars is on the way, and I'm looking forward to teaching my wife.

On the other hand, my wife and I both decided early on that we were ready to trade away CMC. There are too many more enjoyable games in our collection to waste time playing CMC as a 2-player game.

Now, certainly CMC will have many fans, and I must admit that I have only played the 2-player version of CMC. I imagine that the game would improve with every added player. This way you would have more options of abilities to use, but you would also be more threatened by the provost. I I do much of my gaming with my wife, so I prefer all of our games to work well in 2-player format. I might have a great time with 4-player CMC, but the likelihood of that happening is not high enough to hang onto the game. As much as some players love CMC, I just can't get into it. As a test, I'm playing in a 4-player game of CMC on Des Jeux Sur un Plateau. We'll see how that affects my perspective.

If you haven't played Pillars, and you're willing to learn a slightly heavier game, I must recommend you give it a try. If you buy it and don't like it after a few plays, just frame the game board and hang it on your wall!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Miniature painting: my first attempt

A few weeks ago, in the Hot Deals forum on BGG, there was some discussion about the closing of The Game Castle - a FLGS in Anaheim, California. They were selling almost everything for 75% off. I noticed this announcement pretty early and informed my friend, AC, who you will recognize as one of the players in my roleplaying group. AC is a very serious RPer, but is also into every other kind of game. I told him about the closing sale and he went over multiple times to nab roleplaying books for himself. I asked him to look for some Reaper Dark Heaven Legends miniatures for me, and cited specific examples of the types of figures I like.

Travel back in time with me a few years:

I had recently joined an AD&D 3.5 campaign for which the DM wanted us to use miniatures. I took a trip out to The Game Castle, when the store was still located in Fullerton. I was looking for a miniature for the D&D game. While browsing the minis, I found that I preferred the style of the Reaper Dark Heaven Legends series. I found three minis representing three totally different types of characters so that I would have a selection when it was time to create our characters. These minis included a thief with a grappling hook, a bard, and a wizard.

I ended up using the bard mini for the D&D game. A few months went by and we were moving out of our apartment to a new home. Somewhere in this move, the thief and wizard minis were lost. I had the bard in my dice bag apart from the others. To this day, I have no idea what happened to the other two minis.

Back to the present:

I wanted to acquire a few more minis because they're both:

A. cool to look at
b. useful for fantasy roleplaying

So, Adam came back from a trip to The Game Castle with a load of discounted minis, most of them the exact figures I had used as examples. Talk about an attentive friend. Among these miniatures was a replacement for my lost thief figure. (Off topic: while AC was at The Game Castle, he also nabbed me a handful of Nodwick comic books I was missing. w00t!)

I decided that I wanted to try my hand at miniature painting. I like painting in general, although until now, my experience has mostly been decorating home-made didgeridoos and custom islands for Pirates CSG. I also did some custom tile mods on a few Maelstrom tiles. Now it was time to try miniatures. They look cool as they are - detailed metal figures. But with paint, they can look even cooler and more realistic. Also, if other players have colored minis (AC uses pre-painted D&D minis), the metal looks out of place.

So, I decided to do my first experiment using the thief figure. This figure is called Kurff the Swift and was sculpted by Sandra Garrity, who seems to do most of the best Reaper minis I've seen. I like this figure because he is wearing a cloak and carrying a grappling hook. It looks like he's out in the shadowy streets preparing to scale a castle wall or something.

I took pictures at every step of the painting process to share with you. The first thing I had to do was prime the figure. The only product I could find at the local craft store was a can of gray spray primer. I sprayed all the figures at one time, all in a row. Here's what Kurff looked like after a couple coats of primer:

When I paint, I use relatively inexpensive acrylics. They're easy to mix and dry quickly. Here are the brushes I used for this project:

That one in the middle was the most important one. I picked it up new for this project. It's finer than all my other brushes - a size 10/0. It seemed to do the trick.

Since the most prominent feature of this figure is the cloak, that's where I decided to start. I don't know a lot about miniature painting theory, but this seemed like a reasonable way to begin. I mixed up a dark gray and applied it to the whole cloak. It was tricky to get back into the crevices beneath his arms. I had to use my finest brush. Here he is with his cloak painted:

Next, I gave him a brown shirt with gold trim and pants his pants an even darker brown for some variety.

It was tricky trying to maintain a balance between dark colors (he'd want to avoid attracting attention) and variety of colors to make him interesting to look at. I didn't want to make him wear all gray, so I used browns. When I moved onto his boots, I used yet two more shades of brown. I'm not sure exactly how I blended each brown, but they were each different enough for my taste. I gave him a black belt with a gold buckle, a brown knife sheath, a sandy-colored money pouch, a reddish knife-handle, and a blue sapphire on the end of the knife handle. I would go back do alter some of these colors slightly with shading later. I also added a tiny reflection on the sapphire by creating a very white blue and carefully placing a single miniscule dot. I also colored and shaded the grappling hook at this time.

Now it was time to paint the rope. I mixed some colors together to form a yellowish brown color to give the rope a hempish look. You can see that I also darkened the gold of his belt buckle during this time.

The next phase included a lot of detailed steps. First of all, I used a very dark gray to shade the folds of the cloak, both front and back. It gave the cloak just a bit more character. Then, I used a light sand color mixed with some pink (and maybe something else, I can't remember now) to arrive at a suitable skin tone. I carefully painted his face inside the hood of his cloak, and his tiny fingers. I mixed up a reddish brown which I applied to the bit of hair sticking out the top of his hood, then dabbed his eyes with a super small dot of brown. Then, I created a dark reddish color to thinly line the crease of his mouth, creating the appearance of shadowed lips. Finally, I had to deal with the brooch holding his cloak closed. Here, I decided to spice things up by adding color. In my imagination, I decided that this was one feature he wasn't concerned about, but was pleased to display. The brooch was a golden item of value which he was proud to have possessed by his craft - complete with a sapphire in the center, to match the hilt of his trusty dagger. I dabbed a tiny reflection onto the jewel in the brooch, as I had with the dagger earlier. I may have done some other shading during this phase, but here is how he looked at this point:

All that was left now was to paint the base. I decided it would be cool to have him standing in a bed of gray, pebbly ground outside the castle wall he was preparing to scale. I started with a black or really dark gray. Then, I used lighter and lighter shades, dry brushing over each previous layer with a lighter color, until I was down to a few sparse light gray highlights. So, now he was pretty much done. I verified that I was pleased with all the shading and that there weren't any really obvious splotches or goof-ups.

Now that he was finished, all I needed to do was coat him with a protective layer of sealer. Fortunately, I already had some landscape glue/sealer which is designed for use with miniature terrains and such - I had used it to seal my Pirates islands. So, I took Kurff outside and sprayed him.

After the first coat, I decided he needed more. I couldn't tell if he was completely coated. So, I took him outside a few days later and sprayed him again. After this, I considered giving him another coat, but he looked pretty good, and I didn't want him to look too shiny and thick with sealer, so I chose to leave him with two coats. I can only hope that holds up. The ultimate goal is to keep it from getting the paint scratched off easily. We'll see what happens.

So here is the completed Kurff, finished drying and ready for use:

And for kicks, here's another pic - an outdoor shot of Kurff in action:

All in all, I'd say the final product is a big improvement over the original metal look. I'm pleased with the outcome. Next up, I'm working on a sweet-looking elvish archer.

Thanks for reading!