Friday, September 30, 2011

Commonwealth 3" Mortar Platoon

This is a platoon of 3" mortars I've painted up as a weapons platoon for my Australian rifle company. Since Battlefront doesn't make mortar crews in the Australian floppy hats I've used the Battlefront 8th army mortar blister in the British helmets. I'm sure plenty of Australians wore them so it's not much of a stretch. I painted this platoon for use with the "Hellfire and Back" early-war army list book, which only allows for two sections (4 tubes) of mortars. The blister is designed for the mid-war "North Africa" scenario book which allows three full sections (6 tubes) each with their own forward observer. I figured I might as well paint them all up. It's possible that I'll use these figures for mid war sometime with my Crusader and Lee tanks or in a historical scenario so they'll be used as a six-tube platoon at some point. Additionally, it doesn't make a lot of sense to have one section of mortars and loose crews rattling around in my dead lead box when painting them with the ones I did need was very little additional work considering economy of scale in the painting process.

There will be no posts next week as I'm off for a week long vacation to Florida. My lovely wife and I are making our annual pilgrimage to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. Soon after I return I hope to be posting some photos of a couple platoons of captured Italian M11/39  and M13/40 tanks that the Australians used. I'm painting then in anticipation of Battlefront's release of their kangaroo decals for them. Too cool. Hopefully the decals will be available when I return. If not I may hold posting those figures until they're properly adorned with the decals.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Black Powder Napoleonics

Sunday I played in an invitation-only Black Powder Napoleonics game at Adler Hobby. I was able to renew some friendships with some of the members of the Boston Trained Bands wargaming club who are participating in the Black Powder games at Adler Hobby. I pushed two small brigades of infantry, one composed of Confederation of the Rhine troops and one of Bavarians.

When I saw the size of the game I thought there would be no way we'd get very far with so many troops and so few players, but the rules are definitely 'fast play' and easy to learn. With an occasional hiccup I was playing fairly competently by the third turn with the help of the excellent instruction of the other players. The other thing that allows Black Powder games to play quickly is STUFF DIES. STUFF DIES VERY QUICKLY. If you engage a unit and it's in a disadvantaged situation it's quite likely that it will be eliminated wholesale. Although this is a lower-level game in terms of organization, the way units are removed has a slightly higher scale feel to it.

All in all I left the game with a very positive view of the rule set despite losing three of my five units early in the game at the hands of a devastating set of cavalry charges. It was a fun game with easy to learn rules and good natured opponents that kept things fun. The rules are meant to be low-stress, high-fun and not overly complex or serious. Competition players need not apply.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

WIP - Pirate Ship (2)

I've made some additional progress on my Pirate ship. I've added the rear upper deck and railings and a cabin wall and door. The masts have been assembled using hardware I made out of 1/32" plywood. I've even added some crows nests. I'm not sure I'm happy with the height of the masts. They're not glued in (may never bee to aid in transportation) so if I want to re-do them I only have to laser up some more rigging hardware and cut up some more dowels.

Next step is to get together with my Uncle who's been assembling and painting some Old Glory pirate boats. I want to compare my mast layouts to what he's using before I start finishing the paint on this.

War of 1812 Game

This is a game I played last night at my friend Mark D's house with some of my other Northern Conspiracy friends. The game was a historical scenario for the War of 1812 - the battle of Queenstown Heights, October 13, 1812. This was the second time I've played the scenario that Mark is developing for the upcoming Carnage Convention, the first was at our club's August game night. The game used Volley & Bayonet rules in wing scale using some additional period-specific rules. This was a fun game although the British side, which I was a member of, got soundly beaten by the Americans.

Mark is fine tuning the scenario and I'm sure his game at the upcoming convention will be excellent based on my enjoyment of both of the play tests. One of the unique wing-scale features Mark added was flank company stands that serve as the elites for each unit. These added a nice amount of flavor to the game and sparked quite an active discussion from the players about other periods where this mechanic could be used. I'm guessing we're going to see this used again by other people in possibly Iberian peninsula early Napoleonic games in 25mm. I'm looking forward to some of those games.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WIP - Pirate Ship (1)

This is a 25mm pirate ship I'm working on. Several people in our club have recently started working on a pirate game project using Old Glory 25mm pirate ships. This model is my attempt to make a boat that will match these in scale and styling.  The boat is completely made of wood cut on my laser engraving machine. The hull is three layers of 1/4" Baltic birch plywood with the curved portions sanded in with my bench-mounted belt sanding station. The hull sides and all detail parts are made from 1/32" plywood and 1/16" basswood. The plank details are engraved into the wood so when painted they'll still show through. Since most of the boat is wood I'm hoping to use stain in most places to allow the natural wood grain to show through.

I still have quite a bit of work to do: frames for the gun ports, top railing for the hull sides and a whole second deck with railings, oh then there's the whole painting, and rigging it.  My hope is that once I have the basic boat designed I can make additional boats that are variations on this design. I'm particularly interested in making a more ornate version with a larger stern section and decks to represent a Dutch East India Company merchantman. I'll post more on this project as it progresses.

Monday, September 19, 2011

North Africa - Recon! (2)

This is a platoon of Humber II armored cars. They're a divisional support choice for several British and Australian companies in both the "Hellfire and Back" and "North Africa" early and mid war OB books. I'm most likely to use them when I field my Australians as an early war Divisional Cavalry Squadron.

These are Battlefront models. I've chosen to model the platoon commander with an exposed commander figure in his very dapper red beret. The unit markings are located according to some photographs I found on the Internet, although the model doesn't allow any space on the rear of the model for unit markings in any sort of historically-accurate way so I left them off. As per my norm, I applied a 'chipped paint' look to the unit markings using the torn sponge technique. This was a fun, quick unit to paint up. Next up I'm working on two different units of which I'm not sure which will be completed first. The first is two platoons of captured Italian tanks in Australian service and the other is a large 3" mortar platoon. Both are large projects. Whichever one motivates me the most will probably be finished first.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Portee 2 Pounder AT Guns and Company Command

This is a platoon of portee 2 pounder AT guns. They will serve as regimental or divisional support for my Australian early-war army and could also be an inexpensive 'add-in' for any mid-war British empire forces. The unit is an interesting mix of vehicles with an infantry command stand who can ride along in one of the Jeeps I painted earlier. If I paint up some towed guns to accompany these they can be used to represent these guns when they're dismounted off their trucks.

The portee AT guns I purchased separately in blisters, the command team was drawn from my spares box and the Jeep was one of the transport teams I painted and posted earlier this month.

These two stands will be the company commander and 2iC for my Australian infantry company. I had forgotten to add these figures to the infantry figures I painted up for my first platoon. While I had the command stand and crews for the AT guns on the painting table I took advantage of some economy of scale and painted these figures at the same time. Sometimes you can benefit from additional efficiency by looking at your process and optimizing it as much as possible. This was one small step I took in that direction.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Renaissance Game

At our club game day today we played a very large Renaissance game over three gaming tables. The game was played using a set of rules created locally with figures provided by three of the club's members. I commanded a German mercenary command supporting the Spanish who were attempting to oust invading French forces from their land. My command is shown below on the left.

This was a fun day and although this was my first time playing the rules they seemed easy enough to pick up and fun to play. Makes me want to dig out some of my dead Renaissance lead and get painting! More photos can be seen on our club's photo gallery.

Friday, September 16, 2011

For the love of grass

At first glance this might look like a post about Marijuana but that is not the case. I've been mostly underwhelmed with my desert bases. Sure I've got sand texture on them in two coarsenesses, and rocks added in two different shades, but it's all just a bit too plain. I ordered up some Silfor grass clumps. I've used these on other bases before, but I didn't have any appropriate for desert terrain. These are 4mm Autumn "Prarie Tufts" from Silfor. I've tried not to add too many - just enough to give some dimensionality to the bases. For the smaller sized bases things get pretty crowded so you have to pick the smallest of the grass clumps to use. I've gone ahead and added these to all of my completed infantry and artillery bases for my Australian/British forces in North Africa.

The photos here are a representative sample of how they look on the various sized bases. The only thing I can think of doing now to dress things up is maybe do some touch up on the tufts with a dry brush here and there to vary the colouring a bit. I'm interested in input as to what colors/shades might be appropriate, or if I should just leave them as-is.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Australian Infantry Platoon (1)

This is a platoon of Australian North Africa infantry. They can be used for early and mid war. I've painted these up to use as support for a Divisional Cavalry squadron or one of the two main combat platoons for a Commonwealth Infantry company. Both can utilize captured Italian M11/38 and M13/40 tanks which the Aussies painted large kangaroos onto to prevent allies from shooting at them. Pictured above is the force deployed as a Commonwealth Infantry platooon: six stands of Rifle/MG infantry, an anti-tank rifle stand, a light mortar stand and a platoon command stand.

The figures are all Battlefront castings, primarily taken from their Austrailian (Anzac) blister. These are wearing the characteristic Australian bush hat that they loved so much. I've also mixed in a few figures from the aforementioned Sting of the Scorpion box set  with white head covers. I think this gives the unit a sufficiently Australian look while still looking a bit shaggy as I feel desert troops would get on campaign.

As I'd like to also use this platoon to support my Crusaders in an early or mid-war Crusader squadron I've painted up a couple extra stands of anti-tank Rifles. Deployed as below the unit can very nicely be deployed as a motor platoon comprised of three stands of MG infantry, three anti-tank infantry stands and a command stand. As you see I've put the majority of the figures with the Australian bush hats on the non-MG stands so this platoon, while containing some such figures, is mostly figures without the hats. It's subtle, but I think will allow me to use these as straight British figures should I wish to.

Next up on the painting table are some more vehicles: portee 2 pounder AT guns and some Humber II armored cars.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

British North Africa Transport (2)

These nine trucks are more of the figures I obtained in the OOP "Sting of the Scorpion" box set I bought from a local friend recently. Like the jeeps in my earlier post these trucks were intended to be armed to the teeth with .50 cal and Lewis machine guns as assault vehicles for an SAS force. I've converted them for unarmed transport use, well mostly.

These trucks were my primary motivation to find one of the OOP box sets. Transport is always so boring in games. When I first saw these trucks in a friend's collection I knew I had to get some for myself. I've done my best to vary the stowage as much as I felt would be historically accurate. Captured German supplies, lend-lease ammo crates, water containers and British supplies all adorn the trucks. The drivers are the original SAS crews, but as I said in the Jeep post, I don't think they're much of a stretch for North Africa 'regulars'. In the desert heat a soldier will do a lot to be comfortable and officers will overlook a lot of efforts by their troops to do so.

The one vehicle that I didn't disarm was the 20mm Portee Breda anti-tank gun. The truck looked quite naked without the Breda in the cargo bed and I thought it was too unique of a model to pass up completing. Hopefully at some point I can come across another of these to complete a minimum platoon of two vehicles. If I can't find one from this box set I might try my hand at scratch building one from an un-armed plain truck. This has been a fun project, but took far too long to finish because of my distaste for painting vehicle tires. Next up some Australian infantry to ride in these trucks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Field of Glory Round Robin Games (1)

Tonight my friends Mike, Charlie and Phil came over to play a couple games of Field of Glory Ancients. All four of us made up armies from the Rise of Rome army list book and we're going to play a bunch of games 1 vs 1 with each other in a round robin format, hopefully getting in two games versus each of the other three players. I'm not sure there will be any high competition, but we'll keep track of wins and losses and maybe the winner can pick which historical battle we play once we all are more familiar with the rules. Field of Glory is definitely one of those rule sets that if you don't play it very often you can forget a lot of the details on how to play it.

We diced to pick partners for the first game. Mike's Carthaginian army drew Phil's Seleucid army, using my figures. Their game was a close-fought battle with Mike edging out Phil for a narrow victory. The photo above and the two below are of their game.

The other game pitted my Mid-Republican Romans vs. Charlie's Late Republican Romans. Mine featured a core of Superior legions with Atillid Pergamene allies and Charlie's army featured a core of Elite legions backed up by some superior legions and some Spanish, Gaul and Numidian cavalry. Early on Charlie's superior troops tore me up with their copious re-rolls causing many extra casualties. During the mid game I was able to bring my extra numbers to bear turning a gap in the line into a flanking opportunity which allowed me to beat a couple of his Elite battle groups. Our game was a close one until that time. I was able to secure a narrow victory. The 10-5 final score doesn't accurately reflect how close things really were. Most of the game I felt like Charlie was really beating me fairly handily. Photos of our game are below.

This was a great night of gaming. We're hoping to get together every 3-4 weeks to play another two games.