Monday, November 28, 2011

EW German Schützen Platoon

This is a German schuützen infantry platoon for my German early war North Africa Stützpunkt force. These are Battlefront figures I've painted using colors recommended in the Hellfire and Back book by Battlefront. The bases received the same treatment as my other North Africa forces. For this unit I decided to go with a black wash instead of my normal brown at the recommendation of my friend Gordon. The black definitely shows better on the darker uniforms.

This platoon has similar assets as the Australian infantry I painted earlier, namely a light mortar and anti-tank rifle stand. While these specialist stands offer only slightly improved utility they also have the crucial effect of bringing this platoon up to a full strength of nine stands which is quite nice for Veteran troops. The core infantry are all rated as MG - machine gun armed owing to the high percentage of MG-38 and MG-42 machine guns they carried.

My favorite figures are the ones in the lower right photo, with a machine gunner and loader firing their gun by having the loader hold the bipod on the run. Back then I'm sure ear protection was optional...ouch! While this practice may seem ludicrous, it's well documented in photos and German training manuals.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Brother Against Brother Artillery Template

My friend Byron runs a lot of Indian Mutiny games using the Brother against Brother ACW rule set. He's been using a homemade acetate artillery template for canister shot, but these are hard to keep track of since they're transparent and thin. Byron asked me if I could make a template on my laser for him out of the transparent green material I make my other templates out of. This is what I came up with for him.

If there is interest from other gamers to get some of these I will add them to the items I sell on my website. Feel free to drop me an email or post a comment here if you're interested.

Friday, November 25, 2011

EW North Africa Escalation League (4)

For 'Black Friday' I traveled down to  Adler Hobby to get in another game in our Early War North Africa Escalation league. My opponent was Adam with his German medium tank company featuring a platoon of potent Panzer IV tanks, two light panzer platoons of Panzer IIc and I tanks and an artillery battery consisting of a single section of LeFH18 10.5cm guns (seen below left). My force was my Australian Commonwealth infantry company with a platoon of infantry, a 3" Mortar platoon, a full battery of four OQF 18/25 guns and two captured tank platoons each containing two M11/39 and one M14/40 tanks (seen below right).

The scenario was "Night Attack" which is this month's chosen scenario for the league. I deployed in defense with my artillery forward to act as improvised AT guns covering the center objective with my two tank platoons covering the right flank where I had only a single artillery piece. My infantry deployed in defense of Adam's objective on my right flank and my mortars on the left objective. Adam advanced aggressively under the cover of the first two turns darkness and when dawn broke started working on destroying my artillery battery which he correctly assessed as my biggest threat to his armor. In the duel I lost a couple of guns and my battery's commander but in the trade was able to eventually take out his CinC and one of his Panzer IVs. This reduced his damage on my batteries by removing 2/3rds of his high-firepower assets. Over the next couple of turns I was able to destroy the remaining Panzer IV with my artillery which left my tanks to clean up the light panzer platoons by the end of turn six.

Adam had a tough draw at 950 points against my infantry with it's high-AT value artillery pieces and two tank companies. At higher point values his tank list will continue to be able to add more good armor, while my infantry's AT asset choices thin out. Should make for a much balanced match up later on in the league.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

EW North Africa Escalation League (3)

Tonight we had a special Tuesday night session for our Escalation league since our normal day (Thursday) is the Thanksgiving holiday. Early in the evening Chris stopped by and started assembling his horde of Italian motorcycles. While he worked on that Gordon with his Italian Posizione Di Fucilieri (Defensive Infantry Position) company and I with my Australian Divisional Cavalry Squadron set up to play a game using the "Night Attack" scenario. Gordon and I both had 950 point forces to use for this game since we've already played each other earlier using our 600 point forces earlier in the league.

I thought the Posizione Di Fucilieri was scary at 600 points, but at 950 points it's absolutely terrifying! Gordon put 3 template forces on the table, two with direct fire capability that on paper seemed impossible to even approach with my thin-skinned Italian leftover tanks. Still we set up and I made one of the two critical moves in the game for me: I placed one of my objectives hidden behind a small ridge behind Gordon's defenses. If I could somehow sneak some of my force there I might have a chance....

Early on as soon as the shooting started things looked scary. As soon as I would shoot something in my force, Gordon's defensive bunkers and masses of artillery would jump on it. I lost a Bren carrier and an armored car on Gordon's first defensive fire. Luckily for me that 'lit up' one of his batteries. This allowed me my second opportunity of the game. I could smoke one of the guns in that battery and use that smoke to make a run for the previously positioned objective!

Over the next 4 turns I somehow miraculously was able to continue to range in on the critical smoke screen. I lost most of a platoon of tanks in one turn through direct fire from Gordon's howitzers and dodged a huge bullet saving 5 out of 5 savings rolls when his Stukas ranged in on a cluster of tanks, artillery guns and artillery command teams in my rear area.

The flanking maneuver and smoke screens held out long enough for me to get a narrow victory with one of my 4 platoons down to a single tank and my armored cars only surviving through the fortune of several lucky savings rolls. In a tournament environment this surely would have been a tie game with each of us walking away with precious few points. Great game, lots of fun and great company. Thanks Gordon!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stützpunkt '88' Nests

As promised here are the two FlaK36 8.8 cm '88' guns that insert into the Stützpunkt pits I posted yesterday. Battlefront models and crews. These were standard 88s made for a large base with crews on normal bases. I had to cut & grind the bases off the figures so I could glue the crew directly to the terrained insert disks for the gun pits. Now I'm ready to start blowing up Matilda and Valentine tanks! If the Matilda is the queen of the desert, these are the kings.

Sorry for the bright sun in the photos. Usually I prefer to wait for an overcast day but I wanted to get these posted before I brought them to game day at Adler Hobby today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stützpunkt Gun Nests

These are four Stützpunkt Gun Nests for my German North Africa force: two 2cm AA guns and two 5cm AT guns. Each Stützpunkt platoon will have as part of it one of each of the two types, some infantry in trenches and two machine gun nests. These are sold in pairs by Battlefront and include the nest terrain feature, guns (one of each) and crews. I haven't decided if I will be using two or four of these as I haven't settled on a final force composition. Since there were two of these in stock at Adler Hobby I snatched them up and added them to my collection for my German force.

My force will also require at least one 8.8 cm FlaK36 "88" gun pit. I may optionally field two 88s which may be my preference. In order to be a little more economic in my purchases I'm going to make up my 88 pits using gun models I've purchased earlier by adding them to two of these pits. To facilitate that I've put the crews for one pair of the gun pits on thin plywood disks cut to fit the pits and terrained and painted to match. I'll put the 88s and crews on similar disks that I made up at the same time as these.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

German North Africa 81mm Mortar Platoon

This is the first combat platoon for my early war North Africa German force. After playing against Gordon's Italian defensive force (Position de Fucileri) I decided it would be fun to have a German Stützpunkt defensive force for my Australian's to assault. I'm a big fan if infantry mortars in Flames of War. I think they're one of the must-have items in any infantry force that's allowed to field them. They provide great utility with the ability to deliver a smoke bombardment and can suppress enemy infantry and if you're lucky you can even use them to harass light  and medium tanks.

These are Battlefront figures painted up in standard North Africa uniforms. I've used the latter colors for the mortar tubes so that they may be used in early and mid war North Africa games. Next up will be some of the German gun pits that form part of the core of the force. These will be used in conjunction with the machine gun pits I posted earlier and an infantry platoon I have yet to paint.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Carnage 14 AAR

This past weekend was Carnage 14 and the Centuries of Conflict themed games that I help the Carnage staff with as coordinator. This year's theme was 19th century and we had many great theme games. Pictured to the left was the Pour le Merite (best of show) winner, Byron Champlin's Indian Mutiny game using Brother against brother rules. Another Brother against Brother game won the Pour Encourager les Autres award for most inspiring game. The winner was Ralph Gero's "Battle of Gitschin" game from the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. This is a conflict that is not often gamed and Ralph's game was enjoyable and beautiful both in the terrain and figures used. Photos below are of Ralph's game and of Ralph and Byron receiving their awards. Not photographed was Andre Kruppa receiving the Admiral Byng (best naval game) award for his computer-moderated naval game which featured Beautiful ship models.

I ran my Cedar Mountain scenario. This was the same scenario I ran at Huzzah! earlier this spring. Although the game was the same, the outcome was completely different. At Huzzah! the Union successfully held off the Confederate attacks and won the day. At Carnage the Confederates initially faltered in their frontal assault, but a flanking force from Cedar mountain eventually overwhelmed the Union left flank winning the day for the Confederacy.

There were many other GREAT games. I've posted the remainder of my photos in our club's photo gallery. If you're interested in running a game next year for Centuries of Conflict at Carnage our theme century is the 20th century. Bring out your World War I, II, Russian Civil War, Spanish Civil war, colonials and anything else 20th century. We have great awards for the best games and thank you gifts for all theme game masters.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Carnage 14 Convention

This year is the 14th year for the Carnage Convention hosted by our nearby friends in Eastern Vermont. The convention will be held thiw weekend November 4-6 in scenic Fairlee, Vermont. This is an excellent mixed convention with historical miniatures, fantasy/sci-fi miniatures, RPG, board games, a diplomacy tournament and a good vendor area with vendors supporting all of these gaming genres.

This will be my second year as the coordinator of the 'Centuries of Conflict' historical wargaming themed events. This year's theme is the 19th Century and we have an excellent selection of 19th century period events spanning the entire convention. You can read more about all of the games, in the official Carnage Convention Booklet.

Look for a detailed after-action report when I return. I hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Macedonia Prodromoi Cavalry

This is a unit of light cavalry armed with sword and light spear (or could be lance if you like) that I purchased off of Ebay from Dynasty Group Miniatures. You can probably find this unit for sale by them by searching Ebay for the keyword 'AHe11' which is their stock number for this unit. Like the unit I posted yesterday, I would give the painting a solid 7 on the GAJO rating scale. Also like the Thessalian unit I posted earlier this unit came with lead spears that were bent and a couple were knocked out of the hands in shipping.

All of the light spears were replaced with homemade piano-wire replacements that were glued in and painted. The hands were touched up but this was considerably easier on this unit as there is a considerable amount less exposed skin on these figures. These figures are definitely Macedonian Successor with the characteristic headgear. For light cavalry I am slightly put off that they wear a 'royal' violet cloak, but not so put off that I'm willing to re-paint them! I'll be using these as citizen cavalry in my Seleucid army.

Thessalian Cavalry

This is a unit of light cavalry armed with light spear (or could be lance if you like) that I purchased off of Ebay from Dynasty Group Miniatures. You can probably find this unit for sale by them by searching Ebay for the keyword 'AHe14' which is their stock number for this unit. I'll give the painting a solid 7 on the GAJO rating scale.

I do have one gripe, the spears that were included were spindly lead cast weapons. Several of them had already fallen off and one had broken in shipping. The rest were all bent up and pathetic looking. Luckily they all came out of the hands, which were drilled to accept them and were easily replaced with piano wire spears that I made myself. I had to paint the spears and touch up the hands which ended up requiring some touch up the arms and legs to match the hands. I was unable to mix a matching color that I was happy with so in the end a re-paint of parts of the exposed skin was the easiest solution. Even considering the problem with the lead weapons I think this unit was a good value considering the quality of the painting and basing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Australian Infantry Platoon (2)

This is a second Australian infantry platoon for my Aussie North Africa armies. This one doesn't have to do double duty as a motor platoon for my Crusader tanks in mid-war so I was able to outfit these chaps almost exclusively in the snappy Australian bush hats. The platoon is made up mostly from the Battlefront Anzac infantry blister with a few figures tossed in from the Sting of the Scorpion box set (the guys with the head cloths) for flair.

We've been out of power for the past four days due to the freak Halloween heavy snowstorm here in New Hampshire. These were painted on generator power with a single extension cord running the width of my house to power the one light on my painting table. Surprising the lack of light didn't hurt the quality of the paint job - these guys are my normal shoddy workmanship!