Painting Withdrawal Syndrome

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been nearly two months since my last post. I gotta do better. This will have to serve as the big catch up.

So, I can’t paint. I haven’t been able to paint since Friday (3 days ago) and I won’t be able to paint until well after June 1st. No nothing bad. I had to dismantle my painting space, which is also my entertainment space, because we are remodeling that part of the house. We’ll also be gone to Europe for three weeks, and the work will be done while we’re gone. It works out great in the end, but no painting short term.

As one who actually enjoys painting little men, it’s like yikes!!! I find myself rummaging through the pantry a lot and wondering how to fill my time. Well, that is after I walked 6-8 miles a day for the past four days, while schlepping heavy boxes and furniture back and forth to the garage and a POD in our driveway. That’s a product of having 1,500 or so vinyl records in my painting area They had to go out to the garage for fear of the heat out in the POD. Nothing like a bunch of warped vinyl.

Six American cruisers finished in April. I’ve painted all my American and Japanese destroyers and cruisers. Together they total about 50 ships.

It’s been an interesting and fun couple of painting months. I have abandoned my usual focus in order to keep painting and enjoy it. No Enfilade, no Enfilade projects. I’ve painted all of my Japanese and American 1/1200 cruisers. I’ve sold off all the ships I don’t believe I’m going to paint. So, no Germans, British or French. I’ve also begun gearing up for a project Shoe and I talked intensely about–the air campaign against Rabaul. I assembled and painted nine Japanese ships in 1.700 scale. I painted a small handful (3) American planes, but ordered a bunch more Raiden planes from I-94 Enterprises. I even read a bit about B-25 development and acquired a couple of books of camouflage schemes. I’m stoked. They’ll be here when I get back.

My stash of Japanese 1/700 scale targets for a Rabaul scenario, top. One of my two completed B-25H’s to trash them. The rest arrived yesterday.

I’ve picked at my AWI figures. I’ve worked on some stray Maximilian figures. I finished my Xenos Rampant army. Each and every one of them have been fun.

MSD PB4Y-2 Privateer Maritime bomber in 1/300. I’ve had this for a while and I enjoyed the heck out of painting it. Added fine wire to the nose and waist gun positions.

When I return from Europe, I’ll have lots more to do. I could make a big ol’ list, but honestly I just find so much fun in the doing. And I really miss doing. If I wasn’t able to paint regularly I’d be one of those bored retired guys, like one of former work buddies who is now driving 20 hours a week for Uber. Ack! Or watching the news nightmare all day long. Double ack!!!

Though I haven’t played a ton of games the past couple of months, I have played SAGA a couple of times. I’ve learned to love my ridiculous Irish. They are great missile troops but mostly have to hide in bad terrain. Not very good in a melee, though nobody has quite figured out how to get at them yet. I’ve been able to turn the table into a Gaelic shooting gallery, but it’s just a matter of time.

In any case, I’m taking a little break for vacation and as I have to re-set my painting area when I return. Lots to look forward to.


I’m doing a re-basing thing. I used to think re-basing was akin to gaming the Holocaust. You could do it, but why?

Re-basing was always a challenge. However a lot of that early work was with 15mm figures mounted on balsa, slathered in white glue and ugh. Prying them off with sharp X-acto was a danger to the figures and my fingers. I eventually tried different mounting materials, but large scale changes was always more of a change than I was willing to endure.

I’ve changed my mounting materials to Litko bases, so 3mm plywood, and I use modeling paste as the build-up material. Doug Hamm changed my outlook on remounting when he suggested simply soaking bases overnight and then gently prying the figures off their bases. I tried it and, voila it works. Well, most of the time it works. But I’ve used far fewer bandages than I did in the old days.

I have had a few re-basing projects. Last year I remounted my Maximilian in Mexico figures. That was about 250 figures, individually mounted that I remounted for Rebels and Patriots, a Daniel Mersey game. I had played with them using Warpaint, and I put them in the 3-2-1 system I have come to rely on for several periods for R and P.

This year I’m remounting my 400ish Spanish and Aztecs. David Sullivan and I cobbled together a game system called Quetzacoatl Rmapant for the period, based on another Daniel Mersey system, Lion Rampant. Next year, I hope to remount my 600 or so Lion Rampant figures. They’ll all be 3-2-1’s.

I ‘m sure you are asking why, and that’s fair. Two reasons really. First, the single figures, even though the bases are magnetized, just rattle around a lot on their 25mm X 20mm rectangles. This will protect them better. Second, moving 400 singly mounted figures in a game just takes a long time. Turns will move faster if there are fewer bases to grab.

So here’s kind of a step by step how to of my remounting method. It, will kind of morph into a “hey, here’s how I base stuff” blather, but just think of it as a one guy’s view of how to do things.

Step One: the soak

I usually do this a unit at a time, but the Spanish units are only six figures so I”m doing two units of Spanish swordsmen, by Eureka. I use a disposable food storage bin, plunk my figures down and make sure the water comes over the top of the base. No, the water shouldn’t hurt your paint. I often do this in the evening and the soak does its work by morning, but if you aren’t in a huge hurry you can let it go longer.

I usually use an X-Acto knife to pry the figures off, but the previous basing material is much softer than it was before the soak and the pry right off. Once in a while I get a sticky one and a Band-Aid and a break are called for, but that is rare. It also depends on the basing material used. If you used piles of white glue that has dried, your results may vary.

Step Two: Texturing the bases

I use Litko bases. I would guess my Litko base budget is my second biggest expense in this hobby. I know, I know, I could cut my own, but just to be clear, I have done that. Art board, balsa, basswood, plastic, I did all of ’em and mostly I got bases with ragged edges that looked bad after a while Litko it is. I use 50mm bases for three figures, 40mm for two and 25mm for one. You could probably go smaller, but figures are big and I don’t like them to be crowded.

I use CA glue to stick figures on their bases. Yeah, yeah, that’s what I use, you can use something else. Once they are firmly affixed I use modeling paste to texture the bases. I’ve used other stuff. I’ve used different Liquitex artist media. I used Cellu-clay which is a form of papier mache. I’ve come down to using modeling paste, which is also an acrylic medium. My favorite brand is what I can get cheap. A 16 oz tub will last me an entire year, but it’s also available in 8 ozs. You can find it at Hobby Lobby, Michaels or Amazon.

I use a metal artist knife. I prefer metal over plastic because it’s thinner and I feel like I have more control over where the glop is going. One real advantage to modeling paste is drying time. I usually try to apply it in the morning so it’s ready in the evening, but certainly it’s dry and hard within four hours if you’re in a hurry. Use a fairly thick coat to get the build-up you want because it will recede with drying.

Step Three: Paint

Pretty simple step. I paint the bases Burnt Umber. I don’t use a lot of craft paints, but when I do I try to use Delta Ceramcoat. For the most part I only buy basic colors, like Black, White, Charcoal and for basing I use Burnt Umber and Trail Tan. I’ve used other brands of Burnt Umber, but I just don’t get the coverage I do with Ceramcoat.

After painting the bases, and allowing for a little drying, I drybrush with Trail Tan.

Final steps

Wow, at this point we get to the matter of personal preference. Many folks like a fairly spare next step, add a rock or two and a tuft and call it good. If that’s where you are go for it. You’re gonna have your sticks and stones and a tuft or two while your dry-brushed dark stand shows through.

I tend to cover everything up, which raises the obvious question–why drybrush at all? It’s just force of habit I guess. I start with tufts. There are a zillion great makers of tufts. I’ve used Army Painter tufts, and I have no beef with them. There are lots of varieties but they are pretty basic. I really like Gamer’s Grass from the UK. They come in lots of different styles from short to very tall, from sparse to clumpy. Leadbear’s tufts from Australia are also very, very good, but right now the shipping is pretty spendy. AK also have some sparse, but really interesting tufts. So lots of choices out there, including plenty I haven’t mentioned.

I usually put 2-3 tufts on a large base, 1-2 on a 2 person base and one on a single base. Sometimes I vary it.

For my Spaniards I’m doing something a little different. I’m using agave plants in Mexico. These are from Gamer’s Grass. I’ve avoided using them for a year because they sure looked difficult. But really they aren’t. Just pull them off the little sprue, fold them up with your fingers. Hold them in place for 15 seconds or so to form the fronds into more of a bush then glue ’em down with CA glue. The first one was a challenge and then I figured out something that worked for me.

A two-frond Agave plant. Just squeeze the two leaves between your fingers and they’ll take the form you want. Then a drop of CA glue and you’re done.

I’m typically adding a tuft or two to the larger bases, and maybe one to the smaller. The last step is to apply Woodland Scenics turf. Again, you may say no! Please! Enough already. But heck, these are my figures and I say yes. I apply slightly watered down white glue to the base around the tufts and sprinkle blended brown and then blended green over the bases. I apply the glue with a paint brush and, one I don’t use for anything but basing.

Spanish Swordsmen by Eureka
Blurry Spanish Arquebusiers by Eureka

When it’s all over I let it dry for a bit and take it out to garage for a spritz of clear lacquer. It just keeps it in place. When it’s all done I stick Litko magnets on the bases. I generally use plastic scrapbooking cases as storage and line them with galvanized roof flashing. The magnets stick well to these and we’re done.

3D-DZYN South East Asian Hut Review

I wish I was better at acquiring, assembling and managing terrain pieces. That’s not to say I don’t have any, I do. In fact, I probably have more than I think I do. I think my problem is that they just take up a bunch of space. It’s the space I don’t have.

Which brings me to buildings. I’ve promised myself I would build at least one building per month. I have a fair number of laser cut MDF buildings from 4Ground, Sarissa and 3D-DZYN to keep me busy for most of the year. This week I built the SE Asian Hut number 01 by 3D-DZYN

3D-DZYN is owned and operated by Ron Palma. He’s one of our guys, an NHMGS supporter and vendor at Enfilade. Terrific person. He’s located in Canby, Oregon south of Portland. Ron has done some great SE Asian buildings, and I’ve picked up a few. He’s open to requests, including mine that he do some multi-story shop/dwellings that were prevalent in Hue. They’re in the building per month queue.

Kevin and building things are always a bit tenuous. I think it’s a confidence kind of thing, but I think with regular practice, once a month, I’ll feel better about it.

My approach to this building was patience. Though I had experience with other laser cut MDF buildings, I hadn’t done a 3D-DZYN creation so I promised my self to take it slow.

My first step was to use white glue for assembly. And my choice of adhesive was good ol’ Elmers. In the past, I’ve tried to just get everything stuck together as quickly as possible with CA glue. White glue or PVA or whatever one chooses to call it is a little more forgiving. There are some bits that require some movement after getting pieces stuck together, so avoiding your choice of CA is a good idea. Honestly PVA doesn’t take that long to set up, but I think I built this intermittently over three days. Not that long in the great scheme of things.

The kit came with several sheets of parts. They were easily removed from their sprues. Some were quite thin and fragile. I only had one disaster and that was minor, when I broke one of the fencing pieces. Honestly, I think that was on me. The floors, walls, and roof are quite sturdy, while the detail pieces are easy to use.

I loved the directions. Yeah, I know there some folks who are able to give them the heave ho and get right to work. I’m not one of those guys. The last 4Ground model I assembled had zero instructions and my initial reaction was to replace my X-acto blade to slit my wrists. Or maybe their wrists (until I remembered 4Ground is kaput.) The directions are in bite-sized sections. They are a great combination of drawings and words. The parts, both on the page and on the sprues, are clearly labeled. That’s huge for someone like me for whom this isn’t intuitive.

The fit was great. There was only one place I ran into very minor trouble and that was after assembling the door and frame, it wouldn’t quite fit in the space provided. A little bit of sanding fixed that. I wouldn’t say pieces snapped into place, but the tabs on the pieces certainly fit into the space provided, and with glue and a short wait, they were ready to go.

I really like the model. I love the elevated floor. The window and door details are great. I like the planking effect all over. The roof lifts off to hide figures. Good stuff.

The hut also comes with some fencing pieces. It goes together easily, but it is very lightweight and easily broken, as I sadly learned. It would be cool if Ron sold more of this type of fencing on his website, because I could see buying more. There are also five very cool boxes one can assemble. But these are bonuses, kind of a nice surprise.

The only complaint I have is minor. The kit includes some Scotch Brite bits that can be used for roof thatching. I don’t think it works. The texture is wrong. The planking is there on the roof pieces. A friend has offered me some teddy bear fur. If I choose to later, that’s probably the direction I would go.

I really enjoyed the experience and I’m quite happy with my hut. I heartily recommend this kit to others.

February Is Now A Thing of The Past

Perry Lee’s Legion light infantry figures. Purple.

Ah, why is February so damn short?

It was a good month. Played a few games. I think I managed three miniature games in February, which is way more than I did when I was working. I squoze in an AWI Regimental Fire and Fury game, a SAGA game using my dastardly Irish, and a 1914 game, Serbs vs. Austrians. All were much fun, though 1914 continues to have a steep learning curve for me.

I’ve done a lot of reorganizing this month. I’ve slipped a lot of my planes into smaller bins, which saves space. I also brought some stuff home from Dave Schueler’s. Tried to keep it to stuff we worked on together so I can attempt to recreate those games. The Falklands ships, the Tirpitz and her escorts, all of the scenics for the Raid on St. Nazaire managed to be shoehorned into whatever room I have in the garage. There is still more reorganizing I want to do in March, particularly with my AWI figures

Got some painting done too. It was a month split into three painting parts. In the early part of the month, I primarily focused on my Perry AWI figures. I finished two sets of command figures, for the militia commanders and Continental leaders. I completed an eight figure unit of the British Guard grenadier company. I wrestled with the best way to paint Lee’s Legion infantry. Should I put ’em in linen white with bluish facings, or better to go with the more traditional purple. When I asked Lorri, she reminded me Casey’s favorite color was purple, so that sort of decided for me. Finally, I painted the British six pounder with crew for the Southern campaign. 31 figures in all.

In the middle of month, I gave some time to painting some of my 1/1200 scale ships. The shipyard was indeed open. I was mostly focused on painting the five Japanese heavy cruisers I had that were dunked in an unfortunate shade of blue. So I primed right over those bad boys and had at it. I used my various Life Color IJN paints to get them done, and voila. My painted/repainted Japanese navy now stands at six heavy cruisers, three light cruisers and 15 destroyers.

Five Japanese heavy cruisers I painted in February.

But wait, there’s more. I brought home some unpainted destroyers I found at Shoe’s house. He primed nine metal and 3d printed ships and stuck ’em on a big sheet of cardboard. I pried them off and glued them to craft sticks and had at it. There were several Fletcher class, four Gridley/Bagley class and at least one Farragut. My collection of painted and repainted ships has gotten pretty large. 15 ships slid off the ways in the Smyth Shipyard and joined their respective fleets. The Americans now stand at two heavy cruisers, four light cruisers and 27 (!!!) destroyers. Remember, I acquired these last April, and though I’ve added some to the pile that’s 57 ships painted, included all those that were purchased.

Eureka Beowulf figures dragooned in the Anglo Danish army

Finally, I finished the month working on my Anglo Danish SAGA army. In January I purchased the action and standing around sets of the Beowulf figures offered by Eureka Miniatures. I’ve added the needed additional goodies to fill them out a bit and made significant progress on them. First, finished the dozen archers that seem a little well-appointed to be levies, but I’ll take ’em. Then I focused on the spearmen that will be the Angol-Danish warriors, the fyrdish dudes. These were fun figures to paint. Nice variety of figures and poses, though realistically they should be pretty similar and boring. Oh, well.

Ah, look, more Beowulf figures.

One of the issues I’ve had with my SAGA armies, this is my third, is the problem of spears and hands. Or the tendency of spears to vacate hands. I decided to two-part epoxy them in, as well as the shields, so we’ll see how this goes. I also made the decision to hand-paint my shields. Anglo Danes tend not to have elaborate shield patterns and Little Big Men Studios doesn’t make shield transfers for Eureka, so I took a chance. Not perfect, but they’ll do.

Two quick one offs were the completion of the gunboat Conestoga from my 3D printer and I also finished a 4Ground Viking farmhouse. It’s always nice to have a scenic or two for the SAGA game table.

So the February total is 75. That’s 149 for the year. Respectable, but I’d like to complete more.

Did I buy anything. Well, yes I did. Need to stop doing that. There’s a long story to why I bought figures for Xenos Rampant, but let’s just agree that I purchased a box of Stargrave Troopers, as well as a couple of sniper figures, totaling 27. They’re plastic, ewwwww, but I’ll live through it.

I also added a box of plastic Anglo Danish warrior types so I could have more the six points to my army. It’s always nice to be able to make choices.

March is here, March is good, because it has 31 days. I’ll be painting more AWI figures. For certain there are 36 militia that must be complete before a game get together on March 18th. I’ll also complete some my Anglo Danes. Just the plastic guys and some leader types to wrap up. Finally, there are six American cruisers I promised myself I’d complete. Lots to do. Always lots to do.

Doorstop No More!!

The raw model of the Conestoga, a Union wooden gunboat from the Civil War. Needs some sandpaper, some primer and some paint.

Last summer, after Casey’s death, I persuaded Lorri to let me buy a resin 3D printer. I was going to hold off until fall, but Amazon ran their big online sale in July and because I could save a hundred bucks on a package, I persuaded my wife and myself that the time to buy was that minute. So I did, and got an Elegoo Saturn S and a Mercury cleaning and curing station.

Where to locate it was always a problem in my head. I thought about putting it in the garage, but because it’s cold there, I knew that wouldn’t work. But if I just made some minor modifications in my den, taking the sliding doors off the closet, I thought I could have some success and frankly the space has worked fine.

It arrived within a week of my order. I set it up and did the test print, which looked okay but not perfect. I bought some of David Manley’s STL’s of ACW ships from Wargame Vault and had at it. That began a string of failed prints and no successes. It was frustrating and deflating. I had conversations with a number of folks who were 3D printers at Enfilade and though they enjoyed making stuff, their printers were often down with one problem or another. I feared the effort it would take to run, clean and fine tune the machine would be a time suck, distracting me from painting-which is the central part of miniature gaming I love. I was concerned 3D printing was really a different hobby, beyond my ability to master or even learn, and, to be truthful, I still feel that way to some degree.

I think I made my last failed print in November. Bad Build No. 6. And then I let it sit, thinking I would have to invest some time online to get it figured out. It was a six hundred dollar paper weight. A door stop. A testament to my ignorance. Some things you just can’t overcome. I was a 3D printing loser.

Fortunately, Bruce Harborne is one of our Saturday Night Zoom meeting attendees. Bruce asked about my printing exploits and I would explain what was happening. Early on, he suggested we have our own Zoom call and he could walk me through the process. We began with sending my printer settings to him and he created the model I wanted to build without difficulty. It didn’t get farther than that. However, a couple of weeks ago we scheduled that Zoom meeting and he helped me properly level my build plate. The next day I printed David Manley’s file of the Conestoga, a Civil War wooden gunboat.

Success. It looked great. But embarrassingly it was really stuck to the build plate. After a couple hours of intermittent prying and cursing and failed experiments from youtube videos it was free. It needs some sanding, but not bad for a first effort.

I have a couple of more things to do to prepare for my next build, including successfully leveling my build plate again. I know I discombobulated the settings in trying to pry the Conestoga loose.

I posted my results on FaceBook, and I’ve had lots of suggestions. I know what next steps I want to take and we’ll see what happens some time in the coming week.

The Obligatory January Review

January felt like it went on and on but February is racing by. What’s that about? Sheesh.

In many respects, January was a great month, except of course that my dear friend Dave died on January 1st. It was a couple of weeks of navigating a really mopey haze. But, things did get better for me. I was helping Dave’s wife Lynn move and organize Dave’s considerable pile of yikes last week. This was round two and I expect there will be rounds three and four and it brought back how much I missed him. I “liberated” some of the bits of work we did together so I could hang on to it–the Tirpitz and Illustrious we bombed together with AirWar 1940, the Falklands ships. I gathered up the altitude stands and some stray planes. I just want to keep them together. But just organizing everything and finding a place for them in my own field of “yikes” was filled with sadness and loss.

But I’m doing okay. It’s not all the time, just occasionally. He was the best.

I did get some painting done in January. I enjoyed every minute of it. The painting. Didn’t get quite as much done as I would like, but what the heck.

I focused a lot on those Nathaniel Greene battles I waxed so eloquently about last month. My big focus was painting the 2nd Virginia regiment that appears in all three battles. It’s big. Ten stands or 40 figures. I used the Perry marching figures and chose a variety of different looks including Continental regimentals in their distinct blue with red facings. But most of the unit is in a variety of civilian dress. Greene was always complaining about supply, so having them in varied attire seemed reasonable.

2nd Virginia Regiment by Perry Miniatures. Flags by GMB. I’m a big fan of both.

I also added a couple of stands to my 2nd Maryland regiment. These are also Perry figures in a firing line. The 2nd Maryland wore Brown faced red. So a little difference.

Finally, I added the light company for the British Guards units. These functioned as a separate unit at Guilford Courthouse and the Perry figures are pretty nice, with their cute hats and distinctive LI, though the marching pose is fairly lame. I also added some British officers, which I really like.

Total AWI figures for the month: 59

I bought the Eureka Beowulf figures, one set each of the standing looking tough guys and the same guys in action poses. Love the story of Beowulf. Really like the figures and I decided to use them as the basis for an Anglo-Danish army for SAGA. Unfortunately you need other figures to fill those out. So I did. I picked up some Footsore Anglo Danish Huscarls, the Eureka Dark Ages archers and added the obligatory Gripping Beast personalities of Cnut the Great, and Harold Godwinson and his brothers.

Huscarls by Footsore Miniatures

Now that I got ’em I gotta paint ’em. So I did manage to get the huscarls done. Hoping I might finish the lot in February that is flying by. We’ll see. Eight figures.

I also promised to get a building done each month. True to my word, I assembled and painted the Perry/Renendra American farmhouse finished. I hated assembling it. I think I would have enjoyed needles poked in my eyes more. I primed it a desert yellow color and then just dry brushed white over it. I got the aging weathered look I was after, so good on me. One figure.

Last, but not least, I tackled some of my 1/1200 scale ships. I had four unbuilt Alnavco kits, so I started with those. It was a Brooklyn class CL, and then three Fletcher DD variants. Three of those I put in Measure 22 colors, which is just blue gray over blue gray. One I put in Measure 32 camouflage. More about that in a moment. I popped open my box of cruisers I want to re-paint. I grabbed the Japanese Mogami and the Indianapolis. Japanese ships are incredibly orderly and easy to paint. If I painted nothing but Japanese ships they would go fast and easy.

However, the Indianapolis was problematic. I already have her sister, the Portland in Measure 22. For a short time 1943-44 it was a Measure 32 ship, so I decided what the heck. Measure 32 is difficult. It’s not just that it’s messy and multiple colors, it’s that it is just difficult to get right. The horizontal pattern that everyone looks at is just broken by so much detail on a tiny model that it is a huge challenge just to cover all the light spaces. It was fun to do once or twice, but I don’t think it’s an opportunity I will regularly pursue. Measure 21, Measure 22 look just fine. Six figures.

So, 74 figures for the month. I’m not complaining. I always like to get in the 84 figure neighborhood because 12 X 84 gets me to a thousand for the year, but I’m not holding my breath on that. As long as I make progress I’m not complaining.

Figure purchases. Well, yes. I ordered 15 boxes of Perry AWI figs early in the month, but honestly nothing else.

Games, well, yes a few. I played Regimental Fire and Fury with the guys at their monthly meeting. I’m enjoying that. I ran a 28mm AWI game last weekend. I’ll report that in a separate post. I also worked with David Sullivan to try out Xenos Rampant for Vietnam, which was covered earlier. I had a lot of fun playing SAGA with my Wednesday SAGA brothers. My Irish made their first appearance. While I would hardly call them formidable, they were ridiculously fun to run. We laughed through the entire game.

February will be more of the same. Lots of AWI stuff to paint. I hope to finish my Anglo Danes so I can move on to other stuff. I also commit to completing at least one ship and one building.

Ho Chi Minh Rampant

For the past month or so David Sullivan and I have been trying to get together to try out something new for our Vietnam figures. Yesterday, we are able to do finally do it, and we had it out on the table using Xenos Rampant as the basis for our game.

We had been using Arc of Fire. Honestly, we like the mechanics of the rules, but unless you want to do something like direct fire with small arms, they are just sort of impenetrable and we can’t seem to keep our nose out of the rule book. Looking. And looking some more.

But Xenos Rampant = Lion Rampant = Rebels and Patriots = Daniel Mersey and his acolytes = we know our way around these rules.

After looking at the obligatory unit types included in the rules, we each cobbled together a force of 24 points. David chose from his North Vietnamese regulars and I chose from my U.S. Marines. We both stuck with infantry and agreed not to allow for the fire support option which would have allowed for indirect fire support. We also agreed the Marines and NVA were, according to the rules heavy infantry. Meaning these were troops most likely to shoot it out rather than shoot and scoot. We agreed that Viet Cong would be, in accordance with the rules, likely be light infantry. MACV, SEAL teams and Special Forces types would likely be Elite troops.

We each went a different direction with selecting troop types. Though both of us chose heavy infantry units, David gave his troops embedded heavy weapons for a couple of extra points. We considered the heavy weapons as light machine guns. These have some advantages and disadvantages. An advantage is that a hit roll of “6” does two points of damage. However, it’s limited by the standard of the infantry’s 18″ optimal shooting range. Just to be clear, any weapon has an unlimited range, and suffers a penalty beyond the optimal.

A look down the table at my positions. You can see my first M-60 position, an infantry squad and a few more guys down the table.

I chose the support weapon option for the squad M-60’s. This makes them separate, small units. It also gives them an optimal range of 24″, meaning they hit better under 24″ This was problematic because we never got within 24″ despite lots of terrain to obstruct line of sight. When the rubber hit the road, David’s option was best for his LMG’s because rolling 6’s did so much more damage AND his LMG’s couldn’t be targeted. They were just part of the unit.

My sniper team. All figures by Gringo 40s

We also each took an additional weapon. David opted for a DsHk heavy machine gun and I opted for a sniper team. Both were unpleasant for the other side. Snipers are recon infantry. The Dushka is a support weapon.

A quick look at the table. A village surrounded by cover.

The mechanics of the game were easy. Like The Men Who Would Be King, each unit type had some free actions, if movement or shooting wasn’t “free” they had to be activated. Unfortunately, I know I didn’t activate some things in retrospect. For example, the sniper gets to move freely, but has to activate on a die roll of 7 or greater to shoot. I don’t think I ever rolled to shoot that bad boy. Heavy infantry gets to shoot freely, but must roll to move, and I’m not sure I did. Maybe.

My lucky squad with my leader figure in their starting position. Sniper team in the background.

The scenario was a big shoot fest. We kind of set up the show to have a village surrounded by woody bits. The rules allow shooting into woods but not through both two edges of a woods, so you can’t shoot through woods to a unit on another side. Lots of shooting into cover, which makes catastrophic death harder. But there were a fair number of casualties.

Chief among these were my support weapons. They were targeted by David’s DsHk, which had a bit more to offer than my M-60. My other LMG got blasted pretty well from one of his infantry squads with the heavy weapon option. The double damage from a six die roll did ’em in.

There were lots of things we didn’t get to try. Because our range remained pretty long, we didn’t get to use the Firefight option. Gotta try that. There are other things to work out too. However, I thought the ease of play was perfect and very enjoyable game. Can’t wait to try again.

Just a Few Things I’m doin’

Are you overwhelmed with all your stuff? Is your usable painting area limited to 6″ X 6″? Are you having a hard time focusing on meaningful progress. Me too. Welcome to Kevin’s pile of stuff and why I enjoy it so much.

My big achievement for the month will be the completion of the 2nd Virginia Regiment for Nathaniel Greene’s army in the American Revolution. It’s 40 figures, ten stands, mounted for Regimental Fire and Fury. The figures are by the Perrys. Have I said how much I love this range? In terms of variety of figures, and the wide range of uniform styles in the Revolution, they are very good. I also like the relative simplicity of the figures. It doesn’t feel like they have a pile of stuff hanging off them like traveling tinkers. They are sleek and ready for battle. My sole criticism is that they are often festooned with tiny mold marks that are hard to see and I often don’t find them until well after they are primed and I am painting. That’s a frustration that I’m willing to live with.

I’ve promised myself to get a ship or ships done every month. I have a great pile of them to do from a variety of periods. George Kettler, a few months back, gave me some 1/600 hulls from Bay Area Yards. I’ve ordered some gun sets I’ll need to finish them. I have a couple of Thoroughbred ACW masted ships that are candidates for work as well.

This month I’ve worked on four Superior 1/1200 Americans ships from WWII. This is the USS Philadelphia, a Brooklyn-class light cruiser. The Philadelphia wore its measure 22 paint scheme throughout the war. I chose Philadelphia due to its yeoman service in the Leyte Gulf battle at Surigao Strait. I’ve also worked on three Fletcher class destroyers including two that carried Kingfisher seaplanes, because you can’t have too many destroyers carrying seaplanes. Well, actually you can.

This is a tough little project for me. My hope was that Dave and I would do something with them. We discussed it, but just never got very far. I’ll need to invest some time in rules and hope I can find others who might be interested. I have a copy of General Quarters 3 and Shoe was interested in Admiral of the Fleet.

In truth, this is one of those projects which was so Dave and Kevin-centric, I’m kind of wondering why I’m still flogging it but I’ll try to carry on.

For the first time in a long time, I’ve hauled out my stash of resin hydroplanes and given them a serious lookover. The little 1/72md scale resin models are really very nice and Sean McEvoy did such a super job of creating them. They are a labor of love. I found one already assembled (you have to add the tail) and painted it up as the U-4 Smyth the Smoother Mover from 1971. I couldn’t resist. I have more than a dozen boats unbuilt and I’d really like to finish them over the coming year. I find assembling them a bit of a challenge, but really enjoy the painting. I also would really like to have an annual Thunderboats! event in Dave’s honor, so the more boat options the better.

Freed from the pressure of Enfilade planning, I’m just having a good time painting whatever sounds good.

2023: What Will It Be?

I usually am full of New Years resolutions for what or won’t get done. By this time of year I’ve identified my Enfilade projects and they are moving along. I’m a big stick to the script guy.

To really change things up, I won’t attend Enfilade this year. I’ve never missed one in the convention’s history. However, after some discussion with my wife and the opportunity to travel with my sister and her husband, we are taking a Viking cruise around the UK. So I’ll miss Enfilade for the first time. It wasn’t even under protest. I turned down offers to re-schedule.

I do have a plan for 2024. I am going to run the three Nathaniel Greene battles for the American Revolution. That’s Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk’s Hill and Eutaw Springs in the order they happened. I’ll leave out Ninety Six which more of a siege. I’ve always had Guilford on my list. I have a ton of AWI figures, but I’ll be doing a bunch of painting. I am enamored of the Perry range for the Revolution in the South, so there will be plenty of those on the board. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the figures they replace. I’m thinking some conversions to Rebels and Patriots are in order, or I might part with some to some deserving young person getting started.

As far as further painting, that’s never an issue. I’m up to my neck in unpainted goodies. I think my focus is on the Spanish American War, SAGA Anglo Danes, and Maximilian stuff. But there are ships and planes to work on as well. I also have some buildings to complete and some fencing to build. My forgotten pile of hydroplanes for Thunderboats have been calling to me as well. In a perfect world I would finish a building and at least one ship every month. Would like to sneak in some planes too.

If that sounds unfocused, well, I don’t have to be focused this year, and I’m going to try to enjoy it.

One of my New Year’s resolution is just to play more. I want to enjoy the games and my friends as much as possible.

On December 30th (I hope I can count this) I managed to get in a game of Chain of Command at George Kettler’s house. I confess, I’m not a huge fan of the game. It’s out of my period and the rules require regular play to remember them well. However I am a huge fan of George’s. He does great work. His terrain is almost all hand made, and his tables looks so great. He’s been incredibly kind and supportive over the years. The guys playing are also super: Wil D, John K., Daryl N., Scott A. Wil has a deep understanding of the rules and he was on the German side with Scott and me. That solved some of my lack of play issue.

The game is part of a Stalingrad campaign George and the guys are running. I was content to be a stand in German platoon with StuG III. We assaulted a key building, Scott dropped in some incredible smoke, and flamed a Russian rifle platoon with his engineers. We made progress and moved the table a bit in the campaign. I had a good time and it was great to hang with the guys.

This first Saturday of the month is another gaming opportunity I hope to take advantage. It’s Regimental Fire and Fury at historic Fort Steilacoom. I’ve known about this for years and wanted to take advantage of it, and the past couple of months I’ve done so. The guys have 15mm ACW figures mounted properly for the system and they have a deep knowledge of the rules. And I’m glad, because even though I love Regimental Fire and Fury I don’t have that level of understanding. But I’m really good at reading the QRS.

They don’t do a lot of scenario making, which I’m not wild about, but I do really enjoy Gene, Lawrence, Gary and the boys. I’m going to take my turn running the game using 28mm AWI with the rules variant for R FaF. That will be February 4th so I’ll be sure to include pictures and an update.

Finally, we have a game group that is meeting regularly at Silver King games in Tacoma. This is a midweek group of retirees. We started out by playing SAGA, which we are committed to, but we’re going to play twice a month with a board game and likely SAGA. I think there are other miniature opportunities too. We met to play Viticulture by Stonemeier Games last week. It was a blast and we enjoyed each other as well. That’s Mark W, Kurt W., Scott A., and Dave D. Much fun. Next week, SAGA and I’ll unlimber my Dark Age Irish for their debut on the table.

Nothing is written in stone about must do’s but I’m thinking after all the tragedy of 2022, this year has to be better.


Dave and Lynn at our place for my 60th birthday party, 2015

Dave Schueler’s fight against cancer is over.  He fought, but ultimately didn’t win.  Dave passed quietly on New Year’s Day. I had an hour and half with him and his devoted wife Lynn, but shortly after I arrived home from the Seattle hospital he was gone.

Dave was my dear friend.  He is of the brotherhood of Dave, the three Daves in my life, including Dave Demick and David Sullivan.  Periodically we would all gather together to play board games and we would call them the 3DK days.  Of course, it would make communicating during games difficult, so Dave Demick would be Dave, David would, naturally, be David, and Dave Schueler-drawn from his AOL email address, Daveshoe, would be Shoe. 

I have a wonderful sister, but no brother(s).  The Daves all have brothers.  But they are like my brothers.  So losing Shoe feels like losing a close family member. 

I met Shoe in the early 90’s when we began Enfilade.  He was very involved with Blue Max, the WWI air game. I wasn’t a Blue Max or WWI air guy. But I was drawn to a painting competition he won with a scratcbuilt balloon and thought I really needed to get to know this guy. 

I was drawn into the Air Pirates group with Dave and Paul Hannah that began with 1/300 WWII planes paired with the Avalon Hill Mustangs rules played on hex mats.  But I was even more impressed as Shoe began adapting these rules to other periods, such as the Korean War with his Mig Alley Aces variant.

Mustangs was never my long suit.  I was always a willing participant and painted plenty of planes.  I just wasn’t very good at planning a move or two ahead and was mostly good at flying aimlessly about or being shot down.  My greatest achievement was one night playing at Paul’s and flying a French De. 520.  I’d been shot and caught fire.  The next turn I put the fire out and the following turn crashed into a mountainside.  Sigh.

One of our first big air projects was Bombing the Tirpitz during the Tungsten Raids in Norway 1944. We used Mustangs as our rules.

Our friendship grew in other directions as Dave invited me to Mariners games.  Dave and Lynn had season tickets, wonderful seats, down the first base line.  He knew from the inescapable game banter that Paul and I were both devoted, deluded Mariners fans, so invitations to ballgames followed.  Eventually Lynn and Lorri would join the two of us for several games and that relationship was established as well. 

Listening to Jerry Dipoto at FanFest in 2017. Lunch and a beer at Hanks. It was a good day.

The highlight was when Dave and Lynn won one of the Mariner charity auctions that allowed them invite a couple of buddies to join them on the field to meet Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer.  Paul and I joined the Schuelers.  They didn’t let us stand on the grass, but we did get to meet Moyer, exchange nods with Edgar Martinez and Lou Piniella, say hello to Tacoma News Tribune beat writer Larry LaRue, and shake hands with the immortal Doug Creek.  It was awesome and clearly, I’ve never forgotten. 

The Mariners and baseball would remain a part of our relationship until the end.  Shoe and I did ballgames and Fanfests.  We commiserated whenever we talked. We played baseball card games and board games.  When Dave went into the hospital in November, whenever I dropped by, at least weekly, I brought news of Mariner offseason not-action, of the big signings and of the Carlos Correa not-signing.  It was not unusual to see us both in our Mariners garb.

Dave was always an air and sea guy.  He’d been a submariner, serving on boomers and attack boats, and it’s his time over at Bangor that brought him from his southern Colorado birthplace to Seattle.  His game interests were largely doing plane and ship stuff, and I was happily sucked into that whirlpool of interests.  Honestly, it didn’t take much.

Dave’s real talent was in game design. To be clear, Shoe was a legit designer of board games and miniature systems.  Published.  Sold stuff.  He had a real genius for understanding what the players were going to experience in a game and ensuring the game would be inclusive, thoughtful and challenging. 

Golden Age Air Racing at the Museum of Flight 2022

He wrote the Golden Age Air Racing rules in 2000.  They were fun, easy to run and play, with lots of choices for players to make.  Dave and I used our best modeling skills to build a bunch of ancient Hawk air-racer kits in 1/48 scale and we were off. A few years later he followed with a version 2.0.  But the crème de la crème was the introduction in 2005 of Thunderboats!  This was a hyrdroplane racing game using many of the same mechanics.  We concocted the base ideas for these on a Sunday at Enfilade when we were punch drunk and silly, but amazingly Dave produced the rules.  Sean McEvoy provided the resin boats, and the game became a much-loved feature of the convention, nostalgic for a snapshot of the Seattle they grew up in.

Shoe, foreground, runs Thunderboats! while Casey, opposite, decides whether to push that turn.

David introduced me to the rules of David Manley, and we became “Manley Men.”  We started with Action Stations and WWII coastal actions.  We tried Airwar C21 for jet age combat.  Things accelerated from there to try Lord of the Seas, Airwar 1940, and Fire When Ready.  We embraced Manley’s use of just enough detail combined with playability to make games that we could not only play ourselves but share with others in a convention setting.  This led to a tremendous run of games we would plan and share at Enfilade. At the center of it all was Shoe and his superb planning, crafting excellent games that a novice could easily understand.

We were Manley Men!!

I did lots of stuff on the side and with David Sullivan.  We are mostly lots of figures kind of guys, and David and I have and always do lots of projects together.   And honestly, I’m drawn to the off-beat.  Convention themes are simply unimportant to me. With the attention span of a fly crawling on the wall, I am often captured by whatever historical experience has ensnared me. Whether it was gaming baseball on a tabletop or playing out a Spanish intervention in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, I would try it.  I loved the history and painting the figures, and I firmly believe you can game anything.

It didn’t matter how wacky my projects were, Shoe would help me with them. I could block out a game and he’d remind me of what each side, every player would or would not be doing.  Would the game bog down in mechanical uncertainty?  Would a player be left with little or nothing to do?

When I told him I wanted to do The Burr Conspiracy as a game for Enfilade 2014, he rolled his eyes, but was also interested in James Wilkinson and what a ridiculous human being he was. Shoe helped me sketch out ideas for the game. Players would write orders. They could communicate with one another only in writing.  Interesting perhaps for 1976, but something quite different 40 years later.   In the general weirdness arena, “Emperor of Texas” was unmatched, but Shoe was there to watch and cheer me on that Sunday morning.  In the great scheme of things, it wasn’t Waterloo or Teutoburger Wald, but for me it was a triumph, a game that played exactly as I hoped, one I couldn’t have achieved without him or the genuine interest of the guys who played.

Shoe, on his own, hosted DANG, or Dave’s Annual Naval Game.  This had its own ritual which usually began in August or September as Shoe offered ideas to the dozen or so attendees.  Those able to come to the late December event voted in two rounds to select the topic for a day’s mini campaign that Dave and Lynn hosted in their living room.  For fifteen or so years, Shoe hosted a variety of naval events from Lepanto to a modern campaign in the South China Sea.  I was there for almost all of them and enjoyed each immensely.

Yes, we had this great gaming relationship, but there was so much more.  We just enjoyed each other’s company.  Whatever was happening either Dave or myself would try to combine a get together with lunch and a beer.  Dave was a lunch and beer kind of guy.  I’m kind of a goat and will eat almost anything, but Dave was a little pickier.  Chicken strips were his thing.  Our favorite place to eat was the Elliott Bay Brewery, which had pretty fine chicken strips.  Any of their locations was okay, but we loved Burien the most.  We had so many great meals there, followed the M’s in the bar, talked politics, reviewed games, miniatures and rules.  My favorite was after buying Dave Smith’s giant pile of planes, spreading them across the table and puzzling over some of them.  Lots of laughter over lots of beer.

I am one who enjoys self-celebration.  Birthdays are big.  Dave and Lynn came to my 60th birthday celebration.  When I retired, Lorri celebrated her 60th birthday and we remembered our 40th anniversary with a party-a trifecta of important dates. Dave and Lynn were there.  As our Lorri’s family shrank and our Thanksgiving dinner table seemed less full, we asked friends who didn’t have plans to join us on Turkey Day.  We asked Dave and Lynn and Dave Demick and Margaret to join us.  It was all much fun, if a bit of a frenzy.  Casey loved Lynn, and because we were politically more or less aligned, there was little chance of an unpleasant eruption.  John and Susan Gee joined us in 2021.  It was wonderful.

Dave and Lynn help us celebrate our trifecta: My retirement, Lorri’s 60th, and our 40th anniversary in 2019.

Dave and Lynn were a great twosome.  Sometimes Lynn would join us at Elliott Bay.  If we were lucky we could persuade Lorri to make the drive up too.  They were great with our boys.  Casey sometimes joined us for board games at Meeples.  He could be a force to be reckoned with.  They surprised musician Patrick a couple of times as they attended his shows at Whiskey West in on California near Fauntleroy.  Everything felt like the best of friends. 

After I retired, Shoe would always torture me about being retired and having all the free time to paint and game regularly.  But when Covid struck the following March it was like the world came to a standstill.  We learned very rapidly just how social miniature wargaming was. I didn’t miss working, but I sure missed my friends.

Dave seemed to solve that problem as he began hosting a series of games under an outdoor pavilion in his front yard.  The summer of 2020 was filled with all sorts of games including What a Tanker, Fire When Ready, and I ran my Philiippine Insurrection game.  It reunited lots of old friends, and we added new friends to our circle.  It was the best.  Even if we were masked and distanced the beer and discussion afterward was the best.

My Philippine Insurrection game was one of many played on Dave’s front lawn the summer of 2020.

Of course the summer series lasted as long as the good weather did.  Games became scarce as the rain became plentiful.  In November Dave suggested John Gee and I use David Manley’s Splendid Little War campaign rules to play the Spanish American War.  John graciously agreed to take the Spanish.  Yikes. We only were able to play my attack on Manila Bay in person and it just didn’t work out well for the Spanish.  I had fun, but was looking forward to games in the Spring. 

But the Northwest’s Great Darkness became much darker when Shoe announced in January he had cancer.  I am a prostate cancer survivor.  Mine was detected early, I had surgery and eight years later I remain cancer-free.  Dave’s situation was much worse.  Stage four prostate cancer had aggressively metastasized to his lungs and bones.  He let me know by e-mail, not quite sure of how to tell the guys.  I read his missive, laid my head down at my computer and sobbed. Just fucking sobbed. I didn’t know where this would go, but I vowed to be the best friend I could. 

In 2021 chemo and Covid kept Dave from a Labor Day Enfilade.  We had planned to do Ploesti, but that wouldn’t fly.  David and I did our Hue game, which was great fun. But we did reprise the summer series on the lawn.  We were a happy group, but what hung over everything was learning in the fall that Dave’s chemotherapy had little lasting effect on his tumors. A second round was scheduled for 2022. 

I planned another Enfilade without Shoe, which seemed doubly weird.  But Covid was definitely present and with his suppressed immune system, there’s no way he could attend.  Gaming throughout the summer seemed sparse and Dave seemed weakened by his illness and his treatment.  We did play Lissa in his living room, but Shoe seemed thoroughly done in by the experience. I was worried. 

In June, the weekend after Enfilade Casey died. It was and remains devastating. For the next month my life was pretty well subsumed into working through the different threads of getting his apartment cleaned out, planning a memorial, contacting his various business interests. It was exhausting. I tried to stay in touch with friends and I called Dave every couple of weeks. He was struggling with his symptoms. When Casey’s Celebration of Life was held in Sumner on July 10th, Dave and Lynn were there. Dave, unable to sit for long periods, and having faced an hour car ride, stood through the hour presentation. I’ll be forever grateful. I know there was a cost.

Cyber-knife treatment in August brought some relief and September was better, but by October it was clear the cancer was spreading and he was feeling the effects.  We spent a sorrowful day playing board games, enjoying one another’s company but afraid of what was coming.  Dave made an appearance at our Museum of Flight event on November 18th, but the week after Thanksgiving, Shoe was admitted to the hospital. 

This is how I’ll remember him best. Having designed a wonderful day’s fun for DANG, Shoe is letting us know what we’ll have to do, how to win, and sharing the resources we have to achieve victory. Oh and you can get more, but they might not show up on time or in the right place, and it will cost you some victory points too. Sigh. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Dave was a gamer. He was a far more accomplished miniature wargamer than I am.  He was probably much smarter than I am. I learned a lot from him.  Not only in the sense I learned how to play games or design scenarios, but in other much more important ways.  We were friends who enjoyed our shared interests and experiences. We weren’t the same, but we just clicked, and I loved him and miss him so much. He made me a better person, one who taught me lessons I hope will help me to lead a better life.