Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Russo-Japanese War Fleets: Done! - No Wait, I am a Channeling Clark Griswold.....

It was time to take a break from the 15mm Stalingrad project.  Finishing up the Russo-Japanese War project by painting up the ships seemed like a grand idea and last night the labeling of the last ships and flotillas of the Japanese fleet was done.

Sitting back to admire my work - to bask in the glory of my creation I heard a familiar sound playing in my head.  You've likely heard it to.  It was the musical notes played during the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when Rusty asks his dad if he brought a saw after trekking out miles into the wood to  find the perfect Christmas tree.  Here, let me remind you:

I noticed something wrong with one of the labels on a Japanese cruiser - the old 3rd class Niitaka.  There was something off with the flag.  It seems I manage to put 2 flag images on the label and they were slightly offset.

Oh well, its only 1 ship - who cares, right?  Well just to be safe, I checked the others and, well ummm, it seems this double image problem was on every label save one - the Battleship Mikasa.  That's when I heard that familiar Kettle Drum sound.

It seems I was a bit over-zealous with my copy and paste in excel when making the labels and managed to put multiple copies of the image on the labels.  This is a great example of being too focused on completion rather than quality.  Todays project inbetween business calls will be to re-label the Japanese fleet and then double check the Russian labels.

Somewhere, Homer Simpson is smiling.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Stalingrad Project: Supplies Running Low


Like any military campaign, terrain projects are won and lost over logistics.  If one does not have the raw materials, one does not make a lot of progress.  While the core tabletop has been built there are some extra details I want to add and my supplies are running very thin.  My gallon bucket of pre-mixed flexible tile grout is just about empty.  I started the project with this bucket 3/4 full so it has served me very well over the past few months.  I'll need to run out and grab another bucket in a day or two.

Please excuse the disheveled work room between the messiness of a giant terrain project and the basement flood it's a shambles.  In all honesty, it was a shambles before the flood but now there's an excuse!

Also running low on railroad ballast and talus.  I was using 4 different types and started the project with all of these bins full.  I have made a tactical error here as I never wrote down the names of the different ballast products and those are now "lost forever".   The rubble terrain making technique I've developed for this project does not involve painting so I'm lucky the supplies held out until the project was finished.

What are the blank hexes for - I'm doing some testing on making generic "countryside" terrain in 15mm scale and so have 2 road, 2 clear and 2 to be forested hexes to see how it looks.   I'm kind of all in on hex terrain.

Using lots of different texture sizes is important to getting a good look on the table top - I've found four is a really good match and its worth the few extra steps to ensure things don't have too uniform of a look.

Looks like a trip to the hardware store is in the cards for later this week

Monday, February 15, 2021

Stalingrad Project: The Third and Final Section is Done!


The Southern end of the Stalingrad table is now done!  This section was a smaller 2ft x 6ft section and includes the Univermag Department Store.

The last of the 11 iconic locations from the battle to be completed is the "House of Specialists". It was a large multi story apartment complex that provided an excellent observation post for the Germans to call in Artillery and Air Strikes onto the far side of the Volga.  The current rendition is a re-purposed early version of the Grundin Mill that I converted and repainted.  The model is scratch build from pink foam and was way to small for the Mill but happened to be the right size (3 hexes) for the House of Specialists!

Two of the centerpiece locations on the table is the Univermag Department Store and Red Square.  I put a lot of effort into scratch building both and am very pleased with how they came out.  I need to add a bit more battle damage to the Univermag and may green up Red Square. Having something with a little bit of greenery will really contrast with the drabness of all the urban rubble.
A shot from the front.  Some battle damage has been added but I found it strangely hard to put holes into "my precious" model.
A street level view.  The park did have small trees through out but really didn't have a row of tree along the street next to the department store.  I tossed them in on a whim and kind of like them
Just west of the Department Store is the "L" shaped  Nail Factory which saw very heavy fighting in later part of September.  Next to it is a generic apartment block.  To be honest, the apartment block is on first on the list to be replaced as I tweak the board.  There are two reasons - it's a bit to flat and clean looking (hard edges) and its too tall to be on the edge of the table - player will get caught on it as the lean over it to reach units in the middle of the board.  There is a 99.9% chance it gets "belly squished" during game play.
Some Russian village buildings that are currently being pressed into service as worker home.  At this stage in the battle most of these wooden structures where reduced to ash, rubble and a chimney so I'll likely replace these also.  The buildings are MDF kits for "Things for the Basement" and are very nice.

A shot looking at the rear of the Department store.
A last picture looking at the other side of the House of Specialists.

My gaming table is 8ft by 4ft so will not fit the 10x6ft size of the Stalingrad set up.  I will be adding some 1 ft table extensions so I can set the whole thing up but that will need to wait for warmer weather.   To try and give you an impression of how the table looks here are pictures of each of the sections:

Southern (it's just the left half of the image)

The Middle Section.  The souther section is to the left and the Northern one to the right.

The Northern section.  Since this photo was taken, I have repainted the roads to match the same color that was used on the other table sections.

The entire table is 30 x 18 hexes which is a total of 540 4 inch hexes.  That was a lot of work but I think worth it as the hexes are easy to reconfigure and break down pretty efficiently for storage / transport.  I'll probably build another 150-200 more open terrain hexes for non urban scenarios for the rules I'm writing whic have the working title: Company Command: Kompanie vs Rota.  I'm pretty sure having an over-wrought title is required for any ruleset.

There is still a lot of detail / scatter terrain work to do but that is more on the "nice-to-have" rather "got-to-have" list of things to add.  I also need to continue all the rail lines across the lower and upper sections of the board.  For some idioc reason, I decided to scratch build all the railroad track.  It has a nice "crafty-look" but it is very, very tedious to do.

Some of the items I want to add are
 - trench hexes
 - street barricades
 - wrecked vehicles
 - LED lighting effects for fires
 - artillery craters
 - a little more river front details (docks, maybe some wrecked rivercraft.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Unexpected Flooding on the Volga, Stalingrad Progress Delayed


It seems our water heater decided that Friday afternoon was quitting time and when I say quit I mean flood.  The tank ruptured and proceeded to flood our basement.  Actually we were very lucky as I think we caught it maybe a few minutes after the leak started and were able to minimize the water flow.  Well limit the flow water flow after a three stooges like episode of trying to remember were all the water cut-off valves were.  

I was wander down to the basement to do a little more work on the Stalingrad table so, in a way, miniature gaming "saved-the-day".

The Heater is located under the stairwell into the basement so all of the flooding was limited to a 10-15 foot circle around it (300 to 450 cm for you free range hipster metric types).  We had a berber carpet in the basement that's pretty well shot.  That carpet was also close to 20 years old and the wife wanted to replace it - looks like that's going to happen now!
I removed all the soaked carpet and padding (to be honest any type of demo work is kinda of fun) and then rented some fans and dehumidifiers to try and dry up the space.  I'm told these need to run for 3 days - at least that's what the rental place tells me.

You can see that true disaster was narrowly averted as the water came within 8 inches of my troop cabinet.  Some minis and terrain were damaged in the flood but nothing of any importance and stuff that I should have gotten rid of years ago.

We do have a brand new shiny hot water heater, complete with a drain pan that's linked to the sump pump.  A feature that would have been most useful 24 hours ago.

In all honesty, this is my fault as the water heater was from 2003 and should have been replaced years ago.  I just forgot about it and have now paid the price for my negligence!  

The REAL issue is can I find creative ways to delay the wife's selection of a new carpet so that installation occurs AFTER the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is finished (March 20)?  My current plan is to throw money at the problem and wrap the new carpet installation with some other renovation projects she wants to do. That way, maybe, I can delay the project until the late Spring / early Summer under the guise of moving out to our place on the Eastern Shore while the renovations are completed.

I will need to check the whereabouts of a certain Martin C or Noel W who are chasing me on the leader board of the challenge - maybe there is more afoot here than mere happenstance.......

Friday, February 5, 2021

Stalingrad Project: No Paint Rubble Base Scenicing

I have stumble upon an easy no-painting way to scenic infantry bases for an urban / rough terrain look.  Here's a close up of the first platoon I've experimented on.  It took me less than a minute to finish these bases.
A comparison of the urban rubble bases to my "standard"  basing.  For Stalingrad, I'm thinking of using different basing types to denote troop experience.  Those that have the traditional green foliage bases will be inexperienced / conscript troops, while those with rubble bases are Veteran / Guards.

When adding texture and rubble to hex terrain, I use a cheap aluminum pan to catch the run off.  After making 500+ hexes, it has a considerable amount of ground texture materials.

For the miniature bases, I paint the bases edge with Vallejo tan-earth and then put on a light coat of undiluted modge podge (a cheap form of matte medium) and then dunkt the bases in the bin.  After shaking off the excess I hit the bases with a spritz of water from a spray bottle which draws up the medium to bind everything and the base is set aside to set.  It's ready to go after that.

I like the look but will add a bit more tile grout to reduce the percentage of rocks (model rail road ballast).

The next experiment is to just use the tile grout and then add some ground foam for more standard bases but I think I've stumbled on a really easy way for basing.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Stalingrad Project: Final Road Sections are Laid Down

The road sections and curbs have been completed and have 2 coats of paint.  I'll put a third coat on these tomorrow.
The next step will be to scratch build a few more ruins )most are single hext structures and then figure our how to do the parl section (red square) in the center.

Getting close to done!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Stalingrad Project: Preparing for the Last Terrain Push


The last batch of hexes needed for the Stalingrad project have been cut out.  

This section of the table will be a lot of fun to build as it has iconic buildings like the Univermag Department store and the Nail Factory plus some actual green space in Red Square.  Red Square still would have some green in it as of Sept'42 but it will need to be muted or it will appear to jarring with the rest of the purposely drab table.

The Univermag Department store has been patiently waiting for me to get to this point.  I'm looking forward to painting and getting this iconic building "tabletop ready".

There is one iconic building left to scratch build - the "House of Specialists" which is located in the lower right corner of the map image.  The research for this building is ongoing as I'd like ot to be as realistic as I can make it.

It's exciting to get the terrain portion of this project almost over the finish line.  There is still a lot of work to do on detailing and scatter terrain plus the rules need to be tested.  Stalingrad is the most ambitious gaming project I've undertaken and I suspect I'll be running it at multiple conventions - well assuming the game isn't a disaster!

Monday, February 1, 2021

Something A little Different for the AHPC XI: 15mm Vietnam US Infantry


A bit of a welcome break from grinding on my Stalingrad project - 15mm US Infantry from Vietnam.  I don't know the provenance of these figures as they were given to me by Ed from the club but these 14 chaps were fun to paint up and scenic the bases.

They're intended to be used in Ed's running campaign game using the "Charlie Company" ruleset which is a combination skirmish & RPG style game.

Ed ran a game with Tom and I last November using the rules.  It was a simple scenario where Tom I were both leading squads who were tasked with wandering down a road looking for a broken down M-113, which we needed to fix and then get off the board.  It a cooperative style game where the players control one US side and the GM controlled the VC.  It was a lot of fun and at the end of the game, Ed gave me a bag with 14 figures for my own squad, which now have been painted up.

This game is at the top of my list when I can get back to in person gaming.  Hopefully I can coax Ed into running a few more games.

I've also done a lot of work for the Stalingrad project which will get posted in due coarse.  I'm building up my strength for the last terrain push of a 100 or so hexes!