Making the Ethereal Physical

A thing of beauty...

.....and utility


I really don't like using PDFs as references, especially working references. I find them very clunky to navigate around, even when they're well bookmarked. I much prefer hard copy.

So, since my copy of the Chain of Command rulebook had not (at that time) arrived, I decided to make my own by printing out the PDF in signatures and sewing them together into this little A5 case-bound volume. I am definitely not highly skilled as a bookbinder, but overall I think it turned out pretty well, and it should be sturdy enough to take a bit of a hammering without falling to bits.

Naturally, I only got half way through the process when my actual official and genuine rulebook arrived

Still, that means that now I have two copies, and in truth, once I know my way around it a bit better, this one will probably be more convenient to keep at the table, since it's a lot smaller and will take up less valuable table room.

Crones

This is the second in a group of three figures by DarkRealms on Thingiverse. Apparently it's a crone from Witcher 3, a game I know nothing at all about.

The STL is available at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3510420

I had a few problems with this model. 3d Builder identified issues with the STL that it was unable to fix, and in the end I decimated it in Blender and then imported it into 3d Builder to fix what problems were left. When it printed, the left arm (it's left, our right) printed detached from the body, but I pinned and glued it back in place without too much trouble.

The layer lines are more apparent in this close-up photo than in real life, but they're certainly perceptible on close examination. There's not a lot I can do about that, except buy a better miniature-printing printer, which I will no doubt do one day.






This one is the first of the series, and unlike the other one, printed without any issues at all.

Again, the layer lines are annoying, but bearable in a gaming miniature.

I have no idea what it's wearing on its head.

Chain of Command Markers – Test Run

A little bowl of grey goodies
Chain of Command uses a variety of markers to keep track of various troop conditions and stances. I thought I would see what I could do to make some with my 3d printer.

The little 12mm splat represents one shock, the large 20mm splat with the 5 is five shock. The 20mm splat with the P is a pin marker. The bar with OVERWATCH on it is pretty self-explanatory — the 45 degree ends show the unit's area of overwatch.

The set of STLs is downloadable from https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3509251

They're pretty quick to print, and I can get myself an adequate supply in a few hours. regrettably, I only have grey filament at the moment. So, if I want them any colour other than grey, I'll have to paint them. Life is truly a vale of woe.

The other sort of marker Chain of Command uses are Jump-Off Points, defining where you can deploy your troops from.

I made this one, Partly to try out Blender's cloth simulation.

It's a fuel dump marker, scaled for use with 15mm figures.

The STL is available for free download at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3509187

Figures are PSC 15mm plastic Russians
Shed is a scratch-build





Here's the first print of the jump-off point marker. It's a bit scrappy; it looks like it's time for a bit of a tune-up on my 3d printer. The jerry-cans in front are all nubbly and crappy, they don't look like the sleek smooth steel beauties they should be at all. Though to be fair, FDM probably isn't the best choice for that sort of detail.









Here's another one, this time it's an ammo dump. The base is 40mm in diameter.

The STL for this one can be downloaded from https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3513248






And yet another. This one is a mixed fuel and ammo dump marker, and is a little smaller than the other two at 30mm diameter.

This one is at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3515806

Learning a New Game

Steve and I had our introductory Chain of Command game last night to get our first taste of the mechanisms. We didn't use any terrain at all, so tactical options were pretty limited — BEF vs. Jerries on the barren open steppes of Dinnertable — but demonstrating tactical brilliance wasn't really the aim of the exercise.

Unfortunately we had to work from the PDF (still waiting for our books to arrive). I hate PDFs for game rules, they suck, especially when they're not bookmarked. I hate not being able to easily flick back and forth through the text. It may be a convenient format to carry stuff around in, but give me a hard-copy, even just a print-out, any day.

Still, it was fun as far as it went. The Patrol Phase mechanism was an interesting way of setting up the initial parameters of the game, and the Command Dice lottery leads to some really interesting (and often frustrating!) choices. There are lots of bits and pieces in the rules, but the fundamentals are simple enough that we were playing along quite smoothly within half an hour — until we hit a new situation and had to find it in the accursed PDF!

From first impressions, I'd say it shows great promise. I think it will likely become our preferred platoon-action game system, with Battlegroup for anything larger.

Char 2C (1:100)

The Char 2C (also known as FCM 2C) was a French super-heavy tank of the Interwar period, and went into service in 1921. I don't believe any of them ever saw action; those that were in service in 1940 when Germany invaded were either abandoned, or were destroyed by aerial bombing while still on the rail-cars waiting to take them to the front.

As such, this is yet another model that is of pretty limited use on the wargames table, but as usual I don't see that as a particular impediment to designing one for 3d printing.

I originally found a model of it on Thingiverse, but the geometry of that model was so bad that I found myself spending more effort on trying to fix it than I would have spent in designing a model of my own. So that's what I did. It's primarily based on drawings in one of George Bradford's books, plus various photographs I found on the internet. This is one of those vehicles that existed in a variety of configurations, so I make no guarantees as to absolute accuracy. However, it does look like what it's meant to be, which is a good start for a wargaming model.

This model is designed at 1:100 scale for 15mm gaming, and it's in several pieces for ease of printing — this image has been assembled digitally. As of writing, I have the last pieces on the printer and, all going well, I should be able to put it together tomorrow morning.




Next Day....




Here's the first test print (0.08mm layers, eSun PLA+), all assembled.

Unfortunately I got some pretty bad under-extrusion on the turrets, and they'll have to be reprinted, but it's done its job to let me know what works and what needs to be addressed.

The main thing (apart from the missing lifting lugs) is that, to ease assembly, it really needs some locating sockets that I can put bits of filament in to make sure the pieces go together in exactly the right place. This was done all by eye, which works, but isn't ideal.

There's a lot of printing in this — all together, for all the components, it took me about 23 hours. The track runs alone took 15 or 16; I split them each in half fore and aft and printed them standing up. I tried a config in Cura where I printed them each in one piece lying down flat on the print bed, and that timed out at about 9.5 hours (probably more like 11, knowing Cura's estimates). However, I find I get better, cleaner surface detail on vertical than horizontal surfaces.

Maggot Golem

A couple of sessions ago, I could have used a Maggot Golem figurine, but didn't have one. It's too late for that particular encounter, but now I do have one, just in case.

I've experimented with Cura's "fuzzy skin" setting, and used the "Cave Lurker" by Arian Croft as the basis for the figure. I smoothed it all out a bit and decimated it in Blender, since I wouldn't be needing any surface detail at all.

As usual, I've included Sergeant Measureby and his +5mm Spear of Measuring for scale.

Big Gun

BL-20 203mm Tracked Howitzer model by M. Bergman
Figures are 15mm plastic Soviets from PSC


"Oy! There's a sniper in that city block! Just take care of him, will you comrades?"
"OK then, do you know just where he is?"
"No, does it matter?"
"Well, no....."


I've always liked the Soviet 203mm tracked howitzer. It just looks so.... mechanical. I don't know that I'm all that likely to need a model of one for the wargames table any time soon, but the way I see it, that's not an excuse not to print one anyway.

The print is going to need a bit of cleaning up, especially the muzzle which is a bit malformed. Still, it should be reasonably straightforward. And of course I'll need a crew... I'll see what Peter Pig has that I might be able to use. I already have a Voroshilovetz to tow it about the place.

Star-Crossed

Here's a thing I made. Which I'm sure will come in handy. Though I don't quite know for what.

It's a 20mm d6 with stars on three faces and balkenkreuz on the other three.

The STL is downloadable from https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3474568 for anyone who can think of a use for it.

I was thinking that maybe it could be used as a turn initiative randomizer for WWII wargames, but I don't know if that would make for a more enjoyable game, or just a more frustrating one. Or if nothing else, it could just be used as a d2.

T-28

 Here's the Soviet T-28 medium tank that I ballsed up the printing of and had to retrieve.

In the end it turned out OK, but it could certainly be better.

I don't normally time myself when I'm painting things, but in this case I put something on the printer just before I started on this one, and it told me exactly how long I'd been going. So this model's painting, from go to whoa, took me about an hour and a half.

I printed a spare turret as well, with the frame radio aerial.

Radios of any kind were rare in Soviet AFVs of the time (late 1930s to mid-1940s) and probably only the company leader would be likely to have a radio capable of both transmitting and receiving, and troop leaders might only have a receiver. Command by flag signals were still a common thing amongst Soviet tank units at the beginning of WWII. So that means that I'll only really need one radio turret per troop, at maximum.

The Heartbreak of Filament Run-Out






I went to print a 1:100 scale Soviet T-28 medium tank, and as is my habit these days, I split the hull in half fore and aft and printed it in two pieces.

Then I went off to bed, to sleep the sleep of the innocent.

Alas, I had over-estimated the amount of filament left on the reel.

When I got up this morning, this was the horrible sight that greeted me — an incomplete print, with the model's innards immodestly exposed for all to see.

Oh, woe! Dismay!

My first reaction was to just reprint it, but then I thought that I could use the opportunity to try a retrieval strategy of which I had read, but never actually done myself.




It is possible in Cura, the 3d printing slicing software I use, to move the model partially below the level of the virtual print bed. Then only the portion still exposed is processed for printing.

It can be done quite precisely — I could measure the height of the piece I had already printed, and drop the model in Cura by exactly that amount. However, models like this have a lot of surface features that can be used to do it pretty accurately by eye, which is what I did.


I did have to sand the incomplete faces perfectly flat, as they weren't complete layers, but that was easy enough and presented no problems.

In the end, it turned out pretty well, and the repair seams won't be very noticeable at all once I get some paint on to the model.

As an aside, the new grey PLA is about a bajillion times easier to photograph than the white was.

Ice Worm

This is Reaper's Ice Worm, or Remorhaz as it's known in D&D.

I originally meant it to be in pale metallic blues and greens, but I went rather too heavy with the colour and it ended up in this rather tropical palette. Never mind, it will still do for gobbling up PCs wherever it might be located. I might get another though, and see if I can't do a better job.

I painted this a few years ago, and this group of photos is mostly to try out the new backdrop and turntable I made for my light-box.

Mister Blobby

I made this blob-monster some years ago out of a bit of expanding foam gap-filler overflow.

I glued it to a steel washer for stability, and slapped on some paint and washes — et voila! 

An all-purpose amorphous blob, ready to absorb any PCs that get near it.

Plastic Concrete Stuff for the Tabletop

STL came from Thingiverse, but I failed to take note of the author.
I found it with a search for "bunker"


This is an experimental print I did to examine the practicality of FDM 3d printing for simple battlefield emplacements and the like.

This is supposed to be a rooftop flak emplacement for a large dug-in bunker, like some of the ones found on the Atlantic Wall. It's sized for 15mm models. It would not be a very complex modeling task in traditional materials like foam and plaster; I'd say I could probably knock one out in two to four hours, not counting drying times.

The print, even at quite a low resolution (0.2mm layers), took about eleven hours to complete, plus another hour and a half or so for the gun (at a higher resolution). I could thus expect to have made two or three in foam and what-not in that time.

The advantage of printing is that it's pretty much fire-and-forget, as long as nothing goes wrong; I could put one on to print overnight and take it off the printer the next morning when I stumble out of bed, bleary and decrepit. Disadvantages include the fact that every one would be identical, including damage, and there are the visible printing artifacts from the low-rez printing.

I think, in the end, the ease and convenience of printing win out for me, as I'm primarily interested in what are essentially gaming tokens rather than diorama-quality models. I don't mind so much having to wait; after all, it's still quicker than ordering a resin model online and waiting for it to arrive.

Cheap Plastic Crap

I was idly browsing around AliExpress one day, looking for Cheap Plastic Crap that might be useful to me for wargames terrain, and happene...