3D-Printing an Austrian Village

For the last three months, I’ve been experimenting with my 6mm napoleonic project. I’ve played a number of games, first with DBN, then with an increasing number of modifications. More on that some other time.

When preparing the terrain, I realised that there were no 6mm buildings that would fit my requirements. As I did a bit of research on rural structures, I wanted my models to conform to the historical types. A couple of years ago, even before I got a 3D printer, I taught myself a bit of CAD, so I decided to try my hand at desigining 3D models. It turned out that it is not too complicated, as 6mm buildings don’t need that many details, and that I even enjoy it.

Austrian Grenzer moving into a village.

As others might be interested in those buildings, I’ve decided to put them up for sale on wargaming3d.com. So, for the princely sum of $4.50, you can purchase a set of stl files for 11 buildings: a large church, modeled after the Aspern church, a small church or chapel, a granary, modeled after the Essling granary, six rural houses, a traditional barn and a windmill. The windmill has no sails, as this would be too fiddly to print at this scale – I recommend using strips of thin cardboard.

The buildings are intended for 2mm to 6mm scales. For my 6mm games, I reduce them to 80% size, as I prefer them to have a smaller footprint. All my test prints have been with a resin printer (Anycubic Photon), I can’t say how they would turn out with a FDM printer, but I guess details will be lost.

They would fit from around 1700 up to 1945 for Austria and Bavaria.

I hope you like them and maybe even consider getting a pack for your own games from here: https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/2mm-6mm-austrian-village-buildings/

New Side Project – 6mm Napoleonics

I’ve been toying with the idea of 6mm wargaming for a long time. I like the scale and what is being done by the very lively community surrounding it. And although I’m a dyed-in-the-wool skirmish gamer, once every two years or so, I feel a slight inkling to try big battles. However, normally two things put me off: the huge amount of work involved in painting the large number of figures and the impression that big battles are nothing more than a line-up of densely crowded figures.

Recently, several events conspired to prompt me to finally take the plunge: First, I read the article “Go Big or Go Home” by Sam Mustafa (in Wargames Illustrated 408), where he enumerates the fundamental problems of big battle napoleonic rules and basically argues that it is impossible to write such rules without huge amounts of compromise and abstraction. I found this really liberating!

Secondly, I discovered the napoleonic games of a French club, Jeux d’Histoire du Ponant (JHP). They played a number of 1809 scenarios (which is how I found them), and their games look very different from what I expect when I think about big battle napoleonics: There are comparatively few units on a large table, with plenty of space to manoeuvre and room on the flanks.

French approaching Ebelsberg in a game by JHP. Source: https://jhp29.blogspot.com/2018/02/la-fuite-debelsberg.html

I contacted them and they were kind enough to share information about their games – a huge thank you to YannD and Denis! They mainly play DBN, but also use Blücher. Blücher has been on my radar because my mates Sigur and Virago have a Blücher project going on. DBN was new to me but it might be just what I am looking for. I realised that I want to use rules that are easy to learn and remember, as I’m probably not going to play this as often as, say, Sharp Practice.

The third and final straw was the discovery of the 3D-files offered by MCminiatures. As I’m a bit on a budget at the moment, I can’t afford a metal 6mm army (which is even more expensive now because of post-Brexit customs) and other 3D files I have seen are also rather pricy. MCminiatures are not only low-priced, but they also come in strips and therefore give a real impression of mass. I like how they look, and the strips fit perfectly on 6mm bases, which incidentally is what JHP uses (and which can easily be used for DBN and Blücher). The range is comprehensive and Marco told me that more is to come. I’m especially keen on the baggage wagons he has promised.

I guess you can see the pieces falling into place! I fired up my 3D printer and made some test figures. It still amazes me that nice looking figures come out of this cheap machine – it feels like living in a sci-fi world… 

Austrian Landwehr, with a hodge-podge of others behind.

My painting approach is very basic. I’m glad I did 2mm figures some time ago, so the whole “paint as a unit, not as individuals”-approach is nothing new to me and is made even easier by the strips. The figures are quite detailed and with more patience and time, one could certainly get more out of them. However, I want to get them on the table soon and I also have some terrain to make, so I’m restricting painting to the basics. Let’s see how they look when properly based.

A New Tool

During the last two years or so, I’ve been following the advances of 3-D printing from afar. I was increasingly impressed by the performance of printers, but I was also turned off by the technical skills and patience required to set up and operate the machines.

However, in December, several factors contributed to me taking a serious look at the technology. First of all, I saw some very impressive small prints coming from resin printers in diverse Facebook groups. Secondly, with Brexit looming, it suddenly dawned on me that it would be nice to be independant of UK sellers for small items such as windows and doors. Though I want to support figure manufacturers and I’ll gladly buy figures, small stuff for scratch building can be quite expensive and adding import fees, it may no longer be feasible to order. Thirdly, AnyCubic, a manufacturer of 3-D printers, had a Christmas sale with considerable discounts. I quickly communicated with Mikko, an expert in the matter, and decided to buy a small resin printer, the Photon. It cost me 150,- Euro, plus another 80,- or so Euros for resin and assorted material such as gloves, masks, filters, alcohol to clean the prints and an UV lamp for curing.

The machine arrived a couple of days ago. Set-up was easy, but then I hit a snag when trying to make my first print. Fortunately, Mikko was kind and patient enough to help me out – thanks mate!

I’ve made two print runs so far. I did some fences, a wayside cross, a rustic toilet, windows and an apiary, which for some reasons didn’t come out correctly. The rest worked perfectly.

I’m very impressed with the details of the pieces, although the fences warped after a couple of days – maybe they were not completely cured. Anyway, they are easily straightened.

I intend to use this machine as a tool. I’m not really interested in the technical side of the thing and don’t intend to tinker more than is absolutely necessary. Fortunately, the technology seems to be at a stage were this is possible. My primary objective is to print pieces for detailing and scratch-building as well as small scatter terrain. Figures might be more complicated, but I’m not that interested in printing them at the moment.

The only annoying thing is that cleaning takes some time and is a bit of a mess. The resin smells quite badly, even though I bought the eco resin which is supposed to be less smelly – I don’t want to know what the normal stuff smells like.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress!