Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pop-o-matic Dice Roller for RPG (and making it more random)

Hi everyone :)

After our fun time "rebuilding" a dice-rolling tray using an old game we found in a thrift store, we've been thinking about other fun things we can create to have fun in our Battle Gaming sessions.

Here's a write-up of one recent idea....

Some of us may have seen the game Trouble.  It's the one where the d6 (classic die) is under a plastic bubble in the middle of the game board.  And, rather than having a chance to lose that die (you can't -- it's under the plastic), you push down on the bubble - there is a pop - and you release and the die is rolled.

It's the apply named "Pop-o-Matic" die roller!

Here's an example of the "Trouble" game we found -- with the Pop-o-Matic in the center.

Well, we got to thinking that it might be pretty fun to rebuild one of those using some other dice.  Or, maybe just cut that one out of the game board with our little band-saw and use it as is.

Then, we got to reading on line.  (We figured, of course we aren't the only ones to have thought of this - and how has it gone for other people?)

RANDOMNESS CONCERNS:

And, that's when we discovered that there are randomness concerns with the Pop-o-matic.  Mr. Jason Knight spells it out nicely in his blog post.

The bottom line issue is that if the d6 is starting with a 6 showing - it is not fully random which way it will be the next time.  Sort of like, because the die is trapped in the plastic bubble it's a bit more likely to come back down with the 6 still facing up.  And, a little bit less likely to flip over and come back down withe the 1 showing.  (The other four sides have a probability which is somewhere in the middle between these.)

Here's a link to Mr. Jason Knight's blog post:
http://blog.jasonknight.us/2013/07/statistical-trouble-with-trouble-board.html

The front page of Mr. Knight's post.

MAKING IT MORE RANDOM - SMALL DICE:

Well, we certainly didn't want to go to the trouble of making something which wasn't very random.  So, what to do.  An idea struck - use smaller dice!!

At first we were thinking to use some of our really-really-small d6's which we've accumulated over time.

But, then at a great swap meet at our Mountain View Game Kastle, we found a super-sale on little vials of very small RPG dice.

They seemed just about perfect.  So, we bought a few.  :)

Here's a look at our vials of little RPG dice!

Then, with our plan in place, we went ahead an cut out the Pop-o-Matics from the Trouble game board.  (We actually had gotten two for just a dollar or two - so we had one to spare in case we messed up.)

Here is our Pop-o-Matic after cutting one out of the Trouble game-board.

We trimmed up the Pop-o-Matic very carefully with the band-saw.  Then, we loaded it with our replacement for the d6.  It was a little bit tricky to hold the metal spring piece in place with the plastic bubble and get it all lined up - but we did manage :)

Our Pop-o-Matic with glue drying....

And, here we are gluing it back together.  As we've posted before - we used epoxy to make sure our rebuilt Pop-o-Matic wouldn't break apart.

Here's a link to our blog-post about the higher fracture toughness of epoxy - compared to super-glue:
http://battlegaming1.blogspot.com/2018/01/superglue-accelerator-carefully-and-not.html

And, with that, we have our finished product.  As you'll see below, we couldn't really decide which of the little vial of dice to put inside -- so we put in all of them.

And, that's pretty cool!  You swirl the Pop-o-Matic around (to create a random initial state in honor of Mr. Jason Knight) and then Pop! the dice - and you have a full set of random results!!

Here's a photo of our finished Pop-o-Matic :)

And, here's a link to our super-short video of us testing it out....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HexIUI-KMwU

A super-short video of us testing out our Pop-o-Matic!

What next?  Maybe build another one with some other colors of little dice?  (We chose the purple ones we had because of the very nice color contrast.)  Or, maybe make one with very little d6's -- but five or six of them -- so that you have one Pop-o-Matic for games which have multiple d6's to roll.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Superglue accelerator (carefully) - and not so much epoxy

Hi everyone,

A quick blog post with updates on our feelings regarding Super glue vs. Epoxy -- now that we have discovered the existence of Super Glue Accelerators!

A few weeks ago, while playing our Starfinder Campaign - and working on the crazy idea of merging in Battletech 'mech fighting rules we got to talking about the table about glues - and bemoaning the reality (as we understood it) that only epoxy dealt well with metal models the likes of which you often need to use with Battletech.  Then, Mr. T. (one of our friends and Starfinder player) chimed in that we should consider using a super glue accelerator.  Don't recall what he suggested - something like "Zip It".

We were absolutely intrigued.  Is this the secret so many utilize to make superglue workable for them?  Is this what we have been missing?

Our superglue accelerator and super glue side-by-side with the old trusty epoxy bottles

Because, quite honestly, most of our experiences with superglue had been poor.  Either we couldn't get it to set; or we glued our fingers together; or what we did glue fell and broke into many pieces.

So, we asked more.  "Be careful you don't burn yourself, though!" cautioned Mr. T.  He went on to explain that the heat of reaction between the superglue and the accelerator released quite a bit of heat and that you could really burn your fingers.  He indicated that he had done so many times over the years.

Well, we had to try this out!  Asking at Game Kastle in Mountain View we learned that they had two such products on the shelf.  We picked out "Insta-Set" and headed home to try the stuff with one of our Battletech models (metal, of course).

First Experience

To try out the Insta-Set we figured we had better be careful!
  1. We used it as a two person operation.  One of us put down the super glue; the other of us did the holding of the parts; then person one set down the super glue and sprayed on the accelerator.  (So, the two were never close to each other.)
  2. We wore gloves.  (We were worried about the "blistering hot" comments we had gotten when we bought the Insta-Set.)
  3. We were prepared for really hot.  Used our needle nose pliers for some of the early piece holding.

The bottle of Insta-Set uses a pump-spray action.  It was a little tricky to manage in all angles.  The liquid is quite volatile.  The stain you see on our paper back we used to catch over-spray was gone within 15 minutes.

And, maybe those were quite good precautions.  First of all - we did learn just how hot the reaction can make things (quite hot - very easy to understand the burning risk!!)  Secondly - at one point a little bit of glue got onto a glove - and the spray hit that - and WOW! quite a hot feeling to the fingers inside of the glove.  The good news is that the hot, curing glue was not stuck to the fingers - and we were able to quickly rip the glove off and get the heat away from our skin!!!

[PS:  We also read some online forum posts with discussion of whether or not the accelerator materials are flammable.  One person reported nearly burning off their eyebrows testing this out with a lighter!  No need to repeat that experiment, we'd guess!!]

But, when all was said and done - it really, really worked.  We whipped a metal model of a Clan 'mech together in something like 5 or 10 minutes.  And, that my friends would have taken us hours or days or curing time with epoxy.

Our new and old trusty glue options with Battletech 'mechs in the background

Here are the two 'mechs we built up in 15-20 minutes.  Much, much faster than we could have done with epoxy alone.

We built up another 'mech - a Stalker - which we had as bits - and then did a few tests to see how well the super glue bonds were holding together.  Not too bad!  The model was pretty sturdy!

Our Battletech models posing with the super glue and accelerator

So, we certainly learned that the accelerator is truly useful product - though with hazards and requiring very careful use.

What's our net judgement?
  1. This stuff is great for working with metal models.  And, we're guessing it's not bad at all with resin either.
  2. Be careful - wear gloves.
  3. Be careful - store separately.  [We don't like thinking about what would happen if a bottle of one mixed with a bottle of the other.]
  4. If you do have a long time for curing and want something more sturdy - use epoxy :)
So, you may wonder why after all of that we'd vote for epoxy when it is convenient.  Well, it all comes down to *fracture toughness*.

Our feeling is that even with the accelerator (which does cure the super glue) you still end up with a material which is more brittle - has lower fracture toughness - than the polymer you end up with joining your parts when you use epoxy glues.

Here's a nice article talking in a bit more detail about the differences.  In their words, "Super Glue sets quickly and has a very low shearing strength while epoxy sets slowly and has good shear strength."

A set of curves for fracture toughness of materials.  Metals are up in the upper right.  Things like glass are toward the bottom.  We figure epoxy sits higher on a set of curves like this than super glue.

And, if you don't mind indulging the paint job which one of us (who is not so great at painting) managed, please check out our Ghazkull Thrakka.

Read more: Here's our original blog posting where we struggled with resin, model glue and superglue

We gave up trying model glue (wrong for resin, we learned!!) and super glue (we couldn't manage it) and put him together with epoxy.  And, yes, if you look hard at his joints, you find some globs of the stuff, which, while Orky do detract from the model's appearance.

Here is our Ghazghkull Thraka model.  Assembled with epoxy!

So, maybe what we'll do in the future is use a hybrid ??  Put metal and resin model together carefully with super glue and accelerator.  And, then add some epoxy where we feel the joint might be whacked if the model falls on the floor.  (And, yes, if anyone is wondering, our Ghazghkull has survived many drops from table to floor.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Taking the Dakka Chugga to Warhammer World

Hi everyone,

A few months back we had a chance to make our first visit to Warhammer World.  And, we had taken our trusty Battle Gaming One Ork and Space Marine along to take a few photos.

[Here is a link to our post about "how to get there."]

But, we thought it would really be fun (if we were to visit again) to take our Ork Train to Warhammer World -- so that (at the very least) we could take some photos of the Ork Train on the very cool scenery there.

Taking the Dakka Chugga to Warhammer World

Well, as it would happen, we worked it out that we would take our family vacation in London this year -- so this June we did have another chance to visit Warhammer World.  This left us with  questions to work out:  What to take along; and how to pack it.

Of course we wanted to take our entire Ork Train (as we had done when we went to Las Vegas Open).  But... we had pretty nearly filled the car getting the Ork Train to Las Vegas -- that wouldn't work out for a trip by airplane.

So, we worked out priorities -- What to take along:

- Fork and Spork wanted to go along -- and they are relatively small -- so they were in.

- The Dakka Chugga (our tyranid body powered Ork steam engine) was our first Ork Train element -- so we wanted to take it along for certain.
 
- We wanted to take Da Pain Train (our Eldar-looted locomotive).  But, it is a bit fragile (as we had learned by the amount of glue work required after the LVO trip).  So, we decided it should stay at home.
 
- So, in terms of priorities, we decided that the next fun thing to take would be our Ork-Gangster passenger car -- along with the Nobs with their magnet boots.

How to pack?

A while back we took the Dakka Chugga to play against Matt at Miniwargaming.com.  That was a plane trip to Buffalo, then to Niagara Falls -- and then a drive to the Canadian side of the falls to reach Miniwargaming.  We took along all of Fork and Spork's Orks -- plus the Dakka Chugga.  But, at that time we didn't have all of the other cars.  So, we checked the Orks in checked baggage!!  But, we didn't feel good about doing that again this time -- especially since a full trans-Atlantic flight would include a lot more turbulence and jiggling of our 40K models.  (Here's a link to our past adventures getting to Miniwargaming.com)

So, we were determined to carry the Ork Train on board.  Luckily, we found a small carry-on bag which we could use to protect the Dakka Chugga pretty well.  We put the locomotive (which weighs the most) at the bottom -- with lots of bubble wrap -- and a towel wrapped around it.  We put the Tenda and the Ork Loota and Burna  car on top of that.  And, we placed Fork and Spork inside bubble wrap inside a hard plastic case on top off all of them.

The arrival in London went fine.  We were worried that our Orks might face some sort of immigration questioning (haha), but all went fine.

Here's the Dakka Chugga Ork Steam Engine and Tender safely in London

And, here are Fork (left) and Spork (center).  Some repair work to do on Spork's squig!

And, the Gansta-style Lootas and Burnas car made it safe and sound as well :)

Getting the Ork Train to Warhammer World once we were in London wasn't so bad.  We simply packed it back up into that roll-on bag and away we went on the train to Nottingham!

Then, when we arrived, what a treat.  There were a number of large new terrain pieces at Warhammer World!

After admiring them, we set up a few photos when players weren't using some of the cool layouts.  :)

We had a chance to have quite a few fun conversations.  Met people from lots of different places.  Great fun!

Here is the Dakka Chugga at Warhammer World!  We liked this photo because you catch the fortress background in the photo!

We really liked this terrain piece - took photos with the Ork Train in lots of precarious positions!

The Dakka Chugga posing :)

Fork and Spork supervising the progress of the Ork Train on the battlefield!

The Ork Train charging forward :)

More fun snaps with the Dakka Chugga!

And, one more....

We do fully confess to making some purchases.  Here the Ork Train stops at Forge World to make loot a few models for future expansions :)

Fork and Spork steam the Ork Train into the Forge World shop.  Looking for squigs and necron parts for looting....

And, of course, had to have lunch at Bugman's!

We enjoy lunch at Bugman's at Warhammer World with the Ork Train

The trip home?  Well, pretty much reverse course and do it all over again.  Went just fine.

Reflections on how to do it differently?  Well....  It sure would have been fun to take track and a power supply and have the Ork Train running under it's own power at Warhammer World.  ....Maybe next time!

Plus, next time, shouldn't we have the full train?  It'd be a pretty big suitcase - but would be lots of fun.

(Oh yeah, and maybe it's time for Fork and Spork to have bases which aren't bright green ??)