15mm Peasant Dwelling

I've started to get back into 15mm medieval wargaming, and I've been looking about for some rural medieval buildings that aren't castles, with very limited success. So I've decided to try making some.

This is a very small peasant hut, called a "grübenhaus" in German, but built in very similar fashion all over Europe, and indeed, the world. It was basically a wattle-and-daub thatched tent, and to give the occupants some head-room, it was built over a dugout pit, usually about two or three feet deep — hence the name.

Although this one is very small, and would probably be the hovel of a villein or serf, the same principle was used for considerably larger houses, especially where the soil was dry enough to dig into without oozing damp.

Here's the first test print done, and given a squirt of primer to take off the shine.

I shall have to give the thatch a bit more texture I think, even though I'm not a big fan of the sort of thatch modelling that looks like bundles of sticks rather than straw.

Okay, here's the second test print with a bit of thatch texture added. It's also been printed at a lower resolution than the first, to speed things up a bit.

As I suspected, my 0.4mm nozzle hasn't been able to fully render the texture in the model, but it's perceptibly more textured than the first try, and I think it will probably be good enough for my purpose.

It would be nice to be able to have nice shaggy thatch on my wargames terrain, but quite a bit can be achieved with paint, and in the end they're only wargaming models after all, not diorama pieces.

NOTE: the STL is now available at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/medieval-peasant-dwelling/

This is a larger variant on the same theme, about twice the size of the little hovel in every dimension.

They would have been very dark and stuffy inside, as the only light would come from the open door and the smoke holes at the top of each gable. The peak of the roof would have been high enough to allow for a mezzanine floor for sleeping.

This sort of thing would have been a very common rural family home throughout Europe during the Dark Ages and early Medieval period, up until vertical framed buildings became the norm.

"Hail Caesar" Bases

After I'd started printing the movement trays for my Hail Cæsar formations, I started the arduous task of cutting up some 30x30mm MDF bases for individual figures. It's a job that is, to be frank, a pain in the arse.

Then it occurred to me that I could be using my replicator robot to make the bases for me. Duh!

So I whipped up some bases in Blender in the sizes I wanted — 30x30, 30x15, and 15x15 mm. As long as the filament and printer holds out, I now have an endless supply of them. I might see if I can get hold of some olive green filament though, to save on painting.

The bases, as you can see, have a 1.5mm lip and are 3mm thick in total, so they match my old MDF bases. The two knights in the centre of the tray are on one of those old bases. After I've glued the miniature(s) into the base, I fill it out with a generic acrylic filler — I think the stuff I'm using at the moment is called Permafil or something, but all the brands are pretty much the same.

I've made a change in my basing ground cover too. Up until now, I've been using static grass, and it's been okay. However, now I've changed to using three shades of Woodland Scenics fine turf foam flocks: Burnt Grass as the base, and very light sprinkles of Dark Forest, and Autumn Yellow to add a bit of texture. The foam soaks up the glue, and is a lot sturdier than the nylon static grass, and I think it looks better too. I could add a few little clumps of the coarse turf foam as well, for some additional texture, but I'm not sure I can be bothered.

The knights and the two single cavalrymen on the ends have been based with the static grass, while the two groups of two cavalry to either side of the knights are based with foam flock.

Movement Trays

From time to time I like to play with toy soldiers (15mm medieval warriors, from the sadly defunct Tabletop Games in the case of the ones in the photo) and to maintain as much flexibility as possible, with regard to rules systems, I mount them all on 30x30mm square MDF bases (40x40mm for 20mm figures, 20x20mm for 6mm).

However, then pushing them around the tabletop can get a bit tiresome, and it becomes easier if they can be moved en masse.

To which end, I've been tinkering in Blender to make these little movement trays. The sizes and proportions of things can be controlled very precisely in Blender, but for something like these, which need to be tight enough that the individual bases don't rattle around, but loose enough that they're easy to get in and out without sticking, a certain amount of trial and error is necessary to determine the exact degree of slack.

These first ones are all slightly too roomy, so I'll shrink them down by a few millimetres where necessary and print another lot. Once I've determined the optimum spacing, I can just production-line the things in any size or configuration.

Next Day...

I've settled on the exact sizes I want, and I've started a production line to print as many as I'm likely to need. Hail Caesar is fairly accommodating about basing, and you really only need to be able to distinguish between large (at rear), regular, and small units, and there are a couple of other things such as pikes and war-bands needing to be in deeper formations. All pretty straightforward.

I suppose I shall have to paint the trays a grassy green or something, but to be honest I quite like the pale blue.

Owlbearskin Rug

 Just what every high-class establishment needs lying by the fire — an owlbearskin rug.

Printed from the FDG May 2020 newsletter freebie STL. The 28mm figures are from Reaper.

Is it a bird? Is it a bear? It's an Owlbear!

Red-Headed Step-Dragon

I got this old miniature in amongst a whole bunch of old miniatures for a birthday a wee while ago, and have finally got around to painting it.

I don't know which manufacturer it comes from. Engraved under the base is "H.H.G. 1994", so I can date it at least.

Note: I am informed that it's from Heartbreaker Hobbies & Games, from their Magic: the Gathering line of blister packs.

CMP 3 ton Radio/Command Truck

I'm scampering about between modeling projects like a cocaine-addled grasshopper. This time I've headed back over to WWII again.

This is one of Bergman's 1:100 CMP 3 ton models, a radio/command truck, and I've painted it to be suitable for the latter stages of the Italian campaign, or for north-west Europe, post D-Day.

For NW Europe, it should also have the Allied stars applied, and maybe I'll return to it at some stage and add those.

The model is printed on my Ender 3 at 0.08mm in eSun PLA (a charming baby blue colour, for what that's worth). The coloured filament seems to me to be very much more brittle than either the grey or black that I've used before, and its inter-layer adhesion is not as good either.

Centurion AVRE (1:150)

I've got myself something for my 1:150 scale 1983 BAOR, for pushing and pulling and blowing things up: a Centurion AVRE.

It's the 1:100 scale Bergman model, rescaled to 66% and printed on my Ender 3.

My friend Steve is awaiting the arrival of a Creality DLP resin printer, and I'm all agog to see how it performs. I suspect I shall have to end up getting myself something similar, even though resin printers are a lot more expensive to run. The quality of print they're capable of is just much, much better than my trusty FDM machine will ever be able to produce.

M3 Grants (again)

I got a troop of three Grants 3d printed and painted and ready to go, so hoorah. They're intended for a Battlegroup: Torch British desert army from 1942-ish.

The palm trees are a pair of some luridly-coloured plastic ones I got from China a few years ago. I gave them a quick spritz of paint and put them on a base, and here they are. They came in a range of sizes; these are two of the medium-sized ones — the biggest ones would need to be cut down a bit in the trunk to be sized for 15mm stuff.

Grant (1:100)

I've designed a 1:100 scale M3 Grant tank for 3d printing, to give my desert-war Brits a decent gun before their Shermans start arriving.

This is the first test-print off my Ender 3, and by and large it's turned out OK I think.

Below is a comparison between Battlefront's old resin and metal kit (left) and my 3d print (right). As you can see, the Battlefront kit is substantially taller than my model, but I have double-checked my measurements and I'm confident that I'm right and they were wrong.

More 1:150 BAOR

Some more vehicles for my BG:NORTHAG 1:150 Brits are complete.

Above are FV432 APCs, and to the right, a FV104 Samaritan battlefield ambulance.

All are 3d printed in PLA on my Ender 3.

Command & Control in 1:150 Scale

This is a FV105 Sultan, a British command vehicle based on the CVRT series, modelled in 1:100 scale by loxfil and printed by me in 1:150 scale for my BG:NORTHAG BAOR force.
STLs are available from https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/family-cvr-t-set-two-fv104-samaritan-fv105-sultan/

I don't have any suitable 10mm infantry command figures for it as yet, and I'll probably wait until we're plague-free and things are more or less back to normal before I try ordering any from overseas.

I've magnetised the base and vehicle, so that the vehicle can be used separately if need be. The base itself is cut down from an old credit card, and flocked with my home-made sawdust and foam flocks.

Spotlight Experiment

I thought I'd try a little experiment with photographing miniatures, using a small focusable LED torch hand-held to get a spotlight effect.

I used quite a small aperture (f22) to get a decent depth of field, which meant a very long exposure. Being hand-held, the light wavered about quite a bit, but that was probably a good thing as it softened the edges of the shadows cast behind the mini a bit.

I'm not unhappy with the result. It's crude, but as a proof-of-concept I think it shows promise. A second torch, further away, could be used to add a bit of fill light too, I guess.

I note that this ettin has got a bit dusty. He could do with a wash.
The mini in its little stage

The little LED torch I used

Geschutzwagen H-39

I've painted up my 1:100 3d printed Hotchkiss Geschutzwagen H-39, and added a couple of crewmen from PSC plastic 15mm late-war German infantry packs.

The STLs are available at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/hotchkiss-geschutzwagen-h-39/

[EDIT] I've now added the 75mm SPAT version of this vehicle as well. No crew as yet.

Hotchkiss Geschutzwagen H-39 (1:100)

This is one of the vehicles based on captured French equipment, used by the 21st Panzer in Normandy in 1944. This particular on was a 105mm self-propelled gun, based on the chassis of a Hotchkiss H-39 tank.

The zip file contains two versions of the model: one single-piece model, and another with the gun separated out for separate printing and assembly. It's available at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/hotchkiss-geschutzwagen-h-39/

The model is designed at 1:100 scale for 15mm gaming.

I've added the 75mm gun now as well, to make the SPAT version of this vehicle. If you've already bought it, you should be able to just re-download the zip file to get the new components.

Chieftain 5 (1:150 scale, remix)

The remixed model

Some time ago, I downloaded a 1:100 scale Chieftain 5 model from Thingiverse that was intended for printing at 1/300 (6mm) scale.

Unfortunately, I don't recall who was the original designer.

I rescaled it to 1:150 for my BG:NORTHAG British army.

It was fine, as far as it went: the proportions were good, but it was quite simplified in several areas to make it printable in very small scale.

I decided to tinker with it a bit — not a lot, but just enough to refine some of its details.

I gave it a new gun barrel, and refined the curves of the cast turret front. I added sockets so that I could magnetize the turret. And I thinned down the tracks, and added a bit of track detail.

I also split the hull in half, fore and aft, and printed it in two pieces. This gave me much smoother printing of the very shallow curves of the hull front.

As I said, it was OK before, but I like it better now.

The original model

Munitionsschlepper auf Pz1A

I've put together a remix of a couple of models (TigerAce's Pz1A, and Bergman's ammo trailer) into a pair of Munitionsschlepper auf Pz1A in 1:100 scale (15mm)

You can download the STLs (free) at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/munitionsschlepper-auf-panzer-1a/

I'm in the process of doing a test print right now. (Done it – see below) The tracks, though nicely detailed, are quite thin, so I make no guarantees about its printability in FDM. Resin shouldn't have any problems though.

Pz1A with ammo trailer

Pz1A with cargo box

First test prints. As expected, the tracks didn't print especially well, but at least they're there and I can disguise the worst of the ugliness with mud and gunge.

More Monsters in (Disappointing) Book Form

I just received a copy of Volo's Guide to Monsters that I ordered from the Book Depository some time ago.

It's a D&D 5e bestiary. I forget now how much it cost; it was about standard for these 5e harcovers, so not particularly cheap.

It's 224 pages, but that's not really a very good indication of its contents, as about half of that is taken up with detailed fluff about certain traditional types of monsters like Beholders and Mind Flayers. The second half is made up of much shorter descriptions of monsters, but these too are padded out with fluff — and there are no new creatures in the book at all, as far as I can see; they're all monsters that have appeared over and over in previous editions of D&D. Originality is in short supply in this book, and if you have any of the Monster Manuals for any previous D&D editions, you can probably safely save your money and just use those.

Overall, the book reads like somebody's notes on the creatures appearing in their own campaign, with extensive campaign-specific filler that is, in my opinion, largely unnecessary and serves no real purpose except to inflate the page count. It might be good for a GM who is entirely lacking in imagination or inspiration for their own campaign, or one who is very new to world-building, but for most GMs with any experience, it's not that useful at all.

Unless you're not comfortable with converting monsters from older books for use with D&D5e, or you're brand new to D&D and want some help with monster "colour", I'd say that you probably don't need this book.

Churchill 3" Gun Carrier – repaint

 This is my 1:100 scale 3d-printed Churchill 3" Gun Carrier (model design by M. Bergman) which I've repainted in SCC2 and SCC14.

I airbrushed on the SCC14 "foliage" disruptive pattern, so the edges are really a lot softer than they should be. Also, I tried out a new technique for adding dust and dirt with which I'm not really all that happy, but overall it will do.

Rear view

Port view
— the lights make the 3d printer ringing a lot more prominent
than it appears in real life.

S.C.C. 2

1:100 scale Churchill 3" Gun Carrier (3d printed)

In 1941-42, the British army adopted the Standard Camouflage Colours (S.C.C.s) to come into use alongside, and eventually supplant the older greens and Dark Tarmac that had previously been used.

The base colour was changed from Khaki Green No.3 to S.C.C. 2 (brown), with disruptive patterning in S.C.C. 1a (dark brown) or S.C.C. 14 (black) over it, initially in the old striped pattern, and later in the "Foliage" and unofficial "Mickey Mouse" patterns. This change was, in part at least, due to a severe shortage of chromium oxide green pigment needed to produce strong green colours.

This Vallejo ModelAir shade, VMA 71.038 Camouflage Medium Brown was recommended to me as a decent match for S.C.C. 2, and I do like the look of it a lot better than the reddish milk-chocolate shades I've seen before. I don't have any direct experience of S.C.C. 2 (or any of the S.C.C. colours, really) so I'm going entirely with my gut feeling.

It's My Party, And I'll Roll If I Want To

I can't say I particularly like D&D5e, but it's very far from being my least favourite version of the system.

4e was a fucking dumpster fire as an expression of D&D, regardless of its merits as a tabletop fantasy skirmish wargame.

3e arrived with good intentions, but it introduced a whole lot of needlessly byzantine munchkinish complication and tipped the game more and more towards being a kind of wire-fu superhero game.

2e introduced some reasonable fixes for some of the more egregious idiosyncrasies of 1e, but in the process it made everything terribly, terribly bland.

AD&D1e was an eye-watering mish-mash of differing and competing systems all rolled up into one steaming manure pile, but at least it did have panache. A weird googly-eyed panache maybe, but it was there. It had an identity of its own.

Of them all though, I think my favourite version is one I've never actually played as a player: the BECMI series, as published in the 1981 Rules Cyclopaedia. It provides a good framework into which one can pour one's own personality in the form of house-rules, and is robust enough not to founder under the weight of them. It's easy to run on the fly, without constant reference to specific use-cases. I like it a lot.
NOTE: The Rules Cyclopaedia is available again as a (scanned) reprint POD from DriveThruRPG, in soft or hard covers. So is the Creature Catalogue; I don't know about any other BECMI stuff.

I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on D&D stuff, and RPG and wargaming stuff in general. There are more shelves full of it in the library. No doubt it will all end up in a skip after I shuffle off.

15mm Peasant Dwelling

I've started to get back into 15mm medieval wargaming, and I've been looking about for some rural medieval buildings that aren'...