Wednesday, April 27, 2011

4th Anniversary

Today is this blog's fourth anniversary. Four years ago when I started the blog I was working frantically on my AWI figure collection in order to amass enough figures to put on some good sized games. Four years later AWI is still a strong passion for me, but as my AWI figure collection has reached 'critical mass' my modelling time has been spent more on other new armies needing similar attention. This year that means more WWII 15mm figures including the last few items for my early war German pioneers and starting a new mid-war British North Africa company from the Desert Rats 7th Armour Division. I hope to take the occasional break from the smaller figures to sneak in one or two more AWI 28mm units as well. I need some Pennsylvanian Continental Units for a couple of the games I like to run. Up to now I've had some generic units filling in for them. 

Other projects that have seen significant time on the blog in the past four years have been my French and Prussian Napoleonic armies, 15mm and 25mm ACW armies, 1/72 WWI Airplanes, 15mm Finnish WWII Army and my 15mm Ancients armies both Republican Roman and Seleucid. The blog has also featured articles on all of the games I've hosted with these armies as well as all of the other great games I've played in hosted by my friends. The game AARs will continue for sure and also any of these armies could need the occasional modelling post if I need to paint up an odd unit to satisfy a need for a game. Also coming up will be a few more posts as I finish up re-basing my 15mm ACW armies for Volley & Bayonet and a new re-basing project, my newly-acquired 15mm Austrian Napoleonic army.

Since we're 1/3 of the way through the year I think it would be a good time to review my goals for the year. Here they are from my original January post:

  • Goal One - Finish My Early War FOW German Pioneer Company
    Although I still have a few unpainted platoons to finish up for this project, everything that I had in January has been completed, including enough Panzer 35(t) tanks to field a Czech Panzer company with these figures. I never consider any army 100% done since you can always add new units. I feel comfortable calling this goal accomplished as I can field several good variants of this army at a full 1750 points.
  • Goal Two - Finish Re-Basing my 15mm ACW Armies
    This project I've yet again stalled on. It's a shame really since a few focused evenings would put it to bed. I still have high hopes to return to it and complete it before year's end.
  • Goal Three - Finish my Roman and Seleucid FOG Armies
    The last item I needed to finish up my Roman army was three command stands. I cheated and purchased these painted an based from Ebay. This completes the Romans. The Seleucid army I'm not sure exactly what I need to complete to finish the army. I believe I can field a complete FOG army with the figures, but I'm not entirely sure I have all of the battle groups I want for the army. Some time with the army lists is probably necessary to decide if I'm happy with the Seleucids or if I need to paint up some more units for that army. My hopes are that I will be able to host a reduced size Magnesia game with only using my lead. If I can do this I'll call this goal complete. My ETA for that game is this fall.
  • Goal Four - Convention Participation
    Saturday, May 14th I will be hosting a 15mm ACW Volley & Bayonet game at the Huzzah! convention. Later this year I will again be coordinating the centuries of conflict historical theme games at the Carnage convention. Although I'd like to make it down to Historicon this year, that trip is still up in the air due to other personal trips planned around that time

Variety, the Spice of Life - this was the last item in my goals list, and the easiest to attend to. New items not foreseen in January are the addition of a mid-war WWII British Desert army to my painting queue and participation in several great games hosted by my friends.

It's been a great four years for the blog, and this upcoming year looks like another. Thanks for reading and supporting me with your great comments. Your feedback is a terrific motivator for me to do more modelling, gaming and blog posting.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moroccan Roll!

Last night my friend Mike hosted a game at my house to play test a new  Vichy-French vs. Americans in Morocco WWII game using Battlefront rules. Mike was stationed near the battlefield during his military service and used to go to visit the battlefield locations. This is the first of three possible games modeled after the battles of this interesting small campaign in Morocco. The battle features a large force of Vichy French trying to break a rod block held by dug in American infantry reinforced by a couple of Stuart light tanks and off board naval bombardments.

The scenario is a very compelling one and Mike has some great campaign maps to add to the flavor of the campaign. Mike also has made up some awesome destroyed vehicle markers to represent the blocked line of sight of burning wrecks. He said they're very easy to make. I think I need to make some up for myself. Here's a great video showing how to do it:

Thanks for the great game Mike! I'm looking forward to the next one.

Friday, April 22, 2011


These are six stands of flamethrower-equipped German early-war pioneers. The early war German infantry pioneers can substitute up to one third of their rifle-armed pioneers with these nasty guys. They can be devastating to just about anything at short range including enemy armor and defensive emplacements and bunkers. These are always nice to have around. Six stands will give me the ability to have up to the maximum amount in my two infantry platoons: three stands per platoon.

These are Battlefront figures consisting of a mix of figures from the Finnish engineer, German mid-war engineer and German mid-war infantry blisters. Populating each stand with only three figures allows me to easily distinguish these from regular rifle-armed pioneer stands which have four figures per stand. Each of these stands contains a flame thrower-armed soldier (of course), an NCO of some sort and a rifle-armed private. With the extra space on the stand I was able to add some additional scenery and detritus to fill up the space. Next up on the painting table is some mid-war WWII British armor in desert camouflage for our North Africa campaign.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

North Africa & Northern Conspiracy Symposium

It's been a busy, but fun, week for me as far as wargaming goes. On Thursday evening I participated in some play testing of a set of WWII North Africa rules that Gordon from Adler Hobby created. We'll be starting up this campaign in a few weeks after the completion of our early war Escalation league while we wait for the next early war army list book to come out. The campaign is based on a combination of a few different campaign systems Gordon likes including elements from Battlefront's Firestorm series of games. We will be using the Battlefront North Africa army list book.

The idea behind moving to mid war is to enable the newer players from the early war escalation league to re-use many of their miniatures and get ready for the upcoming early war book, which will have some early war North Africa army lists in it. The campaign will be played with teams of two. Each player will field an 850-point force. Games will be approximately 2000-points with two 850-point player forces and a bonus platoon drawn from a common pool. This is another way to limit the amount of new lead newer players will have to paint.

In the top photos below you can see the Axis players: Italian armor and Italian infantry. The lower photos show the Allied players: British armor and American armor. Please excuse the un-painted models. Since this was a play test we used what we had. My models will be painted soon. In the play test we tried out the campaign map moves and played a game for some fun at the end. The game was a very one-sided affair. A German 88 all but wiped out the American Shermans and two Italian portee 90mm AT guns wiped out the entire British force. Seems the Allies need to find an answer to this.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Friday evening our club held it's first of what may become many lecture symposiums. Club president Mike Coppinger introduced this new idea and I think it's going to be a good addition to the club's activities. The lectures this time were given by club members Ralph Gero and Byron Champlin with guest speaker, and club alumni, Frank Chadwick.
Ralph's lecture subject was 'How to Run a Campaign'. This lecture spanned a lot of topics, ranging from types of campaigns to topics on map design, communication with players, and how to handle GM conflict.

By far the most entertaining portions of the talk for me were discussions about past campaigns we've had and situations that arose in them and how those situations related to the topics listed above. This was definitely an 'audience participation' lecture. Very entertaining as well as informative.
Byron's lecture was one he has given at the 18th century history conference. The topic was the first year of the Seven Years War. The lecture contained slides of maps and portraits of historical figures mentioned in the lecture. It covered everything from the political events leading up to the outbreak of the war and covered the military actions in all of the major military theaters of the war.

I've always had only an overview knowledge of the war - nothing more than can be gleaned from reading a few Osprey books. Byron's lecture was very informative and entertaining. In fact it has piqued my interest enough that those 15mm Seven Years War figures I have in my dead lead pile may have just shifted up a few notches on the 'to-do' list.

Our last lecturer was Frank Chadwick of Volley & Bayonet and Command Decision fame. Frank is also a Northern Conspiracy alumni member from when he lived here in New England. Frank was generous enough to travel up to deliver a very interesting talk on the Arab - Israeli 'October War' of 1972. I've attended several of Frank's lectures at Historicon and other events and they are always very entertaining and informative. This one was no exception. Although I usually consider my wargaming interests as ending on VJ day, this lecture has convinced me that there are other very interesting military actions after WWII. The forces involved in this conflict and the circumstances of the battles make for very interesting wargaming potential. Maybe some some micro armor is in my future......

Thanks to all of the lecturers. I had a GREAT evening attending the lectures.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Early War Escalation League (6)

Yesterday we had another gathering of our Flames of War early war escalation league at Adler Hobby.  We're nearing the end of the escalation phase of the league and this week we were scheduled to begin our 1750 point games. Three players showed up: two French players, who played each other last time the league gathered while I was on vacation, and myself with German Pioneers or Czech Panzers. Since each of the French players played each other in a blue on blue game last week they were both looking for a new opponent....ME! Store owner Gordon hasn't finished enough of his Polish Cavalry to field a 1750 point army yet (although his armored train looks AWESOME) so we came up with a creative solution: Each French player would field a 1000-point company and Gordon and I would each field 1000 points of Germans from my collection and we would play a 2000-point 2 vs. 2 game for fun.

These photos and the one above are after the German half of the first turn and give a good indication of the initial deployments. Our German force on the left side of the battlefield consisted of a pioneer company containing a pioneer platoon with flame throwers, a battery of 105mm howitzers, a platoon of 105mm chemical mortars and a platoon of PaK 36 AT guns with some Stuka Air support. Opposite them was a French infantry company with two platoons of infantry, two batteries of artillery an AA gun battery and an AT gun battery.

 On the right flanks a French squadron of medium tanks with fighter anti-air cover opposite our German Czech Panzer Company. Our plan was simple: occupy the church ruin with the engineers hoping that their flame throwers would discourage any attack attempts on that flank and attack with full force on our right with our panzer company supported by the artillery and Stukas.

Early on things looked bleak as a platoon of French Hotchkis tanks gored our PaK36 platoon while they were still being towed by their trucks. This was due to a failed stormtrooper move to unlimber the AT guns.

Our main concern was the French Souua S35 Medium tanks. Their heavy armor was going to be a challenge for us to take out. Early in the game our only Stuka attack to get through the French fighter cover was lucky enough to take out a couple of the hard-skinned tanks along with a Hotchkis and an infantry stand. The remaining two S35 tanks were taken out by direct fire from our 105mm howitzers and some flank shots from our Panzer IIs. The Hotchkis squadron was dispatched by a combined effort from our 35(t) Czech tanks.  With the company commander of the French Armor eliminated earlier, they quit the field once their losses forced a company morale check.

We had VERY good luck early with the Stuka attack on the S35 platoon and this really helped us secure a victory. Without that one attack this would have been a bloody fight to the end. Still we all had a good time and I got to see my newly painted Panzer IIc and Czech 35(t) tanks get used which was good fun.  The photos above were taken close to the end of the game. Note the wrecked transports for the PaK 36 platoon and the wrecked French tanks.

Thanks to everyone for a fun game! See you all again soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Heavy Panzerpäh Platoon

This is a Heavy panzerpäh platoon of six Sd Kfz 231 (8-rad) armored cars. The three two-car patrols each can operate independently as individual platoons after deployment. This will provide great flexibility similar to that offered by my previously posted mixed panzerpäh platoon. I haven't decided if I'll use these alone with my Czech panzer company, or if I'll use them in conjunction with the mixed panzerpäh platoon in a kradschutzekompanie (motorcycle rifle company). The latter would be an all-recon company which might be really fun to play.

Kudos will go to the first person (other than my friend Gordon) who can identify the manufacturer of these models. These are the first models I've painted from this company. Lucky for me these match up in size exactly with Battlefront models. They're so close I could even mix them within a platoon if I wanted to. That shouldn't be necessary since six is the maximum I can take in any of the army lists in the Blitzkrieg early war book.

Sorry for the long time between posts. Since my last post I went on a week's vacation. Also since I really hate painting 15mm tires these took me extra long since each model has EIGHT of the darned things!