Sunday, June 13, 2021

Great 3D resin Printing Post on No Dice, No Glory

 There is a great article on 3D Resin printing for Historical gamers over on the No Dice No Glory blog.  You can find it HERE

I’m referencing the blog post as it’s likely a better write-up than I can do and the use the same printer I got for Fathers Day.  It also has some great links for historically themed 3D print files and I’m using the blog as a form of a notebook.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

First 3D Resin Prints

The Elegoo Mars Pro 2 printer has been set up in a temporary location (the card table in the game room) so I could start to learn how to use it.  Long term, I'll make some room in the shop.

The first miniature prints are a German Bison Assault gun and 2 Soviet winter infantry figures, all 15mm scale.  This picture shows the lot on the curing turn table right after finishing the ultra violet curing.  

I downloaded some all of these files from a sire called Wargaming 3D, which is a market place for vendors to sell .stl files for historical wargaming - if you're thinking about a 3D resin printer go check it out as the selection is very, very broad.

The second test print was a SU-76 and seven Soviet Naval Infantry figures (again, all 15mm).  The SU-76 is a 2 -part model - the hulls is one piece and the gun compartment a second.
I did have a minor issue with the back right corner of the gun compartment lifting off, as you can see in this picture.  It will be easy to fix with a little green stuff and maybe some stowage.
The corner lift continues around on this side.  In all honesty Ive had much worse issues with resin cast tanks from Battlefront.  I still need to remove some of the print supports from the model.
A close up of the "warping".  I'll be printing a bunch of SU-76's so will eventually figure out the right settings.  I really shouldn't complain - the .STL files for the SU-76 were available for FREE from the wargaming 3D site.  Free is a very good price.

A close up for the Soviet Naval infantry.  I am very pleased with the detail and think these figures are as good as the plastic or metal figures I'm used to purchasing for this scale.  In fact, I'd say they are better than Plastic Soldier Company.  These figures are from a file set called RKKA_naval_squad_02 which has 12 different poses and you get files for both 28mm and 15 figures.  There are also squads 01 & 03 from the same designer (mr3DPrint).  My current set of Soviet Naval Infantry are metal casts from Peter Pig - they are great figures but only have SMG's and 2 or 3 poses.  I'm very excited about the modeling possibilities here.

The Su-76 and 7 infantry figures took about 1.5 hours to print and another 15-20 minutes post production to wash and cure.  The build plate on the Mars 2 Pro isn't that large and I could probably fit another 3 infantry figures on it.

I am very struck by the reliability of resin printing.  One does have to be very thoughtful in working with the resin - its rather toxic stuff.  The key is developing a set workflow to ensure you don't contaminate surfaces with resin that gets on your gloves.  I'll do a future post on my workflow once I feel its really nailed down.

3d Resin printing is a really exciting technology for the hobby and I think it will have a profound impact on the distribution of miniatures.  Will it replace cast metal of plastic figures - probably not.  I think it will eventually reduce the sizes of those "mass produced" ranges to the basics and push the specialty troops to digital distribution.  I'll probably always get my bog standard Soviet infantry from Battlefront or PSC, but specialty troops like Naval Infantry or NKVD will likely now just be purchased as files.

Friday, June 4, 2021

3D Resin Printing - Father's Day Gift


It looks like I'll be delving into the world of 3D resin printing as my Father's Day gift is a Elegoo Mars 2 Pro 3D Resin printer (on the right) and it's associated cleaning and curing station (on the left).  Because I am smarter than the average bear, I have cracked the sophisticated code behind the color choices and will now reveal said revelation to you - Mars = Red! and Curing requires the sun = Yellow.  Please use this information for good and not evil.

I am fascinated by the prospect of "sculpting" in CAD and making food quality miniatures via a home printer.  Since my 3D cad skills are, ummm, nonexistent, that may be awhile but there are a growing number of file vendors to choose from to get started.

There will be lots of mistakes made along this journey which I'll post here for all of you to ridicule mercilessly.

One of my inspirations for getting on this new journey is Aaron over at the Project Wargaming You-Tube channel.  All of the buildings on his fabulous Berlin board we used in the LWTV Berlin episode  were 3D printed.  I really excited about the prospects for adding details to the Stalingrad board and  my next secret project once that's done.

I'm compiling a list of 3D miniature file vendors so any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Hunters - U-Boat Solitaire Game

It was a rainy and unseasonably cold Saturday morning so I decide to break out an old gem of a solitaire game "The Hunters" for a little diversion.  The Hunters is a fun little game where the player is in command of a U-boat and you see how far you can get before, well, the allies catch up to you.

I stated with a basic Type VIIB boat.  Thew mechanics of the game are relatively simply - you roll to see which theater your next mission is - my first few where the British Isles.  The sub marker is then placed on the right track and you roll for encounters which are varied and based on where you're patrolling.  Earlier in the war (I started at Sep'39) you have a greater chance to catch single, unescorted ships.  As the war progresses the allied escorts and air attacks become both more numerous and more effective.

My first victim is an unescorted small freighter of the coast of Britain.  Knowing this poor ship has no escort and it is a Daytime attack, I elect to approach on the surface so I can use the deck gun.  I elect to shoot a single torpedo and fire two rounds of my deck gun.  The torpedo hits and the deck gun proves to be overkill.

Progress is tracked by mission, with the tonnage of each ship engaged written down - circled ships have been sunk.  After my first three missions my U-boat had racked up an impressive 8 kills and 42,900 tons.  We also successfully deployed mines on the third mission.  I also almost lost the U-boat on the way back from the mission as we were attacked by allied aircraft and heavily damaged.

After repairs, we shall see what more havoc we can inflict on allied shipping.  Hopefully we roll up a Norway mission as it is rich in potential capital ship targets!

The Hunters is available from GMT games.   

Friday, May 7, 2021

Play Testing My Stalingrad Rules


My personal vanity project of writing a set of wargaming rules continues on.  One of the goals of using hex-based terrain is speed of play (no measuring) for large participation games.  Another side benefit, is I can test the rules using board games - as with the lovely Stalingrad board and counters from Flying Pig's Old School Tactical game series.  If you're looking for a fun and "not brain melting" complex tactical WW2 game, I highly recommend Old School Tactical.

I've been running some company level actions to test the rules and find some logic flaws.  The first game proved that KV-1's shred tiny Panzer III's if they can not be outflanked.  It also proved Germans trying to cross open ground without smoke or artillery support do not have a very good time of it.

A second test game, where that nasty old KV-1 was replaced by a T-34, proved a bit more even.  The T-34 did drive off 1 Panzer III but was worn down by successive damage results and eventually caught fire and had to be abandoned.

The infantry combat worked really well but I'm still tweaking the mechanics to make it a bit more deadly.

Close Assault in the first game proved to be a bit bloodless and that combat results process needs to be tweaked also.

One of the evolving goals for this ruleset is to allow players to stage games with miniatures on a tabletop  - lets call that "3D gaming" or using an existing hex and counter game like Old School Tactical / Squad Leader / Combat Commander to play out a "2D game". 

Why would one want to do that - to make the game more approachable to new players - there are a lot of copies of Squad Leader gathering dust on shelves around the world and to facilitate extended multiplayer campaigns.  More on that in a later post.

The working title for these rules is "Company Commander: WW2".  I suspect that will change as there is all ready a ruleset named Company Commander but it's for small scale Napoleonics.   Still I think using the same name isn't the right thing to do.  At some point I'll need to put on my "brand management" thinking cap and come up with a suitably overwrought name.   Maybe "The Brave Little Toy Soldiers".

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Last Night at the Club


Last Monday night at the club Tom ran a 100 Years War game using 10mm miniatures from Tony and Greg's collections.

We refought the Battle of Poitiers - with Greg and I taking the French and Tony and Ed the British.  The French forces outnumbered the english by almost 2:1 but our commander was rated as "buffoon" which ummm limited out choices!

It was a great game and pretty close run affair but history repeated itself and the English won the day.  These 10mm medieval armies are superb and very tempting....

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Project Work has resumed


With work of refitting the basement pretty much done, time has been freed up to return to more important tasks - painting miniatures.

Next up in the queue are some 15mm US Vietnam forces for an upcoming club project.  These mini's are all from Battlefront and need to get painted over the course of May.  There's some light terrain work for the project.

It's nice to be able to have sometime to get back to the painting bench!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

New Top for the Game Table


The venerable game table has a new top and some sporty wheels.  The old table was really beat up after 11+ years of gaming and high school robotics teams and just didn't look that good.

I remove the top and replaced it with 2 laminated sheets of 3/4 inch plywood with a nice walnut edge treatment.

I also ransacked the crap - I mean - treasure I had crammed inside it and have a lot of new storage space to work with.

Despite getting a nick walnut edging while carrying the top down to the basement, I think it looks grand and cant wait until I can host some games on it.  The nick is in the corner in the third picture/. Im thinking of using a bit of epoxy to cover it up. 

While carrying this top was a bit of a challenge, it's dead flat and will be a great play surface.

The old top looked like this.  The original design concept had the top on piano hinges so it could be opened to use as a drafting board and have storage underneath.  It might have been a sound idea in theory.  However, in practice it was never used as the top was awkward to lift and usually the table is covered in umm stuff.

The table is 41 and 1/4 inches high so just a little shorter than the previous version but a nice height to game at.

Next I want to build to extensions and bracket mounts to be able to have a larger than 8x4 playing area.

Overall, I'm very pleased with how this came out!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Stalingrad Project: Third Test Game

Last night up at the club, I we ran a third test game for Stalingrad.  For a change we used the Southern end of the board so this was the first time that section has seen in "action".  This first picture is taken from the Western (German) edge.  

A second shot looking on from the Volga river bank.  The overall table is 17 columns of 18 hexes each.  It took less than 30 minutes to set up - putting the hex column and row #'s on the back of the hexes really proved useful.  I realize that seems like a very silly detail to remark about but this game is designed to travel to conventions so set up complexity and timing are important factors.

The full table if 30 columns by 18 rows!

We had a light turn out so only two players for me to torture with my draft rules.  Both Greg and Ed were very gracious in letting me continue my self delusion that I am a rules writer.  

Artillery lands from both sides and causes havoc.  The artillery rules seems to work well. It pretty devastating when it lands!

We managed to get five turns in - the forces I laid out were likely to big to be handled by only two players

Greg's grenadiers launch a two platoon assault supported by a pair of Panzer II's.  The cleared out the building.

The Univermag Department store is very strongly defended by a Guards Rifle platoon plus a heavy machine gun section.

I tested some new aspects of the rules, some of which worked, some of which not so much.

Stuff that worked:

Command Cards:
The turn sequence is based on players alternating activating platoons.  I made up a deck of command cards for each side.  It proved to be very useful to keep track of who's moved what and each card had a minot special ability that a player could elect to use instead of moving a platoon.  They were limited to one special ability per turn.  I'll do a future post on the cards but it seemed to work really well.  The trick will be to refine the "special abilities" to be usefull and fun but not too powerful that they determine who wins.

Removal of the Auto Rally Phase:
Previous games had a separate rally phase were every unit that was either Shaken or Routed would roll to rally - that proved to be too effective.  Now, the only way to Rally is when the platoon activates so it cut down the rally rolls by half.

Game Pace: 
We only got in 5 turns over 2.5 hours but these were very big forces for two players to control and they were playing with new rules.  Each side had 14-15 maneuver platoons between their 3 infantry companies and support elements.  Urban environment terrain is also very complex with all of the line of sight checks so running 30 minutes per turn felt OK - I think it can get down to 20 minutes with some rules refinements and a lower unit "work-load" per player.  Most participation games run in a 4 hour time slot, of which the first 30 minutes are dedicated to introductions and a rules overview so you get roughly 3.5 hours of play time.  If I get it to 20 minutes a turn that will allow for 10-11 turns which should be plenty.  

Stuff that needs to be improved:

Currently Infantry has 4 Movement Points per turn and the terrain is pretty simple - 1MP for a clear / road hex, 2 MPs for a building / rubble.  The table is 18 hexes deep so it will take 5 - 6 turns to traverse without interference from the enemy.  I think I need to bump Infantry movement up to 6 MPs/turn and make corresponding adjustments for vehicles.  Games need to have a sense of movement to keep the pace up.

Close Assault Mechanics:
The current draft rules only allows units to mount a close assault (move into a defenders hex) if they start their activation adjacent to the target hex.  That is proving cumbersome and there are already rules for overwatch fire as units move.  I'm thinking of adding a feature to allow units to mount a "Hasty Assault" while moving or a "Deliberate Assault" is they start in an adjacent hex.  The deliberate assault would get some form of attack benefit which I need to figure out.  To be honest, this is a suggestion from Greg but I am more than happy to take credit for it.

Defensive Saves:
Fire combat is pretty simple - the attacker rolls a pool of D6 "Fire Power Dice" based on the type of units that are attacking and every 4+ is a hit, the defender rolls saves on those hits, with the 5+ base save augmented by terrain and entrenchment.  Their is an ability to stack these modifiers so defenders dave on anything but a "1" - I think I need to back that off to make any 1 or 2 rolled on a save a fail.  Ed played the Soviets and he is a natural burrower and dug in any chance he could get.  Ed is a very thematically correct Soviet player.  This one will require some thinking, which as you can surmise from my tortured prose is not something I'm all that good at.

I really do want to thank Ed and Greg again for being lab rats for my little passion project.  They are both very experienced gamers and provide great feedback and did so in a way that didn't make me cry (that much).  This  game is getting close to being "convention ready" and now all I'll need are some conventions!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Weekend Basing Fun


Saturday afternoon and then Sunday morning was an epic basing session for both the Soviet and German Stalingrad armies.  The figures were purchased from GAJO Miniatures and look way better than what I can muster (and did for the most recent Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenger.

Two base scenicing methods were employed - my bog standard "country side" basing which uses a Vallejo texture gel - as pictured on these Soviets. 

Once the gel sets (about 8 hours) I mix up some craft paint to look kind of like Vallejo USA tan Earth.  The mix is roughly a quarter sized dollop of "Country Tan", a drop of "Burnt Umber" mixed with the same volume of water.  It's a pretty close match and way cheaper.

The bases are then painted and set aside to dry (takes about an hour.

The next step is adding some ground foam - i work with a pallet of 4 types of ground foam.  Each base receives a coating of Modge Podge matte medium applied with a brush, and then a sprinkling of ground foam.  I then hit the base with a spray of water to draw up the modge podge and then set aside to dry.

Here are some Germans all done.  2 full German infantry companies plus supports where based for the countryside

and some Soviets.  This session I added 2 full Soviet Rifle companies, which augment the 1 I did during the most recent Painting challenge.

The second method of basing is dead easy and used for urban / rubble bases.  The picture shows the 2 German infantry companies if prepared with this method.

The process is simple - layer the entire base with modge podge and then dunk the base in a mixtures of colored sanded tile grout and different types of model railroad ballast.  My came from the debris of making the hexes for Stalingrad.

Shake the bases to get rid of loose gravel and then take a soft brush (I liberated one of my wife make up brushes) and dust most of the tile grout powder that may be on the figures - leave a little as it's a nice form of weathering.  Once the figures are dusted, hit the entire base with a few water spritzes from a spray bottle and set aside to dry.  Once the grout sets, it's rock hard.  The bases look great and there is zero painting!

Here are two additional Soviet Infantry companies with urban bases.

I'm pretty much done with figures for Stalingrad - especially when I count the fantastic minis Tony painted up .

I've got 7 full Soviet Infantry Companies and 4 german plus Tony has another 3 German companies.

There still are some specialty figures to finish up.  I do need a few extra guns....