Monday, April 28, 2014

15mm Egyptian Infantry Platoon, 1973

Tonight I finished* my platoon of Egyptian infantry for Conscript Greg's planned Prairiecon Yom Kippur War game.

The figures are from Khurasan, and the platoon is organized per the excellent information on the Khurasan website. Two sections of eleven men including one RPG, one RPD, and squad leader with Port Said SMG; one section organized the same way adding the platoon commander; and a support element of two Sagger teams and a mortar. The way the Khurasan packs worked out I ended up with three extra figures: one leader-type, an RPD gunner and a guy toting an RPG. Not bad.

The figures are excellent - just as you'd expect from Khurasan. Most of them (in fact all except the RPG gunners) are wearing the unique "assault vest" favoured by the Egyptian frontline troops in the YKW.

The troops also feature a good mix of poses. There are several obvious leader-types and lots of guys at the ready or firing their AK-47s.

The Sagger teams come in two flavours - prone...

...and kneeling. The weapons look very nice and they all fit well on a washer.

The support weapons pack comes with a mortar pack too, as well as a heavy machinegun (not shown QED)

The models were pretty straightforward to paint, too. I sprayed flat black as a primer, then painted most of the figure GW Calthan Brown as a basecoat. The vest was highlighted with Zandri Dust then Desert Yellow, while the sleeves, pants and helmet were highlighted with Deneb Stone.

Flesh got painted Dark Flesh highlighted with Dwarf Flesh. Woodwork on the weapons was painted Vermin Brown and the metal parts, Leadbelcher.

After this step the entire figure got a wash of Agrax Earthshade, and the component parts highlighted once more with the lightest tone - either Desert Yellow or Deneb Stone - save for the helmet covers.

I had a tough time figuring out how to do the camo covers for the helmets. I didn't want to make them too obviously "camo" but at the same time, wanted to differentiate them from the colour of the tan pants and sleeves. I ended up just stippling the Deneb Stone over top of the Agrax wash, leaving random slightly darker blotches showing through.
The last step was to paint the bases (Desert Yellow over Calthan Brown) and add GW Dead Grass and Army Painter tufts to taste.

And hey presto! Platoon complete - well, except for those pesky machinegunners. A quick trip to Home Depot or Rona will get the base sorted and they'll only take an hour or so to paint. These should be enough to play a Chain of Command or Red Storm! game, with tanks and tank destroyers added to taste.

*Obviously they're not "finished" as I've not painted the heavy machinegun and crew. Unfortunately I didn't have enough large washers on hand. So it goes...

Sedition Wars Project - Vanguard Update

This past weekend I finished three more special characters for the Vanguard: Captain Kara Black, Specialist Barker Zosa, and Corpsman Morgan Vade.

Zenithal highlighting: primed with Black P3 spray, airbrushed white highlights. Multiple thin glazes of Games Workshop Asurmen Blue, and Gryphon Sepia washes for the uniforms and weapons. These three figures were not in armour, so I used a variety of acrylic washes and thin glazes of oil paints to bring out the details of their clothing, boots, web gear, and accouterments. Oils included Sennelier's Peach Black, Mussini's Burnt Sienna, Winsor & Newton's Burnt Umber, Gold Ochre, Titanium White, and Winsor Blue, and several neutral tones from Weber.

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I used various shades of gray and white oil paints for the reflections off the blade of Kara's sword...

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...and Barker's tank top and exo-skeleton (with some rust stains added to the latter).

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The photos don't show it well, but I used thin glazes of a Weber light flesh toned oil paint on Morgan's gloves to make them look like latex over flesh.

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I now have a compact force of various Vanguard infantry and drones.

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The Strain are next in my painting queue, but I do have future plans to add to my Vanguard:

  • Three more plastic Samaritans from the boxed set and a Studio McVey resin Grenadier will bulk out the armoured Samaritan  infantry. 
  • To represent Gnosis Battlesuit Kara Black I ordered  one of Studio McVey's just-released resin heavy powered armour models. I love everything about this new line of minis.
  • Several of the in-game SW characters are based on other movie and TV franchises. To represent SW's Hexen Phaedrus (the android "Six" from the re-boot of Battlestar Galactica), I have a metal casting of Hasslefree's HFSF115 Gina. To represent Dr. Susan Ridley ("Ripley" and "Newt" from Aliens) I purchased a couple more Hasslefree figs, HFSF001 Signee and HFSF002 Billie the Hunted.

Legion Project - The Front of The Banner

Here is the front of the banner, Millsy!
In my recent post of pictures of my World Eaters Legion command group, I overlooked including a photo of the front of the actual banner on the standard bearer.  Millsy kindly asked in the comments for a picture of the front, so here it is.

I painted this banner to represent the banner of the 4th...what, I'm not sure - company? In 40k Chapters with their ten companies of one hundred marines each, you sort of imagine in your head that there might be one of these banner per company.  In a Space Marine Legion in 30k, with upwards of ninety to one hundred thousand marines in a Legion, how many companies are there? How many banners? The 4th Chapter then...let's go with that.

Naturally,the banner pole has skulls on the case of the World Eaters, though, I thought that made sense...

As I said in the original post, I improvised too much on this paint/decal job, and rather than appear imposing or intimidating, the banner just looks busy.  The front of the banner is actually quite a large space. I would have done better in hindsight to slap a great big frigging Legion symbol on it.  The would better suit the temperament of the World Eaters I think, and appear a bit more intimidating.  But that can wait for another time.  I'll do a better job for the Sons of Horus...

Friday, April 25, 2014

Battle Report - Chain of Command, 15mm WW2

A quaint village in Normandy, 1944
Last week Dallas hosted a Chain of Command game at his place just before the long weekend.  We played using individually based 15mm figures.  The scenario was set in Normandy in 1944, featuring a Canadian platoon trying to capture a small French village as part of their efforts to seize the airfield at Carpiquet.

Another view of the Village - from the German table edge. Those buildings are awesome! And check out the bocage and fields Byron has made!

Byron brought a load of stuff out for the game - his 15mm WW2 Canadians (you can see more of them here, together with some very nice PSC Churchill tanks, as an entry in Curt's recent Analogue Hobbies Painting  Challenge).  But as you can see from the photo, he also brought out some really smashingly done smashed buildings from 4ground.

The Patrol Phase - patrol markers move about, looking to pin down the other side.
As you can see from the photos, these buildings look pretty amazing.  Byron also brought some home-made bocage-type terrain and fields.  Combined with Dallas' existing and substantial terrain collection, this assembly looked pretty damn nice on a 6' x 4' table!

A close up of the awesome 4ground buildings - they are not cheap, and not the quickest to assemble (at least for me), but man - they are nice!

We played the "Attack on an Objective" scenario from the Chain of Command rulebook.  Byron and Jim took command of the Canadians as the attackers.  They had a platoon backed by an M4 Sherman and a Firefly, with it's deadly 17-pounder main gun. Dave and Dallas took the German side - an understrength Panzer Grenadier Platoon with just two squads, but backed by a tripod-mounted MG42, a 50mm mortar and three StuGs.

A little hard to see here, but some Canadians are in the church absorbing fire from Germans across the road.  They got very, very close to knocking out that German jump-off marker in the church

For those who may not be familiar with the game, Chain of Command is (like most of the rules I have seen from the Too Fat Lardies) not a "typical" set of rules.  The game begins with a patrol phase, where both sides try and maneuver markers that will ultimately be used to establish the places they can deploy in the game.  Once again, Byron has made this process more elegant - you may have seen recently on this blog that he is now doing some of his own laser cut products, and he has made some gorgeous custom tokens for the game!

Canadians approach the village - crafty German defenders await in the buildings

After the patrol phase establishes the "jump off" points for both sides, the battle gets under way.  Chain of Command is not an "IGOUGO" system.  Each turn is made up of a unknown number of phases, and the phases go back and forth between the sides based on how you roll your command dice.  A turn could last two phases.  It could last ten. Your side could go in one phase, and maybe go again, and again, before the initiative flips to the other guys. I call this rules approach "Turn Yahtzee", and it can produce interesting effects that have a serious impact on the game - and this one was no exception!

Firefly approaches for fire support
The Canadians went first...and went, and went, and went again! They "got" four phases, I think, and they used this to take a very very aggressive approach.  Now, just because you have a phase, it doesn't mean you get to use all of your stuff - again, it comes down to the Turn Yahtzee - so you might have rolled in a way to secure the next phase, but that means those dice - "6"s - won't be activating any of your troops.

MG42 team occupies a particularly nasty spot on the table
Byron and Jim went straight for the jugular, getting a Canadian section (i.e. a whole squad) on to the table and moving very fast toward the German jump off points.  Remember - you don't start with any models on the table, just jump-off points, the smaller tokens.  Byron and Jim gambled and ran the section right into the village, almost on top of the German jump-off tokens.  Dave and Dallas looked on with concern...and making matters worse, Byron and Jim were sprinkling a fair number of "5"s amongst the command rolls, accumulating pips toward a Chain of Command point...with that in hand, they could have ended the turn, removed the key German jump-off tokens and dealt crippling blow to the morale of the German side, all without a shot fired!

Canadian support elements under fire at the tree line...

And yet...and yet.  They were so, so close...but the Germans got a phase before the turn could end, and as these things seem to do, the dice gods "regressed to the mean".  The Germans appeared and, with the Canadians so close, exacted a frightful toll with their machine gun fire.  It kind of went downhill from there. And where the Canadians had a bunch of phases in a row, the Germans now enjoyed this good fortune.  Dave and Dallas deployed the German elements and spewed horrifying fire - backed by some wicked hot dice - out on the Canadians.

Canadian infantry advance into the village - the square base represents an NCO

Byron and Jim brought other elements on, but could not arrest the damage as the shock accumulated and casualties mounted. Canadian morale disappeared once the Germans earned enough Chain of Command pips to end a turn - with some Canadian elements on the run, they broke and that was that. Call up the artillery! Those Germans need a little more attention before the Canucks try again...

StuG rolls up to see what the fuss is about

Chain of Command is an interesting set of rules.  I am generally not a fan of the rules sets from the Lardies (card activation - gag!) but these rules offer a lot to engage with and are quite enjoyable.  They really make you think, to make decisions and engage in a little planning. They have an interesting ebb and flow to them. In this game the Canadians gambled big, came oh-so-close, but paid a terrible price when it didn't work out. Chain of Command will reward planning (and can sometimes reward gambling!) in a way that the more conventional IGOUGO rules systems never will.

The German MGs have turned their attention to the Canadians outside the village

Like any rules set, Chain of Command could use some fiddling.  For example, you can end up with casualties but no shock on your unit.  This was punishing for the Canadians - they were returning fire on the Germans and actually picked off quite a few of them, but because they rolled up a "kill" instead of a "shock", the pressure on the Germans did not build.  I find it odd that you can take kills but zero shock, and I don't think that makes any sense.

The balance of the StuGs arrive, but there was nothing for them to do...

Also, the German MGs are just horrifying in the game (which, of course, reflects how they were in the actual war after all).  The gamble-rush approach by the Canadians probably magnified this, but I am thinking some house rule mechanism should be in place. Curt mentioned that he has an idea to have the MG crew switch a barrel out or something...sound like a good place to start.

Finally the patrol phase, while novel, is sort of superfluous, and the calculations involved with placing the jump-off markers based on this can be headache-inducing (at least for me).  I think it would be just as sensible to place the jump-off markers in a defined zone with defined limitations - and get started with the game!

A big thank you to Dallas for hosting, Jim and Dave for playing, and to Bryon for bringing out all of his awesome stuff!  I look forward to playing Chain of Command again.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Legion Project - World Eaters Command Squad

World Eaters Legion Command group

More stuff from the recent Easter weekend - a command group to accompany the Space Marine Centurion I finished a few weeks ago. There is a standard bearer and two "chosen" marines to accompany it to battle.

Standard Bearer in Mark IV power armour from Forge World - you can't see the banner too well, but trust me - you're not missing anything there...

In my last post I mentioned that I prefer most of my Space Marine troops to look a little more plain. But for these fellows I wanted the full-on ornate look - seals, tabards, sculpted shoulder plates etc.  These are the elite veteran troops of a Chapter (and in the Horus Heresy, a Chapter is a sub-group of the overall Legion - very cool).  They have seen a lot of action, and have the honour of guarding the standard in battle, so they will have received fancy armour and very cool guns.

I tossed a Terminator honour on his shoulder pad...I figured a guy carrying a Legion banner would have been bad-ass enough to have racked up some serious time served in a Terminator company
The standard bearer figure is straight from Forge World, the other half of the two-figure Mark IV command pack.  I really kind of whiffed the workup on the banner with this is quite large, and I should have gone with a larger decal or symbol or something to dominate it and make it more effective.  This is what happens sometimes when you improvise too much, as I often do.  I tried to fill it up, but it looks much more busy/silly than "experienced" :) A giant World Eater's symbol, with a simple colour band or something would have done the trick...I may yet go back and repaint it at a later time.

If you are going to carry a 20-foot banner to a shooting war, might as well wear a really nice cloak too, right?
As I am sure many experienced 40k gamers/painters out there will already have noted, the "Chosen" body guard Marines are in fact mostly plastic figures from the current range - "Sternguard Veterans" - with Forge World Mark IV Power Armour helmets and Mark III embossed shoulder plates.

Space Marine "Chosen" - bodyguards for the standard bearer

The Sternguard figures, with their tabards/cloaks, were a pretty good style match to the Forge World Mark IV command figures, who have fancy crested helmets and big cloaks of their own. The plastic bolters are of course much fancier than the "Tigrus Pattern" bolt guns carried by the grunts, but again that suits the elite seniority these troops would have.

The sword is handy, because in the grim darkness of the far future, sometimes it is better to whack a guy than shoot him, I guess...

In fact, overall the Forge World legion figures mix and match very, very well with the plastic components from the "current" Warhammer 40k range.  It works the best with the Mark IV & later power armour, as they are quite close in look and feel to the Mark VII suits, but is still quite workable even for the older Mark II and Mark III armour suits.  That Sternguard Veteran box was a treasure trove of bits, many of which will find use as this project continues.

Again, I am addicted to the embossed shoulder plates from Forge World - I love how they look on these fancy armour sets

The Space Marine command elements really capture the proto-feudal-sci-fi feel of the 40k/30k genre.  On the one hand, they are large armoured warriors with scary guns.  But the fancy armour, the tabards, the banner...all really silly when you think about them in the context of a shooting war, but all still really interesting/fun from a gaming/fluff perspective. I hope the ornate nature of this command group will reinforce the somewhat more grim simplicity of the regular Marines.

The resin Mark IV helmets dropped perfectly into the plastic figures

I have 29 World Eater Space Marines painted now - enough to field a very small force for a game of 30k, even to plug into a bare-bones force org (one HQ, two troop and one heavy support).  I still have more World Eaters I want to add - a tactical support squad, an assault squad, a veteran marine squad, and some more bits like a medic, a comms guy and a Legion Champion.  I've already started building the next wave of figures and I hope I can start priming them by the weekend!  And while the primer dries, I am knocking off some more 15mm WW2 stuff...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Legion Project - Second World Eaters Tactical Squad

For the Emperor…for now...
I love the NHL playoffs, and I love the long weekend.  It's a good combination to get some serious painting done, and this past Easter weekend went very well.  I am finally getting a bit of momentum building up on my Legion Project, and a few other bits besides.  For this post here is a second 10-man tactical squad for my World Eaters Legion troops.

I'm hooked on these embossed shoulder pads from Forge World…
As with the other tactical marines, these models are wearing Mark IV power armour - the version of the Space Marine armour issued shortly before the Horus Heresy began (cautionary note - "shortly" in the Warhammer time frame could still mean like 100 years, but you get the idea).  They are carrying "Tigrus Pattern" bolt guns.  One marine is upgraded to carry some coms gear.  All of the models are from Forge World.

You can see some of the pigment powder used to muck up the armour at the feet
Painting the white armour has been slow going, but I'm finally getting in a bit of a groove with it. I also used decals here and there from Forge World's excellent World Eaters decal sheet, and used some weathering powders from various sources (I think they may have been Mig brand) as well as a sponge with some GW Stormvermin Fur to scuff up/rough up the armour.

As Byron mentioned in his post showing his excellent Death Guard (check them out - they look great), these Forge World models are far from cheap, but they are a lot of fun to work with.  Compared to the current plastics, they are a little more spartan (fewer skulls, eagles, badges etc) and look a little more uniform without being all exactly the same.

Marine with vox equipment is visible at the front
Some 40k players like to make all of their marines individual - the results are often beautiful, but I don't see the Space Marines as too individual.  In fact, the process of their creation - an entirely new set of genes, hard core mental conditioning, new organs, skin upgrades etc - seems specifically designed to eliminate individuality.  The individual Space Marines vary only in their specific approach to eliminating the Emperor's enemies as soon as possible (bolter? chain sword? heavy weapon?), their length of service, and the extent to which they brood about their job.
A couple of shoulder decals visible in this shot - roman numerals for the 12th Legion, the World Eaters
So I like the tactical Space Marines to look a little plain. Not identical, but a little plain, and Forge World sculptors delivered.  Markings? Sure. A fancy helmet for the officer? Sure.  Embossed chapter symbol on the shoulder? Well, yes - after all, there are standards to be maintained :)  But I like to save the ornate stuff, extra sculpts of eagles on the shoulder plates, artificer armour etc. for the senior officers and elite troops.

A Legion tactical squad has only bolt guns for armament - I think you can give something a little fancier to the Sergeant, but otherwise these squads rely on other units for support weapon fire (like, entire squads of support weapons - a little like the Eldar).  You can increase the squad size to 20 marines if you like! With the "fury of the legion" special rule, they can put forth quite a lot of firepower even without the special weapons.  This relative inflexibility reflects the Legion period very well - when your overall force is 100,000 Space Marines, 20 of them would seem like a very, very small group after all.

Up next I'll have some more Legion progress, and some continued 15mm WW2 painting.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sedition Wars Project - Mini-update

I just finished a figure representing Tech Comm Kara Black for Sedition Wars, using a resin master of Hasslefree's Sci-fi Scout Prototype 1.

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Zenithal highlighting: primed with Black P3 spray, airbrushed white highlights. Multiple thin glazes of Games Workshop Thraka Green (now Biel-Tan Green), Asurmen Blue, and Gryphon Sepia washes for the armour, under-suit, and plasma carbine, respectively. Visor under-painted in GW Golden Yellow, Blood Red, and Red Gore, then detailed and blended with Cadmium-Barium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Scarlet, and Titanium White oils.

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The lighter armour works for a Vanguard officer figure, but is not too dissimilar from the rest of the Samaritans' armour, especially the helmet.

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Some nice little touches on the figure, like the overall stance, and right forefinger's knuckle underneath the glove. Kev White can surely sculpt.

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In the game, Tech Comm Kara Black provides several "Tactics Counters" to the Vanguard tac-net during each turn, providing a lot of support to the infantry under her command. This game mechanic represents both combat skills and the networked capabilities of the Vanguard command, control, communications, and computing systems. I think Tech Comm Kara is a more interesting character than her clone sister, Captain Kara Black, the latter of whom is more the Hero-Hammer type of leader.