Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I don't have much to say other than to wish the folks that read this a happy New Year.

As usual, nothing happened gaming-wise during my annual Christmas trip to Chicago to visit family. I was coming off of a head cold when we got there. I was hoping to have a game involving my nephews, my wife's cousin who was visiting from Utah, and my friend Karl. I found out that Karl was sick, my wife's cousin wasn't there long enough, and I spent most of my time driving here and there doing errands and being a chauffeur. We almost came up with a skirmish game using my younger nephew's Star Wars LEGOs figures, but it never happened due to me running around doing errands, and the fact that my nephews were in school up to the Friday before Christmas. My younger nephew and I did go to Games Plus, but that was the extent of things.

Hopefully, 2012 will be fruitful gaming wise for everyone.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stay Creative

I saw a post on TMP this morning that led me to this blog: There are a lot of good suggestions about how to stay creative in the gaming world. Sometimes, I think that its not so much staying creative, but 1) finding the time and energy to express the creativity and 2) finding the resources needed to take the next creative step.

Issue #1 is pretty straight forward. I think a lot of people have more ideas than they have time to carry out. Plus, often at the end of the day, I know I am too tired to do anything.

For issue #2, I am not talking so much about the financial side of the hobby. I am talking more about the ability to learn what I need to learn to accomplish what I want to do. For example, all the way back in the 1970s, I thought it would be great to sculpt my own figures. I gave it a try, but the results were awful. Had I had some brains back then, I would have looked into taking a sculpting class to learn techniques. Nowadays, I still have a yearning, but the educational resources are rather spotty for what I want to do. You might be saying, "oh, but there are all kinds of sites now for sculpting minis!" Well, yes, if I wanted to do larger scales then I am all set, but I want to do microarmor. For example, I really want a model of the Australian Bustmaster APC. No one yet makes one. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of GHQ, just to learn how to make wheels in 1/286 scale! I hope this doesn't sound like a complaint, because its not. It just seems like even with all the information now out there, there are still some "holes" that have not been filled. Its more of a frustration than anything else. Yes, I could sit down and probably work it out, but that goes back to issue #1, the time to actually do it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Valley of Death AAR

Friday, while my wife was participating in Black Friday shopping madness, my daughter and I had another small battle involving the humans of Yogurt Town and the xenomorphs (i.e. Aliens). The same very simple rules that we used in a previous battle were again used. In this game, the xenomorphs were allowed to be resurrected back at the opposite end of the table until the humans reached their objective. The humans' objective was to make it to the outpost building on other side of the table. Just before the battle started, my daughter decided there should be additional goals in the form of "secret maps" that were placed in various places and had to be recovered by the humans. Here is an overview of the gaming table:

22.7.234: Outpost 24 had failed to report in for last 48 hours. Militia Command, based in Yogurt Town, decided to send out a patrol to find out what the situation was at Outpost 24.

Peering down the road that that led through the valley, things looked very quiet:

The unit proceeded down the road. Captain Joe and Sergeant Sue was in the lead, followed by two sections of four troopers each. Accompanying the unit was a mysterious rock-like being known as Rocky. He (she?) was their guide for this mission. Rocky's weapon was an organic laser on top of his head. For gaming purposes, he got 2 shots.

The first encounter took place just before entering the valley. Two xenomorphs popped out, but they were quickly dispatched by weapon fire. This will be the best shooting for the militia the entire game. My daughter consistently rolled misses much of the game.

As the militia unit pressed on, more xenos waited in ambush, waiting for the signal by the xeno perched on top of the giant skull rock carving on top of the opposite hill.

Not only was the xenomorph a spotter, but it also was the guardian of one of the secrete maps.

The xenos sprang out! It was a fierce fight. Bad shooting rolls allowed for the xenomorphs to quickly close for hand-to-hand combat. One militia trooper went down.

Rocky and Captain Joe seemed to score the best rolls. The attackers were finally defeated.

After a lucky shot that knocked off the xenomorph from its perch, Rocky, Captain Joe, and Sergeant Sue climbed up the steep mountain.
After defeating another xenomorph hidden behind the skull carving, Sergeant Sue retrieves the secret map hidden in one of the eye sockets.

The militia then moves toward the outpost where more xenomorphs spring out.

It was another fierce fight, and another trooper went down. Sergeant Sue manages to find another secret map hidden underneath the scout car parked next to the outpost building.

Captain Joe and Rocky search the outpost, but there's no sign of anyone! No bodies to be found, no signs of struggle. Where did they all go? To be continued.......

Rocky was sculpted by my daughter. Here he is after the battle, posing by some shrubs.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thoughts on Solo Mechanics


As I get closer to the point of gaming the first land battle in the Gambusian campaign, I need to start thinking about the mechanics of a solo game. For rule sets, I have several in mind. They are:

A Fist Full of TOWs version 3 (FFT)

Cold War Commander (CWC)

Modern Spearhead

Pz8 1975-2010

I am not going to review any of these rules, but more than likely, I will probably use one of the first two, simply because I have studied them more. However, the Pz8 series of rules are pretty simple and straight forward. Plus, this recent version of their modern rules have been expanded a little more in terms of weapon types, so I might consider them, too.

None of these rules are really set up for solo gaming. One could argue that the rule set that has the most potential for solo gaming is Cold War Commander. So, I am going to use one of these rules, but in conjunction with some sort of solo mechanics. I need the solo mechanics to do the following:

1. allow for a random sequence of events

2. allow for units to react to circumstances

After reading a number of solo websites, articles from the Lone Warrior, and looking at various mechanisms of rules (not necessarily microarmor rules) that supposedly can be used for solo gaming, I felt like throwing up my hands! Actually, I've come up with three possible systems. They are:

1. I Ain't Been Shot Mum! system (IABSM).

2. Two Hour Wargames' reaction system (THW).

3. A overly complex algorithm of my own design, which I am no where near finished making.

I have studied the THW reaction system quite a bit, but recently I have been looking at various aspects of the IABSM system, particularly the use of activation cards. What I am working on now is to merge parts of IABSM and THW.

The Plan:
I plan to use unit activation cards and blinds similar to what is done in IABSM. Each activation card will represent a company. Within each company are platoons. In both FFT and CWC each stand of infantry and each vehicle represents a platoon. As each company gets activated, the members of the company can do various things, move, shoot, whatever. In CWC, units can keep doing things until they fail a die roll. I could do that, but my goal is to remove as much of my own control over things. This is where the THW reaction system will come into play. Based on the situation, the units will react in different ways. I have not worked out the reaction system, but here is an example of what I am thinking about. Lets say there is a recon company ahead of the main body probing for enemy units. The recon company comes near a blind (a hidden enemy unit). There is a table to determine if enemy units are spotted or not. I look up the appropriate numbers and roll the dice to see if it spotted the enemy. Based on success or failure, I then consult the algorithm below:

If nothing detected, then on a D6:
1-3 move half move forward
4-5 move full move forward
6 halt

If enemy spotted, then:

If spotted at close range:
1-4 fall back to nearest cover
5-6 engage enemy

If spotted at medium range:
1-5 fall back to nearest cover
6 engage enemy

If spotted at long range:
1-4 fall back to nearest cover
5-6 halt

The reaction system in addition to using the activation cards, will allow me to have less control over the various units and keep me from being biased.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More 15 mm Medievals

Other than painting up a few figures from Splintered Light, I have not done a whole lot of work on my fantasy/medieval figures recently. I found some more shots of various 15 mm figures that I painted about four years ago:

Above are some late Medieval/early Renaissance heavy cavalry from Mirliton. They are from their Later Swiss and Burgundian Wars series, but I can't remember which catalog number. As I said before, I am not really into Renaissance figures, but these guys have a sort of Albrecht Dürer thing going on and spoke to me saying, "scruffy, battle-weary lancers for hire," especially the guy on the left. Mirliton puts in a lot of detail in their sculpting. The unfinished base is made from polymer clay.

The laddies above are Feudal Castings Highland archers with claymores. Feudal Castings are now produced by QRF Models. My historical knowledge of Feudal Castings is now fuzzy, but I think they came out in the early 90s. They don't have quite the detail that we see now in a lot of 15s. None the less, they do the job. I like the idea of having archers that can both shoot and be willing to mix it up in hand-to-hand combat. The claymores come separately. As I recall, they were very, as the British say, fiddly to get them glued onto their backs.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Housing for the Masses and Other Terrian Pieces

I completed these a couple of weeks ago.


Closeup of Huts

I am trying to get things together for the first major battle of my Gambusian campaign. I needed a bunch of huts to make a large town. They are the same design as those that I posted way back in 2009. I think scale creep might have set in. I tried to make them the same size as the originals, but they look a lot bigger. It may be the acorn tops. These are a lot larger and steeper than the original ones.

I also made stab at an improved defensive position and barbed wire obstructions:

Improved Position with Infantry Stand

Section of Barbed Wire

I like the way the barbed wire section turned out. Its easy cheesy to make, too! The improved position...not so much. I wanted to make some sort of infantry defenses that are a step above foxholes, but not as permanent as trenches or bunkers. Something along the lines of the dreaded German machine gun nest that is in the final climatic battle scene of many a WWII movie. The idea is to be able to insert an infantry stand in it. My first criticism of it is that the sand bags are way bigger than I wanted them to be. The Sculpy was just not in a cooperative mood. Second, I am not too crazy about the squared look, but I sort of accepted that is how it would have to look, given that I wanted to put an infantry stand in it. Also, the cardboard base warped a little, but that is not a big deal. If I could do a better job on the sand bags, I would be a lot happier with how it turned out.

I am still trying to figure out how to make a marker for foxholes and for mine fields. I don't think it will be hard to do the mine fields. The foxholes may be another story. I've received some good suggestions on the Yahoo! Microarmor Group and on the Angel Barracks forum. One suggestion is to stick some figures into clay. It sounds good, but I don't feel comfortable about "sacrificing" some figures to represent a foxhole markers, nice as it might look. I might just end up using little markers that say "foxholes" on them. Boring, but they would get the job done.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day, the real 11/11

This is just a quick post to thank all of the veterans out there who, through their sacrifice, allowed us to remain free. Although I have never had the honor to serve in the military, I am proud of my father, uncle, and grandfathers who served.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

11/11/11: Mark Your Calendar!

I'm sure you've seen it on CNBC, FOXNews, and read about it in the NY Times, but in case you haven't, November 11th is Solo Wargaming Day. Unfortunately, I will have to delay my celebrations a day. Too many family happenings occur on the 11th. The big question now is, what to game on this holiest of holy days?

Happy to be Home

I got back Sunday night from my paleontology meeting in Las Vegas. It was a very good meeting. There were a lot more interesting talks than I expected. Over the years, there have been fewer and fewer fish talks at SVP, but this year there were a good number. There were several symposiums that were interesting. The best part was that I got see a lot of old friends.

From a gaming standpoint, there isn't much to say. Its been 20 years since the last time I was there. Besides being incredibly expensive (I paid $10 for a hamburger), it seems now that a lot of casinos are linked by underground walkways. You don't need to go outside at all! It would make for a good sci-fi, dungeon-crawl sort of game. Also, the place has a slight feel of a sunnier version of Bladerunner.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Its been a sort of hell for the last two weeks. Forget any sort of quality hobby time. I've been trying to get a poster done for my trip to the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting, before I leave Tuesday. I'm not going to go into details, but everything and everyone seems to be conspiring to keep me from finishing the darn thing. Well, its 11:41 pm. I am nearly done with the poster, expect my co-author, being his usual overly-anal self, sent me a bunch of revisions on it. A bunch of picky stuff that no one is going to notice. For God sakes, man, its just a poster!!!!

In between working on the poster and working on every other thing that I seem to have to do that isn't related to the poster, I've been toying with the idea of splitting off my imaginary world of Gambusia onto its own blog. Imagi-Nation blogs are in lately. They started off as being exclusively in the 18th century realm, but now are very popular for the Banana-Republic/Developing Nations types of games. I'm even starting to see them for sci-fi games. So why not join the bandwagon?

1. it would keep me focused on one topic and allows me to track my progress on this particular aspect of my gaming/hobby activities.
2. it would keep readers who are interest coming back for more.
3. it can add more color to it beyond my model building and AARs (which are pretty much non-existent at this point).
4. for those very few who are more vested in the game, such as the General, they can keep up with any news and developments without wading through other stuff.

1. I am not a prodigious blogger, but I don't like to have months go by without a post. Spitting blogs up might cause that to happen.
2. I am not sure if I would get new file space for pictures if I start a new blog. There are probably ways around that, like using something like Photobucket, but seems like more work.
3. I'm lazy. I like having everything in one spot. If I spin off one hobby project, I'd be tempted to spin them all off. Too much to keep track of!
4. this is a weird one, and I guess its due to the nature of my profession, but I like to classifying and categorizing things. It pissed me off when I go to a blog and they don't have Labels. Nothing bugs me more than having to open up a whole bunch of archives to find some topic. I think that if I split up things into separate blogs, there won't be enough topics to label.

Thoughts and comments are welcome.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I, Robot

My daughter had a project where she was supposed to make a robot out of recyclable materials. Here is the result:

So shoot me, I helped her build the thing, but it was all her design. She told me what went where. My only original contribution to its design is the use of tennis balls for the shoulder joint. I manned the hot-glue run and she held things in place. The robot's name is Ellie. She is a dress-making robot. According to her designer, she can put out 14 dresses a day. She has a robot dog as a pet, but we didn't have time to build that. Maybe a future project?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Past 15mm Fantasy projects

I was going through folders looking for some pictures for my research and I came across these two. I took them awhile ago. I thought I'd share them. First is a medieval/fantasy inn I made:

This building is over 10 years old. I made it when my wife and I lived in New York for a year while I had a temporary research position at the American Museum of Natural History. Its loosely based on a building I passed by one evening on my way home. When the weather was nice, I'd hike from my apartment on 161st Street in Washington Heights down to 81st Street, where the AMNH was. After work, if I wasn't working too late and my wife was out of town on business, I'd go explore the city on foot. I think I was in better shape back then than I am now because I walked so much. Anyway, on one of my adventures, I spotted a building that looked like an old inn. I made some quick sketches of it and then built it when I got back to our apartment. The main floor is of polymer clay, including the door. The second floor is cardstock, with the timbers being wooden coffee stirring sticks. The fancy windows are window screen. The flagstone paving are broken up egg shells. My pride and joy, and what makes this such a "Manhattan" original is that the shingles, both on this building and the one next to it, are made of discarded subway pass cards! You could find billions of them strewn around in subways. I still have a bunch of them. The building might not be exactly 1/100 scale. It might be more suited for 20mm figures, but it does the job.

This second picture is more recent. I think I finished them and took the picture about four years back:

He is a Demonworld general from their Empire range. I am not a big fan of Renaissance armor and warfare , but I kind of liked him. I envision him as a veteran mercenary general. I figure that mercs are always going to have the best in armor and weaponry because its their profession. He has been highly successful to the point where he can name his price for his services and can afford fancy armor. His standard bearer is a Essex mini whose catalog number I can't remember. I designed the flag in Adobe Illustrator and then printed it out on a laser printer.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Terror of Tiny Town

Two quick shots of Rebel Minis' Earth Force Mk.III Support HAMR suit. Normally, I'm not really a big mecha fan. To me, they don't make much sense as weapon. Nonetheless, I've been gravitating towards them for my sci-fi armies. They look like they mean business. I like the combination of missiles and gatling guns. I didn't know to paint it, so I just painted it green followed by a wash of black mixed with Future Acrylic. I tried to weather it by dabbing it with a sponge that had Vallejo's gunmetal gray, but you can't really see it too well except for on the feet.

No, I still haven't finished with its base.

"Billy, who's your little friend behind you?"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Second Try at a Home Made Hex Mat?

As I mentioned last week, I got my hex mat from Hotz Matt. I still have not had a chance to use it. I don't regret getting is, but I feel the need to triumph in making my own hex mat. My costly failed attempt using a pre-made hex template still nags me. As an update to the story, my daughter "borrowed" the 4' x 4' interlocking foam mats and built herself a stuffed animal storage box with them. In addition to my Hotz Matt, I wouldn't mind having a mat in black for starship combat.

Pahoota, over at his Solipsist Gaming blog site describes a clever technique for making a homemade hex mat. The boundaries of Pahoota's hexes are a little different. They consist of equilateral triangles with concave sides. These represent the points were three circles of equal diameter come together:

If you keep adding on more circles, what you will get are hex boundaries:

You get the idea.... For circles, I thought I would try using soda bottle caps. They are consistent in diameter and easy to get. The trick will be to make sure the three bottle caps line up properly so that you get an equilateral triangle. Playing around with some soda bottle caps, it is not easy to get them to line up just so.

Once again, another project to work on.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Fun Idea

Last night my daughter and I read the Dr. Seuss book, McElligot's Pool. I vaguely remember reading it. Not one his best, but not bad. Anyway, what do I spot? Some of the Good Doctor's crazy architecture! I've thinking of building some structures for 15mm sci-fi games. I'm not sure about the style, and I don't want a village made solely out of yogurt containers. Why not have buildings that are as wildly imaginative as Dr. Seuss's? I need someone who doesn't have any preconceived notions of what a building on another planet should look like. The person just builds them however he wants. Who best to this task? My daughter, that's who! This weekend is supposed to be rainy. She has a swim meet in the morning, but after that, she will be itching for something to do. She likes doing what she calls "projects" while I work on my minis. Usually, she makes jewelry out of polymer clay, but she has constructed a model of the solar system and recently she made me an one-eyed space alien also using polymer clay. I think I can coax her into constructing a couple of buildings. I'll leave it up to her s to what she wants to build and what she want to use to build them. The only criterion is that they be 1/100 in scale, or at least don't look out of place when a 15mm figure is standing next to them. I'm sure she can come up with something. My only concern is that she will get bored and quite the project before it is completed. I'll give it a try and post the results.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Confessions of a Rules Junkie

I’ve wanted to write this blog entry for some time now. I have not had the time, or I thought there were more interesting things to add to my blog, like my various projects and such. Well, after getting my latest set of rules in the mail the other day, I felt it needed to be done. "Hello, my name is Chris and I’m a Rules Junkie." I buy rules, I download free rules, I do whatever I can to obtain wargaming rules. For many of these rules, I will read once or twice and never look at them again.

Why do I do it?Why waste the time and money? I’ve thought about this long and hard.The main answer I can come up with is that I am on a spiritual journey to rules enlightenment.Or maybe its a quest for the Holy Grail, or the golden fleece of rules. My quest for the perfect rules has changed over time. Early in my gaming career, I was hung up on the technical side of things. Realism was everything. I wanted rules that would take into account the effect of an armor-piercing shell at a 38 degree angle on a side rivet of the turret of a German Pz 38(t) at 300 meters, or the accuracy of a 250 pound bomb dropped from a Douglas SBD dive bomber after it had been hit in the rudder by one shell of a 25mm AA gun fired by a jittery gunner from a Japanese destroyer that is turning to avoid the oncoming spread of six torpedoes, or the effect of a falchion when used as a thrusting weapon on chainmail covered by a gambeson…you get the idea.

Today, my journey is three fold. I am searching for rules that will give the most realism in command and control, that has the highest degree of playability without sacrificing a lot of realism, and/or can be easily used for solo gaming. If I hear any hints of rules whose mechanics are rumored to be tops along those lines, like a zombie to brains, I am drawn to them and compelled to order them. I try very hard to stick to my areas of interest, but if I hear of rules that are really outstanding, I will get them. For example, I read a post on TMP that polled readers as to which set of rules they thought were the most playable and fun. The consensus seemed to be the colonial rules The Sword & the Flame. So, what did I do? I ordered them! I don’t even play colonial games! But I had to see what these rules were all about. Maybe they would be the key to everything! This is it folks…it will all be revealed to me once I turn to page one and start reading! The quest is over! such luck. They look pretty good, there is raw material I can use, and if I were to get into colonial gaming, these are the ones I'd use, but did I really have to buy them? No, not really.

So far, I have managed to draw the line at board games and really expensive rules.I have read where people have adopted the rules or rule mechanics from various board games for the tabletop. I used to play a lot of board games long ago. Nowadays, the cost of board games is way too high for me to justify getting them, as tempting is it might be. Also, I will not pay for rules that are at or above the $50 range. Up to this point, I think the highest I’ve paid has been $40, and that was for only one set.

More and more, I will buy the pdf format to cut down on costs. I am still old school when it comes to rules. I don’t need hard covers or glossy photographs. I try to avoid rules where you have to buy a bunch of supplements to play the game. I only buy the latest edition of a rule set if I absolutely love the previous edition and there have some major changes that merit the new edition. I can think of only two or three sets of rules in my collection where I have more than one edition. I am sure I am not the only one out there that is a rules junkie. I do enjoy reading them, and with one or two exceptions, I have not been terribly disappointed by what I got. Nonetheless, I need to really put the brakes on the rules purchases. I really enjoy my hobby, but I don’t have unlimited funds. Plus, my carefree days of bachelorhood are long behind me. Many things like the need for bigger and better stereo equipment (that must date me!), or the purchases of music and movies are long gone. I’ve noticed that I don’t really miss those things. For example, my wife and I still happily use the same TV we got as a wedding present 13 years ago. Each Christmas time, we talk about getting a new TV, but we never do. With the mounds of minis that need to be painted and the collection of rulebooks, I think I can taper off the spending side of things a little and still have a happy hobby life. Maybe its about time I come up with my own, free rules. Maybe that will break the habit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hotz Mat

I got my order today from Hotz ArtWorks. I ordered a double-sided mat over a month ago. It finally arrived. I ordered their larger standard size, 6' x 4,' with the 1" hexes. My daughter and I unfolded it. Wow! Its a lot larger than I thought! One side is a European field pattern the other is an ocean pattern. At first, the ocean pattern didn't seem much different than the field pattern. But my daughter said that there was some blue green it. I guess I was expecting a deep blue, which probably isn't very realistic. I didn't have time to inspect it much beyond that, except to say that the lines that make up the hexes of the ocean side could be a little more distinct, but I will have to look at it in better light. I am really looking forward to gaming on it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rock My World

Well that was interesting.

I've been through several tornadoes, but today I experienced my first earthquake. The epicenter was in northern Virginia and had a 5.9 magnitude. I was sitting in my office when I started hearing a low rumble. At first, I thought it was the air conditioning system acting up, or maybe a freight train was especially loud, but then I felt a shaking. I looked over and all of my fish specimens that are in jars were doing a little dance on my shelves. Something told me that this was an earthquake. It lasted for maybe five minutes. Some people in my office felt it, some did not.

I hope that there was little damage.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sci-Fi Concept Art

When I was a kid, I was really into the space exploration. I couldn't get enough books on the subject. One of the things I loved was all the speculation on future space travel. I was a big fan of the works of Willy Ley. I not only enjoyed reading his stuff, but looking at the concept art that went with his work. My favorite articles in Weekly Reader (anyone remember those?) were the ones about domed cities, flying cars, and other speculations on what the future held. I'm sure my mother has kept a number of my own drawing of rockets designed for the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Discovering science fiction later as a teen opened up whole new realm of spaceship concept art. I took a chance on a number of novels by unknown authors based primarily on the cool cover illustration. Two artists that really stood out in terms of spaceships was Chris Foss and Syd Mead. Their styles are very different, but both produced ships that had a hard feel to them that made them look plausible.

As it seems that I am moving into the realm of sci-fi gaming, I have been more on the lookout for anything to give me inspiration. These blogs came up the other day on TMP and seemed worthy of note: concept ships and concept tanks. Both of these have lots of illustrations that are pretty good and provides inspiration for models.

Monday, August 8, 2011

More 15mm Sci-fi

Whoa, two postings in one day! That's crazy!

Part of my zeal for posting was to try out a new camera. It a Nikon Coolpix S6100. Its for research. Long story of why I bought it, and not worth going into.

Anyway, I've managed to get a number of minis painted over the last several weeks. First off, from Rebel Minis is their Wild CATS robots. You get two in the set.

I should have photographed a human-sized figure next to him for comparison. He comes with these large claws and a missile rack for distance attacks. I decided he was going to be part of my not-Terminator army, hence the silver body and the grey rubble on his base.

Next is the a corporate head and his body guards.

The these guys are all part of the civilian contractors w/VIP from Rebel Minis. I didn't realize until now that I gave him a grey suit like that on the Rebel Minis' site. I've been playing with the idea of using the Yogurt Town scenario that I played with my daughter awhile back as the basis for a scifi campaign.

Places for a Late Night Snack

All over the streets of Mexico City you will see small snack bars or kiosks. They range from just a thrown up tent, to a small shack. I have not seen too many mobile ones like you do in the USA.

In addition to painting up yatai lunch cart, I built a more permanent structure. It sort of reminds me of something you'd see on a beach selling burgers and hotdogs.

Yatai Food Cart

Snack Shack

The snack shack took all of a few hours to build, and only because the glue had to dry. Forgive me if my Spanish is off. I used a translating program. I was very tempted to try and make a menu board running along the top, but I decided not to press my luck. No snack shack would be complete without some sort of beverage advertisement. Its probably hard to tell the name of the drink, but its a sign for Dr. Enuf. Dr. Enuf is a local soda found in east Tennessee. It can be best described as a sort of a mild lemon-lime soda with a certain "Je ne sais quoi" herbal flavor to it. My daughter and I have grown to like it and always get a bottle when at the farmers market, so I thought it would be a major drink found on the continent of Gambusia.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Greetings from Mexico!

This doesn't have anything to do with miniatures and gaming, but I am presently in Mexico. The city of Pachuca, to be exact. Business or pleasure, you ask? Well, considering that I am here to do research, I guess both. My research is part of my business and is still (though, sometimes a struggle) my pleasure. I've been coming here to the university and to do field work almost annually, for the past 9 years. Usually I come for two weeks, but for a number of reasons, one of them being budgetary, I could only manage one week.

Sorry, no pictures yet, I just arrived. One thing that I hope to do that is mini-related, is to get lots of pictures of various shops and building for ideas for for constructing new 1/300 buildings. I wanted to get some in Mexico City where I landed, but my camera was packed with my baggage in the trunk of my colleague's car. Plus, I was rather zoned-out from the flight (I still am).

Hopefully, I will collect a lot of data for my research, and get some good shots of interesting and useful architecture.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Modern River Monitors Update

I haven't completed the plans of my river monitors except for the shape and size of the hull. I decided that I didn't want to use foam core board again like I did on the patrol boat. While visiting family in Chicago this past week, I used my father's scroll saw to cut out the hulls. My father, until he had to get on coumadin, was an avid woodworker with lots of various tools. Unfortunately, all my father had on hand that was right thickness was an old sheet of pegboard. I went ahead any used it. I decided to cut out two hulls in case I flub one of them up. After tracing the hulls onto the pegboard and cutting them out, I corrected any slight errors due to cutting and smoothed the sides out using various riffle files that he had. Even though pegboard is made out of pressed fibers, they came out looking pretty smooth, and I don't need to cover the sides of the hull with paper like I did with the patrol boat.

My next step will be to finish up the plans and start working on the rest of the boats.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spyder to the Fly

I made and photographed these awhile back (at least two years ago), but the file got lost in my backup hard drive. I realized sometime back that Southern Chalupastan had no air defenses other than the old M42 Duster of Vietnam War fame. Surfing the web, I came upon the Israeli SPYDER mobile air defense system. It launches short- and medium-ranged surface-to-air missiles. There are two parts to the system. There is the missile launcher and the radar-tracking system; both are mounted on trucks. What I've modeled is the short range version. The medium range system has a much larger radar dish. Here's my take on the SPYDER:

Both trucks are Scotia Gendel's South African Samil 20 truck, open top (SA0012). The actual trucks that are used are built by the TATRA truck company, but these looked close enough. I cut away the sides of their beds. I fashioned the launcher out of cardstock. The missile containers are styrene plastic square rods. Sorry, I can't remember the cross sectional dimensions. I glued the launchers onto two very thin pieces of paper. In pictures, the rack that holds the containers is a very thin frame. The body of the radar truck was a slab of polymer clay that I tried to make as squared up as I could. I made this before I really started working with styrene plastic, so my materials and methods were rather crude. The radar antenna is a pin with curved piece of cardstock attached. I was going to use one of those plastic clothing tag ends, like I did on my patrol boat, but they looked much too big. Another antenna sticks off the back. I painted them olive green, the color of the Southern Chalupastan armed forces. In pictures that I've seen, the containers holding the missiles are a darker green. Painting them that color offsets them from the rest of the truck.

Not the prettiest conversions, but at 1/300, they will do fine. Hey, I don't think GHQ is going to be calling me up anytime soon to offer me a job!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Epic 15mm Fanatasy Battle

Last Saturday, I had a fantasy battle over at the college. My opponent, George, is a professor at a college in North Carolina. We've been emailing for awhile about having a game, but schedules, particularly mine, made it very difficult to meet. Finally, we managed to set a day for gaming. George turned out to be a great guy and I hope we can have more games. Next time, I will try to visit him. He is only about an hour away from my campus.

We used mostly my 15mm minis, but he brought some of his that we used. I'm going to have to get me one of those orc heroes on a scorpion! The battle was between the Orc-Barbarian alliance and the Dwarf-Medieval Human alliance.

We used Armies of Arcana, 1st edition. They are in the vein of Old School rules with casualties removed individually, and buckets of 6-sided dice used. I know its already in its third addition, and one of these days, I might get it. I really liked them when I first bought them. I had a battle with them ages ago in graduate school, but since then, I have not used them. I had to scramblethe night before to re-read them, and even then, there were parts that I forgot about when the battle began. We kept magic at a minimum (see below).

I apologize for this being a rather lousy after action report. I should have taken notes or something, but I was caught up in the whole game and only took pictures when I remembered to. Next time, I'll try to do better.

Set-up and Beginning Moves

The battlefield and disposition of armies

The battlefield terrain consisted of a stream running through the middle of it with a small forest just to the left of the middle. A stone henge was in the back, but it had no effect on the battle.

George set up his Barbarians to his right and Orcs to his left, with his Goblin wolf riders on his far left flank. I had my Dwarves to my left and medieval Humans on the center and right, with the greatest concentration in the center. I didn't get good pictures of George's Orc set up. I think my SLR camera was more of a hindrance than a help.

Dwarf battle line

Barbarian Hordes

Medieval Army

The opening moves saw the Dwarves and Barbarians march toward each other. As well as most of his Orcs and my Medievals. His Goblin wolf riders started to do a flanking maneuver to my left side, so I sent a unit of spearmen and crossbowmen to meet that threat. My Rabbit archers moved quickly towards the forest. They had the advantage of treating woods as open terrain.

First Blows
The first causalities took place when the Dwarven crossbows and handgunners got into range of the Barbarians. The managed to out-range the bows of the Orc archers, but didn't really put much of a dent into the Barbarian hoards. The first big blow came when none other but Prince Valiant foolishly charged the Orc line far ahead of the rest of the Medievals. Despite his great bravery, he didn't last long:

Prince Valiant's final moments

The Rabbit allies quickly went toe-to-toe with a band of Orcs who entered the forest. Even though they were greatly outnumbered, the Rabbits managed to hold on for much of the game and inflicted some hurt on the Orcs:

Rabbity rumble in the woods

Magic Use
Some magic was used. Each magic-user got three spells, which we randomly determined before the battle. Once, used that was it. George's Barbarian shaman caste a spell that caused the trees to attack my medieval humans. My Dwarf wizard caused a giant water spout to form on top of one of the Barbarian units and caused some fatalities. His other wizard (a renegade human) turned all of my knights' lances into wet noodles, just as they were charging on the Orcs. My human wizard really didn't do much.

The Thick of Battle
Everyone pretty much closed on each other at the same time. I foolishly stuck my peasant archers in front of my knights without being in skirmish mode, and getting all that sorted out cost me some time, which resulting in the wet noodles for lances. The Goblin wolf-riders managed to get around my medieval infantry and headed toward my knights to flank them. The knights and Orcs did come to blows. as well as some of my spearmen. The Orcs had the double-trouble of both a heavy chariot and the champion riding on a scorpion to reinforce one of the war bands. The knights took some punishment, but the two were not as effective as expected.

Orcs and Knights mix it up

Close up of the action

The courageous spearmen struggle to hold back the Green Hordes

Meanwhile, the Dwarves and Barbarians were really locked in deadly combat. The He-Men had somewhat of an advantage in terms of hand-to-hand combat, but the crossbows and hand guns were getting better die rolls and seemed to even things out a bit. The giant entered the fray but took some bullets from the hand guns.

Dwarves do battle with the Barbarians. White disk next to the Giant represents the waterspout

Dwarf king directs gun fire. Dwarf wizard sees something shiny and turns to check it out.

The End
Finally, the Dwarves broke, and the Rabbits were annihilated. The knights had managed to cause the rank-and-file Orcs facing them to run, but the Orc hero and chariot remained. The wolf-riders had flanked the knights and were adding to their casualties, but my reserves consisting of heavy crossbowmen and spearmen were finally moving to position to do some harm on the wolf-riders. However, we decided to call it a day due to the drive that George would have to make back home. It might have been a Barbarian-Orc victory, but it was hard to say. What I can say is that I really had a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Follower of My Own Blog??

I just noticed this. I am not sure how this happened. I have not clicked on the follower's icon. I'm afraid to. Will I end up at my own profile, or someone else's? As Vinnie Barbarino would say, "that's so weird." Maybe he didn't say it, but he should have.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lunch Cart--WIP

Here some quick pictures of a 1/300 of a Japanese style food cart or yatai. I am in the process of making an outdoor market, typical of a lot of towns and cities world over. Even if there isn't an outdoor market, you see food carts and stand, particularly in cities. I'll probably make some variations. They weren't easy to make, but at 1/300 scale, I can forgive myself the first time out.

The GHQ US WW2 artilleryman is for scale. As you can see, the cart is a little small. Of course, the figure is on a thick base. I made it out of styrene plastic, construction paper, and some wire. The wheels I punched out using a very small hole puncher. You can buy various-sized hole punches at craft stores in their scrap book sections.

I've been working on some long tables to use as tables for market vendors. I will have those up soon.

BTW, I've noticed that the most posts I've made per month is five. With this one, I broke my record with six!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Battle of Yogurt Town

"Daddy, I'm bored...."
"OK, then let's have a war game."

Unlike her father, my 6-year-old daughter is not so good at keeping herself occupied unless she is drawing or doing some sort of craft. We've been having a lot of rain the last two days, so my daughter and I were stuck inside. She is out of school and her after school program is closed for the week before they reopen after Memorial Day. Today, we played store and colored pictures, but after awhile, there was nothing else to do, and I refused to play Barbies! Why not introduce my daughter to wonderful world of wargaming? This was actually our second game. We had a test game last week that pitted my Khurasan Miniatures non-Alien aliens against Khurasan's new Ursid Bearmen. I will have pictures of them up sometime soon. For this game, she wanted to be people (i.e. humans). I had some various yogurt contains and packing inserts that looked good as buildings; those made up Yogurt Town. I made up some super-simple rules. Everything is based on D6.

Turn Sequence:
Roll for initiative. High rolls wins.
Order is: move first, shoot second, melee third.

Humans: 2"
Aliens: 4"
+1D6 if figure is declared to be running, but figure cannot shoot.

Range for rifles and pistols: 6"
Range for RPG: 10"
Range for hand grenades: 3"
To hit
All hits are automatic kills
Pistols: 6 kills
Rifles: 5 or 6 kills
RPG and grenades: blast radius of 2"; 5 or 6 kills.

Figures must be in contact to melee.
Each player rolls one die, higher wins.
In Bears vs. Aliens, it was a straight roll. In this game, the Aliens got a +1 to the die roll.

None. You keep fighting until the last organism is standing.

The Battle
The sides:
The Mayor of Yogurt Town. Armed with a pistol
Lady Goo-Goo. Armed with a pistol and a lot of moxie.
Yogurt Town Militia
9 troopers. 8 with rifles, 1 RPG. None are armed with grenades.
Note: RPG gets three shots. After that the RPG-gunner has a rifle.

10, no weapons, just nasty dispositions.

Yogurt Town. The human forces set up.

The Yogurt Town armory

The aliens emerge from the ruins at the edge of the city.

The alien hoard rushes down the street...and to their doom!

An alien tries to sneak around behind a building, only to be stopped by a militia member.

Leading by example: the mayor, along with a trooper moves up to fight the aliens.

Lady Goo-Goo takes down some aliens.

"NOBODY MESSES WITH MY TOWN!" Yells the Mayor as he dispatches the last alien.

It was more of slaughter than a battle. The poor aliens didn't have a chance to close on the humans. My daughter managed a lot of good rolls on her shooting AND was cleaver enough to move her troops back several times to avoid hand-to-hand combat. Despite the loss, it was a good time and hopefully got my daughter more interested in gaming.