Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Crescent Moon at Fields of Honor 2011

In addition to the Force on Force games I ran at Fields of Honor, I ran a couple games of Traps and Treasure!  as well.  This is my home-brew miniatures skirmish game designed to be easily picked up by first time players in just a few minutes.

Both games went quite well and the players (and myself) looked to be having a lot of fun.  The first game had 5 players while the second had 4.  It would have been nice to fill out both games with 6 players, but both groups were able to gather hoards of treasure without perishing at the claws/hands of the monsters (and other players!).
Getting ready to start Traps & Treasure!
Most of the levels exploded
Ah, treasure!

Front of the Crescent Moon Inn and Songhouse
Left Side
Right Side

Below are the rules, character sheets, and other supporting material.  Please let me know if you want to give it a shot and have any questions - I'd be glad to help out!

Traps & Treasure! Rules
Traps & Treasure! Characters
Traps & Treasure! Overview
Traps & Treasure! Battle Report Form
Traps & Treasure! License

Here is a link to the HirstArts message board documenting the build:
Yep, I scratch built it from plaster, foam board, and balsa wood.  The blocks are cast from HirstArts molds.  Here is a thread on the HirstArts message board which goes through a good portion of the build:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rhodesia - Operation Uric - Force on Force AAR

I had a great time at Fields of Honor this past weekend.  Two sessions of Force on Force were played and below is an After Action Report for both of them.

This scenario is set in 1979 near Gaza, Mozambique. The Rhodesian forces have been deployed to neutralize a training camp which serves as a major gateway for ZANLA guerrillas into Rhodesia.

The first session comprised of three players, two of which were already familiar with the rules.

Throughout the entire first game the Rhodesian player was challenging the laws of probability by rolling such high numbers so consistently.  The ZANLA players rolled well too, but could not stop the continued onslaught of 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s with their d6s.
Early stage of the game soon after setup.
The Lynx drops its deadly payload and soon finishes off the AA gun and remaining crew.
The points in the end were fairly close as the ZANLA were able to hold off the Rhodesians from their objectives for long enough, but the Rhodesians still came out ahead.  Round after round of being slaughtered and only taking down a single Rhodesian the whole game made it kind of a tough match for the Guerillas.

There really is not much more to report on for this first match.  It was so one-sided on the Rhodesian side that I thought the scenario was completely broken despite the several run-through games I had played previously which seemed much more balanced.

Moving right along to the second session...

In this session there were again three players, but I jumped in as well this time to make it a 2 on 2 game.
The initial setup of the 2nd game was quite similar to that of the first.
This time the game was completely different.  Each round things went back and forth and several exciting events occurred. 
K-Car Down!
A botched roll on the Air Strike Effectiveness Table resulted in the K-Car being destroyed!  Only a couple turns later, another roll of 1 meant the fall of the Lynx as well:
Lynx Down!
In an earlier turn, before the Lynx went down, the AA gun was destroyed by its mini-Golf bombs. 

The Rhodesians had an entire stick go down and unable to do a First Aid check.  The ZANLA unit hidden over the ridge charged forth in an attempt to capture the stick.  Although suffering three initial casualties from another Rhodesian, the single guerilla left was able to make it to the next round and took a single prisoner alive and left three dead.

Another Rhodesian unit had two serious wounds and called for CASEVAC.
A Cheetah lands to CASEVAC two Rhodesian casualties.
On the way in, the Cheetah came under fire from two ZANLA RPGs as well as the DShK.  Returning fire with its dual .303 guns, the resistance was quickly quieted and the chopper landed without even a scratch.

After loading their wounded onto the Cheetah, the remaining two members of Stick 1 successfully thwarted the substantial group of ZANLA approaching along the ridge line.
Turn 10 was the initially declared end-of-game and prevented the Rhodesians from obtaining their objective of destroying the radio communications.  Adding up the points left the ZANLA on top.  Although casualties were extremely heavy on the ZANLA side, the loss of the aircraft was too much for the Rhodesians to overcome. 

Everyone had moments of glorious success as well as moments of catastrophic failure - a great game!

Here are the various documents describing in detail the troops and scenario that were used:

Rhodesian Troops
Rhodesia: Operation Uric Scenario
Aircraft Rules
Rules Reference Sheet
Turn Sequence Reference Sheet
Status Markers

Friday, September 23, 2011

Aircraft Stands

Two aircraft stands are now finished.  After a few minor adjustments from the original plan they look like they will work quite well.

First, I had to glue in the metal telescoping rods into the base.  Initially I thought I would be able to unscrew them for transport, but the threads that were inside the rod were able to spin preventing them from being fully tightened down.  This, in conjunction with the Sculptamold shrinking ever-so-slightly gave it a little wobble which was obviously undesirable.  Gluing them together isn't a big deal since the whole thing collapses to 6" which makes it fairly compact.

The second thing I did was to glue a more powerful magnet to the one already at the end of the telescoping rod.  Although the magnet included sort of worked, I didn't want to take any chances with an aircraft falling off.  The Lynx would have been at most risk since its washer is the smallest and it is a bit tail heavy.  Using a drop of Gorilla Super Glue on the top of the existing magnet, I just set the larger one on top of it and it was held secure.

The third item, which is another addition to the plan, was to Rubber Cement a piece of latex glove to the top of the stand.  Again, another precaution.  When positioning the Lynx in a dive, it had a tendency to spin on the very smooth magnet and go nose up.  The latex rubber gave it a bit more 'traction' and helped out with that. The latex should also help to protect the paint on the bottom of the models rather than them being stuck directly against a piece of metal.

Fully extended, the stand can suspend an aircraft 18.5" above the table. The washers provide a very stable base and should work fairly well...  We'll see how they fare at the convention this weekend!

The base was covered in Sculptamold and painted just like the rest of the terrain.
The top is very movable so the aircraft can be posed in some great attack positions.

Both stands as low as they go - 6".
The Alouette III is at its highest altitude - 18.5".

The total cost of each stand including the magnet, telescoping pickup tool, washers, and other bits is less than $5.00.

If you want something without having to make it yourself, you can check out Armaments In Miniature.  It looks like you have to email them your order, but they do apparently take PayPal and other forms of payment.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Air Support - Alouette III - WIP Part 2

The Alouette III is also done minus a couple details such as the 20mm cannon, the engine cowling, and the air intake filters.  The windows/doors fit together better than they could have, but it was still a bit fiddly to get everything together.  In hindsight I definitely should have glued them in place before painting, but I probably would have run into other unforeseen problems if I did that...  Oh well, it is done and turned out ok I think. 

Air Support - Cheetah - WIP Part 2

The Cheetah is also about finished minus a detail or two such as the twin .303 guns which will point out the side of the aircraft. The engine cowling needs to be added as well - similar to the one I need to do for the Alouette.  I spent too much time masking and in hindsight should have glued the windows in prior to painting to make them blend better.  Still, I think it turned out pretty well - again for my first set of model aircraft.

Air Support - Lynx - WIP Part 2

The Lynx is pretty much done minus a few details such as the bubble window and what ever is going to fill the bomb/rocket mount points.  For my first model aircraft ever, I'm fairly happy with how it turned out.  I still would like to figure out how to properly weather it without over doing it, but for now it is good enough.  I tried adding a 'sludge wash' to the panel lines separating the control surfaces, but it wasn't working well.  I needed to seal it with a gloss finish before weathering and then the Testor's Dullcote, but I was short on time and was not confident that I could make it work.

Twin .303 guns mounted on top of the Lynx

Flying through the air!  (magnetic aircraft stand digitally removed...)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Air Support - Cheetah - WIP

Because I didn't have enough to do before the convention, I figured I should start another kit.  ;)  This time I'm working on a third aircraft support asset for the Rhodesians.  The model is a 1/48 scale Bell UH-1D Iroquois Helicopter made in Italy by ESCI which is unfortunately long gone as a company.  The modifications to this kit to make it a Rhodesian "Cheetah" are fairly few.  Similar to the Alouette III modification, a shroud will need to be added to the engine exhaust.  I'm not sure quite how to do that yet and will likely hold off at least for the convention...  

Overall the model is going together very well.  The only problem I've had is with the two main body parts lining up properly.  It was difficult to get them together seamlessly even without the interior inside it.  Here is a shot of the interior:
The instructions were pretty clear except for one omission - the row of seats behind the pilot seats is an option that is not mentioned.  The default setup for this kit is to include rocket/minigun pods and the seats are replaced with a big ammo bin.  It wasn't difficult to figure out how things should fit together - just odd they omitted it.  There is also a winch included in the kit, but I've got no idea where that is supposed to attach nor do I need it for the Cheetah.  

Below is a photo of one half of the body with the washer to be used with the aircraft stand described earlier:
The interior will hide the washer and there is plenty of clearance so it fits nicely.

I got the body glued together last night, but didn't get any photos of it yet.  I did manage to break off the tail rotor which gave me a little concern.  This is probably a reason a lot of people don't use plastic scale models intended for static display behind glass in their wargames...   If I (or another gamer) happens to break it off again, I might drill it out and add in a magnet configuration that will tolerate a bit of bumping.  The much higher detail offered by plastic kits over resin or other vehicles intended for wargaming is still worth it to me to go the kit route.

Here is the box so you get an idea of what I'm building:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Aircraft Stand - WIP

Yet another parallel project, I'm working on some aircraft stands so the helicopters and airplane can be seen circling the battlefield.  They are actually fairly simple to make assuming one can find the correct parts.  The key to the whole thing is the Magnetic Pickup Tool.  I picked up a few of these at Harbor Freight Tools for $3.99 a piece.  The great part about these is the articulating end right before the magnet.  That should allow the aircraft to be positioned in various ways.  Plastic isn't magnetic you say?  Fortunately I remembered to glue a small washer on the inside floor of both models.

The magnets on the pickup tool is probably strong enough to hold the light plastic model kits I'm using, but I've got some much stronger magnets that I'll stick on the end of them.  I'll also add a small piece of fabric/felt on the magnet so it doesn't scratch up the bottom of the aircraft.

Anyway, here are the items necessary to build the stand:
  • Magnetic Pickup Tool
  • Large heavy washers
  • 1/8" hardboard (or other appropriate base)
  • Liquid Nails (not pictured)
  • Sculptalmod (not picutred)

You'll also need a caulking gun for the Liquid Nails and a jig/scroll saw to shape the base.

Another great feature of this particular magnetic pickup tool is that the bottom unscrews to allow you to remove the shirt clip AND to allow for gluing down of the little screw.  The telescoping part can now be removed from the heavy base for ease of storage and transport. You can see the little screw stuck in the center of the Liquid Nails.
Next, I'll cover the base in Sculptamold and build it up a bit around the telescoping pickup tool to give it a little more stability.  With some paint and ground cover, it should work well!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Air Support - Alouette III - WIP

Part 1 (September 13, 2011)

The Alouette III was an integral part to Rhodesia's Fireforce.  Two types were used, the first being the K-Car armed with a MG151 20mm cannon served as the orbiting headquarters for the Fireforce commander and will be the focus of this post.  The 1/48 scale model below will work well as a starting point.  A few modifications will be needed to make it look more like the Rhodesian version including:
  • Cut out the left door so the 20mm cannon can be equipped
  • Add dust covers over the engine intakes
  • Add a shroud over the engine exhaust to redirect the heat upwards into the downdraft
  • Reverse the co-pilot chair so the Fireforce commander is facing the rear
  • Do something with the rear seating area.  The rear seat is removed in the Rhodesian version and should just be a flat wall.  I'm not sure I'll mess with this part or not...
  • Scratch build the 20mm cannon and gunner's seat.  There is an extra seat that isn't being used in the front row so I'll likely just use it.
This Fujimi 1/48 scale Alouette III is unfortunately out of production and very difficult to find.  I sent a message to Fujimi inquiring about the possibility of a re-release, but was met with no reply.  Here is their Contact Form and if you are interested, perhaps you can send them a message as well...

Part 2 (September 14, 2011)
Fairly good progress on the Alouette III - it is starting to look like a helicopter!  All of the sub-assemblies are complete and the glass is almost all masked.  The masking process isn't nearly as tedious as I thought it would be - although delicate work, it moves right along.  The photo is terrible, but you can sort of make out the Fireforce commander's rear/side facing chair next to the bright white console that I added.  The rotor hub and blades are not glued on yet nor is the engine.  The plan is to paint them separately and just mask the contact points between the pieces so the glue will still melt the plastic properly and form a good bond. 

Next steps:
  1. Finish masking the glass
  2. Airbrush everything primer white
  3. Airbrush interior cabin black
  4. Mask interior
  5. Airbrush tan basecoat (just like the Lynx)
  6. Draw camo pattern
  7. Airbrush dark green pattern
  8. Paint detail interior
  9. Paint tips of blades
  10. Glue assemblies & windows in place
  11. Seal

The 20mm cannon still needs to be built, but that might be a post-convention addition as I'd really like to get a Cheetah built as well...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Air Support - Lynx

Several weeks ago I started a conversion of a 1/48 scale Cessna 337 Skymaster airplane to be used as a Rhodesian Lynx.  I sculpted the .303 machine gun pods from Sculpey and drilled some holes to accept the brass barrels from Master Models.  On the under side of the wings I added mounts for the various ordnance used on this aircraft during the Bush Wars.   Eventually I'll make some Mini-Golf bombs to be mounted under the wings.  The modifications are fairly minimal as this kit is fairly close to that of the Lynx.  The lights in the middle of the leading edge of each wing needed to be filled with putty.  Some small strips of styrene were added to the tops of the wings as well.  I had a little pitot tube on the front corner of one of the wings, but I just noticed from my WIP photo that it apparently has broken off...I'll have to try to find it and glue it back on (only so it can be broken off again during a game).  One other difference between the basic kit and the Lynx is the addition of a bubble window on the pilot's side.  I'll need to make it from scratch which will be a different WIP entry.

Here is where it is at after being primed white and then given a coat of tan. 

Here is what I'm trying to simulate:
Rhodesian Lynx - (Photo is from http://www.newrhodesian.net)
Now the camo pattern needs to be lightly drawn on in pencil so I have a guide to know where to spray the green areas using my Badger Velocity airbrush.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Radio Outpost

The scenario I plan to run at the convention is Operation Uric.  It describes trenches and destroying of radio communications.  Due to a lack of photos, I took some artistic license and came up with this fortified radio outpost. 

I am quite honored to have won first place with this piece in a recent competition over at Terragenesis.  Below are photos of my entry:
Exterior details including DShK 12.7mm heavy machine gun from Eureka.
ZANLA defend the outpost.
Some interior details.
There are a lot more photos in this album if you are interested.  I didn't prune many so please forgive the repeated and sometimes poorly framed photos.

Eureka 1970's Rhodesian Miniatures

All of the figures for the Force on Force games I plan to run at Fields of Honor on Saturday September 24th are painted and ready to go. 

Overall I'm pretty happy with how the ZANLA turned out, but unfortunately my paint job on the RLI leaves a bit to be desired...  I couldn't figure out how to properly do the camo pattern and they are so packed with stuff (pouches, packs, webbing straps, canteens, etc) and are wearing shorts, there isn't much camo to paint.  The Caucasian skin didn't go well for me at all.  Since I planned on painting them as 'blacked up' with camo cream, I didn't spend much time on the skin.

Anyway, I really like the sculpts except for one small detail.  There are no eyes!  I'm not sure why they were sculpted with empty eye sockets.  I suppose I could have somehow filled them in with putty, but I was in a time crunch and skipped it.  The painted examples on Eureka's site didn't do anything with the empty sockets either so I don't feel so bad following suit.

Without further ado, here are some photos of the figures.  You can click on them to get a larger version.

1970's ZANLA Guerillas (28mm)

ZANLA Guerillas armied armed with AK-47s

ZANLA Guerillas armed with RPG-7, RPD, and AK-47s

Stop 1 armed with FN-FALs and MAG58 - Front
Stop 1 - Back
 1970's Rhodesian Light Infantry (28mm)

Stop 2

Stop 3 - Stick leader missing an antenna...I somehow couldn't find my wire...

Well, that is all for now.  Now to work on some air support...