Monday, July 16, 2018

Lessons Learned - A Bridge Too Near?

Well, the project I have been working my tail off on has finally been playtested, and there's a lot to learn from this. I think overall, the scenario works, but as this is my first river crossing game, I did make some rookie mistakes, or at least, I think I did....anyhow, 6 of us met at the Games Tavern in Chantilly, which I have spoken about before on "500 Miles...", and the staff went OUT of their way to accommodate us. Thanks so much, Doshu! I wish more game stores were like this. Well done to Games Tavern indeed.

The Good:

  • Was for the most part, pretty well organized, though I need to do better organizing the troops into units, I think I am going to color code bases to make that easier. Shouldn't be TOO odious a project.
  • I did a decent job of keeping the game moving once we got started, and we played to a conclusion, even if that conclusion was a bit of a British curbstomp of the Germans.
  • My alternate plan for the British worked...after a fashion, but I really need to potentially give the British another alternative, perhaps a transport with some rubber rafts?
  • We got done in 10 turns (granted, the German BR went from 75 to 29 and showed no sign of slowing down), but yes, this was a rough one for the Germans. 
The Bad:

  • I forgot the damn Churchills. I did a packing list, on my phone...which I don't think works as well as paper (the wife pointed that out and boy, is she right).
  • I still cannot seem to get the artillery in BG right, or is it my confidence levels in getting it right, I still cannot tell?
  • I should have split up the experienced players, but their both being British did keep the game moving.
  • I should have had the Volksgrenadier be the starting force, and the Volkssturm be the reinforcement option. I think I need to have set forces, and take this out of the hands of the players.
  • River Crossing games make for some of the most complicated wargaming I have ever done, and yeah, I need to get some opinions from the internet brain trust (the wife said, "ask Piers", Piers, if that isn't a damned endorsement, I do not know what is?)
  • 7 turns was too long for the Germans to expect to hold on without reinforcements.
  • Should have moved the river closer to the middle, give the Brits less travel time, and the Germans more depth.
  • The German OOB may need some work.
  • Learn to take a breath and not get overwhelmed. It's a game and as long as people have fun, let it be.
All in all, it went well for a playtest, learned a lot, and I think it will be better next time. Now that said, I will be color coding my figure bases and finishing up the flocking. I think once that is achieved, setup will go faster, much faster.

Some players also suggested allowing the Germans a rear guard on the British side of the river, but I wonder if that is counter-intuitive to speeding up the game a hair?

Anyhow, here are the pictures!

The British objective was simple, get units off the British edge (the Germans had to pull one chit for every British squad or vehicle that got off their edge). The Germans had to simply hold on and prevent this, and collapse the British morale, somehow....

The game itself started off with the British making an approach march along the road to the bridge, and there being some desultory fire from both sides. The Germans blew the bridge in the face of the British, and a British tank was pinned as a result. Later fire from a German Hetzer took out the only British tank lost, as the British scrambled to shift the Churchill down from their right to replace the bridge at the center. This took three turns whereby the German Mk IIIN and the Marder II were both knocked out by British fire. A Typhoon strike took out the Flak 88 and caused more mayhem. This was in conjunction with the British recon elements and their FO calling in very accurate artillery fire (2 25lbr batteries and a 4.5in battery). 

After the bridge was deployed, the British rushed across, deploying their motor battalion and combat engineers to overrun the weak German defenses in a series of brutal close combats (and yet another lesson in why Flamethrowers in BG might be a bit overpowered, one took out an entire VS squad in a building without a second thought).

The British then ran the entire truck mounted British airborne platoon off the table, and inflicted more losses, which even the late arriving reinforcements (which the German player could begin to dice for on turn 7, that's going to change), could not stop. With the German BR sinking to 29 out of 75 and showing no sign of ceasing to drop, the game was called and a British victory was awarded.

PS: I just realized, this is Post #20 here at Festungplatz..well, on to September!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

And here are the vehicles!

Well, I have done it..60 plus figures and 7 vehicles in two weeks! Good lord I have not been this productive in a long while. I can tell you I learned some things (any good painter always learns things from any project), and good lord, this was no exception.

First off, pictures:

I learned that a) I am not totally ecstatic about the Ammo Wargames colors, while the Dunklegelb '44 shades are right on, the Rottbraun seems a bit...too red-orange, it's simply not deep enough. I also learned I probably should have used a three-color method on the green. That said. I am very happy with how everything turned out, especially the British vehicles and the Marder.

For the Marder, I primed it black, then hit it with a PSC coat of German Armor Yellow, this was then heavily drybrushed over with a coat of Ammo Dunkelgelb Aus '44 III. It took a couple of coats to get it right, but it worked out. I then applied the basics of the camo pattern, taken (loosely) from the AK book "1945". After a blackwash with the Magik Mudd Wash, and use of the Ammo Dunkelgelb Highlights, I painted all the exposed metallic parts P3 Pig Iron, which I have come to like for weapons parts as it is dark, matte, with a bit of an oily sheen, like any well cared for weapon should have. I then painted the tools and treads ala the FoW book "Colors of War" which while the rules may be rubbish, they do have some good painting advice. (For the tracks I started with BF Red Oxide, then followed up with a heavy drybrush of Ammo NATO Brown, then BF Manstein Shade, and finished with BF Rocket Steel). As for the tools, I used Ammo NATO Brown for the handles and BF Rocket Steel for the metallic parts. I then hit the tow cables with BF Manstein Shade to give it a bit of an oily finish.

After that, I applied the decals, and painted the crew, they got a paintjob of Vallejo German Feldgrau, their seats being BF Worn Rubber, and I did some the binoculars and boots as well as the officer's visor being Ammo Matt Black. The rear exhaust was a concoction of BF Red Oxide, followed up by a stippling of Citadel Ryza Rust, and then hit with a bit of BF Manstein Shade.

After all that, as if it wasn't exhaustive enough, I applied decals (Alcaran numbers and Balkankruz) and hit them with both Microsol and Micro Set. After that, I dusted the entire vehicle with a flayed brush with Secret Weapon's Light Sand Color, and did a light chipping with of all things, Vallejo's Game Color's Smoky Ink and a bit of a sponge taken from a figure pack. It did a great stand-in for the lousy bottle of AK Chipping Color I got.

All in all, a lot of work, but it came out looking pretty glorious, especially so for the Mark III which I thought was an unmitigated disaster at first.

The British were similar. I hit them with the PSC British Armor Spray, then painted the tarp Vallejo English Uniform, then a Magik Mudd Wash, wish I then carefully cleaned up with more Vallejo English Uniform and Russian Uniform in the appropriate places, after that, did some edging with some Russian Uniform with about 20% White, and then painted the tires a base of Ammo Matt Black, then highlighted with BF Worn Rubber. I then applied decals, or in some cases, painted details on (this was especially true on the Churchill AVRE I painted up), and then weathered them just like the Germans, it was especially fun to go a bit nuts with the chipping on the bridge.

So, all in all, I had a very productive two weeks, and I cannot wait to see how this game runs. I will take pictures and let you all know with a proper AAR of course.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Painting like Mad for a BG WWII game set in 1945...the British this time!

 The game is loosely based off of events set described in the book, "No Triumphant Procession" where a company sized British force is facing off against a German Kampfgruppe somewhere in Northern Germany in March-April of 1945. The British have had, until now, an easy advance, and this small German force, holding a bridge over a minor tributary of the Wesser, isn't welcome to a lot of war-weary British troops who would just like to get the whole thing with over already.

 So, the painting is going well, and I am churning out about 5-10 figures a day, a mix of FAA and AB to complement the mix of British I have already from Platoon 20, Hotspur, and MLR. Ironically, this will be the first game most of the British have seen, as most of my games have been with the Russians, so this will be a nice change of pace, and we'll see how the British do in FOTR. I suspect they'll bring a bit more finesse to the party, and bit less close range firepower.

 The Germans are a mixed force, Volksturm, Volksgrenadiers (playing the German 2nd Marine Division, who didn't by this point, look a whole hell of a lot different from the rest of the German Army, or at least that's what my research found, and it's given me an excuse to paint up my Hungarians for future games, as a battalion of Hungarian infantry trainees was apparently attached to the division!) There's also reinforcements from some local SS Panzergrenadiers, and some Fallschirmjager, but not too much, and the usual mix of ironmongery the Germans might want, if it's morale holds up, and it doesn't run out of gas!

 Needless to say, I am pretty excited about this. I am running it for my birthday, and I do this every year, run a big game for my friends. It keeps my hand in and it gives me an excuse to paint and play (and keeps my wife from letting me go nuts, thanks Honey!)

 So, on with the WIP pics, some could be better, as I am still getting better at the whole miniature photography thing.

Admittedly the light could be better on some of the pictures, but I was pretty happy with the results of my painting sessions. I used a mix of sources, first, I used my go to for most WWII projects, Mick Farnsworth's Painting Guides he worked on for Artizan and Crusader. I was pretty happy with the results for the regular British infantry..not so much for the British Paras...I was just not feeling it. Sorry, Mick, I tried. But I found this PDF guide that was very helpful! 

But, in the interest of completeness, I will list the colors and techniques I used:

I hit them with a matt black Rustoleum primer to start..never again. It dries too slow and is a bit tacky for at least a day after use. I then used the PSC English Uniform Spray, BIG TIME SAVER that, but it doesn't exactly match the Vallejo color..more on that later. 

After that, I used Vallejo 924 Russian Uniform for the details like webgear, helmet covers, gaiters, and rucksacks. I tend to blockpaint and wash, but you can use whatever method you like. For uncovered helmets, like on some of the FAA figures, 

I used Russian Green 894. The boots for EMs, I did up with P3's Thamar Black, but any black will do. I used a mix of Flat Brown 894 and Chocolate Brown 872 for all the wooden parts. Jerkins for the officers got the same Flat Brown, as I have really fallen in love with that color. Metal parts for the weapons got P3's Pig Iron, which I like as it's a oily, black looking color. It looks the business as a weapons color. Bit shiny, but a good wash will tone it down. Officer boots were done in 874 Tan Earth. Hands and faces were done in a mix of the following, with the basecoat being P3's Midlund Flesh, then followed it up with P3's Flesh Wash. Finally, I used AK 3013's Highlight Flesh to hit raised areas and make the flesh "pop".

As for the Denison Smocks for the Paras, I used 914 Green Ochre for the base, 983 Flat Earth, and 890 Reflective Green for the other colors of the smock. It looks good, not great, but good enough for three feet away!

I followed it all up with this Magik Mudd Black Wash, which I found on eBay of all things after the suggestion of a friend. It's one of the better washes I have used, and I rather like it. I may have to do some highlighting to cover up some places where the wash congregated, but overall, it worked. 

The hessian tape on the helmets of the AB figures is a bit problematic, I tried Flat Brown and Chocolate Brown, but still don't like it, any suggestions out there?

But all in all, pleased with the results and it's giving me gameable figures at the rate of 10 a night in three hours. Ought to be done with them all in a couple of days. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

With the death of the Guild...other fora are springing up in their place...

With the unfortunate demise of the Guild, as detailed in my blog entry on "500 Miles...", there has been a lot of forums rising to take their place. One of them is the "Armchair Generals" FB Group on the blog, which, while limiting membership to former Guild members, is attempting to carry on the spirit of the Guild on Facebook. This a welcome development, and I think promises to be an excellent idea.

Another place is the Wargamer's Forum, which is attempting to carry on the spirit of the Guild, and is taking new members. Traffic is currently light, but I think as word gets around...traffic will pick up. That said, I look forward to the discussion to come.

Finally, established today, is a forum run by Ironfist Publishing itself for Battlegroup. We'll be seeing Piers, Woz, and the gang on the website from time to time I am sure, and the site is in the early stages, so I cannot wait to see where it goes as well.

So, while the Guild is gone, there has been some efforts to seal the breech, and I for one plan to support these efforts.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Been a Lot Going On, and I Simply Had to Post This Painting Tutorial, and Also a Look at Good Places For Tutorials All Around.

It's winter in most of the Northern Hemisphere these days, and with thoughts of such things, we're staying inside more, painting a lot of figures and getting ready for 2018's "campaign season". So, with that thought, I thought I would do this short post on something I found on Warlord Games's site.

This just, well, gorgeously illustrated and well laid out tutorial on painting their new Winter SS line. To be honest, even if I do 20mm, I think this is still very, very useful indeed. It makes the figures really pop and is useful for late war SS from Budapest to the Bulge.

But I also wanted to mention, Warlord puts out other tutorial PDFs, free of charge, which is a really nice thing for all gamers, and they're pretty well done IMHO.

But they aren't the only show in town...another good place to look for tutorials is Artizan Designs, their guides are VERY exhaustive, and they even have bibliographies, a plus for this history grad.

Again, it's meant for 28s, but I have done many of my 20mm Russians in the colors suggested, and I have more than liked the results I have gotten.

Some other great tutorials, which are more...20mm focused can be found on Guild Wargamers (need to be a member of the forum to access, it's free, so join if you can!). The "Work Bench and Resources" section is simply full of ideas, including a large number of tutorials (I have borrowed many of their ideas).

And hey guys, reach out with your own "must see" tutorial sites for painting 20mm WWII or even if it's not 20mm, if it's proven useful to you, chime in and let us know!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A BG QRS for Special Chit Pulls

I worked this up because honestly, I was getting a bit tired looking through books during a game and trying to find out "what does this special chit do?" Now, I have this handy dandy 3 page QRS and it does it for me.

BG Special Chit QRS

Enjoy everyone!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book Review for 1945 by AK Productions

First, off, sorry I have not posted in awhile. Holidays +  Getting married = Not a ton of time for modeling and gaming. But, I decided some book reviews might be in order. So, we're going to start with a book by AK Productions that will be of some interest to the Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich player, especially those building a German army. (Note: I have an electronic version of the book from Google Books, sadly, dead tree versions are hard to come by and expensive).

Title: 1945 - German Colors
Publisher: AK Productions
Date and Place of Copyright: Madrid, 2012
Details: 76 pages, with 180 color renderings

Cover Image taken from
So, one would think, why the special attention on the German army in 1945, right? I mean it's the same three color camo, right? Dunkelgelb with Olivegrun and Rottbrun, right? Um, not quite, as it turns out.

So, what are the big surprises to a guy like me? Well, I'd been using the Panzer Colors series and the Squadron Signal series books (Blitzkrieg, D-Day to Berlin and Eastern Front) as my go-tos. None of them as it turns out, do much to cover the German Army in 1945. So this book fills a real need.

For example, how many of us knew out there that the Germans after September of 1944, that the Germans decided to use the red-brown oxide primer as the base color for their AFV, or that the Dunkelgelb had changed formulas, (and wound up being two versions!), and thus, shades (yes, I am a bit of a rivet counter when it comes to paint schemes). The Greens and Browns are well have multiple shades, and well, there was also all sorts of older paints being broken out...and yep, the German vehicles look different.

Taken from Sunward
As you can see the renderings are very well done, and while each render only gets about a sentence or two, it does do a good job of describing the image, and where and when this particular vehicle was seen.

Yes, they've got some items for the 1946 Paper Panzers as they call them, but it doesn't detract from the historicals section at all, and even some ideas for burnt out vehicles (yep, wrecks done in detail!). I also like the fact they covered older vehicles that were brought out from training detachments.

It's got quite the breath and depth of images and places to choose from for your German army for 1945.

Sadly, it's only really available in the electronic realm, but a good tablet should be able to render the images very nicely.

I would say, if you're doing a Fall of the Reich German army, I would get this book, as it's got a lot of inspiration in it's pages.

I give it 4 out of 5 tanks, if you can get the dead tree version of this book for an affordable price, do so!