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!
  • D-Day Weekend Hobby Work

    Posted By on June 8, 2020

    Much of Saturday was consumed by a four-player, Zoom-based, virtual play test of Wars of Ozz in the afternoon. The game went well, but Dave’s Munchkins were badly mauled by Chris’ Winkies in the most lopsided outcome we’ve seen with these rules. It was a combination of Dave not realizing that he should try to avoid Melee with Winkies and Dave’s dismal die rolling of Biblical proportions. On the other flank, Zeb and Greg had a very even match between their Gillikins and Quadlings.

    A view of the table in Florida from Chris’ screen in Maryland.

    After the game, my wife decided that I wanted to take her out to dinner :), so that consumed the rest of the evening. We’ve become big fans of Bonefish Grill. The service is always excellent, and the food is good.

    Sunday I had a chance to paint some. Late last week, I had pulled three Eureka Miniatures French Revolution vignettes out of the project box to the painting table. I don’t know if they will ever find their way into a game, but they were fun to paint.

    French cantiniere.
    Another view. Painting all the tiny separate bits to go in the wagon took much of the day.
    Bread makers. I like the woman kneading the dough with her feet.
    Another view.
    A final view.

    The next set were some workers. I am not sure what the women with the sacks are supposed to be doing, but I like the guy sharpening a sword on the big stone.

    And then I found this guard post. I have no idea where it came from or why I purchased it, since I already had one, but it was an easy project.

    And finally, I painted the last three Marshall Ney figures.

    In addition, Saturday morning, I filed and based a much of recently arrived duck figures, some of the Bad Squiddo women of WWII Kickstarter figures, and some figures I received from Badger Games. Look for pictures soon.


    Posted By on June 5, 2020

    I recently received my Star Hat Miniatures duck Kickstarter figures. They are great!! I had convince Darcy to offer a sprue of heads that I could put on other bodies. Months ago I had painted a unit of Vikings without heads in anticipation of this day. I also had a unit of dwarfs (Old Glory I think) that were waiting for duck heads. So early, early this morning I finished one of the two units, so here the both are:

    Duck heads on dwarf bodies
    Duck heads on Viking bodies

    I hope to get them on the table soon, but who knows?

    Finishing Up the Weekend

    Posted By on June 2, 2020

    As I mentioned, I spent the bulk of the weekend scanning 3000 slides and turning them into digital images to make them easier to watch, edit, sort, etc. This is the setup I used to do that.

    It was really fun to look at old picture I hadn’t seen in years. Here is an example of one. The quality of the original was poor, so the scan is also poor.

    Gaming in Kurt Cillia’s basement

    My wife’s role was to clean the slides while I scanned and uploaded them to my computer. Before she work up each morning, I had a little time to do some painting. I posted pictures of some of my results earlier. After work today, before doing a final edit on the Wars of Ozz(TM) rules to get it ready for the upcoming Kickstarter. I also had time to flock and dull coat these Cossack figures.

    Female Cossacks from Old Glory (I think).
    Looting Cossacks.
    Another view of them.
    A final view.

    A few conventions ago, the HMGS folks gave out this free figure of Marshall Ney firing the last shot at the end of the long retreat from Moscow. All the HAWKs gave me their figures. This weekend I painted four of seven for my retreat from Moscow skirmish game. I painted them in different color schemes. I figure when they are mixed with all the other figures in that project they won’t be so obviously the same figure. And may one will be Ney.

    Will the real Marshall Ney please stand up?

    I decided to flock them with my standard earth blend instead of snow. I figure these will work okay on a snow board, but if I covered the bases with snow they wouldn’t look right on a non-snow board.

    More Figures Painted

    Posted By on June 1, 2020

    I spent much of the weekend scanning about 3000 slides into digital files, but I did have a little time to do some painting in the early mornings before my wife got up. Here is what I accomplished.

    Dr. Who Draconian and Sontaran in 40mm.
    Rommel and Monty in the Western Desert.
    From the other viewpoint.
    Some Mediaeval or Fantasy civilians. I am not sure the manufacturer.
    Sally 4th Sailors.
    Sally 4th figures inspired by the High Road to China movie.
    Pulp Figures woman in sidecar motorcycle from the recent Dangerous Dames Kickstarter.
    Same figure, but dismounted.
    SciFi cryogenic chambers. These were casualty pods for the ambulance version of the LARC vehicle for ACP 164.
    Goblin riding a pteradactyl.
    Another view of a goblin riding a pteradactyl.
    A wide shot of the goblin riding a pteradactyl.

    Tonight I need to wrap up the play test version of Wars of Ozz for the Kickstarter, so I am not sure I’ll complete any figures tonight.


    Posted By on May 25, 2020

    Florida is starting to re-open in a big way, working to get life back to normal, so CINC Domicile is starting to push to get out of the house. The tremendous hobby throughput I have had during the plague panic will be slowing considerably in the next few weeks. But, this weekend, I completed a project that has been languishing for a while: science fiction tanks.

    The project actually began many years ago by Greg. He has started to scratch build some GW-like vehicles from extra bits and plasticard. For some reason lost in the mists of time, he didn’t want to finish them, so I ended up with them. This weekend I broke out the plasticard and finished them. I also had a chance to get out the airbrush and do a little camo work; although, I am having a lot of trouble with water in the line, resulting in the occasional spatter of watery paint that screws up the paint job.

    I started with some dollar store tanks that come in a bag with green army men. These are roughly M-48 or M-60 looking, but not quite. I cut off the gun and added a Company B Tesla cannon. I had a couple of bits left over from a Pig Iron kit that I used to put some sort of laser gun in the commander’s cupola.

    Dollar store tank with Tesla cannon and lasers in the commander’s cupola. The other tanks I had built from dollar store bits, I painted green, so I decided to base this in Africa Corps yellow.
    After the airbrush camo, the treads painted black and dry brushed with silver, and some detail painting.
    The finished tanks with some Pig Iron infantrymen.
    A closer view.

    The second project was a smaller APC looking vehicle (I don’t know what it was supposed to be in 40k), but I added a surplus Sherman turret and some additional details. I also had some rockets that I thought would look cool on the sides.

    The basic tank/APC/infantry fighting vehicle sprayed yellow.
    A frontal look.
    A closeup of the current with additional bits from Sally 4th (the ball is from an Albedo LARC), Pig Iron, and Dust.
    I don’t know what these rockets are from, but I thought they would look cool on the side of the vehicle.
    This decal is from a Korean War M-48 kit. That front armor plating was crying for some sort of decoration.
    The finish product with some Pig Iron infantry.
    Some Pig Iron commandos emerge from the hexagon rear hatch.

    The last tank is really large. Again, I don’t know its intent in GW land, but I plan to use is as a lumber heavy tank or a tank transporter.

    The behemoth with the base coat of Africa Corps yellow.
    For scale, you see that the other tank fit complete on the top deck.
    I had intended this as some sort of fixed defensive position, but it will make a good turret on the large tank.
    The “turret” on the behemoth.
    Nearly complete (front).
    Nearly complete (rear).
    Completed model with some female infantry (front).
    Completed tank (rear). The back hatch was a leftover piece of a Pig Iron vehicle kit.
    The turret removed, the tank makes a good firing platform for space worm infantry.
    A closer look at the “turret” as a ground-mounted fixed defensive position.
    From the other side.

    During the previous week, I had been picking away at the last few figures in my project box. These included some Pulp Figures characters from monster movies.

    Dr. Frankenstien, Frankenstein’s monster, and Bride of Frankenstein.
    Tiger lady and creepy girl (made more creepy by not painting her irises.
    I think these are supposed to be from the Island of Dr. Moreau.
    This figure was in the box. I think it must have been a freebie with an order from Pulp. It is clearly sculpted by Bob Murch.

    To guaranteed more longevity, I needed to replenish the project boxes. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, when I get back from a convention I usually immediately file, base, and prime the figures so that they are ready to paint when the muse strikes me or I have a couple of hours to spend. With the monster movie figures, I had pretty much emptied my project boxes, consisting of four 4L Really Useful Boxes. I was poking around and found a box of unpainted, unprepared figures that I must have just thrown in the box to get ready for the move. You can see that stack on the table getting ready to be prepared for painting. This weekend I filed, based, and primed this stack of lead and filled up three Really Useful Boxes. There are some odds and ends, like movie characters from Sally 4th, the recent Pulp Figures “dangerous dames” kickstarter, some dwarves that will eventually get duck heads, some Eureka French Revolution vignettes, and other odds and ends.

    It wasn’t as productive a weekend as I would have liked. Next weekend, Friday through Sunday will be consumed with converting slides to digital files. I have about 30 carousels of slides that I have been meaning to convert. I found a place in town that will rent me the equipment to make high quality scans, so I’ll be cleaning slides and putting them into the machine while watching old black and white movies.

    Leonardo Gets Anti-Tank Guns

    Posted By on May 22, 2020

    In a previous post, I showed the tanks inspired by Leonardo da Vinci that we plan to use in a What a Tanker! game in the near future. It was planned for Historicon in July, but Pennsylvania won’t allow gatherings of that size by July. As I continue to empty my box of primed and ready-to-paint figures, I came across these GW figures that are a combination of gifts from my buddy Greg and flea market finds. I thought I would paint them up for possible use in the da Vinci What a Tanker! game as anti-tank guns.

    Two wagons carrying anti-tank riflemen.

    I started by painting an old GW war wagon and a kit-bashed rat-powered vehicle. I don’t know what forces, sides, factions, or races these belong to in Warhammer, but they are cool looking vehicles. In the background are some Reaper Bones civilians watching the “parade” pass them by.

    A closer look at the war wagon.
    A view from the opposite side.
    A closer view of the rat-powered wagon.

    I am not 100% sure that Don will be able to use these in the What a Tanker! game. I figured these wagons could have the stats of an open-topped tank destroyer, like the ones built on Pz 38(t) chassis by the Germans in the early part of the war. As What a Tanker! is focused on tanks, I don’t even know if there are rules to anti-tank rifles, but I’m sure someone has come up with home rules for them that we can leverage.

    In the background of this work-in-progress picture you can see a fun looking, sci-fi toy cannon that my dad found in eBay. I have three of them, and decided to repurpose one for da Vinci.
    A work-in-progress shot of the repurposed tank, next to an original, green plastic one.

    I started making the cannon, because some of the figures I was painting looked like artillery crewmen to me.

    The completed gun and the gun crew.

    This gun should be like an 88mm or at least a 76mm in the game, but again, we’ll see how Don wants to stat things our or whether he wants to use them at all.

    Cecil B. (for Buck) deMille Surdu

    Posted By on May 19, 2020

    This weekend I recorded a number of short videos that I have stitched into three longer videos to share.

    The first is a video of us conducting a virtual play test of Wars of Ozz via Zoom. This is a two-hour video that takes the game from start, through clear conclusion, to post-game kibitzing. See it here: https://youtu.be/jUIIVap_vR8

    The second is a brief rules overview of Wars of Ozz. The production values are not the greatest, but they provide a reasonable overview of the activation, movement, shooting, and melee mechanics of the rules. I am, of course, biased, but I think they have a somewhat old school feel with streamlined and elegant mechanics. Games are quick and decisive. See it here: https://youtu.be/CDsfgoS32-Y

    The last is a brief rules overview of Feudal Patrol(TM). I recently received the product quality cards for the Activation and Action decks. I used them in the filming of the videos. Again, the production values aren’t swell, but I think they provide a reasonable overview of how the game plays. See it here: https://youtu.be/SlpLbMdgVv8

    I hope you find the videos informative, if not riveting.

    Another COVID Hobby Weekend

    Posted By on May 18, 2020

    The focus of this weekend was another Wars of Ozz play test game over Zoom. Chris and Greg were the opponents, and I was the game master. This time we recorded the entire game, and I have posted a video on YouTube. See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUIIVap_vR8 This is a full, three-turn game that reached a decisive conclusion. Three turns doesn’t sound like a lot, but since every unit activates twice per turn and since you do a lot of things during your opponent’s activation, it feels like a lot more than three turns of activity occur in three turns.

    This is the table setup for the game after the first turn, as I recall. I had the camera on my MacBook and the camera on my phone both looking at the table from different angles. In this picture you see the Munchkins advancing on their left flank against the Quadling cavalry unit (using a Munchkin battery as a substitute).
    A Quadling unit is routing in the center while the Munchkins continue to advance. At this point, it looked like it was going to be a clear Munchkin victory — but then Chris’ dice got in the way.
    A view from the opposite direction.

    After the game ended, I stitched together the video that Chris recorded and the video that I recorded to make the video that I posted on YouTube.

    Before we started the game, while I had the table setup, I also filmed a short rules tutorial video that I posted to YouTube. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDsfgoS32-Y The production values are poor, and I will have to reshoot them later for the Kickstarter, but this will give folks an idea of how the game works.

    After replacing all the door handles in the house to satisfy CINC Domicile, and three hours of work for work, I did have a chance to do a little painting on Sunday.

    Three regiments of Prussian Dragoons for Fate of Battle.

    I finished three regiments of 10mm Prussian dragoons that I had sitting around primed and ready to paint for a couple of years. All of the 10mm Napoleonic figures in my backlog are painted and ready for action. With my focus on Combat Patrol, Feudal Patrol, and Wars of Ozz the past couple of years, Dave has used my 10mm Napoleonic more than I have.

    Some Reaper Bones figures I finished on Sunday and some GW figures I started to paint for our Leonardo DaVinci What a Tanker! game (that would have been run at Historicon in July).

    I am really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find things to paint after two months of government-forced captivity. I don’t enjoy painting the early Bones figures at all, but these were sitting in the project box calling to me. (When I get new figures, I typically file, prime, and base them immediately so that they are ready to paint when the muse strikes me. They go into one of four 4L Really Useful Boxes, called my “project boxes.”) I tried the contrast paints that worked so well on the Wars of Ozz figures, but there is something about the mushy detail on the early Bones figures that made them turn out poorly. Anyway, they are just waiting for flocking to be “done.” I think these GW figures will be fun to paint, and I intend them to be very colorful to go along with the tanks I built (see previous post). These really won’t have a role in the What a Tanker! Leonardo DaVinci game, but they will look good on the table. This week I’ll plink at these figures a little each night and hopefully finish them next weekend. Then I have about 90 Vikings and Anglo Danes to assemble and paint.

    Didn’t Get Much Painting Done This Weekend

    Posted By on May 11, 2020

    Sunday involved a fair amount of Mother’s Day activity, Saturday my daughter wanted me to teach her how the change the oil in her car, and Saturday night was virtual D&D. I also needed to sort through all my pulp figures and reogranize them from five Really Useful Boxes to six to make it easier to find figures I needed for a specific game. All of that limited my painting time.

    I completed five battalions of 10mm Prussian Landwehr. I also completed a bag full of 10mm Austrian artillerists to add to existing artillery bases that had no gunners.
    I completed this Pulp Figures gypsy “unit.” I don’t know if they will ever get into a game, but they were fun to paint.
    I completed these three Reaper Bones figures. I don’t know why I had them primed and sitting in my project box awaiting painting, but they called to me this weekend.

    I also made a good start on several regiments of Prussian Landwehr cavalry figures in 10mm. I hope to finish them this week and post pictures. When I complete them, I’ll just have two regiments of Prussian Dragoons to finish up all the 10mm Napoleonic figures that have been staring at me for a couple of years, filed, primed, and mounted on sticks for painting.

    Display Case

    Posted By on May 8, 2020

    Several years ago I picked up a wooden display case at a craft fair (Bieglerville, PA). I made some backgrounds and placed some of my figures into the case.

    The display case before I revamped it.

    You can see that the backgrounds stretched all the way across the shelves. You can see that some of the backgrounds didn’t make sense any more as the figure on display changed but the backgrounds did not. The second shelf from the top originally held some undersea figures, but those were consigned to a storage box, and the background no longer aligned with the figures on display. Also, since fanfold paper is no longer common and can’t be used in normal ink jet or laser printers, if you look closely you’ll see annoying, abrupt breaks in the backgrounds, which I tried to cover with trees and bits of foam. I decided it was time to revamp this display case.

    I decided to print backgrounds and glue them to sheets of balsa wood in approximately 10-inch and 6.5-inch sections. The thought was that as I changed out which figures I wanted to display, I could just print a background and replace a single panel. When I painted some new figures I wanted to display, I could create a custom background for them.

    I am pretty happy with the end result.

    A wide shot of the revised display case. This was before I added the gray dividers between the sections. I think the dividers help separate the disparate backgrounds and figures on display.
    The Victory Force Games gamer figures with the background of a game Duncan ran in the HAWKs room during a wargaming convention.
    A somewhat less innocent Dorothy and her friends defend themselves from the Wicked Witch of the West and her Flying Monkeys.
    Recently completed Sally 4th “Whiteout” figures.
    Pulp Figures’ RCMP figures.
    Old Glory Zorro figures.
    Victorian Science Fiction version of the Marvel Avengers. You can see the Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye.
    Flash Gordon figures (bottom), Hogan’s Heroes (from Stossi’s Heroes), and John Wayne and some war bond sellers.
    A couple of Napoleonic figures (top left), some figures I “designed” on Hero Forge (middle left), and Little Red Riding Hood from Bronze Age Miniatures (middle right).
    Superman and Captain America and the Howling Commandos.

    As you can see, many of these figures are ones figures that are unlikely to find their way onto the tabletop for a game but were fun to paint and make a good display for guests are not “into” wargaming. It was a fun, one-day project that I think turned out nicely. Now hopefully life will return to normal soon, and people can come over to game and see this in person.