Saturday, October 20, 2018

Railroad Swap Meet

Today, I went to the Mainline Model Railroaders Fellowship's semi-annual swap meet for the first time. I had long heard there was great potential terrain at these railroad events, and I've seen interesting pieces painted up by others (hi Bob!), but I've never been to one of them.
It turned out to be quite a bit more crowded than I thought, and I did get a good haul. I was mainly looking for HO scale buildings to go with my 1/72 scale figures. Technically the scale is a bit small, but it's close enough on the table top. I certainly wasn't disappointed, and I ended up with some good, cheap stuff. (most of the buildings below were between $2 and $5 each)

These are classic railroad buildings depicting old-fashioned downtown core offices or tenements. Most of these are in decent shape and can do well with just a base coat and wash. Maybe they'll serve for zombie infested streets or an X-Com alien abduction/terror site.

These are small-town restaurants, shops, and houses. Again, good X-Com fodder or some mysterious small-town home to strange cults?

More small stores, bu the gas station needs a bit of love. These buildings when put together can make a great board for all sorts of interesting scenarios.

And finally, there are these two much higher quality buildings. They have a lot more detail and are made of very tough hard polystyrene. In fact, they are almost like wargaming miniatures. Does anyone know who actually makes these? The seller didn't know.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Failures and Successes with the 3D Printer

I've been trying to 3D print various things for the last couple of weeks, mainly miniatures in different scales, to test the ability of my Sparkmaker to contribute to my hobbies. There were hits and misses, and I've learned a lot about how to use my printer.

For gaming miniatures, first I tried to print an Epic scale Tau Tigershark bomber, the one with two large railguns on the front, and I immediately ran into an issue with the top right side of the bomber "collapsing". In the right picture above, you can see a hole in the model where the resin didn't fully solidify. It actually looks like ripped fabric. I originally thought it was because part of the model got stuck on the bottom of the resin vat and the print didn't complete.

However, I did three more models, and all of them had exactly the same problem, which pointed to something with the file I was using. I think I've fixed it, but I haven't had a chance to try it again before I moved onto other models.

The above is a size comparison for the model with a painted Forgeworld Tigershark bomber on the left. They match very well in scale.

Next, I tried to print some Imperial Thunderbolt fighters, also in Epic scale. I used a file from Thingiverse for a larger model and scaled it down. The problem is that I forgot to thicken some of the thinner pieces for the smaller model size. The wings especially drooped quite a bit since they ended up extremely thin. I had to use a 3D modelling program (DesignSpark Mechanical) to thicken the wings, which allowed me to have usable models. These were quite nice when they were finally done.

I then printed some Imperial Marauder bombers, also from Thingiverse, and they ended up beautifully the first time around. I'll have to get around to painting these Epic miniatures to see how well they hold paint.

Then I moved onto 15 mm WWII. I have a whole bunch of unbuilt 15 mm models, but since I'm preparing a Canadian force, I want some kangaroos. Being a big fan of plastic in 15 mm scale, I don't actually have any kangaroo models, none of which is available in plastic. Again, Thingiverse came to the rescue.
I took a Ram Kangaroo model from Thingiverse, put two of them in one build, and added supports, which are a necessity for a lot of SLA 3D printing jobs. However, my first print ran out of liquid resin in the middle (darn you, Sparkmaker's too-small resin vat!) The result was a couple of kangaroos with the front neatly "sliced" off.

The second time, I learned my lesson and refilled the vat somewhere in the middle of the print to keep things going. This time the job completed.

The result was quite impressive. The pictures above show the models cut out of their supports. The right picture is a super close-up that unfortunately shows too much of the print lines on the model. When painted up though, I don't think they will be visible.

Finally, just to show that I haven't exhausted all the scales, I also tried making some 1/6000 scale modern naval models. I have a number of 1/6000 modern naval miniatures from Figurehead Miniatures, which have incredible amounts of detail. However, they are not up to date. (any product line that says "modern Soviets" is not) I have to make some ultra-modern ships myself to complement the existing miniatures.
The above picture shows a Ford class aircraft carrier, two Independence class LCS, two Zumwault class stealth destroyers, a Ticonderoga class cruiser, and the tiny thing on the lower-right is a Swedish Visby class stealth corvette. Mostly, I found 3D files for these ships, then did some processing to make them small enough. Sometimes this involved reducing some detail, thickening some parts, etc. Then I added bases to them so they are easier to handle. Just a note on size - the bases are 1 to 1.5 mm thick!

A comparison with a Figurehead Miniatures Nimitz class carrier, which is supposed to be slightly smaller than a Ford class in real life. My miniatures have less detail, but they should serve as supplements for missing ships in the metal line.

I'm really encouraged by the printer so far, since it has behaved very well for me. I just have to start painting up some of these...

Monday, April 23, 2018

3D Printer

I recently received my Kickstarter 3D printer, and I just started to fiddle around with it. The printer is called the Sparkmaker, and it's one of the cheapest SLA (liquid resin) printers available right now. I heard a lot of bad things about it online, since it apparently requires a lot of modifications to work properly. However, my printer seems to have come with most of those modifications already done, especially the most important one, where the LCD screen is moved closer to the print bed.

This particular printer is very small, with a print area that's around 10 cm X 6 cm or so. However, since I'm using it for printing miniatures, it's not that big of a deal. SLA printers work by curing liquid resin with either lasers or projector light. In this case, it's a set of UV LEDs whose patterns are controlled by an LCD screen that blocks the UV light. Resin is cured layer by layer, until an object is built.
Building objects took quite a while, and the build area got quite messy due to the liquid resin, which had to be cleaned using rubbing alcohol. However, the results are quite good when the print finishes successfully.

I started by printing building tokens for the game Dropfleet Commander that I found on Thingiverse. The results are quite a bit better than what I've seen with FDM printers, where the object is created by extruding plastic from a nozzle. This is a commercial sector. However, the tops of the buildings were stuck on the printing bed, and they are flat.

A different print resulted in buildings that were complete. You can see the tower built properly now.

This is an industrial sector, another type of token. The smokestacks and windows are all quite visible despite being very small. For a size reference, the round bases are 20 mm across.

The results look great so far, even without a lot of tweaking from me. I'll be trying more complex stuff with the printer very soon.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Scourge Battlecruiser

For the upcoming Dropfleet tournament at Onslaught on Saturday, I painted up the all-resin version of the Scourge battle cruiser, the Akuma.

It has the same paint scheme as all my other capital ships, and will replace the model I've been using as a proxy.

The ship actually looks quite different from other Scourge vessels, having a nose with a style that doesn't match any of the existing ships. The large "wings" are from the battleship though, so there is some commonality of design.

Because there is an option for two types of battle cruisers, of course I magnetized the ship to be either. This is the alternative head with close range plasma weapons instead of the normal occulus beams.

When you put it next to the Basilisk, the resin/plastic combination model from the Kickstarter with exactly the same stats, the newer ship looks much larger.

Even here, next to the battleship, the Akuma looks like it's the same length, just quite a bit thinner.
It's a really nice looking model, and I hope it will be lucky in the tournament.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fallcon 2017

Following my annual tradition, I went to Fallcon in Calgary this past weekend.
This year, Fallcon was moved to a different venue, the SAIT campus, from the original Commonwealth Centre location. The new place caused some issues, mainly with parking, since the SAIT parking lot was less convenient and cost money compared to the original. It didn't seem to reduce attendance though.

Friday night, I ran an expanded version of my Imperial Skies game with 4 players.
I painted up some of Brigade Models' excellent small scale scenery as British industrial buildings on Mars. They were targets for attacking German aether ships.

Here, the German players entered the map in two groups, making straight for their targets.

The British player (we had one player show up at the start and another join in later) initially positioned his ships to take advantage of their broadsides, and they sat around waiting for their opponents.
As the Germans came closer, both British players sent their destroyers forward to harass their opponents and kept the bigger ships back.

This resulted in British destroyer casualties as the first blood of the game.

As the game went on, treachery! A band of Irish adventurers staged an attack on the British rear area with their ship, the Fenian Ram. However, the British revealed their own hidden forts protecting the factories. At this point though, we ran out of time, and the game was called. I probably need to reduce the size of the scenario, especially with 4 new players playing it.

The Forge, a Western Martial Arts group in Calgary staged sword-fighting demos at Fallcon, something I hadn't seen there before. It turned out one of the guys in the group was the host at the bed and breakfast where I stayed, and he trained with the same WMA instructor that I did when I was practicing swordsmanship. Small world! I'm glad that WMA/HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) is becoming more widespread and better known.

I was quite sick Friday night and Saturday morning, and I missed some events. However, I did feel better later that day and went to the auction. At the auction, they presented awards for amateur game design, and members of the 501st Imperial Legion in Calgary showed up to provide some atmosphere!

On Sunday, I joined a game of Chain of Command run by Stu from Calgary. This is a Too Fat Lardies ruleset used for 15mm WWII games.

I really liked the interesting although very abstract initial reconnaissance mechanic, where the two sides placed markers to control and limit each other's deployment. Here our side (the Germans) managed to sneak into the town at the centre of the table.

From that point on, since the Germans had a deployment location in town with a lot of heavy cover, they were well protected against any British attack and were able to play aggressively.

Here, the Germans on the right attacked the British position near their side of the board. This ended up being the decisive part of the game. Despite heavy casualties, the Germans overran the British position, and the game was called. The game had interesting mechanics, although some of it felt a little clunky and unnecessary.

This year, I had a great time again, despite being sick for a part of it. We'll see if the SAIT location will be used again next year.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mayday 2017

On Saturday, I went to this year's Mayday convention held here in the Edmonton area. Jonathan, the organizer, found an excellent community center in St. Albert that served as a new location for us, and we managed to gather a decent crowd.

This time, I ran a game of Imperial Skies. This is a steampunk Victorian flying battleships game created by Brigade Models. For the miniatures, rather than Brigade Models products, I used ship models from an unrelated board game called Leviathans, an interesting product that unfortunately didn't do well commercially.

Newcomer (to EWG but not to gaming) Derek and long-time EWG member Dan played my game, which involved German battleships attempting to destroy British forts on Mars. Derek played the British fleet and Dan the German.
Dan sent his German warships on board in several columns, with Derek's smaller British fleet attempting to maneuver and cross the Germans' "T".

Initially, the Germans did some damage to the British fleet, destroying a destroyer and a cruiser that wandered too close to the German columns by themselves, while the British did relatively little damage, mainly owing to Derek's dice initially performing badly. However, Derek finally managed to get his battleship into position, and blasted one of the two German battleships at close range. "Crossing the T" is quite nasty in this game.

The battle descended into a swirling melee where generally the British managed to cross the T more and did more damage over time.

Dan finally got his remaining battleship close to the British forts and demolished one of them. However, the forts were heavily dug-in and proved hard to destroy, while the British blasted the German ships one by one. At the end, we called the game at the time limit and Germans were not getting any farther. Both player enjoyed the game quite a bit though.

Next, I played in Dennis' DBA tournament, where each player had three games against different opponents.
I played using one of Dennis' armies, the Anglo-Irish, against Rob and Don from Calgary, and Dave from right here in Edmonton. Things went poorly for me due to die rolling in the first two games, and I lost them both. However, in the third game, Dave's dice were even worse than mine, and I managed to win. It really reinforced the view that DBA is very dependent on single die rolls, leading to a lot of player frustration.

Later that night, Dennis ran a big-battle DBA game of the Battle of Ilipa, between Romans and Carthaginians. I think I like the big-battle version quite a bit more, since there are more die rolls for PIPs (i.e. action points), and so the game is less dependent on single die rolls. Also, more miniatures are involved and the whole thing looks a lot more like a large battle.

All in all, this was another great Mayday, and I hope we can stay at the new location, which proved to be a very nice one indeed.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

More Dropfleet

For the upcoming Dropfleet League game tomorrow, I painted up some more Scourge ships.

This game is going to be another skirmish, at 750 points. I heard that the Basilisk battlecruiser is quite good, so I painted up the one from the last post. Plus, I painted up a troop transport module and attached it to one of my cruisers to make a Chimera troop transport.

Even though the game will be too small for a battleship, I like the Scourge model so much that I painted it up. It will definitely be making an appearance for the following game, which will be larger. Of course, as I showed in the last post, the head weapons are magnetized. The above is the Daemon configuration.

This is the Dragon configuration for the same ship, with fighter/torpedo launchers instead of occulus weapons arrays.

This shows the relative sizes of the battlecruiser and the battleship.

Unrelated to Dropfleet, for the upcoming Tuesday night game, I'm going to run a game of Imperial Skies, with steampunk flying battleships on Mars. The miniatures are from a boardgame called Leviathans, which unfortunately is no longer supported.

In this game, German battleships are trying to take on British ships and forts. The above are British ships flying above their forts.

These are some of the attacking German ships.