Monday, December 31, 2012

Thoughts on 2012

I had written a long, rambling paragraph that summarized my non-gaming life, but I decided to just focus on my hobby life. Of course, the quantity and quality of the hobby is in direct relationship to what goes on in one's non-hobby life.

Summary of Games Played
D&D: I ended up playing a lot of it this summer. My friend Will was the DM. We managed to get pretty far along on a particular adventure before the fall semester began. The DM and the players all work at the same college. Once its that time of year again, we scatter to our real-world jobs.

Warhammer 40K: I think I played twice this past year. Not a huge fan, but it was still fun.  What makes me somewhat blase about them is the strict adherence enthusiasts to the whole 40K universe, and the price. It also seemed like it took forever to go through a round of play. That is true for a lot of games, especially if you are first trying out the rules, but there seemed to be an awful lot of charts to look up. I noticed that about Warhammer Fantasy, too, when I played it a few times many years ago.

Pz8 Air battle: It almost seems like I played more games with with other people than I did solo! The game was relatively quick and fun. Two criteria that I like. Also significant is that I officially got over my "fear" of gaming on hexes (see below).

AK-47 (1st Edition): I finally got to play a game with some rules I bought. Although we didn't use most of the pre-game procedures, I really enjoyed the game and its mechanics, and it worked just fine for microarmor. I am somewhat curious to know how the second edition differs, but I might hold off for awhile.

Sci-Fi: I managed to get a lot done. My Yogurt Town militia (Khurastan  Miniatures' Sepulvedan Insurgence fighters) is basically complete, at least the troops. I still have to get them some transports. Additionally, I painted up some Felid warriors. I also managed to build a small dwelling. There are still a lot of projects in various stages of completion.

Microarmor: I got a lot done for my Gambusian campaign. It seemed scatter-shot, going back and forth between scenery, miniatures, and game aids. I think I've progressed far enough to were I can start having battles, as shown in my AK-47 game.

28mm Figures: I got a few figures done and completed my biker gang. I think there are now enough sides to make a skirmish game interesting.

What I Have Learned This Year
1. Make the best of the time you have. I got a lot more done than I expected given all the other things going on in my life. I guess if you have very little time, you make the most of what little time you do have.

2. Compromise is good. Sure, I am not a big fan of 40K, but its fun to game with others. I probably need to show a little more enthusiasm.  It seems that Will have I have been alternating between games of choice. I am happy with that.

3. Eyes on the prize. I could have very easily gone off on tangents with my microarmor projects. For example, I had planned to build more river boats. It occurred to me that at this point in time, I didn't need to build more boats. The one I had already built probably won't be used anytime soon. Instead, I focused the best I could on getting terrain and such ready for a first battle in my campaign.

4. Gaming is gaming regardless of the medium. I have to confess that I have been somewhat of a miniature snob when I comes to wargames. Many years ago, I broke away with board games once I discovered miniature wargaming. For some reason, I felt that gaming with miniatures offered more freedom in what you can do than a board game could, plus it looked more aesthetically pleasing. For a long time, I've resisted the notion using hexes or squares to conduct miniature games. It seemed too much like a board game. Well, I've changed my tune, thanks in part to a lot of you out there in the blog world who do use hexes and such for your games. I am now a proud owner of a felt hex mat, and I even tried (unsuccessfully) to make my own. The naval part of my Gambusian campaign will be played on some sort of grid and probably without miniatures. I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up being a paper and pencil sort of game.

5. Steady as she goes, Lad. The last few months, my little brain has been itching with thoughts of starting new projects: American Revolution, and pre-dreadnought naval, just to name two. Back in middle school, I had this obsession (along with all things Tolkien) with the Spanish-American War. Something about those wacky-looking warships... Every so often those dormant synapses fire and I get the bug again. As stated in a previous post, I've often thought of starting up an AWI project. I've gone so far as talking about it to Will. Its tough, but I've managed to hold these urges in check.

6. I don't like gesso.  Gesso as a primer doesn't do it for me. Not enough of a "tooth" as they say in the art world. Plus, I always feel like it will easily rub off the figure.  I still have a big jar of it so I might as well use it, but give me spray primer anytime.

What's Up for 2013?
I don't make New Years' resolutions. I will probably continue on with my current projects. Unfortunately, money is going to be tighter this year regardless of the fiscal cliff. I also hope to get more gaming in, including battles for my Gambusian campaign. Last but not least, I've finally figured out what to do with the Rebel Minis' 15mm Kurgen: SPACE KOBOLDS!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and happy winter solstice! I hope I've covered everyone.

I had a different on this year. Due to my wife's new job, she has to work tomorrow. She had tried to get one extra day off, but it was a big no.  I suppose I shouldn't be annoyed at that, but I am. So, we went up to Chicago for a rather abbreviated holiday celebration. Sunday we celebrated Christmas. Yesterday, we drove back home. It was also different in that this is the first without my father. It didn't totally hit me until I was rummaging through some old storage shelves in my basement and came across the linoleum blocks that my dad craved for block printing Christmas cards.  There were six of them, including one where I had did the design for (it was the worst of the bunch). I wanted to take them home, but I decided to wait until I return in the summer.

Once again, there was no holiday wargame that I keep planning for. But at least this time, I could justify it. There was very little time to do much of anything. I didn't even bother to connect up with Karl (the General). Again, I will shoot for the summer for that one. Besides Karl, my daughter, and my nephews, I might invite my sister's boyfriend to play. I does not seem like the type, but who knows.

So, may all of you who read my blog have a peaceful, joyous holiday. May you get some gaming in, too.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

AK 47 Test Battle

This past Saturday (11/24). I managed to get in some gaming with my friend Will over at his house. Since we had a 40K game the last time we got together, it was my turn to pick. I opted for a microarmor game using AK 47 Republic, first edition. I have to say, IT WAS FUN!

Since time is always limited, we skipped the pre-game stuff. I made up a scenario where French Foreign Legion paratroopers serving in some client state were ordered to go in and clear an area of rebels. Once cleared, the local government troops were then to occupy various villages. Will took some pictures early on in the game, but we got so involved we forgot to take more!

French Foreign Legion Paratroopers (FFL) (Professional)
9 stands of infantry each in an VAB APC
2 stands of 81mm mortars with a VAB APC
1 stand of snipers with a VAB APC
3 AMX 10 RC Armored cars
3 Experimental combat walkers

Local Government Troops (Regulars)
9 stands of infantry each in a truck
1 heavy machine gun stand with truck
1 Recoilless rifle stand with truck

Rebel Scum (Militia)
12 stands of infantry
1 HQ stand
1 81mm mortar stand
3 heavy machine gun stands
2 stands of recoilless rifles
4 T-34/85 tanks
3 recoilless rifles mounted on trucks
2 AA guns mounted on trucks
4 heavy machine guns mounted on trucks
Various pickups and larger trucks to be used for transportation

Foreign Advisors to Rebels (Professionals)
4 stands of infantry each in a RG-32 Scout light vehicle

CNN News Crew
 1 reporter + camera crew in a hired pickup truck.

Rule Modifications
My microarmor is not based according to AK 47 rules. Additionally, Will and I sort of thought some of the rules didn't make sense. Will served as a scout in an armored battalion in the US Army, so he has good insight on things. We made some slight rule modifications, but with one exception, nothing major:

1. Each infantry is stand assumed to have a RPG. Three of the FFL stands were armed with a Milan ATGM. Since there are no rules for ATGMs in AK 47, we said they were recoilless rifles with the range of a towed gun.

2. We found the rule that allows three infantry stands to be transported by a single vehicle to be a little silly, so it was a one-for-one match up of stands with transports. Technicals armed with a weapon of any kind, even just a machine gun could not transport troops.

2. One of every three VAB APCs has a 20mm gun, rather than a machine gun. We counted those as AA guns for combat purposes.

3. Each RG-32 Scout was armed with a machine gun

4. The experimental combat walkers (ECW) were considered armored cars with modern tank guns.

5. We had some conceptual problems with the terrain template rules, especially regarding towns and villages. Our understanding of the rules is that no vehicles can enter a template. Additionally, infantry seemed to be totally protected from heavy weapons of any kind unless they are right at the edge of the template. This brought up a number of questions. What if a road goes through a forest, or through a town? Do you make blocks of buildings in a larger town separate terrain templates? How does it work if you have a single building If you notice, we didn't have roads. So shoot me, I have not made any yet! We decided that vehicles should be able to move and fight in towns with a penalty. 

6. We didn't enforce the 3 stands per unit rule. We allowed all heavy weapon stands and the FFL sniper stand operate independently. We also allowed all technicals on the rebel side to be separate entities. 

7. Speaking of which, the FFL sniper stand was considered small arms, but had the range of a heavy machine gun.  It didn't have collateral damage, either.

7. For movement and range, we used centimeters rather than inches.  

We set up the terrain according to the AK 47 rules. What resulted was what you see in the picture below. In addition to the various villages we had an airport, shown lower left corner of the photo, and a oil refinery/chemical plant (your pick) in the upper right hand corner. Old 5-hour energy drink bottles make nice cracking towers.

Will took the FFL side and I was the rebels. We decided to ignore the late arrivals rule, more to speed up the game than anything else. We diced to see who would set up. The rebels lost the roll. The rebel commander didn't think he had enough units to cover everything, so he concentrated his forces on the main town and villages which were more in the center of the table, and ignored the airport and the chemical plant. The rebel tanks were held in reserve. The French divided their forces into three sectors. The core of each sector was a unit of FFL armored infantry (3 infantry stands in three APCs). The armored units (armored cars and ECWs) supported the center. The local government troops accompanied the left flank (near the chemical plant), and the mortar and sniper units supported the French right flank (near the airport).

Board set up.

View of the airport. Yes, that is an airport.

The game stared off rather slowly. The rebels sat and waited for the enemy to move up. Movement rolls were not in the FFL's favor. A roll of 1 x 3 = not getting very far! At one point, it seems like the local troops were having second thoughts about the operation. Although they were in trucks, they were moving at a speed of 3 cm. The rebels took advantage of this. Once the left flank got close enough, the rebels located at and near the small village opened fire . The French responded with the weapons on thier APCs. These rolls seemed to be in the French's favor. The FFL knocked off a number of rebel stands. However, a brave AA technical managed to take out an APC (troops didn't survive) and suppressed several more. The CNN news team, made a beeline to the forest were they got stuck for several turns before moving to its edge to report on the action.

Approximately turn 4 of the battle. Sadly, last picture we took of the actual battle.
Slightly closer view of the combat walkers.
Meanwhile, the FFL mortar team and snipers occupied a hill across from a hill with the rebel HQ and mortar on it. What followed was an exchange of mortar fire. Like the right flank, the FFL seemed to have a lot of driving issues. The airport runway was the only actual road in the game, and yet, their APCs seemed be be driving by little old ladies on their way to the beauty salon.

In the center, the FFL armored units really took their toll on the rebels that held the main town. Even with the firing penalties they managed to put the hurt on.  Their slow movement was the only thing that was keeping the FFL center in check. The rebels managed to knock out one of the AMX-10s with a recoilless rifle.

As the battle wore on, things started to look bad for the rebels. The professional combat bonuses worked in the French's favor. They knock out the rebel mortar and then started hitting other targets. On their right side, attrition was taking their toll on the rebels in the small village. A bad morale roll send their remainder scurrying. All that was left was the heroic AA technical. Exposed to enemy fire, he kept managing to suppress the French and their lackeys thanks to collateral damage, until finally, he bit the dust.  On the airport side, the FFL finally kicked their APCs into high gear and took off down the runway with plans to make an end-run around the rebels.  In the center, French units were just at the gates of the town.

Then two things happened. First, the rebel T-34s showed up and started firing at the French. Even though they had crappy guns, they were enough to suppress the ECWs. Along with them, the foreign advisors, who were originally headed to the small village near the chemical plant decided to go to the main town. The second thing happened when the remaining French armored cars started mixing it up with the tanks....they rolled doubles! And not high doubles either. High doubles, good; low doubles BAD! The first one was a low ammo penalty, the second was a movement penalty, both on the same turn...ouch! These penalties affect all members of the unit. That meant that the armored cars were vulnerable on the next turn. Not only were there the rebel tanks to contend with, but the infantry in the town were close enough to use their RPGs. Although the FFL still had their armored infantry, there seemed to be hope for the rebels.

Sadly, my phone rang. Prior to getting to Will's house, I stopped at the Super Walmart for a grocery run. My orders were to buy ground pork for chinese dumplings. The wife was wondering when I would be finishing up because they were waiting on the pork. That translated into time to come home.

We will never know how things would play out. It seems like this often happens whenever I have a game. We reach the exciting peak of battle and then its called due to time.

Thoughts About the Rules
As I said in the beginning, I really enjoyed the game. More so than I expected. I've been rather hesitant about using these rules, particularly for my fictional campaign. They seemed a little too generic for my tastes. Once we got into the game, the differences between one type of tank and another did not seem all that important. The rules remind me a little of DBA in that respect. Knights are knights, be it actual knights in shiny armor or heavy cataphracts. This bears out in a number of blogs and websites that have AK 47 AARs. I've seen vehicles ranging from WWI tanks to flying saucers all battling it out in a single game.

The next time we play, we will try to stick more closely to the rules with regards to terrain templates. Thinking about it, the restrictions on vehicle weapons force players to use their infantry to take objectives like towns. Will never bothered offloading his infantry because his other weapons could fire into the towns and villages. It might have been an interesting situation if his infantry were forced to disembark in order to take and secure the towns.

Along with that, we were pretty liberal in terms of what constitutes a heavy machine gun.  We counted all of the French APCs as having heavy machine guns when in reality they are really only armed with light machine guns. If we didn't count the light machine guns, i.e. the APCs are considered unarmed, infantry would get the protection afforded to them by the APCs, but would have to disembark in order to fight.

Centimeters seems a little too short for distances, especially for movement. I might go with 1.5 cm and make my own measuring sticks. That makes it a little over a half inch, which might be a good compromise. 

Last, while setting up the game, the terrain-making wheels in my head quickly began projects!  I will definitely make an airport or two; one more urban, the other a remote airstrip. A chemical plant/oil refinery will also be in the works. A plantation house is also needed. Will placed the lone white building on top of the hill in the first picture and called it the! Finally, I need to get going on some roads.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pork Fried Rice

I am working on a AAR on a AK-47 game I played this past Saturday with Will. He took some pictures, but I am waiting on them before I finish the report. So, as filler, I present to you my recipe for fried rice.

This ain't the stuff you get at Chinese restaurants, this is the real deal. The secret is that there really isn't any set recipe. Chinese rice is an excuse to use up left-overs, however, here is my prototype recipe. It must be OK, because my wife and mother-n-law, both Chinese, think its pretty good:


• At least two cups of cooked rice, preferably Chinese rice. Needs to be
  about a day old; cold, or at room temperature.

• Cooking or light olive oil*

• 1 pork chop or thick slice of ham, diced.

• 3 green onions, diced.

• 1 carrot, diced.

• 1 zucchini, cubed

• 1/2 cup frozen peas

• 3 eggs, well beaten

• soy sauce*

• Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry*

• Ginger root, 3 thin slices, finely chopped (can substitute ginger powder)

• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

• Coarsely ground black pepper

• Red pepper flakes (optional)

*Sorry folks, I never measure these ingredients. I just pour them in until it seems right, but if you must know, about 1 to 2 tablespoons for the soy sauce and sherry.

How to prepare:
First, heat your wok or a deep-lipped frying pan on medium-high and and then add oil, at least 2 tablespoons. While the oil is heating up CAREFULLY swish it around the sides of the wok/pan to coat the sides. Pour in the beaten eggs, but do not mix it in the pan. What you are making is sort of an omelet or egg crepe. When it looks fairly solid, carefully flip it over to the other side briefly and then turn it out onto a plate.

If there is egg stuff still in your wok, clean it out with a paper towel (try not to burn yourself in the process). Egg protein has the nasty habit of sticking to things and messes up anything else you stir fry if its still in the wok. Add more oil, but not as much as for the egg, 2-3 teaspoons is probably enough. When the oil is hot add your ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes. Be careful not to over fry the garlic. Some people don't like its taste. What you are doing is flavoring the oil.

Next add your pork or ham and green onion. If you have time, you can marinade the pork in cooking wine and soy sauce for about an hour. You will have to cook the raw pork longer than the ham. From the time I add the garlic and ginger, I am constantly stirring things with a wooden spatula or wooden spoon.

Once the meat is done, add a little more oil and add in first the carrots, then the zucchini. To speed things up, I often boil the carrots for a few minutes in a small pot of water before I add it to the wok.

Once the zucchini starts to look tender, then add your soy sauce and sherry. I then add the frozen peas. Once the peas looked cooked, then I add the rice. Your rice will be all clumped together, especially if its Chinese short-grained rice, so you need to chop up your rice before you add it to the wok. Again, keep stirring everything. If you hear some sizzling at the bottom of the wok that is your rice getting toasted and crunchy. If you don't like that, you need to make sure you keep turning over everything. You'll know the rice is cooking when it seems to be softening and looks sort of shiny. If it looks too dry, you can add a small amount of water or chicken stock to it, but be careful not to turn it all into a big, soggy mush.

Finally, chop up the egg into coarse pieces on the plate and carefully fold it into your rice mixture. You want to avoid disintegrating it in the mixture. It is now ready to serve.

If you want your fried rice to look more like what you get at a Chinese restaurant, take two more eggs, beat them and pour the mixture over the rice while quickly stirring the rice. The egg will coat the rice and cook onto it.  I am not sure if that is how they do it at Chinese restaurants, but it seems to  give the desired effect.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Delta Vector's Review of FFT3

For awhile, I've been tempted to write up a review of the latest edition of Fist Full of TOWS, but  this review is spot on! Very thorough and goes though every aspect of the rules. My only comment would be that he didn't compare the third edition to the previous version, but it sounds like reviewer never had the full blown previous edition. Check it out on the Delta Vector blog.

Progressing Along

 Having more-or-less chosen Fist Full of TOWs 3rd Edition as the rules to fight my fictional 2nd Chalupastan War, I wanted to make my life and/or an opposing player's life easier when playing the game. I am in the process of making stat cards for easy reference. Its been a slow process, but I am close to done for at least the first battle. Here is a sample of a FFT3 stat card:

 I am printing these out and gluing them onto index cards. I thought about using a photo of the miniature for each card, but its being printed out on a B & W laser printer. I use a few photos for vehicles that I can't find profiles for, but I don't feel like taking a lot of pictures just for these cards (more like I don't have the time).

In other news, I have had almost no time to do much painting or terrain construction. I started working on a 1/300 scale outdoor market, but lately, my mother-in-law has been going to bed earlier than usual, so I have no access to my workbench.  Also, I've got a whole mess of South African Mambas that are awaiting to be primed and painted. I am counting on Thanksgiving break to get more done.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Some Friends of Karl's and Bambi's

I finished several more biker gang members for the multi-player, post-apocalyptic skirmish game that I keep planning to have some Christmas holiday. I don't know if its me, or the figures, or both, but my painting skills have really gone down the tubes!  Compared to Karl and Bambi, they didn't come out that well.

First up is Zeke:

Zeke is the gang's mechanic. More muscle than brains. He was a heroclix henchman that I repainted.

Next is Gabby:

Gabby is a reluctant member of the gang. The gang found her wandering the desert, the lone survivor of a Greyhound bus that was attacked by sinister forces. She is often scared of the events that occur but manages to fight her way out of things. I didn't intend for her to look freaked out, but it seems to fit her. Again, another heroclix

Last is Caleb:

Caleb is the self-appointed leader of the gang. He speaks few words, but there is a mystic-like aura about him that makes everyone obey his orders. Originally, Karl was the leader, but Caleb's arrival changed all that. Secretly, Karl would jump at the chance to usurp him, but knows he holds too much sway over the gang. Even Bambi seems memorized by his words.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fire Support Vehicles

Last week, I attended the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting. It was a great time, especially since I didn't present anything. The down side was that my baby boy sent me off with a bad head cold! I'm sure my poor roommate now has it.  So, nothing hobby-wise got done. However, I had some recent pictures that I decided to post.

In addition to taking the pictures seen in the previous post, my daughter and I used her iPad to try some closeup shots of microarmor. I was pretty impressed. I focused on some of the fire support vehicles that Southern Chalupastan has in its arsenal.

First up is an old M36B1 tank destroyer. It is armed with a 90mm gun. GHQ has both versions. I decided to get the B1 version with the Sherman hull just because it looks distinct. The M36 was used well past WWII, into even the 90s, so I felt justified in including it as a holdover from the First Chalupastan War.

The next two are also by GHQ. They are the M56 Scorpion and the M50 Ontos. 

M56 Scorpion
The M56 was an open, air-portable, self-propelled anti-tank gun. It served in Vietnam, but was replace with the more effective M551 Sheridan. These, too, are holdovers from the First Chalupastan War.

Last but certainly not least, is the M50 Ontos. Its armed with six 106mm recoilless rifles. I seem to have a soft spot for oddball AFVs. Also, it seems like they are on display all over the place. I've seen more than one. They were supposed to be anti-tank weapons, but they were used more for  anti-infantry fire support in Vietnam, where they were well liked. As much as I like them, putting them together was a major pain! Fortunately, GHQ provided a few extra RRs in case you mess up. I didn't need them, but I could see them being needed.

The backstory on both the M50 and M56 is that they were rushed from the U. S. A. to Southern Chalupastan as stopgaps. The South was taking a beating and there was enough holdovers from the Vietnam War to quickly ship over. Both being airportable didn't hurt either.  Not included in their arsenal of FSVs is the M551 and the Ratel 90 FSV,  I'll get around to taking pictures of them sometime.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Old 25/28mm Figures and a Camera Test

Left: Citadel dwarf, Middle: Ral Partha Magician, Right: Essex knight

My daughter recently got a iPad for her birthday from her grandmother. We decided to try out the camera on some figures. You be the judge on how well they turned out. Other than crop and reduce the file size, I did no Photoshop magic on them.

I brought these three oldsters back with me from Chicago this past summer. I know the manufacturers, but have no idea what the catalog numbers are on these. I am pretty sure that the Ral Partha magician was out of a set. No, that's not highlighting on his sleeves and chin, he's just pretty banged up.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Hobbit's Second Breakfast

I missed Talk Like a Pirate Day. I didn't forget, I just didn't the time and was not in the mood to talk like a pirate. But, I don't plan to miss today's  The Hobbit Second Breakfast day! Its in honor of the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. The website even has suggestions for the menu. At 11 am, I think I will grab an extra english muffin and toast (ha!) the wonder that is Tolkien's fantasy world!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

!st Armored Division: 1st Royal Guard Dragoons

Like the Royal Guard Cuirassiers of the 1st Armored Division, the Royal Guard Dragoons are the best of the best, and get the best of the best as far as weapons go. After many evaluations including all-expense paid trips to various global arms fairs and weapons contractors by the top brass and defense ministers, it came down to the AIFV a.k.a the YPR 765, versus the Italian VCC 80, better known as the Dardo IFV. It was a tough choice, but the Dardo won out for several reasons. First, it has a higher power/weight ratio.  Lots of soft ground on the mini-continent of Gambusia, so that is an advantage. Second, although both have a 25mm gun, the Dardo can be upgraded with two TOW ATGMs mounted on either side of the turret (Dardo HITFIST). The AIFV ATGM is a separate, purpose-built TOW launcher (known as the YPR 765 prat) that lacks the gun turret. It is very similar to the US M901 ITV. Southern brass decided to have have the added firepower of both the 25mm gun and the ATGMs in one vehicle. The Southern Chalupastan Army has only recently embraced ATGMs, so they were reluctant to spend money on a purpose-built ATGM AFV. Third, the Dardo has a purpose-built mortar carrier. The YPR 765 has a version that only tows a mortar. Although Northern Chalupistan is a long-standarding threat to the South, all of the current combat operations to this point have been against rebels in the Central Highlands province. Mortars are used in close support of infantry rather than as long range artillery, so its better that the mortar and its crew be protected, and have the ability to quickly scoot if things got rough.

In miniature terms, only Heroics & Ros makes the Dardo. Several companies make the AIFV. Unfortunately, H&R makes only the the basic model. Here are the Royal Guard Dragoons on parade:

 It was easy to make the HITFIST version. Taking styrene square rods (square that possible?), I cut out the box-like TOW launchers of the appropriate length, and then glued them to the sides of the turret.

It was hard to get the TOW launchers perfectly lined up, but they don't look too bad from a distance.

The mortar carrier version of the Dardo is more of a problem. First, I have yet to find a good picture of one, let alone any sort of diagram to work from. Second, I am not sure how to even begin grinding away at a metal figure to get a square bathtub to hold the mortar. With my luck, it would look like a mess. I don't even know if its square; it could be round. So, I cheated and got some Argentine VCTP(M) mortar carriers from Scotia-Grendel as stand ins. Other than being tracked, they don't look anything like a Dardo, but they will do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Big Ugly Dude

As I mentioned in a post in early August, I went back to Chicago to visit family and to pick up a bunch of things. Along with my collection of board games, I brought back some figurines that I had painted, including this guy:

I can remember everything about him except who made him. I got him out of a bargain bin at a Little Wars convention. He was in among a number of other 25mm fantasy figures, including some Empire of the Petal Throne guys. He is clearly a step up, painting-wise from my Fellowship of the Rings beginnings. He was also done at the time when I switched from enamels to acrylics.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Unpainted Figure Cries Out in Anguish

15mm Orc stoically awaits painting while Loctite superglue looks on in sympathy

Monday, September 3, 2012

Does This Ever Happen to You?

The above title sounds like the beginning voice over for an ad for some sort of Made for TV product, but its fitting for my brief rant. Recently, I took advantage of GHQ's latest special deal that they offer. You buy $50 or more of figurines and you get 15% off. There were a few things that I really wanted to get. They've been coming out with a number of South African AFVs that I really like. There wasn't enough to make the $50, so I added a few other things to the order. To make a long story, short, when my order came I discovered that I already had some of the items from previous orders!  They aren't figurines that I need in large abundance, either.

As I rifled through my storage boxes looking to see if there were any more duplicates, another thing I discovered was that there were pieces of microarmor that I either couldn't identify what they were, and/or couldn't identify the manufacturer that made them. I've never been known as Mr. Organization, but I've always been pretty good at remembering what something was. I guess my memory is going. 

So, I decided to make an inventory of all my figurines. It doesn't matter what stage of production they are in: unpainted, painted, based, etc. I'm going to start with the microarmor and then move to other collections. Good thing there are spread sheets. I am also going to aggressively label my boxes. I have in the past, and most or my WWII stuff is labeled, but I have not gotten around to labeling a lot of the modern stuff. I am not sure how long this is going to take, but its like periodically cleaning your workbench. You don't really want to to do it, but it needs to be done.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1st Armored Division: Royal Guard Cuirassiers

Whereas I have been putting up posts of buildings and such for my Gambusian campaign, I have not posted any new pictures of the combatants involved in quite awhile. I am going to try to post more pictures of the various microarmor I have painted up and are awaiting battle. I will post them as units when possible.

First up is Southern Chalupastan's 1st Royal Guard Cuirassiers battalion. There isn't a 2nd Royal Guard Cuirassiers, however, its good to number your battalions. They belong to the 1st Armored division. The 1st Armored Division is Chalupastan’s elite fighting unit. The most modern weapons and equipment are given to this division. Recruits are picked from only the most loyal Chalupastani subjects. As a way to maintain a high espree des corps, some of the battalions formally go by older cavalry regiment names.

The1st Royal Guard Cuirassiers is armed with the Brazilian EE-T2 Osorio tank. A brief history for a tank with a brief history can be found here: Wikipedia. Sadly, no one ever bought it, not even the Brazilian Army. Even though it never went much beyond the prototype stage, it lives on in the arsenals of Southern Chalupastan. The real reason is because Scotia Grendel sells them, and I thought, "these are cool." I bought a bunch without knowing that there isn't a whole lot of stats that can be gleaned out there concerning them particularly relating to their armor. But, they are different, and different is good. The back story is that Southern Chalupastan has always had a good relationship with Brazil, and have purchased a number of arms from them. They needed a MBT upgrade from their M-48s. The Osorio seems to have a good punch with its French GIAT G1 120-mm smoothbore gun and more modern composite armor than the older tanks. When it comes time to use them, I will have to make up their armor stats.

The 1st Royal Guard Cuirassiers lined up for inspection

For all my AFVs, those with radio antennae and/or tank commanders are considered HQ tanks. Here are some close ups of the HQ Osorios:

"Look Bob, there's something on the road! Shoot it!"

"Its quiet out there...too quiet."

Friday, August 10, 2012

15mm Sci-Fi Small Dwelling

I slapped together a small dwelling for my sci-fi adventures in Yogurt Town.

I used the container from a Kraft Foods Lunchable. It is made from styrene, so plastic modelling glue works well on it. One lunchable will give about three separate containers once you cut them out. The door was cast from Durham's Water Putty and featured in a  previous post. The air conditioning unit, or whatever it is on the roof is a juice bottle lid. I made the poorly-squared window by cutting out the frame from sheet styrene and then inserting a piece of plastic embroidery mesh for the bars of the window. I couldn't decide what to paint the dwelling, so I just did it in grey. I have not decided on whether or not to base it. One thing about the lunchable container is that its walls are very thin. It is easy to move around on the gaming table, and anything you glue on it may pop off if the walls are flexed. So before I started on the outside, I filled the container with Durham's Water Putty. It took a few days because I did it in layers. To reduce the amount of putty I needed, I waded up some aluminum foil into a ball and stuck it in before filling it up with the putty. When dried, the walls no longer flexed and it is heavy enough to stay put on the gaming table.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Interesting Introspection

Danjou's Hand, over at his blog Tabletop Diversions has a good, introspective post on what I often ponder, especially in light of where I am at in life: link
 Its worth checking out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Border Crossing Part 3: Gate House Completed

Sorry for the really bad photos, but I was in a rush:

The guard house and sandbags are all out of polymer clay. Keeping with Gambusian architecture, the roof looks like a lot like an acorn. But wait! Its not! I couldn't find a small enough acorn cap that was intact, so I made it out of polymer clay.

Don't be fooled by any tutorial that tells you sandbags are easy to make. I never glued my figures together so much as I have making those sandbags.  I swear, I will never do sandbags again! Compared to the those on the watchtower made by C-in-C, they are way over scale. But I couldn't seem to make them any smaller using polymer clay. 

The gate is made out of various pieces of styrene plastic. I made it so it will raise and lower.

Now I am one step closer to fighting battles between Northern and Southern Chalupistan.

Quick Update

Again, no pictures (booo!!!). July disappeared pretty fast, and August looks to be the same. Last week, I was visiting family in Chicagoland. I got rid of....I mean sent my Aunt-in-Law and her granddaughter back home to China via United Airlines. My main purpose of the trip was to go through all of my stuff that is still at my mother's house.

I sold off my collection of sci-fi books, and brought back a lot of board games. I did manage to play a game of Avalon Hill's Richthofen's War with my daughter and two nephews. It was a little too complex for my daughter and younger nephew, but it managed to be a fun game. It was an all-German free-for-all. My older nephew and I took rather mediocre planes, whereas my daughter and younger nephew got Fokker D-7s, which is the best plane in the game. Guess who one?

I also found a few old rule books. One of was GDW's System 7 Napoleonics. For two years, I went to Illinois State University, which was in Normal, Illinois. Normal was also home of Games Design Workshop. Back in the day, you could go to their office and buy their rules. I also bought the counters that went with them, but it seems like I lost them long ago. I also found Air Power by Lou Zocchi. As I recall, I tried it a few times and then ended up concatenating it with Fletcher Pratt's Naval rules to improve the air part of my naval games. 

Finally, I started to go through my father's things, namely his woodworking tools. My mother told me to take whatever I wanted, but when I stood there in his workshop, I felt like I didn't want to disturb anything; I didn't want to remove anything. Except for the extra dust, it looked like it was ready to be used at any moment. Mortality really hit home when I saw that there were some projects still left at various stages of completion. Our creations are our legacy, but time is too short to complete all the things we want to do.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Busy July

This post isn't meant to just post something for July........OK, I lied, it really is.

July has been super hectic. Not to go into details, but the culmination of stress by in-laws occurred last week on our nightmare vacation to Florida. What went wrong did. This weekend, I take two of them to the airport to go home. That should relieve some of the stress that both my wife and I have been experiencing (this has been a good case of "careful what you wish for"). I had a  bunch of other activities going on, sadly, two of which were funerals. I have managed to get a few hobby-related things done, I just have not had the time to take some pictures.

1. Found the missing hatch. Actually found by a niece-in-law. That partially makes up for her almost daily temper tantrums that we have had to endure.

2. Finished the border crossing. Once again learned that making sandbags in 1/300 scale is a major pain.

3. Got a big order in from Heroics & Ros and C-in-C to make up a modern Australian reinforced mechanized infantry battalion. I've primed them, now I need to paint them. Heroics & Ros' Australian Bushmaster is pretty nice looking. I am still deciding if GHQ's modern Chinese will be good stand-ins for Australian infantry.
4. Finished a small house for 15mm sci-fi using one of the scratch-built doors I posted on earlier.

Pictures of some and/or all will be up sometime soon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Case of the Missing Model Piece

One of my recent purchases was Khurasan's 15mm Federal Army DIMOG Armorsuit Mk 2. I wanted to beef up Yogurt Town's militia. The model consists of a number of pieces, one of which is the door shield that makes up the front of the driver's compartment:

 When I was ready to spray it with primer, I couldn't find that door shield.  I looked everywhere. After giving up the search, I tried making one out of thin styrene plastic. It wasn't great, but it was serviceable. I took the model, along with some other minis, outside to spray, sprayed them, and then put them in a small box I use to transport minis to and from where I spray. Last night, I sat down to paint and assemble the Armorsuit. Guess what? The home made door shield is now missing! Tiny, individual 6mm infantrymen that were sprayed along with it were all accounted for, but a 12mm x 7mm bent piece of plastic is not. I could have sworn I put it in the box along with the other figures I sprayed. I'm not really in the mood to make another one. I spent a lot of time putting the thing together, particularly pinning the arms and legs to to the body.  I'll take a look outside where I did the spraying, but I wouldn't surprised if I don't find it. Is this some sort of sign?  *GRUMBLE*

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dark Elf Lizard Riders

You who are reading this should know, wargamers cannot focus on a single project for any great length of time. If there is some sort of deadline, we can force ourselves to complete a project, but otherwise, we often hop from one thing to another. In my case, I've somehow managed to squeeze in a lot of hobby time. However, its been a whole bunch of different projects. A lot has to do with a big influx of several orders that have arrived. In order:
1. discovered that a bunch of tiny acorn caps that would have been perfect for completing the guard house at my border crossing outpost were all broken. I stared at the whole thing for awhile and then moved on to #2.
2. made a quickie building to showcase my science fiction door from the last post. ;)
3. primed and are at various stages of painting a whole bunch of figures from Splintered Light, Khurasan Miniatures, and Rebel Miniatures.
4. Started to put together a Khurasan Miniature Federal Army DIMOG armored suit. Its construction is a little more work than I expected and will be the subject of a later post.
5. finally finished painting some Splintered Light Dark Elf Cavalry.

I'm not sure if I did them justice. I leave that up to you, the viewer:

The riders and the lizards come in two different poses. For the lizards, there is a trotting pose and a running pose. For the riders, there is a male and a female. I've had these figures for probably over a year now. They are really well sculpted, but I could not figure out how I wanted them to look, especially the riders. I've never cared for the D&D version of Dark Elves with their blue skin and white hair. Dark Elves always reminded me more of Michael Moorcock's elf-like beings, particularly from his Corum trilogies. I have a big historical background to them, but that is for a later blog, maybe. I decided to do husband and wife teams. Each team has a different color armor. The lizards are painted pretty conservatively. When I get another batch, I might loosen up some and paint the head and body plates a different color than the skin. I will mount them two to a base.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Will it be: door #1, door #2, or door #3?

I can't seem to decide how I want my little 6mm guard house to look like, I turned to making doors for my 15mm sci-fi world. The only 15mm building that I made so far was a sort of outpost structure made from an upside down yogurt container. I need to make some small dwellings.  Doors take a lot of work to make.  Here is a fairly simple-looking one that I made from styrene plastic:

"For Sale" signs from Walmart.are a very cheap source of styrene plastic. They come in two thicknesses: thin and very thin. I cut out the various pieces and glued them together with liquid glue. The box sitting on the right frame of the door is supposed to be an entry keypad with screen.

There was no way I was going to make the same door over and over, so I decided to use this as the prototype and make some copies. Enter Instant Mold:

It came out about a year ago. Some folks complained about the price. I can't remember how much I paid for it, but I didn't think it was that awfully expensive. Besides, it is reusable. Some people claim that its the same thing as what is called Friendly Plastic.  Nope, not true. Many years ago, I used Friendly Plastic extensively on a craft project for a school organization, this is NOT Friendly Plastic! Yes, it does soften up in hot water, but that is where the similarity ends. Friendly Plastic hardens into a fairly tough, brittle material, Instant Mold is more flexible. Unless they've reformulated the stuff, I cannot see using Friendly Plastic to make molds with.

So, I made a nice mold using the Instant Mold. The next step was to decide what to cast the door in. I used three materials. The first I did in Super Sculpey Firm. This is a new product by the folks at Polyform. Its an improved version of their Super Sculpey. Its rather expensive, but I think that it will live up to what they advertise.

The second casting was using Liquitex thick artist's acrylic. In this case Raw Umber. I'm not sure what possessed me to use that; I thought I'd give that a try.

The third casing medium used was Durham's Water Putty. This is the same material that the Solipsist Gamer uses regularly for his projects. I am no stranger to Durham's. It is often used to mold and add to fossil specimens. Many years ago, I made a large hill using this stuff.  However, his use of Durham's for making relatively finely detailed casts made me consider it. 

Here is the results of the three. All three were made using the same mold:

And the winner is.....Durham's Water Putty!  The Super Sulpey gave better detail, and had the advantage of being able to go in and score out the buttons on the keypad before sticking it in the oven, but lost out because it warped when I pulled it out of the mold. There is no way to reshape it back to the way its supposed to look. The acrylic paint did not fill the mold very well and left a lot of voids, plus I had to add several layers, waiting over night for the previous one to dry. The water putty cast came out with no bubbles. It also reproduced detail well and there was no warping. The fast drying time was also a bonus.

I'll probably use the Sculpey one on a building, but I will start cranking out the Durham's Water Putty ones for most of my buildings.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Border Crossing Part 2: Compound Completed

This weekend, I had planned to have a sci-fi skirmish game. Although my order of starship crew from Splintered Light Miniatures came in, I didn't get beyond priming them. I did, however, get a big chunk of my border crossing done, namely the compound that has the customs office and watchtower.  In the previous post, I had completed the two structures (custom's house and watchtower), and I build the fence. I then painted the fence and lightly painted the base:

As I said in the previous post, I wanted a chain link fence, but settled for this. I then added barbwire around the top of the fence:

I made them by coiling very thin wire around a small drill bit and then trimming it to size. The big pain was gluing it to the top of the fence. Most of the time, more stuperglue was on my fingers than on the fence! The results ain't pretty, but it will due fine at a distance. Once done, I finished the ground cover by adding some fine-grit acrylic paste. I just dabbed it here and there. Once dry, I painted most of the ground brown and a path sandstone.  I then mixed up a little black paint with some Future floor finish and painted both the ground and the fence. Finally, I painted the ground with some flat finish and added a little flocking here and there.

Once all was dry, I glued the house and watchtower to the base:

The custom's office is now open for business:

WW2 Germans pay a call on the custom's office

Stay tuned for part 3. I hope to finish things up with a small guard house complete with gate.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Computer-Moderated Gaming

I started working on my annual PDP (Professional Development Program). It’s a long and dull report on what wonderful things I’ve done over the school year and what I hope to accomplish during the upcoming school year…my thoughts, hopes and dreams for a brighter academic future. Or at least the future my want me to have. Naturally, my attention wandered to the internet, where I read a short post on the Solo Nexus blog concerning gaming apps. That got me wondering once again, why haven’t computer-moderated games ever took off? There seems to be only a handful companies that make them, and there is relatively few postings on the Computer Moderated Rules message board on The Miniatures Page. Fort purposes of discussion, I am using TMP’s definition that is: any software that aids miniature wargaming. I am not including rules that are in PDF format.

During my wargaming career, which spans from about 1976 to Present, I’ve encountered computer-moderated gaming (CMG) twice. First, and probably the most extensive use, was at a small gaming convention at the University of Kansas back in 1997. Some Army officers from Fort Leavenworth (its more than just a federal prison, folks) came up with this really cool fantasy CMG and were beta-testing it at the convention. It worked for land, naval, and skirmish combat. Not only did it resolve combat, but kept track of units in terms of casualties and morale. I got to play the land massed battle and the naval battle games. They seemed to work really well. Even though I didn’t always get the results I wanted, it didn’t bother me that I didn’t get to roll any dice. The second time was while playing a game of Warhammer 40K. My opponent had an app on his iPhone that had all of the stats for various troop types. He was able to download those stats that we needed for the game, which sped up having to look for them in a book. He also had a dice rolling app, which didn't seem to be any speedier than physically rolling dice.

Over the years, I have toyed with the idea of making my own computer moderated game rules, but my programming knowledge is still stuck back in the days of Fortran and Basic, and I was never any good at it. I've tried to enlist my wife, who does those programming sorts of things, but she never seemed particularly enthusiastic about it. Recently, at a local bookstore, I saw a book in the computer section on how to make your own computer fantasy role-playing games using Visual Basic. It was aimed at teenagers. My problem is that I am a Mac person and there does not seem to be a lot of readily available (and free) languages out there for Macs.

I thought up of some possible reasons why CMG has never really caught on:

1. Rules designers and computer programmers* are not mutually inclusive.

2. It does take a lot of time to design and program* something. Development tools like Visual Basic probably speed things up a lot, but its still a lot of work. I imagine it would be like making a large database program.

3. Time is money. Paying someone to develop a computer program* would probably be too expensive for most rule designers. Revenues from the rules may not pay for the programmer.

4. Its probably much more difficult to edit or modify newer editions of a set of rules if they are a computer version rather than a written version.

Any thoughts on this? If you had a choice between a set of rules that were exclusively a computer application, or in a book, and both cost about the same, which would you pick?

*I know that we no longer use the term "programmer," and I know they are no longer called "computer programs," nor do we use the verb "to program," but the last time I took a computer science course was back in 1987 when terms like these where used. So shoot me, I'm techno-terminologically challenged!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Border Crossing Part 1: Border Guard Compound

I have been trying to come up with a border crossing between Southern Chalupastan the Federal Republic of Gambusia. This is an area of heavy rebel activities, and I wanted a border checkpoint that is somewhat fortified. Google was not much help in terms of what such a border crossing would look like, so I decided to wing it.  Here is my work in progress.

At first I wanted a solid wall compound, but I decided to go with a fence. I wanted a chain link fence. I couldn't figure out how to make a convincing one in 1/300 scale so I settled with this:

Some Irregular figures are shown for scale. The fence is made with a plastic mesh used for embroidery or something like that. I glued them to a piece of a left-over paint stirring stick. I sanded down the edges and then cut grooves along the four sides to hold the mesh better.

Within the fence will be the customs office and a watchtower:

The house was a quickie-build out of cardstock. The watchtower is from C in C. Its a nice model complete with a ladder and sandbags, but it was sort of bear putting it together and is not exactly level!   This is how they will look inside the fence:

 Not a lot of room, but I didn't want a large complex.  The nice thing about the fence is that you can see the house a little better than if it was a solid wall.

Shortly after I glued together the fence, the helpful folks over at the Angel Barracks forum for 6mm wargaming pointed out that N-scale, photo-etched chain-linked fences are available....D'oh! Well, FYI if I build another fenced in compound.

In the next installment(s) of this project, I will paint the fence, put in the ground and then work on a smaller, roadside guardhouse with a gate.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Crew of the Invidia

From left to right: Kali, Bart, Glud, Lady Goo Goo, and XRT-93

I've been putting together a game using Street Fight skirmish rules, which you can get for free from the Lady Goo Goo was last seen fighting off xenomorphs who were attacking Yogurt Town. It hard to believe that was almost a year ago! I decided she was the captain of the star freighter, Invidia. Her crew members are Kali the shuttle pilot, Bart the navigator, Glud the ship's "heavy," and XRT-93 the engineer. I am in the process of working up a rival gang.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Why Haven't You Started That Period?"

This evening was a wash hobby-wise. I had planned to work on some Gambusian campaign stuff. Instead, I took my daughter to swim practice, followed by dinner, followed by planting strawberry seedlings at 7:00 in the the rain. Long story, but I had to get that done and over with or I'd never hear the end of it.

So, by the time I checked over my daughter's homework, played a little with son (as much as one can play with a two-month-old), and answered a number of annoying work-related emails, it was too late for anything. Additionally, my mother-in-law is using the "Soldier Room," as my daughter calls it, as her bedroom, and she likes to retire early. Its 10:10 PM and I should be making up a lab exam for tomorrow. Instead I've been reading the various postings over TMP. There is an interesting post on the message board: "Why haven't you started that period?"  It got me thinking about projects past, present, and potential, and why I continued with some and not others.  Here is my list in roughly chronological order of various projects over the years with very brief status for each. I will try to make it as painless as possible:

1. Fanatasy/medieval 25mm. Began in the 70s and collected a lot until the mid 80s, or whenever Ral Partha went out of business. As much as I loved painting them, they were getting too expensive to build large armies, and I really didn't have the space to game with them. Had a few battles over the years. Now sit in storage in my parents' home.

2. Napoleonics 15mm/20mm. Started with 15s in the 70s; ended up with 1/72 Arfix. Never collected enough for a decent game. Interest died out by the time I graduated high school.

3. WWII Microarmor. Started in the 70s and I am still actively collecting and painting, however, I have not had a game in several years. I have a pretty good collection of American, British, and Germans. More recently, I started on the Soviets, but have not worked on them much.

4. WWII Naval 1/2400. Started in the 70s and was very active until the early 90s. Built most of my own ships! Had many epic sea battles in school parking lots on weekend with friends. Never really lost interest, but no one to game with. A number of new rules out there occasionally tempt me.

5. Fantasy/medieval/ancient 15mm. As I was burning out on 25mm, I turned to 15mm and never looked back. I am not as actively working on them lately as I used to, but I have probably about five different armies, maybe 10 if I use DBA or HOTT rules. Over the years, I've played a number of games. I don't expect to ever tire of them.

6. Modern microarmor. Twenty years ago, I swore I'd never be interested in modern (post-WWII) warfare. I take back my words. I started about five (?) years ago, and have grown more and more interested. I have no clue what got me interested, but here I am.

7. Modern air combat 1/300 & 1/600. Grew out of my interest in modern microarmor.

8. Modern naval 1/600 & 1/6000. Again, grew out of my interest in modern microarmor.

9. WWII 15mm.  I started collecting and painting them about eight years ago. I thought they'd be more visually appealing than microarmor. Yes, they are, but then I remembered why I gave up 25mm fantasy and medieval figures. The same reasoning seemed to hold with these.

10. Sci-fi ground combat 15mm. Very recent; maybe the last year or two. OK, why these when I gave up WWII 15mm? I blame all these 15mm companies and their great figures that they continue to put out. Besides, I don't feel like have to put large numbers of troops on the field to have a sci-fi game.

11. Sci-fi/post-apocalyptic skirmish 28mm. I keep planning to have this multi-player game during my holiday visits back to the Motherland (Chicago). I keep forgetting to bring the figures with me, but I keep painting up new figures for the occasion when I remember to bring them.

Projects I have yet to start or never started:

1. Starship combat. In college, when not playing D&D, we would play various boardgames. There were a number of starship combat games that we liked to play. I am also a sucker for epic space battles, both on the silver screen and in science fiction novels. I think about it a lot lately, especially in conjunction with my 15mm sci-fi.

2. American Civil War/American War of Independence.  I've always enjoyed reading up on the history of these two comflicts. When I was into boardgames, two of my favorites were Avalon Hill's Gettysburg, and 1776. I think what's holding me back is just the idea of starting another project, both in terms of time and money. I would definitely want to play these at the regimental or brigade level. Recently, I bought some Civil War ironclad naval rules. I'm tempted to build my own ships, like I did for WWII. I reason that they'll be a lot more simple and faster to build than WWII ships.

H-m-m. I can't think of anything else.  I am sure that many of you out there are like me: moving from one period to another. I'd be interested in hearing how far your interests meander and where you've taken your meanderings.