Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Small Scale Woods Terrain Tutorial

As promised, here is a tutorial of how I made the woods terrain pieces for the FPW game. The idea is not original, of course, but I hope it will help gamers who are looking for a step-by-step tutorial.

There are three parts to the terrain piece: the trunks, the canopy, and the foliage.

For canopy I chose to go the easy way and got a pack of Woodland Scenics tree armatures, which are of course expensive but become more affordable if you buy the bulk pack that is not pre-assembled with foliage glued on. It has the advantage of being brown to begin with, and having ready-made bases.

I made the mistake of buying armatures that are too all for mt needs. When cut off at the height I wanted (about an inch) there are not many branches showing. I compensated by gluing the upper part of the armature to the base instead.

For the canopy I used black mounting board. It is important to use black (or at least a dark coloured) mounting board as the coverage with the foliage will not be complete, and any white or light colour, including those on the edge of the mounting board, will show through if not covered.

I cut our various roughly oval or round shapes.

Using hot glue, I then glued the trunks to the bottom of the canopy. I figured I need around eight trunks for a large-sized piece to look convincing. Note the black edge of the card.

Then comes the foliage. Again, I turned to Woodland Scenics. You want the Foliage Clusters and not the looser types of clump foliage. These are denser and can be applied in large pieces, making the next step much easier. I used two colours to give a more natural look.

Using hot glue, I glued patches of the foliage to the top of the canopy piece, making sure that I cover the edges of the piece too.

And here is the finished product, with a base of 10mm Prussian infantry posing next to it.

At this scale the terrain will work with 6mm, 10mm, 15mm, and at a stretch even 20mm.

I hope to post a tutorial on how I made islands for the WW2 Pacific theatre naval project Martin has started. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 18, 2017

WWII naval action off Guadalcanal

On Sunday I hosted a game for FG, Wahj and Arjun where we did a WWII naval scenario off Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal and I now have the pleasure of providing my first contribution to this blog. We used Victory at Sea rules with it's scenario with some slight amendments in the form of a slightly reduced US fleet size but which still outnumbered the Japanese. I had always been enthralled with GHQ's 1/2400 naval miniatures and had always wanted to field a game with them so this game was some time in planning. This was also a good opportunity to see how the rules played out.

This scenario is of both US and Japanese fleets consisting a mix of cruisers and destroyers  setting out to clear opposing forces off Cape Esperance at Guadalcanal with Wahj and FG commanding the Japanese forces and Arjun and myself, the US. The Japanese fleet started in the south easterly heading (bottom of picture) with the US heading in a westerly heading. 

The opposing fleet on a collision course with destiny (looking  east)

Lead elements of the Japanese fleet: Kagero class destroyer (front) and a Furutaka class cruiser (back) passing some rain squalls.  

Lead elements of the US fleet with a New Orleans class cruiser in the lead.

With the Japanese team winning the initiative, they opted to diverge their fleet into two separate flanks, turning port and starboard outwards, which was followed on by the US commanders in multi-turn moves between both forces. No one wanted to be caught at full beam between two enemy ships!

The opposing fleets diverge to the flanks (looking west).

The fleet maneuvers consisted of Arjun performing a dicey slice through maneuver, perhaps in an attempt to awe the Japanese with his brilliant seamanship. I attempted to bring up the rear elements by ordering full flank speed to narrow the distance and bring the guns into range. 

The "hard to achieve" slice through manoeuvre they don't teach you at the Naval Academy.

The Japanese however were not having any of it. With them gaining the initiative again, they opted to teach the American dogs a lesson with an opening salvo. 

The smoke screen
A lead Kagero class destroyer on the port (left) flank commanded by Wahj also created smoke as part of a special action to screen her accompanying vessel. The engagement ensued into a slugfest with both forces trading surface volleys that at best, created some token damage and at worst, caused a thorough drenching of a few chagrinned sailors sun tanning on deck.


The Japanese then turned the tide when FG and Wahj brought their superior torpedoes into play. With their high attack and damage dice numbers they soon made short work of two US cruisers which were sunk in quick succession only for the loss of one Japanese destroyer which honourably gave its life for providing screening protection.

With the lost of the two cruisers, the US commanders, after concluding that the loss of a third cruiser was unacceptable and that Cape Esperance was not sufficiently safe anymore, beat a hasty retreat to the South East. It was unanimously agreed that the Marines on the island's air strip had the right stuff to endure yet another day of Japanese naval bombardment (Marines! You Can Do It!). An after action report discussion yielded a couple of observations.
1. The US fleet was not using the destroyers effectively as a screening force.
2. The US fleet did not perform any evasive actions allowed under the movement phase to mitigate the torpedo risk.
3. The US destroyers could have used smoke to effectively screen the cruisers.
4. The US destroyers should have utilised its "agile" special trait to maneuver close enough for a torpedo shot. In hindsight since this was a one shot weapon, we were probably waiting for the right moment. 
5. The US fleet despite its slight numerical advantage were outgunned at close range.
6. I will probably end up making some appropriate torpedo markers 
Nevertheless this first run was enough to give me some familiarity of the gameplay and will add to my understanding when I go through the rules again.  With the conclusion of the tabletop hostilities, the opposing commanders adjourned to the sitting room to continue with our beer and to discuss various topics such as the World of Warships online game, our fitness and dietary regimes, Aamir Khan, Ryan Gosling as Young Hercules, "You messed with the wrong guy" genre movies and how to avoid corporate tax by declaring your company as a charitable organisation.


Saturday, December 09, 2017

10mm Franco-Prussian War terrain

While I haven't do doing much wargaming this past year, I have been making purchases and making terrain for wargaming. What you see in the photo above is the result.

The playing surface is a 6' x 4' mat from Deep Cut Studios, with 15cm grids. I chose this primarily to use with the To The Last Gaiter Button rules, but also with the hope of finding a set of grid-based Napoleonic rules to use - if you have any suggestion, do let me know in the comments!

The woods are made using Woodland Scenics tree trunks and clump foliage, hot glued to black mounting board. I will post a tutorial on how I made these another day.

The village/town pieces are made using the buildings from Perry Miniatures' Travel Battle game, which are sold separately in sprues - they are closer to 6mm in scale, but look effective with 10mm figurines too. They are based on pre-textured paper, again from Woodland Scenics, which was glued to plasti-cards for sturdiness.

The swamps are just green transparencies cut into irregular shapes, with tufts applied.

Elevation is created by placing books under the mat.

Last but not least, the figurines were previously unceremoniously dumped into tins after our campaign several years back - I magnetised their bases and organised them into tins according to nationality and type.

We are ready for some FPW games.

A closer view, showing the comparative scales of the figurines and the buildings.

A low-angle view, showing the ridge created by books.

A closer view of a swamp terrain piece. I like how the 'grass' is darker nearer its bottom.

I need a lot of woods terrain pieces, I think; but while I was making more just now I cut my finger badly, which means no more handicraft for the weekend.

The fact that books have to be placed under the mat to create elevation means that the table cannot be set up in advance - in TTLGB the players spend points to place terrain as part of the game, which means less playing time. To overcome this I think I will instead play through the scenarios provided in the 1870 Grand Tactical Rules book.

The FPW was one of the 'bucket list' periods I just had to play, and I spent quite a bit to have them painted, so I am pretty happy that the new products on the market (the gridded mats from Deep Cut Studios, presumably created for To the Strongest!, and the Perry Travel Battle buildings created just for their game) made it easier for me to revisit the period with better-looking terrain.

Now I can only hope that Plastic Soldier Company release some Arabs and Turks under their Great War system so I can do my other bucket list period: The Arab Revolt...

Monday, December 04, 2017

Ogre and nostalgia weekend

Fg, wahj, Martin and I managed to get together on Sunday for a game. It's been quite a while since we all managed to meet up, so we wanted to play something light - the aim of the session was more to catch up than to play, after all.

Fg dug up the Ogre box set he backed several years back. Wahj and I played the game countless times back in the 80s, so we thought it would be easy to pick the rules up again. We took the conventional forces and tried to stop the two Mk III Ogres commanded by fg and Martin (the 'God of War' and the 'Dog of Raw', respectively). Our brilliantly set-up howitzer defence managed to score all of one hit on the Ogres during the course of the game, before they we crushed by the threads of the behemoths.

The game was archetypally 80s, down to the type of units represented in the game - they all had a very 'Cold War' feel to them (well, except for the Ogres...).

The game was short, and much of the session was spent watching YouTube videos of Singapore from the 80s (there are surprisingly quite a number of videos of street scenes of Singapore taken by both tourists and public transport geeks), listening to 80s music, talking about fitness (if you remember the 80s, then you are at the age when health and fitness should concern you), eating chips and drinking mead and unsweetened decaffeinated iced tea (it's a cheat day for all of us), giving of gifts (of books and mooncake tins), and sharing what's been going on in our lives in the past few months.

Gaming-wise it wasn't a very "productive" afternoon, but it was a lot of fun. I guess the older you get, the more you appreciate friends, games, and music from your youth.

Martin has promised us a naval game at his place in two weeks, which gave me the impetus to continue work on the Brigade Models harbour terrain which I bought many years back but never completed work on. My original plan of recreating the island fortress of Kusadasi proved too ambitious for my modeling skills, and I have settled for a more modest harbour guarded by a fort, modeled loosely on Sigacik, which I had the chance to visit a few years ago.