perjantai 30. tammikuuta 2015

Painting and tournament preparation

I'm back painting after a small hiatus due to the addition of a new furry member to our family. Jekku is a Novascotian duck tolling retriever who will hopefully someday become my hunting companion on duck and grouse hunts. It's still a long way off and currently he just concentrates on sleeping and mischief like most puppies do. At the moment his living up to his name which is prank or trick in finnish, but it's also the shortened slang name for the lovely German drink Jägermeister. Hopefully he'll transition to the latter when he grows older :) No big disasters yet, but he did already manage to open one cabinet where I kept prepped minis, luckily I got there in time to save the minis from a horrible death and the little dog from some epic stomach cramps.


I did finish the Middle Guard last week already, but forgot to post them to the challenge... So they will be coming out this Friday. In addition to them I actually have a second entry lined up in the form of a Flames of War objective marker! I'll be participating in a tournament this weekend and decided I don't want to use the plastic markers I have so I quickly painted up this marker to accompany the one I already finished earlier. At the moment the wash is drying, but when that is done it's time for a  varnish and some static grass to finish it off. I also started on some remaining Early War Germans with two AT gun platoons and an IG platoon. In preparation for the tournament I've also been fixing a few models that have taken some abuse from falling etc. Pretty darn annoying stuff as it's really hard to match the paint shade when covering up areas that have been glued back together.


I'm already slacking on my New Years plan of not buying more than I paint as we organized a group order to Perry Miniatures at my club. They arrived at my doorstep today in four boxes. Six and a half kilograms of lead and plastic. Quite a hefty order. But at least now I have everything I was still missing for my Waterloo project except for a few artillery pieces.




keskiviikko 28. tammikuuta 2015

Winter War Campaign continues

All quiet on the painting front lately, but I did manage to squeeze in another Winter War game last week. This was originally planned to be played during Christmas holidays, but due to scheduling problems we only got around to it last week.

The scenario was based on a historical battle where a Soviet unit was lost during a night march and bumped into a Finnish unit guarding a crossroads in the rear.

The starting position saw a Finnish LMG squad and an anti-tank gun defending the crossroads, while two Soviet platoons were arriving along the two roads leading to the crossroads. Would Finnish reinforcements arrive in time or will the Soviets overrun the defences.


 The first turn saw some of my reinforcements arrive on the Soviet flank shooting up a truck and killing off a couple of Soviet soldiers. In return the Soviets proceeded to deal a heavy blow to both squads taking out over half of them with some very lucky dice rolling.



On turn three it started to become light enough for troops to see clearly and at this point the Finnish anti-tank gun started to make short work off the Soviet T-26s on the open in the roads. In return my newly arrived machine-gun team got wiped out in another round of  splendid dice rolling.


Meanwhile on the other flank a Veteran Finnish ski squad arrived eager to revenge their comrades. However my dice rolling continued as usual with only a few casualties caused on the Soviets while once again over half the squad got wiped out in return fire.


Things are looking pretty desperate as the Soviets shoot through the single rifle squad at the crossroads in another show of marksmanship. No reserves in sight so it's pretty much over for the Finns.

 


As a desperate last ditch effort the few remaining Skiing riflemen attack the closest Soviet unit and promptly wipe them out. In return the Soviets attempt to counter-attack only to be killed and driven off the table.




A very solid win for the Soviets. I played a bit too rashly with the Finns being quite confident that shooting with 4+ or 5+ and killing with 3+ would be enough to take down enough Soviets while usually being hit with a 6+ or 7+ and being killed with 4+ or 5+ should have kept me quite safe. It was not to be as I was usually only able to take down a couple of Soviets while many times the return fire from a single Soviet squad would easily wipe out half a squad I had. Skilled dice rolling (or nicely weighed dice :) ) with consistent rolls of 6s all around really made me suffer. If Inexperienced units can start causing damage early in the game they can be really strong as most other armies can't afford to lose many units.

tiistai 13. tammikuuta 2015

Sculpting practice

Being bored I got started on one of my goals for 2015 by starting to practice sculpting. I had originally planned to go the traditional way with green stuff and other sculpting putties, but then decided that digital sculpting is probably more for me. 3D printing masters for casting seems to be on the rise with for example Infinity models being designed on a computer. I have access to 3D printing and I've done 3D design as a living in the past before progressing to hating excel and writing e-mails, so I figured learning a new 3D tool shouldn't be too hard and could somehow be seen as improving myself professionally :)

So I went ahead and fired up ZBrush after looking up some tutorials on youtube and started experimenting. After the first hassle of getting used to a new program I started toying with it. My first effort could not stand the light of day, but now my next try at least ended up looking like something. Sculpting a human seemed a bit daunting so I just started doing a bust of some creature from my imagination and seeing where it goes. Ended up with something relatively humanoid with quite a bit borrowed from the aesthetics of Warhammer Bloodletters. After a couple of hours I now have the basic shape finished and waiting for details like wrinkles, scars etc. which will probably end up taking many times longer than everything until this point.

 

All in all I was actually quite surprised how easily it came about considering that I haven't done any organic modelling in my life and it's been about a year and a half since I last did any product development related work anyways. After this I'll see how a whole body will turn out and maybe try to do something a bit more realistic. I had a grand plan of sculpting some Napoleonic Swedish/Finnish troops and getting them printed and maybe some masters cast for my own use so I can play the Finnish War of 1808. It's still quite far away, but if the learning progresses as fast I might actually succeed in doing it this year :)

lauantai 10. tammikuuta 2015

State of the hobby table



It's been a little quiet on the painting front with only about an hour a day spent painting on the best of days. Quite a bit of time has been spent wondering around shopping malls in preparation for some coming changes in the household. Unfortunately this tends to cut heavily into hobby time.

The PanOceania Infinity minis are still on hold. They did get back on the desk for a while, but after 5 minutes of staring they promptly went back in the back of the queue. Instead I've put together all the guns for my Barbarossa Germans with their anti-tank guns, infantry guns and smoke launchers. No primer on them yet, but I'll get to them soon. I'm still unsure whether I'll take part in the 'Myth' fortnight challenge, but just in case I prepped a Chimera so I can get started on him if I feel like it.

Finally the Secret Santa gift has mostly been put together. I still need to add rivets before it will get sent to the painting queue. I'm still undecided how to make the rivets. Readymade plastic profile would yield the best results, but I don't have any on hand and buying a rod just for this seems a bit daft. Still it's only a euro or so.

On the painting front I went blue with 3 battalions of French Middle Guard for Waterloo. Quite fast to do with blue paint applied by airbrush to cover 48 minis in just 30 minutes or so. I'm now working on them a battalion at a time with the first 16 now being washed and waiting for mud to be painted on the trousers and jackets before a matt varnish and basing. Not sure yet if I'll post them individually when done or in one large bunch.


Despite the slow start points wise I'm actually ahead of my target in the challenge with 415 points gathered so far. 50 points have come from the fortnight challenge though so it's not all from painting. We'll see if I can manage another points bomb for next Friday or not.


perjantai 9. tammikuuta 2015

Saga day or kicking of the years gaming

To kick off the gaming year 2015 we had a small Saga tournament/games day on the first Saturday of the year. After a few no shows the playing field was reduced to just 4 players so we decided to keep it quite casual with everyone playing a game against everyone else. A bit longer post so bear with me :)

I came with my trusty Anglo-Saxon list of Alfred, a Troubadour and 5 points of Warriors. Everyone else had lists from the new Crescent & Cross book and the scenarios were mostly picked from there as well. Nobody had really played any of the scenarios before and there was quite a lot of learning to be done.

Game 1: Battle Twilight vs. Mutawwi'a
In the first game the Warbands battled for the control of table quarters with 1 point awarded for each controlled quarter and the first to reach 6 points winning the game. Straight off my opponent neglected to read the scenario rules very well and deployed everything within two quarters that I could contest while having two off my own. My joy didn't last long when I realized that the control wasn't calculated like the regular victory points, but rather with every single group of 4 or more giving points. So my clever idea of deploying my Warlord and Troubadour to take points didn't take me very far. All in all my 12 man Warrior groups certainly weren't the smartest idea for the scenario.

First round we both received a single point when I had one quarter occupied by a group of warriors. I also contested one quarter away from my opponent to limit his points to one.


With second turn starting I took advantage of the Endless Warbands rule which allowed me to bring lost troops back on any table edge. I promptly brought back a 4 man Warrior unit as far from any enemy as I could and moved to take that table corner from my opponent. After some clever manouvering I ended up with 3 points. On my opponents turn he unsurprisingly brought back a large unit next to my 4 man one and proceeded to wipe it out. Still after the turn I was contesting that quarter giving him only 1 point.

With the third turn I only needed to take 2 points from my uncontested corners which was easy and just stop my opponent from taking three points. It was pretty clear that there was no way he was able to catch me anymore if I just moved my units suitably so we decided to agree that I had won and play the turn more as a fun end and just kill everything instead of me moving my units to camp out on the two quarters. I brought 12 Warriors behind one of his groups proceeding to wipe it out and went for his Warlord who managed to survive the encounter. On his turn the 12 Warriors turned back on the board to attack mine only to take more losses than my Saxons. This was followed by a unit of 4 hearthguard attacking only to take more casualties.

So even with the more fun ending I managed to take the game 6-4 in 3 turns.

Game 2: Grudge vs. Milites Christi.
The second game was a custom scenario called Grudge where one enemy unit was randomly selected to yield three times the victory points. Winner would be determined by the side who received 5 more points than the enemy. I got a bit lucky that my troubadour got selected as my enemy's Grudge unit while a 8 man warrior unit was chosen as my Grudge unit.

A mounted force is pretty much the worst thing that an Anglo-Saxon force can fight against and the Milites Christi are especially bad. With the option to stay back over 3 moves away he could safely build up Piety and use his battleboard to nullify all my combat abilities on the turn that he charges. The fact that only one ability reduced the Piety level makes this a very strong board and in my eyes at least the best in the whole game. You really need to move in on turn 1 so that your opponent doesn't have any chance of building up Piety safely and that is extremely hard to do unless you have a mounted force yourself.

I deployed my troops in the classic Anglo-Saxon way in a small bunch to force the enemy to come to me. I also moved one unit into the building to stop them from occupying it. This proved to be a bad idea as it just allowed the Crossbowmen to take potshots at me during the game and there wasn't really anything in his Warband that could take the building as mounted troops can't enter buildings.



After turn 2 it became apparent that I needed to take iniative as my opponent was just building up Piety to make one crushing attack in the end so I went out with my Warriors. The first try ended in a disaster when I only managed to take out 1 hearthguard and lost 7 warriors. Next turn I took more casualties and things were looking quite bad. Luckily no lost Saga dice. I decided to go all in and attack with another Warrior units killing 7 hearthguard. However the warrior unit was attacked next turn and taken down to one warrior.




With the last turn coming my opponent decided to move in to kill my troubadour and take enough points to win the game. I used my Saga dice to get more defence dice and against all odds he survived 6 hits. With only my turn left I tried to kill anything that was close by.


This game really was a battle to the death with me losing nearly all my Warriors. However I did take quite a few hearthguard with me and ended up with a 13-12 game. However it was only enough for a draw.

Game 3: God Will Recognize His vs. Crusaders
The last game was against a new player running Crusaders. The scenario used the Endless Warband rule again so bloodshed was guaranteed.

As always I deployed in one corned safe from missile fire. My opponent moved up with his Pilgrims boosting them to Warrior stats. However I had loaded my board with defensive abilities and only lost 1 man while taking out 10 of the pilgrims. This move had left his Warlord exposed so I quickly rushed out to kill him as a Warlord cannot be brought back. Not surprisingly 11 Warriors took him out quite easily, but were then attacked by 8 mounted hearthguard. I got a bit lucky with my rolls and had plenty of defensive abilities left to protect myself so only ended up losing a few Warriors and wiping the whole Hearthguard unit out. On my turn I cleaned up my area by killing of the two remaining pilgrims.





The 8 Hearthguard showed up again and immediately charged the 6 remaining warriors who were wiped out immediately. I had been waiting for this and brought the 12 Warriors back again and went in to kill the 8 hearthguard again.





On the other flank the mounted and foot warriors of the crusaders made efforts against my Warriors there, but I managed to beat back each assault with the help of my battle board abilities. In the end I took out his 8 hearthguard twice, his 8 mounted warriors twice, 8 foot warriors once and the 12 pilgrims while loosing a 12 man warrior unit twice.




A clear 36-13 win for me. I played to the strenghts of the Anglo-Saxons quite well forcing my enemy to come at me from a distance one or two units at a time while being able to keep most of my Saga dice on battle board abilities. I was also helped by the fact that my opponent was new to the game and made some basic mistakes like leaving his Warlord out in the open.


With two wins and a tie I ended up tied for first place, but won the tie breaker as I had killed more units during the day than my the other player. So after 3 games I took our club championship trophy with me! A rather decent start to the year with a nice casual games day/mini tournament.


Afterthoughts
The Anglo-Saxons are turning out to be my favorite list to play. I had previously tried using Levies with Anglo-Saxons, but they were just rubbish. With Alfred, a troubadour and 5 Warriors in 3 units of 12 and a unit of 4 I am able to take in 8 Saga dice every turn while my opponent has to roll a dice every turn to reduce his and most of the time ends up with only 5 dice. As an added bonus I can always leave one Battleboard ability on the board even after using it so it can effectively give me 10 dice for the turn. This really allows me to dictate the game and always have the upper hand in fights. The bad sides of taking a Bard are also mitigated by the fact that you never want to get Alfred in a fight anyway as he is absolutely rubbish compared to any other Warlord. He is a mastermind after all, not a fighter.

This list works especially well against other foot lists as it's far easier to have their units separated and coming at you one at a time. An overwhelming attack with one of your units to wipe out enemies and then surviving their attack with your defensive boosts is the way to play this list. Against lists like the Milites Christi it struggles a bit, but better positioning and more aggressive play should help out. I have yet to loose a single game when using Alfred and I've only played a few ties with them. Pretty powerful stuff and I have to admit it's maybe a bit cheesy at times too.


On another note a Flames of War mega battle was running at the same time pitting about 9000 points of Germans versus the Soviets in a Barbarossa game. Pretty epic stuff with the Germans managing a breakthrough in the end and the Soviets retreating after a failed morale test.






maanantai 5. tammikuuta 2015

Goals for 2015

Time for another cliché post at the start of the year, this time in the form of goals for the coming 12 months. Maybe putting them here in public view will actually force me to try to fulfill them. Some are more achievable than others. I'll try to aim for 6 out of 8 minimum, but knowing my attention span even that can be quite a challenge.



Goal 1 - Paint up a 15mm Early War German force for Flames of War
Well underway and will hopefully be completed in the next few months. I'm still missing couple of blisters, but otherwise everything is more or less finished or at least primed.



Goal 2 - Finish the forces for Waterloo
The main project this year will be painting up 2 British battalions and 13 French battalions in addition to some squadrons of cavalry amounting to 256 foot figures and roughly 40 cavalry. This one will be tough, bt you can't succeed if you don't aim high. Some of it is helped by the fact that 7 of the French battalions are Guard which are rather speedy to paint with just a blue primer and picking out the details before a wash. Just last night I got 48 guys done with their uniform in only about 30 minutes. Only skin, weapons, shoes and straps left before a wash then :)



Goal 3 -Reduce the pile of unpainted lead
The grand daddy of all wargames yearly goals. Everybody vows to reduce their leadpile before noticing that it has grown yet again. Being the clever boy that I am I only pledge to reduce the pile of unpainted lead! Plastic is light and doesn't take so much space :) Plus I'm a sucker for kitbashing and love to build stuff even if I'm probably not going to paint it.


Goal 4 - Sell of old projects
I already started this off by selling my 40k stuff last Autum, but this really needs to continue. If I haven't gamed it in years and no painting progress has been done in the last few years it will probably never progress anyway. The tricky bit will be finding some poor soul to buy them from me.



Goal 5 - Get started on 15mm Prussians for Leipzig.
15mm has become the main scale for Napoleonics at the club and wanting to play the period more I got myself started on Prussians. I'm going for the Prussian 1st Corps at Leipzig and expanding from there at some point. 4 Battalions and one squadron done now so there's quite a bit to do. These will be the main project on the list after I'm done with the 28mm Napoleonic stuff.



Goal 6 - Sculpt something
Previously I've only been doing some conversions with green stuff, but I've really been wanting to learn sculpting a lot more. So maybe this year I'll actually get some complete figures done. And just maybe something might actually be decent enough to show to the public.



Goal 7 - No more new projects
...at least until something else is finished! There's already 3 Napoleonic forces in 2 scales, ancient Greek, WW2 in two scales and multiple nationalities, Saga, Warhammer Fantasy, minor skirmish forces etc. So nothing new coming to the tables before something else leaves either from selling it off or finishing it. I'm leaving a loophole for myself though with the fact that a single box or blister doesn't count if I want to paint something cool just for fun :)


Goal 8 - Build a scale model
I've still got a couple of scale models left from the time that my hobby time mainly consisted of just building them. To justify that pile I need to get something done. And a large scale plane or submarine sitting in the cabinet always looks cool!



So there's quite a lot to achieve, some take quite an effort and some just require some self control (which I have a tendency to lack). Number two probably won't be done in time for the 200 year anniversary, but maybe by the end of the year! At least then I have enough forces to stage a Napoleonic game at my home as well.


sunnuntai 4. tammikuuta 2015

Painting Challenge entry 4: Barbarossa era Panzerschützen

Another entry that took it's sweet time to get finished. Forming the bulk of my Barbarossa German force for Flames of War is the Panzerschützen Company command and 2 platoons all rolling forward in their 251/C's. There's actually a few extra minis in the form of one halftrack and a sidecar motorcycle, but I had them all ready to paint and some extras never hurt. This entry saw me about half-way through my project in both points and miniatures. One pioneer platoon and some guns left before I'm done. At least until I get the smart idea that I need to expand the list to include armor etc.

The infantry figures were a real pain to put together and paint as these are by far the worst Battlefront minis I have ever seen. Horrible amounts of flash, nonexistent details and facial features that mostly look like they've been sculpted with an axe. To top it off the equipment is a bit wonky. Not a single one is wearing the characterful Y-strap webbing and some have weird straps going everywhere. Of course you could just wear the belt of the webbing, but in nearly every single photo you see the soldiers wearing the Y-harness as well so I proceeded by painting them on and shaving some of the weirdest straps off.

The halftracks from Plastic Soldier Company on the other hand are a pleasure to put together as everything fits very well and there's little clean up required. The only issue in them are some stupidly placed ejector locations which leave their telltale marks on the front fenders for example. And the detail on the crew is maybe a bit on the light side to my liking. Proportions are more on the realistic side, which does mean that faces etc. tend to be a bit flat as nothing is over emphasized like with most 15mm manufacturers. It's a matter of taste really, but I do prefer the more "chunky" ones with clear features even if it's not so realistic.

Next up I need some change from the dull grey in all it's wonderful shades. I've been gluing together a box of Victrix Middle Guard for my Waterloo project so I might give that one a go. Or maybe it's time to give the second Infinity batch another chance again. It remains to be seen!