Saturday, September 26, 2015

Paint Table Saturday

On the painting desk this Saturday are some Perry Brothers plastic ACW infantry, getting painted up as generic Union troops from the armies of the west, in plain black slouch hats.  I think I heard Col. Von Daniken in the mess saying he needed more boys since the damned rebs were so well fixed for artillery.  Mixed in is the remaining Perry artillerist fro missed from the last sprue I did of that lot.  Hopefully they’ll be done by this time next week.  There may be a warg rider running around in the background.

We move outside to see the other paint table in operation today.   Via the Too Fat Lardies yahoo list, I came across this tutorial by US gamer Mark Luther on how he sets up his amazing 6mm tables.   Mark’s games always make me think a flight to Atlanta might be worth the chance to get in on one.   I wanted to do something similar for my 6mm Napoleonics figures.  Borrowing slightly from Mark’s SOP, I took an old Queen sized bed sheet that we were discarding during our move.  Using painter’s tape to mark off the fields and some craft store acrylic paint, I tried to create a bunch of colours that would suggest an agricultural region.  My inspiration was seeing fields in southern Germany during a train trip this summer.

 I am now almost 3/4 done and hope to be finished soon, if blessed with some more good fall weather.   Once it’s done, I intend to work on it with artist’s pastel crayons to give the fields a little more colour and texture.  I can either draw roads on it in pastel, or lay the roads out with play sand if I wish.  Hopefully it will provide a colourful backdrop for my Naps battles.  The paint has left it rather stiff and I need to find a way to soften it a bit so it lies flat on the table and can drape over styrofoam hills. Also, since it looks rather like the table mats made by Hotz and other companies, I suppose I could use it for WW1 dogfight games, should I ever feel the urge to buy some plains.  Or, I could use it as a quilt in the guest room.

So that’s it for this week.  Blessings to your brushes!


Friday, September 25, 2015

A Villain For Curt

While, like a Lannister, I try to always pay my debts, I don’t always pay them as promptly as I should.  Last winter I entered Curt Campbell’s Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, knowing that the cost for entering was a painted figure, which some of my fellow contestants started calling Curtgeld.  Curt’s entrance fee for this competition was a figure representing an “antihero, rogue or person of dubious character but undeniable charisma”.  For each figure received, Curt would donate $5 to his local branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Curt likes the world to think that his heart is as black as his kettle, but those of us fortunate to know him know better, and are not surprised that he would put his “Curtgeld” to such charitable use.

Well, Curt, I am sorry it took me so long,  I started painting this chap between after finishing my thesis last spring and moving in the summer, and then it went missing.  He just turned up and I was able to finish basing and painting him.  He is one of the figures from a fellow Canadian, two-fisted pulp miniature maker Bob Murch, from his “Stahl-Mask’s Doom Squad” pack.


I don’t know how charismatic he is under that metal mask ...

 … but with that Luger in his hand, would you dare tell him he isn’t charismatic?

He’ll be in the mail on Monday, Curt.   Thank you again for running the Painting Challenge.

Blessings to your brushes!

These figures bring my 2015 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 36; Mounted Figures: 10, Artillery: 2, Vehicles: 2, Scenic Pieces: 2

20mm:  Vehicles: 1; Artillery: 1, Foot Figures: 6

15mm: Armour/Vehicles: 5; 15mm Scenic Pieces: 5

6mm:  Scenic pieces:  7

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Reworked Russkies

Back in the 1990s I started building a Soviet army in 1/72nd / 20mm.  Some were ESCI figures, of which I still have this box to paint.

 I had a copy of the Osprey book on the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War, but not a lot of painting smarts, so I tended to paint them all in Tamiya Flat Earth brown, so they looked like this.  The basing was pretty minimal - cereal box cardboard with green paint and some simple green flocking.  I’ve taken these chaps off a base so I can repaint them in dribs or drabs, as the spirit moves me while at the painting bench.


I’m fairly happy with way I’ve been able to clean these figures up.   A fairly simple process.  Following a speed painting tutorial I saw once on The Guild website, I did the helmets in Vallejo Russian green, the tunics in Vallejo Dunkelgelb primer, and the trousers in Vallejo Russian Uniform.  I left the red leather belts from the original paint job untouched, but added some fresh black to the books, some Army Painter gunmetal silver to the SMGs, and some Citadel Bestigor Flesh to touch up the faces.  I then hit them all with Army Painter Strong Tone wash.  Basing done to my usual spec for 20mm WW2 fire teams, a piece of MDF cut with a circular saw and my normal SOP for terrain and flocking.

I like the running figures, they have that rugged, determined quality of Soviet Realist artwork.  Onwards, comrades!

Hopefully they’ll last for another two decades of gaming.

Blessings to your brushes!


These figures bring my 2015 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 35; Mounted Figures: 10, Artillery: 2, Vehicles: 2, Scenic Pieces: 2

20mm:  Vehicles: 1; Artillery: 1, Foot Figures: 6

15mm: Armour/Vehicles: 5; 15mm Scenic Pieces: 5

6mm:  Scenic pieces:  7



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More Men of Gondor

Off the painting bench this week is this sprue’s worth (11 in total) of GW Gondorians.  The two stands of trees in the background are new as well.  Very simple basing.  I detest slotta bases, and as one day I hope to do large battles in Middle Earth, I think I need to look into sabot bases.

A little wash and highlighting on their blue skirts to make them look interesting and less like walking tin cans.  I also washed the armour in Army Painter dark tone and then picked out some highlights (the engraving on the helmets and the tree of Gondor on the breastplates) with Citadel Mithril Silver.

Here’s the sum total of my painted Gondorians to date.  Rally round the flag, boys!

Corporal Patches, from the GW Osgiliath Veterans blister, shows the new spearmen how to properly stick their ork.

“Shootin’ hay bales is all well and good, but you ‘ave to know ‘ow to shoot nice and calm like when you’ve got blood running into your eye and the orks are coming at you wantin’ to ‘ave your guts for garters.”  Cpl. Bandage takes the new bowmen in hand while Beregond shows how to wave a sword.

Cpl. Bedroll instructs the swordsmen.  “You’re not choppin’ wood back on the grange, you’re cleaving your ork’s ugly ‘ead like a melon, so use them pretty swords with anger and determination if you want to live!” 


I have a sprue of nasty orcses I am working on this week as well, in between more serious projects. When they’ll get into a scrap with these handsome fellows,  goodness knows, but it’s a pleasant diversion to return to Middle Earth from time to time.

Blessings to your brushes!

These figures bring my 2015 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 35; Mounted Figures: 10, Artillery: 2, Vehicles: 2, Scenic Pieces: 2

20mm:  Vehicles: 1; Artillery: 1 

15mm: Armour/Vehicles: 5; 15mm Scenic Pieces: 5

6mm:  Scenic pieces:  7

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I Take The Chain of Command Challenge

If you live on Planet Lard, you’ll know about the Chain of Command Challenge.  Following  a very erudite and thoughtful post by the Aussie blogger Trailape, on the merits of Too Fat Lardies’ WW2 skirmish rules versus the leading brand, Big Rich of TFL has invited other war gamers to try Chain of Command and post their thoughts on it.

I’ve been a Lardite for some years now, and before CoC came out I was a devotee of their previous skirmish rules, Troops, Weapons and Tactics, which suffered from an unfortunate acronym.   I quite enjoyed these rules, but have played CoC enough times to find it a superior set of rules.   The card-driven sequence of TW&T and the mechanism of initiatives that can be claimed by other player as they draw their leader cards (very similar to the system in TFL’s Sharpe Practice rules) was clever, but the use of dice to generate initiatives in CoC is much easier and, I think, far more subtle.  CoC is a better system than its predecessor, I think.

So I’m not sure, being a servant of the Lard, that I really qualified to take the Lard Challenge, but I decided to reset the table that I had created last week for a OHW scenario, with a little more scenery to reflect a more nuanced tactical game.   Same idea, there is a stream with two crossings (bridge and ford) and victory to the side that is able to control both crossings.  Here’s the table after the end of the patrol phase.   Both sides have Jump Off Points within 18” of the stream.

I tried to do my bit for technology and tweeted the game while I was playing it during my spare time in the last week.  You can follow me on Twitter (@madpadre1) or by using the hashtag #spreadthelard if you’re so inclined.  This report will be a little less detailed.

Germans get two rifle squads up to the stream.  First squad in the lower picture pushes its rifle team across and into the woods, hoping to dominate the open ground that the Russians must cross.

Russian support choice rolls onto the table - a KV1, headed for the bridge.  That’s an old ESCI model.

Russian LMG team on a hill peppers the rifle team in the woods and does a surprising amount of damage over several turns, killing one landser and spreading shock.

While another Russian squad exploits its jump off point on the road to rush forward and catch the German second squad as it slowly fords the stream.   They will also do damage, and force the Germans, now flanked, to abandon their questionable decision to hold the far bank of the stream.

It takes a while, but the KV1 lumbers forward and onto the bridge, which is covered by the German third squad in the woods.   I decided on a low (5%) chance that the bridge would not support this heavy tank, but the bridge holds. KV1 now begins happily shelling the Germans in the wood.

Sometimes a game hinges on one or two key plays.  In this case, I had deduced to randomize the German support choices, and got a flamethrower team, which was attached to third squad.  Since the Germans have a second turn (two sixes in their Command dice roll) they rush the flame-thrower team into the open, planning to hose the tank with flaming death in their next phase.  At the same time, the German panzershcreck team which is part of platoon HQ also rushes forward. If the flamethrower doesn’t cook the tank, maybe they will.  Sadly, the Soviets have a Chain of Command dice, and use it to interrupt the Germans.  The KV1 opens up with coax and wipes out the flamethrower team.

However, the panzershcreck team is untouched and takes its shot. It’s about 20 inches range, and that stone bridge partially obscures the KV1.  But, incredibly, the AT team rolls an “11” on 2d6, enough to hit!

A satisfying handful of dice get chucked.  Thirteen German strike dice (white) hitting on 4-6 for the flank shot, vs the KV1’s 8 five.  Sadly not enough for the tank.

Hurrah!  Feldwebel, get those men some Iron Crosses and an extra bratwurst, they’ve deserved it.

That was about it.  I realized, quite late in the game, that I had handicapped the Germans by not giving them their 8 dice for their belt-fed MG42s, instead giving them the same 6 dice that the Russian LMGs got.  Once I sorted that out, and with three intact LMG teams, the Germans were able to keep the Russians at bay when they got up to the stream, and it ended in a German victory.  What a nail biter!   The German landsers had taken a real beating in their hasty and bloody retreat back across the stream, and if the AT guys had missed the tank …  a very satisfying and suspenseful game.

Last night, I took my 20mm kit to what has become my new games club, an eclectic bunch that plays boardgames and miniatures just as happily.    I set up a busy looking table somewhere in Normandy, using my German and British figures.   Sadly, I was too involved in helping run the game to get many pictures, and while we didn’t get a complete game in, we had fun.



Tommies (Valiant and Revell figures from my collection) line a hedge and prepare to open up on the oncoming Germans.   Of the three other fellows, two had played CoC before and quite liked it, finding it more realistic than Bolt Action.   The third had played Disposable Heroes and Flames of War, but had never played CoC before, and he had very complimentary things to say about CoC after his first game.



Two games in a week was a real luxury for me, and confirmed my fondness for these rules.   Even though I’ve played CoC about a dozen times, I still find myself getting things wrong.  In last night’s game, I gave a -1 to a German panzerschreck team when they deployed onto the table and took a shot on a Cromwell.  I had ruled that deploying onto the table counted as a move, and I was wrong.  Rule 4.3.1 clearly states that troops deploying onto the table cannot move in the same turn as they deploy, but they can shoot to full effect.   

I suppose the second game, which allowed a war gamer to try CoC for the first time, allows me to qualify for the Challenge after all.  :)  If reading this post or my tweets has you curious, you can get yourself over to the TFL shop and save 20% on CoC purchases for the rest of September!

Blessings to your die rolls!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Two Cheers for One Hour Wargames

I’ve had my second chance to take Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames out for a test drive.  The executive summary of my thoughts as processed through my many biases:  great scenarios, but only ok games.   

I tried an early scenario (#4, I think) where both Red and Blue start off the board, with a river in the middle.  Red and Blue both get six units, determined randomly.  The objective at the end of fifteen turns is for one side to control both the bridge and the ford.  Here’s my appropriately simple table.   Besides the river with the two crossing points, the only terrain items Neil calls for are a hill SW and a forest NE.  I added some fields because the poor old table looked so naked.

For this battle I decided that my 20mm WW2 kit would make a nice change from the medieval battle I tried last time with OHW.  Red (of course) are the Soviets.  For them I rolled 1 tank 1 AT gun, and four infantry.   Blue (German) get 1 tank, 1 mortary,  and four infantry.   Because I was using a bigger table than the 3’ by 3’ that OHW calls for, I doubled the movement and range distances.    Here the Russian tank has reached the ford, while the AT gun approaches the bridge.   Three Russian infantry groups in the open, and one in the woods top right.  Germans brace to meet them.

Russian AT gun moves up to the stream, while infantry rush across the bridge.   Notice my brave Naval Infantry leading the way.  That gun looks suspiciously like it belongs in the Fall of Berlin, not out by this lovely stream.

Russians taking fire.  15 hits on a unit eliminates it.  Combat in OHW is brutally simple.  Each shooting unit rolls a dice and adds or subtracts modifiers, thus generating the number of hits.  For example, infantry vs tank roll 1d6 -2.  Tank vs tank roll 1d6 +2.  The Soviet infantry are also getting hammered by the German mortars, 1d6+2 vs infantry, while the T34 is getting roughed up by the PZIV and the supporting infantry.

But the Jerry tank is KOed by the T34 and AT gun, while Soviets rush over the bridge.  That tank, by the way, is a Britannia resin model I splashed out on a few years back, and very nice it is.

Casualties mount as the infantry duke it out.   The naval infantry did their job as bullet magnets and allowed the supporting squad to cross the stream.

With two hits remaining to it, the T34 (an Armourfast model) charges the hill occupied by the mortars (represented by the command figure) only to be KOed by a lucky shot from the infantry in the background.

Game ended on Turn 9 with all German infantry wiped out, and two surviving Russian infantry racing for the hill to take out the mortars.   I decided it was a Russian victory.

So an enjoyable game, and easily played in a hour.  It would be churlish to say anything bad about a rules set that aims to deliver a complete game in 2-3 pages.   So, if one wants a game with:

1) No leadership rules

2) No morale rules - you fight to the last man

3) No troop quality rules - everyone fights the same

4) No range effects - units shoot the same at long range and short range

5) No casualty effetcs - units fight as well with all 15 hit points or with only 1 remaining

… then this game is for you.    I also have to say that I didn’t find the WW2 game that different from the medieval game I played.  Both felt slightly generic.

However, as I said, I am being churlish.   The book delivers short, playable games that would be good introductions to the hobby to newcomers and young people, and I suspect have some tactical complexity that I have not yet begun to appreciate.  I could even see a niche subset of tournament games using these rules.   More importantly, OHW delivers an excellent supply of scenarios, and as I’ve said here before, I really really suck at designing good scenarios.  

Having set up this board, I decided to use it and the control the river crossings to revisit my favourite tactical level WW2 rules, Chain of Command. This is to do my bit in Too Fat Lardies’ Chain of Command Challenge for September.  I kept it as Soviets vs Germans, but made the table a little sexier to reflect a more tactical environment.   If you wish, you can follow my progress on Twitter, as I will be tweeting updates as time permits.  Follow me at @madpadre1 or by hashtag #spreadthelard.  I’ll do a complete report here when the dust settles.

Blessings to your die rolls!


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Perry Brothers ACW Artillery

There’s probably a limit to the number of 28mm artillery models one can reasonably put onto a table.  I now have at least a battery per side, but with these Perry Bros models, I can go beyond that.  Three guns and limbers (though no horses) per kit is not a bad deal.

Pulling the lanyard - a split second before the gun goes BOOM.

I only did one sprue’s worth of artillerists.  While the Perrys have provided enough poses for a gun crew loading and firing, I rather mixed up these fellows.   I hope by the time I’m finished I’ll have a coherent Union and Confederate gun crew.  The eccentric lighting of my games room doesn’t show their faces as well as I’d like.


I did one limber open for firing, and the other closed for movement.  If I feel like splashing out later, I could get some of the Perrys’ metal limber teams and riders.  For now I have some nags I can use as a limber team, though I don’t have any riders.

Since plastic cannon aren’t that expensive, I thought about glueing the gun and limber together.  


But then I decided just to glue the limber on the base and keep the cannon unglued.  I can pop it on its own base when needed.



“Hey, Fred, how come we’re not going anywhere?”  I found these two RAFM limber riders in a box of sad and forgotten figures from bygone years.  




These figures bring my 2015 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 24; Mounted Figures: 10, Artillery: 2, Vehicles: 2

20mm:  Vehicles: 1; Artillery: 1 

15mm: Armour/Vehicles: 5; 15mm Scenic Pieces: 5

6mm:  Scenic pieces:  7

Kilometres Run: 361

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Saturday Painting Table

Good evening gentlefolk.   I’ve had time for a little painting since we got back from Europe.    The ACW artillery in my last Saturday Painting Table post are done and will be featured shortly.  Today my GW Gondorian infantry are almost done and ready to come off the sprue.   Nothing terribly imaginative with these fellows, pretty much done as per the films.   They’re like ACW Union infantry, fairly easy to mass produce.  Orcs, however, are like Confederates - they need to be done in a motley of drab colours that tales time and imagination.

Blessings to your brushes!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

"We Shall Go to Erfurt": In the Steps of Napoleon

  "We shall go to Erfurt. I want to come back with the freedom to do what I want in Spain; I want to be very precise with Russia regarding our involvement in the Levant. Prepare me an agreement which will satisfy the emperor Alexander, one which above all must be directed against England and in which I shall be at ease regarding the other points. I shall help; we shall not want for prestige.”  Napoleon to Talleyrand

 In my last post I promised a few photos of sites associated with the  1808 Congress of Erfurt, an event that we would describe today as a summit meeting.   Napoleon was looking for a free hand in Europe, and trying to impress Tsar Alexander.  It didn’t work out, because as you know, Napoleon and Alexander never exactly became BFFs.  There’s a good summary of the meeting here.

One of the venues we saw was the Kaiseraal, a concert venue which was used by Napoleon to impress his guests.   The Comedie Francaise was summoned from Paris to stage no less than sixteen plays and performances during the Congress (all series, the Emperor did not want trivial comedies and dramas).  Napoleon complained of the expense of this “mass levy of thespians”, but felt that it was worth it to awe the kings of Europe with France’s glory.  While I was able to sneak into the lobby, and mug with a mannequin of Napoleon in the lobby (fortunately that picture is still on Madame’s camera), I wasn’t able to see anything else.


In later years, Paganini and Liszt both performed here.  As you can see from this link, the Kaisersaal is still a pretty swish place today.

Much of the conference took place at the Governor’s Palace in Erfurt.   The building  is actually two, a Baroque-era building on the left and a Renaissance era building on the right (I hope I remembered that correctly), joined in the centre by a newer entrance hall.  Besides Tsar Alexander and the other VIPs of the day, Napoleon and his court would have passed in and out of here, including Soult, Lannes, Berthier, and Davout.  Today this building is used by the government of the German province of Thuringia, so the only people we saw passing in and out were youngish looking bureaucrats.

It was here that Napoleon had his famous meeting with Goethe, Germany’s secular saint of literature and culture.   It’s interesting to think that Napoleon wanted to impress Goethe.  It’s hard today to imagine any world leader going out of his or her way to impress, say, a Nobel prize winning novelist.  I guess cultural legitimacy was as important to Napoleon as political legitimacy was.   Napoleon also wanted to display military legitimacy, and some of his best regiments (6th Cuirassiers, 8th Hussars and of course the Old Guard) drilled and took part in reviews and inspections during the Congress.  A few years later, after the Battle of Nations, these once proud regiments would straggle through Erfurt on their way to the Rhine, little more than a gang of thieves, scandalizing Napoleon (and no doubt the locals) with their conduct.

Speaking of Goethe (and who doesn’t speak of him?), the great man of letters was also a bureaucrat, responsible for managing the important east/west road that went through Erfurt.   He often stayed in this building next store to the Governor’s Palace.

As you can see, Germans still think of Goethe as kind of a big deal.

One more Napoleonic tidbit for you before we bid “Auf wiedersehen” to lovely old Erfurt.  Madame and I were strolling in a lovely park not far from our apartment, when I noticed my map showed something called the “Muffling denkmal” in the same park.   We found this little structure off in a corner.  Why here?   Wikipedia, always a good source for scholars, says that this hero of Waterloo died on his estates near Berlin, but the editor of an early translation of his memoirs reports that the estate was near Erfurt.

The great man, sporting some fine sideburns.   He looks like he was a pugnacious sort of fellow, making me think that the actor in the film Waterloo didn’t quite do him justice.


Finally, you may be asking, what were the hobby stores in Erfurt like?   I only saw one.  Didn’t go into it. But what a lovely street, with a ubiquitous church at the end of it.    In Canada we whine and moan about taxes, and consequently many streets in newer developments are built without sidewalks.   I gather the same is true of America.   The Germans don’t seem to have a problem paying for lovely, walkable streets.

Auf wiedersehen!

Blog Archive