Thursday, June 27, 2019

Another Project: Rebasing SOL's for Saturday

In addition to frantic preparations for Historical, there is a large club game being held this Saturday.  I'm contributing some ships to the effort and they all needed to be rebased and relabeled.

The rebasing is done and the labels have been printed out and need to be attached.

I also need to figure out a better transport systems as these Langtons are a little on the delicate side.

I'm going to need a vacation after all this intense hobby stuff!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

HCON Prep: Hills are done!

 The sloped Hill panel is done!  Another tick off the to-do list for Historicon.
A close up of some of the rock areas
The cliff face.  That looks like a great spot to place an artillery battery - what do you think?
A side glance.  The slope isn't all that steep - 3 inches over 18 inches.  That was done on purpose to reduce the chance of minis falling over.  We'll see how that works in a few weeks.

Countdown to Historicon:

15 days, 8 hours, 13 minutes

Monday, June 24, 2019

HCON Prep: Scenicing Hill Sections

 The pace of work is picking up as the length of time decreases.  I'm pretty sure that's a universal concept.

The two corner hills have had the base ground cover added.  I need to detail the the small cusp for the left side one and then these chaps are done.

 The slope section has some exposed rock face and reveal sections which need to be painted up and sealed prior to adding ground flock.  It really important that these areas be fully dried before the ground foam is added to is becomes a mess.

For really detailed work I use my Vallejo's in a very watered down state.  These are my ground cover "triad" of colors.

I'm pleased with how both the rock face and gravel came out.  The rock face is just carved EPS foam and the gravel are tiny rocks and tile grout.  When this stuff dries it's like cement.

As you can see in the picture, the area is also soaked in Matte Medium which I'll give a few days to dry out.

Time left until Historicon:
17 days, 8 hours, 12 minutes

Friday, June 21, 2019

HCON Prep: Total Battle Village Tiles

 The three village tiles and associated buildings from Total Battle Miniatures are just about done.  These gems are from their 15mm "big battalions" range.  All that's left to do is some clean up, detailed scenicing and then sealing.  I really like how these came out.

First up is the "the Hamlet" tile, which has 3 buildings on a flexible base.

The barn is a little dark and shiny on the roof so I'll need to tone that down and hit it with matte spray.
Next up is the 4 building "Village" tile.  This tile had hedges along with walls cast in and was a lot of fun to paint up.  The Village tile has three road connection points, whereas the Hamlet had just two.  You get one guess on how many the next larger one has...

All of the buildings are removable and fit into 1/16 inch deep sabots.  The sabots and building fit one of two sizes so it's easy to mix and match.
Lastly, the "town" tile, which is a booming metropolis consisting of 7 buildings and four road connections.  This makes for a key  objective in any war-game.
The church steeple isn't fixed down yet as it came with two options - the pointy one shown and an onion dome for a more eastern European feel.  I'm going to attach them with magnets as a last step.
I highly recommend these tiles for any 15mm gamer.

Historicon countdown:

20 days, 11 hours, 58 minutes...

If you are interested in playing one of the 5 scheduled gaming slots this year, I do recommend you pre-registar soon - the Thursday game is filled up and I'm told the other four have just a handful of spots open.

I hope to see you in Lancaster this July.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

HCON Prep: The Objective Marker

There is still one "unit" that needs to be painted up for "To Catch a King" - the objective marker.  In this case, it's King George and his Royal coach.  The miniatures are from Old Glory's Blue Moon line and are superb - here's a link.  I'm looking forward to painting this up and will try to do a decent job - not my normal slap-dash efforts.

As a reminder, the objective of the game is for the British to convey the King across the battlefield, onto a ship and then off the far end of the board.  The table is shaping up to be 12 ft of land and 6 ft of water.  Of course there will be some grumpy frenchman attempting to impede the progress of his royal highness.

Just to cause headaches for the British player (which is always a fun thing to do), I'm figuring out some rules that have a bit of randomness in them.  It needs to be simple like a die roll.  Perhaps the following:

6 Lightening Fast - full movement of 18 inches and +1 on next turns movement roll
4-5 Coach moves its full movement (coach moves 18 inches)
2-3 Something caught his Majesty's attention (Coach moves 9 inches)
1 The King calls a halt to adjust his wig (coach stops)

There will be an override rule that allows the coach to always move to at least 12 inches aways from a French unit it it can.  Games that are lost on a single die roll aren't the most fun.

The British CIC will also be able to allocate one of his precious command dice to have the coach move an extra 6 inches.

For reference - calvary moves 15 inches per turn, infantry in column move 9 and line formation moves 6.  There are ways to modify those movement rates

I need to the coach to be able to get across the field in 6-7 turns.

Awaiting the King near the shore will be 2 frigates from the Royal Navy and a fast Barbary pirate Xebec which has been hired on as a mercenary.  It's a good thing that Barbary Pirates are renewed for their trustworthiness and adherence to contractual covenants.  Annoyingly, there will also be some nautically inclined Frenchies attempting to spoil the day.

How to capture the King?
While such a thought is preposterous, I suppose if a French unit was to make contact with the coach and without any British unit to contest, then the King would surrender (he really isn't made of stern stuff). It would then be up to the French to convey the king off their table edge at a fixed rate of 9 inches per move.

Historicon Countdown:

21 days, 10 hours, 18 minutes

Saturday, June 15, 2019

"Big" Hill Sectional Terrain Panels 2: Ground Texturing

 With the frames and base foam installation complete the next step is carving the foam to look less "wedding cakey" (yes, that is a real term) and apply the ground texture.  Being pretty much an idiot, I forgot to take pictures of carving the foam but I just used a very sharp knife to smooth out the slopes and as you can see in the first pictures added some exposed rock face with some pink foam.  Once that was down a layer of sculptamold was applied to fill in any big seems and smooth out any transitions.
I do focus of figure stability so there are still layers but they're just not as a prevalent as some of my earlier hill attempts.
Once the scultpamold has set, it's time to cover the whole thing with my "secret" terrain tool - pre-mixed tile grout (and pre-colored!).

I do mix in a little PVA glue which really helps with hardness and makes the surface very durable.  Application is dead simple - put on a pair of surgical gloves, grab a handful out of the can and plop it down.  Now hears the tricky part - dip you finger in some water and then just spread it around.  It's kind of like finger painting but for super important war gaming purposes.
20 minutes of "art therapy" later and all three panels have been textured.  The tile looks good enough to leave patches with no ground foam.

Warning: Tile grout can be caustic to exposed skin so don't just use your hands without latex gloves.  It's also really hard to get out from under your finger nails once set.
Here's a close up of the exposed rock face.  I'll add some dry tile grout and pebbles later to simulate smaller rocks and rubble at the bottom.  Don't worry about getting any of the "rock face" as you can pick it off while painting.
The sides of each panel need a good sanding the get the overflow off but that's not too hard.  I used some 220 grit sand bagger wrapped around a piece of 1x2 wood.  Any sand paper will do.
There are still a few seems that are visible - as you can see in the upper left corner but those will get covered up when the ground foam is applied.

The remaining steps are to paint the sides and apply the ground foam.  that's maybe a total of 90 m minutes of work.

Time remaining until Historicon: 26 days, 11 hours and 25 minutes.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Distinguished Visitor and More General D'Armee

This weekend saw the St Michaels house graced by several distinguished visitors - Ed and his lovely wife Teresa from the gaming club and Peter D from Regina,  the Single Handed Admiral blog, and a "famed" participant in the Challenge.

It was a grand weekend,  I didn't have any pictures of Ed and T as Ed's media people wanted way too much money for any image work.  Ed's now a you tube sensation as you can see in the following video.  Wait till the very end.

The first picture is of Peter arriving.  Oops that's just a local terrapin turtle.  Wonder how I got this mixed up?

Ok - here's a picture of Peter setting up for a quick game of GdA in our basement.  Peter was a wonderful guest and tolerated a lot of driving around.

We replayed the game from the last week at the club - Peter was the French and I was the British.  Each player had four brigades (3 Inf and 1 Cav). The French had their three inf brigades on the board while the British only had 2 and were defending the monastery in the picture

Peter moving his French columns up.  While in column they can move 9 vs 6 inches for line so he was on me a lot quicker.  The increase in speed really offsets the loss in fire power.

The attack is forming up and 2 French brigades are bearing down on the Spanish.

Action on my left flank as my 2nd brigade is preparing to assault the British.

A turn of ineffective firing for me and one of the brigades looses fire discipline.

Disaster strikes - even though I've managed to get my cav on the board (as does Peter) - I fail all my ADC rolls which limits my ability to react to Peters well timed assault.

Peter's French swept my hapless Spanish out of the monastery and I conceded the game.  It was a lot of fun and I'm feeling like I am starting to really understand the rules.  GdA is an excellent Napoleonic system and one that I will stick with.

Thanks to Peter for a great game and for being such a superb guest.  He is welcome in Maryland anytime his jet setting life of academia brings him here.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

HCON Prep: Big Hill Sectional Terrain Panels

 I really like the 2x2 terrain panels I built a few months ago but they do suffer form one issue - their umm flatish-ness.  I wanted to add some height variations and decided to build some modular hill sections.  The height of the hills will be four inches (3 inches from the top of the terrain as standard height of each panel is 1 inch).

The first step in construction was to make the sloped panels, since I'm making three sections, I cut 3, 5 inch x 24 inch pieces of plywood and traced out the dimensions of the slope which is 4 inches flat in from each end and a diagonal line connecting the two points over the remaining  linear 16 inches (4+4+16=24).  The three panels were then taped together and I ran them through my band saw.

 And just like that I've now got 6 perfectly matched side panels.  Well perfectly matched after bit of sanding as band saws are never really precise.  At least the way I use them.....

I then cut the rest of the side pieces out.  Here's the full cut list:

Slope Section
2 x Slope pieces
1 x 4" x 24" 1/2 inch plywood
1 x 1" by 24" 1/2 inch plywood
1x 23.5 square piece of 1/4 inch MDF

Corner section (there will be two of these)
2 x Slope piece
2 x 1" x 24" 1/2 inch plywood
1 x 23.5" square 1/4 inch MDF

 Before proceeding, I traced out the outline of a slope on another piece of plywood in case I want to make more.

Dry fitting the parts for a corner section allowed me a chance to test how the slopes match up - they came out great.  You can also see in the lower left of the picture that the bottoms of each panel have a 1/4 inch square rabbet cut in them that will hold the MDF bottom panel.

I used a router to cut the rabbets.

It's really important that the frames be square and the sides at a 90 degree angle so I broke out the the old Rockler framing squares.  They're a little finicky to use but the extra effort ensures everything is plum.
Here's a picture of the slope section framed and clamped up.
Once the glue on the frames was setup, it's time to fit the bottom MDF panels.  I cut each one to size and then glued them in and added clamps while the glue set.  One can never have enough clamps in a workshop.

I'm only using glue to hold the thing together but with the rabbet joint there is more than enough holding power.  How do I know?  Because a fully assembled panel fell off my workbench and suffered no damage.  I, ummm, meant to do that by the way.....

All three frames fully assembled.

The little cube you see in the bottom right panel are some 1/2 inch pieces I cut to reinforce the joints.  I ended up only using a few of them as the panels were strong enough.
Now I need to install the EPS foam for the ground work.  I had a few sheet of 3/4 inch wide Expanded Polystyrene foam (the stuff with "bubbles") and used that to build up the slopes layer by layer.  I attached each layer with a PVA glue - in this case yellow wood glue).
Once all the layers were built up some weights were added and the glue was left to set.
All three panels with the base EPS foam installed.
The next step will be carving the foam and adding details like rock faces etc.  That will have to wait until another day.  I was pretty tired at this point and decided to come back with a fresh set of eyes (and hands) in a few days.

As of the posting of this update, Historicon is 35 days, 11 hours and 39 minutes away.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

More 1:1 Scale Modeling: The "Other" Garden Boxes

Last weekend, I finished replacing the other four boxes in the garden.  Despite bing much larger than the first four, these were done in almost half the time as I had the process "down".  I've also got a dumpster for a few weeks so that means another major clean out.

The previous boxes.  The next step in the garden refit is to replace the wooden fence as it has also rotted away.  The replacement fence will be made of a composite material and will not be subject to future rot.  For this next project, I've hired out professional help.  It's a bit beyond my meager skills and needs to be done quickly.  With all the hungry wild life in the area, the garden will not survive long if the fence project gets delayed mid stream - something I'm known for!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

General D-Armee at the Club

 Last night, Tom, Ed and I ran another test game of General D'Armee at the club.  Tom and Ed's French attacked my Brit/Spanish army.  The scenario was simple.  The Spanish were holding a walled monastery and were supported by another British infantry division unit to the right.  They were attacked by three French infantry divisions.  Both sides had off table reinforcements - I had both a Infantry and calvary division, while the French had a calvary divisions.
The game went A LOT smoother than our first test game and I think we got a majority of the rules right.  The Battle flowed really well and my dice were red hot.
The game was a lot more lively with a fairly open table (terrain wise).  That's a very important lesson for the Historicon game.

Things we improved on were:

- getting the mechanics of charges and subsequent melees correct
- skirmishers - they add both a lot of flavor and are fun
- command dice, the command system is a lot of fun and one of the best things about this game

Stuff were still trying to figure out
- Calvary
- status marker resets

Overall it was a great game and I'm really liking these rules.

Ed's French skirmishers are hiding in these woods - somewhere.

Rather than use on table markers to show unit casualties, we used some tracking sheets that worked well.  These will not win any awards for graphic artistry but they got the job done.  We also decided to keep specific unit status's sort of secret from the opposing player.  When a required modifier was needed, it would be clear but there were not markers on the field.  I found that really fun as I would forget and sometimes attack a unit I thought was worn only to find out oops their fresh.

I'll tweak the format a bit more and then add some period specific flavor but overall it's big improvement to our game play.
EDIT: I've realized that the above casualty tracker is, indeed, wrong as line Batteries have 8 casualty slots and not the 12 depicted.  There are four until a minus -1 and the then 2 steps each to -2 and then disperse.