Sunday, October 1, 2017

10mm Palm Trees Tutorial

Here's an option for creating your own 10mm palm trees.  I made these up for my WWI Middle East battles.  I'm sure I can use them for other scenarios needing palm trees.

Palm tree leaves.

Aquarium plant, toothpick, coffee stir stick/straw, cork sheet.

 Everything cut to size.

 All the pieces put together.
 Glued and painted up.
Trees in action (Battle of Gaza).

Friday, September 29, 2017

Miniatures Storage Option

I was in a recent discussion regarding storage and gave me the idea to do a blog post about an option for storing miniatures.

We all struggle with amount of storage space we have and .  I have used tool boxes, plastic drawers and random left over boxes to store my miniatures.  I find these options are really inconsistent size wise or more pricey.  I discovered these cardboard laminated gift boxes from a store called The Container Store (in the U.S.) that were only $5 each.  I like them because they are very sturdy and easily stackable.  I really don't need drawers to constantly get at my miniatures or try to stack random box sizes together.

Content labels on the outside are certainly useful.
Inside box, left to right scales: 10mm (kneeling observer), 15mm, 25mm, 28mm
As you can see, the boxes are recommended for miniatures smaller than 28mm.
Here's the specs on these boxes I use:

Name: Medium Premium Box White
Size: 14-7/8" x 9-1/4" x 2" h
Price (2017): $4.99

I have not tried the larger box size (Large Premium Box White, 18-7/8" x 12" x 3" h) which might work better for 28mm, but it is definitely a larger box and costs $7.99.

I recommend these boxes or something similar to store your miniatures at home.  I don't really recommend them using them to transport the figures to games outside your home.  Maybe I'll blog about that in the future.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Arctic Convoy Game

I ran my WWII Arctic Convoy scenario at the club last month.  The game went very well.  I ended up too busy to take many photos, but if requested I can take some additional photos of ships or planes.

The scenario was a summer 1942 based convoy from Scotland to Archangel.  It was a 14 day trip similar to historic convoys PQ16 or PQ17.  I was thinking this could have been convoy PQ16.5 (non-existing convoy).  The game was designed to fit in a 4 hour time block.  I think we finished the game in about 3.5 hours.

Here is the breakdown of the rules I used:
  • The scenario was fully built from Journey of the End of the Earth by Mal Wright.  I pre-rolled all the ships and events for the convoy.  Events range from U-boat encounters, German air attacks, and poor weather resulting in merchant ships colliding.  Thanks Mal for researching and writing these rules.  I also used these rules to resolve what happens to the merchants that lag behind the convoy.  I did not use the combat rules.
  • General Quarters I and II were used for air attacks, collision resolution, and torpedo damage.  I chose these rules because they can be resolved quickly.
  • Seekrieg V was used for U-boat detection resolution.
  • The Hunters solitaire game rules were used for U-boat attacks and depth charge resolution.

The convoy does not move on the table.  Each ship in the convoy is in a single hex, with a one hex separation between ships.  Mal's rules layout the convoy composition (merchants and escorts).  I decided upon 1:3000 scale and pretty much found everything I needed.  Aircraft are based one, two or three planes to a stand and each stand can occupy a single hex.  Bombers have to be adjacent to target ship but Torpedo planes can be up to four hexes away from their target to launch their torpedoes.

Each turn in the game is an 8 hour time block, which basically ends up morning, afternoon and night/twilight.  So this scenario ended up with 41 turns.  I made a PowerPoint presentation that contained a number of initial slides with background information on the scenario (OOBs and map) and then a slide for each turn.  The turn slides have the turn day number, time of day, events, photo of the main event and a map with a red symbol showing where the convoy current is.  I had a remote for the laptop to advance the slide while I sat at the other end of the table.

Two Wellingtons supporting the convoy for two turns.
The convoy made it to Archangel and took comparable losses to PQ16, 8 merchants, which was fairly light.  Winston Churchill had said that he would have been happy of half the merchants made it to Russia.

Having playtested this scenario a couple times and running the game at the club, I thought the summer 1942 Arctic convoy scenario was a good one for a convoy game.  I hope to someday run Operation Pedestal (WWII Malta convoy) using similar rules to this game.

I did discover there were some errors in Mal's rules (i.e. events).  This was not a big deal and I simply reworked them.

What would I change if I run another convoy game like this one:
  • I probably won't use The Hunters rules again.  There are too many depth charge dice roles.
  • Less movement of ships around in the convoy between turns.
  • Figure out how radar factors into early warning of air attack.
  • Work harder on the roles of each player in the game.  It is easy as a two player game, but I want to get four players fully involved.
John figuring out the AA on incoming German aircraft.
Three spectators in the background talking about something wargaming related.
Post any questions/comments and I can also expand this blog post to include more information if requested.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Locomotive 844

Why would a steam locomotive show up on my wargaming related blog?  Well...I guess I will just say it could have been used to pull U.S. troop trains during 1945.  Locomotive 844 was the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific.  It was taken out of service in 1959, but was fortunately saved and still runs today.  It was originally designed to run on coal, but in early 1945 was converted to oil.

I happened to catch it when it was stopping in Greeley, Colorado on July 23.  Amazing locomotive and definitely recommend seeing it.  I do need to work on my video skills.

Pictures and video below.



Saturday, July 15, 2017

Arctic Convoy Setting Sail

All the ships and planes have been painted...well sort of.  I found I need to paint up two ships needed later.  Now for some additional testing.   Photos show the convoy laid out departing Scotland for Arkhangelsk.

A refresher...the ships are a mix of various 1:3000 scale manufacturers.  Rules are pulled from Journey to the End of the Earth, General Quarters 1 and 2, The Hunters, and Seekrieg 5.  The plan is for the convoy to reach the destination in a four hour game slot.

Future blog posts will show more from testing.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Photobucket got the bucket

Good day.

Photobucket decided to limit access to photos.  It took me some time, but I have removed the photos from their site and am working on restoring blog post links to my photos.

I am no longer associated with Photobucket.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Air Mobility Command Museum Visit

This month I was in Delaware for business and had some time to visit a bit of the State.  I discovered that beside the Dover Air Force base there was an aviation museum.  This was not a normal aviation museum, but one dedicated to air force transport planes.  The museum has two parts, a WWII hanger with displays and an outdoor exhibit area.  Surprisingly, the museum is free.

I have flown on a C-47 and been inside a B-17, so those planes were old hat for me.  The exhibits inside were good and there was good learning material related to the history of transport planes in the U.S.

The highlight of the museum in my opinion are the planes outside.  My favorite planes there were the KC-97L Stratofreighter, C-130E Hercules, and the C-5A Galaxy.  The Stratofreighter is just a cool looking transport with the many windows up front.  The Hercules I'm interested in because it was used by Canada and in Vietnam.  This was one of two transports that you could walk through.  The Galaxy is just big and is imposing with all the wheels to support the weight.

Inside Hercules


A fun museum to visit.  I did the museum in about 2.5 hours.  I think you can spend more time and take in everything in about 3 hours.

  1. 360° view of some of the planes outside

  1. C-5A engine blades turning in the wind

To see all my photos from the museum, click on this link: More Photos

My reflection in an old Air Force Two plane.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

1:3000 Ship Comparison

I received my 1:3000 ship orders from four different companies:
  • Davco
  • Mick Yarrow Miniatures
  • North Head Miniatures
Before I placed my order, I had only seen NAVWAR miniatures before.  I was pretty much going in blind on the other three companies.  Overall, I like all four companies both for my orders arriving so quick and for quality.  I recommend all four.

Here are some brief comments about each company, in no particular order:
    • You have to order via snail mail using a paper order form, but you can add your credit card info on the form.  Ummm...NAVWAR, we are no longer in the 1980s.  But they do have a web site.
    • This company offers the largest variety of ships for 1:3000.
    • Quality is good.
    • I thought my order would take longer, but came pretty fast (just less than a month).
  • Davco
    • Not the best online listing, but eventually figured it out. They need a better simpler page listing of stock, rather than big blank boxes with no photos.
    • I thought I had not heard of the company before, but discovered I actually bought their port facilities years ago.  I have yet to use them.
    • Quality is good.
  • Mick Yarrow Miniatures
    • Similar packaging to NAVWAR.
    • Quality is good.
    • Offers a good variety of ships that NAVWAR does not have.
  • North Head Miniatures
    • This was my first time buying Shapeways models, and the Frosted Ultra Detail quality is pretty darn good.  The models are as smooth as the metal models and do not need any cleanup.
    • Quality is excellent.
    • I think the only down side maybe is price. I bought from North Head Miniatures for those ships that were unavailable from the other companies.
I did not end up with a large selection of the same class of ship from each company.  Maybe in hindsight, I should have bought the same ship from all the companies and been able to show a better comparison.  I do not see any large scale differences from the companies and even though there are some differences.  I doubt anyone will see the difference on the table.  Heck, historically I think even within some of the merchant classes, they were not identical (except maybe US merchant classes).

Most of the ships I purchased are merchants or small escorts, so potentially the larger warships have a greater variation between companies.

Comparison photos:

Left: NAVWAR, Right: Davco
A/B type merchant
Left: NAVWAR, Right: Davco
Hunt 1 class DD
Left: NAVWAR, Right: Mick Yarrow Miniatures
Liberty class merchant

Left: NAVWAR, Right: Davco
F type merchant

North Head Miniatures
Hog Island class merchant (three still attached)

Next, I'll be painting the ships.  I guess you can say...the fun part.

Previous related posts:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Arctic Convoy in 1:3000

The decision has been made.  The ships in the convoy game will be in 1:3000 scale.

After researching the scales 1:2400, 1:3000, and 1:6000, I found that 1:3000 covered the most needed ships as accurately as possible.  My preference would have been 1:2400, but there were too many gaps.

Here are the 1:3000 scale suppliers I researched:
Of these companies, I am only familiar with NAVWAR.  Years ago I purchased WWI French, Italian and Austro-Hungarian ships and was pretty happy with them.  Amazingly I'll still have to snail mail my order in.

North Head Miniatures will be my first Shapeways order.  I'm curious how the ships will look.  The other two companies are a mystery, so we'll just have to wait and see what sort of actual size and quality they turn out to be.

For other gamers out there looking at doing a convoy game, I am currently researching a summer 1942 Arctic convoy game, so depending on what year, country and part of the world you do, 1:2400 or 1:6000 may work out just fine.  My convoy will have about 31 merchant ships of all types and sizes from different countries, so it is quite the challenge to get a good variety.  A smaller convoy would be easier to get on the table in other scales.

Previous post on game research: Link

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Arctic Convoy Game Research

I have been considering what my next naval wargame scenario will be.  I thought about the Battle of Midway, but this campaign/scenario idea has been shelved for the moment.  Right now I am focused on the idea of a WWII Arctic Convoy.

But this is not a normal Convoy miniatures wargame scenario.  For my four hour game, the convoy miniatures will stay on the table but the game will cover the whole convoy journey from Scotland to Archangel in Russia.  I know...crazy eh?  The scenario takes place in the summer of 1942 before the PQ17 convoy disaster.  The summer convoy route takes a total of 14 days to reach the destination.  Will the convoy be attacked by German U-boats, bombers or naval surface forces?  Yes...the game would be a bit boring if it was not attacked.

View of my testing.  Actual game will have less paperwork on table and miniatures, not pieces of paper.

The trick for this to work is keeping the engagements simple enough to keep the game moving.  I have the convoy events already assigned thanks to Mal Wright's "A Journey to the End of the Earth" convoy rules.  I am currently reviewing various naval wargame rules to use for either air or naval engagements.  It looks like it will be a combination of "The Hunters" solo boardgame and General Quarters I.  I have discovered that no one rule set can cover what I am attempting to do.

Ship miniatures wise, I have not decided on a scale.  My options are 1:6000, 1:3000 or 1:2400.  There are such a wide variety of ships in the convoy I am trying to pick a scale that has the most to choose from.  I am looking at each ship in the convoy and all the manufacturers.  I would like to do it in 1:2400, but we'll see what my research discovers.

I will be using CAP Aero 1:1250 planes.

Another challenge is figuring out what the players will be doing.  I would like to have a four player game with two on each side.  The German players would be air and naval forces.  I'm not sure what each convoy player would be tasked with.  Maybe the convoy players would be each responsible for half of the convoy or just share responsibility for the whole convoy.  Maybe each has different escorts.  Sure the game would work best with only one player on a side, but I want to include more players.

We'll see how this goes.  Maybe players will enjoy this type of game or maybe it will be a flop.  If I decide to go with 1:2400 have a few miniatures, but would need to buy and paint up a bunch.  So I have not fully committed to this scenario.

I will certainly be updating my blog on the progression of this wargame idea.  I welcome any comments you may have.

Here are the list of wargame rules I have been consulting:
  • A Journey to the End of the Earth
  • The Rising Storm
  • General Quarters I & II
  • General Quarters III
  • Seekrieg IV
  • Seekrieg V
  • Sea Wars Fleet Actions
  • Command at Sea I
  • Second World War At Sea: Arctic Convoy (boardgame)
  • Second World War at Sea: Bomb Alley (boardgame)
  • The Hunters (boardgame)
  • North Cape (boardgame)
  • Naval Thunder
  • Naval War
  • NWS: Naval Warfare World War 2
  • Victory at Sea
  • Naval Wargaming: From Ancient Galleys to Modern U-boats
Other references:
  • Naval Wargaming Review Vol 4, #6, The Artic Convoys: A Campaign Game
  • U-boat Tactics in World War II (Osprey)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Napoleonic First-Person Videos and Miniatures

In another random YouTube discovery, I came upon a great two part video set of a French Napoleonic reenactor from the first-person perspective (Go Pro camera).  Below are the two part videos:

I have played in a number of Napoleonic games over the years, and watching these videos really shows a great perspective of what being a soldier in the line infantry was like.

Unlike some Napoleonic gamers, I have not gone in very heavy.  I only have about 200 15mm War of 1812 figures.  I have since decided to focus on 28mm War of 1812 figures for skirmish wargames.  In the photo below, the miniatures on the left are 6mm Napoleonic figures.  I have never painted 6mm figures before.  I am curious if I will like painting the scale.  I don't plan on getting into 6mm Napoleonic figures.  I will be certainly be expanding my 28mm War of 1812 collection.  I may use 6mm for a different period.