Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Soviet Armor and the Tyranny of Sharpies


New 15mm scale Soviet tanks are rolling of the production line in preparation to face the German onslaught.  4 T-70's, a pair of T-34's and one Katyusha rocket launcher.  These are are plastic models from Battlefront and I really like them.  I did mess up and purchase some later war T-34's - these dont have the single large top hatch but they'll do.

There are also some KV-1's to build.

I've been bouncing back and forth between painting mini's and building terrain.  The road network for this section of the table has been built and painted up.  1/16" square styrene strip is used to make the curbs so laying out the streets is a bit time consuming but it really looks nice all together.  Once the curbs have set the streets are painted concrete using a mix of Apple Barrel craft paints:

1/3 Pewter Grey
1/3 Country Tan
1/3 Country Grey
The road network is a bit more complex and there are several crossroads that I expect will be hotly contested in the games to come.

With the exception of the Soviet Bank building (upper left in the 3rd picture) all of the building placement is temporary - I'm still playing around with building placements.

I did make a really dumb mistake.  When rough marking where the street would go, I couldn't find a pencil so grabbed a black sharpie marker.  Craft paints are great for terrain making and very economical but do not cover sharpie markers all that well.  You can see it showing through the paint on this cross roads hex.  Still visible after three coats of "concrete" paint.  Dohhhh!!!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Stalingrad Phase 2 Commences


It's time to return to terrain making for the Stalingrad project.  I packed up the north section and started to layout the hexes and draw in the roads for the Central section of the map.  The overall map will be 10ft x 6ft.
As you can see I ran out of hexes and need to cut another 140 or so to complete the full table.  Outside of the Soviet Bank building (lower right corner in the first picture) all of the building placements are just tests.  Once I get the road grid in I'll figure out how to best place them to balance historical locations and gamability.

I'm working of a scale map I drew in power-point.  This diagram has proven to be really helpful in keeping track of the project as it's really easy to let such a large scale project like this overwhelm me.

The terrain design principal is historically important buildings such as the Univermag Department Store or Pavlov's house are located where they were historically, especially relative to one another.  You can see them on the diagram as either green (built) or red (to be built).  All of the other buildings (in light grey) will be a bit generic and placed more to simulate building density rather than actual historical location.

The northern section all packed up.  When I get the all clear from my lovely, yet fierce, Dr Wife I'll be bring this bin up to the club to start doing some test games with the rules.  I'll end up with three of these bins for all of the terrain - which is a lot but still transportable.  

Reassembling the terrain will be fun.  I did mark the bottom of each hex with its corresponding row number and put them back in the bin in a somewhat organized fashion.  I suspect the first time I try to "reset" the terrain will be a disaster.  We'll find out.

One concern I have is that given the size of the table at 10 x 6 can players easily reach units in the center?  Yes, I am fearful of the dreaded gamer "belly smash" were players with ample "provision storage" accidently crush figures and terrain features along the table edge as they lean over.  I have committed this sin many times in the past and will likely do so again.  It shouldn't be a problem along the soviet side as it has the Volga river so there really isn't any elevated terrain features.  It might be an issue on the german side  but we'll have to see.  I may need to shorten the width to 5 feet which the design will allow without too much compromise.  One of the benefits of a hex terrain design is it pretty easy to make adjustments like that one.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Painting Challenge Submission 5: Minefields, River Monitors and Panzer IIIs

My 5th submission for this year's Painting Challenge is an eclectic mix and contain my first two projects related to the "Chambers' of Challenge" aspect.

First up are 6 minefield hexes - the mines are visible if you look hard and that's the point - players should stumble upon them rather than see them

Nothing to fancy here - justs a standard rubble hex with about 10-15 "mines" attached

The mines where made with a tiny hole punch I used to make rivets back in my model railroading days.  I used black 1.5mm thick matt board for the mines.

The next chamber related submission are two 15mm scale River Monitors from Battlefront's Vietnam line.  The hulls and turrets are resin and the gunbarrels and other details are plastic.
These models are being painted up for a fellow club mate and you may see them on You-tube in the distant future.
Lastly, as I was organizing my hobby space, I stumbled on a box of Panzer III J's from Plastic Soldier Company.  Knowing these would be most handy for my Stalingrad project, I built and painted them up.
These models are not as detailed as the more recent Battlefront plastic kits but their at least 7 years old and where pretty ground breaking in their day.

I am supposed to receive an order from Battlefront today which has a lot of early war Soviet tanks and AC's so expect to see a lot of Russian armor over the next few weeks.

With this submission, my total points for the Challenge stands at 1,233 out of a total target of 2,500.  I'm feeling pretty good about my "productivity" but the points accumulation pace may slow as the next few projects are related to Hex terrain and that requires a lot of steps so progress will slow.  Still I'm feeling pretty confident I'll beat my target.

This year's challenge is off to a blazing start and I really do recommend you go over and check it out.  Most of the painters participating this year have skills way beyond mine and the quality and breadth of their submissions is most impressive.

Lastly, as announced on our You-Tube channel, the club is kicking off a ancients campaign based on the Pyrrhic campaigns of 280 to 275BC.  The Romans "senate" will choose which players from the club oppose Pyrrhus and his allies.  Who is the senate - the patrons of the channel so it should be fun to see what roles we all get to play in the campaign.  You might even get to see my Republican Roman army on the table top.  Who is playing Pyrrhus and his allies - that's a secret, for now.


Friday, January 8, 2021

Russian Infantry Company and Supporting guns, AHPC XI entry 4

Some Troops for Stalingrad - a Soviet Infantry Company and some supporting guns.  15mm scale and the figures are all from Plastic Soldier Company.  To be honest the casting quality isn't the best but the price can not be beat

An infantry company of 3 platoons of 4 squads.  As mentioned earlier, I am working on a new set of WW2 company level rules to use during the game where one base = 1 squad or AFV.  I'm writing the rules to be basing agnostic so players can use really any basing the want.

Some support options in the form of 4, 45mm AT guns and 4 76mm artillery pieces.

I've got a lot more Soviets to paint up...

Monday, January 4, 2021

Return to the Stalingrad Project

After a bit of a break and a dalliance with 6mm ancients, it's time to return to the Stalingrad project.  I'm really excited to get back to work and decided to begin by painting up some Soviet Infantry and artillery.

All of the figures of from Plastic Soldier Company

I've also been working on the CAD design for some new Central Stalingrad historical buildings so there should be some interesting progress over the next few weeks.  At least that's the plan! 


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Parthian Army in 6mm - Done (Challenge Submission 3)!

My third submission for this year's Painting Challenge is complete - a 6 6mm Parthian army in 6mm.  The figures are from Baccus (of course) and where a lot of fun to paint up.  Looking forward to getting these chaps on the table top when the lock downs begin to ease.

As with the earlier Republican Roman force these are all based for the Age of Caesar rule et and use 40mm square basing.

While one first thinks of cavalry when considering Parthians, they did field some infantry.  My little force has 8 bases of foot archers and 2 bases of skirmishers.

and 4 bases of medium, spear armed infantry.  Maybe not the most fearsome of foot borne troops but they'll be effective speed bumps.
The workhorse of any Parthian force are mounted archers and this little army has 20 bases of them.

The armored fist for the Parthians are cataphracts and this force can field up to 10 bases.
Lastly, just for a bit of fun, some armored camel cataphracts - because who doesn't want camel borne cavalry.

I'll add to the infantry when the Baccus cart opens up.

Next up for the Challenge - a return to work on the 15mm Stalingrad project

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Parthians Coming along nicely and preparing to return to the Stalingrad project


A 6mm Parthian forces has been painted up and based.  All that's left is to scenic the bases and these chaps will be ready for the tabletop.

These figures are part of the Baccus miniatures Hail Caesar Army Pack plus one pack of 36 armored camel cataphracts.  The Baccus army packs come with a nice discount and do give you a very broad set of troop options.  As with my Republican Romans these are based to be used for the Age of Hannibal ruleset but the basing is flexible enough to use with just about any ancients rules set.

I'm still fiddling with the color scheme for the base scenery - I want a more arid look than the standard "European Field" I used on the Romans.

I  am looking forward to getting these guys on the table soon as cavalry heavy armies are a lot of fun to play in just about all ancients rule sets.  My track record as a commander of horse armies is actually pretty poor but I always have fun zooming around the tabletop.  Plus who doesn't dream of commanding a charge of cataphracts mounted on armored camels?

Once these gentlemen are finished, I think it's time to return to my Stalingrad project, roughly 40% of the table is done and using my AMAZING math skills, I am able to calculate that implies there is 60% remaining to be done.  I'm hoping be able to put this game on at Historicon this year.  I know it's a pretty iffy proposition on the chances of Historicon being held but let's think positively.  Perhaps a more precise way to set the deadline is the earlier of Historicon'21 or the next HMGS convention.  

A picture of the North section of the map, which is bounded to the North by the January 9th Square /  Pavlov's House / Grundin Mill area.  I'm thinking of darkening the road sections as they look a little too "bright" to me.  The game table will cover most of central Stalingrad down to the Univermaf Dept store and Red Square.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Republican Roman Army with Italian and Spanish Allies (Challenge Submissions 1 & 2)


My first two submissions for Challenge XI consisted of a 6mm scale Republican Roman army along with some support troops from Spain and Italy.  The figures are all from the Baccus 6mm line and were a joy to paint.  

These chaps netted me 610 points and consist of 150 mounted figures and 920 infantry of various types.  The troops are based on 40mm square bases which is the standard used for "Age of Hannibal" at the club.  These rules were written by a club member and are a very nice fast play set of rules that allow player to recreate entire battles and finish them in an evening.  They're a lot of fun and I enjoy playing them a lot.

On the left side are the Spanish troops:
- 4 Bases of Scutarii medium infantry with 24 figures per base)
- 6 bases of Caetratii light infantry with 8 figures per base
- 9 bases of Spanish light cavalry with 5 figures per base

15 Mounted Roman generals.  The different sized command bases denotes rank with the larger the base, the higher the rank

The heart of any Roman army - heavy infantry.  8 bases of Hastati, 8 bases of Principes and 2 bases of Triarii, all with 24 figures.  In the back are 6 bases of Balearic slingers and 2 bases of scorpions for a little fire support

On the right side are some Italian allies - generic hoplite infantry in the front. Italian medium cavalry.  In the rear are 12 bases of Roman Velites.

The final group are 4 bases of Samnite infantry.

I'm planning to also use the Spanish and Italian troops as Gauls and maybe even Germans if the need arose.  We don't have a full Gualic at the club but could probably cobble together a respectable force with pieces from peoples various collections.  

As you've seen in a previous post, next up on the "Ancients Hit Parade" are some Parthians.  Depending on how hard Mr Berry cracks the whip at the Baccus Casting Furnace, there will also a medium sized Dacian force (with Sarmatians!) and a relatively large Successor Army (cause who doesn't want to paint Ellies?).

Saturday, December 26, 2020

With the Republican Romans and their allies done, next up on my list of 6mm Ancients are the Parthians.  When the Baccus cart was last opened I purchased a Hail Caesar Army pack of Parthians plus a pack of Camel Cataphracts because who wouldn't want to paint armored camels?

The Baccus army deals are a great way to get started as they are offered at a nice discount so if you're just starting out give them a look.

Assume I don't break anything this army pack should yield the following:

18 bases of mounted Archers, with 4 figures per base

4 Bases of javelin armed light cavalry with 4 figures per base

12 bases of cataphracts with 6 figures per base

6 bases of camel cataphracts with 6 figures per base

4 bases of spearmen with 24 figs per base

6 bases of foot arches with 16 figures per base

2 bases of skirmishers with 8 figures per base

9 Generals 2, 2 figure bases and 5, 1 figure bases

All of the bases are 40mm squares which have just been purchased from the good folks at Litko.  I ordered them on Monday and got them in two days.  Really top notch service.

I really like fielding cavalry heavy armies for ancients games and am looking forward to trying these guys out on the table.  My first few outings will likely result in complete disaster as cavalry armies tend to be finicky forces to field but they are always fun.  I doubt all 6 of the Camel units will ever get used at the same time but their just too fun not to paint up.

When the Baccus cart opens up, I'll likely pick up another pack of Spearmen (for another 4 bases) and maybe another pack of horse archers.

Now for some research on how to paint Parthians.....


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas from my Lair to Yours


Merry Christmas to you and your families from St Michaels, Maryland.  I know 2020 has been a difficult year for all of us and we're learning to celebrate the holidays in different and "more distant" manner.  Still we can test new ways to celebrate and it's better to have a positive outlook than not.

At my house, this will be the first Christmas we will not have our son in the house with us Christmas morning - an inevitable outcome but one that will take some getting used to.  On the positive side we will get him and his girlfriend for a socially distant Christmas dinner and is suspect Mary Beth will be pulling out all the stops to impress his young lady.  Impress or Intimidate - I never under this  higher level female communication stuff.  It's probably best if I don't trouble my pointy little head about such matters.

We'll be trying to create some new traditions this year and will likely be having a large Christmas dinner with the extended family over Zoom.  It will be a shambles but a shambles that I will really enjoy.

Speaking of new traditions, I finally broke down and built a Eastern Shore of Maryland holiday mainstay - a Christmas tree made out of crab traps.  Yes these little beauties adorn houses, docks and boats during the holiday season and the scream out class and sophistication.  I bet you can hear from wherever your reading this blog right now if you listen carefully...

Anyway, I kind of like the tree and it's nice to see peeking through the trees as one trundles up the drive way.

Be safe and be positive this Holiday season - we will get through this period of trial to better days in 2021.