Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Normandy Houses Now With Back Doors!

The game I am running for our club is coming up at the end of October, so it is time to finally finish all of the terrain needed for it. I think I may have reached my tolerance for house building. I think these houses push my total to something like 19 buildings. Unfortunately only a few of the buildings have entrances on the back of them, but with careful placement I should be able to limit the pain for any player stuck trying to assault a house from the backyard. With roads, fields, bocage, trees, and houses, I think the terrain is now set. That is good, since I've become quite a bit sloppier painting these than the first bunch.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Building a Static Grass Applicator Out of a Fly Swatter

I usually stay away from static grass. Like many, I can never seem to make it come out standing up. Usually I end up with a weird little mashed pile of the stuff. Taking a cue from the name of the stuff, I searched online for a solution. It turns out that all I needed was a negative ION generator. Enter the bug zapper. 

It turns out that a bug zapper will do what I want. The basic principle is simple. Replace the racket head with a metal tea leaf basket and attach one of the two wires inside the device to the new static grass basket. Once that is done, take the second wire and attach it to a nail that will be positioned near any area needed static grass. Presto, a static grass applicator.  

So following that online, I made one.

These are the two wires I was mentioning. I cut away the originals and soldered on replacements.

In the photo above I've already attached the tea leaf strainer to the handle of the bug zapper, and have inserted the long wire into the test piece. I used regular white glue for the test. One gotcha here is that the current generated is not terribly strong, so the basket needs to be close to the nail. I'll improve this later. For a test, I think it worked pretty well.

After I had the device built I grabbed containers full of static grass that I haven't used in years and started experimenting. I think the results would be better if I had some different lengths of static grass, but I think it still worked pretty well. The model railroad guys seem to use a variety of lengths. I've seen them apply grass right over the top of a base layer of previously applied grass.

So, what do I do with this now? I've already experimented making tufts of grass. I know how to make patches. I played around with a pen mashing down areas of the grass to make it look trampled. I suppose I could add static grass to something big. Any ideas? What would you do with this?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bocage Battle Report

With all that bocage, Rhett and I decided to throw together a quick game to see how a full bocage table would play. I plan to use a lot of bocage for our club's halloween table, so experiencing it first hand was a must. Plus it just looks cool. I had to play on the board. I had to.

Our group plays games a bit differently than a lot of folks. We try to play narrative games, where the objectives make sense, and a story can be told. This forms the framework to make tactics fit into an overall strategy. Fighting a battle to the annihilation of both forces is fun sometimes, but we've found it makes for better games if the forces are no mutually suicidal. Somehow this game, which was designed to avoid slaughter failed to do so.

For this game we want to put two forces trying to reach different destinations in contact. Each of the road end points was numbered, and we randomly drew our entry point and our exit point. The idea was to represent how confusing the first few days of Normandy were. To make things more exciting, we would not reveal either deployment or exit. Obviously the person who entered first would be revealing their starting location, but it was a fun little dance to see who would ultimately bring on the first unit, and where it would come from.

I got very lucky in my deployment road and my exit road. My draw put my entrance leading into the town, and my exit jus tot the right of the town in the top photo. Basically I could amble over to the exit and preserve my forces.

Rhett drew the lower right corner of the first photo for his deployment road, and the middle road exit on the right. This meant that he had to drive into the town, and make a hard right to exit. He would have to drive by all of my forces.

I could have just run my forces off of the table, but that wouldn't have been fun for either of us. Instead I decided to take the town, in order to hinder his advance. I figured I could leisurely mosey on over to my exist later.

Germans aggressively take the town. I did not want to reveal that my exit was immediately to the left in this photo, so I tried to keep my forces towards the center.

In the far right corner in the fields, Rhett immediately moved troops towards the middle road section. I knew exactly where he was going now, and planned to trap his vehicles on the road, and fire at his troops from the safety of the roadside bocage.  (we swapped out the tank for a Sherman during the middle of the game. Rhett decided he would have preferred to have had one.)  :)

Germans move to take the town. The half track had an anti-tank weapon mounted on it, so it let the howitzer deploy, and prepared to block the road. The halftrack moved forward to the crossroads and took a shot at the Sherman. It missed. A bunch of confused Germans wondered what the Sherman would do.

Rather than shoot,  Rhett decided to just ram the halftrack. He succeeded, however we were then left with a quandary. I had effectively blocked the road, making it impossible for him to achieve his objective. We decided to let the sheer spend a turn pushing the half track out of the way.

The half track was pushed by the Sherman tank out of the way, clearing the road for US vehicles. The rest of game became a dance of tanks. The Sherman drove nose to nose with the Panther and proceeded to stay that way for three turns before the panther expired. A foolish charge by American infantry directly into the front of a howitzer ended exactly as you would expect for the infantry. In the end we decided that this would be a tie. The Germans could evacuate two units, and the Americans could only evacuate 1 unit. However one of the German units was sitting next to an angry Sherman. It would have ended badly for them. I accidentally deleted the tank dance photos, so we'll end this little report with an artsy black and white photo.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sometimes You Need Forty Feet of Bocage

I've been playing bolt action for a while now, and have grown to really enjoy how interesting battles are that take place in Normandy. In order to do the French countryside justice, I finally decided to make a boat load of bocage. I think these will work equally well at 1/72 scale as well as 28mm. (yes I know one of those is a height and the other is a scale)

With 40 feet of the stuff, I think we are going to be able to set up some really nice tables. Once an old stone french church is added it will be perfect.

Bocage Recipe

  1. Buy a green natural air filter and cut into sections
  2. Base coat bocage sections with brown paint
  3. Dust bocage sections with tan paint from above
  4. Spray 3M adhesive all over sections
  5. Roll bocage around in tray of woodland scenics tree tufts. (use at least three colors)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Stug Zug For NOVA Open

A while ago we decided to give Bolt Action a try at 1/72 scale. When we finally have forces painted, this will allow us to play with all of the 1/72 scale models on the market. The scale is also helpful in that individual infantry are still individually based. That satisfies our group need to not abstract a squad into a single base. I had not intended to put these into the painting competition, but I think these came out pretty well.  What I am most excited about, was proving to myself that I could paint at this scale, and produce models that make battles more interesting to watch.

So, with only two days left before the NOVA Open, I'd like to invite all of you to partake in the speed painting competition, and to watch me compete. Please steal techniques if I happen to have any techniques that are new to you. You are also welcome to kibitz during my painting session Thursday at 3:00PM.