Sunday, February 28, 2010

Flames of War: Monte Cassino Terrain Section III

Sunday was a very productive day, terrain wise, as most of the basic scenery work was completed on the "Monte Cassino" module.  I'm pretty happy with the results so far and I think it's serviceable for next Saturday's game.

The rather flat section in the upper left of the picture will feature a Monastary as discussed on earlier posts.  The church has been primed and a bit of painting work has been completed.

The next few pictures are the module from different angles:

The figures on the table top are just set out for show, I need to tweak the scenario a bit once I've got a firm count of participants.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Flames of War: Monte Cassino Terrain Section II

Some progress has been made on the terrain section, which is a good thing as it has to be completed by next Saturday!  I've completed most of the plaster and foam "sculpting" so now what's left is the terrain scenery and details.  So far this has been a really fun project and I'm fairly confident that it will get completed in a usable form by game night.  I've also discovered that I'm a huge pack-rat (what a surprise historical gamer and pack rat - who knew?).  Outside of the Chapel/Monastery everything used has come for my model rail road supply bin.  The next photo's are some closer shots of each side:

The top space (where the chapel / monastery is) will be left very plain to allow me to put in different terrain sections - like a village, fort or POW camp.  The top of the right side will probably end up being either a forest of some type of grove.  The next phase will be dry-brushing the rock facings to make them "pop" a bit and then applying ground foam.  I'm also planning to write up some house rules to allow for rock climbing and other little surprises.

I have been very impressed with the quality of the church kit from Game Craft Miniatures.  It's a top notch kit and a real joy to build.  The company's website extols the virtues of cad design leading to  perfectly fitting parts and it's no exaggeration.  Most resin kits require a good amount of engineering to get everything to go together - not this kit.  Outside of trimming some flash, it went together without any fuss.  The roof is removable and a small FOW stand can fit in the bell tower.  The casting was almost flawless.  You can see three green dots on the rough section where I reinforced the one of the roof section casts with green stuff as there was just a very thin layer of the detail side.

All-in-all I highly recommend this kit.

Here's a picture of the kit during the building phase:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Flames of War: Monte Cassino Terrain Section

I'm hosting a game of Flames of War in two weeks and I'd thought it would be fun to create a 2' x 4' Terrain module that is loosely themed on the abbey at Monte Cassino.  "Loosely" is an appropriate term, but it should pose a good challenge to any attacking force.  This project was started on a whim so it isn't very well planned out.  I'm limiting it to only using materials that I have on hand.  The bridge was scratch built using Plastruct and Evergreen styrene plastic parts.  I'm a little worried the bridge will become to much of a focal point so we'll see how the first few games go.

There's a bit more plaster work to do but I want to use a light hand in order to keep the weight down.  The plaster is a combination of sculptamold (road) and plaster cloth (everything else).

I also ordered the new 15mm church kit from Gamecraft Miniatures to serve as the abbey.  The kit looks pretty impressive and has a 4.5" x 9" footprint, which should fit fine within the module.

We'll see if this project gets completed in time...

After another month or so of WWII gaming it will be time go back to the real show - Napoleonics!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Flames of War Scenario Play Through

I was able to play through an initial version of the scenario I'll be using when I host my game club in March.  The scenario pits a large US Tank force (roughly 2,500 points) vs a defending German force (1,500 points on the table with 750pts in reinforcements).  The game featured some variable events and was designed to help me both re-learn the rules and begin to balance the game for my club event.  The picture to the left shows the start of the game with the US force entering the table via the road with the objective of seizing the towns and exiting the map.  The US force consisted of:
1 Tank Co (17 Shermans)
1 Armored Infantry Platoon
1 Tank Destroyer Section
1 Ranger Platoon (variable entry along the left side of the board
1 Armored Car Platoon
The  defending German force was made up of 2 platoons of FJGs*, a FJG* machine gun section, 2 Panthers, 3 Stugs, 2 Armored Cars, a self-propelled artillery section and a HQ platoon.  The off-board reinforcements consisted of 2 Tigers and an Armored Infantry platoon.

* Fallschirmajager

The Scenario is loosely based on the Barkman's Corner scenario that's published in the Cobra campaign book.  We were able to get about 10 turns in before calling it a game and I think we didn't mangle the rules too badly other than confusing some of the finer aspects of firepower tests.  It was a very fun game which ended up being a draw.
To the left you can see the battle lines at the end of the game.  The US (played by Ernie) had destroyed one of the paratroop platoons and was about to overwhelm the second one, but had lost 11 out of 19 tanks in the process.  German tank loses were at a similar 50% level as 2 stugs, a panther and both armored cars were put out of action.  Perhaps the high point of the game was the loss of the Panther (in the lower right of the picture) which was dispatched by a lowly M8 armored car's 37mm gun that had managed to get behind it.  Oh the shame....
I also learned to fear US bazooka's as they put the hurt on my assault guns.

The last picture shows the ending battlefield from the US side.  The US ranger platoon managed to seize the casino on the hill but was being threatened by the armored infantry company.

All-in-all it was a great game and a good chance the re-learn the rules.  One drawback of the FOW system is that there are lot's of tables for unit stats.  At Ernie's suggestion, I will be making some summary tables for each player that represent his forces to try and reduce the page flipping.  Hopefully I'll also have a bit better understanding of the rules next time also.  Still it was a fun time

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Village Ruins are Table Ready

The 15mm scale village is now ready for the table top.  I will still add some details, but the piece is playable now and I'm pretty happy with it.  I'll be adding some silly details like furniture and a wrecked vehicle.  I have loads of HO scale strip wood which will suffice.  Remember the furniture is ruined so it doesn't need to look that good!  A big thank you to Galpy from the 15mm Paint Shack who sent me some images of vintage axis and allied propaganda posters which will prove very useful.  You can see one of the posters in the upper right of the photo.  Here are some more photo's of different angles and one picture of what the piece looks like with some troops.  As always, your suggestions are most appreciated.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

15MM Scenery

Since the recent blizzard here in Maryland gave me some unexpected time-off, I decided to put that time to good use by working on some scenery projects for an upcoming Flames of War game I'll be hosting for my club.  The picture to the left is of a village strong point and is built on a 1ft square piece of masonite.  I'm about 2/3's complete and need to add ground cover and some more details.  The rubble is some HO scale ballast and some odd pieces of strip wood.  The only thing I'm not really happy with is the cobblestone street in the center.  It's made from an HO scale sheet of Plastruct cobblestone siding.  I'll try a couple ways to fix it and if that doesn't work, Ill try something else.  At least I'm starting to use some of the HO model rail road stuff I've accumulated.
Here's another shot of the village. center-left building will serve as a bank for the scenario, which will be a "Kelly's Hero's" themed game with the allies assaulting the town and then trying to make off with the loot as German reinforcements try to catch them.  I still need to work out the details but I have about 3,000 points for both the Germans and Americans.  I'll post some details about the scenario for comments later.

I also spent some time working on some sectional roads and bocage pieces.  The road sections are made from strathmore board and window sealant and I'm very happy with them.  I tried some latex based commercial road sections but could never really get the paint to stick and just didn't like the "feel" of them on the table.  I find strathmore board to be a great material to work with and will probably try to make some river sections with it.  There are also some urban road sections made from the same plastruct material.  lastly, you can see the bocage sections painted up and awaiting ground foam.  A completed one is at the top left of the photo.

The weather guys are indicating we are going to get another 10-20 inches of snow today - to go on top of the 32 inches we have.  At least I'll have time to finish my projects!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


OK, this post has nothing to do with miniature gaming but it's a big moment for me as I'm a life long season ticket holding Saints fan.  While I live in Maryland, I grew up near New Orleans and have always rooted for the Saints.  I managed to make 3 regular season games and the two playoff games this year but decided not to go to the Super Bowl.

Needles to say, this is a huge win for the the team and the city and I'm very happy.


For those of you who aren't into American football, the picture is of the pivotal play of the game, when Terry Porter (with the ball) intercepted a pass from Peyton Manning (who is the Indy player in the lower right corner - cross blocks are a beautiful thing) and ran it back for a touch down towards the end of the game.

Who Dat?, Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow-A-Geddon 2.0

Wow, I've never seen so much snow before - and Maryland is supposed to be a "temperate climate" state.  The totals are around 24 inches with the snow expected to continue through this evening for a total accumulation of 30+ inches.

To para-phrase Burt Ward "Holy Bat Guano" (feel free to replace the terms with more descriptive words, but I try to keep this a family oriented blog).

The one benefit of being snow-bound is plenty of time for gaming and hobby projects.  I've been working on some 15mm scale section road pieces for FOW, so hopefully there will be a lot of progress on that front.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Game Room Plans

I was both surprised and very thankful for the level of response my last post got on ideas for my game room.  Thanks for the great suggestions.

After some thought, I've come up with the plan that's shown to the left.  The overall space is 20' x 11', which is plenty big but it does have 4 sets of double doors (each 5' wide), that need to be taken into account.  The doors on the bottom provide access to our utilities (electric, FIOS and water).  The doors at the top lead to a 4.5' x 20' storage closet.  The space plan needs to provide clear access to each area.  While this limits the useable space, it should not pose a material problem.

My wife, who generously granted my title to the space added a last minute requirement.  That the space "can't look too gamey'.  Upon further questioning, gamey is defined as there can't be any messy work stations or piles of stuff hanging around  on the table.  In other words it had to look both clean and organized.  Given my past behavior this new requirement might be a deal killer.

What I came up with is to build a 2x4 rolling work bench that's the same height as the table.  The 2x4 space is more than large enough for miniature modeling and I can add a fold out leaf along the back to extend the total potential gaming surface another 4'x4'.  Putting the whole thing on lockable rolling casters will allow me to hide it in the storage closet.  If my wife doesn't see the messy workbench then it doesn't really exist does it?  Since the workbench is all right angles, it shouldn't tax my carpentry skills much.  I've also got a good bit of surplus wood and 3 feet of piano hinge so most of the components are on hand.  You can see the planned location above (in good viewing range of the TV!)

As for display cases, I'll get something simple from Ikea or pick up some O-Scale or G-Scale model railway display cases from Greenway.  I like the look of the model rail road cases and the lighting is nice.  The O-Scale cases are 4 - 6 inches deep, which should work fine.

The space will also have a simple seating area with a table for snacks and six barstools to recline on as players contemplate their strategies.

The biggest challenge for me will be the wiring for mounting the TV in the back corner.  We'll see how that goes.

Any other suggestions and/or criticisms are more than welcome