Sunday, December 22, 2019

Merry Christmas from St Michaels, Maryland

Merry Christmas from the Lair of the Uber Geek to you and yours this holiday season.  I can't believe that Christmas is just a few days away but there you have it.  I've got a frantic few days to finish preparations - somehow it always seems to get done.

The picture is of the main street in St Michaels.  Christmas is a surprisingly big tourist event for the town and its really fun to experience.  Post Jan 1st we all pretty much go into hibernation mode until the Spring.  The winter is one of my favorite times to be on the Eastern Shore.  Its very quite and affords a lot of painting time.  What's not to love?

Have a wonderful holiday, everyone.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Challenge Eve: The Painting Bench is Prepared, Awaiting the "GO" Order

My painting bench has been cleaned and organized (well sort of, but good enough for me).  As with past Challenges, I start with brand new brushes but there's a difference this year.  On the left are my tired and true but really expensive Winsor and Newton Series 7's in sizes 3, 2 and 1.  To date these have been the best pigment application weapons I've ever used.

But this year's there is another option - a much less expensive set of Kolinsky hair brushes which I'm going to give a try.  We'll see if Stalin's Quantity has a quality all its own assertion applies to tiny paint brushes.

Also you can see a hint of what lies ahead for me during this year's challenge - Some 15mm (Ok 18mm) Russian Generals from AB Miniatures and a WW1 British tank that was primed and ready to go since January of 2015 (Challenge V).  I suspect that makes it qualify for a certain waypoint on a path....

You will see a lot of 18mm Napoleonics, 28mm WW1 and a few surprises during Challenge X.

I will be off to a slow start given some water damage (see this post) but all is well.

Best of luck to all the Challenganista's!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Challenge Prep Setback

Normally, the handful of days leading up to the Challenge kick-off are filled with frantic miniature prepping - filing mold lines, attaching to bases and priming.  This year's a bit different.  Don't get me wrong - there's a great deal of frantic activity but it's more focused on repairing the broken water line in my hobby area rather than the more important hobby related items.

The culprit - the leak happened at the upper junction 
A copper joint failed and my hobby area was subjected to a bit of water damage.  Luckily it was more of a pinprick leak / spray rather than full on broken pipe and the resulting gushing torrent.  Thankfully no miniatures were lost in the flood but a lot of my sectional terrain pieces got ruined and a good deal of terrain supplies (matte board, foam core etc) was damaged  Note to self - water soluble glue is really easy to work with but does have a bit of a flaw when a pipe leaks.....

I think the wet ground foam has dealt a mortal wound to my trusty shop-vac.

The carpet in the basement got wet and will need to be dried and then cleaned.  All of this means I'll be off to a bit of a slow start to this year's challenge.  I'm off to rent a carpet cleaner tomorrow.  Exciting times!

You can see the water creeping along the carpet.  Since the carpet is over 15 years old, I suspect my wife may attempt to justify a "its time for new carpet" argument. She's likely right but I fight a delaying action to get through the Challenge.  Some things  need to have priority in life.

In some ways we were very lucky - the spot where the leak occurred was the area where we used to hide our sons Christmas presents in the days that Santa Claus "existed".  Now that would have been a disaster

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Woodworking Christmas Presents and Star Wars!

No, I'm not making wooden tie fighter Christmas tree ornaments - although that's a GREAT idea.  Just an update on gift construction.

The base assembly of my wife's armchair desk is complete.  The arms on her favorite chair are really big (9 inch diameter) which is why there is such a large gap.  The overall work surface if 12.5 x 16.5 inches.  The unit is made out of popular wood and I trimmed it with 1/4 inch walnut for some contrast.  There's also a pencil groove routed into the top.
 Here's a "action-shot" of the pencil holder in use - very exciting, isn't it?  The desk looks pretty rough now as there's a good bit of glue squeeze out to clean up and then sanding, a lot of sanding.  There's always sanding to do in woodworking.
The legs are attached with glue and wooden pegs so the joinery is very strong.  I suspect MB can bash me over the head with this thing and it will not break.  Let's hope I don't give her a reason to test that theory empirically.  I used a very dense wood so it weighs close to 10 pounds.

Once I finished here it's on to my son's present which will be a tabletop valet box with a builtin wireless charger.

The club's Youtube channel just posted our Star Wars episode "Battle of Endor".  It was a lot of fun to play in and the guys went a little over the top in their "acting" but I think the video came out well.  The minis used in the game came from Greg and my collections.  Please go check it out.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Play Testing a New Napoleonic Ruleset

 Last night at the club we were play testing a new Napoleonic ruleset using Greg and Tom's wonderfully painted 6mm armies.  It was a meeting engagement between a French army (Greg and me) vs Tom's Russian hordes.
The base unit is a battalion (with 4 bases).  Since we haven't given any feedback to the author I'll not disclose the ruleset.

Overall, I really liked the rules - especially the command control aspects.  There are some things that seemed a bit wonky but that's why one playtests, isn't it?

Any night you can get some Nappy's on the table is time well spent.

Monday, December 9, 2019

It's Christmas Present Time in the Workshop

 It's that time of year to make some presents for the family.  First up is a contraption for my lovely yet fierce wife. It should be pretty easy to guess what I'm making from this picture.
The weather is really warm for this time of year so I've taken a few days off to get these gifts banged out.

My sons is a bit smaller but a lot more difficult.  I may need a fall back plan for that one

Sunday, December 8, 2019

In Harms Way

 This little boat is setting out in harms way this morning.  The guns are actually shore emplacements but look both cool and silly on the trawler.
Lets us all hope that fate is kind to this humble fishing trawler.  I suspect you all might see it in a video in a few weeks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Salamanca! Using ESR

 Last night I ran a refight of the Battle of Salamanca at the club.  We used the ESR ruleset which worked out very nicely, especially simulating the early morning maneuvering the came before the fight itself.

While the historical outcome was a decisive British victory, both armies were evenly matched, with the British having a slight advantage in infantry while the French had a tad more in calvary and artillery.  ESR also simulates the tactical doctrinal differences nicely with the French having a smaller number of large formations while the British having a lot more smaller more flexible units that done have as much staying power but are very flexible to use.

The French are entering the board from the lower right side.

 Another shot of the initial set up showing the build of the British Army marching up for Salamanca (upper left).  There are a number of hills on the right side of the picture that don't really show through in the picture.
The initial moves have the French marching quickly to sieze Great Apriles in the center like they did historically and sending Curto's light calvary division and two infantry divisions to their extreme right flank to try and catch the English baggage train which Marmont can just see (the train is located in the center Bottom of the picture)
As Curto's calvary approach they discover that Marmonts telescope needs some refinement as what was thought to be the baggage train is actually Packenham's 3rd division!  This event also happened historically and was a really fun surprise to spring.  The French also had a surprise - they could have one of their divisions move Off-map 18 inches per turn and then enter where they wanted.  The trick is once those orders were set they could not be changed.  The French picked well.  It came on about where Josh's hand is now anchoring the extreme French right flank and allowing the two divisions by Josh's hand to switch to the attack.  It was a very well timed move.

With the Light Cav checked on the French left flank, the battle moved on to three separate actions, with each becoming more important and successful for the French as we moved left to right along their line.
The British center division gives way which allows the French to gang up on the Brits left flank by sending 3 divisions agains the lone British one.
 The French assault on their left flank stalls out as Tony attempts and massively fails an order change which effectively allows 2 French divisions to idle and trade pot shots with the British.

Here's a hint for ESR, which bases died roll on 2 D6's - DONT ROLL TWO ONES.  Something always really bad happens.
While successful on their right flank the British center and left flank collapse under the weight of the French attacks.  It was a very close run as most of the French divisions were one or two fatigue points away from collapse.

I do apologize for the ugly green rectangles,  They are movement trays for attack columns that I have pressed in to service to be Reformation areas for each division.

Given how much we like the ESR tules set, I'll be making proper ones to use in the next game.

This is the third time I put on an ESR game at the club and I must say the rules are a lot of fun and provide a very good game.  This one could have gone either way, but a rare French victory in the Peninsula isn't that bad of a thing...

Friday, November 29, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

 Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out on the inter webs.  A roast Turkey is a beautiful thing, indeed so I thought I would share.
Turkey induced comas for Sean and his two college friends he brought home for Thanksgiving.

I have much to be Thankful for.  I would be even more thankful if I could find my pants with the elastic waist.  It seems my current pair has shrunk - funny that?

Monday, November 25, 2019

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge X

It's that time of year again.  The days are shorter and colder.  We retreat to the warm confines of our respective hobby warrens and busily prepare for the bacchanal of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge version X.

Yes this is the 10th Challenge and I'm really stoked.  If I must say, I do have a rather ambitious plan, which will be revealed in good time.  I can say that its never been done before....

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Jasper and team over at Wargaming, Soldiers and Strategy have started to publish some of the findings from the 2019 version of the Great War-gaming Survey.  The 2019 survey had a record level of participation and yielded some interesting insights about the state of the hobby and both some opportunities and challenges ahead.

I encourage you to go over and take a look at the results that Jasper will be discussing over the coming weeks.

Here is a link to the first post, "The Basics"

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Project Wargaming You Tube Channel

A few of the club members made it to Fall In and put out a video on Little Wars TV.  One of the outstanding games they saw was the D-day game pictured.  It's in glorious 6mm scale and the table really looks wonderful.  The gentleman who put on the game has a Youtube Channel called "Project Wargaming" which I've found very informative and fun to watch.  Go check it out.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Troop Cabinet 2.0 - All Done

 I got up early today and decided to bang out the cabinet and get it installed under my table.  Here's a shot of the installed unit.

 I assembled the cabinet carcass out of 1/2 inch plywood.  Its a simple cube with a divider and the overall dimensions are 21.75 inches wide, 25 inches tall and 18 deep.  The only part that requires some precision is placing the middle column as it if its off to one side the drawers will not fit.  I just made 10 1/8 inch spacer for each side to make sure the placement was accurate.  The drawer gaps are set to be 10 1/8 inch wide - 10 inches for the drawer and 1/8 of "wiggle" room.

I then cut the drawer runners.  Like the earlier troop cabinet, I'm using very simple wood platforms as runners.  Putting drawer slides in would just be too expensive and add a lot of un-needed weight.
Putting in the runners is a bit tedious (OK, a lot tedious)
 With the cabinet built, all that was left was to finish all the drawers. I had built 5 as a trial a few days ago so just had 11 to go.  All the wood was cut and using my handy dandy drawer jig got these 11 done in less than an hour.  My average assemble time Wass 2 minutes and 40 seconds per drawer.   Yes, I did time myself.  Why? - because I'm a geek.

 After sanding the drawers, I attached the drawer pulls.  I had just enough of the library card pulls to put one on every drawer.  I like these pulls a lot and think the add a good bit to the look.
 When building projects that need to fit in a specific area there's always a bit of an apprehensive walk when you carry the unit and try it's fit for the first time.  No need for worry as I got the measurements right.  OK - given my track record on measurement accuracy, there was a lot of need to worry.
 Look! there's room for 6,000 15mm scale troops

 A shot looking down from the table top
and the first troops have taken up residence - my 15mm Imperial Romans and

The project has been on my to-do list for many, many months so it felt great getting it knocked out.  Sunday will be spent re-organizing the war game rooms and filling up these drawers.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

War & Empire Kickstarter Arrives: Can a Leadpile Ever be Too Big?

Kickstarter can be a wonderful / terrible thing.  I eagerly backed West Wind productions War & Empire III (after doing War & Empire II back in 2016) and the new miniatures just showed up today.

There are 30 packs of minis - 15 for an Early Byzantine army and 15 for an Arab Conquest army.  These will go nicely with my Early Imperial Roman and Sassanid Forces.

The figures are 15mm in scale and paint up nicely.  There arrival is timed very nicely in anticipation of the upcoming analog hobbies painting challenge.  Hmmm, Byzantines, Sassanids and Arabs - I wonder if a campaign is in the works?

Maybe this is why I was building extra storage.....

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Troop Transport Expansion: More Drawer, Please

 A little over a year ago, I built a custom troop storage and transport cabinet.  The goal was to make something the efficiently stores my 15mm Napoleonics collection and help me cart stuff around to put on big convention games.  At the risk of sounding a little self-congratulatory I was thrilled with how it came out.  The cabinet worked fantastically at Historicon and made both transport and keeping my troops organized a snap.  Another plus was there were zero figures damaged in transport.

I've decided to build some more troop storage under my game table and will be using the same drawer size as the troop transport so I can switch drawers out to get ready for future convention games.  I'll also be making some improvements to the base unit (security, more compartments but that's a future project).

 The first step in any project that has some repetitive aspects is to build a jig.  The jig is built to the exact outside dimension of a drawer which is 10 x 16.5 inches and 3 inches high.   There no magic to those dimensions - it's just what I decided to use when building the first set.

With the jig done, I then moved on to cutting the parts - I had enough scrap to make 5 drawers and that was a good number to refine the build process.  I also got to use "Betsy" my trusty cross-cut sled.  I'm sure all of you name your jigs also.  Well if you don't, then, you're just weird - "aren't they, Betsy?"
 OK all the wood is cut.  Each drawer requires the following parts:

2, 10 x 2.75 inch 1/2 inch plywood

2, 15.5 x 2.75 inch 1/2 inch plywood

1, 10 x 16.5 inch 1/4 inch plywood (bottom)

I'm using simple but joints - not the best looking but fast and strong enough.

Exterior drawer dimension remains 10 x 16.5 x 3 inches
Lets try the jig - plop the sides in with a bit of wood glue and brad nail them in place.  Nice, snug fit.
Put the bottom piece on and with glue and brad nails (I did get a new nail gun and love using it). The nail holes are that visually appealing but it I'm not making fine furniture.

Total assemble time - including cutting the wood, roughly 7 minutes.

but does it fit in the cabinet?
 Yup - it fits perfectly!  I'll need to do some sanding and finishing but will wait until the weather warms up a bit.
Ok 5 drawers built in under 30 minutes.
I didn't have enough 1/4 ply to have single piece bottoms for all the drawers so two of the drawers have bottom made of two pieces of 1/4 plywood.  I ran an interior brace across the seam to create some stability and ended up with a nice pencil / dice storage area.  So that's the way I umm planned it...

I'm planning to build another 15 drawers for a total of twenty.  That should allow me to hide - oops store a lot more new miniature acquisitions.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

3D Printed Pontoon Bridge

 Dave from the club is running a Iran/Iraq War-game at Fall In and needed a pontoon bridge. I volunteered to print one and you can see my first attempt was more abstract than I hoped.  A little repair work on the printer and things were set right.
 The print files I'm using are from WOW Buildings and are for a WW2 Bailey bridge (part of WOWBuildings Market Garden set of files).

Theres a file for the platform (which prints two decks) and pontoons, which I copied in the slicing program to print 3 at a time.  I didn't like the look the mix of pontoons to platforms in the second picture, so printed both files again.
This version looks a lot better and gives Dave and extra section if he ever needs it.  The original file is scaled for 28mm some I ad to reduce it.  The detail came out well but the railing are REALLY then and break easily.  I snapped off a number of sections while painting up this bridge.

A word on painting 3D prints.  One of the downsides of 3D printing is the print layers (striations) are sometimes visible.  There are a number of ways to hide them depending on the material used to print.  I mainly print in PLA (why? because its what I have on hand) and the easiest way to mask the layering is to prime with a thicker medium so I use a white gesso  (Liquitex).  It works surprisingly well for terrain items.  I tint the white gesso with whatever base color I plan to use to reduce the chance of bright white spots showing through.

A couple of coats of white gesso and then some Vallejo Russian Green and this bridge is done.