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.

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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About Me

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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").