Sunday, December 31, 2006

15mm Problem --

As I end this year with a miserable head cold, I have a problem.

Oh, it isn't a terrible problem; but it has been occupying my mind the last few days. I have been (and continue to be) too watermelon-headed to be able to think straight enough to do any real work on Saxe-Bearstein or my "Tricorne Wars" rules for 25mm gaming.

Instead I've been toying with what I want to do with 15mm 9YW/WSS/GNW figures after I've got my Saxe-Bearstein troops painted.

I know that I want rules with a different feel for them. I long ago learned that from time-to-time we need to shift periods . . . or perhaps "styles of play" is an even more accurate way of putting it. It helps keep us fresh.

So I've been idling the time between naps and blowing my nose with some speculation as to what I might want with 15mm. I plan on using Editions Brokaw figures for it. I know that. Why? Because they are very economical, look very easy to paint and have a wide selection of army-specific troops.

They come with either 20 infantry (including command) or 10 cavalry (also including command) in a bag for $4.00 US. This prices them very very well on this side of "The Pond". Yes, I'd love to have Dixons . . . but I can't afford them in any quantity. The EB troops are affordable -- and while they may lack the detail of the newer lines, that means less that HAS to be painted.

Okay, so how many figures do I want in a Battalion? 18? 24? 30? 36? 48? 60? Arrrrgggghhh! I don't know.

But it's fun to think about . . . and helps while away the time while I'm ill. Once I've decided upon a unit size, I can begin to think about rules.

I know that I want simple, easy-to-teach rules. I'll gladly sacrifice detailed correctness for quick jolly fun. A couple of rule sets that are possibilities are "Under the Lily Banner" by Barry Hilton (version 5 due out soon) and "Victory without Quarter" by Clarence Harrison. The former is right on period; while the latter is an ECW set (but should convert easily). Both of these use 18-man Battalions and 6-horse Squadrons which are easily doable with the EB figures.

"But . . . " my inner devil whispers . . . "is that the scale I really want?"

I don't know the answer . . . all I know is that it has helped me fight the misery of this "bug".

May you all have a wonderful New Year!

-- Jeff

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Building Construction Answers --

Stokes asked about how I built my "wild west" buildings. They are somewhere in storage right now, so I can't get at them to get measurments, but I've got a few photos that give some clues as to how I built them.

First of all, as the first photo shows, the "framework" was made out of foamcore. This was then clad with sheet balsa.

This means that I tended to use "even inches" for either wall widths or heights. Primarily I used a lot of 2", 3" and 4" measurements (and occassionally 5" or 6" by using a pair of pieces) because that is the width of the balsa that I had access to.

The base (green floor) was made from the kind of cardstock that you get as "scraps" from "framing shops". It gives a base not only for the building, but also for the slatted "sidewalks" in front and behind the buildings.

If you "click" on the photos (to get a larger photo), you will see that the "planking" is simply scribed (using an old dull pencil) into the soft balsa.

I was surprised at how good this actually looks. Once again, as is so often the key in the look of the "tabletop", what can be seen from 3 feet away is what's important -- not what you see from 3 inches.

The doors were simply "framed" with scrap balsa; and the windows were clipped from craft sticks (like tongue depressors or popsickle sticks). These were simply glued onto the sheet balsa of the walls.

Moving on to the second photo, you will be able to see some other details.

The sidewalks were made from some "craft toothpicks" that I got at a local "craft store". I simply cliped the "fat" and "pointy" ends off (I used toenail clippers if you need to know). I then cut them to whatever length was needed.

The sidewalks are resting on some balsa strip "runners" to raise them up over the cardstock ground base (suitably painted as "dirt").

The "posts" that hold the roof up are made from those "gourmet" toothpicks that you can often find in stores -- the ones made from bamboo that have one pointy end and the other has a sort of filial carved flat end. (note -- these are also useful as flagstaffs for 28mm figures).

The roofs were made with from a "base" of the same sort of cardstock that I used for the ground base. On top of this, I made "shingles" from the light cardstock of cereal boxes.

I would cut strips of it, then cut into one side of it making a sort of "comb" (cutting most of the way through from one side). I would then clip the "teeth" of comb so that they were very irregular in length.

Again, if you "click" on the photo, you can see what I mean on the larger image. I found that about four strips glued onto the base, with a light cardstock cap-piece made a good looking roof . . . and it is very easy to make and costs nothing except some time (which can be while you are watching TV).

Anyway, Stokes, I hope that that helps you understand how these buildings were made.

-- Jeff
I Hate Colds --

I'm fighting a nasty head and chest cold . . . and I hate that stuffy head, achy bones feeling . . . and my cough is a nasty one that really wracks my body (and doesn't help my sore throat any either).

Nothing seems to work properly . . . my mind seems to be in neutral . . . I can't seem to make the gears mesh.

Anyway, since several of my fellow 18th century bloggers have recently been building some . . . er, buildings . . . I dug out a couple of photos of some that I'd made before our move.

True, they are not 18th century, but they do sort of fit the current theme . . . besides, I'm too groggy to think of something on my own.

Back on September 12th I posted some photos of my "wild west" buildings. Here are a couple of views that didn't get posted.

The first (of the two storey hotel) should give you a rough idea of the building's footprint. I always try to remember that everything that takes up room on the tabletop does so at the expense of "figure room". I try to make terrain pieces as small as practicable without destroying believability.

The second photo shows the "rear view" of two otherwise quite similar buildings. It doesn't take much of a variation in detail to make buildings look quite different.

One of the tricks I used here was to slightly vary the width and height of the walls. I also, as you can see, shifted the position of the rear doors (as well as making slight changes on the front . . . and with window positions).

The result is that I have two "different" buildings from the same basic design. Now, if they are placed at different angles, they're simply perceived as different buildings without the viewer even thinking about it.

Anyway, I hope that none of you have a miserable cold; and that your gaming goes well in the coming new year.

-- Jeff

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Bad Bear; Bad, Bad Bluebear --

I'm doing it again. I'm being bad. Santa must have added my name to the "wrong list".


Well, I'm suddenly getting quite interested in . . . another period.

Sure, I know that I've got a few hundred dollars of unpainted lead for Saxe-Bearstein (and they are next on the agenda . . . I promise); but I've started researching a new period.

And it is all Barry Hilton's fault. I was looking through his gallery of photos of the Wars of the League of Augsburg and I got enthused. Here is a "tinyized" link to that gallery:

I then Googled for information on the "League of Augsburg" (also known as the "Nine Years War" as well as several other names). It sounds like a fascinating period and Barry has a nice set of rules for it too . . . so I'm getting interested in it . . . and that makes me . . .

. . . a "bad bear", a very "bad, bad bluebear".

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

-- "Bluebear" Jeff

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holiday Hiatus --

It seems that the "real life" of the Principality of Saxe Bearstein is in a sort of a hiatus during this Holiday period. However, Bruno V himself has issued assurances that more information will be forthcoming once these seasonal celebrations have ceased.

Of course, given the surplus of the justly-famous beverages for which Saxe-Bearstein is so noted for, there may need to be a slight period of . . . uh . . . "rest" necessary to recover from Holiday Over-indulgence.

Nevertheless, the entire population of Saxe-Bearstein wishes all of you a most joyous Yule Season and the very best of the New Year!

-- Jeff

Friday, December 15, 2006

Back after NO POWER for 100 Hours --

Well, just a quick note. We had a very nasty windstorm (115 km/hr winds) five days ago and just now got our power back.

We've got lots of stuff that we need to do . . . including dumping way too much spoiled food . . . but I hope to post again relatively soon.

-- Jeff

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A "Rival" Country --

Some while ago (November 17), I posted some flag patterns for an "opponent" (loosely based on Austria).

At that time, I indicated that I was considering calling them "Eaglestein". Grimsby Mariner pointed out that this was perhaps too similar a name to my own Saxe-Bearsteiners.

After some moments of thought, I agreed . . . but until this morning, I hadn't decided what to call them. Then it struck me. What do the following major powers in the Seven Years War have in common? Prussia, Russia and Austria?

Yes, their names all end in "ia" . . . and thus was "Eagallia" born.

Based on Austria, there would be two rough types of troops in her army -- corresponding to German and Hungarian troops. The former would be in "all white" uniforms (except for regimental color and equipment, of course); while the latter would be in white coats, but have pants in the regimental color.

I've posted a couple of infantry colors to demonstrate the differences I envision. The first flag shows a "Germanic" Eagallian unit with blue facings; the second, a "Hungarian" Egallian unit with gold facings.

The chief difference, of course, being the background of the central "oval". For the "all white" Germanic units; while the Hungarian-style units will have a red background to the "oval".

(Note to myself -- I need to come up with names other than "Germanic" and "Hungarian" for the two divisions of the Eagallian army.)

Finally, I've uploaded the pattern for the "Hungarian" cavalry. Again, it features the "red oval" for these troops to differentiate them for the flag pattern published previously (see my November 17 blog).

Dragoons for both divisions will have a "swallowtail" (two-lobed) flag and Hussars will have a triangular pennant-style flag.

Okay, so why am I going into such detail for my "opposing" country?

As I may or may not have mentioned before, I have an extensive collection of old "smaller" 25mm SYW figures. I don't like them nearly as well as the RSM95 figures that I'll be using for Saxe-Bearstein, but I've got a lot of them.

I'm figuring that I can use a white primer (I normally use black, then white damp-brush before painting). Then, leaving the bulk of these figures white, I'll add skin, facings and equipment to make serviceable opponents that someone else can field until they have their own army painted.

Now, I admit that I won't be giving these troops a very careful (or even good) paint job, but that will encourage others to finish painting their own guys. . . . And, if they don't do so, well at least there will be troops for them to play (even though my Saxe-Bearstein men will look so much better).

Anyhow, that's the plan.

Of course, until our weather gets a bit better, I can't even think of priming these old figures . . . and until their primed, I can't begin painting.


-- Jeff

Friday, December 08, 2006

I Think We Have Power Back --

We have been cursed with a very intermittant power supply over the past few weeks . . . but it looks like it is finally steady again.

We live on a small island and apparently salt water had invaded the undersea cables that bring power to the Island. So those cables needed to be replaced . . . and, of course, all power had to be shut down while this was going on . . . and on . . . and on . . . and on.

We were told that the power company had reached the final phase -- where they would be burying the cables. This would not be a problem for us because the power would only be interrupted for 4-hour blocks "in the middle of the night".


"The middle of the night" started at 7:45 pm! . . . . I wonder just what kind of schedule they keep that 7:45 is "the middle of the night"? (I know that, at our latitude, we only have about 8 hours of daylight this time of year, but this is ridiculous).

A further problem -- beside the power interruptions -- is that we remain under a "boil water" order. Every time that the power goes out, our water system (which comes from a lake) depressurizes, causing a 48-hour "boil water" order.

Well, we've had all of these repairs as well as a string of storms that have caused major damage so we've been on a "boil water" order faily consistantly for weeks! And this is a real pain when, without power, you only have a wood stove (and not one designed for cooking). My dear wife is very weary of this and so am I.

The good news is that last night the power did not go out . . . so maybe (just maybe) they've finished burying the cables and we will be able to think about getting back to a semi-normal schedule . . . well except for the holidays.

Needless to say, I've not been able to do much work on the computer ala Saxe-Bearstein lately.

-- Jeff

Friday, December 01, 2006

My Painting Philosophy --

Well, I've recently viewed some very nice paint work on a number of the blogs listed on the side of mine . . . and I'm impressed.

I'm also still waiting for our old condo to sell so that we can get our new home and move all of our stuff in storage (including all of my paints and figures) to somewhere where I CAN paint.

However, I'm becoming intimidated. I am not nearly as fine a painter as many of the gentlemen currently displaying their work on-line. Indeed, about all that can be said of my painting is that the units look like units and they are easily seen.

You see (well, you don't actually "see" because I don't have any recently painted figures to show you), my painting philosophy differs from that of some of my fellow bloggers.

I generally use a fairly bright palette and do not add much in the way of detail or shading. I want the unit to look like a unit at "wargaming distances". That means that if it isn't particularly notable from a yard away, I generally don't paint it.

Also, I try to limit the number of colors on a figure. I don't try for six different shades of brown on a figure. For my taste (and yours may well differ), I feel that too many colors on a figure can "muddy" it.

Remember, I'm not painting individual figures for a close-up competition (which I'd lose), but rather a number of parts of a whole (the unit). I like the way my units look. They don't win awards, but I generally get some comments to the effect that people like the look of my army.

Does this mean that everyone should paint this way? Of course not. Each of us has different aspects of our hobby that appeal most to them. Painting is one of those aspects and we all approach it somewhat differently. We're all right.

I don't know how often I'll be posting for a while. Our "electrical woes" continue (we had no power for 14 hours today). Furthermore, we have some pipes that froze and broke in the severe weather . . . and I don't know how long that will take to get fixed.

Anyway, as December looms, I'll try to keep up . . . but who knows?

-- Jeff