Have transports - will battle/flee

For some time now playing wargames does not make it on the agenda. Except for the occasional game of X-wing, no other games were played and painting miniatures stalled as well. For various reasons I could not set myself to either go to tournaments or setting up a local game.
Though I really like X-wing, I miss the feeling of a 'big battle' and the painting and building of the army up front. Luckily I found the 'why we fight'-podcast which addresses Flames of War players and their struggle to stay motivated (amongst other stuff). So I decided to start a new project, one that was connected to playing but without the 'hard' connection to an army list or battle: I would paint all the FoW transport units that I had collected and not used or painted in games. Wonder if not using transports is (one of the many) reason(s) why my generalship is so faulty at this game?

All in all it turned out to be a very pleasant exercise. In boxes lying around a nice collection of vehicles was found: Sd Kfz 7 halftracks and trailers to move heavy 88 guns around, Kfz. 70, Kfz 15 field cars, a small collection of Kübel- and Schwimm-wagens and a ZIS-5 truck. The latter being a Zvezda model, were the rest were all Battlefront products. Somewhere in the middle I realized that crews would make a nice if not essential add on, so I started a search and rescue mission for those. Found a lot of battlefront miniatures and a few plastic soldier ones. The style and scaling of the two did not really match, so I used the PSC's for one field car (and then placed a roof on top so they're fully painted and out of sight...) Results shown below, comments and tips (also on how to use them in 'battle') more than welcome!

Perhaps the one I'm most happy with! After painting vehicles and crews I placed the crews starting with the drivers and distributed the rest over the vehicles. Only to find the next day that this one was missed in the last step and only got a driver. Looking around I found some Peter Pig minnies that I purchased at last Crisis. These two fitted in theme and in the car, however, they were standing. In the end this works out real nice (I think). They give an impression of being lost on the battlefield with all plans gone wrong or worse.. Same feeling I have most of the time when playing Flames of War :-)

The Zvezda truck was the first in line because it had been staring me in the eye for some months after I had constructed it. It can be used as 'beute-wagen' or in my Tsjecho-Russian lists. Though not as detailed as Battlefront ones, it still is a rather nice model.

The 88 guns come complete with halftracks and lorries for transport, however most of the time these guns spend their time stationary on the battlefield (and for good reason). I therefor painted the lorries as 'snowed in', being left behind close by the guns.
The tractors are in my 'normal' style, doing serious work behind the lines. The crew is painted in HEER/Luftwaffe style in line with the gun crews.

Two 'old' Kfz. 70 transports, still around in late war to carry my Waffen SS troopers.
Mud and snow were created by a mix of Tamiya and Woodland Scenic products.

Last but not least the light brigade: Three Kübelwagons and one Schimm'er. The size of the Panzerschreck bazooka's compared to the cars makes me wonder if they're really in proportion or wether this is caused by 'heroic scaling'.


Not another game...

I miss working with plastic…I really, really miss working with plastic. I don’t miss Games Workshop, not at all, but I miss what it used to represent to me. I don’t want to get into a Games Workshop discussion; the rules system, pricing or miniature aesthetics are no longer for me. I dislike that it is that way, but in the end it is what it is. In leaving GW behind I’ve gained and lost something. A world has opened up since stopping with Warhammer. There are a lot of really cool games and miniatures out there. Since the coming of AoS we (meaning me) have started up Frostgrave, X-wing and Infinity.

Frostgrave came and went in our group. It was great working on a warband and the ruleset was very good. But in the end it didn’t get the traction in our group like previously Mordheim and Warhammer got and we’ve moved on. A shame, but again it is what it is.

I love X-wing, this is one of the best games I’ve ever played. Not being a huge Star Wars fan is not a problem, the way this game plays has gotten me enthusiastic like nothing before it. I don’t think I’ve ever played wargames as regularly as nowadays. However, it does have a downside: it doesn’t require much hobbying. Everything is build and prepainted, though we have repainted some of the ships it is mostly a gaming-game (?). So that allows to have a game on the side and that game became Infinity. Infinity miniatures are all metal. They look great, but the fact that they are metal and pricy means that I’m less inclined to take up a saw and start cutting into them. And this is finally where we get to the point that I feel I’ve lost something.

What I miss is how in Warhammer you could immerse yourself in the background of an army and make it yours. I was a beastmen player and especially in the 6th edition when chaos was one big army you could basically do anything miniature-wise. I made all types of centigors, mountain beastmen, swamp beastmen etc.  

The different plastic kits allowed you to mix and match and the only limit was your imagination. Or sometimes skill; I’ve ruined a good amount of miniatures before my conversions succeeded. :D

Anyways this is what I’m starting to miss. Just sit down with a couple of sprues of plastic and stuff from your bitz box and figure out what you can do to make your warband or army visually interesting.

So what’s the answer you ask? Why start another game off course and an historical one at that!

Since the fall of Warhammer everyone in our group is looking around for what is out there. Sometimes we discuss the different rulesets, such as Dragon rampant or Saga! Now I’ve never considered Saga before, but because I’m a huge fan of the TV show “Vikings” I started looking into the ruleset. And to my surprise I found that I really liked the system. But what army to take?

I looked at Normans, Franks and Irish, but in the end I settled on Norse-Gael. I visited Dublin a couple of years ago and liked it a lot. The old centre of the city was build by vikings and the image of vikings in a city trying to keep the Irish out always stuck with me. Since these are in essence the Norse-Gael I decided one them.
With a box of Gripping Beast dark age warriors and a box of Viking hirdmen I have enough to make 88 warriors. So there is enough room to start kit bashing. With greenstuff I can add Gaelic elements to the minis. All in all I have high hopes for this game and my hobby spending hours.

Stay tuned for a SAGA blog on these pages.


Trial game of Frostgrave

Last weekend for the first time in over half a year my beastmen saw some action again, not in a GW-game but in my first game of Frostgrave (the whole AoS-thing had really put a downer on my desire to game and/or hobby but now Frostgrave has sparked my enthousiasm again)!

I used my Beastmen as a Witch warband with my Shamans as wizard and apprentice, Ungor raiders as archers, Gor as thugs, Beastlord as a knight and my Razorgor as a War hound. One of the great things of the game is the liberty in using mini's from other systems and from different races in your warband (basically race etc. don't matter as long as it's clear what hireling type your miniature represents).

We played with 7 people at Arjan's house and here are the two tables that he laid out in his living room using terrain that we normally use for Mordheim:

I played Ludo and Arjan on the table with the trees (Sigilist and Thaumaturge warbands), the other 4 guys played on the more open table. One observation we made is that the game plays better on a table with more terrain. 'Cause on the open table ALL 4 mages got magic missiled/shot out of the game(!) while on 'our' table you had to work to get line of sight.

The scenario we played was 'The Silent Tower' in which you can find a special treasure on top of a 3-story tower that is surrounded by a magic null-field: no spells can be used by or aimed at anyone that is inside the tower. Also magic items don't work in the tower. There were 4 other 'normal' treasures placed on the table as well.

As for the game itself, I'm happy to report that the Beastmen Witch-band won with claiming 2 normal treasures besides the treasure in the tower! :-) Key to my victory were 2 utility spells, Telekineses (that allows you to 'pull' treasure towards you) and Teleport (that allowed my Wizard to quickly escape to the edge of the board with the scenario treasure).

Here are some piccies of the battle:

Overview of the table with my ungor archer climbing on top of a tower to get a good overview of the city:

Members of the Sigilist warband advancing:

A Gor thug running off the board with a treasure:

My wizard claiming 'the bounty' (harhar) on top of the silent tower:

Getting out of the tower's null-field before Teleporting to safety:

To summarize: I had a lot of fun with Frostgrave, the D20 system makes for fast paced and often brutal combats. And even though it's Wizard-centric it isn't all about blasting your opponents off the board but also about utility spells to win the scenario objectives. Finally the fact that you only need ~10 mini's for a warband that can be of any system/race makes it very accessable to existing and new players. I've already gone through my old pile of lead miniatures to put together new warbands, probably going for something Viking-themed next!


Half tracked, half tricked

Finally, after a long production run, I finished eight (8!) Sd. Kfz. 251 half tracks. These iconic transporters were needed for my Tsecho-Sovjet army(!). Captured two or three of them will be used by a spetsnaz unit, leading a spearhead attack into enemy territory. Two 251's are for this purpose 'masked'' with canvases (of Heer46 make). Serious trickery!

Spetsnaz under the canvas?

A while back I was at the receiving end of such an attack at a tournament. My opponent used a spetsnaz unit to lead a group of nine (9!) T-34's. That meant that after turn one they were in assault range, threatening a objective defended by a lone group of panzergrenadiers. Only a ambush of Pak 40's saved my day...

Command group

Besides the two 251's with the canvases there are two ridden by commanders, one with the characteristic framework antenna and one with a 3.7 cm Pak cannon, to annoy Russian tankers.

Crowded, must be rush hour

One thing that I found out when placing miniatures in the vehicles is how crammed they are. Having been a passenger aboard a real 251 once, I had not remembered that. At maximum I managed to place six soldiers on the benches; this were the smaller plastic soldier passengers, battle front soldiers are a bit more bulkier.

Top view: Spot the differences between PSC and Battlefront 251's

The unit consists of five Plastic Soldier Company and three Battlefront vehicles. They mix well, and I used the stowage of both kits on 251's of both builds. The canvases of Heer46 fitted the battlefront vehicles better, so they were used on that ones. Machine guns were standardized by using the Battlefront ones, a matter of taste.

Assembly line: Half tracks in half...

All in all a very nice, but as usual more time consuming than planned, project. In a few weeks the captured ones will been seen in battle at a tournament in The Hague. And a few weeks later the whole group will probably join my german force in the next tournament.

Hopefully they will do a good job (if only they had a commander who knows what he's doing...) And now: Time to paint my Frostgrave wizard!!


First game of X-wing and how to make a space mat

After debating the fact that x-wing is such a cool game, we actually got a starter set and played our first game! First we played the introduction scenario with very basic rules. Played quickly, took us some time to get the rules right but in 1 hour a game was done. Just the 2 tie fighters and 1 x-wing, but fun! We directly set up another game with "proper" rules. 
Played it and with some knowledge of the rules under our belt this game also took us an hour or so, but was great fun. The "beer&pretzel"-game attitude was really there. We thoroughly enjoyed playing X-wing and still without all kinds of pilots, extra rules, damage cards and whatnot, all the possibilities to open up the game are there. With the simple game and simple rules as of yet we already had great fun, took in the feel of dog-fighting in a star wars setting and are ready for more!

Looking up some sample space mats I thought it easy to make one myself. First accessory for our game here! Order me 5 metres of black felt (synthetic: made from recycled PET-bottles, good for the environment!). I cut of 1,5m (1m wide) with a fabric "pizza"-cutter my wife has lying around. This gives a nice straight line I must say. Took out the airbrush and went away with spraying the stars as white dots, small and big. Then sprayed some nebula by making white "clouds" random with white paint over all the stars.The stars keep shining through at this stage. Switched to blue paint and added it to the white nebula. Mostly at the edges of my nebulae as a refraction look and feel. Also sprayed some of the white stars blue since some indeed have different colors! Finish this all of with red in the airbrush. Other edges of nebula clouds are now sprayed and some stars are made red. The trick is to randomize as much as possible and to keep "dark" patches as well. A star field has a lot of dark matter and space and since the ships will be flying through this it mustn't be too crowded.


Yes, Aos is here to discuss!

Love a good discussion so I am going to start my rant on AoS! First start with the disclaimer that I haven’t play tested any of the rules and this text is purely based on first opinions on the rules text as they came from GW.

Age of Sigmar, everywhere we read the AoS abbreviation! It is about a new age! It is here now for some days, but what is it? How do we see it? How does the gaming community sees this? One thing is for sure it is in for a lot of discussion! 
Let’s split this post up in a couple of chapters to go through it methodically. 

AoS vs. 9th
To start of with the fact it is called AoS and not 9th is quite a big thing. The free 4 page ruleset is in fact not the rumoured 9th edition. Actually it is something completely new. Some say it is a ruleset that should be used in store to let people playtest the game. Others say it is only there to keep the gamers somewhat busy while Games Workshop focusses on its main focus area: making miniatures. With the rule set and the scrolls there is a game system and that is it. It requires very little maintenance no new army books to maintain and publish, no big rule sets to test. All in all this should save GW a lot of time and resources they can now put into miniature making. At least that is what I think their philosophy is. 
With the fact there is now AoS, there is still the possibility to bring out 9th in the end. If this trial with AoS really backfires, there is always a possibility of bringing out the next rule set and continue on the old ways :)

Free “rules” and scrolls
Yes indeed the rules are free to donwload. A nice set of pdfs can be found and used. A simple rule set that fits on 4 pages. Great to start a quick game and let the game be quick. The scrolls contain a set of characteristics for the different units and characters and we are go! Some funny gimmicks in the special rules that involve actual bribery and such. Funny but in the end these things will go unused when playing a lot of games. And this is where I think this simple rule set goes wrong. It is too simple. I will not play a simple rule set I get to know in a game or two and then use the rest of the year. The challenge of discovering new combo’s interesting loopholes, fun opposing rules to discuss is just not there. I think when playing the set it will bore quickly and then what. Play only small games and buy new miniatures to use other rules from other scrolls? Aha! There we might have a catch. This is what GW wants of course. We must buy all the miniatures! Not to play mega battles with, but only a couple of small skirmish games and then on to the next to paint new models. Since I like painting models and the need for painting hordes of the same models is not there any more, this is actually a good development. On the other hand it is almost as if we are playing a throw-away game or army: Disposable armies ! Will it come to that?! :)

Playability of the set
I have to say that I haven’t played the rule set for now. I’ve read it of course and will play it in the near future. For now is my main comment: where are the points per unit?! I get the fact that we have to discuss among ourselves what to play against each other. But still how is that to work out? I go to my friends house with a set of mini’s in my case. He only has painted a model or 10. That is what we are going to field? That is highly unbalanced. Maybe I should field a model of 10 as well, but how do I know if my 10 knights shape up to 10 storm vermin? OK, maybe we should have a look at the total wounds then? hmmmm, but now we are somehow creating an alternative expansion of the base rule set. Our house rules, maybe for our gaming club? All clubs will do the same and an explosion of house rules will come. Is that what GW wants. A crowd-creation of rules. 
Already rules as wound counts or all kinds of stat multiplication formulas are starting to pop up. Will it all work, only time will tell :)

Tournaments then?
This seems a bit difficult to do but might be very simple as well. Why this double feeling. On one side a tournament with a good rule set and comp calculation makes a fair organised event. But when looking at all the comp rules out there and all the discussion about them it is as if they were discussing AoS all along!
So a simple rule set and some scrolls, maybe a simple formula calculating army sizes and we are there! 
AoS might also help in organising more “friendly”  tournaments. Maybe even more small scale events and stuff. I can imagine with the” loose”  set of rules a really competitive event isn’t the way to go any more. For me being a more fluffy gamer this bodes well for coming tournaments. 
Maybe I’ll go that road myself and organise one! Let’s go crazy!

The new models
What can we say. More and more models are being released. The base set containing the stormcast eternals and Khorne models is somewhat…ahem…interesting? At first glance it isn’ my cup of tea. I was almost shouting to my fellow gamers how bad a model GW has put out there. On second thought and upon watching painting videos of the stormcast eternals being painted I am having those second thoughts. From the painting videos I get the feeling it isn’t as bad after all. Let’s see how it goes and where it will lead us :

Let’s finish up and see what the conclusion for me is here. New rule set, lot’s of discussion; and this is actually what I like about the wargaming hobby. If there is a new game out there (Frostgrave just being delivered at my front door) or new models to look at, it is great to discuss it with your fellow gamers and have a nice beer and possibly a game on the side!
I’m not buying the stuff as just yet, but will plan to play test the rules. Actually I have a set of dark elves lying about. This might be the time to paint a couple of them, take scroll and set up a small army to test the rules.
We had a campaign going with Chaos armies, this might just be as fun to do!


Dipping Ottomans

(Disclaimer: This article has nothing to do with any financial (other than my own wallet) crisis in Greece nor any current event or state of affairs concerning Turkey at all. )

Last weeks I started paiting some miniatures that were hidden in the closet for quite some time. Every year this idle collection grows a little due to purchases made a Crisis, but now the time has come to at least give some a bit of color.

Years ago the idea popped up to start playing medieval battles and to keep the cost manageable, to do this in a smal(ler) scale. At Crisis the Kallistra stand turned out to be a treasure chest filled with nice figures that fitted this idea and some blisters were purchased. A ritual was born, and every year some blisters were added, but to no further action.

But now, despite lots of other 'parallel' projects (Adding more stuff to my FoW late and mid-war armies, painting some Warhammer models (perhaps this one could be cancelled now the Age of Sigmar has arrived), starting a Frostgrave warband, building an early war (but which) FoW army, learning to use the airbrush, starting playing X-wing, euhmmm. ) my Ottoman models made it all of sudden on to the painting table.

Because of my frustratingly growing backlog I decided to try out a quick and dirty method to paint these small men and I'm very pleased with the way they turned out! The photographs give an indication of the result, which for my taste/abilities is rather good and achieved within a limited amount of time.

Kallistra Medieval Ottoman Standard Bearer (Command blister)

So here's my recipe, just in case (Note: All paintwork was very very basic, more or less like a colourbook, filling the surfaces..)

- white (GW) basecoat
- black or brown (GW) wash (whose names I cannot recall and are due to change anyway...)
- painted flesh parts
- painted clothes/armour
- painted some details (arms, shoes, etc.)
- painted the bases
- some cleaning up
- adding the wonder stuff: DIPPING the miniature with Quickshade