First game was on friday. Somewhere on the Eastern Front, early 1945 – probably March. Clear and no wind. Here’s the map: – the Objective was to reach the crossroads in the centre of the map  and hold it, with at least undamaged vehicle, until the end of Turn 10. The map was not too complicated – fields, orchards, treelines, low hills – and on one side, a small power plant: . I had an anit-tank SP company, two platoons of StuG IIIG and one platoon of JagdPanzer IV L70.

TURN 1: Movement. My StuGs race to reach optimal firing positions: while the JgPz stay concealed behind a treeline. The two Soviet tank companies do the same: . After all this movement, there was combat! At the time, I said this was a first, having combat in the first turn…but it may well have happened before, so I’m not too sure. Anyway, T-34/85s on the left flank shoot at the StuGs over there – 2 shots resulting in one kill and one StuG being Tracked  – it’s tracks are hit and it now can’t move. I roll Morale for the Tracked StuG and the crew bail out. I now have to test the Morale of that Platoon – the final result is a 2, and so that Platoon will Flee the battle . I now test for the whole Company – I roll a 10 – that’s fine, they pass.

TURN 2: It is possible for me to try to stop the panicked StuG platoon fleeing the table…I need to get my Company HQ StuGs over to them (to talk some sense to them face to face). Sadly this is impossible – that Platoon is already very close to the edge of the map and my HQ can’t get there in time – so I lose them off the map and out of the game. The PJgPzs stay put. I move my remaining StuGs up to a treeline. The Russians consolidate their positions on the map  and prepare to race to the Objective. A keen T-34/85 tries to shoot a StuG but fails to hit. The Stugs see the muzzleflash (I rolled for it and passed) so now they know roughly where the enemy is on the left flank.

TURN 3: My StuGs lay down a Smokescreen by firing smoke shells with their main guns. While doing so, the enemy opens up on them and one is knocked out of action and a second one damaged so badly that the crew decided to bail out and flee  . I have to test the Morale of this central platoon – they are Shaken for 2 Turns. I test my Company’s Morale – a 5 – low, but OK.

TURN 4: The StuGs have to reverse to try to safely get to a better position. The JgPz IV L70s hold. The Russians race to new positions and also closer to the Objective , also laying smokescreens to shield them from unwanted attention by my boys.

TURN 5: The StuGs continue reversing. The first Russian tank reaches the Objective whilst others try to lay down more smoke.

TURN 6: MY StuG platoon is no longer Shaken. They lay down a small smokescreen that allows a JgPz to move onto the road and the others to break cover . The Russians lay down smoke in front of them so they cannot shoot at the T-34/85s racing in from the right flank to help bolster defence of the Objective.

TURN 7: More movement by everyone. Some jockeying to be in firing positions by the end of the Movement phase.

TURN 8: Lots of movement. A StuG hits a T-34/85 but the shot bounces off.

TURN 9: My Company Commander hits a T-34/85 and Stuns it. The Russians try to knock out the JgPz on the roadside but miss. They now have a good hold of the Objective .

TURN 10: My StuGs haven’t completed their shift to new positions so it’s all down to the JgPz IV L70 on the road to try to shift the Soviet tanks out of position. It fires and wipes out a T-34/76 – sadly not a Company Commander, so the Russians are staying put. That was how the Turn ended and the game too, as the Russians have the Objective and outnumber us 4:1.

Peter had brought along two mates of his whom each took a side and got involved in the game. Both enjoyed themselves.

AFTER ACTION REVIEW: This wasn’t much of a slugfest. It showed the importance of good Movement and positioning. It also showed the value of smokescreens. An interesting game.

Now for some wargamer eye candy! Here’s some detail of one of Peter’s T-34/85 commanders: , here are my haystacks being used as terrain: and here’s another shot of those JgPz IV L70s: . Those JgPz IV L70s are mine, but I didn’t paint them…they were a win on eBay. The StuGs you see early in the post with the two-tone camouflage scheme, full schürzen and loads of stowage are Peter’s mate Scott’s. They are the quality and level that I aspire to in my wargame modelling.

It was a big Sunday

June 29, 2009

The brewed-up T-34/85 wreck terrain piece is done! Here’s the base that it rests on: T3485 modular base

Here’s the inked, drybrushed and matt-varnish-sealed piece that you’ve all been waiting for: T3485 profile T3485 side

From the above, you’ve now had a good look at the home-made Rust blend that I made, combining Blood Red with Brazen Brass and the Brown Ink (R.I.P.). It doesn’t look so powerful here, because I’ve gone and applied two very heavy washes over it of the new Citadel pre-mixed Wash (or watered-down Inks, curse it), Ogryn Flesh. I should have just used one medium coat of Ogryn Flesh – you can see the Rust has become very brown from the washes. The Ogryn Flesh Wash has helped to take the shiny Bronze edge off the Brass particles, though…I’m tempted to keep this homemade Rust to use for mufflers and the like, where they recommend using a Rust – usually I’ve just used Boltgun Metal washed twice with Flesh Ink (R.I.P.). Have a look at the rear of the T-34/85: T3485 rear I think the rust on those mufflers has worked well.

I remember now where the idea for this terrain piece first came from – I was watching another wargame rules-set being played at NWA one night, where a good friend was learning to play. The objective for both sides was to reach a tank in the middle of the board (an ‘objective marker’). I have blended that idea with photo evidence from various ‘eyewitness’ books of the Eastern Front, where wrecked tanks were used as forward Artillery Observation Posts (because they were safe to be under when you were being shelled).

So, the terrain piece is done, as well as the two Revell Tiger I’s that were done as company command vehicles. Apart from having slightly different numbers on the side, an extra aerial added on the turret and MGs mounted for air defence, they aren’t any different to the four Tigers I’ve already got. This time they are perfect, since I knew what to watch for during construction. The one error I made (and was fixed) was discovered just as I was about to varnish them –  I realised I’d left the Balkenkreusz off both tanks. That set me back two hours.  The numbering advice I’ve used comes from here.

Hills! Yes, more terrain.

I was able to undercoat the two hills you’d seen me prepare previously. First, you need to get some pinboard tacks, ones that don’t go all the way in to the end: Before tacks

Begin to stick the tacks in, about an inch apart from each other and at least half an inch (or more if your hill has a gentle gradient) apart: mid tack I advocate using as many tacks as possible, as some always come out during undercoating or flocking: end tack

If your hills aren’t standing completely free of the surface they rest on, get better tacks and start again: resting

Now you can begin undercoating. I’m using good old Brown Kayak acrylic from Haymes, painting from the top of the hill downwards: begin undercoat You don’t have to apply it thickly, but you do want to completely cover everything: undercoat continued and it’s best to undercoat while holding them in one hand. When you’ve completely covered all the white, put it down and let dry for 24 hours: undercoated

Tonight (monday night) I applied on a second undercoat. This time I applied it quite thickly, but again, I made sure I covered everything – sometimes little air pockets are formed as you apply the first coat and they will be uncovered during the drying – get the brush bristles in there and paint them in well.

Sometime next weekend I’ll begin the flocking.

I also washed a number of sprues in detergent and very warm water, then air dried  them. I use an old coat-hanger, cut and reshaped, to hang them on: drying washed sprues

Next weekend (earlier if there’s a good, warm afternoon) I’ll undercoat them – then all these recon units can be commenced.

Having searched fairly extensively using my librarian skills to find samples of the new Citadel pre-mixed Washes and failing frustratingly, I bought the three I thought I’d need and made my own colour card, thus: New Citadel pre-mixed washes

So, there they are – Devlan Mud, Ogryn Flesh and Gryphonne Sepia. They have been applied in differing layers of thickness – from left to right, one layer, then two, finally three.

My colour card for Citadel’s Chestnut Ink, Brown Ink & Flesh Ink (R.I.P.) : Old Citadel inks

Guess I’ll have to adapt to the new pre-mixed Washes…but those Inks were good because they were handy both at full strength and watered down! I can’t make those Washes full strength. Might be time to start looking elsewhere for Inks.

Have had a go using Hob-e-tac for some scenery projects (not for WWII, though). I used it in a warm room – followed the instructions to the letter by applying it and then waiting 15 minutes before applying what I wanted to stick down (coarse turf, in this instance). I didn’t use the brush included in the tube, it was far too broad for my project. I used an old fine-gauged paintbrush instead to spread it.

It became tacky exactly as outlined – very tacky! Warning – try not to let it get stuck onto your fingers, or you’ll be carrying little bits of terrain on them across projects. A good soaping and then scrubbing in hot water solved the problem. Today, 24 hours after application, I went back to those projects to prepare them for final sealing tomorrow…that stuff remind me a little of silicone sealant, you can easily carve or scrape away the excess but without disturbing the paint underneath! Nifty.

Tomorrow will be a big update. The destroyed T-34/85 terrain piece will be finished and I’ll also be moving on with those hills I started. I’ll be starting work on those kits I bought at the Swap & Sell earlier this month, too – it’s time to have some scouting/recon units as well as big tanks.

The home-made Rust blend I made on the weekend is completely dry and I was le to look at it pretty closely and make and assessment of it.

It has a little too much Bronze in it but otherwise looks fine. I still have to do a thorough Brown wash over the T-34/85 and then will able to make a final decision.

I may use the rest of that Brown Ink to try making a Rust using it, Blood Red and Boltgun Metal and see how that works – for a Rust to be applied when I’m not going to do a final Brown wash over it.

Rust; the Sturmgeschütz

June 21, 2009

My first home-made pot of Rust colour paint is now sitting in my paintbox. It was an all-Citadel affair and was a blend of Brown Ink, Blood Red and Brazen Brass. I also tried Chestnut Ink, Blazing Orange and Brazen Brass but the result was too orange – and that was even with only using a little bit of Orange. The Brown Ink, Blood Red and Brazen Brass blend is a nice reddish rust – I didn’t want an orange rust or brown rust…I wanted a “stereotypical” red iron rust. I made the two blends up simultaneously on my palette (yes, I bought a cheap plastic one from an art & craft shop – great investment when trying to make a new colour) so I was able to guage hues and get exactly what I wanted.

There was no need to try Chestnut Ink, Blood Red and Brazen Brass as I was completely satisfied with what I’d got on this first attempt. There’s something really important I’ve learned about painting and modelling: IF YOU’RE HAPPY WITH IT THE FIRST TIME YOU PAINT IT, THEN LEAVE IT ALONE! To put it another way, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’! I always seem to stuff it up if I try to improve on what I’ve done – jinxing myself, maybe.

I used Ink as one of the ingredients because this has to be a watery paint – I want it to dribble down the sides of what I’m painting; I want runoff to pool nicely.

This new blend was then liberally applied to my T-34/85 terrain piece. On the wheels; where shell hits had dented but not penetrated; around hatches and at the exhausts. That T-34/85 now looks like an old battlefield wreck, not a recent kill…a good inking with one of the new pre-watered Citadel Inks should complete it.

Since my terrain is modular, I also began painting up the sheet of styrene that goes under this piece – if a sizable base of troops move onto the terrain piece, I simply take away the styrene with the tank and flock on it and there below is a flat piece of painted styrene, exact size, representing the scenery, so troops can be positioned perfectly. Maybe next weekend the whole thing will be completed and ready for the camera? The weather will determine this. If it’s like this weekend’s weather, then I apologise in advance for no photos next weekend.

***

Need a nice website about the Sturmgeschütz assault guns? Have a look at Sturmgeschütze vor! by Tim Keennon. There’s some good information there.

I mentioned below (or click on this link if you don’t want to scroll down) that I was working on another piece of WWII wargaming terrain that is impassable to vehicles – a knocked-out T-34/85 tank.

Here’s a pic: Brewed-up T-34-85 aerial

The piece is ideally representing a group or column of vehicles that have been knocked out / destroyed. This piece may portray the losers of an armoured battle; an armoured column hit by artillery; an armoured column attacked from the air; softskins hit by artillery or from the air…there are plenty of possibilities, if you do some reading!

I’m using up an Eastern Express T-34/85 that I bought but later decided I wasn’t going to ever assemble and use for active gaming.

This piece of terrain should be kept fairly small – as you can see, it only extends a short distance around the circumference of the model. All the paint has been applied – I’ve been wanting to apply washes and inks, to represent mud and also weeping rust, but haven’t had the inks and necessary paints until last night. Hopefully I can apply these this weekend, and then this terrain piece will be complete. Here’s a second pic, from a slightly different angle: Brewed-up T-34-85 side

***

Nearly every wargame table benefits from having at least one hill on it. I’ve made hills for both the 15mm scale and for sci-fi wargaming scales in the past and nowadays make hills for 15mm scale and also 20mm scale (1:72).

Having rescued some very thick (80mm) house insulation polystyrene foam that was destined for a rubbish tip last year, I spent a cooler summer day cutting it into the rough shapes for some tall, steep hills (the plan being to use these steep hills to represent the mountainous regions of Romania, Hungary or Italy).

I used a hot wire cutter to get the rough shapes I wanted. This is a dangerous thing to do because:

  1. If you’re using an industrial unit like I was, you may scald yourself on the wire;
  2. You need to do it where there is plenty of fresh air;
  3. You must wear eye protection as the fumes can damage your eyes.

Therefore, do it outside or where you have good airflow; wear tradesmans’ or lab technicians’ safety glasses; wear old clothing and lastly do everything slowly and take plenty of breaks so your concentration remains unwavering.

Two of the end results were these: Roughly shaped blanks

On the weekend, deciding to get a few of these hills made for a game while Peter’s busy, I tool out my Olfa snap-blade cutter (Get knife) and shaved off and smoothed the hard angles and rough edges –                             as you can see here: Shave and smooth blanks

Using a Olfa blade, packing knife or anything similar is also quite dangerous. Remember to always cut away from you (always, no getting lazy!); check first that each cut is necessary before making it (don’t just absent-mindedly whittle away) and always retract the blade fully before putting the tool down and check that it was retracted fully before you reach down to pick it up again!

Provided the weather is good (well, not wet and/or frosty) this weekend, I can take these two smoothed, prepared hills Completed first stage and move on to stage 2 – undercoating them with paint.

While working on the Command Tigers and that SdKfz 7/1, I began working on some more terrain – another piece of terrain impassable to vehicles (but not to foot troops).

Regular readers will recall that I used tracks from the Eastern Express T-34/85 kit for the tracks on the SdKfz 7/1. That left me with a T-3485 with no tracks.

So, I went ahead and assembled it on the side (and a horrible kit it was, even if much of it was easy – the hull top didn’t fit the hull bottom and the same problem occurred in assembling the turret. Lots of filing, glue and putty were used to correct these defects.

I then applied battle damage to the finished model – and glued it to sheet styrene. This will become a destroyed vehicle or representative of destroyed vehicles – a useful terrain piece to block roads or intersections in towns.

So far, it’s looking good! Photos to come.

Darn vinyl tracks

May 1, 2009

The vinyl tracks that were supplied with the Sd.Kfz 7/1 that I was assembling cracked and broke only five minutes after starting to flex them into shape.  Annoying. But then, that kit was bought at a Swap-n-sell…it may have been sitting in a tin shed for many years enduring our hot summers – which would naturally make the vinyl brittle and cracked.

I had bought (also at a Swap-n-sell) an Eastern Express T-34/85, which I later realised (thanks to the mighty Henk of Holland) has a number of inaccuracies, so I won’t build it. Instead, it was put aside for kitbash fodder and for stowage fodder.

I had a brainwave that its tracks might work well on the Sd.Kfz 7/1…and indeed they do! So, rather than having a second AA vehicle become impossible to complete (as I wasn’t going to buy separate tracks for it) it is nearing completion – painting two of the crew up commences tonight.

First game for 2009

April 11, 2009

A fortnight back, Peter and I went to NWA for a game of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist. Here’s what happened:

First thing was to set up a map for an Encounter scenario. The map agreed upon was thus: map-for-march-2009

Just a road with some hills, copses, a burnt-out forest (impassible terrain for vehicles – see earlier posts for its construction) some thickets and good grassland. A roll of the dice resulted in there being No Wind for the duration of the game. I asked that we play lengthways, rather than the traditional widthways. Since I was fielding Jagdpanthers, Peter agreed to this…even so, there was some concern that it might take too many rounds before enough tanks were in effective range to decide the outcome of the game.

I was playing with 5345 Points Value (much higher than normal) – 4 Jagdpanthers, 6 Tiger Is, 4 StuGs – that comprised one ad-hoc company. Peter had three tank companies.

TURN ONE: The objective was to reach the exact centre of the board.

Peter reckons he’s stumped about deployment, but I’m not. Any plan is better than no plan! My Tigers will take the left flank, the Jagdpanthers the copse on the right flank, and the StuGs will hold the middle (but just hold it…they can’t expect to kill much).

The StuGs and Jagdpanthers advanced to or through woods, depending on their proximity to same  jagdpanthers-using-terrain-1. The Tigers stayed in the woods and opened fire on the IS-2s that appeared opposite them. There was one hit but it bounced off an IS-2 hull.

TURN TWO: I continued to cautiously move the StuGs and Jagdpanthers forward. Another Tiger scored a hit but to no effect. The Russians moved the bulk of their threatened IS-2s to hull-down positions while three returned fire, knocking out Tiger #22. death-of-a-tiger-2 I tested Morale – all OK.

TURN THREE: Now I aggressively pushed my StuGs and Jagdpanthers forward, trying to get them into optimum firing positions. stug-platoon-moving-to-position-2 The Tigers moved cautiously. A company of T-34-85s now made their presence known, emerging from behind a wood. The IS-2s hit a second Tiger, is2s-early-taking-apart-the-tigers destroying its main gun (the mighty 88mm). To protect his comrades, that Tiger laid down a smokescreen with his smoke launchers.

TURN FOUR: The Jagdpanthers finally reached their firing position, jagdpanthers-in-position-and-commencing-firing from where they could gain a little concealment and kill the ISU-152s opposite them. The StuGs knew they had to fire a smokescreen to block the LOS (line of sight) of the ISU-152s, so they swivelled and loaded smoke shells. The Tigers moved to a better position to try to deal with the superior IS-2s. An ISU-152 killed a StuG, but the remaining StuGs successfully laid down a smokescreen stugs-lay-a-smokescreen .

TURN FIVE: Battle was now truly joined. Both sides manouvered extensively, jockeying for position.

The ISU-152s and Jagdpanthers opened up on eachother, with one Jagdpanther lost for two knocked-out ISU-152s. A second Jagdpanther was tracked. isu152s-1 The Russian Morale Check was passed OK.

The StuG platoon command vehicle was immobilised. This was bad, but there was no need for me to test the whole platoon’s Morale, just that of the command vehicle itself.

TURN SIX: The Jagdpanthers swivelled to shoot up IS-2s and T-34-85s jagdpanthers-killing-isu152s. StuGs that could advance did so and the Tigers stayed obscured by trees while they advanced.

The Jagdpanthers then experienced a savage exchange – two more were lost, including the platoon command vehicle. I checked the survivors’ Morale – Shaken. I tested the whole Company – OK.

TURN SEVEN: With more IS-2s killed, the Tigers came back into the action. My lone Jagdpanther was Shaken – so he simply held his position and fired, since he was not being forced to flee or surrender. He killed a T-34-85 platoon command vehicle t34s-mid-war-taking-fire, and that platoon became Shaken. Trying to get revenge, the T-34-85s returned fire and hit the Jagdpanther, but to no effect.

The Stalins killed another Tiger, but I rolled a strong Morale check of 11 – Fine! I was still in the game!

TURN EIGHT: Where the T-34-85s failed in killing that lone operational Jagdpanther, the ISU-152s succeeded. russians-grinding-on-to-victory I tested my whole Company – a 9 – Fine. Then the IS-2s killed my Company Command Tiger – and that was the end of the game.

RESULTS Not only did the Russians put a lot of my vehicles out of action, they got closer to the objective than I did. I got to see the killing power of IS-2s, ISU-152s and Jagdpanthers in action…those Jagdpanthers are deadly, even at long range.

I was disappointed by my Tigers vs. those IS-2s…but this was a historical outcome, the Tiger was outclassed and outgunned by the IS-2, even the early IS-2s.

Tip for the game? Use my smokescreens earlier!

All photos are over at my Flickr account.