Friday 30 August 2019

Lunch break MDF building - Dave's Wargames

Needed a brief sanity break from computers, so I spent my lunch break putting together one of Dave's Wargames' 15mm Normandy buildings I picked up a couple of Herewards ago. His buildings (in both 15mm and 28mm) are available from his eBay store, or from The Sleeping Dragon Hobby Shop, who by a useful coincidence will be at the show this Sunday.

Nice kit - pretty much the perfect compromise between MDF tabs so loose they won't stay together without quick-setting glue, elastic bands and swearing, and fitting so tight you have to force them. These are for the most part a pretty perfect interference/press fit, which means that a lot of joins will hold themselves together till the glue dries. (Sarissa run the next closest - a lot of their tabs are unfortunately just a hair too tight, meaning you either need to apply a fair bit of force, file them down (which usually results in them becoming sloppy) or risk the top 'skin' of the MDF delaminating if you don't force it exactly right.)

Also? The neatest designed MDF house chimney I've come across - three layers that fit together to form a square chimney with an actual hole - basically, the middle layer has two 'fingers' to form the sides, the other two are solid to form the ends. AND the house has a chimney breast!

Full marks (and this is a big bugbear of mine when folks get it wrong) for making the building floors big enough to hold a Flames of War medium base. Some companies, who should know better, don't, often because they downscale from 28mm to 15mm and don't think about it.

The one real irritation is that one pair of roof cross-supports was missing. Whether this is a design flaw or I just managed to lose them sometime in the past two years, I dunno - there certainly wasn't space for them on the sprue. The design of the rest actually meant that the small triangular ones were enough to hold it to shape, but it would have been nice to have the lower down cross-pieces (see arrow on diagram) to hold it a bit stiff and plug the holes. The latter I achieved by filling them with some tabs salvaged from bits of the MDF sprue: fortunately Dave designs almost all his tabs the same length, so they fitted rather neatly.

I also had a very minor gripe that the parts weren't as easily separable from the sprue as I'd like, and in some cases left bits that needed a little filing. However, remember this kit is a couple of years old, and I wouldn't be surprised to discover it's improved since.

All in all? A nice little building. I shall tile it and paint it up in a bit.

Prepped and pretty much ready to go...

Flopped into bed around 10pm yesterday having slaved over a hot computer and laser printer for most of the evening. That's a large stack of show guides printed (wishing the laser did double-sided, and seriously considering seeing if I can buy a duplexer for it). as well as various handouts, clipboards for our floor captains/marshals, entry forms and certificates for the painting competition, a layout plan for the venue to set out tables for us....

Managed to sort out a working macro lens for my DSLR, although the one I wanted to bring is still throwing Err-01 ("Communication between the camera and lens is faulty"), which I'll need to look at when I have some spare time.

All I have left to do today is pop into town and pick up two trophies, and tomorrow (once we're back from dropping James off at ACM in Guildford and I have plied Anne with tea) pick up four folding tables, pack the car and stop advance ticket sales.

I might actually get a small amount of non-show hobby time today :D

Wednesday 28 August 2019

It’s showtime! (well almost...)

Planning for the show hits the final stretch this week. Last committee meeting (just now), printing out all the handouts etc....

This is of course completely messed up by the fact that I’m taking  James down to Guildford on Saturday as his university term starts on Monday, so I have to get it all finished in time to get him packed...

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Chef-du-Pont fine tuning, and some photo editing

...and yet more show prep.

By dint of some juggling, and dodging the thunderstorm that he brought with him, AndyM and I managed to load up his car with Stuff For The Show. We also sat down with my draft Chef-du-Pont plan and managed to figure out how to fit it onto 6 of the 4' x 2' boards that just happen to be lying around spare here, while keeping the number of visible joins in terrain (as opposed to flood plain) down to four (with three of those in 2" wide causeways and the fourth hideable with trees!).

Andy claims his part of one of the boards is done (as it's all flood plain) and I just have to paint it :D I think the plan for that is going to be not unlike the beach boards (blending various brown, green and blue sprays), plus several layers of gloss yacht varnish. I'll experiment, as it might be tricky to get that looking right. (Water always is.)

And I've edited the photos I took yesterday for Rob's Free Fire game, and sent them to him. And yes, those are House Lannister guardsmen :D

Coming soon to a show near you....

Spent yesterday evening (after visiting the mother-in-law :D) in our rather warm club premises, watching the club's participation games for the show, and taking a bunch of photos for Rob's Free Fire game, which you'll get to see on Sunday.

Also digging through YouTube for drone videos of the flooded Merderet (the 'Marais Blanc' or white swamp) around Chef-du-Pont - some fascinating shots showing the water levels.
I think this is looking across at the causeway SW out of Chef-du-Pont from the south, but not 100% sure exactly where it was taken.

What's now the Cooperative dairy, N of the causeway. The house right of centre is definitely pre-WW2.

Chateau de L'Isle Marie, showing very clearly how much of its surroundings go below water. The building you can see isn't the chateau itself, but another building - you can just make out the roof of the chateau silhouetted in the gap in the trees behind it.

A typical Marais Blanc causeway.

Sunday 25 August 2019

Chef-du-Pont scenery planning

Merderet; Lower Normandy; France
Looking over the creamery (centre right).
Since we're putting Bloody Omaha out to grass (with possibly one more outing this year), it's time for another IABSM showcase table for 2020, I think. This is Chef-du-Pont, a plan from a few years ago I'm now confident to resurrect (which, you guessed it, is why I've been painting US 82nd Airborne!)

The action is available as an IABSM2 scenario in both "Where The Hell Have You Been, Boys?" (by Rich Clarke) and then again in "All-American" (by Dave Parker), and my aim is to upgrade it, nicking the best of both scenarios, for IABSM3. (At this rate I may have to make good on my threat of rewriting all the former's scenarios for IABSM3!)

I got some playing around with Google Maps and various things done this morning (before the cricket started), and I have a rough idea of what the table layout is going to look like.

The tricky bit is positioning the three areas of interest, the bridge at the SW end of Chef-du-Pont (with the Nestlé creamery, and the other factory to the north), Hill 30, and the Château de L'îsle Marie such that their relative positions are about right, and not too much of what's probably an 8' x 6'  board is wasted on flooded fields. Obviously some of it has to be, as the whole point is that the three areas are linked by causeways across the flooded Merderet, but equally I don't want massive areas of the board that are unused patches of wet, and I do want to be able to model enough of Chef-du-Pont for various scenario events to be meaningful (I'm being slightly cryptic in case you haven't read the scenario :D)

Work in progress in Omnigraffle.

Things have been skewed a bit to fit, but the general relative
positions are fairly close. I'm still considering tweaking the
town and Hill 30 round and down a bit more, but don't want
to compromise on the length of the main street in
Having done that, the other problem is scale. I'm doing this in 15mm, and the ground scale is roughly 6mm, so all the buildings are 2.5x too large. Hence, the scenery is pretty much always going to be a sktetch rather than an exact replica.

The creamery, adjacent large building and chimney are pretty iconic, so no-will notice or mind overmuch if they take up too much 'real' space in the area allocated for them. What's now the Rue du Capitaine Rex Combs is lined on both sides by terraces, semis and a fairly distinctive farmyard, and I'm anticipating sketching that with some smaller terraces etc from Sarissa, 4Ground, Empires at War and anyone else who's ended up in my Normandy town collection. Then (if you look at the 1944 picture), the rest is hedged, tree filled fields to the water's edge, and a moderate expanse of empty field across the side road from the other factory (which needs to be there because Reasons). The Chateau is easy as Sarissa make one, and it'l be half hidden by woods anyway.

Not perfect, but it'll do to start work. Tomorrow, though, is play testing for the show day!

Saturday 24 August 2019

Not Paras this time, but somewhere for them to hide....

I dug out one of the old Sarissa 15mm kits (before they ditched the range in favour of scaled version of their excellent 28mm kits), and assembled it. It's a bit rudimentary, but the greyboard shutters give it a bit of depth and flavour. By rights the building I'm using it for should have arched windows, no shutters and circular attic lights in the gable ends, but there are limits for what will essentially be a sketch of a location (because, apart from anything else, the ground scale for 15mm IABSM is 2 1/2 times too big so I'm basically editing out about 1/3 of the buildings! :D). As the circular end lights are a bit distinctive, I may see if I can 3d print something suitable to glue on as framing, and maybe drill or paint black the window opening.

I also added (since Sarissa don't) some supports for a removable internal floor so figures can shoot and spot out of the top set of windows. It'll get added to the painting pile along with last Wednesday's stuff (and a large stack of TTCombat Streets of Venice stuff for the club).

Oh - to be fair, I also picked and prepped a dozen more US Paras.

Next up, to plot some buildings on an 8'x6' table, and then I can put the whole lot on the back burner to pick up as and when I need a break from finishing the Dux Britanniarum Compendium.

More Paras....

Well, I do have four platoons of 3 sections to do by OML8, so I figure if I can get half a dozen done every couple of days, that'll stand me in good stead.

So, yesterday, I did another half dozen :D these are actually from the now-deleted Flames of War Easy Company pack, so they're mostly not in full drop kit, but they're very characterful sculpts (and I still haven't sorted my macro lens, or the lighting on my workbench).

Currently trying to figure out what the big bag of FoW metals I bought off 'American Dale' at our club a few years ago - I think they're FoW metal US Paras, but I'm not sure and I can't find a record. 

Thursday 22 August 2019

Hybrid painting US Paras...

Being relatively happy with the stuff I did the other day, and feeling in the mood to paint again, I boosted my lone paratrooper in M1942 (i.e. D-Day) uniform to a full section. Also, Per found an interesting link to someone who'd really gone the whole hog on painting WW2 with contrast paints, which has a few interesting insights but... hrm. Some of the end results are a bit off.

In summary, then, after some more experimentation - this is basically a hybrid Contrast/ordinary paint scheme, a bit tweaked from last time:
  • undercoat:
    • Halfords Ultra Matt Khaki Camouflage paint (note to self, need more)
  • paint the Contrast paints first, because it's much easier to overpaint Contrast paints with normal acrylics if you mess up, than the other way round:
    • Jump boots - Gore Grunta Fur
    • M1942 kit - Aggaros Dunes
    • Gloves - Nazdreg Yellow
  • Now on to the normal Vallejo AP colours:
    • Webbing, pouches, pack etc - Vallejo Khaki + AP Military Shader [EDIT: or Vallejo Green Grey + AP Soft Tone]
    • Helmet, grenades, elbow and knee patches - Vallejo Brown Violet/Olive Drab
    • Face - AP Tanned Flesh + AP Soft Tone
    • Weapons, entrenching tool handles - Vallejo Chocolate Brown + Warlord Dark Gunmetal [EDIT: or CC Snakebite Leather in the previous phase]
    • Shoulder patches (I still can't believe I even thought about doing these!) - AP Deep Blue, Pure Red, Matt White, a very fine brush and a magnifier
And there you have it. One was based earlier - PVA, War World Gaming Army Coarse Sand (which is brilliant stuff), then a heavy wash of Vallejo Sepia wash, and some static grass from the three pots of sweepings from Bloody Omaha :D (For drier earth, I'd have drybrushed with something like Vallejo Grey Green before the grass.)

I'm relatively proud of these, given my rubbish eyesight - normally my 15mms are very much a sketch - they pass the 2' test but I really wouldn't recommend looking at the Omaha figures too closely (fortunately, in all the times it's been shown at shows, no-one seems to!). These still aren't exhibition standard, but they're much much better than my usual. Total time for the six figures I remembered to time, about 100 mins. I would get better photos but my macro lens doesn't want to talk to my newer Canon, and the older one's battery's flat :D

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Building a Chain Home station

AndyM and I have spent the evening building ... well, buildings, and other Sarissa stuff. Several pillboxes and an equipment shed (lovely pieces of engineering), a Chain Home Low radar antenna (gorgeous but fiddly, needed a bit of filing to make sure it rotated freely) and a complete set of Chain Home transmit and receive towers (again, a bit taxing but brilliant models)... (The searchlight Andy did earlier in the year,)

There's a plan in place involving these, some beach boards and some Fallschirmjäger, as well as some of Bad Squiddo's ATS figures (guesss where I got the searchlight :D)...

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Lazy US Paras in M1942 uniform

As I have noted in the past, US M1942 uniform is a sod to paint, because no-one makes the colour out-of-the-bottle, no two painters agree on how to mix it, and I'm not entirely sure everyone agrees on what colour it actually is!

With a view to a project for next year, I've had a couple more ideas... Several tests, with both Halfords ultra matt Khaki camouflage primer and Citadel's Wraith Bone, and then trying various things....

Citadel's Wraith Bone undercoat:
  • AP Monster Brown (fail even when mixed with AP Strong Tone)
  • Citadel Contrast Aggaros Dunes (too sandy, but...)
Halfords ultra matt Khaki undercoat:
  • AP Strong Tone/Military Shader in a 50/50 mix (not brown enough)
  • CC Aggaros Dunes - ahah! (thanks to Rob Avery!)
Ok. We might have something here. It's not 100% perfect, but it's really preeeeetty close.

Onwards with that then:
  • Webbing, pouches, pack etc - Vallejo Grey-Green + Strong Tone
  • Helmet, grenade, elbow and knee patches - Vallejo Brown Violet (now renamed Olive Drab) + Strong Tone
  • Jump Boots - Vallejo Red Leather + Strong Tone, although CC Gore Grunta Fur is probably better (will try that next time!)
  • Gloves - CC Nazdreg Yellow
  • Face - CC Guilliman Flesh is too dark on the Halfords primer, so I over brushed with AP Barbarian Flesh and a bit of Strong Tone
  • Rifle - AP Werewolf Fur + Warlord Dark Gunmetal
  • Shoulder Patches - AP Deep Blue, Pure Red, Matt White and a lot of prayer
Here we are. I should point out that this is a 15mm Battlefront plastic figure from the Open Fire box (not a 28!), and it took me all my lunch break with the aid of a daylight lamp and magnifier :D I shall have a crack on a metal sculpt sometime if I can find one. I may also see if I can get a better photo with my DSLR...

Battle Report - 19 Aug 2019 - "Fog of War" (Pikeman's Lament)

It was too foggy to take photos :D The map of the initial
positions, however, is drawn in Wonderdraft. My units in red.
Club evening, and another round in the Pikeman's Lament campaign. An interesting scenario this - essentially two forces have been blundering around in the fog and bumped into each other. The set up was each side gets one piece of scenery, to place anywhere, and then 8 cards, on each of which they either write the details of a unit in their (24pt) force or some suitably anti-their-opponent slogan ("Death to Cromwell!", "For King and Country!"). Cards are placed facedown, alternately, anywhere in their own half of the table and no less than 6" from an enemy unit...

An interesting recipe for carnage, as it turned out. I wound up with a unit of gallopers on each flank, and two units of shot in the centre, one behind a wall, with some pikes behind one of the horse right out on the left. Probably fortunately, I got first activation. Cue the elite gallopers on the right advancing, rolling a double 6 for activation, and then getting another free activation, which sent them smack into Colin's dragoons. Which the latter didn't like. And liked the followup charge even less, departing the table, but leaving my gallopers wavering.

Meanwhile, in the centre, there was an exchange of fire after my shot moved up to the wall, which was largely inconclusive - my musketeers at the wall wavered a bit and fell back. On the left, Colin's trotters charged one after the other and were met by countercharges - and for once it wasn't me rolling dreadful dice: both bounced off, one after the other. And then it was my turn... ;D

Let's just say that when the dust settled one unit of (not veteran!) gallopers had pretty much done for two units of trotters, at some cost to themselves. My musketeers advanced back to the wall, more shots were engaged, and the pike rumbled forward and across into Colin's leftmost shot - that's the first time I've managed a charge with pike and it was kinda fun!

This being a campaign game, Colin wisely chose to withdraw and preserve his forces.

Thanks to Colin for being (as ever) a gracious and friendly opponent, and to Grahame for organising the campaign.

Sunday 18 August 2019

Battle Report - 18 Aug 2019 - "Bloody Omaha" at The Other Partizan

Loot haul - two blisters from Bad Squiddo Games (which are lovely and will see use soon!)

Spent most of the day (barring a couple of brief diversions) umpiring Bloody Omaha. An excellent day - one young gentlemen stayed pretty much all day and handled the bulk of the American attack.

We never got to wave 3, but by turn 8 the Americans had several breaches in the wire, having come under some pretty serious hammer early on - 2/3 of wave 1 was late, so the Germans had opportunity to concentrate their fire early on. The German artillery wasn't as effective as it could have been - partly Carl and I were swapping umpiring/running the Germans, and there was perhaps a lack of continuity for such things as 'are we walking the fire up the beach?'.

General Cota made it on in wave 2 (yes, I know he should be several beach sectors over, on Dog White, but Robert Mitchum in the rôle is a very iconic image and I couldn't resist :D) He led an advance up the western edge of the beach, almost directly at WN64 which was slow but being quite successful,..

Herewith a gallery with comments (largely me nitpicking, because the camera is unforgiving and it's my game and I can!):

All set up and ready to play. Newly watered marshes front and centre, as well as All The Beach Obstacles and some copious use of Woodland Scenics mid-green lichen. A no-prize if you can tell me what I forget to pack... (There are in fact two things.)
This is probably the one thing that really bugs me about the game that isn't fixable - the board joins. Sadly because of wear and tear and in some cases slightly out of tolerance boards, they can be very visible, even though we hide them with lichen and barbed wire, That said, the original plan was always a modular board (and we do reuse some of the hills in other games), so the square tiles and 'stepped' look are a deliberate design choice. Also, I need to glue the wire on to the barbed wire bases so it sits flatter on the ground.
Flames of War LCV(P) with passengers. I should retouch a couple of helmets but on the whole they've pretty evocative: I would very much like if Battlefront redid the castings when they announce the Higgins boat for the new late war range, as they are a bit scuzzy and a swine to get a brush in the gaps, even more so when you can't easily spot what's what on the casting!
Need to retouch the bases on the mine stakes tp match the shallows rather than the deeper water. Usefully it's AP Army Green, I think, so easy to match... 
An LCV(P) gets hit on its way in... Rob suggested a few floating body markers (and I thought I was obsessive!) :D  It's a good job I have two packs of those explosion markers as as far as I can tell neither of the folks I bought them from still make them! 
I love this shot - taken low over the hills at the back of the table, it almost hides the stepped contours of the board.  
A new addition for this game (in case you missed me rabbiting on about it) was photographer Robert Capa., who appears on wave 1 on one Higgins boat and must leave with one of the empty wave 3 boats. He's very much being portrayed here as the legend, rather than what might be the truth....
...customised from a PSC heavy weapons team guy...
He has a card in the deck. On an activation, he has three actions with which he can move 1d6 each, or use one or two to take a photograph (much like AFV fire in IABSM, a second action means he takes time to compose his shot...) We then roll 1d6, + 3 if aimed, plus 1-3 at the umpire's discretion for choice of subject (the player gets to say what he wants to photograph). Still tuning the numbers, but a total score of 50+ means he gets to keep his job, 100+ means he becomes a legend. -50 for missing the boat back to England (and thus his press deadline).

And just for giggles, we get an iPhone down to board level and 'take' the photo (and crop it and turn it B&W).

So, here's Capa's portfolio for the Magnum agency for Life magazine from The Other Partizan...  
We have the Capa version of this iconic shot on our banner for the game. Part of me is really tempted to have a Higgins boat modelled with its ramp down expressly for Capa... 
This is Capa's original... I also find myself wondering if I can find a small HD spy cam that would fit IN or on a 15mm Higgins boat :D And whether a backdrop behind the boards would look effective...
A BAR team from the Big Red One taking cover in the shallows. The team medic can be seen slightly out of focus right of centre. 
Big Red One rifle sections shelter under a ramp obstacle. 
German artillery plasters the beach - observe the elements of both the Big Red One and the 29th sheltering on the shingle below the sea wall while Capa himself takes cover behind a log ramp.
A mortar section of E company 16th RCT of the Big Red One takes cover behind a 'Czech hedgehog'.  Ahead, engineer elements of E company are attempting to breach the wire protecting the exit from the beach.
So there you go. Thank you to everyone who played, came and said hi, or said nice things, to Carl, Rod and Rob for helping run the game, AndyM (as ever) for scenery, Rich Clarke for the original scenario, and thank you to the Other Partizan folks for inviting us!

Saturday 17 August 2019

And packed....

Everything on yesterday's list done. Car packed. Tea and bed, I think. Probably to lie awake and wonder what I've forgotten :D

Higgins Boat passengers done.
And that's everything. Boards at back, then L-R assault boat sections with player clipboards on top, rest of figures and scenery, box of books, dice, tape measures etc and two pull-up banners at the front.
And it all fits in the car, with room for me and TWO passengers.

Friday 16 August 2019

Packing for The Other Partizan

I've spent too long staring at code today, so I've put off the last of the painting of bazooka teams until tomorrow. However, this does mean I've had time to pretty much finish sorting and tidying everything else, base a couple of stands of LCVP passengers and actually make some more beach ramps.

Still to do tomorrow: paint the last details, base and label the remaining bazooka teams, paint and base the Higgins Boat passengers, print off the rest of the player handouts, the relevant pages of the original scenario, and a couple of 'boat sections go ashore in THIS order' sheets, find some more D8s (I know I have loads in the Deadzone box), lay the scenery boards out just to check I'm not mussing anything and then stack 'em, find the two pull up banners (one for the game, one club).

This is kind of what Bloody Omaha packs down to (except for the boards which will be in tomorrow's post).
First batch of Higgins Boat passengers. These are purely for the look of the thing, but I found them, so...
Hopefully Anne won't ask why we're short on kebab skewers. I honestly can't remember the last time we had kebabs, so...
Quick couple of minutes with a razor saw and file, superglued at the join, black Halfords primer, heavy zenithal dusting of AP Fur Brown. Lazy but effective.
Top box is all 18 boat sections (minus their bazooka teams), plus the Navy engineer teams, all the American Big Men (and sabot bases), and medics.
Bottom has what feels like several miles of barbed wire and minefield markers.
Reference library, rule book and QRS, big dice, shock and kill micro dice, pin and other markers, tape measures, scatter lichen, dice tray. 
Bottom layer, Higgins Boats (and eventually passengers), bunkers, beach ramp obstacles (15 - possibly need more but we're out of kebab skewers :D), custom activation deck (partly to pack the bunkers in and stop them bending their guns!).
Top layer, explosion markers, beach mine stakes (38 - probably enough now) and hedgehogs (22 - not enough), Sherman DD's.
Germnan mortar teams, small pillboxes, Tobruks and MG34 gunners, US kill markers (basically if a team gets really messily wiped out, their base gets replaced with one of those).
Empty tray for bazooka teams when they're done. (Note to self,. need to free up another 4L box).

Thursday 15 August 2019

Beach obstacles - LOTS of beach obstacles

AndyM finally had a free evening today, so we managed to sort out the Omaha Beach obstacle
collection for Sunday - at least mostly. Problems to solve:
  1. Not enough mine stakes. Easily solved by the simple approach of Buying More the other week,
  2. The existing mine stakes were largely based on 2p pieces, and their paint had started lifting - repair and repaint time.
  3. Two broken ramps. Superglue.
  4. Not enough ramps. See solution 1. Also I may 3D print more tomorrow.
  5. Not enough hedgehogs. Nothing we can do about that before Sunday.
Also while Andy was repairing stakes, I got out all the boxes for Bloody Omaha and sorted through everything to track down what was missing or broken - found the one stray Tobruk MG34 gunner, found a spare barrel for one of the two 75mm bunkers (actually nicked off a PSC Marder III), fixed the two broken ramps, finally found the small MG nest, and touched up the chipping paint on the two Sherman DD's.

Oh, and the marsh is done.

All in all quite a good evening.
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