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  1. EDIT: Review posted on RPG.net! : https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/19/19119.phtml (This thread is a partial draft of the review.) As something of a litmus test of the recently released Loke Battlemat's "Castles, Crypts, and Caverns", I thought I'd see how well the maps fit with the D&D "Starter Set : Lost Mine of Phandelver". This set is the first starter set released, now free as a PDF on D&D Beyond, so I figured it would be the more popular D&D published adventures for the current version of D&D. This thread is a WIP as I try out the maps! CC&C is primarily indoors, so, for the outdoor areas, I'm looking at the Loke Battlemat's "Box of Adventure : 2. Coast of Dread" for some outdoor areas. This set has sunken ships for the D&D "Ghosts of Saltmarsh" hardback adventure and (SPOILER) one of the D&D starter sets (END SPOILER). The maps are wipe-off, so you can easily modify the maps. Or you can use the Loke Battlemat's vinyl clings. I'm using the "Add-on Scenery - Wilderness". Loke Battlemats also just finished its BackerKit "Big Box of Dungeon Doors" campaign, so contact them if you're interested in them. Coast of Dread review : (Insert review link here) (Insert pic of book covers here) CC&C is sold as a two-volume set of spiral-bound battle maps, with 1" grids. You can either use the battle map as a two-page spread, or one page of the battle maps. You can place the battle maps adjacent to each other. Both CC&C and the BoA's have an "index" of thumbnail shots of their battle maps. I found this invaluable when *quickly* searching for a battle map to use with the D&D maps. Some gamers don't like the spiral-bound format, since you can't remove the maps, but I've noticed that the spiral format with the index lets you find the map you want easier and faster. It's a trade-off, and if you don't like the spiral-bound format, take a look at the Loke "Box of Adventure" maps, which are loose double-page spread maps. The BoA sets also have cut-outs of rooms, storage boxes, etc. which you can add to maps for some customization. The Loke battle maps aren't an *exact* match with the D&D ones, but I tried making the D&D maps from the D&D Reincarnated tiles and wasn't able to make the D&D maps, either! In any case, I've used dice to indicate the locations on the D&D map, as well as the monsters in the encounter, plus our intrepid heroes, so you can see there's plenty of room for fighting. Needless to say, spoilers ahead! ***** Part 1 : Goblin Ambush & Goblin Trail While the Goblin Trail traps don't really need a battle map, for the Goblin Ambush, you can use the CoD swamp map (see below), adding some cover for the goblins, either by drawing in some trees and brush, or using the vinyl clings from the "Add-on Scenery - Wilderness". The ambush involves two dead horses (which don't particularly affect combat), which you will end up drawing on the battle map. The Goblin Trail encounter is just an unattended snare and pit, so won't need a battle mat. Unless you decide to *combine* the encounters, with the party first encountering the pit and snare, then being attacked by the goblins. Use the Disadvantage rules if someone falls into the pit or is snared! Part 1 : Cragmaw Hideout (Insert pic of D&D map of Cragmaw Hideout here) For the Cragmaw Hideout encounters, I used the CC&C books and one of the CoD maps. For the first and second outdoor locations (bottom of the map), I used a CoD swamp map, which easily doubles for a generic outdoor map. I then used trees and a river vinyl cling from the "Add-on Scenery - Wilderness" to create the first and second encounter forested areas more closely. I also used the wall clings to section off some cavern areas of the CC&C book. The Add-On Scenery lacks bridges, so I had to copy some dock sections from a CoD map, cut them out, and mount them on index card. After placing miniatures from the encounters onto the battle maps, you can see there's plenty of room for some good fights! Location 3 is a wolf den, 4 is a passageway, 5 is a goblin guarding a bridge, and 7 are three goblins next to a reservoir. In the next pictures, location 6 is a common area, with a southern room, from the location 4 passageway. Location 8 is the boss lair, north of location 7. The location 8 boss lair encounter calls for some storage boxes, so, like the bridge, I made copies of the storage room cutout from CoD, trimming it down to the size I wanted.
  2. After some interesting plumbing adventures the family and I are out of the house for the next couple weeks while repairs are made. Knowing that I'd need something to do in the evenings I had to make a tough call. I could gather up my painting supplies or I could grab one box, a knife, glue, and clippers. I obviously chose the easier route. So during our little forced vacation I'll be assembling the Robotech RPG Tactics starter box and giving you my thoughts on it. Not that I think anyone particularly wants to hear my thoughts on it, but if I'm going to build all this I'm going to talk about it. Before we jump into it I do want to mention that if you've ever heard anyone talk about this set I'm probably going to say a lot of the same things. I do however think I bring at least one new idea that somewhat redeems this box or at least changes the way you think about it. Right off the bat I've got to say it does have a nice box. It's fairly solid and the art not only on the outside but on the inside is a nice little addition. When I first bought the box it was my intention to build the three configurations of a Veritech and stop. I already have too many projects and this was to be the reward after completing everything else. You better take a look at them before I start ranting. It was during the build of these first three models that I couldn't help but notice problems, you know the very ones we'd all already been warned about. The instructions are not always clear, all you get for each model is a deconstructed picture that can leave you guessing. Then to make it just a little more fun some components that are shown as being multiple parts just aren't. There is nothing like searching a sprue for a piece needed to complete a part before you realize its already attached. Then of course when it comes to "fiddly" bits these may be the fiddliest I've ever seen. There are a ton of parts that are tiny to the point of the simple act of removing them from the sprue breaks them. Remember this because we'll definitely be coming back to it. Even the larger pieces have their problems though. Most of the bigger pieces are multi-piece parts for no real reason. Maybe they're there to lull you into a sense of false comfort right before you start in on the "fiddly" bits. Now we come to the sprues themselves. They're not exactly horrible minus the times when you break a "fiddly" bit trying to remove it but they're not great. After only assembling three I really wondered how they'd stand up to use on the tabletop. Even for display pieces they feel fragile. The detail is there but the construction and contact points are just bad, again we'll get back to that. Confidence was not high after the first three figures. Then came about our impromptu vacation so I pressed on with the assembly and next up were the other Macross defenders, you know the cannon fodder, the Defenders and the Tomahawks. This is where I hit my stride. Overall I assembled them quickly, with many of the same complaints, but by then I'd become familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the set. It's also where I had the revelation that completely changed my attitude. You see these aren't miniatures and they really aren't game pieces, they're models. Models complete with all of the "fiddly" bits and needless multi-piece assembly you could expect. Once I started to think of them as models it bacame easier to accept the flaws and oversights. I couldn't exactly forgive or forget them, but at least they made a kind of sense. They're made like a Gundam model where the real accomplishment isn't in building it, it's in the fact that during the assembly you never threw it against the wall. Armed with my new outlook I started work on the special Zentraedi models. Even with the new outlook there were issues. Here are some "fiddly" bits I broke while removing them from the sprue. See just how tiny some of them are? Oh and remember those contact points I mentioned? That's how a leg attaches, a leg, you know the thing that is meant to support the whole model. Eventually I did complete the three special models however. After reading all that it would be easy to think I hate this box. It'd be even easier to think I wouldn't recommend it. Even with all the issues however that isn't the case. I think under the right circumstances, I can recommend this to everyone they just have to meet certain criteria. Firstly you need to be a fan, because you'll need that love of the source material to keep going. The box needs to be on discount (bought mine for about $50 and that seems fair). It also helps to know exactly what you're getting into; before buying I'd already heard plenty of horror stories (still ended up buying it and I'm glad I did). Finally you need to think differently about the figures themselves, honestly once I started thinking of them as models like Gundams or even highly detailed planes everything bacame easier. If you check all of those boxes this is probably right up your alley. Don't ask me about gameplay however I already know I'll never find someone to play with, I just wanted the models.
  3. Let me preface this with I got back into serious fantasy gaming with the advent of FrostGrave. While I was waiting for my Kickstarter to arrive, I wanted to build up a couple of warbands, but I didn't want to invest a huge amount of money. I went down to my FLGS and found a box of FireForge Teutonic knights on sale for about 12 dollars, so I snatched that up to build my soldiers. I turned around and saw a huge rack full of Reaper Bones miniatures. The stark white miniatures threw me for a loop, but the price was right so I grabbed about four different minis for various soldiers and wizards. Let's just say that the first lesson I learned about the Bones miniatures is that spray primer or any primer is unnecessary. As a matter of fact, the spray primer that I have always used had an absolutely horrible effect getting both tacky and fuzzy. It was so bad that I set the minis to the side to revisit on another day. From that point forward, I only use Gesso or airbrush primer, and only if the figure is intended to be primarily dark or metallic. Anything else, I just paint directly onto the figure. Some of the figures I've picked up were distorted, but having been an old hand with resin, I already knew about the hot/cold water tricks. One thing I've noticed is that the thicker the piece, the longer it needs to soak and the water needs to be hotter. I tend to get water to boiling level and let the piece soak as needed. When I was repositioning my Hydra, it took boiling water and about a 5 minute soak to get the necks flexible enough to reposition. The legs took almost no time in comparison. The ice water bath locked it in place. I've noticed that the larger figures seem to be better at holding their details in the white Bonesium material. I'm hoping the new darker Bonesium will prove to be better at holding details for all of the figures. I picked up a 77058: Almaran the Gold, Paladin. The facial details were non-existant. I cut off the head and replaced it with a FireForge helmet. Conversions: I have to say, the Bonesium makes conversions a breeze. I picked up the Kobold set which comes with 2 each of three models. I was able to swap arms or hands on 4 of them so I would only have two duplicates. The Bonesium material cuts easy and superglue sets it almost instantly. These have been my observations and as with anything else, your mileage may vary. I don't think I would want to replace all of the figures with Bonesium, but if you're looking to save some money or bulk up on your critter collection, Bones is definitely the way to go.
  4. I thought I'd share a review on the FOLDIO Lightbox I picked up on kickstarter. I originally bought this for taking pictures of my chainmaile jewelry to post on etsy, However I find it will work work equally well for most miniatures. The kickstarter price was $45 for everything, Their website has more information on price: http://orangemonkie.com/foldio/ There was 2 different options for this on kickstarter, one came with 1 led strip and 7 different background colors. The background colors were Black, White, Grey, Green, Yellow, Blue, And Pink Option 2 came with 2 LED strips and only 4 backgrounds black, white, grey, and green. The led lights work off of a 9volt battery. Each strip needs its own battery. I'd reccomment rechargeable 9v if you use it a lot to save money. Here are some pics of the FOLDIO and how easy it is to setup and use. The FOLDIO in its carry bag and the backgrounds The 4 colors of the backgrounds. These are similar to the foam sheets you can buy at most craft stores. This will also give me a size reference for making my own custom backgrounds to fit. This is the 9v LED strip. They have adhesive backing on the to mount to the FOLDIO. Mine came with 2 of these. Right so here's how easy this thing is to setup. It has magnets in it to hold it together and to keep it folded. so just unfold it (yu can see the LED strip that is mounted) Slide the background you want under the slots like so: Attach both sides like so: And there you go! For reference, here it is with only 1 led strip And with both led strips. This is the setup I used in my show off thread Here is a couple pics taken using FOLDIO. I used my LG Intuition Cell Phone on portrait mode. There a a couple downsides in my opinion and I'll mention them here. Firstly the FOLDIO was only designed for one LED strip. Mine came with 2 thanks to the suggestions of the backers. However there is no mounting spot for the 2nd LED to mount. I would have liked to see a spot on the bottom added to hold the 2nd strip. My solution will be to find a thin steel L channel to mount the strip to the bottom as there is a set of magnets there that normally hold the foldio closed when folded. Simple, cheap, and would have been nice if it came with. Secondly is the size. While this will work for most single miniatures, Dioramas or even vehicles will not fit well. I would say anything larger than the pathfinder dragon might not fit. The company eluded to the possibility of making a larger version in the future. Overall I feel I got my moneys worth from this. My complaints are not deal breakers at all but only minor inconveinences. Edited to present updated and incorrect information...
  5. So, I busted out my newest brush last night for the first time, a spanking new Da Vinci Restauro 5506 #1. I thought I would give a short review here on my thoughts, since people frequently ask questions about brushes. The Technical Jargon first. This brush is a Da Vinci 5506 Restauro #1 Kolinsky Sable. I paid around $15 for it. I decided to try it because I wanted a brush with shorter bristles than the W&N S7 and RMS, but not as short as the W&N S7M. So far I've only done two base coats with it, but I have to say I am mightily impressed. This thing comes to a point like a dream, with almost no effort involved. It doesn't hold as much paint as the S7 and the RMS, but it is amazing for details. I think if I stick with this model for painting I might step up to a #2 for base coating and general work. Obviously I can't speak for longevity yet. As far as quality of materials I would say they are easily as good as any of the W&N and RMS brushes I own (which are pretty much my go to brushes). I will definitely continue to try out new brushes as the need arises, but I think this will be my primary brush for fine detail and eyes. It seems to be a good compromise between a S7M and a S7 brush.
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