Monday, November 9, 2015

Operation Next Event: New Projects.

     The other day, a friend of mine asked if we could run a Bolt Action Tournament. We, really translates to my wife, Kalissa. I am just part of the deal when it comes to helping. Even my wife seemed surprised of this, since the original plan was to run another convention game of Hell's Highway I did the previous year. In all fairness, she probably would not have any trouble running it. She is a teacher after all. The whole idea came to mind amongst the organizers we knew. The question came up on whether they were going to have a Bolt Action Tournament, since there is going to be one for Flames of War and SAGA. My wife's name was brought up by a guy named Eric. The reason for this was simple: She can herd cats! That was the statement that describes this last years Historicon. While I was playing a convention game of Buckskins and Rangers, my wife took over a rather large Pike and Shot game that was randomly thought of amongst several friends. Herding cats exactly described the war gamers there. When the players are older men that have been eating and drinking beer surrounded by inspiring works of art involving rooms and rooms of historical war games, it is hard to keep them in focus. Really, I am not sure how she did it, but she gained even more respect from everyone afterwards.
     The event at hand is going to take place at Siege of Augusta, in Augusta, GA in January. Like running a convention game, a tournament is a whole new ground for us. Sure, we have played in multiply Flames of War tournaments, but we never ran it. And with this mind, this only leads to one thing: more terrain! Sorry to my lovely wife, but that is what happens to new events. It always leads to new fun projects. I feel a little rushed, since we were only recently told. In my own ideal setting, I would like to use only my terrain for the whole tournament to match it in quality. This might be on the path of the slighty insane. However, I contacted several fellow gamers to borrow some terrain mats. As it turns out, except for two mats, I made them all! So my insanity is not so far out of reach for a first time tournament.
    So about future terrain, I would like to make at least two, if not three, new mats made of Teddy Fur. I have been using teddy bear fur almost as long as I have been gaming in 28mm. The great thing for me is the ability to quickly bring extra life to terrain on the table top. I have my basic teddy bear fur mat like below.
  It has a pleasing effect. The wheat fields are more fur on top of the base mat fur to made different battle fields. I still use this mat. However, my realism side kicks in. I have been recently making fixed boards and several of them I have sold. To me, the extra joy of having a set mat is awesome. Everything blends in well like actual nature and you can easy place and pickup for quicker games. I have found in my quest for realism, I have gained a lot terrain to clean up after games. The fixed mat cuts down the time for set up and clean up in half, thus more game time!
     Whenever I start a new terrain board, there are certain steps I like to take before I get started. One, plan it out. I cannot stress how much easier it is to execute a new board when you plan head. This is planning on the materials you are using, pallet of colors. mapping out a balance board or gridding an actual map to copy. When I plan, I draw out what I want the board to look like and then, add interesting things to it to make the layout more interesting, such as wheat fields, hills, and woods. This can all be made into a fixed feature for your war gaming mat. Another thing I do is raid the paint samples at local hardware stores where interior paint is made. The samples are great for comparing against colors you might think are interesting or to compare it to objects in nature. Example, I found the whole dark brown for tree trucks a little off. It turns out after using a paint sample, Vallejo's Grey Green was really closer. Paint samples can also be used to compare against nature in other countries. Thanks to Google Maps, I can look at areas where battles have took place at a street level to see what colors, plants, roads, and other terrain look like. Black and white pictures are good, but seeing it in color works better to inspire. Tip: If comparing a paint sample against a computer screen or phone screen, to counter the bright backing lights, shine a white light or LED light on the sample while comparing to the web imagine. That will bring the sample color closer to want you are seeing.
     Two, test your terrain ideas on smaller samples. There are mats I made with "happy accidents". The first one I made, I did not test it out before hand with a sample. I skipped this all together. I learned a few things about what works. I use for a lot of my set roads, Flex Seal as a base. If you plan to do this, there are some things to know. I went about this in a hurry. I am not sure why, but I thought I would Flex the mat and then, add sand on top. The logic was that it would seal the sand to the mat like glue. This did not work out. What happened was that the Flex Seal did not dry as quick and formed funky air pockets. I had to, later, go back and pop in air pockets to flatten the roads out. Then, I went through and finished it afterwards. Some accidents work in your favor, but I would not bank on it.
   The last thing I do before I start, I draw on the mat in a marker my plan. I place building and hedges on it to make shore they have a place or have multiple options. Since you would be cutting into the fur or with other mats, setting roads or flocking, it would be nice to know it will fit. Hopefully, this was a helpful read for some one you out there.
    At the moment, I have been testing on a failed piece of Fur I had lying. It was a test piece, but looked wrong when I spray painted it. Here was the before look and you will see what I mean.
It is actually a brighter color that does not match any color I use. But instead of scraping it, I chose to use it for experiments. For new matts, I want to use colors closer to mid-July color in the Lower Normandy of France. I went to Google maps for a street view of some country areas. I found six colors I can use with Acrylic Paints I can use, plus two spray paints. My goal this time was to play around with making some march land, ditches, and some cut fields. Plus, I have found the Acrylics are really good at adding depth with rich color. Spray paint is for larger areas. Here are some of the results of my testing. The road is not actually touched with anything. That is the teddy bear fur's color I started with.

  Because of the coloring of the light bulb and the not-so-awesome camera I was using, the last picture is closer to the actual color of the mat test. I am satisfied. Now to apply it to my next mats!

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