Monday, October 1, 2018

Rice Paddy Tutorial

This is my third version of rice paddies and the most traditional looking version.  This is a newly planted rice paddy.  I was not overly impressed by what I saw online from other wargamers, so I worked on trying to create something more realistic.  Probably still not as good as what model railroaders would make, but certainly better than what I've done in the past.  Mine are not perfect and I welcome better versions than mine and please share how you make it (TMP, Facebook or your blog).  This is not a fast technique, but maybe better paddies takes more time.

I have a fallow, newly planted and fully grown rice paddies.  These are the three I'll be using in an upcoming wargame.  They will be seen together in a future post on this blog.

  • Pre-Mixed Grout (sandstone)
  • Woodland Scenics Realistic Water
  • 1/8" hardboard (from old poster frame back)
  • 1/2" square dowels dowels
  • Masking tape
  • Sharp scissors
  • Liquitex Acrylic Color: Burnt Umber
  • Amsterdam: Permanent Green Light
  • JTT Field Grass (Light Green), item 95086
  • Optional: Some sort of green flock for the berm

  1. Assemble all the material. Make sure you have enough of the material to finish the project.
  2. Cut the hardboard into a 10" x 10" square. I choose the square shape because I wanted to have multiple rice paddies beside one another.
  3. Using the grout mix, build up the berms around the outside of the square hardboard. I went  1/2" high and flattened the top to give the impression that people can walk along the berm.
  1. When the berms are dry (1-2 days), paint the berms and the inside of the rice paddy a dark brown. 
  2. Cut the wood dowels to the width of the rice paddy (10").
  3. Cut grooves in the dowels every 1 cm along two opposite sides of the dowel.  I made 19 notches on either side.  This is where the grass will fit into.
  4. Bunch up a bit of grass together and place it into each groove, and cover with a piece of masking tape.  Try to pack the grass together as tight as you can and straight.
The gaps between dowels allows the Realistic Water dry better.
  1. When all grooves have grass in them in the dowel, trim the bottom of the grass so when you place the dowel over the rice paddy on the berms, the grass touches the bottom of the rice paddy.
  2. Repeat steps 5-8 until you have full coverage of rows.
  1. Make sure the base is level before you pour the Realistic Water.
  2. Pour the Realistic Water into the rice paddy.  I think something slightly over 1/8" deep will work.
  3. Arrange the dowels over the rice paddy.  Make sure all the grass are embedded in the Realistic Water.
  1. Let dry three days (not sure why it took me three days).  Make sure the rice paddy is fully dry before moving to the next step.
  2. Cut the grass with scissors near the bottom of the dowel, not near the water.
  3. The grass will not be perfect, and there may be missing rice or issues.  I fixed these by drilling a hole in the water and placing grass in the hole with the same process as 5-8 and then just poured a small amount of Realistic Water filling in and slightly around the hole.  Cut the grass like in step 14.
  4. When fully dry and happy with the outcome, trim the grass closer to the water.  Height is completely up to you.
  5. Paint the rice a Light Green.  The JTT Field Grass is a bit too dark.
  1. The berm can be left without flock if you want, but I chose to glue small green flock on the berms.  I did not glue much flock on the inside of the berm.

I welcome any comments/suggestions.  If things are still a unclear, I can certainly expand further in my tutorial.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Operation Pedestal a Go

Based on my research of rules, books and miniatures for the WWII naval operation called "Operation Pedestal," I have determined that I am going to do it [naval wargame fans go wild in the background].

I am looking to run this operation in a single four hour game session.  The operation was from August 9 to 15.  I will run the game very similar to my Arctic convoy game.


My previous convoy game used a variety of rules.  This time I wanted to see if I could just use a single ruleset.  I looked at a number of boardgames to see if they could be used with miniatures.  The best one I found is Second World War at Sea: Bomb Alley.  I tested submarine, aircraft and surface ship actions and all work well.  I don't have the second edition, but my edition should work fine.  So far I did notice I will have to modify the motor torpedo boat rules a bit.


I did not start with many references to the operation, but have been finding a few books to help.  Here are some:

  • Courage Alone: The Italian Air Force 1940-1943.  For Italian air force reference, I discovered this book is good for aircraft colours and squadron OOB.  There are two pages that show all the Italian squadrons, where they were stationed and how many aircraft of a certain type were operational during Pedestal.  I trust this over the Supermarine II scenario book below.
  • Pedestal: Malta Convoy of August 1942 by Peter Smith.  I need to finish reading this book.  Excellent so far.
  • Supermarine II: The Second Part of the Mediterranean War July, 1941 to August, 1942 published by Clash of Arms Games.  The Pedestal scenario in this book is very good.  It outlines the air bases, number of planes and types.  Also it outlines the task forces in more detail than in the Bomb Alley scenario book.


I thought I could use 1:2400 miniatures (i.e. GHQ) for all the Allies and some Axis ships, but found the selection was not great and the models are probably too big to fit on the table (the 4'x6' cloth with hexes during the operation could end up having all the Allied task forces laid out).  I have chosen 1:3000 due to the availability of types of ships and ends up being cheaper.  I've painted up plenty of 1:3000 before, so they should look pretty good.

The aircraft miniatures will be CAP Aero 1:1250.  Nope, not all planes are available by CAP Aero.  I will be going with Tumbling Dice 1:600.

Italian Video

Operation Pedestal convoy action (no sound)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Fully Grown Rice Paddy Terrain Tutorial

For my 28mm Philippine-American War first scenario, I needed rice paddies.  I have made 15mm rice paddies in the past with limited success and the same approach was not going to work for 28mm scale.  I looked at what other people have made online and I am not impressed.  I thought I would take a stab at making something better.  The approach in this blog post is for a fully grown rice paddy.  I will also be making a recently planted and fallow field versions.

For material I recommend using what you have available and what works for you.  The material I used is what worked for me.  I'm sure you can find cheaper or better material.

  • Pre-Mixed Grout (sandstone)
  • Woodland Scenics Realistic Water
  • Rust-oleum Gloss Spring Green spray paint
  • 1/8" hardboard (from old poster frame back)
  • Light brown faux fur
  • Liquitex Acrylic Color: Burnt Umber
  • Optional: Some sort of green flock for the berm

  1. Assemble all the material. Make sure you have enough of the material to finish the project.
  2. Cut the hardboard into a 10" x 10" square. I choose the square shape because I wanted to have multiple rice paddies beside one another.
  3. Using the grout mix, build up the berms around the outside of the square hardboard. I went  1/2" high and flattened the top to give the impression that people can walk along the berm.
  1. When the berms are dry (1-2 days), paint the berms and the inside one or two inches of the rice paddy a dark brown. No need to paint the whole board as the middle part will be covered with the faux fur.
  2. Cut the faux fur into a 8" x 8" square.
  1. Trim the fur around the outside of the square and then use an electric hair trimmer with the 1/2" comb attachment to cut down the fur to about a 1/2" length. The hair trimmer was only about $20.

  1. Lay out the fur square flat and spray the fur with the green spray paint until you no longer see any brown fur. I recommend a brighter gloss green color (i.e. Gloss Spring Green by Rust-oleum) for the spray paint. If you miss a bit of brown fur deeper in the fur, that is okay.  Most of what you see wargaming should be green.
  2. When the fur square is dry, glue it into the middle of the hardboard. Make sure the outer edge of the fur square is flat to the hardboard.
  3. With a small funnel, pour the Realistic Water into the gap between the fur and the berm all around the board. Let dry and repeat the application if not satisfied. It probably won't be perfect. No worries since I don't think it will be very visible when on the table.
  4. The berm can be left without flock if you want, but I chose to glue small green flock on the berms.  I did not glue any flock on the inside of the berm.

That's it, the rice paddy is good to go.  There will be some warping, but I think when you lay it on a wargame mat it will sink into the mat slightly and the warping will not be noticed.

Monday, May 28, 2018

West Wars 2018

Our annual West Wars Convention was held May 19-20.  Another good one and I got to play in three different games.  The photos below are from Saturday events.  I forgot my camera for Sunday events.

360 degree photo 1 link

360 degree photo 2 link

Prehistoric game

The Men Who Would Be Kings game

Prehistoric game

Prehistoric game

Prehistoric game

The Men Who Would Be Kings game

The Men Who Would Be Kings game

The Men Who Would Be Kings game

Vietnam game

Prehistoric game

Sword and the Flame game

Sword and the Flame game

Prehistoric game

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 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.

Monday, March 19, 2018

CMH Meeting in 360°

Ever wonder what our monthly club (Colorado Military Historians) meetings look like in 360°?  Well, here are a couple photos.  I'm still experimenting, so I'm sure there will be more photos in the future.  A bit blurry, but I think that is due to low light.  I think the camera works better outdoors.

Click photo for 360° version.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Philippine - American War: Americans

Photos below are my first batch of Americans for an upcoming skirmish scenario with Filipinos during the Philippine - American War.  These are 28mm 1898 Miniaturas figures.  I like the variety of figures.  One negative is the barrels at the end of the guns are very thin and can easily break off, which you probably can see in the photos below.  Next painting batch will probably include command figures.

I'm painting these up to represent the volunteer Colorado Regiment that was in the Philippines.

Philippine - American War: Filipinos

Photos below are my first batch of Filipino's for an upcoming skirmish scenario with Americans during the Philippine - American War.  These are 28mm 1898 Miniaturas figures.  I like them a lot.  They are a bit shorter and thinner than the Tiger 28mm figures.  Lines on the uniform (if you can see them) is from a Prismacolor White pencil crayon / colored pencil.