Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Weekend Works in Progress

    Posted By on May 10, 2017

    I have shown pictures of 1:48 French tanks for my Historicon scenario in previous posts.  This past weekend I worked on the platoon of infantry to go along with them.

    Platoon of French infantry for my 1940 Combat Patrol scenario at Historicon in July. These are done except for flocking the bases.

    I am running two scenarios in the same French village, one in 1940 and one in 1944.

    A closer look at the infantrymen.

    The medium machine-gun team. This wouldn't have been organic to the platoon might might be found as an attachment. One thing I learned in the Army: when higher headquarters is willing to give you lots of heavy weapons and attachments, you are going to be in a very exciting place very soon.

    In addition to the French figures, I also got started on a project that has been in my project queue for quite some time.  I am making a bunch of alien flying saucers.  I am going for the Day the Earth Stood Still look of no apertures and seam-free hull.

    Kalttu baradda nikita!

    I am making two types of flying saucers, larger “transports” and smaller “scouts.”

    Works in progress of alien transport and scout flying saucers

    The larger ships started life as a bowl for a microwave steamer meal.  The bottom of the hull is a paper plate.  The legs are made from coaxial cable connectors, some washers, and magnets.  The bottom and top hulls will come apart, and the legs may be removed for easy storage and transport.

    The underside of the transport saucers

    All of the saucers were sprayed black and then resprayed with this brushed silver paint.  I find that the silver covers much better over black than the bare plastic.

    I think the best scenarios come from history.  I am working up a science fiction scenario based on Stirling’s Raiders attacks on German airfields in North Africa.  These space ships will substitute for the German aircraft.

    A closer view of the scout saucers

    The scout ships began as bowls from the dining car in an Amtrak train.  Some years back we took the sleeper train with the kids from Harper’s Ferry, WV, to Chicago, IL.  It was a very memorable experience.  In particular, the food was real food, not airline extruded meat paste.  I thought these bowls had a good flying saucer look to them.  Like the larger saucers, these are meant to come apart and nest for storage.

    None of the saucers are completed.  I want to add a few details to all the ships and perhaps legs to the scout ships.

    10mm science fiction anti-tank hunter-killer teams

    I needed to place an order to Reaper.  To get free shipping, I added the above anti-tank teams to my order.  They painted very quickly.  From this picture, the camouflage pattern is difficult to see, but it turned out pretty well.

    Finally, the reason I wanted to make an order to Reaper was to get the robot woman from Metropolis.  While I was at it, I also ordered the pulp-looking science fiction woman.  I had intended to give her purple hair like the moon base women in UFO, but somehow she was calling out to me to have green hair.

    I have an extremely busy week and weekend ahead of my, but I hope to at least find time to flock the French infantry and put that effort to rest.

     

    Hover Tanks for LSNC: SciFi

    Posted By on May 5, 2017

    I’m not sure I think that hovering tanks are very practical on a futuristic battlefield.  The cannot climb well, they are loud, they blow up a lot of dust and debris, and they are expensive.  The LCAC is useful for its purpose, but I am just not convinced of a general land battle use case.  In any event, the rules will support such vehicles, so I wanted to paint up a company of them for play testing purposes.  These are hovering tanks from Reaper CAV.

    I wanted to have the effect of dust and debris being thrown around by the air, so I used some cotton batting painted with two colors of brown as you can see in the above picture.  The effect is okay on 10mm figures.

    Added Some Weathering to 1:48 Scale Tanks

    Posted By on May 5, 2017

    I tried something new this week.  I used some withering powders for model railroads to dirty up my 1:48 scale French tanks a bit.  I didn’t want to go crazy with the weathering effects, but I wanted to get some dirtiness to the undersides of the vehicles and the tracks.  When you compare these to the ones in the previous post, you can see the difference.  It is more apparent in person than in the photos, I think.

    I also painted and weathered a couple of German Pz.Kfw. I light tanks.  The brown on the gray is much more apparent.

    French 1:48 Scale Tanks

    Posted By on May 2, 2017

    1:48 Scale Somua from Shapeways

    I am getting ready to run a France 1940 game using Combat Patrol(TM): World War II at Historicon in July.  There is nothing like a convention promise to improve your painting throughput.  This past weekend the weather was nice enough I could sit in the back yard and airbrush six French tanks I recently purchased from Shapeways.  1:48 scale vehicles are difficult to find, but Shapeways had the ones I wanted.

    French 1:48 scale H-35 light tanks from Shapeways

    At this point the tanks look pretty pristine.  I like them that way, but the next time I get out the airbrush I may weather and dirty them up a bit.

    FT-17 light tanks from Shapeways in 1:48 scale

    Zombies Come to Harford Mall

    Posted By on April 24, 2017

    The HAWKs supported the Harford Community College gaming day, HARCON, this past weekend.  The theme for HARCON this year was zombies.  Last year we changed our model for supporting HARCON.  In the past we ran a handful of games, but we found that many folks at the convention didn’t want to devote four hours to a miniatures game.  Last year we set up a large French and Indian Wars game so that a player could take a small group and execute a short, one-hour mission.  That worked well for us last year.  This year we set up the zombie shopping mall that we built as a club project in addition to a convenience store (“stop and rob”) and parking lot.  When players wanted to join the game, we gave them a survivor group and told them to gather supplies.

    A view of the zombie mall before the carnage began along with the HAWKs who orchestrated the event.

    A view of the zombie mall before the carnage began along with the HAWKs who orchestrated the event. (Picture courtesy Greg Priebe)

    We used G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. as the rules for the game.  When players searched an area, they made a Save roll.  If successful, they drew a random supply chit.  Each chit had a certain number of “victory points” as well as an “encumbrance.”  Encumbrance was depicted as a reduction in the movement allowance of the figure carrying it.  There was no maximum number of supplies a figure could carry, but eventually figures moved pretty slowly as a result of all the stuff they were carrying.

    Bruce, the big winner for the day, quietly gathered up supplies while herding zombies toward the inexperienced players.

    Bruce, the big winner for the day, quietly gathered up supplies while herding zombies toward the inexperienced players.

    A view of the area around the stop and rob.

    A view of the area around the stop and rob.

    Many of the HAWKs engaging in zombie squashing.

    Many of the HAWKs engaging in zombie squashing.

    Part of the table including the downed helicopter and the the stunned survivors waiting to be escorted to safety or eaten.

    Part of the table including the downed helicopter and the the stunned survivors waiting to be escorted to safety or eaten.

    Survivor groups included the Scooby Gang, The A-Team, the Ghostbusters, police, Boy Scouts, Mountain Folk, corporate women in high heels with guns, rampaging nuns, and others.  It enabled the players to choose a gang thats or too fit their personality and then play for an hour.

    BA Barracas and Hannibal Smith duking it out with a mob of zombies.

    BA Barracas and Hannibal Smith duking it out with a mob of zombies.

    When the smoke cleared, we had about twelve players join us for an hour to 90 minutes, including a number of people who had never played miniatures.

    Two young ladies joined the game along with their mom.

    Two young ladies joined the game along with their mom.

     

     

    ZombieSmith Alien Types

    Posted By on April 17, 2017

    My parents got me a bunch of the ZombieSmith aliens for Christmas, and I just got around to painting them.  Here they are:

    This is the crew of a space ship, hence the uniforms.  The figures on the end got a little dunked up by the dull coat, but when I sprayed them again, they came out just fine.

    I don’t even know what half this stuff is supposed to be, but they were fun to paint.

    The guy second from the left is from Planet Rastafaria.  You can see what he looks like from behind in the picture below.

    One of these looks like a professor I had once.

    The figure on the right is not Zombie Smith, but it was in the bin with the ZombieSmith figures, so I painted it.

    The figure on the left wasn’t ZombieSmith either, but I don’t know where it came from or what it is.  The one on the right is just weird.

    Slave2Gaming Alien Invaders

    Posted By on April 13, 2017

    Invader wearing Alien "armor"

    Invader wearing Alien "armor." Why is it that everyone sees a dead Alien as a badge of honor? Since there was an Alien skull on the interior of a space ship in the second Predator movie, this seems to be iconic.

    I recently received these alien invader figures from Slave2Gaming, which is an Australian outfit.  Their service was excellent, by the way.  I had a limited amount of painting time this weekend, so I was looking for something I could knock out quickly.

    A squad of Invaders

    A squad of Invaders

    I primed them black and then sprayed them silver.  Then I applied a Citadel Nuln Oil wash.  I still have no idea what the heck a Nuln is or why it needs to be oiled, but is a pretty good black wash.

    Invader leaders

    Invader leaders

    From many of my earlier blob posts you can see that I typically avoid the temptation to make all aliens green, but these guys were just crying to have green skin.  Though they had nice big eyes that would allow easy painting of pupils, I decided that the figures looked much more alien without them.

    Invader heavy weapons

    Invader heavy weapons

    I have enough of these to make a full squad for Combat Patrol(TM) or GASLIGHT plus a heavy weapon team, and an overall leader.  I suspect that the overlords of whatever planet they came from feel that that is a large enough invasion force to take over Hoboken, Fitchburg, or Cucamonga.

    Star Wars Combat Patrol(TM) Play Test

    Posted By on April 10, 2017

    The Rebels plot...

    The Rebels plot...

    This weekend I had a couple of the folks over who are working on supplements to Combat Patrol(TM) to help Greg play test aspects of his Star Wars supplement for Combat Patrol(TM).  All the combat stuff is working fine.  A focus of this play test was to look at the Jedi rules.  Greg has come up with rules to represent different Jedi powers from the movies, The Clone Wars, Rebels, and some of the “canon” comics.   We wanted to try to test as man of them as possible during this test.  Some powers got more testing than others, and we agreed that we need at least one more play test to work off a few more of the rough edges, but in general, it seemed to be working well.

    Stormtroopers and a "chicken walker" advance

    Stormtroopers and a "chicken walker" advance

    In this scenario, the good guys (Stormtroopers — I was on that side), were attacking a Rebel scum base.  Our goal was to plant one or more thermal detonators on the ships and disable them, killing as many Rebels as possible in the process.  Their goal was to stop us from doing that.

    The Rebels were supported by Luke Skywalker and Yoda.  On our side we had Darth Vader (pre “I am your father.”) and Darth Geoff, named after one of our club members.

    A blast from the chicken walker goes long, inflicting no damage on the Rebels.

    A blast from the chicken walker goes long, inflicting no damage on the Rebels.

    Most of the Rebels began near the freighter and in the three quonset huts.  As the game began they took up defensive positions on top of the Phantom and in the woods surrounding the base.

    Stormtroopers advance...

    Stormtroopers advance...

    Led by Darth Vader, three squads of Stormtroopers advance on our right toward the space ships while another squad and the chicken walker provide a screen on our left.

    Luke vs. the chicken walker

    Luke vs. the chicken walker

    Luke Skywalker used his acrobatic Jedi leap power to jump onto the chicken walker with the intent of cutting open a hole and dropping in a thermal detonator.  The chicken walker was supported by a squad of Stormtroopers who blazed away at Luke to thwart his efforts.  Luke used his Jedi shield skill, batting away blaster bolts.  Eventually the sheer volume of fire took its toll.  After three turns of him batting away bolts, trying to un-stun himself, and cut a hole, he succumbed to several blaster hits and was incapacitated, falling to the ground, where the chicken walker did a celebratory chicken dance on his body.  Go Stormtroopers!

    Rebels take up a defensive position along the wood line on the Rebel right.

    Rebels take up a defensive position along the wood line on the Rebel right.

    More Stormtroopers advancing

    More Stormtroopers advancing

    To get into good firing positions, our Stormtroopers had to advance across some open ground.  Greg lost half a squad, and one of my squads got badly mauled.  Eventually, however, I was able to get into a position in which my blaster rifles were in short range against the Rebels, but their blaster pistols were in long range.  Then my superior firepower began to tell, and I began cleaning the Rebels off the Phantom.

    Vader and Yoda in an epic light saber battle

    Vader and Yoda in an epic light saber battle

    Darth Vader used his Jedi inspirational power to lead a sort of Banzai charge against a group of Chris’ Rebels.  As part of the action, Darth Vader force leapt into melee with Yoda, but Yoda got a groin hit on Vader (perhaps the only piece of his anatomy not burned off in the lava pit), forcing him back.  This melee went on for a couple of turns, with the Stormtroopers eventually getting the better of it.

    Another view of the battle of Chris' woods on the Stormtrooper right

    Another view of the battle of Chris' woods on the Stormtrooper right

    Darth Geoff attacks!

    Darth Geoff attacks!

    Darth Geoff finally got into the action by Force leaping right on top of the Phantom to engage in hand-to-hand with Dave’s Rebel scum.  Dave was able to slow down Darth Geoff with some well-placed blaster fire, and then Yoda Force leapt on the Phantom.  Yoda employed the Force push/pull skill on Darth Geoff, throwing him off the Phantom.  In the next turn, Yoda cut Darth Geoff in half.

    The melee continues...

    The melee continues...

    While Yoda was cutting Darth Geoff down to Yoda’s size, Darth Vader leapt onto the freighter to cut a hole in which to drop a thermal detonator.  Despite several rounds of light saber combat with Yoda and some supporting fire from some of Dave’s Rebels, Vader eventually did cut a hole and drop in a detonator, which disabled the freighter.  Then Don’s chicken walker, no longer preoccupied by Luke Skywalker, moved to a position that was blocked from Dave’s shoulder-fired rocket launcher and begin shelling the Phantom.  After a couple of attempts he was able to penetrate the hull with a really good “die roll.”

    Darth and Yoda battle atop the freighter

    Darth and Yoda battle atop the freighter

    At that point, with both of their ships in flames, the Rebel spirit broke and they fled the field.

    About half of the Jedi skills were tested to an extent that we are comfortable with them.  We need at least one more play test before we’ll be comfortable.  Greg has completed his “historical research” on the orders of battle for droids, clones, rebels, and Stormtroopers.  He has also completed his “historical” research on the various weapons and equipment.  Once we clean up the Jedi rules, this free supplement will be ready to post to the Combat Patrol(TM) rules’ Web page for download.

    I have enjoyed these Star Wars games as a way to use all those miniatures from ten or so years ago.  The games have been fun. It has also been enjoyable to use a few bits of science-fiction scenery to turn a “normal” table into a Star Wars table.    We don’t have the next play test scheduled, but I am hoping to complete this supplement before the end of July.

     

     

    Bombshell Miniatures Scout Ship

    Posted By on April 8, 2017

    I acquired this scout ship kit from a buddy.  I assembled it a few weeks ago, but this weekend I finally had time to paint it.  I am very happy with this kit.  I am also very happy with Bombshell Miniatures.  When I got the kit from my buddy, it was missing one of the landing gear pads.  I sent an Email to Bombshell to see if I could buy a replacement pad.  The fact that it was missing was no fault of Bombshell; I bought it second hand; nevertheless, they put a replacement set of landing gear in the mail, and I received it in a couple of days.

    This is the cover art on the box, so you can see what to order if you want one of your own.

    This ship has a definitely retro feel.  There is a lot f nice detail on the kit to really make it pop.  These pictures make it look sort of white, but I painted it with an silver spray paint.

    In addition to this kit, I also knocked out some “space giants” I got from my buddy Ma’k.  You can see how they stack up against a variety of 25mm and 28mm figures in the following pictures.

    The figures other than the space giants have been discussed in earlier blog posts.

    Some Bombshell Miniatures Pulp SciFi Figures (and some other stuff)

    Posted By on April 7, 2017

    I received the Bombshell Miniatures’ ISW-69F Scout Ship from Rob, who had gotten it on Kickstarter, but then decided he didn’t want it.  I will post pictures of it in a subsequent blog posting (when I finish it).  In the box, however, were a handful of Bombshell Miniatures’ pulpy science fiction figures.  Over the past week, as time has permitted, I have been picking away at them.  As I had way too many hours at work this pay period, I took an hour or two to finish them up this morning.

    Some weeks ago I found these ducks on Ebay.  Anyone following this blog will know that I have been building up units of ducks for different games.  My Frostgrave gang, for instance, is made mostly of ducks.  I don’t know what manufacturer these are or for what game they were made, but the price was right, so I bought them.  They are clearly 1970′s sculpts, but they have a quirky quality I like.

    I didn’t paint these super heroes.  They came from a pack of Disney PVC collectors’ figurines and are about 28mm scale.  I am going to have to work Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl into a game.