Monday, 24 February 2020

Final Soviet Infantry Section... for now

Some of you might remember I've been slowly, very slowly indeed, building a Soviet force. Initially this was for use with the Operation Squad set of rules, later on for Bolt Action. In 2018 it's latest incarnation came in the form of a Tank Rider Platoon for use with Chain of Command. All of these various forces had one in common: They were never really playable. Well, until today! This last section of Tank Riders and accompanying PTRD AT-rifle give me a full Platoon of these hardy veterans.


As of yet I have no plans on expanding this force significantly, but who knows? The Eureka range of Soviet figures looks tasty albeit somewhat expensive. That said I'm not keen on all the figures wearing the "Telogreika" padded jacket. So I'm likely to wait for them to release infantry in summer dress. One thing is rather certain though, I will not continue with those Warlord plastics. First the Soviet Infantry is one of their oldest sets and it shows. Second they're a huge pain in the back to put together. And third they're just a tad too bulky for my liking nowadays.




I have some issues with my camera apparently as pictures turn out either too dark or too bright while looking OK on the camera itself. Maybe a factory reset is in order...
So, without further ado I wish you all a pleasant day and thanks for viewing!

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Early War German light mortar

Several weeks ago I was gifted a sprue of the plastic Afrika Korps by Warlord Games and while I didn't like the figures some bits still can come in handy here and there. One thing I still needed for my other wise rather complete force of Early War Germans for Chain of Command was another 50mm light mortar and luckily there was one in the DAK sprue.



Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Cats big and small

I'm burning a lot of midnight oil at the moment and actually get some stuff done for a change. Work is still extremely hectic and I've spent most of my weeks away in Munich (imagine disgusted gurgling sound here) and thus I've started to take some stuff to paint with me. It's always a little difficult to set it all up in an ergonomic way in a hotel room but definitely better than staring at the TV most of the time.


Friday, 14 February 2020

Nun with gun

Surprisingly enough I feel like I'm doing quite well painting wise this challenge. It's just the photographing and editing which seems to take ages, if I can be arsed to do it at all that is.
As I want to take advantage of a ride with Lady Sarah's Balloon to Snow Lord's Peak I needed a 'female' miniature of some kind. Luckily enough there was one in a recent order from Wargames Foundry...

Friday, 7 February 2020

Vintage car for Schloß Itter

The good thing with being all over the place painting wise is that somehow in the end things come together nonetheless. So, while I continue to paint stuff without anything approaching my usual "focus" I got another piece finally off the table. 


Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Hans! Hände hoch!

Another entry to the Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge by yours truly:

A last stand you say? Well, if there’s been one iconic last stand in WW2 than it must clearly have been the Battle for Arnhem during Operations Market and Garden. Of course there were others too but this one instantly sprang to mind and coincidentally I'm slowly collecting a force of Paratroopers for it.

Paras on their way to the bridge

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Soviet Colour Guide

Still in full swing I decided to take advantage of my enthusiasm and do another Colour Guide. After a popular vote with overwhelming majority (2 vs. 0) for a Colour Guide on Soviet Infantry that's what I set out to do. You see? Voting Does make a difference ;-)

Luckily I had still some assembled Warlord Plastic Soviets lying around. So the perfect excuse to finally get that Tank Rider Platoon finished.

-Figure painted earlier-

My painting style is based on the so-called Triad-System or Foundry System in which you use a Shade as the darkest colour. Then you paint over it using what is called a Base Colour (in general the actual colour you want to achieve for the piece you're just painting) leaving the Shade show only in the folds and recesses, followed by a Highlight on the points which will catch the most light. However, I'm using intermediate steps to make the transitions between the different colours much smoother.
Thus typically the steps I use would look somewhat like:

Shade - 50/50 mix Shade/Base - Base - 50/50 mix Base/Highlight - Highlight

In general what I'll give you in this tutorial is the three colours as if used as simple triads. If you prefer the more elaborate approach just add in the intermediate steps mentioned above, or start from an even darker Shade or end with a lighter Highlight.

If fractions in brackets are given these are just approximations. Just try what looks best to you.


Note: I haven't documented every single step for this Colour Guide, so you might want to refer to some of the guides I wrote earlier. To do so just go to the top of the page where you'll find a link to a page containing direct links to all the Colour Guides I wrote to date.
Step 1: Brown Uniform
I might do another Colour Guide on green-ish uniforms later but my existing force sports brown, so that's what I went for.

A: VMC 70.826 German Camouflage Medium Brown
B: VMC 70.921 English Uniform
C: VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand + 70.921 English Uniform (7/3)


Step 2: Rolled Greatcoat
Yes, that's right. It's no blanket, it's a rolled greatcoat some of the figures are wearing. It was used as a blanket as well, though. Allegedly it was worn this way to give added protection in a bayonet fight. Don't know if that's true but it definitely was a custom introduced well before WW2.
When looking on the Internet for Soviet WW2 Uniforms you often happen across Reenactors wearing brown greatcoats. These were only introduced in the Cold War era but are readily available and dirt cheap, so that's what many seem to go for. Some of the Soviets I painted earlier sport brown greatcoat rolls, so you see a little research before delving into a project would sometimes help.
So, the "correct" colour for a Soviet WW2 era greatcoat would be grey. Admittedly a brownish grey, but still grey.

A: VMC 70.889 USA Olive Drab
B: VMC 70.889 USA Olive Drab + VMC 70.884 Stone Grey (4/1)
C: VMC 70.884 Stone Grey + VMC 70.889 USA Olive Drab (4/1)


Step 3: Green Helmets
Like with many other armies Soviet helmets came in a variety of different shades. Personally I think a strong green works well with the brown uniform as it adds some much needed contrast.

A: VMC 70.889 USA Olive Drab
B: VMC 70.894 Camo Olive Green
C: VMC 70.881 Yellow Green + VMC 70.894 Camo Olive Green (3/2)


Step 4: Webbing pouches, rifle slings and Putties
Putties and pouches also came in a myriad of different hues of greens and browns. I went for a very light, almost white canvas for the pouches to represent undyed linen and a marginally darker colour for the putties.

Putties:
A: VGC 70.062 Earth (VMC 70.983 Flat Earth would work just as well)
B: VGC 70.062 Earth + VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand (1/1)
C: VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand + VGC 72.101 Off White (1/1)

Webbing:
A: VGC 70.062 Earth + VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand (1/1)
B: VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand
C: VGC 72.101 Off White + VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand (2/1)


Step 5: Brown leather equipment
Soviet leather equipment was generally not blackened. So I went with a reddish brown to represent slightly aged natural leather.
For a change I used the colurs straight out of the pot, so no mixing required at all.

A: VMC 70.895 Hull Red
B: VMC 70.982 Cavalry Brown
C: VMC 70.818 Red Leather
D: VMC 70.981 Orange Brown


Step 6: Wooden rifle stocks
When I'm after a more aged look for treated wood I use a darker triad than I did in my Guide on British Paratroopers.

A: VMC 70.985 Hull Red
B: VMC 70.984 Flat Brown
C: VMC 70.984 Flat Brown + VMC 70.876 Brown Sand


As the above pictures were all taking using the camera of my cellphone I thought it'd do the paint jobs more justice to include a picture of a squad I painted earlier. Interesting to see how much difference proper lighting and a good camera make.

That's how they should look when photographed properly (older figures)

So, just like with earlier Colour Guides:
If you found this guide useful, have a question or remark concerning this or earlier Colour Guides or you'd like me to do a particular Colour Guide in the future just let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Help! The pre-game barrage ruined my game - Musings after a particular bad experience

Usually I don't write much about wargaming itself on here, if anything at all. There are two simple reasons for this:
First I prefer blogging for the visual aspect of the hobby. For anything else, especially rules discussions, a forum is in my opinion better suited.
Second, and this one is closely related to the first one, I'm generally more interested in the painting part of this hobby anyway.

So, why this post then? Well, today I had a game with my mate Chris (https://christopher-bunkerhill.blogspot.com) that turned sour almost from the beginning and I remembered a discussion on Twitter initiated by Henry Hyde (https://battlegames.co.uk). Henry, or better his mate, experienced almost the same as I did in that game today.

So to actually understand what I'm actually rambling on about you should probably first read the Tweet in question *click*
At the time when the discussion on Twitter was in full swing I really didn't really pay it too much attention, being somewhat put off by the vehemence with which some people pleaded their case. 

Now, before going on I feel I have to say my gaming buddy Chris is a very relaxed and leaned back kind of gamer. We both play more for the sake of the experience and having a good time than for winning. As long as it's a fun, challenging but fair game for both we're both OK if we loose the encounter.

So, with this out of the way what exactly did happen today? Well, we were running the 4th game in our ongoing "There Are Many Rivers To Cross" campaign for Chain of Command. In all the three previous games Chris had already floored me nice and proper and actually pulled off a successful Blitzkrieg, meaning we were now fighting for table four while still in campaign turn 3 (more on that later). But till today in each game I had had the feeling that I might at least have a chance.

The mission itself was the "Blitzkrieg" mission from the newish "Blitzkrieg 1940" handbook. In essence the Germans had to move two of their units off my table edge before I could accumulate enough Chain of Command dice to stop them.
Well, knowing I'm bad at rolling dice (and I mean really bad, like still below average at the best of times) I didn't count on getting those dice anyway. Meaning my primary plan was to stop the Germans by breaking their morale.

In the Patrol Phase Chris managed to somewhat outsmart me and got one of his Jump Off Points (red) relatively far forward while I had one of mine (blue) somewhat carelessly put too far forward behind the building in the middle.


This in itself wouldn't have been too bad if Chris wouldn't have taken a pre-game barrage as one of his support choices. For the first two phases I wasn't able to deploy anything on the table and when I finally managed to get on a single (!!!) 2" mortar team he had his base of fire already well established and also managed to close down my forward JoP. My mortar was only able to deploy smoke (off target of course) before Chriswould bring forward his troops even further.
In my next phase I actually managed to deploy an entrenched section which I let put down covering fire against his LMG in the building at his table edge and the frontage of the section which had closed down my JoP. A short shootout ensued during Chris' next phase (In short I lost a few men from the section as well as the mortar for no gain in return) and I actually managed a double phase... only to not bring anything on the table AGAIN! 

Disclaimer: At this point I actually resigned myself to defeat but knowing if I withdrew without at least inflicting some casualties I'd almost certainly loose the next (and then last) game anyway so I decided to cling on.

Having rolled a double phase Chris then decided to advance with two sections into the field on the top right of the table while at the same time pouring fire into my poor section with his other two sections on the lower table edge. This promptly killed one more men and put some shock on my single section. Again it was my phase and for a change I brought on one more section which immediately fired on one of his sections in the open. I didn't roll too bad but Chris managed to save almost everything bar one kill. 
To cut a long story short here shortly after that he exited his two sections off the table edge without me having done any more significant damage (or having brought on any other unit for that matter).

So, in a nutshell the pre-game barrage, combined with my abysmal dice rolling (just one full CoC-dice at the end of the game, still first turn and almost none of my troops on the table) had ruined my game. To be fair something similar could have happened in any other game (e.g. in Bolt Action when player A has almost all his dice drawn at the beginning of the first turn and then again only at the end of the second turn). So why am I so... well, dismayed? Hacked off?

Well, first of all it's 1.5 hrs drive to my mate, so 3 hrs in total carved out of my already sparse spare time just for getting there. And then having had virtually no chance at all. I could just as well have spent the time painting or playing PlayStation or watching TV and would probably have had a better time.
And second because it's exactly these mechanics which in essence defeated me today (Chris in fact didn't need any clever generalship today) which I normally love about Chain of Command.

A few weeks back I listened to Battlechat #43 titled "What Do We Want from Our Games?" in which Henry muses about the issues he and his mate had experienced in their game of CoC (see Twitter Tweet above). Before todays debacle I didn't really get his point. Thinking "oh well, if it'd have been me I'd have just rolled over when I realised I had no chance and then use the time to play the next game in our campaign". Actually I thought the pre-game barrage was only an issue in one-off games as its usefulness would naturally even out over the course of a campaign. But today I knew I had to eventually pull off a victory to at least stave off the inevitable for a little longer because if I lost the game we'd fight for the last table in the next game. Even worse I now have to win at least three times on table 5 so my engineers would have a at least have a slim chance of damaging the bridge in campaign turn 6 (a roll of 5+).

In our, due to my mood somewhat muted after-game banter we agreed the pre-game barrage needed a fix. In our opinion it's not really under-rated as such as it's not so bad when you don't suck at rolling dice, but it's such a "no-brainer" in a way that I wouldn't leave the house without one if I was the attacker. It potentially breaks the game or at least ruins the fun for one or actually both gamers for the cost of just two support points.
So having recognised our problem with the barrage we're thinking about maybe introducing a mandatory roll if the barrage is available. 

Somewhat along those lines: 
On a roll of 1: No barrage available choose another support option for one point instead
On a roll of 2-3: No barrage available choose another support option for the same value as the barrage
On a roll of 4-6: Barrage available

So should you actually have endured my rather long winded ramblings and read the whole thread I'd actually like to know if you've encountered similar with one of your rules of choice? How did you go about it? What do you do in such cases where a mechanic seemingly dominates a game (not the rules as such) in a way it ruins the whole experience?
I'd be delighted to hear of your experiences.



Wednesday, 15 January 2020

British Paratroopers Colour Guide

Hot on the heels of last weeks Colour Guide on how I paint my Early War Germans I felt suitably inspired to write another one. But this time I'll not tackle some obscure German unit but British Paratroopers. The world famous Red Devils. I'm beavering away on this force for several years now but as of yet there's not nearly enough for a game. Another particularly useful list of colours for British Airborne Troops by Tamsin can be found over on her blog: wargaminggirl.blogspot.com
She has probably done way more research for her British Airborne Project (which by the way is also actually finished) than me. So if in doubt I'd go for her paint suggestions.

Model painted earlier


My painting style is based on the so-called Triad-System or Foundry System in which you use a Shade as the darkest colour. Then you paint over it using what is called a Base Colour (in general the actual colour you want to achieve for the piece you're just painting) leaving the Shade show only in the folds and recesses, followed by a Highlight on the points which will catch the most light. However, I'm using intermediate steps to make the transitions between the different colours much smoother.
Thus typically the steps I use would look somewhat like:

Shade - 50/50 mix Shade/Base - Base - 50/50 mix Base/Highlight - Highlight

In general what I'll give you in this tutorial is the three colours as if used as simple triads. If you prefer the more elaborate approach just add in the intermediate steps mentioned above, or start from an even darker Shade or end with a lighter Highlight.

If fractions in brackets are given these are just approximations. Just try what looks best to you.


Note: I haven't documented every single step for this Colour Guide, so you might want to refer to some of the guides I wrote earlier. To do so just go to the top of the page where you'll find a link to a page containing direct links to all the Colour Guides I wrote to date.

Step 1: Battledress
Most commercially available Paratrooper figures out there will probably all sport the famous Denison smock. So this step will basically only ever concern us for the trousers of the battledress.

A: VMC 70.941 Burnt Umber
B: VMC 70.983 Flat Earth
C: VMC 70.983 Flat Earth + VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand (1/1)


Step 2: Denison Smock Base
As usual I went a little lighter on the base colour than is historically accurate. This will help the figures to stand out a little more on the gaming table. And you can always blame fading.

A: VMC 70.873 US Field Drab
B: VMC 70.873 US Field Drab + VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand (7/3)
C: VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand +  VMC 70.873 US Field Drab (7/3)

 Step 3: Webbing
I used to use different colours for ruckscks, gaiters and other webbing but found the overall effect wasn't worth it. After all the webbing worn by British troops in WW2 (and well after) was blankoed by the soldiers themselves. Thus I think it's highly unlikely for a soldier to carry equipment in such different hues that it'd really stand out on a 28mm figure.

A: VMC 70.924 Russian Uniform
B: VMC 70.924 Russian Uniform + VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand (8/2)
C: VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand + VMC 70.924 Russian Uniform (7/3)


Step 4: Camouflage Patches
In order to recreate the faded look to the camouflage patches that is so emblematic of the Denison Smock I use glazes. A glaze is paint highly diluted with a medium (e.g. water or even better a Glaze Medium) to a point where it gets semi-translucent. One drop paint to about four drops of medium should be sufficient. Then the wet brush is dragged over a piece of kitchen paper until it's almost dry.


Now draw the moist brush in random strokes all over the smock. In fact it actually makes sense to do this step before painting the webbing equipment. Should the paint be too translucent for your liking just go over it again when the first layer has dried sufficiently. After this use the other colour and repeat the process. Make sure to let the colours overlap in some places. The nice thing about glazes is similar to washes the shading will happen automatically.

Glaze A: VMC 70.975 Military Green
Glaze B: VMC 70.982 Cavalry Brown


Step 5: The Red Beret
In fact the Beret should be more maroon than a bright Ferrari red, something Tamsin let me know back when I did my first Paratroopers all those moons ago.

A: VMC 70.814 Burnt Red
B: VGC 72.012 Scarlet Red
C: VMC 70.946 Dark Red

Step 6: Helmet Cover
Unlike the German Wehrmacht which often used helmet covers with printed on camouflage patterns the British used netting to disrupt the shape of their helmets.

A: Wetbrush VMC 70.975 Military Green
B: Drybrush VMC 70.924 Russian Uniform



The scrim (?) came in many different colours ranging from a dark green over a deep, reddish brown to almost beige. For sake of contrast I decided on a light, almost beige brown.

A: Wetbrush VGC 72.062 Earth (VMC 70.983 Flat Earth works just as well)
B: Drybrush VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand + VGC 72.062 Earth ( 7/3)

 Step 7: Rifle stock
As I changed over from Foundry to Vallejo paints I also had to look for a replacement to my trusty Spearshaft triade which I previously had used for almost anything wooden. So that's the closest I came up with to date (Don't know why there's Flat Earth instead of Beige Brown in the picture).

A: VMC 70.940 Saddle Brown
B: VMC 70.875 Beige Brown + VMC 70.843 Cork (8/2)
C: VMC 70.843 Cork

So another Colour Guide done and just a few hundred left before I've finally covered any uniform variation worn during WW2. If you found this guide useful, have a question or remark concerning this or earlier colour guides or you'd like me to do a particular colour guide in the future just let me know in the comments below.


Saturday, 11 January 2020

Early War German Colour Guide

Having not done any new colour guides for quite a while (and having been prompted to do one specifically for early war Germans by a good friend) I thought I'd use the opportunity and take a few shots while painting my latest unit of Germans.


My painting style is based on the so-called Triad-System or Foundry System in which you use a Shade as the darkest colour. Then you paint over it using what is called a Base Colour (in general the actual colour you want to achieve for the piece you're just painting) leaving the Shade show only in the folds and recesses, followed by a Highlight on the points which will catch the most light. However, I'm using intermediate steps to make the transitions between the different colours much smoother.
Thus typically the steps I use would look somewhat like:

Shade - 50/50 mix Shade/Base - Base - 50/50 mix Base/Highlight - Highlight

In general what I'll give you in this tutorial is the three colours as if used as simple triads. If you prefer the more elaborate approach just add in the intermediate steps mentioned above, or start from an even darker Shade or end with a lighter Highlight.

If fractions in brackets are given these are just approximations. Just try what looks best to you.


Note: I haven't documented every single step for this Colour Guide, so you might want to refer to some of the guides I wrote earlier. To do so just go to the top of the page where you'll find a link to a page containing direct links to all the Colour Guides I wrote to date.


Step 1: Helmet and trousers
This one is rather straight forward as I use basically the same colours for both items only in different mixes. Actually the helmet should be in a very dark greyish green, almost similar to field grey, but  I liked the stark contrast more so went with a dark grey. This and it also looks more teutonic ;-)
Also I went deliberately a little too dark on the trousers, so you may very well start with a lighter shade depending on the look you're after.

Helmet
A: VMC 70.995 German Grey
B: VMC 70.995 German Grey + VMC 70.900 French Mirage Blue (7/3)
C: VMC 70.995 German Grey + VMC 70.900 French Mirage Blue (5/5)

Trousers
A: VMC 70.995 German Grey + VMC 70.900 French Mirage Blue (5/5)
B: VMC 70.900 French Mirage Blue
C: VMC 70.900 French Mirage Blue + VMC 70.907 Pale Grey Blue (3/7)


Step 2: M36 Fieldgrey tunic
I've elaborated this particular recipe before but for the sake of simplicity it's included below. What paints to use for the bottle-green collars and shoulder tabs you'll find further below.

A: VMC 70.830 German Fieldgrey + VMC 70.950 Black  (8/2)
B: VMC 70.830 German Fieldgrey
C: VMC 70.884 Green Grey + VMC 70.830 German Fieldgrey (7/3)


Step 3: M36 Reed-Green tunic
There were a myriad of different shades of Fieldgrey, especially in the late war period, but one I find especially fitting for early war is the so called reed-green. While there was a specific reed-green summer uniform later in the war it's just as appropriate for the M36 field tunic. This is especially the case when considering the early uniforms generally having been on the greener side of the spectrum while later uniforms often were more brownish.
What paints to use for the bottle-green collars and shoulder tabs you'll find further below.

A: VMC 70.920 German Uniform + VMC 70.995 German Grey (2/8)
B: VMC 70.920 German Uniform
C: VMC 70.920 German Uniform + VMC 70.919 Iraqui Sand (7/2)


Step 4: Bottle-Green collar and shoulder tabs
Specific to the early M36 field tunic were the collar and shoulder tabs in so called bottle-green.

A: VMC 70.823 Luftwaffe Camo Green + VMC 70.995 German Grey (8/2)
B: VMC 70.823 Luftwaffe Camo Green
C: VMC 70.895 Gunship Green + VMC 70.823 Luftwaffe Camo Green (7/3)


Step 5: Litzen and other insignia
For the so called Litzen, i.e. the collar patches, and other insignia like the National Emblem or the NCO's collar braid I went with just 

VMC 70.907 Pale Grey Blue


Straight White or Off-White is too stark in my oppinion. Should you choose to hand paint rank chevrons onto the sleeves of your toy soldiers I'd personally first paint on a triangle of 

VMC 70.887 Olive Drab

and then paint over the chevrons in Pale Grey Blue.


Step 6: A new recipe for Caucasian Flesh
Regular readers of my blog may have noticed a change to the way I paint Caucasian Flesh, especially compared to earlier guides like *here*. This is mainly due to my switch away from Foundry paints and firmly towards Vallejo. 
Thus I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to let you know the paints I use nowadays.

A: VMC 70.818 Red Leather + VMC 70.804 Beige Red (6/4)
B: VMC 70.804 Beige Red
C: VGC 72.003 Pale Flesh

I use roughly around seven layers to get the result I'm after, so a fair bit of mixing is required to get the smooth transitions I prefer today.


I hope this short guide was of use to some of you. As ever, should there be any questions or you'd want me to do a specific Colour Guide just let me know in the comments below.