Panzerschreck Design Studio

Journey of a Wargamer – Comments welcomed

2012 in review

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2012, December 31

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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2011 in review

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2012, January 3

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Some changes in the wind…

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2011, November 3

One of the downsides of spending 4 hours a day commuting is that I’m terminally knackered during the week and there’s no energy or enthiusiasm ton sit and paint, even for 30-45 minutes in the evening. However thanks to an unplanned employment change, the long haul commute may be a thing of the past shortly if i can find a position closer to home (which would be the preferred option). It may mean a lesser salary, but I’ll take that within reason.

Ideally, I’d like a position in Gosford, which would mean I’d be home by 6pm at the latest and I’d be getting 2 more hours sleep at the beginning of the day. This would mean I could actually budget around 60-90 minutes per evening for painting, something that’d allow me to revisit the painting skills I had which have sorely atrophied. In the time I’ve stopped painting, (not that I did that much as it was) the general level of painting I’ve seen for 15mm has passed me by to a huge extent. I’d have to knuckle down and religiously paint as if I was starting from scratch.

We’ll see I guess. It would be nice to get back into painting again, and even more so now I’d be doing it purely for myself, with no pressure to complete stuff for a tournament, competition or for anything beyond personal satisfaction. Hell I don’t even know if I’d be that bothered if I didn’t end up gaming with the models, I’d just prefer to have stuff completed.

 

Posted in Modelling and Painting | 4 Comments »

Hex & Violence: A new blog (sort of)

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2011, October 14

With the demise of the Central Coast Corsairs as an active club, my miniatures gaming has dwindled to absolutely nothing. Certainly the heightened attention to playing and all things Advanced Squad Leader has contributed to this. but I don’t see it as a necessarily negative thing. Like all thing, gaming interest is cyclic and I’m confident that I’ll be painting nad daming with minis soon enough. After all there’s a lot of unpainted and unbased lead and plastic sitting around in boxes here to occupy me for at least 3-5 years.

ASL has taken a fairly significant chunk of any free time I have over the last 2 years and so I’ve decided to actively split the ASL side of things into another blog Hex & Violence . I’ve already ported over all the ASL content from here, so from now on this blog will be returning to it’s primary subject, miniatures. I doubt there’ll be a huge onslaught of updates as I haven’t really looked at what I’ll be looking to complete of the outstanding projects, but i’m sure there’ll be something along the lines of fixing up stuff that I’ve already started and need to complete.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, Boardgames, Gaming | 2 Comments »

Tyranid New arrivals: Classic Lictor, Screamer Killer and Hive Tyrant

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, July 25

I’ve had these for a few months now, but things being what they are between work, ASL and home, I never managed to get some pics ready until now:

Mr Slashy, Mr Rippy and Mr Bitey

Mr Slashy, Mr Rippy and Mr Bitey

Mr Slashy

Posted in Articles, Diary of an Army V (Tyranids and Genestealer Cultists), Gaming, Modelling and Painting, Rules, Tyranids, wargaming, WH40K | 3 Comments »

A small hiatus: PC upgrade

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, March 20

I had hoped to update last weekend, a few things have arrived, including some more 2nd edition Tyranids and some ASL. Unfortunately my 5-6 year old PC is now starting to really show its age. I’m going to be adding a bunch of RAM, replacing the ancient 80Gb and 40Gb harddrives with 320Gb and 500Gb IDEs. Actually the RAM is already installed (along with a new CMOS battery) but I have to grab a new PSU as my old 300W doesn’t cut it anymore, especially as I’ve got a 512Mb Vidcard I need to install to replace the 128Mb Radeon x300.

All in all this should make for a much better working environment, with the dual monitor setup not chugging and a fresh XP install looking the goods. It’ll do until I get back from ASLOK when I’ll be buying a fairly monstrous new beastie of a PC for Windows 7. Anyway, I hope to post a couple of items up here this weekend but my main focus is retrieving all my data from the various old harddrives and getting it all organised before I do a complete reinstall.

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I love the smell of new counters in the morning. It smells like…victory!

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, March 7

I’ve been a bit forgetful in terms of ASL lately. All my focus has been spent on plotting and planning my attendance at ASLOk. This would be okay if I was actually playing ASL at the Bearz or via VASL, but I’ve been too tired after work to play, even when I don’t fall asleep on the train and miss my stop. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about ASL, just actually playing the game has been an issue. In the interim,  a fair bit of ASL stuff has arrived on my doorstep in the last 4 weeks, notably so with Doomed Battalions which contained even more ASL goodness than I had thought possible. LIke Valor of the Guards, it’s an impressive amount for the money.

Midway through last week, I had another MMP box delivered. This was my much-anticipated February order of the limited printing Winter Offensive 2010 ASL for ALS bonus pack. Really it wasn’t so much the bonus pack, but the additional items I ordered to defray the postage charges that was the source of my joy. Two Starter Kits (1 and 2), Starter Kit Bonus Pack (Bocage), the one Action Pack I didn’t have (Few Returned) and a scenario pack (Turning the Tide). In itself that’s a fairly sizable gap that has been filled in my ASL collection.

BoardGameGeek ASL Starter Kit #1 Photo

I’d been fairly non-committal about the new SK manufacturing style of the boards, and a little less than enthused about the actual SK boards themselves. However I’m a huge convert now (having just compared the portability of my SK style boards directly with a similar number of the old mounted boards. Being able to fit so many boards within a single SK style box is certainly a bonus. I just have a lot of counter trimming and organising to do and definitely it’s time for RAACO!

BoardGameGeek ASL Starter Kit #2 photo

The Raaco order will have to wait until after ASLOk, due to budget considerations. Sadly it’s the ideal time to be purchasing from UK & Europe with the strength of the Australian dollar vis a vis the Euro and Sterling.Otherwise I’d be grabbing a double sized Raaco setup for my ASL now. I shall make do with a couple of planos for my Starter Kit setup as that’s about all I want to take with me to ASLOk. A small folder of scenarios and pre-printed VASL maps will round out the deal.

Still to come this year in terms of ASL pre-order goodness are Journal 8 (my card’s already been charged), ASL Action Pack 6, Starter Kit Expansion pack 1 and hopefully the reprints of For King and Country, Journal 2 and Starter Kit 3. Add in a few more catch up purchases and 2010 is definitely my ASL year.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, Boardgames | Leave a Comment »

Little Marienburg – The German Defence II

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 27

And so we continue the pre-game deployment walk-around:

From this shot, it looks bad for the Germans...

Until you move back and see these...

These were placed on table because they took up horrible blank space, and because I could.

The forward platoon really aren't sure what they are doing up here, and those 152s look more like 16" naval guns from front on at this range

Because every Fallschirmjäger army has StuGs around somewhere - these are actually in reserve unable to move until Turn 2 at the earliest

Unfortunately after setting up the terrain, taking photos, setting up the figures, taking more photos, handling the club finances and general admin stuff, there wasn’t enough time to play a game if I wanted to get it all packed up and catch a train home at a reasonable hour. I should have been at the club earlier but I really did need the leisurely start to the weekend. Plus setting up and packing the terrain took a lot longer than I had hoped. I was pretty sure that there was an opportunity for a fun contest there, the soviet horde can do some nifty things in late war, and those 152s are vicious beasties at clearing out infantry.

Posted in Diary of An Army II (1944 Fallschirmjäger), Diary of an Army IV (1943-44 Soviet), Flames of War, Gaming, Modelling and Painting, Rules, wargaming | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Little Marienburg – The German Defences I

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 27

And now for the German response, a few Fallschirmjäger platoons, a couple of lightweight Anti-tank guns and a Jagdpanther. Maybe the last is overkill, but there are two Svierbois and three KV-1Es  to contend with, and the FJs are pretty lightweight in the handheld AT department. I was going to add a few tigers but given my Soviets are still understrength tank wise, that would have been cruel.

The Northern Flank - FJs in slit trenches waiting for the juggernaut

10.5cm LG40s in ambush guarding the NW exit road - I don't think they're going to do that well against KV-1Es

Just because there are two AT guns guarding one exit, there's nothing to prevent the Hunting Kitty from guarding the main road

A better shot, right down the road between the trees - nassty russki hobbitses

A third shot, which is probably all this Kitty will need.

Posted in Diary of An Army II (1944 Fallschirmjäger), Diary of an Army IV (1943-44 Soviet), Flames of War, Gaming, Modelling and Painting, wargaming | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Little Marienburg – The Soviet Initial Wave

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 27

It would have seemed a waste of time to set up all this terrain without putting the models on it. Unfortunately no Brits were available so I had tro make do with my winter Soviets – a different look but rationalised by substituting East Prussia for Normandy in the description 🙂

T34 advance on the Northern flank - I'd like to field at least 30 of these suckers

Soviet Combined Arms, T34/76s with desantniki and an SMG company

The KVs enter the town with a modicum of infantry support

Meanwhile the SU152s prepare to support the assault infantry into the south of Little Marienburg, something rather brutish about this particular force.

The remaining company of Infantry advances down the railway line, looking to gain their first objective, the area of the crossroads on the left hand side, but they better watch out for the dug in FJs, even if they aren't too keen on facing 6 inch shells from the Zvierbois

Posted in Diary of An Army II (1944 Fallschirmjäger), Diary of an Army IV (1943-44 Soviet), Flames of War, Gaming, Modelling and Painting, Rules, wargaming | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More pics from the club

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 27

Just a few more pics from the club – still without the figures on the table. Apart from more trees, I definitely need a few more packs of roads and especially fields – thankfully coles have a couple more plain mats I can cut up and the haystacks are kinder surprise shells with loose mat fibres glues to the exterior mounted on a steel washer. So I can count on the support of the 7 year old in keeping up stocks of those particular items.

Looking towards the North East - more terrain needed in the foreground

I’m pretty pleased with how this looks for a start, more general terrain clutter and trees would help, plus a lot more hedges and walls. A stream would certainly break up the expanses of green base cloth still apparent. Miniature World Maker should be okay for the streams, I’ll see who does the best value for money re hedges and walls.

The south eastern approach to Little Marienburg

Tree-lined roads would greatly help in breaking up sight-lines here, and maybe an orchard or two just to give that agricultural/rural village feel a bit more. Who am I kidding? I just want a decent wood or forest for large sections of the tabletop. Some wooded hills would kill two birds with one stone and still allow reasonable room for manoeuvre. An idle comment of needing 150-200 trees doesn’t look so far out in size now. Oops!

Southern Little Marienburg - note the expat residents from Shebangabang

Peter Pig and Irregular will be definitely getting some business from me, I need a bunch of dead cattle and horses still, plus there just aren’t enough sheep! I’ll also have to look at making a bunch more cropfields and variations – I want a lot of LOS breakages and obscuration – I hate that single big tank dominating an entire table from the backfield of a large hill.

The western entry to Little Marienburg

Time to look at obtaining a decent Church – there are a few around, but I don’t want something too big, I am missing my old Military Miniatures solid resin pieces now. JR Miniatures and Kerr & King should help populate the table nicely – and next year i’ll probably try for an urban rubble look for a decent section of a table. Nothing too tall, just more about covering areas and breaking up the view from the tabletop.

The Western Farmlets

A few more animals , some tractors, more haystacks and cropfields and I should be okay for a reasonable variation. More trees and in a lot mnore variations – I don’t think I’ll be bothering with more Woodland Scenics though, probably more Noch, Heki and yes even Lifeline Scenics. I do need a bunch of poplars for the roads though, say around 120 minimum.

One thing this has brought home to me, I can pretty much do the set up from Terry Wise’s Introduction to Battlegaming WW2 scenario in 15mm now without too much extra expense or terrain. So apart from some judicious purchases over the next year I’ve got enough to play around with at the club.

Posted in Flames of War, Gaming, Modelling and Painting, wargaming | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

At The Club

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 21

Made my way to the Corsairs’ meeting yesterday for a first game with my new terrain using FoW. I had hoped to set up a nice themed delaying, fallback defence using Fallschirmjäger versus Welsh Guards but it was not to be as Tyler was unable to make due to a conflict of commitments. I don’t think I’ll be schlepping the terrain collection to the club more than 1 in 3 meetings – it’s a fair whack of stuff along with armies and necessary peripherals. I really do need to get my ‘Straya drivers licence and buy a decent 5 door hatch or stationwagon.

Anyway I set up the table ready for a game with Soviets taking the part of the Welsh Guards (hey both were Guards and Armoured) and it was pretty heartening to get some good comments re the terrain set up. I still need to buy a shed load more trees as you’ll see from the scarcity of decent wooded areas. I think Miniature World Maker will be getting some business out of the FoW gamers after the comments re the roads and tracks. Certainly the quality and portability impressed other club attendees. The Crescent Root buildings were as usual oohed and ahhed. Now if i could figure out a way to set up a table more quickly I’d be a happy chappy. I’m still short a few road and rail sections to provide real flexibility, and I’ll need to finish creating fields and forest bases. but generally a very decent amount of terrain was on the table. No more billiard table although there were a couple of impressive sightlines.

View from the North West

View from the North West

The table size at Corsairs is actually 6 feet by 5 feet rather than the usual 6 by 4, which exacerbates any minimalist terrain setup – only reinforcing my view that the WH40K guideline of 25% terrain is woefully understrength and the usual FOW table I see is criminally flat and open. However the other problem I often see in FoW tables are heights that provide far too dominant table sightlines. Selecting hills to provide cover but not dominate the entire table means lower hills and more LOS blocking/obscuring terrain is not positional terrain itself.

View from the South East massif

As you can see, the lack of trees is a definite concern. I would like to have enough conifers and poplar types to line most of the road network as well as some deciduous types to populate wooded areas and cultivated land. Much of the open space will be eliminated in other ways by more crop fields and a few more smaller buildings.

View from the South West

One last shot for now of the terrain from the POV of the Soviet side, with the central village showing off the Crescent Root buildings nicely. I should have placed the village closer to thecentral sector of the table, but I had assistance and in the heat of a 30+ degree day, I was not up to much more fiddling around.

Little Marienburg

Little Marienburg

It looks really sparse in that photo, which is not what it actually looked like, partcularly at table top sightlines.

Posted in Diary of An Army II (1944 Fallschirmjäger), Diary of an Army IV (1943-44 Soviet), Flames of War, Gaming, wargaming | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

I come from a land downunder (Shebangabang)

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 14

Ever since I saw this ad, it has never failed to crack me  or my partner up. I guess now I’m an expat kiwi in Oz, I’m far less thin-skinned about certain topics. Of the expats over here I know, almost all of them now refer to enzed as shebangabang. I think I’ll have to get a T shirt screen printed with Team Shebangabang for ASLOK.

In gaming news, not much progress of Project Tau or the Fallschirmjäger. With the pre-reg pack now ready for ASLOK, getting things in synch for that is taking all my attention for the next 4 weeks. I’m hoping for my annual work bonus to help out a little here as I’ll be booking my ASLOK room asap. There are a few things in the pipeline to be delivered from MMP as soon as they recover from the “Snocalypse” that seems to have shut down the Eastern US which will allow me to sort out a decent international ASL travel pack:

Plus there are a couple of still outstanding pre-orders for Journal 8 and Action Pack 6 due to arrive later this quarter which I’m really looking forward to. Having priced some Raaco lately, I think I’m going to have to wait until after ASLOK and get them for Xmas.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, ASLOK XXV, Diary of An Army II (1944 Fallschirmjäger), Flames of War, Project Tau, WH40K | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

ASLOK XXV Pre-planning

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 7

The budget is done, annual leave approved, the timeframe for booking flights and accommodation is pretty much set. All I really need to do is figure out what I’m going to take with me in terms of actual ASL gear (mapboards, counters and scenarios) and what scenarios I’m going to try and play. The ASL gear is a bit of a conundrum: do I select my scenarios based on what I can reasonably expect to bring with me in terms of materiel or should I just go with the flow and rely on the locals to provide the OBs? My thought is that I’ll bring two planos of system counters (the standard Inf, AFV and Arty plus regular system) and what OBs and mapsheets I take will be limited to plastic baggies from the Starter Kits and a selection of the SK style boards I already have. With a limit of 20 kilos for checked luggage, I really can’t afford to take too much.

Aaron C suggested I take a netbook with VASL and eASLRB and a pendrive with the scenarios I want to play ready to print. I think that will help, but I’m nowhere near having the ASLRB familiarity that Aaron has, so I may have to bring all the QRDCs with me. Based on a couple of my scenario draft choices, I’ll definitely be bringing my non-desert overlays and a couple of the TPP mapboards from Into The Rubble, Beachead and LFT. If I can I’d like to play a solid mix of newer TPP scenarios and official classics (you will not see me playing Gavin Take though) and I may end up printing out a few winterized versions from VASL for some personal favourites anyway.

Provisional Scenario Playlist:

My themes: I want to play a few linked scenarios that I’ve not played before. Thus most of my new stuff was released in the last few years – AP3-5, some of J7, Into The Rubble, some of the LFT stuff and Action at Carentan because it looks fun. There are a couple of modern favourites and a modest selection of scenarios that I’ve been dying to play Face to Face rather than PBeM. Of course this is all subject to change based on what is released in J8, AP6, LFT12 and any of the other TPP scenario packs I’ll be picking up between now and October. Then there are also the ASLOK Mini-tourneys I may get shanghaied into, which I’ll probably have to take into account. You will not see me playing Gavin Take or Totsugeki ever.

Doomed Battalions and Action Packs (six):

Definitely want to play some of these. I’ve played a couple of DB scenarios on VASL but never in the flesh so to speak.

  • 083 Round One
  • 140 Round Two
  • AP31 First Cristot
  • AP33 Second Cristot
  • AP42 Frontiers and Pioneers
  • AP52 Into Vienna Woods

Journal Seven (eight):

I really liked this journal alot. I played the scenarios from LFT and really enjoyed them enough to play any of them again, especially as they’re pretty quick and fun. The others are the meatier scenarios I never really managed to play, I guess because they were not schedule friendly for me and John at the time, when it was all about maxing out our number of scenarios played while we could.

  • 122 Extracurricular Activity – never played
  • J102 Yelnya Bridge
  • J103 Lenin’s Sons
  • J104 Flanking Flamethrowers
  • J105 Borodino Train Station
  • J106 Marders not Martyrs
  • J110 Prelude to Spring – never played
  • J111 Prussia In Flames – never played

Red Barricades Mini Scenario Theme (eight):

These little lot of RB scenarios are ones I’ll be bringing mini-maps over to play particular to each scenario. I’m hoping to get through each of these scenarios as my ASLOK project. If anyone attending ASLOK this year is interested , then don’t hesitate to contact me and we can confirm details closer to the event.

  • RB3 Bread Factory #2
  • RB4 To The Rescue
  • RB6 Turned Away
  • RB7 The Red House
  • HASL A Ghosts in the Rubble
  • CH15 No Further
  • J22 Oh Joy!
  • MP11 Vulcan’s Forge

Finally a quartet of favourites  – the two scenarios that I loved in the COI era of SL and two PTO scenarios:

All Time Favourites (four):

  • T7 The Dead of Winter
  • T9 The Niscemi-Biscari Highway
  • CH Children of the Kunai
  • J12 Jungle Fighters

Schedule:

I should be arriving in Cleveland on Thursday evening but I will be taking most of Friday to recover from the flights. I intend to start gaming proper on the Saturday along with some of the other early arrivals – whether The World Team really wants me on their side is whole different matter – I doubt I’ll even make it past 1 and out in terms of the Grofaz in any case but I reckon given the scenarios I’ve selected so far as my free-form selection I should be able to get 2-3 scenarios done per day with minimal fatigue. So up until the Grofaz starts properly on the Thursday I’m looking at 5 days of free-form gaming equalling around 10-15 off my list. Once Grofaz starts I’ll probably slow down to 2 games per day but by the end of ASLOK proper on the Sunday evening, I should have managed to get around 18-23 games played – I’ve built my playlist around getting games I want to play accepted as scenario choices by opponents but I could very easily skip playing any of the J7 scenarios I’ve previously played and still get through most of my list.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, ASLOK XXV, Boardgames | 1 Comment »

ASL in 2010

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 7

With my miniatures projects all organised and scheduled, plus the costs already taken care of for the most part, it looks like that after 2 years of pretty much no ASL activity I will be doing a year of catchup. It’s already off to a good start, with Planning well advanced for the main event of 2010 – my trip to Cleveland, OH for ASLOK XXV. It’ll be my one and only chance to attend this gathering of ASL gamers and I think the 25th anniversary is the perfect way to do it. 2010 also seems to be the year in which many of my ASL pre-orders finally arrive – major gaps in my collection are now filled and I’m at the stage where I’m almost complete;y caught up on official ASL products. I still have a few Third Party Publisher products I need to acquire but thankfully, the ones I’m after in the main are still available.

I had thought I’d bought a fair bit of ASL in 2009, but I was surprised at how much I’d bought and how much I’d forgotten I’d bought, so I ended up with some duplicates – AP4 being the most egregious example. MMP puit up their limited Winter Offensive Pack for sdasle a couple of days ago, so i took the opportunity to pick up some more ASL and ASLSK items. With regard to the ASL Starter Kits, I’m not planning to use them as anything other than the basis for a portable ASL player pack. In that vein I am going to need to spend obscene amounts on a decent Raaco set up, especially as I’m now looking at replacing my very worn Beyond Valor and West of Alamein counter sets with the new versions.

My next lot of ASL gear to order are BFP’s Operation Cobra, Beyond the Beachhead II and probably some Le Franc Tireur stuff – depending on availability. The Friendly Fire packs I’m going to grab along with the Raaco. This is all with a view to creating a decent ASLOK playlist. But more on ASLOK later.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, Boardgames, Gaming | Leave a Comment »

Terrain Listing (ongoing)

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, January 31

So here’s the itemised list of what I have now:

General Terrain

  • Crescent Root buildings – Europe series 2: 15A2, 15B2, 15C2, 15D2, 15E2, 15F2, 15H2
  • 18 x 6 inch hedges
  • 25 assorted trees (and rubberised ‘forest’ bases that trees plug into)
  • ca 4 foot of dirt roads, 4 foot of cobble roads and 3 foot of railway lines (all Miniature World Maker)
  • 5 Hills – 1 large, 3 medium, 1 small (MWM again)
  • 6 ‘fields’ – these are from flocked, textured corrugated card (to look like ploughed fields), artifical grass (crops) and coir floor mats (wheat) – these have all been cut to match the length of hedges and stones walls so a French style patch work can easily be built.
  • 34 x 3 inch sections of stone walls (4 gate sections)
  • Cows, sheep, hay stacks and farm machinery so ‘dressing the paddocks’

Fortifications

  • 6 bunkers (1 5cm stellung, 2 pill boxes, one turreted tobruk and 2 open gun pits)
  • 16 x 3 inch strips of barbed wire entanglements (so approx 8 elements)
  • 3 feet of resin trench lines including gun pits
  • 6 x 3 inch minefield sections (makes 3 elements)
  • 2 x 3 inch anti tank traps (makes 1 element)

Additional Items

  • 3 x A4 based bocage fields (field elevation is higher than surrounding terrain (gives that sunken road feel to the lanes)
  • 2 x GW medium hills
  • 60-70 Noch deciduous trees
  • 2 x coir doormats approx 60cm by 30cm each

Now all I have to do is get painting some more fallschirmjäger – thanks to Alun, he also included the old 2nd edition of Diving Eagles so I’m able to play around with the Camo schemes again. I’m going to be buying more MWM roads and rivers I think, they’re so lightweight I can easily carry a decent amount. As for portability, well I can fit all the terrain in one of those two wheeled shopping trolley bags which is perfect for my needs. I intend to use most of the terrain at the club in February, it should be fun to play again on terrain that has enough density to feel right and prevent the Wall o’ Tanks I detest in any game.  Some more photos of the terrain:

Posted in Flames of War, Gaming, Modelling and Painting, wargaming | 1 Comment »

Real Progress

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, January 30

I was starting to get worried that my current focus on the Tau and 40K in general had completely erased much chance of getting back into historical minis in 2010. But then I saw a rather nice Tiger company for sale on WargamerAU, which I missed out on. However I did get offered an awesome deal on some 15mm terrain. When I saw it included 7 of the 9 Crescent Root buildings I had been after for a while, as well as some Miniature World Maker roads and latex hills, well it was an easy job to get domestic approval for the expenditure. I hadn’t realised quite how much terrain stuff was involved from the initial description:

a pile of FOW scenery – minefields, trench lines, barbed wire, bunkers, hedges, trees and Crescent Root Studio painted European buildings

but I was pretty confident even before seeing the pics that it’d be all really nicely done. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get as good a price as I did, but when the seller states that he’d like to “see it go to a good home”, given I haven’t really done any gaming lately because of lack of terrain, I really appreciated the generosity.

So here’s what it looks like on our 4′ by 3′ kitchen table:

Roads, wire, minefields, walls Buildings, hills and woods Latex Hills and stuff

Rather a lot there, and some extras I wasn’t expecting like the haystacks, the size of the latex hills and notably the Fiesler Storch, a fine addition for my Winter Ostfront FJs and the pillboxes which I really like. There’s enough terrain here so that I can put on a decent game at the clkub straightaway and not be worried about playing on a bowling green with scattered bits of tall cover.

Some more photos of the goodies:

So all in all, a very good place to begin. I’ve still got some bocage fields I’m making currently that will allow me to show sunken lanes/roads and I still need some rivers/streams to break up movement as much as possible, but added to my existing hills and a bunch more trees, I should be at least able to put on some NWE games now, which will mean playing the amalgam of FOW/IABSM/PBI that I prefer.

I expect that as of late February I will have some decent pics of a game at the next meeting featuring tis terrain, probably something with FJs and Cromwells.

Posted in Flames of War, Gaming, wargaming | Leave a Comment »

Project Tau: The Schedule

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, January 15

My Tau Schedule

Given the rules of the Challenge, I’m limited to using an RRP Limit of $500.00 plus the initial Battleforce and optional HQ blister. This effectively gives me an RRP budget of $650 total excluding any bits and pieces such as bases, conversion materials and spare parts for conversions which do not count against the budget. In the end I used $636 of the retail budget but only actually spent $350 which allowed me to justify spending the remaining $300 on more Tau (you really thought I’d stop there?) after the Challenge is over.

January 2010: Purchase: Battleforce ($150)

HQ 1a- XV8 counts as Crisis Suit Commander

Troop 1a: 6 x FW

Troop 2a: 6 x FW

Elite1a: 3 x XV25 Stealth Suits

For later use: Devilfish

Troop 3: 12 x Kroot
February 2010: Tau Crisis Commander (RRP$50) – HQ 1b

March 2010: Tau Pathfinders (RRP$22), Shas’Ui Pathfinder(RRP$22) – FA 2              $6 credit

April 2010: nothing bought ($50 put aside)                       $56 credit

May 2010: nothing bought ($50 put aside)                       $106 credit

June 2010: Battleforce 2                                                   $6 credit

HQ 1c: add 2nd Crisis Suit bodyguard

Troop 1b: Add 6 x FW

Troop 2b: Add 6 x FW

Elite1b: Add 3 x XV25 Stealth

For Later Use: 1 x Devilfish

Troop 4: 12 x Kroot

July 2010: Tau Pathfinders (RRP$22), Shas’Ui Pathfinder(RRP$22) – FA 3              $12 credit

August 2010: Pathfinders with RR (RRP$25)                      $37 credit

September 2010: 2 x Piranha (RRP$82)                                    $5 credit

October 2010: 1 x Piranha (RRP$41)                                    $14 credit

November 2010: Sniper Drone Team (RRP$50)                       $14 credit

So at the end, I should have the following:

HQ1:                                       Crisis Commander + 2 XV8 Bodyguard

Troop 1:                                   12 x FW

Troop 2:                                   12 x FW

Troop 3:                                   12 x Kroot

Troop 4:                                   12 x Kroot

Elite 1:                                     6 x XV25 Stealth

Fast Attack 1:                          3 x Piranha

Fast Attack 2:                         Shas’Ui, 3 x Pathfinder, 1 x Pathfinder+RR + Devilfish

Fast Attack 3:                          Shas’Ui, 3 x Pathfinder, 1 x Pathfinder+RR + Devilfish

Heavy Support 1:                    Sniper Drone Team

I’d say that most of the work will be building and painting the vehicles, especially the modular Devilfish/Hammerheads. This army is pretty much complete except for the purchase of a few Skyrays, a couple of Broadsides and perhaps more Sniper Drone teams. Even after adding those I should be able to afford some Forge World Tau models without exceeding the $650 limit (probably some TX-42s or an XV-9).

This would be a pretty sizable army for me anyway, even without adding in all the extra stuff I bought outside the Challenge, but as with all good intentions, I went overboard in obtaining models to practise on  before starting painting.

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Project Tau: Themes

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, January 12

Conceptualisation, Background, Theme & Look

I wanted to somehow link this Tau challenge army in some fashion to my existing Genestealer Cult/Tyranid armies. Manifesting this could be done through matching basing themes, contrasting yet complementary colour schemes, or perhaps directly linked via conversions and integrated objective markers.

However the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to link the two armies via the background theme directly. As I’ve been working on assembling a Genestealer Cult army to work with Space Hulk/Space Crusade and in 40K, when I read a bit more about Gue’vasa and some of the background fluff from the Tau Codices (note I’m very new to 40K in terms of the backstory – it’s not really my cup of tea) I had a minor epiphany.

If I combined aspects of the original Tau homeworld isolation, how Genestealer Cults arise, and Gue’vasa concepts with the Farsight enclaves and Third Expansion, I had something I could work with. Factor in the ubiquitous deus ex machina of a splinter Hive Fleet to set up certain aspects and it all came together like an Ed Wood plot, only with fewer redeeming aspects.

So the short background is that this particular Tau force has been the planetary garrison on a warp-storm isolated world that has needed to fully integrate with the existing population to maintain existence. As a result of a splinter Hive fleet attack, the Tau forces have been debilitated to the point where the native human population has integrated throughout the planetary defence force and equipment has been remanufactured, cannibalised and converted to maintain Tau tactical precepts. Even other xenological equipment has been pressed into service after modification as circumstances and engineering facilities permit.

But behind the self-sufficient, industrious and progressive worldview of Scheherezade IV is a burgeoning evil – a genestealer Cult has established itself since the Hive Fleet was destroyed and it has infiltrated the highest levels of authority on the planet in a manner never before suspected.

Cheesy, definitely dubious and full of holes it may be but it’s a great way to hook a few projects and variations together.

Thematically I took my cues from articles at Advanced Tau Tactica, Tau Online and WargamerAU. I want this to be my showcase army for 40K, as it is more akin to my preferences in sci-fi generally than the crypto-gothica of the Imperium. So I’ll be doing a fair bit of detailing and converting/modifying as per the various articles on ATT/TO.

The look is pretty much set for me as an homage to the 4 colour camouflage scheme used by the Swedish armed forces in the 1970s and 1970s –

I had thought about an anime mecha scheme that I saw on an army that was up for sale but as I missed out on that army,

I decided to go with my instinctive choice. As additional motivation I was going to have to learn to work with my airbrush sooner rather than later and play around with template masking.

It certainly helped my enthusiasm to come across a Tau army that featured a very similar look

and by purchasing that I could start getting to grips with playing Tau while i was building my own army. This is an important aspect for me as I dislike using an unpainted or partially painted army (I don’t care whether my opponent is using unpainted figures/models but I do regard it as poor form on my part to do so) and I paint best with specific examples to have at hand for inspiration.

So now that I had my concept, theme, background and look all worked out I just had to sort out the actual purchase and build schedule for the Challenge.

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Project Tau – Challenge rules and guidelines

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, January 11

The Challenge Rules

Start Off:

  • 1 x battleforce of choice
  • 1 x blister of HQ choice
  • 1 x codex (optional).
  1. Monthly purchase allowance of AUD$50 GW RRP**.
  2. Try to fill out one option from each area of the army list (hq, fast attack, elites, heavy support) before adding a second (except troops which you should be free, nay encouraged, to spam).

**you can buy up to $50 at GW RRP, or buy the same items elsewhere for cheaper, but cannot use the money saved to buy more.

Painting:

Part of this challenge is to paint the army. There are deadlines imposed, but there isn’t any great penalty, though there is an award for having an army fully painted month to month.

The first month’s purchases, the battleforce + HQ, will have a 2 month time period in which to have it painted to 3 colour standard and based to be eligible for some of the ongoing painting awards, all other months will have one month (till the next meet) to be finished to still comply.

Any parts used or purchased for conversion are not restricted, and any paints etc too. This includes buying the codex, you are free to buy anything like that without penalty.

Shipping is not included in allocating RRP of models, so I could buy from GW direct, etc for RRP indicated on the site, wthout having to also factor in shipping on top, or if you buy something that is RRP of $48, but you get it at a discount online for $40 except shipping comes to $11, that wont take the total to $51, because it goes off RRP of $48 as if you were to walk in to GW and take it off the shelf.

Participants will start their army from scratch. Any models already owned by the participant are not to be included (except if broken down for parts for conversion?).

For clarity, black reach and macragge sets will not be allowed as a substitute for a battleforce, nor will resale of items from the battleforce in order to then buy other items. Make do with what you get in the battleforce to start, and if you really dont plan to ever use something from the battleforce then you can sell it by all means, but the money gained doesnt come off the total spent in order to then buy other things with it.

Because of the large variation in points costs, game size will be determined month to month by comparison of maximum points capable for each army*** and the lowest value determines size of game to the nearest 50, rounding up, i.e. lowest points value of army is 575, game size will be 600 (even if all others can make it to 750), and so on.

(*** participants to have lists in a week before the club meets, so that Patto had ample time to go through them and compare totals etc, then inform everyone what the game size will be for that month so they can rewrite their lists accordingly. With lists should come a short write-up of only a few paragraphs describing motivations for your purchases, progress of painting and converting, maybe some tactics you’ve found useful for particular units you’re using – something that would be interesting for others to read if they were considering collecting that army)

One may forfeit some or all of your allowance from one month, in order to purchase a larger item such as a tank that costs more than one month’s worth in the next month, but it was suggested waiting until you have enough points to meet the game size, rather than handicapping yourself in the early months, If someone does this, they will be ignored (go to next lowest) for purposes of determining game size by lowest point total of army, and will have to make do with being severely under-pointed in games, e.g. If you only buy a box that costs say $35 RRP one month, the remaining $15 carries over to the next month, so you could buy up to $65 RRP worth the next month (or less and have carryover once again).

#1 rule is Common Sense. Not only that, but also Good Sportsmanship.

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Why 40K and why Tau?

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, January 11

Why I’m playing 40K these days

When I moved over to Australia, I’d pretty much rationalised all my wargaming to three key areas, WW2, ACW and  mid-19th Century European wars, all in 15mm. The idea was that I’d finally get some armies painted and actually play scenarios etc at the Corsairs.

That sort of went west after I started attending meetings and met the various reprobates. Flames of War and WW2 15mm is still a very much nascent area for the club and it was going to take me time to build up some painted armies and more especially enough nice terrain to play games I would enjoy.

With the pending release of Space Hulk 3rd Edition and a reawakening interest in Genestealers and Tyranids, I soon found myself with a painted 40K Tyranid army. Sure enough, I ended up with a freaking Hive Fleet all of my own. I purchased a second hand Space Marine army from WargamerAU’s Buy, Swap and Sell just so I could at least play space marines as an alternate to the ‘nids and I thought cool, with Space Hulk as well I’d be pretty much sorted. Then along came Patto and the Challenge.

I found that I actually enjoy 40K as a game, at least I enjoy playing at the Corsairs which has a very similar ethos as my old club, the Manawatu Duellists, in terms of being more about gaming than competition/tourneys.

But why choose TAU?

Very simply, I already had enough Tyranids to last me until 2015 in terms of painting and I wanted something more sci-fi oriented than the bugs. Eldar were out as an option – I just knew I’d never summon up the courage to paint them and the models don’t appeal to me as much as they might to others. Oh and I wanted something a bit more shooty – I didn’t mean to go quite as far to the Tau extreme and have minimal close combat capability.

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Project Tau – My part in the Grand ‘Non-Spess Moron’ *Battleforce* Challenge

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, January 11

Project Tau

My part in the Grand ‘Non-Spess Moron’ *Battleforce* Challenge

The Origins of the Challenge

My local gaming club, the Central Coast Corsairs, have been discussing on our forum (http://corsairs.freehostia.com/index.php) ways and means of rekindling interest in gaming generally, but more particularly completing armies and projects rather than flitting aimlessly between the latest game du jour.

One of the club members, Patto, started a discussion rolling with this post (somewhat edited):

Space Marines are a good all-rounder army for a beginner player to collect, because they’re easy to paint, easy to use, and GW releases a new codex with better rules ever 5 minutes (when they’re not drinking Space Marine Cola™ out of their favourite Space Marine Sippy-Cup™, while scratching themselves with their Space Marine Lightning Claw Butt-Scratcher™)

But thats where the buck stops for me. I have grown bored of space marines, both using them myself, and playing against them, and have endeavoured to branch out once more into the deeper reaches of the 40k universe and collecting an army that isnt boring.

If it were up to me, the Imperial Guard would be the centre focus of the imperial forces, and the space marines would have a fringe role as…marines.

I have noticed that there is a very large representation of space marine players within our club, and the hobby at large, and would find it more enjoyable if there was more showing by other races.

Therefore I have decided to introduce this challenge to anyone (marine player or not) to take up, to create an army that is different to what they usually collect, and most importantly, isn’t space marines*.

*no spikey space marines either.

The challenge would start at the beginning of 2010 (January Meet = Day 1 of Month 1), and run all year long, with a ladder kept throughout, till the completion of the year (Nov/Dec) where the armies should be displayed alongside each other and voted for against a series of criteria for categories such as:

  • best painted army
  • most adventurous
  • best converted
  • league winner
  • best and fairest
  • best theme
  • most hazardous army (most injuries sustained during construction)
  • laziest participant
  • most consistent painter
  • always on time (everything painted, every month)
  • just in the nick of time (doesn’t paint anything all year and then manages to get it all painted by December) etc.

I am looking at starting off with 1x battleforce of choice, 1x blister of HQ choice, 1x codex (optional). I am thinking each month to have a purchase allowance of $50 Australian GW RRP**.

Painting. Part of this challenge is to paint your army. There will be deadlines imposed, but there isn’t any great penalty, though there will be an award for having your army fully painted month to month.

#1 rule is Common Sense. Not only that, but also Good Sportsmanship.

The Suckers…er…participants:

Patto – Dark Eldar (BDSM Brigade)
Synicbast (me)– Tau (Nice Guys)
Chiwie – “Manly McBeefington” Eldar (The Conmpensating Much? Army)
Spakka – Necrons (because someone just had to, didn’t they?)
Chadamus Prime – Imperial Guard Marines (Sempur Fidelis)
R3plikate – Tyranids (Gotta be more fun than the LOLbotz)

Overall some good representation of nearly all the factions that AREN’T space marines, my plan is successful so far.

And so it began.

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What’s next?

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 19

After the Tyranids…

So I’ve got my painting area sorted, 95% of my materials are purchased and I’m ready to finish off the Tyranids – the question now is where do I go after that? The Tyranids army is something that doesn’t too much planning and/or focus to keep going – a simple paint scheme, with a simple basing approach – I should be able to knock one major model or single unit of Tyranids in a week without too much effort and by scheduling the basing for a single effort, I’ll be able to have the army ready to play by the time of the Corsairs’ 2009/2010 club ladder league in September.

But I really will need to plan anything after that – most of what I have is 15mm and that requires organisation and scheduling to maintain a work ethic that keeps me from getting frustrated and bored or subject to the ooh shiny syndrome. So I’ve added a quick poll to the front end of blog with some options in no particular order.

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Paints and Paintstation pics

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 17

As promised, some pics of my intial setup, at this stage I’m ready to restart painting again. A fewthings are missing: my wet palette, normal mixing palette some older brushes, the epoxy putties and superglues and a few of my tools including the airbrush stuff.

The Paintstation

I still have to grab a few more things from Eckersleys and Dymocks, but for the most part I’m set. The unlabelled big white in right centre is White gesso, but as it’s an el cheapo pot, i may need to get some Liquitex white to avoid the lumpy finish commented on at Wee Toy Soldiers. There’s some Derivan  ink medium to the left of the Dullcote which i’m going to play around with at some point but I think I’ve got a decent selection of media to start with, even if some of it performs much the same function.

The Paint Station

The Paints (& some tools)

Not as many Vallejos as I’d prefer but the real binge on them is at Christmas when I’ll be looking at starting the 28mm ACW stuff. The P3 stuff was bought for the particular hues and shades included in the two sets – very useful particularly if I go for the variant templar look on my Marines. Most of the older GW stuff on the right is a large amount of the various reds and yellows – I’ll decant them into new bottles shortly and that shoould clear some room nicely as well as help reduce wastage.

The paints

The Brushes

A good starting point – but a fair amount still to buy before I’ll be satisfied. Good Games Gosford brought in some more Vallejo synthetics and sables that I may pick up. I do like this wallet for storing my better quality brushes, though.

The Brushes

The Inks

Some oldies and goodies here – add in a couple of the newer washes and some FW inks, I may well be ready to work with glazes again. I’m glad I didn’t chuck the oranges away as I can definitely use them with my Tyranids, plus the old Flesh wash will be really useful for my 28mm work.

Inks and Washes

Conclusion

I’m pretty happy with the setup above – the only issue is that the Paint Station weighs a ton with everything on it and I will need to glue it together properly and add a sturdy carrying handle to the sides. I’ll add a proper cutting mat from Office Works next weekend and then no excuses will be sustainable.

Pete

Posted in Modelling and Painting | 1 Comment »

When containers go bad

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 17

I was on www.wargamerau.com browsing the buy and sell as I still do and someone was seeking a bottle of the old GW Putrid Green. I wnet trawling through my collection of GW paints and sure enough there’s an almost full bottle sitting there. I started to type up a message to say I had one available and I thought I’d just check to make sure the paint was still okay (the price sticker on the bottle read 02/96 and cost NZD$2.95 so it was a fairly old bottle. Well after trying to prise off the lid, all that happened was the white plastic shattered and crumbled completely.  The paint itself is perfectly okay, but this has prompted me to look at investing in some replacement bottles, probably Derivans and Vallejos, for the vbulk of my older GW bottles, particular the masses of Bad Moon Yellow and Blood Red i have accumulated.

It’s pertinent because I think I’ll be using my Black Reach orks to practise using yellows and reds until I truly feel comfortable.  Now onto photographing my painting set up as promised.

Pete

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A quick trip to the shops…

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 16

Picked up a few items today at Good Games Gosford courtesy of Fro: some GW dice in black and bone (for the Tyranids); some OOP Citadel paints (Tanned Flesh x 2, Bronzed Flesh, Flesh wash and Red ink) for the Better Half’s Sisters of Battle and  Flames of War standard artillery template, and from Spotlight, some dress-making shears and a good circle cutter for my tree bases, rounded out with a few craftwood rectangular placemats and 90mm coasters for scenery pieces and basing samplers.

A pretty moderate haul in terms of expenditure but necessary (well apart from the dice cubes which were a partial extravagance). While I was at Good Games iIwatched a couple of 40K games – Black Templars versus bog-standard Marines, and the Black Templars once more against a very firepower driven Tau force (a “ninja” tau force I’d run up against before with my ‘nids) that wiped the BTs off the table to the last marine.

So while my Tyranids are definitely the only full army I will build  for 40K, I do have a reasonable selection of Marines and Orks courtesy of the Macragge and Black Reach boxed sets – these I intend to use to hone my skills at painting and basing larger figures. I’ll probably do a variation of the Black Templars scheme based on that of the historical Knights Templar and the Teutonic Knights just for something fun. I can’t see myself ever getting back into early medieval again, unless there are some really good value later crusades models around that I like the look of in 28mm.

Tomorrow I’m going to take some photos of my basic painting set up and the accumulated 15mm Fallschirmjäger that I’ve been promising to finish for the past 5 years. I managed to pick up a couple of boxed sets of the FJ company set recently along with a bunch of 7.5 cm GebG36 to provide artillery support. Between those recent additions and my already sizable FJ collection, I’m pretty much set for FJs apart from a fair amount of artillery crews that are still needed.

Pete

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Wanted to buy

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 14

I’ve added a new section to the blog – the Buy and Sell page – seen in the top menu above. Nothing for sale as yet just my wanted list for minis (I may add some boardgames later, depending on my success with a couple of current searches). Most of the minis wanted are Genestealers and Tyranids from the early days of 40K – although there are a couple of Flames of War minis I wouldn’t mind getting hold of.

Pete

Posted in Gaming, General, Modelling and Painting, Tyranids | Leave a Comment »

Article ratings – feedback always welcomed

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 11

I’ve enabled a simple thumbs up, thumbs down ratings system that I’d appreciate people using if they don’t mind taking the time. I’ve also disabled the email requirement for comments so hopefully that might generate a little more feedback. With the ratings system running, if you don’t like a post, feel free to let me know why.

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The Swarm – Pics of the Tyranids

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 11

Apologies for the poor quality of the photos, I’ve spent the first day of my annual leave organising and collating my tyranids and remembered to take photos but with no tripod and crap lighting these are the best I can do for now.

The first pic is a general wide shot of the Tyranids as a whole – at least the ones that are assembled, not soaking in Simple Green or still on sprues or in blisters – the cardboard box holds pretty much all the unbuilt plastic Genestealers and Termagants I have from buying Battle for Macragge and trades for old school Genestealers.

Tyranids - 95% of the models

This is the first bulk lot of tyranids I bought through WargamerAU – I thought I received very good value for what I paid, and although I initially was going to strip the Genestealers to repaint them in the original classic Space Hulk theme, I’ve decided to stick with this theme as the basis for my entire Tyranid force – the Cultist army will be the one that gets done in the Classic scheme. There are a bunch of gargoyles not shown and a original Zoanthrope model that needs to be stripped and repainted along with a couple of rebuilds of broken models but other than those, this is pretty much everything.

Tyranids - The first bunch I bought less 1 or 2

These are some of the second lot I picked up along with some unbuilt and unpainted models to flesh out a few gaps. A few genestealers rounded out this lot.

Tyranids - Most of the second bunch

The third major lot I picked up purely to add to my original army – these are definitely headed for the simple green as the paintjob and basing aren’t my personal cup of tea – but they were cheap as chips.

Tyranids - Part of the third bunch

The mighty Barks gave me this huge bunch of original Genestealer Cultists and Advanced Space Crusade models – I hadn’t planned on doing a Genestealer cultist army but now I have to. I’ve still to see the metal figures he’s finding for me, I do note that one of the odds and sods he included is a charging Patriarch model…I owe the boy some decent scotch for this .

The Mighty Barks gave me these

And here we have Black Bart and his Hybrid Badnesses – when I saw these figures and the paintjobs on some of the hybrids, I was utterly lost to the dark side of Genestealer collecting.

Black Bart and His Hybrid Badnesses

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The Wargames Press – in print and online

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 7

Now that I’m finally settled in Australia, I’m in a much better position to take in new rules, magazines, blogs and forums/bulletin boards. I’ve picked up a couple of issues of Wargames Illustrated (pre-and post-Battlefront purchase) as well as a couple of issues of Battlegames.

Battlegames works very hard at differentiating itself from the other two UK based magazines. Sometimes I think itfalls into unwitting satire of itself, with almost audible hear-hears and self-laudatory commentary. Graphically it errs on the side of de trop with the tell-tale pointers of DTP overkill and form over function. The one criticism I have of Battlegames that resonates with me is that it can look like a Web 2.0 ‘zine on steroids and suffers from a surfeit of Photoshop cleverness. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, Battlegames offers a great deal in terms of the written word. the prose is well-written and edited, with minimal overt editorialising or agenda-pushing and a distinct lack of the petty jealousies and bitchiness derived from envy that pervades online media at sites such as Page Miniatures The. Mike Siggins’ column is equally thought-provoking and incredibly insular in parts. Battlegames is expensive though, at AUD$17 a pop,  but for that you do get the aforementioned good writing, excellent photography and the “Old School Wargaming” tenor.

Wargames Illustrated, well according to some lackwits and luddites, it’s purchase by Battlefront (a successful non-UK wargames company, the cheek of it!) was the pre-cursor of the apocalypse. If one ignores that sort of thing and looks at the mag of late, It’s back to something of the good old WI of old. Sure there’s Flames of War content, but if FoW isn’t your thing, what’s to stop an adaptation of the FoW content from being usable with your current rules du jour. Certainly IABSM and PBI aren’t too dissimilar interms of scale and scope. There are some distinctly off-putting parts – but they may have gone by now – the excruciating faux bonhomie of the pseudo-Siggins is cringeworthy at best and lacking in any content of note. I wasn’t so impressed with the painting guide for the freebie ECW figure, being pure Dallimore in technique and really poorly presented. Sadly it seems that fewer people seem to be aware that there is more than 3 stark colour clashes to painting 28mm.

Online the usual suspects feature. PMT is becoming more and more irrelevant as it descends into self-parody with each month. By searching through some of the more focused forums around, one finds better advice, more trenchant opinion and often much more up to date news bereft of agenda-pushing and stalking horse commentary. The interface is as archaic as ever and the censor’s knife is wielded with the finesse and reasoning of a dull mattock. I tend to spend most of my online time these days at WargamerAU, despite its Fantasy/Sci-fi leanings, as there’s much to be picked up in terms of c0nversions, modelling and painting in an easily accessible format. When I’m not there I look for inspiration to the Guild, and other such forums. I avoid the heavy traffic forums like FoW, Daka Dakka or Frothers while the SOTCW forums are following the same path and featuring some of the same names that dissuaded me from paying much attention to TMP – sad really as SOTCW would do well if they would actually broaden their horizons beyond the few rules sets they do actually bother with. Again insularity rears its head in the case of the SOTCW. Will I rejoin? Possibly, but only because I don’t have all the back issues yet.

This may seem a tad negative in outlook as a blog post, but I’d like to stress that I see much to be positive generally.  I’ll spend more time paying attention to the various podcasts that are out there especially with 3 hours of commuting each day. There are also a few eZines and club forums that are worth searching out. I’ve given up on Yahoo groups for the main part, only Perfidious Albion continues to be a constatnt, mainly because of the varying content and a take no prisoners attitude to the Prima Donnas of the boardgames hobby.

Pete

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The Portable Battlefield – A return to necessities

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 7

As I do not currently own a motor vehicle, use public transport to commute, attend Corsairs meetings and will likely continue to do so for the next couple of years, the one major restriction on my gaming is setting up a tabletop terrain that caters to my aesthetic sensibilities  and still be able to transport it to and from the gaming venue without risking a hernia.

I once developed a quick list of what a portable setup might entail on this blog several years ago, but nothing surpasses theory so much as the exigencies of reality.

Convenience has triumphed over economy and in turn value over aesthetic ideals. I’ve obtained one of the cloth backed GW battle mats, which I find suits my needs for the meantime. it’s well made, durable, and lightweight and generally very good value for money. With free time being a distinct limitation, the idea of making a whole bunch of portable terrain took a deserved back seat. The addition of some ready made lightweight hills (GW funnily enough) and a good number of Noch deciduous trees to begin with gives me a good starting point to work from.

If I make a few judicious purchases and add a couple of commercial pieces I should be able to bring a decent terrain set up to the club by rail and not feel like i’m playing on a billiard table or a cricket pitch. If anything it’s trees and particularly buildings that will take the most space and effort to take along, so initially I’ll be playing in rural wildernesses bereft of habitation, as long as there are sufficient amounts of broken and LoS blocking/obscuring terrain.

In 15mm, it’ll be easy to add a few scratchbuilt structure from foamcore and the like, and most of the other scale specific terrain will easily fit within acceptable load limits. 120 or so trees should allow me to have enough cover on the table and break it up nicely in concert with a few hills and maybe the occasional cropfield (coir mats FTW) anmd flexible roads/river networks.

I’ve seen exquisite portable 15mm terrain carried around in old Kodak photopaper boxes to know it can be done and that I could fill the average 6′ by 4′ tabletop with enough hedges, fences and walls to look good. So all in all I feel pretty confident about being able to take along the army du jour and enough terrain to at least get a passable rating in terms of cover and aesthetics.

Pete

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From Space Crusade to Tyranids – A fall into the dark side of gaming

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 7

Really, the subtitle should be “a project that evolved or mutated way beyond the initial direction” if I’m going to be honest.

A few years back, I’d bought a couple of sets of Space Crusade (including Mission Dreadnought) and was on the lookout for copies of Advanced Space Crusade and 1st edition Space Hulk with the intention of building a full tabletop version. That project died stillborn with the move to Australia and I offloaded my copies before I moved as part of my rationalisation of stuff. I utterly regret that decision now as I’m going to have to acquire it all over again.

When I first started attending the Corsairs meetings it was with the intention of playing Flames of War, some ACW games in 15mm using Johnny Reb and Fire & Fury with a sideline in 28mm ACW and 15mm Napoleonics. What i intended and what occurred in reality are quite different. Personally I blame the startup of Good Games Gosford, the enthusiasm of the Corsairs and the helpful and friendly denizens of WargamerAU for what has happened.

I hadn’t played 40K for some 20 years, indeed I hadn’t really thought about the game in that time. I pretty much left 40K behind about the time of 2nd Ed. A couple of games and gamers in wellington in the late 80s pretty much decided me against it as something i’d enjoy. Space Hulk/Crusade were as close to the genre as I wanted to get and even then they were very much beer & pretzels gaming themes.

However, as it happens, new country, new relationship, new gaming group. My partner collects/is interested in Sisters of Battle (Nuns With Guns – you get the idea) and Iwas looking to collect enough old style Genestealer models to recreate the old Crusade/hulk games properly.  I picked up a few ‘stealers from WargamerAU’s BB&S forum as part of a larger Tyranid force and once they arrived i was pretty muchj on the slippery slope. I made the decision that I’d build and play a Tyranid army but it would be purely for fun at either Corsairs or Good Games. No Tourneys, No Competitions, No Leagues. I’m interested in Tyranids through backstory, Space Hulk et al, not for 40K. This would get me gaming until I had my Flames of War winter Sovs and Normandy Brits finished and then I could get back to what I really enjoyed – WW2 gaming. You can see where this is going to end up can’t you?

One purchase lead to another, and another until now I’m at the point where I can almost field two complete separately themed Tyranid armies – one with lost of Monstropus creatures like Carnifexes and the other all about the rending, ripping, tearing and…oops got distracted there.

The classical ethos of Tyranids as a primarily close combat force appeals to me not only because of the Alien inspired creature design but also because it is diametrically opposed to my usual historical preference of army. This in itself is a refreshingly different appraoch for me to take and may well be why I’ve been able to regather some of that enthusiasm for actual gameplay that I’d lost along the way.

I may be showing my biases here, but one of the things that really sold me on the idea of building a tyranid force is that I could use it as a stepping stone to developing my painting in terms of technique and skillsets for larger 28mm models. As I’ve mentioned previously i’m primarily a 15mm gamer and painter. The last real attempt I made at painting 25mm or larger figures was when I owned and painted a Teutonic Knights army of Essex and Military Miniatures figures in 25mm back when I played Gush’s WRG Renaissance rules a lot in the early-mid 1980s.

I can”t put my finger on the appeal of tyranids beyond that although I must say I’ve become enamoured of the old Genestealer hybrid plastics and the story of the Genestealer hybrid army that featured around the time of 2nd Ed 40K. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve kept my expenditure to a minimum so far, and if I can resist the Ooh Shiny! aspect of this, I may well stay within a slightly expanded set of parameters. Definitely Space Hulk as a pure tabletop game is the primary goal still, but a genestealer hybrid and classical tyranid army for friendlies and scenario driven games is the other.

Pete

Posted in Diary of an Army V (Tyranids and Genestealer Cultists), Tyranids, WH40K | Leave a Comment »

From Scratch – Rebuilding the painting desk (We’re not in Kansas anymore) – a brief essay

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 7

When I made the decision back in 2007 to move to Australia, I was under no illusion that I’d have to start almost from scratch in terms of modelling supplies. By the time I made the move (May 2008) I’d winnowed my wargames armies, scales & periods to a core grouping: WW2 in 15mm, ACW in 15mm and 28mm & to finish off, a selection of European armies in 15mm from the period 1859 – 1870. Everything else was sold, given away or traded – including pretty much all my terrain and modelling gear

I’d made the decision to start afresh with terrain as I was also looking at a much increased income to afford the sort of terrain set up that suited my aesthetic ideals/preferences. This would include commercially available buildings like Crescent Root, Kerr & King, Hovels etc.

I arrived in Australia with the bare bones of a modelling toolkit: my selection of Vallejos, Citadel paints (most of which were OOP), a few X-acto handles, the few remaining decent paintbrushes, some needle files, a dodgy old pin-vise and a quality side-cutter/clipper. Nothing else crossed the ditch apart from  rules and reference books.

I ended up with a few weeks to find my way around the NSW gaming scene before I managed to find a decent job, so I used that time to scope out  where and what was available in the Gosford-Woy Woy region as well as in the immediate area of Sydney’s CBD where I would end up working. What I found was pretty good, locally a Bunnings, Spotlight and OfficeWorks all within comfortable walking distance of home, and in the CBD, Tin Soldier/Napoleon’s (Minis, Derivan, P3, Vallejo and Citadel paints), Eckersleys (art supplies), Dymocks (books and art supples), Hobbyco (modelling supplies) all were less than a 5 minute walk from work. It helped that about 4 months after I moved, Good Games Gosford opened and I started attending the Central Coast Corsairs on a regular basis. So I’m in a pretty good place supplies wise, once you add in the fairly decent array of Australian online suppliers.

Where I’m at now

I’ve spent the last few months obtaining the core building blocks that will; enable the creation and finishing of a wargames army from go to whoa, miniatures to terrain. There are still a few things I am yet to buy, but for the most part I’m set to get back into the creative aspects of wargaming rather than just the participatory side.

One of my first purchases has been a GW paint station. Sure I could have constructed a purpose designed and built portable painting desk myself, if I were to have had the tools necessary at hand, but for an outlay of AUD$50 or so, I ended up with something that fits on my desk in the study, didn’t involve sacrificing a new-born to buy a decent selection of home handyman tools and best of all I don’t have to figure out ways of lugging all that MDF home as well as dealing with the damn dust. There is a rhyme and reason in paying for convenience, particularly when assembly took all of 5 minutes. The paint station is a damn sight larger than I originally thought which helps with findingh room for the tools and supllies for each project, which leads me to my next  point.

Rather than attempt to do everything on  my to-do list all at the same time, in the same area and generally get nothing done, I’ve decided to challenge myself to work on one thing at a time. Inspiration came out of the Frugal Gaming meme that gained currency as the GFC developed, as I’ve always been known as a gadfly when it comes to getting stuff completed.

I also want to focus on improving my skillsets which are sadly atrophied and also challenge myself to learn new ones. To this end I’ve invested in a selection of epoxy putties and materials so I can put my hand to conversions, scratch-building and detailing, all areas I’ve left to others in the past. Given that all the projects I have in mind, planned and started involve aspects of all three areas, it seems an opportune time to start as I mean to go on.

I’m also seeking to avoid falling into the trap of quantity over quality in one particular area – paintbrushes. I’ve never been one to take good care of my brushes previously, nor have I bothered to invest the same sort of money in them as I do in miniatures or paints. Now however i’m looking to inculcate a regime of proper brush selection, maintenance and care. This has meant I’ve moved to purchasing decent quality brushes and the requisite care products to do them justice.

I admit to buying some taklon brushes from Spotlight, some of the Francheville 424 line are good value and suit those times when there’s no point in using a finest quality sable whn an acrylic will do the same job just as well. I have discovered the Roymac brand of brushes to be a good first step in moving beyond my inherent cheapness though – the Purity range of sables and the Revolution range of acrylics will do until I can afford and do proper justice to Winsor & Newton series 7s.

The Purity range has a distinctive classical inkpen handle that suits my particular handgrip style when painting and are pretty good value given their quality – thankfully between Eckersley’s and Dymocks I’ve been able to obtain a selection of sizes in excellent condition. The Revolution range may well be a triumph of marketing over technical reality but the theory behind the design of the faux sable acrylic bristles was intriguing to say the least. It helped that the price falls right in the mid-point between the Francheville 442 sables and the Purity brushes so a few extra brushes wouldn’t hurt.

I can already hear the mutterings from the Winsor & Newton series 7 aficionados as they shake their heads. No arguments from me, but series 7 are a sizable investment in both money and the time necessary to gain the degree of skill needed to use them properly – I don’t have those skills yet and I will probably end up saving the W&Ns for the 28mm stuff anyway – because frankly it’s overkill to use them on 15s.

I’ve broadened my paint palette to include Derivans and P3 paints – the Derivans are extremely good value for money and the P3s because of the various shades they offer that I really don’t want to try and mix. I also picked up some Lifecolor acrylics for a specific purpose – Caunter camouflage schemes – I was not looking forward to either mixing acrylics to match the Mike Starmer guide, or to spend all that time working through the various permutations of Vallejos to get approximate matches. I’m still pondering obtaining a couple of Foundry colour deals, notably the Horse, Flesh and Napoleonic sets but that’s perhaps another 6-12 months away when I’m fit to use them.

Even though I do find the majority of GW products over-priced for the quality and quantity on offer, lines such as the Foundation paints and the Inks/washes set were pretty much a given to purchase, especially with my move into 28mm (there’s a definite surprise in that particular decision as well for any one who’s known me for any length of time) in the not too distant future. I’ve not painted anything other than 15s for close to 25 years as it is, so relearning techniques such as spot washes, glazes, wet-blending and full detailing are all on the agenda (it’ll be a cold day in hell before I bother with the Dallimore butcher’s blocking school though) over the next few years.

With the climate on the Central Coast being what it is (notably warmer and more humid than the lower North Island as well as subject to a greater degree of temperature change in a 24 hour cycle) I’ve invested some thought and expense into maximising the lifespan of my paints. With that in mind, it was an easy decision to add a wet palette to the usual suspects of retarder, extender, blending and flow improving mediums. as part of my new regimen. Having experienced a summer here where 27° C was close to the minimum, and given my usual snail’s pace approach to painting, I really didn’t have much choice.

In addition to new paintbrushes, paints, techniques and prepwork, I’ve decided to take the momentous step of working with Gesso as my primer/undercoat of choice. This is because my days of working with Humbrol Matt 33 are gone for good except in very limited applications. The late and sadly lamented Wee Toy Soldier blog pointed me towards gesso as a solution particularly in regard to 28s.

Matt Varnish – where to start? Moana brand, the one spray varnish I’ve been 100% convinced about, is not available here in Aussie or if it is, I haven’t found a source (Any help gratefully received). Instead I’ve moved to Testor’s Dullcote via Hobbyco and Krylon matt clear from Spotlight as substitutes. Brush on varnish  is pretty much gonme now that Humbrol’s Mattcote is satinesque although I note Tin Soldier had a few bottle of brush on Dullcote stoll on the shelves. Maybe next pay.

Milliput standard (Hobbyco), Gale Force 9 green stuff and the newer grey stuff are pretty much where I’m at in terms of experimental materials. I’ve made do with Maxi-Fill all purpose filler in the place of a pot of Selley’s Permafill but I’m on the lookout for a decent source of tetrion powdered filler just for that particular look.

Cleaners and Strippers – no it’s not some Melbourne band, but exactly what it means. I’ve gone with two old faithfuls – Simple Green for paint stripping and the Master’s Brush cleaner, while adding Vallejo’s brush restorer for those forgetful moments which I’m sure to have. All solid products and all generally available and good value for money.

In terms of general tools, apart from a basic selection of X-acto #1 handles, the el cheapo needle files and the sidecutters, I’ve added two Stanley knives, a GF9 pin vise (to better suit my somewhat arthritic hands), a selection of GF9 sculting tools (the intro set and soon the deluxe wallet set), some tweezers and grips and a bunch of mini-clamps. I’ve still got an Iwata HP-BCS sitting around waiting for the right combination of enthusiasm and intestinal fortitude, but along the way I will be picking up a moderate priced no-name general purpose airbrush and a decent compressor from Runway 13 in Canberra  along with a Sparmax Spraybooth/cleaning stand from Hobbyco. At which point I may finally decide to tackle the late war panzers rather than leaving it up to others.

All told, I’ve worked out that it’s cost me less than AUD$500 to rebuild my toolkit to what it once was and even better (not counting the airbrush setup) although  I’m yet to find a mini-drill that suits me – perhaps a trip to DSE/Bunnings/supercheap will suffice. I’m now at the point where I can get back into things with the right frame of mind and technioal approach that suits a particular regime. I still need to get hold of general terrain and basing supplies but that’s for another tiome, what matters now is that I have no excuse for not painting anymore and even better I actually have some degree of enthusiasm for it all

Pete

Posted in Modelling and Painting | 1 Comment »

Corsairs: a new club for me.

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, November 9

I finally managed to get to the Corsairs club yesterday, for the last meeting of 2008. Nice big venue, good focus on fun and enjoyment. Lots of closet Flames players which I hadn’t really expected. I now have a specific focus for the next two months as I attempt to get my Mid war Fallschirmjäger and Soviets ready.

The good thing about the club is that there’s enough interest in playing non-tourny type scenarios and indeed some of the variant rules I prefer, so it’s time for me to dust off the old Grant books and print off my Table top teasers. In the meantime I shall also have to look at scratchbuilding some cheap scenery to flesh out the tabletop. Cue the placemats, postscrubbers and foam core is my bestest friend techniques.

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So where have you been?

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, November 3

The long night is over. I’m once again gainfully employed, and have very good job security courtesy of a promotion and raise after only 5 weeks at a fiscally conservative a risk-averse multi-national bank that used to only operate out of Hong Kong and Shanghai. It’s already made a nice wee difference

The € vis à vis the AU$

There’s no earthly chance that I’ll be buying anything sourced in the UK for at least a year and even then it’ll require a sizable shift from the 39-40p mark towards the 50p-55p position to make ordering viable. Whereas once I would have sourced 90% of my miniatures needs from the UK in terms of manufacturers, authors and general modelling supplies, these days I tend to be far more eclectic and perhaps discerning.  Much of my distaste for buying British these days stems from the derisory padding of prices through inclusion of VAT and especially the exorbitant postage and handling charges some of the entrepreneurs assail the consumer with.  But also I’m just a bit tired of little or no customer service in what is a very small, customer-centric industry.

But rather than focus on the negatives, I’m going to consider this an opportunity to wander along the hypotheticals and the optimists’ lanes.

All that said if the economic situation warranted it, I’d still be buying a fair bit of gear.  Peter Pig and Kerr & King would be my chief beneficiaries but Spirit Games would get some business, mainly on the publication front.

An order from Peter Pig would almost certainly include the various rules sets based on the Ak-47 engine, along with enough figures and certain vehicles to flesh out my 1940 Sovs and UK Home Army, along with the Brit paras I’ve had sitting around for the last 15 years.

Other UK purchases would in the main be from Kerr and King, with their 15mm range of battelfield terrain and detritus being a particular favourite of mine.  In truth, the K&K items are that nice and that inexpensive I’ll probably spring for a couple of boxed sets anyway.

The only other purchases would perhaps be some Foundry paints (despite my aversion to their prices) which I will find useful for my 19th century armies, particularly given the amount of horseflesh I have to deal with.

But until things improve, such will languish on the back burner.

More soon,

Pete

Posted in Rants and Raves | Leave a Comment »

ASL: After Action Report – MP17 “Bagging Burcorps” Part 1

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, August 11

I’ve played one scenario from the SoCal ASL guys before and really enjoyed that (MP12 “Vulcan’s Forge” -Stalingrad) so when Pierce Mason suggested MP17 as a Pacific Theatre scenario, I was fine. It’s not a complex scenario on the face of it, with only Light Jungle and standrd PTO rules in effect, but it is a fighting withdrawal over 7 turns over effectively 1.75 board-depths.

The British are not your everyday plucky tommies, but second line troops, reasonably well equipped but not as cool under fire as their regular brethren. With that in mind I set up as follows:

It aint half hot mum

It ain't half hot mum

The Japanese enters from the bottom of the picture and so they’re going to be in my face pretty quickly. I should have time to redeploy from my reserve as necessary to react to the main thrust. I’ve looked to cover the Left flank with a picket line of one and a half sections – if the main thrust comes that way, I’ll be very surprised as it’s the long way around to the Japanese objective (a small ville far to the North). The right flank is protected by a reduced strength platoon with a senior subaltern and a Bren. This should prevent an attempt to use the easy approach down the right.

The centre is guarded by again a trip wire defence of a section and a bit, while the centre is very much where I expect to develop my reserve and a blocking position around the chokepoint in BB6 where a small watering hole constricts the path to the North. One part of my reserves are going to be sent to the north early on to develop a prepared position for the end game, and watch out for infiltrating Japanese recce troops.

Unfortunately in my initial setup I’ve effectively tried to defend everywhere and left some inviting gaps for infiltration. I didn’t fully take note that British 2nd Line still cower and that the paucity of spray fire weapons makes for major defensive fire weaknesses. However if I can fall back in good order without losing too many casualties to Japanese close quarters attacks and fire I’ll be happy.

P-J

The initial Japanese advance will be posted tomorrow.

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ASL: Playing again with a vengeance

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, August 7

I think I’ve rediscovered the fun element in ASL. For years it was almost a chore to play ASL, the effort required in keeping up with clarifications, Q&As, errata, even accessing the latest and greatest new scenarios seemed beyond me. In a way this mirrored my experience actually playing Flames of War. Too much effort required in the process compared to the enjoyment attained from the outcome.

But in the last few weeks I’ve got back on VASL, played in an online ASL tourney (lost in the 1st round even), and found that I don’t need to be totally au fait with all the minutiae to play a competent game. Results are immaterial at this point (I’m on a fairly long losing streak) but with each game my interest is growing as I find it interesting to analyse the past games and look to improve.

I’ve found my comfort level in terms of ongoing games – 4 PBeM VASL and a live VASL game seem to work nicely in terms of scheduling and pacing. It will certainly fill the gap between face to face gaming as well. The main thing is that I’ve broadened my pool of opponents and look to be involved in regular games from now on.

I’m currently playing scenarios from a wide variety of publishers, designers and theaters of war: Melee Pack III: MP17 Bagging Burcorps (Japanese vs British); Windy City Wargamers’ ASL Open’96 pack: WCW07 Eye of The Tiger (Germans vs Soviets); ASL Journal 3: J41 By Ourselves (Norwegian vs Germans); AH General: T09 Niscemi-Biscari Highway (American Paras vs Germans); and Friendly Fire Pack: FrF09 The Abbeville Bridgehead (Germans vs French).

Action Pack 4 is due any day now (I had hoped it would arrive this morning but no luck there) so that will probably dominate my ASL thoughts apart from the PbeM stuff until John arrives from Taiwan in the next couple of weeks. Valor of the Guards is still sitting on my desk, waiting for an opportunity to get on the table, but for now I’m happy to take my time bfore diving in.

P-J

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, Gaming | Leave a Comment »

ASL: Bocage: back to the hellish hedgerows

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, July 31

It’s very seldom I get to obtain two recent ASL products in a timely fashion. Admittedly Valor of the Guards was a tad late in arriving (heh) but Action Pack 4: Normandy 1944 is very much going to see my tabletop within a few days of it’s official retail release by MMP. Milsims again to the fore – less than AU$40 landed as opposed to something like US$45.

As I mentioned on VASL last night in a discussion with Commissar Piotr, I’ve not been overly impressed by MMP’s more recent offerings (AoO and VotG excepted because they’re modules and I’ve nothing but praise for the physical components) as I do think that their production holdups and necessary and justified focus on ASLSK have influenced the usual hands-on aspect of ASL production.

It seemed to me that the recent Journals and the last AP (Few Returned) have lacked that imprimateur, and in some cases have been more codifications of TPP designs (Le Franc Tireur and On Top in J7 for instance). Because my personal take on ASL play and indeed  focus of ASL design philosophy differs diametrically from some of the principals of MMP, I’ve always felt that MMP have done some designers a disservice in the way they run roughshod over the original design in their subsequent revisions.

It’s now at the point where I tend to look at the original provenance of a scenario and prefer to play it as originally designed: again Le Franc Tireur comes to mind. Sometimes I feel that there is a definite shift in play style paradigms outside of the North American continent which doesn’t always translate well when undergoing MMP transformations.

But back to Action Pack 4. Normandy is one of my major interest areas in both miniatures and boardgames. It’s an area of history that I’m reasonably well read in at the small unit level, and so I’m very appreciative of the focus of the new action pack.

Now when I initially heard of AP4, I admit that I was dubious, not wishing to see an action pack that consisted only of an American perspective. This proved to be unfounded thankfully as Chas Argent has taken the role of AP development to a new level of efficiency and I’m going to be seeing a selection of actions and terrain configurations that should keep me going for some time.

The new boards just look very nice indeed:

Board 53

Board 53

Board 54

Board 54

Board 55

Board 55

There’s nothing really to criticise on these boards in terms of the ASL depiction of Bocage, although I’d have preferred perhaps a couple more boards along the lines of board 54 without the village or hills of the other boards. I also would have liked to see perhaps a more naturalistic depiction of the Normandy farm holdings which should  really be multihex stone buildings with possibly rowhouse bars separating the individual buildings rather than actual separate constructions. All minor quibbles really though and something to ponder creating an overlay sheet for or SSRing anyway.

The scenarios are the gravy on this pack though with the boards a sine qua non and the revised Bocage rules a serious step forward in clarity. The preliminary reports I’ve read from ASLers whose views on play balance and excitement level have all been very upbeat and positive which is a good sign.

As for the breakdown in subject matter, well here’s a brief look at the featured actions:

  • A Lesson for Lehr: US vs Germans
  • Raff’s Dilemma: US vs Germans
  • The Head of the Mace: Poles vs Germans
  • Old Hickory: US versus Germans
  • Infiltrators: British vs Germans
  • Bocage Blockage: US vs Germans
  • First Cristot: British vs Germans
  • Second Cristot: British vs Germans
  • Second Crack at Caumont: US vs Germans

I’ve missed one scenario I think. However it’s still a little mystifying to see no Canadian actions featured, but at least we’re spared an over-representation of US paras this time around.

The new bocage rules may well get me to look at getting out the old hedgerow hell scenarios again (but using the McGrath/Chaney modifications as a starting point) and it’ll certainly mean revisiting some of the classic tourney/VASL scenarios that originally kept me going with the Bocage rules as they once were (Hornet of Cloville comes to mind for some reason).

Really though, AP4 is going to satisfy my requirement for geo-map scenarios for the foreseeable future, with VotG and more RB taking care of the HASL map side of things. With a return to regular face to face play via the Paddington Bears, a resurgent PbeM schedule and now a willingness to play live on VASL (as soon as I can get Skype up and running in a manner condusive to resources on the PC), I shouldn’t have many problems getting a lot more games under my belt in the next couple of months.

P-J

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ASL: Valor of the Guards is finally here!

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, July 17

Happy VotG day to me!

Happy VotG day to me!

Exquisite timing from Milsims sees Valor of the Guards arrive at my door on my birthday. Even though I was Pre-order #22 or so back in 2005 and knew then what VotG would contain, seeing the contents in reality still managed to impress me. There’s a lot included in the box: 17 scenarios, 4 campaign games, 780 1/2″ and 352 5/8″ counters, two mapsheets and 36 pages of rules. When I showed Kirsty what the box included, even she was impressed! It helped that I trotted out the old saw, “ASL. It’s not just a game, it’s a lifestyle!” which brought a laugh. At $77 plus P&H, VotG is very much a bargain.

What strikes me after just a brief look at the package is how much more play value I’ll be getting compared to Red Barricades. Don’t get me wrong, I loved RB, but I’ve pretty much run the gamut of playing all four Campaign Games and all 11 or 12 scenarios that I know of that use the RB map and to be honest, RB can become a chore at times to get through.

Of the 17 scenarios in VotG, I’d hazard that I’ll be able to get through 14 of them before the end of the year in Face to Face play without overdoing it, and the three remaining are the larger scenarios that will reward taking the extra time to get familiar with all the new rules and the various aspects of the terrain. Once I’ve finished playing through all the scenarios as both sides then I’ll definitely be looking to play the various CGs and the extra scenarios that have been published already in Dispatches From the Bunker. This should take me right up until the end of 2009 and yet still leave me time for more casual ASL play.

Thankfully with regular attendance and availability of other ASL players at the Paddington Bears in Sydney, my days of solely playing ASL via VASL/ PBeM are history.

Not only is this a stellar day for me ASL wise, but it’s kickstarted my interest in other things Stalingrad. I’ve picked up a few more books on Stalingrad from Jason Marks et al, and some generalist Eastern Front histories that piqued my interest. I’ve also received some more Flames of War blisters that will now allow me to assemble the two Stalingrad themed forces I’ve always wanted to field – a Shturmoviye Gruppiye based force and the requisite German opposition –  T34 and KV variants, StuIG 33b SPGs and landser.

Last but not really least, Ithe quick perusal of the VotG chapter has allowed me to revisit the much-maligned Critical Hit Dzerhezinsky Tractor Works/Grain Elevator HASL modules. Just from this, I’m pretty sure I can come up with a much more workable version of the DTW and GE campaign games as well as sorting out the various scenarios. Just as with my Flames of War projects, this is not something designed for the rigours of competitive play but is more along the lines of a historical study game – purely for the interest in seeing how the history plays out on the tabletop or the mapsheet.

It’s been a very good day.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, Boardgames, Books, Flames of War, Gaming, History, Reviews, wargaming | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ASL: Stalingrad once again

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, July 8

Background:

I originally pre-ordered Valor of the Guards back in 2005 as about #21 on the order list. The game wasn’t finally published until 2008 and so I expected that my order would be processed, sent and delivered well before I left New Zealand for good in May.

Unfortunately it seems there was a problem with my credit card (probably not enough credit left – an issue that occurs when there’s little or no notice given of charging starting) and so my order was put to the back of the queue. Unfortuinately the first i knew about my new position was when I saw the charge for VotG on a recent statement after I’d  left NZ. So now there’s a parcel from MMP that is at my previous residence and hasn’t been collected. Arrgh! No Valor of the Guards!

The Situation Now

Thanks to my birthday gifts, I now am able to order a replacement copy via Milsims . With the asssistance of Kirsty, my copy of VOTG should reach me on my birthday rather nicely. This will also give me a chance to really look at getting back into ASL PBeM/Live VASL & Skype. The best thing about all of this is that VOTG really does look to be a superb module with so many scenarios to choose from outside of the campaign games. I’ve been squirrelling away as many AARs and assorted VOTG clarifications and answers in the meantime as well as getting some valuable input on exactly how to approach a playing/learning schedule.

This becomes very important as John Knowles is due to arrive for our annual ASL-fest in August which means we’ll be very much in VOTG mode. Hopefully the ASL-fest will also see our first look at the new Normandy Bocage Action pack complete with the new pages.

The other big news is all my stuff from NZ is due to be delivered tomorrow after some 10 weeks in transit. This however means some real downtime again while I get things sorted once and for all.

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Shopping Trip #1

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, May 23

Off to Spotlight and Bunnings tomorrow to have a decent looksee at brushes and to pick up some Simple Green (surprised me that I couldn’t find it at any of Coles, Franklins or Woolies but this is Aussie so go figure). I’m pretty much sorted on what I’m going to be painting for the next few weeks – Fallschirmjäger, Fallschirmjäger and more Fallschirmjäger, alll of which will be in the grey-green bonesacks.

I’ll make do without acrylic retarder, extender and matte medium for now just because it’s winter and evenung temps are sufficiently mild that I’ll not run into the risk of excessive early drying out of pigment. I may even try using a wet pallette at some point.

Brushes wise I’m on a strict budget so I’ll be looking to pick up some Francheville #0 or #1 sables and at least one liner in Taklon – probably from Spotlight although I gather Bunnings may stock Francheville, in which case I’ll be happy as.

I’d love to grab some proper W&N series 7s (nb, not the dire W&N series 7 Miniatures which don’t hold enough pigment or wetting agent to work well in 15mm) but that’ll have to wait until I can grab one or two per paycheque.

By the time I’m ready to move on to anything technically advanced, I should have a nice selection of paintbrushes and most importantly tools. I made a huge mistake in not shipping it all over in hindsight as it’ll be a fair while before I have quite so nice a collection of tools and painting supplies again.

The main thing on the paint front is to start obtaining some Derivan and Foundation paints – as I have a lot of German Dark Yellow and Panzer Gray to work on.

I’m also looking forward to picking some Battleworn and Gloider Assault FJs to flesh out my 1st ed Fhs ranks. I have hordfes of spare ATG ammo crew and gunlayers but only two poses of Stg44 and FG42 fiugures to work with on the Late war infantry teams and i’ve pretty much used up all my Panzerfaust figures to bring up the numbers. It’ll be good to check through the LG40 10.5cm and mid war Mediterranean FJs I have coming over by ship to see what other figures I may have overlooked – IIRC there are at least another 8 HMG crews and a full FJ Coy HQ and Platoon to work with.

It’ll be good to sit and paint for once – I seem to be well over the whole issue of Painting Ennui/Enervation. I’m definitely looking forward to experimenting with some different techniques for getting winter camo right on the FJs as opposed ton vehicles which are a much easier canvas to control.

I do need to grab some Pak97/38s and GebG36s still thouigh I’m not sure I really want even more 10.5cm LG40s – I have about 16-20 of the suckers to go along with the same amount of 7.5cm pieces. I may just say stuff it and field 10.5s as per the original 1st Edition Diving Eagles Lists – as always an element of contentiousness on whether the change was really warranted.

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Fallschirmjäger: Organising Figures

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, May 20

As I settle into my new digs in Australia, I’ve finally had the opportunity to start the process of sorting out the various FJ figures I have into discrete platoons and companies.

It’s a daunting task really, as I’ve managed to accumulate a fair slew of the original Battlefront FJ minis over the years and there are still more on the way. So far I’ve filled out one 1940 company of three full strength platoons plus a pioneer and glider assault platoon including an all optioned Company HQ and two MG platoons, one 1944 company equipped with FG42s and the optional Sturmgewehr 44 units, an MG platoon and all Panzerschreck and Panzerfaust options. Those are the complete units. I still have sizable cadre forces for my 1941 Crete, 1941-43 Russian Winter and 1943-44 Italian Theatre Fallschirmjäger companies, plus surplus amounts of 10.5cm and 7.5cm Recoilless (so many I would have to buy another three or four companies of FJ).

Lots still to do and a lot more to buy – basically I’m reconstituting my modelling toolbox from scratch – this is not going to be cheap or that much fun – but it offers the opportunity to concentrate on proper processes and function over expediency.

I may even get around to taking photos of figures and models rather than wildlife and scenery.

Posted in Diary of An Army II (1944 Fallschirmjäger), Flames of War, Modelling and Painting, wargaming | Leave a Comment »

Crossing the Ditch

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 27

The movers are picking up everything tomorrow, so I’m going to be offline for at least the next two weeks without update possibilities. I’ve pretty much sorted what I’m going to be taking with me painting wise until all my stuff arrives in late June.

For simplicity’s sake, I’m just going take over a selection of Fallschirmjäger so I can get started on the 1940-41 figures. This means I only need to take over a few bottles of Vallejo and a couple of brushes as anything else I need I’ll get from Spotlight or direct from BF via mail order (bases mainly). I’m also going to take the opportunity to buy some Foundation paints once I’m in Aus so I can experiment with an alternative way of doing German Dark Yellow on some of the Mid-Late War FJ vehicles I have: Kettenkrads, M/C Combos and Kubels/Schwimmwagens.

So the plan is to have quite a sizable backlog of photos and progress reports ready for posting once II’m back online. Because of the timeframe before I take up my new position (early in June) I’ve about a month of free time to get organised and get into a nightly painting regimen with the support of Kirsty. It’ll be slow going initially no doubt, but If I stick at it, the simple nature of the paint scheme for the Fjs should mean I can get a fair amount done. The real kicker is going to be gradually accumulating all the DFS230s and Ju52s I require but I have a plan in mind for those.

Kirsty mentioned she was out of plain Black and White so I’ll also be taking the opportunity to see how Derivan compares to Vallejo, particularly in regard to black as the Vallejo black is one of the smoothest paints I’ve ever come across.

Back in a few weeks,

P-J

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The Timing is Right

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 21

As I potter around organising everything for the movers to pick up in 7 days time, I’ve been considering the limits on ‘net traffic as a regimen I’ll be introducing once I have a permanent new connection as from June. A couple of hard decisions need to be made regarding what sites I’ll continue to peruse for mIniature news and updates but I’ve pretty much whittled down the discussion forums I ‘ll be frequenting to no more than five.

I’ve been spending lots of time grabbing ideas and inspiration from GWP and The Guild, no matter that there are a couple of anal retentive types who nitpick sometimes for the sake of their egos. However it’s easy enough just to ignore them as people do stay on topic and the eye candy is spectacular.  Whereas at TMP, the dross significantly outweighs any benefits, and to be honest recent developments in subject matter make me very wary of having anything to do with the site now, particularly in regard to having my business linked even indirectly to it, let alone my actual name.

I can get my news elsewhere, usually from discussion boards, club mailing lists and alternative dedicated miniatures gaming news sites. Secondly I’ve no real desire to interact with many of the regulars on the TMP discussion boards. Very little appears that is of use there and the interface is as moribund as it was in 1999 when I first bothered registering.

Instead I’ll be looking at groups with a real sense of community, groups that don’t indirectly put my family relationships at risk through association with certain subjects, and groups that are proactive and supportive yet don’t take too much time to visit or discover information.

And as for the business side of things, I’d feel a lot more comfortable about putting my small advertising budget towards such groups as The Guild and GWP because of the benefits I receive from them as well as the support network.

It may be time to go back to the old days of mailing lists for specific rules sets  and topics rather than looking at generic everymans guide type sites. At least in part, because I will need to keep a tight focus.

P-J

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Starting from Scratch

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 14

With the big move happening within 3 weeks now, there’s little or no opportunity to do anything other than work on packing. Now that I’ve finished my contract, I’ve got a little time  to think and ponder the opportunities this move is providing me in terms of a fresh approach to gaming. For years I’ve been one of those hoarder type gamers, never playing, just accumulating. However with the need to cull as much of the “one of these days” miscellanea being paramount, and the prohibitive cost in space and weight of terrain, I’m effectively starting with a clean slate.

What does this mean in terms of the hobby for me? Pretty much it allows me to focus on quality over quantity, aesthetics over anarchy and frankly a desire not to put up with makeshift and makedo games. There’s a developing focus now for everything. Oh of course there’s the “Ooh Shiny” factor to take into account, but I’ve managed to limit that to products that fit in with already established goals and armies rather than drifting off into esoterica.

It’s been very helpful revisting the Guild for inspiration, and incredibly it’s helped to achieve that focus as well. I’ve been religiously perusing the tutorials and completed galleries there, restricting myself to those subjects that are relevant. This has meant that I’ve been able to give proper consideration to what I want to achieve, the processes and materials needed, and how I want to get there in terms of timeframe.

It’s meant a rationalisation of projects, a return from the far edges of my gaming cloud-cuckoo-land, and an awareness that I’m far more likley to find enjoyment from a few completed projects than a whole raft of things that will never be completed.

Thus there’s been a fairly significant rethink:

Boardgaming:

I’m going to pretty much stick to four core groups of games now, with almost no ppurchases outside that quartet.

Advanced Squad Leader: Too much time, money and enjoyment invested in this to let it go and I’m far more likely to get lots of gaming face to face in the future than I ever have before.

Victory in the West Series: The Killing Ground and Overlord are probably the last games of this ilk I’ll have bought.

SPI classic monsters: I’ve only got Wacht am Rhein and Highway to the Reich to still obtain now. Decision’s redesigns have forced me to consider that I can live with the issues of the earlier versions and get a lot more enjoyment out of the simpler systems than fixing the abominations that have been published lately.

Area Movement: I’ll consider continuing on with these now, but very much on a subject matter basis as there are some topics and levels that don’t appeal. It also means I’m likely to get more games played of each title.

Roleplaying:

Two systems only: Shadowrun 1st through 3rd edition and Twilight 2000. There’s nothing else that appeals and I’ve already got 95% of both systems. Plus I’m far more likely to be active in only two systems on a monthly basis. A no-brainer these days. Kirsty already has Fantasy RPGs covered with her AD&D 2d Ed collection which means I can get my fix of dungeon crawling if needed.

Wargaming:

Here’s where the fun really starts and the culling hurt, an awful lot. But reality can bea very bitter intrusion and the budget just doesn’t look like allowing me the dreams I once had.

Ancients:

Two armies in 28mm – funnily enough all because of the rise of plastics. Romans of some kind, and probably Celts of some kind. Almost certainly British themed and probably towards the end of the Roman presence in Britain.

The 15mm stuff is still fluid, but now that I’ve sold all my existing armies, the opportuunity to complete one army per year using the figures that appeal to me the most means I can assemble a nice slection of armies over a period of time and not get bored or frustrated.

Medieval:
Nothing is going to happen here – I’ve killed all thoughts of doing 1066 and all that in either 15 or 28mm and the crusades are just too much work to assemble two matched armies, no matter how much I enjoy the spectacle of the military orders.

Renaissance/Pike and Shot:
Nothing here eithere – unless I am able to buy completed armies that require as little work as possible.

Napoleonics:
Nothing here either at least nothing laid down in stone except for one thing – I won’t be painting them.

American Civil War:
Johnny Reb in 28mm thanks to the plastics and Fire and Fury/Johnny Reb in 15mm. Gettysburg for the 15mm is pretty much the only project I’ll be looking at now. No Shiloh, Bull Run or Chickamauga. Focus is everything.

19th Century:
1859 – 1871: Just need to add the Prussians and some 1870 French and I’ll be sorted. The armies/figures are there, I just need to sort out what type of games – probably the most closely aligned period to the Charles Grant Tabletop Teasers series.

World War Two:
Pretty much as tabulated on these pages: one or two tourney armies for Flames of War, the rest are all for scenario games and ongoing projects. Normandy, Arnhem proper and Stalingrad pretty much say it all.

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Beginners Choice, Part VI: The Fallschirmjäger Options – Crete

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 6

Why the need for a separate Crete FJ force, I hear you ask?

Simply put, the uniform, equipment, feel, look and posture of the force changes significantly. Not only that there’s more scope for me to make this one of my signature armies. It also has the added attraction of being a battle  that really resonates with me, an affair that was very much knife edged initially, and as such is ideal for the tabletop.

First of all some explanation of the changes required or available:

The Uniforms: while the FJ in 1940 had in the main used the standard Olivegrey/green overall and Field grey pants, there are references to the usual Luftwaffe Blue trousers being used and I intend to have a few of da Boyz in that configuration. Whereas in Crete, one gets the first appearance of the Splinter camo albeit just in limited fashion.

The Equipment: For Crete, I can add the LG40 7.5cm Recoilless, Tank Hunting infantry capability,  the Mountain LeG36 as well as PaK 35/36s and Flak 30s.

The Feel Look and Posture: So much changes with a Kreta type unit. For one thing, the Glider Assault component will be stretched out to a full LuftlandeSturmKompanie, and the basing scheme is far more redolent of the Mediterranean than NWE. This is a far more measured army in terms of being able attack, consolidate and yet has the staying power that perhaps the 1940 force doesn’t. If anything it’s still vulnerable to Armour but is nowehere near the Roadkill status of the Fearless Trained 1940 FJs.

The Company HQ loses the Swiss 2cm AT Rifles but gains the PanzerKnacker capability for the two Command teams. The three FJ Platoons are still there, along with the two MG Platoons,  a full strength 6 tube Stummelwerfer Platoon and a Light Gun Platoon with 2 LG 7.5cm Recoilless.

Support Platoons see the first real additions to the Heavy Mortar Platoon and Light Artillery Battery:

  • Anti Tank Gun Platoon: Four Sections of PaK 35/36 37mm
  • Anti-Aircraft Platoon: Three Sections of FlaK 38 20m

While the Pioneer Platoon remains, the Glider Assault Platoon is subsumed back into the LuftlandeSturm Kompanie fielded separately which makes more sense given I’m not intending to use this force in a tourney. Naturally one can add in the usual full on Air Support of the Stukas and Bf109s.

The LuftlandeSturmKompanie is replete with all optional HMGs and Flamethrower teams and consists of a slightly modified Company HQ plus four of the Glider Assault platoons.

So that’s the Crete Force. It’s probably the biggest in terms of pure Infantry I’ll ever field of the four FJ armies, but then again it’s a very specific force so I want to maximise the potential for it by using it in big games. And there’s always the option if I’m careful with basing and selection of camo smocks that I can use some of the additional troops for Tunisia /Italy. This is the one army that will need a lot of gliders and Ju-52s.  I’ll probably scratchbuild the DFS-230s and get the Ju-52s as and when I can via the prebuild models out there.

P-J

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Santimonious Muppetry

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 6

A bit of a Rant

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Rants and Raves, wargaming | 1 Comment »

Beginner’s Choice, Part VI: The Fallschirmjäger options

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 6

The Fallschirmjäger

It was time for a long hard look at my options for my various Fallschirmjäger proposals. When it comes down to it I’m well catered for in everything except the heavier mortars and Anti-tank guns. Vehicles are simple enough to add from existing stocks especially softskins where I’m blessed to be able to field as many Horch field cars as I should ever require. I am however a bit short in regards to the Opel Blitz type lorries.

As a rough calculation I can field three full strength FJ platoons for each of the four armies I have in mind, with the addition of at least 4 MG platoons. Other support weapons are a tad skimpy except for my horde of LG40 7.5cm Recoilless and LG42 10.5cm Recoilless rifles. As always the artillery has been the last on my list to obtain and nothing has changed in that regard.

0ne of the areas I should have little or no issue providing is supporting armour. Even the early war FJs will have their own matching Panzer IV platoon as help in the form of four Panzer IVDs. The later war FJs will naturally enough be able to call on armoured support from my mid-war/late war germans (notably stuff like Marders, StuGs and any tanks I can justify – there’s a reason I bought quite so many Tigers and Panthers) with some degree of plausibility.

Perhaps the simplest army of the lot to build, given its meagre supporting resources, will be the 1940 army with it’s almost complete reliance on infantry and man-packed heavy weapons. No recoilless rifles, Mountain howitzers or even light AT guns available for the Holland jumps after all.

The real centrepiece of the Holland campaign FJ army will of course be the gliders and JU-52s. I expect to spend a fair bit tracking down decent 1/144th scale JU-52s, Bf 109s, and 1/100th DFS-230 and Gotha-242 gliders.

Where this army will shine perhaps outside of the logistic components is that I will need to look at how I represent the various iterations of Pioneers, assault troops and specialist FJ troop types. I’m still going to use the original Diving Eagles source book as a guide for the early war organisation. Because Flames 2nd Ed has only really been worked up for Mid and Late war so far, and as I’m not looking to ever play the 1940-41 FJs in tourneys or even in points games per se, I’ve got a lot more leeway in how I organise them as a fighting force.

The basic premise for the 1940 FJ force is that it’s purely air assault. It’s not a ground based unit with heavy support except as a relief type column, so I can focus on the actual teeth arms.

  • Kompanie HQ: Company CO Team, 2iC Team, AT Rifle (PzB785s) section, light mortar (50mm) section
  • FJ Platoon 1: Three sections
  • FJ Platoon 2: Three sections
  • FJ Platoon 3: Three sections
  • FJ MG Platoon: Two sections
  • FJ MG Platoon: Two sections
  • FJ Mortar Platoon: Three Sections (81mm GW34Kurz)
  • Heavy Mortar Platoon: Two 10.5cm Mortar sections, one Anti-tank Rifle section
  • Light Artillery Battery: Two gun sections
  • FJ Pioneer Platoon: Three sections with three optional Flamethrower teams
  • FJ Glider Assault Platoon: Three sections with the option of three Flamethrower teams and one HMG team

That’s pretty much it for the initial force. I’m thinking that the composition of the Relief Column for 1940 Belgium and Netherlands would be along the lines of maybe one platoon of tanks or an Armoured car troop, accompanied by some grenadiers on Bicycles or an aufklärungs motorcycle/sidecar unit, all of which I can easily accommodate from existing stocks. Given that the linkup for Rotterdam was made by elements of 9 Panzer, it’s pretty much straightforward to assemble the following force:

  • Scout Platoon: Three Sections of 6 MG teams + Cmd MG team on M/c combos and a Kfz 15
  • Recce Platoon: One patrol of 2 Sdkfz 222 and 1 Sdkfz 231(6rad)
  • Tank Platoon: 4 x Panzer IVd
  • Tank Platoon: 4 x Panzer II
  • Krad Platoon: Three sections as per scout platoon

Optional Unit taken if only light Tank platoon of two used:

  • SP Inf Gun Platoon: 2 sIG33 auf Pz1 Bison

Now the interesting points of Motivation and Experience crop up. For Holland 1940, the FJ were effectively untried while the units of XVIII Korps were almost all reserve units or even third wave. For that reason, I’ve decided to rate the FJs as fearless trained while the Relief unit being from 9 Panzer had at least been blooded in Poland and was one of the few front line units in Holland and thus are Confident Veteran. If I was using a non 9th Panzer Unit I’d be using either confident trained or conscript depending on whether it was one of the third wave reserve units. I know one thing, Bicycle mounted Germans would be a tad interesting if they were the infantry support for the panzers.

Next up some thoughts on the Crete force.

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Cromwell vs StuG (with a Big Cat in support)

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 4

A rare event indeed. I played Derek Forrester (the guy who did the airbrushing of my Panthers, Tigers and Jagd panthers) in a non-tourney, non-playtest game. I think this is about the third such type of game I’ve played using Flames of War since 2000. In fact outside of playtesting, almost all of my games have been at Panzerschreck or the NZ GT.

Derek and I had agred to field real Armoured forces rather than the lip service Armoured companies one sees a lot on the Tourney scene. My force was primarily Cromwells with Fireflies, supported by two Achilles IIC and my token rifle platoon. I was facing two platoons of Stugs, a recce platoon on Motorcycles, 2 Armoured Cars and a King Tiger.

As for the table layout it was neither sparse nor dense, probably one of the better mixes of rural terrain although there was little room to hide from the KT. The usual issue with FoW did crop up in that the deployment zone for reserves lacked any kid of terrain so all four objectives were pretty difficult to hold and Infantry would have been very easy to dislodge.

The Setup pretty much determied the flow of the game. Derek sat the KT up on a central Hill in the backfield (I rolled three straight ones for choice of board edge, deployment and movement) deployed his StuGs in a right flabnk heavy posture, commanding the flank he intended to thrust.

If there was one area I thought I could exploit after deployment it was that by Kampfgrupping his HQ 2ic Stug with the fourth StuGs from each platoon, and proceeding with such a heavy flank force his Company CO was all on his Todt (couldn’t resist sorry!) out on the left, which also happened to be the flank where I intended to utilise the speed of the Crowells to force the KT to ponder maneuvering.

My Achilles were deployed to get some first time shots at long range versus the Stugs, with one Troop of Cromwells seeking to demonstrate on the left to keep the 234s from marching on a very exposed objective on the first turn. My second troop of cromwells and the firefly would be moving right up the middle under cover of a densish wood which would allow a protected route for the Firefly to threaten the KT’s supporting StuG platoon. My third troop was deplopyed on the far right amongst the Rifle platoon. The deployment offered two alternate routes, one diagonally against the KT and into the teeth of the HQ and Recce, or a wide looping route out of sight into the German backfiled which would definitely net me some precious rare shots against the KT.

Turn 1 was less than auspicious. I lost a Cromwell straight off the bat and discovered that I really had underestimated the evils of the KT in the middle. Thankfuly Derek’s shooting dice were atrocious and only the one Cromwell burned.

In Turn 2 I had a Firefly bailed (it may as well have brewed as it took no further part in the game – Reluctant Veterans are annoyingly hard to recover from a Bailing result) but started to cause some damage to the Germans myself KOing one Stug and notably forcing the Geramn Recce back into hiding. I also Smoked the KT but unfortunately it pretty much was a non issue as non-bombardment smoke doesn’t block LOS it only obscures it – something in all my FOW games I’d not realised. I really did need that second CS Cromwell VI after all.

Turn three was where I took some hits, losing my first platoon in the centre but managing to wax not only the 234s who got a bit too bold and never grew old, but also vaped the German Oberst himself as he was isolated. This meant I only needed to kill two Stug Platoons and the recce to force an auto win, and as the recce were amount to eat copious streams of lead from three cromwells in turn 4 I felt reasonably confident. My confidence was bouyed after a 4th Turn where I forced the Tiger off his hill with the threat of 17pdr AP to his side armour and manged to force one Platoon of Stugs out of the game as well as KOing another Stug. If I could only get another platoon of Stugs to I’d be set.

But it was not to be, I got cocky myself, and ended up losing a platoon of Cromwells, and having my Achiles section halved in strength. The 5th Turn was pretty much inconclusive, neither Derek nor I were able to force a Company Morale check and neither of us really had the forces to force the issue.  So we scored it as a Draw, with both of losing two platoons for Victory point purposes, a thrilling and enjoyable 3 -all draw.

The only downside for the game was that I never got aropund to taking any photos – I got too engrossed in the game and forgot all about my camera.

Thoughts on my force: 1500 points doesn’t work that well for 7th armoured they need Artillery and a little recce to really do anything. I was pleased to be as aggressive as I ws throughout the game as I’m usually a much more defensive oriented player – this bodes well for games with my Soviets. I was pleased with the way my initial plan of a right hook almost won the game by both threatening a sudden death Objective win or the Attrition win. It was fun to field the Cromwells and I really apprciated the speed of maneuver they bring. There’s something very scary about the way they can zip around the place if really needed and they’re not too shabby all-around, paricularly in a game where Line of Sight is so vital.

I misused the Fireflies throughout the game, but I can put that down to inexperience fielding them with the cromwells. I still have some real issues with a) the flanking rules  and b) the 180 degree arc of fire of SP guns. My thoughts on a more restrictive arc really hit home last night facing the StuGs. I alsop think that as with most Late War situations, where hits = KOs primarily, there’s much to recommend an alternative to the fixed iniative system, even if it’s a roll of for who goes first each turn rather than my prefferred interactive activation by platoon option.

All in all a good solid game, lots of intense fun and importantly it only took 2.25 hours to play. That to me is why I like FoW for my social gaming, it’s fast and furious. I hope to get at least one more game in before I leave for Australia, probably against one of the Forrester Clan – but this time I may revert to a proper Armoured Recce company rather than the full on Tank Company with Fireflies, particularly with regard to a 1500 point game.

I think the Cromwells could be a really nice 1750 point army at tourneys if one is prepared to really go for it. Even as Reluctant veteran there’s some real backbone in the force. I do need that second CS option though, and to rememeber to take photos during the game.
 

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Beginner’s Choice Armies, Part V: German

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 2

Now we come to the OpFor for all three preceding armies.

I’ve already stated my opinion on the comparative strength of this force as written by Shaw and in relation to that this doesn’t really fit my view of a cobbled together mixed kampfgruppe in terms of equipment mix. I’ll probably drop one of the Panther platoons for a PzIVH platoon, keep the Heavy Tank platoon but use Tiger Is (I have enough of the suckers now), have the A/T platoon use Jagdpanthers cause I have them ready, and substitute the 105mm Arty with Nebelwerfers. So let’s see how that pans out:

German Armoured Kampfgruppe 1944
Battlegroup HQ
2 x Sdkfz 251 Halftracks, 1 x Sdkfz 7/1 with quad 20mm    140pts
Armoured Recce Troop
1 x Sdkfz 250/1, 2 x Sdkfz 250/9                    115pts    ( 255pts)
Armoured Recce Troop
1 x Sdkfz 250/1, 2 x Sdkfz 250/9                    115pts    ( 370pts)

Mixed Company
CHQ 2 x Panther, 1 x Sdkfz 7/1 with Quad 20mm            420pts    ( 790pts)
Platoon of 4 x Panther G                            750pts    (1540pts)
Platoon of 4 x Panzer IVG/H                        380pts    (1920pts)
Platoon of Panzer Grenadiers in 4 x Sdkfz 251            285pts    (2205pts)
Platoon of Panzer Grenadiers in 4 x Sdkfz 251            285pts    (2490pts)
Platoon of Panzer Grenadier Heavy weapons in halftracks     220pts    (2710pts)
2 x 81mm Mortar, 2 x 75mm short
Heavy Tank Platoon
4 x Tiger I                                    860pts    (3570pts)
Heavy A/T Platoon
2 x Jagdpanther                                 530pts    (4100pts)
Artillery
3 x Nebelwerfer 41                                130pts    (4230pts)

Just looking at the points differential alone is enough of a pointer to the skewed nature of the German force.  But jeez this would look good on the tabletop. Really I think I’m going to have to buy Shturmoviks, Thunderbolts and Typhoons along with boosting the Soviets with a full God of War Artillery complement and drop the Japgdpanthers and halve the amount of Tiger Is.

As for what I require to field this army, I still need to buy the 250s, the AA halftracks, and 9 or so 251 variants. Everything else is bought and mostly painted.

So here’s the washup in terms of points values:

British Armoured Recce:    2970 + Priority Air Support of Typhoons @ 220         = 3190
US Army Combat Command:    3135 + Priority Air Support of Thunderbolts @ 190    = 3325
Soviet Tankoviye Corps:    2720 + Katyushas @ 155 and Shturmovik Il2M3 @ 290    = 3165
German Mixed Kampfgruppe:    4230 – Jagdpanthers & 2 Tiger Is @ 960            = 3270

I think I’ve got the mix right now. But really it come down to what feels right on the table top, not reigid adherence to points values,  especially as points values have no bearing on the victory conditions of a game.

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