Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Hard Work Begins

The Queen's Rangers getting prepared for assembly
As you can see in the picture, I’m in the process of preparing heads for attachment. I decided to do all the heads at one time since there are so many. All of the Queens Rangers need heads! So doing them all in one fell swoop saves time and effort mixing putty and drilling, etc. The Army-in-a-box only needs the lights and the general too. I thought about it for a long time and the method that I’m going to use involves several steps, albeit easy ones:

1. Clip excess sprue from the bottom of the neck.
2. File flat and make locating dimple in center with the point of an X-acto knife
3. Drill hole in neck of head and superglue in length of cheap floral wire.
4. Drill larger hole in neck depression of torso.
5. Use small ball of epoxy putty to attach head to body.

Note that the lights, because of their firing positions, will not have their heads attached until after painting (but before Army Shade is applied). This allows me to tilt the head over the rifle so that they will appear to aiming (which will make them roll better, no doubt).

I’m going to pin the arms too, I’ll drill straight through the arm and put a pin into it, filing the end of the pin smooth with outside of the arm. The torso gets a much bigger hole and gets a ball of epoxy putty into which the pin gets set. All the arms (engigns, cavalry, and generals) will get attached before painting.

Last in the assembly process is to pin the horse to bases and the riders to horses. A pin gets super-glued into the bottom horses legs and the bases get receiving holes. I thought about not using the cast bases at all and just attaching the horses to the Litko bases. However, I think that will leave the mounted figure way too top heavy so I’ll use them.

Speaking of basing. The highlander bases are 1.5” long! Damn, I’m going to have to cut those thick bases back. Fortunately, the stance of the figures is such that they will fit on 1.25” bases once I do that. Cutting and filing those bases back is going to be a major pain. I guess I’ll have to that before I attach the heads too.
(The highlander bases do not have to trimmed as I think that they will fit diagonally on a 1.25" square base as is. However, I decided to trim them so the figures will look more intimidating marching straight ahead with bayonets doubt this will improve their melee rolls...)
Anyhow, the goal is to have the figures primed on Wednesday. That means that I have to get them assembled by Tuesday to have time for glue to dry. This is my goal so that I can start painting over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Box Arrives...

I got an unexpected surprise this afternoon. When I got home form work, there on my porch, sat a large box full of All the King's Men stuff. Combined withthe haul from Mcon, here is my pile of pewtery goodness (plus some plasticy goodness too).

The "Project" begins...

Starting on the top row, left ot right, is a Lemax rail fence, two Lemax trees, a couple of Battlezone hills, Armies in Plastic Woodland Indians #2, and another Lemax tree. A rock wall sits infront of the hills.

British Line
On the next row are two packs of platic dead soldiers, a six pounder canon, a bag glass beads and a bag of three dozen dice (12 red, yellow and green). 

On the third row are the Queen's Legion comprised of (left to right) battalion men, hussars/dragoons, their horses, the general, light infantry, and lastly, the converged grenadiers and highlanders.

On the bottom row are the artllerists, line infantry, general, grenadiers and finaly the light infantry.

Now, since I had my camera handy with a ring flash and macro lens, I shot pix of a grenadier and line infantry figure to show the quality of these figures.

So now the work really begins. These figures are very cleanly cast. Little flash or mold lines. The most filing to be done is on the bottom of the base to make sure that I get a good bond to the Litko plywood bases I'll be using. A few of the figures have separte heads and arms so there will a little pinning an epoxying. Horses and will be pinned and epoxied to both rider and stand.

My plan is to completely assemble the mounted figures before painting. The light infantry, since they are in shooting poses will have the heads and bodies painted before assembly. This is because the rifles are too close to the head to get a brush in there.

As I sit here writing this, a strategy for painting is coursing through my head. I need to think it through and get it settled in my brain before I commit to writting.

My next entry will be on the priming, painting, and finishing methods I plan to use.

All the King's Men British Grenadiers straight out of the bag

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ed on All the King's Men at MCon15

Another MCon has come and gone. Ray was able to attend this year and we headed up to Austin on Friday afternoon. Friday's shopping and gaming was slow, with no real "Ooo!" moments. Saturday went much better. Maybe too much better!

We participated in Steve Miller's "Battle of Miller's Crossing" on Saturday morning. This was a hypothetical AWI game using All The King's Men rules and 54mm figures from Ken Cliffe, proprietor of the like-named company. To sum it all up: brilliant!!

Another view of Steve Miller's game (and Ed's studious attentiveness to the rules brief)
The rules were simple and fun. Ray and I were running the games ourselves by the second turn. They use a deteriorating "resolve" mechanism that forces the player to make decisions on how to use his dwindling resources. All of which is fed by an ingenious use of colored dice and markers. And while the game uses cards to activate units, there really wasn't any "dead time" for either of us.

We had 9 American and 7 British units and completed the game in just over an hour.  Then we set up again with a couple extra units. Mark R. sat in as the British while Ray ran the game and taught the rules. Again, we finished quickly-about 75 minutes.

The rules are fun and interactive. We got "stuck in" quickly and reached a decision. How often does that happen in today's games? ATKM appears to have filled the spot that LPE used to hold: visually appealing, quick, tense, and FUN!

ATKM and its figures have won us over. Ray and I were planning an AWI game for MCon 2013 anyway. Now we have our rules. What about figures?

Although we had already begun collecting 28s (Ray especially so!) we have not painted any yet. So we have decided to go 54mm. The figures look good even with relatively basic paint jobs and painted on "dip."

Ray bought a British "Army in a Box" and the boxed set of Queen's Rangers. That gives him 4 infantry units, 2 light infantry, a gun battery, a cavalry unit, and two generals. Later, he added a box of plastic woodland Indians.

I only bought an American "Army in a Box" with 2 infantry, 1 light infantry, 1 gun battery and one general. Later I will decide on what to buy for the other half. Plus we both bought the rules, terrain, dice, and markers.

Mike G. enjoyed the game, too. When he saw me buying Americans and knowing Ray will be in Georgia, Mike bought a British army.

Ray and I spent the rest of the weekend reading, re-reading, and discussing the rules and the game.

Sunday morning was the flea market. One table was insufficient to hold what I had brought! But I was able to clear enough from the flea market that just about covered my ATKM purchases and MCon fees.

Once we got back to San Antonio, Ray and I continued our new obsession with ATKM. We found another set of playing cards to use with our games on Amazon. We downloaded the free version of the rules. And then we started a blog to document our progress.

All in all, MCon started out slow. I was even considering that it might be our last one. But ATKM not only saved the convention, it reinvigorated us to dive into a new project for next year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ray on All the King's Men at MCon15

Ed and I were deciding what to do for next year's Millennium 16. In past years we've done Fantasy (Lord of Rings: Strategy Battle Game), Napoleonics (Le Petit Empereur and Wellington Rules!) together and Ed has done a big battalions SYW game. We had decided to do AWI in 28mm and we were casting about for rules.

So, when we saw Steve's All the King's Men AWI game on the list at Millennium, we signed up. Steve Miller was a great GM and the All the King's Men  rules are simple and intuitive. Admittedly, Ed and I are seasoned gamers, but it still says a great deal about the rules and our GM, that Ed and I were playing on our own by the second turn using only the QRS. We were also impressed with the quality of All the King's Men 's minatures used in the game which were enhanced by Steve's great painting and set up on his fantastic terrain.

After the game, Ed and I had long talks and came to the conclusion that All the King's Men and 54mm miniatures fulfill our simple requirements for a good convention game:

1. The game must be fun.
Fun for people that are interested in a new game/figures and for those who simply have a passing curiosity and may never have played a miniatures game before.

2. The game must be simple.
Too simple and veterans will turn their noses up; too complicated and half the time slot is consumed by explaining the rules which no one will remember during the play anyway.

3. The game must be visually striking.
We'll be at convention after all. This is an opportunity to show off figures and terrain. A set of rules written for 54mm figures is the foundation for a great looking table. If by-standers can tell what's transpiring on the table with a glance, the rules are doing a job of showcasing the game and the hobby.

So...Ed and I tossed our 28mm plans overboard and are 54mm converts. We will put on our own 54mm AWI game next year using All the King's Men and hope to see Steve and Ken there as well.

Just for the record, I must say that Ed and I were well pleased with Ken (a proper purveyor of pewter product) and Steve's (a master of miniature metal melee) easy going attitudes--or should I say lack of "attitude." They are, we thought, gentlemen gamers and hobbyists.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's all Ken's fault!

Steve Miller's 54mm All The King's Men game at Millennium15

Ok, it's Steve's fault too...

The co-authors of this blog are Ray and Ed. We are two old friends who share an interest in history and playing wargames with model soldiers.

We have just returned from the annual Texas contention for miniature wargames, MillenniumCon. Held each November in Round Rock, TX, MCon brings together gamers from across Texas and beyond.

At this year’s convention we participated in several games featuring models and rules from All The King’s Men, owned and operated by Ken Cliffe. The game was so much fun and so visually appealing that we have decided to stage our own game at next year’s MCon.

This blog will document our progress.