Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Terrain Time or How to make something into what it is not

I am looking to attempt to create the train station in Kharkov in 1941. I am going to base the building off of the really nice GameCraft miniatures model of their large government building. The thing is big in 15mm. I can't even imagine what it is like in 28mm.

I just finished the assembly of the building. It is really nice.

These are the back and front of the building. I plan on using this as a multi purpose "government" building. The intent is to have items that I can add or take away from it to use it for different things. I have been trying to find good pictures of the building from 1941. Those are hard to come by. Here is an aerial photograph that dates to August 1941, several months before German troops arrived.

The building I am looking at is closest to the tracks. There is a large courtyard in front of it. The basic layout has not changed much. Modern views are similar but the main train station has been upgraded. The only period photo that I found of the station is this one. I think it is a shot of the building from the rear and not from the courtyard.

The modern station is quite different.

What I have does not duplicate either building. But what I was thinking of extending one of the towers on the model to be a clock tower. In the period photo, you can see the columned tower on the right side of the building. The thought was to make a block of balsa and decorate it up to look like this tower. Then get a clock face from some doll house kit and make a clock face that would face the courtyard area. Put magnets into the roof of the existing tower and the bottom of the clock tower to hold it in place. But still be able to remove it for other things.

Once thing that I cannot see from the period picture is if the building has a name on the front. The modern one does and I was thinking of copying that and making a wire frame to hold the letters on that could be set on the facing above the stairs on my kit. The modern building also has a pair of statues there on either side of the train station sign. I was thinking about getting 2 10 or 6mm miniatures and painting them white and sticking them up there as decoration. Just trying to find the right figure first. Something heroic looking holding a teardrop shield seems about right from the pictures that I have seen.

I will never have the time or money to get it to match, but I think this is a useful middle ground. Any ideas or helpful suggestions?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Seven Years War

I am being sorely tempted to make a Seven Years War army. Looking at Carole's and Rich's posts on their Imaginations armies makes me want to give it a shot. My issue is I have no idea what I would want to do.

I have been wanting an Ottoman army for my Napoleonics. They would work rather nicely for this purpose as well. So this is a possibility.

Then I was thinking of my Mother's stories about growing up in Dessau before and during WWII. For several years she lived in Schloss von Anhalt with the Duke and his daughter. That had me searching for what Anhalt had as troops during the SYW. It turns out that the Anhalt family fought for a multitude of sides.

I stumbled across this project and it seems to be a gold mine of information: http://www.kronoskaf.com/syw.

French Army
Prince de Anhalt-Cöethen Infantry regiment fought for the French. Before 1759 it was the Bentheim Regiment until it was taken over by the Prince.

Saxon Army
Fürst von Anhalt-Dessau Cuirassiers. This cavalry regiment fought for the Saxons until they were captured by the Austrians.

Prussian Army
von Anhalt-Dessau Infantry (IR3). This was a standard Prussian regiment that had three battalions.

Prinz Moritz Infantry (IR22). Austrian Army
Anhalt-Zerbst Cuirassiers. 6 squadrons of cavalry and one company of carabiniers.

Anhalt-Zerbst Infantry. 1 battalion of four companies and 50 cavalry. My favorite quote on this regiment which tempts me to model it is "an under-strength unit of undersized soldiers, and of little military use."

Hesse-Kassel Army
Prinz von Anhalt Infantry Regiment. This unit also made its way to the United States for the American War of Independence.

These provide some confusing and odd choices. I still think an Anhalt-Zerbst troops would be fun to do. I am thinking about three groups of musketeers and a group of grenadiers. Then a group of Carabiniers from the Cuirassier regiment.

I have no idea of what to do for an opposing force.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

GameCraft Government Building

I started work on this monster. I love the building. It is a really nice one. But it is lacking on instructions. There is a video for how to put together the whole building. I have the multi part building with the internal floor kit. Watching the video helped greatly. But it is a slow process. I decided to use superglue for most of it. Its coming together slowly.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Game Craft Miniatures Contest

Well, it is coming down to the wire for the contest. I have to submit something by the end of the month. So I assembled three of their European Matt Board buildings earlier in the week. Today I put on the basecoat of paint. The larger of the two, I have inked. That one need to be drybrushed and something done with the slant part of the roof. (Just decided. It is a darkish gray now.)

I am using craft store paints to get this project done. The large of the two is base coated in "Oyster Beige" then washed in Windsor & Newton Peat Brown ink. I watered down the ink a little as they are strong inks. Now I am going to drybrush the mess in the same Oyster Beige.

I then applied another lighter dry brush of the same beige over it. Once that was done, I painted the windows. I like how it turned out.

So now I have a completed building for my Kharkov campaign. Now I just need to work on that smaller gray building.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Game Craft Miniatures Contest

I just discovered that GameCraft Miniatures is doing a contest. Submit a picture of their buildings from your collection and you could win credit for more GameCraft Miniatures. The problem is, you have to submit by June 1st. I have several of their buildings. Notably, their government buildings with removable floors, three matt board european buildings and their stackable skyscraper. Of them, I had assembled only the stackable building. It still sits there unpainted. So I grabbed a tube of glue and went to work.

Two hours later, I had all three matt boards assembled. They went together so easily. I was very impressed. Then I spent another hour on the top of the government building. I barely got the thing glued together before I could not longer keep my eyes open.

The matt board buildings are very nice. I sprayed them down with the sanding lacquer that Game Craft recommends. So far, they are coming along nicely.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kharkov Pint Sized Campaign

Well the pint sized campaign has expanded into two pints. The interesting thing about the battle for me due to the variety between the 57th Infantry Division (a regular line division) and the 101st Light Division. Their force structure is different enough that it opens some interesting possibilities.

I have mapped out six scenarios for each division's advance. Both divisions approached the city from the west. It took them three days to secure the city against newly raised, green troops that were supported by armor.

I have located some excellent pictures of the city and maps and I am mostly sure of where the action was taking place during the advance (wwii-photos-maps.com - best source on the internet). So the maps will be based on reconnaissance photos of the city before the attack. The background and initial briefings are all done. The scenarios are in skeleton format and just need to be fleshed out. Once that is done, I need to playtest.

In looking at the scenarios, the rail line through Kharkov plays an important role. It is the 1st objective of both divisions. In looking at the pictures of the rail yard, there are passenger walkways that rise above the tracks and to the other platforms. Anyone have an idea on how to make one? There is one for HO scale but I am not sold on it yet.

Also, I need to place an order with Mark IV miniatures. I need some more tracks. Lots more infact. That and some more train buildings: a signal town, an engine shed and something else that I have not thought of yet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

AWI Inventory Time

Every now and then, I feel the urge to pull out what toys I have and figure out what I am missing to wrap up the period. I managed a few minutes to do just that with my AWI collection. What I mainly need is the sabot bases that I have ordered from Litko. Just received notification that they were dropped in the mail today. Yea!

Rebel Forces

If you had not noticed, I am a huge fan of militia troops. So currently, everything that is able ready, is militia.

The first shot is of my original 4 groups of 10 militia. They are lead by two foot officers and accompanied by musicians. Mark Luther gave me three casualty figures a few years back that I managed to paint up. Unfortunately, they are the only casualty figures that I have for the entire force. I have a number of unpainted ones, but that is for later.

Then I bought some painted figures to flesh out this force. Here are three groups of 10 militia from Gajo miniatures. They are led by two foot officers and a flute player. I can't remember where the flute player came from but I thought it looked cool. Might be from QRF,maybe. The one pistol wielding officer is a neat miniature but is dwarfed by the Old Glory men that he leads. Eventually I will paint up more officers. For now I have enough. There is also a group of militia skirmishers and two spare figures. Lastly, there is my Francis Marion commander for the whole force.

Next up is militia cavalry. I only have four painted figures. I do have another 12 militia cavalry on painting sticks and two officer figures. The officers are mounted scouts from the Peter Pig Scout pack. They looked like they had no idea what was going on. That made them perfect. These will feature as Peter Horry's cavalry in my games. Again, I am ignoring the rule of 3s with these but I am not planning to paint more than this as I hate painting cavalry. I have since primed the unprimed figures in this group.

Next up are my Maryland Continentals. Yes, Continentals. I have four groups of eight of these fellows. I have two groups in regulation uniform and two in hunting shirts. When they are all painted, they will be mixed up. That should give me some nice looking troops on the table. I have a sergeant and two foot officers with them and a mounted officer. That should provide a nice sized force.

As a support element, the rules have a group of six engineers with a leader. I found this group on the Magister Millitum website and they went right into the shopping cart. Nice figures. I love the guy with the wheelbarrow.

The next support option is a mule team. These are also Magister Millitum figures. There is enough here to supply both sides with mules. They come with two drivers and I only mounted one on painting sticks. The picture is terrible but the figures are only primed.

This next group is my British Pioneer section. They are led by the duck hunter who is clutching his latest prize. On the opposite end is my Physic. These are all Blue Moon figures and very handy to have.

Then there is my casualty figures. I have a bunch of them that are languishing. I have not bothered to even undercoat these yet. Among the dead is a dismounted scout. While Scouts never appear on table in Sharp Practice, I see no reason to not paint one up.

The last support option are the wagons. I have two limbers, a water wagon, an ammo wagon and a supply cart for the engineers. These are all from Terry's collection. They will serve double duty and appear for both sides.

British/Loyalist Forces

My British forces are dominated by Provincials. I have forces from two different regiments painted up. THe first is from the New York Volunteers. I have three groups of eight men. These are accompanied by two officers and two musicians. I also have but did not get a picture of, an additional two groups of eight figures. These are Lancashire miniatures figures. I also have a mounted officer and one group of eight light infantrymen. I need an officer or sergeant to lead the light company. I think I have an appropriate figure somewhere.

The second regiment is from Delancey's Brigade. I have two groups of eight men. I have another two groups back on painting sticks. I do not have standard bearers for these guys. I will have to fix that at some point. I do have some light infantry officers on painting sticks that will give me a second officer figure. I also have a mounted officer that I need to add to the mix.

I have a Regular British artillery group. I did not paint up an artillery piece and crew for the rebels as the current scenarios I am writing do not call for them to have one. But then again, neither do the British. I just thought they looked good.

For the Southern Campaigns, you really need some Provincial Cavalry. Tarelton's Legion was everywhere across South Carolina. What I have is one group of eight men painted up. I need an officer. I have a standard bearer, a bugler and four more men. I will probably paint up one more of the men to act as an officer until I buy the officer I need and four more calvarymen. I have on order with Brookhurst three groups of Legion infantry. I also have the command pack for the legion infantry. That will be great to have.

And here are some extras that I need to get around to painting.

All in all, I have more than enough to game with. I need to round out some of the holes in the line up for both sides. I do have some expansion plans. For the Rebels, I intend to get a couple of groups of Light Horse Harry Lee's Cavalry and infantry. I have a scenario that they will feature in. Then I need to get some regular infantry for my British. The plan is three groups of the 63rd Regiment of Foot and/or possibly some highlanders. but those are lower on my priority list. Actually, if I can get them through Gajo, I probably will. They don't do any in a dark green facings and all are in tricorns but it might differentiate them from the Provincials. I could possibly repaint the facings. We will see.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Priorities on the painting table

With two significant projects competing for writing an painting time, I am struggling to figure out what to do first. The first is my Sharp Practice 2 project for the battles of Francis Marion in 1780. I have nearly all of the troops that I need. What I am lacking are some extra bits.

I managed to paint up a figure for Marion. The picture came out shiny and I am not sure why. I used a swamp tuft from Army Painter on it as it seemed appropriate.

For the Rebels, I have painted up 7 groups of 10 militia infantry. These are all based and ready to go. I really want them on Sabot basing but I am still waiting on my Litko order to come in. I also have one group of 6 militia skirmishers. What I am missing is militia cavalry. I have four mounted militia painted. I have another 12 or so on painting sticks. What they are lacking is an officer figure. I am sure I can find a mounted figure in what I have. I have a militia gun crew. I can't see this group coming up much in the fixed scenarios that I am doing as Marion never used artillery. He captured several guns that he ended up burying in a swamp as they slowed his men down to much. For supports, I am in need to a Physic, a holy man, deployment points, extra leaders, and a mule train. I actually have all of these figures. They are just awaiting time with a paintbrush.

Taking some time last night to get some painting in, I painted none of the above. I instead painted an officer and six men of the Maryland Brigade. Yep, I painted Continentals. Why? I am not sure. I am violating Rich's groups of three policy with these as I am only going to paint 2 groups of them (for now). I have two more painting sticks of the men but just did not even get started on the others.

I have a few terrain pieces to begin work on as well. I managed to knock out two tents last night. I still have several out buildings that need painting and at least two more houses. I also got some woodland scenic trees that I will mount on a base. Never can have enough trees.

As to the Kharkov stuff, I am intimidated by the sheer volume so I will hide behind my AWI stuff for now.

Monday, May 16, 2016

South American Wars of Liberation

The TooFatLardies just posted about force lists for the South American Wars of Liberation. I happen to have no personal interest in this period. But I have inherited a large box of 15mm figures for them. They are sitting in a box in my garage. Anyone out there have an interest in taking them off of my hands? Please email me at chrisstoesen at gmail dot com Thanks.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Terrain Time - Impudent Mortal

I had trouble sleeping last night so I decided to get productive. I had picked up a set of the ruined Impudent mortal kickstarter at Cool Minis or Not. I had their town set from the actual kickstarter. Last night i glued it all together. I had previously finished one of the town pieces and glued one other. Now they are all glued.

I turned a wonderfully neat package into a tabletop of destruction. At $45, the IM ruined city set is a great value. Now to start finishing them. Seeing what Matt has done with his Achen terrain has really motivated me.

I also started to base my Francis Marion miniature. If I run into sleep issues tonight, I may work on the standing tank farm and warehouse from Impudent Mortal. They did a great job of putting their instructions online and easy to find.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Planning Phase

I have two main interests to accomplish this year. The first is around getting my Sharp PRactice scenarios done and gamed this year. The second is to get a pint sized campaign done for Kharkov 1941. To that end, I need to review the terrain that I have available.

For the AWI, what I am mostly lacking is forests. Large quantities of trees. I have a few but nothing that will give me the look that I want. I have experimented with using a fixed foliage top that can be removed but that failed badly. I have a few buildings. My favorites are the Blue Moon FIW buildings. I have a pair of two story buildings and two one story shacks. In addition, I have several out buildings from JR miniatures and some tents to paint up. Lastly, I have a block house from Blue Moon. I don't envision using it with this scenario book but it is a really nice model.

What I am lacking is buildings that would suit for Georgetown, SC in 1780. I would ideally love to have a town of 10 to 15 buildings for it. I just am not sure of the direction that I want to go with it.

For the Kharkov campaign, I have most of what I need already. I have plenty of buildings for a small rural village. I also have been building up for an industrial area. I have some HO scale conveyors that I will use with a large rubble pile for a mining area. I just picked up some Impudent Mortal vertical tanks as well. These will add to the IM workshop and large warehouse (game Craft) that I have. I have been on the lookout for buildings that would fit in for a mining area. I am thinking of HO scale toys. I still have scenarios from In the Name of Roma that I have not done justice to.

I also want to get a reasonable rail station setup. Much of the fighting on the east front was around rail lines. Both sides needed them to move equipment and material to the front. Thus far I have about 5 feet of painted tracks. I have another one or two pieces of track that needs to be painted but I have done little with it. I got the Game Craft Government building to use as a train station. It should be a nice piece of kit if I ever build it. I have been shopping for other train station pieces but I have not come up with anything that has grabbed me.

The last piece of the puzzle is an urban board. I really want to accomplish something like what Matt did for his Achen terrain. I have a number of buildings that are in various states of completion but it is painting them that is holding me back. I am just not sure of what to paint them. Between the Impudent Mortal kick starter and several ebay purchases, I think I have the start of a complete city. I also have some matt board and mdf buildings from game craft as well. Then I have a bunch of ruined buildings from JR and now the IM kickstarter ruins. I need a full week just to get these knocked out.

The trouble is I can't focus on one part enough to accomplish anything at the moment. I have gotten my figures painted for the AWI and the WWII east front figures were painted a long time ago. So that is something.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cool Minis or Not - Games Day 5/7/2016

Over the weekend, I was privileged to help Matt put on a fantastic set of Chain of Command games at "Cool Minis or Not." Matt did all the heavy lifting and hard work. He provided the terrain, the miniatures and everything. I got to sit around and talk about one of my favorite game systems and play. What a great day.

We took bins of buildings like this:

And turned it into the table below.

We arrived around 8am at the venue for setup and got right to work. Matt's terrain was beautiful over the course of the day, we played four games. Setup was very straight forward despite the sheer amount of terrain that was there.

Borrowing Mark's banner, we were ready to go.

The first game we played was a patrol scenario from the main rulebook. A platoon of US Infantry with a halftrack and a tank destroyer for supports fought against a platoon of volksgrenadiers that I can't remember the supports for as I was playing the US at the time. The game went well with the Germans occupying the ruined government building and another ruin across the street. The halftrack was amazing. It survived two separate strikes from a panzerfoust and stayed in the fight. It would be responsible for the destruction of two of Matt's volksgrenadier squads. My problem all day was low starting morale. I could not get a game started on a morale higher than 8. The results of the first game were a draw. Neither side could carry on the fight.

The second game of the day was a delaying action. I took command of the Germans and Matt the US troops. We were joined by a young man who was pulled in by the terrain. My volksgrenadiers faced a platoon of US troops and a tank platoon. This game was really interesting. The young man who joined us was supposed to play in a couple of other games but said, "this was way more interesting than his other games" and stuck with us. He moved his platoon down the main road. One tank veered off the road to engage a heavy MG team that I stationed in the government building. They ended up trading shots with Matt's tank destroyer the whole game and were nearly killed to a man.

Besides the MG team, I had selected a STUG III as a support element. The STUG spent most of the game engaging some infantry at distance that were hiding in a building. It did great devastation to the squad in the building but never managed to break it. But it had one shot at the tank that moved to fire on my MG team. I took the shot and rolled well. The sherman was blown to bits. The next highlight was after our visitor had to leave. His tank platoon engaged some infantry in a ruined building. These grenadiers had been wearing down Matt's infantry the whole game. Things were starting to look bleak for the allies. Then all three remaining shermans fired on the building. In the avalanche of 6's that followed, the squad was nearly killed to a man as the building collapsed around them. Its lone survivor routed off the table. This was all it took to break my force morale and ended the game. It was fantastic.

Game 3 was very short lived. I picked up the US infantry again. We attempted a flank attack scenario. My battle plan came unravelled almost immediately. I pressed my troops in quickly and in close combat lost the entire squad. The Germans did as well but my starting morale was an 8 and after the close assault, my morale was 4 to the German 6. The US pulled back immediately. A brief lunch at 4pm had us back on the game table for game 4.

We picked up another new player who was enthusiastic about the game. He played a platoon of US Infantry as did I. Matt again playing the Germans. I deployed along the long edge of the table while the other US player started from the short end. Matt's forces were spread out across the government building and two others. I again tried to push too fast and too hard. This time I nearly succeeded. I brought up the halftrack again as a support option. However, Matt had a grudge against "Old Reliable." Yep, I named that half-track. Well, the anti-tank gun appeared and fired a shot that routed off (not destroyed) my halftrack. And thus began my force morale spiral downwards.

The infantry, now unsupported, charged the gun and drove off the crew and close assaulted the senior leader that was directing it. Matt lost a senior leader and I lost my junior leader. I took a worse morale hit. I brought up a second squad only to have the two squads stuck in a firefight with all three of Matt's. By the end of that, our visiting player had fresh forces and nearly no opponents. We played several more turns of an already decided game to give him a better feel for the rules.

I am definitely planning on doing CMON again next year. I will probably bring a Sharp Practice game as long as Matt or someone runs a Chain of Command game. It was a great day.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Proud Papa Moment

Well, CreateSpace has just delivered a hard copy of In the Name of Roma. They did a great job. It honestly came out WAY better than I thought it would. I am just pleased as punch with the result.

It can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Name-Roma-Infantry-Regiment-December/dp/1533062668

I just had to take a picture of it. It is about 200 pages long in print form. The price for the hard copy is pretty steep so I don't actually expect to sell any. This is definitely a vanity item for me that was worth the price of the proof to do. I will definitely have to do a better cover if I print any of the others in the future. But for now, I am happy with it.

The pic also has a draft of my Marion book. the flags on the side are all of the places that still need work. Its coming along. I just need to get busy and write.

And now for something completely different

On another note, our very own Mad Padre had a post about some rather nice toys that he bought from 6 Squared. I was impressed by the toys and went to their site in hopes of finding something in my size. Sure enough, they have a limited 15mm line of products. What they had was some useful bits of scatter terrain. I really liked the look of their hay bales so I ordered that as well as a pack of crates and bags. All useful. lastly, I bought their dock. It is a small jetty that would fit on my River terrain sections. Overall, I am very happy. They need some trimming and work but they will be very nice. BEST of all, look at their blog. They provide step by step instructions on painting each item. To me, that is wonderful news.

All in all, a nice value. I just wish I had more haystacks than the hay bales in the pack. Happy customer all around.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Marion Figure

As I mentioned in a previous post, I finally got around to painting up a commander figure for my Rebel militia army. I have based it off of the description in Simms book on the appearance of Francis Marion at Gates' camp in August of 1780.

Now I have not finished basing it but the figure is not doing too badly.

Also, I almost played a brief game of Sharp Practice last night. I made it as far as setting up the table. I had cards ready and figures set. Then my wife came home and I had to put everything back up. It was going to be a simple little scenario with a few groups per side.

Still, it was fun to get it ready.