Sunday, June 11, 2017

Space Marine Dreadnought #2

Progress continues on the dead lead projects.  Man 40K has really gotten under my skin lately.  This guy has been sitting in my Knights of Eden army box for years.  This is an old metal Dreadnought with a Forge World plasma cannon arm.  Back in the day this was a killer model that would have been the envy of many a Space Marine player.  Today it is a dated relic that does not stand up well to the new plastic kits.  I really like the rough texture of the model as I think it really makes you think of something that has been in use for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years and repeatedly rebuilt.

This one was really fun to get on the paint bench and get finished up.  I still have tons of models for this army awaiting completion and I am sure I will have more to come.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Nurgle Chaos Space Marine Kill Team

I painted these guys a few weeks back just after the Shadow War Armageddon game box was released.  This is the first Kill Team I have specifically painted for this game.  I chose Nurgle as it is a mark of chaos I have never modeled for 40K so I thought it would be an interesting change.  I made this choice before I even knew 8th edition was being released and well before I knew the new box would feature Death Guard.

Chaos Marine Aspiring Champion with plasma pistol.  This is the boss.

Chaos Space Marine gunner with an auto-cannon.  This guy is pretty cool but has yet to prove his worth in battle.

Chaos Space Marine with bolt pistol and chainsword.  Just your standard run of the mill close combat marine.

Another Chaos Space Marine with bolt pistol and chainsword.  For a campaign one of these guys would likely start as a gunner so that later on he can have a weapon upgrade.  Chaos Marines are too expensive to add during a campaign in my opinion.

Chaos Cultist.  This guy is armed only with a knife even though he has some impressive mutations.  Basic cannon fodder.  I am getting the feeling that cultists are a liability rather than a benefit.

Chaos Cultist 2.  Even though this guy looks totally different in game terms he is just like the other guy.  Both these models were built by rummaging through the bits box and sticking stuff together in interesting ways.

These models are just some random stuff I pulled out of the dead lead pile.  I actually have quite a bit of Chaos stuff.  I swear this stuff breeds in the dark.  I have enough additional models for weapon options as well as Specialists so I am sure there will be more items added to this collection.

In game terms this Kill Team is really not very good.  The cultists make the force fragile.  The lack of ranged weapons other than the auto-cannon means lots of movement.  I need to paint a few models and try some different options to get a feel for this force.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Space Marine Scout Additions

With the pending release of Warhammer 40,000 8th edition and the already released Shadow War Armageddon I have been inspired to paint more of my collection of Space Marine models.

I have tried the Space Marine Scouts in SW:A a couple of times and found my configuration to be lacking.  I have been using the 5 close combat scouts that I painted up over 8 years ago as the basis.  With the additional points I added a scout with a sniper rifle.

The sniper rifle has not really impressed me so I decided to paint up my scout heavy bolter to add some punch.

As well as the heavy bolter I also painted up a couple of scout with boltguns.  The bolt pistol option is nice but you have to allow enemies to get very close before you can shoot and as fast as some of these armies move you need some balance on the ranged weapons.  The boltguns will do that.

Now I have 9 painted scouts to mix and match for my SW:A force.  I really can't wait to try these new options out and see which ones work best.

These models have all been painted in the colors for my Knights of Eden Space Marine Chapter I have been working on for more than 10 years.  These are the first additions to this collection in about 5 years.  I still have lots of models waiting to be painted for this army and this latest work has inspired me to work on more of it.  This is another area of saving money by painting what I already have.  Novel concept for a gamer but so far it is really paying off.  Sometimes less is more.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

More M7 Priests for Flames of War

Even as the luster fades from Flames of War my work complete various long neglected projects continues.  Today we have three more M7 Priests for my MW US Army.  These will see action for various US actions in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy in the MW and LW periods.  They will also be handy for LW ETO games.  These are pretty much a must have unit for US forces.  I now have 6 or these for two batteries of guns.  I have never actually fielded that many in a game but with v4 (or v3.5) pushing the battle size up I might actually use them all in a game.

I also painted up a couple of jeeps.  One is the FO jeep for the artillery and the other is part of the security section for a TD platoon.  The neat thing about jeeps is you can use them in lots of different army builds so it is good to have extras.

This will likely be the last Flames of War post for a while as I switch gears to other long ignored projects.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

My Future with Flames of War

Just over 7 years ago I played my first game of Flames of War after literally years of wanting to try it.  This was towards the end of 2nd edition.  I had tried to get the game going back in the 1st edition days, and I even bought most of an army, but no one locally was very interested so it never got off the ground.  After that first proper game I was hooked and Flames of War soon became my main game pushing out others such as Lord of the Rings and Warhammer 40,000.  Most of my time with Flames of War has been with the 3rd edition rules and for the most part I thought the rules were fine.  There were a few things I would have changed but I felt, and still feel, the core of the system works great.

Along comes Team Yankee and things start to get weird.  I was not really interested in this game, and I still am not very interested, but a few of my friend are and jumped right in.  They all seemed to really enjoy the game and most seems to like the card based unit creation system.  My friend Tom, after getting into TY, was convinced that this would be the model for Flames of War v4.  I wasn't convinced this would be the case and I wasn't even convinced that there would be a v4 any time soon.  Well, I was wrong on both counts and, as we all know, version 4 was released a couple of months ago and it is 99% Team Yankee (I am actually referring to Mid-war version 4). 

Battlefront really made a mess of the new release process and through some bad communication to the customer base really got off on the wrong foot with version 4.  As an example, it was not really clear until just prior to release that this actually entails the release of what is effectively two games that share much of the same rules but have completely different army construction philosophies.  These two games are Mid-war version 4 and EW/LW version 4 (which our group calls v3.5).  A big part of the confusion I have about the release of the new version, for me, centered around what exactly they were giving away for free to existing players.  Battlefront has been really good about version changes in the past and once again they had plans to give free rules to all existing players.  The problem was the rules the game away for free (EW/LW) turned out to NOT be the rules they spent so much time talking about on the web and in publications (MW).

Another area of trouble and the one that I find the most concerning is in the area of army construction with MW v4.  The TY card based model seems to work great for an entirely new game set in a new era where most all of the players will be starting with no existing collections nor preconceived ideas on how things should work.  This worked great for TY and Battlefront was dazzled by its success.  Unfortunately this model is a complete disaster for a new version of a well established game like Flames of War.  When combined with another goal for v4 stated by Battlefront, the reduction of product codes, and you have the making of a dull, flavorless mess of a game setting.  It is now clear that BF intends to severely reduce the number of models they produce and have no intention of including units in the game for models they do not produce.  From a purely business perspective there is a certain amount of sense to this approach but from a customer relation perspective this is a disaster.  You see, there huge well established customer base already has many of these soon to be eliminated models in their collections and they would really like to use them in the game but Battlefront cannot see any value to keeping these people happy as they think these people are already unlikely to spend money anyway so no great loss.

This is EXACTLY the same attitude that Games Workshop had towards their long time customers for many years.  GW steadily convinced themselves that young kids and new hobbyists were where the real money was to be found and that long time gamers already had lots of models and therefore had no desire to by more.  This contempt for their loyal customers eventually brought the company to the verge of irrelevancy.  Huge numbers of middle aged gamers with lots of money to spend were so put off by this attitude they moved on to games that treated them better, like Flames of War.  But now the GW rot seems to have set in with Battlefront and they seem determined to destroy their game in the name of increasing sales.  We are seeing the tip of an epic iceberg that it set to rip the bottom out of Battlefront.

This brings me, finally, to the point of this article - my future with Flames of War.  Needless to say I am not very happy with the new direction of the game as it relates to the army construction in particular.  I really like the EW/LW version of the rules.  These allow you to continue to use the extensive variety of the version 3 army list books and while some of the points are now off due to changes in effectiveness of certain units in the game it all still works fine.  I really believe this should have just been the true version 4 rules.  I have yet to play any of the MW armies and I actually have no plans to buy the books.  The price of the books has actually gone back up with MW v4 as now you have to spend $40 to get a tiny variety of armies for only British and Germans.  The version 3 North Africa book was $30 for dozens of armies for four different countries.  Oh, and now you can buy card decks that give you additional army options that should have just been included in the pathetic army books for even more $$.  It is a disgusting money grab and I just can't bring myself to buy into it. 

I am not going to be playing the full blown v4.  In fact, I expect this game to fail.  I think that Battlefront is about to have their version of Warhammer 40K 6th edition.  I hope they can see the writing on the wall soon enough to turn things around before any lasting damage is done to their brand and their business.  I will continue to play the game using the EW/LW rules along with the old army books.  I have way too many armies collected for this game to just stop playing.  I will also make new model purchases to expand my collections.  I really want to get the new desert British tanks as well as Panzer Grenadiers and 88's.  The new models they are producing for v4 are great!

All of this drama (of which I have barely even talked about) is really souring the game for me right now.  It has been slowly falling in table time and the new version was supposed to spark renewed interested but it seems to have just caused a major split in the player base and created a lot of ill will. Ironically, all this is happen right at a time where GW seems to have righted the ship and is now moving in a very positive direction.  I am already starting to get pulled back into the GW hobby and my Battlefront lifeline seems to no longer be tied to anything.

Don't worry, I still have models to paint and stuff to post...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Another StuG IIIG Platoon for Flames of War

Continuing my exploration of the new Flames of War rules I have been playing some games with my late war German StuG IIIG Battery.  I needed an additional platoon so that I could take all StuG IIIG if I needed rather than always running a mix of the IIIG and the StuG42.  Fortunately I have three models in my dead lead pile so it was a simple task to pull them out and get them ready for action.  Just another excuse to build stuff I have rather than dreaming of models if have no $$ for.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

US M2A1 105mm Battery

Once again we have a long ignored project that I have finally completed.  This four gun battery of US 105mm howitzers has been sitting half painted in my army for many years.  I bought these several years ago and told myself that with some touch ups and finishing the basing these would be ready for the table and that was true.  The problem is I had no actual need for a towed battery as I am playing a Tank company and have self-propelled guns.  Oh well, one day I will need these.  They were just looking so sad in their incomplete state that I finally decided to finish these.  It helps that with my limited hobby budget at the moment painting stuff I already own is really the only option I have. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

US M4A1 Sherman in Camo

After many years of delays on procrastination I have finally completed the third platoon for my Mid-war US armored company for Flames of War.  I bought these several years ago from a local gamer.  They were already assembled and had a basic paint job but I really wanted to repaint them in a camo scheme.  The problem was I really didn't need these tanks.  I already have 10 painted M4A1 tanks for this army and I don't think I have ever used all of them in a game so these just sat in the army box unloved and unfinished.  Every time I pulled the army out for a game I would tell myself that needed to finished these up but I never did - until now.

These tanks are painted to represent tanks from the 1st Armored division in Tunisia in 1943.  They will also easily work in Sicily or Italy all the way to the end of the war.  I really like how these turned out and I can see these might be the center piece of the army from now on.  With the new army construction with v4 I might actually need 15 Shermans.  Time will tell.  These are Plastic Soldier Company models and they are my favorite version of this tank in 15mm.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Shadow War Armageddon

The Easter Bunny brought me a new game over the weekend - Shadow War Armageddon.  I feel VERY lucky to have obtained a copy as this thing flew off the shelves.  As soon as I heard this game was to be released and was going to be heavily based on the Necromunda game, my all-time favorite games, I knew I would have to have it and play it.

With barely any reading of the rules Tim and I decided we had to get this on the table.  I created an Ork kill team and Tim took Chaos Space Marines proxying his old Chaos Cult Necromunda gang.  I dug out all my old Necromunda and 40K card terrain and we went to fighting.

This 'new' game is really about 90% Necromunda and probably 95% Necromunda Underhive.  It is so close, in fact, we actually picked up the rules very quickly and then ended up playing Necromunda as we missed most of the very subtitle changes.  Most of the changes are around the teams you can take and how the campaign system works.

The game was a blast and honestly it could not have been anything else.  They started with one of the best designed games of all time and really resisted making major changes.  In our first game I pulled out the win.  I have noticed much commentary about how allowing power armor and such is unbalancing to the system but In out game the Ork firepower, such as it is, was more than up to the task of taking out power armored troops so I think these fears are over stated.

I have a feeling this game is going to get lots of play this summer.  I am trying to get a group together for a campaign so we will get a much better idea on the biggest changes to the system.  I currently have all the Necromunda gangs, which seem to be pointed exactly the same as the new kill teams, as well as Orks, Space Marine Scouts and Catachans.  I pulled out some Chaos Space Marines to paint up and I will be expanding my collection with other factions.

Game's Workshop finally released a game that is guaranteed to suck me back into the GW hobby.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Warlord Plastic Tigers

My contribution for the Germans forces for our big Point 213 game is basically done with these two models.  My friend, Tim, completed his a few weeks back while I have been busy building and painting British tanks and terrain. 

The first of my two Tigers is tank number 211.  This tank was commanded by Obersturmfuhrer Jurgen Wessel.  Wessel was an infantry veteran but new to tank combat.  For game purposes this will be a regular Tiger per the Bolt Action rules.

The second tank is tank number 223 commanded by Oberscharfuhrer Jurgen Brandt.  This tank will be a veteran Tiger per the Bolt Action rules.

I am getting really excited for this game but there is still a ton of work to be done.

And just for fun here is a picture of three tigers in three different scales.

1/100, 1/56, 1/48

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Germans for TANKS

I have been playing TANKS a lot this year and, of course, I must have painted models for the game.  In my early games I used some of my existing Flame of War tanks but I really want to have one box with models specifically for this game.  For the Germans I have purchased three expansion models so far - Panther, Tiger and Puma.  This is in addition to the Panther/Jagdpanther model included in the starter set.




Tiger I
The Panther is the only model I have purchased so far that had cards included in the starter set.  I wanted to know if you get new cards with and expansion that was covered in the starter set.  In this case there was only one new card.  If you already have Panthers/Jagdpanthers you might not want to buy this expansion.  The Tiger and Puma sets seemed to have all new cards and the vehicle cards are also new as they were not in the starter set.  I will likely pick up one of each expansion just to make sure I don't miss any cards.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Flames of War v4 Test Run

Tom and I got together yesterday to try out the new version 4 of Flames of War.  Actually we played what we are locally calling v3.5 which is the EW/LW free rules.  But we committed a terrible heresy by playing these rules with our mid-war armies.  This was done because we really wanted to get our old stuff back on the table but Tom has Italians and I have British Infantry, neither of which are playable with the proper mid-war v4 rules.  We figured that since most of the special rules are covered in either EW or LW lists there should be no reason that the MW lists would not work.

We played 1500 points of infantry heavy forces but with a balance of tanks and artillery.  Neither of us had air support so we did not get to try those rules.  In the interest of full disclosure neither of us have actually read the entire rule book so there is a slight chance that we did something wrong.  In fact it is almost a certainty.

British tanks and carriers move into the village in the center of the battlefield.

This post is not a proper battle report but really just a collection of thoughts about the game.  So first and foremost this is really 90% Flames of War.  There are some differences but I was really surprised and please this this is still the game I love.

British dug in on a ridge with mortars in support.
The first set of differences are the changes to the artillery and indirect fire rules.  The thing many people were concerned about before the release was the limit to the number of FO on the table.  My British army has 4, 1 for the 25 pdr battery and 3 for the 6 tube mortar platoon.  Now you can only take one.  The others are redundant teams and are not used at all.  I must admit I though this would be a major issue but in practice I did not find this all that limiting.  The fact that the formation HQ can spot as well as the battery self-spotting really meant that it is rare that you can't get a barrage off.

Italian infantry company takes up a position in a palm grove.
Another change with artillery is the aim point.  In v3 you aimed at a team but in v4 you aim at any point on the table.  This resulted in changing how ranging in works.  Since you no longer have to target a team you roll the range in against the spotter's skill level.  Once ranged in you then roll to hit based on the target's skill level.  This actually makes this consistent with how other types of shooting are resolved.   Since this is really the reverse of v3 it does take some getting used to.

Semoventis taking hits but only one would be lost the entire battle.
 Lots of players were concerned with the general increase in fire power that artillery particularly mortars received in the new edition.  The fear is that infantry will just be slaughtered by artillery and being dug in and attempting to hold ground will be suicide.  In our game I did not find this to be the case.  The first consideration is that increased fire power only plays a part after the target has failed their save and that is the same as last edition.  This means that infantry in the open are in no more danger than ever and are really only in slightly more danger when dug in.  The part that really stands out, however, are repeat bombardments.  Now all batteries can repeat as long as the FO still has LOS to the original target point and did not move.  These repeat bombardments are devastating in that the target must re-roll successful saves.  It is the combination of increased FP and repeat bombardments that will be the true bane of infantry.  Even with this improvement I spent three consecutive turns shelling an Italian infantry company that was dug and and I was not able to do enough damage to destroy them but they did take a pounding.  I really think this change is going to be a good one for the flow of the game.

British hold the town but AT fire is pounding the carriers and Matildas.

The next interesting change, and one that gave Tom and I fits, is the new target allocation method.  Gone are all the complex allocation rules from 3rd edition.  Now the shooter picks the primary target and resolves the shooting.  The the shooter allocates the hits to the primary target and then all eligible targets within 6".  The defender can then attempt to reallocate.  That is it in a nutshell and it is much quicker and much easier.  So easy, in fact, it was actually hard to do as we were both stuck in the old way of doing things.  Once we get this down it's a whole new game.

Matildas coming out on the loosing end of the gun duel.
 The change to movement may be the area where you feel the biggest change from v3.  There are now 4 different kinds of movement each with their own movement rate as well as 3 movement orders or tactics.  At first this seems like a lot, and to be honest I am still trying to digest it, but it actually not that much different than the old system. In v3 there were different movement rates based on the type of terrian you were passing through and then there was the at the double move.  Now you have a tactical move rate that you can use at any time and then you have three different dash moves depending on if you are dashing through terrain, cross country or on a road.  Gone is the at the double move and the silly double hits penalty!  The new movement system is going to take some practice but I see that this will change the tactical aspect of the game in a huge way.

The fight for the village rages on...
 The movement orders are Blitz (which is ironically named), Shoot and Scoot and Dig In.  Obviously the Dig In order is the same as last version but the other two are new.  Blitz is used before the Movement phase and if a skill test is passed allows the unit to move 4".  Since this is outside the Movement Phase the unit will still count as stationary if they do not move in the Movement Phase.  This is a pretty handy order and I used it with great success in our game.  The Shoot and Scoot order allows a unit that did not move in the Movement Phase to make a 4" move after shooting upon passing a skill test.  Again, a pretty useful order.

The Semoventi platoon would make good use of the Shoot and Scoot rule.
One big change that I think will really help mid-war and early war armies is how v4 handles guns listed as No HE.  In v3 No HE (High Explosives) was a very limiting attribute for a gun.  I basically meant you can only shoot the main gun at armored targets and never against guns or infantry.  This was a brutal limitation and didn't do a good job in representing how a tank like the Matilda would have been used in combat.  In v4 this limitation has been removed and replaced with a +1 to hit modifier.  This allows those 2 pdr guns to engage the enemy AT guns with something other than the machine guns.  This is especially helpful when the target is dug in or behind a gun shield as the main gun will have a better fire power rating.

Italian troops advance on the village after destroying much of the British support units.
 Next lets look at the new in command method for v4.  In the old version determining if a team was in command involved looking at the skill level of the team to get the command distance and then making sure that the team was within that distance from another member of the unit.  This could and often did result in units that were spread wide across the table.  This wide configuration really added to the complexity of the game without really adding anything to the playibility or historical 'accuracy' of the game.
Italian troops break cover and advance in the open.
 Version 4 changes this to a simple command distance for all units based on their size and is measured from the unit commander.  As an example, a 7 stand unit of infantry has a command distance of 6" so all teams must remain within that distance from the unit leader.  Units with 8 or more stands have a command distance of 8".  This forces the units to be tighter on the table than the old edition.  There is some concern that the tighter formations, particularly for infantry, will result in greater danger from artillery.  I found that this really didn't make a difference with how I usually play the game.  I never really used the full command distance allowed in v3 and I tended to run units closer together than say a regular tournament player.  Ironically most people ran their tanks fender to fender in the old edition even though tanks had 2" greater command distance than infantry. This will not change with v4 - tank parks will live on.  I the end this change will not really change how I play but others may find this extremely limiting.
Matilda platoon presents their side armor to the Semoventi platoon in a very foolish move that would cost me the platoon.
 I really like how in v4 most of your motivation testing will happen at the star of your turn and only happens once a turn.  The only exceptions I saw where tests for counter attacking in assault.  Version 3 had lots of testing and these tests could happen in any phase of the turn.  It was also possible that a unit would need to test several times a turn.  Now is it basically only once.  Additionally, the threshold for unit break tests is much lower than the previous version.  In v3 you tested for break at under 50% but now it is based on a minimum number of stands still in command.  This actually means that at times units are more resilient than the previous version and sometimes thes might actually be less resilient depending on how well you have managed to keep them in command and how your opponent allocated hits during shooting.

Italian troops prepare to swarm the village.
Well, that is all I can think of now after only one game and an incomplete reading of the rules.  Hopefully, everything I have discussed turns out to be things that we did correctly.  I will need to really digest this new rule book very carefully and certainly get in many more games before I feel fully comfortable ith how this game plays.  My first impressions are very positive at least as far as the rules are concerned.