Monday, November 12, 2018

Debts Paid

 For various reasons, I ow a number of people some dice towers and this morning I finally decided to stop being a welch and started building the towers.

I got to use my new silicon glue-up mat from Rockler and I really like it.
 I'm using a combination of hardwoods for the towers - walnut, cherry, Paduak, Purple Heart and Mahogany.  I'd like to say its all do to a very elaborate plan but it's really what I have in the shop.

I made a good bit of progress this am and the four towers are basically assembled and glued together.
For storage thy nestle together as the demonstrated in the last photo.  Next up is sanding, finishing and some special details but these all should be off to their new owners by the end of this week.

Sunday, November 11, 2018


Chris, Eric and I have embarked upon a campaign of Gloomhaven - world's heaviest game.

We manage to learn the rules (well most of them) and play the first mission.  It was really fun and a I'm amazed at how all the parts seem to work together well.  There are A LOT of parts!

Monday, November 5, 2018

ProTip #1: Put the spray paint cap back on the right spray can!

This post is the first of a series where I impart upon the world my collective wisdom about the hobby.  Yes, yes I know that this is something all of you have been waiting for with baited breath - or dread, not sure which.

Sadly, my actual supply of "wisdom" is very limited, so I'll be going with posts about hobby mistakes and what I've learned from them and how to recover.

These posts will occur as the actual event unfold and, given my track record, there will be a lot of them.

Today's post is about keeping track of spray paint colors - always put the cap that indicates the color (or lack of color if it's a matte sealer) back on the can.  NEVER trust your memory that "yes, this is the tan spray paint - I'm sure of it.

I tend to batch up priming models / terrain pieces and often use multiple colors.  Every now and then I get get lazy and don't replace the cap on a can I know I'm going to use again.  The result of said lapse in judgment is pictured above.  This has also happen with white primer coat being mistaken for matte sealant.  On some once very nicely painted 28mm Perry French Dragoons.  I wasn't in the right emotional state to take pictures of that sad day, but it is remembered in the Lair as Black Sunday March 2013.

How can you avoid the heartache of spray paint color mismatch?

1) I now only buy the small cans of dull coat from Testors so I can easily discern what is spray paint vs matte coat.

2) Put the color code caps back on the damn cans in-between use,  This is revolutionary thinking but is worth the risk of being accused of blasphemy.

3) For those of you who can't abide by rule #2, only buy one color of spray primer.  As with nuking form orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

On a more serious note, I really enjoy the artistic aspect of this hobby but sometimes fall into painting process ruts.  I often need to remind myself that trying new techniques keeps the creative post of the hobby fresh but comes with an increase in the rate of mistakes.  Since 99% of mistakes in this hobby are recoverable its more than worth taking that risk.  As for the other 1% that are unrecoverable - get over it - it's just Toy Soldiers!

I suspect another hobby disaster from yours truly are just around the corner....

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Kill Team: Tyranids!

Kill Team fever has stricken the Lair, with another Kill Team on the painting bench.  There are some Tyranids.  The KT force comes with 8 gene-stealers and I've augmented the group with a Warrior how adds a bit of "shooty-ness" to what is a close combat force.

Like the Space Marines, these are a blast to paint up and look pretty good with just a handful of colors and some shading.

I thought I had given all my 40K stuff away to a friend whose son was getting into the game - I'd rather see someone else have fun with the mini's rather than keep them incarcerated in my closet.  Apparently, I didn't send everything as I've stumbled across a few additional boxes of space marines and Tyranids - enough for a few more KT's

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Kill Team!

My Space Wolves Kill Team has been painted up and will, hopefully, get some play time in a few weeks.

I've heard great things about KT and decided to make the plunge back into a GW sponsored property.  I had forgotten how fun GW figures are to paint up.

As with most gaming projects there will be an opponent for these plucky astro pups.  There is a strong possibility of some Tyranids showing up either in the next few weeks or perhaps during the upcoming painting challenge.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Another Game of Trafalgar

Last night I hosted another game of Trafalgar.  It was the same scenario from the club game w/ some minor variations. The scenario objective is for the French/Spanish fleet to escort a frigate (in the harbor) off the far side of the board.  The only change from the previous game is there is only one frigate rather than two.  Last game was a decisive victory for the French/Spanish fleets.
The Spanish and British close for close action - the Brits (me) managed to get a maneuvering advantage over the Spanish (Eric) and we crossed the "T" of the Santisima

A wider shot of the game showing the French fleet (Chris) splitting up - sending the Bucentaure to aid the Spanish while having two other third rates continue to escort the frigate around the other side of the Island

Things didn't go well for the Spanish tonight as the Santisima was pounded into match sticks.  The Bucentaure also was sunk after accidentally ramming the Victory.

The outcome of the game.  My British fleet won a decisive victory in battle terms sinking or disabling 5 of 6 enemy ships of the line - a much better showing than last game.  There's only one fly in that ointment - the objective frigate still got off the board with barely a scratch so the win goes again to the crafty French and their brave Spanish allies.

It was a good game and still very close, so I like the scenario and will continue to refine it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Rolling Troop Cabinet "Plans"

Several people have asked for plans for the rolling cabinet.  To be honest, the project was pretty much built on the fly, with the only real "thinking" going into the dimensions of the storage trays.  I'll summarize the logic below and provide a cut lists so, hopefully, that helps.

In the past I have used a lot of the plastic "Really Useful" boxes for storage and transport.  Iv'e got a ton of them and over the course of the years have made some interior organizers and wanted to make sure those fit inside the new drawers.  The internal dimensions of the standard 4 liter Really Useful box is 12.5 inches long by 8.5 inches wide x 2.75 inches high.

Those dimensions set the lower bounds of the drawer size.  The final interior dimensions for the drawers was set to:

9.5 inches wide
15.5 inches long
3 inches high (but wait there's an adjustment coming)

These would allow me to use all my past organizers and give a bit more storage space.

Now there was on more consideration in drawer design - the runners.  I could have gone with store purchase metal runners that attach to the sides but decided against that due to both cost and weight.  I went with very simple fixed rails that the drawers sit on top of.  The minimum size of the rails was guesstimated to by 1/2x1/2 inch and 16.5 inches long.  I used a 2.5 inch spacer to ensure the rails where space properly and then glued and screwed each rail into place.  The placement still wasn't perfect so there was a lot of hand sanding afterwords to get all the rails level with one another.

In hindsight it would have been a lot easier and more accurate to have cut dado's (slots into the plywood) before assembling the case.

The 1/2 inch height of each rail needed to be deducted from the drawer height to allow room for the drawer to slide in, thus the overall height of each drawer was reduced to 2.5 inches.

The drawers themselves were constructed to there width of plywood.  1/2 inch plywood for the fronts and backs, 1/4 inch for the sides and 1/8 inch for the bottom.  You could use the same dimensions - say 1/2 inch but that adds a lot of weight to an already heavy item that is intend to be mobile.

The final cut list for each drawer is:

Drawer Front and back:
- 2, 10" x 2.5 inch, 1/2 inch pieces of plywood with a 1/8 deep x 1/4 inch wide rabbet cut along the bottom.  A rabbet is just a section cut out along the corner of a piece of wood to allow another piece to fit snugly.

- 2 15.5 inch x 2.375 inch lengths of 1/4 inch wide plywood

- 1 10 inch x 16 inch piece of 1/8 plywood

Now do all those cuts 14 times......

The cabinet will hold the really useful boxes if the lids are removed but I liked the look of wood better than plastic - majestic miniatures soldiers should be stored in wooden boxes not mass produced plastic ones - it just seems to be the right thing to do!

The drawers are assembled upside down when glued together.  Since this is a receptive task, I strongly urge using a jig to keep all the section square and speed the build process.

Whew - that was probably more to type out than actually do.

With the drawer size set the next step is the build the cabinet.  I wanted to use 1/2 inch plywood and liked the look of two columns of drawers  in the cabinet.  Therefore, the width of the cabinet was set with the following very arcane and complicated formula:

width of 2 drawers:  2 x 10" = 20 inches
plus with of 3 1/2 inch pieces of plywood:  3 x .5 = 1.5 inches
plus 1/4 inch of room to allow drawers to slide easily = 1/4 inch

Total Width = 21.75 inches

The depth of the box was easy as the drawers were already set at 16.5 inches long.   I added another two inches to allow for storage in the drawers so the overall depth is 18.5 inches.

The height was the tricky part.  This thing needs to be able to fit in my car, which limited the overall height to be now more than 24 inches.

Butt joints and screws plus glue was used for the joinery - simple and strong.  The cut list for the case is

Sides and interior support
3 x 1/2 inch plywood 23 inches high x 18.0 inches deep
 (why isn't the height 24"? to account for the width of the top and bottom which are attached to the sides as pictured to the left.  Same for the width but with 1/4 inch plywood.

Top and bottom
2 x 1/2 inch plywood 21.75 inches wide and 18.5 inches deep

Front and back
2 x 1/4 inch plywood that is 24 inches high and 21.75 inches wide

Its really important when assembling the carcass of the case that everything be square - the drawer need to fit all along the width of the openings.  As you can see in the picture to the left, I cut some spacers and clamped them in place to ensure the box would be square and everything fit.

Rolling Base
The rolling case is just a simple 3/4 inch plywood box.  I went with 3/4 inch plywood to make sure the base was sturdy enough to securely carry the weight of the cabinet.  The dimensions of the base are 13.5 inches high by 22.75 inches wide and 19.5 inches deep.  The width and depth are one inch longer than the actual cabinet so I can fir a mounting lip around three sides.  The height was based on the plywood I had left but you don't want the base too much higher for stability concerns.  The cut list is

2, 12inch x 19.5 inch 3/4 inch plywood

Tops and Bottom
2, 19.5 inch x 22.75 inch plywood

1 12 inch x 21.25 inch 3/4 plywood

1 22.75 inch x 13.5 inch piece of 1/2 inch plywood that is then cut in half.

The mounting lip made of sections of 1/2 inch plywood.  There are 3 3 inch wide strips that run across the sides and back of the case with 1.5 inch protruding over the top.  2 18.5 inch x 1.5 inch strips are added to the sides to snug up to the cabinet and hold it in place.

The wheels are simple workshop rolling casters.  The front two have a locking mechanism which is really important - when loaded with minis this case could weight upwards to 90 pounds and that could gain a good bit of momentum if it was left on a slight incline....  Locking wheels are a must!

I think that's all the info I can provide on the "plans" for the case.  Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you if you find woodworking daunting is to just give it a try - it's easy after you get a little practice and anyone with the artistic skills to paint miniatures can easily acquire the more basic skills for elementary woodworking.

Good Luck!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Troop Cabinet in "Action"

The Troop cabinet is finished (well except for some hardware) and has been set up in my games closet.  The lower section is used to store game cloths and terrain.

A drawer of British infantry
and some calvary plus artillery
There's room for some Spanish and Portuguese allies

A small gathering of French Line Infantry
And some French Lights plus Guards
 French Calvary - well you get the picture.

The current 15mm Nappy collection (now a tad over 2,400 figures) takes up one column of drawers with room for a little expansion.
The last bit of construction involved adding a lip around the base unit to keep the cabinet in a snug fit.  I'm glad to call this project done and looking forward to the first full field test at a future con.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Trafalgar Game at the Club

I recently joined a local war gaming club, Army Group York.  Yes, I was just as surprised as you there is a club with standards low enough for me to qualify, but there you go.

After playing some wonderful games at the club facility, I wanted to run my first game there and went with and old standard - Napoleonic Naval.  Naval games are very easy to transport and look surprisingly good.

The scenario was simple - a combine force of French and Spanish ship had to escort a frigate with a special envoy aboard across the far map edge.

The French had 3 ships (upper center) which were a 2nd Rate and two 3rd rates.  The Spanish (lower center) also had three ships - a lumbering 1st rate and 2 3rd's.  They were escorting two frigates - one of which held the envoy - the British player did not know which Frigate the envoy was on.

The blockading British Squadron was similar in size with 6 Ships of the line - a 1st rate and 5, 3rd rates (upper left) plus two frigates (lower left)
The British admiralty looks on as they plot maneuvering around the Island - which way will the frigates go?
Lots of maneuvering
Contact - the Spanish line comes in a gun duel with the Victory's division and comes off a little worse for the exchange.
 The Franco/Iberian coalition changed plans midway during the game and kept the frigates to the right side go the board.  The Spanish were nominated to delay the British force and did so very well but paid for it in some sunk and disabled ships.  I am sure the French will remark upon there brave allies in their dispatches.

Ed's line of three 3rd rates closes in on the battered Spanish.  He managed to sink a 3rd rate outright and so massive damage to the 1st rate (the lead ship).  The Spanish still fought bravely with the 1st Rate managing to ram and grapple the Mars and was attempting to take her with a boarding action.

The other British division found itself out of place and couldn't catch the French as they escorted the frigates.  The wind was not our friend as it changed course several times and almost always put us in irons as it kept changing to come across our bows.

The two British Frigates got shot to pieces - Frigates should never take on Ships of the Line.  It doesn't end well......

We called the game as a French/Spanish victory and I think all the players had fun.  I'm sure I got a lot of rules wrong but thought the game moved along well.

I was using one of my Cigar Box double sided battle mats and it really worked well.  It's made of a fleece material which has the added benefit of showing the ship tracks as they moved across the table top.  That made it really easy for players top retrace movement when they made a mistake or re-thought something.

I was very pleased to learn that another club member has a collection of 1/1200 Langton's models.  We may even have enough to try and re-stage the Battle of Trafalgar!  Maybe.....

By the way, Ed and I are sporting some very stylish footwear!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Army Progress: 2,340 15mm Nappy's Based

 Since this is a miniature wargaming blog and not a woodworking one, I thought it would be nice to report out some progress on actual miniatures.  Basing is complete for the first phase of my 15mm Napoleonic project.  The initial "wave" is focused on the Peninsular Campaign and there are forces from Britain, Portugal, Spain and, of course, the French.  All told the collection currently tops out at 2,340 painted figures with another 300 or so on the painting desk.

The goal is to field over 3K figures for the Historicon game next July.  I'm pretty confident I can get there.

To be clear the vast majority of the current group (say 94%) were purchased pre-painted from a collection of vendors, the largest being Gajo Miniatures.  Others are from a variety on E-Bay sellers.

The figures have all been glued down to bases which have had scenery applied.  All that remains is to put Nationality flags for the command stands and these gentlemen are ready for the table top.  The basing is intended to work with a variety of rulesets including Age of Eagles and Grand Battles Napoleon.

 Lets take a look at some of the painting quality - none of the following featured figures were painted by me - they are far beyond my meager brush skills.

First up, some French Heavy Cavalry in the form of 6 bases of Carabiniers and 10 stands of Cuirassier.

 Some French Light Infantry.  The first 3 ranks are based in Grand Battles Napoleon  skirmish mode (2 figures per base).
 French Dragoons - a lot of French Dragoons - 38 stands worth.  I may have gone a little overboard here.
 A close up of one of the French Ligne units - the  core of the French force.  These figures were also painted by Gajo and I'm really happy with the quality.  I highly recommend Gajo if you're in the market for pre-painted figures.  Very fast service and very good communications about what's in and not in stock.

I'm still refining my painting technique for 15mm Napoleonics and will post some of my own stuff when they look decent.  That may be a while....

I use a very simple basing technique for 15mm models.  This is especially true this Nappy project - given the large number of smallish bases - Infantry are 3/4 inch wide by 1 inch deep.

Figures are affixed to their bases using Vallejo Pumice Stone or similar products from Liquitex. The pumice mix serves to both glue the figures down and provide texture to the base.  The grip is surprisingly strong.  Every now and then I need to go back and add a drop of CA glue to hold the occasional figure in place once the pumice has dried.  It's great stuff.

Once the texture material has set, a tan paint color is mixed up using craft paint (2/3 dark brown plus 1/3 white and some water).  I also mix in a bit of matte medium.  While the paint is still wet ground foam is sprinkled on and the base set aside to dry.  The ground foam is a mix of various stuff - mostly leftovers from larger terrain projects.  It's kind of a constantly evolving mix as every month of so a different bit is added.

It's not the most artistic way to base but the results look good enough and allowed me to finish the scencing of close to 700 bases over the course of two days (Ok it was 691, but who's counting?).  Special units like Guard and Command Stands get some special treatment.

There's still a good bit more to paint up - artillery limbers and other wagons, some more base infantry and marines for both the French and British.  The Spanish also need some artillery.  Generals also need to be painted and based - what's a Napoleonic army without generals?


I have a lot of Limbers to paint....

I really hate painting Limbers....