Wednesday, 29 September 2010
HaT soft plastic figures that cost around £5 for a box of four. These are a 37mm anti-tank gun and a 75mm howitzer. They are the sort of support heavy weapons under an infantry battalion's direct control. I have mounted them on GW stands.
The frosting on the AT gun came about becuase I decided to use up the last can of Citadel satin varnish rather than throwing the damn thing away, a mistake I have rectified.
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
This is my finished Russian Army for the Rapid Fire Rules. Everything ia in 1/72 plastic.
It consists of three battalions, one armoured and two infantry (tank riders).
The armoured battalion has an HQ tank (T34-76), two companies of medium tanks (each of two T34-76), and a company of light tanks (two T26). In support, it has two batteries of self propelled anti-tank guns (each of one SU-85)
The first infantry battalion has an officer and three men (riding on the HQ tank), and two companies of tank riders (six men each, riding on the T34's). The second battalion has an officer and three men riding on the light tanks, and two companies of four men each riding on the SUs.
The T34s and SUs are from Armourfast kits and the infantry from Pegassus Hobbies kits. The T26s are actually Vickers light tanks from Airfix. The early Russian light tanks were based on Vickers prewar designs. They should really be T80s (or similar) but I have not got any. However, the Red Army had a huge number of T26s so it seems likely that a few were still running in 1943. Light tanks are all much of a muchness anyway. Too slow to keep up with median tanks so useless for reconnaissance, they were also deathtraps in combat. The Soviets called them a 'grave for two brothers'. Everyone stopped using light tanks during the war (note the successful Stuart was technically a medium tank) as reconnaisance was much better done by cheaper armoured cars, which were not expected to fight.
The infantry are mounted on spare GW plastic bases.
The total cost of this army is one box of infantry at £7, seven T34s and SUs at £28 the lot and two light tanks at £14: total £49.
This is wargaming on the cheap, without sacrificing the visual appeal of miniature wargaming.
Friday, 24 September 2010
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
I guess that many wargamers these days start with Warhammer 40K but wargame veterans of a certain age (aka silly old farts) started with Airfix. When I was about seven my doting mater brought home this new toy, called an Airfix Spitfire kit in 1/72. From there I discovered tanks and little toy soldiers made of wobbly plastic. Then there were the Airfix modelling and Rule Books, which replaced rolling marbles against our armies. Airfix and I are almost exactly the same age.
Wargaming got more complicated during the seventies and eighties, until the games became almost unplayable. Do you remember the final version of WRG's WWII rules. Oh dear God, I do.
In the early nineties there was a move back to games; you know, playing with toy soldiers. A set of rules called Rapid Fire were written by Colin Rumford and Richard Marsh. I played them a few times but my interest in modern warfare had been burnt out by then.
However, there is now a new version of Rapid Fire. The name gives it all away. This is a fun game that can be played in an afternoon. It is wonderfully old fashioned but, best of all, is designed for 1:72 plastic toy soldiers. Oh joy, just perfect for a man going through his second childhood. You could play Rapid Fire from scales of 15mm to 28mm but, for me, it has to be plastic toy soldiers.
There are haunting similarities to 40K, another seventies game originally. We are in Charles Grant and Donal Featherstone territory here.
The game uses IGOUGO and is broken down into 1. Morale, Observation (of enemy units), Smoke, Heroic Actions, First Movement, Opportunity Fire (for the other player to fire units on Overwatch), Close Assault, Firing, Second Move (for units that have not yet moved).
The basic unit in the game is the figure, not an abstract concept like a stand (just like 40K). You play it with a few D6s and a D10.
The production quality is scrumptious, and 1/72 plastic toy soldiers are used for all the pics - Rumford and Marsh are men after my own heart. Of course, the other thing about 1/72 plastic models are that they are as cheap as chips in comparison to resin or metal, especially as the manufacturers have huge production runs - most of the cost of a plastic kit is in the mould production, the plastic is dirt cheap, but the moulds last nearly forever.
A soldier figure represents about 15 men, and a vehicle about five. This means that a battalion can be recreated on the table as the unit of manouvre, which is clever as modern armies fight in battalions, and combinations of battalions make up all arms-armies. 40K fudges this a bit. It sort of pretends to be a skirmish game but operates more like a traditional wargame where one figure represents many.
The above picture shows a 1944 German infantry battalion. The photos below show my recreation using a single box of Revell 1/72 panzergrenadier figures (for the princely sum of seven knicker). I broke with tradition and mounted them on plastic GW-type bases. 1/72 soldiers are made from a soft plastic that flakes easily when the plastic flexes. The stands protect the models. Incidentally, I have found the trick to painting soft plastic is to degrease thoroughly and then spray with a good primer.
I mount the figures on the stand initially with superglue in order to paint them but this is not a durable solution (don't even think of polystyrene cement. I finally coat the base with white glue to stick on decoration. White glue sets very hard and makes a good rigid fix.
So here we have the battalion HQ, five 'infantry' figures, and the 4th Heavy Company - nine figures with three 80mm mortars. At the back are a depleted light anti-tank company of eight men, with three Panzerschreckes.
Above are the 1st, 2nd & 3rd companies - each of seven 'infantry' men and a Panzerfaust man (to bolster the anti-tank capability). Note that the stands are of no importance - it's the figures that matter. Also note that the battalion has no 'points'. This is an old fashioned wargame where you are expected to refight historical scenarios - not play chess with toy soldiers.
The battalion has a company of heavy Tiger I tanks in support. There should be three troops but a third of the company has broken down in transit so it has been reorganised into two.
The Tiger I was a nasty surprise and was very difficult to knock out using the 76mm guns of T34s and KV1 heavy tanks. The Russian response was to mount a modified 85mm flak gun on a T34 chassis until the T34 could be retooled with a larger turret ring to take the new weapon. The SU85 self propelled anti-tank gun (SPAT) was only manufactured for a year as a stop gap. However, the concept was continued with an SU100 SPAT mounting an even larger weapon.
The Tiger may have been lethal but it was also highly unreliable and took four times the resources to make than a T34. The Germans produced a maximum of around 100 Tigers a month, the Russians produced 1000 T34s in the same time. You can make a similar argument for a Sherman. By 1944, the Germans had only 400 tank runners at any one time. The allied figure was an order of magnitude greater. The sophisticated Tigers and Panthers were swamped, most abandoned undamaged by their crew when they broke down or ran out of fuel.
Quantity has a quality all of it's own.
I have chosen to play the Russian front because this was where the European war was won and lost. All the rest was a sideshow.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
Friday, 17 September 2010
The blue moon pic (which I shamelessly stole from another blog) is to illustrate that John is moonlighting. JTS is guest blogging on The Literary Project on the subject of the 'Six Rules of Magic in Fantasy Fiction'.
Those who wish to peruse my ramblings will find them here:
Tis the witching hour my lovelies...........
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
My Shrouded Ones Blood Pact platoon is almost finished. I need to add a couple more riflemen to make up the numbera and two whole platoons are complete. Then there is only the command group and some veterans to go and I have a playable army. Almost there, chaps, almost there.
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Monday, 13 September 2010
There is a story retold by the Venerable Bede about Pope Gregory. He saw some pale skinned boys being sold on the slave block at Rome and enquired from which people they came. On being told that they were Angles he replied "Non Angli, sed angeli" (not Angles but Angels). In 597AD he sent St Augustine to Kent to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity.
The King of Kent was Aethelberht whose queen, Bertha, was a Frankish pricess, and hence Christian. Aethelbehrt allowed St Augustine to build an Abbey outside the city walls of his capital, Canterbury (Canterbury was the tribal centre of the Cantiaci, a Belgic tribe who lived in Kent before the Roman conquest). The intention was that it should be a Royal cemetary (it was forbidden under Roman law to bury bodies within city walls).
The Abbey was started in 598 and was the focus of the Christain revival amongst the English. Canterbury remains the spiritual centre of the Church of England. Its only rival being the archbishopric of York, the old Roman military capital in Northern England (where the legions could keep an eye on the Scotti).
After the Norman conquest, the Normans pulled down and rebuilt most of the Saxon religious building, including St Augustine's. The Abbey expanded throughout the Medieval period and by 1500 had a library of a staggering 2,000 books.
It all ended with Henry VIII who pulled down the Abbey but the Palace and formal gardens were used until they were flattened by the great storm of 1703. It was used as a fairground until being turned into a park in modern times. It is now a World Heritage Site.
The above picture shows part of the ruins with Canterbury Cathedral in the background. The crane marks where the Marlow Theatre is being rebuilt.
There are more photos below of the park and ruins. I took these a few weeks ago on a hot August summer day. You are looking northeast towards the Mouth of the Thames. Seventy years ago the battle of Britain was fought in that sky.
Sunday, 12 September 2010
Saturday, 11 September 2010
I had a spare Citadel sorcerer so I have used it as my Herald of Tzeentch. My Tzeenthch daemon bases try to show the ground beneath their feet washing away in glowing liquid rock. This is supposed to represent the mutability of magical change.
The base is a ruined temple theme from Magic Mushroom.
Friday, 10 September 2010
For our regular game, Shaun and I tried a daemon bash. In all the years that I have played 40K, I have never played daemons against daemons. It was interesting, and different from normal games in that everything has an invulnerale save and is fearless. The carnage is spectacular. We both failed to get our chosen demi-force on the table and had to settle for the smaller. The objectives were the daemon statue, the ruined fort and the temple, and we agreed that all units were scoring.
I played an all-Slaaneshi force while Shaun had a Khorne army. I landed closer to the objectives and controlled two on the drop. Shaun got the third.
I siezed the Temple and Fort, with a strategy of holding by pre-emptive attacks. My experience of Slaaneshi daemons is that they are not good defensively so should be used offensively.
The Seekers charged and topped a Herald of Khorne but then got creamed. I charged my daemonettes off the Fort into the massed ranks of Khornites and my daemon prince charged the juggers and bloodletter. This proved to be optimistic as a strategy, even foolish.
My centre was wiped out and Shaun captured the Fort. I still held the Temple. On turn six I dropped my last reinforcement right on top of the Statue. Shaun, went second, moved into close combat but failed to dislodge me.
So at the end, I held the Temple, Shaun the Fort, and the Statue was contested - a very satisfying draw.
Thursday, 9 September 2010
My friend Fred Kiesche sent me this interesting pic of a scrathch-built model made by Dan. It is a recreation of a Hammer's Slammers Blower Tank as depicted on the front cover of the Hammer's Slammers antholgy.
Dan is an amazing modeller and you can see more of his work here:
I urge you to have a look.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
The Blood Pact production line grinds on. Painting line infantry is sooooooo boring. This is a heavy weapon missile team for the Regiment of the Shrouded Ones.
The miniatures are Pig Iron (Militia bodies and Feral heads) with various bits from my spares box(es) added to a standard GW plastic base.
There are a few more pics below from different angles.
Saturday, 4 September 2010
Yet more Blood Pact Infantry, the production line is stoking up. These are Stormtroopers in game turns - I use the IG Codex for my Blood Pacts - so I can fill an elite slot.
Looking at the full res. blow ups, I still need to do a bit of cleaning up but they are substantially finished.
The strange looking support weapons are plasma guns.
PS: You may recognise the plastic figures. You can get bucket loads cheap off eBay.
Friday, 3 September 2010
I have been busy working on my novel and editing and have had little time for painting or gaming. But I did finsh my plastic Seekers. I try to go for a largely monochrome look for my daemons, the idea being that they are not entirely 'real'.
Have you noticed how Dinosaurian are the steeds? No feathers though, two-legged, therapod dinosaurs should have feathers.
The bases are resin models of a ruined temple that I bought seperately.