Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I hear voices

I am excited. I finally figured out how I could get the student's work and voice-overs onto the blog together. Apple Imovie, Itunes, and Keynote made it happen. Students were constrained to one minute audio clips and keynote slideshows. They all hit on the main ideas nicely.

Below is Colin R.'s work on the Persian Army.

And Kelan and Corey's work on the naval side of this battle.

Kyael's interesting look at the Ionian revolt, which started this whole affair. . .

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Club pitches in

My local gaming club came to my rescue, promising to paint a bunch of figures, all their help really changed this project from something too big to handle into a great experience. A simple "thank you" does not seem to be enough.

Without any further ado, Jack's Hoplites & Mark's Persian Archers

Let the games begin!

Pictures, voice overs, and the student's first foray into gaming. Good times! To think I was sweating all the work the kids had to do.

A special thanks to all the students who stuck with it. Even though they have to spend all day in school, they were still able to grind out an extra hour twice a week. Thanks to all of you!

First off the kids playing games. We started easy. No terrain, just the basics of movement, turn order, dice rolling etiquette ("no palming of dice please". "No that six on the floor does not count!"), and basic skirmish rules (using a Tactica Medieval rulebook donated generously by Ed Regendahl) with a few of my own modifications. The kids had fun, sweating the important roles, groaning and cheering with each twist of the fickle dice.
Below are pictures and the first one is Kelan, who served as photographer
Colin, Myles, Austin, & Kailee watch as Kyael makes his move. (above)
Corey and Kailee wait for Kyael, who is deep in tactical thought. (below)

Myles shows his stuff. King Leonidas is no match for this guy.

Joey and Myles watch the events unfold (above)
Codey is thinking about firing his arrows. (below)

More pictures to follow. The kids had fun, pizza and games. That's a good day of wargaming.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

(I can see) . . . the light at the end of the tunnel. . .

A day like this Monday was the reason I got into teaching. The students were finishing off their presentations and 30 second voice overs. They submitted their work via email and thumb drive and I have to say I was truly impressed. Students cut in musical themes, included dramatic voices, and just displayed a really good grasp of the material. It will be forthcoming when I can find some time.

I must apologize for the lack of images. I have Persians, Peltasts, and fourteen nicely painted Spartans. I will get them up ASAP.

A special thanks to Jack Gaudette who painted a unit of Spartans, Mark McLaughlin who painted a unit of Persian archers, and Jesse Polo-Neil who helped paint up the difficult and multi-colored Persian Immortals. These fine gentlemen took time out of their busy lives to help the students have nicely painted models to push around the table.

I also started making Mt. Kallidromos, out of rigid insulation board. So many projects.

Pictures to follow soon. I promise

Mr. Webster

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The day draws closer

A couple more students are petering out but the ones that are sticking around are doing some great work. The students Keynote presentations are on target and cover the basic background needed to explain Thermopylae to the average seventh grader.

Some students are planning to do their voice-overs for the Imovie and are getting pretty excited and creative.

Last night Jesse and I play tested the skirmish rules for the fight over Leonidas' body. The first set of rules ended up being a quagmire with little movement. The reworked rules were a lot more fluid. Nothing thrilling for jaded gamers, but a quick and dirty scenario that will have the kids rolling dice and making decisions.

I am toying with the idea of having models be "knocked back/down" instead of killed.

Jesse helped paint 11 Immortals as well. What might have taken me a week of steady work was knocked out in an evening. Thanks for all the help.

Four Greek peltasts and 3 more hoplites on the table. Bits and pieces slowly being added to the whole.
Pictures to follow this evening.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Week two ends

And it ends with highs and lows. Each group has been tasked with researching a particular event or facet of the conflict and creating a keynote presentation (Apple's version of the power point)

Some students are really getting into the research and making creative, humorous, and detailed slideshows. That makes me happy.

A few kids are groaning and whining. That makes me mad. But it is to be expected.

I brought in some of the painted figures to give the kids a taste of the gaming to come. They had a lot of questions (most have no concept of how war gaming works and seem mystified by the idea of rules) and seemed eager to get playing. A few kids wanted to paint their own figures. It wasn't part of my original plan to have the students paint, but perhaps that would be fun too.

Anyhow. I've been painting and I must say I enjoy the painting the Persians more than I thought I would. I was all gung-ho for the hoplites but I think I've changed my mind.

I've also had my doubts about "dipping" the figures, but it still makes the process a lot quicker and time is ticking away. It doesn't look too bad on the Persians but on the Greeks' white linothorax it is not the best. Perhaps some other solution. I am also not the best with shield design. I like Little Big Men's decals but I don't have the cash for them. I should slow down and do a better job. . .

Anyway here are the latest additions to the armies. I hope to post some frames of the students' keynote presentations soon.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Students Assemble!

Thirteen rambunctious students signed up. Only eleven showed up for the first day (two absent from school). Students will research a topic and create an interesting presentation to be used for the 7th grade social studies curriculum. Students used first period to get rid of all past behavior issues and are now ready to work like diligent and interested students :)

Persian Empire
: Nick

Spartan Training: Kelly & Kailee

Hoplite Equipment: Codey & Kevin.

King Xerxes: Austin L.

Causes for Persian War: Kyael

Ancient Ships: Corey

Persian Troops: Austin M. & Collin

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Persians begin to march. . .

The Persian horde is starting to take shape. Persian levy infantry is 20 strong. Immortals and archers are assembled, primed and ready to be painted. Subjects (Indians, Ethiopians, & Syrians) are answering the Great King Xerxes' call to arms. . . .

Sunday March 16th and I am pleased. The first unit has been painted and dipped. Not beautiful but serviceable. . . Learning a bit about photography. Don't use a flash when you have dipped your army, makes em look horrible, look. . .

See? Sticky looking. Blech! But taking a photo of the same figures without the flash yields different results.

Much nicer. Also I have primed my first 8 Greeks. Look forward to painting them up and getting the images posted to the site. Tomorrow is the first day with the students. I had 20 or more students sign up and only have 8-10 open slots. That's a pleasant suprise.

More this week.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Slowly, It Begins. . .

Spent the weekend furiously filing, assembling, making all different spears out of various gauges of wire, priming, calculating and now on Weds (3-12) I put the first coat of paint on the first Persian figure. . . Here are some Persian cannon fodder types, laid out for painting.I went back and forth on color schemes. I want to save the purple for the Immortals and I didn't want to use too much red (saving that for the Spartans) so (after getting some fashion advice from my wife) I settled on a dark yellow with greenish slacks and headwraps. It looked a bit bland so I added some deep red cuffs and a central stripe.Very little highlighting, no worries about the folds or recesses. I am going to "dip" this guy in varnish, let him sit overnight, and then wait to see how he looks in the morning.

On an upbeat note. Using "Pages" (an iMac program on our BWLI laptops) I created a recruitment poster to hang in the school and got it printed on a 2' X 3' piece of vinyl fabric. I must say it looks nice!

The other heartening event is that 5 members of my wargaming club volunteered to take the time and help paint up some figures. The thought of painting 200+ figures was (and is!) daunting, but with this kind of support I think I can! I just want to acknowledge their generous offer. It really means a lot.

Well that's it for tonight. time to pry the lid off the varnish can and submerge a Persian. . .

Early morning update! Dunked guy is done. The flash makes him look a lot more glossy than he is. Not sure if I like the color scheme dunked. But this might be good enough for the nameless horde of Persian levies.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

All the pieces of the puzzle

are in place. the books and movie showed up today on a rainy Saturday. The Osprey books look very nice. Especially the "Thermopylae" book. It has nice full color map with the location of troops. Can't wait to dive in.

The rules are coming along nicely for the recreation. Nothing too detailed but not too simplistic either. Hopefully I can play test them in the next week or two.

Five generous souls have come forward to help paint the mound of figures needed to make this happen. If each one could paint 15-20 figures I would be in great shape! The Osprey books will help me describe color schemes. . .

Now to buy some wire for spears. . .

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Eagle has landed. . .

Yes indeed, Old Glory 25's came through as promised. . . A smallish white box sat outside in the cellar entryway this afternoon. It's small size concealed how heavy and chock full of lead figures it was. I tore into it and found a mixture of elation and dismay. . . .

I was excited at so many new figures, but I could feel the tingling dread of facing a gigantic task. So many figures ot clean, prep, assemble, prime, paint, base, and seal! and the packs of spears were unassembled? I had to build the spears? And the hands needed to be drilled?? My spirits sank for a moment. . . but the thrill of so many cool figures kept me going.

I smoothed out about 60 Greek bases using a belt grinder, which sped up the task.

I used my dremel to drill out the hoplites' solid hands with pretty good success.

My next issue was the spear shafts were too long and the hard metal shafts couldn't be cut with dikes. Problem solved with the dremel's cutting wheel. I began to feel like the task wasn't beyond me and got to work filing down mold lines on the figures. I like the look of the figures overall. Once they're painted they will work well!

My next big issue was the spear points. I was a bit miffed that I had to drill them out. I read online that you can make your own spears out of brass wire. Have to find the tutorial and give it a try. Here's what I have so far. . .

I am not impressed. :(

I am excited to see that my Gripping Beast Romans are close enough in size and build! Yahoo!

That's it for now. 11 of them ready to be primed. Hopefully I can make this a productive weekend.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The lead is in the mail

Saturday March 1st: Looked at a lot of different miniatures and did some hemming and hawing between Vendel/Artizan, Foundry, 15mm minifigs, 1:72 scale plastics, and Old Glory. Vendel figures were very nice looking, but expensive and very large compared to other scale models. When I called the distributor they did not have the figures I wanted and did not get back to me on when they would have them in stock.
I called Old Glory 25's and told them my story (middle school teacher in a time crunch to get this project started) and was met with enthusiastic help. A few minutes later my order was placed and by Monday (fingers crossed) 300+ miniatures will be in the mail.
Hopefully I'll get some hands on photo's of the process.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Troubles, and Old

Monday Feb 25 My first hurdle (getting kids interested), I introduced the idea to the kids about my BWLI program and created a mini-poster to hang around the school. I have to admit there is more interest than I had expected. Just on our team alone eight or more kids said they wanted to sign up. three or four bugged me about it the next day. I won't get over-confident, until they actually sign up and show up!

Tuesday Feb 26
Osprey books and DVD ordered. Hopefully I will have them by Monday, would like to do a little more research on the Persians before this event gets into full swing.

Wednesday Feb 27 No luck on getting discounts on the miniatures. The two ranges I liked had no deals. I chose Vendel because they had more than just Standard "Persians" (Ethiopians, Egyptians and Babylonians). After I made the decision I received another obstacle to o'erleap. The distributor did not have enough models in stock and couldn't pin down how long it would take to get them in stock. I will continue my search. I need to start preparing models ASAP. . .

Thursday Feb 28 I hung my mini-poster outside both 8th grade social studies teacher's rooms. Hopefully I can pick up a some more. six to eight dedicated kids would be ideal. I figure even ten would be doable. I am considering doing some form of question sheet to focus the kids when they are doing research so they aren't overwhelmed. We'll see.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


The first post of the Blog!

Not sure if I have set this up right or how it will work but I think that it will be a good thing to document the progress of the program to tout our victories and downplay our failures.

What I am up to.

* I will be advertising the program to the students this week. I hope to get 6-10 kids who are truly interested in doing this.

* In the process of ordering 4 books that have decently accurate (and cool) drawings of the troops involved (the Osprey series)

* Attempting to find the right range of figures for the project. Trying to balance the cost of the figures against the interest they will generate (my theory is larger more detailed figures (heroic 28mm) will be more interesting to the students than smaller ones (15mm). Bigger figures are more money and will take me longer to paint. Can I get 150+ painted in five to six weeks? :(

* I have toyed with the idea of asking students if they would be interested in painting figures, but I think that it wouldn't go over too well. I might do it as a side venture (on a non BWLI day)

* have to consider getting the figures painted, the terrain built, and the rules in place. There is a lot of behind the scenes side-projects to begin!

By the end of the week I hope to have the books & figures ordered

More to come. . .