Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Decidedly less dramatic hills

     Having spent (way too many) hours repainting the dramatic hills so that the sedimentary layers matched from hill to hill I gave them a coat of Grunge Wash (see the posting below for the "formula") to tone them down from the slightly garish colors. This dulled them down in a pleasing manner.

Still More Silliness with Blue Board

     This morning before work a threw a coat of "grunge wash" on The Head. Grunge wash is a mixture of the crud that has accumulated in the bottom of the paintbrush cleaning cup, a shot or two of Future Floor Wax and a touch of black. This was liberally applied to the entire surface of the model. I have to say that I was happy to see the wash running in leggy streams over the surface of the model as I finished, much like a sweet Port will leave "legs" on the inside of a glass when swirled. I was excited to see what it looked like when it had dried. Upon my return home I was confronted with this:

Monday, March 26, 2012

More Silliness with Blue Board

     When I was a little kid my mother would often ask of me in exasperation when I had done something particularly daft, "What has come over you?" . Being a might bit simple I would answer, "I haven't a clue", which often earned me a spanking (my poor mother thinking that I was being a smart-aleck). This sort of thing still happens to me from time to time (the being daft, not the spanking). Witness this, I was sitting in my basement bored to tears of painting sedimentary layers on the "dramatic hills" (more on that in a bit) when I was overcome with the desire to cut foam.

       Casting about for something to carve I remembered that we have been slowly gathering steam for a new GorkaMorka campaign and were also building a table-sized Mektown (more on that in a bit as well) and it occurred to me that even Orks need a place of worship. Inspired by this thought I grabbed a stack of circular off-cuts and began carving away at them, the result being this;

not finished yet but moving along

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Hazards of Coastal Travel WW2 1/600 naval game

      When I first saw this listed on the game schedule at Battlefields I knew I had to play. I have always been intrigued by the small-scale naval fighting that took place in both World Wars. Tiny ships, usually hilariously over-armed, banging away at each other in narrow seas or shallow water, I mean what could be better?  The game was hosted by Jim Casey and used the Flaklighter II rules and 1/600 scale miniatures both from PT Dockyards . The rules were easy to pick up and fun to play while the minis were very good looking and just the right size to show good detail while leaving plenty of tabletop to play on.

the level of detail is on a par with similar scale plastic kits
here we see the German E-boat, fast but lightly armed

Plastic Soldier Company Panther 1/100 15mm

     I finally made it over to Michigan Toy Soldier when they had the new PSC Panther in stock, these apparently have been selling like hotcakes.  Having taken a look I can see why, as is to be expected you will find another detailed and easy to assemble model when you open the box. I know that I can tend to get on about details and how much better plastic is compared to metal or resin but these are simply beautiful. Molded in a Panzer Yellow plastic there are five kits in the box, complete with different upper hulls to make the D and A models. OldSarge has found some details that need fixing if you wish to make an early D model, find his hints here 

box art

Monday, March 19, 2012

Battlefields SAGA Demo games

     When I first looked up the schedule for the convention the first thing that caught my eye was the listing for a SAGA demo game. I had heard many things about the rules in the British glossy magazines but the descriptions always left me wondering just how the game played. Here at last was a chance to get my hands dirty (bloody?) and see how the rules really work. Jeff Przybylo and Dan Joyce undertook the task of studying the rules, gathering the minis, setting up the terrain and then answering a zillion questions from gamers eager to learn the rules. I must say they a stand-out job.

     The central concept behind SAGA is that the battles were small affairs and, as such, there is little need for hundreds of figures on the table. What is needed is that the individual characteristics of each army is properly modelled. This is a subjective thing based upon the understanding of history possessed by the rules writers, to my mind, they have got it darn near spot-on. Vikings are aggressive and dangerous when charging, Saxons are steadfast and hard to move. Leaders are hugely important to the outcome of battle, no dry administrators here, they are in the forefront of the fight swinging a sword and crying "Havoc!" I found it all most satisfying.

for once, a slim rulebook

Battlefields in Dearborn Michigan, general notes

      Well the Battlefields con has come and gone and a fun time was had by all. The Pro or Con gang did a great job once again of providing a quallity gaming experience complete with food and beverages (sadly no beer even though it was Saint Patrick's Day!) and an array of beautiful games to play/observe. I played in a naval game in the AM session (report due later) and closely observed the series of Saga games in the second session (another report coming on that soon). As usual there were many games that I could not play in, or even get a full look at, so here are a few that caught my eye (camera lens) as I was walking about.

I took a shot of this table after it was set up,
 but never got back to get a "game in progress" pic,
it was lovely all the same

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Warlords Colonial British Infantry 28mm

      As a companion peice to the recently released Zulu Unmarried Warrior Regiment Warlord Miniatures has released British Line Infantry in 28mm. These are dressed in the iconic red jacket and pith helmet and beautifully reproduce the defenders of Rourke's Drfit (as well as the ill-fated, and worse led, British troops from the battle of Isandlwana). In fact they would cover a very large portion of the troops that England fielded at the height of the Empire. Well cast in a medium gray plastic they models exhibit no flash or significant mold-lines. Included in the pack are four very characterful British officer figures which I will review in another post.

the box front

Saturday, March 17, 2012

And Then, Things Just Happen......

     There are times when you see something and just know that you have to buy it. You aren't sure what for, or why, but you just need it now. This happened recently when I was walking through a Michaels Arts & Crafts store recently and spotted these little gems;

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Russo-Japanese Naval Battle

     Last Saturday we dusted off my twenty-year-old  Russo-Japanese War ships and rules and played a game. The scenario was that the Japanese were blockading a port when a Russian force showed up intent on escorting a steamer carrying what would be termed today a "High Value Target"; to wit Prince Vladimir, the second son of the Tsar (totally fictional, of course, but it gave flavor to the game).

     The Japanese had two armored Cruisers and two light cruisers, the Russians had a battleship, a monitor, a protected cruiser and two light cruisers; a formidable force indeed. The Japanese. leaving their blockade positions, were closing in from both flanks and the Russian were trying to shoot the gap. In table-top terms this meant that the Russians had to travel from one corner to the opposite while the Japanese arrived in the two remaining corners trying to block their path of travel.

     My rules reward the greater skill and seamanship of the Japanese while penalizing the unhandy ship design and general land-lubberliness of the Russians. I thought it would be a close-run thing, except that had I left out one thing; dice. Lady Luck rebuffed the Japanese and was clearly infatuated with the Russian that night.

right from the beginning the Russians scored hit at maximum range,
the Idzumo takes significant damage in the midships batteries

Monday, March 12, 2012

Warlord Games Zulus, 28mm Plastic Zulu figure reveiw

     I have always (well, not always, but since the very first time that I saw the movie Zulu) wanted to do a massive Zulu army. I was excited when Wargames Factory brought out theirs, but that excitement was short-lived due to the level of fugly that those minis displayed. When I heard that Warlord was going to do the minis I was heartened but cautious, some of their earlier stuff was less than thrilling. When I saw the box at Michigan Toy Soldier I grabbed and got permission to take a look inside. Frankly I was thrilled, these are some damned fine figures! Take a look (as always, click on the picture for a larger veiw);

good box-art, it provides clues for painting

Too Much?

     The next step in the  dramatic hills is painting. I have already covered them with my mix of wood glue and wallboard compuond and then given them a base-coat of house paint (the weak beige color that is faintly shiny) and I started adding the layers of sedimentary colors. They strike as too loud by half, hopefully a good dirtry wash and then some drybrushing will blend them a little better.

and yes, somebody has already advised me that the sedimentary layers should all be the same at each layer (counting up from the bottom), hey I am a wargamer, not a geologist!

     Thoughts, ideas and comments are welcome!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The death of an old friend

      I will readily admit it; I have slagged off a load of blue foam in the last couple of weeks with my trusty second-hand foam cutter, pushing myself and it to the limit. So when it began to get very hot whilst running(uncomfortable to touch actually) and the tip wasn't heating properly I felt that I was partly to blame. Even though I had only paid a dollar for it at a garage sale it had become like a part of my modelling family, I was worried. I decided to let it have a few days off.

      Today I tried to fire it up, nothing.......cold as your ex-girlfriend's heart. I have never been unable to burn myself with this gadget before, now, it was like ice. Sadness, bordering upon sorrow, filled me as I looked at the piles of blue board that lined the workshop walls as I sat there with an icy foam cutter.

the poor beast......

Old Sarge makes an early Stug III

Follow this link to see how Old Sarge made a early  Stug III out of PSC kits. Most impressive!

Finally! The Battle of Borodino!

   It's taken me a while to finish up this report (And it's gone through two different incarnations!), but the simplest way is generally the best. So here it is, the showstopper of Alamocon: The Battle of Borodino.

That's a lot of lead on the table.

   Our host, Tom, had told us that we were doing everyone coming to San Antonio that we were going to do the full Battle of Borodino with battalions as the basic unit. However, as someone who doesn't play Napoleonics often and had little previous interest in the period, the nature of this achievement was lost on me. Much like the Matrix, this could not be explained to me with words; I had to experience it for myself.

   A full 25x8 feet with two wings for the flanks, with 15mm figures blanketing the table. With such a large game, the first worry is about the rules set: Can it handle such a thing? Thankfully, Tom and Charlie put together a set of rules which had enough detail to make both sides handle differently without bogging things down in minutiae. It's a testament to them that the game itself was able to finish in one day without any real problems. As the French, we were looking to break through along one of the roads to Moscow, thus we intended to focus ourselves on the holding off the Russians on the left so that the Poles could break through the weak left side. If only it had been that easy, though...


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dramatic Hills from Blue Foam

     Being in possession of a simply silly amount of blue foam board and a hot knife does strange things to one's mind. Talk has begun of restarting the Gorka-Morka campaign and this set me to thinking how mundane and "normal" my hills look (that and I was tired of putting revetments on my trench sections, see the post below). A weird alien planet, ravaged by a catastrophic planetary impact would hardly have verdant green, gently rolling hills, something needed to be done! I googled "Weird Rock Formations" and was rewarded with hundreds of pictures of strange rock formations from around the world; my Muse was awakened and I set to work.

the outline of the spires takes shape

the spires with the excess cut away

To the Blue Foam Beyond Part IIc Enough with the revetments!!!

     I promise that this will be the last post on revetments, seriously, the last one. Following a suggestion from one of the readers at forums over on TMP got some of the corrugated coffee cup insulators to use as the corrugated iron that was often used as walling for trenches. This worked very well, after cutting and painting they make an excellent sustitute for the very expensive (nearly a dollar for three square inches) model railroad stuff that I had found earlier.

      I then began pouring over photos to see exactly how it was used. It seems that the Allies were far more lavish with this stuff, actually lining whole sections of trench with it. The Germans were rather more restrained but seemed to use it what appears to be a haphazard manner, perhaps in repairs or to shore areas of soft ground, I can't tell.  Last night I put together another section using the corruated iron mixed with the cardstock  "wood" that I have been using so far and here are the results;

the rough iron color needs rust and weathering

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another Gem I found over at TMP

     OK OK it is beginning to show exactly how much time I waste "looking at stuff" but this is a real find. I mean truly, truly amazing stuff, VSF cannons drawn by dinosaurs! A Wild West Town known as Leadwood ! Here is a taster of his work;

Daftrica gets a visit from Black Powder, The (almost) Rescue of Miss Fanny Farnsworth

     A number of years ago I created a mythical continent of Daftrica to run a VSF campaign. We had jolly fun for many years but it went the way of all open-ended campaigns and interest just petered out so we folded it. I still use the continent as the background for colonial and RPG games. Today we have to consider the efforts of the German Colonial forces to rescue Miss Fanny Farnsworth (a noted historian) and her survey crew from the depredations of unruly locals and perfidious Sepoys.

     Miss Farnsworth, or Dr. Farnsworth as she prefers to be called, has been surveying the ancient burial rites of the Malagassian tribes. She has collected a large number of important artifacts and was preparing them for shipment back to the Smithsonian for cataloging when a local troublemaker decided to start telling the tribesmen that she had been grave-robbing. As this sort of behavior is considered the foulest of crimes on Malagassia this has caused quite a stir, perhaps a flap even, bordering on unpleasantness!

      Dr. Farnsworth tried calming the locals by showing them the tender care that she was taking with their dead ancestors, but this just seemed to upset them even more. A message was sent to the Federal States embassy requesting assistance but there were no Federal troops nearby. As a result of the friendly and close relations between the German Empire and the Federal States a discreet offer of assistance was made to Washington by Berlin and resulted in a troopship stopping long enough to drop an Expeditionary Force off in a small harbor on the coast.

    Meanwhile rumors have spread that the Sepoys sent to quell the rioters have been so outraged by the high-handed behavior of the whites and have mutinied against the will of the Malagassian Emperor and are marching, even now, to lay siege to the  estate that Dr. Farnsworth is hiding in. Here we are at the beginning of the game with the Germans marching from the village while the rebels marshall their forces and Dr, Farnsworth holds on for dear life.

the table, Dr. Farnsworth is in the estate in the upper left,
the German troops are in the village on the lower right, the Ghazis surround the estate

in the first turn the German cavalry rolled well and swept forward

Here is a fellow that does some seriously good looking buildings!

     I was wasting time that I should have spent painting minis over on The Miniatures Page when I stumbled across this blog that had this rather lovely model building on it;

    You really should go look, this fellow has a real talent for this stuff!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

To The Blue Foam Beyond Part IIb; More thoughts on revetments

     Having asked for suggestions and comments (and having gotten many good ideas, both here and on TMP) I have been thinking about, and trying out, different ideas. I have now settled on the manner in which I am going to build the rest of my trench lines. I have decided to upgrade from stiff card to matte-board, the sort of very heavy card they use to matte pictures. This is soft, and thick, enough to take a good impression but still goes together in nearly no time at all.

the thickness allows a deeper impression and also creates an edge to the planking
matte board on the right, card on the left

if you draw larger sections it goes much faster