Wednesday, May 23, 2018

GameCon 10 report

I recently volunteered at GameCon, which is a convention for Junior High and High School kids in the Colorado Springs area. Last year a friend of mine volunteered and inspired me to put on a historical miniature game.  The convention games are mainly card games (Magic), boardgames, and cosplay.  I ended up being the only miniature game.  I was surprised at this as I always see lots of 40K miniature games or other miniature games like X-Wing at other local gaming conventions.

Overall, this was a great convention for the kids.  Most of the kids that joined in my game were really into playing the War of 1812 (Muskets and Tomahawks rules) 28mm skirmish game.  This came as a big surprise.  My take away is the kids that come to the convention are wanting to play anything.  I would say they are less picky than older gamers going to game conventions.  Some really got into my game and could have played it all day.


I just laid down terrain on the table and put out a number of miniatures based on how many kids were at the table.  When kids would want to join, we would divide up the units or I'll pull more out.  I ran 4 games on the table.  Two were full table and two were just run on part of the table when there were only two players.


The kids picked up the rules pretty easily.  I would recommend keeping the rules simple, something like Sword and the Flame.  It was a mix of gamers, some really got into the game and a few were more interested in turning the rulers into drum sticks.  I'd prefer the more focused kids, but I'm impressed at the interest level all day long.  Not all kids stay for the whole game, so be ready to swap troops to new or existing players.

The gamers are from middle and high school, so be prepared for damages to terrain, mat and miniatures.  I would recommend not bringing anything you do not want damaged.  I didn't mind their handling and prepared myself mentally for damage.  I don't mind touching up my miniatures or gluing some terrain back together.  I ended up with no issues with damaged terrain.  I have yet to check the miniatures, but I think they did okay.

I think all cities should do this at a high school at least once a year.  It is a great way to introduce kids to the various types of gaming.  Something other than video gaming.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Last Humbrol Painter

I feel like I'm one of the last Humbrol only painters in the Historical Miniature Wargaming hobby.


I have not heard of anyone in the hobby painting strictly with enamel paint (mostly Humbrol brand).  I have no problems using the paint and have been using it since the 1980s.  Yes everyone in the hobby swears by acrylic paint, but you don't have to use it.  I own zero acrylics that I use to paint miniatures and have never painted figures with acrylics.  Maybe acrylics are better and someday I may switch, but for now clear sailing with Humbrol, Colorcoats and Model Master.  I've painted 1:3000-28mm, Aztecs to Vietnam, and Trireme's to Carriers with enamels.


I know I'm not a great painter and I don't try to be a great painter.  Over the years I have improved my technique.  I don't need acrylics to make my figures look better, I am happy with the way they look.

It is not easy being in the hobby where virtually everything references acrylic paint.  Maybe I could post some hints for enamel painters, but as I said, I'm not a great painter.

Here are the negative statements I've read about enamel paint with my responses.
  • Smells bad.
    • Barely. The smelly part is when you clean the brush. You get used to it.
  • Messy.
    • Huh? Not really...until you spill a pot of paint.
  • Blends and mixes poorly.
    • I'm an amateur, so I rarely blend/mix...but doubt it is an issue.
  • Dries to a gloss finish.
    • Some pots say Matt but ends up glossy.  Just a bad pot or pot needs more stirring. Just try again, no problem.
  • Goes on thick.
    • Thick or thin, this can be a challenge.  Too thin, shake/stir the pot more or leave the cap off for awhile.  Too thick, then thin it down or throw the pot away.
  • Paint brushes don't last as long.
    • Really? Never thought of that.  I'm thinking brushes wear out based on what you are painting and your painting technique.  I'm probably bad on brushes, but so what?
  • Not meant for small miniatures.
    • What in the world? No problems painting the British WWII circles on 1:1250 planes.
  • Harder to work with.
    • Maybe that is the case.  Never thought to switch to acrylics because it would make my painting easier.  I'm fine with the hardness level of the paint.
  • Paint chips.
    • Only seen it happen on soft plastics.
  • Quality is not good.
    • Majority is fine. 
  • Thickness covers detail.
    • In some instances, yes, but I'm not phased by it.  I'm not going for prize winning pieces.

If someone was starting off in the hobby and was trying to decide between enamels and acrylic, I would probably recommend going with acrylics. For acrylic painters, there are a lot of good paint choices and resources.

If I die an enamel painter...no regrets and I'm sure I'll be the last Humbrol painter in the hobby.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Operation Pedestal Convoy Wargame Research

I was interested in running a convoy wargame awhile back and was able to put together a WWII Arctic convoy game last year.  It was fun to research, figure out what miniatures to get, paint up the ships and then to run it.  Researching what rules to use was not that fun and I ended up using various rules for the game.  I think it worked out fairly well and got me thinking I could do another convoy game such as Operation Pedestal in the Mediterranean.

Bomb Alley boardgame laid out for testing.
So far my focus has been researching what rules to use.  I can not use Mal Wright's convoy rules because it only covers Atlantic convoys and I do not feel like modifying it for the Mediterranean.  I looked at various boardgames and Lou Coatney Malta Convoy rules.  These rules just did not get into enough detail to work with miniatures on the table.  I went to my shelves and discovered that I owned Bomb Alley by Avalanche Press.  I laid it out and went through the rules thoroughly and to my surprise, I think it is going to work really well.  Instead of using multiple rules for the Operation Pedestal miniature scenario, it looks like I will just use the Bomb Alley rules.  The rules cover the map movement and encounters fairly well.

Like the Arctic Convoy game I ran, this scenario will follow the Allied convoy from Gibraltar to Malta.  For the Axis there are German and Italian submarines and aircraft.  I really do not know Italian aircraft in WWII, so it will be interesting to learn more about them.  Not sure about Italian warships yet.  The Allies have a variety of ships and aircraft to defend the convoy. 


After testing with the rules and making up my own quick reference sheets, I will then move onto researching miniatures.  I already have some 1:2400 ships, but buying 1:3000 may be better and cheaper.  I do like the 1:2400 GHQ detail though.  I will also expand on the 1:1250 CAP Aero planes I already have.  I'm looking forward to painting up the Nelson class British battleships and of course the British carriers (watch me paint them up and they don't show up on the table).

As to the what will cover a 6'x4' table for the game, I'll probably go with a hex sea mat again.  A hex mat should be sufficient (with larger hexes) to fit the convoy and any other task forces that need to be laid out.

I think this will be another fun four hour map/miniature convoy game like the Arctic convoy game...maybe better.