Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Chickasaw Bluffs terrain bits appearing together

I thought about trying to lay out my Chickasaw Bluffs game on my game table, er, my dining room table.  There is one serious defect in this plan--my dining room table is much, much smaller than the 8' X 5' table I'll be working with next Saturday.  So, through out my cornfields and my palisade and my houses, just so's I could show them off together.  I'm actually really pleased with all of the pieces together and separately.  They're handmade, they cost very little, and, most importantly, they are finished.

Mark Waddington graciously sent me his Brother Against Brother rules, and I've been reading and tinkering with them.  I cannot thank him enough; he's a great friend.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When too much is too much

If you happen to see my copy of these rules floatin' around, please drop me a line.
Last Saturday I was supposed to host a playtest of my Chickasaw Bluffs game at the Game Matrix.  Because I am frequently forgetful, I always start laying out everything I need for my games a couple of days early.  Figures, check. Terrain bits, check.  Rules and scenario information, erm, shit!!. I almost always write up scenario details in the day or so before a game, but I usually need the rules to help me with it. 

Brother Against Brother is the rules I will use with Chickasaw Bluffs.  Unfortunately, my set has gone missing.  I tore apart my den, went through my boxes of figures, couldn't find them.  Friday, I swallowed my embarassment and canceled my game.  The rules, of course, were last printed in 2008 and are nowhere to be found, but my friend Mark Waddington has offered to provide me with his.  I've rescheduled the game for the 31st. 

Like many gamers, I have a lot of stuff. I don't intend to list all the miniatures I have, but it's probably 5-10,000 painted miniatures for lots of historical and fantasy periods in 6mm, 15mm and 28mm. To go with that I have many terrain pieces, including table sized (and table plus sized) felts, rivers, roads, buildings, etc. I have a couple hundred painted aircraft, 70 or so painted ACW ships.  Then there is all the unpainted lead-again, more than I'd like to count, the books and rules sets-you're a gamer you know what I'm talking about.  It's a lot of stuff. 

I like to think of this as fairly well-managed, but part of my problem is I live in a relatively small house, with limited storage space.  The space I have is full and there is not likely to be more.  I have a ton of stuff I don't use-rules I bought and looked at, maybe even tried and decided, these are not the ones. I am not a magazine person, but somehow I've managed to acquire buckets of mags--Campaigns and Tradition, the Courier, MWAN, Miniature Wargraming and Wargames Illustrated. In addition I have terrain pieces that have never left their boxes, unbuilt ships from Merrimack Shipyards, a pile of non-necessaries. 

With all this pointless chaff taking up space, it's easy to misplace the important stuff.  Losing my BaB rules is not the first important set I've lost.  I use a handful of rules sets:  Regimental Fire and Fury, Medieval Tactica Siege, The Sword and the Flame, Action Stations, and a few sets of home grown rules.  Why do I have five sets of AWI rules I gave up on years ago?  While I'm a sucker for nostalgia, my life would simply be better if I did a big purge and parted with the rest in the Enfilade Bring and Buy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Field trip to Card Kingdom and Cafe Mox

Dave Schueler suggested we visit a board game shop in Ballard last summer, Card Kingdom on Leary Way.  After batting the idea to and fro over the months, we finally agreed on last Saturday.  I picked up Dave and son Casey in West Seattle and we arrived at the shop about 11:00 AM.  Our timing was perfect.  There was dedicated parking across the street. 

We walked in the door and things were just getting started.  We did a lot of looking.  Card Kingdom has lots of games, but nothing terribly hardcore historical.  Lots of Eurogames, lots of card systems.  They even had a nice selection of Games Workshop miniatures, Reaper paints and brushes.  There wasn't anything that really lured me in, but great stuff to look at.

There are some real amenities Card Kingdom offers.  First, they have a really nice tournament space.  Nobody seemed to be using it on Saturday, and it seems best set up for card games--though I think it would also work well for DBA.  They also offer some very comfortable private game spaces.  I'm not sure what the cost of using the space would be, but it was quite nice for a group of 6-8 playing board games.

Card Kingdom has joined another game shop in the area, Blue Highway Games on Magnolia Hill in Seattle, that offers a game library.  Want to try out a game, just borrow it and play it--in the little cafe that's basically part of the store.  Whoa.  Cafe Mox is not fast food, nor is it a dive.  Very nice place, awesome sandwiches, and they have micro-brews and wine.  I had  a vegetarian sandwich, but Dave had a great looking Caesar chicken wrap, and Casey had your basic grilled cheese.  The prices were reasonable. Cafe Mox is a great stop whether you're gaming or just grabbing coffee or lunch.

We set up Revolution! by Steve Jackson Games and played around lunch.  We enjoyed it.  The game requires you to build support for your faction in a town during a revolution.  The rules were easy and in a relatively close game, Casey won.  When we left the cafe to return the game, every table was full of games and gamers.  There was some kind of Warhammerish tournament going on (everybody used unpainted and semi-painted figures--ick!)

We left at about 2:00 and I dropped off Dave and Casey and headed for home about 2:30.  It was a great trip I hope to make again.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Chickasaw Village WIP

I'm moving ahead toward the first playtest of my Chickasaw Bluffs game on March 17th.  Yes, St. Patrick's Day.  I'm likely to lose a lot of good gamers to the suds that day.  In any case, I'm interested in focusing on the American attack on the Chickasaw village for that game.  I need a lot of terrain bits.  Some, like the Chickasaw fort and the big cornfield are done.  I've got a bunch of trees I'm working on, but I really need some houses for the village.
I decided to do the best I could building the Chickasaw summer house.  Note the planking and the open door and eaves that kept it cool during the sweaty Mississippi and Louisiana summers.

I just didn't think I could pull off the round winter dwellings.
I have some beautiful long houses by Acheson Creations.  Unfortunately the Chickasaw didn't live in long houses.  In looking at a few pictures, they lived in a couple of different types of buildings, different for the summer and winter.  The winter houses are round with circular thatched roofs.  I thought carefully about these and gave up the idea.  I just thought they'd be a mess.  Too many circles.

During the summer they lived in plank houses with thatched roofs, the houses cooled with open eaves.  I kind of dorked around with concepts.  I thought I'd build a frame with 1/8 inch dowels and use bass wood strips to do the planking.  I tried making a fairly busy frame, but I just couldn't make it work very well.  Instead, I built a simple skeleton using the dowels and drilling them into a chunk of craft plywood.  I bought a 12 inch square by 1/8 inch piece of craft plywood at JoAnn Fabrics.  I bought my doweling there, as well as strips of 24" X 1/8" X 1/16" bass wood.  I cut the dowels into lengths of 2" and 2 1/2 "  The 2" dowels would form the frame skeleton of the outside walls, while the longer dowels became the roof supports.

I stared by drilling the holes to sink the dowels.  I had to use my big ol' cordless drill, because my Dremel tool can't sink 1/8" holes.  After drilling all the holes I glued in my dowels.

Then I took my basswood strips, measured off 2" lengths and cut them with my scroll saw.  They are quite thin and fragile so it's important to hold them carefully from both ends.

I was really at a loss as to how I might glue my planks together.  I finally began gluing them to the plywood base and to each other.  The first building actually went together quite well and the planks were very uniform with no gaps and no major leaning episodes.  I can tell you, as I assemble, the rest of the houses (there are four), that it hasn't been quite so tidy. 

After all the planking was completed, leaving a gap for the door, I used my Dremel tool to sand down the uneven plank lengths to even or pretty close. 

My last challenge was to come up with something for a thatched roof.  I was really at a loss.  I considered using Woodland Scenics Field Grass over a tagboard roof.  The Chickasaw used a fairly sharply pitched roof that would lend itself to a lot of detailing and would take a long time.  Also, with Field Grass spendy at $4.49 a bag, it would add a lot to the cost.  While I was at JoAnn's I ran across a sale item, an off season planter liner.  I thought it would be cheap, would suit the purpose and look pretty good.  I couldn't reproduce the nice pitch of the roof, however, it's easily removed and replaced, and seems to do the trick.

At this point, I've finished one of the buildings, but should be finished with the remaining three by tomorrow night.  It's really taken three days of hard work.  After I finish the buildings, I'll need to figure out how I want to finish the wood pieces and complete the landscaping.  The finishing up may not be completed in time for my March 17th game, and the houses will have to appear naked (oh my!)