Monday, 17 April 2017

Jenny No-Nose

80003: Ellen Stone by Bob Ridolfi
I'm pretty sure this figure must have come from Reaper's first Bones Kickstarter, because they had real trouble with facial features not filling out properly in the mould on a number of the miniatures. This is one such.

In Reaper's catalogue, this is 80003: Ellen Stone, by Bob Ridolfi, but I always call her Jenny No-Nose because, well, she has no nose. Rather than try to fill in her missing features with paint, I've just painted her with a flat rag-doll face with no eyes or nose and just a gash for a mouth. She's a Weird West gun-babe.


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Reaper Bat Demon

77261: Bat Demon by Bob Ridolfi
Next up on the Bones-painting production line is this one, 77261: Bat Demon by Bob Ridolfi.

At first I was going to paint him classic devil red, but I went with green in the end to give it a more serpentine look. I don't know why I wanted that; there's nothing very serpentine about the sculpting, but there you are. The heart has its reasons.

The wings and elevated position make this figure a bit more imposing than its stature actually warrants. As far as its body goes, it's just very slightly — if at all — larger than the average Reaper bloke.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Reaper Blood Demon (Babau)

77258: Blood Demon by Bob Ridolfi
Here's another of my vast stash of Reaper Bones figures, now splashed with paint. This is a very quick and unfussy paint job, and not really a very good one, but it will do the job. It took me about half an hour.

It appears in Reaper's inventory as 77258: Blood Demon, but it seems pretty clear that it's based on a D&D minor demon called a Babau that I first saw in the MM2, published in 1983.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Disgruntled Bearer

77141: Townsfolk: Oswald the Overladen by Bobby Jackson
I've painted this figure before — I got two of them in one or other of the Reaper Bones Kickstarters.

Both of them ended up with decidedly unhappy facial expressions, but of the two this is the one that looks the least trustworthy. He really seems to be holding a grudge against his exploitative employers, and no wonder.

Lancia

This is my 3d printed 1:100 scale (15mm) Lancia armoured truck, a WW1 vintage vehicle that served on until the late 1920s.

I've crewed it with WW1 British seated figures from Peter Pig, though I've had to amputate all their legs below the knee to get their heads down below the parapet.

The Lewis guns are another of my 3d printed models; they're probably a little fragile for the rough and tumble of the wargames table, but we shall see.

BF Stormtroopers/Freikorps

These are some 15mm WW1 German stormtroopers I picked up a while ago when Battlefront were having a sale to clear out their WW1 stock.

I'll be using them mainly as Freikorps, since the interwar period is my usual stomping ground rather than the Great War.

The coloured blobs are glass beads that I use to indicate the figure's weapon load, to ease identification for my decrepit old eyes: red for LMG, orange for SMG, pale blue for pistol, purple for portable anti-tank (ATR, PIAT, Panzerfaust etc.). I used to also use white beads for rifles, but since that's the default weapon for the period I thought it was a bit of a waste of time. So now I only indicate anything that's not a bolt-action rifle.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Cruiser A9 — Caunter scheme

I repainted one of my old 1:100 scale (15mm) Battlefront A9 cruiser tanks in the Caunter camouflage pattern that the British used in Greece and North Africa up until the end of 1941.

It's an interesting camouflage scheme, and one which I am quite likely to never, ever paint again unless I can work out some less tedious way of achieving it. I thought I would be able to just mask and airbrush it, but all the surface protrusions made that a nightmare — maybe it would be less troublesome if I could have painted all the components separately and then assembled them. Anyway, for this one I just ended up doing it freehand.
NOTE: this is Battlefront's original sculpt of the A9. They've remastered it since then and added a bit more detail. Nevertheless, I think this old one is a pretty decent representation of the original vehicle.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Target Acquisition and Sneakiness in Bolt Action

Something that irks me slightly about Bolt Action is that there's no real mechanic to reflect battlefield concealment or stalking. If you can draw a line of sight between one model and another, then they can see each other plain as day. Cover helps your troops to avoid being hit when fired at, but it does nothing to impede target acquisition in the first place.

I'd like to propose a couple of house rules:

Target Acquisition:

Before one unit can shoot at another, they first have to acquire the target by passing an Orders Test (though if they fail, they don't suffer the usual consequences of failure, they just fail to see the target).

It would be modified as follows:
  • Per Pin marker, (-1)
  • Acquiring unit is Down, (-1)
  • Concealment (see below)
  • Target is Down (-2)
  • If the target moved more than 3" within the last turn (+2)
  • If the target moved less than 3" (+1)
  • If a friendly unit in line of sight of the acquirer shot at the target within the last turn (+1).
  • If the target shot at another unit within the last turn (+1)
  • If the target shot at the acquiring unit at any time from its current position (+2)
Once a unit has acquired another, they maintain acquisition until either they or the target moves out of line of sight.

Concealment:

A unit in line of sight from another, but not yet acquired, can declare itself to be attempting concealment.

Concealment has no effect except to hinder acquisition by an enemy unit.

Roll 1d3 to determine the penalty to other units' acquisition:
  • Inexperienced troops are at -2
  • Regular troops are at -1
  • Veteran troops at -0.
The roll is further modified as follows:
  • If more than 3" from any cover, -2
  • If less than 3" from cover, but still in the open, -1
  • If touching cover, or if the unit is partially in cover, -0
  • If the entire unit is in cover (but still in line of sight), +1
  • Small vehicle or gun (e.g Bren carrier, jeep, 6 pdr) -1
  • Medium vehicle or gun (e.g. truck, half-track, PaK 40) -2
  • Large vehicle or gun (tank, 17 pdr, 88mm) -3.
Regardless of penalties, the minimum score is zero — no matter how incompetent your troops, they're not going to become more obvious by trying to hide.

Infantry and man-packed crew weapons can still move up to 3" while attempting concealment, but it will make it easier for enemies to spot you (see above). Vehicles of any kind must remain stationary to be concealed.

Concealment is lost as soon as the concealed unit opens fire, and may not be regained without moving to a new position at least one Run move away.

A veteran infantry unit, Down, in cover, and concealed is going to be quite hard to spot, but as soon as they open fire they'll lose the benefit of their sneakiness.

Re-Basing the Desert Rats

Figures glued to ½" washers before finishing off the groundwork
These were the very first WWII 15mm figures I ever painted.

I bought them when Flames of War was brand new and exciting, and based them for that system, but I became disenchanted with FoW — partly due to its own shortcomings, but mostly because of the way those shortcomings were being gamed by people who were obsessed with winning rather than having fun. Anyway, I haven't played FoW for many years.

Here they are as I originally based them.
Empty sabot base behind a full one.
Little flocked plugs can be used to disguise empty sockets.
My current practice is to base figures individually on 12.5mm (½") washers, and then to use MDF sabot bases if I should ever need to use them for something like Crossfire or Flames of War or whatever. What I'm playing most regularly these days is Bolt Action, which is not without its own flaws, but then again, what rules are not?

Where the washers fall down for basing is when I'm dealing with individual prone figures. They don't really fit elegantly on a ½" washer, and larger washers extend out too far sideways, not to mention being too large for my MDF sabot sockets. I haven't yet come up with a really satisfying solution to that issue, and I'm currently sidestepping it by avoiding using individual prone figures wherever I can.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Vickers Medium Mk.II* (1:285)

Get it at http://shpws.me/Mv2T
Here's my 1/285 scale model of the Vickers Medium Mk.II*, printed by Shapeways in FUD resin.

It's available as a sprue of five vehicles at http://shpws.me/Mv2T.

Carden-Loyd Carrier (1:285)

Get it at http://shpws.me/Og3u
This is the little Carden-Loyd Medium Machine-Gun Carrier Mk.VI, used by the British army and produced from 1927 to 1935.

This model is 1:285 scale, and therefore very tiny indeed, 3d printed by Shapeways in FED resin. You can get it at as a sprue of twelve vehicles http://shpws.me/Og3u

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

10-hex Hex Mapping Sheet

This sheet is A4 landscape, 10 hexes from side to side. The hexes are numbered by column and row, so hex 5.7 would be the fifth column, seventh row. It has lined areas on each side for note-taking convenience. There's a cartouche at top for titling your map if you so desire.

I like it better than the older 10-hex hexes I designed because it has complete hexes in the corners, and the numbering makes it easier to key.

As with any hex grid of this sort, you can zoom in on individual hexes just by drawing on another sheet to a larger scale. If your top-level map is 10,000 kilometres from side to side (1,000 kilometres per hex), the next level down would have 100 kilometre hexes, then 10, then 1, then 100 metres per hex, and so on if you want to get really detailed.

Below are links to a couple more, one of 4 hexes side to side, the other of 7. Trying to keep complete hexes in all the corners means you can't really manage an elegant sequence of sizes; four is useable maybe, but I'm not so sure about seven.

4 hexes, side to side

7 hexes, side to side

Making My World A Bit Flatter

My FRPG campaign world has been around for several decades now, and it's gone back and forth between being flat and being a globe.

I like the idea of a disc-world, but I've never been able to come up with a satisfactory way of explaining how a day and night cycle would work.

I found this gif somewhere on the internet that does the job. Though it would have been better if I'd had the concept in mind before I started drawing the maps, because now I'll have to rearrange everything to cater to having the icy frigid regions in the centre and edge rather than top and bottom. It's not a huge deal, fortunately; it just means that north and south become in and out.

So, why bother? Well, why not?

Later...

So, this is the redesign of all of my world that I've mapped so far, as a flat disc. I'm using the 10-hex hex grid I designed a few days ago, with 1000 mile hexes on this map.

I've had to move and rotate the archipelago to get its arctic areas to align with the centre and edge frigid zones, but apart from that it doesn't really affect anything that's happened in any of the campaign to date.

In fact, the whole flat-world thing has very little mechanical impact on anything. It's pretty much just for flavour.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Reaper Blue Wizard

77034: Kieran Tallowmire, Wizard by Bobby Jackson
Here's another wizard from one or other of the Reaper Bones Kickstarters. I've had him sitting on my work-table for ages, and I thought I'd better get him out of the way.

New Stuff From Shapeways

These arrived this morning from Shapeways. I've given them a squirt with a pale grey primer to make it a bit easier to see what's what; the translucent resin is terrible to photograph.

I'm pretty happy with the way they've turned out. They're pretty tiny; the carriers are only about 10mm long, and the Vickers Mediums about 20mm.

1:285 scale Carden-Loyd MG Carrier, still on the sprue (printed in FED resin)
https://www.shapeways.com/product/MS8BTEMAU/carden-loyd-carrier-mkvi-6mm-12up

1:285 scale Vickers Medium Mk.II* (printed in FUD resin)
https://www.shapeways.com/product/G66SP8C2P/vickers-medium-mkii-6mm-5up

Monday, 27 March 2017

Carden-Loyd Carrier (15mm)

https://www.shapeways.com/product/DL58N5Q22/carden-loyd-carrier-mkvi-15mm
I made a 1:100 scale (15mm) version of my little Carden-Loyd MG Carrier.

This was the direct ancestor of the much more famous and numerous Universal Carriers of WWII.

3d Printing Catalogue

Gradually, my catalogue of 15mm 1920s and '30s models increases. There are quite a few more that could be done of course, but there are enough there to equip a reasonably decent army (for the British, at least). And it grows.

It's a pity it's such a niche market, but then again, if it wasn't I would almost certainly never have gotten into designing for 3d printing at all. I really only started because there was virtually nothing available for the period in my chosen scale, and not much more in any other scale for that matter.

I originally planned to use 3d printing only to create masters for traditional moulding for resin and/or metal drop-casting. That never eventuated; there are few of these models that would be suitable for that purpose without some quite substantial redesigning. If I were going to go into producing models on a commercial scale, I'd have to revisit that idea — 3d printing is still too expensive for mass production. At least, it is if you have to use somebody else's services. And it's too slow if you have to settle for just one printer to run your home-based production line (and even one printer is out of my fiscal reach for the foreseeable future).

Tim the Enchanter

77174: Leisynn, Mercenary Mage ($2.49) by Tim Prow
Reaper calls this guy Leisynn. Mercenary Mage.

There are some, however, who call him..... Tim!

Friday, 24 March 2017

H&R Covenanter

B107 Cruiser Mk.IV Covenanter from Heroics & Ros
This is the 1:300 scale Covenanter from Heroics & Ros. It's not a bad little model, though it could do with being hiked up a little over the running gear; the hull looks a little flat.

This is the Covenanter they have at Bovington. You can see that the track guards slope up quite sharply from front and back, creating a considerable gap between them and the tracks.

Thanks to severe overheating issues, this tank never made it into active service but was relegated to training duties only.  There's a possibility that a few were sent out to Egypt, but it's more likely that they were Mk.I Crusaders — the two types are superficially quite similar in appearance.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

FOW the 4th

I bought myself a copy of Flames of War 4e, mostly out of curiosity since I haven't played FOW at all since the early days of 2e. I got the 3e freebie mini-book when they released that, but frankly I thought that all they'd done was add a whole lot of pointless bloat without really fixing anything much.

4e is, at first glance, less bloated and more streamlined, and the core rulebook is a lot cheaper than previous editions. But it's not really complete unless you also buy one or both of the 4e army books, which I am loathe to do.

I do like the idea of the Unit Cards for ease of reference, but since my chosen period is 1930-40 I'm going to have to make my own if I want to use them. That's not really a big deal; I have them skillz.

There is still no sort of Overwatch rule, as far as I can see. Still nothing stopping you from running your tanks uninterrupted from cover to cover in front of a massed line of AT guns and turning them to keep your front armour facing any threat at start and end of movement, even if you're moving absolutely flat out.

I still don't think it's one of the better rule sets available for WWII, but meh, I'll play it if there's nothing else.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Centurion

Heroics & Ros B21  Centurion Mk.I
In my most recent order from Heroics & Ros, I included these, on a whim: the Centurion Mk.I of 1945, armed with the 17 pounder and a co-axial 20mm Polsten gun.

I have no immediate use for them, but they, and the large number of Comets I have that I also have little use for, will provide an answer for those guys who like to field imaginary German WWII armies consisting of nothing but King Tigers and Panthers.

I will probably replace their gun barrels with brass or steel pins at some stage. The soft alloy they're cast in is far too bendy for my taste.

Laser-cut roads

A while ago, when I had access to someone with access to a laser cutter, I designed these interlocking road sections and had them cut out of 3mm MDF. There are more of them, but this is all I could be bothered laying out.

The zig-zag tabs at each end of the sections means that they can be flipped end for end to change the direction of a curve and still interlock. The sections are about 50mm wide.

I've bevelled all the edges on my benchtop sander, and eventually they'll be painted and flocked. And that will be a bit tricky, because MDF just loves to warp — I'll have to seal them, both sides, with a spirit-based sealer before I go on to doing the actual decorative paintwork.

Having actually had them made, and tried them out in various experimental layouts, I can say that they work as expected. However, I'm not really sure that the interlocking tabs actually add any useful functionality — they'd probably be just as useful, and a bit quicker to set up and take down, if they just butted up end to end. Also, I'm not sure that there's any real benefit to using MDF over, say, pieces of felt or rubber.

Still, I've got them now.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

More H&R Artillery

Heroics & Ros B102 4.5" Howitzer
Here's some more Heroics & Ros 1:300 scale WWII artillery, this time the venerable 4.5" howitzer. It was a British WWI model that served on into the early part of WWII, eventually being completely replaced by the 25 pounder.

I don't have any crew figures for these guns as yet, so I haven't finished off the base-work — the guns are just sitting on "dirt" made from MDF sawdust on 25 x 25mm magnetic strip.

Friday, 17 March 2017

H&R Big Guns (but very small)

B43 7.2" Howitzer
This is the British WWII 7.2" Howitzer from Heroics & Ros, with eight foot tall GHQ crewmen.

This artillery piece was a pretty massive piece of kit, so it's a pity that the figures are so tall — it makes the guns look a lot smaller by comparison. Next time I get a pack of H&R artillerymen, I'll swap them out I think.

They're based on 25x25mm pieces of magnetic strip, which makes storage and transportation a lot easier and safer. Plus, the strip is thick enough to give me something to handle without having to grab the models themselves — that's especially important for artillery, because it's the crew figures that bear the brunt of mishandling, and they're the most fragile part of each base.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Carden-Loyd Carrier (1:285)


https://www.shapeways.com/product/XL7A9GKNA/carden-loyd-carrier-mkvi-6mm
The Carden-Loyd carriers were the direct ancestors of the later, more famous Universal Carriers of WWII. They were tiny, very lightly armoured, and had a tendency to fall to bits, but they were useful enough to be used in their hundreds by the British army in the late 1920s and '30s. The army liked them because they were cheap, and they could be used to practice their light tank doctrine. They appeared in a variety of roles (mortar carrier, light anti-tank gun tow, for example), but the most common was the Vickers-armed Medium Machine-gun Carrier, as shown here.

This model is only about 10mm long — the honking great big struts are sprues to support the gun barrel and towing hitch during printing.

https://www.shapeways.com/product/MS8BTEMAU/carden-loyd-carrier-mkvi-6mm-12up
It's also available as a twelve-up sprue — much more cost-effective.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

New Arrivals From Heroics & Ros

A new batch of 1:300 scale minis just arrived from Heroics & Ros. From left to right and top to bottom, they are:

  • B13 Grant
  • B34 Archer
  • B33 Deacon
  • B68 Matador
  • B108 Lloyd Carrier (with separate tilt, top right)
  • B93 Humber Snipe (staff car)
  • B43 7.2" Howitzer

and then (bottom section)

  • B102 4.5" Howitzer
  • B21 Centurion Mk.I
  • B107 Cruiser Mk.IV Covenanter

Once upon a time, Heroics & Ros provided a crew strip with each gun, but it looks like that's no longer the case. It's a bit of a nuisance; now I'll have to order some and pay postage separately. I can't say I'm all that surprised though — it seems to have become standard practice amongst pretty much all manufacturers to provide guns naked and crewless. I just wish I'd known beforehand.

These are just as they arrived, straight from the bag. All I've done to them thus far is put the appropriate turrets on the right hulls.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Tiny 25 pounders

I've made a start on painting and basing my 3d-printed 25 pounder battery, c.1940.

The crew figures are from GHQ, and I suspect they're going to be too tall for the guns (as GHQ infantry are wont to be). I'd rather be using Heroics & Ros figures really, in spite of the lower level of detail, but they're taking a very long time about fulfilling orders these days and I don't want to wait another six weeks to get the bases done.

Something I realised when I was gluing the guns down is that there's no actual gunner. He should be sitting on the seat on the left of the gun, crouched over the sights — I think I might have to revisit the file and add one.

I'm using 25x25mm bases (cut down from old credit cards and the like), which would make the standard 8-man crew a bit crowded. However, the official "low establishment" crew was only four, so I've got a bit of leeway.

Couple of days later

I've finished painting and basing the guns and limbers. As I suspected, the GHQ crew are a bit too tall, but they'll just have to do. I'll probably glue some magnetic sheet underneath the plastic bases at some stage.

Considering the size of games we're usually playing, it's unlikely I'll ever need to field a whole twelve-gun battery, but if I need to, I now can. There's a comfort in that.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Shapeways Micros

I've painted the 1:285 scale Lanchester Mk.II armoured cars and Burford-Kegresse MG carriers I got recently from Shapeways.

These are printed in FUD resin, and considering that they're only about 20mm long, I think the amount of detail rendered in this material is pretty sweet. I'd like to see how they look in FED resin, but that printing process is even pricier than FUD.

The Burford-Kegresse is the first vehicle I've modeled crew for, and I'm quite happy with how they've turned out, though I'd say that in this scale I could do with ignoring a lot of the detail I included, and exaggerating features like noses.

They're both on sprues of five vehicles each, which is much, much more cost-effective than buying them individually.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Covenanter (1:100 WSF)

I've given my 1:100 scale 3d-printed Covenanter cruiser tank a squirt of KG#3 so that it's a bit easier to see what's going on there.

This one has been printed in WSF nylon, and while that's OK for tabletop use, I'm tempted to splash out and get one printed in FUD resin.

I ordered this one before I adjusted the road wheels and tracks a bit lower, so it doesn't 100% reflect the current state of the model at Shapeways.

It's available for sale at https://www.shapeways.com/product/PJ4PVBAJW/covenanter-15mm

Friday, 10 March 2017

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Think it's an eeeeeevil castle? Bet it is.
I was thinking about the various RPG settings I've seen (and made), and about the fact that they tend to be pretty fucking bleak in one way or another. There seems to be a persistent tendency to give them miserable, dystopian backgrounds.

The standard D&D setting is often described as being "points of light in a sea of darkness" — tiny patches of civilisation surrounded by evil monster-infested wilderness. But even those patches of civilisation are often portrayed as suffering from either an overt or covert rottenness. It does has the advantage of giving the characters lots of things to fight without having to go very far, but it would be a depressing sort of world to have to live in.

I can't think of a single example, in a RPG setting, of a Utopian society that doesn't have some dark secret beneath it.

It's true that such a setting would be pretty dull, from the hack-and-slash point of view, if that were all there was in the milieu. But surely there's no reason why such a place couldn't exist somewhere in a made-up world, if only to provide a contrast to all the other sinks of corrupt viciousness.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

1:285 Burford-Kegresse

Here's my 3d-printed Burford-Kegresse armoured MG carrier/APC from about 1930.

It's alongside a GHQ A9 Cruiser, for comparison. The A9 is a few years later than the Burford-Kegresse.

I'm really pretty happy with the amount of detail I can get into a FUD 3d print. There are some issues with striping on vertical and flat sloped surfaces, but nothing I can't live with.

More of the Fruit of My 3d-Printing Loins

Some more 3d-printed bits and pieces arrived from Shapeways today. I've photographed them as they arrived in all their naked glory, but the nature of the materials means that it'll be easier to see what they really look like when I get some paint on to them.

I'm happy with all of them, but I'm especially pleased with the earrings and the 1:285 scale stuff in FUD resin.

Peerless Armoured Car
1:100 scale, WSF

Covenanter
1:100 scale, WSF

"Corroded Cone" earrings
These ones are in Shapeways' "raw bronze" material.

Boer War "Long Tom"
1:100 scale, WSF

1:285 scale stuff (FUD resin). Left to right:
Lanchester MkII Armoured Cars
Burford-Kegresse armoured MG carrier/APC
25 pounder battery

Monday, 6 March 2017

A Tropical Holiday For One And All

http://mojobob.com/roleplay/campaign/eyeless04HumanSacrificeJob.html#session01

The next job for our Intrepid Thursday Nighters sends them off to a hot, wet, stinking, insect-infested tropical wonderland to foil a dastardly ritual and save the sacrifice from being sacrificed.

I'm running my campaign fairly erratically at the moment. It has to fit in with whether one of our number is otherwise occupied or not, so sessions might only happen once a month — I never know for sure.