Confessions of a Lapsed Gamer; Musings and Observations

I sit here in front of the screen with a blank page staring back and the little curser blinking at me like an irritating small dog demands attention.  What is on my mind today?  Well, I have been rolling around the idea of writing about Real Estate.  And scale modeling.  And minis.  And games.

So, here we go.  I like to do short sales.  Yes, fellow REALTORs, short sales are something that I pursue.  They are a challenge.  They are painful at times.  But most of all, to me anyway, they can be extremely satisfying when they come to fruition.  Regardless of the state of the property, it will sell if you have all your ducks in a row.  What is a short sale?  In brief, it is a property that the owner needs to sell but is behind on the payments but is not able to do a deed in lieu of foreclosure and is trying to avoid outright foreclosure.  The owner gets permission from the bank to do a short sale and we are off to the races…  Okay, it is slower than a regular sale.  If you have all the paperwork done, keep your client’s documents handy, and get a good appraisal, the process may only be a bit longer than a regular sale.  60-90 days is what they say is the norm.  I guess the other part of a short sale for me is that it is about preparation.  Just like gaming, you have to prepare.  Know the ground so to speak.  I have done a number of short sales over the years and know that you have to have ALL of the documents at the Bank.  And copies in your possession.  AND in your seller’s.  Build rapport with the processor and negotiator, make them see you as something more that a voice on the phone (ATFP flashback anyone?).

Modeling, scale modeling, is all about planning for contingencies.  You look at the box contents, the instructions, and the markings.  Yes, gentle reader, I read instructions before starting a project.  Gather your needed tools and materials.  Research you subject.  Get the colours for the markings and interiors.  Will it just be an ‘out of the box’ build or will you put in a nice resin cockpit?  Using the decals in the box or have some really cool aftermarket items (Resin, photo etch, weapon load outs…) that you’ve been itching to use?  The quickest build I have ever done was 1/48 Revell of Germany Spitfire Mk. IX/XVI.  Took about three days and that was only for the paint and all to dry.  I even used the old airbrush to put the camo on it.  For all of the flaws in the kit, it turned out well and really looks good.  Sadly it shares the shelf with my Curtiss H-75 Hawk.  I just kinda puttered with it.  No real plan and it shows in the paint job, it’s done in the 1939 French Camo with marks for a Polish Squadron.

Painting miniature armies is about knowing a given unit’s function within the game system and knowing what you’re unit’s history will be.  The colours of the uniform and how that fits in the overall look of the army then becomes clear.  The Empire Army I have from the old Warhammer Fantasy Battle game is a good example of what I am talking about.  I painted it over the period of several years and added new units as needed.  I am very proud of it.  I used a ‘uniform’ approach to linking all the units together over the period.  The main ‘foot’ units of the army has some shade of green (usually a shade of Dark Angel Green, now called Caliban Green in the current paint line) on it and the different regiments given a unique plume or sash colour.  I tend to reverse the colours on the command groups.  The exceptions are the Knightly Orders of heavy cavalry and the one and only unit of Heavy Infantry.  Their colours are dictated by the ‘fluff’ of the game itself.  I was pawing through a bin the other day and came upon a bag of plastic spearmen.  I may just get them painted to match the command group I painted a few years ago…

I guess that is what this is what I am on about; Preparation for whatever you’re doing is a cornerstone of success.  You can’t just ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ in life.  I know there are ‘free sprits’ out there that will disagree but think about it, people have made fortunes telling other people how to plan.  Why?  Well, perhaps we don’t consider prepping for something enough.

Consider it…


Confessions of a Lapsed Gamer; Musings and Observations

Confessions of a Lapsed Gamer; Colour out of Space

I hope Lovecraft, and the Great Cthulhu, forgive me.

So, you are looking at the painted minis or scale models in your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) and wondering how they DO that?  The thought of actually doing the same thing intrigues you.  You decide that you want to get into the gaming hobby but the painting daunts you.  Well, the painting is part of the hobby and I am here to talk about it.  This will not be an exhaustive diatribe to cover every aspect of the HOBBY, but I hope, a good over view.

Now, you’ve already, at this point figured out the minis you want to paint, you have gone and got brushes to use… What?  No idea what to buy?  Natural fiber? Synthetic?  Sable… Taklon… OH GOD!!!  Take a breath…  Go to an arts and craft store, look for a packet of 3-5 brushes in the same aisle with the ‘artist’ paints, you’ll be looking for the cheaper ones.  Getting a packet of brushes for $3-$4 will not break the bank and if you mess them up they are easy to replace.  I like the ones with synthetic bristles for most things.  0, 2/0 and 3/0 and a small flat brush are good to start with.  When you get better at painting, buy a couple expensive natural fiber ones for fine work.  Trust me. You’ll thank me later.

Good?  Bought a mini to paint?  Ready to GO!  Not yet, you still have to prep the figure.  Why?  Well, to start with metal and plastic styrene minis should be primed.  Even before priming, you need to make sure that you clean up the mold lines, flash or other things from the molding process that needs to go.  A small file and a craft knife (THEY ARE SHARP AND SHOULD BE) will help with that.  Take your time and try not to cut off detail.  Or your thumb.  NOW can we prime??  Yes, but what colour primer?  This is really a personal preference.  I know those who only use one colour of primer for everything and those who prime historicals grey, fantasy white, and sci-fi black.  What colour is not material to this commentary, rather that you need to prime your mini for the paint to stick better, especially if you are going to game with them.

I hear you now, what about Reaper Bones and other minis that either say they don’t need priming or are already?  They are all white, or gray.  Gonna tell you something I’ve started doing.  A scratch coat.  Take the mini you’ve primed in white or grey, or the Bones or pre-primed mini, and with a black wash (really thin paint that still carries enough pigment to get in the detail to darken the low points) carefully cover the mini.  Does a couple things; makes the detail easier to see and gives you some shading in cracks and crevices of your model.

Okay, oh, question in the back.  What to prime with?  I have used  all sorts of spray primer from the bottom shelf at Lowe’s for 99 cents to high end sprays for, well, far more than 99 cents.  I prefer to get a primer that has a flat finish and covers well.  And cheap.  If it works and is cheap, well, it is good.  Keep in mind when using the old ‘rattle can’ primer to use a few light coats instead of one heavy one.  You can also use a brush to prime with.  I do this during the times when it is too cold or too muggy to use a spray can.  Cheapest you ask?  Go to Hobby Lobby or Michaels and spend 77 cents on acrylic craft paint either white or black.

NOW, all primed?  Given a scratch coat?  All nice and dry? Comfy?  Paint and brushes all set?  Got a nice jar of water to clean your brushes in?  A separate one to drink from when you’re thirsty, and that is not near the brush water?  (Trust me, it is nasty to drink.  Keep them far apart.  I did learn that the hard way.) Okay then…

Now the painting!  Well, what kind of paint?  If I may insert a personal comment here, I would go with acrylic paints as opposed to enamels and definitely not oils.   Why the acrylics?  They clean with water; they come in hundreds of colours and are very forgiving to new painters.  You can go low end with craft paint or high end with Citadel Colours.  All have their uses but I would recommend getting a starter kit of paints from a company that makes paints for miniatures or scale models.  If you look on my painting table I have paint from a number of manufacturers.  Mostly Citadel, but there are bottles of Vallejo, Reaper, RP, and P3 from Privateer Press paints.  Some are 20 years old and you can’t replace that shade of Dark Angel green, so you will also learn how to keep you paints usable.  More on that in a different commentary.

SO, here we are, ready to paint and you’re still with me.  Now get the paint out and just start painting.  I am not a fan of those who think that you have to buy this book or that CD to learn ‘how to’.  Go on YouTube.  Look at Dr Faust’s page, Tabletop Minions and plethora of others.  Most are pretty good with very good advice and ideas.  I have been painting minis and scale models since high school (I had to fight off saber-toothed cats with my loose leaf binder) and still I learn things from watching them.  Besides, you’ve played with paint before so have at it.  Now, I’ve got a list of rules for you.  Right…

  1. Thin your paint. Two thin coats look better than one heavy one.  I keep mine a little on the thin side. There are two schools of thought on thinning paint.  One; acrylics thin with water and I use either filtered or bottled water.  Some go as far as distilled or de-ionized water.  Two; acrylic ‘medium’.  Now, I don’t use this product.  Too expensive for me.
  2. Relax! It is a hobby and if your mini does not look ‘good’, keep practicing.  You’ll get better.
  3. Paint your minis the way you want. Don’t want your Orcs green?  Then don’t paint them green.  I like my LOTR Orcs a bit swarthy.
  4. Keep your brushes clean.
  5. Take your time.

Finally, you’re done and content with the look.  You want to decorate the base.  Not going into too much here.  I use white glue, slightly watered down, and flocking for the most part.  Also you want, especially if you are going to game with them, to seal them.  A good spray sealer will protect the paint job and will make your paint job more durable.  I use gloss and Satin to seal with.  Gloss on a first coat will be harder than the satin and will really resist chipping.  THEN, a couple light coats of satin as this will look more ‘natural’ a finish. Read the label to see the temps and humidity parameters for using a clear spray paint.





Confessions of a Lapsed Gamer; Colour out of Space

Confessions of a Lapsed Game; The Cardboard Battlefield and the 1970s

Most of the things I have written about so far have been about miniature gaming.  Don’t get me wrong, the 1200+ painted minis on the shelf and God knows how many in the boxes waiting to be painted.  That is not what is on my mind today.  No, today I want to talk about the Cardboard battlefields that I have seen.

In the mid to late 60s to the later 80’s the ‘hobby’ was dominated by ‘beer and pretzel’ games.  Operational/Strategic games of Corps and Divisions fighting it out on a large area battlefield.  In 1970, James (Jimmy) Dunnigan worked for AH and HE wanted a more tactical game that dealt with platoons and squadrons (tank and/or cavalry).  So Tactical Game 3 was developed and would become ‘Panzerblitz’.  Avalon Hill (the original, not the HASBRO imprint) took that and published it in a ‘bookshelf’ format with a number of counter sheets (covering the Russian and German orders of battle) and three mapboards.  It would go on to spawn Panzer Leader (William Richardson and I played it a lot) and Arab Israeli Wars (I bought two copies over the years).  Look at the wiki entry for more data on the history these games if you want.

The next step was John Hill’s “Squad Leader”, also printed by Avalon Hill, still in print as ‘Advanced Squad Leader’ by MMP, which took an even more ‘micro’ look at tactical simulations.  Where the ‘Tactical Game 3’ was about platoons and batteries, SL is about the squads as the largest unit.  It is, to me, the best simulation of tactical warfare for the understanding of J.W. Thomason described as ‘the point of contact, where war is girt with horrors. And common men endure these horrors and overcome them, along with the insistent yearnings of the belly and the reasonable promptings of fear; and in this, I think, is glory.’

The rules are pretty straight forward, you base your attacks on the inherent firepower of the given units, consider the defense of the target as well as terrain and, in the ‘advanced’ game, weather affects and so on.  The game is a turn based “I go, you go” system but the non-turn player gets to do some things during his opponent’s turn.  Consult the combat results table and take casualties.  There are a number of pre-generated scenarios included and rules and commentary to create your own.  Yes, you do learn about the armies that fought in WWII in Europe and to a lesser extent the PTO.

Jump to now.  I am in a sort of obsession about getting these games back on the table in front of me.  The original rules are available online as well as the old commentaries and amendments in ‘The General’ magazine that AH put out for about 30 years.  There are also sites, like The Imaginative Gamer, that have updated counter mixes and map sheets.  Got access to a good printer, some heavy card stock and some time?  Make your own counters!

So, what’s the ‘so what’?  This series of games can take you from the early war years of ‘39/’40 to modern times as there are places that you can get counter sheets for Cold War Soviet, American military and other forces into the 90’s.  Looking at the counters you can see the increase in combat power and effectiveness.  Yep, they’re darn entertaining…



Confessions of a Lapsed Game; The Cardboard Battlefield and the 1970s

Confessions of a Lapsed Gamer; Iwo, Ohio and a few Marines

The 19th of February marks the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima.  I’ve been researching Pacific battles for some scenarios I am working on for a Panzer Leader game.  I have become reacquainted with the little dot of volcanic hell that is IWO.  V Amphibious Corps (3rd, 4th, and 5th MarDivs and the 147th Inf Regt (sep.)) were to  take the Isle and secure the airfields there for the Army Air Forces.  The need was one that B-29s crippled in bombing the Home Islands were landing there before the battle was over.

Marines that went ashore were, arguably, the toughest infantry in the world.  Heavily armed and trained for amphibious assault against some of the formidably defended places on Earth with little more then what they brought with them to the fight.  Rifle Companies within the Divisions were configured to the Type “G” T/O with what we modern Marines would recognize in the FMFM 6-5. Thirteen man rifle squads with three fire teams, based around the BAR.  Ahhhh….  The Marine comes out while researching war game scenarios…

So, let me tell you another story.  One that Marines should know and share with their Army brethren.  The 147th Infantry Regiment (Separate) was an Army unit that was assigned to V Amphibious3 Corps as a sort of ‘garrison’ unit to secure an area.  Truth is they fought alongside a number of Marine units from Guadalcanal to Okinawa.  Their history is one of being an old Regiment that was ‘orphaned’ and ‘lost’ in the 1942 Army reorganization, but was always there for the fight.

Mustered into Federal service in May of 1861 as the 6th Ohio, the Regiment fought in the Civil War, Cuba, Mexico and WWI.  They also, “Dog Company” of the 1/147th, guarded and transported ‘Little Boy’ to his date with the Enola Gay, but that is another story.  The Regiment was on Iwo and in the same bitter struggle as the Marines.  They fought for 31 consecutive days and emerged battered and proud of their service, and they damned well should have been.  The I47th Infantry still is active as an Ohio National Guard unit based in Columbus.

In my attempt to put together some Iwo scenarios, I will be putting some Army units in the mix.  Should make for an interesting situation…

Now, my fellow Marines, when drinking a beer this Presidents Day, think of Iwo and those hard chargers.  Watch the Sands of Iwo Jima.  And hoist one to the Soldiers of the 147th Infantry.  They also served their time in Hell…

Confessions of a Lapsed Gamer; Iwo, Ohio and a few Marines

Marriage and Real Estate

Realtors are, as a rule, quite aware of the requirements, from a legal standpoint, of working with married couples.  Particularly when selling a property.  ‘One can buy, but two must sell’ is the motto, but that is just a part of it.  Often it is an easy thing to sell a home, even with a divorce and subsequent remarriage to others.  There is though, another side of the equation; that of the Seller and their understanding of the ‘rules’ and requirements of selling.

I recently had a sale that, a couple days from closing, the attorney called and asked about the wife of my Seller.  ‘He was not married.’ was my answer.  ‘Yes he is.’ the Attorney told me.  So, I called my Seller and asked.  ‘Yes, I am.’ was his answer.  I pointed out to him that I had asked that question when doing the listing agreement.  ‘Oh,’ he says, ‘I thought you meant when I bought the house.” At that point I was more a bit perturbed over the closing and a successful sale.  We did have enough time to resolve the situation and the sale happened.

So, here’s what I learned from this; always, always make sure that the Client understands the question, its context and why it is important.  Even the most experienced home seller needs to be reminded that there are a number of things that a Seller needs to know and that this is not a negotiable point.  Always better to know and resolve before closing.

Marriage and Real Estate