Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Normandy Firefight and a Warlord sale.

A couple of days ago my FOE ( Favourite Opponent Ever) texted me to say he'd found an excellent deal on a ruleset we'd been contemplating. The game is Normandy Firefight by Warwick Kinrade (also author of Battle Group series with PSC). It's a small scale skirmish game using between 1-5 combatants on each side. And most importantly Northstar had it for £2.50 (less than a fiver with postage). I splurged and a day or so later this drops through my door.

 It's relatively simple (basic maths and percentage calculations are needed) and yet quite elegant and initially reminded me of Phoenix Command (a game so beautifully complicated and 'accurate' it's damn near impossible to play) that had been streamlined and made more accessible. It is very dependent on terrain (like any decent skirmish games e.g. Infinity) but table sizes are small due to the overall scope. The game uses different stances and it's suggested that the ideal situation would be to have each character have a number of different appropriately positioned miniatures to represent it. Prone, Kneeling, Standing and also Running are all necessary. The author suggests 1/35 Tamiya or Airfix kits as they are accurate, detailed and relatively affordable. I couldn't find any I really liked though and decided to explore other options. Whilst perusing the Bolt Action forum I randomly looked at the web-store and starting investigating the plastics. It seemed possible to get 5 characters in all poses out of one plastic infantry box. The only problem was I was limited for theaters. None of the British or Late War Germans had prone poses so I had to choose between Early-Mid war Eastern front (the Soviet box and the Blitzkrieg Germans) or the P.T.O between USMC and Japan.

If you ever get the chance pick up either Battle Hymn or the E.T.O version Ambush. They are great, replayable solo adventuring at it's best.

The Pacific instantly appealed as I don't have any PTO stuff in 15mm (yet) (I love games like Ambush, Battle Hymn and Leatherneck - where you took a small group of characters through their part of a much bigger war). I did some mental shopping to realise that for less than £50 I could have a playable game. It got added to my mental to-do list or as an impulse splurge at a show. I'm prone to stockpiling and planning ahead so I can still find something to cut up,glue or paint when I can't afford any new toys.

Today I am gazing at the net after many long and arduous adventures to see that Warlord is having a sale on its individual sprues. A 50% sale. After some rapid 'add to cart' work I manage to get the equivalent of the two boxes worth of chaps for less than £30 all in (Just no packaging: something I'm fine with). Normandy Firefight and two complete forces (and the first 28mm WWII I've painted) for £30. A good search of the Lead Mountain and a visit to eBay should adequately pay for my shopping trip. I'm leaning towards a sandbox table with copious jungle and a few buildings (Sarissa precision have a nice set of P.T.O theater scenery). I've also realised I'd have an excuse to buy an LVT (strictly as scenery you understand) in a bigger scale (I have waterline and full ones for 15mm but still need more).

The one other option is in 15mm and from Peter Pig. You can do whole/late war germans vs brits as all the poses are available. This is something I'll probably buy into in the future as a portable set. Back to beheading and re-heading nazis whilst I await my postal supplies.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Peter Pig Heer Platoon

Having purposefully re-headed and based my Peter Pig Heer Infantry platoon (for Chain of Command) to use in my most recent gaming binge they were comically inept (It's interesting I apportion none of the blame upon higher command and my ability to roll amazingly bad dice in flocks on occasion). Having felt overwhelmed and generally stalled by the massed presence of my FJ's sat on my printer (all 123 re-headed and numerous conversions or bits of sculpting) I decided to attack this smaller force with gusto.

Based like all my other 15mm minis on washers using Gorilla superglue and modified bird sand, they were given a basecoat of Feld grau (Plastic Soldier Company spray can). I then blocked in the black, dark green, flesh, brown and grey parts and applied a liberal wash of GW's Nun Oil and Anthrax Sunshade. After it dried I lightly highlighted the soldiers, using either the original colours or a lightened version thereof, and lightened the base with light grey drybrushing. I'm trying to remember as I paint that they're for gaming not display and only need to look good on the table.

Whilst light grey seems an odd and, if not unrealistic colour (how much of WWII was conducted in Welsh slate quarries?), it does however make the model 'pop' slightly better when looking at it. The effect can be nicely muddied if you find it too light with the aforementioned brownish wash. With bright coloured spring/summer vegetation this effect can be increased and still make a correctly coloured mini that at once blends in and stands out on the tabletop.

The basic Chain of Command platoon minus the Pandashack.
A top down view shows the flower based squad differentiation: white squad, yellow squad and yellow/white squad. Other specialist chaps can have either as they're easily discernible from the grunts.
I have found during my introduction into WWII gaming in the last year or so information concerning WWII to be fraught with misconceptions and incredibly complex. If I've learnt one thing it's that everyone was a shade of brown/green/mud. Whilst it's at least an attempt to be realistic it's not great to look at or even paint. I settled on a colour scheme from a colour picture of a german force during WWII that I happened across on the net. I realise that someone may have hand-coloured the picture but it seemed to match up with how I thought they should be (through endless net trawling and absorbing osprey books). Also they had to be able to represent forces on both fronts from '43 to '45 as much as possible. I'm not going to have any less fun leading them into almost certainly assured disaster just because of their anachronistic in appearance. I've purposefully left the gaiters dark green (I believe that they would be faded in field use) because it means at a gaming distance these chaps could easily be wearing the long, riding style, early war boots if they have to fill in for chaps I don't have.

They've then been varnished using an old and at one time thought immortal can of GW Hardcoat. That stuff was awesome but presumably nasty as they stopped selling it (it's cynical to say that it protected your miniatures too well, so you didn't need replacements when they explode/melt/chip, and thus you weren't then spending enough for GW's tastes). Then Dulcote to remove the shine. Testor's Dulcote is excellent as its beautifully matt and goes on well in thin coats. It's also a good surface to paint on, meaning you can effectively protect your paint scheme, so when you get your hands all over your pride and joy paint job you don't end up damaging and crying.

It's not colossal progress but it is a small usable force which expands the variety of games and scenarios I can play drastically as my other force is predominantly veteran.
I wouldn't say the paint job is awesome but it seems pretty serviceable and looks good so far at table distance. If they prove themselves in future combat, I may even add further highlights and details such as the collars and shoulder tags. But for now they can stay at a decent tabletop standard. There is a small collection of supports cluttering my gaming desk including trucks, half tracks and additional lmg gunners to make a panzer-grenadier platoon (and allowing me to get the most use out of them).

I have some questions about the colours for a couple of things that I haven't been able to answer with google satisfactorily. I'm going to ask the venerable and knowledgeable TMP'ers to help me out (But they're repeated below in case anyone randomly looking at this can help).

What is the object on the officers left breast? I think its supposed to be a torch but it could be something else (Like a medal or compass). If you know or at least can take an educated guess please chip in.

 Next up I'm going to tackle the missing Panzershrek team and some more support options, although I'm nearly out of German heads, I'll then go back to painting the more complex FJ's. After that I'm going to allow myself to do some allies.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

My 4Ground North West European Farm.

I got this awesome kit from my wife for my birthday but hadn't got around to putting it together. Last week in a spate of productivity I managed to get it done over two evenings (whilst keeping my wife, who was busy working, company). I'm really pleased with this kit and it has definitely cranked up the quality of 4Grounds products.

Before the pictures however a word of warning: after the farm I put together the row of three terraced houses and in my obsession to gets the joins aligned and perfect (and the lateness of the hour) I swapped two of the fascias around. This means that there is a door where there should be a window and vice versa. It's not drastic and will only take the addition of a basic door panel to repair. In detailed kits like the farm (and the new hotel complex) there are detailing sheets that attach to the buildings to represent stucco, plaster etc. These are very delicate and porous so you do not have much time with the PVA before it's fixed. Take my advice and just be aware of this as something as simple as a slipped fascia may lead to extensive filing (swearing and crying).

A big box for a big farm.
A veritable mountain of MDF.

Pegs and Elastic bands are your go-to guys for 4Ground kits. It's useful to cut them down so they are more flexible. 4Ground helpfully provides a good selection of elastic bands.
The Threshing Barn

The Cart house and Granary
Nice detailing above the arches and good defensible windows.
Removable stairs provides access to the second floor.

The Hay Loft

I like the details of the beams and the floorboards.

The Farm House

A great building with nice details such as the corner stonework and plaque.
You'll notice the chimneys are missing, the ones in the kit did not line up with the angle of the roof at all. I'll have to contact 4Ground about this (or just scratch build them).

 Pig sty and Chicken coop

The pig sty and chicken coop is pretty simple and has a removable roof and stairs.


The dairy is a simple additional building that fits against the farm house.
I've not glued the roof so it remains removable.
To finish off a nice aerial shot with the kit assembled as shown on the website. You may notice I haven't built the walls yet as I am unsure of the layout or degree of permanency I'm looking for. 

This is a very well done kit, with concise instructions and makes an excellent range of buildings. Whilst I intend (I think) to eventually paint my 4Ground buildings to make them more realistic they are more than serviceable straight away. Next up I'm saving for the Hotel complex.

Thanks for reading,


Back on track (hopefully)

Last time I wrote anything was just before a frenzied weekend (actually one evening and a night). I'd built numerous vehicles for the impending Bolt Action clash. We didn't play BA though just Chain of Command and it was excellent. We ran a mini campaign using a simplified "ladder system" found in the campaign book "At the sharp end" by Too Fat Lardies.

As you can see more pictures are pretty pointless as it's all bare metal (shameful)

I had intended to take ample, beautiful photos of our games but just got distracted. I'd intended to write up an AAR too but my notes seem incoherent. I was totally absorbed helping my chaps survive and do the best possible. I lost the first two games and was beaten back to my outpost as a last ditch to stop the red horde. I believed that my senior leader was considering a less angry, less russian soldiery way out from the barrel of his Luger. But then I managed to snatch back a victory due primarily to my asset choice: Off table mortar battery. They were awesome and due to blind luck, nuffle's blessing and an advantageous use of a command die they slowed and then halted the Russian advance. It wasn't all good however: sneaky ruskies with a flamethrower managed to close with me due to an overlooked blindspot. They destroyed a squad and it's leader and the leader was permanently dead in the campaign. He had a name and a background (admittedly I can't remember it but that's not the point). I believe the disgraced officer and his few remaining loyal troops have been re-posted to siberia.

So whilst I didn't play BA, but I did get better at Chain of Command and learnt a few things too:

  • I now advance my Patrol markers into better positions and thus get better JOP's. Previously (and in the first couple of games) I'd advanced them as if they were my precious troops, sending them behind cover rather than in front of it, to secure the JOP. Stupid, I know, but I'm so used to sneaking my chaps and getting them the best cover it was automatic.
  • The campaign system is simple and fun. It makes you take more care over people and not get into pointless squabbles over a random rock or terrain feature, throwing away your chaps lives for little gain (I am prone to this).
  • Terrain is vital and so I'll be diverting some of my time to my terrain as I have to rely on my FOE's excellent scratch built stuff currently.
  • If I'm going to AAR anything FOE and I do then I'll need better lighting and a simple record system to minimise my time away from the game proper.
The men of the final match: forgot to bring mortars for their light mortar but did sterling work as a two man rifle team.

 For the game I had put together a regular Heer platoon for CoC and BA but they weren't painted in time. They are now sat block painted and washed, waiting for detail/highlighting. I've also built some 4Ground buildings and more vehicles for my germans. In the time AFK I've also sculpted a 15mm chap and painted my first sculpted 15mm chap: a viking I made in a night last winter). So I need to get going and get some pictures up. I've also been following the 40K rules rerelease that's going on and I'm hopeful: which is weird.

Here's a picture of my (now finished) SdKfz 222 from Zvesda to finish with. I'm really pleased as with just the most basic of conversion work (tarp and jerry can rack) it has lots of charm and character.

Thanks for taking the time,