Monday, March 30, 2015

My Hobby Area

 Over Spring Break my son and I spent a good bit of time cleaning up my "Man Cave" both to make some room for him and his projects (which includes a 3D printer) and to appease my wife who has become concerned that our house is being transformed on an accelerating basis from a standard home to a storage facility for miniatures and their related debris.  Personally, I didn't see anything wrong with that but I'm not the one who calls the shots on these things....
2 years ago I did splurge a bit and purchased a commercial workbench from American Workbench (their Ben Franklin model) to use as my painting station.  Having a fixed "work" location is very useful and when cleaned up looks very presentable and serves as a great staging location for game nights.

 My game room is dominated by the table, which was built by yours truly and has served me well over the years.  It's a bit beat up for its days as a robotics workbench when my son was in high school but she's still in good working order.  There is a built pair of book shelves which are usually in disarray.  The table top is 4' x 8'.

Currently the wood is unfinished furniture grade pine and my wife would like me to dress it up a bit - perhaps add some decorative framing and cherry stain.  I think that will be an early fall project.
 There's a good bit of storage under the table which is accessed via sliding doors on either side.  Most of the storage is used to hide the lead and plastic mountains from prying eyes....

One thing that needs to be addressed is that there is no rails to hold dice, drinks and reinforcements  along the sides.  I've got a project in the workshop to build some "L" shaped trays the will attach along the sides.  Each tray will be 4 feet long and when attached will form a shelf.  They'll also be able to be flipped over to provide a playing area extension so the total playing surface can be expanded to a 5' x 9' space

 I did build a mini cabinet inside the workbench for miniature trays.  This unit has enough space to hold 2,000 28mm infantry figures (mounted on 20mm square bases.  It's currently filled with a range of stuff including my 15mm Flames of War collections.
My wife allowed my one set of storage cabinets, which I find very useful.  Sadly, they are pretty much filed to the brim and additional storage units are forbidden by executive management.  At some point I'll need to sell some of my stuff to make room for other stuff.  Most likely to go first will be my Romans and Dacian collections which occupy the bottom shelves of the middle two units.  They haven't seen the playing table since the last time I ran a Hail Caesar game at Historicon - which was in 2012!

In terms of future game room projects, In addition to the trays described above, my other "big" gaming project will be to finish a set of sectional terrain units - I started that project last summer and will need to complete it by July'15 in order to put on my planned games at Historicon.

 To be honest, I think both the game room and  table were happier when they were used as a robotics building platform.  All of the boy scouts in this picture are off in college now studying to be some type of engineer from left to right - Virginia Tech (Mining), Carnegie Mellon (Robotics) and GA Tech (Mechanical).  All three got scholarship offers so there was some good from their robotics addiction.
The robotics field has been replaced by a nice card table and the storage cabinets for miniatures - again a bit quieter and less damage prone but not nearly as fun!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

ACW Naval Terrain Draft

 A start to the terrain for my upcoming Historicon games.  The fictional naval battle will take place in the "eastern bay portion of the Chesapeake Bay - it's near where I live.  Doing a fictional battle does give one a bit of "artistic license" and I think it will be fun to build the shorelines for areas that I often sail in.

 The test game is a bit crowded as it's on a 4 by 8' table.  The game will be run on a 6x10 space which is almost twice as big.

The land cut-outs of 1/8 thick white styrene.  I like using styrene plastic for sectional terrain bases and it doesn't warp and is both cheap and easy to work with.  A few years ago I bought two 8x4 sheets from a sign manufacturer and have only used about 30% of the material.

 I've also rebased all my ships using clear plastic bases - that makes matching the water effect simple.  I'll add ship names to the bases over the next few weeks.

 A look at Tilghman Point.  It has a shape like portrayed but there isn't really a fort there - there's that ol' artistic license again....
 More Unions ships on they bran new plastic bases.
Another shot of the fort.  Once the weather warms up a bit I'll take the sections outside to base paint and then scenic.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

First Test of Historicon 2015 ACW Naval Game

A very rough initial test for my upcoming "What-If" ACW ironclad game at Historicon depicting a British intervention in the civil war.

How rough - none of the scenery is made (except the fort) and the test surface is 8'x4' rather than the planned 10'x6' at the con.  Never-the-less having the mini's on the table top and pushing them around starts to give me a feel for how to balance the scenario.  After a few solitaire plays I'll have some friends over to play test and we'll see how it develops.  The first picture shows the combined British /CSA fleet.

Opposing the British/CSA is a Union fleet made up of Monitors and a few heavy ships including the Hartford and the New Ironsides.  The Union will also have the fort to provide fire support.

Lot's of tweaking to do and scenery to make but it does feel good to have mini's on the table.

For the con, I'll be using a different colored game mat that better simulates the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Next up scenery!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge V: The Total Production

 Well what does one get from participating in a 3 month long painting challenge and foolishly setting a goal to finish in the top5?  It turns out one gets to have a lot fun and end up with a crap metric ton of painted minis!   The top picture shows the total production which generated 3,204 points and put me in a tie for third place with Millsy from Australia.

A closer look to the left shows the additions to the my Confederate and British fleets which will appear at Historicon for a "what if?" scenario of a British intervention into the ACW.  The Warrior is true to scale with the others - she is a massive beast.  Behind the ironclads are a pair of Spanish 74's and some 28mm ww2 US marines and Brits.

 To the right one can see the additions to the Union fleet and what turned out to be a massive WW2 DAK army in 28mm scale.  I think I went overboard here.

 To the rear are some additions to my All Quiet on the Martian front collection including the massive US Land Ironclad.  AQMF is a great game and I need to get back to playing it.

Lastly some odds and ends - another 36 figure French infantry battalion, 24 British troops from the Zulu wars, a British Intervention force artillery battery, some FOW stuff and a largish collection of Arab / Israeli figs in 6mm.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge V Comes to an End

This year's challenge has drawn to a close and what a ride's it's been.  I want to thank Curt for organizing and hosting the madness - I'll never know how he summons the willpower to see this through each year.

I also want to thank all the participants who make being part of the undertaking so much fun. The only thing that rivals the groups astonishing painting skills is their class - to be honest I'm surprised the let someone like me into the club.

I was very pleased with how the Challenge worked out for me - I managed to end up tied for third place with Mr Millsy with 3,204 points each, which was a cool 800 points over my internal target of 2,404. For those of you not familiar with the scoring (most of you!) one earns 5 points for a painted 28mm infantry figures - awards move up and down from there base on scale, type etc.  3,404 points equates to painting and basing 640 28mm infantry figures in 3 months.

I'll post a group shot of my output shortly.

In terms of projects completed heres a distribution of the points earned

28mm WW2  (DAK, Brits & US Marines)      1,399   /   44%
All Quiet on the Martian Front                            440   /  14%
6mm Arab / Israeli Wars                                      337   /  11%
15mm Flames of War                                           278   /   9%
1/600 ACW Naval                                               259    /   8%
28mm Napoleonic                                                231   /   7%
28mm Colonial                                                    170   /   5%
28mm ACW                                                           60   /   2%
1/1200 Napoleonic Naval                                      30   /   1%

I did manage to finish of the fleets I need for the ACW naval game I'll be putting on at Historicon so thats another big plus.

I think it's time to work on some scenery!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bolt Action US marine Force in 28MM

 One of my last submissions to this years Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is the start of this US Marine force in 28mm Scale

34 infanterie figures and a Sherman tank were finished over a 2 day span last weekend - which is pretty darn fast!
 The bulk of the infantry (30 figures) are from the Warlord plastic box set with the rest coming from various manufactures (I forgot)
 I really like the plastics and think Warlord is finally "getting it" with regards to plastic figures - nit up to Perry standards but very much improved over Warlords earlier box sets.

 The force also includes a Sherman tank from Blitzkrieg Miniatures which was a wonderful kit to paint up

I've got a good number of support units to add to the force but am very pleased with the outcome

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

28mm Perry British Intervention Force Artillery

 I've finally painted up my first group of Perry BIF in the form of to artillery pieces and crews.  These are also one of my last submissions for the AHPCV.

The uniforms are kind of sketchy as I was having trouble finding good references for the a Possible British Intervention Force.  Rather than buckle down and keep looking I just sorta winged it and went with a "British enough" look.
 I'm surprised at how large this new Perry line is.  I'll be debuting these figures at Historicon and plan to have a 6-8 infantry battalions, 2-3 artillery and a cavalry unit (Lancers!) ready by the July con.

I've farmed out the infantry to friends so will have all the units I need for the con done by May - which is a first for me.

I do have a lot of terrain work to do, which will become my main focus for the next few months.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

DAK Trucks

 A last minute addition to my Cold Wars DAk list were some Trucks to carry everyone around - these arrived a few days before the con and were finished the night before.  The models are Blitzkrieg reason kits ( four total parts) and are sold through the Perry's.  The model quality if superb and they were a snap to both assemble and paint.
I left off any insignia as these may see double duty for other purposes and scenario games - I guess one can't have too many trucks!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cold Wars 2015: My Report

 Another Cold Wars has come and gone.  Overall, I had a great time but something shocking, troubling and just plain odd happened - I didn't buy anything from either the vendor hall or the flea market! (Insert sinister music hear).

Despite not adding to my lead pile, which has been severely depleted during the Painting Challenge, I did have a fantastic two days.  I participated in two Bolt Action tournaments (6 games total) one on Friday and the other on Saturday.  The evenings consisted of board games with the WWPD crew - essentially it was an all around geek fest.

I only took one picture (the first one in this post) and it was midway through the game I played with Judson on Friday - which we ended up as a tie.

I do want to thank the two people who organized the BA tournaments - Mike P on Friday and John B on Saturday.  Both events were a lot of fun and it's a lot of work hauling around 10-12 tables worth of terrain to put one of these things on.

For the BA tournaments I ran a DAK armored list which was centered around 3 Panzer III's.  You've seen a lot of post of the previous months of my painting up this force and the tournaments were the first time I got them on the table!

Fridays tournament was 1,250 points and I had a good showing for a first time with the force going 1-1-1 (Win, Loss, Tie).  The first game against Mike P  and his Brits was a narrow loss - Mike P is a great opponent and is a real challenge to beat - currently I have 2 losses and 1 tie to Mike in tournaments.  The next game against Eric.  Eric was a new player and was running a borrowed tank list ( 3 Shermans).  I managed to beat him to notch my only win for the day.  The last game was a classic against Judson and his Panzer I list.  Playing Judson is a real treat as he's a crafty player but one who puts fun before winning.  We played a tense game that ended in a tie.

Saturday's tournament was 1,000 points and I just paired my list back by removing the Brandenburger squad and the Sig assault gun (neither of which did anything on Friday).  This tournament went well as I went 2-0-1 and won the event on "Hanoswag" points.  This was my second tournament win and was very hard fought.  My first game was a very nice gentlemen (whose name I forget - I'm horrible with names)  against a Russian list with those giant T-35 tanks.  The scenario was Point Defense and I was lucky to win the initial die roll and choose to attack.  I managed to get a win by eliminating the few Russian infantry squads in his list so my opponent couldn't re-take the objective once I seized it.

Game two was against "Mustache Matt", who rivals Mike P for nicest "guy in gaming" and another Russian list - this time more infantry focused and with air support.  We used the new air plane rules for BA (these replace the air observer with a model that can come on the board up to 3 times).  I found the new air rules much better than the observer and a lot more "cinematic"/fun.  I managed to eek out a win.

The final game was against Gordon and his Finns - Finns are tough, real tough.  Gordon was a pleasure to play against and we had a great game.  To be honest he should have won and would have if the game ended after turn six.  Yet again, I got lucky and rolled a six to force a seventh turn and was able to take back two objectives to force a tie.  This game went down to the last die roll!

Gordon was such a nice guy that I decided to give him the prizes for first place as he really deserved them.

I also won the best Axis General award for the two day performance so, all in all, it was a good outing.

The other big news in our household belongs to my son, who competed with some friends in a major Hackathon - HackIllinois during the weekend before Cold Wars.  This event had over 180 college teams and some major corporate sponsors - Google paid for the charter bus to drive Sean's team from Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh) to the Univ of Illinois.  He had a fantastic experience at the event and his team won the Goldman Sachs Innovation award for their project.  The project involved a hack of an X-Box Kinect to use it to teach Sign language by being able to see and correct a users hand gestures for each letter.  Pretty amazing stuff as the project needed to be started and completed in just 36 hours (no sleep!).  A link to the project's page provides a better description than I can: Kinect-ASL.  Sean kind of stands out from his team mates as he's the one who looks like a offensive lineman for a football team.  He's still a tech crazy kid.  We've got him home this week for spring break and for fun he's rebuilding an old PC to operate as a server and backup unit for our house.  He'll also use it to run multiplayer games and thinks it will generate some cash to help fund whatever summer internship he gets.

More 28mm ww2 Stuff

 There are only 10 days left in the Painting Challenge and I'm running out of mini's to paint. My latest submission is some WW2 German Fallschirmjaeger and vehicles.

 18 Fallschirmjaeger painted wearing Medeterainium camo jump suits.  I think the figures are Warlord metals but I can;t remember - they've been primed and sitting in the painting queue over four years.

 A pair of Bren Carriers - one assembled as a Recce carrier for the desert and the other a general infantry team carrier for the early Pacific.
 These are Perry models and crew and are really superbly cast.  I think Blitzkrieg Miniatures makes the Brens for the Perry's.

 A M8-Scott from Warlord
 Some Fallschirmjaeger Support units
 A medic, 81mm Mortar team and a Machine gun team.
A Pak 40 (75mm) AT gun.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

28mm Gurkha's & a Grant: Finished!

 My 28mm scale WW2 forces continue to expand with the addition of 21 Gurkha's and a Grant tank.  The Gurkha's are metal figures from Warlord and the Grant is a resin cast from Blitzkrieg.

 The casting quality of the Gurkha's was very low and I spent almost 6 hours cleaning them up - it's usually not a good thing when model clean up exceeds model painting time.

 A good number of these lads will see action this coming weekend at the Cold Wars Bolt Action Tournament.  There are two events, on Friday my DAK army will see the table for the first time and then Saturday it will be my Brits turn.

 The Grant tank is another superb resin cast from Blitzkrieg - these models are really nice.  We are spoilt for choice in 28mm vehicles right now with all the wonderful options from Blitzkrieg, Rubicon and others.

 I painted this up for a Pacific look but it will also bee seen with the 8th army.

Next up some 28mm Fallschirmjager's that have been primed and awaiting painting for over 4 years.