Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, September 28th, 2014 - That Was The Week That Was...

Chirine's astrolabe, which was a gift from my kids...

I am back, after a very long and very busy week. It didn't help that I caught a chill last Saturday, while out in the storm, and was under the weather Sunday through Tuesday. Let me backtrack a bit, if I may, and fill in the gaps...

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who commented and e-mailed about how they do and don't use miniatures in their games. What struck me about your responses, as well as that of the OSR bloggers, is that you all noted that it's all about your individual play styles - and not that of what somebody is supposed to have decreed in the pages of "The Dragon", years ago.

Well, yes! This is, to me anyway, what it's all about. Your play style is what should be driving how you play; what you enjoy is what you game, is my theory. As one commenter put it, 'the OSR' is made up of many camps, and I think he's right; gaming should be, in my mind, a big enough tent to allow for a lot of things. In my own experience:

Dave really liked to use miniatures, and did so whenever he could;
Phil liked to make miniatures, and used them as appropriate to the game situation;
Gary didn't like to use miniatures, and didn't.

I think that covers the entire spectrum, really.

So. last Saturday, I worked the football game here in the Twin Cities - it's overtime, and it pays for the medical bills. We had a pretty severe storm come through during the game, which gets the adrenaline going when you have 42,000 people in an open-air roofless stadium with fifty to seventy mile-per-hour winds, damaging hail, and heavy rain predicted - and predicted to hit in about forty minutes, at that.

Here in the Twin Cities, we have a tradition of what's called 'tailgating', where people party in the parking lots outside the stadium before and after the game; people grill and have fun, and they bring these nice 'lawn tents' which are expandable frames with fabric tops on them. (Which we could have used on the Northwest and Northeast Frontier campaigns with Phil, but I don't think they'd been invented yet.) I will leave it to your imaginations what happens to these tents / awnings / gazebos when winds like we got during the storm hit them; in order to minimize the damage, I was sent around in my little electric cart - I do 'Motorist Assistance' calls, which means I do jump-starts, perform miracles in lock-outs, and fix flat tires; a disabled vehicle plays havoc with traffic flows, so we try to clear them as fast as we can - to warn folks to take precautions. It seems to have worked; we had something like fifty tents up and going in the flat lots around the stadium, and only three were lost due to the high winds. The Stadium Operations crew did evacuate the stadium; but, this being Minnesota where we are made of sterner stuff due to our Scandinavian roots, the game resumed after a 45-minute 'rain delay'.

The downside was that the rain was coming in horizontally, and in sheets; I wound up taking cover under a building portico, as my cart was on the verge of being blown over by the wind. The temperatures dropped like the proverbial rock, as the storm front came through; we went from nearly +80F down to a chilly +60F in less then fifteen minutes, and being soaking wet I got very cold.

As a result, I felt very poorly on Sunday; I did get through my overnight shift, but came home very sick. I spent the next thirty hours flat on my back, with The Missus enforcing a period of bed rest with hefty doses of fluids. I took some sick leave on Monday night, but managed to stagger through Tuesday and Wednesday nights with the aid of powerful potions administered by The Missus.

Thursday was The Missus' turn; she got her stitches from the previous surgery out, and everything looks pretty good. She's still sore, but she's feeling pretty good. I stayed home that night, as we had another appointment on Friday...

... Which was a round of exploratory surgery to try and locate what seems to be a "fibroid tumor" in The Missus' abdominal region. It showed up on an ultra-sound exam, and the doctors went in to have a look around; it's believed to be non-malignant, so there was no rush, but everyone just wanted to make sure. All of us came to the party, but the tumor was a no-show; it wasn't visible. So, The Missus will have a go with the ground-penetrating radar - er, an exam with the MRI machine - to scope out where this thing might be lurking.

Yesterday, I took the day off, and I am feeling better. I'm still working on getting back up to speed, and I'll be getting back to all of you as fast as I can.


In other news. the big D&D lawsuit trial is over, for now:


I have been getting some figures painted, as a way to keep my blood pressure down during these troubled times; pictures when I get the chance...


Player-characters note! Here's an excellent series by a British newspaper on what we usually call 'encumbrance' in our games:

Back when I went through my 'basic training', I carried literally more then my own body weight in equipment, weapons, ammunition, and supplies; as a result, I got stuck down in the bottom of a ravine and had to be hauled out by the rest of my squad. I was told - in no uncertain terms! - not to do that again, thank you.


And , to end on a humorous note, here's a news story I think you'll be amused by:

Honestly, Gentle Readers, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried...

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Weekly Update for Sunday / Monday, September 21st / 22nd, 2014 - No News; I have a nasty cold...

I still think this is a pretty darn cool get-well card...

I'm sorry; I'll have to beg your indulgence, this week. I picked up a nasty cold from getting wet and chilled during the storm on Saturday, and I am off to bed after I get my cup of broth. I'll be back as soon as I can; thanks!

- chirine

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Chilling Effect

Yes, I do miniatures in RPGs; live with the infamy.

About a month ago, one of our regular readers - the esteemed Desert Scribe -had a post on his blog that I thought was very interesting and timely:

He, in turn, had linked to an equally interesting post on the blog of the Chicago Skirmish Wargames club:

To summarize the post, one of the club members talked about the club's rules that figures in play must be painted. This is by no means a new thing in the hobby; back in the days of The Little Tin Soldier Shoppe, here in the Twin Cities, the rule was that one had to slap three or more colors of paint - not including any primer - on a figure before it could be used in one of the shop's campaign games. This 'three-color standard' survives to this day, in the "Armies of Tekumel" series' painting information at the back of each army list.

Now, I will confess to being a 'miniatures guy' from waaaay back - it is pretty obvious, from this blog! Speaking as a modeler and gamer, I had no issues with the club's position over unpainted figures; I believe that one participates in a club's activities because the club provides - or should provide - an experience that one can't get 'at home'. A game club presents the opportunity to play with new people and with old friends, perhaps on a larger table and with more detailed terrain and scenery that one might be able to do in one's home on one's own table.

What I found very chilling were the comments made by various people on the post. There seemed to be a lot of anger and unhappiness about the issue of unpainted figures, and some over the use of miniatures in general. These comments parallel quite a few of the posts and comments that I've seen over the past couple of years on various RPG forums, where 'miniatures' (like 'story gaming', whatever that is) is a dirty word.

From what I can gather, there are a lot of people who equate 'miniatures' with D&D 4.0, or with fussy pedants who are incapable of having any of what the posters define as fun. I've run into much the same issues when I was on these same forums, and it's why I am no longer on those forums; I got tired of being hassled for doing something that a lot of people seem to think is DOING IT RONG! Simlarly, this has led to some very basic misunderstandings about what it is that I do in my own personal style of gaming; some folks are quite nonplussed that I do not consider a dozen figures on a battlemat to be A Big Miniatures Game. For me, a Big Game is one that takes place on a large table - usually 60" x 90" or larger - and with a lot of players controlling several hundred figures.

Mind you, I do not have an issue with the 'smaller style' of miniatures gaming, especially in the context of RPG adventures; this is not a new concept, after all. We were doing this in our RPGs back in those forgotten days of yesteryear, back in those ancient days of the late 1970s and through the 1980s. From my perspective, what was so chilling about the comments was the notion that using miniatures in RPGs and gaming is a new concept, and one that detracts from the enjoyment and 'immersion' (whatever that latter term means) one can get from RPGs. The Great God Gygax is frequently quoted in support of this position - from what I gather, he's being used as one of the 'planks' of the OSR's party line on this subject. By the same token, The Divine Dave is just as equally misquoted on the subject, and people were horrified to hear about Gertie the Golden Dragon being a lump of Plasticine that His Divinity molded into a dragon shape. (The Great God Gary, by the way, didn't use his expensive Elastolins in RPGs - they got broken too easily.)

(I do wonder, on occasion, what The Holy Ones would have said if they'd gone to an OSR event. My guess is that they wouldn't have even been allowed in the door by the High Priests of the Sacred Church Of The OSR - too much anarchy, 'hand-waving', 'loosey-goosey' GMing, that kind of sinning...)

I run everything from a couple of player-characters walking down a street and talking to a merchant to massed armies fighting it out over the countryside; for me, it's not about 'genre' gaming, it's about a spectrum of action and adventure. I use 'props' to tell my stories; miniatures, objects, books, scenery, movies, suits of armor, weapons, terrain, and all sorts of stuff like that.

I've moved off the forums and largely away from the Internet because of the grief I've gotten from people because of this. No problem; I can happily tolerate your style of gaming, and I'm sorry that you can't seem to tolerate mine. I simply won't be participating in your forum; you are, however, certainly welcome to drop by this little blog and have a look. I hope you'll enjoy your visit, and a little trip back in time to those younger and more innocent days of gaming...

EDIT: If you haven't had the chance already, please have a look at the wonderful post over on Greyhawk Grognard about this, and please read the comments:

There's  a lot of very good points being made, and I am very pleased to be able to read them!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Update From The Missus! "Rejoice! Just Rejoice!" - M. Thatcher, 1982

She's a fighter...

And now, an update from The Missus- she got the pathology report back from last week's biopsy:


I got the pathology report on the Lymph Node biopsy - and it was clear. 
No evidence of cancer!  Whew!

Now I've just got to talk to an Oncologist and the Radiation Therapy person.

I'll see the surgeon next week to check on the biopsy site, but I don't
foresee any problems.

More later!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, September 14th, 2014 - Lots and Lots and Lots of News!!!

The Saturday Matinee;
The Game Room and Game Lounge in full cry.

The newest addition to the Missuma River Yacht Club;
Just built, prior to staining the hull.

'Temperate' tile on the left; 'Arid' tile on the right.
I think I need to put more green on the 'Temperate' tiles.
Today's update is going to be short, concise, and brief; I worked the football game this morning, from five to one this afternoon, and I'll be working again tonight from ten to six tomorrow. I am, as you might expect, heading off for my Sunday afternoon nap in short order. In the meantime, here's a whole lot of news for you to ponder:


Once again, thank you all for your kind words for The Missus; she really appreciates your concern and good wishes. I will be back with replies to all of you tomorrow, too!


Mike Burns, of Dark Fable Miniatures, will be having another Indiegogo campaign for a new series of Ancient Egyptian 'civilian' miniatures. We have supported the previous three campaigns, and the figures are simply wonderful! These are all of the 'court types' one sees in 'sword and sandal' epics, and are really useful for games set in Tekumel's palaces and clan-houses. For the full story, please visit:


We've heard that the industrious Jeff Dee has sent out the 'pre-approval' edition of his new RPG, "Bethorm", and we'd love to hear from anyone who has a copy. Jeff does good work, and I have confidence in him. Check out his web page at the Uni Games link in the left-hand column, please!


Yesterday's Saturday Matinee Double Feature - "Thief of Bagdad" - 1924, and "Thief of Bagdad" - 1940; these are the correct release dates, by the way - has had to be postponed until Saturday, September 27th, due to an injury to one of our regulars. He's doing well, I am told, but we thought we'd be polite and wait until he can climb stairs again...


The Missuma River Yacht Club has a new ship on the ways. This is one of the "Creatology" wooden kits that are sold as puzzles for six year olds, and it makes up into a very nice ship for games. A six year old will have no trouble building it; I took a little longer...

These kits / puzzles go for about five to six dollars retail, and you can't beat that for a boat that's a good foot long and four inches wide. I'll stain the hull with a nice dark walnut, and she'll soon be sailing about the seas of Tekumel...


So, I was packing the new 'Barsoom' terrain tiles away in their plastic storage tubes, when it occurred to me that I really should compare the old and well-used 'Temperate' and 'Arid' tiles to each other. I've never used the two sets side by side, and I used to use them about one each once per year. That's all changed with the new game table, and I thought I might want to have a look at them to see what I should do to refurbish them.

Ahem. have a look at the photo, above. I have a sneaking suspicion that I need to get out the green tempera paint and give the supposedly 'wetter' tiles a shot of greenery. Comments? Thoughts?


In the larger world of the game industry, the four-handed lawsuit between Warner Brothers / Sweetpea Entertainment and Universal Pictures / Hasbro / Wizards of the Coast is apparently going to trial this week. I am not even going to try to summarize this one; it's been a year of legal motions and court decision since I last reported on this, so I'd suggest going right to the source:


Thats all for now; more later this week, after I get some sleep...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

An Update From The Missus, the Day After...

The Missus is a Doctor Who fan from way, way back...

Here's the latest from The Missus:

Hi all!

We are home and after a nap (I had to get up at 3 a.m. because we needed to check in at 5:30 a.m.) I am feeling okay, other than a little headache.

The procedure went fine, and now I have to wait for the pathology
results, which should be back early next week.

According to the surgeon, I should not have any problems with edema because they only removed one node (in the past they would remove all of the lymph nodes under the arm, which meant that lymph couldn't drain

I follow up with the surgeon in 2 weeks, then meet with an oncologist to discuss hormone therapy then I'll need to set up the radiation therapy.

Many thanks for all the well wishes, and I'll keep you posted with updates.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, September 7th, 2014 - Building Barsoom, And New Voices

More photos of work in progress, but:

Please! If you do not own a table saw, or are not very familiar with how to use one, don't run right out and get one based on what you see in the following pictures! Ask a friend or relative who is a woodworker or carpenter - you know you have them! - to do any cutting on a table saw for you.

I am really serious about this. I've been doing this kind of thing for decades, and I still approach my little table saw with a mixture of deep respect and abject fear. As a result, I still have all of my fingers attached to my hands...

One of the Castle Tilketl hill sections prior to the trip through the saw. These are 14" by 96" expanded styrene foam 'planks', covered with paint and pet store 'terrarium sand'.

The 'plank' reduced to my standard 9.5" x 9.5" square tiles; a five by five array of the tiles is 47.5" x 47.5", which just happens to fit my 48" x 48" game table...

Which see... These are the new 'Barsoom' tiles, with some unfinished extras off to one side. I also salvaged a lot more material as 'half-tiles', too.

The tiles, as seen on the table in the gaming surface. These are half-tiles, 4.75" x 9.5"; I used the table saw to give the tiles a truly vertical edge. A band saw will leave a slightly 'wavy' edge.

The 'Barsoom' tiles; I still need to paint the edges a nice neutral color. I get my scenic paint by the gallon from one of the 'big-box' DIY stores, from the 'OOPS!' section of the paint department. It's a lot cheaper.

As part of the project, I also cut some 'blank' tiles for use as the new swamp. Cutting foam is a very messy process, and you get foam dust all over the place; this is why I do it outside.

 I am happy to report some nice progress! I finally had a nice cool day, with a nice breeze, to get the tiles cut for several new sets of the standard tiles that I use on my new game table. As I mentioned in a previous post, the old hill that I made for Castle Tilketl was both a pain to store and transport, and actually pretty boring as scenery. It's basically a flat, arid desert, and not very exciting.

On the other hand, it does look like the wilds of ERB's Barsoom. I set up my little table saw on the Shopmate, and had at it for a very pleasant afternoon. I made enough full-sized (9.5 x 9.5) tiles to cover the table - and then some; you get more random variation, that way - and a pile of half-sized (4.75 x 9.5) tiles for use as the edges of canals, harbors, and suchlike Barsoomian locales. I think they'll do nicely, and I'll get them boxed up in some of my standard plastic tubs after I paint the edges.


As part of the same work session - cutting foam is messy stuff, and I tend to 'save up' and do it all at one go - I also made some plain tiles for later modification into 'swamp' tiles for Tekumel. I'll laminate these foam squares to thin MDF, cut to the same size, and then add water effects to suit the Ahoggya. The players will, most likely, not appreciate the mud and mire...


The esteemed author of the "Butrus Gazetteer" has a new blog, dedicated to Tekumelyani cooking. This may sound like an obscure topic, but we had a lot of very fun and very spirited discussions with the Professor about this very subject. (Ambereen usually weighed in with examples, too!) I've added a link, off to the left, for you.


I have also corrected a long-running oversight on my part; I hadn't given you a link to the site where the "Butrus Gazetteer" live, and is available for download. The link is now up, and under the 'Useful Tekumel Links' heading.

I really like the book, and I think it should be a part of every Tekumel fan's collection. It's a wonderful book, full of the kind of witty asides and 'plot hooks' that Phil used to do in our games with him, and in every way it's a very fitting addition to the materials we have for Tekumel. Highly useful, and highly amusing, too!!!


Posts this week may be a little scattered; the Missus has her biopsy on Wednesday, and I'll be a little preoccupied...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Little Something For That Nice Mr. Knight...

And now something from that nice Mr. Knight, one of our Regular Readers, from hios comment over on Google+:

Tim Knight Yesterday 3:12 PM

One day I'll build (or probably buy from someone else) a castle like this for our games - for the players to either storm or defend. Thank you, as always, for the wonderful inspiration.

We aim to please, here at The Workbench...

This is the 25mm plan, scaled up from the original plan that Phil did for me from when we played this out in his campaign back in Ye Olden Dayes

I made cardboard templates from the plans, and then cut the pink extruded insulation foam from those. One of  The Tekumel Project's superb figures for size...

The wall parapets are made from individual clay blocks, sold by a Spanish company for making castles and other buildings with. I brushed a thinned mix of acrylic wood filler over these for that 'mud-brick' look.

The brass beam clamps are holding the wooden trim on the keep while the glue dries. Ordinary wood glue works just fine for this kind of work, by the way.

And ordinary white glue works just fine to stick the bricks onto each other. I cut recesses into the foam for all the doors; these are made of wood sheet, and are removable for when the players knock them down.

The brick walls, from the besiegers' eye view.

The brick walls, from the inside, with an officer from the Legion of Serqu, Sword of the Empire - probably thinking about a transfer, at this point. On the other hand, the photo may be from an incoming rock's point of view...

The walls are now all up, and we're starting the battlements. The merlons are all made from the same bricks as the walls. I got several thousand in the set I bought...

More battlements, with the tools of the trade visible. About all you really need to make this kind of thing is a kitchen table and a sharp knife. DO NOT, however, use one of the cooking knives; You will regret it, come dinner time, and you find bits of foam in the roast Kaika...

The battlements, from an approaching player's point of view, as they peek over the wall from the top of their ladder.

More of the battlements and adobe finish, and again showing the incredibly complicated set of tools required to make this little castle.

Bit of a scaling shot, with the 28mm figure in the courtyard to give some idea of how big / small this place is. The model is about 25" by 36", and is a very handy size to play in games. I keep separate floor plans for the room to room fighting, just like a set of 'dungeon' tiles.

There are more pictures of the finished castle on my Photobucket page - if there aren't, there will be this weekend. I need to make sure that I have all of our games up on there... :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Readers' Requests - How do I paint things up, and what do they look like - Photos!

Chirine's staff of Bearers, part one. I hired these folks in Meku, after I got made a Lord, to carry my baggage to Fasiltum. I don't own slaves; I was involved in the clean up after the slave revolt in Ferinara, back in the day, and I would intensely prefer not to be murdered in my bed. It would cost a fortune to get the blood out of the carved woodwork on the thing, anyway.

Chirine's Bearers, part two. I asked the Clan of the Truning Wheel, a carters' and porters' clan, to provide me with some people on contract; I paid their salaries, provided food and lodging, and they have been with me ever since. They were scandalized by Si N'te not having any maids, so some of them filled in for a little extra money. I never heard the end of it from them.

These are figures from Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project - I think these are pre-production samples. The baskets all come cast on the figures, and there are sprues of seperate loads to be glued on the tops of the 'blank' baskets. These are very nice figures; very crisp, and full of character. It's not really obvious, but there are two poses for each gender.

The Lorun 'sacrifice vignette', again from Howard and The Tekumel Project. The unfortunate Hmellu is a treat; I used a dilute solution of an enamel paint to get the red to flow into the very fine quartz stone that I used for the bases. These are sculpted by David Soderberg, who also provides me with figures via his own Bronze Age Miniatures. He does very dynamic sculpts, and I really like them.

Light infantry slinger girls from the Gurek of the Clan of the Silver Worm, again from Howard and The Tekumel Project. I really like these, and they are a joy to paint up. The expressions on their faces remind me of my daughters, especially when they get into some sort of mischief.

A closeup of the girls; the young lady in the center has had all of her trim painted. These figures are really easy to paint. All of the trim and decoration is raised sculpting, and is a snap to paint with a very fine brush. I just have to take these girls slowly - the fine detail takes a little extra time, but is really worth it.

A little something from the past - from 1976 onward, to be exact. These are figures from our game sessions out at Prof. Barker's, in the original Thursday Night Group. The 'custom of the house' back then (as it is today in my games) is that once you rolled up your character, I was commanded to produce a proper 'personality figure' for you:

"You have a week, Chirine. Get cracking." "Yes, Professor." To hear is to obey, Phil... :)

From left to right: Nyssa (Lady Tsahul's maid), Lady Tsahul the Livyani, Chirine, Si N'te (Chirine's wife), Si N'te's cousin, whose name I can never remember, Vidlakte (Harchar's marine captain, played by Ken Fletcher), Princess Vrisa Vishetru of Saa Alliqui (Baron Ald's clan-cousin, played by Kathy Marshall), Prince Mridan Vishetru (Vrisa's feckless younger brother), and Chirine's deck chair for those long voyages to the Southern Continent with Captain Harchar. (See the Purser for details.)
I got a comment / question on my last post that I thought deserved a longer answer, so here we go:

Joseph Bloch - August 31, 2014 at 10:21 PM

A technical mini-painting question if I may, since I'm currently on a tear painting a bunch of old 25mm Grenadier AD&D miniatures for my forthcoming 5th Edition D&D game. 

Do you use Quickshade or any sort of analogue in your own painting? I was startled to see just how much better it made my minis, and was wondering if you had used some sort of similar inking wash. Especially since you seem to work in considerably higher volumes of miniatures than I do...

Great question - let me see if I can give you a decent answer!

I generally don't use any of the Quickshade or 'brand-name' washes on my figures; I use good-quality latex paints and a wet brush, and I can get the kind of look that I like that way. Let me run through the process, if I may.

First, I clean off any flash and sprue - like everyone does, and then I prime the figures with a flat white enamel metal primer. Hardware (ironmongers, for our UK readers) and the 'big-box' DIY stores have this for cheap. I normally do not prime with black, which is what GWs suggests in their painting manuals, or with grey; if I do use these, I make sure to use a flat paint as it holds the paint better. I use white because I can get a lot more 'depth' to the paints I'm using, and they tend to look brighter - which is a look I prefer for my Tekumel figures.

I use acrylic-fiber brushes; you can get some very nicely pointed ones in some of the 'student' ranges for a lot cheaper then in the 'pro' or 'artist' ranges. Find a brand that you like, and stick with it; I admit to being a 'brush hog', and I have probably several dozen brushes that I use. I use wider brushes for larger areas, and finer ones for finer detail; everything from 10 'O' up to 1/4". I have a separate set of larger brushes for scenery and terrain work; they make the work go a lot faster, because I can cover larger areas more quickly and more controllably. (And yes, I do use airbrushes, but that's another story for another time.)

I prefer the 'Liquitex' paints, which are available from artists' supply shops and crafts stores; these will thin out with water to really fine washes. I also use the various 'crafts' and 'hobby' paints, as needed, and depending on what colors I need for a specific figure. Again, all of these are acrylics.

I keep a pot of clean water on the workbench for thinning paints, and a pot of 'dirty' water for cleaning the brushes. If you are like me, and like to sip your soda, coffee, or tea while painting, use a covered travel glass or mug; mistakes can happen, like the time I rinsed out my brush in my Coca-cola, drank the paint water, and then - adding insult to injury - sprayed my Oreo cookies with Dull-coat varnish.

I 'mass-produce' my figures; I usually do them in whatever units I need, such as the ten City Guards or the twenty slinger girls. I also usually have a number of personality figures that need doing, and they'll get whatever colors they share with the units at the same time. I 'work from the skin out', painting fist any skin, then tunics or kilts, and then the armor or other clothing; details like belts and weapons are done last. I also try to do the lightest colors first, working from light to dark in the color scheme - one has to be flexible in this, of course!

I shake the bottle of paint really well, and then load up my brush with clean water. I dab the end into the paint, and stir the tip around until I get the density of pigment that I want. The slinger girls, for example, got a thinner coat of leather color to bring out the folds in their tunics; same with the green I used for the kilts. The paint tends to settle in the deeper folds, as well as along any sculpted lines, and you get much the same effect as you would with the 'Quickshade' washes.

I work my down the line of figures, and normally the first color on the first figure is dry about the time I finish that color on the last figure. Start again at the head of the line with the next color, and repeat until you are satisfied.

Generally, this process will do the trick and I'll get decent-looking figures; have a look at the pictures here and on the Photobucket page and see what you think.

And, having said all that, I do use washes as I think needed to bring out the detail on a figure - I'll use dry-brushing for the same reason. I just don't do it as a matter or regular practice; I do use it in 'special' figures like personality figures, though. I prefer to use thinned out-colors from my normal paints, and also thinned-out inks from calligraphy suppliers. I really like to use a thinned-out black ink on mail, for example; it settles into the links, and makes them really pop out. I also use some of the fancy 'iridescent' colors that one can find in the various 'fantasy colors' ranges; I like to use these to put a shine on areas of cloth to makethem look like silks or such, and this usually works pretty well - the metallic elements in these paints settle into the folds of the garment, and pop out the fabrics really well.

I have also used thinned-out enamels for this kind of thing, and also thinned-out wood stains - especially on wood! I do not use some of the various 'home mixes' I've seen suggested on the Internet; I hate stripping a paint job because I messed it up with a dodgy wash.

I've seen the various Quickshade products used on figures; I just don't use them, myself. If they work for you, and you like how they handle on your figures, then you are doing the right thing - the goal, after all, is to get playing!!!