Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Painting Challenge Wrap-Up, Part 3 of 3 - 20mm Odds & Ends

20mm WW2 Soviets from Elhiem
For my final entry to the Painting Challenge I just tried to finish clearing off the painting desk with some leftover bits from the projects that got me up and moving in the first place - 20mm.  I started painting some miniatures in this scale last fall, and finished quite a few more of them during the Challenge and I have been really enjoying working in this scale.

Up first are some 20mm WW2 Soviets.  These are spare riflemen from a pack of Elhiem figures.  As always, the sculpting can be a bit uneven, but the proportions are somehow still great, even compelling.  The tricks of the sculptor...fascinating!

More defenders of the Rodina

Ready to battle the fascist invaders
Up next is a more modern set - this is supposed to be a TV news team.  Once again, these are Elhiem figures.  I like having media figures as a "gaming garnish" on modern tables, but I find these sculpts are perhaps too ultramodern - I know cameras are smaller these days, but I still think most TV news people have shoulder mounted cameras.  Maybe that is just here in Canada...

"Reporting live from  20mm game..."

I tried to write "PRESS" on their helmets...that didn't really work...
One more Elhiem tidbit - this is a downed pilot.  It is supposed to be from a modern range, but could work in WW2 in a pinch.  Downed pilots always make for great objectives in skirmish games, as the ground pounders resentfully put their lives on the line to bail out some pampered flyboy...

Long walk back to base...
Great objective for games
And one more vehicle! During the challenge I painted a few T-34s for my WW2 Soviets, so I thought I would finish at least one Panzer for the Germans.  This is a 1/72 scale model kit from Plastic Soldier Company.  I can't say enough about how much I enjoy their 1/72 scale vehicle models - they are excellent.

1/72 Mark IV from Plastic Soldier Company
I HATE modeling the schurzen you can see at the back of the turret, I can never get them to sit quite right...
This is a late model Panzer IV, sporting the long 75mm gun and the schurzen plates, which from a hobby perspective make me !@#!@#!@ing bannanas as I hate painting them, then glueing them, etc.  But full credit to PSC - they make the process pretty easy/idiot proof, even for an idiot like me...

Very basic paint job

Ready for action in the eastern front
So that concludes another Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  In total I netted 1233 points of painting.  I easily exceeded my (low) initial target of 300 points, but in the end I did not achieve my (much more ambitious) revised target of 1500 points.  I finished in 18th place (just pipped by Byron - damn you!), which gives you an idea of just how much painting was going on out there around the world during the Challenge.  Byron and Kevin participated as well, with several excellent entries.  I encourage folks to go check out all of the entries (set aside some time - it will take a while!).  We'll see if Curt does another Challenge next year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Painting Challenge Wrap-Up, Part 2 of 3 - Solar Auxilia Lord Marshal

Lord Marshal for my 30k Solar Auxilia...what an outfit
The second entry from my sprint to the finish in Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is a Lord Marshal for my Warhammer 30k Solar Auxilia Force.

Nice cloak - and note the power cables connected to his snobby staff
The Lord Marshal is a supreme HQ figure for the Solar Auxilia.  Of course, Forge World has yet to release a figure to represent one in the range, but astute 40k types and Imperial Guard fans will recognize this miniature as the special character "Solar Macharius", which I think GW issued seven or eight years ago.  This is a 28mm metal figure (remember those?) from GW.

Remember metal figures?  I sure miss them...I guess I'm a grouch
"Solar Macharius" was intended to be a super-duper senior command special character for the GW Imperial Guard faction.  His backstory is not particularly imaginative and easily forgotten - basically he was really good at spending the lives of his men in well organized attritional military action, and through this capacity is thought of as a "great" commander.  I would chalk this up to Warhammer 40k's dystopian setting, but real history is littered with many such "great" commanders.

Cloak made from endangered space caribou pelts, no doubt
When Forge World released the Solar Auxilia, I immediately thought of this figure as a suitable senior command model, and tracked one down on eBay (it took a while to find one with a suitable price).  I quite like the douchebag aspect of this figure - super ornate armour, a staff with a freaking bust at the tip - which is "plugged in" to something no less, implying a possible use as a weapon or force field.  The prissy cloak, the big sword, the heavy pistol, the whacky helmet - I love it.  I doubt he could even lift the sword!
Waiting to be cut in half by a Traitor Legion Marine
In the 30k rules they try to talk up the "Lord Marshal" as some kind of bad-ass commander, but I imagine him to be much more of a politically-connected REMF-type figure from the Imperium's pre-Horus Heresy era.  While his Solar Auxilia regiment makes a grim last stand in the face of assaults by Traitor Legion Marines, this asshat is preparing PowerPoint servitor presentations about "Force Paradigm Shifts" and worrying about getting the proper leave codes entered into SAP. After all, what sort of twonk would dress like this anywhere ever in any era, much less near a battlefield?

Watch for some "blue on blue" fire to catch this fellow by "accident", assuming a Sons of Horus assault marine doesn't gut him first...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Painting Challenge Wrap-Up, Part 1 of 3 - Solar Auxilia Velataris Storm Section

For the Emperor! Solar Auxilia Velataris Storm Section troops from Forge World
The latest Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge has wrapped up.  Most of the participants tried to crowd several entries in under the wire - and I was right there with them.  Here was the first entry from my dash to the finish line - another batch of Solar Auxilia figures from GW's Horus Heresy story. This is a Solar Auxilia Velataris Storm Section. The figures are 28mm from Forge World. These figures are slightly heavier Solar Auxilia troops, meant to provide some "oomph" to bolster the basic lasrifle troops.

The Storm Section poses for propaganda photos
The Velataris Storm Sections represent a slightly more elite level of Solar Auxilia soldier.  Their armour is a little bulkier, and their weapon selection is a little more bonkers.  This section is equipped with Volkite Chargers, a type of energy weapon that is moderately useful in the game but, more importantly, looks pretty cool. 

Rear photo showing the crazy back packs
In the game you have the option to equip these models with flamethrowers ( all of them - 10 flamethrowers - insane) or heavy "close combat" weapons.  I find the overuse of flame weapons to be an irritating feature of the 30k/40k setting, and I love the look of the Volkite guns so opting for these guys was a no-brainer for me.  The "close combat" versions of these models haven't been released yet but I assume someone at Forge World is working on them right now.

Two Storm Section troopers

I just love these sculpts - amazing work by Forge World
As with the regular Solar Auxilia troops, these sculpts are another figure design home run from Forge World - they look the part of sci-fi heavy infantry without being Space Marines, which is what the Solar Auxilia are supposed to be.  They maintain many of the neat little steam punk-ish/VSF features from the other sculpts, but the armour is a little more involved.  The helmet looks heavier, like a deep-sea welder, and there are larger armour plates on the knees, shins and forearms. 

Storm Section leader; hard to see in this blurry photo, but he is chomping on a cigar; a nice little character feature; if you are going to wander around the battlefields of the 30k setting with your helmet open, you might as well enjoy it

The command figure of this group looks like a bit of a nutter - helmet raised, chewing on a cigar!  He seems to enjoy his job.  When he runs into the Sons of Horus, I expect he will wish he had his helmet sealed, but I do like the look of the figure.

Rear view of the Section leader
There is also a vox-caster figure with this group, and I like the look of him very much - nice animation.  On the one hand it seems silly to have a communications system that would require him to open his helmet (?), but I love the active feel of the sculpt, like he is ducking down behind cover to shout something along the lines of "We can't hold much longer..." before a Traitor Legion Marine heavy support squad renders them all to particles.

"Get us some help!!"
Great animation on this figure
These troops also have little lights on the shoulder section of their packs - a nice touch, although I wish they had not sculpted a grate over the bulb, as it would have been fun to add a lens effect there. Oh well - a small quibble.  Overall, I love these figures.

Two more Velatarii

You can see the grenades hanging from their belts - lovely details on this sculpt

With this section finished, my first Solar Auxilia "Tercio" is completed - 50 troops in all, two 20-man lasrifle sections and this 10-man storm section.  I'm feeling very pleased to have this bunch completed - the figures arrived in December 2014 so that is not too bad in terms of turnaround time.

My first Solar Auxilia Tercio - sorry about the crap photo, but that's iPhones for you...
The Solar Auxilia comprised a pretty big chunk of my entries (and points) for Curt's Painting Challenge this year, and I'm looking forward to getting this bunch into a game sometime on the Fawcette Avenue gaming table. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

French vs. Austrians 15mm Napoleonics Battle Report and New Warmat!

Last week, Greg had a great idea - Napoleonics. We haven't rolled out any of our 15mm collections for some time, and the arrival of a fancy new "warmat" from Barrage Miniatures provided the perfect opportunity.

Greg came up with an interesting scenario for us to play, using the Black Powder rules:

“It is 1809 and the War of the Fifth Coalition.  The Austrians are on the move against the French, but Napoleon and his Marshals are rallying their forces to seize the initiative.  We’ll play “Black Powder” with a scenario featuring a rear-guard confrontation near Landshut in Bavaria. Austrian General Hiller is falling back, but turns to defend against Marshal Lannes’ pursuit.  Will he hold the French back?”

As much as I was looking forward to pushing around some great-looking 15mm Napoleonics, I was also eager to start amortizing some new terrain. With encouragement from Conscript Curt, I ordered a warmat from Curt's pal Alf at Barrage Miniatures in Madrid, Spain. I'll be posting a review on the blog later, but suffice to say that Barrage was great to deal with and kept me well updated on progress (the mats are apparently quite labour-intensive to produce). The mat was certainly expensive but it's very high quality and as you can see from the photos, it looks great and elicited lots of comments from the guys. 

We also used the new "wheatfield" terrain I've been making, using an idea I stole from some chaps at Legio-Con. It's a sisal mat from IKEA cut into 1" squares and makes great looking fields for 15mm or 28mm!

Anyway, on to the game...
Conscript Frederick took command of the French heavy cavalry brigade. They deployed on the French left and aimed to sweep around the Austrian flank and hit them from behind.

Conscripts Dave, Kevin and Bill took the Austrian commands. They deployed a weaker brigade on their right (facing Frederick's cavalry) with the main strong infantry brigade in their centre (just visible in the background of the photo above). The Austrians kept their cavalry brigade and a battalion of Guards infantry in reserve.

Here's the main mass of Austrian infantry.

Helicopter view of the Austrian position, viewed from the French side. They placed a gun in the woods at top left.

Here come the French! We deployed our strong infantry brigade directly opposite the strong Austrian position, the idea being that we would pin the sausage-eaters in place while Frederick's cavalry swept around. Conscript Keegan took the weaker infantry brigade up the French left, just to the right of the cavalry. Check out the infantry moving through the fields - neat effect, eh?

Battle is joined as the French engage with musketry.

"Was is los???" The French cavalry sweep around and end up behind the Austrian lines. One of the French regiments has already zapped an Austrian battalion in the centre of their line, and bounced back behind the hill. (This was a bit of a snafu with our understanding of Black Powder, as the victorious French should have been allowed to sweep into the next Austrian battalion. However I personally think that the balance of the game as a whole benefited from this misunderstanding, as the French cav had been rocket-like in their flank march.)

Anyway, the Austrian arrived from reserve and their cavalry charged in on the French - heavy on heavy - while the Guards infantry lined up their muskets on the other French cav regiment.

Meanwhile, the French infantry continued to advance under heavy fire from the Austrian foot-sloggers.

The French have lost two battalions to shooting at this point and have to turn one to the left to refuse the Austrian flank pressure.

French cavalry have driven off their Austrian counterparts and are about to bounce off an Austrian square. Another slight miscue on our part - cavalry are not allowed to charge home on a square in good order...

A nice view of the fracas unfolding.

The Austrians are starting to really buckle under pressure from both directions.

Austrian battalion on the French left is eliminated in close combat while their colleagues behind are forced to form square.

The end... Too many Austrian casualties to allow them to continue the battle. French victory.

Thoughts... Black Powder is good fun and the battle rattled right along. However, the elastic time scale of battle, with the potential for multiple actions by one unit in a turn, had a real effect on the game. The French heavy cavalry brigade got some good command checks and was all the way around the flank and in the Austrian rear in about three turns. Although some minor rules snafus evened things up a bit, that really put paid to the game for the sausage-eaters as the French vise grip tightened. Even with that, though, the game was great fun and looked fantastic with the new warmat and Greg's exquisite figures.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hordes of the Things Mega-game

It's been a time of nostalgia, gaming-wise. In a follow-up to our re-fight of the battle of Heraclea, a little while ago I hosted a game of Hordes of the Things, the fantasy counterpart to DBA. Hordes, or HotT, plays fast but gives combat outcomes based upon the tropes of fantasy literature. We played HotT 2.0, dating from 2002.

The scenario saw a bunch of invaders from across the sea attacking some forces  and allies of the Remusan Empire (what if Remus had been the lucky twin, instead of Romulus?).

Below, Conscripts Frederick and Dallas command the Remusan alliance (re-purposed Late Carthaginian and Polybian Romans, with the Elephant acting as a HotT Behemoth). The Remusans were the defenders, so set up their stronghold near the centre of the south board edge.

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Facing them were an unlikely alliance of Britons and Elves,  run by Keegan and myself. The Britons wre represented by some Late Romans, with Cataphracts and Cavalry acting as HotT Knights, and a bunch of Blades and Warband. The Elves were a purpose-built HotT army I painted, a collection of beautiful castings from Chariot Miniatures, comprised of Shooters (archers), Magicians, Knights, and a Hero.

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The Remusans started north in a general advance, wheeling slightly as they peeled off some cavalry and light troops to contest the Briton western, right flank.

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The Magicians used up command points (PIPS) to cast their magic, forcing the Remusan Behemoth to flee.

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The Remusan Riders got stuck in against Keegan's Shooters and Riders...

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...losing one of their number to Briton archery.

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The Remusan Riders withdrew, in position to prevent the Britons from flanking the Remusan line.

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The Remusans then advanced their whole line into contact, trusting to their heavy infantry to carry the day.

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In a series of ever more unlikely, contested rolls, Keegan won the majority of combats. Key were his Knights and a stand of Warband, who quick-killed their opponents and pursued forward a base depth.

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On the Briton left the Elves formed up a line of archery as the Elf Hero formed his knights into column, to avoid the bad going of the farmer's field.

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A single stand each of Briton Knights and Warband turned the flanks of the Remusan centre. On the Briton right, a double-deep unit of Warband cut down a unit of Remusan Legionary Blades, but were in turn destroyed by the Remusan General ("That's how you do it, boys! Follow me!")

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However, Keegan was on a hot streak, and his two Knight and Warband stands ploughed through the Remusan ranks, leaving ruin in their wake.

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Meanwhile, the Behemoth got back in the fray just in time to get a fireball in the face, fleeing off the table from Elvish magic.

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The following two pictures of the stands lost by each side tell the tale:

The Briton losses...

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...and the pile of Remusan casualties, mostly killed by two those stands from Keegan's forces!

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I painted the Elves several years ago, at the urging of DougR, who also taught me how to play HotT, with his Goblin army. The Elf sculpts are great; these figures are barely 3/4 of an inch tall. They really capture the high cheekbones and sharp features of GW-style Elvish troops. They reward careful painting; so, I painted them basically as I would any 28mm model.

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The General is a mounted Magician in purple robes, accompanied by another Magician standing in a circle of mystic stones (made of putty). I recently painted up a Toad stand, which is what a Magician turns into if their magic goes horribly, horribly wrong!

(Click on the photos for larger pics.)

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The core of the force is four stands of Shooters, who in HotT shoot better than DBA Bow.

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The army's striking arm is an Elf Hero (actually an Elf spear man with a Knight's horse) and two accompanying stands of Elf Knights. One of these days I will put designs on the Knights' shields.

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I really enjoyed playing these simple, old games. I have since purchased the latest versions of both rules sets, DBA v.3.0 and HotT v.2.1, and ordered some Xyston Scythians. I hope to be writing about another Mega-DBA game in the not too distant future!