Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Blue Boards EVER!!!

Right now I'm at the tail-end of a 2-week trip with my family through Pennsylvania and New York, for my son to visit colleges he's interested in possibly attending next year.  The last time my family and I visited Pennsylvania was to attend the 2007 Historicon, the theme of which was "The Wars of South Asia 1800-2007," which of course meant an abundance of games set in India and Afghanistan, something I couldn't pass up!

Unfortunately Historicon is already a month past, so there's no Wargaming Convention on the schedule this year for me to report on, but I do have something more low-key to report on -- one of the last things I managed to do before leaving home on this trip, which was to stop by FOAM SALES & MARKETING located at 1005 Isabel Street in Burbank, California -- CLICK HERE FOR HANDY LINK TO THEIR WEBSITE -- and purchase the last two blue styrofoam boards I will ever need for the purpose of building Afghan terrain.  I suppose that last statement is more a hope than a promise, but it's a very fervent hope indeed, and I do believe it will turn out to be the case!

I bought one 2" thick 8'x2' board, and two 1" thick 8'x2' boards, and had them all cut down to 6'x2', with 2'x2' short-ends.

I'll use the 2" thick 6'x2' sheet to create one more clear ground-cover terrain board, and I'll combine the two 1" thick 6'x2' sheets to build my Kabul River board, which will run from one 2' end to the other.  Building the river this way will be MUCH EASIER than having to dig 1" of depth out of a 2" deep sheet, as I had to do for my first two 2' square river boards.

I'll use the pair of 1" thick 2'x2' short-ends to more easily build a second 90-DEGREE CURVE board, again much easier than having to dig 1" out of the board's 2" depth.

I plan to build 2 more 2'x2' STRAIGHT river sections, which will have to be dug out of spare 2" thick 2'x2' short-ends I still have from my original Maiwand Day boards.  If I manage that, I should be able to lay out 12' of continuous river in a straight line, which would be great for creating terrain for the 1880 battle of Baba Wali/Kahdahar, the last major action of the Second Afghan War, which the Afghan army fought with their backs to the Arghandab River.

Since my river sections are all designed to match up at their edges, I should also be able to mix and match them, creating a wide variety of lay-outs featuring rivers.

If I can finish another pair of 2'x2' plain ground cover boards (which I already have the blue foam for sitting in my garage), I'll also be able to lay out up to 10'x6' of simple ground-cover without nullahs, ravines, or rivers built into them, which should be very helpful when it comes to setting up different historical and fictional tabletop scenarios.

Needless to say, this will all take time, which is something I don't have much of, but even the longest march starts with a single step, and I'm already a good way down this road.  The thing is, after buying these last two boards and having them cut down close to their final sizes (I will unfortunately have to trim down the river boards to make room for their wood frames) I now have in my possession ALL the raw materials necessary to complete my Afghan Wars/NWF terrain system, which somehow makes finishing the job -- despite how big it may be -- seem much more achievable.  After all, I've already built all the rocky hills I'll ever need, using the good old "wood-chip" method, and that was probably the most difficult part of the whole job.

So here's the visual evidence of this exciting -- at least for me! -- progress...

Enough blue foam to create terrain-boards for every battle known to humankind:

For better or worse I was not buying enough to require use of the forklift inside the warehouse...

My boards cut down to size and packed for travel...

Note the furniture blanket I brought along to protect the interior of my beloved wife's car from those inevitable bits of pesky blue foam...

Moved into the garage and stored safely -- hopefully for not too long before I manage to turn them into usable terrain...

6'x2' Masonite sheets waiting for the wonderful but as yet unrealized day when they will be covered forever in blue foam...

And finally, a portent of things to come: my beloved wife's car (both she and the vehicle are beloved by me)...

It's the only vehicle available to me (without renting a truck) capable of transporting my terrain boards to conventions near and far.  It did this many times for my Maiwand Day game and hopefully in the not-so-distant future will do the same for the finished Charasiab lay-out.

That's it for now from Ithaca, in the Central region of New York State, home to Cornell University, where it's possible this time next year my son will return as an incoming freshman.  This fact continues to blow my mind, mostly in a good way.  Whether he's off to Ithaca, Manhattan, Philadelphia, or other higher education parts as yet undetermined but likely far from Los Angeles, California, I will miss him.  Many if not most of my best wargaming memories came courtesy of games played with him, figures painted with him, models built with him, giant terrain boards carved, textured and painted with him, and epic convention games played alongside him.  Sending him off to college remains another year away, so I'll do my best to get some more gaming in with him before that year is up.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Greener waters

Well, after living with the results of my first round paint-job on the Logar River for a couple of days, I came to the inescapable conclusion that though it looked good, the color was just too blue and not enough green for my purposes.

Going by the photographic evidence there are in fact rivers in Afghanistan that do have water as blue as what I'd painted, but neither the Logar nor the Kabul River, at least in the area around Charasiab, qualify, and I'd always imagined them being finished with a more green/brown hue.  My expectation is that I'll be adding a tint of BROWN ink to the Envirotex resin I plan to pour into the riverbed, so I'd hoped to get more of a GREEN look for this paint job.

Unfortunately, the "Olive Green" Winsor & Newton acrylic was the only color I bought that didn't come close to matching its swatch on the exterior of the tube.  But I didn't let that stop me.  I mixed up my own olive drab river water color, using YELLOW OCHRE with some BLACK and just a touch of BLUE for good measure...

And finally, a side-by-side comparison...


Though personally I prefer the green finish to the blue, I admit the blue has a bit more of a watery "sheen," but since the surface will be covered with hi-gloss resin, that shouldn't be a problem when it's all done.

Sometimes it's funny how things work out.  Now that I've painted the "bottom" of my first river channel, I must admit that if I hadn't already bought a container of EnviroTex clear resin a couple of months ago... I would be vey sorely temped to just opt for some Acrylic Gloss Medium and turn my "riverbed" into the river surface.  I'm very pleased with the coloring and my go-to texturing material Elmer's Wood Filler -- which I only used because it was handy and what I always use for sealing foam before I paint it -- has given the finish of the river channel a sense of movement which I think fits well with a river fed by mountain runoff such as the Logar and Kabul Rivers are.  I could just coat it with the glossy medium, applying it in a manner that would add just a bit more "choppiness" to the surface, highlight the top edge of the "raging waters" near the rocks with just a touch of white paint, and be done.

However, having already spent about $40.00 on a jug of EnviroTex, and having hollowed-out the riverbeds to a substantial 1" depth... I think I will have to proceed with my original plan.  My concern is... I like the color so much now, I don't want it to be lessened in any way by the addition of the resin.  I had always planned to make the first pour a clear one, with no tinting whatsoever.  I've read that doing it that way creates a greater sense of depth after you add a second, color-tinted, pour, and perhaps more pours after that, with an eye towards building up the thickness of the "water."

What I really need to do now is build a quick and dirty -- and TINY -- mock-up of my channel and test some different color tints in the resin pours.

Wish me luck, and I'll try to keep you posted with any progress...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sneak peek of Logar River...

Well, it's been a few months now since I started building my Logar River boards for use in my Battle of Charasiab terrain lay-out.  It's been an extremely busy time for me, at work, at home, and also with an unfortunate call to serve on Jury Duty, which lasted almost three weeks.  Nonetheless, I have kept working to finish this seemingly unfinishable project, and though not done yet, have managed to make some real progress.

Unfortunately I missed putting up a post on the recent 134th anniversary of Maiwand Day, during which I was down in San Diego with my two daughters who wanted to visit Comicon.  We had a great time and I was able to answer a fellow hobbyist's Second Afghan War-related question on TMP before midnight hit on July 28th (the day AFTER Maiwand Day), so at least I felt like I had done something appropriate to commemorate the day.

Right now I am in the midst of compiling one of my typical posts complete with a ton of WIP pics and some hopefully useful tutorial details concerning how I built these river boards, but it won't be done for some time yet, and to be honest, I'm tired of waiting to show this stuff off!

So I've decided to cut to the chase by posting a handful of pics I took after putting the first coat of artist's acrylic paint down onto the base of the river channel on these two 2'x2' boards.

It's not really the end of "The Chase", as these boards still need some work done, as I have to do some touch-ups in places along the river's edge, and will likely add another coat to tweek the exact mix of colors in a few spots.  Then I will glue down some REEDS -- courtesy of an inexpensive whisk brown bought at my local Hardware Store -- along the river's edge, and then -- finally -- I'll be able to do what I've been looking forward to doing since I started cooking up this epic enchilada months ago: pour on several coats of clear two-part EnviroTex Lite resin.  The first pour will be clear, the next two or three (each 1/8" deep) will receive a drop of brown and possibly also a drop of green artist's ink.

Then... I will collapse -- but only from an overabundance of joy course!

So without further ado, here's where they're at right now...

The next question for me is whether I am going to go on and truly complete this pair of boards for the Logar River, or just do my touch-ups and probable second coat, glue on the reeds, and then shift gears to build the 6'x2' Kabul river board for use along the other -- Western -- flank of the table.  Then when I've reached this same point, with the base of the river channel painted, I'll be able to pour the resin onto all three boards at the same time, so their tint, depth, etc., will hopefully all match as closely as possible.  I'm not sure yet how I'll proceed, but I'll have to make a decision pretty soon, as these two boards really don't have much work left to be done to them before it's time to fill their river channels with some resin.