Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Review and Looking Ahead

Another year, another review post.

We played a total of 21 games in 17 sessions, which is fewer than what we did last year, but perhaps not surprising due to our various work commitments.

Most of my predictions for the year did not come true: we did not play any Warhammer game (despite the large number of figures I painted or refurbished - although I am still optimistic for 2016), we have not played a single game of Black Powder (but that is due to Martin and I playing Chain of Command whenever we have a session), and rather surprisingly, we did not play Frostgrave even though fg bought a copy of the rules.

Also did not happen were the Bronze Age heroic warfare game (my fault, that) and the Blood Bowl tournament.

The first third of the year was spent mainly on painting figures for Warhammer Fantasy and playing our dungeon crawl game. The second third of the year was spent painting up the Rohan figures (which have not yet seen any action, come to think of it) and the 15mm War and Empire figures. The final third of the year was dominated by Chain of Command, and for me the acquisition, building, and painting of vehicle models.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed painting vehicles, and since August I have been building one model after another, either something I bought myself, or something wahj or Martin bought themselves a long time ago but never painted and then passed to me. At this moment I have seven models in my building/painting queue, and I am eyeing a couple of releases from Plastic Soldier Company next year.

Chain of Command looks set to be the main course for 2016 too. Wahj, fg, Martin and I each have our own platoon (Martin has two, in fact), and we aim to play two of the Pint-sized campaigns from Too Fat Lardies over the course of the year. To achieve this I will need to complete the vehicles in my list, and also produce some 40 feet of walls for the tabletop. This will be a major enterprise.

The other period we are also painting for is the Roman-Sassanid War in 15mm, which will be played using our own Impetus-Dux Bellorum mash-up rules. My own contribution for this project is small (amounting to 54 figures in total), but Late Roman infantry is proving to take longer to paint than I had expected.

Our focus for the next year seem a lot narrower, which is probably a good thing.

That said, another thing that is likely to demand our attention in the second third of the year is the Heavy Gear kickstarter, which will likely deliver in the first quarter of the year. Again, my part in this is small (only 8 models), but I do look forward to painting and weathering some mecha models.

Another side project possibility I am keeping an eye on is the Immortal rules from Broken Spirit Wargames. The release of the rules have been delayed, but hopefully the result will be worth the wait.

The year 2016 will also see a few other changes.

I will be working fewer days each week, which will give me more time to spend with my family, on the hobby, on personal and professional development, exercising, and generally just keeping my place tidy.

One of the things having an extra free day a week allows me to do is to get back into role-playing games. RPG, specifically fantasy RPGs, have been a major passion of mine since I was a teenager. But as my friends and I get older and take on more responsibilities it became harder and harder to find the time it takes to game at the regularity that a campaign requires to maintain its momentum. Now, I have taken the leap and posted on a local meet-up forum and found myself a few players who are willing to play in a campaign I will game-master. Hopefully this will work out.

Have a good New Year, and thank you for reading.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Everything I painted this year

With just a few days left in the year I doubt I will have anything else painted, so I will sum up the year by compiling the photos of all the stuff I painted this year in a single post. Here they are:

28mm Fantasy/Medieval:

20mm WW2:

15mm Ancients:


10mm Sci-fi:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chain of Command: Arnhem Game 3

Martin and I played the last game in our short Arnhem campaign on Sunday. Wahj and fg also turned up to spectate, but I wanted to play the Germans myself for one important reason...

The scenario depicted the defence of the Oosterbeek perimeter. The British hold the far (east) end of the table, and the Germans must take the large building which served as their anchor on this flank.

The game started poorly for Martin as I rolled a '9' on the Support List, which meant he could not take a 6-pounder - and I knew that.

With 17 points to spend I took my secret weapon, a Forward Observer for a mortar battery, and an extra squad mounted on a half-track.

I planned to suppress Martin's forces with a mortar barrage and then send my secret weapon speeding down the road to attack the British, but the careless FO was shot and killed before he could call down the shots. I then deployed two squads of infantry to try to outshoot martin's forces, which have by now deployed in a defence line.

'Steady, lads!'
Frustrated by the inability to cause any significant casualty on the Paras and the smoke from their mortar, I decided to darn the torpedoes and sent my Flammpanzer down.

When it got within range, I managed to get two consecutive phases. The result was carnage.

Martin's brave PIAT troopers fired round after round at the Flammpanzer, at one point causing the driver to lose his cool and wounding the tank commander, but when both PIAT teams were killed, the Paras knew their game was up and retired.

Once again I enjoyed the game. I think it reflected how desperate the Paras' defence was, and how for the German even if the result of the whole operation was never in doubt, individual battles could still be a touch and go affair - had Martin disabled the Flammpanzer, it would have been near impossible for me to take the position without any artillery support.

This will likely be the last game of the year. We plan to play two CoC campaigns next year, but we do have some ways to go in terms of painting and terrain-making before we can kick them off.

In case I do not post again this week: have a good Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Flammpanzer B2(F)

I actually completed this model in September, but delayed posting this post as I wanted to surprise Martin during our Arnhem game.

The idea for this project came from the book "German Armoured Units at Arnhem", which Martin lent me before we started the campaign. I have always like the way the Germans made use of captured armoured vehicles, and we did not have any flamethrower units in our collection at that time, so when I saw the Flammpanzer B2(F) I decided I would try to build one.

The model is from Trumpeter and is detailed and easy to build. The only major inaccuracy was with the driver's vision port on the left, which required some cutting to make it look like the original.

The resin conversion bits came from Modelltrans, which I bought through Lonewulf Models. The conversion bits consisted of the large fuel tank at the back of the tank, the flamethrower mount which replaced the 75mm gun on the original tank/model, an extra vision port above the flamethrower, and a piece of spare track to place over the front left of the hull. Attaching the resin bits required shaving off the rivets on the areas which the bits went over, and for the extra vision port also the removal of part of the driver's vision port, but once attached there was only minimal filling of gap with some epoxy putty required.

Front view showing the flamethrower, the additional vision port, and the spare tracks from the converion kit.
I was undecided on whether to remove the antenna on the back of the tank since some pictures showed the tank with it and some without, but eventually I decided to remove it and cover the surface over the area with an ammo box. The tracks were single lengths of rubber and I had some difficulty with them, but I suppose it was better than having to glue individual links.

For the painting I decided to go for a three-tone camouflage on a tank fielded in Holland instead of the one shown in the book, which frankly didn't look 'cool'. I also chose a different base yellow (Tamiya Light Sand instead of Dark Yellow) and green (Racing Green instead of Olive Drab) for this model as the photos of other models I saw tended to go for brighter colours. I sprayed the patterns on using a stencil of an irregular pentagon cut in a sheet of card. The green looked too bright and glossy at first, but a wash of Army Painter Dark Tone solved that problem.

Once painted I did some weathering as per my previous projects, but also heavily rusted the exhaust tubes at the back, which in this video of a surviving Char B looks like something which happened even to a well-maintained tank.

Rear view showing the fuel tank and the heavy rusting on on the exhaust pipes. 

For the decals I used the ones I had left over on the Peddinghaus Normandy Tanks sheet.

Over all I am quite pleased with how the model turned out. It performed very well against Martin's Paras yesterday (report soon, I promise) as they did not have a six-pounder with them, but I think I may have very few opportunities to field it again in a historical context..

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Zvezda Soviet Reconnaissance Team

I bought these figures along with a bunch of other stuff when I helped wahj buy the figures for his Soviet platoon plus support. They are from Zvezda's "Art of Tactics" range and are more expensive than their regular range, but come in hard plastic. You get four figures, which can be based individually, or together on a small dioramic base. I chose to base two of the figures on our standard 20mm round bases, and the radio operator and the guy with the map on the dioramic base, so they can represent a Forward Observer team.

I like the proportions and poses on these guys. The details are a little soft, and the slings for the SMGs are not really raised enough to allow for easy painting. The faces do respond very well to a brown wash though.

I painted them in the "amoeba camouflage", but I think my green is too dark.

Soviet scout squads are fielded as 9-men units in Chain of Command, so I needed more figures to round them up. As it turned out 20mm Soviet scout figures in camouflage smocks aren't as common as I thought, but I managed to find a suitable pack from Elhiem:

picture from Elhiem Figures
As you can see, there are four rifle-armed figures, which is exactly the number I need to form a squad. The three SMG armed figures and the two I already have will form the rest of the squad, and I have a spare officer figure which I suppose is always useful to have around.

Monday, December 07, 2015


The SU-76M is probably under-represented on the 20mm WW2 wargaming tabletop; I think this is partly because it is eclipsed by the T34, and partly because there aren't many plastic kits of this vehicle - in fact, this UM kit was the only one I could find (the other being the SU-76, an earlier version with a smaller production run than the SU-76M, and also from UM).

The UM is relatively inexpensive, and comes with tiny photoetched brass parts, some of which I used in my build. It isn't difficult to build, but as the instructions can be a little ambiguous, you need to look at photos of the actual vehicle or models other people have built to make sure you glue the parts on correctly.

There are two minor complaints with the kit. The first is that the tarp hanging on the side of the cab is actually sculpted on, which interferes with decal placement. The second is that the way the exhaust pipes run is wrong - I had to replace the original pieces with a paperclip, and even then I couldn't make it a hundred percent right.

One other problem with this kit is that it doesn't come with crew, which leads me to my next rant.

It is near impossible to find decent 20mm Soviet assault gun crew which are in summer tank crew uniforms and in action poses instead of lounging around or leaning against the side of the vehicles, which if you take a look at the number of 1/35 and 1/72 scale tank crew figures on the market seems to be all they ever did during WW2.

I did manage to find a seller on ebay with some decent and expensive resin figures, but he was out of stock.

In the end I settled for these two figures from a Zvezda Soviet anti-tank gun set, which I *know* have the wrong uniforms for assault gun crew - they will just have to do until I can get the correct figures.

The other interesting thing I found was that despite the large number of the SU-76Ms which were produced, the decals supplied for the kits (1/35 or 1/72) seem to be based on the same few photographed vehicles.

This is the last Soviet vehicle I have on my build list - the next four vehicles are all German; I have bought them so I can use them in the Pint-Size campaigns which we are planning to play next year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chain of Command: Arnhem Game 2

The battlefield. The Germans hold the northern (far) end of the table.
We played the second game of our Arnhem campaign on Sunday. Martin played the Paras, and wahj took command of the Germans. The scenario depicted Day 2 of the battle, when the British had to evict the Germans in a cafe overlooking the drop zone for the second wave.

I took the scenario off the internet, and based the placement of the area and linear terrain on Google street view.

With a large open area to cover, Martin deployed one section in the wreckage of the glider and one in the barn. wahj responded by deploying one section in the wooded area at the road junction, and one from the upper floor of the cafe.

Unable to overcome the opposition with small arms fire alone, the British called down a mortar barrage on the German position. The impact area covered both the woods and the cafe, and wahj was unable to lift the barrage as he did not have as many Chain of Command dice as Martin did.

At this point wahj decided to deploy the support pre-selected by me: a section of Panzergrenadiers on an SdKfz 251. The intrepid halftrack barreled towards the Brits sheltering in the glider wreckage...

Then Martin revealed his support: a six-pounder gun. The first shot failed to damage the halftrack, and a hail of small arms fire caused the crew to bail out. But just as they thought themselves safe, the second round from the six-pounder blew the vehicle up, killing most of them.

With the threat on his left eliminated and the opposition in the centre pinned, Martin sent his remaining forces down his right flank, skirting around the impact area.

The British race down the right as the Hanomag burns in the right background.
Eventually the German section in the woods were eliminated, and the British captured the two German Jump-Off Points there even as their flanking force was ready for the final charge. When the barrage lifted, the Germans knew what was coming next, and surrendered (their Force Morale ran out).

The attack was pretty textbook, and showed once again how effective (heavy) mortar can be in the game

The next game will depict a German attack on the Oosterbeek perimeter.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The windmill on Kizhi Island cardboard model

A few weeks ago I was looking to add to my terrain items for our WW2 Eastern Front games, and thought a windmill will be topical. Some searching on ebay found a 1/87 scale windmill - specifically *the* windmill on Kizhi Island. Hoping that the scale difference will not be too obvious, I bought one (plus the model of an Armenian church, but more of that in another future post). Fortunately, the model looks acceptable next to the 20mm AB figures as you can see.

The model is actually quite well-designed and the parts are fully-coloured, embossed on one side, and fit to a rather tight tolerance. It took fg and I about fifteen minutes to put together after a gaming session.

'Oh look, Hans - a cat!'
Rather curiously, there is actually a cat printed onto the back of the windmill. I think this model will certainly add some colour to our next Eastern Front game.

You can easily find the model on ebay, and there are actually many more buildings and in fact trains in the series, including a WW2 armoured train with trees painted on its sides as camouflage!

Sunday, November 15, 2015


No, not the cricket series, but the card game by Plaid Hat Games.

As we were both too lazy to play a miniatures game, fg brought this new card game for a spin.

We played five games in the space of an afternoon - the first four we actually got the rules wrong, but we finally got it right in the fifth game (I hope).

The game is very much like Magic (which I have never actually played) in that you play a sorcerer who can cast spells and summon monsters to fight for you (plus some allies). It also has a SAGA-like mechanic where you roll ten dice per turn to determine which spells you can cast or which monsters/allies you can activate.

Each turn you roll the dice (two sets of five), which will determine which cards you can activate, and then you spend the dice to summon monsters and allies and send them to attack your opponent or his monsters and allies. The aim is to defeat the enemy sorcerer by reducing his/her hit points to zero.

We played using the predetermined decks for the sorcerers (called Phoenixborn). Each sorcerer has a distinct flavour to his or her spells: some utilise a horde strategy, and some a few tough monsters which can be further buffed.

Overall the game is to me in the same vein as the Magic the Gathering: Arena of the Planeswalkers fg and I also played a couple months back, but minus the actual tabletop manoeuvring. As with Planeswalkers, the deck can get predictable after a while, but there are rules for custom deck building.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dragon Panther G Early Version

Today I completed the Dragon Panther G (Early Version) kit that wahj passed me. He had bought the kit many years ago but it remained unbuilt inside his cache of models until he rediscovered it recently. At the same time I had been thinking of building a Panther myself, but had held off based on my plan to keep my collection small - wahj had already built and painted a Panther, and since I don't see us fielding two Panthers in a game of Chain of Command, I didn't think it was justified. So all in all this was a happy coincidence.

The kit is of high quality and features a die-cast metal hull which fit together perfectly. It wasn't an easy build from the painting point of view though. Some parts had to be left off the main model while it was being painted, so some advance planning had to be done. The instructions for the side-skirts seemed to be wrong, and I had to look at photos of actual Panther tanks to figure out which way to glue them on. The accurate but fine anti-aircraft MG snapped towards the end of the build, and I cheated with the tracks as they were under tension and I simply taped them together, reinforced the joints with staples, and hid them behind the side-skirts. I also found it difficult to paint the tyres on the road wheels "inside the lines", and so cheated by smearing "mud" over them.

I did less weathering on the model than with the ISU-152, because the tank looked so good it didn't feel right to make it look too shabby. The decals are from the kit. I left off the decal for the rear turret numbers because I couldn't find a way to make them sit on the contours. Finally, I added some dried plants as foliage camouflage.

I can't wait to kill some Shermans or T34s with this big cat.