Author Archives: John Emmett

Lard America Goes to Crisis

I had the great fortune to be able to attend Crisis in Antwerp, Belgium on Saturday 9 November with my friend and fellow Lard American, Patrick. What follows is less of an AAR from the show, but more of a travelogue covering the entire trip.

For easy identification

We left Dulles International Wednesday on KLM and arrived in Amsterdam at 0700 local time Thursday. Patrick was continuing on to France after Crisis, so we picked up his rental car and headed to Arnhem where we were spending the night.

Not sure why Schiphol had so much Budweiser advertising
No Balloons!
Peugeot 508 ready for our own Bourne installment – “The Bourne Lard”

After making what seemed like a dozen loops around the center of Arnhem, a product of confusing one-way streets and bike lanes, we found the parking lot for Hotel Haarhuis. Thankfully we were able to check in early so took the opportunity to take a short rest and freshen up before meeting downstairs for lunch. Here I partook in my first variety of La Trappe and had a delightful mushroom and cheese omelette.

The elusive parking lot
My cozy pint sized room
I’ve had worse views
Witte Trappist
Cheers!
Omelette of the Gods

During the planning stages of our voyage I had contacted Jasper of Karwansaray Publishers. Knowing that he lived close by I asked if he would like to meet up with us in the afternoon and he agreed, and came down on the train early afternoon. He kindly offered to take us to see some Market Garden sites in Oosterbeek so we hopped in the car and headed west. Unfortunately the Hartenstein Museum was closed for renovations, but fortunately the rain had stopped and we were able to see some great sites.

The Clogfather and the French Hippie
The Hartenstein Hotel
Aircrew Memorial
To the People of Gelderland
17 Pounder
Sherman V
Arnhem Rail Bridge
Railroad Underpass
St Elisabeth’s Hospital
Urquhart House

Afterward we headed back to the hotel and had a few beers in the bar where Patrick and I were introduced to Bitterballen, arguably the best beer drinking snack ever. Not sure how I overlooked these while in the Netherlands before, but they’re basically deep fried gravy balls. What’s not to like? Anyway, Jasper had to head home so we exchanged goodbyes and Patrick and I went down the street to Karakter for dinner. It was packed with Dutch speaking clients so taking this as a good sign we ate at the bar as it was the only seating available. It did not disappoint. We then headed back to the hotel to rest up for our full-on Market Garden tour in the morning.

Bokbier
Roasted leg of rabbit
Vinyl covers adorned the walls

Friday morning we met for breakfast, checked out, loaded the car and waited for our tour guide, Joris – The Battlefield Explorer. He came promptly at 0900 and we climbed in his van to head south. We started the tour at Son, then worked north to Veghel, Grave and Nijmegen. I was amazed to see how large the spans were at Grave and Njmegen, and also how high the elevation was on the south side of the Nijmegen Bridge.

The latest version of the Son Bridge
The Grave Bridge
Pumping Station Van Sasse
John S. Thompson Monument
Bunker covering the Grave Bridge
Nijmegen Bridge
Nijmegen Bridge
Ruins on the south side of the Nijmegen Bridge

While in Nijmegen we took a break for lunch and were treated to another Dutch surprise – Pannekoeken – a savory pancake. I had one with apple, goat cheese, bacon and apple syrup that I washed down with a Duval. After lunch we headed to the Waal River Crossing, then north to Arnhem where we stopped at the Oosterbeek Church and the road bridge.

The Pancake House
Pannekoeken
Waal Crossing
Waal Crossing
Oosterbeek Church
Oosterbeek Church Memorial
Kate ter Horst House
John Frost Brug
The Prize
Joris and I

Wrapping up the tour Joris dropped us back at the hotel. I felt he was an excellent tour guide; great knowledge, good visual aids and very personable. I would highly recommend him if you’re in the market. Patrick and I then mounted up for the drive to Antwerp.

We were able to find Patrick’s hotel without issue and parked in an underground garage, and then set out on foot to find my hotel, the Hotel Rubens. As a geographer I was thrilled when we were given a paper map of downtown, but my enthusiasm soon wore off as we couldn’t find any street signs. I conceded and pulled out my phone and we found our way. Once I was settled in I texted Richard of TFL and he came to escort us to Quinten Matsijs, the oldest pub in Antwerp. There we met a wonderful contingent of Lardies, to include Nick and Sidney, and we drank and laughed the night away.

Drink
Drank
Drunk

The next morning we met for breakfast with the lads, and were then able to hitch a ride with Biff and Noddy to the show. Crisis is held in a dockside warehouse in two connected large halls. Once we got in, Patrick and I wandered around a bit trying to get our bearings. As a veteran of the HMGS multi-day conventions, it was interesting to see a one day affair with vendors – a lot of vendors – co-located with games. At domestic conventions I tend to be “in the moment” and never take many photos. Crisis was no exception. Below is a gallery of some shots I took.

After strolling for a while, Nick asked Patrick and I if we wanted to play his “Bash on Recce” Chain of Command game. How does one say no to that? I played on the British side and mentored a new player, and Patrick took the Germans. Our objective was to get as many recce jeeps off the board as possible. I can best sum it up by saying that Patrick shot the shit out of us, but it was still tremendous fun. I imagine it will be one of the first scenarios I put together from the Market Garden supplement.

The game won the award for Best Participation Game, and the lads were nice enough to have us pose with the weighty trophy they received. Also prior to the game Rich and Nick received a wonderful gift of clogs from Jasper and Guy, obvious in the gallery below.

After the show ended we helped clean up and went back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. We met for pre-dinner drinks at Refill, a fascinating place with a small bar/restaurant on the bottom floor and a gay bondage club upstairs. One stop shopping for any Lardie. It was then off to dinner at De Peerdestal, an establishment that serves horse meat among other culinary delights. I didn’t have the nerve to try the horse, so I had some wild boar in filo dough and venison chops. There was also a lot of wine, singing, cricket lessons, ranking of US presidents and tons of laughter. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. We then headed to Paters Vaetje for after dinner beers.

My favorite miniatures from the trip
Refills at Refill
De Peerdestal

The next day we were going to go with the lads south to a Commonwealth memorial for Remembrance Day, however they were unable to change their travel arrangements. Patrick and I took a little time to hang out in Antwerp, and had a few cups of coffee in a cafe. He then dropped me off at the train station so I could make my way back to Amsterdam.

Antwerp
Much needed caffeine
Interesting cafe mural
Antwerp Centraal

I took a mid-afternoon train to Amsterdam and I’m not sure what was going on, but the area around Amsterdam Centraal was packed – tons of people on the streets. I made my way to the Ink Hotel and by the time I got there and checked in I was exhausted. I ended up staying in and ordering room service, repacking my backpack and writing in my travel journal. Also it is worth noting that one wall in my room was devoted to a map mural of downtown Amsterdam. The next morning I trained to Schiphol and made my way back to the states.

The Ink
A small sample of the mural
Fuck yeah!

I can’t thank the Lardie community enough for the camaraderie and hospitality. It was a great trip, and worth every effort to go. I hope someday we have the opportunity to return the favor. I believe Patrick and I will be interviewed for a future Oddcast, so more insight about our American experience at Crisis may be heard there.


Working With Photo Fleece Part 1 – Mats

I often get these three questions when running games:

  1. Where did you get your mat?
  2. Where did you get your roads?
  3. How do you keep your quads so ripped?

In this post I’ll be addressing the first question of how and where I source my gaming mats.

Many years ago a friend of mine had a glorious mat for Check Your 6. It was an aerial photograph of some Pacific islands with a hex overlay, and it was printed on fleece. I always though this was very clever, and when I started to work on my own terrain I thought I would try this method. Here’s a step-by-step.

  • Find something to print. Personally I browse Wargames Vault but there are other sites, like RPG Now, that have the same files. I have printed full size mats using graphics from WargamePrint, Heroic Maps, Tiny Worlds and Dave Graffam Models.
  • Decide what size mat you are going to print. I use Walmart Photo for my prints, and currently they have two fleece blanket sizes; 50″x60″ and 60″x80″. For the remainder of this tutorial I’ll be using a 60″x80″ print as the example.
  • Prepare your file for upload. As I am a Mac snob, my examples are from Affinity Photo but the techniques apply to any photo editor.
  • Convert the color format to RGB (8 bit). I understand that, in general, it’s better to print in CMYK color space but file size becomes an issue with these. This example tiff was reduced from 335 MB to 228 MB by switching to RGB.
  • This image from WargamePrint has a border around it that I didn’t want on the final product, so I cropped it.
  • Next you’re going to want to resize the image to 60″x80″. It’s important to do this before uploading it for printing. I made the mistake once of allowing the website to resize the image and the edges came out very blurry. I alter the ratio and resize these to 60″x80″, however it would also work to resize it to 60″x90″ and then crop it again. I’ve always used bilinear as the resample method without issue, however your results may vary.
  • Lastly you need to export the image as a jpeg for upload. I have no idea what the size limits are for uploading files at Walmart Photo. Put it this way, the FAQ on the site still references Netscape. I’ve just done this through trial and error. I know that this image works at 9000×12000 pixels. Again, your results may vary.
  • That’s it. I think the process of uploading the file and ordering a print is pretty self-explanatory. Just be sure to use the Full Photo Fleece blankets, NOT the plush. Good luck!

Workbench Roundup – January-April 2019

Not much in the way of articles or AARs this year, but there has been some production. Here’s the fruits of my labor for the first third of 2019.

Modified the barrel (slightly) to convert a Warlord Panzer III to the Flammpanzer version to use in the Chain of Command Storming the Citadel campaign we’ve been playing at Huzzah.

Finished up a Blitzkrieg Miniatures Staghound for my Brits.

Photoshopped a bunch of cobblestone roads and had them printed on a fleece blanket.

Painted up some various battlefield scatter.

Converted a Pringles can to a concrete silo.

Contributed to the Polish defense with some vehicles.

Added to my never ending WWII Germans for Chain of Command.

Tried something new and free-handed some advertising murals on some Sarissa buildings.

Polished off some fences and leader bases from Charlie Foxtrot.

Copied what others before me have done and used a Charlie Foxtrot warehouse to make a French garage.

Built a canal for my Sarissa bridge.

Finally airbrushed these Sarissa DFS 230s.

Had some more fun with fleece.

Started my Arnhem Bridge project which included a printer upgrade.

And lastly, designed and printed these modular Force Morale trackers for Chain of Command.

Cheers!


A Low Countries Canal Build

Ever since Too Fat Lardies released their Blitzkrieg 1940 Handbook for Chain of Command I’ve been working mostly on Early War projects. I had wanted to do something with this Sarissa canal bridge and after seeing how the owner of my FLGS built his canal for a Battle of Mons game I decided to adopt some of his techniques and build my own.

I don’t have the inclination, nor the room, to make dedicated terrain boards so like everything else the canal was going to have to be modular and easy to store. As my gaming mats are 60″ wide I decided to make 5 sections, each 12″ x 12″.

I used panels of Ampersand hardboard and airbrushed several colors of green for the water and then applied three coats of Minwax acrylic gloss varnish using a foam brush. For the canal walls I used Pine Ranch Casing that I picked up at Lowes. This was cut into 12″ lengths (except for the bridge section) and airbrushed with some brown. For the walls I used some brick texture paper that was given to me by a friend. It was cut into strips and affixed with carpenter’s glue. This was finished off with a wash of Vallejo Sepia and some Secret Weapon Algae where it met the water. The completed walls were then glued to the panels with carpenter’s glue.

Next I assembled the bridge and added some fine sand on the surface of the ramps. This was then primed and painted, and I added more brick paper on the horizontal surfaces. Before cutting the canal wall pieces I placed and marked out where the bridge would go. Then I cut the short pieces of casing and finished them the same way as the others. I didn’t get any pictures of it, but the bottom “base” of the bridge had a connecting piece to make it a one piece affair and help align the ramps when opening and closing it. I had taken a leap of faith and removed it while finishing the bridge, hoping that I could align the pieces well enough when I affixed them. I attached the bridge to the canal board using carpenter’s glue and set it aside to dry. Spoiler alert – it worked.

To finish off the bridge piece, I fashioned some connecting wall pieces using card stock and the ever versatile brick paper. These were affixed to the board, and then the remaining space was filled with air-dry clay. Once this has set, I added more fine sand and painted it to kinda-sorta blend it in with the ramps. Then I flocked the edges making foot paths on both sides. I may add some detail parts in the future, and I do have some boats to finish, but for now it’s functional.


Cold Wars ’19 Photo Dump

No AAR, but I did grab some pictures at Cold Wars – mostly of my Saturday game. Enjoy.


The Duvel Brewery

“I look for ideas at conventions and on the web, then I steal them.” – Me

Back in 2013 I reviewed a 28mm Crescent Root Studios warehouse. It’s a great piece, but it hasn’t been in heavy rotation in my games. I think the driving factor was it didn’t have a purpose. It was just this big set of buildings without a theme in the context of my other terrain.

Thanks to Richard of Too Fat Lardies I found inspiration to resurrect the warehouse and turn it into something I will use more often. A few years ago Richard started posting a series on his blog about building a brewery. This, combined with the release of the 1940 Handbook for Chain of Command and an idea I had for running a game at Cold Wars, made me think that converting my warehouse into a brewery may be a good idea.

I could have just made a sign and strewn a few barrels about, but I wanted to take the opportunity to do a few minor upgrades otherwise I feared it would just sit around gathering dust again. I applied the same techniques to all the buildings, and have used the outbuilding/shed as an example.

I started by touching up the building walls by painting over some obvious tabs and then giving them a wash of Vallejo Sepia to bring out some detail.

I then turned my attention to the doors. I painted the hinges and pulls, gave them a wash and then some dry brushing.

Lastly, I focused on the roofs. The detail on these was a little soft, and they had tabs that were showing through so I decided to reshingle them. I purchased some self adhesive laser cut paper S-Scale shingles from Rail Scale Models. These were placed directly on the existing roof pieces. I then gave them a wash and dry brushed them with multiple colors.

Once the buildings were done, I decided to copy Richard’s work a bit and add a smoke stack. I bought an HO stack from Walthers and covered it – somewhat poorly – with some textured brick paper a friend had given me. It was then given a wash and some light dry brushing. I then added an O-Scale ladder to cover up my awful vertical seams. It isn’t the best match for the other brickwork, but it’s good enough for me.

Next I applied the same techniques I used on the buildings to the walls and platforms by touching up some exposed tabs and giving them a wash. I then made the decision to make a permanent base. In the past I thought that I may use the platforms and/or walls in other settings, but that never happened. I had a piece of tempered hardboard that was the right size, and to this I attached a piece of JTT grass matt to act as a moisture barrier and a base for the flocking.

I layed out the walls and platforms, then once satisfied secured them with carpenter’s glue. After this had dried I applied the flock and tufts I wanted.

To add some final detail I wanted to add an illuminated sign. I had a 3V gooseneck lamp in my electronic gadgets box, so I wired it up with a switch. I then printed out a sign, affixed it to a thin MDF base and overpainted it. I simply attached it with poster putty so if I want to change theaters or whatnot I can.

Overall I’m pleased with the outcome and feel that this will get the playtime that it always deserved. I’m also happy that, apart from the large base, that it still breaks down for easy storage. As with anything of mine I imagine it will evolve over time. I have more barrels to add, and am already on the lookout for a hand cart.


Fall In Prep

Through late summer and now early fall I’ve mostly been working on the odds and ends for the games I’ll be running at Fall In in November. Friday late afternoon I’m running my reworked Chain of Command u-boat raid, and Saturday morning I have a Sharp Practice French and Indian War game scheduled. Here’s what I’ve been working on for my FIW game.

A Grand Manner cabin:

Some standards for the British Regulars, and some Litko movement trays:

A blockhouse from Old Glory with some palisade walls given to me by the owner of my FLGS:

A pumpkin patch using some JTT Pumpkins with a corduroy field and a Blue Moon wagon with a Fife and Drum handler:

A longboat from Firelock Games and some dock pieces from Ainsty Castings:

The H.M.S. Wet Bream, a frigate from Firelock Games with coffee stained sails sewn by the wife:

Some 18th century sailors from Galloping Major Wargames:

And finally a playtest at Southern Fried Lard in Richmond:

 


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