Friday, April 18, 2014

Black Powder ACW Game Photo Dump

Last weekend some friends and I got together for a Black Powder American Civil War game.  It has been about 6 months since we have put on a big game and it was great to see it back on the table.  W played a simple meeting engagement with 3 brigades to a side.  Tom created some random unit generation charts and we tried them out for the first time.  This randomizes the number of regiments per brigade, the size of each regiment, the troop quality and the special abilities of the unit.  This worked pretty well and is likely to be a regular feature of our ACW games.

Here is a quick photo dump of the game.  Sorry for the lack of photo editing and resizing but my laptop is in the shop and that make things a little tough.
















Friday, March 28, 2014

More Tiger I for Flames of War

 A couple of years ago I acquired three late Tiger Ie tanks for a sweet price.  I painted them up and added them to the collection but I really had no idea what to do with them.  To make matters worse I was not playing any late war armies and as a result they never made it to the table.  With the release of the Bridge by Bridge supplement for Flames of War I found a use for these tanks as well as a reason  to buy even more - Kampfgruppe Hummel.

The core of this army list are Tiger I tanks.  But they are not your usual killer Tigers that FoW is know for.  No Tiger Ace skills, no wide tracks but they do get Unreliable and Confident Trained.  The tanks are only 149 points each, which means you can have lots of them but the lack of abilities means that they are just tanks.  In late war armor 9,8,2 is not really very good.  Even with these drawbacks the idea of fielding a company of ten Tigers was too much to resist!


Here we have the next three Tigers for this force.  These are all Battlefront models.  I would have gone with Plastic Soldier Company if I did not already have three BF models.  The BF models are pretty good but they are starting to show their age (as are nearly all the BF metal/resin  models).


The company commander is the Michael Wittman model from Battlefront.  I was really disappointed in this model. I was really hoping that this would be a variant of the standard Tiger I model but it is actually the same one you get in the blister.  For this model I used the commander figure from the old GE072 Tiger I from BF (this is the old Kursk Tiger that is OOP). 


With all the hatches open there is no doubt as to who the boss is.  The only problem with modeling the tank this way is that it is hard to turn the turret - but it looks cool!  On this tank I tried to model the front fender extension in the up position.  This was a pain but it turned out OK. 



The next tank was modeled with no fenders. It turns out that this was extremely rare for Tigers.  It seems that these tanks were really babied.  Since this force if for late war and comprised of salvaged tanks it seemed appropriate.  If anything the other tanks are in too good of shape but I plan to use these for several different armies so it is all good.



 The last tank in this set has lots of extra track section added.  This may be a little a-historic but I did find examples of this (just not all on one tank).  With the power of the late war guns it seem logical that any extra protection would be welcome.  The 17lb gun really makes short work of these tanks.

Next for this project are four more Tigers.  The plan was to do these as the early Tiger I and paint some for Eastern front and at least one for Tunisia.  I am thinking that I might get one more of the late Tiger and then build a couple of franken-tigers as these were very common with KG Hummel.  These are Tigers with a mix of early and late features reflecting their cobbled together nature.

It never ceases to amaze me how good my models look in person (IMO) and how bad they look in high resolution photos.  Just proof that my camera is better than my eye.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Happened?

OK, it is late March and I just realized that I have not posted in nearly 2 months. I really try and post 3-4 times a month mainly as a way to keep me motivated.  And therein lies the problem, lack of motivation.  It really shocks me to realize that I have yet to paint (completely) a single miniature this year.  It is not as if I have been doing nothing hobby related, I just haven't been painting and posting.

So what have I been doing?  Well, February was spent with Bolt Action.  From the end of the Shifting sands Kursk event until the beginning of this month I played lots of Bolt Action.  I started by doing some test games in preparation for Gathering in the Desert 2 day tournament.  Then there was the event itself followed the next weekend by yet another BA tournament.


The Gathering event was a blast and was really one of the best weekend's gaming ever. I went into the event with the idea of taking lots of photographs and making notes of each game.  I planned to do several posts just on this event but, as it turns out, I managed to take pictures of the tables only.  I have included three of the best in this post but they were all top notch.

I would love to share with you shots of the cool painted armies (all the armies were painted).  I guess you can just go to http://gatheringinthedesert.blogspot.com/ and take a look at what Tim has posted.  There is also some coverage on Tim's blog as well as Jeremy's blog.


Randy also did a couple of videos of each day's happenings.  Day 1 and Day 2

All of this Bolt Action action has done a couple of things.  First, it is time to step back and play something else for a while.  The plan was to get in some SAGA and then back to Flames of War.  That has not panned out and we just jumped back into Flames.  We have a new player that Tim and I are helping to get into the game so we have been doing small, 600 point battles.  This is a great way to learn the game and refresh the rules.  The other result of the Bolt Action action is I have decided to build my Perry 8th Army figures and fully flesh out an army.  They are just too good to ignore and the Perry's have been adding lots of cool stuff to the line.

Time for a confession, one of the biggest reason for the lack of hobby progress and updates is due to the evil of video games.  Just after the first of the year I started playing Fallout New Vegas.  As a huge fan of Fallout 3 I just had to play this game.  Turns out that it has managed to eat about 200 hours of my life that I will never get back and I have nothing to show for the investment (other than my PS3 trophies).  Please, please, please stay away from the video games.  They will destroy your hobby life.

Hopefully, I am back on track for some regular updates.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Shifting Sands 2014 Kursk


Last weekend I have the privilege of playing in the Shifting Sands 2014 Kursk event.  Shifting Sands is an annual Flames of War tournament hosted by the Arizona Desert Rats Flames of War group.  These are 2 day, 5 game events that have a theme and frequently include a strategic campaign.  This year was Kursk and the event included a modified Firestorm campaign.


Ideally, an event of this size and scope should get a very in depth report.   Frankly, I forgot to take pictures of most of the event and without the pictures the report just isn't the same.  Instead of the detailed blow by blow I will cover this at a high level.

There were 38 players for the even an there was almost and exact balance between Germans and Soviets.  One German player volunteered to play on the Soviet side to even things out.  This, of course, resulted in some blue on blue games.

Before the first game each side divided up and nominated their general.  This turned out to be an exercise in avoidance for most of the German players.  I might have been willing to be the general if I had had any idea what they might entail.  Having never played in a Firestorm campaign I really had no idea how this would work.  As it turns out the campaign aspect was one of the weaker parts of the event.  So much so that after the first round I had no idea what was happening and very little concern for it.  I just focused on my games.


Being a Firestorm campaign, there were, naturally, Firestorm units.  This was a cool part of the event as these Firestorm units were provided by the event organizers.   Each one was on a paper plate with the unit details glued to the bottom.  This made a nice carrying tray as stat sheet in one.  The types of units available ran the gamut from armored trains, Heavy Tanks, air support and dice roll bonus.

The assignment of these units was a bit of a mystery.  There was no rhyme or reason to it.  The decisions were more or less arbitrary decisions by the General.  There was a rule (for the Germans, not sure if it was an event rule) that you could not have the same unit more than once in the event.  Fair enough but it was not universally observed.  Oh well.  For me these units were of little consequence and I will get into that more later.


Another cool aspect of the event is how air support was handled.  Air power was a big part of the Kursk battle but our 1500 point lists could not include any air support.  Instead, in the 4 of 5 games that included air support each player rolled on a chart provided by the TO to determine what level of support.  This would be a basic air asset such as a Stuka.  If you had a Firestorm unit that was air it was an upgrade and you rolled to see the support level.  This was really cool as it basically gave everyone an extra 100+ points to their force. I would end up having mixed luck with air all weekend but anything it did was a bonus.


As some of you may know I took a Panther Company to the event.  At 1500 points there is really only one way to build this army.

HQ - CO Panther and 2iC Panther
Combat Platoon - Three Panther
Combat Platoon - Three Panther

That is it, exactly 1500 points.  I wanted to take this list as it really fit the theme as Kursk was the combat debut of the Panther and I did not want to spend a bunch of money on a new army.  I was advised by several good players that I might want to stay away from such a one dimensional list. This seemed like good advice but I really wanted to play this army.  After my first couple of test games I started to feel like 'that guy.' This list just eats Soviet armor for lunch. It seemed like the army was almost unfair even with only 8 tanks.  Then I tested against some Soviet infantry armies and realized that things would be MUCH tougher than I thought.  I did not beat any infantry armies in testing.  This thing was far from automatic and now I was worried.


As fate (or the TO) would have it my first match up was against a huge Soviet Strelkovy Battalion.  I don't remember exactly what was in it other than a BUNCH of troops and a full Artillery Battalion!  The mission was No Retreat with the Germans attacking.  This was the only game where I would get a proper Firestorm unit - Gepanzert Pioneer Platoon with Otto-Ernst Remer.  A nice little 350 point bump to my force but, unfortunately, I had no idea what to do with these guys and ended up wasting them.  In the end I lost this game 1-6 but really felt I should have been able to get one or two of his units.

Because the Germans had done so poorly in game one game two had the Russians attacking in Breakthrough.  I was up against a Rota Razvedki company.  This was going to be very tough.  To make matters worse the Russians got a full battery of 85mm Heavy AA guns for the Firestorm unit.  My Firestorm was +1 to reserve rolls - yeah!  The Soviets started with both scout platoons on the table dismounted along with the 85mm AA and a battery of heavy mortars.  In reserve was an M3 Stuart company, an SU-122 company and a company of Sappers.

My plan was to use my air support to pin down the Soviets and maybe take out the guns and mortars while I fell back onto the objectives.  Once out of range of the immobile guns I would be able to take on the Soviet reserves.  The fight was epic! and as it would turnout my plan worked - 6-1 win.

Game three was against a Soviet Assault Gun Battalion, which was one of the custom lists for the event.  The scenario was a modified version of the Blind Domination scenario (found here).  I will not spend much time on this one.  I lost and manage one Soviet platoon destroyed 2-5.  Good opponent but not a very good scenario.  Oh yeah and I didn't get a Firestorm unit for this game.

After the first day I was sitting at 1-2 with 9 points and about 900 kill points (total value of enemy units destroyed).  Not a bad showing but not quite as good as I had hoped.  All in all it was a great first day and I was excited about day two but I really had no expectations of placing.

Game four turned out to be Surrounded with the Soviets defending (good!).  This was due to the fact that the Germans had managed to regain the strategic initiative after games 2 and 3.  This time I would play against a Guards Heavy Tank Regiment with Churchills!  This was a match up I could really do well against.  The Soviets did have a Sapper company as well as a Firestorm unit of Cossacks (dismounted).  Once again I has no Firestorm unit.  No worries.  I killed the CO and everything on wheels and won 6-1!

Game 5 would be Fighting Withdrawal with Soviets defending.  For this game I was matched against a Tankovy Battalion.  This would be a very interesting.  We both got air upgrades for Firestorm units and these would be key to the game.  Conscript T-34's are really no match for Panthers and I was able to methodically destroy the Soviet force.  I did loose one Panther to air strikes (and might have lost the game if I had lost any more) and one platoon to a well placed Soviet ambush.  German win 5-2!

After 5 games I was beat but happy with a 3-2 showing.  I really had no idea how everyone else was doing but I was sure that with 38 players 3-2 was not going to be good enough to place.  The first place, best overall, was a German player but I did not see his results.  Then places 2-11 were all Soviet players!  Wow, the Germans got punked.  I was in 12th place overall and as luck would have it I was the second place German and since German won best overall I won Best Axis!  Wow, not at all sure how that happened.  Pretty damn cool!

I played 5 fun games against 5 good guys I had never played against.  Then I won some Soviet tanks and basically had a great time.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

15mm Panther D

This is my 1500 point Panther Company for the Shifting Sands Kursk event.   This army is a mid-war army from the Eastern Front book.  It is exactly 1500 points and is the bare minimum for a legal army.

The models are all Plastic Soldier Company Panthers and were quite fun to build.  As I mentioned in a previous post, you need to be careful when building these as the instruction are not correct when building the ausf D and A.



So far I have played 4 test games and I must say these things are hell on wheels, especially for Soviet tanks.  The only loss I had was against a Soviet infantry force (Guards) and even that was a bloody slugging match.

Hopefully, this will perform just as well at the event as it has in the test games.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year, A New Milepost

It is time, once again, to take a step back, take a deep breath, and think about what the heck I am doing - hobby-wise.  For me, this is an important annual exercise that helps me mark the passage of time as well as the evolution of my hobby interests.  Like most gamer bloggers my ability to predict the future is not very good but that does not reduce the value of the effort.

I want to start off by reminding myself that this is about my hobby.  This is what I do to keep the, sometimes oppressive, real world from taking me over.  Modern life moves fast and we are confronted with real (or first world) problems everyday.  Sometimes our ability to exert control over these 'real' issues is limited.  My hobby is one part of my life where I can feel like I am in control (even if it is just an illusion).  OK, enough of the metaphysical BS.

Flames of War

Looking back it has been nearly 4 years since getting into Flames of War properly.  I did try to get started in the game back in 2004 or 2005 but I only managed to collect a few tanks and a couple of books.  2009 is when I really got to play.  In the years since Flames of War has replaced Lord of the Rings and Warhammer 40K as my main game and I don't see it loosing the crown anytime soon.

This year I expect big things from this game but I must admit that I don't really have any specific plans.  Tim and I have been talking over what direction we would like to go this year.  So far Northwest Europe in 1944 is winning with the Arnhem battles being the focus.  The new Bridge by Bridge and Market Garden books are really great and allow for some of the most interesting forces I have seen for the game.  The setting also has the benefit of lots of supporting materials for inspiration.  Late war is always easier to get new players into and we have a couple people who might be joining this year.  It helps that the Open Fire set is specifically for this campaign and there is a Firestorm Campaign also (if you can find it).

Tim and I have committed to playing in Shifting Sands 2014 which is a two day themed event.  This year the theme is Kursk.  Since both of us will have new mid war German armies it would not be too difficult to add some Soviet stuff.  At some point the Eastern Front will have to be done.

The new Fate of a Nation stuff for the 6 Day War is probably going to get some of my money this year.  The new models are amazing and I would love to eventually have an Israeli and an Egyptian armies.  Most likely I will buy a few things this year but not make a big push...but who knows.

Battlefront has a teaser for a new period and I think it will be World War One.  This is an era that I have wanted to game for a long time but have failed to jump in.  If BF does WWI it might be a good thing that I doing already have a big collection.  It will be fun to see what this turns out to be.

28mm World War II

Bolt Action will continue as a good alternate game for me this year.  I will be playing in the Gathering in the Desert event in February.  I will be playing my Fallschirmjagers and I don't really have much to add to this army right now. I am sure that as the event gets closer I will get in a few more test games.

As for painting and collecting I have lots of stuff in the paint queue already.  I would like to flesh out my British Paras this year as I already have models to paint for this.  I would like to get some of the Warlord plastics and try them out.  I will probably get some of the Germans as my old Black Tree Germans are getting a bit long in the tooth.

As much as I have enjoyed BA it is far from my perfect 28mm WW2 game (don't ask me what my perfect game would entail as I don't know).  This means that I will keep my eyes open form other rules.  Chain of Command is very high on my list and will likely see the table (as soon as I get the rules).

Black Powder

This game will continues to be a popular group participation game this year.  Hopefully, we can get in several ACW games this year.  I still have lots of ACW figures to paint so I am sure I will make some progress with that.  Our group is also looking at expanding into Napoleonics later this year.  I will be expanding my French collection.  Stay tuned for something in the 1814 campaign.

Hail Caesar

I need to make a much stronger effort at converting my Dark Age armies over to this game.  I already have the figures I just need to work out the units and perhaps rebase some figures.  I am sure we will get in a few more group games of this and I really need to spend more time with the rules.  It is a much more detailed game than BP and takes more time to get familiar with the rules.  I hope to get a 28mm Dark Age battle on the table this year.

This game is inspiring me to add a new 28mm army to the collection.  For the last couple of years I have been dreaming of a plastic Greek army.  This year I will try and at least collect the figures.

SAGA

I played a coupe of games of this last year and really had a great time.  I purchased the rules and one of the expansions and I really hope to play this a lot this year.  I already have figures so it is just a matter of putting on the table.  If this one catches on I might build a new army specifically for the game.  The Gripping Beast plastics must be purchased and used.  I am unsure how I have managed to resist this long.

Kings of War

Tim and I have talked about this game for a couple of years now.  It seems like a fun and fast game that does not take itself too seriously.  The models that Mantic has produced are really nice.  I have a strong need to build an Undead army.  This nice thing about this game is how easy it is to adapt an existing collection or a collection of other companies minis to the game.  I can see using my WAB armies for this or even building an ECW army to fight against an Undead army.  I might even be able to use this as a way to get some of my LOTR figures back on the table.  If time permits I just might get to this.

X-Wing

What can I say about this great little game?  It is a blast to play and easy to learn.  There is not painting required and no super expensive upgrade mechanism to get tons of cash from you.  Just buy the box and whatever ships you want and go.  Fortunately, I now have almost everything for this game so it will be easy to get in lots of games this year.  The wife and the kids like it so I should get in lots of games this year.  Some of the local shops have been running events and I might have to try that part of the game out.  The older I get the more a game like this appeals to me.

Other Game Goals

Over the last couple of years if have been thinning out my collection of unpainted minis as well as terrain.  Since I no longer has a game table at home I have no need to lots of terrain, or not as much as I have in the past.  I have also been coming to grips with the fact that I have lots of projects that will never see the light of day and I just need to get rid of some of this stuff.  Much of the money freed up by this has been reinvested in the game hobby some has gone to other interests.  I see this downsizing continuing for this year.

Other Personal Goals

These are probably the most important goals I set for myself this year.

First of all, I need to a be a better person and a better friend.  I got into gaming years ago, as a way to make friends and enjoy common interests.  Gaming has introduced me to some of the best friends I have ever had and lots of other really great people.  When I got in to miniature gaming 15 or so years ago I was very active with local game groups.  I made it a point to get to the shop to game a couple times a week.  I worked hard to find new people and introduce them to the games I loved.  I was not an extrovert but I was much more social.  Then personal tragedy struck and suddenly gaming seemed so silly.  My depression made me push people away and I kind of pulled into a shell.  I began to loose touch with lots of people that I have been friends with for a long time.  I stopped going to the shop on a regular basis and I stopped trying to meet new people.  The new people I did meet I did not make much of an effort to make a connection.

This year I hope to change that.  It will take time as I have managed to take my reason for being anti-social and I have turned it into an excuse.  Being a recluse has become a habit.  I need to make time for people who are important to me and I need to be more outgoing.  I need to stop waiting for someone else to kick me out of this funk.  I need to stop compartmentalizing my friends and I need to find ways to interact with them that is not strictly game related (sounds like a good reason to have a BBQ).  I am not a big fan of situational friends and I need to stop treating people that way.  I feel that I have already been making progress on this towards the end of last year but I still have a long way to go.

Another personal goal for this year is fixing my 'gamer physique.'  Yes, I have a weight and conditioning problem much like others in our fine hobby.  I am getting to an age where this is impacting other areas and I need to fix it before the real problems start.  I won't waste your time with the gory details (you are probably familiar with them).  I doubt I will spend any time on this topic on the blog but it is something that I will be working on and maybe at the end of the year I will have some good news to report.

On that note, I need to take a walk.  I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - The Year as it Was

It is hard to believe that another year has passed.  I find, as I get older, that time passes faster and faster.  I don't feel like I have slowed down but rather the world is moving quicker.  I guess this is natural.

Anyway, I played lots of games this year and had high hopes back in January.  As usual, what I thought I would be doing this year might not match too closely with what I actually did.  Let's take a closer look...you know you want too.

Bolt Action

I predicted back in January that this would a be a big game this year and it was.  I got in about 15 games making it the number two game for me this year.  I also managed to paint some more figures for my Fallschirmjager army.  I bought some Perry plastic 8th Army figures, but you know how that turned out.  I managed to collect all but the Japanese book as well.

It was a good year for this game and I expect that will continue.

Flames of War

It is not too surprising to me that this is, once again, the main game for the year.  I managed to get in a couple of dozen games.  This included a El Guettar campaign that Tim and I played.  This ran from February to June and consisted of about 10 games.  I also played in my second FoW tournament.

I had no solid plans for new armies at the beginning of the year.  I knew I wanted to work on my early war French but I was not sure how that was going to actually happen.  In the end I did get an EW French force painted but it was a Tank Company rather than the Fusilier Company I had planned.  I did acquire lots of new models for the French and I will be adding more to it in the future.

What was a complete surprise to me was the US Tank Company.  This was not on my radar at all in January but by February I was on my way to getting this on the table.  I also purchased lots of additional models to expand this into an Infantry and Armored Infantry force.

In July I decided that I wanted to participate in a Kursk themed event in January 2014.  FOr this event I am taking a 1500 point Panther Company that I just finished painting today (pictures next year).

So, I painted three new armies and added a bunch of models to the paint queue.  It was a good year for this game.

Black Powder

At the beginning of the year the goal for this game was to build on our first big game from last year.  We managed to put on two more large ACW games.  I also painted more figures for my ACW collection.  In addition, I managed to assemble and start paint for my Napoleonic French project.  In the end it was a good year for Black Powder but I was hoping to get more going with this one.

28mm Ancients

The goal for this was to get in some games of Clash of Empires and/or Hail Caesar.  I played in three games of HC - on with 28mm armies and 2 with 15mm armies.  I had a really good time playing the games but I quickly discovered that the rules are not a simple expansion/modification of Black Powder.  I really need to spend more time with the rules to a solid grip on them.  This is a game that will get more attention from me in the future.

I did get in a couple of games of SAGA and really enjoyed it.  I picked up the rules and one of the expansions over the summer.  I am hoping to get deeper into this game.

Clash of Empires is fading fast.  I did nothing with these rules this year.

Warhammer 40K

I really expected, at the beginning of the year, to get in a few games this year.  I knew the new purchases would be very limited.  It turns out I did almost nothing with this this year.  I painted one model and added very little to the collection/paint pile (all used).  It seems this game has reached retirement for me.  I will keep what I have and probably add new models if they are really cool but otherwise it is over.

Other Games

I kept the door open for something new to come along or perhaps the return of an old favorite this year.  I did struggle a bit with the Hobbit/LOTR throughout the year but the prices (even for used) kept pushing me back.  I would like to have added some of the new Eagles to the collection but it did not happen.

One new game did appear this year - Star Wars X-Wing.  I finally picked up the starter set over the summer and got in a few games using the quick start rules.  I really enjoyed it and I got lots of new stuff for Christmas.  I see a bright future for me and this game.  It is just an amazing well designed and supported game.

Other Hobbies

My New Years post this year was different in that I discussed some of my other hobbies and the hope that I would spend some time on them throughout the year.  As fate would have it most of it was a wash.  The only area that went well as the guitar stuff.  I was able to purchase a new guitar this year and I got into Rocksmith on the PS3.  I also spend some time upgrading my songbook library.

There it is.  All things considered a good year for gaming.  Next year should. hopefully, be even better!  Happy New Year everyone!

Figures painted for the year:

FoW - 135 (3 Jeeps, 3 half-tracks, 4 trucks, 4 guns, 45 Tanks)
28mm Dark Age - 5
28mm ACW - 40
28mm WW2 - 35
40K - 1 (1 Battlewagon)

Total - 217

Game Record for the year:

FoW 11-14-1
Bolt Action 5-6-3
SAGA 1-1-0
X-Wing 6-4