Friday, December 30, 2016

Team Yankee West German Panzergrenadiers and Marder SPWs

Obviously we have been on somewhat of a Team Yankee tear lately so I thought I'd round out the year's blogging with a few more posts featuring the wonderful WWIII selection from Battlefront. The final tranche of my West German Bundeswehr force features the Panzergrenadiers and their Marder armoured transports.

Unfortunately, the infantry castings I received in my two blister packs of Panzergrenadiers didn't seem up to Battlefront's usual standard. I know that their infantry aren't to everyone's taste, what with their exaggerated sculpting and oversized weapons, but I think they're great. They remind me that I'm painting and playing with WARGAMES FIGURES DAMMIT, not weedy 1/76 Revell plastics, if you know what I mean. Battlefront infantry are the 15mm equivalent of Dixon 28mm figures, with their barrel bodies and heads shaped like footballs. But I love Dixon figures for what they are, too - a connection back to my early days in hobby, pre-Internet, ogling the colour adverts in Wargames Illustrated.

ANYWAY... while the Panzergrenadiers weren't the best castings they were nevertheless adequate considering my brushmanship, so I just went ahead and painted the damn things.

Lots of MILAN teams to wreck a tanker's day.

The command figures are quite nicely posed.

Now then, if Battlefront's infantry come in for the odd critical word, the opposite must be true of their plastic vehicle offerings. I can't say as I've ever read a bad review. The Marders are just great models.

I suppose it shows Battlefront's confidence in the Team Yankee franchise that they've gone all-in with the plastic kits. I certainly appreciate this as the cost savings over buying specialist resin kits is substantial.

Crew and decals are provided for the vehicles too, of course. The kits went together easily and look great painted up as well.

Well... that's it for the Bundeswehr, for now. I've got Leopard 2s and PAH helos, M109Gs, Gepard AAA vehicles and Fuchs transports (God knows what I'll do with the latter) and now the infantry and SPWs completed. I suppose some Tornados might be cool, but I'm not keen on the looks of the Jadgpanzer rocket things or the other BW vehicles on offer right now. But maybe a few Leopard 1s to fill out a recce unit...?

Team Yankee: Don't give a Fuchs about no Gepards

My next effort in Team Yankee Escalation was two Gepard anti-aircraft artillery tanks.

Armed with twin radar-guided 35mm AA guns, you know the Gepard ("cheetah" auf Deutsch) is one serious MF-er. The 15mm Battlefront model is easy like Sunday morning to put together, with a resin hull and metal parts.

Sadly the guns don't elevate and are stuck in place. The radar dish can be positioned in whatever direction one likes.

The Gepard flakpanzer utilizes hull and running gear from the Leopard 1, and remained in service with the Bundeswehr until 2010. In our Team Yankee games the Gepards have been MVPs in knocking down pesky Soviet Hinds and even taking out Frogfoot ground attack aircraft!

Although not fielded yet in a game, my West Germans have seen some additional escalation in the form of three Fuchs armoured troop carriers.

These vehicles are organic to the Panzeraufklarungs (armoured recce) units. One in the troop can be armed with a roof-mounted TOW missile for some anti-tank capability.
Mostly I just like these vehicles because they're pretty cool-looking ;-)

All of the vehicles in this post were painted in the same manner as the Leopard 2s I posted previously. Of course, if you like the Bundeswehr, stay tuned for more German stuff including Marders and infantry!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

First Challenge Submission - 30k World Eaters

Troops of the 12th Legion, ready for action in GW's Horus Heresy
The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is back again! It's great to be back in the madness.  This submission was my first on to the Challenge, submitted just before Christmas.
Unit officer, equipped with power claws/back scratchers
When it comes to painting I don't do well with plans and I'm not much for focus, but I am hoping to come out on top of my 30k side duel, so that is where I am starting this year.  This is a unit of Space Marines and a Dreadnought from GW's Horus Heresy setting, known colloquially by nerds like me as "Warhammer 30k". 
These fellows are carrying small flame-throwers...tasty...
These troops are from the 12th Legion, known charmingly as the "World Eaters".  While the Sons of Horus have a sort of pride-of-place in my 30k collection so far, the World Eaters are there too, some of the first 30k models I painted.  I have had these models gathering dust for over a year, sitting with primer on them, waiting for brush attention.  Curt's Painting Challenge is always a good spur to tackle projects like that, so I did these guys first.  They are the first new World Eaters added to the roster since September of 2014...that doesn't seem long ago to me, but man, time flies.
Regular assault grunts
While the comically homicidal nature of the World Eaters does not represent the finest efforts of GW's writers, I'm not that mature and I still enjoy the Legion.  I can see the Sons of Horus hanging back while letting these guys go in first to absorb some damage before they swoop in to finish things off (and take credit for any overall success).
Some weathering and chips painted on to make them look a bit worn
The World Eaters are fun to paint and you can make them look a little rough and ready without spattering blood effects etc. on the models.  That is the effect I tried with this group.  White is tricky sometimes, and I had a few problems on some of the models, but they got some heavy weathering which helps the problems go away :) The Forge World decal sheet was extra handy for helping add little bits of character and customization to the models.
The infantry models are assault marines, sporting jet packs and equipped with heavy, short-range pistols and flamethrowers as well as the chainsword, the ubiquitous face-wrecking device of the grim and dark future.  
Rotary cannons are always the best in any sci-fi situation
The assault marine models are resin castings from Forge World - you can tell, as some of the jump packs have some appalling mold lines.  Forge World has great sculptors, but their casting quality is often indifferent at best...
Power unit at the back...not carbon neutral
The larger model is a Dreadnought, a heavy armoured support unit for the Space Marines.  The Dreadnoughts can be configured with a wide assortment of different weapons for different purposes.  It is armed with a Kheres assault cannon (rule: rotary cannons are always awesome) and a power fist to punch large obstructions rather directly in the face.  This is a plastic model from GW's "Betrayal at Calth" game - a bit of a disappointment in terms of how wooden it looks, not GW's best work, but certainly easier to assemble than the resin ones from Forge World.
Large power fist ready for large punching work
There are ten 28mm infantry models in this submission, but one of these models is a test model, painted prior to the Challenge, so the squad should be worth 45 points.  I can't remember what a Dreadnought counted for, so I'm thinking it's like an artillery piece - 10 points?  So that will be 55 points.  A small step toward my goal of 1000, and more importantly, a small step toward revenge against JamieM!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Battle Report - Chain of Command - Burning Tanks to Keep You Warm

It's cold outside, so warm yourself with this burning Panther, knocked out in "Chain of Command" action...note the pile of shock markers in the top left, marking the last known location of a Russian infantry section...

Winter has returned again to the Canadian prairies.  Winnipeg was hit a few weeks ago with its first snow storm of the season - relatively late in the year by local standards, but the 20cms of snow and winds socked us in nicely and we are now settling in for the long siege that is winter in the city.  Inspired by the snow, I wanted to stage a "Chain of Command" game set in the late-war winter on the Eastern Front.  I broke out the snow mat, and Dallas kindly supplemented this with his great assortment of snow trees. Ready to go!

We played in 15mm, and the scenario was number three from the rule book - "Attack & Defend".  While we did not specify a location or particular battle, a circumstance in the winter of 1944 on the Eastern Front with a group of Germans trying to fight their way back to the lines was not too hard to imagine.  So for this game the Russians would be the defenders while the Germans would be the attackers.

Some recent adds to the collection - IS-2s in roughly-winterized looks

Some of the German forces in the pre-game...
Dallas played the Soviet side.  His forces included an infantry platoon and two beastly IS-2 tanks.  Byron played the Germans, featuring an infantry platoon and a pair of menacing Panthers for backup.

Preparing for the patrol phase - the Russian defensive zone is marked off on the left side of the 6' x 4' table

After the Patrol Phase, the shooting got underway, with the scrap taking shape in the centre of the table.  Dallas managed to move two Russian squads into excellent position against one of the German squads, eventually wiping it out.  Meanwhile, the armoured elements for both sides entered the table and did their best to target some enemy infantry, although they found the "targeting" part to be difficult.

Russian section in position, ready to defend against the fascist vipers!

Even as the German infantry platoon received heavy punishment in the centre, the MG42s managed to dish out a pile of return abuse, and the arrival of another German squad turned the tables somewhat against the Russian infantry. One of the Russian squads broke - only to be cut to pieces by the MGs of one of the German Panthers.

German section takes up a covered position near the road

Looking to get a decisive finish, Dallas moved one of his IS-2s along the flanks and zeroed in on Byron's Panthers.  The move was a success, as Dallas scored a kill and the heavy 122mm shell blew one of the Panthers to pieces.  Meanwhile, Byron was starting to run low on infantry...the morale counters on both sides were slowly ticking downwards...

Russian foot sloggers make a dash toward the woods and new firing position
German infantry in action - this section would soon be wiped out...

Russian infantry squad in action - before MG42s drove them back, and Panthers cut them down

In the centre of the table, the bloody action continued.  Byron got the balance of a remaining squad into action against Dallas' sole remaining squad.   These brave Russians were caught out in the road, with no cover from the rending effects of an MG42...the toll was grim.  Meanwhile, Byron's remaining Panther took revenge on the flanking IS-2, blasting it to pieces with a direct hit from its 75mm gun.

German section takes up a position near a wood-line...

Russian and German infantry sections trade fire, while in the background the German Panthers struggle to target the Russian infantry
No fence will stop an IS-2...but trying to target that infantry in cover is sure tricky!

With the loss of one of the IS-2s, Dallas' morale counter ticked to zero, and the Russians were broken - but only just. It was a close fought game which could have gone either way, and with the unique activation system in "Chain of Command", you can never be sure.  Byron's morale counter was very low - at 2 or 3, if I recall - and the "victory" was a rough one at best, with the loss of one Panther and a significant chunk of the infantry platoon.  Very "Eastern Front", in my view...

Byron's remaining Panther gets revenge, and drives the Soviet morale to the breaking point; the burning tanks will keep everyone warm...

"Chain of Command" is a fantastic set of rules, one of the best out there.  The patrol phase still gives me a headache each time, but overall it offers a subtlety and unique ebb and flow to the action that I find compelling and engaging.   I particularly enjoy playing in 15mm, as the size of the figures and models meshes well with the "look" of the engagement ranges on the table.

This scenario could have been organized in a different fashion with the same models by using "Big Chain of Command" and parsing the armoured vehicles out to be their own platoons.  The tanks would have "done" a lot more, as they would have been able to use their own dice pools to activate. I think that would probably have been a bit too much for two players to keep track of, however, so we kept it at one dice pool per side. I also enjoy how the limitations on the command dice therefore make it a challenge for the players - sure, activate your armour, but maybe that comes at the expense of getting your infantry into a better position?

A big thanks to Dallas and Byron for playing.  Looking at the table still gives me the winter chills - hope we can get some more winter WW2 gaming in while we sit out the f@@%ing polar vortex this season. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge VII - Byron's Insane Plan

Well, Greg posted his grant plan for his entry this year to Curt's annual paint challenge and I kept meaning to the last few weeks but got sidetracked with work (real work) and prep for hobby stuff.  So, better late than never, right?

This year I once again entered at 1000 point goal, but after prep and cleanup and everything I have FAR more than that, and more coming in.... sigh....

So, here is my initial plan:
I am sure that it will not survive the first month, let alone the entire challenge, but I have to start somewhere.

Priority 1 - Dropfleet Commander and Kingdom Death

I have been excited for Dropfleet Commander since it was first announced, after all I am a huge fan of Dropzone Commander (the universe it is based in) and Battlefleet Gothic (which the rules are kind of an evolution of since Andy Chambers wrote the rules with the Hawk Wargames team).  Combine those two things and you have pure win in my mind.  The plan is to paint one fleet early in the challenge and the other later on.  That way I can start getting some games in with Mike, but not have to paint everything all at once.  
Just a small number of ships I have, but all that I have assembled so far. 
Not sure if I will paint the UCM or PHR first, I am leaning towards UCM first as
they will be simpler to paint, but I like PHR better so that may change.
I am planning to visit Curt sometime in January or February this year and they had such a blast with Kingdom Death last time I was out, that I figured I should get some figures actually painted so we can have a better looking game this time, or at least that is the plan.  I an even trying to get some Arena Rex stuff done by then to take with me as well, although that falls into Priority 2, and only if I can get it done in time, otherwise it will come later on.

Priority 2 - Epic 30k, French Dragoons, and Arena Rex

Next up are a few very different projects on my table.  Epic 30k and the madness that Greg has inspired just has to get done. I have several really nice vehicles and infantry models to paint and some titans on the way (probably not here until Feb, so they are down the priority list) and they are all 6mm so paint insanely fast.

The French Dragoons have been on my painting table for 2 years now, so its really time to get them done as well, even though I DREAD painting cavalry.

Priority 3 - DBA Swiss Pikemen, and some French Artillery

I also have a whole DBA army prepped and ready to go.  I have played the game with Dave Violago and really like the simplified nature of it, so picked up some Swiss Pikemen a few years ago, but they have sat in the box since then.  I have no idea if they are good/bad or whatever in game, I just wanted to paint some pikemen.  I am already regretting that choice though as I picked up the Xyston hammered steel pikes and have drawn blood on them several times while assembling them already!  I even stepped on a stand that I had sitting around waiting to prime and had 4 pikes stuck in my foot bleeding, that woke the household up, I can tell you!  Anyway, it is time they get done. 

Priority 4 and 5 - Everything Else

I am very lucky I have a patient wife, as I have WAY too many small unfinished projects kicking around.  This year the Priority 4 includes a second Dropfleet Commander force, some Epic 30k Titans, a 40k Tau Titan (which is massive, almost a foot tall!), some 1:3000 scale WW1 ships, a second Malifaux gang, more modern miniatures from Spectre, and lots of zombies (both from the Zombicide series and the Walking Dead game).

Theme Weeks
This year I actually planned ahead for most of the weeks and have things setup, so that will be a welcome change.  I am really tempted to do cowboys as east and samurai as west though, since the whole direction thing is relative (an "discussion" I had with Curt :-) ), but I will be civil and do them in the right category (or is it? After all if you are in Japan, the old west is east of you!).

WAY TOO MANY other things

I didn't want to get into everything on my list, just a brief overview of some of the key things.  As I mentioned at the top, I am sure the list will look nothing like it does right now by month two...  I have too many squirrels running around in my brain to stay on any given thing for too long.  I mean this list doesn't even cover the 28mm 30k stuff I have here, nor the bolt action, infinity, martian front, and 50 other game systems....  In the end I will be surprised if I get close to 30% of this list done, and everything else I do get done will be something not on the list.

I know for a fact that I will not get everything done as it comes close to 2200 points and I can realistically get 1000-1500 done in the winter, so planning just kind of got away from me here.

Oh well, let the challenge begin, and good luck to everyone else involved with it this year.  Have fun and keep the brushes flying!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Terrain Mini-Projects: Plast Craft Armory and MaxMini "God Box"

This weekend I didn't have a ton of free time for hobbying, but nevertheless was able to knock off a couple of small terrain items that had been hanging around primed/unassembled for a while.

 This little number is something I call the GOD BOX. It's a nifty resin item from MaxMini called the "Confession Machine" and isn't it just what the Inquisitor ordered???

 I gave it a simple paint job and weathered it a bit, job done. Should look nice on a Necromunda or 40K table.

I also built this - the "Armory" from Plast Craft Games, which I picked up from Maxx Collectibles at PrairieCon in the summer (!)

It was actually a neat model to assemble - all pre-cut and pre-coloured foam core. Extremely light weight and compact as it was all flat-packed, just like it came from IKEA. I figure it will make a nice addition to a Necromunda or similar post-Apocalyptic game as an objective building, or simply as scenery. Cheap enough at less than $20 CAD as well.  I think the translucent sign (included) is a very cool detail.

The model assembled fairly easily. I started off using white glue to assemble it, but quickly switched to superglue for the plastic-to-plastic joins. That worked much better. I cut a base from some plasticard I had laying around (essential, as the building isn't super-sturdy without it) and glued the model down. Last step in finishing was to paint out some of the more noticeable foamcore "joints" with Catachan Green and Death World Green, just to blend in the obvious white exposed foamcore bits at the corners that scream "I AM A FOAMCORE MODEL!!!"

As we're playing Necromunda this week, these models will get some immediate use. All in all, a fun and productive way to spend a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon. Especially while watching the DVR'd Habs game where they absolutely pasted the Colorado Avalanche 10-1!