Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Wargaming Year In Review

2011 was another great year for wargaming for me. Following up after last year's great year I was able to have another fantastic year playing an amazingly large number of games (30!), hosting several fun games and attended two excellent conventions including helping the 2011 Carnage convention staff organize the Centuries of Conflict historical theme games again. I've been very fortunate to have great friends to game with, a great wife who supports my interest in the hobby and the time and means to do as much of it as I like.

My painting totals are similar to 2010, although it 'feels' like I got more done this year.

The year end tallies are:
  • Painted 25mm figures: 0 (much to my shame and surprise)
  • Painted 15mm figures: 389
  • Painted 15mm vehicles: 87
  • Terrain/Misc created: 37
Non-painting totals are:
  • Stands re-based: 90
  • Purchased painted 15mm figures: 109
  • Purchased painted 28mm figures: 126
My 15mm painting efforts mainly centered around 15mm Flames of War WWII all year. I started out the year finishing up my German early war Blitzkrieg in Europe force of engineers and then added some Czech Panzer 35t tanks and armored cars to allow the force to be fielded as an armored or mechanized force as well. After that I continued on to North Africa with my British/Australians for Mid and Early war including the super sexy captured Italian tanks shown above sporting Kangaroo identification markings! The few non-WWII items I did paint were mainly to add to my Field of Glory Seleucid army: two units of Cataphracts, and touching up some purchased light cavalry.

My re-basing projects were split between two projects, completing the conversion of my ACW armies to V&B and re-basing some beautiful 28mm AWI British and American figures that I was fortunate enough to purchase from Ebay (also seen left). Terrain was again mostly WWII based including fortifications and objectives for my North Africa forces.

With the laser I had a fairly creative year including making schürzen for some 15mm StuG tanks, a Brother Against Brother template for my friend Byron, some very neat heavy machine gun nests for my German North Africa force, some movement trays and a bee swarm template for my friend Gordon's Tanga WWI desert skirmish game, and some British Grenadier templates requested by some internet friends in England. Almost winning picture of the year honors was my favorite project on the laser this year, my 28mm Pirate ship. This is a project I will return to in 2012 as part of a club project. I hope to have club members come to my house to build their own copies of this and possibly one or two more that I'm working on. Should be fun.

I played in an embarrassingly large amount of games this year thanks to both my club and Adler Hobby each of which provided me a venue to play a large amount of games. Games at Adler were mostly FOW WWII but I also played two very enjoyable Black Powder games, one Napoleonic and one Seven Years War. With my friends from the Northern Conspiracy games ranged from ancients through World War II, with a surprisingly high quantity of ACW this year due to the 150th anniversaries starting up. My favorite game of the year was an epic Renaissance game in 28mm using house rules created by my uncle that featured what had to be close to 1000 beautiful 28mm figures per side and spread across 3 large tables.

I hope you all had a great 2011. I look forward to another good wargaming year in 2012. My next post will be a review of how I did accomplishing last year's goals and setting forth some goals for 2012. 

Happy New Years All!

Australian Entrenched Mortars

These will be the last figures I complete during 2011. They're two Australian mortars in gun pits for my Australian North Africa force should I ever wish to field them as a Tobruk fortified company in Flames of War. A Tobruk company has as part of it's headquarters section these two mortars which can either be British 3" mortars or captured Italian mortars. While these aren't official FOW large bases, they're so close as nobody should mind much. If I was called in a tournament I can always slide a base under them as a sabot, although only about two tiny 2mm portions will stick out of the corners.

I chose to model these permanently in the gun pits for two reasons. The first is that I'll always be deploying them in the pits either in FOW games or with any other WWII rules since I already have a full six-mortar platoon painted up. The second reason is the Musket Miniatures fortified positions I used are just too damn sexy not to use them and this command was the perfect size to match the positions I had - two. Next up on the painting table is a platoon of Crusader tanks and some 2 pounder AT guns for my Aussies. Neither of those will be completed before I post my year end review and next year's goals posts. Maybe I'll be able to be succinct enough to combine them...but since I'm and engineer (and a wargamer) probably not.

P.S. Since the gun pits were so laborious to paint I'm counting this as 8 15mm figures (6 crew + 2 mortars) AND 2 terrain pieces.

Friday, December 30, 2011

December Game Night 2011

Some years we're fortunate enough that a Friday falls in between Christmas and New Years in such a way that we can hold a December game night at our club. This was one of those years. Tonight's games were both good ones hosted by prospective new member candidates. To the left is Andy Niven who hosted his epic 15mm WWII Crete game with a massive amount of hand-crafted terrain. I didn't play in this but those who did gave it high marks. It certainly looked like it fairly deserved them to me.

I played in John Macone's also very nicely terrained 15mm ACW Fire & Fury game. This was a scenario that saw the Confederates (my side) defending a crossroads and fortified hill from a superior Union attacking force. Our reinforcements were a bit slow to arrive but I did the best I could with a very nice cavalry unit to hold the line, but was eventually overwhelmed by the six infantry brigades and six batteries arrayed against me. On our other flank with the odds more even we did only slightly better holding the fortified hill with a narrow back-and-forth fight. This was a good looking game and fun was had by all.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

'Plywood' Schürzen

My friend Gordon gave me a couple of StuG G tanks from the Flames of War starter set as a gift. These tanks have nice detail in added stowage on some of the tanks, but have the schürzen cast as part of the resin hull which makes them brittle and fragile. When I received these Gordon had already sanded them off in preparation of replacing them with Battlefront's supplemental plastic schürzen. Not wanting to wait for them to come in I fired up the laser and spun off some of my own out of 1/64" thick aircraft plywood. The engraved panel lines are deep enough to take paint/wash and should show nicely when painted. I also find them satisfyingly thin. When painted up I think they'll look like proper armor plate. Good enough for me!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone! Here's hoping you get all the paints, miniatures and books you wanted!


Friday, December 23, 2011

North Africa Figure Review - 1250 Points and Tobruk Raid Game

For our early war North Africa escalation league at Adler Hobby the December award was a free blister for a completed 1250-point early war force from the "Hellfire and Back" or "Burning Empires" books including two properly themed objectives. Gordon, the store owner, requested that each player provide a photograph of their completed 1250-point force for him to post in the store and send to Battlefront. The top photograph here is my 1250-point Australian Commonwealth Infantry Company. It's comprised of the HQ, two infantry platoons, an infantry mortar platoon, two divisional cavalry platoons comprised of captured Italian tanks (with Kangaroos on them!), a scout patrol of one platoon of universal carriers and a battery of artillery equipped with OQF 18/25 guns. I couldn't figure out how to get a good force composition at 1250 points with an even number of platoons, so I'll be slightly disadvantaged in 'halfsies' missions. Such is the nature of escalation leagues.

Below are two photographs of additional early-war platoons I've painted up for the league. The left photograph has a battery of captured Italian 47/32 AT guns, a platoon of Humber II armoured cars, a platoon of portee 2 pounder AT guns (with an additional Breda 20mm to proxy when the platoon is used as a portee 47/32 AT platoon), two platoons of Universal carriers and eight Chev trucks which I've modelled without gunners and guns so I can use them as transport, or by adding some additional gunners, as raiding units. The right photograph is two Crusader II CS tanks (to act as the HQ of a Crusader squadron), two Crusader III, and four Crusader II tanks to act as two combat platoons of Crusaders. The Crusader III tanks will have to proxy for earlier Crusaders in early war, but since the only difference is a very slight difference in the main gun assembly I doubt anyone will call me on that. With all of these units my Australians are ready to field forces all the way up to 1750 points. I might add the occasional additional platoon for fun, but I can field this as a complete company now using these additional platoons.

Below are additional mid-war units that will allow the above force to extend into mid war as either a British Light Armoured squadron, British Heavy Armoured squadron or an Australian infantry company. On the left is a squadron of Deacons - armoured 6 pounder portee AT guns which were just too ugly to resist. On the right is a heavy armoured platoon comprised of two Grant and one Lee tanks. In the front a CO in a Sherman II.

Finally my second force for early war is a German Stützpunkt defensive force. This will allow me to have an opponent for the Australians. The Germans have a fortified infantry platoon with 2cm and 5cm gun pits, two additional 88 gun pits, a mortar platoon, a platoon of Panzer IIc tanks (still in European colours) and a squadron of Stuka air support. I still have a ways to go on this army to finish it.

I took all of the above photos on one of the beautiful Adler Hobby gaming tables while waiting for my turn to fight a battle against Chris' Polish Tobruk defensive force with my German Stuützpunkt defensive force. Since we both were fielding fortified companies we played the "Tobruk Raid" scenario for the first time. Chris was suffering some brain melt from just trying another new scenario with Adam, so I tried to decipher the new scenario rules. We mostly got deployment right, but I incorrectly described the objective of the scenario so we both set up our defences covering the objective WE were supposed to capture not protect. This made for a very strange game nullifying most of the static defences. In a night battle with delayed reserves this deteriorated into mostly an infantry platoon vs. infantry platoon affair in which Chris' fearless Poles roughed up my Schützen platoon and ended up on the objective he had to capture early in the game. Still it was a good learning game for both of us and since it was late I was ok with losing quickly. Good game Chris!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Desert Entrenchments

These are 16 sections of trench, each 4" long. I plan to use these for my German and Australian defensive positions for my North Africa armies. In Flames of War you need 8" long sections of trench line. Each two of these pieces will make one FOW trench section.

I had intended on scratch building my trench sections with concrete retaining walls and wire-cut foam berms. I put off the project long enough and then I realized I had to do something more expidient. These are the result of that realization. They are Musket Miniatures entrenchments. They're rated for 15 or 25mm, but probably fall right in between both. The log retaining walls are more suitable to non-desert, pre-WWII fortifications, but I'm going to roll with that considering they'e done now. Maybe later I'll scratch build some concrete ones and religate these to other duties.

Finishing these will allow me to field my German Stutzpunkt and Australian Tobruk forces in our early war FOW North Africa escalation league. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Photographic Light Box

Like many wargamers, I struggle to get good photographs of my figures in the cold weather months when I can't use an overcast day to illuminate my figures. I've always wanted a photo light booth, but the prices have always scared me away. Recently I decided to finally spend the money and to my surprise, after doing some research I found this Cowboy Studio tabletop light box for under $40.00!
There are a lot of nice features, first it's portable so I can carry it to my club's game nights. Second it's inexpensive and comes with several separate backdrops. Third it comes with some portable lighting included. The lights that come with it are unfortunately not powerful enough to use to illuminate your subject THROUGH the transparent sides, but at the price, that's not a nit I'm willing to pick.

It's going to take me a while to get in the swing of using this portable studio, but even on the first day I'm seeing DRASTIC improvements. Compare these photos of my recently completed Seleucid Cataphracts to the photographs I took in my previous post. Night and day difference!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seleucid Cataphracts

These are two battle groups of Seleucid cataphracts for my  Field of Glory Seleucid army. The figures are Old Glory 15s. I painted these up with iron armor on the horses and bronze armor on the riders after consulting with several friends from my wargaming club. The popular wisdom is that the less expensive and more durable iron would be used on the chain mail and the bronze would be used on the more detailed plate and scale armor that the riders would wear.

I've painted one unit with red horse blankets and one with a more 'royal' looking rose color. This will help me identify each unit. These were surprisingly quick to paint as most of the detail work was done with an initial set of dry-brush passes over black primer for the iron and bronze armor. Detail work was added after those initial passes.

These two battle groups finish everything I need to field an 800+ point Seleucid army in Field of Glory with all of the options I might want to put into an army for either historical or 'tournament' play. Additionally I have enough extra battle groups that I can field a much larger Seleucid army to oppose my Roman army to recreate the battle of Magnesia. Finishing this army also knocks off another of my goals for the year - finishing my Roman and Seleucid FOG armies. December 11th - talk about coming in right under the wire!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

German Light Infantry Gun Platoon

This is another platoon for my early war North African German Stutzpunkt force. It is a light infantry Gun platoon consisting of two 7.5cm leIG18 infantry guns, a command team and a forward observer. These are Battlefront models and figures. from the leIG18 blister and some loose figures from my spares box for the FO stand.

This unit gives my Stutzpunkt an inexpensive mobile asset costing only 65 points. The guns can provide light AT support firing directly and can also shoot a template up to 48" allowing for an additional chance to suppress enemy infantry. At only two models I won't be getting many template hits as I'll have to re-roll misses, so I expect mostly to be using these firing direct over open sights.

This unit will most likely be used for low point escalation league games but may stay in my army kit bag when the points level reach 1500 or more points. They're still a fun unit to have and were quick to paint up due to the low figure and base count.

Monday, December 5, 2011

7YW Black Powder @ Adler Hobby

This past Sunday was our monthly Black Powder game day at Adler Hobby. The end goal is for the participants to use Black Powder to play 28mm Napoleonic games. While everyone is painting up their forces we're playing games using different people's figure collections for whatever historical period matches the figure collection we're using.

This month's game was hosted by Adam using his 15mm Seven Years War (7YW) Prussian and Austrian armies. For a learning game Adam was asked to come up with a smaller scenario. Adam designed a supply train raid scenario with a smaller Prussian brigade and a relief column of Prussian cavalry opposed by a raiding force of a larger brigade of Austrians. The Prussians were tasked with escaping off the far end of the table with as many of their supply wagons as possible. The Austrian goal was to capture the train by attacking it.

We were able to play two games. We opted to keep our sides for both games and after a day of gaming each team had one win. I'd say that's pretty balanced. The first three photos are from the first game, an Austrian victory:

These last two photos are from the second game, a Prussian victory.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Australian 47/32 Anti-Tank Guns

These are more captured Italian 47/32 anti-tank guns in use by my Australian force. These are deployed as a standard anti-tank platoon. They may be used this way, or as dismounts for my portee anti-tank platoon.  Since models don't exist for portee 47/32 guns, I'll have to proxy my 2 pounders when these are being used as portee guns.

These are Battlefront guns and gunners. The guns are from two Italian blisters and the gunners are mostly from my spares box, although there are a couple of figures that are head swaps from the original Italian crews.

The 47/32 gun is inferior to the British 2 pounder AT gun in two areas. It has a lower AT value and it doesn't have a gun shield. It is superior in one area though - it is able to shoot HE ammunition which will allow it to be used against dug-in infantry and infantry in fortifications. The 47/32 is also rated as man-packed mobility, which means you can move it around the battlefield fairly well without the use of trucks and you can dig it in to make up for the lack of a gun shield. For the Australians in early war North Africa I just though it was proper to have at least one platoon of captured Italian AT guns. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Australian 47/32 AT Gun Nests

These are two captured Italian 47/32 anti-tank gun pits being manned by Australian crews. I hope to eventually be able to use these to field an Australian Tobruk Strongpoint. I had already made my gun pits able to switch between '88' and 5cm or 2cm guns so painting up these two guns was almost a 'no brainer'. I'll be able to re-use any trench lines, mine fields and barbed wire from my German Stutzpunkt force as well as a lot of my Australian troops and armor to make a Tobruk defensive company. The crews are Battlefront gunners I had in my spares box and the actually gun pieces were a gift from my friend Gordon.

Below is a custom troop transport tray I made for my Flames of War army kit bag that holds all four of the gun pits as well as the extra German and Australian inserts. I used some extra blank foam sheets glued to a thin piece of plywood which I cut to the correct size to act as the bottom of the tray. Next up on the painting table is a full platoon of four Captured 47/32 AT guns for my Australian infantry company.