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Battle report : Murder at the Shrine!

2022-09-14 by David

I've been looking forward to playing a game across the new shrine board, so this time I pulled out a special scenario from the Test of Honour rulebook - "Last Stand". Unlike most of the scenarios in the game, this particular one is VERY uneven! It made for a real nailbiter of a game!


"Surrounded by a superior enemy, a small force prepares to sell their lives dearly and die with honour."

▲ This 3'x3' battlefield is comprised of the new Shrine Set, plus a single small Torii gate. The excellent photo-realistic mat is Swamp by The layout is a realistic shrine arrangement, with the large shrine building at the end of a stone path in the middle of a bamboo forest. Alongside the path are various shrine structures; lanterns, statues, washbasins and smaller minishrines.




▲ Lady Reiko (in red, at the front) is visiting an ancient local shrine, accompanied by her loyal bodyguard Meiko (armed with a naginata) and a small force of household troops. This scenario suggests a 12-point force for the defenders, which means you can only take a single samurai hero (costing 5 points) - which will put Lady Reiko at a severe disadvantage!


▲ Lord Nobu, on the other hand, has brought a massive ambushing force of 24 points! Since this force is double the size of the defending force, he has room to fit 2 samurai lieutenants, in addition to himself - which gives him a clear advantage! He has also brought some musketmen, a lone archer for sniping, two units of spearmen, and a sergeant to give the spearmen extra charging power.




One of Lord Nobu's spies has reported on Lady Reiko's planned visit to the shrine, and as she offers quiet prayers before the shrine, Lord Nobu's forces rush out of the surrounding bamboo forest!


The scenario requires the defenders to start in the centre of the board, with attackers within 6" of any edge. Victory conditions are quite simple; Lord Nobu (as attacker) has to kill all of the defending force before he loses a third of his own attacking force.



Let battle begin...

▲ Lord Nobu's plan was to attack in force simultaneously against all enemy models, so his troops advanced at a steady pace from the surrounding forest. His musketmen held back, out of combat range, and opened fire down the main path to the shrine, hoping to gain an early kill against the opposing archers. Alas, the shots went wide as the steps and ornate woodwork of the shrine exploded in a storm of splinters!

▲ Leaving her slower troops in front of the shrine, Lady Reiko dashed to one side, hoping to pull some ambushers out of position.


Lord Nobu decided to hang back by the sacred treestump while his troops moved in to surround the smaller enemy force, to deter Lady Reiko from getting too aggressive.

▲ As Lady Reiko emerged from behind the ema board rack, she spied a lone archer kneeling in the cover of a nearby mini-shrine....

▲ ... and rushed to attack this lone trooper! To nobody's surprise, Lady Reiko quickly hacked down the enemy archer, and the nearby spearmen panicked and ran away from the enraged samurai!


(Lady Reiko had achieved 2 victory points by killing the archer, but she still had another 6 to get before she had defeated a third of the enemy force and could claim victory.)

▲ One of Lord Nobu's samurai lieutenants saw that Lady Reiko had left her slower troops isolated in her rush to get an early kill, and rushed in to take advantage of the opportunity. He quickly cut down one of the defending archers in front of the steps to the sacred shrine!

▲ Lord Nobu's other samurai lieutenant dashed forward, inspired by his comrade's easy victory, and similarly cut down one of the defending spearmen.


Meanwhile, Lady Reiko cautiously headed back towards her troops, scanning for an opportunity for another quick kill, and her bodyguard Meiko jumped down from the balcony of the shrine building to defend the archers.

▲ Her bodyguard's skill with a naginata successfully held the enemy samurai at bay, and more importantly had exhausted his actions for the turn. Lady Reiko seized her chance, and rushed across to add her blade to the fight! The exhausted samurai lieutenant found himself outnumbered by the women's far superior bladework, and was cut down without mercy!


(In killing the enemy samurai lieutenant, Lady Reiko had grabbed another 4 victory points, bringing her total so far to 6. At this point she only needed another 2 victory points to win the game!)

▲ Angered by the ineptitude of his slain lieutenant, Lord Nobu decided to take matters into his own hands, and strode forward to attack the nearby spearmen. They proved surprisingly resilient, and failed to die as they were supposed to, but Lord Nobu did cover them head to toe with sheets of their own blood!!

▲ Lady Reiko's archers were desperate to defend their mistress from harm, and spotted a group of enemy musketmen in the distance carefully taking aim at their beloved Lady. They quickly drew back and loosed, their arrows flying true to take one of the musketmen in the shoulder, pushing the group back in alarm!

▲ Lady Reiko desperately looked around for an easy kill, and charged towards a group of enemy spearmen who had left themselves exposed. In the ensuing fight, she managed to trip and fall (look at all those fumbled dice!!!), leaving herself at their mercy. Could she recover in time?!

▲ Lord Nobu cut down another enemy spearman and panicked the remaining trooper, but stayed true to form by being utterly ruthless. Always keen to fight against a helpless and defeated foe, he strode towards the retreating lone spearman....

▲ ... and mercilessly took his head from his shoulders with a single stroke! Kneeling to lift the decapitated head, he tossed it into the offering box on the shrine steps.


His followers shivered at the display of ruthlessness, but after a moment they once more steeled themselves to continue the fight.

▲ The sacrifice of her loyal spearmen had given Lady Reiko enough time to scramble to her feet, and she quickly rushed forward once more to cut down another red spearman. Her bodyguard, Meiko, dashed forward to lend her strength to the fight.

▲ Together, Lady Reiko and her bodyguard cut down another of the enemy spearmen, leaving only a single model from that unit alive. If they could just cut down that last trooper, then victory would be theirs!


Lord Nobu, however, was not going to let that happen, and after moving around behind his spearmen he charged into the bodyguard Meiko. In an orgy of bloodletting, Lord Nobu struck her head from her shoulders, and nonchalantly tossed her decapitated head into the ritual washbasin nearby!


Aghast at this sacrilege, half his force promptly ran away, including the lone spearman! Oddly enough, this panic took him directly away from Lady Reiko and probably saved his life AND the game!

▲ The remaining pair of Lady Reiko's archers were still alive, and doing a fine job of keeping the enemy samurai occupied with a hail of arrows. At this moment, they spied a lone enemy sergeant and attempted to snipe him - doing so would also win them the game!


At the last moment, the enemy sergeant spotted the danger and ducked behind a stone lantern as the arrows hammered against it.

▲ It was the final showdown. Lady Reiko was alone, trying desperately to fend off the simultaneous attacks of Lord Nobu and his samurai lieutenant!


The only thing saving her life so far was a few lucky shots from her surviving archers, which succeeded in distracting the full attention of her bloodthirsty enemies!

▲ Lord Nobu, growing increasingly frustrated at the impasse, shouted at his lieutenant to deal with the archers, and with one quickly cut down, the final archer fled the battlefield, leaving the exhausted Lady Reiko at his mercy.


Lord Nobu, however, had always been totally without mercy, and in the midst of frantic block and parry, managed to disarm Lady Reiko and slam his sword through her chest!

▲ Lord Nobu looked around him at the bloodsoaked shrine. Fully half his own force had been cut down in the ambush and lay twitching and groaning on the ground, pleading for help and assistance.


With a sneer, Lord Nobu turned on his heel and strode away from the shrine, leaving his injured men to their fates.




Soooo close!! Lady Reiko came so close to winning, gaining 6 of the 8 victory points she needed to win. But ultimately, Lord Nobu managed to keep his vulnerable models safe and instead surround her with hard-to-kill blocks of troops, and pushed her on to the defensive - a fight she could not win. Victory to Lord Nobu!


Tags: battlereport 

Samurai Shrine Set available NOW!!

2022-09-01 by David

It's been a while in development, from design, to test prints, and finally to painting.... but we have a new release to announce today! The new Samurai Shrine Set set is now available for download, and it's a BIG set!


  Samurai Shrine Set  


Let's take a look at all the contents of this massive set.....

▲ These are all the models from this new set, and it really was quite a squeeze trying to fit them all into one photo!


It's time to take a closer look....


▲ It's a busy day at the local shrine, with housewives, beggars and priests all making their way along the rough stone path to wish for good fortune.

▲ Some disrespectful samurai have even dared to start a fight right on the balcony of the main shrine building! The shrine staff look like they have it well under control, so perhaps Tomoko the geisha won't need her dagger after all?

Check out those lovely carved wooden details on the walls of the shrine, and the thick bell ropes!

▲ The local dojo master stops for a chat with one of the shrine's visitors, under the watchful eyes of the komainu liondog statues near the entrance.

▲ A wandering peasant stops at the dragon fountain, to ritually wash his hands before entering the shrine proper.

▲ The sessha auxiliary shrines even get their share of visitors today.

▲ Lord Nobu stops by a small shrine on the edge of the bamboo forest. Will the light from the shrine lanterns be enough to alert him to the danger nearby?

▲ This sacred treestump is all that remains of the giant cedar-pine tree that once towered here, but it provides a strong link to the natural forces of the shrine.

▲ Visitors to the shrine often write their wishes and hopes for the future on these wooden ema boards. Let's hope one of them wished for invulnerability from ninja throwing stars!

▲ The main shrine building has an ancient copper roof, topped by these gorgeous ornamental decorations, and features a wide balcony on all sides.

▲ The shrine interior has doorways on each side, and a simple prayer table right in the centre. Plenty of space for fencing!

▲ A quieter day at the shrine... without anybody starting a fight! The large offering box stands in front of the main entrance, and visitors stop at the foot of the front steps to ring those big copper bells before making a prayer and dropping in a coin.

The new Samurai Shrine Set set is available for download from today!


  Samurai Shrine Set  

Tags: samurai  release 

Painting the shrine set

2022-08-26 by David

It's time for a painting blog, and today we're looking at the contents of the new Shrine Set!

▲ With Japanese shrine buildings, you've got two main choices - you can either paint it in bright reds, like the picture above, or you can choose to paint it in natural wood colours.


So before you start painting your model, do a little research on Google Images, and see what kind of shrine you'd like to build!

▲ I chose to paint my shrine in natural wood colours, like this photo of the actual shrine the model is based on - Kokuzo Shrine in Kumamoto Prefecture. Whichever colour scheme you choose, you'll love all the little sculpted details on this model, so let's get started....

▲ Before I started painting, there were a few gaps in the model that needed covering, particularly in the roof sections. I use the simple method of smearing a dab of wood putty onto each of the gaps, and smoothing it over with a wet finger. Easy!


Then it was off to the spray booth, to get basecoating!

▲ Let's start with the stone path sections. I undercoated these in a light grey spray, then gave everything a heavy black wash to shade in the crevices.

▲ Next I drybrushed up the details with a wide 5cm brush in a light grey colour.

▲ What makes a more realistic paint job for these path sections is adding some variation in the stone colours, and I tried to achieve this by dabbing more colour washes at random on various stones.... black (again!), brown, red brown, and sepia.


Once I was happy with the effect, I switched to green wash and messily drew a line between each stone where they connected, and then dabbed green at random in the lower spots, where moss growth would naturally occur.

▲ As you can see from this photo, the green helps to blend the path sections to a green battlemat, in addition to simulating age and weathering.


You could also take this a stage further by gluing on small patches of green sponge or flock, to simulate moss growth.

▲ The sacred tree is a great little accessory in this set, and I used the same techniques for basecoating and washing the stone section as I did for the paths. A thick wash of green around the bottom few millimetres of the stone help to blend it to a green mat and make it look older.


The thick rope was basecoated in a cream colour, and then washed in brown and sepia to shade the texture of the rope. Then I carefully added a cream highlight to the top of each rope strand, before painting the paper tassles in light grey and then white.

▲ The stone lanterns in this set look great with lots of weathering techniques and stains, like in the photo above. I added green washes at random to my lanterns, but they would also look super-realistic with sponge or flock 'moss' glued on, too!

▲ The ema board rack is another characterful model in this set, and I painted the votive offering boards in a variety of woody colours. The strings are usually white, black or red, by the way. For the text, I dabbed on blobs of black ink in random lines - remember that Japanese text on these boards is traditionally written vertically.

▲ The LED shrine lanterns were the next item on my paint desk, and you can choose to paint these in bright reds, or natural wood tones. They don't necessarily need to match the colour scheme of the main shrine building, by the way.


I decided to paint mine as old wood, so they looked nice and ancient!

▲ If you print the LED version of the shrine lanterns, you could also cut some paper inserts to diffuse the light from the LED bulbs. You could use normal white paper, but I've found that baking sheet (kitchen paper/sheet) lets more of the light through, so the lanterns are a little brighter.

▲ This is the shape you'll need to print and cut, so you might need to do a few test prints to make sure that the line on the left prints at the 14mm size required to fit the lanterns.

▲ Okay, it's time to deal with the shrine roofs! These are a major part of the shrine set, and they have been modelled with copper sheeting panels. When a shrine is new, the copper sheets look stunning, as in the photo above, but after a while the gleaming copper changes to darker tones, and then to a brilliant verdigris green!


Having said that, you can also find real shrines with painted roofs, usually in dark colours such as dark brown, grey or black. So, again, take a look at some Google image searches, before you decide how you want your shrine to look!


▲ I decided to paint my shrine buildings with a verdigris roof, like in the photo above. The aged wood and green roof sections will look right at home in the bamboo forest board I'm planning, as an ancient and forgotten forest shrine.

▲ I undercoated all my wood models in light brown, and then gave them a heavy black wash to shade the woodgrain patterns. This technique was also used on the main shrine building model, but for this painting blog I've taken pics of the mini-shrine instead.

▲ Next I drybrushed the wood sections in light brown again, and then a very light drybrush with a sandy brown to just pick out the edges of posts and panels.




▲ A medium grey was painted over the stone base section, and then a gleaming copper on the entire roof section. This is probably what the shrine would look like when new (of course it would need brighter wood, too!).

▲ Next, I dulled down the copper on the roof with a heavy wash of black. The stone was also given a black wash at this stage.

▲ Whe the black wash was completely dry, I drybrushed the stone base section with light grey...

▲ ... and then randomly dabbed colour washes on some stones to create a little variety. Again, I used a green wash on the bottom of each stone face to suggest moss growth.

▲ Finally, it was time to start weathering that lovely copper. I mixed a mint green acrylic paint with water, to the consistency of milk, and then brushed it on all the copper surfaces. Don't go too heavy with this verdigris wash, or it will pool in funny places. It's better to do multiple thin washes, so you can better control the finished look.

▲ This was how my roof looked after one verdigris wash had dried, so I decided to do it one more time.

▲ And here is the second verdigris wash after it dried. I was happy with this, as it had fallen into the crevices nicely, while still leaving a little hint of the copper underneath.

▲ The handwashing basin, known as a temizuya, has quite a few interesting textures. I painted the stone with various washes and drybrushes, and decided to paint the dragon fountain in verdigris copper, to match the roof.

▲ After I had added the verdigris wash to the dragon, I cut a thin strip of clear plastic from a plastic bag, and superglued the top end to the dragon's mouth. Be warned - this IS a bit fiddly!

▲ After the superglue had dried, I gently pushed the clear plastic strip down into the basin, to show the water spouting from its mouth. I then used a tiny bottle of clear UV resin (bought for $1 in the jewellery/craft section of my local 100yen shop) to drip resin down the plastic strip and into the basin. I also carefully poured a drop down the front of the rock, where the overflow water would run.

▲ And there you are... a finished washbasin and dragon fountain!


The main shrine building is just having the last few coats of paint added to it now, so this set will be ready for release in just a few days! Watch this space....


Tags: samurai  painting 

Making a bamboo forest

2022-08-22 by David

Today we're taking a closer look at the bamboo bases from the new Shrine Set, with a how-to guide on an easy way to create a thick bamboo forest for 28mm scale wargaming.



▲ This is a photo of the 60mm bamboo base included in the shrine set. As you can see, it's a simple textured circle, with a scattering of small rocks and broken shoots of bamboo. There's also a small hole in the underside for a magnet, in case you want to use that. These were printed at 0.2mm layers on an FDM printer, by the way.


The green bamboo trees are, of course, those bendy plastic ones you can buy in bulk online, and are not included in the print files.

▲ To make attaching those green plastic bamboo trees to the printed base easier, there are fourteen small 2mm holes scattered around the base, as you can just about see in this photo. They are the light-grey dots, with the sunshine behind the thin plastic of the holes. Those are the perfect size for the bamboo tree stalks, with just a small blob of glue.

▲ I bought these cheap plastic bamboo trees from Amazon, for about $10 for 100 trees. I think they're actually advertised as 1:75 scale trees, about 12cm tall, but they'll work fine for 28mm (1:56) scale or even tall 15mm scale bamboo forests. I bought two packs of these, and printed 14 of the bases.

▲ Okay, now it's time to look at some reference photos. This is a bamboo grove in Kyoto, I think. You'll notice that the leaves on bamboo trees are actually only really found near the top half of each tree. As the tree grows taller, the bottom part (without leaves) stretches higher and higher.


If you take a look at the plastic trees I bought above, you'll see that the leaves start near the bottom of each tree, so it's probably going to look better to trim some of the lower leaves off.


The other thing you'll notice is the mass of brown leaf litter on the forest floor. I'm going to try to create that effect, too!

▲ I started the painting process with a light brown spray undercoat, and then light grey painted messily onto each rock. You don't need to be neat here, because later steps will hide mistakes!

▲ Next I covered each base in a heavy black wash, to fall into the crevices of the base.

▲ Drybrushing was the final painting step, with a lighter brown for the earth, a light grey for the rocks, and a slightly different brown for the bamboo stalks. Be careful not to hit those stalks too hard, as they are fairly brittle at that size.

▲ Next I took my clippers, and snipped the bottom of each tree flat, so that it will fit the holes better. Then I grabbed my very old glue gun and dabbed a small blob of glue onto the end of each tree, before pushing it down into a hole. Start with the holes in the middle of the base, and stop adding trees whenever you're happy.


* Tip: I managed to find brown glue sticks for my hot glue gun (from the local 100yen store), which will look much better than blobs of white glue over each base.

▲ Here's a base with several stalks of bamboo trees inserted. See how the brown glue is almost completely hidden? It's well worth getting a few sticks of brown glue if you can find them!

▲ Next I decided to trim the bottom couple of inches (about 5cm) of leaves from each base. This is probably not totally realistic (half of the tree height might look more real), but I wanted to keep some foliage lower down, to help block line of sight and make it look thicker. As long as the leaves start above head-height on a 28mm model, I'm happy enough.


The base on the left has been trimmed to remove lower leaves, as compared to the trees on the right, which are the uncut version. Only a small difference, but it looks better to me.

▲ The battlemat I'll probably use with this bamboo forest most of the time is a mid/dark green, so I wanted to blend the edges of each base to the mat. I used this darker green static grass around the edges, stuck down with very watery PVA glue.

▲ When the glue had dried clear, each base looked pretty great. I'd happily use these on my battlefield.


HOWEVER, by this point I had already gone out and bought something to duplicate leaf litter on each base, so I might as well continue!

▲ I asked the wonderful group of people on the Facebook group Feudal Japanese Miniature Wargaming for suggestions on what might work at 28mm scale for bamboo leaf litter. First I tried a local tea shop for a bag of tea leaves in a suitable brown colour, but didn't find any good matches there. Rosemary leaves didn't have the right colour for me, but I was lucky enough to find cumin seeds in my local supermarket, which were a pretty good match in colour, size and shape. Thanks, Jim Jackaman, for the suggestion! Plus my bases had a lovely spicy smell for a couple of days!!


So I brushed some more watery PVA glue onto the centre of each base, amongst the trees, and sprinkled on the cumin seeds.




▲ This was the final result! With the bamboo leaves starting above head-height, each base is thick enough to visually look like a forest, and the floor has lots of interesting obstacles and detritus.


As a group they look great, but you'll have to wait a few more days until I can share proper photos of the completed shrine-in-a-bamboo-forest setting....


Tags: samurai  painting 

Introducing SCALE 3D, our new UK print partner...

2022-08-15 by David

Today we have a new print partner to announce - SCALE 3D, from Wales. They are now selling print versions of our samurai terrain ranges at both 28mm scale AND 15mm scale.

So for those of you who don't have access to a 3D printer, but still want a full tabletop of our eye-catching samurai terrain, jump on over and see what they've got for you!

Tags: partner 


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