Monday, October 8, 2018

Aircraft Maneuver Ratings

I've been wanting to do this for quite some time, but Jim, over at Jim's Wargames Workbench has spurred me on. I am compiling ratings on all the aircraft that I use for my games. By ratings, I mean the numbers used in various rules for undergoing maneuvers. Then, I am figuring out the ratings for the two rules that I plan on using, Target Locked On, and Wings At War.

To me, maneuvering is the most esoteric of the various abilities that need to be modeled for a particular set of rules. Some rules use Thrust/Weight ratios, some use Wing Area/Weight ratios known as wing loading, and for others, I have no clue. The data is not as easy to come by as one thinks. There is a web site that has T/W for a number of aircraft, but when I do the calculations for some of the planes, they don't agree. So what I have done is to compile the ratings for maneuvering for a number of rules and then see what the consensus is among them. For example, Saab JAS-39 Gripen has a T/W = 0.93, Wingload = 532, and is rated at maximum maneuverability by both AirWar: C21 and Missile Threat. Therefore, I give the Gripen a maneuver rating of 5 for Target Locked On.

Wings At War is a different story as it uses power ratings, but I am trying to figure that one out too.

The really big challenge in this is for aircraft that are not found in any rules. For example, ratings for  the joint Chinese/Pakistan JF-17 Thunder is not found in any of the rule set I have. For these cases, I just have to compare T/W and wingload for those planes that are listed and estimate from these.






Wednesday, October 3, 2018

1/600 Paper Building

I've been trying to make some quick and dirty building for my 1/600 moderns. Here is a paper building I made recently. It is a "proof-of-concept" prototype model to see how I can make them with an arcade. Its pretty simplistic, but I am pretty happy with it and can easily scale it up to 1/300. I have access to Adobe Illustrator, so I can make modifications pretty quickly. The arched openings of the arcade would probably be smoother if I had one of those computer stencil cutters, but for such a small scale, I am not going to be too picky.

Initial build before I added the roof and base.An
Oddzial Osmy BTR-60 is parked outside.

Roof and base added, then quickly painted. The
windows were inked in with a Sharpie pen.

Here is what it looks like next to a 1/285 building, which is a
Mediterranean villa from Gamecraft Miniatures

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Warm Post Over at Irishserb's Miniature Adventrures

I've been following Irishserb's blog for quite some time. He has an engaging ImagiNation campaign going on between two fictional African nations. In addition to that, he has some other gaming activities that he shares that are also good reads.

Recently, he decided to use 1/300 scale minis to play out some bigger battles between his two African nations. In a recent post, he pulls out some rather old model buildings that represent his home town of Steubenville, Ohio. It is one man's walk down memory lane. Not only are the buildings well done, but his narrative really really reflects a love and appreciation for where he grew up.  It is not often do I feel a connection with another gamer's blog post beyond the hobby itself, but this one did and you and I who read it are better for it.

Thanks Irish Serb for sharing with us.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Not What I Expected Part 2 Update

Justice prevails! I guess I'm being a little melodramatic. I got an email this morning from Shapeways who said they were about the mix up and they will print off the 1/600 APCs and send them to me, free of charge. They said nothing about the 40K weapons, so I will keep them. I asked my friend Will who is a major GW fan if he wanted them, but he wasn't interested.

Good show Shapeways for being a good merchant!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Not What I Expected Part 2

Yesterday, I received a much anticipated package from Shapeways. I had ordered some 1/600 aircraft and vehicles. Yes, Shapeway stuff is more expensive than traditional minis, but they make things that others don't, and by others, I mean O8 because they are the only company that makes ground vehicles, particularly modern. So one of the orders was for the South African APCish vehicle, the RG-31 Nyala. Besides the fact that O8 has yet to make them, it was a pretty good deal at about $9 for 12 vehicles.

I got the package and instead of the Nyalas, I got these:



They are some sort of 40K vibroblade thingies with a hand conveniently attached to them. Both the invoice and the label on the plastic bag that they came in said Nyalas. I contacted Shapeways about this, but have not heard back. I have no desire to spend the time nor especially the money to send these things back.

Somewhere out there, there is 40K fanatic straining his eyes to figure out what he got instead of his vibroblades.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Can You Identify Me?

Long story as short as possible. I was rooting around in my big storage box for some 15mm Dark Ages heavy cavalry and came across this guy and seven of his identical brothers:


No horses seem to be associated with them. I would like to get more, but I have no idea who makes or made them. The spear and the softness of the metal screams Essex, but the chainmail does not. Besides Essex, I've looked at Chariot Miniatures and Gladiator Miniatures and have come up empty. If not Essex, my money is on Chariot. It might be a discontinued line. If anyone happens to know, let me know.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Lavonian Air Force

Left to right: Mirage III (Tumbling Dice), Mirage F1 (Tumbling Dice), Saab 37 Viggen (Oddzal Osmy), Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet (Tumbling Dice).

They might get Mirage 2000 and Saab JAS 39 Gripen, but this is the lineup for now.

The color scheme is Krylon Camouflage Army Green spray, followed by Vallejo Flat Green for the camo pattern. The speckles are done with Vallejo Golden Olive. The canopies are a light blue. 

The red middle of the roundels is supposed to have a yellow cross. Until I can figure out to to make it that small, it will stay blank. IT seems that I made them a little bigger than the Bovatopian and Northern Calupistan MIG 21's. Those were test runs. Freehand roundels seems to look better than I thought, especially for 1/600 scale.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Not What I Expected

Once again, I am compelled to say why I have not posted in awhile. Believe it or not, I have had a little more time to work on hobby stuff, but taking pictures and posting for me takes longer than I think it will. I'm this close (putting two fingers together) to starting the campaign between Bovatopia and Lavonia. The armies are build and I am finishing up slapping together terrain.

The main topic of this post is to briefly mention my latest purchases. I've hit a few duds recently. I am so disappointed that the first two don't even get a photo included in this post. I suppose the phrase, "buyer beware" applies, but I still think that I am not 100% to blame.

1. British Battleships of the Victorian Era by Norman Friedman
You may or may not be familiar with Mr. Friedman's work on various warships. The ones I have are really good references, and for folks like me who are crazy about deck plans and line drawings of warship and are incredibly useful for building models of them, they are chocked full of them. Photos just don't do it compared to a good side view and top view of a ship. I bought his British Cruisers of the Victorian Era and was pretty happy with it. So, I expected this to be the same with this one...WRONG! There are just two line drawings in the whole book. There are lots of the original deck plans included, many are fold outs, but to me, these are a pain in the ass to figure out what is going with them. Plus, these are photos of the originals....time is never kind to illustrations like these. Was Friedman in a rush to publish this book? Was A. D. Baker not available (is he still alive)? If not, there are a now a gazillion illustrators who could have done the work for pennies. He just had to go onto something like Deviantart.com to find someone. I do have Baker's British Battleships, 1889-1904, so I have a good reference of illustrations.

2. Bug Hunts: Surviving and Combating the Alien Menace (Dark Osprey) by Mark Latham
OK, I guess this one is my fault for not carefully reading description of this book. For some reason, I thought this was a rulebook with a lot of background fluff. The reviews of it seem to point that way. Nope. I am not sure what its supposed to be exactly. It rips off the Aliens and Starship Trooper franchises to describe a future history of various alien bugs and the human fight against them. Its nicely illustrated being an Osprey book. Had I known that it wasn't a set of rules, I wouldn't have gotten it. To this day, I still kick myself for not getting 2-Hour Wargames' Bug Hunt back in the day. It was cheap and probably worth the price.

3. Hail Caesar by Rick Priestley
This one is probably the best of the three. I kept hearing about how great these rules were, so I thought I'd get them and see if I can modify them for fantasy.  Being that I grew up on WRG ancient rules, I am all OK about stats being somewhat generic. If Greek hoplites want to fight dark age Vikings, I'm OK with that.

The rules aren't bad, just sort of "meh," particularly for the price. There wasn't anything in the mechanics that really stood out as new or interesting. Give me good rules over pretty pictures anytime. I also ordered the army list supplement for late antiquity to early medieval. That made up for it a little. I'm not sure if I will keep them or put them up for sale on Facebook.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Let There be Light!




While I was in Chicago for two weeks, my daughter dragged me to JoAnn's Fabrics. Ott Lights were a whopping 50% off! Not only couldn't I resist, but I bought one for my daughter, too. This one is a big step from my old one because it has a larger light. The goose neck will mean I have more flexibility lighting positions and hopefully will hold up longer. My last one's arm became all droopy early on and I had to prop up the arm with a bottle of craft paint.

Also, I got a hold of Bob Cordrey's latest rules. This time on naval wargames:


This is a printed and expanded compilation of some of his rules that he has up on his website. I mentioned them in a old post. I've played his pre-dreadnought rules solo a couple of times and really like them. Of the three rule books of his that I now own, I think I like this one the best.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Still Without Good Lighting

Its USTA Juniors tennis finals season, so my days have been on the road. My daughter did pretty well at the Tennessee state finals. Because of that, she was seeded for the upcoming regional games. What does that mean for gaming? Not much other than we leave Saturday rather than tomorrow. This lowered my blood pressure somewhat. I was rushing all day today trying to get ready, and then I got the news. So I managed to sneak in a little painting between packing and all the other crap I have to do to get ready to go. Packing and be completed tomorrow.

I think I solved my problem with O8 3mm infantry. They are cast in some very hard metal and the infantry come in strips.  It has been next to impossible to separate the tiny dudes without either sending one into orbit or snapping them off at the knees. So, I powered up my old Dremel tool and bought some thin cut-off disks. That did the trick! I ground down the bases between each infantry man enough to easily cut them off with a metal cutter, and they don't go flying off into the unknown!

I am still without good lighting. I borrowed a goose neck lamp from my daughter. Its a small one so it doesn't cover much area in terms of light. Also, it uses an old daylight bulb so its a sickly yellow glow. My local craft store USED to carry lights for craft purposes, but not any longer. I guess all that frew-frew junk is more important. I guess I need to order one, but I am too crazy about shipping charges. Well, with all the upcoming trips this June, I will not be really needing it until maybe July.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

RIP Ott Lamp

Last Thursday night, as I was in the process of finishing up some Cobblestone Castings 15mm Picts, my Ott desk lamb blew up! It didn't really blow up, more like a big belch and then death. The previous two nights it was doing odd power surge things. The light would brighten then dim, then go back to normal. Thursday it continued, then there was a big BURP! sound that came from the power switch box, then nothing. I don't think it was the bulb. That looked fine. I had to finish up the Picts in rather dim light.

I've always had problems painting large areas of exposed skin. I am never really happy with the results. This time, I used a sort of Dallimore method of painting, which I am not too crazy about. To me, they always look like a color-by-numbers painting where the shadows and highlights do not blend much. My guess it that at a certain distance, the eye is tricked into blending the shades together.  Here is the results of my experiment:

The Fury of the Picts!
What I used:

Skin
Base coat: 1 part Army Painter Barbarian Flesh : 1 part Michaels Craftsmart Brown
Middle coat: Army Painter Barbarian Flesh
Highlights: 2 parts AP Barbarian Flesh : 1 part Vallejo Basic Skin tone

Hair
Black, highlighted gray
Very light gray with a black wash

Weapons
Wooden shafts and handles: Burnt Umber
Leather straps: various leather paints that I have
Chert spear points and axe heads: various colors of turquoise, red, and gray. Then either a dry brush highlight and/or black wash, depending on the size and amount of relief on the stone.

Fur Loincloth
Orange-brown craft paint and then black wash

Skulls
Some of them were carrying a skull at their sides. Maybe a bonus for excellence in savagery? Parchment White craft paint and then black wash

Unlike other figures, I was deliberately skimpy on the black wash. I restricted it to the above. I thought about washing them with a final coat of skin tone shade or a mixture of burnt sienna and clear floor wax to make them more tanned. But I decided against it.

Its too bad that Cobblestone didn't do more of his line of Barbarica 15mm figures. I wish he had put out a command pack for these Picts. It would have been nice to have some chieftains and shamans to spur the tribes on.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Bovatopian Mig-21 Fighters

I painted these Tumbling Dice MIG-21 fighters awhile ago and used them to test some air combat rules. Yesterday, I inducted them into the Bovatopian Air Force.


There was no way I was going to manage making the roundels the way I do for my 1/300 scale aircraft, so I took a very fine point drawing marker, made the best circle I could and then filled it in with paint. Its a hit-or-miss method, but it works for me.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Remote-Controlled Air Defense Artillery, Part 2

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

If your remember from last time, I built an MANPADS that was a behemoth and way out of proportion. I decided to give it another go. I used the ASRAD short-ranged missile launcher that is on the German Weisel 2 as a basis:

Source: http://armoredphotos.blogspot.sg/2011/09/leflasys_02.html
This time I very consciously tried to make the weapon system as small as possible to have size exaggeration.

Here is the result:



I made the missile tubes by cutting the styrene rods and then heating up a metal base with a candle. I then lightly pushed the ends against the hot plate. It widen them to look like the ends flare out. I made about eight of them and then picked the best four.

It is still a little bigger than I wanted, but not too bad. My main beef is that the launcher tubes are too far apart from each other on either side. I think that is what makes it look large. I also built a radar vehicle. Here are some shots of them painted.




It was a nice day, so after I had sprayed them a flat clear, I thought I'd take the pictures outside. Pictures show the radar dish as gray.

The missiles are deliberately generic. They can be pretty much any MANPAD.







Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Lavonian Fire Support Vehicles

I ordered some really nice but very fragile FSV version of the Polish RTO Rosomak infantry fighting vehicles in 1/600 scale from Shapeways. They weren't cheap, but I thought I'd take a chance and see what they were like.

Sorry for the bad picture, but here is how they come. You get 10 mounted on sprues:



The plastic used really shows the details, BUT its very brittle. While painting on the primer, a wheel broke off of one. I am very weary about the guns holding up especially when gaming.

Here is what they look like painted up:



The top picture is a comparison with Pico Armor's Rosomak IFV (on left). The Shapeways model is a litttle bigger and the side skirt armor is more extensive.

I messed up a little on the color mixture. I didn't want to spray them Army Green as I was worried the paint would melt the models, even with the acrylic primer.

Nice models, I just hope they don't break.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lavonian Flag and Roundel

Because I have nothing better to do 15 minutes before I teach class:




Monday, April 9, 2018

Battle with a 6 Year Old


Almost seven years ago, I had game with my daughter, who was six. Today, I had a battle with my 6-year old son. To keep the tradition going, I dusted off my 15mm science fiction miniatures. It was a battle between the gray corporate troopers and the shiny sliver cyborgs with their pet red xenomorphs. The cyborgs had the advantage in numbers, so to even things up, the Corporates had a large, missile armed mecha thing. I was too lazy to find my sci-fi terrain, so we just put some brik-a-brac in the middle of the table.

Rules
I used the same rules as the original game back in 2011, but I added a few extra updates:

Movement:
To speed things up:
Humans & Cyborgs: 4"
Xenomorphs and mecha: 6"

Running is still 1D6 added to movement, but xenos can fight after movement.

Shooting:
Same ranges as before.
Mecha's rockets are same range as RPG but gets bast radius of 3"
The mecha gets to shoot twice.

Saving throws:
I added saving throws to the rules.
Cyborgs get a saving throw of a 1 or 2 if hit.
Mecha gets a saving throw of 1, 2, or 3 if hit

Mecha damage:
My son thought this up and I tweaked it:
All mechas have 6 points of damage.
If it fails above saving throw, roll a D6:
1-3 takes 1 point of general damage
4, missile launcher knocked out, in addition to 1 point  of damage
5, a gun is knocked out, in addition to 1 point of damage
6, cockpit is hit, pilot wounded, mecha can't move or fire next turn; 1 point of damage
When damage reaches 6, mecha is destroyed.

Xenomorph control:
These rules don't really have any morale checks, but later in the game, I imposed some for my troops. There was a pre-game "discussion" with my son about the xenomorphs. According to my son, the cyborgs have control over the xenos. I respectfully disagreed. I came up with this rule for control of the xenomorphs, but it was never used.
 During each cyborg turn, roll a D6:
1-5, Xenomorphs obey cyborg orders.
6, Cyborgs loose control.

The bugs will: 1-2, do nothing; 3-4, continue to attack the opposition; 5-6, turn on the cyborgs.

The cyborgs can only regain control on the next turn with a roll of a 6.

The Battle

My opponent holding some of his troops and getting his game face on. T-shirt seems to be apropos for this game:




Starting positions:



Objectives:
There really weren't much. Mine was to recapture the plastic bead storage facility. The cyborgs were to just kill all the humans. The corporate troops split up into two squads that were to go around the storage facility. The mecha was to engage the cyborgs on top of the facility.



Most of the cyborgs were arrayed on top of the plastic bead storage facility:



Cyborg general making his moves:


First squad engages with cyborgs who have a large missile-armed robot with them:



Second squad is attacked by fast-moving xenos. They managed to knock off a few at longer range before being overwhelmed:



Hand to tongue combat begins...



...*nom, nom, nom*...



Not looking good here, either:



Two surviving corporate troops decide its time to scram:



The mecha covers their retreat:



Cyborg general looking pleased. Couldn't quite knock out the mecha despite a hit to the cockpit and the missile rack, but game clearly goes to the bad guys:


Friday, April 6, 2018

1/285 Saab 105 Jets Completed

Here are the two Saab 105 trainers armed and painted up for the Federal Republic of Gambusia. The gun pods look a little better than I thought they would. They are going to be a lot simpler the next time I make them.






Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Busy Night at the Workbench

For the last two weeks, I've had this urge/need/desire to get as much done as possible. Is the Universe trying to warn me about something? Or, maybe its a subtle panic of old age coming on. I found out at a recent eye exam that I am starting to get cataracts. This could explain why I needed a stronger prescription of both reading glasses and distance glasses. I tried bifocals awhile ago and didn't like them. I have going back and forth between various projects.

Last night I completed a couple of things, which I happened to post on various Facebook groups.

3D Printed Fantasy Figures
Except for basing, I finished up my last two 15mm fantasy figures from the Shapeways shop, Small Ox Miniatures. They are 15mm versions of the sculptor's 30mm figures. I am glad I got them when I did because for some reason he recently pulled them from his shop. They are not as detailed as their larger versions, but still not bad. He printed them in some sort of black plastic that is has a very smooth finish. I wish more Shapeways sculptors used this material. First up is the High Elf Dragon Maiden:



Blue armor spoke to me when I saw her. I painted her armor silver and then brushed on a blue glaze. I then went back over some of the raised parts with a light dry-brushing of silver. I am not too happy with the highlighting of the face, however, this is a shot before I applied a coat of clear flat. When I put it on the face, the clear flat rubbed off most of the highlights! This is the first time that this has happened. I reapplied the highlights and I think it looked better.

Next Vampire Lord:


Sorry about the crappy picture. I usually manage better shots than this but I wanted to put it up on one of the Facebook groups and was in a rush to take it before my phone battery went dead. I think he turned out a little better than the Elf warrior. For the armor, I mixed black and a touch of blue with silver. Once dry, I lightly dry brushed it with silver. The face and hands were painted with a mixture of light flesh and gray, which was the same colors I used for that Necromancer I posted back in October. I gave everything a wash of Vallejo dark gray wash. I then went back over some of the skin with a diluted version of the original skin color. He and the Elf will be mounted on metal fender washers rather than my usual thin sheet steel bases. They are so light that they need a little more weight to keep them on the battle field.

1/600 Terrain
I also managed to finish off a bunch of trees and a little house for my Bovatopia campaign. I think the trees are a little more suited for 1/300. They are blobs of polymer clay stuck on some wooden rods that I bought at a craft store. In turn, they are mounted on washers with more clay globbed on to make the base. They are then flocked and sprayed to hold the flock in place. I probably spent more time on them than I planned.

The house was a test piece, proof of concept, so to speak. My goal is not to spend lots of time on 1/600 terrain...its quantity over quality here. The house is a block of balsa wood with a rod of styrene plastic for the chimney. Windows and doors painted on. The roof looks like crap, but again, don't care.

Another quick photo for the 1/300 Facebook group

I had planned on knocking out more little houses last night but I couldn't seem to find my mitre box.

Monday, March 26, 2018

BeeSPutty

Today's mail-order purchase, BeeSPutty:


It's a polymer clay, but sculpts more like a wax than a clay. What does that mean? According to those in the know, you do more carving rather than with regular sculpting clay. It has more "memory" than other modelling materials like Greenstuff. It is also sticky, which means you can affix pieces onto each other better than with conventional clay.

There are some guys on the Facebook 15mm fantasy group who are using it to make figures. Awhile back, I started sculpting faces onto Splintered Light Miniatures' armored ogres. I thought this might do a more detailed job than polymer clay.

Its a lot more expensive ($10 for a 3.5 oz. container) than a comparable amount of polymer clay, and so far the only place in the US where you can buy it is from Bombshell Miniatures.

I bought two containers, one for me, and one for my daughter who has really gotten into making charms out of polymer clay. She has pretty much absconded with my polymer clay. I thought this would be fun for her to try out.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

1/285 Scale Saab 105 and Scratch-Built Gun Pods

It took over a month for me to get it, but I finally got my Shapeways order. I'm not going into the ugly details on how many trips it took to the post office, the time spent both on the internet and on the phone to track down the correct shipping number, but for the price you have to pay, you would think express mail would be faster and smoother than good old US mail. 

Among my purchases were two Saab 105 trainers, one of which is shown below:

Saab 105
They were a pain to separate as they have a pretty thick sprue attaching the two planes. Fortunately, the designer put the sprue at the two plane's bellies. I managed to saw them apart with a razor saw without any damage. As you can see, the plane is blue,but that is a superficial layer of plastic. When I cut the sprue off, the plastic below it is white. I'm not sure what the purpose of the outer blue layer is. The surface is pretty frosty, but I think using gesso or Vallejo's brush-on primer might smooth out some of the graininess. 

Why the Saab 105? If you have not figured it out by now, I like obscure weaponry. There were several variants that were modified for ground attack. Although I can't find the source again, I though I read somewhere that some were used during the various wars in the Congo. The model does have hard points. What the 105 doesn't have are built-in guns. Enter the gun pods....

Gun pods. Ruler is scaled for 1/285

These guys are probably the toughest scratch builds I've made so far...probably tougher than the light machine gun I made that cost me a drop of blood. They are made of styrene rods of 2.0mm diameter that I shaped using an emery board and my little chopper. The hardest part was the gun.  The gun is a very thin wire. I bore a hole in the front end of the pod using a small needle that I heated up with a candle flame (the soot is why parts are black and gray). The wire was glued in with CA-glue and it was very tricky trying to get the wire to be vertically and horizontally true. I'm not sure how successful I was. Once secure, I snipped off most of the wire with one of my older sprue cutters. 

They don't represent any specific, real life gun pods. They are definitely not perfect, but once glued to a hard point and painted, they will look ok. I have plenty other ordinance to mount on my Saab 105s like laser-guided bombs, and rocket pods are pretty easy to make.

I'll get pictures up of the planes when finished. 


Saturday, March 3, 2018

More Federal Republic of Gambusia AFVs

I could have sworn I posted these, but I guess I have not.

The Federal Republic of Gambusia (FRG) has an infantry battalion of made up of more modern APCs than old Saracens. It consists of Canadian 6-wheeled Cougars and Grizzlies. The Cougars have been modified into fire support vehicles and ATGM carriers.




I used the turret from a Scotia-Grendel Stingray light tank for the FSV. The ATGM were scratch built. Unfortunately, they all came out a little different on those. This is the best of them. These were my first conversions that I made when I plunged into modern gaming and I am quite happy with them.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Bovatopia Campaign: Lavonian Units Painted and Based

I've had most of these done for awhile now. The most recent to be finished are the infantry, which for me, is the toughest to do in 1/600 scale. Lavonia is the main opponent to Bovatopia. Although it sounds like a small central European country, there is an actual Lavonia. Its a small town in northern Georgia (as in Georgia, USA; not the Georgia south of Russia) just over the border with South Carolina. We pass by it whenever we are going to my daughter's tennis tournaments in Atlanta.

Leopard M1A1

Polish Rosomak wheeled IVF

Brazilian EE-9 Cascavel AC

Lavonian infantry with supporting Milan ATGM teams