Thursday, 31 December 2015

Another Para Section, Sniper and PIAT

Been busy with the brush again! Here's the second section ...

Note that four of 'em still need basing properly ;-)

The figures are a mixture of Artizan, Crusader and Warlord.

A (Warlord) Sniper takes careful aim. He's actually part of Section three.

A PIAT team.

Almost there with a full Platoon for Chain of Command. The third (support) section are nearly done. After that I'll add some supports such as a medic, a Vickers, possibly a flamethrower team. In Chain of Command it's not common for the Paras to get a lot of support options so I'll only paint up a few. In Bolt Action these troops are quite expensive, so again there's no need for lots of options.

Last post of the year, so I'd just like to say "Best Wishes for a great 2016" to you all!!!

Matt :o)

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish you all a very Merry Christmas ...

... and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

1st Corps Figures - British Paras

I'd like to draw your attention to this lovely range of figures from 1st Corps. (Please note that the superb brushwork shown here is *not* mine!)
Photo from 1st Corps website.

You can find the whole range here: 1st Corps British Airborne Range

Typically, I'd already bought the bulk of my Paras from Artizan by the time I saw these, however there are still a number of items that I "need", e.g. a mortar, a jeep or two, some specialists, an AT gun, etc. Here's a few more pics to hopefully pique your interest.
Vickers. Photo from 1st Corps website.
Parachute Cannisters. Photo from 1st Corps website.
Recce jeep with Vickers K. Photo from 1st Corps website.
Parachute canopy. Photo from 1st Corps website.

I've recently bought the Vickers MMG, the parachute cannisters and a few extra paras. The figures are crisply cast and mould lines are practically non-existent. Delivery was speedy too! The regular Para figures are 8 for £8 so they're also great value.

I'll be using the cannister set as Chain of Command Jump Off Points. So if you're in the market for some British Paras then I'd heartily recommend these. Happy gaming!

PS - As you've probably noticed I've reverted the template back to one of the slightly 'darker' styles. I just couldn't get used to the 'white' layout!

Monday, 14 December 2015

More British Paras Completed

More painted paratroopers on parade! Here's the first section, ready to give Jerry a good biff on the nose.

The Rifle team, including an NCO with a sten gun.

Sergeant (with a very bristling top lip) and the Bren gun team.

Again, I've really enjoyed these figures. They're a mixture of Artizan and Crusader models. As promised, here's how I painted them (if you're interested).

The recipe:
  • Undercoat - Warlord British Uniform Brown spray.
  • Trousers - VMC English Uniform (921).
  • Smock - Foundry Moss mid (29B).
  • Helmet - Foundry Forest Green mid (26B). The attached camo strips and/or leaves can be painted in any mixture of greens.
  • Beret - Foundry British Redcoat shade (68A). Add a tiny bit of any dark red/brown for the base.
  • Flesh - Foundry Flesh mid (5B).
  • Webbing, packs, etc - VMC Russian Green (924).
  • Rifle - Foundry Spearshaft shade (13A).
  • Camo on smock - Patches of GW Scorched Brown (or VMC Flat Brown 984) and Foundry French Dragoon Green shade (70A).
  • Water Bottle - VMC Flat Earth (983).
  • Boots - GW Black then highlight with Foundry Charcoal Black mid (34B)
Then wash with GW Agrax Earthshade or Army Painter Strong Tone dip/ink (whichever you prefer). Make sure this is properly dry before continuing!

Now highlight with the original base colours. The next step is optional but well worth doing, apply a quick second highlight with the next colour in the Foundry triad or the VMC colour mixed with a little Foundry Boneyard light or VMC Dark Sand (847). Then I paint the weapons, cap badges, etc - just black followed by a very light drybrush of GW Leadbelcher. You could instead try a mid blue/grey instead of silver if you prefer.

Finish with a layer of good matt varnish such as W&N Galeria or W&N Artist's Anti-UV. I prefer the brush on variety. The basing was as described in the previous Paras post. Section number two and the PIAT team are well underway.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Building More Roads - Another Quick Tutorial

This time it's some cobbled roads. Ideal for villages, but usable anywhere. The basic technique is very similar to the country roads in that the sections are made from strips of cork tile. However, these road sections are much easier to make!!

This is what they look like on the table.
Some bold Germans despatch a Centaur that was about to interrupt the officer's party at the cafe. Svine-hund!?

My regular reader ;o) may recall seeing them from reports of a recent campaign to capture Monty. Anyway, quite a few people have asked how they were made, hence this post.

As mentioned they are strips of cork tile to which I have glued some sections of printed cobble-effect card purchased from my local model shop. Make sure that the card has a good matt finish as any shine will look odd. Paint the edges of the cork a mid-grey to match the card.

Here are the sheets; enough for 8 straight sections 27cm x 9cm and four larger areas, approx 27cm x 20cm, all for about £5.

Tip - to avoid curling, use as little glue as possible to stick the card to the cork. Make sure it's a good quality glue that has minimal shrinkage. Also, it's a good idea to place a few matchsticks or a thin paintbrush under the middle of the road section (laid cobbled side up!) so that any curling is offset as it dries, resulting in a nice flat road to finish.

Happy road-building! :-)

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Reveille 2015

Sunday 29th November was the day for LBWS's "Reveille" wargames show. I was lucky enough to be able to help out Colin, of Charlie Foxtrot Models, with his trade stand. Shows on a Sunday mean a rather early start but the enjoyment was worth the effort.

We arrived at 8:15am and were greeted by a couple of very friendly club members who helped us unload and carry all the stuff in to the hall. That's a really good thing IMHO. Clearly they want the event to go smoothly.

The venue itself is ok; I rather like the fact that it's spread across a main hall and then four or five smaller halls. We were in a room with Steve of Battle Studios and Sean of Little Ninja Painting. Both lovely chaps - it was good to have a natter with you guys, see you at future shows no doubt! :o)

Business was a bit slow to start with, but plenty of interest though. Then it seemed to pick up especially as people returned, after seeing the show, to purchase the items they liked. Sadly my pic of Colin's stall was a bit blurred - but it looked flippin' ace! CFM's range is now enormous - we had a 12 foot table and we were struggling to get everything on display. After the late morning rush it went fairly quiet, I guess that a show near Chrimbo and on a day with awful weather is going to have limited punter appeal?

Still, it was absolutely great to chat to people visiting our stand, find out about what games they play, listen to tales of glorious victory and just generally have a natter about all sorts of gaming and non-gaming stuff. I really enjoy that sort of thing. It's also good fun trying to persuade customers to buy that extra building or pack of tokens! ;o) You know they 'need' it! You're actually doing them a favour, they'd only go home and think "oh, I wished I'd bought ...".

Here's a few pics of some of the games on display. First was a very impressive Warhammer-esque game of aerial combat above an Imperial cityscape.

Here's a superb ACW display, Antietam possibly.

Next is a 15mm El-Alamein game - using Rapid Fire.

Finally, it's Rob with a War & Conquest demo set in ancient Greece.

I had a chat with some other traders, Rob of Scarab Miniatures, Annie the dice bag lady and wossizname (sorry!) of Warlord amongst others. They seemed reasonably pleased with their trading.

All in all a good fun day out.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Bolt Action - First Game

I recently headed west to a rather wet and windy Cornwall for a long anticipated weekend of friends and gaming with top Wargames Table chums Paul B and Colin (of Charlie Foxtrot Models).

I packed the car very early on Friday morning and headed off to work. Lunchtime couldn’t come along quick enough! The journey was fairly steady as there was plenty of traffic, however this did afford me the opportunity to appreciate the lovely Somerset, Devon and Cornish countryside. In fact I think the landscape gets even better as you head west. Gotta love the South-West!

We spent Friday evening drinking cider, chatting and playing about in Colin’s workshop where he keeps his laser cutter. What a marvellous piece of kit it is. Colin has a nifty CAD package so, amongst other things, we knocked up some designs for order tokens for Zero Hour (more in future posts I hope). Two blokes, plenty of cider and a workshop with lasers... Hmm!?

Saturday morning dawned crisp and clear; unlike our heads, especially the CEO of CFM. Say no more guv'nor! ;o)

First game of the day was to be my inauguration in to the ranks of Bolt Action players and I was really looking forward to it. I've wanted to play BA for ages. Like all wargames it has it's detractors but I wanted to make up my own mind. So here’s what happened...

I took command of Colin’s beautifully painted British Paras whilst he led his equally well painted Jerries. It was Normandy 1944 and the Red Devils were attempting to breakout from their initial lodgement around Ranville. I selected a 1000pt force based very much on my experiences with Chain of Command, with addition of a few support weapons. Colin (an experienced BA-er) fielded a similarly reinforced platoon. The scenario was simple (it was an ‘intro' game after all), just force the enemy from the field. We elected to place a little over half of our forces on the table with the remainder held in reserve.

Early in the game and the British are advancing cautiously; the PIAT team and the 2" mortar take cover behind the glider.

On the other flank the 3" mortar prepares to fire, whilst a section advance towards the woods on the right.

Colin brings up two of his squads to capture the barn and surrounding walls. A key building given it's central position and good fields of fire.

The German mortar stays behind the farmhouse and uses a spotter team to guide their shots.

After some fairly pants rolls to bring on my reserves ... they finally turn up!

The delay meant that the troops I had placed on the table at the start were being overwhelmed by superior German numbers. But now the Paras could get stuck in proper!

I used the 2" mortar to drop some smoke rounds to block the German lines of sight and hopefully allow my two sections on the left to outflank them. But first they had a SdKfz 222 to deal with. You can just see it lurking behind the big hedge on the far left.

Back on the right and Jerry is making disturbingly good progress. The Vickers gets ready to give them a good blast but it all depends on who gets the first dice out of the bag next turn - thankfully it was the Brits and Jerry got a good hosing of .303 rounds.

The vehicle on the right is a beautifully painted truck mounted AA gun and, just as in Chain of Command, it's a weapon to be feared whether you're on the ground or in the air! I nicknamed it the "Deathstar", and By George it was "fully operational". It was able to draw a bead on my para section and they were quickly pinned then broken.

The CEO of CFM gets firmly in to character by donning his helmet. :o)

That's it for the photos. The game ended as a winning draw for the Paras - beginner's luck I suppose? Anyway, it was a really enjoyable and relaxed game of toy soldiers. Especially considering it was my first game. Colin took me through the rules and explained various options as we went along. There were some great cinematic moments as troops broke cover pouring rifle and sten shots in to the enemy.

In the evening Paul and I played Kings of War. Now that is an interesting game; definitely worthy of further investigation! I used Colin's stunningly painted Ogres and Paul played with his gorgeous Empire figures (in Bögenhafen colours too!!).

The game itself is deceptively easy to pick up but this apparent simplicity hides an elegant and subtle set of game play mechanisms. Really it deserves a blog article of it's own! Anyway, it was very good fun, quite brutal and ultimately a hefty win for Paul's Realms of Men army.

Next day Paul and I played another game of Bolt Action (which I totally forgot to take any pics of - Doh!?). He led the Paras whilst I cooked up a Panzergrenadier list. It was another really good fun game. Paul's an experienced player of BA so I don't the result was ever in doubt; a solid win for Paul's Paras. Again plenty of Hollywood moments and plenty of laughs too! It was also quite an instructive game in the sense of seeing how to get the best out of fewer, more elite, troops. If only I'd taken some pics!?!

Now for my views on Bolt Action...

It's a game of toy soldiers (and a good game IMHO) not a historical simulation. I think it's fair to say the CoC offers a more 'realistic' simulation of the mechanics of warfare in this era. However, BA takes a slightly more "Hollywood" approach. If you grew up on a diet of gung-ho war films, Sven Hassel books and comics like Commando and Battle then you'll probably enjoy BA too.

Lists mean it's easy to represent a mixed or battered force and keep some sort of balance. Ok, lists also mean some wargamers will concoct some very un-historical forces but that's some wargamers for you - just don't play 'em twice! ;o)

Having an activation dice per unit doesn’t mean all units get to have a go. If you have a unit that is about to take some heavy incoming then you can opt for them to take cover; this reduces the effect of the enemy shooting but means they lose their go this turn. Also, once troops are under fire they must pass a morale test in order to obey instructions - fluffing one or two of these test can really confuse your plans!

Like Saga, the rules are straightforward enough to be able to pick up quickly but quite subtle in some ways, e.g. the order dice and considering which troops have already been activated this turn.

The weapon ranges are shorter than in other games but in the sort of dense terrain we favour in our games that shouldn't be a problem. If you play on more open terrain you may find this an issue.

The rulebook is well laid out and the game needed little rulebook referencing too.

In summary then, I really enjoyed playing BA and look forward to more games. I also really enjoy playing CoC. So I'll be playing both and enjoying both, just in different ways.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Another High Wood Practice Game

Dave and I decided to get together for another practice of the High Wood inspired WW1 demo game we've been working on. This was a much condensed version of the game as the table was limited to 6'x4', but it did allow us to try out the latest small tweaks that Dave has made to the Zero Hour rules; mainly movement and moderating the effects of artillery.

Here's the initial deployment.
On the left are the German trenches running through the wood.

Part of the British army, deployed in open order. The cavalry are being held in reserve.

A closer look at the German position. There's still quite a bit of scenery to be made (and figures to finish off!) for the demo, so in the spirit of good old-fashioned wargaming we just got on used whatever we had to hand.

The German counter-barrage finally starts to find it's targets.

Now the Germans are dropping bombs on the Tommies! In these rules the planes are not very effective but they are good fun and sometimes tempt the troops on the ground to waste some shots, blazing away in to the sky.

The British start to reach the woods but the first platoons to arrive have been badly mauled by the well prepared Germans.

Reinforcements advance on the British right.

Huzzah! Here come the cavalry hoping to exploit the 'breakthrough' created by the infantry. Hmm?

More reinforcements on the other flank. The first of the platoons from the Highland company arrive.

The Germans advance in to the wood in an attempt to dislodge increasing numbers of British. They've even dropped some gas shells in too - albeit perilously close to their own lines.

The fight for the wood becomes a ferocious scrap with close combats and short range firefights. Casualties rise quickly and soon both sides are exhausted without being able to strike the decisive blow.

Technically this was a win for the Germans - my Battle Objective was to hold the line whilst Dave's Brits had to either destroy the two best German companies, or achieve a breakthrough.

Another superb game of these excellent WW1 rules! It's great to be involved in the development of a set of wargames rules again. My thanks to Dave for coming round for the day, providing quite a few of the figures and generally being a first class chap!