Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Perfect Gaming Convention Location

I've realized that after making some comments about upcoming conventions, I have not mentioned where any of them are being held.  Since this is something that [all three of] my readers might be interested in, here's some information about the one in October.

I will be attending a convention called Texas BROADSIDE! 2017.  This convention is actually held on board the USS Texas.  She is the last remaining WWI superdreadnought in the world, and fought in both WWI and WWII.  During WWI, she was part of the Grand Fleet in the Sixth Battle Squadron, which was made up of US ships.  During WWII, she was at Operation Torch, Normandy, Cherbourg, southern France, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  She was also the first US battleship to become a permanent museum ship.

The convention was started in 2011, and has been held every year since then.  All the money we raise from the convention goes to the ship for preservation and restoration efforts.  Even if you can't make it to the convention, I urge you to visit the website ( and purchase yourself a shirt or something; it's for a good cause.  Below is the press release for the convention.  PS:  If you think other people might be interested in this, PLEASE share this post far and wide.  USS Texas was commissioned in 1914, so is now 103 years old and in need of lots and lots of tender loving care and money (especially money).

“Texas BROADSIDE! 2017” – October 13 thru October 15, 2017

In cooperation with the Battleship Texas Foundation, Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming will host its 7th annual wargame convention aboard the Battleship TEXAS, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 13th thru October 15th 2017.

Inspired by the National WWII Museum’s past “Heat of Battle” wargame conventions, “Texas BROADSIDE!” uses wargaming as a means to educate the visiting public about the history of armed conflict and features local-area gamers playing board and miniature games aboard
the USS TEXAS.  These games simulate various battles on land, at sea, or in the air, drawn from conflicts throughout world military history, from ancient through modern times.
Again this year, Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming will be running free-to-the-public opportunities throughout the weekend for young visitors to the Battleship TEXAS to learn how to constructively play with “toy soldiers”, while receiving an introduction to the wargaming hobby.

Lunch time lectures by TPWD staff, noted military, military history, and/or wargaming hobby speakers will also be featured. Several modeling and game hobby vendors will also be on site, where wargamers in attendance, and the general public, can shop for and buy war books, games, terrain, and model kits and modelling supplies.
The games begin at 10:00 am each day and conclude at 7:00 pm.  All games will be played in the public areas of the ship, so visitors to the TEXAS can watch the gaming and ask questions of the gamers.  Participating in one or more games requires the purchase of a separate special event ticket.  All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Battleship Texas Foundation to assist in their ongoing restoration efforts.  Details can be found here:
Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming is a group of gamers who meet monthly, to share in simple, fast, and fun wargaming, amongst friends, whilst enjoying a good meal.  They organize and run Texas BROADSIDE! each year to provide a unique opportunity for local wargamers to play aboard a historic treasure, to educate the public about military history through wargaming, to publicize the wargaming hobby, and as a fund raiser for the Battleship Texas Foundation.

For more information please contact Andy Bouffard, Director of Texas BROADSIDE! 2017 at (713)548-4944 or email him at

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What Is My Time Worth, Part 3: Painting the Hull

As the title says, this is the point where lots of paint starts getting sprayed, brushed, rebrushed and otherwise applied.  So, how do we get from this:

Full disclosure: This is not the one I am painting.  I forgot to take a
picture of it unpainted.

to this:
Perhaps I should have taken this off the painting stick so you could see the
hull a bit better?

I use a black spray paint undercoat for my hull and my masts.  While it does mute the colors that go over it somewhat, it has the advantage of hiding any small areas that my paint job misses.  A white or grey undercoat, on the other hand, makes those areas stand out even more.  What you can't do though, is just use the undercoat as your base coat and paint around it.  Even though the model is on a painting stick, the undercoat will still rub off from handling.  So yes, the black undercoat then gets a coat of black on top of it.  😒  Of course, it doesn't have to be black.  I've also used Payne's Gray on hulls, and it gives a different, shinier look than straight black.

I had originally thought about doing the ship based on the painting of HMS Euryalus in The  Trafalgar Companion, which shows her looking like this:

I later chose against it, mainly because I was tired of painting a scheme I've come to refer to as BBB (Basic Boring British).  Instead, I pulled out my Anatomy of the Ship: The Frigate Diana and decided to go that way instead.  If you're not familiar with that book, HMS Diana looks like this:

A bit more colorful than HMS Euryalus is portrayed, to say the least! So, why did I choose this paint scheme instead of the previous one?  My rationales go like this:
  1. When I get to play the Battle of Trafalgar, the smaller ships likely won't be on the table,
  2. It is still an authentic historical paint scheme,
  3. The earlier paint scheme of Diana will give me more use out of the ship, and 
  4. I was tired of painting black and yellow (Did I mention that earlier?  I feel like I might have.).
 When I paint a hull I do the deck first, then the sides, and then finish up with the bow and stern.  I don't use washes because I have never managed to get a good hand on using them.  They either come out too dark, or with no effect at all other than muddying up all the colors.  So, what you see on the upper deck is the end result of painting and then careful touch-up work.  It is probably slower than using washes, but it's also the only way I know how to paint.  The bow and stern are painted the same way:  Paint, touch-up and re-touch until it looks right.

If you look at the hull, you'll see that the gunports without covers are painted in either a dark gray (in the hull) or a lighter gray (on the upper deck).  I do this so that it gives the effect of light coming through the gunports on the upper deck, or the shadows of the gundeck.  The hull gunports on this ship are particularly dark, because I figured that the boats on the skid beams will block out most of the light coming into the lower deck.  The light gray areas around the upper deck are hammock storage, and the dark brown lines on them represent the stanchions that support the netting.  The Langton manual on painting suggests painting light brown or gray criss crossed lines to represent the netting, but I can't do that neatly.

I don't have a specific time breakdown for each part of painting the hull, because it's not really that simple.  I know I said deck, hull and then bow/stern but it's not quite that simple.  When I'm painting the hull, if I see something I missed on the deck then I go back and fix it.  The only thing that I can say with any certainty is that it took 50 minutes to paint the stern and quarter galleries to my satisfaction.  Overall though, my notes show that it took 185 minutes to completely paint the hull.  Given that my timing isn't totally exact, I'm OK with saying that it took 3 hours to go from bare metal to finished hull.  In the next installment, I'll paint the masts and get them ready to glue into the ship.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Real Estate!

No, this post is not going to tell you how to "flip" houses for a profit or make millions in real estate with no money down.  I'm pretty sure there are more than enough web sites and reality shows on the topic, if that's where your interests are.  Good luck to you and thanks for stopping by.

What this post is going to do instead is to talk about the kind of real estate navies have to deal with on occasion, and the models that represent them on the tabletop.  First up are forts.

While there is a huge difference (even in game terms) between an earth battery with a few guns and a brick fortress with dozens or more, a warship is best advised to avoid them all if they are unfriendly.  After all, even the great Lord Nelson allegedly said, "A ship's a fool to fight a fort."  Of course, he also said, "Desperate affairs require desperate measures."  With that in mind, let's take a look (or looks, as this will be more than one post) at some of the different terrain that naval gamers can expect to deal with.
These are the big fortresses, those brick and mortar fortifications that represent the worst that a ship or fleet could possibly have to deal with.  I've got three of these, and will probably never need any more than that.  If anything, I should probably buy some more bomb vessels just to deal with these.  My first fort was bought at a convention flea market years ago.  It has no marking on it anywhere, and I think that it was not professionally made.  It is a generic fortress with 4 bastions, and I suspect that it might be based on Castillo de San Marcos in Saint Augustine Florida.  If that is the case, then my model needs a repaint as you can see below:

The original.  The walls may have started out as a tan color, but time has changed that.
In my defense, I did this a long time ago.
Next up are a pair of forts from Pithead/Spithead Miniatures 1/1200 American Civil War line.  They are forts Jackson and St. Philip that guarded the Mississippi River below New Orleans.  Saint Philip is the oldest of the two, having been built by the Spanish from 1792-1795.  It was then modified by the US from 1812-1815, and was besieged by the British during the War of 1812.  In the 1840s, the walls were thickened and strengthened.  An excellent summary regarding the changes in Fort St. Philip is located here: .  The two models are made from a heavy black resin (polyester maybe), that at first appears to hide most of the detail.  However, an undercoat brings out the detail very nicely.  As a final note, the masters for these are hand-carved, not computer modeled.  If you prefer the perfection of a computer designed miniature, then these might not be for you.  However, I like the old-school vibe of these, and am planning on buying some Civil War ships from there as well.  This clip from a map depicting the 1812 battle shows the original form of the fort.

There are numerous maps of the fort in the Civil War, and all of them are different.  So this clip is taken from the 1921 plan drawn by the army.

Everything outside the fort should be ignored, as they are post Civil War additions.
Anyway, with the above drawings showing how the structure changed over time, I think you will see that the Pithead model does a good job of capturing the building itself.

While it doesn't represent the original 1815 fort (and shouldn't since it is a Civil War model), I think it will work fine for those times when you need something small, but strong and oddly shaped.

Next up on the list is Fort Jackson, which can also be used for Fort Morgan.  While this is not a Napoleonic fortress, being built from 1822-1832 it is the classic 5 sided star fort.

In a project like this, it's amazing what will trip you up at times.  When I painted the citadel/barracks, I presumed that the roof would be fireproof, so I painted it a slate color.  After some more digging, I found that the barrack roofs at both Jackson and Morgan were wooden.  The idea was that they would be covered with earth before an attack to make them bombproof.

The Saint Philip casting is one piece, where Jackson is 6 pieces; 5 wall parts and the citadel.  Consequently, Fort Jackson does take a little patience and greenstuff putty to make the walls fit together smoothly.  In all fairness to Pithead Miniatures though, this is clearly visible on the website picture of the unpainted version so it's not really a surprise.  To really nitpick, the citadel should be 10-sided and not round, as seen in the 1817 plan below.

I'm sure that the round version is easier to cast, and even in the plan it looks almost round.  Given that this one and the one at Fort Morgan burned during the battle, I don't think that a round casting is a deal breaker here.  I probably could make it look a little more multi-sided by filing the edges of the roof straight on each face, but didn't want to run the risk of messing up the citadel.

When will these get used?  Who knows.  However, when I do need them, I'm ready.  In the next real estate post, I'll take a look at things like lighthouses, signal stations and other less warlike structures.  You know, things that ambitious naval officers call "targets."

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Hundredth Ship . . .

. . . is, by an interesting coincidence, a 100-gunner. This is HMS Britannia, flagship of the Earl of Northesk, who was third in command of the British fleet at Trafalgar.

Britannia was one of the seven three deck ships in Nelson's fleet, and one of three 100 gun ships.  The other 100 gunners were the Victory and the Royal Sovereign.  Overall, there's not really a lot to distinguish Britannia other than her size and age.  Built in 1762, she was forty-three years old  in 1805, which made her the oldest ship on either sideAfter the battle, she was laid up from1806-1813, and then made into a prison ship.  So, not famous like Victory or Royal Sovereign, but forty-four years of service that spans the American Revolution, French Revolution and Trafalgar is still something to be proud of.

My Britannia has been finished since early/mid August, but I have been very remiss in taking photos.  Right now, I'm frantically playing catch-up, and there should be several posts for this month.  Anyway, on to the photos.

Just your average, everyday 18th Century equivalent of the Space Shuttle

As weapons of mass destruction go, they are quite beautiful.