Wednesday, April 30, 2014

28mm Stone and Half Timber House / Inn

This is another 28mm building I created with help from my CNC laser engraver. It's a 28mm stone and half timber house or inn. The stone lower floor is wrapped in cardboard on the edges cut to look like cut stone with the center field made from an interesting textured paper (shown below) I found at the local craft store. Once sprayed with black primer and dry brushed it looks convincingly like stone. There's also a detail photo of the door with its hardware, also cut on the laser. The roof is the only part not cut and engraved on the laser. It's made from sheet styrene made for scratch building HO scale buildings for model railroad layouts.

This building, like my others, is designed to easily allow troops to be placed in each floor. Each floor may be opened/removed separately to allow access for figures. I carved a chimney out of pink insulation foam which will be added to the roof, but it requires several coats of foam sealer and paint, all of which will take a few days to dry between coats.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Secret Project - Revealed

Tonight my friend Charlie and my uncle Ralph stopped by to help me with some testing, and design suggestions for my secret project, which I'll now reveal, although I'm a long ways off from it being ready for public consumption. Since a large portion of my wargaming energy will be focused on this project I'm going to spill the beans now so I can blog about it.

The project is a new computer-moderated set of wargaming rules that I'm writing and programming. The system will use mobile devices (tablets, phones, etc.) for data entry. Each player can either enter their own information or have an opponent do so for them. In use the device screens serve many of the same purposes as the quick reference sheets most rules use, and after a test session Charlie and Ralph think using the mobile device as a 'smart' QRS and doing your own data entry while playing may be preferable to having an opponent do the data entry for you.

Using multiple tablets streamlines the data entry process. This eliminates the need for players to wait for the GM to enter data for them, while still providing the fog of war and detailed record keeping that the computer allows. While we only used 2 tablets for our test session, the system will be able to scale up to huge games with dozens of tablets if desired. This is a mobile-friendly web application and not a device specific 'app'. This allows it to function equally well on Apple, Android and Microsoft portable devices. Entering each unit's information is done completely with button clicks in the interface. No typing skills are needed and everything is simply presented to further streamline use. I wanted this system to enhance the gaming experience, not get in the way.

As expected, the play test revealed many places that need a large amount of improvement. My test scenario was a reduced order of battle of the battle of Freeman's Farm. While we were happy with the flow of the user interface, I still have some significant adjustments to do in the morale calculations. I also still have to add passage of lines and fatigue to the system. During play several other smaller suggestions were made which, once implemented, I feel will be great improvements.

The system will handle battles from the black powder era: post 30-years war up to about the Franco-Prussian war. My play test progression will be AWI, then ACW and finally Napoleonics. Each period adds additional complexities which will fully test the development of the system. For the foreseeable future this is a personal project. Possibly a year or more from now I may feel it ready for public consumption. Until then please feel free to comment and live vicariously through the blog posts....oh and wish me luck!

Video of a couple of units being entered into the system:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Robert's Rules of Disorder - Playtest

Last Saturday a few of us got together to play test my friend Robert's home brewed Napoleonics rules, lightheartedly named "Robert's Rules of Disorder". The rules are based on a model that involves die rolls, but ensures somewhat predictable, although variable, casualty rates. It's an interesting concept and so far the rules seem like they're going to be a lot of fun.

This session involved doing some 'what if' attack and defend scenarios of corps vs. corps sized forces. We were able to come up with some constructive suggestions for Robert while having a lot of fun. Win-win for everyone.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 2014 Game Night

Last Friday was our club's monthly game night. I played in a Carnage and Glory game of the battle of Walcourt, which was the first battle of the 9 years war. The game was run by my friend Greg (pictured left). C&G is a great system for new players as the computer handles a lot of the record keeping for the players. I was helping my friend Phil learn the rules. He was the right wing commander of the allied army. While the French artillery picked his command out for their devastating initial bombardments, he weathered the storm and counter attacked successfully with both his cavalry and the Coldstream Guards keeping the French from capturing the town of Walcourt. 

The other two games were a large ACW naval game run by my friend George using his
home brew rules, and my friend Mark's modern skirmish game which also used home brew rules. The club as a whole is having a flurry of creativity with no less than six of us working on or having recently completed our own rule systems - all of them enjoyable to play.

Photos from George's ACW Game:

Photos from Mark's modern skirmish game:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

28mm Half Timber Cottage

 While contemplating how to further detail my large residence, I decided to start figuring out a process on the laser to reproduce half timbered buildings. I thought it made sense to start with a smaller building as a proof of concept. This is a one room cottage suitable for rural areas of the battlefield. The entire building is made from laser-cut items including the roof shingles.

I'm pretty happy with the way this came out. I believe I will be able to use this technique on larger buildings to good effect. I learned a few lessons on this building, including not to go by existing terrain pieces made by others. The one I copied had no chimney, so mine doesn'! I've corrected this in my files so if I make another one it will have one end without a window suitable for a fireplace on that end.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

28mm Large Residence - WIP #2

Here are some more WIP shots of my 28mm European large residence for WWI and WWII skirmish gaming. I've added roof tiles using vacuform plastic sheet. I've painted them to represent slate roofing, which looks ok. I could have painted them as red clay tiles, but I was afraid that would have given the building too much of a Mediterranean feel which I didn't want. I've added window 'lights' (the inner frames for the individual panes) and smaller chimney liners which seem to be very characteristic of European multi-level dwellings. There's some photos at the bottom showing how the building opens up to allow access for figures.

Still on the to-do list is creating suitable front and back doors, painting the shutter hinge hardware in where the laser marks are, and working on the rear lean-to shed/outhouse. It's also possible I may add a walled front yard with some grass similar to what Matashiki did with his. I also need to do at least one more pass of dry-brushing to bring out more detail. The last pass will probably with higher contrast colors in a more random pattern to mimic the effect Matashiki got with his finished building.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

28mm Large Residence - WIP

Our Bolt Action game on Friday got be highly motivated to continue working on my 28mm terrain - particularly buildings suitable for WWI/WWII. This is the first laser-cut 28mm building I'm working on. I've modeled it loosely from the photograph of an actual residence in Carentan, France that was there during the D-day liberation attacks. A modern photo of that building is below, left. My inspiration came from Matakishi's excellent blog series on his efforts to re-model the entire Carentan scene from the Band of Brothers HBO series.

I've made the roof removable to allow soldiers to be placed inside. I've also made the top floor removable to allow easy placement of soldiers in the first floor without having to remove the top floor occupants and floor. Like Matakishi's version I will be putting a lean-to shed on the rear left side where there are no windows. Unlike Matakishi's version, I chose to put the assumed stairwell on the same side as the lean-to. This explains the missing window.

Next steps will be to clad the roof with some vacuform roof tile texture sheet I've purchased from a railroad supply site on the Internet, and then to paint it up. Like Matakishi, I'll be spraying the flat surfaces with a textured paint to mimic the original stucco finish on the original building. For simplicity, and because they won't be usable in games, I will be leaving the dormer windows in the attic off.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

More Bolt Action WWII

We had so much fun playing Bolt Action last week that my uncle decided to run another game last night. This was a much larger game with more armor and approximately 15-20 commands per side. I drew a German die again and this time was defending a key town from US infantry supported by a Sherman and an M-10 tank destroyer. The ever present US air power also caused us considerable harm. This game was all USA from start to finish. I had some minor success with my reconnaissance vehicles, but other than that it was mostly a strong showing by the US forces.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

28mm WWII Germans

I've taken a short break on my 'secret project' to let some ideas gel and because I had been working on it very intensely and just needed a breather. During that break I completed painting 11 Warlord WWII German figures. These first four are Heer mortar crew to go with the 120mm mortar I painted earlier. Initially I wasn't happy with the camouflage smocks on these figures, but after an Army Painter wash I'm much more pleased. The officer figure's map I'm particularly happy with. 

These two figures are an ammo carrier for one of the many MG-42 figures I have, and a solitary flame thrower figure. I'm not sure I'll be using the flame thrower, but it came with the other specialists shown below so I painted it up while I had them on the painting table.
This is my tank hunter group. I mostly bought these figures for the action shot figure firing the panzerfaust. Sure, he's not all that practical on the table top, but wow such an awesome pose. There is also a figure carrying a rifle, armful of panzerfausts and an anti-tank mine. He'll find a spot in any of my infantry squads for sure. The last three figures are all carrying panzershreck anti-tank launchers. For Bolt Action, only two are needed for a team, but for historical games the third will see use with a regular rifleman, or the figure carrying all the panzerfausts, as an assistant.

These final three figures and mortar are figures I picked up already painted in the flea market area at Cold Wars. I've given them a quick Army Painter 'dip' and based them up. I always think you can use another 81mm mortar.