Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Challenge Bonus Theme 1: Flight

The first bonus round of the Challenge was titled "flight" and I was caught a bit flat footed.  The I remembered I had bought a starter set for "Check You Six" and had some unpainted WW2 Pacific theater aircraft in 1/300 scale.
These are some of my first gaming miniature and have remained unpainted for over 9 years.
I may gave to get them out on the table one day.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dungeon Terrain Tuturial

 I've been on a bit of a tear making geomorphic Dungeon terrain for this year's Challenge.  I thought it might be helpful to put up a short tutorial on how to make these sections.

Please note I've "borrowed" (OK, stole) the technique from Jeremy P. and his youtube channel "Black Magic Craft".  He's very creative and has a lot of useful "how-to" content on his channel.

There are a lot of commercially available dungeon tiles on the market but they can be expensive and heavy.  Plus there seems to be a general convention of 2 inch x 2 inch base size which makes set up rather hard - lots of pieces.  Plus, I just wanted to make something different.

 These tiles are made out of pink insulation foam (EPS) which can be made surprisingly strong with a coating of a 50/50 mix of black paint and Modge Podge matte as a primer.   The priming and painting of the tiles will be covered in another tutorial.  It's a very simple 4 step building process that I think yields very good results.

Step 1:  Cut out the foam pieces, in this case we're making a "U" section.  My tiles are based on 4 inch x 4inch size with 1.5 inch high walls.  I tested a lot of wall heights from 0.5 up to 4 and found that 1.5 had the best mix of looks and utility (players can see and easily reach their figures.  It's important to cut these out as exact as possible so I use my trusty Proxxon Hot Wire table cutter.  If you like to make terrain out of EPS foam then you should get one - it's the most useful hobby tool I have.

All of my walls are 0.5 inches think.  Remember to take into account wall thickness when cutting pieces the abut together. The "U" section has three walls 2 that are 4 inches long and 1 that is 3 inches - since it connects with the other two walls it needs to be shorter by 2x0.5 inches!

 Step 2: Engrave the bricks and floor tiles.  This part can be as simple or elaborate as you want.  I use a custom made engraving tool in the form of a dull pencil.  The brick patterns I'm using are rather simple as I've got a lot of these to make.

Step 3: Texturing.  This is an optional step but I think adds a lot of flavor to the overall effect.  Again another sophisticated special tool is required to add the texture - a rolled up ball of aluminum foil.  The foil starts out as a ball but quickly transforms into a cube!.  Take the foil ball and pound it into the foil.  Remember to add texture to all the wall sections that will be visible but not the parts that will be glued.

This technique does allow one to release some aggression and I can often be heard muttering "What did that Orange Moron say now?...."

Step 4: Glue the textured pieces in place.  Any PVA based glue will work.  I prefer "Eileens Tacky Glue" as it holds the pieces without any need of clamping.

There a 5 basic tile designs - an open square in the center and then from lower left a single wall, corner, corridor and a "U" shape.  Since these are "custom" designs you an also make other sizes - I'll be adding a few large rooms but everything will be sized to fit as a multiple of the basic 4x4 inch tile.

I'm also experimenting with some tiles that incorporate LED lights - you can see some tests in the upper right of the picture.

None of the tiles will have doors - I'm using slide on doors that fit over the 0.5 inch wide walls.  I'll do another tutorial on doors and other details.

One thing I strongly suggest is the make a lot of the components at once.  I find I get better results when I'm focused on making these and it goes relatively fast - I made enough for 30 4x4 tiles in less than 1 hour.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Technology is Taking Over the World

My son has been playing around with his Alexa and Echo devices and has built some switches to let them control physical things - the cool part is that he wrote the code that works with both devices.  Being at Carnegie Mellon he gets these thing for free as the companies like the students to push the boundaries.  The first video shows a light switch.  All the mounts were 3D printed by him.

The next video is much more important from a fate of the species kind of thing - he can now issue voice commands to turn on the coffee maker.  He's also got it rigged so that when his moving alarm goes off, the coffee makers gets turned on.

Now if he would only be half as industrious looking for a job post graduation...

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Introducing Izzy and Buddy

 My wife wanted to get a new cat, as we our previous cat, Oliver, had recently passed away.  So off we trundled down to the animal rescue center and much to my surprise came back not with one but two rescue cats - a kitten we've named Izzy and and a giant orange beast called Buddy.  I felt the need to point out to my wife that adopting more than two cats at one time puts her dangerously close to "Crazy Cat Lady" status.

Izzy is 4 months old and very adventurous.  There isn't a space in our house that isn't climbable for this cat.

 Buddy, is pretty much the opposite - he's extremely timid and spends most of his time hiding.  We're pretty sure he came from an abusive situation and has become a bit of a project for Mary Beth.  He looks very similar to a cat Mary Beth had as a child so I knew right then he was coming home with us.

Buddy excels at hiding under ottomans and eating.  Skills that I often aspire to.

Izzy has taken a real shine to me and has become my constant companion - you can see her checking out some of the latest updates on the Challenge blog.  I'm not really a cat person but have warmed up to this little one.  I suspect some go my future Challenge submissions will feature cat hair as part base scenery.

If only I could teach her to paint.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yet More Challenge Stuff - Dungeon Terrain

 Taking advantage of the terrain category addition to this year's challenge, production has commenced on some dungeon terrain.

My "system" is based on 4x4 inch sections and everything is made out of 1/2 inch polystyrene foam aka "pink foam".  I strongly suggest you get a Proxxon hot wire cutting table if you want to build similar items.  I'll make some detailed "how-to" posts in the near future.
 I've built the equivalent of 28 4x4 sections (a few are a bit larger - 4 x8 and 4 x 12 inches).  So far there are a handful of configurations

- plain (no walls)
- One wall
- Two walls opposite (a corridor)
- Two walls at a right angle (a corner)
- The walls in a "U" shape
- A stair section

I'm sure there will be some other configurations and some larger "set-pieces"
 Rather than make dedicated door sections, I decided to go with slip-on doors.  I've mocked up a few to try out.

 I also made some treasure markers.  Here's a shot of 6 small ones.  The three containers on the top row are custom built by me using popsicle sticks and bass wood.  The large barrel is my first piece of 3D printed terrain.
 A scratch built larger chest and a barrel from a Renedra set.

 Lastly, an open chest filled with"treasure"

As with the dungeon sections I'll make a how-to post on the treasure markers and containers.

These will be used in a gaming event I'm hosting in April and then at Historicon this summer.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

More Analogues Hobbies Stuff

 Two different groups of troops this time.  First up are some reinforcements for my DAK armies in the form of DAK infantry, some FJ's and armor.
 A Rubicon plastic Panzer IV - really can't recommend Rubicon models any more highly.
 My second box of plastic Perry DAK infantry
 A Panzer II from Warlord
 Warlords plastic FJ's - really like this box also
 An Italian armored car - I still need to paint up some Italian Paratroopres
 And a SKDz 222 also from Warlord
 The next submission is more fantasy oriented with 20 crewman from the new Ghost Archipelago Box set
 And 5 plastic Barbarians from Frostgrave
The whole group

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Look Back on 2017

 2017 has come and gone and overall it was a good year for us.  We spent a quite New Years day as a geeky family with our son fixing all of our tech related issues.
 On New Year's Day, Sean got around to fixing my 3D Printer.  He got frustrated with the old MacBook I was using to drive the printer and went out to an Office Depot and bought a cheap Windows laptop that was a display model - got it for less than $100 bucks.  It's a bit banged up but works.  Now I can get into 3D printing for terrain making!

Sean has a Pikacho print file he uses to calibrate any 3D printer he works with (there are a lot at CMU) and he successfully printed the piece yesterday.  The figure is sitting on some terrain I'm currently working on and it's a hint for where my gaming will be going over the course of 2018 - but that's another post.  The hint is related to terrain not Pokemon!

On a personal note, 2017 proved to be a good year, but dangerous.  Both my wife's and my jobs are going well, she still likes cutting up people to repair them and I still like investing in tech / financial serivces companies.  At this stage in our life if one doesn't like what one is doing, one should stop doing it - we're both lucky to be still having fun.  2018 may see me pull back a bit from the Venture Capital front and spend more timing teaching - college kids today are so much smarter than me.  We'll see.

Why did I describe 2017 as "Dangerous"?  I was involved and injured in two separate rear end accidents.  The first occurred in London in the early Fall - as I was stepping out of an uber another car rear ended that uber and pushed it forward a few feet.  My right leg was still in the car so I got pulled down and hurt both my ankle and pride.  Now there is a really funny aspect to this story.  I was being dropped off in front of a law firm we were thinking of using in London - Slaughter & May on Bunhill Row.  S&M is a very old-school / proper corporate law firm and the accident happened literally at their front door.  You know the stereo-type of lawyers chasing ambulances for clients - it's true! - a sea of lawyers flooded out to assist me.  I will say that I was most impressed with the emergency medical services personnel in London - top notch people with great senses of humor.  Lets all pray they don't get a lot of practice in 2018.  I ended up with a small fracture in my right ankle and a torn sport coat and shirt.  I flew back to the states the next day and lets just say I self medicated on red wine the entire flight back.

The next accident was a little bit more involved.  I was driving home one night in early December and was stopped in traffic.  Suddenly a SUV rammed into me going about 35-45 miles per hour.  I managed to smack my head on the steering wheel and wrench my shoulder - the other cars air bags deployed and the driver was knocked out.

The damage to my car doesn't look that bad but the whole frame squished like an accordion - I had to kick my driver side door open.  As I was walking over to his car to assist him I had the fright of my life as I could see two child car seats in the back.  For a few steps I couldn't tell if their were children in them then and those were some very long steps.  Thankfully there were not occupied and I was able to get the driver out of his car.  At that point, I didn't care about silly cars.

He admitted fault as he was texting but had let his insurance expire.  My newish Audi Q7 (purchased last April) ended up being totaled by the insurance company and I've got some rotator cuff damage to my left shoulder (can't raise my left arm fully) BUT no one was seriously injured and cars are replaceable.   I'm still out a good bit of money because I wouldn't let my insurance company sue the guy who hit me - he's got two small kids and no money - any lawsuit proceeds ultimatley hurt the kids and what's the point in that?  He also has no car as the engine fell out of his Toyota Rav4.  +1 for german engineering!

So now I'm in the market for a new car and safety features are at the top of my list.  Not surprisingly my son is pushing me to get a Tesla - cause the tech is cool.  Not sure I'm ready for an all electric car.

Enough whining from me - what did I paint in 2017 - apparently a lot!

Painting Tally
                                  2017          2016         2015
  Infantry                   494            488           222
  Cav/guns                     6            14               10
  Vehicles                     31             9                17
  Ships                           0              3                0

  Infantry                    297            101          132
  Cav/guns                     6              16             0
  Vehicles                     53              23            11

1/1200 Ships                 0               2               2

1/600 Ironclads             0               0              10

  Infantry                      0                0               0
  Cav/guns                    0                0               0
  Vehicles                     10              0                0

I need to paint more cavalry!

I also made a lot of terrain including a egyptian themed dungeon and 12 ft of "Desert Mountain Terrain"

In terms of my 2017 goals, my performance was decidedly mixed:

1) Historicon - run 6 versions of my DAK &  Dragons concept game:
I ran 9 games and had a blast.  This was one of my best received convention games and I'm planning to run it again in 2018 only a bit bigger!  The game won an award at the con so I'm really happy with the result.

2) Gemorphic Dungeon Design:
 - I built an egyptian themed dungeon terrain for the game using castings from a company called Lunesdargent.

3) Finish in the Top Ten of the Painting Challenge:
Managed to come in first again with over 4K points.  Not sure I can sustain that pace for the current Challenge.

4) Attend non HGMS gaming conventions:
Epic fail, 'nuff said

5) Get an Article Published
Fail - have several drafts but nothing published - of course that may be because I never submitted anything to get published!

6) Participate in 4 Tournaments
Fail - I was hopeful that version 4 of Flames of War would re-ignite my interest and, in fact, it really left me flat.  I haven't really looked into tournament play since March of 2017.

Other accomplishments

1) I did fill out one of my 2016 goals - write some wargame rules as the DAK & Dragons / SOCOM & Sorcery games at Historicon were played using a set of rules I wrote (or liberated from other systems).  The games went really well and people seemed to like the rules.  There is a lot of room for improvement and I'll be working on them over the course of 2018.

2) Spent a good bit of time on a new hobby -woodworking and am trying to link it to gaming via a blog series titled "Woodworking and Wargaming".  Since my workshop isn't heated, you'll have to wait until the weather gets a tad warmer before anything new gets posted.

3) Became and Honorary member of Posties Rejects - Perhaps the highest award any warmer can ever receive!  I'm pretty sure that after receiving this august title all of you "commoners" need to address me as Sir.  Don't worry, I shall not let my elevation to nobility affect me in anyway.

We are very pleased with 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

Analogue Hobbies Challenge VIII: First Submission

 My first entry for this year's challenge was done early in the morning and managed to be the first entry.  I went with a Russian tank as they're pretty easy to paint up fast.

This model is a plastic kit from Warlord and I highly recommend it.

 It comes with two complete turret options to make either a KV-1 (first two pictures) or a ....

KV-2!!!! - one of my favorite tanks from WW2.

 The kit also comes with 8 28mm plastic Russian infantry figures.  If you've ever played Russians, you know one can never have enough infantry!
A fun kit to build and paint up!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Woodworking Christmas Presents

 This year's homemade Christmas presents included a dice tower for my son, who really likes to play D&D now.  A picture of it in "storage" mode and then....

 It "transforms" into a dice tower.  It's made of white maple and cherry wood and was a lot of fun to make. Sean like a utilitarian design style so that's what I went with.

I'm sponsoring a prize for this year's painting challenge, which will be a custom made dice tower.  Not sure which category Curt will select but looking forward to building it.

For my wife I made the "obligatory" cutting board.  Every new wood worker makes a cutting board for Christmas.  The hardwood I used was pretty poor quality, as you can see in the middle left side.  I'll try resending this one down.  I did get a gallon of food grade mineral oil for finishing the board so expect to see a lot of cutting board for future holiday presents.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Thanks WWPD!

The crew over at WWPD have made the decision  to hang up their podcasting spurs and move on to other things.  While sad to see WWPD end, it's good to see them go out in a classy way and I look forward to gaming with the crew in the future.

Thanks for the memories guys!

Some of my favorite gaming events with this crew include

1) The X-Wing campaign (Heroes of the Arturi Cluster) at Fall-In

2) Hosting them at some gaming events at my house in St Michaels

3) The online FOW campaigns - which have been copied by both Warlord and Battlefront!

4) My first live podcast at one of the Valley Forge Historicons

5) Playing Sparatcus with Luke - it's like the game inhabits him....

6) Dirty John's German camo tutorial - I still use that method

7) The time when - oops I forgot about the non-disclosure agreement on that one

8) Judd and Dano's intro game of Bolt Action "snipers are sooo O.P."

There are many more.

and, yes, they are really as creepy as they seem in the picture.