Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mediterranean Houses

This is one of my most recent house projects. I built these for a friend who wanted some houses to use in a WW2 Italian campaign as well as something that wouldn't look totally out of place in a Napoleonic game set in Southern France or Spain.

Both buildings are made out of insulation foam and layers of single sided cardboard.
I did a little experimenting with the arch. Originally I had thought to have two buildings with the archway in the middle, but the whole thing turned out to be heavy. So instead I made it so that the archway could just sit up against another building, in the end making it much more versatile.

For the windows I used some plastic HO scale bits that I found at a flea market last year. I didn't catch the paint on the window sill until after the picture was painted, but I have painted over that. I really like the stucco texture on this one, and discovered it quite by accident just before I was set paint the whole thing.

This is a shot from the other side to show the stone portion of the building and the shingle roof.

This is the second building, which turned out okay. It was built using the same methods as the other building with the exception of the windows. The windows an this one are shutter made out of foam.

Here is the back side of the building. The small shed is there mostly to provide added stability as the model was pretty weak without it. It is made out of cardboard with small strips of foam added on for the planks.
The loading area is supposed to be concrete, and after taking this picture decided it was way to bright so I toned it down with a wash of dark gray.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Skirmish Campaign Framework

I have been thinking about and working on a simple campaign system for use with Bolt Action and VBCW games, or for that matter any other skirmish game with a point buy system.The system is largely abstract and you don't need charts or need to deal with logistics etc. Something quick, easy and relatively painless, but at the same time makes things interesting and allows for more detail if that's your thing.

The goal

You're in, Win or Lose
Each player has to play four games regardless of whether they win or lose a previoius battle or even all four. Hopefully this encourages everyone to play through to the completion of the campaign, and allows them the capability to contribute to the win or loss of their team, even at the very bitter end of the campaign. This is after all, a campaign, not a single elimination tournament.

The rules

Multiple Army Lists
Each player must submit three Army lists for the campaign. These lists must include a force that is Inexperienced, Regular and Veteran.

Mixed Matches
In a perfect world you would know exactly which list your opponent is going to play and be able to pick and appropriate Army list to give him a run for his money. Well, that ain't gonna happen with these rules. The match ups in the first three round should be decided at random or in some fashion that at the very least isn't easily predictable. It should also be campaign specific and tailored to what is being played. The last match will depend on the results of the first three rounds.So this is all very vague and all depends on the context, so I will give two examples.

 Campaign #1 Pas de Calais Invasion
So I have decided I want to run a campaign centered around an alternate history scenario where the allies invade the Pas de Calais region instead of in Normandy, or maybe the landing is a diversion to draw off forces for the real Normandy invasion. Whatever the reason. I have decided that I will split the invasion into three phases.

Phase One - the allies land their special forces along the coast to take out the Cross-Channel guns.
Phase Two - Airborne forces are dropped behind enemy lines to capture bridges, and crossroads in order to keep enemy reinforcements from reach the beachhead and to keep them intact for the break out from the initial landing site.
Phase Three - the beach landings.

Since the Allies are the ones conducting the operation I have decided that their forces are deployed in the above manner and not randomly. The SAS and Rangers should be Veterans, Airborne forces should be the Regulars list (perhaps with some thought before hand that they will be playing an airborne for for this list), and the foot sloggers on the beach assault are inexperienced.

Axis forces forces on the other hand are the great "unknown" and draw lots randomly for which list they will play. No one knows if the forces guarding the Cross-channel guns will be Vets or Inexperienced Osstrupen. Same for the landing zones and the beaches.

Campaign #2 The Bulge
In this campaign both sides are lined up across from each other in a static front lines situation. One side launches an offensive attempting to capture whatever they can, or trying to punch a whole through the enemies front line. Each player decides which sector he will command for his team and assigns his Army lists; left, center and right, as he sees fit. In this instance the results are dependent on how both players deploy their forces, and each player will be playing the same opponent the whole campaign. So now I am thinking maybe to offset the various enemy sectors to allow for at least a little variation in opponents.

The Last Hurrah
After everyone is done with the first three rounds. Everyone takes a short break to assess the situation, consolidate gains and prepare their troops for the breakout or for a counter-offensive. At this point take count of how many games each side has won. Hopefully it will be a close tally. If not that's okay too. The losing side gets one last chance to win by launching the new offensive / counter-offensive. They can win the day by gaining enough victory points in Phase Four of the campaign to beat the other side, or by utterly destroying the opposition by winning all of the games in Phase Four (a long shot, but still a shot) of the campaign.

Regroup and Resupply
Each player should record which units survived the first three phases of the campaign, how many men survived in each squad, etc. In Phase 4 each player builds his ad-hoc final list from the remnants of those troops that survived the first three phases of the campaign. As such, players should keep track of which units survived, how many men in each, skill level and such. Alternatively if you are not fond of so much paper work, you could just keep track of the number of points of surviving troop by level of experience. Then allow each player to spend an equal number of points on same experienced units for their final list. 

Lastly, if a player does not have enough troops or points to play a full Army list for the last game, then allow them to buy as many Inexperienced units as they need to fill out the list. This is to reflect new troops making it to the front lines and being thrown into the fray along side the vets.

...and that's it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tools of the Hobby: Master Airscrew Balsa Stripper

So I have been throwing around ideas about what to write about for my second blog post. I am currently out of town, and seem to have forgotten the memory card for my camera that has all of the pictures I had taken for all of the various other projects that I had planned to write about. Instead I thought I would blog about one the most useful tools that I have come across, and is now an indispensable part of my miniature building tool kit.

What is this wonder tool you say? why it is the Master Airscrew Balsa Stripper.

I used to use an Exacto knife and a ruler but found that I am rather incapable of cutting anything in a straight line. Why is it I can imagine the Infomercial for this right now, and it has me cutting like a weak wrist-ed knucklehead in that "epic fail" infomercial moment.

This thing is really pretty simple. It consists of a bar and an exacto blade mounted on an extendable arm that you can move with a thumb wheel to set the depth from 1/32 of an inch (or less I suppose) out to a maximum of 1/2 inch.  If you already have a straight edge then it works great for cutting out rabbets and joining pieces of foam or for cutting out channels or long thin pieces for use as bricks and other building details. It also does fairly well at cutting through 1/2 foam sheets. I have found that it is easier and more versatile to not set the blade to deep, as I kept cutting my self with it. Instead I set the depth to just over 1/4" the cut one side, flip the foam over and cut the other. For larger pieces I use a couple of home-made cutters that are similar but do not have the adjustable arm.

The only real drawback is that the blade depth is not adjustable. You have to loosen the screws holding it and then adjust, hold and tighten the screws. This can be a pain and is why I rarely change the blade depth.

This little device is well worth the $8.00 I paid for it, and I'm sure you can probably pick it up online for less than that.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sd.Kfz 251 Hanomag

Here are some pictures of my two 251/1 Hanomags. Number 1022 is the old Ausf. C variant, and the older Warlord resin model that I purchased a while back before the new plastic one became available. The second (317) is the Ausf. D variant, and the new Warlord plastic model. I am not really sure of the differences between the real vehicles, but the two models do have some differences. The older model is thinner and a bit taller than the new plastic one, again, not sure if this reflects actual differences or just differences between the sculpts. The gunner on the new plastic model was noticeably bigger than the old gunner model, but the new plastic infantry are bigger than the older metal models as well so that was expected. The gunner model in the Ausf. D variant is not the original one that came with the vehicle model. Instead, I used a War Games Factory model that I already had so that the two gunners would be closer in size. You may notice that in the rear shot of the Hanomags that the WGF guy is missing his equipment, as I still have a bit of work and touching up to do. 



This is also my first attempt at German camouflage. I am working on some SS that have the Pea Dot camouflage as well. I had hoped to have them done by now, but now they will have to wait until I get back from my trip.