Second Russian House WiP

Started another Russian farmhouse on Boxing Day evening, this one slightly bigger than the first at 4″x2″.

I mentioned in the previous article that I used coffee stir sticks for the wood siding. The workbench photo below should explain some of how I’ve been doing these buildings.

Two WiP photos of Russian huts. See text for details, click for full size.

Basically, I split stir sticks lengthwise, then glue them along mattboard walls I’ve already cut the doors and windows out of. It’s easier to go back afterward and cut the stir sticks out of the openings than it is to premeasure! You can see one long side already trimmed above, and the other three sides waiting for trimming.

Incidentally, for this kind of trimming, I highly recommend an X-Acto #17 chisel blade instead of the classic scalpel blade (the #11 blade). Being able to cut straight down makes clean cuts in the windows easier, and it’s an easy way to trim thin wood and other strip materials.

The second photo of the pair above shows the new house with the walls assembled but no trim addded yet, and the first hut finished, except for the roof which is drying off-camera.

I’ve already assembled the thatch roof for the new building, and didn’t get any WiP photos of that, but I”ll try to get some progress photos of the next thatch roof I make, I promise. It is kind of difficult to smear glue everywhere and handle a camera, though…

Off for a week tomorrow, so see you all next year!

Night Before the Night Before…

… and over at my place, I was hiding out, enjoying the last evening of solitary, productive peace and quiet I”ll have for a while, as the holiday season proper lands on us tomorrow.

In between beer, sending out festive email, and a little bit of painting on some White Russian troops, I cranked out this:

A very small hut is investigated by a pair of Brigade Games 28mm Russian officers.

It’s tiny, only 2″ x 3″ – but I’ve always liked the philosophy of making your buildings a bit smaller but having more of them. A hamlet of four or six buildings looks more convincing as a hamlet than a pair of buildings taking up the same space on the wargaming table.

Construction is almost all mattboard, with the siding created from thin wooden coffee stir sticks split lengthwise. The roof is towel over a mattboard framework, and removable. There’s a door to glue into place as well.

The roof needs a lot more painting, which it might get on Boxing Day or else in the New Year, but I’m fairly happy with the greyish tone of the walls at this point. I might wind up rebuilding the roof, as I got a bit too enthusiastic with the scissors and haven’t left much in the way of eves over the walls. The simplest fix for that might just be to slap another layer of towel down over the existing one.

This little building was mostly a test of the wood siding idea, and of building the hipped roofs so typical of rural buildings in early 20th C Russia (and elsewhere, of course). They’re fussier, but this one works and so does the woodwork, so the new year should see a nice little Russian hamlet taking shape here.

Hope everyone has an excellent holiday season, however you celebrate it, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and such!

Templates for Cards

Because I happen to have a stockpile of them around the place, several years ago I started using pre-punched Avery business card sheets as gaming cards – Encounter Cards and vehicle cards in .45 Adventure, stats sheets for minor characters, more recently the Russian Civil War initiative cards for Mud & Blood. Even if you haven’t got pre-punched sheets around, the 2×3.5″ size is easy to use and handle printed onto ordinary cardstock and cut out.

There is of course a Microsoft Word template available right off Avery’s own website but I created my own templates from scratch in Inkscape, first because Word is a lousy program for actual graphical work, and secondly because the Avery templates are set up with vertical (portrait) orientation of the sheets, while for most gaming cards having a landscape setup makes more sense.

Accordingly, I kicked Inkscape to life, took some measurements from the Avery sheets and from their template and created a new template with the cards set up on a landscape (horizontal) sheet, which makes laying the cards out like small playing cards much easier.

I’ve uploaded three versions for people to use: a PDF version, a PNG version (probably the most generally useful) and finally, for those of you who have taken up Inkscape, an SVG version, which is in a ZIP file as WordPress doesn’t like SVG,

If you’re not sure which version to use, grab the PNG version, any modern graphics program should read PNG. Most should also be able to import PDF, which might get you a more accurate template.

CC0 To the extent possible under law, Brian Burger/Wirelizard Design has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Card Template Blanks (various file formats). This work is published from: Canada.

The little grey block basically means that whoever downloads these can do whatever they like with them, including use them in commercial products. Go nuts. And if you’re from that rather large part of the word that doesn’t use Letter-size paper, sorry, but you’re going to have to come up with your own templates!

RCW: Blundering Into Each Other

Early in the game, with most forces still on Blinds. Whites in the top corner, Reds in the foreground. Click through to Flickr for larger version.

We had another round of Mud & Blood powered Russian Civil War action this afternoon, with a White composite platoon under a very dynamic officer meeting a spread-out Red platoon on the outskirts of a South Russian village and defeating them fairly soundly.

Once again Stout Hearts & Iron Troopers was our starting point, this time Scenario Seven, A Baptism At Bleid, which is a German-vs-French encounter battle, with the French unit resting in a farmyard, more French off-table down the road, and the Germans coming on cautiously as everyone advances into Belgium in 1914. The scenario also has the whole table covered in thick mist, so spotting is considerably more difficult.

We swapped in White Russians for Germans and a Red Guard platoon for the French and went at it. Due to lack of painted figures we had about half the troop density the scenario calls for, but it was still a fun game and really showed the power of a high-Status Big Man in M&B. The Whites had the energetic Capt. Rumelski, Status IV, leading their composite platoon, plus Dynamic Leader (bonus Big Man moves) and Heroic Leader (one heroic act per game by a Big Man) cards in the deck. While the Whites had some initial trouble getting their platoon moving, once they got going they never stopped, and comprehensively shattered the Reds before the Red reinforcements could get onto the table to help out.

Reds scout down the road. Photo by Corey
Reds scout down the road. Photo by Corey

I was commanding the Reds, and really being too aggressive for the quality and quantity of troops I had available. I also launched one unsupported and unwise assault just because we hadn’t yet seen the M&B close combat rules in action yet. Now that we have, I won’t be doing that again… I badly damaged one White section, but utterly destroyed my largest rifle section doing so. Close combat in M&B is indeed decisive and bloody!

White Russian Cossacks. Photo by Corey
White Russian Cossacks. Photo by Corey

There’s still more Russians on my painting table, both Reds & Whites, and I’m looking forward to getting them into the game!

RCW Cards & Blinds In The Flesh

Finally got around to printing and cutting out a full set of the Russian Civil War Mud & Blood cards I created a few weeks ago, as well as the earlier Blinds.

Here’s the full set spread over my painting desk.

They actually exist! Printed versions of the cards and blinds I’ve created for playing Russian Civil War games with Through The Mud & The Blood.

You can, of course, find the PDFs for the cards and the blinds in earlier posts here at The Warbard, so you can print your own.

Corey and I will be doing our second session of RCW M&B today (Sunday) at our regular games club meeting up at the local university. Game reports and possibly photos here, as usual.

Links of Interest, 9th Dec 2011

If you haven’t already read Sidney Roundwood’s excellent 29 Ways to (try to) Stay Creative: A Wargamer’s List yet, you really do need to. The accompanying short video is not wargaming specific, but still has good advice. Do you know where your notebook is?

Incidentally, there’s a great collection of links to blogs, podcasts and other inspiration in that post of Sidney’s. Among other things, it’s introduced me to Porky’s Expanse, an entertainingly wide-ranging blog nominally centred on gaming, and suggested a bunch of podcasts I’m going to have to try out. I prefer music while painting, usually, but podcasts are perfect for figure prepping and basing sessions, I’ve found, and with more RCW Russians in the pipeline I’ve have a couple of long prep sessions coming up!

The always-excellent Make Magazine website now as a Tabletop Wargaming section. Not a lot there now, but this could become a very interesting repository for the hobby and also a source of some publicity, as Make has a very broad readership.

Seen anything interesting lately?

Pearl Harbor, 70 Years Ago Today

Today is, of course, Pearl Harbor Day, and this year marks the 70th anniversary of that attack.

I was on Maui for a vacation about 18 months ago, in the spring of 2010, and my brother and I spent a day at the Pearl Harbor memorial sites, the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri, and the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbour. I highly recommend the visit if you find yourself on Maui.

The Aviation Museum was recently opened when we were there, and it will be exciting to see it expand and develop over the years. They don’t have a huge collection of aircraft, but the quality of the displays is very high and the collection is tightly focused on the attack on Pearl Harbor and the early war in the Pacific so far.

Arizona & Missouri

Guarding Arizona

The rest of my Maui 2010 photos are over on Flickr.

Reds & Whites in the Mud & the Blood

The Russian Civil War figures I’ve been painting had their first outing Saturday evening, as Corey and I lined them up and tried out Through the Mud & the Blood out for the first time.

Whites at the wall
Whites at the wall, Reds in the field

The evening was only a partial success, but I have to say it wasn’t the fault of the rules, it was our fault as players! We’ve been playing .45 Adventure and other pulp rules the last couple of years, which are fairly low-lethality and overall fairly forgiving when it comes to morale, fully automatic weapons and that sort of thing. Mud & Blood is… not.

As mentioned in the previous post, we used Scenario One, “The Platoon Attacking a Strongpoint” as the basis for our game, with Reds attacking instead of British and Whites defending instead of Germans. Both games, the Reds got clobbered. I think the closest a Bolshevik trooper got to the White trench was about 14 inches or so, and that was for all of a couple minutes until the White Maxim HMG unjammed and blew the Reds away.

Let’s just say that under the M&B rules, a unit reduced to 5 troopers from 9 and carrying 12 Shock Points is not going to be useful for quite a while, if ever…

Whites man the wall
Whites man the wall

We actually played the same setup twice in one evening, switching sides for the second game. Two games in about four hours, with stoppages to reread the rules, rebeer the participants, mutually mull over tactical choices, swear at the dice and such is very respectable. The card-driven activation keeps things moving at a good clip, even when you’re brand new to the rules.

Basically, we spent the evening drinking beer and recapitulating, in 28mm, the mistakes and lessons of the first years of the Great War. Do not charge machine guns. For Dog’s sake, have something resembling a tactical plan. “Charge that emplacement!” is not, in fact, an actual viable tactical plan. Pitting ordinary riflemen against an entrenched machinegun is more than slightly unfair to the riflemen. Things like that.

We want to try it all again, with slightly different forces as I finish painting more Russians for both sides. Look for more mud and more blood here in the future!

First Mud & Blood Game This Evening

Quiet around here lately, primarily because all of my hobby time has been taken up painting White Russians for this evening’s first outing of Russian Civil War-flavoured Through the Mud & the Blood.

We’re using the first scenario from the TFL scenario book Stout Hearts & Iron Troopers, “The Platoon Attacking a Strongpoint”, with the defending Germans swapped out for Whites and the attacking British swapped for Reds. The British platoon in the scenario has all the Lewis guns, dedicated bombers and rifle grenades of a fully-evolved late WW1 Western Front British unit, all of which the Reds lack, so the Reds might get a fifth rifle section to make up the lack of specialized firepower.

Off to pack figures and head for the game, report here tomorrow, hopefully with photos if any of them turn out!