Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Fleets are currently in the ship yard nestled in their dry docks

There will be a naval aspect to next years game that will feature a minimum of 4 ships for the french fleet against a 3 ship (plus shore batteries) British one - all in 15mm scale.  If the modeling goes well there will be more ships.

Iv'e had a lot of these kits for years mouldering on the lead pile and am using the 2019 game as a reason to build them.  All of the models are from the fantastic Thoroughbred Miniatures Sea Eagles line.
 Here are the 4 French ships, including a 22 gun frigate
The British currently will have three ships - including a super fast / maneuverable mercenary Xebec.

Hmmm whats the scenario?  You'll just have to wait and find out.....

Friday, August 24, 2018

More 15mm Napoleonics Basing

 Basing continues to, umm, grind along.  To date, I've got about 1,0000 figures stuck on bases - all of which still need to have scenery work.  Basing can be tedious but I find it oddly calming if there's something nice on in the background like Bach or Elvis Costello.  Sadly music from artists like Metallica don't really work with miniature basing as the violent head bobbing it induces gets flock all over the place.

I'll do a much more in depth army review later on but I've been working to flesh out my Peninsular Campaign armies.  From left to right there are:

- 5 Calvary units
- 14, 24 figure infantry Battalions

- 2 Infantry
- 2 Calvary

- 2 Calvary
- 8, 24 figure infantry Battalions

- 10 Line Infantry
- 6 Light Infantry
- 3 Guard Infantry (one each for Young, Middle and Old)
- 7 calvary (with more to come)

There is still a lot of artillery to base (roughly 40 guns across all the combatants).  I'm aiming to get over 2,000 figures on the table for Historicon 2019 and am roughly halfway there with the pre-painted ones I've purchased.  The rest I'll paint myself over the next 10 months or so.  Thee will also be some ships - at least 7 - to build and paint up plus their crews stands.  It's going to be a busy winter.

Hey Curt, get ready to tally up a lot of 15mm Napoleonics for the upcoming Challenge - if you choose to subject yourself for a ninth time!

 Another exciting "action shot".  It really doesn't convey the whole dramatic effect as you can't hear the music in the background which in this case is Elvis Costello's classic "Imperial Bedrooms" album.

I use a resin sand for the groundwork as it both provides great texture and firmly "glues" the figures in place.  I've learned to use cheap aluminum sheet cake pans to protect my work surface and making flocking a lot easier.  Since this is a Peninsular French army there will be a lot of Dragoons - The picture shows 15 stands in production and I've got another 15 stands waiting in their plastic bag barracks.

Since I've been home recovering from surgery for the past few weeks, our second rescue cat, Buddy has decided that I merit his attention.  Buddy typically hides all day sleeping so I view this as a major step forward in my social rank in the cat world.  Buddy came to us very beat up and can't see all that well but he's doing much better.  He is huge for a cat - weighing in at 13 pounds without being fat.

My wife now has two rescue cats (or do they own us - I'm not sure).  I've told her that getting a third puts her formally across the line into "crazy cat lady" territory.  Hopefully that charade will continue to work or I may never get a dog....

Back to basing Nappy's, perhaps this time accompanied with a little English Beat.

What forces are up next? Austrians who have been bolstered by a very generous gift from Gary over at the Old Sarge's Blog.  I was very touched by his generosity and will try to emulate it by finding better homes for some of the soldiers that are whiling away the prime years of their tabletop lives on my lead pile.  I'll do a more detailed post on the Austrians in a week or so.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

15mm Napoleonics & 3D Printing

 Next year's Historicon game, as currently envisioned, will require a lot of new 15mm scale early 19th century terrain and I wanted to see how 3D printing might be put to use.  There is also an ulterior motive in that I wanted to get my tech-expert son back involved with the hobby.

Pictured is out first "co-production" - a walled French farmhouse in 15mm scale.  I think it came out really well.  Please note these pieces are just butted up together and haven't been fully cleaned up yet.

I purchased the 3D printable files from a company called Printable Scenery.  The files are originally scaled for 28mm but it's very easy to scale them down to 15 by setting the scale function to 60%.
I'm really happy with how these came out and will mount and scenic the farmstead over the next few days.  

The whole thing consists of 18 separate pieces.

One of the cool things about 3D printing is the ability to have interior details in the print.  The Barn has full interior detailing while the house model does not.  The more detail one has the longer it takes to print and I selected the house file that didn't have interior detail for speed up the process.
The lower level of the house.
I'm printing at the recommended layer height of 0.2MM.  You can't see the striations from 12 inches but if one gets up close they become apparent.  Dealing with theses striations is print material dependent.  A quick wipe with an acetone laces rage will clean them up in ABS.  I use the cheaper PLA material - it's plant based, biodegradable and doesn't give off any gasses while been formed.  Acetone doesn't work on PLA and I'd need to resort to a VERY light sanding.  I'm going to see how these paint up and  then decide if they need to be sanded.  If the 12 inch rule still holds I doubt I'll bother with it.

I also printed up some lengths of stone walls (also from Printable Scenery) and really happy with how they came out.

Looks like everything is perfect in 3D print land right?

Not Exactly.....

 First get ready for a lot of your prints to look like this.  "Bed Adhesion" or having the printed object stick to the print platform is one of the more common issues one struggles with.  If the item moves the tiniest amount the print job is ruined and you need to start over.

Another factor is 3D printing is VERY SLOW.  The farmstead consists of 18 individual pieces and I think it took close to 23 hours of total print time - excluding time lost on miss prints!!!

3D Printing is also a very young technology and isn't exactly user friendly.  In fact, I doubt I would have been able to get anything done without the help of my son and his Carnegie-Mellon University tech education.  For me one of the goals of this project was to do something with him so that was perfect but if you're not technically inclined or have access to the free expertise of your offspring, this tech may be a bit early for you.

What printer am I using - a Creality CR-10S.  It's a printer with very good reviews and was moderately priced at roughly  $550.00 US

It was the model my son recommended we get.  There are other printers on the market that are less expensive but when the "pro" says buy the creality - I said Yes!

I did have to assemble this printer which Sean actually made me do myself to familiarize myself with the parts.  That was a really good idea and the thing worked on the first try!

 So is 3D printing the next revolution for miniature gaming.  I think long term yes but shot term (next 5 years) I'm can't decide - color me intrigued.  Hopefully with some more experience down the road, I'll be able to render a more definitive opinion.

I'm also trying to learn 3D modeling so I can make my own print files.  My goal is to make a 15mm scale 74 gun ship on the line - we'll see how that works out....

Sunday, August 12, 2018

15mm Napoleonics - Basing Has Commenced!

 I've acquired some painted 15mm Napoleonics from two sources - unbased from Gajo Games and a good number of painted and based miniatures from EBAY.

I've been very impressed with the units purchased off EBAY from Chinese sources.  The painting and basing are of high quality and match what I planned to use going forward.  So far I've purchased 8 Infantry and 2 cavalry units for my Spanish army and then 2 British and 2 French Infantry units plus 1 Austrian.  The pricing works out well too.  Remember, you can bid lower than the asking price.  I'll post some more detailed pictures of each army in a week or so.

 I also ordered some French and British from Gajo Games.  They have an extensive line of painted 15mm Napoleonics.

A word on Gajo's service - it's superb.  Ordering from Chris is really easy and he sent me some updated picture of some of the french to make sure I was ok with the colors (I was).  Shipping was REALLY fast like 2-3 days from order placement to receipt.

I'm using my standard 15mm basing technique which consists of spreading a thin layer of Vallejo pumice stone and then positioning the minis.  Once dry the pumice stone really holds the mini's in place like glue and gives the base a nice texture.  After drying I still add a drop of super glue to each mini and then will paint and flock the bases.  Easy Peasy and really sturdy.

I've learned to buy cheap aluminum cake pans the doing basing work - it's keeps everything tidy and makes it easier to gather up flock that didn't stick.

I'm going with a basing standard that will work with all of the rulesets I'm considering.  The standard is:

Infantry - 4 figures on a 20mm wide x 25mm long base

Skimishers - 2 figures on a 25mm wide x 15mm deep base

Screens - 1 Infantry figure on a 25mm wide x 15mm deep base

Cavalry - 2 figures on a 25x25mm square base

Artillery - 1 gun / 4 crew on a 30mm x 40mm base

Limbers - 30 x 40mm for Line Artillery and 30x60mm for Horse Artillery

Some proof that I'll actually be painting some of the figures - in this case a 24 figure unit of British Marines from Thoroughbred Figures's Sea Eagles Line.

I've also just received my order from Old Glory for some Limbers to test out and plan on picking up some AB figures from Eureka USA at Fall In. I'll need a lot of limbers!

Once I finish up the Peninsular Campaign Armies, it will be onto to either Austrians or Russians.  I'm thinking Austrians.

Its good to be able to spend a little time at the workbench.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Health Update

I have a bit of a health update, which is generally good.  On Tuesday of this week I went in for some surgery to repair the damage created by my little dalliance with Pancreatitus last April.  I'm told the surgery went well.  I can tell you for sure as I was unconscious at the time - these Dr's can be tricky at times so you have to watch them.

I'm typing this message out with a laptop I shouldn't  have in the hospital room so this will be brief.  My ability to do a little work while recovering is yet another benefit of being extremely polite to the nursing staff and having a son who can crack encryption codes for wireless networks.

The recovery timeline is 2-3 weeks some of which will be in the penal facility know as Johns Hopkins hospital and the rest at home.  Rest assured I am scheming on how to get an early work-release but prospects are doubtful.  I do get treated pretty well here since my wife's on the faculty and everyone seems to be terrified of her.  I know the feeling.  But they seem to be terrified in a good way as the nursing staff adores her.  Lets just hope one of the nurses doesn't come the the rightful conclusion MB can do better than me and take matters into her own hands.....

Hopefully I can havesome fun like my last stay in April when some of MB's residents came up my room and asked me how to get on her good side.  I had to two ethical consultants at the time, one dressed in white on my right shoulder telling me to advise them to work hard and be good students, blah, blah, blah.  The other advisor was dressed in red and had much more interesting advice which I followed.  I told them - get her white chocolate, she loves that stuff.  Off they went feeling like their prayers had been answered.  About a week later MB came into the room and complained about "why the hell were people getting me that awful white chocolate crap? - I have to eat some of it with them and it's just atrocious."

I started to feel a lot better then - see laughter is the best medicine!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Little Wars TV - go check them out!

Little Wars TV is a new wargaming site and youtube channel that is putting out some really interesting and engaging content for Historical wargaming.  I've really been impressed with both the topics and the production quality as it looks like these guys are really putting in a lot of effort.

I really liked how they did a video battle report on a recent Antietam game.  In fact, I liked it so much I bought the rules they used (Alter of Freedom) and have even dusted off my old 6mm ACW collection!

Speaking of Alter of Freedom, two of the club's members have published sets of wargames rules and so have an additional perspective to share about the hobby which I find really interesting.  The other ruleset written by a club member is Disposable Heroes.  To their credit there are video reviews of both sets which I found to be very balanced - in no way are they puff-pieces.  The fact the authors are comfortable with public criticisms of their rule sets speaks a lot about the integrity of the site.

The groups tag line is "History.  Wargames.  Scotch" which I find really hits the mark plus they seem to be a genial group of guys.

If you're into to historical gaming I really encourage you to check them out - it's well worth your time.

Here are the links:

Main Site

YouTube Channel

Thursday, August 2, 2018

15mm Napoleonics: I am a Heretic

I now declare myself a heretic to the Doctrines and Traditions of the Church of 28mm Miniature Gaming.  I cast down your iconography of Perry sculpts and giant table size requirements.  Here me and shake with fear you evangelical TV preacher casting magnates in your papal-like halls of power in Nottingham.

Ok that may be a bit over the top....

Don't worry I still love 28mm and worship daily in my secret chapel dedicated to Saints Michael and Alan.  I just need a hobby break from 28's for a bit so have decided that the new convention game project will be a giant 15mm Napoleonic themed game and I'm targeting to have close to 2,500 to 3,000 mini's on the table.

Why the change?  Several reasons really

1) 15's are fun to paint
During last year's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I painted up a large number of 15mm ancients - specifically 415 infantry and 136 cavalry for two armies - Imperial Romans and Sassinids.  I really enjoyed painting the 15's and wanted to do more.  Don't worry, I'll still do some 28mm projects but the next 12 months will see a lot 15mm work.

Can I paint 3K+ figures in 12 months? - maybe but I'm not.  There are a lot of sources of nicely painted nappies on the market today and I'll be purchasing the bulk of the armies on that basis.  I'm targeting to paint about a 1,000 figures my self - ship crews, marines, artillery limbers and teams and some basic infantry and cavalry units.  Last year it took me three weeks of concentrated effort to paint up the Romans and Sassanids and they were essentially half my 1K figure target so I think it's doable.

Another inspiration for 15's is last December I was fortunate enough to play a game with Posties Rejects in 15mm.  The game was Crimean War themed and I was blown away by the playability and overall look of the game.  So when my wife finally figures out what I'm up to, I'm throwing Ray under the bus!

2) Ships Rock!
I really like incorporating ships into my convention games - they're great eye candy to attract attention and provide command alternatives for players who may not want to move a giant number of troops across a table.  Plus I really like building boats - a lot.  I also like the challenge of balancing the ability to detail a naval model vs making it both practical and durable for table top use.  Here are a few shots of some of the ship models I've used for prior convention games.  Lets see if anyone spots the problem with them....

 ACW ironclads - both have detailed interior sections!
28mm War of 1812 ships and gunboats.
(sorry for the pile of casualty stands in the "water")

What's the problem?  These models are freaking huge which makes them hard to maneuver and maneuvering is one of the key aspects for tabletop naval gaming.  The larger ships like the ironclads of the 36" long Wasp essentially become really nice terrain features / objective and that's not what I'm looking for.

Dropping down to 15mm reduces the length of the wasp for 36" long and 25" high to just 14 inches in length and 12: in height - making them much more playable on a 6 ft wide table.  Plus it allows me to finally get wonderful line of 15mm ships from Thorougbred Miniatures (Sea Eagles) onto the table top.

3) It's time to return to Historicals.
The past two Historicons I've run a rather silly fantasy game DAK & Dragons which was well received and a lot of fun to play and put on.  I'd like to return to a more historical format for next year and there's nothing more proper than Napleonics.  I did feel a little guilty about re-running the DAK & Dragons game this year but health challenges and work conspired to limit my hobby time.

4) New Terrain
Switching to 15's creates some exciting new terrain challenges - I love building terrain and think I'm up for the challenge of creating 15mm scale gaming terrain that looks as good as 28 for eye candy purposes (as mentioned earlier).

5) Practicality
Putting on a participation convention game is a lot of fun but it is a pain-in-the-*** to transport all the stuff one needs.  Given the scale of the battle I'm proposing, I'd have to rent a van to move everything and that's just silly - dropping down to 15mm makes the transporting so much easier.  It will be a challenge to make the 15's look as grand as 28's from an eye candy perspective but I think I'm up for that challenge

There are still a lot of decisions to be made

Rules - which set to use or, more specifically which book of Napoleonic rule book is:

the one book to rule them all, the one book to find them
One book to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the land of basement man-caves where the shadows lie

To be honest, while I have been thinking about which rule set to use, I've felt some regret for the first time about my being banned from TMP.  Where else could one go to have a reasoned, thoughtful and balanced discussion on the merits of different rules sets?


There are 4 sets in contention for these games

Et Sans Resultant (ESR)
General D'Armee
Age of Eagles (Fire and Fury Brigade for Nappies)
Grand Battles Napoleon

I'll be running some test games over the next few months as the figures are completed / purchased.  I've played Fire and Fury a lot so feel confident about running a game with their Napoleonic derivate but I'm really smitten with both ESR and Grand Battles Napoleon.  If any of you have strong feelings about Napoleonic rules sets, let me know.  If you want to have some fun - start a thread for me on TMP.  Just let me know so I can get some popcorn ready.

As an aside - what was my grave offense to get me banned from TMP?  I posted the sites google stats (which are publicly available) which showed materially declining traffic over the past few years.

Scenarios - rather than run the same game over and over, I think I'll run different scenarios every day with one of them actually being historical and the others "what-if's".  All of the games will have a naval component.  The leading Historical scenario is the Battle of Corunna but no decisions have been made.

One last point - some of you may be asking - "Doesn't this idiot already have a fairly large collection of 28mm Napoleonics?"  The answer is yes I do - French, Brits and US War of 1812.  Probably close to 1,300 figures and I love them dearly.  Surely your follow-on question would be "isn't a bit redundant to collect the same armies in different scales?"  The answer to that question is a resounding NO! - there are lots of perfectly reasonable reasons why it makes sense to collect the same forces in different scales.  Yes I'm sure there are many reasons.

What's mine?  I just want too.

Besides, I looked up in a psychological text book and determined that I would only have a "problem" if I collected the same armies in three different scales, so I'm safe for now.....