My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Review of Ravenfeast and Ruminations on Saga

 I recently played a game of Ravenfeast, a set of Viking-era skirmish rules by the guys at Little Wars TV, with my U.S. gaming buddy Shawn (not my Australian gaming buddy Shaun πŸ˜‰). Although I messed up a really important rule, it still played well enough that I could both get a sense of how it should play, and that I wanted to try it again.


Ravenfeast is a really simple set of rule – which I honestly prefer these days – in that there are very few mechanics, the dice rolls are in the unit stats, and everything is pretty easily applied. What I mean by that is shown in the movement rules. There is no wheeling, movement is by figure, not unit, figures can pass through friendly figures without issue, and firing is 180ΒΊ to the front.

This probably gives you a hint about the game scale. As I said it is a skirmish game, which to me has always been a figure equals a single man, but also that each figure acts autonomously, not as part of a unit. (Warhammer 40K and Flames of War are both examples of games where a figure represents a single man, but figures move as part of units, and thus are not skirmish games, to my mind.)

That said, you can play larger actions, both in the sense of running more figures, and in having the figures represent more than one man. The former is possible because of the simplicity of the rules while the latter is just a form of 'bathtubbing'; the figure represents any number of men, but it still fights in the game as if it were a single man. In my first play of the game we played the 'Ashdown' scenario that can be downloaded from the Little Wars TV web site, which allowed us to put 30+ figures per side on the table.

Turn Sequence

This is not a typical IGO-UGO turn, but rather where the turn is broken down into phases and both players perform in that phase before moving on to the next phase. The phases are:

  • Initiative
  • Rally
  • Movement
  • Missile
  • Melee
  • End


Each players roll a D6 and subtract a modifier for having Leaders and Heroes. The lowest roller gets to choose whether they go first or second.

Having the initiative only has any significance in the Movement phase. When a figure moves into contact the opposing figure is pinned and cannot move (although it can change facing in melee). The only way to escape is to disengage from combat and grant your opponent a free attack against you.

In the Missile and Melee phases you still resolve combat in player order, but figures killed may still make their attack, so there is no 'Alpha Strike'.


Figures that fled during a previous turn and were marked with a Coward Token (see "End" below), must roll their Morale Rating or lower in order to remove the Coward Token and act as normal in the upcoming turn. Failure to do so and the figure is removed from the battle.


Movement is handled simply in that you measure the path moved on the board. No rules about having to move in straight lines or not being able to cross over friendly figures' bases (you stop on contacting enemy figure bases though). The only complexity is terrain. There are essentially two type – area and linear – each with their own way of dealing with moving through or over it. Area terrain requires double the movement to move through and obstacles reduce movement by 2" each. In general foot figures have 6" or 8" of movement and mounted have 14" of movement.


Bows shoot 18" and javelins 8" and require a clear line of sight. That means that skirmishers cannot fire from rear ranks. (You may wish to 'house rule' that, allowing figures in base-to-base contact with a friendly figure to not obscure the shooter's line of sight.)

Generally speaking missile troops have terrible stats. The Missile skill determines the number or lower on a D6 that the shooter must roll in order to score a hit. The defender then rolls their Armor stat or lower to cancel the hit. With most missile troops having a stat of 2 and the unarmored fyrd having a 3 for armor, the odds are against you taking down the enemy with missiles.


All figures in base-to-base contact with an enemy figure may attack in melee. Figures have a Melee stat that they must roll or under in order to inflict a hit. As with missiles, the defender then must roll their Armor or under to cancel the hit. Figures generally have 1 wound although the Hearthguard, Heroes, and Mounted troops generally have 2 and the Warlords 3.

Unlike missile attacks there are modifiers to the die roll needed for melee, such as -1 if the attack is across an obstacle or uphill, or -1 if engaged by more than one enemy.

There is one special item that must be noted when die rolling. If the Melee roll is a natural '1' and the Armor roll a natural '6', a free second attack is rolled (with no save) to see if the second hit is a gruesome wound, causing a morale check to those in close proximity.

Shield Wall

It would not be a Viking game if it did not have a shield wall rule. Three or more figures, armed with shields, not engaged in melee, may form a shield wall during the movement phase. Once formed the group moves at 1/2 speed, may only move straight ahead or a 1/4 move back, and may never move over obstacles.

Once formed the figures in the shield wall get +2 to their Armor, +1 to their Morale, are not subject to the bonus for being attacked from the rear, are not subject to the penalty for being engaged by more than one enemy, and can fight in melee from the second rank if armed with a spear.

A figure cannot leave one shield wall and join another in the same turn.


As you were going through the phases, you were accumulating Blood Tokens (when a figure is hit by missiles or in melee) and Raven Tokens (when hit with a gruesome wound in melee) on figures and now you must resolve them. If the number of Blood and Raven Tokens on a figure equals or exceeds it wounds (again, most figures have 1 wound), the figure is removed, along with the Blood Token.

After figure removal each side then must roll morale for the following:

  • Leader was killed this turn (every figure in that warband)
  • Warband suffers over 50% casualties (every figure in that warband)
  • Hero was killed this turn (any friendly figure within the Hero's Morale rating, in inches)
  • Death Worthy of a Song (every friendly figure within 6" of a Raven Token)

Leaders and Heroes do have a function in that any figure within their Morale Rating in inches can use their Morale Rating as their own, as long as the Leader or Hero passes their morale roll first.

Figures that fail their morale rolls flee their full move back towards their baseline and are given a Coward Token. If the fleeing figure is in base-to-base contact with an enemy figure, that figure gets a free attack.

Note that once you lose 50% of your figures in the warband, you will basically take a morale test for each figure every turn, so your army will disintegrate rapidly (as it should).

Additional Rules

Ravenfeast includes a number of cards, called Rune cards, that target figures, terrain, and even opposing players taking effect immediately or last a phase, turn, or even the entire battle. It is a way to 'break the rules' by injecting a chance element into the game. They are completely optional.

Another optional rule is to introduce currency into the game. Each player starts with a certain amount and scenarios may have objectives that grant additional currency. Currency can be spent on certain things like a re-roll during the game, an additional Rune card, or even adding a Berserker to your warband. This makes more sense if you are playing a campaign, of course, because you can slay the enemy Warlord and loot their bodies and add it to your loot.

Although Ravenfeast primarily focuses on Vikings, rules for Saxons – and their stats – are included. The Saxons main advantage is that they get the Mounted Spearman.

Ravenfeast does have a points system, but it is recommended that you play scenarios and campaigns.

Big Battle Ravenfeast, which is what the 'Ashdown' scenario is, basically introduces the concept of using the exact same rules as normal Ravenfeast, but treating each figure as representing more than one man. It doesn't matter how many, but play it the same. Forming a shield wall does require a Leader or Hero to be close by, however.

And what Dark Ages came would not be complete without a fantasy variant. There is a separate download for that which includes trolls, dragons, wolves, spells, and other monsters.


In the base rulebook there are three scenarios, "Back to the Boats!", "Fight for Honor!", and "Pillage and Burn!". More scenarios can be downloaded from the Little Wars TV web site and found on forums. You could easily adapt scenarios from Saga.

Final Analysis

Ravenfeast are really simple and straight forward rules that my old brain can digest. Almost no die roll modifiers to speak of and everything is rather 'standardized'. If I have to keep anything close to hand it is all of the special rules surrounding a shield wall and the stats for each of the figure types.

Comparing Ravenfeast to Saga

Although it might seem like we are comparing two very similar games, we are not. Ravenfeast is a true skirmish game (by my definition), but Saga is not as the smallest autonomous group is the unit, not the figure. Saga is what I would call these days a 'grand skirmish' set of rules. Games of Saga with 8 points can run from 29 to 85 figures, although this is not typical. Saga can handle more figures because figures are grouped into units, reducing the number of autonomous groups the player must manage. Figures in a unit thus become glorified markers for the number of hits a unit can take.

The telling difference between the two rules is that once the figures get stuck into melee, there are little to no decisions to make in Ravenfeast; you roll dice until a decisive result is achieved. In Saga you are always rolling the Saga dice, choosing special abilities, and planning for which units to buff and how. In this regard it makes Saga richer, but more complex.

One of the nice aspects of Saga is that each faction has a distinctive 'feel', which is supposed to reflect how they fought historically. Scots are a wall of spears, Saxons cluster in large supporting groups, the Irish have lots of missiles and even the occasional wolfhound, Vikings their ferocity, and Normans their crossbows and charging cavalry. I think you can simulate this flavor in Ravenfeast through the use of faction-specific Rune cards. Wherever you see a special ability in Saga, you could translate it to a Rune card. Not only would this simplify the faction concepts in Saga by reducing special actions to one-use cards, but it would also get rid of needing expensive custom dice.

The one criticism of Saga that I have never voiced on this blog is the seeming ahistorical nature of how it represents combat by putting like type figures into units. That wasn't really how it was. As shown in this diagram below from European Medieval Tactics (1), battle lines were formless not a series of units in line formation.

Dark Ages battle lines could curve, especially on the ends where it acted as a defense against being flanked. The line would ripple as groups of men would surge forward to try and break through the enemy line, then fade back as the fighters became exhausted. The elite warriors might be found in several points along the line, adding strength to help it hold, while some concentrated at a point of attack, as indicate in the diagram at point E. In The Viking Art of War, it cites that 'units' of berserkers would often act as these 'line breakers', but beyond that a chieftain's retainers would all fight together, regardless of what our games might call 'unit types'. The more heavily armored would be in front, the less armored but veteran fighters next, on back to the missile troops firing overhead from the rear, or spreading out to the flanks in an attempt to get better shots into the enemy line.

Our rules just do not play out like this. One thing Saga does represent better is the concept of 'fatigue', but it can really only do this because it groups figured into units with standardized stats. I think Ravenfeast would be all the better if fatigue could be incorporated, but because each figure is a unit, it would be a nightmare of markers to try and track it for each figure.

Overall, I like the simplicity of Ravenfeast, but it lacks many things that make Saga an interesting game, such as the management of resources (fatigue, dice, etc.), faction 'flavor', and meaningful decisions for the player to make that impact the game. I definitely want to look more into incorporating ideas from Saga into Rravenfeast.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Review of WoFun Miniatures

WoFun Games makes a series of miniatures where the picture of the soldier, cavalryman, artillery, etc. is printed onto a clear acrylic sheet and the figure outline is cut out using a laser cutter. They offer both 18mm and 28mm sizes and use (for the most part) Peter Dennis' art for the figures. These are essentially 'flat' miniatures with separate front and back images.

I bought the 18mm Renaissance Full Pack as I wanted a fair experience, rather than nickel and dime a unit at a time. Why that pack? Well, really, Renaissance is the one area that I don't have a good collection of. I figured that if I chose my favorite period (American War of Independence) and I really liked the figures I would be sorely tempted to sell off my metal miniature collection! πŸ˜„

Here is what a sheet out of the box looks like.

Here are some of the figures, some of which are put into the optional, slotted bases.

You can see that the tabs on the feet are rather small, so the idea that you might pull these figure out, store the figures flat, and add to the back to the bases before the next game makes me skeptical how either the tabs or the slots might hold up. I don't think I will be taking them in and out myself, but I was curious, so that is why I bought the bases. (By the way, the bases are all 30mm x 20mm, which I consider to be non-standard.)

As you can see, the figure from the base of the foot to the eye line is 18mm. These are definitely slimmer figures than normal. The next two pictures show that.

The British infantry in the round hat to the left is a smaller "15mm" figure (I believe Old Glory). Compare the arms and hands. (The figures to the right are MicroWorld 6mm Renaissance.)

The above gives a better look at the proportional difference.

So, in the final assessment, I have played with 'flats' before, but they were left/right side view. That is not how we normally play, we tend to view troops from behind and the fronts of enemy troops, so this view is more natural. That said, you need to get used to cavalry with no depth. I think I can only reserve judgment until I game with them and see how it 'feels'.

I definitely would not purchase the bases again because of the oddball size. Of course, I have a laser cutter, so making slotted bases is not an issue for me. But I like Peter Dennis' artwork – I have his War of Spanish Succession book – but do not like to reproduce the pages in color and I definitely do not like cutting the figures out. Because of this I have considered getting the Brothers ScanNCut in order to do the work for me.

I like the thickness of the acrylic, but I thought I might not like the fact that the edges were clear. Now that I see them I am pretty good with it staying clear. Again, gaming with the figures and time will tell.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Clear Acrylic Bases

I had a truly horrendous mishap with a set of plastic Warhammer 40K figures that I have had for at least 20 years. I put them in a Sterlite plastic tub that – although not airtight, had a pretty good seal – and some sort of material started decomposing to a gas. When I was excavating through my pile, looking at old troops and found these in a long lost vein of plastic and pewter, I opened the tub and out came a very strong chemical smell, much like plastic solvent.

When I started going through the troops I realized that nearly all were damaged. The bases were curled or melted, and guns were warped out of shape.

There are a number of things to fix with some of them – like the above Dark Eldar army I bought – but my beloved Tau were the things I wanted to fix first, which largely only had base damage.

I have seen clear acrylic bases for sale, mostly touted for basing in skirmish games (individual figures or a weapon team), with the advantage being that your bases would 'match' the surface you are gaming on because you would see the board, table, cloth, or mat below. No more troops with a desert landscape scheme on top of your NW Europe landscape board. Because I had to rebase these troops, I decided to give Litko's bases a try. (This was before I purchased my own laser cutter.)

Here are the troops on a simple 'desert' felt gaming mat.

Same troops on a 'grass' felt gaming mat.

Same troops on a textured 'desert' canvas game board.

And finally on a cyberpunk-themed, silk-screen on neoprene, game mat.

Clearly, the bases are not going to be 'invisible'. The light will always catch the edges. But one thing I have noticed is that the smaller the scale of the figure, the more that it is the base of the figure(s) that catch the eye and not the figures themselves. So not having a large contrast between the base and the board does seem to make the figures pop.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Live Free or Die Rules for the AWI

Recently I purchased Little Wars TV's rules for the American War of Independence/American Revolution "Live Free or Die" (LFD). The description from their website is as follows:

Live Free or Die is a fast-playing, 4-page set of wargaming rules designed to allow players to fight the most famous battles of the American War of Independence. In this game, the regiment is the basic tactical maneuver element and the role played by heroic leaders is emphasized. Whether you're a new player or veteran gamer, Live Free or Die is easily played from a single-sided quick reference sheet!

These rules are based upon the old Andy Callan rules "Loose Files and American Scramble" (LFAS). LFAS was largely centered around the concept of morale loss rather than personnel loss, i.e. markers are added to reflect morale degradation rather than removing figures. LFD builds upon this basic concept and adds a few of its own, such as: Leader values reflecting their grand tactical and tactical value; scenarios; and more structure on how the game should be played.

Command and Control

The leaders in LFD are called Leaders and Lieutenants, but should more properly be called Commanders and Sub-Commanders given the ranks of the people defined in the scenarios. I will grudgingly use their terms though.

Leaders will have two values: Command Points and Stars. Command Points (CP) are used to order units into action. Stars are used in two ways: to possibly obtain more Command Points each turn; and modify the effectiveness of some unit actions.

Command Points

Leaders generally have a rating of 4 to 7 Command Points. These are used to spend each turn to order units into action. For example, you can move all Regiments (units) in a Brigade within 3" of each other for 1 CP. On the other hand, in order to move a single Regiment outside of Brigade cohesion (3") it also costs 1 CP. This is a really good example of how they simply push players to play "realistically". Want to run each Regiment in any direction? Fine, but you cut down on the number of units that you can do that with. This is very similar to the effect in De Bellis Antiquitatus (DBA) when the block of troops start breaking up and require an increasing number of PIPs (command points in DBA) to restore cohesion.

Both Leaders and Lieutenants have 1 to 3 stars, which allows the player to roll 1D6 per star, granting an additional CP for every die rolling a '5' or '6'.

Turn Sequence

LFD is different from many rules in two ways: players both perform actions simultaneously except for Movement and Charge phases; and the firing step occurs before the movement step. These two mechanics definitely make the game feel differently than most IGO-UGO games, as there is no "Alpha Strike".

An Alpha Strike occurs in rules when the two sides are separated and out of combat and then one player moves, gets to attack, and the defender removes casualties all before they have a chance to take any meaningful action. Games with an Alpha Strike can easily see the player on the receiving end effectively lose in a single turn reducing many games down to min-maxing the army list building and hoping to win the critical initiative roll.

LFD, by forcing firing to occur before movement, removes the strike as the units must be within range the turn prior to firing and firing and casualty removal occurs simultaneously, giving neither player the advantage. It also cuts down on the players jockeying units around, hesitating moving units into range for when the rules dictate that units can only move orfire.

I think that they decided to not make the Movement simultaneous so they did not have to deal with the issues of prorating movement, unit collisions, and units potentially catching enemy units while changing formation. Instead, the side that moves second may not get to move at all when the enemy is forcing contact.


All combat produces demoralization markers, one for each hit. Basically each base rolls one die, requiring a '5' or '6' (only a '6' if firing at Skirmishers, Artillery, or units in heavy cover) if they are delivering hasty fire (they will move this turn), or two dice per base if they are volley firing (no movement that turn). Units in Column, Skirmishers, and 4th Class regiments cannot volley fire.

Artillery range is 20" for Light Guns, 10" for Field Guns firing canister, and 30" for Field Guns firing ball. Musket range is 6", while Rifles fire 10".


Infantry move 6" in Line, 9" in Column.

Skirmishers, Cavalry and Leaders move 12".

Field Guns move 6" and Light Guns move 9". There is no limbering and unlimbering. In this period the horse team handlers were civilian and once the battle started, the guns were unlimbered and manhandled by the artillerists and infantry assigned to help.

Terrain either slows the unit's movement, provides heavy cover, adds demoralization when moving through it, or some combination of the three.


As units move, take fire, and participate in melee they accumulate demoralization markers. When 5 have been accumulated the clears all markers and removes one base. The loss of a base (which can also occur in melee) forces a morale check, which requires rolling 1 or more dice, looking for any to have a '5' or '6'. If met then the morale check is passed, otherwise the unit retreats, potentially causing the closest unit within 3" to receive demoralization markers (which may in turn cause a stand loss, morale check, and retreat).

The key to the game is using your Leaders and Lieutenants to attach to units and clear demoralization markers (this takes 1 CP).


The rules are pretty basic and straightforward. You generally want to roll a '5' or '6' to get a success (sometimes it requires a '6') and you have to manage demoralization as a resource during the game. Because rallying costs command points, there will be times where you have to stop the line, dress it (i.e. rally off the demoralization markers), and then continue on. If the demoralization starts piling on and you cannot manage it, you will start to lose stands. That effectively lowers you ability to inflict damage on your opponent. LFD is a game of attrition.

My local gaming buddy Shawn and I tried it out using a cut down version of the Guilford Courthouse scenario. It ran much like our games of that scenario using Black Powder. The first militia line at the fence disrupted the British advance, who stopped in the middle of the field to return fire. Eventually the militia morale cracked and the units ran. The British cleared the fence and immediately had to halt to reform.

The interesting part is the mechanic that LFD uses to simulate this need to halt and reform – using a Leader or Lieutenant to rally off the markers – produced the same effect as disorder and failing a command roll does in Black Powder. However, the mechanic in LFD comes as a series of choices (you decide which leader to use, which unit to rally next, and spend the command points) whereas Black Powder presents it to you as a series of frustrating, unlucky rolls ('6' on firing, and a high 2D6 roll when issuing orders).

Alas, LFD plays somewhat slowly, and Guilford Courthouse is a grind; a true case study of defense in depth, so we only made it through the first line before calling it a day after having played several hours.

I think both Shawn and I did not realize how important it was in the early turns to rally off the demoralization markers so I think we both lost more bases than we should have by this point. Not a bad exchange for the militia, of course.

Would I play the rules again? Sure. I prefer it over Black Powder definitely. It requires a lot more bases than I have – we used half-size units in our test game – but I don't like all of the markers, so I would need to come up with a better system that looks cleaner.

My one complaint is that the ability to force a morale check is wholly dependent upon the lack of enemy leaders. British Line firing at Patriot Militia does not force it to check morale any faster than if Loyalist Militia had been firing upon it. In the matchup between British Line and Patriot Militia the British only win because they are more likely to survive the morale checks while the Patriots are not. But the retreat (morale failure) is not what causes the loss of the stand; it is the source of the check. Basically all troops inflict casualties at the same rate, irrespective of quality. They win the firefight by passing morale and not retreating. Many gamers will probably look upon these rules as pro-Patriot (despite having been written by an Englishman). I see this more as a balance against the rules where the 1st Maryland will never be rated as high as the British elites, such as the 2nd Guards (whom they charged with the bayonet in this battle).

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Bondic for Strengthening Miniatures

 Have you ever wished for a material that you could use to strengthen miniatures without  significantly altering it or increasing it in size? I always dreamed about a 'plastic coating' that I could put on a miniature that would somehow make weak parts more rigid, like swords, bayonets, spears, flag poles, and such. The image below shows an example of what I mean.

I purchased an Aztec army from a gentleman selling off his friend's collection to help out his friend's widow. The figure on the right is what I received (less the basing). Notice the spear in his hand. These figures are not pewter, they are lead, and the spear is like limp rubber. It does not take much handling to bend the spear shafts. Eventually it will break.

The figure on the left is one that I washed and touched up, but also where I replaced the spear with steel piano wire. (That point is deadly sharp, I can attest!) I had to replace the spear on that one because it was so badly damaged it was unsalvageable. It would have been nice to be able to put a coating of some on the lead spear that would make it more rigid and less prone to bending without having to remove the spears that were epoxied (not white glued or superglued, but old, solid, two-part epoxy) to the hand. Each figure would require drilling and scraping that old epoxy out and in the end I lose that distinctive, cast obsidian spearhead.

Noticing last night how the Bondic filled gaps and essentially looked like a clear, hard plastic in the gaps, I decided to try some on the lead spears to see how well it held up after the Bondic cured. Given the quick curing time it does not really have enough time to droop and bead on the underside to the extent that two-part epoxy does.

First I straightened out the spear and then I put a very small drop on the top of the spear, spreading it out with the applicator tip just on the topside. I cured that and tested. It definitely added rigidity, but it went from limp rubber rigidity to that of medium softness plastic. Better, but still not there. I applied a coat to the underside, cured, added another to one of the sides, and cured. By then it was starting to feel as rigid as hard plastic.

The Bondic did not appear to add substantially to the size and volume of the spear, but you could feel the unevenness of the application. If I painted over the material with paint I am sure you would see it. Instead I will probably varnish over it with matte varnish in order to take away the obvious shine.

I will let you know if my opinion on using Bondic to strengthen miniatures holds up. If it does, I can see using this on spears, swords, and bayonets on 6mm figures (especially resin printed miniatures) and soft plastic figures like Airfix and their sort.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Bondic for Filling Gaps on Miniatures

One of the great shames I hold is that I am really lazy about removing mold lines from my miniatures before painting. One of the things that simple painting methods generally do is highlight those mold lines. Don't believe me? Try dry-brushing, washing, or using contrast paints on an area with that mold line. Not only will those things show the line, but it will highlight it as the light catches on the edge and magnifies it.

Oh the shame!

Another area that is a problem, especially with the newer Games Workshop snap-together miniatures, is that they are designed to snap fit tightly. But if they don't, perhaps because of some imperfection in the plastic injection, they do not come together, creating a gap, and are next to impossible to pull apart without breaking the posts, or even the whole miniature.

In the picture below you can see the better side of a squig. This one did not go together very well and created a huge gap (red dashed area). In the past I tried a number of solutions: gel super glue; baking soda and liquid super glue; gloss varnish; various adhesives like white glue/PVA, tacky glue, and Modge Podge; sculpting material like Miliput, Green Stuff, Vallejo Modeling Paste; and Squadron Putty. Success or failure largely depends upon your ability to get the material into the gap, how fluid the material is, setting and curing time, and the size of the gap.

Things like adhesives tend to be very fluid, and thus hard to keep in place if the setting time is too long. Solids like putties and pastes tend to be harder to get into place (and only into the gap) and have long curing times.

I have heard of Bondic before, including as a gap filler for modeling, but had never tried it. Bondic is a liquid adhesive that is cured by shining a UV LED light on the material for 4 seconds or so.

Given the quick cure time, I decided to give it a try. It is not exactly cheap ($40 for who knows how many gaps and models), but as you can see with the gap above, if I can fill that easily and cure it quickly (so I can continue to prime the figure immediately afterward), it might well be worth it.

As you can (hopefully) see in the image above, Bondic easily filled this very large gap with ease. Although the material is fluid and thus runs, it is pretty viscous so it does not flow everywhere like white glue/PVA or superglue would.

If I were to have any complaint it would be that there is no real sign that the material is cured. It does not change colors or frost over; it simply remains glossy and clear. Because of that, if you need additional layers to fill the gap you might have to fill, cure, paint, inspect, and then repeat. Given the incredibly fast cure time, however, this is possible.

Further, because the material does not cure at all until UV light hits it, you do not have to worry about the material hardening if you leave the cap off, or that you have to rush to cure. In fact, I had a set of 9 miniatures that needed gaps filled and I was able to do all of them at once, cap the adhesive, then cure all of the miniatures. Doing something like that with baking soda and superglue or fast setting epoxy is not really possible.

As I use it more I may revisit the issue, especially if my opinion changes, and update you here.

Monday, January 25, 2021

I Received My Dream Tool: A Laser

This was long overdue, but as I head towards retirement (three more years) I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and to buy a dream tool that I had been pondering for a long time: a laser cutter and engraver. Now you might be wondering why this is on this particular blog and the answer is because it will absolutely play a role in cutting out parts for my wooden warriors.

In the past I used a Cricut cutting machine to cut out arm shapes and Spanish bicornes from craft foam sheet and, although I liked the flexibility of the material, I did not like how it took paint. With a laser I will easily be able to cut out shapes in 3mm and 1/8" thickness.

Right now I am in the experimental phase. I have long drawn images for wargaming using various drawing packages on the Macintosh. I bought the Glowforge Plus and it accepts SVG format files as input for 2D work, i.e. cutting and scoring. I have been using Inkscape for years, and that saves in many of the formats that the Glowforge accepts.

My first experiment was creating a painting rack for my paints. I use Pro Acryl mostly right now and they have a large bottle size than the craft paints and the Vallejo/Army Painter sized bottles, so I thought I would cut out my own as an initial project.

I looked at other paint holders and I noticed that many have the paint bottles standing straight up and down. The better ones stack one on top of another. I didn't really want that kind. I wanted the bottles angled and showing the color as much as possible.

The top plate of the holder has holes slightly larger than the bottle's diameter (30mm) so the paint bottle can slide in comfortably.

I decided to cut out two of these sheets so I could double up on the sides and make it stiffer.

The bottom has small holes so the bottle's tip could slide in.

I really like how I can see all the colors so easily. It takes up a bit of space, but I don't want stackable holders where I have to unstack them to remove a paint bottle and I am tired of having to pick up bottles to look at the color from holders where the bottles stand straight. If I were afraid of the bottles leaking I could still reverse them (tips up) and see the colors while being able to easily grab the bottle.

This was a really instructive project and I look forward to doing more. Right now all of my projects are more wargame accessories and the like. I generally don't like markers and tokens on the table, but use them in battle reports. Arrows to show movement or retreat, X to show combat or unit elimination, etc. I used to cut them from craft foam. Now I can draw up anything and have it cut from cardboard.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Battle Reports by Dice Chatter

Recently I got a Warcry battle report in my Youtube feed, which is unusual because I think I watched one battle report when the game first came out (more than a year ago) and I think the only thing related to Warcry that I have watched since is when The Battlecast Youtube channel made a video on why Justin did not like Warcry, and why he was no longer going to do battle reports of it. Put another way, Warcry did not appear in my feed for about a year, unless some other channel did something on it, like Tabletop Minions does, because that is a real Games Workshop fanboy channel. (You may be starting to get a sense that I watch entirely too much Youtube. In my defense, I do not have television, per se, only Amazon Prime Video.)

Anyway, up pops a battle report for Warcry and I note that the thumbnail looks nice (well painted minis, good terrain), but what strikes me is that the video length in about 15 minutes long. I know that game of Warcry and Kill Team can be short, but almost every video I have seen listed is in excess of 30 minutes, usually more than 45 minutes, and too frequently in excess of one hour. This is largely why I do not watch battle reports on video; they are too long because the players go into too much detail and they are largely unedited. (At best the pause the video and restart when the narration picks back up.) Needless to say, I was intrigued that the video was so short, but also how could a game get so out of whack that someone would lose a 45 minute game in one-third of the time?

So, I play it and proceed to watch a very well-produced, tightly-edited video of a solo game of Warcry. When I say "well-produced" I mean ... well, something good enough to write a blog post about. Why? Because I feel like my own battle reports lack something. For example, pictures are nice, but they are either zoomed out so you can see the whole battlefield (the context of the action), but cannot see the detail, or they are zoomed in for detail, but you lose the context in the larger battle. So you end up making a lot of pictures.

Have you ever tried blogging a game? Simply looking at pictures later that I took during the game doesn't always bring back to mind what the picture is actually trying to show. If I can't figure out what the picture is of, and the story it is trying to convey, I surely know you can't because you were not there. So I always wonder: are other people able to follow along?

Another method I tried is to blog during the game. Needless to say, this really slows down the game. To be honest, not all games are blog-worthy so there will be a certain number of games where you expend the extra effort, but end up never using it. But, this method does have one advantage, which is what I am always trying to capture in my battle reports, especially solo games: what was I thinking at that moment. I am interested in the decisions that a player has to make, given the information they have at the time, and why they make the ones that they do. My goal is always to try and encapsulate that thought process and codify it for making programmed opponents for solo play. (Yes, I know. Tilting at windmills.)

Back to video battle reports. Unless you are really invested in the gamers themselves, I generally find the chatter and jokes not only distracting, but overly time consuming. I also used to think showing the die rolls was a time waster, but this particular Warcry video showed all the die rolls and did it in a snappy manner. I still think it could save production time by cutting out most of the die rolls, but that is the video maker's issue, not mine. He (I believe his name is Donny Stout) uses picture-in-picture to not waste viewer's time. What I have found is that his camera work is such that he can go in close to show detail, then pull back to show context of the larger battlefield.

So, the channel is Dice Chatter and it largely only has battle reports of Warcry. There are a few Age of Sigmar battle reports, but they seem to have dropped off. The channel seems to have started as an RPG channel though, and switched to Twitch for that content.

Anyway, I thought I would mention this as I think his recent battle reports are good examples of engaging content that cut out the fluff and leave the meat. The only thing I would like to see change is him explaining some of his decisions. For one thing, it helps you understand his thought process and for another helps add to the excitement level when you see he gained (or missed) a result her was looking for. He talks through that a little bit after the game is over, but it always makes for better content to hear it at the time they are thinking it. The guys at Little Wars TV use that method and it is really effective.

So, I am not asking you to rush out and subscribe to this channel (or any other, for that matter), just asking that if you like good battle reports, what elements of it make a good battle report? What triggers your brain when you start watching or reading a battle report and you think "well, that is enough for me" and you switch away? What are you referring to if you start thinking "I wonder what ..." when you are reading or watching a battle report? Most importantly, do you watch battle reports on Youtube? What defines a "good" battle report for you?

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 58 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ working for a software company for the last three years. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").