Archives for March 2008

Arthur C. Clark Dies at age 90


It is a sad day. ACC was an inspiration for me. When I was 11 I went to the book sale at the local library and found a paperback called “The Nine Billion Names of God” that was a collection of short stories. I bought it for $0.10. What made it important was it was the first book I bought and read all the way through with my own money. It inspired a life long interest in science fiction much more than any other source. It opened my mind up to incredible ideas – to the idea of infinity, time and fate in the Universe.

So there you have it. A small insight into who I am and how I developed my thoughts and ideas. Now I have friends who build robots and I work on linguistic AI.

Blog Updated – new Look!

I’ve updated the blog to have a new look. I hope you all like the change. I’ve made the main body a bit wider. Given that by the statistics I am seeing most of you have pretty modern monitors I don’t think anyone is going to be unduly affected by the change. The extra 100 pixels gives me more room to add text with photos.

Many thanks to my loyal base of repeat viewers. There are about 80+ of you who keep coming back out of obviously a lack of productive things to do. For that lack I am deeply grateful. Keep gaming!

Battlestations: Midway

Just picked up Battlestations: Midway for less than $25 used at GameStop and have to say it is by far more fun than Turning Point. User reviews rate it around an 8.1 which is about right. I might rate it a little higher since I like WWII themed games quite a bit. The game takes into account all aspects of surface warfare in the Pacific Ocean quite nicely. Aircraft of various types act pretty much like their historical counterparts. You can jump into the seat of any ship, sub or plane and take control yourself or let the competent AI deal with it. The tactics that were useful in the 1940’s are still useful here. For $25 this game is well worth the money. If you want it new the price is only $30. I give it a thumbs up!

About the game – the campaign actually starts you at Pearl Harbor and the Philipines and move up in time until the final shattering of the Japanese Sword at Midway. There is an interesting progression as you move up from manning a PT boat to Destroyer to Destroyer group to Carrier, etc. I like the general simplification of the controls so that you can jump from various platforms and get them doing what they need to do. You could actually play the whole game strategically from the map view. In fact I end up playing a lot of it that way, getting involved only just for the fun of it. I haven’t tried the multi-player mode yet but it looks to add quite a bit of fun to the overall experience. Whoever did the graphics clearly likes WWII Naval as the level of detail is quite nice. Again, I recommend this game. Lots of fun, not hardcore, and at the moment available at a nice price.

Music While You Paint

If you are like me then you like to listen to music while you paint miniatures, build terrain or other wargaming activity. I have a pretty extensive collection on my Zune and PC but sometimes I like to listen to other things. Along comes Pandora. It is a part of the Music Genome site. They have non-audio ads to support them. The service they provide is giving you the ability to create a radio station by selecting a band or a song for the template. Pretty cool stuff. The music quality is excellent over my Cambridge Soundworks speakers that are quite old. (Side note: you gotta love something that you bought 15 years ago that still sounds/works great today!)

My profile on Pandora contains my stations and any acts and songs I’ve “book marked.” I’ve been a bit haphazard bookmarking things. Sometimes its a band I totally forgot about. Sometimes it is something I never heard of and really liked when I came across it on Pandora. Others are just random crud I like. Trust me, my profile is proof there is no accounting for taste…

Give it a look. You can’t go wrong really as it is free, hiqh quality, and as of today not very annoying. The only bands that I like that I’ve found missing are The John Butcher Axis, Machinery Hall and a few other somewhat obscure Boston bands from the 80’s. Oh and if any Readers know where I can get John Butcher Axis CDs please send me the link or info! Thanks!

New AT-43 Stuff coming – Hotness

The June release of AT-43 stuff is looking mighty hot. There are new rules coming in the new “Frostbite” campaign plus new heroes. The new rules are pretty interesting stuff and will greatly change the games tactics. The changes are mainly in combat drills for infantry lead by a hero.

The campaign looks interesting. I don’t know if it is a set of battle scenarios like the SkirmishCampaign books are set up or if it is some sort of build points map campaign. It deals with pre-AT-43 events back when the Karmans were discovered by the Red Blok near the North Pole. (And by discovered I mean, they wandered into an ambush, were beaten like rented mules and sent running!) I am excited for it because it gives a nice framework to tell the story of AT-43. Al Gaiser and I have been having fun with the basic game quite a bit. It has provided us with a lot of enjoyment. We tried to do one of the scenarios but they have pretty specific table sizes and after trying to set one of them up we realized we had “edge drift” and Al started too far from where the battle was going to take place. This limited his ability to really get to the victory points quickly. So I am working on making a couple of 60cm x 60cm foamcore boards just for this specific type of gaming.

The new heroes plus the new hero combat drills make a big difference in the game. The game has expanded the options a bit. I always felt the combat drills were fairly limited. Some of them I wasn’t sure made sense – such as the delay/double action commands. I have never used them. Maybe I’ll play someone who will use them to crush me like a bug and then I’ll understand how they are useful. My only thought is that they become useful when you win initiative when you didn’t want to and this allows you to go second. It does happen.

They have taken the new releases and really pushed the boundries with them a bit. I like how they are within theme but also very individualistic. Nina Zero, shown left, is an example of reskinning what was already there and making it look like a customized job. I am sure the history behind the characters will show just as much individuality as I’ve come to expect from the writers at Rackham. When they write interesting back stories they give the opportunity for great scenario hooks. It encourages people to get creative with their own homegrown scenarios and to have fun with the background.

Here is the cover of Operation Frostbite.

Derek’s Wee Toys: Converting Wings of War Prepaints. (1) Fokker DrIs from Jasta 2

Derek's Wee Toys: Converting Wings of War Prepaints. (1) Fokker DrIs from Jasta 2

I like to promote other blogs and websites when I can and here is one that, while isn’t prolific does have some great articles. This fellow has taken planes from the Wings of War series and dressed them up to be squadron mates. It looks great!

Assembling and Painting Wolfen

I’ve been working on my Wolfen army lately. These consist of several large figures on 40mm bases. Each figure is in at least 3 parts (head, torso and legs) and sometimes as many as 5 parts. Since the figures are large and the the pieces are generally heavy (relatively speaking) just simply gluing them doesn’t produce good, long lasting results. The solution is to utilize a technique called pinning.

Pinning is the process of drilling small holes in two parts to be connected and gluing in a wire to help support them. What you need are wire (found at hardware stores as either musical wire or piano wire – any stiff wire will do but I suggest something along the lines of 0.032″ wire. I think the brand I used was K&S. It is also sometimes refer ed to as Hobby Wire. Most likely the person behind the counter at Home Depot or Ace Hardware will have no clue what you are talking about. I wasn’t able to find it at Home Depot. Lowes might have it. In other countries if you find it place a comment here on where you got it from.

You will also need what is called a Pin Vice. This is a small drill with a globular handle that fits in the palm of your hand. You can manipulate the drill with your forefinger and thumb by turning a wheel. I suppose they call it a Pin Vice because it clamps on to the drill bit much like a vice would clamp a pin… sorta reaching here!

It is easy to drill out pewter – easier than you might think actually. Use heavy snips to cut short length of the wire. By short I mean a quarter inch to a half inch! 8-12mm for those on the metric system. The hole has to be put on both pieces where they will join. One thing you will learn is you can get creative here and create poses that would not be possible otherwise. The strength that pinning gives to your multi-part models is the primary reason for doing it but the creative aspect of it is also quite compelling and may lead you to pin and modify models that don’t need it.

Once you have both holes drilled and a cut piece of wire insert the wire into one of the pieces and glue. Let this sit for the entire cure time of the glue. When it is set try placing the pinned piece into the join where it is too go. What you may find is that the other hole is not deep enough. You have two choices. One is to snip the wire stub down a bit. The other is to drill out the reciprocal hole a bit more. There are many factors in this decision. The first is, can you find enough purchase on the pin to snip it? The other is can you drill deeper without threatening to burst through the model. In rare occasions you may have to do both techniques. As you get better you will have to make adjustments less because you will get better at estimating how they fit.

As you can see in the slide show I’ve managed to assemble my models. The total time for those three models was about 2 hours. There was a lot of chatting and kibitzing as I did it as games were being played around me at the time I was doing it. I chose to do it at the club because that is where I could get the most helpful advice!

I hope this was helpful to someone. I’ll continue to produce information on how these models progress from box to tabletop so be sure to return to this blog and see how they turn out.