Thursday, May 24, 2018

Historicon 2018 - My Games (Shameless Self Promotion)

Yes this is my annual plug for the games I running at Historicon.  Its all very self aggrandizing and such but there you go.  You can pre-register for games at the Historicon site







I've got six games on the Event List (PEL) which you can register for:

T:125:10 DAK & Dragons

T:145:14 SOCOM & Sorcery

F: 143:10 DAK & Dragons

F:146:15 SOCOM & Sorcery

S:144:10 DAK & Dragons

S:147:15 SOCOM & Sorcery

These are games will be improved versions of last year's games which were very well received.  At let I think they'll be improved - I guess we'll all find out in July.

I'll also be running pickup versions of the games each evening but prefer not to be tied down to a set schedule - that allows me a bit of a break and time for a longer dinner.

Below are the descriptions of the games that can be found in the PEL listing.  As you can see, I have adhered strictly to running very serious and historically accurate simulations.

T:125:10 DAK & Dragons 2.0Thursday, 10:00 AM, 3 hrs, Players: 8, Room: Distelfink, Table #: D26GM: Miles ReidySponsor: None, Prize: Beyond the Dreams of AvaricePeriod: World War II, Scale: 28mm, Rules: DAK & Dragons
Recent reports from the local Berbers indicate something ominous is happening deep in the Egyptian desert. It must be something big as both the Axis and Allied high commands are dispatching teams of crack troops to find out exactly what is going on. DAK and Dragons is THE definitive historical simulation of WW2 squad level tactics vs. the Dark Gods of Egypt. Perhaps you can answer the age-old question - can a Panzer III take on a Dragon? DAK and Dragons 2.0 is an improved version of last year's very popular game and uses simple homebrew rules. Children are welcome w/ Parent



F:146:15 SOCOM & Sorcery 2.0Friday, 3:00 PM, 3 hrs, Players: 8, Room: Distelfink, Table #: D26GM: Miles ReidySponsor: None, Prize: Beyond your dreams of avaricePeriod: Modern, Scale: 28mm, Rules: Homebrew
Recent aerial reconnaissance has discovered ominous Egyptian ruins near the head of the Nile River. It must be something big as multiple teams of crack troops are being dispatched to find out exactly what is going on. SOCOM and Sorcery is THE definitive historical simulation of modern squad level tactics vs. the Dark Gods of Egypt. Perhaps you can answer the age-old question - can a TOW missile take out a Dragon? SOCOM and Sorcery 2.0 is an improved version of last year's very popular game and uses simple homebrew rules. Children are welcome w/ Parent.



Sunday, May 20, 2018

Jungle Terrain - Finished!

The 24 Jungle Terrain sections are now done.  Overall I'm very happy how these came out and this was a really fun project.
 I tried to break up the green monotony by adding some different colored flowers and other types of tufts.
 The sections are designed to allow figures to traverse them so couldn't be as dense as a "real" jungle but I think they convey a sense of dense foliage.


The bamboo worked out well and I may make some more bamboo sections for fun.

On to the next step for the Historicon game - movement trays

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Health Update #2

My recovery is progressing nicely and I've been cleared to do light exercise, which means 20 minutes a day on my Peloton bike.  That may not sound like much, but it's a welcome step for me.

Weight-wise, I'm down 31 pounds and have adjusted to the diet - it's actually not that bad.  I haven't eaten beef in over a month and don't really miss it.  My pace of weight loss has slowed as I can eat a bit more so it looks like I'll need to loose weight the old fashioned way of combining diet and exercise.  Still 30+ pounds is a nice jump start.

The only frustrating thing is my surgeries keep getting pushed off.  I'd rather get them over and done with but it seems that my lack of a medical degree and any board certifications have combined to render any of my opinions somewhat irrelevant in the matter.  I am amazed at the almost comical inefficiency of information transfer between medical professionals in the US healthcare industry and am seriously thinking of creating an investment fund to tackle that problem.  That will have to wait until the boss clears me to resume working again.

It has been fun to watch the rivalry between my Gastro specialist (Dr Raina) and my wife - Dr Raina is with Mercy hospital in Baltimore and they've just had a major renovation so have all the latest toys.  MB is with the University of Maryland and they a bit behind on the update curve and he loves teasing her about their latest new shiny toy.  It confirms my theory of human development - we actually stop developing at age 3, with the exception of our vocabularies which just allow us to express our playground teasing in more sophisticated ways.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

What are the Planned Changes for this Year's Historicon Games

This's year's convention game will be a revised and (hopefully) improved version of last years "DAK & Dragons" and "SOCOM & Sorcery" games.  The games were A LOT of fun to put on but there are also a lot of improvements that can and need to be made to improve both playability and appearances.


Lets list out the changes in this post so I don't forget.

1) Make the center section a Jungle.  OK given the previous two posts, this shouldn't be a surprise.  The game rules I use really emphasize cover and having such a sparse center section where all the side collide was a bit stark for me.  I'll need to tweak the rules to ensure things don't completely bog down.

2) Add a 6th, 2x2ft catacomb section.  Last year I didn't have enough Egyptian themed dungeon section to build out the 6th section.  I used some Dwarven Forge cavern tiles which worked fine but looked a little out of place.  I've got enough now (thanks to Lunesdargent Workshops recent kickstarter).

3) Redo the oasis terrain plates.  These were done at the last minute (two days before the con) and really showed it.  I was kind of embarrassed to have them on my table.

4) Simplify the rules.  I used a homegrown set of rules for the game which were essentially a love child from a dalliance between Warlord's "Bolt Action "and The League of Augsburg's "Donnybrook" rulesets.  While most people grasped the concepts, a few really struggled with the rules, which means they are still too complex for a con game.  There will be a separate post that details the rules and how I may change them.

5) Movement Trays for the troops.  One thing that slowed both game play and setup was having all the troops move individually.  I purchased some skirmish infantry movement trays and will need to prepare them for play but they will speed up game play immensely.  The trays will not work in the catacombs but most players forces are pretty thinned out by the time they get there.
:)

6) Better Objective Markers.  Last year objective markers were dime sized plastic discs in different colors:

- yellow for treasure
- red for monsters
- blue for objectives



They were functional but looked awful.  I've got the time to make some WAYYYY better markers and have down some tests during this year's painting challenge - as you can see in the following picture:

7) Improve the random encounter table.  The one I used became very cumbersome as the game went on and didn't scale as well as I hoped.  There were also, at times, too many monsters so the players factions rarely focused on fighting each other.

8) Better special objectives for each faction.  I really like secret objectives for players in a game that is umpired and didn't put a lot of effort into fleshing that out last year.  The suspense of not knowing if one of your allies is really on your side is a lot a fun in a game.

9) Kid-Player objectives.  I have a rule that any kid players always win - always.  But that can be done without throwing the game in their favor so I'll come up with some special objectives for them and let the game play out for the rest of the players.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Jungle Terrain Test Piece

 Here's a shot of an "almost completed" jungle section that was built as a test.  I added the yellow and purple plastic flowers on a whim and like how they came out.  Some of the hot glue is still visible so I need to make another pass with the ground cover to finish this up.  The next step will be to hit the plastic plants with a light sepia wash to tone down some the the "plasticy-ness" (yes, that is an official terrain making term).

Overall I'm really pleased.

I'm also thinking about touching up some of the palm trees (painting the coconuts, etc).

 Jungle construction room.  Hot glueing all of the plants down can be a bit tedious but I'm really liking the results.  It's also kind of dangerous as I've burned my fingers more than a few times!

The bamboo sections also came out nice.  When attaching the plant pieces there's a balance one needs to find between creating a dense "jungle" and playability in terms of being able to move figures through the section.  I'll only know if I got it right after a few games so lets hope there isn't a lot of touch up work to do!

Only 8 sections need to have the plastic vegetation attached and then it's on to ground flocking.



 This project should be done in a few days and them I'm thinking of redoing some of the other terrain features from last year's "DAK & Dragons" / "SOCOM & Sorcery" games.  The picture to the left is the original desert themed table.  I'll be keeping the desert theme on the the two end sections but replace the middle with a jungle.

I do want to redo the oasis sections as they are very rough.  I made them two days before the con and they show it.
A close up shot of the middle section which was rather sparse but it worked.  I'll add some simple vines and other details to the ruins.  I'll also need to make better entrances for the catacombs that are more scenic.  Last year the game used dime sized plastic disks which looked awful.

I've got a jungle floor terrain cloth from Cigar-Box Battle Mats and just need to figure out how to soften the transition between the deserts and jungle, especially where the one mountain range veers off in an angle.

There are rumors that some dinosaurs may be found roaming around the jungle section - these are just rumors at the moment.  If proven true, perhaps the inclusion of historically accurate dinosaurs in the game will appease the purists who scoff at anything not historical.  I take their concerns about the corruption of the hobby from silly and fun games very seriously - yes, very seriously, indeed.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Jungle Terrain - A New Project


I've been cleared to go back to the hobby bench, which is a great relief for me.  I decided my first project will be building some jungle terrain plates to use in my upcoming Historicon games (DAK & Dragons 2.0 and SOCOM & Sorcery 2.0).  The bases will be made out of a 2 foot x 4 foot sheet of hardboard, which I cut down to smaller sections with my table saw.  The hard board is 1/4 inch thick (6.4mm) and the reverse side is a blackboard style of backing.  Each sheet is a little more expensive ($12.24/sheet) but the blackboard materials resists warping and ensures a smooth finish so the sections don't snag the tabletop.

 I managed to get 24 sections out of the sheet in various sizes.  Once the rough outlines were drawn I cut out each section with my jig saw (which is on it's last legs) and then beveled the sides with my trusty dremel multi-tool.

Making the terrain plates is a bit tedious and messy so I suggest you make them in big batches and store the ones you don't use for later.

Speaking of tools, the two most used "power tools" for terrain making in my shop are my Proxxon hot wire cutter and my dremel.  I haven't really discussed the dremel and its uses on the blog so I'll do a post about it in the next few weeks.

You'll notice there are a number of sections with straight edges - thats to allow placement along table edges.  The straight edges are either 6 or 12 inches in length so they can also be butted up together to form larger sections.

 I didn't want perfectly flat terrain so added some EPS foam to create undulations in the terrain.  Each piece was rough cut with a box cutter and then sanded smooth.  EPS isn't the most friendly of materials health wise so when working with it I set up a wind tunnel with my shop vac by clamping suction hose to the workbench.  I also wore a protective mask.

Once the EPS piece have set, I textured the bases with my standard mix of flexible tile grout and PVA glue - roughly 3/4 Tile grout and 1/4 PVA.  The mixture dries rock hard and gives a real nice texture to the ground work.

Here in the states you can get the tile grout pre-colored.  I used the earth-tone color which is great for terrain work.  There's also a sandstone color which is perfect for desert terrain.

 Here's a shot of the sections all covered in tile grout.  It takes about 12 hours for this to dry but once set these things are virtually indestructible.

My first test section - I'm using a mixture of plastic plants and some scale trees for the vegetation.  The "plants" are hot glued in place and so far I like the look.  This is still a rough mock up as there isn't any ground cover (which hides the hot glue) and the plastic plants need to be toned down a bit with a wash but I'm really happy with where this project is going.

My inspiration for this project is a series of jungle terrain videos that were made by Mel the "Terrain Tutor".  I watched a lot of wood working and terrain making videos during my recovery and came to really enjoy Mel's work.  So much so I actually became a Patreon sponsor. Take a look at his stuff - it's well worth your time.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Personal Update (Spoiler Alert: Pancreatitis Sucks)

Some of you (Ok maybe nobody!) may have noticed a lack activity on this blog over the past few months.  It's not due to a declining interest in the hobby.

2018 is turning our to be a less than ideal health year for our family and now it's my turn to contribute to the "medical drama".  It seems that I have developed a severe case of pancreatitus, which is rather painful when it flairs up.  I'll spare you the tawdry details but its a serious condition that will require some future surgery and 6-8 weeks of recovery time.  The recovery time scares me the most as I don't do well being bored and my lovely yet fierce wife has made vassals out of my business partners (Quislings, the lot of them) to effectively ban me from the firm for the duration of my recovery.  It's obvious they are WAY more afraid of Mary Beth than me, which I can't really dispute.

The extent of the surgeries is still being determined but my intent is to get them over and done with as soon as possible.  I knew marrying a surgeon would come in handy and that's coming through in spades hear!

Once past the "slicing and dicing" there are some much needed lifestyle changes in terms of diet and exercise that need to be made.  I will try to document them here both to force me to be open with success and failures and maybe help any other 50''ish gamer dealing with similar issues (I promise not to be too moralizing....).  Right now I'm on a clear liquid diet, with the occasional cup of no-fat yogurt.  No whining hear because the "being alive thing" was not a completely guaranteed outcome last week.  The end goal is to transition to a permanent low-fat / low-carb diet and I want to see if I can make that fun and not a chore.

One of the silver linings here is my little "drama" has jumped started my weight loss program as I'm down 15 pounds in 10 days.  Not the most healthy of paces but a good start and one not to be wasted. Those of you who've met me in person would all agree that I could stand to loose a "few" more pounds and now's a great time to do so.  I need to set a viable weight goal with my doc's and then will track that progress.

Humans are very odd creatures - we can clearly understand the need to do something (eat better, loose weight and exercise) but never really act on it until something really bad happens and forces us out of our slumber - we just have to touch that stove top to see if it's hot.  In my case, the stove top was pancreatitis, which after experiencing has shot to number one on my list of things not-to-do again.   Lets see if the faint corking popping sound all of you heard 10 days ago really was me pulling my head out my ass - health wise.

One last comment, I often make fun of my wife and she is both an accomplished surgeon and uncompromising professionally.  She is also kind and loving and the rock of my life.  I'm still amazed she hasn't wisened-up and realized she can do better than me.  Perhaps there is truly no accounting for taste in love.  Never-the-less, I am am beyond fortunate to have her in my life.

Enough of this swarmy, Hallmark card stuff.  Today's a big day as my menu expands to now include a 1/2 cup of no-fat cottage cheese.

Jealous aren't you?



Friday, April 6, 2018

New Art for the Game Room

 Some new art had been added to the game room in the form of a painting by Mark Churms of the Battle of Mobile Bay, which occurred in 1864 during the American Civil War.

I grew up on Mobile Bay and spent many days on Dauphin Island, which is where one of the two forts that guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay was located (Fort Gaines).  The other side was guarded by Fort Morgan, which is depicted in the painting.

The painting was a present by my wife and we commissioned the painter Mark Churms, so it's an original.  I'm trying to class up the games area in the hopes of hosting a lot more games over the course of 2018.

I do think I'll repainting my 1/600 scale model of the CSS Tennessee to exactly match the one in the painting.  The USS Tecumseh model is pretty much spot on to the one in the painting so now rework there!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Analogue Hobbies Challenge VIII is Complete!

Another 3 months of painting frenzy has come to a close.  Challenge 8 was a blast and I'm really grateful to Curt and all the Challengers for a wonderful experience.

I set a new personal best, in terms of points, and managed to come in 3rd overall which is great.

To the left is a picture of everything I painted/built (including the terrain) during this challenge.  I'm especially proud of the 15mm Roman and Sassanid armies - those were a lot of fun to paint up.



As the incomprehensible chart shows, I managed to put up 4,550 points this year, which is a good bit better that last year's 4,125!

I'll have some more thoughts about the challenge over the next few weeks