Oh My Kanzume Goddess! Cosplayer and Tabletop Gamer Toni Darling

Cosplayer Toni Darling dressed as Sailor Moon holding up Kanzume Goddess Gemini cardCosplayer Toni Darling is slightly amused to have been the subject of at least two internet memes, both based around her female Thor cosplay. The Arizonan was a cosplay guest at the 2013 Las Vegas Comic Expo and counts Sailor Moon, Tier Halibel from Bleach, and Lady Death, among her many cosplays. But Darling confided that her true convention preference is for gaming conventions like Gen Con, which Darling attended earlier this year in August and says she’ll never miss again.

Toni Darling the Gamer

At Gen Con 2013, Darling worked at the Japanime Games’ booth and is an avid player of both their Kanzume Goddess card game and Krosmaster: Arena. Darling points to Kanzume Goddess as a game which she can easily teach to someone who’s not a gamer. When playing the deck-building card game, Darling says that she always wants to buy Aquarius, followed by Cancer and Gemini. As for Krosmaster, Darling said that a Queen of the Tofus costume is in the works as well as a King of the Gobballs and went on to premier them at the recent New York Comic Con.

Darling and Friends at New York Comic Con 2013

As for her Gen Con experience, Darling says, “I’ll never miss another one.” She regrets that she missed an opportunity for a V.I.P. tour of the True Dungeon experience, but looks forward to fighting a giant or dragon with a party of her own next year.

Cosplayers at Las Vegas Comic Expo show some skin, Jackie Goehner as Witchblade, Toni Darling as female Thor, Red Sonja, and Brieanna Brock as Red Son Wonder Woman

Darling as Thor Joined by Red Sonja, and Red Son Wonder Woman at LVCE 2013

While Magic: The Gathering is cool with Darling, she is much more enthusiastic about Cards Against Humanity. She’s also a huge fan of Dust Tactics, having painted her own set of figures as well as having cosplayed as the Axis sniper Angela. If Darling had all the money in the world, she says she would want “beautiful hand-painted miniatures of every Dust: Tactics character”. That dream may have to wait, but then again, Darling’s primary panel at the Las Vegas Comic Expo was “The Business of Cosplay”, which saw the cosplayer dispensing advice on how to financially benefit from costuming, so it may be sooner than one might think.

To keep up with Darling’s busy convention schedule and to invite her to upcoming tabletop gaming conventions, visit her Facebook page at http://facebook.com/ToniDarlingAZ.

Dust Tactics Operation Cerberus

Distributed by Fantasy Flight Games and made by Dust Studio, Operation “Cerberus” is the latest expansion for Dust Tactics. While previous expansions have included two new miniatures, Operation Cerberus features a plastic 3D building as well, easily making it well worth its SRP of $44.95.

Of course, the expansion is just that: an expansion. While I got it solely to add its building to my terrain, it does include two new hero miniatures. The Allies get The Chef, a dual-flamer wielding maniac. The Axis feature the skirt-wearing, sniper rifle-wielding Angela Wolf. The expansion rulebook suggests some tactics for them, introduces further rules and units, and has scenarios involving the new building, as well as instructions on putting it together.

The Operation “Cerberus” Building

The Operation Cerberus building from Dust Tactics viewed from the front.Those directions are actually useful. While the pieces are intuitive, building three separate floors and then placing them together requires great dexterity and patience. Instead, upper pieces should be placed on the top tabs. The other panels slide down vertically into the waiting grooves. The pieces “lock” in at the top, leaving the lower portion freer to potentially pop out. This is more apparent in a smaller build as adding floors further stabilizes the building. The building is also designed more as a facade than for both detailed interior and exterior use. The plastic used is also lightweight and very hard, which makes it brittle and more prone to snapping than other plastics typically used in wargaming. Jerky motions can be rewarded with a connector snapping off and getting stuck in the groove.

Modularity

Modularity is restricted by the design of the corner elements as well as the linking mechanisms between pieces. 3 Inside Corners are provided, while there are 15 Outside Corners. Are they really that different? Yes! Their upper tabs and their bottom slots both differ, as well as the aesthetic difference between having inside and outside designs. The other pieces are further divided between narrow panels and wide panels. Narrow panels are 51mm wide, not including their connectors. The Wide panels are about 71mm across, again not including the connectors. The measurements get even more confusing when the set’s two Support Doors and two Support Windows are factored in. They share a 92mm width. Lastly the other connectors, including the corners, have a standard width of about 27mm. Because of all these varying measurements, I have stayed with one of the standard configurations from the book, which is used in scenarios 1-6. Otherwise, some thought or moderate experimentation is required in order to get a building that will match up. There are also no T-intersection pieces.

Visual Design

Its design is perfect, of course, for Dust Tactics, which takes place in the alternate WWII timeline of 1947. Besides fitting well into any other WWII era wargame, it also carries well into the present. Want a building to fend off zombies from? Check. Need a building to stage your own “Assault on Precinct 13”? Check. It fits in well for use as a building for Heroclix. It also bears up well in more futuristic sci-fi settings.

Adding Basswood Floors

The Dust Tactics Operation Cerberus building as seen from above with basswood roofing.The building comes with card floors that insert into the grooves. Unfortunately they don’t run the entire length of the building. I knew for other wargaming use, I would want actual floors and quickly ruled out plasticard as an option as it lacks rigidity and would collapse downwards with any serious weight. I happened to have 1/16th inch basswood strips on hand from Revell, purchased at Michael’s. They slid in easily into the building’s grooves. My strips were 4x24x1/16 inches, so I next began trimming them down to size.

The dimensions I eventually arrived at were:

Long Piece A – 180mm x 92mm
Long Piece B – 180mm x 85mm

The two large pieces fill in a 2×2 area on the Operation Cerberus board. I suppose you could split the difference and have two pieces both 180mm by 88.5mm or so. There is some wiggle room allowed. Very importantly: the plastic structure can bend and bulge depending on how you cram flooring in. I know that my pieces are causing it to bulge slightly.

I roofed the asymmetrical portion that extends off, which I would call a 1×1, with two separate pieces of basswood, because I had run out of a large enough piece. Together they measure: 91mm x 85mm.

A more precise hobbyist will get more accurate numbers, but the dimensions I used were enough to have a sufficiently convincing roof that is relatively easy to remove and reattach.

Painting the Tarred Roof

While basswood has some slight texture, I saw that I would want more and used Spray Adhesive on the uppermost roof pieces. I then poured dental plaster over them, briefly shook them off after a small wait, hit them again with the Spray Adhesive, and did a final layer of plaster. I avoided PVA glue because it is usually too thick and I didn’t want to warp the basswood strips. A simple black coat of craft paint later, I had a passable tarred roof reminiscent of asphalt. The lines were added with a sloppy drybrush of light grey paint. Then I sprayed them with Testor’s Glosscote. Despite the gloss finish, they are relatively flat.

The other floors did not receive as much attention with two colors painted on, followed by a light grey drybrush. Depending on how you are going to use your building, you may want more additional roof areas which would be as easy as preparing other basswood strips.