Tuesday, April 30, 2019

General D'Armee at the Club

Last night Tom and I ran our first game of General D'Armee at the club.  Thanks very much to Ed and Simon for being willing test subjects and for being such good sports as I constantly looked up rules.

The game was a fictional meeting engagement.  pitting a British / Spanish force against the French.  The sides were even with 3 brigades of infantry (each 4 battalions) and one brigade of Calvary (3 units).  2 of each armies infantry brigades had an attached artillery battery.  The only thing lacking is that I only had enough skirmish stands completed to allow skirmishers for only 1 brigade per side.  It did show that skirmishers are really important in these rules.

For simplicity sake, all units were rated "line".  I am sure that I got a lot of nuances wrong - like fighting in built up areas (BUA's).  One thing that is clear to me is that I need to make village plots that outline the shape of the BAU and govern if a unit is in or out.  Using just buildings was very confusing.
The French ended up attacking.  The impact of no skirmishers was really felt by Tom's British left flank (upper right) where my Brigade with skirmishers managed to inflict more damage than received (he lost 2 of his infantry battalions to only one of mine) and the others were pretty chewed up.  In hind sight it was a very unfair but did so how important the correct use of skirmishers are in this rule set.

Overall, I was very impressed by the rules - the command system is both elegant and challenging but not so much as you can loose a game from a single round of bad die rolling.  The combat system is good but a tad complex - I think we'll get a grasp of the rules for club play after another game or two.  I am concerned about using these rules for the upcoming Historicon games this July and may need to figure a way to strip them down a bit.

Overall very impressed with the rules and left last night wanting to play a lot more.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


First a reminder of what I'm trying to replicate.  The photo to the left is a close up of one of the three tree stands that Ernie made for me way back in 2010.  Ernie does have remarkable skills and these beauties have held up rather well.

As Stated in earlier posts, I did want to change the design concept and replace the roofing nails Ernie used with wooden dowels.  Even with the points ground down, the nails are still sharp and gamers at a convention are, ummm, not the most graceful in motion.  An impaled gamer is a terrible sight to see and rather messy.

I also wanted to make the trees slightly taller as 15mm scale vehicles sometimes don't fully fit under the ones I've got now.

 I have a bunch of 12" inch long 1/8 diameter dowels which is a perfect dimension for the tree trunks.  So I got out my trusty precision cutter  "The Chopper", set the length to 1 3/4 inches and started chopping away.  The blade is a little worn down so I could only cut three dowels at a time.
Slowly the inventory of tree trunks grew
and grew and grew.  I didn't really keep track of how many I cut but in the end made more than enough for the project at hand.

 The base of the stands I'm trying replicate use "real" tree branches for fallen trees (ok it's just twigs).  That afforded a chance for me to go out in the back yard and find some interesting, scale appropriate, branches.  The outdoor "terrain mall" seems well stocked today.
 A note on tree trunk color - trees in the shadows are black/brown/grey so that's what I'm going to paint mine.
After an extensive search of the backyard and a long nap in the hammock (it was a very nice day), I was left with a sufficient supply of twigs to use as fallen trees.  I'll also put a few sticking out from the canopies to add to the visual details.

 Attaching the dowels to the bases is fairly simple - I put a 1/8 inch bit in my cordless drill and drilled holes along the edge of each base about 1/2 inch in from the edge.  For some of the larger stands I may go back and put a few in the center to suppler the canopies.

Once the holes were drilled, insert a dowel with a dab of Eileens Tacky glue (thickened white PVA glue) and the stands are done.
 The last step before scenicing the bases is to paint the trunks so I mixed up some simple craft paint (1 part black, 1 part burnt umber, 1 part medium grey) and painted the trunks.
So here's where we stand at the moment.  Next up will be scencing the bases which will be fun and then making the canopies, which will define the term tedious for you.  There is also a forthcoming VERY EXCITING dissertation on the differences between Woodland Scenics "Clump Foliage" and "Foliage Clusters".  Prepare to have your minds blown....


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Smaller Scale Trees: Basing Test Results

The results are in and it seems everything old is new again.

I have two criteria for terrain making efforts - looks, durability and ease of application.  Both methods passed the looks category with a slight edge to the non-pre-mixed version.  The flexible pre-mix on the right can look a little smoothed over.  Since both will be covered 95% by ground foam those minot smooth spots will be covered up.

On Durability the pre-mixed flexible grout won hands down.  How do I test durability - I take the piece , turn 90 degrees and whack the side on the my workbench fairly hard.  The side with the unmixed grout just flaked off while the flexible pre-mix didn't show a mark.  I ended up redoing the unmixed by adding in a 50/50 mic of matte medium and water rather than just water - while the matte medium shows through it now passes the "whack-test"

On ease of application their both about the same so the winner is my tried and true pre-mixed flexible tile grout.  The unmixed stuff is still useful for patches and gravel but not great in covering large flat areas.

My ground texturing tile grout of choice is the "Simple Grout #105 Earthtone" and can be purchased at any big box Home Improvement retailer.  Here's a link to Home Depots listing - SIMPLEGROUT. It currently runs for $30.00/gallon - buy a gallon container as it keeps forever.

I just look for the purplish banner across the top.

I realize this and the previous post are rather basic in nature but its good to refresh some of the more foundational techniques in making terrain.  I've got a few more terrain squares to make up so those will be the subject of the next series of posts.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Smaller Scale Tree Stands: Basing Test

A few months ago, I made a large number of tree stands that work great with 28mm figures but not so well with 15mm and 6mm figures.  Since I've got a large convention game coming up this summer - I really HAD TO HAVE a solution.  At least that's what I've told my wife as she rolls hers eyes at me (again).  A long time ago, Ernie Baker made some really nice tree stands for me that have removable canopies as you can see in the first picture.

The removable canopies make it easy to move troops through the forrest and give a really nice look on the table top.  The tree trunks are nails.

My wargaming club also uses a similar style of tree bases which you can see here.

I made a similar set of tree bases for Curt during Painting Challenge VIII but now need some for my personal collection.

I've also stumble across new (to me) type of material call "PALIGHT" and wanted to test it out for the bases.  Palight is a foam version of PVC - think foam core with a flexible plastic outer shell rather than paper.  It' cheap and can be purchased in several colors - I got some black 1/8 inch thick sheets to experiment with.

Both Ernie's and the tree bases I made for Curt use nails with the points ground down as tree trunks.  Even with grinding, they're still sharpish and can poke through the form core tree canopies is some pressure is applied.  Thats fine for home use but too dangerous in a convention setting where there is always that one gamer how tries to support himself (in these cases it's always a guy) as he leans over to move a unit.  Rather than having to give yet another "impalement statement" to the authorities, I thought I'd go with wooden dowels for the tree trunks.  I'll also very them between 1/8, 3/8 and the occasional 1/4 to given the perception of different tree ages.

My first test involves cutting out the legally proscribed* kidney shaped tree base and then testing the adherence of my ground texture of choice - tile grout.  I had two types on hand:  Pre-mixed on the right (colored "sandstone") and non-premixed on the the left (colored "summer wheat").

In terms of application, the unmixed version was dead simple.  just spray a little water onto the PALIGHT and then sprinkle the grout onto.  The grout soaks up the water and that activates the adhesive.  The premixed stuff requires spreading with a tool and took a little longer to apply.  Both look great but I'm leaning towards the unmixed version.  I'm going to leave this to dry a few more hours and then do some bending tests to see how durable the adhesion is.

One thing I did do to the PALIGHT was lightly sand the face to give the grout something to adhere to.  Cutting and sanding PALIGHT does create a very fine dust (similar to MDF) so I wore a regulator to protect my lungs and you should to.  Scratch that - don't be stupid, wear a damn respirator when working with PALIGHT

* you should check out your local ordinances, I guarantee there's a legal requirement to have at least one tree base that's in a kidney shape.  Some counties in the US require more than one.  You've been warned.  California, of course, requires 4.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Salute Show Report

I'm a little late with the obligatory blog post on Salute, but here goes.  Last Saturday (April 6th), I was able to attend my first Salute given a business trip happened to coincide with the with the event.  I've always wanted to go to Salute and to be worried was a little apprehensive I'd be disappointed.  Those concerns were entirely misplaced as I had a blast.

In addition to my first Salute there is a second "first" with this event - I've made my first video for Little Wars TV by "reporting" on the show for the channel.  Don't worry, you'll not have to suffer through any images of me but you will have to listen to my voice and odd sense of humor.  Please be kind in the comments on the video - I might get banned from further correspondent work if you're really tough on me - that includes you, Ray.  Heres a link to the show report

 I've always heard about the awful line to get into to Salute and managed to arrive about 35 minutes early and found the queueing hall to be relatively open.....
 That wasn't the case about 20-25 minutes later as here's a shot of the line to get just before opening.  To put the size of the show in scale for US readers, the queuing hall is about 3x the size of the vendor hall for Historicon and was packed with people.

 I was very lucky to find my friend, Tamsin, was in line with me and we passed the time catching up.  While I didn't get any pictures, I was also able to catch up with Ray, Lee and Postie at the convention and seeing them is always a great deal of fun.

 The rest of the reports will be a set of randomize pictures of games with the rare witty comment (very rare).  First up - Simon Miller's ancients battle using his "To the Strongest" rules and pitting Romans vs Britons.  What really struck me is despite having super simple terrain - it's just a terrain cloth on a tilted piece of plywood with tree clumps along each side, the game looked stunning and people seemed to be having a blast.
 It seems that Warlord's Cruel Seas game will have a follow on set in the age of sail called "Black Seas".  It looks promising but is a ways out.
 Finally got to meet Peter Baccus and found his booth to be oh so tempting.  I suspect there will be an order placed in the not to distant future.

Franco / Prussian war anyone?
 I made my pilgrimage to the Perry booth and picked up the new set of WW2 US infantry in plastic.
 The was a new company making 6mm scenics for the Normandy campaign.  The first casts looked stunning.  The companies name is "RK Modelworks".  I did pre-order the village set.

Looking forward to getting these.
 Next will be a bunch of random game pictures

 15mm 6 day war model of Jerusalem.  That's pretty darn ambitious and carried out rather well.
 Ahh Osprey was here with lots of historical books....
Oops only fantasy stuff.  OK I used that joke in the video too.

 Giant command and colors game
 This may have been the game with the best terrain at the show

My favorite game of the show was a refight of the Battle of Ligny in 15mm using General D'Armee.  I got the meet ht rules author and found the we had very similar backgrounds.

 It was a wonderful game

 This terrain piece was the subject of a series of "how-to" videos that I had been watching and it was a real treat to see in person.  Mr Aps has terrain making skills that I can only aspire to.
I'll likely edit this post over the next few days as after the LWTV video goes up.

Overall, I really did have a good time and will go again if I can align either a  business or personal trip.  I do think one of the reasons I enjoyed the show so much was I was able to catch up with some UK based friends.

I do look forward to next year.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Finally Going to Salute!

The Calendar gods have finally smiled upon me and my board schedule has aligned with the Salute show.  That means that I'll be attending Salute this year for the first time.

I'm set to fly out to London tonight for a few board meetings, all which will be a bit more stressful given all the silliness associated with the nightmare we know as "Brexit".  As I've said before, I cherish our most important of allies, the UK, but would have hoped you would have chosen to give us a proper role model for political management rather than join us up on the top spot of the podium for political stupidity.  Still, it's good to have some company up there.

Honestly, when one decides to cross the Rubicon, one knows they're marching on Rome and one doesn't just sit down on the opposite bank debating what to do while having a picnic.

Of course, I'm not just going for fun.  I'll be an O-F-F-I-C-I-A-L member of the wargaming press as I'll be covering the show for LittleWarsTV.  That's right I'm the Jimmy Olson of the war-game journalism beat.  It should be rather comical to watch me try to interview people and film at the same time.  Maybe I should adopt a "crusading journalist" approach and uncover the seamy underside of the gaming industry what with it's ties to Russian money laundering, Steve Bannon, and the NRA.  

My Pulitzer awaits.

I do hope I get a press badge,  I suspect I'll need to make one up myself.