Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chickasaw Fort Complete

Front view. I used Woodland Scenics Deciduous foliage and their clump bushes. I also added coarse turf in places.  Affixed with Woodland Scenics Hob e Tac.

Same view from above.  As you can see the palings aren't perfect.  The cost, about four bucks, however, was.

A top view.  I feel I got a nice mix of green area and bare earth. 

A back view.
I finished landscaping the Chickasaw Fort on Thursday, but am just getting around to pictures today.  I'm really pleased with the way this turned out, even if the landscaping just sort of looks stuck on.  I still have more scratchbuilding to do for Mississippi.  The houses and grain storage is next on my list, but probably not something I'll take on immediately.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Treading cautiously: modern naval war in the Straits of Hormuz

I've written about Dave Schueler many times in the past.  He is a good friend and a great gamer.  Daveshoe recently had one of his board games, U-Boat Leader on submarine warfare published, and that is huge news.  Congrats to him.  He is also one of my favorite co-conspirators.  We got to know each other well through our early dabblings with the WWII air game Mustangs, our work on the Golden Age Air Racing, Thunderboats and many other naval and air projects. Dave is a great teammate, he understands game systems, and there is no better designer of scenarios.
Cyber-Hobby LCS-4 is a highly detailed 1/700 model of a mine warfare version of the U.S. Navy's Littoral Combat Ship
In any case, Dave and I have been chatting up an Enfilade naval scenario.  We originally thought we'd rerun a WWII naval game we'd hosted at ConQuest several years ago.   We've been reconsidering this, however as the crisis with Iran becomes ever more topical.  While we've done an interesting Strait of Hormuz game in the past, we're considering another.  With the new Littoral Combat Ships entering service and miniatures available from P.T. Dockyard and Cyber-hobby models, the period is available to be gamed.  We'll offer a menu of ship choices to the United States and probably a combination of Revolutionary Guard and Iranian Navy vessels to the Iranian players.  There will likely be objectives beyond reducing one or the other side to splinters.
Throndor class missile boat test firing new Iranian missile
Frankly, I find the entire Iran/Straits issue quite troubling.  By the time of Enfilade, the advanced sanctions and potential boycott of Iranian oil will be nearing implementation by the European Union and the United States.  Threats of war and rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran are likely to be regular features in the print and electronic media.  Is this a topic we should avoid for a convention game, or is a good game just a good game?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chickasaw Fort WIP 3

The fort or palisade or whatever you want to call it is moving toward it's terminal phases.

I started by painting the palings Ceramcoat brown-gray and then washing them with Ceramcoat Walnut.  That made them look pretty weathered, maybe a little too weathered, and also gave the color just a little more depth.  I also used the Walnut wash over the built up areas to provide some shading to the earthen areas.

 After that it was patiently putting down the Woodland Scenics turf.  It's really tempting to rush through this, but that just creates holes in your work.  I use a big brush to apply Woodland Scenics cement and then just scatter it over the glue and try to recover whatever is left over.  Then I let it sit for 15 minutes before moving on to the next area.  When it's all applied, I Dullcoat it to more effectively hold it in place.

 Next, it's on to the finishing landscape pieces.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

SNOW DAY!! The Revenge

Snow days are always a mixture of elation and frustration for me.  As a teacher, I know these are days I'll need to make up in June.  They're not freebies off with pay.  Unlike my wife, I can't work them off from home.  They have some real consequences for me.  The first snow day of the year is made up on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.  That's the first day of Enfilade.  No snow days means I can easily make the Friday sessions.  Snow days mean I have to leave from school at 2:30 and fight traffic down to Olympia.  Bleah.

 The snow days of this week, however, had a new set of challenges.  We knew the Wednesday snow fall was going to be big.  Just how big wasn't clear.  I thought I'd be out of school Wednesday and Thursday and back to work on Friday.  I envisioned lots of painting and finishing the Chickasaw palisade.  It certainly started out that way.

 Wednesday we got the snow.  Thursday morning we got freezing rain.  Dum, dum, dum.  In an area with lots of trees and above ground electrical wires, freezing rain is the weather equivalent of nuclear war.

At 9:00 we heard from my son a few miles away, he'd lost power.  At 11:00 I walked out to the arterial near our development to check on road conditions, came home to figure out how to best de-ice our frozen cars, walked in the door and we lost our power.  It was out for nearly 60 hours, coming on last night at 8:00ish.

As with all disasters, the first thing you have to do is assess your resources.  We knew we'd have light for a while-good.  We also had an electric lantern-rechargeable variety-so light-for a while.  We had plenty of food.  A few years ago we installed a gas fireplace in the living room and a small standing gas fireplace in the bedroom for just these occasions.  We wouldn't freeze or be forced to leave the house with our ridiculous dogs.No entertainment to speak of, but I did have a battery powered radio that could also be hand cranked and lots of batteries. I had my Kindle, with a nice back light, so I could read in the dark until . . .A couple of working flashlights and Lorri is the candle queen.

We also checked our problems.  The fireplaces would keep our bedroom warm if we closed the door, but the electric blower in the living room was off so the immediate effect of the living room fireplace was to camp us right in front of it.  No computer, limited light, no television.     Phones are all-electric, so no phones.  Cell phone service went down with the nearby cell towers, so service was terrible. Text messaging was okay, but no internet, e-mail, or calls from my iPhone.

 Bottom line, we were prepared for a short power outage, the kind we always have, say 24-36 hours.  We survived Thursday and Friday just fine.  It still got chilly in the house unless in the bedroom or sitting by the fireplace. There was never enough light paint by, and one can only listen to so much radio.  The lantern died after about 12 hours and no way to recharge.  We didn't complain, however.  We drove all around, to charge our phones, and could see the outage was massive.  18,000 customers in Puyallup lost power; 280,000 in the Puget Sound area were out-we'd get by. 

Thursday we checked on family, and drove to survey the extent of the outage.  We went to the movies and saw We Bought a Zoo and I liked it. Cameron Crowe movie with Matt Damon, what's not to like.  This was easy.

 Friday I drove around and surveyed the extent of the damage.  Weyerhaeuser, Lorri's employer, lost power, so I drove her around in search of fabric stores.  No luck, all closed.  Came home.  No power.  The lantern died.  I finished building the Chickasaw fort by firelight. Not fun. A last drive on Friday night to recharge the cell phones showed a little progress in repairing the power.  We were optimistic.

 By Saturday morning, it was clear the repairs were fully underway.  The neighborhoods with power were creeping closer to us.  We had an errand to run to Issaquah, forty miles away, and were confident when we returned we too would have power.  My son Pat got his power back within six hours of his outage.  My mother in law had hers back within eighteen hours, and my brother-in-law Paul had his back early Saturday morning. Our errand, to pick up forty pounds of chicken, which would go in our freezer, required power.

When we returned home at 4:00 to no power it was devastating. (We ran the meat over to my vegan son and daughter in law's freezer.  They must have been so pleased.) I was looking forward to who know's how much longer of time wasted-no heat, no light, no painting gah!  Lorri went out with a friend at 6:00 and sent me a text that some houses in our development-"Fuck those guys, I want power." I sent off several Facebook posts reporting similar, if somewhat more G rated views. My brother-in-law dropped off a working lantern, some hot water for coffee and tea.  Ingrate that I am, I continued reading my Kindle by firelight and finished my Diet Coke, but I did truly appreciate the effort. Finally at 8:30 the power came on to cheers and hosannas. 

I know we're fortunate.  It could have been worse and for many folks out there that live on isolated lots or small communities, it will be.  Puget Sound Energy always focuses on the biggest bang for their buck first-bring on as many customers at one time as possible.  Some time mid-week they'll have their power back on.
Top view of completed fort.  I used wood putty around the base of the palings and created some slight ground irregularities.

A comparison with figure size.  The minis are OG Woodland indians.

Another shot with Indians from a different angle.  Seems weird to have Indians defending a frontier fortification.

The beginnings of landscaping.  I painted the green areas with an artist's acrylic.  I just can't make Ceramcoat's Forest Green cover anything so I'm using Artist's Advantage Hooker Green from Fred Meyer.  It works.

Another aerial shot.
 So my snow days are gone, and it's time to move on.  I've included a couple of photos of the few things I was able to get done.  The Chickasaw fort is still in progress.  The palings are all in, and now I'm beginning to landscape.
One can't have too many trees, and I have a bajillion armatures for fairly smallish trees and the clump foliage to stick on 'em.  They'll be mounted on washers to weigh the little darlin's down.

I started working on trees from Woodland Scenics.  I have a lot of the smaller armatures, and I want to be sure I have plenty for the Chickasaw game.  I'm weighting them with 5/16" washers flat cut washers so I can use them individually.  I probably have about 60 or so armatures, so I've got a lot of work to do.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SNOW DAY!! The Sequel

We here on Puyallup's South Hill didn't get pounded as many other communities did yesterday:  Centralia and Olympia each had over a foot of snow.  However we did get five inches.  Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, the snow turned to freezing rain and rain by noon.  When I discovered the lovely snow was snow no longer, got serious and painted away on Wayne's Legion figures and continuing work on the Chicasaw Fort.

 I was shocked when the school district announced a closure for today at about 5:00 PM.  So I'll have a chance to do even more work on the fort and the minis.  It's a good thing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Indian Stockade: WIP

It's great, I'm here at school on deadline on a Friday night, desperately hoping I'll get home in time to see the season premier of Portlandia.  Some things are more important than others. In between looking at stories, and page designs I decided to amuse myself by working on my next terrain project, the Chickasaw stockade.

As you can see from the illustration, the Chickasaw stockade is not huge, and is nothing like we see on the whites building on the frontier.  No bastions, firing platforms or interior buildings. In an Indian palisade, the palings simply are not flush together.  A gap is left between the timbers to allow fire. There's not a gate; entering and exiting  is done by a narrow opening.  My objective is to provide a simple fortification warriors can use to defend their village and food source, or send their families for safety.  And I want to scratch build it.

There is a commercial Indian palisade available from Acheson Creations. It's not even terribly expensive, and looks pretty nice, but I've decided to make it myself. 

I decided on dimensions of 12" X 6" with rounded corners.  I decided to make the palings two inches tall from 1/8" craft dowels I bought at Michaels.

Step One:  I cut the dowels on my little scroll saw, shattering a few along the way.  My bad.  After cutting the dowels into two inch lengths. I traced out the outline of the palisade. 
The dowels are sanded to flatten one end and an irregular peaked shape is created on the the other end

A hole is drilled in the flat end and a hunk of .032" brass wire is glued into the hole
 Step Two: I decided the best way to fix the palings into the plywood was to put a pin into them and glue them into the holes.  I sanded one end down flat and tried to remember to round off the top edge or to make a point; I didn't want them to appear too uniform.  I started by using a pin vise to drill the hole because I was afraid using a drill might split the dowel.  After taking forever and wearing out my hand, I switched over to my Dremel tool and it worked fine. I chose .032" brass wire for the pins and I began cutting it to length.  Actually, to make it easy, I inserted the brass rod into the hole and cut the protruding rod to the desired length, and glued it in with CA glue.

I started gluing the palings into the holes in the plywood and immediately discovered I'd need to skip some of the holes if the palings were to have enough room and leave sufficient gaps. 
One view of the Chickasaw fort under construction.  The palisade doesn't have a gate.  The entrance is open but protected by fire from the overlapping curved wall.

The palings don't fit flush and provide some fire openings between palings, yet offer some protection to defenders including women and children seeking shelter from an attacker.  The holes for the palings are clearly visible.
The brass wire offers some advantage.  It fits snugly in the holes, and can be bent a bit to get the palings perpendicular.

A cornfield wrap up

A frontal look, on my dining room table, of cornfield with 28mm infantry and a Hovels log cabin in background.

More of a top view.  The cornfield is 10 bases X 5 bases, 40mm square.

Another comparison shot of the cornfields with 28mm Mexican Presidial cavalry
I've made all the cornfields I have bases for, but would still like to make more.  I may even resort to something other 40mm square. Or I could just buy more, but I'm getting cheap in my old age.   I feel good about these. 

I actually have a bit more bases than I've shown.  Total of 64 bases.  The cornfield pictured is 15" X 7 1/2 "


It's snowing.  It's snowing a lot.  It's 6:39 AM, been snowing for hours.  We've been flirting with snow stuff for days, but it's really coming down, enough so the Puyallup School District announced today's closure at 5:30 last night. So, while Snowpocalypse 2012 roils on, I am going to be painting and working on my Chickasaw stockade.  I hope to have a few new posts too.  Will put some pictures up of today's winter wonderland when it is light enough.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Chickasaw Bluffs: an outline

I've been trying to put together my plans for Chickasaw Bluffs as part of my Enfilade projects.  I'm thinking seriously about what I want the game to look like.  It might be complicated but should be fun.  So here it is in a nutshell.
The Layout
There are two 8' X 5' game tables separated by space to move between them.  The left table is an all land table, at relatively equal elevation.  The terrain will consist of an Indian village represented by four or five small buildings and a defensive stockade, plus a large cornfield. The rest of the terrain will be some medium sized hills and a fair number of trees.
Yes, it's crude, but I'm thinking the board will look something like this. 

The right table is partly river, with a with an irregular shoreline roughly bisecting the table lengthwise. The shoreline rises quickly to an impassable height with a steep, but passable grade near the board edge.  At the top of the hill is a Spanish battery defended by an earthwork.    At the top of the table is a Spanish encampment.

 The Forces
American Forces: The Americans will have a combination of regular and militia troops.  There are six American units (half companies) of 12 figures each.  In addition there are eight militia units (half companies) of 10 figures each.  To support the foot forces will be at least one (perhaps two) mounted militia companies of ten figures each, and an artillery detachment two-three guns (there will be choices to make.)  Last, but not least, the Americans will have a keelboat and four armed pirogues.  The priogues can each carry a half company (one unit.)  The keelboat can carry a complete company (two units)

Spanish Forces: The Spanish will also have a combination of regular and frontier militia (cuera) troops.  There are two half companies of Spanish regulars, 10 figures each.  The three militia half companies are also of ten figures each.  One of the Cuera companies may also mount as lancers.  Finally, the Spaniards will also have three artillery crews.  They will be able to apply these to the three pounders in their camp, or the twelve-pounders in their earthwork.

Indian Forces: The Indians, Chickasaw warriors, will defend their homes with eight ten man units, all dismounted.

The Scenario  

A combined army of American regulars and militia are making their way down the Mississippi to capture New Orleans.  The Spanish are fortifying the west bank of the Mississippi and providing anchorages for river galleys in order to control Mississippi traffic.  The Americans force is intended to capture  the Spanish battery commanding the river from the bluffs.  

The Spanish have paid the Chickasaw (and other tribes) to fight the Americans, who menace their homelands.  The Chickasaw also provide some much needed to manpower to augment the small and dispersed Spanish Army in America.  

The American forces are divided between a force marching overland toward the Chickasaw village, and an amphibious force aimed at ascending the bluffs from the river .  The Indians may begin in the cornfield or the stockade to defend their village.  The Spanish begin in their encampment, ready to move, having been given the alarm by their Chickasaw allies. 

Units can move freely between the two tables, being separated only by convenience.  I'd be interested to hear, dear readers, what you think.