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
Sassanids.

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.

Thursday, November 7, 2019


 Last Monday at the club, Josh put on a fantastic ACW game using fire and fury regimental and his 15mm ACW collection.  We refought the battle of Honey Hill in 1864 from Shermans march to the sea.  Tony and I were the Confederates and Greg, Ed and Keith the Union.

The Union forces outnumber the confederates by close to 3:1 but the Rebs have fortified positions


The Union's left flank emerges from the woods - its a very large attack
The left flanks attack charges home - most of the Union troops are Veterans vs Trained for the confederates
The confederate breastworks are eventually overwhelmed
I tried shifting some regiments to meet the Union attack but did so too late, dooming Tony and I to defeat.  Just after this picture was taken, the CSA force reached it's break point and the game was called.  It was a lot of fun to play regimental F&F again.
A view from the Union side.

I was able to get to the club a bit earlier and was also able to play a quick game of Churchill from GMT games.  Its a very fun and interesting card driven game of conferences between the allies to during the course of WW2.  I found it fascinating and want to play again.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

I've been working on the Rail Road....

"I love the smell of Laser Burnt MDF in the morning, it smells of gaming". Ok that's a pretty muddled paraphrasing of Col Kilgore but it is an accurate description of the scent in the Lair as I've been assembling a lot of Sarissa Precsision 28mm rail road kits.

Sarissa has a large selection of rolling stock and the models are very fun to put together.*. The first picture shows the assembled Pannier Engine and freight cars set.  The set is a great deal and I highly recommend it.  I tossed in a 28mm Perry DAK officer figure for scale.

 If there are trains, then there must be some track, so I picked up a few track packs from Sarissa also.  They are very simply to put together but one tip is to paint the rails and ties BEFORE assembling the tracks.

The completed train - sorry the picture is a little dark
 A dark grey, rust streaked engine and flat car.

The rest of the rolling stock.  Why am I building a 28mm railroad?  Well you may see it in an upcoming LWTV episode....

* Usually Sarissa Precision kits are a joy to put together but one has to be in the right frame of mind - if you're in a rush, well then thing s might go awry.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween!

 Happy Halloween everyone!  I know this is a day late but we were having internet issues given the winds here on the Chesapeake Bay.

This year we had our traditional one group of trick-o-treators (the neighbors boys).  It was just me this year manning the door as MB was on her way to Chicago to speak at a conference.  What moron schedules a professional conference on Periodontics the day after halloween?  That's just mean.

Fall has finally arrived here on the Eastern Shore, which means wonderful weather for the last few sailing days and signals the beginning of prep work for this year's version of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge - issue #10.

I've got a rather audacious idea for this years challenge that will end in either triumph or ignominy - perhaps both!  What is it?  Well you'll just have to wait to see.....


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Halloween Game at the Club: Very Serious Stuff


 Last night I ran a very serious military simulation at the club, set in Normandy during WW2.  We used Flames of War (version 3!) for this truly academic exercise in WW2 military theory and practice.  The scenario was a meeting engagement in the quiet little French town of Clermont.  Both sides had orders to investigate a crash site in the town.  The Germans thought it was a crashed allied transport plane while the Allies thought it was a crashed V2 rocket.  The tranquil town of Clermont is very close to the Swiss border and both sides had an alternate victory condition to liberate as many of the 1,400 gold bars in the bank of Clermont and make a run to the Swiss border.

Upon entering the town, it was clear there was something amiss as all the townspeople were missing. The first few turns were played with limited visibility but on turn three, as the fog cleared it was revealed that the crash site was.....

Aliens!  Yes, those "Get Away from her, you B*****!" type of Aliens and lots of them.

5 egg catches were hidden in the various building which acted as spawn points for swarms of the monsters.

General hilarity ensued and even some of the club grognards who despise Flames of War on principal seemed to have fun.  Truces were made between the Americans and Germans and then just as quickly broken and general carnage ensued.

Oh, Ed really hates it when you blow up one of his Tiger tanks - something for all of us to remember.

 Of course, I forgot to take a lot of pictures during the game but did manage a few.
 The Germans got the win by looting the bank but the American won a moral victory by destroying 3 of the 5 egg sacs.  Sherman tanks lived up to their reputation of blowing up - a lot.
 The Building are from Ed's collection and are a mix of Crescent Root and Total Battle.  They are superb.  He also loaned me the game mat which is from Cigar Box.
This was my first test run a planned convention game and I learned a lot.

- The stats I used for the Aliens worked well - they were not over-powering but still posed a challenge.
- - the Aliens stats where essentially tank like with infantry close assault.  It worked surprisingly well.
- - I do need a more refined set of rules to govern alien turns - the attack the closest unit isn't the most interesting

- The table needs to be bigger for the forces used,  maybe 8x6 rather than 6x4.  I did want a large mix of unit types but it was just too crowded and did play to the stereotype some people have about Flames of War rules (tightly packed groups of tanks)

- I use area movement chits for the first few turns which speeded up play but needed a lot more space before it made sense

You'll see this game again at a convention as I'm working on a small selection of easily transportable games to put on.

It was fun to get the FOW minis out again and brush off good old Version 3 of the rules.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

One of the saddest days of the year.....

Its Autumn here on the Eastern Shore and one of the sadest days of the year is upon me - the removal of my power boat for the winter.  There she is waiting for the trailer to show up and begin her long winter hibernation.  It was a spectacular day for a last run down the creek to the levy.

This Boston Whaler is a bit long in the tooth as she is 13 years old but shows no sign of slowing down.  I may get another 10 years out of her.

Next week my sailboat comes out of the water and I'll be seasonally land-locked until spring.  Still when one door closes, another opens and that newly ajar portal is lots more time for painting miniatures.  I am planning a rather daft stunt for this years Painting Challenge (which will be #10).  What is it?  Mum's the word for now but I'm pretty sure it will be an epic undertaking.  Epic in either its stupidity or execution but epic none-the-less.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Star Wars Legion - It's a fun game

Last Saturday we ran a rather silly Star Wars game up at the club using Fantasy Flight's "Star Wars Legion" game system.  I'll give you three guess which climatic scene from the original trilogy we re-enacted.  If you need more than one of those guesses please turn your nerd-card in to the proper authorities.

So how does a club that focuses on historical games actually put on a Star Wars themed event. By very clever lawyering for one of the members who actually is admitted to the bar (and not the fun kind of bar).  

You see, we have two factors in our favor:

1) Star Wars happened a long, long time ago
2) We are re-staging a famous battle

If that's not historical, then nothing is!

While the pricing is not cheap (I'm sure the cut our good friends at Disney take for the IP has some influence on pricing) Star Wars Legion is a really fun game and one that I enjoy playing just for the sheer silliness of it all.  The mini's are also a joy to paint.

I played on the Imperial side and the game went down to the last shot - literally.  The outcome?  I can say that the alliance fleet was destroyed above Endor as the commando raid failed (barely).  There is a plus side - no Episode one will be made!