In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Building Pottersville

OK, with about 3 weeks to go to Hotlead, I fell hard off the wagon and ordered a pile of Sarissa Precision's 28mm buildings from their City Block range. A growing sense of frustration with trying to run bigger or more complex and tactical games lead my thoughts back to buying The Chicago Way last Hotlead and resurrecting my pulp gangsters to have a fun, fast game to play with a variable group of people. This would also be in a very different tone from just more troops in big battles like the other things on my list of desires. Besides I like hard boiled detective novels, old and new.

So on Friday, I got off work early (which was nice, wish we could do that every Friday!) and I got home to find this in the mail box, package 1 of 3:
This is the big warehouse, which I think will be central to a lot of scenarios (or does one call them plots or stories in Pulp games?).

It took all weekend to get to it, but some 90 minutes of work with a bottle of Aileen's Tacky Glue before bed on Sunday and maybe 40 minutes this morning, results in this:

 As you can see, the mezzanine floor comes off to give access to the lower offices. I've left the stairs unglued in case I need to move them for something.

The pillars holding up the mezzanine were quite clever. The front steps, back steps and the stairs up to the mezzanine all used different methods of construction too.

I've left the big doors loose so I can have them open or closed. Maybe I'll make some card hinges before I paint. My only quibbles are that the main floor need a slight trim to get it to fit and the front door doesn't open. I'll have to paint it on the inside so you know where it is. The instructions are a bit vague as well and the parts are unidentified by any number or letter code, so it took a bit of thinking and a lot of dry fitting first.

4Ground have a very nice warehouse that is prepainted and has working doors, but it is also twice the price. So I'll suck up the minor quibbles since I've been able to purchased a bunch of buildings for the cost of the single 4Ground kit.

Still en route are a couple of shops and tenements, so there can be raids on speakeasies or a Mobster's HQ. Plus in previous games I learned that the players always ignore my approach to solid buildings "It's locked, you can't go in!" and they want to go in. So having every building with an accessible interior, even if it isn't central to the plot, is essential.

I'll just arm the fair citizens of Pottersville and they'll get shot at if they run into Mrs. McReady's apartment uninvited.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Gamer ADHD Postscript

While compiling my list I also totally forgot about my 30s gangster project, which is stalled waiting for more buildings.
And I really do need a simple silly game for when I've got a big gang of friends over and something thinkier like Chain of Command isn't going to work.
While I've been cycling around kicking tires, distracted by other projects, I failed to notice that Crescent Root's VERY nice 28mm factory buildings, which included a lovely assembled and painted warehouse for a reasonable price had gone out of production.
So I will probably have to buy unpainted Sarissa buildings and assemble them myself.

So discipline can cost one sometimes!

In the meantime, in this past week I've posted over 40 events to the website! Friday evening and Saturday will have a full slate of games.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Gamer ADHD

While ruminating at work last night I realized that I have an awful number of tabs open on my Google app as I've been cycling through various manufacturers websites resisting the urge to buy.

I haven't bought anything since November, which is pretty good. But since then I've pondered something like EIGHT or NINE expansions to current projects or entirely new projects;

  • adding more infantry and terrain to my 15mm WW2 Russians (so looking at Peter Pig and Novus Designs)
  • building 1940s French to give another early war opponent to my Panzer Is and IIs (so Peter Pig again and Forged in Battle)
  • well if Early War, then why not Poles? (True North and Forged in Battle)
  • finally pulling the trigger on building my Middle Earth Dwarf army into a force that can stand alone (Conqueror Models)
  • or how about we revisit my childhood African Imagine-Nation, Ruanda and have Centurions fighting with T55s? (so a lot of QRF and PSC and more Peter Pig)
  • or maybe do it in 20mm? or move the fight to something more European (Western aligned Mantovia vs. the sinister Soviet bloc Boduria) and use early Cold War British infantry?
  • or add to my 20mm modern Afghanistan (Elheim and Britannia)?
  • Bad Squiddo Games stocks plastic box sets, and I realized with the new Gripping Beast Goth Noble Cavalry one could build a Rohirrim army including some shield maidens in a one stop shop!
  • or go way out in left field and do the Battle of Britain because the Air Cadets have me looking at planes and I saw Blood Red Skies boxes on discount or do the cheaper option with GHQ.
  • and then the Mad Padre has to go and Tweet a book about Canadian-British trench raiding in WW1!
Some are quite modest additions to current projects, but I ask myself "Do I really need an Afghan goatherd or a second platoon of Canadians for the Panjwayi?" or "Do I need a big addition to the Lead Pile (Dwarves or Rohirrim or French or Poles)?" or "Do I really need a whole new distraction before I've finished something else (Centurion tanks or RAF Spitfires vs. Me109s)?"

Each jump is caused by seeing some nice eye candy in my Social Media feeds. A good castle model has me thinking Dragon Rampant. Someone's Chain of Command post gets me thinking about 1940s French etc.So I keep cycling through the webstores, kicking the tires, planning buy lists and checking the currency rates. I just hope Brexit doesn't cause a big jump in prices from British manufacturers having to pay more for metal before I decide I've cleared off enough of the lead pile and can add to it guilt free.

In the meantime I'll keep cycling though them and try to white knuckle hang on until Hotlead and see what I find there. Which really, is time I could be spending more productively doing something else.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Shambling to Attention

I think most of you are familiar with George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books. If you aren't, then where have you been hiding? Go read them. Now.

GMFs MacAuslan stories are very much a hidden gem, not getting the same sort of attention that the rollicking adventures of Sir Harry F get. There isn't any sex, or death avoiding adventures in exotic locales. The MacAuslan stories are very different in tone. Quietly humorous and with a deep affection for the soldiers portrayed.

During WW2 GMF served as an infantryman in the 17th Indian Division ("the Black Cats"), part of the 14th Army in India, Burma and Malaya. He describes this experience in his war memoir Quartered Safe Out Here, which is one of the best war memoirs I've ever read. You should go read it. Now. After reaching the dizzying heights of Lance Corporal he was selected for Officers training. By the time he was commissioned, the war was over and he joined his regiment, the Gordon Highlanders doing occupation duty in Libya.

His experiences as a young 2Lt and then Lt, learning how to command a platoon of battle hardened, canny Jocks is what he turned into the short stories featuring Pvt. J MacAuslan "the dirtiest soldier in the world." These stories are a wonderful glimpse of a lost time and world, as the British army was consciously transforming itself from fighting a world war and being an Imperial policeman to something new and strange in the post-Imperial, Cold War world. He commands a troop train in Palestine, worried about Jewish terrorists. He finds himself facing an angry Libyan mob, uncomfortably aware that it's him (a young Lt) and his 30 Jocks with their Enfield rifles standing between the quiet city and an orgy of burning, looting and rape. He has to mount Ceremonial Guard at Edinburgh Castle in front of VIPs and Royalty, only to have one of his kilt straps break mid parade. There is a tense golf tournament with regimental honour at stake and the Walking Disaster, MacAuslan caddying for the RSM. As Battalion Sports Officer he finds himself managing the football team, who know football better than he. He worries he isn't being accepted by the Jocks, when he discovers they have an affectionate nick name for him and think he's 'canny'. A lot of the worries and burdens of a subaltern are portrayed here, which would make the book useful reading for any junior officer. GMF originally presented these stories as fiction, because some of the characters were composites and some of the events didn't happen exactly as told. But as he admits in the Afterword, describing a meeting and drinks with his old CO, there's a lot of truth in the stories, even the unlikely character of MacAuslan.

MacAuslan often, through dumb luck, ends up a bit of a hero. Even though he's filthy, can't march and his kit is in permanent disarray, MacNeil and the platoon have a soft spot for him too. Because even though they have to hide his kit in a closet and get MacAuslan out of garrison during any major inspection, he tries hard and has the North Africa medal (if he can find it) and advanced with rusty bayonet against Rommel at Alamein and Tobruk, and to MacNeil (and GMF) that deserves some consideration.

The story in which MacNeil and MacAuslan are demobilized is quite touching, showing the strange affection between them. It reminded me of my own 'MacAuslan's'. Cadets who can't march, can't keep their uniform clean or tucked in, often late. But they keep cheerfully trying. You get exasperated and yell, you chide, you nag. But for some reason they like you, remembering the times you were considerate and patient, even when you can't. And sometimes they surprise you too. After they've given their final awkward salute and bear marched away, you can't help but wonder how they'll get on. Even though they aren't your responsibility any longer, the bond, and the worry that comes with it, is still there.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Digging In (pt. 2)

I started these exactly FIVE years ago, when the Mad Padre lived a half hour away and would sometimes come over for an evening of painting.
Canadian section 

German section 

I got them all together and sprayed black, where they then sat on the shelf for FIVE YEARS! Last week I went over to Dick's house for a hobby night and having finished my latest purchases I grabbed these from the lead pile to pick away at them. Well, I made a lot of progress and got them finished this weekend.


There was one prone figure throwing a grenade. So for some reason he's crawling around outside of his foxhole.

Pretty simple paint jobs. The castings aren't great, but they look good enough to do the job. For the German camouflage smocks and helmet covers I used a light green base then blotches of mid brown and dark green. The German LMG positions with overhead cover started as prone figures,  but I have enough prone MG42 teams and they should be dug in like everyone else. So this is how I'm disguising their chopped off torsos.
All the Canadians 

All the Germans 

I have a full platoon of Canadian/British and three weak platoons for the Germans. Or the Germans can have 2x platoons dug in and the 3rd in reserve or using my Flames of War entrenchments.

So some more knocked off the lead pile. I'm feeling pleased with myself.

Did I say it's taken 5 years to finish these? And I'm pretty sure that they were in The Pile for a few years before that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Two Big Games

For our normal Saturday evening game I suggested to Dick that we get his ancient armies out for some Hail Caesar. His reply of "Hot damn!" lead to Mike and I arriving to the table below.

Successor pikes and elephants lined a ridge facing six 60 figure legions plus allies and cavalry. 

Thessalian cavalry and elephants thrash the Roman cavalry wing
I messed up some rules, but we moved A LOT of toys around and had a pretty good cavalry fight on the one wing with the Roman cavalry getting broken. On the other wing Mike had blundered several units off table,  but I wasn't getting good enough command rolls to do anything about it.

In the centre we had just gotten to the infantry clash when it was time to call it.

Pikes crash into legions.  The Hastati in one got vaporised  

Just some of Dick's lovely terrain 

Then on Sunday I finished my PE-2 bomber from True North Miniatures  (started by my friend Don, but now made under licence by Old Glory), and decided to have a ridiculous tank heavy bash of I Ain't Been Shot, Mum to put it and my new Russian tanks on the table. 

The scenario was a Light Panzer Company (3 platoons with a mix of PzIs and PzIIs and a 4th platoon of PzIIIe) with a platoon of Panzer Grenadiers and section of Panzer Jaeger Is exploiting a breakthrough. Facing them are 2 weak platoons of Rifles with 2x 45mm AT guns, 2x MMGs and 2x ATR teams. The Russians also got trenches. Rushing to counterattack are a platoon of T34s, 2x platoons of T26s and BT7s, a recce group with my lone T60 and BA7 armoured car and the KV2. Both sides got 'Armoured Bonus move' and 'breakdown'. Germans got 2x 'Rally' Russians only one. Germans got 2x 'Support' cards for sorties of Stukas, the Russians got one for the PE2 bomber. 

The Stukas showed up a lot but often missed. Although after being directed against the frightening KV2 a lot one finally got a direct hit and the other crashed. The PE2 only showed up a few times and missed.

Before getting destroyed by a 500 pound bomb, the KV2 had been in a long range duel with a PzJgr I, 152mm shells crashing around it but never brewing it up. Although the tank destroyer was close to bailing out from shock when the Luftwaffe finally destroyed the monster. 
The world's luckiest PzJgrI trading shots with the KV-2

When you REALLY need to kill a tank
The Russians made good use of the "Armoured Bonus Move" card to run the T34s behind the main German armoured thrust where they promptly started blowing up Panzer IIIs.

PzIs shooting up Russian infantry 
Panzer Is and IIs did prove useful in shooting up entrenched Russian infantry, but they did die quick.
T26s engage Germans 

BT7s and T26 rolling through burning and abandoned Panzers 

Panzer Grenadiers clear some woods 
I did get an idea to take some of the detail out of the tank damage. Just let shock accumulate unless a gun is knocked out or the tank immobilized. All the temporary negatives to movement and shooting are hard to track.

Maybe I should replay it without the infantry?

Friday, January 11, 2019

Za Rhodina!

The nice thing about the night shift is having the Friday off.

Today I had no appointments or other intrusions from Real Life, so I was able to paint up the latest reinforcements for the heroic defenders of the Peasants and Workers Revolution.

3x T26 tanks for 1941 and 3x SU76 SPGs for 1942 and on wards. I'd been tempted by something bigger like SU100s or SU152s, but the venerable SU76 was the second most produced tank (T34 being #1 obviously). 14000 of them. For every bigger self propelled gun there were 14 or more of the "little bitches." They weren't popular with their crews, hard to drive and they felt exposed. But they were popular with the infantry.

I used a PSC commander to put a commander in a hatch of one of the T26s.

I also painted the SU crew separately. Which is odd for me, but they were attached by their feet so I wouldn't have to do any annoying fixing after cutting them off. Holding them in a clothes peg helped a lot.

Here we are:

Gamers always diss the T26, but it's 45mm gun can kill any thing the Germans have in 1941, and it's kinda cute.