Yeah, Tau. Those ultrasleek space commies from Warhammer 40K. I had met the then President of Games Workshop Canada socially and commented that I thought the, then new, Tau were the most interesting thing GW had released in a while. So like a good drug pusher who uses free samples to get you hooked, the next time we met he gave me a few packs to start a Tau army.
"Hey cool," I think. Free stuff is always welcome. Besides friends played 40K so I thought maybe I could play with them. And I liked the sleek SF look to the army with the drones and grav tanks and sleek modern looking helmets. So much nicer than the spikey goth Mad Max refugee look of the rest of the 40K universe. Then I started planning an army and realized that they really needed their tanks and at least 3 to 5 tanks at that. Each unit of basic squaddies requires an expensive Infantry Fighting Vehicle model at about $50 to $60 a piece. Ouch.
That's a lot of money for a rule system I'm not particularly keen on just to play with my buddies. So I took what I had and traded it in at a local FLGS that carried GW and Flames of War (like every other FLGS). I got a $50 credit which I promptly used on a Battlefront "British Rifle Company" boxed set. This gave me two platoons and a nifty resin HQ bunker.
Here they are posed among my Italian ruins:
Here is the command bunker. I've added a trio of Peter Pig's "Tommies having a brew" to set the tone:
Of course I had to add some tanks. What's WW2 without tanks? Two troops of Shermans from Old Glory purchased using someone's Old Glory Army card which put them at a more economical $5 a model. Each troop has three Sherman Vs and a Sherman Vc Firefly. I want the army to be able to fight scenarios from the landings in Sicily in '43 to the end of the war in North West Europe so Fireflies were needed.
Radio antenna on the tanks and the FOO (you can see him follwing the rifle sections in the second picture) are made from the nylon bristles from a cheap Dollar store snow brush. That was pretty much where my army sat for a while; one understrength rifle company and two troops of tanks. Needless to say, they got their asses handed to them in the first few games.
I quickly set about adding some supporting elements. Since I play I Ain't Been Shot, Mum from Too Fat Lardies I wanted supporting elements appropriate to a rifle company. Units organic to a rifle battalion would be first; carrier platoon, mortar platoon and anti-tank platoon. Given the nature of the terrain in Italy a lot of the Brigade and Divisonal assets got stuck in the rear without room to deploy anyway, leaving the battle to the rifle companies adavancing behind an artillery barrage. IABSM puts the artillery suitably off table, so the artillery support is well represented by the FOO team already.
At Hotlead 2009 I was able to get a Battlefront 3" mortar platoon blister. That is one thing I like about the Battlefront packaging for their Flames of War miniatures; you buy a blister pack and it has everything you need for that platoon. It makes life easy instead of the Old Glory bags with 50 figures, then you need to buy a bag of Bren gunners (50 more!) then PIAT teams then command etc. etc. See the issue?
Here's Number 3 Platoon serving their 3" mortar tubes in an Italian farmyard while some staff wallahs pore over a map and in the background.
|Edit: Here they are, late for the party! [Added 09/27/10]|
The guns are Battlefront and two of the crews are as well. Those crews are actually 8th Army figures in the African shorts. But a bit of filing and some paint and they look like they're wearing battledress trousers. For the other two guns I cobbled together crews from extra figures. The fellow loading the shell is actually holding a PIAT trimmed down and the fellow behind is actually holding a 2" mortar, but I've got enough 2" mortar crews for a Division! But with some trimming, some paint and hiding things in the flocking they all look pretty good from more than a foot away.
Next to be added was a Vickers machinegun platoon from the Divisional MG battalion. The Old Glory bags feature MG teams walking and firing. Brian and I split a bag so I got 4 teams firing and a bunch trudging up the line. Here they are marching past a burned out Sherman:
Here they are deployed in some shell craters ready to drive off the expected counterattack and support the next stage in the advance:
Lastly comes a patrol of Old Glory Dingo armoured scout cars from the Divisonal Armoured Recce Regiment. I got one in trade from Brian and two more Mike picked up for $5 at the Cold Wars 2010 flea market. They don't look like much but in WW2 one apparently did knock out a Panther with a lucky shot from it's Bren gun. They caught the Panther unawares as it was driving down a narrow twisting street and hit the exposed crew commander. In his surprise and panic the driver reversed into a wall and brought an entire house down on top of them putting the tank out of action.
Above it all flies a 1/100th scale Spitfire. I also have a 1/144th scale RN Hellcat with rockets and sporting Invasion stripes, but I thought the Spit was more suitable air support for Italy. The Spit was a pre-painted quick to asemble kit. The Hellcat was one of those prepainted jobs you can pick up at Walmart. I got both super cheap.
So far, so good. I've got about another company's worth of riflemen (more trade goods from Brian) and two more 3" mortar teams to paint. This will enable me to launch battalion attacks with two companies forward. Of course, I'd like to add more Shermans, carrier sections and some Humber armoured cars to support the Dingos. I can always use more Bren carriers and jeeps and I don't have any 15 cwt trucks. Then for NW Europe things like Wasps and Churchill engineering tanks start showing up.
But still it's a reasonably well balanced force now and since I got most of it in trade or second hand I think I may have spent about $50 total so far. That would've gotten me one tank in 40K. I think I'm ahead of the game.
Herbie was apparently the nick name for Canadian squaddies during WW2 after the popular cartoon published in the Canadian army magazine featuring the sad-sack Herbie in his baggy battledress, getting in trouble with MPs, staff officers and QM Sergeants.