Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best And Worst Of My 2013 Gaming!

I thought I would take a quick look back at 2013 and put this year to rest by picking out a couple of my highlights and low lights!

Best Moment: Fate Of A Nation
Watching Phil, Mike and Wayne working on their projects is a real privilege as you see how the sausage is made and sometimes you close your eyes and hope that things work out okay, and other times everything seems to just come together like magic. I was a little apprehensive when Phil started work on FOAN as I was so passionate about the project and sometimes it is hard to put your own feelings aside and let the guys just do their thing! FOAN worked out so much better than I could have expected and the finished product is awesome and I cannot wait till the next time we visit the Sinai Desert and Golan Heights!

Honorable Mention: DUST
DUST is just cool, simple as that! I've enjoyed meeting Paolo and Olivier and chatting to them about their game and the products and are looking forward to what comes next. Of course and excuse to add cool toys to my collection is a definite bonus!

Worst Part of 2013: The Year of the Trollbloods (and not the internet type!)
I was so looking forward to tackling my Warmachine Trollbloods army this year and thanks to a couple of (by my standards) large FOW painting projects it got shelved. I would say that 2014 will be the year but I have already worked out that this will not be the case, so hopefully 2015, The Year of the Trollblood!

Dis-Honorable Mention: X-Wing
Such a cool year of X-Wing products and somehow I think my last game was in February or March. Going to have to remedy this in 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

DUST Christmas Comes A Little Late

With the FFG sale earlier this month, the guys in the Studio banded together to purchase a few things... today they arrived with me... hohoho. I had a quick look through all their nice toys and then left them on their desks so that they could have a nice surprise when they come back to work in 2014!

Now with a small pile of "back catalogue" items I think we will see some armies coming together! I figure I need to go and do a little research on the 179th Steel Guards Battalion (supported by the 26th Zverograd Tractor Factory Armoured Company) and their exploits - thats the fun part about alternate history games, you get to write your own!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

SSU Steel Guard Ready for the Production Line!

The guys in the BF Studio have been getting quite excited about DUST ever since the announcement that we would be working with Paulo, Olivier, and the rest of the DUST team. The agreement to take over distribution of the DUST range started with the Wave 8 releases, leaving product a little thin on the ground if we wanted to get in and start building armies immediately (although the recent FFG sale has resulted that excitement building as the guys ordered some stuff to get armies started!). Luckily for me I was really interested in the release of the new Steel Guard figures (they reminded me a little of Battletech Clan "Toads") and was able to grab a couple of boxes to start building a small force.

I'd decided I wanted to paint the army, but I also wanted to make sure that I was not going crazy and spending too much time on a per figure basis so I decided to go with a primer red, straight out of the Zverograd factory look. I airbrushed the figures with Tamiya Hull Red, and then did a little highlighting from the top with a Hull Red / Dark Yellow mix. As you can see from the results I ended up with a some nice highlighting of the top surfaces that (I thought) looked really cool. I then varnished the models (and was a little disappointed at this point as the varnish really flattened out the highlighting!) and pin washed them with a MiG Productions Dark Wash. The guns was painted Vallejo Black Grey with a highlight of Oily Steel, the springs in the legs were also painted Oily Steel. The uniform and bed roll were painted English Uniform, given a quick wash with some black paint, then re-highlighted with English Uniform, and the whole model a quick (light) drybrush of Buff.

For the bases I glued on GF9 basing grit, undercoated it black, and then drybrushed on Green Grey, Stone Grey and a little Sky Grey (letting the drybush of this go over the feet and lower legs of the figure a little. Then glued on some "bricks" from the guys at Secret Weapon Miniatures just to help reinforce that Zverograd feeling.

I am pretty happy with the finished model and although there are a couple of things I am not entirely happy with, I was able to complete it quite quickly meaning I can get a small army on the table and play some games over the Christmas break! The rest of my force is undercoated and ready for the pin washing and detail work, with the HQ section currently on a plane somewhere between our factory / distribution hub in KL, and New Zealand. Once these figures are done I am definitely looking forward to painting a couple of the massive SSU tanks as well!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Taking Desperate Measures

When Mike finished working on Desperate Measures I spent a lot of time trying to work out what I list wanted to build from the book. Normally I find a list in each book that really excites me and like most wargamers I end up stashing some lead for when I am “definitely going to paint this!” This time I found it hard to find that one list that I had to make. I like the lists in the book and I own armies for both the Germans and Soviets so it should have been easy to pick something.

Looking through the book I started to narrow it down a little:
The Soviets
  • Tankovy Batalon – I have something like 40-50 T-34s painted and whilst I need to do some of the support units (like artillery) it didn’t feel like a painting project when I was only painting odds and ends – that is more of a “two weeks before a tournament” project.
  • Motorstrelkovy Batalon – I really want a massive Soviet infantry army…. But I am not sure about committing to that amount of painting given my magpie painting habits.
  • Medium Self-propelled Artillery Regiment – okay, this one is low hanging fruit and will definitely hit the painting table… but I thought I would wait for the plastic SU-100 and I wanted to paint something now!
  • Hero versions of the above – these are very exciting and was lucky enough to run one in a WI battle report. Running non Hen & Chicks T-34s is a liberating experience after playing Soviets for so long. Plus you do not need to paint as many figures, but the issues I had with the non Hero versions carried over to these companies too.
The Germans
  • Panzer Kampfgruppe – I have no painted German tanks that I am happy with (with the exception of Kampfgruppe Bake, but they are white!), so this list was a chance to do whatever I wanted, plus it had all the toys. If only I could settle on a list…
  • Panzergrenadier Kampfgruppe – PzGrens in 251s are on my “armies I must repaint before I die” list…. But not right now…
  • Panzer Ausbildungs Verband – see my thoughts on the Panzer Kampfgruppe
  • Panzer Ausbildungs Abteilung 500 – Crikey! Discounted Tigers and King Tigers thanks to the lack of Stormtrooper and the vehicles being unreliable…. You had me at discounted Tigers and King Tigers!
Looking through the PAA 500 list I did notice that it is a pretty tight list with a small number of support options. Normally this would run the risk of putting me off a little, but in this case I wanted something fun and compact that I could paint as a small self contained project. I also saw it as a gateway to start painting figures for the other German companies in the book. For instance if I took a pair of infantry platoons this would get me the start of my PzGren infantry as well (especially given the announcement of the plastic Sd Kfz 251). Tigers, Panthers and King Tigers always have a use in other lists! As for the AA, it did not matter which option I picked as you always need a cheap platoon of AA to round out a force.

In the end I settled on a couple of lists that I knew would cover my bases.

1500 points

HQ Platoon
1 Tiger I E    155 points

Combat Platoons
Schwere Panzer Ausbildungs Platoons
2 Tiger I E    280 points
2 Tiger I E    280 points
2 Konigstiger (Porshe)    445 points

Weapons Platoons
Panzergrenadier Ausbildungs Platoons
3 Grenadier Squads with 6 Rifle/MG teams and Panzerschreck team    130 points
3 Grenadier Squads with 6 Rifle/MG teams and Panzerschreck team    130 points

Support Platoons
Luftwaffe Light Anti-aircraft Gun Platoon
3 3.7cm FlaK43    65 points

1750 points
HQ Platoon
2 Tiger I E    310 points

Combat Platoons
Schwere Panzer Ausbildungs Platoons
2 Tiger I E    280 points
2 Tiger I E    280 points
2 Konigstiger (Porshe)    445 points

Leichte Panzer Ausbildungs Platoon
4 Panzer III N     180 points

Weapons Platoons
Panzergrenadier Ausbildungs Platoon
3 Grenadier "Sniper" Squads with 6 Rifle/Panzerfaust teams and Panzerschreck team    190 points

Support Platoons
Luftwaffe Light Anti-aircraft Gun Platoon
3 3.7cm FlaK43    65 points

So, I have achieved the “fun” part of Theory-Flames, now I need to work out how I am going to get it all painted!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Going Digital with Dropzone Commander

Recently one of my friends (Jeff over at Adeptus Malaysia put up this post) showing off  a really nice Dropzone Commander test model he had airbrushed up using a series of home made "hexocam" masks. My DZC stuff has been sitting in a box as I had consistently failed to come up with a camo scheme I really liked. I have two models sitting in Simple Green at home from failed experiments already.

Jeff was kind enough to send me down a set of his masks to have a play with and they are fantastic (although Jeff did make it sound way easier than it was). I undercoated the tank Black, then progressively sprayed Dark Grey (which I will swap out for a Dark Geen), Light Grey and Buff over the vehicle, adding more masks as I went in an effort to duplicate the current US Universal Camo Pattern. My intent once the masks were removed was to varnish it, pin wash it, paint the details and done.... 

In reality, once I removed the masks I found that some of the tape managed to pull away all the paint, right down to the resin. So this tank has joined its platoon mates in the Simple Green!

I am going to try something a little different next time around and wash the resin more throughly (I normally dont bother but I think it may be worth it in this case), do a couple of undercoats with plenty of curing time, and then give the tank a light gloss varnish to try to seal everything in. I also need to put twice the number of masks on as even though I thought I was putting a lot on, once I removed them I realised I need many many more.

However I am pleased with the result and need to try the Universal Camo 2.0 test so I can make these a fun Christmas project..

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

FlamesCon - Day Two

Day one had gone better than I expected and having knocked of Daniel in the last round I felt like I was in good shape. I knew today I would be coming up again Rob and his very Canadian Recon list so I spent a little time the night before thinking about how to play the game, little did I know he would be my first opponent and the game would set the tone for the rest of the day...

Round 4 vs Rob (Canadian Armoured Recce Squadron from Market Garden) and Hold The Line
Rob won the dice off to defend and picked the large cornfields for his Cautious Movement Canadians to hide in. I put one tank platoon on the right flank and rushed the rest up the left behind the forest.
My artillery managed to range in a couple of times but did nothing and Rob was able to move from the templates without giving his position away, so I chose to burst out before his artillery came on from reserve and knocked out mine. Lots of shots.... no hits... my trained tanks in the open...
Return fire...
Recon scrambles to keep me in the game for one more turn (to try to break a platoon) but the dice abandon me..
The game against was really disappointing for two reasons: 1, I went down 1-6 and pretty much ended my chances of a good result, and 2, I played the game really poorly! I should have pushed a single tank out to close range and started shooting him, forcing him to fire and me and give away his gone to ground advantage. It would have cost me my 2iC but I could have then pushed up and tried to knock out his tanks more effectively....
Round 5 vs Aussie Rob (British Assault Company from Overlord) and Free For All

Rob deployed over a broad frontage with his tanks in the middle, infantry on either side interspersed with 6pdrs,recon,  with some AA the middle and a Cruiser off-table to provide support. I decided to hold the left with a token force, push the middle with a single tank platoon and try to roll up the right and then along his line.
We skirmished on the left and centre, Rob loosing a couple of platoons whilst NFGS (Naval Gunfire Support) rained down on my middle tanks.
He retreated his tanks behind the hedges and we stopped to duel for a few turns. Eventually I knocked them out but a stray 6"round from the HMS Glasgow knocked out my camera and I failed to take any more pictures. I managed to roll up and get my 3 points but by then the damage was done and it was all over.

Round 6 vs BF Wayne (Hungarian Zrinyi Company) and Hasty Attack
I setup with tanks on both sides, with the artillery in the middle, Wayne spread his Zrinyi platoons, Panthers on his right flank and Nebelwerfers at the back
Wayne advanced his Panthers shooting a couple of Shermans, my Shermans on my right advanced to get flank shots on the Panthers (missing) and then died to his Zrinyi platoon. My artillery hit ranged in on two Panthers (missing them) and his Company Commander (which I bailed). The Shermans achieved nothing.
And three died (triple 1s on the dice) to the Nebelwerfers....!
Before the rest were finished off by the Panthers....
At a rough calculation I threw around 20 dice in the game, 2 or 3 of which rolled a four or more and the game took around 10-15 minutes to set up and 5-10 minutes to play.... on the good side my easy capitulation catapulted Wayne up the table to take out third place (so a good result for team BF!).

15 points on day one.... 5 points on day two. Not a great finish but at least I had a lot of fun and managed to get my 1956 Israeli tank company much further down the path to being almost painted! Although I think I'll take a break from Olive Drab for a while and do a little Dunklegelb for a change.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

FlamesCon - Day One

Into the gaming!

Round 1 vs Heloise (German Panzers from Devils Charge) and Dust Up
I put all my tanks on the table, Heloise opted for Panzers and Nebelwerfers, putting more Panzers and King Tiger in reserve
My Spearhead Move put me in the middle of the table, Heloise moved up and missed with everything (and bogged her captured Firefly down in the woods). My shooting was considerably more accurate.
I weathered some more inaccurate fire, moved up and mopped up the majority of the Panzers.

A Panzer platoon came on from reserve knocking out a couple of tanks but I had swamped the objective, winning 6-1
Round 2 vs Patrick(Kampfgruppe Swoboda - yes 12 88's!) and Surrounded.
Patrick concentrated most of his force in the centre deployed 2 of his batteries of 88's (1 in ambush) covering most of the table. I opted to put one tank platoon hidden at the far end of the table, and the rest behind a tree line where I could take out an 88 platoon and 2cm platoon.
I overran the 88's and 2cm quite quickly with only a few losses and then moved up to the tree line. Keeping my spare Sherman platoon behind a ridge awaiting Pat's ambush.
88's come out of hiding in the vineyard and knock out some Shermans, I move up and work over the CT Tiger platoon and 88s.
We trade some more shots, my spare Sherman platoon moves up and.....
Dies heroically! By now my recon is moving around the flank to threaten the objective but I know I need to break his company or loose the game.
A final round of accurate shooting by the last of the Shermans breaks Pat's army, but the losses were heavy! 4-3 to me.
Round 2 vs Daniel(21st Panzer) and Breakthrough
Sadly I did not take many pictures of this game - Dan is a long time gamer that I almost never get to play in tournaments despite playing in many FOW and Warhammer tournaments over the past 15 years. He also plays a lot more than me these days so I put my game face on and forgot to grab the camera...
Dan put an infantry screen across half the table, with 88's and 3.7cm guns covering the cornfield. Despite a convenient tree line that I knew his 15cm SP artillery and 2 units of Beute Stugs I knew I had to push through their gun line.
In the end I broke through but only had a handful of tanks left, however my recon came on from reserve and captured the objective whilst the remaining Shermans formed a screen to stop any counterattacks. A tough 5-2 win.
End of day one and I am feeling good, sitting in second or third and having knocked off a tough opponent to finish the day. Thinking about day two I knew I was going to be in for some tough match ups.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

FlamesCon - The Event

I've been struggling to find the time to write up a bit of an event report from FlamesCon. After the weekend I was completely shattered and since then I only time I have spent on the computer at home as been doing work.... So I thought I would break the event down into bite sized chunks, and stick to primarily pictures (I've been learning from the graphics guys!).

First up - some general shots from the event:
Setting up the venue - Mike had it all mapped out and planned down to the square metre
Just add gamers, terrain and armies!
Evan hard at work
John-Paul with a large bag of confectionery
Phil showing his WW2 plane game that he has been working on
Flames of Tanks with Sean and Andrew
My List for the weekend..
I didn't get my 1956 Israeli Tank Company list finished before the weekend so instead I reverted back to Blood, Guts & Glory as an easy standby.
Creighton Abrams in a M4A1 76mm Sherman - although over the weekend his tank was an M50 Sherman (early)
Company Commander in a M4A1 76mm Sherman

Combat Platoons:
2 M4A1 76mm Shermans with 1 M4A3 (late) Sherman
2 M4A1 76mm Shermans with 1 M4A3 (late) Sherman

2 M4A1 76mm Shermans with 1 M4A3 (late) Sherman

Weapons Platoons:
3 M4 81mm Mortar Carriers with 1 M3 Halftrack
Cavalry Platoon with two jeeps and one M8 (played by a Staghound since the Israelis had a small number of them)

Divisional Support:
4 105mm Howitzers with HQ (played by a battery of 25pdrs since this is what the Israelis had)

Without wanting to go into specifics about how the army went and spoil the surprise... it was a really fun list. Abrams gave the list a few surprises that people really did not expect and whilst Trained is my least favourite skill level, it is appropriate for the Israelis in '56 even though I found it hard work in places. The list was definitely missing "something" though and my plan is to finish off a few little bits and pieces here and there (most notably the 25pdrs since I had to borrow some from work), and then play around with some options like SP AA and Limited Air Support (Mustangs with Napalm anyone...).

Next up, Day One!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fantastic Plastics at FlamesCon

FlamesCon this year was more than just about the gaming (and hopefully I'll get round to writing up an event report this weekend) with the weekend also being about showing off Flames Of War to the public, as well as bringing a few new secrets out for some of the players to check out.

I managed to grab a few pictures of the plastics that you can expect to see on shelves next year...

Plenty of new plastics coming!
T-34/85 and T-34/76 due out as part of Desperate Measures. Five hulls with ten turrets (5 76mm and 5 85mm)

German Panzer Grenadier Frame (takes two to make a platoon)
American Armoured Rifle Platoon (takes two frames again)

M3 or M5 halftrack (with some plastic crew figures glued in)
These new vehicle kits are a generation ahead of the Open Fire tanks, completely digitally designed and cut (like the M113 and Loach). Check out the .50cal on the M3 frame - it is wonderful!

There were also some images of some more work in progress plastics with component lists. Looks like 2014 might see me finally getting a Panzer Grenadier company built with the 251 and Panther on the list.