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, 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

Having gotten the “ok” from Battlefront, 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.