Tuesday, August 17, 2021

New Family Member: Impawator Augustus


Things have been a little quite on the blog lately, but not that quite in real life.  We’ve added a new member to our household - a puppy who has been named Augustus.  Now this is pretty big news as I’ve been asking for a dog since my lovely wife and I got married.  I was very surprised to find that on our 34th anniversary she finally agreed to add a dog to the family mix - Best anniversary present EVER!

Augustus is 11 weeks old and is a Lagatto Romagnolo - an Italian water dog which are used to hunt for truffles.  He is a wonderful addition to the family!

Here you can see Augustus advising me on strategy as I get ready to play a game of Blucher online against Alex from the Storm of Steel You Tube channel.  Augustus proved to be a canny strategist and is a very good boy, indeed.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Garden Fun


The garden is doing really well this year - heres a picture of what we pulled out of it on Saturday - and this picture doesn't have the peppers

Lots of tomatoes - there have been rumors that I may have planted too many tomatoes - as if that is even possible.  We do have 8 different types of Tomatoes this year.  My favorites are the Roma's (the oval shaped ones) which are used primarily to make sauce.
Speaking of sauce, the less than perfect tomatoes - ones that have split due to the heat or have some insect damage get cleaned up and then put through a food mill to make sauce.  The pitcher holds 3 quarts and we managed to get a total of 6 quarts of tomato sauce.  My wife then takes the sauce and turns it into marinara sauce which we freeze and use the rest of the year.  We got 2/3 of a gallon today of that red gold.

The garden looks like a bit of a jungle but is doing really well.  It makes my wife really happy and after her year of dealing with COVID she gets what shes wants.

I promise to have some miniatures content in a future post

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Shameless Self-Promotion: Austerlitz Game Video Trailer


Please take a look at the Austerlitz game video trailer.  The full game video drops on July 20th.

This game was one of my favorite Little Wars TV projects to work on and we used a slightly revised version of Dave Brown’s General D’Armee rules.  The terrain was built by fellow club member Ed and is superb.

Now this game was played with a twist - two different outcomes and viewers can choose which one they prefer.  It was a super fun game that I am really looking forward to replaying at the club one day.  There was also some surprises for both sides that are best not to be revealed here.

We used my French and Greg’s Austrians and Russians for the game.  

Sunday, June 27, 2021

3D Resin Printing: USS Minnesota


Some more experimentation with 3D printing - in this case a 1/600 scale model of the USS Minnesota from the ACW.

I purchased the stl files from a designer on the Wargaming 3D marketplace called East Coast Ironclads.  He has a large range of ACW ships to choose from and of the two I've purchased I have been very impressed.

The spars on the masts can be a bit delicate so I plan on reinforcing them with some green stuff sculpted to look like furled sails.  Off course if they break due to gameplay one can always just print off a new one!

I've got some pretty large gaps in my ACW ironclad collection and these models are a great way to fill them without spending a ton of money.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

3D Resin Printing Week 2: Printed Terrain Details

Week 2 of my foray into 3D resin printing continues to show real promise.  Despite the the build volume being small (3.1 inches wide, 5 inches long and 6 inches high), one can cram a good bit on the plate.  One of the terrain features I was missing for the Stalingrad table was the Barmaley Fountain and I was struggling to scratch build one.  Let's just say there have been 2 scratch build failures.

A quick internet search found that 3dPrintterrain makes a collection of WW2 themed files which includes the fountain as well as some other iconic terrain pieces.  

It took a little maneuvering to get the fountain to fit on the build plate but it printed out great.  It's also far superior to anything I would have scratch built do I am really pleased.

I doubt I'll be printing out full building using the resin printer (expect for 6mm) but key detail parts like window frames, doors and signage will be easy to do and add a lot of visual appeal to my scratch builds.

One other useful "discovery" are these cheap plastic cafeteria trays.  The raise lips are great for keeping your printer in and protecting against the inevitable resin spills.  They also make great spots for storing works in progress.

The lips have edges that are 1/8 inch thick and about 3/8 of an inch wide.  I think I can build some really simple cabinet boxes with 1/8 inch grooves and make some super quick storage shelves.

I purchased 2 sets of 12 each, which cost me 20.00 each set (used).  Thats kind of expensive for plastic but compared to the alternative cost of wood and build time a real bargain.

Obviously, "cafeteria tray" storage shelves will not look as nice as my standard box shelves but after building 36 of these wooden shelves, I'm running out of space!  Plus with wood prices being what they are, it's hard to justify the cost.  Yes, all 36 drawers are filled just like the one pictured.

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".