Tuesday, March 30, 2010

600 Points of Finns

This update includes the remaining infantry to bring my Flames of War force up to 600 points. The two groups of figures include the company HQ with an attached section of Lahti anti-tank rifles and an anti-tank platoon consisting of two sections of panzerfaust-armed infantry. I've chosen to not upgrade the HQ support section, preferring to keep the Lahti anti-tank rifles. Why? Well mostly I like the looks of the Legions East figures for the AT rifles a lot. I'm also figuring that later on, having a couple stands of AT rifles will be just the tool to deal with recon platoons equipped with light armor, jeeps or the like, and at a lesser cost than some of the alternatives. In case I change my mind, I've also added some figures with AT grenades to the AT rifle stands so that I can call the same stands 'close assault' infantry stands. These figures come from Legions East's Finnish assault infantry pack (LE-FNS-20).

The anti-tank platoon is armed primarily with German-supplied panzerfausts. The figures are mostly Legions East figures, but since I only had a few Legions East panzerfaust-armed figures, I augmented these with a variety of other figures I had including a few conversions I made by adding some loose Battlefront panzerfausts to the hands and backs of some Legions East rifle-armed infantry. All in all I ended up with a good ratio of panzerfaust to rifles on these stands. There's no mistaking them for regular infantry!

Where does this put me on the challenge? Well to date I've painted up a total of 97 figures totaling 615 points, and I have a usable 600-point force using this order of battle. It's not the 250 figures Scott pushed out in a week in January, but for me 97 figures painted and based in one week might be a record! Between now and Friday I have one possible evening during which I may be able to spend some time painting. I do have one more platoon on the painting table that I would very much like to complete for Friday's game. More on that after I complete it, but I'll give you a small hint, it's not infantry. Below is a photo of the complete collection of all of the figures I've painted so far for the challenge. If I don't get anything else done I can use everything shown except one mortar to make my 600-point company. Maybe this MacPhee guy has something with this challenge idea after all. It's sure worked this time for me.

Donald Frey - WWII Veteran and American Innovator

I was saddened to hear that WWII veteran and lead designer for the original Ford Mustang, Donald Frey passed away today. I've owned six Ford Mustangs, and for me they're still one of the best American cars made and one of the reasons Ford Motor Company has weathered the current economic turbulence without needing a government bail-out loan like so many of the other US auto manufacturers have. Tonight I'm raising my glass to you Mr. Frey. Thank you for your service to our country in WWII, and thank you for your contribution to our American culture. Your legacy will surely live on for many years to come.

More information about Donald Frey can be found by following these links: AutoWeek.com, Los Angeles Times or Mustang Monthly Magazine.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jalkaväki Infantry Platoon

A Flames of War (FoW) company is required to have at least two combat platoons of it's core troop type. In my case, the company is a Jalkaväki Infantry company, and the core platoons are Jalkaväki Infantry platoons. This is the first of my two platoons. Each two stands is a squad. I've painted up the minimum three squads for this platoon, although I may paint up a fourth when I paint up the other platoon. Since we're starting at 600 points, we're allowed to start with only one of the two required platoons, so I'll probably wait until we escalate to 1000 points to paint up the second squad. In addition to the three squads of infantry, this platoon has a command stand armed with sub machine guns and a panzerfaust anti-tank weapon. The infantry squads are classified in FoW as rifle/MG stands. The platoon costs 155 points bringing my running total to 340 points, or more if I add in all of the MGs I've painted up. Half way there!

These figures are almost entirely Legions East figures. Most of the figures are their standard infantry figures, but I've mixed in the excellent Finnish light MG figures from their weapons packs, a couple of SMGs from their SMG pack, and of course the officer comes from their command pack. The figures armed with the Molotov cocktails are included in the base infantry packs. The Legions East figures have nice detail, smooth surfaces and are easy to paint. Although they're a bit less husky than the Battlefront figures, the two mix well enough together as you can see below.

When I based these figures, after dry-brushing the base texture, I went back and did a second pass with a much lighter shade being careful to pick up the larger  'rocks' and then hitting some random sections. I think this gives the stands some more character and makes them look much less lunar. I liked this change so much that I went back and applied it to the weapons platoons as well. The photo below is the entire force so far. This photo was also taken outside in natural light so the colors show more accurately. Next up on the painting table is the Company HQ, with its attached anti-tank rifle teams, and a support platoon of anti-tank teams armed with panzerfausts.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Flames of War Challenge

During our aprez-game meal after last week's game night, my friend Charlie mentioned that the local gaming store was going to be starting a Flames of War (FoW) escalation league/tournament. There are a bunch of people interested in starting to play FoW, and an escalation league allows them to start gaming and build their forces as time goes on. The first games will be played with 600 point forces, followed by 1000,1250,1500 and finally 2000 point forces. I've played a couple of games of FoW at conventions and purchased the rules but never went much further. I've also been collecting 15mm Finnish figures from Legions East as well as from Battlefront, FoW's official figures. After completing my Gaul cavalry on Monday I decided that I'd enter the escalation league as a way to motivate me to start working on the Finns.

So I pulled out my Figures and contacted Charlie. Then I got the bad news: the first games start on Friday, April 2nd! That's 10 days to paint and base up a 600 point Finnish FoW force. Discouraged I waffled on the idea, then I thought, 10 days? Scott MacPhee wouldn't back down from a challenge like that! So there it was, my 2nd painting challenge of the year: 600 points in 10 days. Oh did I mention that this weekend is my wife's birthday, and next Tuesday I'm off to the accountant to do my taxes? Let's call it 7 days, that's a proper MacPheee-style deadline!

 Since I had a mix of Battlefront figures and Legions East figures, I decided to tackle a couple of platoons of the former first, in order to get familiar with the basing system. Starting with the official figures first also allowed me to get painting right away knowing all the figures I was painting would fit into proper units. During my lunch hours the next couple of days I caught up on my FoW research and planned out the unit composition to use with my Legions East figures. The packs I had were the Finnish Jalkaväki Mortar Platoon and the Finnish Jalkaväki Machine-Gun Platoon; two valuable support platoons for my Finnish infantry company. Although I haven't decided exactly how many sections from each pack will be used in my initial starting 600 point force, I know I'll eventually be using the full platoons of each, so I painted and based all of the figures. Total points for these two complete platoons is either 250 points for regulars or 285 points for elites. My 600 point force will definitely be regulars, elites being way too expensive to start with. With that in mind I'll most likely use one section of MGs and the full three sections of mortars for a total of 185 points. That's almost 30% of the points for the challenge, but I've used three of my seven 'working' days on the project. As Astro the dog would say, "Ruh-roh!".

This is the (8.1 cm) mortar platoon. It can have two or three sections (each of the stands with a mortar on it represents a section) as well as a submachinegun-armed command stand (3 figure stand) and a forward observer stand (2 figures). Strangely the battlefront pack didn't include any command figures actually carrying SMGs, only rifles, but from what I've come to understand this isn't normally considered essential. While my normal basing consists of just white glue and static grass, the FoW stands, with their more open layout, require a more involved basing system, which takes more time. I'm not completely happy with the basing for these, but since they're my first stands using this system, I figure I can always come back and make changes in the future should I come up with any better ideas.

Here is the machine-gun platoon. It can have one or two sections. Each section consisting of two MG stands. The command SMG team in this pack did indeed include an officer carrying a SMG. Since MGs are direct fire, there is no forward observer stand. The machine-gun models provided in the Battlefront pack are accurate for Finnish as the Finns preferred to remove the front shield from the Maxim MGs after they captured the guns from the Russians, or when they procured the guns themselves.  The photos below are close-ups of both platoons. Sorry for the bad lighting, hopefully I can get some proper outdoor photos when I finish the next unit.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gaul Armored Cavalry

This is the second to last battle group I have to paint for my Roman Atallid Pergamene allies, as well as another of the battle groups that I'll need for my umcoming Magnesia game. The prevailing opinion of most of the Field of Glory experts is that the primary reason to select the Atallid Pergamene allies is for the heavy lancer cavalry. Considering the lack of cavalry available in the Mid-Republican army lists, I think this unit of Armored, Superior Gaul cavalry is also a wise choice from the available optional units this ally offers. If you combine this unit with the lancers, and the core Roman cavalry, you now have enough cavalry to protect your flanks and in some cases they can serve as a competent strike force.

This is another unit of Old Glory 15s figures. The battle group pack offers three basic poses, each with minor variants: spear armed, sword and round shield, sword and oval/4-sided long shield. This gives the unit a suitably 'barbarian' look, although the spear pose is a bit awkward requiring it to be located as the middle figure on each stand, which was slightly disappointing. Other than this I found the figures to be quite nice. The detail on the chain mail takes to dry-brushing well and the figures were crisp casts with little flash. The fit of the riders to the horses was a little dodgy for some of the horses, but that's a common problem with many manufacturers.

When I painted my unit of Gaul infantry, I was fortunate to have some water slide decals for the shields. Having exhausted my supply of those, I was forced to decorate the shields of this unit by hand. I have to admit, I prefer the decals for this task as I feel my efforts did not produce as nice of a result. I'm definitely going to enjoy getting back to some more regular units. Warbands are difficult for me to paint with all of their various color combinations. I'm fairly satisfied with this unit other than wishing I had some more shield transfers to use on them.

Next up on the painting table, I'm taking a short hiatus from ancients to start work on a new 'top secret' project. Well top secret that is until I post it on the blog. I'm hoping to make quick work of a small project in order to be able to use it for an upcoming gaming event at the local gaming store. More about that after I get some of the figures painted.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm No Longer the "First Man of Rome"

If it's the Ides of March it must be time for our club's annual DBA mini-tournament hosted by my friend and fellow club member Mike C. This annual club tradition is a low-key single evening DBA tournament that usually pits players in two teams, Romans and enemies of Rome to each compete for the titles "First Man of Rome" and "First Enemy of Rome". With the title also comes possession of a representative trophy for the upcoming year. In last year's "First Man of Rome" tournament, I was fortunate to earn the trophy for top Roman player, albeit with a record far worse than the "First Enemy of Rome" winner in a tournament that was heavily dominated by the non-Roman players. This year Mike mixed up the format and all players played Roman armies (of various periods) in a Roman civil war fight to the death! The format sounds a bit monochromatic, but Mike allowed four different Roman lists, and most lists were allowed to substitute one appropriate element from a list of historical allies for that period's Roman allies. We had allied Knight elements, allied Elephant elements, and club member Don played a later Roman army with 4 warband and 2 knight elements, which was particularly scary to many of the early blade-dominant Roman lists. With all of the choices available, the format ended up being quite fun and interesting.

In the first Round I scored a lucky win against Don's tough knight and warband heavy army scoring my kills with lucky 6-1 rolls. Dodging the bullet I thought possibly I might make a bid for emperor for life (well at least for another year), but in round two I fought a back-and-forth battle against the eventual tournament winner, Michael B. (shown above in the gray checkered shirt playing in his first round game). Michael eventually scored the killing blow on my fourth element after several tourns with our scores tied at 3 kills each. The coups-de-gras for Michael was against my General element earning him a valuable tie-breaker point. My game with Michael was quite possibly one of the most fun DBA games I've played in a long time, even though I lost.

My third round game was against Michael's primary rival for this year's title, Chris. While I was able to score 3 points against Michael in round 2, Chris put me to the mat in a dominant contest where I scored only a single kill to his four. The combination of Chris' good play and my bad fortune in maneuver and combat dice sealed my fate. I was to be a mere citizen this year.

Chris and Michael faced off in the fourth round with Michael scoring enough points to win the game and the tournament, being crowned this year's "First Man of Rome" congratulations Michael! For me, well I guess there's always next year.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Seleucid Scythed Chariots

This is the first new battle group for my Seleucid FOG army that I've painted. It will be another of the battle groups used for my upcoming Magnesia game. These scythed chariots are more 'Fine Essex Lead'. I chose Essex as their smaller size makes fitting the chariot model with scythes onto the base easier. Even with the smaller model the scythes had to be heavily modified to fit on the base without the scythes hanging over the edge. The Essex chariot I painted for my Seleucid DBA army was based un-modified and the scythes are always catching on adjacent elements. I chose a plain wooden chariot figuring that there wouldn't be a lot of sense in elaborately adorning them knowing they'd likely be destroyed on their first use. The figures are black primed and the bronze armor on the drivers and iron armor on the horses was dry-brushed over the black which gives it a nice effect. I didn't give the figures a wash, but I think I might go back and do a little more highlighting on the horse blankets.  

I've counted this unit as 14 'figures' in my painting totals: 8 horses, 2 riders and 2 chariots counted as 2 figures each. Next up is a unit of armored Gaul heavy cavalry for my Attalid Pergamene Roman allies. I made slow progress on this unit the past week as a fall had put my back out and as that was getting better I came down with the stomach flu. I'm on the mend now and hopefully I'll get some productive time the rest of the week at the painting table.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First Seleucid Battle Groups

These are the first two battle groups for my Field of Glory Seleucid army. This one is a pike block painted by Dragon Painting Service (DPS). If you've ever looked for painted miniatures on Ebay, you've seen DPS's work listed there. I've purchased quite a few figures from DPS, and their quality is quite good, and if you're patient you can usually get a better price then their 'Buy it Now' price. This unit was the first I've purchased from them which I wasn't completely satisfied. The Xyston figures are painted quite nicely, but the auction's photos pictured the figures with Xyston's excellent pikes with formed spear points on them. When the figures arrived, not only did they not have the Xyston pikes, the pikes were obviously made from spring steel pulled off a roll. The pikes on the figures I received were wavy like gravy. Of the 46 figures with pikes I was only able to use 3 of them. The other 43 I had to remove and replace.  Now that the pikes have been replaced, I'm quite happy with the unit.

I don't usually post figures here on the blog that I've purchased painted, but since I replaced the pikes on this unit, and had to paint them and touch up the hands, etc. I thought I'd go ahead and show the unit here. Also it let me give everyone else who's considering purchasing pike-armed figures from DPS the heads up that they might received wavy pikes as well.

This battle group I painted over a decade ago when DBA 1.0 was first released. Back then the Seleucid DBA army list allowed you to have two elephants, one of which was the general's unit. In the next edition of the rules Phil Barker adjusted all of the army lists so that none of the armies could only have more than one elephant element, so the second one has been collecting dust until now. These are 'Fine Essex Lead'. We still call any Essex figures 'Fine Essex Lead' in deference to the fact that for quite a while Essex was the cream of the crop for 15mm figures. Honestly, they're still the best 'TRUE' 15mm figures. Everything newer that's been released that's generally considered better is larger than 15mm. Of course the larger the figure, the more detail you can put into it.  I've purchased an additional two Essex elephants to add to this to create another two-stand element of elephants for my Seleucid army. The Essex elephants, like the figures are true 15s and I thought it would probably not be a wise choice to mix them with another brand of elephants.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Volley & Bayonet Road To Glory Official Errata

Frank Chadwick, author of the Volley & Bayonet rules has just released the official errata to the Road to Glory edition of the rules. You can download the PDF containing the errata here. The errata contains corrections for the entire rule book, including the main rules, scenarios, Road to Glory battle generation system and the army lists.

On a personal note, the recent wind storm here in New Hampshire that knocked out power for 300,000 homes has me 'in the dark' at home for the 5th day. I returned from vacation during the 2nd day of the outage to a home that was 50 degrees and my refrigerators nearly the same temperature! Estimates from PSNH are that I could be out of power until next Thursday! I have a generator to keep the house warm and the food cold, and I'm going to try to jury-rig some lights in my hobby room so I can paint some figures. Up to now all I've been doing is catching up on my reading. With the outage scheduled to last for another few days I think I'll make the effort to rig up some emergency lighting at the painting table. Wish me luck.