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Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Cruel Seas - First Game AAR

I played my first Solo game of Cruel Seas a couple of weeks ago and thought it might be worthy of an after action report. I had genuine fun playing this game which I have to say, really lends itself to solo play with the random dice activation mechanism.

I chose to play the 2nd scenario from the book, where a cargo vessel/tanker has to travel from right to left, protected by two S-Boats from three Vosper MTBs.

I played this on a 4 x 3 foot table area, using my GW Dreadfleet cloth play mat and some simple terrain (Modular hill doubling up for land and some random rocks).

Move 1: The three MTBs start from stationary as the S-Boats peel off to head them off before they can reach the slow moving tanker.

Move 2: A chance to find out how decisive (and bloody) Cruel Seas can be! My right hand MTB was caught off-guard by the two S-Boats and, with some lucky dice rolls, sunk!

Move 3: The remaining two MTBs continued regardless and positioned themselves to launch a brace of torpedoes each. Meanwhile the S-Boats swung round to attack them from the rear.

Move 4: The torpedoes from the centre MTB failed to have any effect and those from the left hand MTB completely missed the tanker. The S-Boats started to engage the remaining MTBs - one each.

Close up of the moment of impact
Move 5: The left hand MTB found itself in the path of the Tanker and a collision resulted. The MTB was left severely damaged, but managed to limp on past the Tanker, which was itself, largely undamaged by the encounter. The centre MTB was engaged by one of the S-Boats and sunk....

Move 6: The game was academically over now, but I played out the last few moves to see the Tanker leave the board. The nearest S-Boat slowed to a halt to avoid colliding with their Tanker, while the other S-Boat set off after the damaged remaining MTB.

Close up of the last engagement
Move 7: The S-Boat caught up with the MTB by the rocks at the top of the picture. A brief gun battle proved inconclusive (due to the relative speeds of the two vessels) and the last MTB made their escape. The other S-Boat manoeuvred while stationary, to avoid both the Tanker and the rocks.

Move 8: As the last MTB limped off the board towards safety, the two S-Boats were both having to do some careful manoeuvring to avoid hitting rocks/land obstacles. Meanwhile the Tanker exited the board - Victory to the Germans!

Naval wargaming for me is just a pleasant diversion from what I usually do. Therefore I don't see me buying any more ships than I have already (maybe print some though😄). However, I will certainly play the game's fun! I know there are a few house rules appearing to try and make things "more realistic" but, to be honest, I don't have any need for them on the experience I've had so far.

Hats off to Warlord, a jolly good game.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Rubicon 28mm 75mm Pak40 Anti-Tank Gun - Part One

One thing missing from my growing Bolt Action/Chain of Command late war German army was any form of towed anti-tank capability.

To put this right I treated myself to the Rubicon model from Firestorm Games - at £13.50 it looks to be good value for money.

The model comes packaged in a nicely illustrated card box together with a glossy, printed instruction leaflet.

Having built models of one sort or another most of my life, I have now got into a tried and trusted routine of checking the instructions stage by stage and looking at the corresponding parts, before I start with my side cutters and glue.

 Luckily this turned up an issue with the assembly instructions. In step 1. the instructions show the gun barrel & recoil assembly as one complete part. Evidently they are separate parts on the sprue! (see above). This is easily overcome by starting with assembling these two parts...but be aware!

I was attracted to this particular model as it included a crew of 6 plus a good selection of whole rounds, empty cases and shell packaging equipment. The figures come on three sprues, two figures each, and are "anatomically correct" in stature, as opposed to "Heroic". More on these later.

Whilst assembling the barrel and recoil system I drilled out the muzzle break to enhance the look of the finished gun.

The breech assembly has a few fine parts that need some care whilst adding, but nothing too difficult.

Again, there are some more small parts to add to the gun mounting, but with care they aren't too difficult. However, some of the location tabs/recesses provided were not of the required size and needed a bit of "fettling" with a scalpel. With care the assembled mount will allow the gun barrel to be elevated, if that's your thing!

Next was adding the gun shield. This glues to four points on the gun mount, be careful to ensure it is touching on all four of these as failure to do so will leave the model weakened and the shield likely to fall off ..... guess how I know!

The carriage is straight forward to assemble as a separate step. Again with care the trail arms can be left movable. There are some optional parts to consider here depending on whether you will depict the model in a firing or towed configuration i.e. the towing eye and the front, lower armour plates.

Finally the two assemblies come together and (with care) can be assembled so there is a degree of rotation available to the gun. Altogether a simple model to build with adequate detail for a wargames piece that will look good on the table.

Now those figures....

Whilst they are nicely sized, the sculpting leaves much to be desired. The bulk of my German figures are dressed in Field Grey jackets & trousers, so having a crew dressed in Camo Smocks wasn't top of my want list. To be honest, the detail is that indistinct I think I could probably get away with just painting them FG. The heads are particularly "Blurred" and I chose to replace them with Warlord items (thank goodness there's always so many spares!) to better help them blend in.

To mount the model, I purchased a ready cut large artillery base from Just Lasered. This allows up to 4 crew figures to be mounted on 25mm removable bases (included) to simulate casualties.

I will finish the model with a crew of five, one seated astride the trail leg, aiming the weapon, the rest on the bases provided.

I will cover this in Part Two............

Bolt Action Dice - 3D Printed

I thought I'd give printing some dice a go, as I now feel I've a good solution to stop my prints from lifting.

My method is to; -

  1. clean the bed with mentholated spirit to degrease it
  2. apply Red, Hi-Tack masking tape (£2.50 for 5m from Wilkos)
  3. apply double sided (25mm wide) sticky tape over the masking tape

I found the files, as ever, on Thingiverse at designed by dapoppa.

They are designed to be 19mm cubed, larger than the official dice from Warlord.

As suggested I turn the file within Cura to have the word "RUN" on the base as this would be the simplest to clean up after printing, and away I went.

I could fit 9 dice comfortable on my little print bed, though I think there was room for 12 at a squeeze!

Once finished I gave them a quick clean up with some wet & dry paper before starting to paint them up. To remove the double sided sticky tape, I've found that spray oil (WD40 for instance) will remove it. Afterwards a quick wash in detergent is required before paint will adhere.

I started by letting diluted black paint into the recessed letters. Once dry I dry brushed the upper surfaces with either white or light grey to differentiate who's side they represent.

Altogether not too bad. Ok they look like 3D printed dice, but they cost three fifths of bugger all to make where the real thing are about £1 each. They'll certainly do the job 😁

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Cruel Seas - 3D Printed Lighthouse

Once again I have been neglecting my blogging duties 😕

As ever the real world has been getting in the way, what with travel, work...and sadly funerals. So I must admit that my recent output has been rather poor.

However, I've been trying out my Cruel Seas collection solo and I must admit I'm quite take with the game mechanisms.

You couldn't wish for something easier to learn and the games look so spectacular on the table that there's plenty to like about it.

There are many 3D printable items turning up on line to use with the game, ranging from actual ships to terrain items.

On thing I thought I needed to make my table look truly nautical was a lighthouse.

This one I found at designed by NAIROBIGUY3D.

It was already correctly sized to 1/300 scale and printed out as 4 pieces that once cleaned up, neatly clipped together.

A quick spray of matt white primed and supplied the piece's base colour. Followed by the details picked out in Vallejo Acrylics.

All I still have to do is texture the base, weather the building and add a little flock. You can, however, already see what it will look like when finished.

A very handsome piece.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Acrylic Movement Rulers - Cruel Seas & Blood Red Skies

JustLasered first came to my attention having read a blog entry from Doctorphalanx way back in May of 2018. 

As well as their extremely smart bespoke foam liners for Really Useful Boxes, I found that they produced additional shelf kits for IKEA Detolf cabinets.

Now their range has expanded to include mdf items (counters, buildings, bases etc.) and gaming aids made from acrylic sheet.

I've seen such items both on ebay and, more recently, at Crusade, however none have been as well priced as the items from JustLasered.

I treated myself to two sets. Firstly the set for Blood Red Skies comprised of two Acrylic movement rulers, range and angle finder. Which comes with the etching on the reverse side of the glass clear acrylic and only requires the protective film to be removed before use. The quality is excellent and at only £4.25 the set - very good value. Additionally, you can have them in just about any colour you want.

JustLasered pieces alongside the cardboard game pieces

While I was at it I ordered the set designed for Cruel Seas as well. This was another 4 piece set comprising  3 movement distance templates and 1 arc template for shooting/turning. As above the quality was excellent and at £4.75 for the set - another bargain.

JustLasered pieces alongside the cardboard game pieces
The cardboard pieces provided with both games are both adequate for initial use, but inevitably they will become worn out. These sets from JustLasered provide a very affordable alternative.

While I was placing the order I added one of their mdf small artillery bases as well. These are just £1.25 each (90p if you order 3 or more!) and are perfect for mounting an anti-tank gun for instance, allowing casualty figures to be removed one-by-one.

The small artillery base with a Rubicon Pak40 for size comparison
Just the job.....though stupidly I bought 4 more artillery pieces the day after ordering these so I'll have to buy some more (large & small)!

To top all this the guys at JustLasered refunded me £1.75 to our PayPal account as the website had overcharged for P&P! How's that for service.

Thoroughly recommended, check them out!

Friday, 1 February 2019

Crusade 2019

Last weekend I met up with an old wargaming buddy at Wales' premier (only?) Wargames show - Crusade 2019.

28mm AWI (I think)
As per the last few years this is held at a large, modern secondary school in Penarth, close to Wales' capital city, Cardiff. There is a large car park and the site is accessible to all abilities.

Battle of Omdurman - the guys running this were happy to stop & discuss the game, which was refreshing!
The show is made up of traders, historical re-enactment groups, competition/demo games, historical talks and a bring & buy.

WAT - Too Fat Lardies, ably assisted by the Welsh Wizzard
The traders were split between three rooms and fairly easily accessed. As per last year the mix of traders was modest, but they seemed to be doing brisk business (at least until I left at 2pm).

The world's biggest 28mm Vietnam much terrain!!
The bring and buy though, seemed quieter than previous years - I'm saying this because I didn't face any problems getting to look at what was for sale....a very unusual experience.

Too big to get in one picture!!
There were a good number of demo and competition games which were split between classrooms - 1/2 games per room. A good mix of games both historical and fantasy/Sci-Fi, participation/demonstration.

54mm Bolt Action!
I didn't attend any of the talks so cannot comment on these....they are a unique feature of this show.

More 54mm Bolt Action...
There was a cafe, that appeared to be run by the school's PTA(?), which whilst well stocked was (to my mind) rather over-priced, which was a shame.

Old School dungeon bash with wipe-clean vinyl dungeon map - Cool.
All in all a nice distraction so soon after Christmas. A great chance to catch up with friends and meet new people. Whilst not in the league of say Colours, as my "Local" show it deserves to be supported and succeed.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Cruel Seas - 3D Printing

One of the things about Warlord Games Cruel Seas that has impressed me is the amount of items that have become available for 3D Printing to support the game.

Double-sided Sticky Tape
A really good source of these is the "Cruel Seas - The Dock Office" Facebook group. It was here that I found my first 3D print - a three dimensional rendering of the cardboard freighter included as a template with the starter set.

Lifting prints - blue tape coming away from the bed.
Now I have a Wanhoa i3 hobby printer which has a very small (12x12cm) print bed. Most of the larger cargo vessels are much bigger than this and I'm afraid my technical prowess does not stretch to cutting up 3D designs to make them fit!

Trying printing with the parts orientated the other way...still lifted
Enter TheGreg1980 who has very kindly done just that! His  freighter model that can be found at, is cut into 3 pieces which will all fit on my bed at the same time! 

Third time lucky....about 5-6 hours to print.
I still suffer from the problem of prints lifting from my print bed as they build up, layer-by-layer. I started to use blue masking tape on the bed, followed by a liberal coating of Pritt Stick glue. This worked OK with smaller prints but not so well with anything larger.

MDF base added and florist wire masts
This time I had a brainwave and decided I'd try double-sided sticky tape on top of the blue masking tape!!

 Sea textured with acrylic paste
This worked OK - the print stuck rigidly to the tape - but the tackiness of the masking tape wasn't sufficient to keep that stuck to the bed. The upshot of this was lifting parts again.

Sides repaired with Milliput (before sanding)
I'm going to experiment with another hi-tack masking tape + the double-sided tape, next time.

Gaps filled and sanded
My first go at printing failed when the power lead mysteriously fell out of the rear of the printer and the printing stopped after about two hours.

Matt White primed
My next effort was going fine until I accidentally selected the wrong control and drove the heated nozzle into the finished rear hull with disastrous consequences.

Finally third time lucky I had a print I could use - albeit one which had lifted during printing.

Starting with the deck details
I straightened the hull parts as best I could using hot/cold water and decided the best way to assemble the model would be to mount it on mdf so I could ensure alignment and more easily fill any gaps.

I found two pieces of scrap mdf from another model, that glued together would make an ideal base. I then stuck the two hull halves onto the mdf using a "No More Nails" grab type adhesive, which had the advantage of filling most of the gaps around the hull base.

Finishing with hull etc.
Once thoroughly dry, I filled the remaining gaps and tidied up the sides of the ship with a little Milliput. Then textured the base using artists acrylic paste applied with a pointed pallet knife. This really is effective at simulating waves etc. The masts were added from florist's wire super-glued into the pre-printed holes and the bridge was super-glued to the superstructure on the rear hull.

I primed the vessel with matt white spray before painting the details with Vallejo Acrylics.

  • The main deck - Dark Grey
  • Rear Deck - Khaki Grey
  • Windows - Sky Blue
  • Lifeboat - Leather Brown
  • Funnel Black with a Red stripe
  • Hold Doors - White
  • Hull and remaining superstructures - Light Grey
  • Overall highlighting - matt white dry brush

The rust streak effects were made using a mixture of Flesh Wash + Orange Brown.

Sea painted with Blue Wash 
The sea was painted over with Army Painter Blue Wash and once dry, dry-brushed twice with Matt White to pick out the wave tips.

Hi-lights, weathering (Rust) and waves added to finished model
A quick coat of spray matt varnish to tie all the finishes together an she is ready for the table.

Ready to go!
A perfect replacement for the cardboard template, and a proper target for my torpedoes!