Wednesday, November 21, 2018

More on the ruined project

Hello again.  Here today we have mostly an update on the LOTR ruins that I've been assembling.
Just in time for some Thanksgiving Holiday reading.
You can see the first part of this project on previous blog post  HERE.

Life Among the Ruins

That sounds like a good album title doesn't it.

There have been two things recently that have severely impacted hobby time. One is that my wife after 6 years and 3 children has decided that she wanted to return to work again.  So in October she picked up her career somewhat where she left off and now works the weekends for the next 3 months; leaving me to be at home with the kids and a lot less free time.  It's been working out so far and the extra money is nice, and I'm not one of those fathers that is scared to be alone with his kids (for now anyway, because I am much bigger than them).

Number Two is that around Mid-October I traveled to southern CA to visit my father for his birthday and discovered how much he has been struggling all alone down there (because he never said a word).  Ultimately I/we decided that he would be moving in with me for the time being semi permanently until something can be worked out and I've become his care taker.  He's only in his med seventies but seems much older; guess a life of drinking, smoking, and cussing will go hard on a body.  (note to myself, I really ought to cut back on my cussing...)

but casting little bricks only takes 15 mins at a time, and then waiting for 30 min or so while the plaster sets I'm able to do other chores so the project fits nicely into my current schedule.

After getting enough bricks made I began to dry assemble (that means place the bricks without gluing them) the structures...

Things are starting to take shape here.  I placed an Orc in there for a sense of scale.
At the bottom of he pic are the sides-to-be for the tower.

While I had a vague idea of what I wanted; a ruined building near a ruined tower, I didn't have specific plan.  Planning is for the weak.  Dry assembling is a good time to begin thinking seriously about how it's all going to come together.  I also downloaded the building plans from the HA website to use as guides, especially for the bell tower, because it also helps to know what bricks you will need and in what quantities.  Maybe it's not so much that planning is for the weak but I'm doing some weak planning. 

A pic of he whole desk and the messy process of building with HA blocks. 
You see the piles of bricks scattered all around the desk.

Power Tools are Loud and Sexy

One thing I've always wanted to try on this kind of project to increase the presentation and sturdiness of the terrain is to put the buildings on an MDF base.  I've never done this before, and my previous ruins are based simply on cereal box cardboard. 

Previously made ruin based on a cereal box

Since this terrain piece is going to have some very tall structures, I decided to give basing a try.  If successful, I have plans to rebase all the previous ruins in the same manner, as well as all my 4ground dark age buildings.  I'm planning to put some texture around the structures as well to make it all integrated.

plus, this will give me a chance to play with my power tools, which I rarely get to do because I'm honestly not all that handy.  But here's an opportunity to be manly!

A trip to Home Depot and I got a 2 x 2 board of MDF for around $5.  I then used my jigsaw for the first time ever to cut out a base for the project

A sexy pic of me holding something dangerous...
It's well known that power tools increase your cool factor..
I then used my palm sander to bevel the edges, also for the first time ever having the sander out of the box, and I got this palm sander like 2 years ago.  Not much call for sanding in my life I guess...

Sexy pic holding something slightly less dangerous...

None of this was really hard and just stuff you can see on any terrain making video.
This step turned out to be a big hurdle; simply due to time available.  I imagine that I am like many wargamers with young children; your primary hours of hobbytime are in the evening after the kids go to bed and right before I go to bed, so around 8:30-10:30 ish.  This time of night seems like the wrong time to be running power tools in the garage (especially since Daughter #1's bedroom is right above the garage) So these steps had to wait until a rare stretch of free time during the weekend.

Now I'm holding something cute... AND DANGEROUS!
especially when he spits up.
Son #2 is 7 months old now.
Yes, I showed the first two pics just to set up showing you the third with the baby.  Because writing a good blog article is a lesson in craftsmanship....

Can We Build It?  Yes We Can! (Stew the Builder)

With the base prepared and armed with vague ideas and weak plans, I began the most fun part of this project by gluing the little bricks together to start making awesome wargaming terrain. 

The build so far...

All in all, I think the ruins are coming along nicely, if not a little slowly. Of course, there's no rush and no agenda. 

Walls and towers being planned and pre-assembled 

And a small note about games played in closing.  Mr. G invited me over to his house to play some boardgames which is something I haven't done in months I think...yep, just checked the blog and there's been no gaming since September....

We started with Tide of Iron, because Mr. G has had it on his shelf forever and had not really given it a go....

Tides of Iron is a lame game

we played about halfway through the scenario before we both decided we were 'meh' on the rules.  To me, "meh" on the rules means: while I wouldn't refuse to play this game, I'd play almost anything else first.  Not a fan.

Then played a game called Samurai, a simple game of counter placement but complex in it's strategy.  Very good.

Happy Thanksgiving Holiday

If you're in America, I hope you have a good Thanksgiving holiday.  I'll be at work but I don't mind because it means I won't have to cook, clean, watch the kids, or watch football.  If you're not in America I hope you have a normal weekend doing whatever you like. 

I've been thinking about black Friday and if I'll make any purchases.  I'm pretty sure Black Friday is international.

Hey look, 'Life Among the Ruins' is an album after all.  who knew? 


  1. For a DIY project, those ruins have the unusual characteristic of looking very good even before any paint / stain goes onto them.

    1. Thanks Norm. I think it’s bc the molds produce blocks in good shapes and textures.

  2. Great looking start on the ruins Stew. With you on the hobby time being between 20:00 and 22:00.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you all, hope the family situation settles down for everyone.

    1. Thank you Tony. What would a family be if not chaotic? πŸ˜€
      It funny how those 2 hours are sometimes super productive and sometimes not so much....

  3. Ruins are looking good! Is that an oxymoron?
    Entertaining post, Stew, and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thanks Jon. The nice things about making ruins is that it’s easy to cover any mistakes. I’m glad the post was entertaining as I was actually trying to be. πŸ˜€

  4. Nice post, good looking ruins! Nice to get the tools out every now and again, the baby picture is the best though!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain, now that I’ve broken the seal I might find excuses to break them out again shortly. Thanks for the compliment on the baby pic. The little one is super cute...and dangerous. πŸ˜€

  5. Nice start on the ruins Stew :)

    1. Thanks Tam. It’s a good foundation to build on. πŸ˜€

  6. I enjoyed the buildup to the baby picture!

    And life does seem to get in the way of hobby time... I have been in the middle of a renovation project since June... lost of free time getting sucked up into using power tools!

  7. Thank you Las. πŸ˜€

    Nothing eats free time like house projects and I know what that is like. Good luck on completing your renovation, though you get extra man points for using power tools. πŸ˜€

  8. Catching up with your blog: Hope you had a good Turkey Day, too! I think you win the prize any time you can combine power tools with the hobby; bonus points for face mask--most excellent! Smart looking son you have: he's already developed a nice gamer's smirk--I'm sure you'll be seeing alot of that across the toy soldier table in coming years :)

    1. Thanks Ed! I did feel cool using the tools for the first time in forever, and I thought that pics of me were a little more interesting than of the wood, plus the fun baby pic. πŸ˜€
      That smirk is completely from his mother’s side of the family. πŸ˜€

  9. Great stuff Stew! I'm glad you mentioned writing blog posts in your reply on my post, I clicked on your name and have now found your blog - apologies I didn't find it sooner, but now I can go through your back log πŸ™‚
    Looking forward to seeing the next steps in the ruins build, the paint is really going to bring it to life.
    All the best to your father and getting sorted with all that goes with that.

    1. Thank you Ivor for following, I hope my posts will be fun reading. I enjoy your blog as well.
      I think painting the ruins will be the easiest step.

  10. Wow, most impressive ruins, game...and baby!

  11. Mate, those are coming out pretty impressively. Like the others above, am impressed with your manliness in using power tools - I am utterly clueless on that stuff and only manage to maintain my man-card-club membership by being able to drink more than pretty much everyone and having more back hair then the average Congolese Silverback Gorilla.

    Hope things with Dad are going okay. He sounds like how my own father lived. They'd probably have gotten on swimmingly.

    That young lad is a cutie for sure! Surely the missus had a daliance with the mailman, cos he's too good looking to be yours! :P

    1. Don’t sell yourself short! Back hair is pretty manly. πŸ˜€

      In truth, my dad hardly ever drinks and never cusses, but has smoked cigs his whole life. It’s been a point of contention as I won’t let him smoke around the baby which basically means no smoking period bc I don’t trust him to go outside to smoke when we’re not there. I don’t want son #2 to come home and breathe in cig smoke. I’ve already buried one son so I can be forgiven for being hardassed about it.