Sunday, December 10, 2017

AAR: This Hallowed Ground: Second Game Trial

     This was a test game Kalissa and I decided to play recently. We wanted to get a feel of some of modifications we made to the rules of "This Hallowed Ground" to see how they panned out. This were not too dramatic of changes. Mainly, we have to modify the worn and break points for certain units, because they were different sizes. I don't think people would be happy at a convention losing a unit based on morale with more than half the unit still on the table. We also had my starting Confederates with limited ammunition. The Union had some repeating rifles that were limited to three turns of shooting before they had to switch to half normal shooting. The reason was based on the Battle of Olustee we plan on running, two of the regiments ran out of ammunition during the battle for their Spencer rifles, so they were traded in mid-battle for unproven muskets in which only half ended up firing. It is not much of a wonder on why this battle was just as chaotic.
      In this game, Kalissa and I had the same number of units. The difference was that she had two cavalry units and I had a cavalry unit and an extra set of guns. We placed half of our forces on the table about a foot in. We rolled for initiative where I won out. Then, I just ending up getting great rolls from then on. Saves were near non-existent for the Union side. We both decided that maybe we need to lower the save to the 5+ just to give a little more hope, because Kalissa would roll 5's, but no 6's. Or at least, I felt like I burrowed all of the 6's, since I rolled a ton of them. I probably will not roll any more of them for the rest of this year. Anyway, here are some of the photos from our game.. Enjoy!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tree Life: The Making Southern Pines My Way.

  As I had mentioned in a previous blog post, I was to going to write up this tutorial about tall southern pine trees. Due to my iPhone being an asshole, some of the imagines are going to be sideways and upside down for this. So for those who were quick reading, you are probably laugh at yourself on the re-read of this thinking that you were drunk. However, this is really a combination of the iPhone acting up and my computer refusing to save my photo rotations. I will just count myself lucky that there were any saved images at all!
    Back to the task at hand! Things you will need for the basic pine woods are:

  1.    Tempered Hardboard or MDF.
  2.    An electric saw to cut the board in shapes. I used a cheap jig saw.
  3.    A small mini-hand saw for cutting dowels.
  4.    An electric drill with two sizes of drill bits. Sizes of bits depend on your needs.
  5.    A Phillip's Head Screw Driver.
  6.    1/2 wood screws.
  7.     Wooden dowels. Sizes vary on your needs.
  8.     Woodland Scenic Large trees or Sturdy branches that are similar.
  9.      Duct Tape or Masking Tape.
  10.     Super Glue. I use Loctite Control Gel.
  11.     Sea Foam of Sage Tree kits. I get them from Scenic Express.
  12.     Static Grass. I used 57.7 cm static grass. The color does not matter.
  13.     Two tones of  flat green spray paint  (hunter green and lighter green) and dark brown flat spray paint. 
  14.  A knife you can carve with.
     It seems like a lot for this project. It is! However, you can make a large amount of woods it you don't run out of everything like I did. I did not fully plan my venture. The good thing is the I have a better idea on what I need to complete my mission for the future.

    In starting the project, drew out shapes I what the bases in on the Tempered Hardboard I bought. I made it a point to not make the shapes too small or have too many dramatic curves, because I was going to cut this with a Jig-saw. There is no need to break blades or injure yourself doing this. Below was an example of a shape I cut out with it.

As you can see, I changed my mind on following the lines. 
      After cutting the shapes out, I decide to shave down the edges. I could do this with an electric sander, but the way I plan on basing it is not going to need to be perfect. I just carved the edges off with a knife. You will also note in the picture below, I used the other side with the rough texture. This can be used for basing with plastic or wood filler to built hills up if I should desire to. Below are the images of the steps!

I would suggest using a stronger knife if you decide to go with MDF instead of the Hardboard.

   Next, it is time for the dowels of the project. You want to size this up next to the miniatures to get an idea on how high you want them. Southern pines can be 40 to 80 feet in the air. The troops that I want to move through the woods, I want to move through without worrying about hands or figures hooking branches. I also have to consider the flags as well. You can make the dowels for preferred height. Also, keep in mind that you might trim off more branches. After this, I take the little hand saw of mine and cut the dowels into different various sizes around the height I want. This gives the various heights of trees like in nature. The saw you can get for $3.00 or a little more at a local hardware store.
"I think I will call him Mini-Saw!" Yes! Another sideways picture!

And this one is upside down! I used some smaller dowels, so you could get more than 5 pieces.
       Now that the dowel pieces are cut, I drill a hole on each one on the side I want for the wood screw to go into. I also use the same for the hardboard. Because I am using Woodland Scenic Trees, I used 1/2 wooden screws and I drilled the holes using 3/32 drill bit. Once, I drilled holes in everything, I mounted them securely together. It is after this, I switch to a 7/64 drill bit and drill holes on the top of the dowels. I move the drill in and out a lit for a tad extra room for the Woodland Scenic trees in stick into. 

Another upside down picture, but you get the idea.

The mounted dowels.

The hole added to the top.

And as you can see, they stick right in!
         After being satisfied with the results, I glue the trees in. There is no written rule that you have to do this for or the next step. If you travel on the go for wargaming, it might be beneficial to not do this for easy storage and break down. However, I am trying to make more permanent pieces. To get the trunks a more unified look, I decide to glue the Woodland Scenic trees down to the dowels. This can also make the tree more stable if you want more top heavy trees. I use tape to wrap over the joint seams. You can also go over a few times to build up a thicker ore tapered trunk. Now, I used duct tape, because I was lazy and I saw in the room. You might get more textured results with masking tape. But, since duct tape is rather smooth, I roughed it up with with the back end of scissors to get some texture. You could also, coat it with glue and add sand or saw dust for texture purposes. In either case, it is important to have sort of texture for when you later dry-brush this.

My duct tape trees!

This is after I roughed them up for talking back at me!
     When you got your trees ready, you can now mount the sea foam branches. I am not going to say that this is the easiest of tasks. I use Loctite Control Gel for a good reason. I can usually count to 30 and I can move on to the next branch. Sometimes the times can vary, because some the Sea Foam branches want to bow out. I just say to be creative with your colorful language while you are being creative. And really use colors when around children. Son of a Blue, Purple, Green!
     Really, it is not too bad. It just takes a little time and patience for the first branches. After you gain more confidence, it will start to come natural.
Some with the Sea Foam branches.

In this, you can see I trim off some of the lower branches. With some of these tree, less can be more.
    Now, I did not have the rest of the photos saved for the rest of this. The earlier tree making tutorial I made covers mush of the same things done for these trees. The difference is that I used static grass. Now, the color of the static grass is not that important after I add it to the trees, because I found I can just spray paint that. I go over it with a darker green as the base. The lighter green is from highlight that I spray lightly from afar. You can also use Superleaf or Noch Leaves to other types of trees. There nothing saying you cannot apply this method for other terrain ideas. Below where some recent results.

As you can see, this is a work in progress for a Cypress swamp. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Terrain Blitz: Southern Pine Trees

   Somehow, I ended up with a extra day off that did not plan on having, which was alright with me. This just meant that I can work on some of my own projects. I tend to assign project days between my stuff and commission stuff. In this case, I decided to really try out my pine barren pieces for my Olustee project, which will also give me ideas for other terrain answers later.
   The field problem I had with with project was that there were no tree designs in the modelling world or train set department addressing the southern pine tree. This is rather surprising, since a large area (southern-eastern U.S.) have them everywhere. The train and model companies tend to stick with the mountain fur trees. It probably has to do with making them easier and most train layouts trend towards the Rockies when it come to the United States. Plus, there is the European market. So I was left with on choice: make my own.
   Notably, the first thing to notice out in the field is that the southern pine tree grows rather tall while losing the lower branches underneath. This is not always the case, but it is when seeing them in a pine barren area or areas shared with other trees. So I decided to make these using Woodland Scenic Trees. While the largest Wood Scenic Trees could work just fine, I needed to make them taller. I would have gone with the outdoor stick routine like have in the past, but I need the trees to be more stable, since they will be top heavy. Plus, I knew I could extend their height mounted on MDF board. For this, I used dowels.
     So why do these trees have to be taller? One, I like trees to be more accurate in size for modelling purposes. I like to go the extra mile with this. Plus, the average southern pine at full growth average is about 50 to 70 feet. The tallest recorded one in was 169 ft. The second reason is that I am going to have a lot of trees on my convention board. So in the process of modelling accurately without compromising playability, I need them taller, so hands can reach through and rulers and measure through without lifting and moving them out of the way. The plan is to have 150 trees on the board at 6' x 18' board. The middle has a clearing where the main fighting will be at. Also, a bunch of the trees are going to be Cypress trees in an impassible swamp or smaller trees, so they will look out of control awesome. However, it will still work in a game setting.
    Below, are the photos of what I was able to do. I really had the time to 20 more trees, but I ran out of glue and my hot glue gun died as well. I will mostly work on more of them the next week on a day off. I will also have to write up how I am doing this for a tutorial for those interested. Enjoy!

Here they are with 28 Union Troops.

The tallest one measures a roughly 14 inches. Compared to a 28mm figure, this would equal 70 ft. 

This is one of the many skeletons I have awaiting to be finished.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Olustee Project: Testing out "This Hollowed Ground" Rules.

          This was another test of rules for our convention game. Kalissa and I decided to test out the rules "This Hallowed Ground." Between the to of us, we already found a big hiccup while playing. It turns out that Kalissa read the original rules for "This Hallowed Ground" where I was reading off the play sheet I got off of Jay's Wargaming Madness. After looking over the differences, Jay's reference sheet seemed to be the easier flowing rules. Besides, the violent and harshness that these rules are in the scheme of this could make this game to run at one game at a time, instead of a continuing set of games. The actions are fast and easy. We found the only things we would have to modify was based on our different regiment sizes and simple stuff, like repeating rifles to even some things out. After all, this is going to be a historical game, so some units are going to have some bonuses and handy caps. Example: the Union soldiers in this battle with repeating rifles ran out of ammo and were given replacement rifles that shot half of the time. Another example where the Georgians would raced forward, but ran out of ammo and had to withdraw to get more ammo. Fun stuff like this.
    Our game had Kalissa with the initiative to attack with the Union soldiers. I ran the Confederates and advanced forward. Through out the game, I rolled pretty good. Kalissa was taking some serious casualties by the end of the game. Her poor cavalry was destroyed fairly quick. Despite this, this shows to be a very promising outlook for using these rules. I think people are really going to have fun with these games. Either way, here are some of the photos we took. Enjoy!

I would like to say I was an idiot, because I somehow through out 3/4 of a bag of static grass I was using for my troops. This is why these Confederates' bases are not finished.