Thursday, 31 March 2016

Hail Caesar!

Having spent several months agonising over what to do next as a project I have finally come to a decision. I wanted to do something completely fresh and new to me as Bolt Action was, and to run alongside the gradual expansion of my three BA forces I wanted something more colorful and more challenging to paint. The AWI has been a favourite period of mine for over 30 years and I'm sure I have painted figures in every scale and most manufacturers, I came very close to giving it one more shot. But in the end it came down to a period I have never actually done for myself, and I have always had a yearning to try. This image from the warlord website sold it to me:

Yes, it's going to be Early Imperial Romans v those nasty Celts! I have placed an order for the best part of two starter armies, and was pleased to find the rule book on offer with a figure plastic box set of choice, which effectively knocked the book itself down to about £10.00 from £30.00. As with all Warlord stuff the bulk of the figures are multi part hard plastic with officers and extras being cast in metal. The plastic Romans are very fine figures and the supplied shield decals should give a neat finish. While I'm not a big fan of assembling plastic figures I know that the time spent is generally well rewarded.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Soviet tank riders and HQ figures.

I'm quite pleased with how the command group turned out, the Commissar looks pretty menacing, ready to pull his pistol to shoot anybody refusing to advance under the 'Not One Step back' rule!

Not One Step Back is a new rule that uses Commisars to exhort your troops to greater glory. Commisars count as officers but do not provide Morale bonus to nearby troops, however when a friendly unit within 6" fails an order test you remove one model from that unit and re roll the dice...there is no choice in this matter! The Commisar sees all and will not hesitate to shoot!

HQ group, Commissar at left, nurse, field officer and radio operator.

I bought a couple of packs of tank riders, five figures per pack,  three per tank will look about right. Must admit they got a fairly fast paint job, but the final highlight seemed to life them a bit. IN Bolt Action tank rider squads can be quickly pushed forward, and one thing I am learning about this game is that speed is of the essence when you only have six turns to win the game. To this effect I'm adding more German half tracks to be used as transports, a typical vehicle being capable of carrying a full strength Grenadier squad.

Pics show Soviet HQ group completed and the newly built T34/76mm ready for painting, it will also get tank riders.

Tank riders by Warlord games metal figures.

T34/76 & T34/85.
German ME262 underway, Airfix kit.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

A building project in MDF.

Over recent years the quality of mdf lasered building kits has really come on in leaps and bounds, and I enjoyed making my 15mm buildings so much, that when I sold them I was determined that I would rebuild the Normandy village in 28mm. It's taken several months to reach the point where I can begin to enjoy working on the terrain again and I now have another four kits ready to build.

The first is another of the excellent 'Starfort' kits, beautifully cut in 3mm MDF, this weighty kit cost £21.00 and will represent a Normandy cafe with central archway. It contains no less than 19 sheets of 3mm board plus the usual lasered roof covers etc. It is clearly going to take some time to build, but I'm going to enjoy it. Like all mdf buildings I find inks or thinned paints are the way to go when painting.

After the above will follow a further three kits, these are via eBay. The standard 3mm mdf for this 28mm scale and first thing I noticed was that they all come nicely bagged up with all of the small parts already cut from the sheet. It can be a bit fiddly removing very small parts from the sheet so having them loose and fully cut out is a real bonus to me. Unlike the Starfort kit these all came with detailed construction diagrams. These are more generic buildings but no less fine for that.

And finally the AFV collection continues to grow, still struggling to paint figures for some reason, but enjoying building tank kits. The Russians now have two T34/85's and a T34/76 to select from (only one painted to date). With a couple of M4 Shermans and a StuG assault gun out on the table, you can see how things are coming along, the M10 is built, as is the Stuart, but I'm going to finish my Russian tanks before going back to them. As I have six models now ready for primer I'm waiting for a nice calm day to spray them all up together, I usually prime everything by brush, but I have bought a can of Army Painter black primer especially for the job.

I spent a long time looking for storage for the three armies as they grow before getting the plastic boxes seen here, in time I may add magnetic basing to keep everything in place.
This is the T34/76mm version, still a formidable tank. Again a very simple kit to build.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

T34/85 Warlord 28mm plastic kit.

This was without doubt the easiest kit to put together so far, two piece tracks and few small fiddly parts. This represents the latter T34/85 with it's 85mm main gun, capable of penetrating the biggest of Panzers. I have another two to do yet.

I'm now finishing off my Russians, adding metal command figures etc. The Commissar is an interesting addition to the army list, he basically shoots anybody who refuses to 'man up,' so when a friendly unit within 6" fails a morale check one model is removed under the 'Not one step back' rule, before re rolling the morale throw, great fun in true BA style. I can't think of many rules where you get to field a figure who goes around shooting his own troops!

T34 Plastic Kit and commander, rust added using pigment, currently unvarnished. I do have tank riders for all three T34's eventually.

At last, a match for the Panzers.

Commissar in peaked cap, ready to shoot deserters!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Expanding into 'Tank War, and a slight Russian diversion!

I guess one of the advantages of being an 'over 55' is that you begin to gain benefits from the early years of working and saving, and having taken advantage of the changes to Pension regulations and transferred out my first pension scheme, I find myself with a considerable pot of hobby money with which to indulge myself!  So my first thought was to expand my Bolt Action collection and create two 1500 point armoured forces to sit alongside my infantry based forces, I'm still tweaking the lists but roughly here's what I have in mind:

3 x Sherman medium tanks
1 x M10 tank destroyer
1 x Stuart light tank
1 x 3" anti tank gun and crew
1 x artillery tractor tow.
1 x jeep with 30cal MG.
1 x Bazooka team

2 x Tiger 1 (super heavy anti tank guns).
1 x Puma armoured car
1 x half track command vehicle
1 x pak40 anti tank gun
1 x panzerschrek team?

The two Tigers alone cost almost 1000 points with veteran crews, but I'm a big Tiger fan so had to base my Tank War list around them. IN the late war lists the Tigers are vulnerable to low fuel supply. Tiger number 2 is already on the painting bench awaiting undercoat, and I must say that this kit (another 'Wittman' resin and metal model), went together perfectly, without the slight gap between track guards and front hull. Anyway, this will be my Summer project and will keep me pretty busy, those damned Russians keep on tempting me too, I'm sure I'll have to do a late war 'Berlin' Russian infantry force somewhere down the line.

Tiger number 2 ready for undercoat together with a partially built US 'Stuart' light tank for Tank War lists.

The Russians ARE coming!
Having drafted the above post a couple of days ago I simply could not resist when I saw these 40 Russian plastic warlord figures on eBay. I knew that at £2.00 per figure they still represented a bargain to me in terms of the sheer amount of time saved in assembling them, and the paint job is pretty OK. Plan is to give them a make over by repainting the faces and hands to match my style and then add highlights to the uniforms and finish the bases. I need only add a few more metal figures, an artillery piece, and a couple of T34's (0 to 2 the late war list allows!) and I'll have a complete 1500 point army ready to play.

 I'll avoid eBay for a while now as I'm pretty well chocked up with stuff to paint now including this fantastic 'Last Levy' box by Warlord, all metal figures representing Hitler Youth and Volksturm squads, prefect for facing up to my new Russians, the set contains some of the best character figures I have seen by Warlord with brilliantly crisp facial features including a commander with a fine porky face.

Obviously I'm committed to Bolt Action in a big way now, next stage may well be to invest in TSS boards to allow for a bigger playing area. Meantime battle continues on my table up in the room where I paint, on the subject of which I have also restocked many of my Vallejo paints and added new shades, as you can see I like to keep things tidy by keeping all paints neatly lined up!

Finally for now ..... BA 'Pin' markers.
Having quickly tired of seeing half a dozen or more helmets on rifles following a unit around the tabletop I decided I had to find a better way of representing pins. I did buy 20 of the dial type markers from Warbases, but even when landscaped they still looked too chunky for my taste so I went with a simple single pin marker on a 2p coin, and ordered a load of 7mm dice to stand on them to show the pins. Looks about right to me, I trialed both black and white dice (tiny things), before going with white as it helped make units with pins stand out more.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

BA scenario ' Demolition' the set up.

With the weather now turning more spring like here on the Kent coast I'm ready to have a good tidy up of the garden, which includes replacing some fence panels lost in the gales over winter, we seem to lose a couple at least every year.

Indoors things are going well with my middle daughter and partner living with us while they try to save up. Blake being a very easy going young man, above 6 feet tall in height, has been useful in clearing the gutters and other such jobs, and is handy with power tools! He's also challenged me to a game of Bolt Action, as he's a former Warhammer player, so once I'm confident with the rules we will have a game.

So, with the Typhoon ready to go I have chosen the 'Demolition' scenario to play through, this time featuring the light howitzers in order to get a feel for the artillery rules and especially the indirect fire 'smoke' rules which look useful in the right situation. I will give the US force the opportunity to attempt to call in 2 airstrikes as per the US special rules. On the subject of special rules for different forces I think it was' Dai' who mentioned the rule re German NCO casualties, which allows German squads to replace a fallen NCO with another guy from the ranks to represent the Germans initiative training, got that in mind this time as well as remembering medic rolls. The attacker (once decided) gets to attempt to call in a preliminary artillery barrage before assaulting the enemy position.

As you can see I have re set the table for this game and have tried to create more sight lines and open spaces as well as plenty of cover further back from centre. This time I have avoided lining the roads both sides with hedgerows and tried to create a more 'open' terrain. It will be 1.000 points per side roughly.

The table set up for 'Demolition' 6 turns, roll at end of turn 6 for a possible final 7th turn. Scenario notes below, (objectives will be placed as per rules before game starts).

"Our scout planes have pinpointed the enemy HQ, your objective is to reach the enemy position and destroy it using the explosives your men have been issued with. Strong resistance is to be expected, so you must attack in force, but do leave a portion of your force behind in order to defend our own artillery emplacements"

With the hedge section fully dry it's time to set up another game.

Taller crop fields will add concealment.

Slightly opened up the centre more.

So next will follow the army lists and the game, I considered giving the Tiger it's first run out (for almost 500 of the 1000 points total!), but in the wrong situation the 'fuel supply' rule could leave it vulnerable and anyway the assault gun commanders were not happy and complained to HQ. I may well give the little Panzer III a run as a medium anti tank gun to see how it performs against the Sherman for a lot less points, no idea how it found its way to Normandy being largely obsolete by 1944, but that's the fun of Bolt Action.

The huge Tiger 1 side by side with the Panzer III for comparison.

Friday, 4 March 2016

More work on terrain.

Having finished the battle, cleared the table and put down a protective plastic sack, I set to work on getting some PVA on those hedge sections. It's a messy old job, basically I needed to completely cover the sections in PVA so that it seals everything together once dry. I pulled out as many of the cocktail sticks as I could see and gave each section a squeeze before leaving overnight. Next was to ink all of the stonework on the bases, which will then be decorated with blossoms, weeds and tufts etc.

Next I decided to 'render' the wall sections of my enclosed courtyard area, created to give an extra bit of hard cover, by painting all in PVA and then applying chinchilla sand over it 'pebble dash' style. Once dry it got an inking over followed by ivory drybrushing.

The orchard also got a bit of a makeover by painting the tree trunks and inking the bases. River sections will follow, plus more S&A scenics large trees, a couple more buildings and various other scenic bits and pieces. Over the weekend I'm going to get some of this on order together with a fair bit of general scenic materials.

Next practice scenario I play will feature both air strikes and preliminary artillery bombardment as I have not used these yet. I have seen some hilarious games on YouTube where the above comes in and hits it's own men, all part of BA's unpredictability.

Typhoon on it's flight stand, you can see the newly rendered walls behind/below it.
Took several coats of PVA to seal everything
Added a second layer to the cornfields to give full concealment. Also first of my new pin marker bases.
Almost dry!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Airfix Typhoon for Bolt Action.

I can't describe how much I enjoyed putting this kit together and painting it, just needs a final lighter shade on the underside and then mounting on a 12" length of brass rod. It's basically a marker, to show direction ground attack aircraft is coming in from, but it's a nice model and when held about 10" to 12" above the board it somehow scales up quite well. You may just be able to see the replaced 28mm pilots head in the cockpit. Invasion stripes on wings were painted freehand, but I left off the fuselage stripes as they messed up the decals on my F0W model. I will of course now require a German aircraft!