Monday, 28 January 2019

A craggy protuberance

I need a craggy hill for the D&D adventure I’m working on - a great opportunity to try out my new interest in foam crafting! Still a WIP but here’s a progress shot or two.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Crafting for D&D 5e

At a pre-Christmas get together with some gaming buddies I was discussing how the Netflix series Stranger Things had reenlivend interest in Dungeons and Dragons with my kids. I had been using AD&D manuals that I had since my early days of role playing in the late 1970s. The chap I was yarning with suggested I try fifth edition (5e) suggesting there was a lot of news stuff we were missing out on. I was keen to see where D&D had gone over the years, so challenge accepted!

So, the young bloke’s Christmas stocking was stuffed with some Eureka dungeoneer miniatures, the 5e Dungeon Masters’ Guide and a DM’s screen as a bit of a kick starter. I find using some miniatures and dungeon tiles or terrain helps the kids engage with the action sequences better (although in many parts of an adventure we stick to ‘pure’ paper and dice role playing).

Of course, I need very little encouragement to take up a new crafting project and swiftly got onto making some dungeon tiles. There is a wealth of advice on YouTube for dungeon crafting and I adopted the 2.5 D dungeon tile approach used by The DMG with reasonable success. I used foamcore instead of cardboard which worked fine. I have created a basic set of about 20 tiles but am working towards the full set of tiles outlined by DMG:

While searching for some additional goodies to populate the dungeon with I happened across the Black Magic Craft channel on YouTube which, among the huge catalogue of really useful videos, has a great tutorial for crafting an Earth Elemental out of foam here. Here’s my attempt at the build - I’m happy with the results. I particularly think adding some areas of ‘dirt’ using model railway ballast gives the model even more of a feel of having just having been conjoured from the landscape!

I highly recommend you check out The and Black Magic Craft - great channels.

More dungeon goodness will follow. Thanks for dropping by.
NB: this is my first post using an iPad - not a happy choice for Blogger - apologies for formatting issues!

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Scratch built Nissen Huts, road barriers and shipping container 28mm

So often I find that terrain ideas are the motivation for new projects. Currently, I'm working on some  items that lend themselves more to a Cold War era post apocalyptic setting than the classic Pulp that he’s been my recent focus.
'The Road' (Source)
My hope is that this will inspire some 'Apocalypse Alley' gaming using Pulp Alley rules based around the aftermath of a nasty biological weapon exchange. The leagues will give me the opportunity to use some of the Eureka Cold War era moderns in like thev 28mm US and Soviet lines they have in NBC/MOPP gear. Link

Keeping to my (nearly) zero budget terrain philosophy, I have been working mostly with cardboard, cork and wire mesh. Here are a few of the creations and the inspiration for them.

'The Base' - a quick layout of the components I have built so far. At the moment I'm working on roads, finishing the perimeter fence and helipads.

I love the look of these old Nissen huts built using 90mm postal tube and corrugated cardboard. The construction process is set out in a great article by Dennis Berwick

This bird's eye view of the base shows the mysterious generator spewing out toxic goop on the bottom right. Ultimately this will be outside the perimeter of the base.

These street barricades are simple to make and will be useful for a range of modern settings. I used a cool tutorial by FearDaAlien. They just need some ballast in the bottom as, being made out of foam, they tend to fall over easily.

I've wanted shipping containers for ages - always been looking in toy stores etc. At last, I've found a great tutorial on Panzerfaust Nostalgia for making them out of card. I'm very happy with the result. Now for mass production! The container made out of 1mm card stock with craft store corrugated cardboard glued to the outside and plastic tubing for the locking mechanism.
Thant's all for now. Study and work are weighing heavily on my crafting time - but the light is at the end of the tunnel!

Just as an aside, I found this nice little article on post-apocalyptic ecology:

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Something's afoot at Mosquito Creek

Far to the south of the troubled waterways of the Murray-Darling river system, something's afoot in a gloomy corner of Westernport Bay. Despite the recent storms, there's been a a noticeable increase in ferry traffic out to French Island in the past few weeks. The Master at Tankerton Jetty has been unwilling to discuss the contents of the barges that were doing nightly runs just muttering something about a government project.

The master's son was driving tarp-covered loads out to somewhere near Mosquito Creek by night - sodden, poor land, no good for grazing. By daytime he was ferrying working parties of prisoners and their guards to an 'undisclosed location'.
The island's only General Store was alive with rumour - was a factory being set up at the island's prison farm?  Could the government be finally electrifying the island (long overdue), or was it something to do with upgrading the cable line to Tasmania? One thing was sure, if any of the Islanders new what was going on, they were keeping tight lipped. Les Johnston, who usually knows everything that's going on on French Island,  says that when he was out near Mosquito Creek shooting foxes last week, he saw a strange glow off over the mangroves. Someone needs to go out and have a look - but because the prison is involved, nobody is game...

Saturday, 4 August 2018

A Right Bloody Mess on the water

As always my gaming focus swings wildly.

With the release of Matthew Clarkson's magnificent tome A Right Bloody Mess in 2017 and more recently Mana Press's Maximilian 1934 rules and the wonderful supporting ranges from Eureka Miniatures (OK plugs over now!) my mind has turned to 'what if?' conflicts in the parched plains of this great, big brown land of ours.

I have been experimenting with Eureka Miniatures 'The Cars that ate Murrumbeena' range and there will be posts to follow on that. Today is just a little taster of the riverine consequences of this civil disturbance in Australia in the 1930s. Currently a work in progress.

My mind has been turning to monolithic dredges from the gold mining era being hauled across dry landscapes by traction engines to fight battles in the ephemeral, mineral leaden lakes of the interior - my take on American Civil War Cotttonclads - but I need to start a little smaller than that!

USS Morning Light - an American Civil War Cottonclad
Today I give you a peek of my first addition to the riverine fleet for ARBM - the converted wool barge Willandra.

The Murray Barge Dart
The Willandra is based on a real barge of the late 1800s (but no accurate dimensions could be found - so I faked it). She was built in 1879 and plied the Murray-Darling rivers as a barge for the Paddle Steamer Alert. These barges and the whole riverine transport system slowly declined with the spread of the road and rail network and many boats fell into disrepair. Now, I diverge from history.

With the outbreak of hostilities in the 1930s (see Matthew's ARBM) the road and rail network was again compromised by the warring factions. The massive (although ephemeral and unreliable) Riverine transport network of the Murray-Darling Basin flourished again. Old barges (once towed by Paddle Steamers) were retrofitted with diesel engines and pressed into service - valued for their shallow draft in these rivers full of sandbanks and snags.

Here we see the owner of sheep station at Minindee along the Darling River in NSW on a run down to the market in Mildura to sell some of her high grade Merino wool - in great demand again for uniforms as the various militia kit up across the region!

But, soon enough, as resources become scarce due to the break down of trade across this huge continent, the trip to market becomes fraught with danger from attacks by land-based militia and even the occasional attack from small watercraft. Only last month an aged paddle steamer was sunk in the Murray River by spar torpedo boats from a timber-cutter gang turned feral in Barmah! The militia need uniforms so the wool must get through to the markets. Thus, the first 'woolclad' gunboat on the darling River is born - the Willandra! More to follow...

The Hotchkiss Gun, Nordenfelt and Wool Bales are all from Eureka Miniatures, The Willandra is scratch-built of cork, MDF and plastic card. The other figures at from Bob Murch - Pulp Figures


The 'woolclad' Willandra is complete and ready to start plying her trade up and down the Darling shipping wool to the market in Mildura. Mimosa Herridge, the matriarch of Menindee Station is accompanying her shipment of the finest Merino wool down river.

Stopping to pick up a shipment from the neighboring property, Herridge is surprised to find a newsreel crew waiting for their arrival. The NSW Government's recently formed Ministry of Information wants to calm the jittery investors in Sydney by reinforcing that the State's rurl industries were still thriving despite the recent conflict.
 The arrival of Herridge is a godsend for Ken G Hall the Movietone crew Director, Ken G Hall, but the Ministry's 'advisor' Major GPW Meredith (yes, the infamous commander of the failed Emu War!) quickly advises the crew to crop the armaments on the Willandra out of the shot as it doesn't send the right message!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Preparations for first try of C21 Air War

As previous posts have hinted at, my first venture into modern aerial combat gaming will be a Falklands War project. I'm easing myself into the genre using Air War C21 rules by Wessex Games.

The first scenario will be a hypothetical encounter between a section of Sea Harriers intercepting a section of Argentine Dassault Mirage III's over San Carlos Water (Bomb Alley) on 1 May 1982, as the air war above the Falklands was just beginning to escalate

Gaming time is rare at the moment (study, work, yeech!) so it may take a while - besides, I'm still rereading the rules. Here's a few atmospheric shots of the table. Simple, but effective for 'whatever is at hand' set up!
Sea Harriers!
San Carlos Water looks cold in the last light of day!
Great late afternoon light has added some atmosphere to this shot.

Argentine Dassault Mirage III
Argentine Mirage III's (foreground) close in on the Sea Harriers (top left) for first contact with the enemy.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Retun to Ulsan - 14 August 1904

My favourite pre-dreadnought action is the clash of Vice Admiral Karl Jessen Vladivostok Independent Cruiser Squadron (armored cruisers: Rossia, Rurik, and Gromoboi) and Japanese 2nd Fleet under Admiral Kamimura (four armored cruisers Izumo, Azuma, Tokiwa, Iwate, and two protected cruisers Naniwa and Takachih) off Ulsan in the Korean Strait on 14 August 1904.
The Imperial Japanese Navy close in on the Vladivostok Cruiser Squadron on my newly made
naval gaming mat.
It's a great scenario for a relatively quick game (although pretty challenging for the Russian player) and a good one for testing out new rules. For me, it highlights the great range of outcomes possible in naval gaming. I've played it about eight times now and each game has been quite different. Only one or two, by memory, have see the Imperial Russian Navy prevail, alas!

Now, to get yourself in the pre-dred mindset I can always recommend watching the clip from Turning Point (that you all know so well, I'm sure) if you can put up wth the soundtrack:

Not being a devotee of the rivet-counting end of naval wargaming rules, my go-to rules for a fun game (especially when playing solo) are Coaling Stations by Twylight Games. What I like most is the card-based order mechanism where each squadron allocated a series of individual orders (move, turn, fire, make smoke, evade etc) by placing the cards in the order you wish to enact them, and then the player rolls against their allocated command rating (7 inferior commander, 8 average commander, 9 superior commander) using 2d6 and if the roll is equal to or less than the command rating, that number of orders are put in place.
In this case the IJN protected cruiser squadron (command of 9) had rolled a 6 and were able to put all four orders into action. They have to be performed int he order they are laid out in (L to R in this picture).

Alas, in this case, the shift to flank speed meant they steamed right past the Russians (top of picture) before being able to launch their torpedoes!
So, if you have a command rating of 8 for your squadron and you lay out five orders (eg. cruise speed, fire main guns, fire secondary guns, turn 90 degrees and make smoke), a roll of 7 means you get to move forward at cruising speed, then for your main guns only that turn.

It's an interesting and easy to use mechanism. I place my cards for each squadron face down in order (top to bottom) before rolling against the commend. Sometimes I accidentally mix up the order which I put down to fog of war style mistakes by the crew. As you will see below, sometimes this has devastating consequences.

So, here's a photo-story of how the game played out.

The fleets sight each other
First IJN salvo mostly straddles the Russian cruisers, but one shot finds its mark.
Naniwa and Takachih swing to port to close on the Russians.
The second IJN salvo bites hard at the Russian cruisers
Vice Admiral Jessen steers to port to try and distance himself from Admiral Kamimura's heavy guns.
Another IJN salvo starts to slow the Russian cruisers. Naniwa and Takachih close on the rear of the Russian line of battle in the hope of coming within torpedo range.
Naniwa and Takachih pull within range of their primary guns and start to hammer the
tail end of the Russian line.
The effect of the furious salvos from the IJN must have interrupted communications - no Russian orders are passed on this turn.
Jessen's gunnery officers finally receive the command to open fire as the stokers shovel coal for all they are worth. The Russian armored cruisers swing back parallel tot he IJN and open fire. Alas, to little effect.
Another salvo from the Japanese takes out a forward turret on the Gromoboi.
Rurik receives more hot stuff from the protected cruisers. The Russian fleet is badly damaged and
only limping along.
Lines of command in Admiral Kamimura's division are winning the day for the IJN, four orders are executed in one turn!
Jessen orders a punishing salvo - with several shots penetrating the Japanese armour.
But, it is too little, too late?
Fore form the main and secondary guns of the IJN protected cruisers hits home with devastating
effect on the Rurik.
Five hits and the Rurik is slowly sinking from the damage.
Steaming past the Russian line, the Takachih bring her starboard side torpedo tubes into action.
Jessen orders his crippled ships to make smoke in a last ditch attempt to avoid destruction.
Another Japanese salvo (not pictured) sends the Rurik, and Gromoboi to the icy depths. But then disaster strikes the IJN. After exercising excellent command under fire, Admiral Kamimura's orders are misinterpreted and his armoured cruisers are ordered to steer hard to port and slice through the Naniwa sending her to the bottom with all hands.
Admiral Kamimura reels with the shame of ramming his own ship as the IJN prepares to
annihilate the Russians.
Takachih avenges the loss of her sister ship by dealing a fatal blow to the Rossia.
As always, Coaling Stations and the Battle off Ulsan gives exciting results! However, a Russian victory seems always just beyond reach in this scenario.