Monday, July 31, 2023

6mm terrain progress

Inspired by the games at Joy of Six, I've been having a go at improving and extending my 6mm terrain. This morning I thought I'd lay a few of them out and have a bit of a photo session.

Some offcuts of PVC board with their edges chamfered, their corners rounded, coated with quick-drying filler, painted and variously flocked gave me some really useful fields.

My forest bases have had an upgrade. Bald patches were filled in and the whole painted with Modpodge to prevent future moulting.

The girder bridge was originally the bodywork of a Hornby railway wagon. I added Irregular Miniatures railway line.

On Thingiverse I found a stone footbridge designed for 009 model railways (that's narrow gauge in 00 scale using N gauge track). With a bit of trial and error, I was able to resize the file to look fairly convincing in 1/300th. The track underneath is also printed; resized from an STL file designed for gamers playing in 15mm scale.

Thingiverse also provided files for a tractor and some diesel tanks. Combined with a shed from Leven Miniatures and a barn from Irregular I ended up with this cluster of farm buildings.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Portable Wargaming

With the kitchen still out of action, I'm only going to get any wargaming in by virtue of "away fixtures".

We're just back from a North Yorkshire holiday with friends where my 6mm Thirty Years War forces provided a readily portable gaming option. Using The Pikeman's Lament we had a fun four-player battle between Swedish and Imperialist companies.

The companies were as follows, first the Swedes:

Ensign Nils Jonsson’s Company

A company of Swedish Horse (five units of Aggressive Gallopers) accompanied by some musketeers of the Blue Regiment (two units of Commanded Shot).

Nils Jonsson is a weasel of a man with little honour, much to the regret of his rich merchant father who paid for his officer’s commission. Sly: May refuse challenges without incurring the usual morale test.

Ensign Magnus Magnusson’s Company

A company of Swedish Horse (three units of Aggressive Gallopers) reinforced by some cuirassiers from Tott’s regiment (two units of elite trotters).

Magnus Magnusson is the son of a priest and seemingly blessed in some way as he always seems to escape danger. Blessed: Invulnerable to Lucky Blows.

And then the Catholics:

Ensign Jacopo Prizzi’s Company

A company of Imperialist cuirassiers (three units of Elite Trotters) accompanied by some Croat scouts (one unit of Veteran dragoons). Actually I got this wrong and deployed two units of Croats on the table!

Jacopo Prizzi is a hired mercenary officer from a foreign land. The men don’t trust him because of this. Foreigner: Starts with 15 points of Honour. Offers no Morale bonus to units within 12”.

Ensign Ludwig Kretschmar’s Company

A company of Imperialist infantry (two units of Pike and one of Shot) accompanied by a patrol from a dragoon regiment (three units of Dragoons).

Ludwig Kretschmar is a veteran officer and has survived many battles. He suffers from several old wounds that slow him down. Old Wound: Starts with 18 points of Honour. Killed by Lucky Blows on a score of 2 or 3.

At the near end of the table (above) the Swedes of Nils Jonssson's company (advancing cautiously from the left edge) were commanded by Andy. He pushed forward his commanded shot aiming to reach the bad going first but was beaten to it by the Imperialist shot commanded by Ludwig Kretschmar (Gus).

Gus kept his dragoons in reserve behind a wall of pikes while Andy did his best to keep his aggressive Swedish horse at a distance. The Wild Charge special rule could have seen them badly skewered.

At the far end of the table things were far less pedestrian. Mark and John fought a swirly cavalry melée that eventually saw the Catholic force completely wiped out and only the two groups from Tott's cuirassiers surviving on the Swedish side.

In the end the battlefield was a lot emptier than it had been. I'm not sure whether we called it a victory for either side. Both were pretty depleted by the end but everyone seem to enjoy the game.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Harpers Ferry terrain stock check

Yesterday I designed and printed a couple of sections of fence to go beside the main gate of the Harpers Ferry armory.

I'm pleased with these - my ability to use Tinkercad is coming along and I can now begin to contemplate moving on to the remaining details I need for the engine house.

Having got these off the printer it seemed like a good idea to have a progress-to-date look at the terrain.

Top left is the warehouse. I'm calling it complete but I will probably add interior details later and may attach it to a base.

Top right and definitely completed is the water tower.

Behind both, the pink strip shows where I need to build the raised Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line. This will have a stone wall at the back and cast iron columns supporting the front. More work for the 3D printer!

The green box shows the approximate extent of the boat ramp. This was a stone-paved slope down to the Potomac River off the far edge of the board. It was crossed by an iron bridge. My current plan is to use this board - a 34" x 30" piece MDF that sees frequent use in skirmish games. It's actually the reverse of my green To The Strongest! board. However, it would be nice to model the boat ramp properly. If time allows I may invest in some thick insulation foam so I can carve in the slope. 

Incidentally, you can see the slope if you visit Harpers Ferry today. There are two metal rings set into the retaining walls. They were added to secure a Union pontoon bridge across the river. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln walked across the bridge and up the ramp into the by-then-destroyed armory.

The blue line shows the line of the front wall of the armory. It's similar to the pieces I've printed already but with differently sized, brick rather than stone, piers. More 3D design work is called for here. In fact, where the front fence meets the corner of the board below, it changes into a brick wall about 8 feet tall that runs all along the near edge. This can be another thing to add if time allows.

The near left building is obviously the paymaster's office and guard house that I'm working on currently. 

Finally, the red rectangle denotes the approximate location of the engine house. Inside it you can see a 3D print of the rooftop tower. I could in theory print the whole building, having found an HO scale model on Thingiverse. However, scaled up to 28mm it takes 5 days to print! I think I'll stick to foamcore with printed window frames.

I also have various bits of scatter terrain (wagons, water pumps, piles of timber etc) to provide cover during the game and some internal furniture for the offices.

Having looked at the set-up, I think I'll move the warehouse and offices to the left and the blue fence line to the right to make more room for the railroad bridge, boat ramp, and a flagpole that all need to fit between the water tower and the warehouse.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 14, 2023

A recent build

In the middle of working on the office building for Harpers Ferry, I suddenly felt the urge to produce something simple and quick. I stumbled upon a triangular PVC board base whose edges I'd previously rounded and chamfered so it made sense to stick something on it.

A cardboard carton that had contained something like cotton buds was an obvious start to a sci-fi storage tank. I added some plating from cut-up business cards. It could have had some kind of heavy weapon emplacement on the top but instead I just decided to portray a disused storage tank that some waste-dweller had converted into a dwelling.

I cut a crude hole in the tank as a doorway and then used the same fine corrugated card I've used for the Harpers Ferry tin roofs to define the edges of the entrance path. I then built up piles of windblown sand around the tank and the pathway using offcuts of foamcore covered with quick-drying Polyfilla. A coat of PVA and a scattering of sand completed the build.

Having painted the whole thing with Modpodge to seal it, I undercoated everything in the traditional Bitter Chocolate exterior masonry paint.

The base was then dry-brushed in progressively paler colours ending with a pale grey to pick out the larger stones in my coarse sand mix.

The tank got a base coat of various rusty oranges and browns and then a light dry brush in gunmetal before I added a partial coat of mid-blue and some watered-down orange rust streaks. 

Apart from drying time I reckon the whole thing was done in a couple of hours. Now I just need to find space for it in one of my sci-fi terrain storage boxes!

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Progress on Harpers Ferry

The last couple of days I've gone back to building work on the Harpers Ferry armoury. 

Researching the buildings isn't easy. All but the engine house (aka John Brown's Fort) were burned to the ground during the Civil War and the entire landform of the armoury grounds was later altered to make way for a revised alignment of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. I'm having to rely on a few contemporary photographs and drawings that inevitably concentrate on the storming of the engine house.

I previously finished the water tower that stood just inside the main gate of the armoury

and then went on to build the next building on the right-hand side of the area I'm modelling, which I believe to be a warehouse:

Now I'm on the penultimate building. This is variously described as the "guard house" and the "paymaster's office". I'm assuming that it has both functions. 

In the photograph below (taken during the Civil War) it's the building to the right of the arch-windowed engine house. Other pictures give us some idea of the taller section that's off-camera to the right of this photograph.

I've been building the structure in two phases. The lower section on the left was built first followed by the taller and deeper end with, as far as I can determine, the only door.

I'm doing all of the buildings with basic interior detail as it's likely fighting will take place within at least some of them. I'm planning on detailing the spaces (from left to right in the picture above) as follows:

The space with the bricked up windows as a sleeping area and inner office for the Paymaster (complete with 3D printed safe). The central area as an outer office for the Paymaster and his clerk, where the workers come to collect their wages. And the larger space as the guardroom (though there was only a single nightwatchman at the time).

Access to the interiors requires removable roofs. These are made initially from thin cardboard attached to supports made from offcuts of foamcore. In the photo below that were put in place while the PVA dried.

I've spent most of today tiling the taller half with Warbases laser-cut tiles.

It's a pig of a job but I know it'll be worth it in the end. 

Next steps are to make the currently black chimney somewhat taller - it doesn't quite work as it is - and then roof that part of the building. I don't have enough of the Warbases tiles left so I'm going to use the same material I used on the warehouse to create a corrugated iron roof for this too.

When this building is finished, I'll make a start on the engine house while contemplating how to build the front gates and, big challenge, the B&O railroad trestle along the river side of the board.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Another clear-out

I thought it would be a big emotional wrench but when I came to it the decision to sell off my 20mm Napoleonics was surprisingly easy. I far prefer the look of 28mm for Sharp Practice games and if I ever do big battle Napoleonics it'll almost certainly be in 6mm.

Yesterday I dug out the French to photograph them prior to putting them on eBay.

They are a from mixture of plastic manufacturers with a few old metals thrown in too. The main body is made up of six groups of eight infantry (one of them grenadiers) with accompanying officers, NCOs and drummers.

Then we have a unit of eight hussars, again with a leader, one of M. Larrey's ambulances, and some senior officers. I have some dragoons somewhere too. I need to dig them out and add them to the pile.

There are also three groups of six light infantry chasseurs with officer, NCO and drummer, three units of Nassauers (one of them grenadiers) with officer, musician and casualties, and two French gun batteries.

As I said, these are to go on eBay but I thought I'd give you guys the chance to make an offer on them first. I don't have a price in mind at present but I thought I might put them on eBay with a minimum bid of £50.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Joy of Six "report"

Last weekend was the Joy of Six show in Sheffield. As regulars here will know, I was part of the Cold War Commanders team running two "Prague Summer 1948" games. This isn't much of a "report" as I was too busy to see much of the event.

I ended up umpiring the TacWWII game for Andy C and Ian and for a number of punters who stepped in to try the rules. Andy T and Neil played the CWC game, again making places available for punters to try out.

View of the two battlefields from
the "CWC" end

The situation across the two games was that a Soviet column was advancing from Wroclaw to Prague via Hradec Kralowe (the hometown of Škoda as it happens). Along the route they would pass through a chokepoint at Česke Skalice, where Andy and Neil's scenario saw Czechoslovak troops making a firm stand between hills and lakeside.

Further back up the road from Wroclaw, a collapsed bridge in the village of Kleny had caused a long traffic jam of Soviet supply vehicles and artillery. This was just the target for a Czechoslovak counterattack (shades of the Russians in Ukraine more recently).

View from the Soviet entry edge -
Kleny in the distance.

I was so busy running the game that I saw very little of Andy and Ian's game but fortunately Andy has an excellent report here.

The TacWWII game was a little slow at first. This was for a couple of reasons. Firstly Ian had never played the rules before and Andy only once many years ago. Secondly, the amount of space available to set up the game rather hypnotised me and I ended up spreading things out too much and starting the two armies off further apart then they needed to be. 

The Soviet force consisted of a motor rifle battalion (in trucks with an attached company of T-44 tanks), a self-propelled gun regiment (realistically a small battalion-sized formation), and an artillery battalion. As a command challenge for Andy the last formation was part of the stalled column on the road and would only be released to Andy's command if requested via the proper (slow) channels or if the Czechoslovaks got too close.

The locals had a reduced-strength tank battalion in Cromwell IVs, a motor rifle battalion in OPp3Ns (you may know them as SdKfz 251/1s), an off-table artillery battalion, and some recce and light AA assets.

Soviet infantry advance on Vysokov, passing burning trucks
destroyed in an earlier action

Both sides had a low chance of getting air support. I should have increased the probability of aircraft appearing given the effort I'd put into acquiring suitable models!

A flight of Soviet Pe-2s attacks the Cromwells

Both sides' motor rifle battalions took casualties and I think both lost a company to bad morale test results after combat. In the end the two battalions ended up retreating from each other! I think I'm calling it an honourable draw.

The TacWWII rules worked well enough that Andy and Ian plan to play some more at the Elton club and all the people who tried out the rules for a few die rolls went away with the link to, where the rules will hopefully soon be hosted.

I didn't get to see much of the other games at the show and I came away not having bought anything from the traders (sorry guys). The day was not without cost, however, I got a £25 parking charge because I misread the small-print on the parking ticket dispenser at Sidney Street. Grrr!