Thursday, May 25, 2017

Blue Angels Air Show May 2017

It's graduation week for the Naval Academy in Annapolis and that means it's time for the Blue Angels airshow.  Reason #1012 why it's hard to beat living on the Chesapeake Bay.  The weather wasn't really cooperating - it was cold, cloudy and drizzly which meant the show was curtailed a bit, but still it's an amazing event to see, hear and feel.

I even managed to upload a few videos.  All in all a good day to play hooky from work.

Back to work today.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Terrain Tutorial: Sectional Mountains Part 3 - Carving Rock Faces & Post #750!

 Tonights project was to carve the "rock faces" on the pink foam.  I managed to get 2 of the six section done in about an hour.  I used a new technique from model rail roader David Frary which I'll explain below.
 The first step was to take my hand held hot wire cutter and roughly shape the mountain sections - adding slopes and other details.

 The carving technique is really simple and involves using an old steak knife and cutting horizontal and vertical cuts all along the foam.  the lines should be at right angles and you can criss cross.  Here's a link to a video that's narrated by David Frary
 Once you made the initial set of cuts, go over the entire piece with sand paper and lightly sand to smooth out and remove looses pieces.  If you don't like the look just repeats the criss cross cutting and saving to it looks like you want.

Please don't tell my wife that I "borrowed" one of the steak knives from the kitchen.

Heres a shot of the other side. I added a cave for a little extra interest.  I need to go back and make the cuts looks a bit more random but I'm liking the look and it was a really easy to do.

This process does make a mess so you probably shouldn't do it outside of a work area.

By the way - I just noticed this is my 750th post on the blog!

Monday, May 22, 2017

I've Been Banned from TMP and I Feel Fine

I have managed to get myself banned from The Miniatures Page (TMP).  TMP used to be a great source of hobby information (and really still is) but the recent tone and dwindling user participation levels have made it less interesting of late.  It's always been a fractious place which was a guilty pleasure watching people fight furiously with words on the proper location for Historicon or the true shade of white for a lapel color on a 17th century dragoon.

What the cause for this development?  The owner / editor of the site recently put up a post asking for comments on the question "Are British gamers are arrogant?"

Think red cape / bull.

Anyway, he seems to be banning anyone who challenges the usefulness of such discussion - including advertisers!  I couldn't resist making a post pointing out that promulgating a post that creates divisiveness on a dying forum is the exact wrong thing to do and now I'm banned.

Hopefully, after a proper period of grieving, I'll be back on my feet - Oops grieving's over and I'm fine.

In some ways this is a shame and a lesson.  I know TMP can be a rather rude place filled with people practicing recreational outrage but it also was a wonderful source of obscure miniatures information.  Want to know how to paint a 13th century man at arms - it's somewhere in TMP.  Given the lower traffic trends and declining advertising mix, I think it will will continue to decline for a long time (kind of like Sears) and then one day **Poof** disappear.

TMP should also serve as a lesson in civility,  Internet miniature forums are wonderful places to meet new people and exchange ideas about our rather obscure hobby.  I've met some wonderful people across the globe and now count them as true friends.  How we choose to comport ourselves while on line is something we should always bear in mind.  I would be deeply disappointed in myself if I contributed to the creation of another TMP-Like environment because I choose rudeness over civility.

Goodbye TMP, hello Lead Adventurers forum.

A few comments below have asked for a link to the thread.  As stated in my comment below, I can't provide a direct link and should reflect the site owners wishes and not figure out a work around.  I can provide a link the the topic that has the thread which is: Wargaming in America.

Look for the label "Arrogant American Wargamers" - the tile is misleading as its really a slight to out British cousins.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dinner in London

While I was in London, I had dinner with Tamsin, Ray, Lee and Postie!  It was a lovely event and I even received an invitation from Postie to come over to his gaming warren.  Perhaps one of the greater honors achievable in wargaming-dom.

The diner and conversation was grand and it was good to catch up with everyone.  I had hoped to extend my stay to be able to go to Partizan but those plans were disapproved by my lovely, yet fierce, wife.

We met at a pub called the Black Dog in Vauxhall.  I think it's more properly designated as a "gastro-pub" but I don't care as the location is great and the food better.  I greatly appreciate everyone traveling through the rain to get to dinner.  I'll need to come to you guys next!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cheap Ancient Terrain Source

I had to run into a pet supply store to kit some cat food and wandered by the aquarium section and saw some interesting "Egyptian" ruins in a tank and got an idea.

After returning home, I fired up the PC and hopped on Amazon and presto-change-o found out there a wide variety of Egyptian (and Greek) ruins that can be had for very cheap.  Aquarium decor is a very useful source for gamers.

I ordered some and the first 3 items arrived yesterday (thank you, Amazon Prime).  I took a picture of them next to a hist arts column I made (which took a total of 6 castings).  The combined price of the three items is less than the Hirst Arts Mold!

They will need some re-painting but that shouldn't be too hard.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Terrain Tutorial: Sectional Mountains part 2

 With all six frames finished the next step was to rough in some EPS (pink foam).  I've got enough on hand to finish 3 maybe 4 sections.

Pretty simple process, but time consuming.  Jut cut to fit and glue/tack down.

 I'll trim everything up with a hand held hot wire cutter and then carve in the rock race.  It's a really messy part of the project
 A look down the one side and then
from the other side of the work bench.  One of the "good" things about this project is that I can use all the scrap EPS I've got in a bucket so it's really efficient from a materials point of view.

I know it doesn't look like much now but we'll get there.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Terrain Tutorial - Sectional Mountains, part 1

 What does a gaming geek do on a rainy spring day - make terrain, of course!  I need some mountain ranges to break up the playing area for my Historicon game and finally figured a way to build them with the materials on hand.  Actually the core of idea is shamelessly stolen from Eric the Shed - take a look at his magnificent terrain builds here.

Ok I had two 2x4 ft luan plywood sheets lying around and that will be just enough to make the 6, 2 ft long sections I need (12 feet in total).  The mountains will be used to create a "hidden valley" in the center of the table.  I went with making 24 inch x 8 inch wide pieces.  The first picture show the plywood cut to length.

 While I was cutting the strips to length I decide to make 2 sections with an end that's 22.5 degree (together they'l make a 45 degree angle just to break up the monotony.  Making some ends angled will impact the width and shape of the end caps.

 I I then cut some of the remaining stock to create the end caps.  Since these sections will need to line up the end caps need to be exact matches.  A great reason to get out my dremel mini band saw!
 Hmmm, what I am going to do with these scraps?

 As there are six sections, there will be 12 end caps, 10 at a 8 inch length and 2 at 8.5 inches for the angled ends.  I grouped the band saw cut end caps by type and then sanded them to be exact matches.  Well exacts matches.

 Here's the frame for the first section - both end caps are at 90 degree angles and a support frame is built into place.  I'll fill the interior in with Extruded Polystyrene (EPS) (pink foam) and then carve the rock faces.
 The excess material from cutting the end caps was trimmed to be cross supports.  Waste not .....
 A close up of the bracing - this should be rigid enough to resist warping.

 I managed to get three frames finished today and will do the other 3 tomorrow.
This section will have a twisty mountain pass.  Others will have caves and other items of interest.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Aftermath....

 The spring truncheon has come and gone and I've managed to survive yet another onslaught of hungry females.  My life can be so difficult.

 Here's a shot of the ringmaster of this circus of doom.
 and her rapt pupils as she discusses how to domesticate a husband.
 More picots of love ladies eating and

 I am amazed at the amount of food they put away.  Pure predators in every sense of the word.
Trapped in my office while they leave after getting their parting gifts.  Normally my desk is very messy but the "boss" made me clean it up.

The bill from the caterer can be seen in the lower center right of the picture.  Not only do I have to endure this event, I also get the privilege of paying for it.

There is no justice in the world.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Our Defenses are Prepared: but the Odds are Long

 This may be may last chance to report from the front - contact with the enemy is imminent and they have come in force.  Yes it's the time of year when my happy homestead is besieged by 50 or so twenty something students of my wife.  As with previous years we prepared a defense in depth with several defensive lines to stop the hungry marauders.

First up a crafty mix of salad and deli meats to slow down the raw recruits.  More seasoned veterans will likely bypass these for better pickings further on.

 Next they have to wade through a fruit and salad minefield.  Many an invader has been undone from a overdoes of berries.
 The main defensive line if a barrier of man-sized quiche - bacon (pictured), asparagus and assorted veggies versions.
 The quiche will be supported by sorts of fresh parties.
 Our commander in chief feverishly preparing her strategy....
and, our defense of last resort - the giant strawberry cake.  It's never failed us - yet.

Pray for me as battle is upon us.....

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Prep for Historicon: The "To-Do" list

Historicon will be held on July 12-16th, which is just 10 weeks from now.  I'm good on the miniature front (only 10 or so 28mm figures to paint) but am falling way behind on terrain so need to step up my game.

Rather than make terrain boards, which look nice but are a real pain to transport, I decide to go with some terrain mats and ordered three very nice 6'x4' desert mats from GameMatz.  I also picked up a "few" other mats.  The three mats will allow me to set up a 6x12 main playing area in 30 seconds.

I was very pleased with the turn around time (a few days and the quality of the materials.  The three desert mats came out a little darker than I expected and the company has offered to replace them but I think I'll go with these.  +1 for great customer service from GameMatz, who I highly recommend.

As for the "few" other mats I ordered - here's a shot of the 8x4' sea mat I got for naval gaming - it's really top notch stuff.  The mouse pad material used makes the mats lay flat and also makes it easy to pick and move minis, cards etc.

Going with game mats will loose a little of the 3d texture feel of a game board but they still look great and are much easier to transport and set up.  Plus they hide the leveling issues one gets when setting up on heavily used rental tables.

So what's left to do - a lot, sadly:

1) Egyptian ruins - I've made some progress with three pieces using First Arts molds but the casting process is a bit slow and tedious so will need to switch to other materials.  I'd like at least 6 ruin structures to populate the middle of the game table

2) Dungeon catacombs - I'm 3/4's does with painting up the 2x2 inch tiles that make up the dungeon (all nicely Egyptian themed) and have order some more.  I need to decide if I want to assemble the 400 or so tiles there or glue them down on 2x2' boards to make assemble easy.  I think I'll go with the later.

3) Decide on how to pull off the two level aspect of the game.  The players will fight their way to the center of the board and then enter the catacombs.  I can either make the center section two levels and lit off the top when it's time to move down or just set the dungeon up next to the the main board.  The first option is more "dramatic" but involves lifting up and moving a 6x4' section with terrain on top which just cries out for catastrophic failure.  I think given my time frame simple is better and will go with the side by side option.

4) Mountain ridges - the center part of the table will have "mountain ridges" on either side - think roughly 6' long by 1 foot wides and 10-16" high.  I may try to make these with expanding foam insulation (the kind that comes in a spray tube) and construct 6 2' sections.

5) A few desert oasis's and other "deserty-like" terrain pieces.  Yes, "Deserty-like" is an official word in terrain making circles.

6) Details for the Egyptian village - A few years ago I picked up some of the Crescent Root Studios North African Village buildings which are spectacular terrain pieces and will get their first use during this game.  I need to add some village type scatter terrain to set the mood and add some spots of interest.  I also highly recommend the 28mm repainted MDF building that Present Root put out.  In addition to the North African buildings, I also have the Normandy stuff from CRS and it really very nicely done.

7) LED lights - I want to try to build in some LED lights for atmosphere (fires, cauldrons etc)

8) Finish adopting the Donnybrook ruleset for modern troops and build player cards for each "faction in the game.  This may sound simple but is probably the most important step as having very clean rules that can be explained early is key to having a great convention game experience.  Of course, I start off with a huge advantage using the elegant Donnybrook ruleset (another high recommendation).  Lets just hope I don't screw them up.  If you're looking for a very fun, easy set of rules for skirmish gaming please check out Donnybrook