Tag Archives: Wargaming

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!
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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!


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:

 


Historicon 2018

I attended Historicon in Lancaster Pennsylvania Thursday 12 July through Sunday 15 July. What follows is a short wrap-up of this year’s experience.

Thursday

I decided this year that I would leave after work rather than take the day off. That was a bad idea. I didn’t leave until 1530 and hit some bad traffic on 15 outside of Leesburg. After that the traffic cleared up a bit, but it still added an hour to my trip.

I rolled in to Lancaster and checked it at the Hilton Tru next door. If you haven’t stayed, it’s a good place. It’s new, has good breakfast in the morning, decent board gaming space in the lobby and it’s a very easy walk to the Host.

I then made my way over to the Host to catch up with some friends. I thought I was too late to get my badge, but one of the helpful HMGS staff showed me a computer in the lobby where I could print my own. After turning up the brightness on my phone, the QR scanner worked and my badge printed out – easy as pie.

Figuring that because the game I was running started at 1000 I may be able to get away with setting up and leaving it overnight, but someone had a pick-up game going on so I decided I’d have plenty of time in the AM. Actually there were quite a few games going on in the Distlefink Thursday night which was great to see.

Ed and Caleb were hanging out in the Tournament Room playing GMT’s Twilight Struggle. I caught up with them, we had a few beers and then went out for late night dinner. Afterward we just called it a night and hit the sack.

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All Packed Up

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The Coldest War

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The Tournament Room

Friday

I woke fairly early Friday morning, grabbed breakfast at the hotel and took a quick shower, then drove over to the Host. Most of my morning was spent taking a leisurely approach to setting up for my game at 1000. I did have the great pleasure of meeting Richard Clarke of Too Fat Lardies while setting up my game, and he didn’t disappoint.

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Waxing Philosophic

This year I decided to get out of my comfort zone and instead of running WWII games of Chain of Command, I ran games of Sharp Practice set in the French and Indian War. The scenarios were titled “The Rescue of Marguerite Boudreaux”. Here’s the write-up I submitted:

Marguerite Boudreaux has been captured by the British and is being held at a settlement on the banks of the Sinnemahoning River. Her father, the Magistrate Loring Boudreaux, has been able to convince the commander of a nearby trapping outpost that forming a rescue party would be in his best interests. Will the French be able to rescue and return Marguerite, or will the British reaction force foil their plans and retain their hostage?

I knew that all of my pre-registration tickets for this session were gone, but I only had three players show. Fortunately I had an alternate as a walk-up, so game on. The French did well as they were able to route the British force off the board. It was a really great group of players, and I had a great time. I made some minor mistakes with the rules, but it happens.

Afterward I had a large cadre (thanks lads) help me clean up, and then a small group of us “American Lardies” and Richard went to lunch across the street at the Lancaster Brewing Company. Lunch ran long, so when we returned I made my first trip to the dealer’s hall and made my only purchases of the weekend. I picked up some animals from Iron Wind for a friend and grabbed the Empress Cross of Iron character set from Age of Glory.

Later that night we were able to play in Patrick’s large early war What a Tanker game. I ran a Panhard 178 and decided that I would use it like an actual recon vehicle and proceed forward until shot at. I did exactly that and drew fire – a lot of it, helping to expose the flanks of quite a few Hun vehicles. Unfortunately the French were not rolling well and no one was able to take advantage of my foolhardy bravery. I lasted longer than expected, but brewed up none the less. Patrick had a nice bottle of whiskey which helped my emotional distress. Afterward we strolled back to the Tru and called it a night.

Saturday

I slept in a little on Saturday but not too late as I had a game scheduled for 1000 again. I set up early(ish) as usual and waited for my players to show up. According to preregistration my game was full, and at 1000 there were 4 people waiting and one alternate. I had turned the alternate away (I know, I’m a bad GM for not squeezing people in…) but then two of the player’s noted that the tickets they had (which were not from prereg but picked up that morning) were for a different game. All of us were somewhat confused, but we decided to do a five-player affair which worked out fine.

I was fortunate enough to have another great group and this time the British won. I know the sample size is small, but I’m calling it a perfectly balanced scenario. Much to my surprise as always, I received another PELA award for my efforts. I’m always super humbled by these and very much appreciate the efforts of HMGS and the volunteer judges. As a bonus, I got a total kick-ass HMGS lanyard/badge holder.

Once again I was helped quite a bit with my clean up, and then just wandered around a bit socializing and checking out other games. Here’s a shot of Ed Leland’s excellent Eastern Front Chain of Command game.

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Stunning

I then caught up with Caleb and we headed to the bar for a drink. Not my plan, but that’s where we ended up for the rest of the evening chatting with friends new and old. We then went across the street for late night chow and called it a night.

Sunday

Woke up fairly early again and packed the car for the return trip. We met up over at the Dealer’s Hall for one more quick pass, but I was in somewhat of an alcohol rebound haze. I had been debating whether I wanted to start an Eastern Front project for Chain of Command or do pirates for Sharp Practice (spoiler alert – pirates won) but I couldn’t commit to purchasing anything so I just got on the road and headed home.

Overall, this was my favorite HMGS convention to date. I think part of that has to do with hitting my stride as a GM. I’ve learned to manage games better and also that I should only run one game per day. I get exhausted trying to tackle more. Also I’m very glad that I fell in with the guys from “Lard America”. They really are a super bunch and I enjoy their company greatly. Maybe with some luck we’ll have club status by Fall In!.

I feel obligated to comment on the Host. Clearly the new ownership is working on improvements, however this time it seemed like more WIP was going on than at Cold Wars. I noticed marked improvements at CW, but other than the cranking AC not much for HCon. That said, I’m pretty easy to please so I have no real issues with the venue.

 


(First Annual?) Lard Luau

For Father’s Day this year my wife gifted me a “Day of Lard”. We rented the clubhouse in our community and several friends and myself played some Too Fat Lardies games, ate great chow and drank great beer. We then headed to our house for dinner and some late evening What a Tanker.

Overall I think is was a huge success, and there are other smaller regional “Lard Days” being planned. Hopefully others felt the same and we’ll do it again next year.

Here are a few pictures of the “Hell’s Highway” CoC game and Ed B’s excellent AWI Sharp Practice game. Next time we’ll document it better.

 


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