Monday, June 25, 2012

Historicon Prep Update

Twenty six days until my Historicon game.  More importantly only 3 more weekends!.  A little bit of progress to report - I've mostly finished the Roman Onager which will be the "Big Gun" for the Roman siege of a Dacian fort.  All I need to do is add some ground cover and seal the minis.

Here's where I stand on my "to-do" list:

(1) Finish the parapets & gate doors
(2) Cut 45 degree bevels into one section
(3) Scenic the fort sections
(4) Build and paint a Roman catapult
(5) Add two points to my Viking Warband for the SAGA tournament on 7/19 (first day of HCON) - anywhere from 8 - 16 28mm figures.
(6) Inspect and touch-up the Roman and Dacian Armies
(7) Test play the scenario a few times
(8) Interesting Terrain bits (tree stands, wells, houses etc)

OK, checking off number 5 is a bit like cheating - as I conned Ernie into letting me borrow some Vikings from his inexhaustible miniatures collection.  I'll still try to paint some up for myself but at least I've got a back up.

The big push this week will be to finish up the fort sections.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Curse You Games Workshop"!

In these modern times, it's rare that one gets a chance to quote the great American philosopher, Snoopy, but the current situation seems to be appropriate.  Neither my son or I play any GW games, we don't collect their mini's and we rarely use their paints.  I do, however, use their washes and I use them a lot.  The GW washes worked for me and made my mediocre painting acceptable.  I have many a Roman Legionnaire tarted up with "Gryphon Sepia" for that nice in-the-feild rusted armor look.  There are nameless 15mm Flames of War infantry figures that look like I actually did paint all their webbing due to a liberal dousing of "Devlan Mud".  I could go on, but the point is that is all in the past as it seems the wash line has been discontinued.  I shall pause here while you wipe the tears from your eyes...  

Now that you have composed yourself we can continue.

It seems the marketing geniuses over at GW have decided to reconfigure the paint line with new names and product lines and to mask a price increase.  Your not paying more for that bottle of "Bubonic Brown" (which is what I use for the hulls of my 1/1200 British Napoleonic Ships), your paying a fair price for the new and improved premium brand of "Zamesi Desert".  Oh these GW executives must be very smart lads, indeed, because the business world is just chock full of examples where a staple type of consumable product was successfully re-branded.  Lets see... there's um "Pepsi Crystal", well no that didn't really work.  Ummm there's the "Ford Edsel" - no wait that wasn't quite right.  Oh here we go - how about "New Coke"  hold on we don't see too much of that these days.  If one totes up the wins and losses theres typically a 15-20% chance for success from a consumable consumer re-branding launch.  One should be in very desperate straights before making this type of bet.

Why am I babbling on so much about something so trivial?  Is it because as a middle-aged wargamer, I am set in my ways and react to change the same way a creationist reacts when they find out they're a direct descendant of Charles Darwin after a cursory trip to  Are my histrionics due to being too lazy to take the time to figure out that washes have re-labeled as another line (perhaps as glazes)?.  Is my inner angst driven by being a member of a societal sub-group that pursues a fringe activity which might be viewed as silly?  Is it because I'm just a pain-in-the-***?

Of course the answer to all those question is a resounding "YES!" but that's not the point.

What is the point is I'm now faced with a stark choice.  Actually adapt to the new environment or retreat back into my survival Vault (made by Vault-Tec, of course) where I shall spend the days husbanding my dwindling supply of washes until that fateful hour they run out and I am forced to re-emerge into a desolate post-apocolytic world that was driven into chaos by the lack of citadel paints.  I think you know which path I must take.  If you want to join me in the Vault that's fine, but the admission price is two pots of "Devlan Mud" and don't try to substitute the blue or purple washes - who the heck uses those?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Uninvited Guest & Antique Boats

 In between various hobby projects, I got to meet one of my "neighbors" this weekend and go to an Antique Boat Show at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.  Actually, my lovely wife got to meet our little friend first and was then most insistent that I come out and great him (or her - not really sure on that) properly.  Our visitor was a very big water snake for maryland - at roughly five feet in length, he commanded some level of respect.

The snake also proved to be a very good climber - you can see him coming back down after climbing up the outside of my BBQ.  After watching him for a bit, I picked him up and moved him to the adjacent woods.  A snake that size has a good appetite for mice so we need to encourage him to stick around.
 Later during that Saturday, I wandered over to the Antique Boat Show.  Other than the few posted here, I didn't take many pictures (perhaps my wife's admonitions indicating that even the thought of a new boat would be dangerous to my health impacted my desire for photographic evidence.

All of these boats where built in the 20's and have been superbly restored - the bright work on the wood is simple amazing.
 Here's my favorite of the show

Sadly, these boats rarely see the water except for shows like this.  They spend most of their time out of the water in dingy workshops as their owners obsess over every detail - you know just like table top armies!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

28mm Fort: Part Two

 A bit more progress on the 28mm Fort that will be used in my upcoming Historicon game (Hail Caesar rules, Romans vs Dacians).  I'm now at 5 feet of fort, which is the width of the table sections I'll be using.

 Here's a close up of the gate sections.  There are three separate pieces which gives some flexibility in how to place the gate.  As you can see, I still need to add the swinging doors.

 A top down view of the gate section.  I think it came out nicely.  One thing to bear in mind that the fort is designed for playability and the parapets and such are a bit wider than "scale" to accommodate my unit trays.

One thing I have realized is the 5 linear feet of fort is a bit "stale" from a player's viewpoint and I need to break up the view lines to add a bit more interest.  I'll bevel one of the straight sections to have 45 degree corners so I can add some variability to the setup.  If I have time I'll add a up sloped wall section to add even more variability.

Speaking of time - YIKES!  It's only a month to Historicon and I need to accomplish the following

(1) Finish the parapets & gate doors
(2) Cut 45 degree bevels into one section
(3) Scenic the fort sections
(4) Build and paint a Roman catapult
(5) Add two points to my Viking Warband for the SAGA tournament on 7/19 (first day of HCON) - anywhere from 8 - 16 28mm figures.
(6) Inspect and touch-up the Roman and Dacian Armies
(7) Test play the scenario a few times

It seemed like just yesterday I had 3 months to get all this done!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Robotic Sail Boat Build: Post #2

 Sean and I made some progress on the hull for his robotic sailboat project.  It may not look like much now but it was a lot of work to get the hull planking cut and bevelled and then stitched in place.  The first picture shows the boat's current status after about 10 hours of work this weekend.

 I did find a wonderful "Stanley" micro hand planer.  It's about 3 inches long with a 1 inch blade and worked perfectly for this application.  All of the hull planks needed to be bevelled 30 - 45 degrees to ensure a tight fit.  I prefer to do this work by hand as it's a great stress reliever.

 As with any wood working project, one has to decide what face of the wood will be on the outside vs what get's hidden on the inside.  While this boat is a proto-type for a large version we can make it look good, can't we?

 The construction technique for this boat is referred to as "stitch and glue".  The planks are attached to the hull frame and each other use bits of copper wire (the stitching part).  Once that's done, the planks seems are sealed using a 2 part epoxy glue that's thickened with wood dust to help with the coloring and strength of the bond.  We didn't do any of the epoxy work and will get around to that next weekend.

Here's a picture from inside of the hull where you can see how the copper wire binds the planks and hull frame together.  It's a surprisingly strong bond.  Copper wire is used because the epoxy will not adhere to it.  Once the glue has dried, I'll snip each copper wire and pull it out.  Once the wires are removed the resulting holes will be filled with the same epoxy / wood dust mix.  This part of the job requires both patience and precision as it just will not do to forget to fill all the holes!

Lastly, here's a shot of the hull with all the wires in place.  There are over 150 wire strands in place for this 4 foot long model boat.  That's nothing!  I've built a 16 foot Skerry using the same method and it had over 1,000 strands.

Once the hull planks are bonded it will be time to sand, sand, sand and then sand some more.  After that we stain and seal the hull.

Oh yeah, I seem to remember some fort I need to build for Historicon game...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

28mm Fort Part 1

 I need a fort for my upcoming game at Historicon and couldn't find any ready made forts that I liked or wanted to pay the asking prices, so I've elected to try and build one myself.  The first picture shows three fort sections as they stand at the end of today.  While there's a lot of detail work to do, not a bad start for a few hours work.  I'm planning to make up to 6 feet of fort sections and hopefully will get this done in the next few weeks.  Sorry for all the ships in the back ground - I've been too lazy to pick up last thursday's Trafalgar game.

 The fort construction is pretty simple, first the wooden walls are made out of thin stir sticks that are 1/4 inch wide.  The long lengths are 3 inches and the shorter ones 2.75 inches.  Each wall section is 11.25 inches long.  I actually started building these was section first without even having a plan for the fort.  Plans?  Who needs plans?

 Since these pieces will be traveling, they needs to be very sturdy and the under structure of the fort is made from 1x3 and 1x2 pine stock affixed with wood glue in an "L" shape.  The base for each wall section is some marine grade plywood I had left over from a boat project which was already cut to 7 inches wide.

 The wood planking for the sides and fighting platform where then glued to the pine stock under structures.  I'll fill in the gap on the inside of the fort with pink stuff and then add flocking to represent turf.

 Here's a shot with one section of the fort and the gate "populated" by 28mm figures - in this case some recently completed Dacians.  I haven't decided if the lower front of the fort (below the planking) will be stone work or turf.  Turf seems to be easier to do and may lend the fort to more uses than just ancients.  I think it would make a fun objective for a game of Saga.

The last shot is from the rear of the fort.  As you can see, there is a good bit of work do adding earthen ramps and such.  This has been a very fun project so far and I'm looking forward to seeing it completed.  I haven't figured out how to make the gate as I want it to be able to open and shut.  Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Thursday Night Trafalgar Game

 Late night Les, Bob and Mike came over to play another game of Trafalgar.  It was my standard game of "use all the ships" and pitted a combined French and Spanish fleet vs a British/US one - Four fleets, four players - that worked out well.  Ernie couldn't make it last night as he was at his secret laboratory in an undisclosed location feverishly working on his upcoming game, Fanticide.  While he was missed, his dedication to making his new game the best it can be is very inspiring.  By the way I've play tested the game and it's simply a blast!  I'm looking forward to getting a copy and few war bands when it comes out.

The first picture shows the fleets making initial contact, with my US fleet (lower left) tangling with some French frigates while the main French fleet (Les, center left) prepares to take on the British (Mike, center right).  Bob's powerful but slow Spanish fleet is at the top of the picture and is attempting to get into the battle (the wind was not Bob's friend last night).

 Contact! The British and French become heavily engage in the center - this would prove to be a very bloody exchange.  The dice gods were very angry last night as there were an inordinate number of critical hits (caused by rolling a "6" when shooting) and then followed up by at least half of the critical hit damage die rolls being "6's" also, which cause the maximum damage.

 A close up of the French frigates vs the more powerful US fleet (2 5th rate frenchies vs two 3rd rate US ships of the line and 1 4th rate Frigate - the Constitution.  The French frigates acquitted themselves very well as they tied up the superior US fleet and kept them out of the main action - well played Les!

Of course the frigates didn't survive the exchange but they did their job.
 As with all my battle reports, I stopped taking pictures midway through the game to focus on playing.  Here's a picture of the sunken ship pile.  The fight between the Brit and French fleets was intense but went in favor of the Brits as they lost 2 third rates to four third's for the French.  To the left of the French casualties are the two French frigates lost to the US ships.  I do need to get to work on my sunken / disabled ship markers.

A last picture of the game before we called it.  The French and Spanish fleets finally meet up and are in the process of forming a line (lower part of the picture).  It was getting late so we called the game and gave the Brits a narrow victory.  I do sense a rematch in the offing!