Saturday, 20 August 2016

CoC Italian Desert Patrol Markers WIP

As mentioned in my previous post I already have quite a few painted 15mm Italians for North Africa (for which I can't take any credit), so this seemed like the most appropriate place to start building my Patrol Markers. Flicking through the Chain of Command scenaios it appears that six markers is the most I will ever need (for Scenario 5: 'Flank Attack'), which is emminently managable.  With this in mind I started picking suitable miniatures out of my KR case, and put together the following:

An unbuttoned Autoblinda 41 scouting ahead.
Two L3/35s and a brave/foolhardy tank commander.
A broken-down L6/40 with unhelpful driver. Camouflage needs finishing.
A parked Autoblinda 41 and radioman.
A Fiat CR.42 Falco - ace model, but still need to work out how to mount it.  
By far and away my favourite is this little L3/35 cresting a dune...

Look at him, going as fast as his tiny running wheels will carry him.
 ... which is my attempt at a homage to this fantastic Italian propoganda picture.

If only there had been sand dunes on the Eastern Front.
The markers themselves are 60mm bases which have been textured with wood filler sculpted into vague dunes, then had the wheels of the vehicles dragged through it to create some tyre-marks, and finally had very fine sand dumped on them whilst still wet. This has adhered to the filler to provide a suitably textured surface. These will then get some coarser sand and the odd bit of gravel stuck to them with a bit of a PVA to make some more stoney ground, and then I intend to undercoat and paint them - though I am sure Darren will suggest I don't need to. Add the odd bit of yellowed static grass after painting for parched and dried up vegetation, and I'm away.

Of course these markers are best suited to the Fucilieri, but I intend to do some more appropriate to the Bersagilieri later on - with a suitable focus on Motociclisti, but I'm also thinking of putting in some Auto-Sahariana in AS.42s, as I'll mainly be fielding them to counter the SAS and LRDG. More on them - and the other British and Commonwealth forces - later. 

Friday, 19 August 2016

Bi-curious Italians Hungry For CoC

With Operation Stag out of the way - and the majority of us extracted from the jungle with only minor damage to our sanity - I can once again contemplate some hobby activity which doesn't solely consist of repetitively cleaning up and basing an entire Battlefront PAVN infantry battalion.

The horror... the horror...

Numerous distractions aside (15mm ACW anyone?), my main aims for this year were to get a 6mm Soviet force together for Team Yankee and to use the numerous 15mm WW2 miniatures I own (initially purchased for Bolt Action) to give the supposedly far superior Chain of Command a go.

The book features the usual high quality Lardy production values...

Ostensibly, it shouldn't be too hard to switch from 1940k to Chain of Command. The basing conventions are the same (no pesky element bases), both systems represent combat at a platoon level, and whilst the range of hardware available in the supporting list can be pretty wide it seems from a superficial reading of the CoC rules that you are likely to be fielding far less supporting units. So any viable and faintly historically accurate Bolt Action platoon should be pretty much ready to go.

But I then got thinking about one of the more unique mechanics of Chain of Command - and the aspect that got me interested when I first heard about it - the Patrol Phase. During the initial deployment stage, both players take part in a mini-game which represents them reconnoitring the board and attempting to find and 'fix' their opponents in play to gain a tactical advantage against them when they deploy their forces. Or that's how I understand it at least... I've not actually played yet!

Given that we will be playing the rules as written, just scaling down to 15mm for a slightly more realistic experience as we did with Bolt Action, this offers a fun hobby opportunity with regard to the Patrol Markers and Jump-off Points. The rules state that Patrol Markers should be approximately 2.5" in diameter, and when playing in 28mm that they should feature some appropriate national symbols to denote which is which. 2.5" is close enough to the 60mm MDF bases I have kicking around for government work, and in 15mm is more than large enough to put together some cool little dioramas representing the various reconnaissance forces each side has at their disposal.

The title of this photo is 'Jeep Mania', which is an actual condition that Tom has.

(This totally wasn't my idea by the way - but it seemed far too good of one not to pinch. I've now long forgotten where I first saw it, but it might have been on

The rules are a little bit less clear about Jump-off Points (" unobtrusive vignette...") but similarly offer an excellent opportunity to build some characterful dioramas - and Battlefront and other companies already produce a number of theatre-specific Objective Markers which would work really well and which take up the same dimensions as a large Flames of War base, so this will be my starting point. In fact, I already own one for the Italians of an officer sitting down to his spaghetti!
Other Italian cultural stereotypes are available...

Initially I was just thinking of adding to my existing Paracadutisti Nembo force and going from there. However, there aren't actually any published army lists for Mid/Late War Italian Paratroopers - and whilst there are some useful tools out there like the Coc Calculator to help you work out your forces, and bloggers like Andy Duffell over on Tiny Hordes putting out some exhaustive lists for the Italian Theatre of their own devising, it seemed sensible to go with one of the Lardies own published force lists for my first foray into Chain of Command.

Fortunately for me, Too Fat Lardies have been very good at supporting Chain of Command over on their blog Lard Island - releasing lists for plenty of theatres which fell outside of the D-Day and beyond scope of the main rulebook, including some very interesting ones which proceeded WW2 altogether like the Spanish Civil War and the Abyssinian War.

The most interesting theatre for me though has always been North Africa, and in particular the early stages of the conflict- when men were men, tanks were awful, and armoured cars went 'swanning around in the blue'. Luckily again the Lardies have me covered, with lists for both the Italian army in East and North Africa in 1940 and the early desert British circa Operation Compass.

Whilst they've never properly graced the table outside of the odd game of Tank War, I do actually have quite a few North Africa miniatures for all the different sides, in various states of completion. This includes a whole Flames of War Bergsagilieri Army - painted to a far higher standard than I could muster - bought off eBay a while ago. Why not use Chain of Command as an excuse to whip my existing miniatures into shape and start getting them to the table? Why not indeed.

One thing I won't be doing, however, is bettering this amazing Afrika Korps objective marker...!

There is also a mini Indiana Jones, with mini anachronistic Panzerfaust. AMAZEBALLS.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Dunny on the Wold (aka Dry Brushton)

Four Gripping Beast Buildings, purchased a few years back.

After an undercoat of Army Painter Black Primer all four buildings were dry brushed all over with Vallejo 826 German Camo Medium Brown.

Then the thatch was dry brushed with 875 Beige Brown and finally 873 US Field Drab

The buildings were then dry brushed with 886 Green Grey and the Church was finally dry brushed with 884 Stone Grey.

I think the muted tones and grey weathered wood looks really effective.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Saga Louts

Operation Buyaloadofvikings at Salute was a success, and on Thursday we played our first (or for Ed and myself, our second) games of Saga. Highlights included some authentic shield-wall action, a unit of Warriors getting absolutely minced in one round of combat with a wholly untouched unit of Hearthguard, and the creation of a number of sudden and unexpected vacancies on the Bayeux Equestrian Dressage team. We also managed to down something like sixteen beers between three of us (a prodigious achievement even by our usual standards), which must mean that Saga is the holy grail - a game I can win whilst drinking. That's right, even after three games I remain... THE UNDEFEATED SAGA CHAMPION! Admittedly we still have a lot to learn about the rules, but everyone seems pretty sold on the battleboard system and keen to start a campaign.

The vision that greeted Tom le Bâtard when he finally arrived on Thursday...

Which is fortuitous, because at Salute I also managed to pick up an early copy of Gripping Beast's new campaign supplement Age of the Wolf. I've only given it the briefest of skim reads thus far, but the mechanic by which you designate each season whether you will be raiding, campaigning or defending seems very interesting - as do the more RPG elements such as Warlord traits and motivations, units gaining experience, and unforseen events. You can even hire mercenaries and pay off opponents with Danegeld to avoid fighting certain battles.

Sadly only in soft-back... my copy looks like it came back from Salute via Lindisfarne.

Each player begins the campaign with four Saga points to spend, which I think each of us except le Bâtard currently has based and ready to go. But everyone knows the gods favour those with painted miniatures, so today I finally finished cleaning up my Jomsvikings (a pretty herculean task, I wasn't expecting the acres of flash and mould lines like tram-tracks... and the less said about the hands that need to be drilled out to accept spears the better) and got them undercoated. I'm setting myself the innocuous-seeming goal of getting twelve miniatures painted a month, one unit of Hearthguard and one of Warriors, at which rate I should six Saga points complete by August - though I've not actually painted 28s in ages, so am not sure how realistic that is at my glacially slow painting rate. Looking at Age of the Wolf in more detail, I may also need to pick up some extra Warriors for mercenaries. Though thinking about it, as Jomsvikings I kind of am the mercenaries...

 My main tactic for talking Daz into new wargaming projects.

All round then, Saga seems to have been a hit. Big D even started asking about the other Saga games, The Crescent & The Cross (sat on my bookshelf, unplayed) and the upcoming Invasion. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to persuade everyone to join me on Crusade sometime soon.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Beneath The Raven Banner

Spurði Sveinn hverja gripi Haraldr hefði, þá er honum væri virkt mest á. Hann svarar svo að það var merki hans, Landeyðan. Þá spurði Sveinn hvað merkinu fylgdi, þess er það var svo mikil gersemi. Haraldr segir að það var mælt að sá mundi hafa sigr er merkið er fyrir borið, segir að svo hafði orðið síðan er hann fékk það.
Sveinn asked Haraldr which of his possessions of his he valued most highly. He answered that it was his banner, Landøyðan. Thereupon Sveinn asked what virtue it had to be accounted so valuable. Haraldr replied that it was prophecied that victory would be his before whom this banner was borne; and added that this had been the case ever since he had obtained it.

When I first started gaming with Darren, Ed, Tom, et al, they were just getting into an exciting new game called SAGA. Keen to ingratiate myself into the group, I promptly toddled off and ordered the rules and a box of the plastic Gripping Beast Viking Hirdmen.  However as this was my first forray into historicals, I insisted on kitbashing them with a load of Games Workshop Chaos Marauder heads and shields in the hope that I would be able to use them as Norse Raiders in Warhammer Quest or Mordheim. Naturally I never finished them, and they now sit unloved and forgotten in a drawer in my desk. Though to be fair this is probably a kindness, as the use of GW parts means that they all look like they've been struck down with a severe case of Bloaty Head...

Pro Tip #231: Don't do a google image search for "Bloaty Head". I've seen... things.

Our attention was then diverted to Dystopian Wars, for which I promptly brought a large French fleet (also unfinished - there may be something of a pattern here), but the less said about that the better...

Five (shurley some mishtake, ed.) years later, we still haven't ever actually managed to get a game together, unless you count the quick bash at the rules we had once we'd finished assembling our miniatures - appropriately enough, on a tablecloth covered in birds which if you squinted really hard could have been ravens. Also on a tablecloth covered in crumbs, because Ed has small - albeit now larger - children.

It was with this fact preying on my mind, and with the build-up to Salute 2016 underway, that I was hit by the triple threat of Studio Tomahawk announcing their *third* new major expansion to the SAGA rules (a Great Migration era setting) before I'd properly played the first one, the news Gripping Beast would be releasing a Viking-themed campaign supplement at the show, and finally the arrival of Blood Eagle on my doorstep. At that point I started to think that maybe I have a problem.

A quick survey of my bookshelf / drawers / under my bed later, and I realised that Blood Eagle brought the total of Dark Ages rules that I owned to four - and yet no painted miniatures, no scenery, and no games under my belt. Odin All-Father would not be pleased.

I have also realised that I need to give the coffee table a clean...

But amidst the signs of my shame, I also spotted an opportunity. My extremely slow painting output means I am a big fan of dove-tailing wargaming projects which I can use for more than one system or setting. Given that Blood Eagle can be played with as few as five miniatures, SAGA and Lion Rampant with about 36, and Shield Wall with as many as you can get on a table, it became apparent that I now own a range of rules which mean that I can start getting games in with miniatures as soon as they roll off the production line, rather than having to wait until I have a quorate warband (a phrase which must be a googlewhack by the way). And with our WW2 escalation league apparently having run out of steam and my fellow gamers as time-poor as I am, this seems like an excellent next step.

Possessing a well-attested scale perversity, I would usually look to game something like this in 15mm (Splintered Light and Khurasan both make some very nice looking Dark Ages miniatures). However this time round there is a pretty strong case for 28mm - not in the least that we all already own some Dark Ages miniatures, so it shouldn't be too hard to talk people into using them in anger! Another plus to 28mm is that 4ground do some of their excellent pre-painted MDF kits for the period. And the existence of multi-part plastic kits in this scale doesn't hurt, even if the Gripping Beast Viking Hirdmen were a bit of a nightmare to assemble.

Strikingly similar to IKEA furniture - but about ten times as sturdy.

So with 1500 points of 15mm WW2 Italians now complete, it's time to unfurl Landøyðan and embark on a new project! At Salute I'll be picking up a SAGA starter box of either Vikings or Jomsvikings, and from therein I will aim to paint one SAGA points worth of miniatures a month. As soon as month one is done I'll also begin forging the legend (and quite possibly also a narrative) of my Jarl and his heroic companions using Blood Eagle. In the meantime I will be glutting myself on mead, the TV show Vikings, and the Charlemagne DLC for Atilla: Total War that lets you play as Ragnar Loðbrók.

And to my fellow CUNTs - dust off your Dark Age minis and prepare to kiss my axe!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Batman Begins: Cargo ship completed

The MSV Ironsides build is complete!

Great value for money, it's 75cm long with 6 cargo containers, a radioactive material container and a couple of small box crates. 

Quality is very good parts were easy to pop out and there was only a little bit of filing on a couple of items to get a good fit. Parts are well planned and fix together for glueing without the need to clamp or deploy rubber bands. Build was a leisurely day and nights work.

Nice detail in the cabin.

The wheel turns and the lever and control panel detailing is nice.

Simple kit highly recommended, can be purchased from TT Combat here

Whilst I was building the cargo ship I busted out some lamp posts from Knight Models.

Quality of the cut on these was not as good (laser had not cut all the way through on some parts) and 2 were lost to wastage. They were however cheap and I got 6 out of 8 which is enough for BMG.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Batman Begins: ahoy there mateys!

Some WIP shots of TT Combats MSV Ironsides alongside the test dockside wall

Very nice kit.

Mr Messy is pleased.