'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Corrupt Cliffs

Corrupt Cliffs
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Battleship: Beginnings.

I'm working to build a basic fleet.  My first scratchbuilt fleet.  My first fleet.  The previous post showed the work in progress on a cruiser and frigate.

I started working on a battleship last night which uses some small hollow construction techniques.  I got to a fairly rough shape last night and left it to dry so I could work on the filing and shaping with all of the pieces dry.

I will add another post as I continue with it.

70mm Battleship

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Full Thrust: Revisited

Back when I got into miniatures one of the scratch building searches led me to a facebook group called, "Full Thrust: THE Tactical Starship Combat Rules".  Back then I was looking for ideas on scratch building for a set of rules I was working on.  A simple set that I could use to show people spaceship combat without teaching Starfleet Battles.

I had briefly looked at Full Thrust and got to the "WRITE YOUR ORDERS" phase and had visions of Engage thrusters at 50%, Come to a heading of 310 mark 15 etc etc. and because of this I moved away from it and continued down my rules path.

15mm wargaming diverted me to ground combat, and away from the navies of space, but I was recently looking about the Full Thrust group and I decided to read the Full Thrust Light.  "Wow, these are SIMPLE"  Long story short, probably as simple as what I had developed, for the most part anyhow.  FTL would be a SIMPLE game to get people to learn and infact I hear it us often used at conventions.

Ok.  So I played a few solo engaements with my Silent Death minis from EM4, but wanted to get back into scratch building ships. 

I was directed to Starship Combat news for scale ideas and used it to determine the scale for my scratch buils to be around the same size as GZG spaceships.  While I was on SCN I went through their foums and came across their scratch build forum.  Some of it is ok, some it basic, but one user stands out as a scratch builder over there.  His handle is "Toaster"

SCN FORUM: http://www.star-ranger.com/forum/index.php
OMEGA Class: http://www.star-ranger.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2581
HYPERION: http://www.star-ranger.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2659
SULACO: http://www.star-ranger.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=7081
MORE: http://www.star-ranger.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2612

CLONE WARS: http://www.star-ranger.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=6546
 NARN: http://www.star-ranger.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=5308

GENERAL: http://www.star-ranger.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2635


Using his ideas I have begun scratch building my first fleet.

Basic plasticard cutouts

Gluing into a body

Initial tests.

Additional details and a few Silent Death escorts.

Ships need engines but now a Cruiser and a Frigate.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Smooth Cast 300

All of my castings had been with Alumilite's Super Plastic.  It was readily available at my hobby store and I was anxious to start casting starships so I could work on a simple ruleset for ship to ship combat.

Over this weekend I went down to my local plastic store and picked up a $27 set of Smooth-on's Smooth Cast 300 on the advice of the great guys at https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/Stargrunt2/.  It has a pretty similar working and set time when compared with Super Plastic.

However the A and B part of Smoothcast are less viscous which allows it to take finer detail in the molds that are being cast.  That is a win.

I haven't seen a compareable size of Smoothcast vs Superplastic in the stores.  But I know from the small bottles of Super Plastic I got in a kit, that the $27 set of Smooth Cast will last me a lot of castings.

I also suspect the lower viscosity of this resin will allow air bubbles to be removed easier, although I haven't personally had an issue with it.

In the end Smooth Cast was easily worth the purchase price.

Thumbs up on this product.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Blockade Buster - Grav Tank: Part 2

Blockade Buster - Custom Turret

Oil based clay
Polymer clay
Small sticks
Scultping tools
X-acto knife
Super glue
2 part casting resin

Part 1 of this segment detailed how I took a Matchbox Blockade Buster and converted it into a Grav Tank.  Well I mostly converted it.  It was still in need of a turret.

How would I get a turret?  Buy it?  Design it in a 3D app and print it?

What to do.

Then I remembered a blog I came across last year.  It showed a gamer making custom starships.  His method was to take a basic shape, press it into clay and then detail it.  Once the mold was finished he would cast it in a 2 part resin.

So using this idea of impression casting with clay I thought it might work to build a turret fairly fast.

The first steps involved taking a polymer clay and creating a basic shape.

1. Roll clay out to approximate thickness for turret.
2. Cut edges off to make basic shape.

3. Add forward slanting armor by cutting away the clay.

4. Finalize your basic turret shape.

5. Final turret shape.

6. Size test on the grav tank.

The other tool we will need to complete this is a set of texture stamps.  These can be made from polymer clay as well and are used to texture the inside of the impression mold.

1. Lay out clay and create textures
2. Cut textures into stamp sizes
3. Bake according to instructions
4. Glue onto sticks.
Once we have the basic shape and a set of texturing tools, we are ready to start creating the mold.

1. Get a ball of oil based clay.
2. roll out clay and press shape into it.
3. Remove object (This can be tricky).
4. Use stamps to texture mold.
5. Mix casting resin and pour into mold.
6. Let cure and pull from mold.

These photos are my first attempt.  I feel I did not press the texturing tools in deep enough and got a lack luster turret.  The above photo is primed with a black wash.  I recast the turret and was much happier.

Full view of tank. Turret is primed, washed and dry brushed.
Closer view of the turret is primed, washed and dry brushed.
The tank needs painting, and I may use a different turret, but this shows how you can simply create a fairly cool sci-fi tank for 15mm wargames for not very much money.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Blockade Buster - Grav Tank: Part 1

 Blockade Buster Conversion

1 Blockade Buster
1 piece heavy plasticard
1 stir stick
2 part putty
Small washers
Misc other bits
Super glue
1 X-acto knife
1 drill

Matchbox toys are quite often pretty close in scale to 15mm and they make some cool models at this size if you can find them.  I am a fan of their Stryker model for instance, but can't find more than the one I bought originally.  They do however have a very inexpensive and simple IFV/AA type vehicle.  The Blockade Buster.  It runs at about the $1 mark depending where you are.  I get mine for $1.34 CAD from Walmart.

The parts of the blockade buster.
The vehicle has a plastic turret, metal upper body and plastic lower body.  It is held together with rivets, so to start this conversion the first step is to drill out the rivets and disassemble the model.
This leaves us with the tanks components.  You will notice that the upper metal body does not include the back.  The metal body is open at the back.  It will need to be sealed to make a new vehicle.

Back of the lower body has the entire back of the vehicle

We can either take what we need from the plastic body or make something new.  I opted to remove from the plastic body and glue into place.
Back panel cut free to close the back of the metal tank body
And glued into the main tank body

Here you can see the wood added to the back of the tank to even up the edges (and back)
Once this is done it well become apparent that the metal body needs to be evened out as it is not level all the way back.  I used small pieces of wood stir sticks to accomplish this.
Bottom view with axle mounts, wooden body and rivets
 I used the metal wheel axles in my design but he metal rivets proved to be in the way.  I had to cut these off flush with the base of the tank.

Once I had this completed I took a heavy piece of plasticard and drilled holes to make slots that I could pass the wheel mounts through.  I then used a 2 part putty to add a grave plate mounting bracket.  Basically a long rectangle with a 45 degree cut. along it's length.

Once at this stage I also used putty to try and seal the major gaps.  Once it cured I went in with sand paper to try and smooth out and reshape some areas.

The grav rails are some more heavy plasticard glued to the underside mounting plates.  Once they were glued in place I added some small washers for detail and gave everything a quick prime to see how it looked.
 Moving forward in the next part I will address how I will add the turret and get the model to a pre-painted stage.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Battle at the Town. The Second Battle

Tomorrow's War
Game 2
Nov 30th 2014

Human RESD vs Cyber Droid Threat

This is the second game of Tomorrow's war we have played.  We used the exact same table as last time, but tried some new ideas.  We have been "balancing" our forces based on FP dice, which doesn't produce balanced forces.  We are still working on that.  I am writing this up from memory and pictures.  It is incomplete but should give a feel for the engagement.

The RESD were stationed in a small  town that controls a road through the plains.  

Word of an approaching threat allowed them to take up defensive and hidden positions to strike out at the approaching Cyber Droids.

The majority of the troops took up positions that would allow them to control the road.  Flanks were controlled by a heavy plasma team on the right and an elite recon unit on the left.

As the Cyber droids approach their larger "power armor" robots crossed an open area.  The plasma team opened fire and unleashed a torrent of fire across the battlefield.  The plasma bolt proved largely ineffective against the robots.  This would prove to be a continuing issue. Although I rolled okay here the robots armo'r and advanced repair essentially rendered my attack useless.

A small unit of skimmers moved forward towards the town.  A fire team attempts to spot the small stealthy units, but even as they catch a glimpse of the machines and prepare to open fire the skimmers seemingly waiting for them unleash their own plasma cutting the unit down.
After the horrific onslaught the entire squad, save one trooper left with serious injuries is killed.  If you don't play Tomorrow's war.  After a unit takes casualties you roll a d6 at the end of the turn to see the result.  A 1 results in a death.  I rolled four 1s. 

On the right flank another unit of skimmers has managed to move up and lay down a round of fire wounding my gun team and seriously weakening it's offensive power.  As the skimmers bear down on the plasma team the RESD fire team comes out of hiding and moves back into the trees in an attempt to cut off the incoming skimmers.

The skimmers closed in an attempt to close assault the gun team, but before they can the team gets one more shot off destroying a single skimmer before they swarm the team and finish them off.  

The RESD fire team had also attempted to stop them with reaction fire, but with dice rolls that were consistently like these, not much happened.  The fire team was wiped out shortly afterwards allowing the Cyber Droids on the right flank to move in towards the center.

Meanwhile in the center of town light flyers had moved up with a unit of skimmers, but despite being right on the RESD positions the skimmers with their stealth tech remained hidden.  This was not the case for the first skimmer that came down the center street.  The RESD fire team carrying a heavy plasma and 4 pulse rifles opened up.  The plasma rifle managed to do nothing, bouncing harmlessly off the armor, but the pulse rifles managed to find a weak spot on the armor bringing it to the ground.

Now exposed to fire the fire team takes massive fire from the skimmers and remaining flyer.  It is essentially wiped out in a couple of turns.

This leaves a single unit.  The elite recon team.  From their stealthy position in the trees with light arms they began to inflict some damage on the enemy.  Their superior training and stealth allowed them to take out the last of the light vehicles. 

But even after that it was 5 RESD recon scouts vs a large number of heavy robots and skimmers.  It was only a matter of time. 

Eventually the position would be over run.

We called the game in favor of the droids.

We did some stuff VERY wrong.  We had it in our head that every time a unit reacted it had a -1 reaction to it's next reaction test.  In reality it is supposed to lose one FP die per reaction past the first.

We had some issues with morale, ie remembering it.  using the wrong dice etc.