Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Incoming - Heavy Mortar Platoon

Fresh off the painting table, a platoon of 4.2" Heavy Mortars complete with command observers and PIAT   team. At this stage I feel like I am getting the hang of painting infantry as I painted these all up ready to base in an afternoon. For my next batch of infantry I must try picking out pouches and webbing in a different colour and getting insignia patches on shoulders.

I must work out a way to capture better detail in the face

The motivation behind the mortars was smoke. However I have now used them twice and yet to fire smoke with them. In terms on offensive power they are not really able to recoup their cost having only take out one 8-Rad. That said the forces they have been fielded against have been fully armored, they should be more effective against infantry and half tracks. In the long run if it turns out that all they do is drop smoke from time to time I will switch them out for their smaller 3" brethren whom cost quite a bit less.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fighting the Monday Knights

In an effort to get some practice in with my British I have been hunting around for a club with regular Flames of War players. After a little searching I found the Monday Knights Gaming Club with their Melbourne group  not to far from where I live. After organising a game on their forums a couple of weeks ago I went along last night to one of their regular meetings.

Straight off the bat I was very impressed with the friendly and jovial atmosphere. The majority of the club was planing the big final battle of their tank ace campaign but they still took the time to introduce themselves and make me feel welcome. Over the course of the night I managed to get in two games.

The first game was against a German Armored company which included about nine or ten Panzers, a small unit of infantry and limited air support. Despite destroying the majority of Panzers the result was a 4-3 loss as I wasn't fast enough moving on the rear objective and he easily captured it. There was a brief moment where I could have won by breaking his company but I am happy with the massive destruction or German armor.

Sherman tanks surround the Panzers

The second game was also against Germans, this time an Armored SS company including two Panthers, eight Stugs, two 8-Rads and recon infantry. The missing was dust up and my fortune here was that the first turn assault into my infantry by four Stugs resulted in one bogging on the way in, bailing two in the combat and then the last breaking (despite the re-roll for a near by company commander). From there with some fortune and helpful assistance of a my Typhoon I was able to take out the Panthers and just hang onto my objective long enough for the Churchills and Shermans to clean up the battle field. The end result was a 6-1 victory by breaking the German Company.

As closing thoughts I am reconsidering what I include in a list, the heavy mortars while able to provide smoke, spent all their time dropping rounds onto tanks with low success only managing to take out one 8-Rad. Additionally the infantry had a hard time dealing with tanks, the were pretty safe from the shooting but generally unable to effectively return fire. If my purpose for the mortars is only to provide smoke then I may be better off taking the 3" man packed version for 30 points less. Either way I need to invest into some Better Anti-tank defenses perhaps a small unit of 6 pounders.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

./' The wheels on the 8-Rads go round and round... ./'

Completed now are the four 8-rads I started working on Tuesday. I'm very pleased with how they came out-- and even got to use the a bit today in my first full 1750 points game with the rest of my Feldhernhalle Panzerkampfe Gruppe.

Overall? Not too bad. I only lost 1 the whole time, and only because I got too cocky with my recce moves.

Blazing fast on roads/cross-country. Worthless in other terrain. 

Worthless in any sort of terrain, but blazing fast on cross-country or roads.

I've started work now on the Wirbelwinds-- having completed the turreted portion of each. I hope to have these three ready by the end of the week as well. From there it's just 7 more tanks and an infantry platoon I hope to finish to be ready for Gencon.

No aircraft? No problem. These are points not gone to waste. 

Loving these guys. Totally worth the points.

The Wirbelwinds were especially painful. When allowed full rate of fire and the hull machine gun, it's a mess of MG dice that was doing a decent job at taking infantry out of their defenses. Keeping an 8-rad group nearby when there isn't air cover over head means robbing your opponent of his gone-to-ground and hitting even easier.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Slow Grind of Progress

Distractions are at an all time high in the summer, but I've still managed to make some progress on the force I still plan (and hope) to have fully painted in time for Gencon.

The King Tiger of yester-post has been completed and remains one of my favorite tanks I've painted to date. In addition I've also completed a half-battery of Nebelwerfers and started on a rather ambitious camo scheme for some 8-rads.

Nebelwerfers should be standard for any Late War German Army. These "Fog Throwers"
are the cheapest option available for smoke barrage and infantry in the open. Also a steal
at just over 100 points. 
I dislike using the airbrush so I prefer hard-line camouflage where possible. I'm
very pleased with how the King Tiger turned out. 
I used pigments to created the scorched effect around the rockets. Nothing fancy.
Black pigment is one of the few that will remain with a "diffused" look after
a matte varnish is applied. 
A sneak peak at the progress on my 8-rads. Unfortunately this camo pattern
takes me about 1 hour per armored car. 
It occurred to me while painting that in most cases the recon attachments to a company were, in fact, from a different company themselves. Compared to the rest of the armored units I have painted I decided that I'd start to branch out and use different camouflage schemes where it made sense that a different "attached" company wouldn't look identical to the rest. The end result might be a little discordant on the board, but I think it will liven things up a bit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Churchills - Now with more mud!

Three Churchill heavy tanks ready for battle!
After my last post on the Churchill tanks I went back to the remaining two and implemented what I had learnt from the first one. I added more highlights, number decals on the turrets, used a fixative on the weathering powder for 3D mud effects and increased the volume of weathering.

Once the second and third were finished I had to go back to number one and bring it up to standard with the other. End result, three battle tested Churchill heavy tanks to provide strong fire support for my Infantry. Now I just have four more tanks, three universal carriers, a heavy mortar platoon and some objectives and I am ready to run.

Heavy mud weathering effects on the tracks.

Unit markings on turret left side.

Yes that number is a decal, thanks to the wonders of "Microsol" you can barely see the edges.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Post Vacation Painting

I've made it back and settled in from my 2-3 week furlong in Germany and finally settled in to some painting. While in Berlin I took the liberty of looking up a few friendly local gaming stores (FLGS) to see what our German counterparts are up to across the pond. What I found wasn't wholly different from what we have in the States'-- though I could argue this was probably one of the best gaming stores I've ever been too (though I would and have come to expect the same out of Chicago or New York for similar). 

The King Tiger. He's slow, but he hurts. 

Anyway, dice karma would dictate that a K√∂nigstiger purchased in Germany should roll nothing but 5's and 6's, so I picked one up. I've never had any serious aspirations to run a King Tiger in a competitive list, but there are a few playful lists I've always wanted to add one too. It's certifiably artillery and air support bait in any match-- but if someone tries to duke it out over long range it's definitely a fight I'm going to win. 

Either way, the King Tiger proved a fun distraction to ease myself back into painting. I've be itching to get back to the brush but just couldn't manage to decide on a place to start. Once the King here is done I plan on refocusing my efforts on a half-sized Nebelwerfer battery (smoke machine), and then hopefully wrapping up 7x Panzer IV/70 V's before Gencon to run a fully-painted Feldherrnhalle list (of which the King Tiger can definitely join.) 

I've only got about 1 more shortish' sitting with the King Tiger left. I've only to finish the tracks, dirty it up, clean up a few lines and seal before I'm calling it done. I've also gone with a completely different scheme of camo from the rest of my tanks just so I didn't have to break out the airbrush. I could be a little happier with the paint job, but it came out well. Even at a distance it sort of breaks up the pattern of the vehicle and makes it difficult to really see-- which is its purpose I suppose. 

345 points of the most expensive bait you can buy in Flames of War.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Churchill Tank

In the era of Churchill tank British tank doctrine called for three types of armored fighting vehicles. Fast light recon tanks, heaver cruiser tanks and heavily armored and slow Infantry Tanks. The Churchill fit into the third category and as such was one of the heaviest allied tanks. As an Infantry tank it's role was to provide mobile support for advancing infantry just as the earliest tanks back in World War 1 had. It featured wide tracks and a high number of wheels within the tracks, as a result it was able to cross quite treacherous terrain.

 The Churchill saw service across multiple theaters and was adapted to suit multiple alternative roles. These included recovery vehicles, mobile bridges and a platform for a 290mm mortar designed to level fortifications.

Churchill VI Showing Turret Markings

The Models
Several variants of the Churchill tank are available in the Flames of War range. My force will include three Churchill VI. I have chosen a desert colour scheme and included unit markings as well as turret stripes. The turret marks are not historically accurate but the plain turret looked too boring. The colour pattern of red white red is actually the colours for the Royal Armored Corps. When I am able to get some transfers I intend to add more unit markings as well as vehicle names.

Churchill VI Showing Unit Markings and Weathering

I also tried out weathering powders on this model around the tracks as well as around the exhaust vents. You can see some of this in the images however the overall effect is a bit better in person.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Infantry Complete

British Rifle Company

After about four weeks of painting I now have a legally playable force with a HQ and two core platoons. The process of painting them defiantly accelerated towards the end when I had a whole platoon tacked to sticks and I started to build up a nice rhythm. All laid out, like they are above, it does feel like quite an achievement but I am still very excited about the tanks. In fact I have already started and will be posting pictures of my first Churchill Infantry Tank very soon.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

First Blood - British vs US

So over the weekend I got my first game of Flames of war at my local club. With a few substitutes I managed to field a 550(ish) point British Rifle list against a US Rifle list. Although I have watched some of the Battle Front training videos my opponent Viv has a few games under his belt was gracious enough to teach me the rules as we went.
British Rifle Platoon Faces off with a US Rifle Platoon

We had a mix of units on the table both fielding infantry and tanks with the US supported by some Mortars. I learnt a few things, firstly that infantry are pretty hard to kill especially when they are holed up in a building or dug in and concealed. Secondly that assaults are devastating and far more effective at getting the infantry out of buildings.

US Rifle Platoon rushes in to assault the British
The verdict? Very positive, I really enjoyed my first game and have found additional motivation to keep working on painting the rest of my infantry so I can get to the fun part, painting the tanks!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Infantry

My first platoon as well as the Company HQ are now complete and I am quite happy with the results. It is hard to get lots of nice detail into something 15mm high and also tricky to stay within the lines.

Infantry Platoon with Company Command

I tried a few things on the first batches of infantry, most important was whether to base them and then paint them or paint them and then base them.This is especially pertinent considering that a Flames of war base could have five infantry on it and bases require puttying to get them looking nice not just some sand and flock. After attempting both options I have settled with painting them off the base, but with four or five attached to a stick, as it is far to fiddly to paint in among five infantry men.

Full Infantry Platoon with Company HQ

I decided to go with a desert theme as I had initially wanted to do a mid war North Africa list but settled with late war to increase the available player pool. As such my army isn't based upon a real unit or company from North Africa and will probably spend most of its time fighting on Europe themed battle fields.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Step One - The Maths

My first challenge is coming up with a simple list that I can quickly assemble and paint, so for simplicity sake my first army will be based on the generic “V3 Forces” British Rifle Company. This means that I need one Company HQ, two Rifle Platoons and then I can add a variety of support teams such as tanks, weapons teams and artillery. Thankfully last weekend I managed to pick up a second Late War British Rifle Platoon so when combined with what I already own I now have the models to field a legal army.
British PIAT Team in Desert Fatigues - My first completed infantry stand

This totals around 20 stands of infantry and 80 individual men. Initial experimentation has shown I can paint about 5 models an hour plus prep, basing and touch up time so I can expect the infantry to take approximately 16-20 hours to complete. At around 6-7 hours of painting a week I hope to have them done in two to three weeks. With a total time of 12 weeks available this will leave me in good steed to ensure that I can get some support units painted and have time to spare for touch ups, a practice game and the development of a transport system.

So with the mathematics under my belt time to button down and get painting. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finished - Soviet Recon

I got the opportunity to put on some paint on my roto' and hang them off the German captured half-tracks as the Spetznaz that make up my Lend-Lease Soviet Tankovy Recon platoon. I'm a bit embarrassed with the final paint job on the passengers, but unless you get close there isn't much sloppiness to take note of.

Soviet Recon, Spetznaz Stands not included.
The originals without passengers can be seen a few posts below this.

Next up is finishing 7 similar German half-tracks (crew are already painted and waiting) at which point I can then field 2 full Armored Panzer Grenadier Platoons.

And from there? Tanks. Probably tanks.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

EasyArmy.com, or how a few dollars spent can save you over a hundred.

Let’s be perfectly honest—Flames of War has one of the more steep barriers of entry than most miniatures games out there. Battlefront has made improvements by leaps and bounds to improve this over the past 2 years, including the most recent additions of the “Hobby” and “V3 Forces” books bundled with the main Version 3 rule book. Oftentimes that work goes wasted as a good portion of budget-gamers opt for a starter set which omits the majority of these great beginner-friendly resources.

This could happen to you too. 
Admittedly I don’t have an exhaustive list of sources to back up all my claims, but I’ve spent enough time in the pillars of these online war gaming communities to notice that a trend with beginner war gamers is simply not knowing how to construct a basic list from start to finish.

Systems such as Warhammer 40,000 put this in the basic rulebook—expanded upon by supplements that offer fairly straightforward rules for how to purchase and field units with options.  For your average war gamer whose impulse is to buy some cool-looking figs’ and put them on the table, the chart that Flames of War offers isn’t the most intuitive format.

As a result, the online communities have come up with solutions such as Army Builder or customized Excel spreadsheets to help in list construction. While none of those options are bad, the stand out from the crowd is easily EasyArmy.com.

Having gotten the “ok” from Battlefront, EasyArmy.com is able to use many of the same graphics you’re used to seeing in the Flames of War supplements to offer an intuitive experience with its UI that will also cement your knowledge of building lists straight from the book unassisted. Beginners learning list construction from Easy Army will be able to turn to their books and discover what was once difficult is old hat (and what are old hats if anything but comfortable?).

The "V3 Forces" lists from the latest version 3 rulebook are completely
free to use on Easy Army, so take advantage of it. 
This is only a peripheral advantage of the system though. The real savings doesn’t come in the ease-of-use, or even the cost (most supplements offered through Easy Army only cost a dollar or two.) The true benefits arrive in being able to construct and deconstruct everything you might want to purchase ahead of time.

Before you even purchase the book/supplement you can spend a dollar or two and discover the lists to see if it’s even worth your wallet’s time. You’ll be able to explore the numbers of the units, the layout of the companies offered within, and from there easily decide to purchase the book or any of the options offered within.

600 points for 2 Elefants?! What a deal! There's half my list right there!
From there a whole new world of options opens up to your budding Flames of War players. Want to construct that horde of German PzIV’s? You don’t even have to buy them from Battlefront! Plenty of other companies offer a functionally identical product for a fraction of the price. Many of these companies even create products which by some accounts are even better than what Battlefront offers—this brings the “cost of entry” into Flames of War to really reasonable levels for a tournament-approved company or two.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jared - The Beginning

A similar welcome from myself as well! Having been a Flames of War evangelist for a while now, I thought it high time that I put some words where my mouth is and contribute a bit in the form of a blog. When Ben asked if I would be interested in co-authoring with him I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share some of what I’ve worked on and also motivate myself through the mountains of lead and resin that sit behind my hobby area.

I started Flames of War a little over two years ago after a year spent trying to paint up and build an army for Warhammer 40,000. I could complain all day about the Games Workshop’s system, but at the end of the day it all really came down to complaints about scale. 15mm might be a bit abstracted in terms of range across a 6 x 4 ft. board, but the scale at which everything operates just feels right to me—and that’s what’s kept me at it the past few years.

It took some searching, but this was some of the earliest
forays into painting Germans. 

I’m also a bit of a WWII nut, so take that as you will.

I’ve played Flames of War long to have undergone a few evolutions in how I prefer to play the game. When I first started out I tended towards defensive lists and defensive units for an otherwise entirely reactionary, defensive game. While this is a perfectly viable strategy, I’ve grown to really enjoy aggressive themed lists that either win fast or lose fast. I don’t think any Flames of War players out there will argue how much more exciting an aggressive and fast-paced game plays versus two players picking away at each other from the safety of their trench lines for 15 rounds.

That said, I own a pile of partially-painted Germans and some Russians that can fit just about every situation.

This is a example of my most recent painting (Russian Tankovy.)
You can't tell from the first picture too much, but I've come a long way.  

The Goal

Similarly, I want to have a few fully-painted but well balanced list options for when I face off against Ben at Gen Con this August. Between now and then I aim to wrap up my brief foray into Russian Lend-Lease Tankovy that I picked up to break up the German painting monotony then return to wrapping up my German Lehr/Armored Panzergrenadiers. From there, I hope to finish some armored options of which to bring along as well.

I’m already sitting on a pile of modular terrain which I plan on bringing to Gencon to help flesh out a table when the evening gaming sessions commence—so I have a bit of a head start in not needing to worry about any of that.

The Plan

Summer is coming full swing here in Illinois, so I won’t set the expectation that I will make awesome progress, but I hope to be able to share something at least weekly. I’ll also have a bit of leave of absence coming up soon as my wife and I escape to Germany for a few weeks. That being said, I look to get the motivation and paint flowing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ben - The Begining

Welcome to the Blog Jared and I plan to create as we battle our way through the process of turning piles of metal and plastic into the parts we need to recreate the battles of World War 2 using the Flames of War game system.

The first Flames of War model I painted a Panzer 38t as a gift for a friend

Why Flames of War
While Jared is a Flames of War player of some experience, I am new to this game system and more importantly new to the 15mm scale used in this game. My previous experience has been with Warhammer 40k/Fantasy, Malifaux, Dystopian Wars and Warmachine and while I still love those games there is something unique about Flames of War. First is the scale, Flames of War allows you to more easily create a large scale battle with multiple tanks and hordes of infantry. Something I hope to be able to do, but perhaps not in this first installment. Additionally Flames of War is based in reality, no lasers, dragons or or armored super soldiers wiping the field. I know for a lot of people reality might make it harder to play or understand Flames of War as stems from real wars where people actually fought and died. However World War two is also History and hopefully by playing this I can learn more about it and in some way I can pay homage to people involved.

The Goal
My goal first goal is facing Jared (and hopefully some other players) over a table with a British force in mid August at Gen Con. This will require a fully painted force (personally I can't stand using unpainted models) and secondly it will require some knowledge of the rules. For me, this blog will primarily be exploring the painting and building aspect however if I am lucky enough to get some games before August it may include some game write ups.

The Plan
Currently I have a very basic understanding of the rules and a pile of models of which one tank and 5 infantry are painted. Each week I will be working on painting some of my models and posting up my progress.