Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mystic Mountain Productions Cheap Paper Structures

This week, I discovered Mystic Mountain Productions' small but growing line of paper buildings. You can find their products at RPGNow and Wargames Vault, which basically are the same companies. They also have a Facebook page. Right now, they have seven kits available.

Their Town Square Clock Tower is a FREE single-layer PDF useful for just about any setting. It looks nice and should be easy to build. Might as well give it a try for free!

Their latest model, the Merchant's Guild, really caught my imagination. I could see it housing one of my eccentric West Wind Victorian characters or a modern spy-fi game needing an interesting Tudor-inspired building. The multilayer PDF is $5. I've asked if it comes with a single-layer version so I don't have to print it on my stored inkjet printer. (I use a monochrome laser printer for all my daily printing.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wartime West Sussex 1939-45

This evening while taking a pleasurable stroll across the Ethernet (aka doing a Google search on trivial matters), I stumbled upon the website for West Sussex County Council in England. Honestly, like all good Google searchers, I have no idea how I got there but was pleasantly surprised to find their section on Wartime West Sussex 1939-45. I love these kind of websites, where I get lost looking at diaries, photos, and all sorts of fascinating historical tidbits that help me appreciate and better visualize what life was like back then.

The D-Day, air raids, home guard, and many other sections are fascinating. Neat audio interviews abound. From their website: "These pages have over 700 digitised sources about life in West Sussex during World War II. They include photos, official leaflets, book extracts, newspaper articles, letters, diaries, original records and recorded memories." They also have a section on Victorian life, but it pales in comparison.

Check it out!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Topside Minis WWI Fleet Ready to Set Sail

Back in February, I ordered from Topside Minis their WWI Falklands set of 16 British and German ships, which sells for only $5.60. These are peel-and-stick counters that need to be cut out and applied to the supplied laser-cut plywood bases. Back in February, I wrote about how good a bargain I feel these ships are. It took a while, but this morning I finally got around to applying the ships to their bases.

First, Experiment on the Free Sample 
Before I worked on my Falklands fleets, I experimented with the free WWII sample they had sent me before I placed my order. (Click on their link to get one for yourself.) This way I didn't risk damaging the "real" ships. I cut out the ship using my steel ruler and sharp hobby knife. I then stuck it on the supplied base. I then realized that I had cut the ship just a wee bit smaller than the base. A thin, light-tan strip of wood showed along one short edge. It was very noticeable.

Coloring the Base
After thinking a bit, I grabbed my large bag of Sharpie markers. I first thought of coloring the top edges of the bases blue to match the color of the water on the ships. No Sharpie really matched it. Then I thought, why not color the edges to match the dark brown of the laser cuts?

In the comments from a previous post, CharlesO had mentioned that leaving the edges natural instead of painting them a different color might look just fine. So I tried some of my brown markers. Voila! It worked and looked great. Thanks, Charles! You were right.

Sharpies Are Meant to be Abused
Use a brown fine point Sharpie. Not all Sharpie brown pens are the same color! The shade of brown in the fine tip pen closely matches the brown from the laser cuts. However, the brown in the ultra-fine tip pen is lighter. Odd, I know, but I realized this when testing the pens.

Ink the Base Edges
Before applying the sticker, rub the Sharpie along the sharp edges of the bases. If you look at the bottom photo, you can see how I run some ink along the sides of the top of the bases and the edges. I didn't marker the actual sides of the bases, leaving them in their natural burned look. Does that make sense? I did the top and bottom of the bases. Inking the bottom also hides any little rough spots or edges that might look tan when the counter is on the cloth. (I noticed this on my test ship.)

Skipped Sanding
Because the bases' wood is a bit fuzzy at times, I was tempted to sand it down with some fine sandpaper, but I didn't bother. I can be a bit retentive when it comes to models and such, but sometimes even I have to draw a line! I set aside the bases to dry, and then tried washing the streaks of brown ink off my hands. You will get ink on your fingers!

Ink the Paper Edges
After cutting out the ships, I ran brown marker along the edges of the paper. Do this! It takes away the bright white edge and blends the ship in with the base. This is a trick I also use when building paper buildings, though often I use colored pencils for that.

When done, peel the backing away from the ship, line up the ship along a long edge of the base, stick it to the wood, and smooth it out. You have just finished your first Topside Minis ship counter. And it looks good to boot!

I'm still looking at rules. I'm hoping to try out a couple this weekend. I'll let you guys know how it goes. Naval Thunder: Clash of Dreadnaughts plus Challenge & Reply II are on the top of the list at the moment. After some poking around online this afternoon and reading the demo rules, I am seriously considering Grand Fleets: 2nd Edition.

As PDF downloads, Naval Thunder would cost $15 to get going to play the Battle of the Falkland Islands. C&RII would cost me $13.29 for the rulebook plus the German and the British fleet lists I would need. Grand Fleets 2 would cost me $20 for the rulebook plus the King & Kaiser scenario book with ship data cards that I would need. From what I've read, the scenario book is generic enough to use with any rules. I also was looking at Fleet Action Imminent, but the $32 price tag for a PDF is a bit off putting for buying a game blind. Choices, choices.

Look at the large photo. You'll notice how I accidentally cut the counters a bit small at times or slightly misaligned them on the base. Inking the edges of the base and counter hides this on the table, making the counters look sharp.

Here is the bottom of the base. I did this on both sides. This little touch adds a lot. I elevated one counter to show how inking its paper edge helps blend the paper into the base as well.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Warmaster Starter Army Series: 1 - Orcs & Goblins

I know that when I'm new to a game, I have a difficult time trying to create decent starter armies on my own. I'm always afraid I'll buy many miniatures that I'll never use or buy too few. To help out new Warmaster players or established players looking to try a new army, I thought I'd begin posting some army lists that I've collected over the years. The lists will cover a variety of point totals, from 1000 to 2000 as long as I have them. Unfortunately, I simply copied the lists into a text file but never bothered to record where I got the lists or who created them. Sorry about that!

Jeffery Warner's amazing orcs!
1 - Orcs & Goblins
To kick off the series, I figured I'd start with everyone's favorite hoard army--Orcs & Goblins! If you try any of the lists in this post, let us know how they played. If you have some Orc & Goblin lists of your own, feel free to post them in the comments section as well. I'm sure that would help other Warmaster players!

Total Points: 1,000
1x Orc General
2x Orc Heroes
1x Goblin Shaman
1x Orc Shaman
2x Orc Warriors
2x Goblins
1x Black Orcs
2x Boar Riders
2x Wolf Chariots

Total Points: 1,420
1x Orc General
2x Orc Heroes
1x Orc Shaman
1x Gobbo Hero
1x Gobbo Shaman
6x Orc Warriors
4x Goblins
3x Boar Riders
2x Wolf Chariots
1x Rock Lobber

Total Points: 1,525
1x Orc General in Boar Chariot
1x Orc Hero
1x Orc Shaman
1x Goblin Hero
1x Goblin Shaman
4x Orc Warriors
3x Goblins
1x Black Orcs
1x Ogres
1x Trolls
3x Boar Riders
2x Wolf Chariots
1x Rock Lobber

Total Points: 1,700
1x Orc General
1x Orc Hero in Boar Chariot
1x Orc Hero
2x Orc Shamans
1x Goblin Hero in Wolf Chariot
1x Goblin Hero
2x Goblin Shaman
6x Orc Warriors
4x Goblins
1x Ogres
4x Boar Riders
2x Goblin Wolf Chariots

Orc Army Tactics (Not my own ideas. Can't remember where I read this.): Dangling your goblins as bait to lure your foe into a devastating counterattack is a tried-and-true tactic. The Orcs, especially the Black Orcs, can mix it up with most infantry on favorable terms, except Dwarf and Chaos Warriors.  Try to charge with the chariots to get that extra attack per stand.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Oh No! UHU Office Pen Discontinued!

Of course after my post yesterday on making Empire Warmaster counters do I learn after that UHU discontinued the Office Pen glue. I discovered this when I went to the Saunders website. Since I have two full pens of the glue I got years ago, it doesn't really affect me. (They were hard enough to find when they were in production!) However, it looks like a replacement is needed. I've never used the glues I mention below, but I've heard other paper modelers use them with good results. If you've used them or know of other glues that won't wrinkle paper, let us know!

Let's Bring Out the Contestants!
From what I can tell, the Office Pen has be redesigned from its boring "office" look to the hip and mod looking UHU Glue 'n Style pen marketed at school kids, which I would imagine is a much more lucrative market. Plus, this stylish pen makes the boring goopy glue sticks kids use look so...square. It sells for $3.90.

A popular glue with paper modelers is UHU All-Purpose Twist & Glue for $4.07. They don't advertise it as wrinkle free, but they say, "Works great on paper, cardboard, wood, felt, fabrics, cork and can be used in combination with metal, ceramics, glass, polystyrene, foam and many plastics."

A third possibility some paper modelers like is Beacon Adhesive's Zip Dry paper glue designed for scrapbooking. It sells for around $7 at Wal-Mart and craft stores. From the Beacon website: "Never wrinkles paper, ever! Dries crystal clear. Mistake-proof; easily removable when wet without leaving any residue. Glue dries very fast. Apply only one item at a time for best results. Always use with adequate ventilation." I don't know, the "adequate ventilation" part really scares me. I don't feel like I should have my windows open when gluing paper, especially here in Florida in the summer, lest I risk melting my brain cells or lungs. Know what I mean? It may be fantastic stuff, though. I don't know. With a 40% off Michaels coupon it might be worth a try for those with "adequate ventilation." :-)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Making Warmaster Empire Counters--The Hard Way

This afternoon, I began working on making Empire units using my paper Warmaster counters, which you can find under the pages links to the right. Most gamers simply will print the counters on 110lb cardstock, cut them out, and begin playing. What could be easier?

There is the Easy Way -- And Then There is My Way
Of course, I have to do this the hard way! Since my son will be playing Empire, I decided to use the box of junky Gale Force 9 laser-cut pegboard bases I've had sitting in the closet for ten years. He's going to game in style! Since I'm doing this the more unusual way, I thought I'd take some progress photos. While I was gluing the paper on the counters, Jeremy came by the table, looked approvingly at "his" counters in progress, and said, "That looks tedious." It wasn't too bad, really, and moved along quickly once I figured out the method. I'll be gluing the other sets to thick cardboard using Super 77 spray glue, which will be a lot easier than this method but still not as easy as printing directly to 110lb paper.

The Photos -- My Hands -- An Appology
Normally I do not take progress photos showing my hands. About five years ago, just after I began painting miniatures and building models, I began suffering from psoriasis on my hands. It's caused by a rare combination of genetics and then triggered by an external event, most often stress. Oh, have I gone through some stress! There were days when I was taking my life hour by hour, but the good Lord got me through those dark days when I was cleaning up my life. Anyway, one side-effect for me is that it caused my fingernails to deform, which is embarrassing. That's why I try never to show my hands in any photos and hide them from my students.

What Did I Learn?
First, I discovered that Staples printed the PDFs ever so slightly smaller than they should. The counters each were 39mm wide instead of 40mm. The height was 20mm though. I think this was my fault. In the comments section I forgot to tell them to print the PDF at full size. I normally mention that when sending them PDFs. When I printed the first page of the PDF on my home printer, they came out perfectly. So if you send the PDFs to Kinkos or something, make sure to tell them to print the PDF at full size.

Is it easier to cut them in long strips like I did and then cut each counter along the short end? Or vice versa? I don't know. Each way has its benefits and drawbacks. I'm still debating that.

Printing on cardstock at Staples may cost almost $1 a page, but it is soooo with the extra money!

I'm running into a problem with my commander counters and the huge altar counter because all I have are standard bases. I might get lazy and simply glue the commanders onto the bases with a lot of vertical overlap or make some smaller balsawood bases; I'd like them to fit in with the other units in the army. I'll have to think on this.

Onto the Photos!

Cutting the counters is easy. A steel ruler, a fresh hobby knife, and a cutting mat is all you need. Those who have a roller cutter or cutting machine have it even easier, especially if cutting cardboard.

I cut the edges off the sheet because I find it's easier to start that way. Just cut along the gray lines.

You've heard of chicken strips. Now there are counter strips, which I have discovered are not as tasty as chicken strips.

After I cut out the individual counters, I glued each onto its own base. I use an UHU Office Pen for gluing paper because they are super-low moisture glue that will not wrinkle paper. I'm sure other glues will work fine. I found that applying the glue to the base and smearing it around with the applicator was the easiest way. Just be careful with this stuff. Sometimes I could move the paper around a bit if I applied a thick layer of glue, but once you press the paper down, it ain't comin' back up!
Oooo, an action shot of me gluing the paper onto the base and watching glue dry too fast. Got to get it lined up perfec...rats, too late. In the next exciting post, we get to see several photos of you watching me watching paint dry. Yep. The excitement keeps on coming at this blog!

Voila! One unit of halberdiers ready for action to slaughter orcs. Notice how the counter is slightly smaller than the base? That was my fault when sending the PDF to Staples, as I mention above. It's really no big deal in the long run. I do have to trim up some of those bases though. If I were using bases for actual miniatures, I'd use Litko.

Don't they look the business! For these fellas, I used photos of real 10mm Warmaster figures. If my hands were steadier and the counters had been printed at full size, this would have looked even better. When I'm done and the glue has dried through and through for several days, I'll give them a light coating of Testors Dullcote to protect them. Now to finish the rest of the army!