Sunday, March 31, 2013

Robotics Update FRC: Washington DC Regional

 My son's other robotics team, FRC team 4067, had a 3 day competition in DC this weekend.  His FTC team has qualified for the World Championship and we're now focus on his FRC team to see if we can there also.  The first shot is a picture of the drive team queueing for a match and my son has his back to the camera.

 The next shot is a picture of the field and shows the team setting up the robot.  There are 6 robots on the field (3 per side) and the game is a version of "ultimate Frisbee" where the 'bots shoot frisbees into the goal (see the blue outlined areas) and then can gain extra points by climbing the red and blue towers.  These robots can weigh up to 120 pounds, so they're significant pieces of equipment.

 This is a shot of the pit while the team is doing some emergency repairs in between matches.  Our shooter system was loosing power so the team had to rebuild it in less than 30 minutes - they were still tightening bolts as the bot was being placed on the field.

Here's a shot of the team.  One of our sponsors is Sony, so we donned Sony T-Shirts for the team picture (which I took).  The team did well for the event and had 4 wins and 4 losses, which is very respectable for a second year team.  Our next events are in two weeks for the this team and in 4 weeks for Sean's FTC team at Worlds.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Confederate Regiment #8

 Some in-progress shots of Confederate Regiment #8 (sorry for the disorganized workbench in the background).  No surprises here as these are yet more 28mm Perry Plastic Confederates.  These figures have 5 of a planed 10 colors applied

I decided to paint this regiment wearing some captured Union pants (light blue) just to break up the color pattern of the Confederates.  I used the light blue that was in the painting stock so these aren't "accurate" from a button counting perspective but it will look fine on the tabletop.

Repetition does tend to increase efficiency and so it is with miniature painting.  The cycle time from sprue to finished 24 figure regiment is now down to about 9-10 hours over the course of a few days.

The timing consists of:
- 60 minutes to assemble and glue the figs on their metal bases
- 20 minutes to prime (with 1 hour to dry)
- 8 hours elapsed time to paint (roughly 20 minutes a fig using approximately 10 or so colors and scenic the base

I've done it quicker just to see if I could but the above is a enjoyable pace.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Snow!

 It seems that "Old Man Winter" is trying to make up for lost time.  This year's winter has been very mild (perhaps one of the few positives of global warming?) but March has not cooperated.  Snow in the Spring?  Yee-gads, I thought only Yankees deserve such treatment, which, of course, they deserve.

Only my son is happy 'cause his school has been cancelled for the day.  At least it's pretty but I'm really ready for Spring - you know - the spring with sunshine, warming temperatures and flowers.

Ahhh, the good old days.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Challenge comes to a close and yet even more Confederates

 Regiment #6 was recently completed and was one of my last submissions for Curt's Painting Challenge.  No surprise as these are "yet more" Perry plastics confederates in 28mm.  I still have enough unpainted figures for another 5 regiments but will likely switch to something else for a bit.  As for the "Challenge" it was a blast and has replaced cons as my favorite annual war-gaming event.  I placed 10th out of 48 competitors and am very pleased with my production for the event - please go take a look as there are some amazing submissions

 These figures continue to be a joy to build and paint and I really can't recommend them enough.  This project is being built for a linked game series at Historicon over a two day time frame.  The first day will feature some skirmish battles using Architects of War new ACW skirmish rules "Uncivil War".  The outcomes of the day 1 games will impact the large battle the following day and that's what I'm building these confederates for.

I'm not supposed to say a lot about the games yet but I can divulge that one of the objectives for the day1 skirmish game will be to blow up a Confederate ironclad, which will, of course, be fully modeled - with interiors - and is just under 36 inches long.  Once we nail down the details the games will be going up on the Historicon PEL.

This last unit brings my painted confederates to 7 regiments and 4 batteries so I'm just at the hallway point with the confederates.  For the Union, I'm cheating a bit as I've commissioned a good number of them to be done by the recently re-opened MMPS painting service.  Fons has done splendid work for me in the past and I'm looking forward to the next set of reinforcements from him.

Ok, painting to the workbench...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Yet More Perry Confederates

 Last Wednesday was a "snow day" here in Maryland and I put that time to good use - well good use in terms of miniature painting.  I managed to start and finish 2 Perry 28mm ACW gun crews and a 24 figure infantry unit.

The artillery figures were bare metal and the plastic infantry was still on the sprue when I started so that was blazing fast for me!
 Pictured is the second artillery battery for the Confederates and I used the rifled gun barrels rather than the smoothbore Napoleons.  I'm planning 4, 2 gun batteries for the confederates so I have 2 more to do.

 The infantry unit was modeled with slouch hats rather than Kepi's and has yet to be designated.  I'm think of replacing the flags I've been making myself for all the units with professionally made ones.  I saw some at Cold Wars and they just look a lot nicer than mine.

 As I've said before, I'm a big fan of the Perry Plastic confederate models.  Very easy to assemble and paint.  I have 5 regiments of a planned 10-12 done and should be able to knock the others out well before Historicon in July.

Here's the Confederate army to date, 5 of the 6 completed infantry regiments, 4 guns and crews.  Not pictured is a sixth regiment of Confederate Zouaves which were painted for me by Mike M. (and, therefore, much better than what I can manage).

I picked up A LOT of Perry ACW metal figures at Cold Wars and will start on the command stands, mounted and dismounted calvary and gun limbers shortly.  Both the Union and Confederate armies will be exclusively Perry figures as I just haven't found anything that matches their quality.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cold Wars Saturday - The Bolt Action Tournament

 Pretty much all of Saturday was consumed by the Bolt Action Tournament, which ran from 9:00 am until 6:00pm and it was a blast.  The tournament was organized and run by Stefan (Sheck2 on the WWPD forums) and he did a fantastic job.

14 players participated with 3 rounds each and played across 7 very nicely done table (all of which were supplied by Stefan).  The tournament was a 1,000 point limit and there was an even distribution of Axis and Allied players.

I brought my Japanese list which consisted of:

- 1 vet LT + 1 rifleman
- 1 Medic, veteran
- 2, 10 figure Veteran infantry squads w/LMG
- 2, 10 figure Regular infantry squads w/ LMG
- 1 medium Machine Gun unit, Regular
- 1 Light mortar, Regular
- 1 Sniper, Vet
- 1 70mm Mtn Gun (light howitzer), Regular
- 1 Type 97 Chi-Ha tank, Regular

As with most events I play in, I didn't take many photos (just one) so you get stuck with a wordy summary.

Game 1
Mission: Demolition
Opponent: Mike A's Vet US para's, 2 12 man squads some support and a M4A3 Sherman

I've played Mike several times in Saga events and he's both a great guy and very fun to play with.  We both adopted the same strategy - sending out tank and about half our forces down each of our left flanks while the other half half defended the HQ.  Mike's forces were smaller being all Vets and caused significant casualties for my troops.  I also discovered that my troops had a hard time dealing with the Sherman - I think we may have scratched the paint a few times but that was about it.  The game ended in a draw as we were both contesting the objectives after the end of the 7th turn.

Game 2
Mission: Top Secret
Opponent: Mike P's British Infantry Swarm (pictured at the end of this post)

I've met Mike a few times at past HMGS con's through the WWPD activities.  He a both a very talented player and very funny during a gaming.  Almost distractingly funny, which may be a very crafty strategy on his part.  His forces was made up of of 5 infantry squads (4 regular and 1 Vet) plus a host of support units including an anti-tank gun but no tanks.  It was a very good match up for my force.  The mission involved capturing and then escorting an objective marker (located in the center)  off the table.  With this scenario most of our forces are pulled into the center and game becomes very bloody.  I managed to win the game as my Medic ran in and grabbed the objective.  Unfortunately the win is a bit tainted as both Mike and I did not remember a tournament special rule that only units with 3 or more figures can grab the marker.  I owe Mike a re-match in the future and I suspect he'll pound my poor japanese into the table - but at least I'll be laughing along the way.

Game 3
Mission: Maximum Attrition
Opponent: Jeff B, Veteran Germans.  Jeff had a unique force structure as he had 2 platoons (1 with 3 squads of Fallschirmjaeger vets and support weapons and a smaller platoon with 2 squads of Wehrmacht vets.  His squad sizes were very small given all the vets.  His forces had no vehicles.  Pictured below is our game after the first turn.

 I adopted a defensive strategy and let him come to me.  Jeff marched up my left flank (left side of the photo) and also brought in a squad from reserve on the left flank.

Attacking the Japanese with an infantry only force is dangerous if you close within 12 inches - I was able to get off several assaults (Japanese can auto assault without regard to pins) and I was able to wear Jeff's squads down.

My tank was immobilized fairly early but did weather 3 hits from a panzershreck.  This game went to the Japanese as the Germans just didn't have enough men to break the flank.

Overall, my tournament result was 2 wins and 1 tie, which was good enough to place me third overall.  I really enjoyed the tournament and will definitely play in another one.

Key learnings:
- The Japanese are very effective against infantry that closes within 12 inches, but lack any real capacity to deal with heavy armor
- Both my light mortar and 70mm gun were just not that effective (which may be to my poor play).  I think it might be better to trade them in for either a medium mortar or perhaps an artillery observer.
- LMGs are not worth the points for Japanese infantry squads.  The majority of the casualties my troops inflicted came from assaults and I would have been better of having 2 additional infantry figures rather than the 20 point cost of the LMG
- Bolt Action is a fun game but comes down to plain luck in terms of order dice pulls for some scenarios where one is trying to get something off the board  (i.e. Top Secret).  I would suggest that those scenarios probably are not good choices for tournaments.
- I had a blast!

Here's a shot of Mike P's Brits - that's a lot of very well painted infantry!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cold Wars Friday - Friday Gaming

 This weekend I attended the "Cold Wars" gaming convention, which is a HMGS show held in Lancaster, PA.  My first day was some general gaming and the second I played in the Bolt Action Tournament.

My first game was a Flames of War game set in Arnhem.  The GM was Jon Baber (WWPD) who built a superb Arnhem city board - it's one of the best 15mm tabletops I've ever seen.

 I played on the German side and was given Grabner's recon unit, which is pictured here.  The unit was the recon unit that attempted to drive across the bridge and through the Brit Para's with disastrous results.  Lets just say that under my command history was, indeed, repeated.  I got crushed but had a lot fun while doing so.   Who says FOW is ahistorical?

 Here's a shot of the Arnhem game in progress.  I enjoyed it immensely but learned that FOW has become very complex and I need to understand the rules better  - I look forward to a future game of FOW but will, hopefully, be better prepared.

 The next game on Friday was a 28mm ACW game using Regimental Fire and Fury.  My current project is 28mm ACW and I really like the Regimental Fire and Fury ruleset.  The game was put on by the author of the rules, Rich Hasenauer and his friend Mike Pierce.  As you can see, the table and mini's looked great.
 I commanded a confederate infantry brigade and a calvary regiment and attempted to turn the Union right flank.  After a few spirited attacks my forces were pushed back and then the Confederate center was pierced and the game called for the Union.  Despite the defeat, I found the game system a lot of fun.  The game's command system is very interesting and the ruleset has a lot going for it.

After my ACW game, I met up with a bunch of the WWPD guys and played a game of "Zombiecide".  We then retired to the bar and all I can remember is the picture to the left...

All-in-all a great Friday at the con.

Next up, the Bolt Action Tournament.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

SNOW DAY in Maryland!!!!!!

Today is officially a snow day!!!! No work, no school but lot's of painting time!!!  Six to twelve inches are forecast.

Granted the picture out my front door doesn't show a lot of accumulation but that's not the point - it's a free day just before cold wars so I can tweak my Japanese list for the Bolt Action Tourney and maybe complete another regiment of 28mm confederates.

It's surprising how much joy a snow day can bring to an adult - perhaps it's true that we never really grow up?

My son's excited because as a High School senior, he doesn't have to make up snow days - He's planning to go sledding and then back to the shop to work on the 'bot's drive train.

Have a happy snow day, fellow Mid-Atlanticers!

Monday, March 4, 2013

More Perry Confederates

 I've completed my fourth 24 figure Confederate Unit (Perry 28mm plastics).   That give me 5 regiments completed (4 regular infantry and 1 Zouave) out of a planned 10 regiments so I have a bit more painting to get done.

 I still need to add a flag and may pick a bunch at Cold Wars this weekend.

 In addition to infantry, there's also been some artillery added to the mix with 2 completed Perry Napoleonic guns and crews.  These are Perry metals and what can I say the figures are superb and deserve a much better paint job than I can manage!

I really like the poses of the crew to the right - running out the guns.   As for the Union forces to oppose the confederates, I've chosen to cheat a bit and outsource the bulk of the painting to MMPS.  MMPS did a great job on some Peninsular / War of 1812 Brits for me and I recommend there services highly.

Since this blog is becoming as much a Robotics blog as a miniature one, here's a picture of my son (right) right as he was learning that his team (3113 "Some Disassembly Required" had earned a spot in the World Championship.  The picture was taken by the coach of another team.

The team has been very focused as they prepare for Worlds, which are held in St Louis, MO from April 24-27.  I doubt there will be a lot of progress on my planned Historicon game until May.