Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Another Night of Basing

Tried to pick up where I left off last night. I pulled out the dead wood pieces from the swamp accent stamp and the mortar bombs from the trench accent stamp. Not to bad. The green stuff definitely did a better job capturing detail. I mixed a bit more blue in with the yellow so that while the green stuff hardened it remained a bit flexible. I cut out the various roots with an x-acto knife and glued them to the mud and snow bases I did last night. 

I then used more milliput to try and blend them into the bases a bit better. Probably could have done a better job but once they are painted and some more basing materials added you shouldn't be able to see the transitions. I then used the left over milliput that I had mixed up and tried out the plank stamp on the bases I use for Calamity. This is really a nice stamp and left some terrific detail. Oh and Bert's Lip Beeswax really helps keeping things from sticking to your fingers and to the stamps!

I tried to hit the snow and mud bases with a wash to pull out the details but you still can't see it to well, its just not deep enough and really its not suppose to be terribly detailed just enough to add some dips and folds to the ground.

The milliput did a fair job of capturing the detail. The mortar bombs are going to need some extra work to make look good. I'm not really sure what the tin can thing is suppose to be. 

Here I pressed green stuff into the swamp accent mold. These came out really nice, the green stuff really captured the detail.

Starting to cut up the roots to place on the bases. Here the detail is being applied to a base from Secret Weapon Miniatures

Blending the detail in with milliput

One of the mud and snow bases with a wash to try and show off the detail.

Wash on one of the 50mm bases

Adding some detail to a mud and snow base

I think this is everything

Tried to capture some of the small crater detail with the leftover milliput

Really nice wood detail on the wood plank stamp

Monday, October 20, 2014

Basing with Stamps

I pointed out the Basius 2 Kickstarter in an earlier post this month. These look great but they don't deliver till early next year and I need something similar now to finish up my Marines. I was aware of Happy Seppuku from a Kickstarter they ran back in July of 2013 and one another that funded earlier this month. They use a hard latex as opposed to the resin used by Wargame Bakery. I decided to give them a try and I ordered their mud and snow stamp along with their scenic trench accent stamp. These are much smaller than Basius but are a bit more flexible so using them as press molds may actually work better. Time will tell.

So I gave it try tonight (yea, pretty much from the mailbox to the workbench). I did some 30 and 50mm lipped bases and a couple of pressings in the trench accent. I think the bases came out pretty good but after I ruined one of my "casts" I elected to let the other castings harden up a bit longer.

Here's what I achieved this evening:

Got my materials out. Milliput is my go to putty for stuff like this. Its easier to mix and work with than green stuff and its significantly cheaper! I get mine at Hobby Lobby. It won't hold as fine a detail as green stuff but for what I need that's fine.

Its hard to photograph the stamp, but this is the mud and snow stamp (or pad).

This is the wood plank one. This will be quite useful for my Calamity project

Covered up the slots with masking tape. The grey ones are resin bases from Secret Weapon Miniatures

Milliput mixed up and ready to go.

Applied a blob to the base, spread it out and then pushed it into the pad. Here are the results. Not bad I need to be neater on the application, these will need some clean up.

Tried a close up to try and show the pattern. Its hard to see in the yellow.

Maybe from the side you can see the detail better

A couple of 50mm bases
Here is a pressing from green stuff. I pulled this to soon and it stretched on me. But you can see the detail that the green stuff captured. Hopefully I'll be more patient with the next batch.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Bit of Woodworking - Finished for Now

Today I did actual assembly work. Went out and bought more of my favorite wood adhesive along with a new blade for my miter saw. This one has a lot more teeth so it should require less sanding. Home Depot also had Poplar turning stock on sale so I bought another piece three times as long as the one I bought yesterday for about a third of the price. There was only one mis-step today and it wasn't really terribly unexpected (unlike the continuous series of mis-steps with my cookie baking today).

Here is what I finished up today
Four display bases all jumbled together

Today's tool of choice; Sanding blocks. I didn't put a whole lot of work into these. 80 Grit to knock down the hard stuff, 120 Grit to smooth it out. If I was going to use these as my actual display stands then I  would have gone down to the 220 Grit to get close to that glass smooth finish (probably 400 Grit for that). Today is all about good enough.

Okay the sanding is done.

Pulling out the Titeboud

I didn't think ahead, fortunately there are hair bands to hold things together while the glue sets

Glue is all setup and they are still holding together

What's wrong with the one in the lower right corner?

Apparently glue managed to get where it shouldn't be and I glued this one together. Fortunately we are still in the test run stage or I would have been pretty ticked off.
For the next batch I'll change out the blades for this new 40 tooth monster. This should give me a much nicer cut.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Bit of Woodworking

ReaperCon 2015 draws ever closer and I have all but 2 of the miniatures I'm going to use for entries so its time to see if I can actually construct the display stands. As you may (or may not) recall I made a number of prototype display stands out of matte board at least proving that the concept worked.
One of the original matte board prototypes.
There are a couple of things that have to be dealt with first; tools and wood. I need to be able to use stock wood for this as I don't have the right setup to cut it down to smaller dimensions. Besides that I'll be working with some pretty small wood at down right scary size to contemplate using a radial arm or a table saw to cut it. The power tools at hand are my chop saw (essentially a powered miter saw) and hand saws. A nice adjustable combination square is a must have item along with a mechanical pencil. Doug has been trying to convince me that I can cut these all my hand with a razor saw and I just didn't want to contemplate that. 

The second element to the equation is wood. The smallest stock hardwoods I have been able to find, locally, are 1 1/2" square poplar and red oak. It also comes in 1/2" by 11/2" pieces as well, perfect for the third piece. Poplar, being cheaper, is what  I picked that to use for my wood prototypes.

This afternoon was a nice mild sunny day so I pulled out the chop saw again to see what I could do. After making some cuts that just were not quite right I remembered that oh maybe I should lock the plate in place so it doesn't shift as I cut. Then it was why aren't the vertical cuts vertical? Ah the bevel is set to 3 degrees instead of 0 degrees. Once I figured how to use the saw properly (its been a while) things went much better and I was able to cut out enough wood for 5 display bases. I needed at least four to make sure things would work as planned. So far so good. The only real caveat to using the chop saw is I need to purchase a much finer toothed blade, the current blade left a pretty rough cut.  

With everything cut it was to do some dry fitting to see if I could really pull this off. Here are the results:

The four pieces that make up the display stand

How they, hopefully, will go together

Two stands

Three stands. Will that last one fit right?

Success! Four stands fitted together in the "Travel Configuration". If space is at a premium at a show I could, in theory, put this on a rotating base.

Matte board prototype next to a wood prototype. Since I don't want to trim down to something smaller this is  the smallest my display stands will be. That will give me a bit more room to set the scene with so I'm calling it good.

The next task will be trying to assemble them. Originally I thought I would just peg it together but I think that's going to require a drill press. I'm going to pick up some glue tomorrow and see if a glue joint by itself will be strong enough. Otherwise I'll have to see if I can find a small drill press to work with and how small a pre-made peg I can find. I'm still contemplating using rare earth magnets to help hold the separate displays together. I may want to cut a base for everything to rest on as well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tabletop Miniature Rules - Bling vs Functionality vs Cost

I just saw a page from a new miniature rule book for an upcoming Kickstarter that has finally sent me over the edge. Over the last few years I feel like there has been more attention paid to the graphics within the rule book and how it looks than to the rules themselves. Now plenty of good sets of rules out there that have been written in the last five or six years that do include extensive graphics. My issue/question is; do those graphics enhance using the book or just simply increase the final price I have to pay for that book?

I think the use of color and fancy pages are definitely being overused. Plain white pages for me! Using color to make the pages look like parchment or what ever fancy background that has been picked out just add an unnecessary addition to the final cost. My extreme example of this is the SAGA rulebook which costs $40 for 70 pages of rules primarily because of unnecessary graphics that are there for presentation but do not add functionally to the rules. Now a color graphic the clearly shows how to resolve a complex situation is a different story, I'm willing to pay for that type of color usage (Fire and Fury comes to mind, Warhammer Ancients as well). And while I respect the use of color photos (Blitzkrieg Commander) please don't turn it into an expensive catalog with rules wrapped around it (GW, Battlefront are probably the worst offenders).

You know what I really like? A well organized, functional rule book with a good table of contents, a good index, clearly labeled charts and includes everything I need to play. GDW's Command Decision (2nd edition, not the obnoxious 3rd edition with the green printing on a tan paper) or Test of Battle (essentially Command Decision 4th edition), Spearhead, LaSalle, Fire and Fury, Napoleon's Battles (AH edition) and Through the Mud and Blood are all rule sets which don't require me to buy anything else to play, beyond my miniatures, and they include all or most of the features I like. I don't want to be buying "splat" books every couple of months to get the latest and greatest army or that include "updates" or "special" rules that I must have if I'm going to be able to use my army.

Now there are certainly rule sets that use "splat" books that I don't have an objection to. Ambush Ally's Force on Force or Osprey's Field of Glory series come to mind. In these cases the "splat" books are covering different periods, so if I'm not interested in that period I don't need that book. As opposed to the GW style of army books, or Battlefront's army books with all their special rules.

Granted you can't go strictly by page count when you are evaluating a set of rules. So I'm going to use SAGA as an example again. As I said before this is a pricey set of rules $40 for a 70 page rulebook and the four battle boards on heavy card stock. These are good rules, they are fast, fun and they include everything I need to play so they seem to fit all my qualifications. But this is a set that I wouldn't just buy if they showed up on the shelf. Seriously $40 for a thin book like that? So the sticker shot kept me from buying it till I was able to play a game with someone that had sucked it up and bought it. So it took a game to convince me that it was worth the $40. 

On the flip side Test of Battle  (Command Decision 4th edition, WWII) costs $30 is a 240 page tome and contains everything I need to play as well. The biggest difference it is primarily printed in black ink on white paper and includes maybe 8 pages of color photos. Just about the perfect balance as far as I'm concerned.

In the end it boils down to this; I like to play miniatures games but like everyone else I have a budget. That budget has to cover rules, miniatures and painting supplies. I'm going to lean towards rules that provide me a good game for my money, I want value not bling. I don't need fancy page graphics, I don't need a full color catalog of your miniatures line and I don't want to have to continually buy new "splat" books because the rules edition changed! With the advent of tablet type devices I don't even mind using PDF based rules anymore. Too Fat Lardies certainly has the right idea with their PDF rules, Through the Mud and Blood only costs me $12.80!

Ultimately I don't know if removing the extra bling will reduce the cost or not, but it certainly used to be more expensive to print. I can certainly see my preferences as I go down the list of rules that I enjoy playing. While there are certainly exceptions for the most part they pretty much cover my basic requirements for a useful set of rules.

Test of Battle (Command Decision, 4th Edition)
Fire and Fury (1st edition)
Regimental Fire and Fury (this one is pushing the envelope and the scenario books are very expensive)
Napoleon's Battles (AH edition)
Through the Mud and Blood
Force on Force
Spearhead (WWII)
SAGA (had to play it first before I broke down)

And because pictures say things better than I can here are examples of rules with "Bling" and those that are purely functional.

SAGA, I like these rules I don't like the price

And my biggest brief, serious page bling along with examples that could have easily been done in B&W or grayscale.

Spearhead Rule Book and Order of Battle Book

Easy to use organizational charts

Black and white and straight forward charts

The Old West, Another set with way to much page bling

Like this, give me a nice white background.

Blitzkrieg Commander - Essentially Warmaster for WWII

I like the white page, the pictures really do a nice job emphasizing the concept. They could have been in B&W though.
Now there is a page I like!
Command Decision 2nd Edition, plane but functional, gotta like that.

White page, black print, well done illustration

The organization of a Panzer division, again, black print, white paper and easy to use.

Command Decision 3rd Edition

You certainly get a lot of stuff

No idea who thought this was a good idea. Parchment colored paper, with green and gold lettering. Packer Fan I guess. I find this difficult to read in good light.

This pick shows the color of the paper a bit better

Command Decision, Test of Battle (4th Editon), Charts, counters to cut out, fog of war gods.

Unit organization, they have stepped down in size a bit, they don't have the divisional emphasis now. But still all self contained. While the game is completely self contained they do sell Campaign books for specific battles, like Market Garden and the Bulge.

Field of Glory (Renaisance) Small size hardback, lots of pages

Lot's of bling, all of which could have been done in B&W

A splat book for Field of Glory. I only need the book for the period I'm interested in and it contains all the armies involved. So a good value from that perspective

Do I need all this though?

Regimental Fire and Fury. I love these rules, wish it was a paperback instead of hardback the $35 price tag was hard to swallof

Color where black and white would have served quite nicely or even just the brown and dark brown that the chart is printed in

This page has even more bling

Force on Force, I really like these rules. Another smaller sized hardback

Page Bling, white would have been just fine, I don't need to pay for the subtle camo pattern on every page

Nice artwork, I like nice artwork

A splat book for Force on Force

Page Bling again

LaSalle, another hardback. One of my biggest issues with the hardbacks is the bindings are often poor and soon you have a book that is falling apart

Page Bling! No! Nor were all the colors required in the chart

The examples could have been done in B&W. I'm on the fence about this one. Especially since I'm not over fond of the rules.

Warmaster. Despite the rather garrish cover this is a nearly perfect as far as functionality vs bling

All the printing in your classic black & white and gray scale. There are 8 pages of color pictures which is fine.