A restricted game planner

I have been “unavailable” of late, due mainly to the Memsahib occupying the home office.  It is a public holiday weekend, therefore she has been working on her normal office work for around two thirds of every day (“because I can do it here uninterrupted”).

Therefore I have been excluded from the home office with my main computer and relegated to functions available on my i-Pad or my old Windows 7 Notepad, which is painfully slow (it was the latest technology when I bought it at Currys duty-free at Heathrow)

However, I have this afternoon been allowed an hour to update my Market Garden campaign by a further 30 minutes and send reports to two of my PBEM “Generals”.  We are just approaching 15:30 on 18th September (day 2 of the operation), although some individual combats have progressed as far as 19:00.

It is not easy to keep track of where every unit is on the main map, particularly when a local engagement is played that continues beyond the current campaign time frame.

I think I may have one more engagement to play before everyone settles down for the night and brings in stragglers and recovered casualties.

On other fronts, I have managed some painting, but my 3D printer has packed up and a new “more precise” print head is on order.

I have been able to use the old notepad PC to create unit stickers for my 13mm plastic counters for my planned “D-day and beyond” solo game (of which more later).  I have to find my opportunities to print the stickers during the Memsahib’s coffee breaks, and then spend hours attaching them to the blank plastic tokens.

Measure twice – cut once!

Recently I have been working on how to use  Bob Cordery’s gridded wargame systems with my 6mm toys.

I have spray-painted and gridded a small cork board (already painted and gridded on the other side for another game).  I have been trying to find a way to satisfactorily reduce (or bathtub) large battles such as Blenheim into a grid of 18 x 12 squares.  Previous efforts at this sort of thing can be seen here.

From my viewpoint there is one major problem.  A battle like this has three or four villages that must be occupied.  If you put houses (a house?) in the square at this scale there is insufficient room for troops.

Yesterday I remembered the pictures I had seen in Chris Kemp’s ‘Not Quite Mechanised’ blog, where he uses something looking like cinema flats across the sides of the squares to represent towns.

I decided to create some outline towns in a similar method, using the 3d printer.  I also had the same idea for woods that could be occupied by troop blocks.

I use the free online site Tinkercad to create my models.  I created a trial town with terraced gables on a 40mm x 40mm base with a 2mm “wall” depth, and a similar woodland with greater depth to the trees.

After a few hours printing the town I was quite pleased with the result until I tried it on the board – and realised my squares are 30mm x 30mm!  Doh!

I immediately cancelled the woodland print half-way through, but realised that I can use the resulting half-model, inverted and cut into pieces,  to make 6mm gabions on a parapet.

So I reduced the size to 75% and tried again.  This time I was not impressed with the result and the wood was too small to accept a troop base.

And thus I started all over again.  This time I think it will work.  The woods need to be filed on the inside to insert the troops on a 2cm 2cm base.

Below are the undercoated pieces (and some fresh from the printer) awaiting detail painting.  I think that once the houses are painted in a variety of brick, stone or render shades, maybe with some half-timbering detail, they will do the job.

Front row, left to right:  original 40mm print, reduced 30mm print with command unit, typical “Blenheim” infantry unit, redesigned 30mm print.

Second row, left to right:  inverted half-printed piece (now destined as gabions), 30mm outline wood (too small), redesigned outline wood.

Third row, left to right:  hexagonal outline town, Heroscape tile for this town.

I may decide to make models of only two sides (3 sides for hexagonal towns) so that larger built-up areas can be constructed.

We shall see.  Far more pressing projects await.  Little lead men keep screaming at me in incredibly high-pitched voices things like: “I love the hat boss, but can you PLEASE get round to the breeches?!”



Fascinated with Technology


Maybe it’s a personal thing, but I have always found watching machines producing things fascinating.  In my working life I always enjoyed factory visits, just to see how the machines, designed by humans, could make parts ad infinitum, and then combine them into meaningful artefacts.

When I bought a 3d printer the effect was the same.  I can sit for ages watching a project brought to life by intricacies that I will always fail to understand.

My latest project is a simple storage box for hexagon tiles of about 6cm (for several board games and my own wargame tiles).

Each box is designed to fit with a number of others into a specific “Really Useful Box”.

Each storage element will take 4 hours to print, so it will be about two or three days before I will actually know if a group of them can fit the storage box and incorporate the hexagon tiles in the intended way.

Here is the first one under construction.  Not very interesting for most of you, but I could watch it for hours…


General Whiskers.

Battle of the Denmark Strait – 1

Step 1. Preparation.

For this game we only need four large/extra large ships.

The ships come from the “Axis & Allies – War at Sea” collection and are 1:1800 scale.  This is about 20 times the sea scale for the game (6cm hexagon = 200m)

The ship bases are printed and painted.  Using translucent PLA for the printing I sprayed the underside blue and only painted the ship names, the ship’s wake and arc of fire lines on the top.

The ships are glued to the bases, and clipped to maintain rigidity until the glue dries.

The first “sinking battleship” token is designed, printed and painted.  More are in preparation, either awaiting printing or painting.

The ship data is printed on label paper and must now be transferred to the actual cards (search Amazon for “blank playing cards” to buy 1000 for £10).

When all is dry I need to run a solo rules check playtest before exposing the game to my friends.

3d printing game tokens

For my adaptation of Axis and Allies (copyright) War at Sea (Copyright) for hexagon games I needed markers for ships in the process of sinking.

Having looked around Tinkercad.com (copyright) I found a generic WW2 battleship.  I mucked about with it and produced a sinking battleship on a 5cm diameter base.  I then reduced it to 80% and 60% for a cruiser  and a destroyer.


HMS Hood and the Bismarck are shown for scale comparison.

I have also been working on new individual ship bases, which must be painted, including highlighting the name…


Work in progress…





Market Garden – preparation for day 2

Since the last Market Garden report, what has been happening?
In effect, lots of preparation for day 2.

Guards Armoured Division has moved into Eindhoven and faces opposition.
The British force consists of 7 units of 2nd (Armoured) Regt. Irish Guards, 6 units of 1st (Motorised) Battalion Grenadier Guards and 4 units of 2nd (Recce) Regt. Household Cavalry.

I fight the tactical battles with Memoir ’44 rules.
Using known troop types available I use the Memoir 44 battle dice to determine the exact available force composition for the local commander.   This gives me more interesting battles and my e-mail commanders extra tactical issues to consider.  I use a conversion from campaign strength to unit makeup as follows: One strength point = 1 die = 1 company or equivalent game unit.  Note that overnight lost strength points in the campaign may be recovered if the unit is resting.

The British order of battle  for the attack on Eindhoven thus became:
1. Arm’d Regt. HQ (Stuart, “Dingo”, Jeep)
2. 3 Sherman 75s + 1 17pr “Firefly”
3. 3 Sherman 75s + 1 17pr “Firefly”
4. 3 Stuart 37mm
5. 2 M10 17 pr “Achilles”
6. 2 x 17pr + 1/2 track
7. 2 x 17pr + 1/2 track
8. Inf.Bn HQ (Jeep, 15cwt Truck, WT Truck)
9. 4 Rifle Plns + 2 3-Ton trucks
10. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 6pr Gun, 4 1/2 tracks
11. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 6pr Gun, 4 1/2 tracks
12. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 3″ Mortar Pln., 4 1/2 tracks
13. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 3″ Mortar Pln., 4 1/2 tracks
14. 3 Daimler 1 2pr Arm’d Cars
15. 3 Staghound 37mm Arm’d Cars
16. 3 Daimler “Dingo” Scout Cars
17. 3 Daimler “Dingo” Scout Cars

And so I had to start creating some of the units. The Shermans and infantry were already in stock, but I had no Achilles tank destroyers – or so I thought – and no 17pr AT guns.
I set to work with my 3D printer, using M Bergman’s wonderful templates on Thingiverse.com.
Having printed, assembled and painted two Achilles models, I found that I had in the loft a pack of five GHQ models unopened, so I started again.

As for the 17pr guns, these things are always a problem for 3D printing in small scales.  The template provides them on end, standing on the trail. They are designed as 1:200 models, so I start by reducing them to 70% size for 1/285.

A couple of test prints gave me some plastic sclptures that will paint up nicely as trees or bushes!

I rotated the model to print in its normal deployed position. Therefore I needed to add supports for the barrel. After printing, cutting these away without destroying the barrel was a problem (see the header photo).  There is an idea to try to paint them draped in camo netting, but I am also considering removing the barrel and drilling a hole for a pin instead.

Meanwhile I have ordered at considerable expense some GHQ models (The very reason I bought a 3D printer was to avoid this sort of cost) and expect to be fiddling about with superglue some time next week.