Friday, 31 January 2014

1650 Americans vs Germans AAR

Alternate title: Morgan makes mistakes! My opponent got the Desperate Measures book and gave a Panzergrenadier list out of it a whirl. Confident Veteran. I took the Confident Veteran Big Red One from the Overlord book. The mission was... I forget! I do know he had two objectives on my side of the board and I had one on his. Hasty attack, maybe. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

You know how it is

It has been pretty hectic here the past few days! Classes, field work, and the cold (snow! In the south!) can be such a distraction sometimes. Having fourteen episodes of Sharpe to watch didn't help either. Any day now I'll get a package with a very special hobby purchase in it: a copy of Warhammer Historicals's Waterloo. 

I'm up to about 22 (needing some packs and heads) of the 52 British infantry built. They take more time than I'd like mostly due to my unfamiliarity with the kit and Napoleonics in general.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Friday, 24 January 2014

Sprue Cutter's Union: Time Management

First off, a very Happy Birthday for my fellow garage gamer Mart! :D Keep up the good work, ha!

My schedule changes every 4-6 months, because that's the life of a college student. Usually I get a little done here and there, never as really as much as I would like; I'm not a very quick hobbier.

One method has been trying to get one layer of paint or step of a recipe done every day on a unit, and that helps if I have the discipline to stick with it.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

On the Hobby Desk

Happy Wednesday, all :) I have quite a few projects going on now that packages have arrived. Still one more in the post, but more on that when it arrives...

Some Finnish mortars. I was really impressed with how useful four mortars firing a smoke bombardment was in my last FoW game. Two artillery templates, and I effectively get 4 dice instead of 3 to Range In? Yes please. The plan is to paint these guys up and then base them with spackle and snow flock. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Flames of War Books: Where's the Beef?

I like lists, and if there's bullet points then even better. That's what this post will be, a list! It's a reference for myself and anyone who wants to know what books apply to each time period in Flames of War. You could maneuver through Battlefront's online store and the four pages of books, or skim this list to get an idea if what your options are.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Sunday Reader: Issue 2

Woo, Issue 2! So far, so good. Without much more ado, let's jump in:

1. Orkgasm at the Astronomican forums has some amazing talent with a brush. He recently finished a model from Privateer Press named Syntherion. Just stunning, absolutely stunning.

1. I played a FoW game this past Thursday! It went ok, resulting in us calling it a draw. heychadwick's Fortified Panzergrenadier list really chewed up my 1st Infantry Division.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Zvezda Panzer II review

One of the Early war workhorses of the German Armoured forces was the Panzer II.  It was the most numerous tank in the German Panzer divisions beginning with the invasion of France. It was used in both North Africa against the British and on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Finnish Fokker C.X. - DONE

Woo, finally! I got all the decals on, all the patterns tidied up, and my vision for the base done!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Sunday Reader: Issue 1

Welcome to Issue 1 of The Sunday Reader! Every Sunday we'll post our favorite links/posts from other websites and blogs. The idea is to pick mostly current posts, but some older ones may show up if they're a good resource.

Let's begin!

  • Massive Voodoo's tutorials. Not all of these are going to be useful for 15mm, but man alive for larger scales and 15mm basing, these make up a great reference. Tons of work in there that can be easily used for inspiration as well.

  • Scale Model DB. By far and away the more comprehensive and useful paint equivalency chart that I have used.

  • Terrain For Hippos. Zipping through the archives really kicked me in the butt to make my own terrain. That's why I started working on little stone hedges and fences. Terrain For Hippos breaks down the steps to make terrain in a way that instills confidence and eliminates the fear hurdle of making your own terrain pieces. Definitely worth a checking out.

  • Finnish Armored Trains info. Yeah, you read that right. There's no option to run a Finnish Armored Train in Flames of War, but it's sort of understandable. The setup is pretty odd. Still, I want to do this as a project, and the background info is a fun read.

  • Modular Lighting. The technique looks good, don't get me wrong, I just don't like it for some reason. If you want to know more, though, you couldn't do much worse than to see how Model Dads and Narcissus from the WWPD forums did theirs. 

I hope to do have ten links every week. Unfortunately I don't know about a lot of other blogs. I'll pay more attention this week and this'll come out at our normal 8am time so you can do some hobby reading over your morning coffee or tea.

Edit: Autosharing on G+ autocreates a comment from myself? That's a bummer :/

Friday, 10 January 2014


Howdy all,

I'd like to get some feedback from you, dear reader, about the blog. This post isn't going to be part of our regular schedule. More lovely hobby returns on Monday.

1. How's the layout and color scheme? My personal preference is "less is more".

2. Page breaks. Currently our posts don't have them, but I was thinking about switching so the blogger stats can see which posts are getting viewed. Curiosity driven. However I don't know what's better for you, so your opinions would be lovely.

3. If there's a topic you want us to cover, do drop a line! Our emails are on the "Who do you think you are?" page, and the comments work as well.

Mart and I are having a fantastic amount of fun with the blog so far.

Terrain for Dummies: Fences and Low Hedges

  Not all terrain has to be big or detailed like a building or bridge. It doesn't even have to provide any benefits or drawbacks in games (roads, railroad tracks, etc). Smaller pieces of terrain can help break up your tabletop if all you have is a smattering of buildings, some roads, and welcome mat wheat fields.

  Armed with some basic supplies, I set out to see what I could make. This post will cover fences and low stone hedges. Later posts will cover bocage, better ways to mass produce your terrain, how to get the most out of a welcome mat, sign posts, and whatever else you can suggest or I can think of.

  In the rural areas, there aren't a lot of fences, because if you mostly grow plants, you don't need to keep them contained. The piling up of stones tilled from the fields is a good enough demarcation between whose property is whose, or breaking up fields by crop. For the fences, I basically copied the dimensions of the ones in the Rural Basing Kit from Battlefront.

  So here's how we start. Again, with the index cards. I assembled toothpicks into a fence by sticking the vertical posts to the sticky side of some tape, and gluing the horizontal pieces on top of those. When it dries, you just carefully pull off the tape.

Quick materials list:

  • Toothpicks, flat ones. Mine were tapered so I trimmed them a bit to level out.
  • Tape
  • Index Card
  • PVA Glue 
  • Tongue depressors/craft sticks. 
  • Dirt from the backyard. I crush the clumps of soil  by hand, sift with an old window screen, and bake in the oven for at least an hour. The baking is to kill any bacteria left in the soil. I get enough large pieces to have rocks for project like this and really fine stuff for general basing.
  • Static grass, pretty much all GF9 with some of Woodland Scenics's Dead Grass (it's kinda green grey, actually)
  • Woodland Scenics Flowers

  This was the first hedge, and underneath the rocks is a bent piece of index card. It was pretty labor intensive, so for the later pieces I glued on wooden coffee stirrers. It helps massively to bevel the edges of these stirrers once you glue them together (two high does the trick). Using the coffee stirrers has the dded benefit of using less glue that comes in contact with the tongue depressor and adding some proper stiffness, lessening warping.

  Height seems right. In the end I snipped off the highest horizontal pieces and pulled the overall height down. The horizontal pieces now alternate 2-3-2 and so on. For future fences I might drop that down to 2-2-2. I'm not sure how I feel about the 2-3-2. Oh well.

Some painting and flocking later...

  Not bad! I really like it! I did trim the tongue depressor so it's narrower, which helps models get right up on the fence without sitting unevenly on the base of the fence. I'm still getting a hang of these Woodland Scenics flowers. The distribution of them is becoming an issue. I have always tended to apply basing materials in clumps. Always learning something new...

  Another thing I am learning about basing is that you need to be aware of the colors of the materials you're using. For this project, it's that I have used GF9's Spring Undergrowth everywhere, then applied clumps of a mix of my three main static grasses (WS's green grey one, GF9's Winter Dead & Static Green, which is comically green). They don't really show up well! I sprinkled some yellow flowers on them to help them pop. I added some clumps of GF9 Straw which showed up much more clearly, so those didn't get any flowers. 

  I can't help but feel like it could be cleaner. I don't have a static grass applier, not even via shaker. Perhaps it might be worth making one? I've seen tutorials, it just takes some will to get it done (and some simple solder work). I know I do need to figure out how to make grass clumps like MiniNatur's. 

  There you go! Overall these didn't take long at all despite doing trial and error on the best way to put them together. I reckon I could make a batch enough for one table in a solid afternoon's work. The hedges definitely took a lot less time than the fence. I know the pictures could be better, but I lost the memory card for my camera, so all I have that is convenient is the trusty mobile. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Battlefront's Engineer Support Platoon

My Americans need 2.5 ton trucks for the occasional Pioneer platoon that I include in my lists. Being able to throw out a minefield or three barbed wire markers is pretty nice. Now, getting those markers out does take a little luck: I have to be defending in a mission that uses Prepared Positions. I don't try to rely on it, but when they kick in, it's very useful.

So, where to turn to for trucks for Engineers? The Engineer Support Platoon from Battlefront looks pretty good! You get four trucks and a bulldozer, and I got mine from Mart. The box looks to be the only way to get an armored bulldozer, and the price point is about the same buying two blisters of 2.5-ton tracks. Each blister of US430 trucks is $21 while US431 is only $12.51, and you get two trucks in each. The Support Platoon is $45. Still quite a price to pay for what are trucks. I was pretty hesitant to buy any of these options, it seems awfully steep.

With that in mind, I was rather pleased with the quality of the models. There's a goodly amount of detail and you get some extra bits like passengers and machine guns. The models themselves are resin and have a goodly amount of heft to them. As discussed in my KV-1 article, I mentioned my personal preference for weighty models because they feel like quality.

I bought some of Gale Force 9's Spring Undergrowth and Straw Static Grass, and I am loving them. These plus the Woodland Scenics flowers that recently arrived are going to change my basing game, just you see!

For the decals, I took a cotton swab damp with rubbing alcohol and lightly rolled it back and forth across the surface of the decals a few times. This softens the decal and preps it for the next step, which is covering with matte varnish. I have a dropper bottle of Vallejo's Matte Varnish. Three coats is the minimum I'll give decals. 

To wrap up the review part of this, The GF9 stuff? Brilliant. The price point for four trucks and a bulldozer? $45 for all that is a bit much given I'm a student with on and off work, especially since I don't see why you can't buy the $12.50 for two and save yourself $20. The price is fair, just off-putting for me. The quality is like all my Battlefront stuff, solid, although some of the passengers' hands were hard to pick out with paint. A minor quibble. 

So there you go, there's my major hobby progress! I have had these guys half-painted for weeks now, and had a surge of hobby energy that knocked 'em out. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Days of Glory (2006 film)

Days of Glory came out in 2006, and is a French language film with subtitles, so if that puts you off, DO NOT LET IT! It's a great war film on a subject that is not really widely known outside of France and even then not really mentioned.
The film deals with the discriminatory treatment of North African soldiers serving in the Free French Forces during the Second World War. The film's release contributed to a partial recognition of the pension rights of soldiers from the former French colonies by the French government.
It focuses on a group of Goumiers.  Algerian and Moroccan soldiers fighting for France.

Goum Fact - In French military terminology, a goum was a unit of 200 auxiliaries. Three or four goums made up a Tabor. An engine or groupe was composed of three tabors. A goum in this case was the equivalent of a company in regular military units and a tabor would thereby be equivalent to a battalion. A tabor was the largest permanent Goumier unit.

The movie is set in Algeria, 1943, through Italy to Alsace in France in early 1945. Arabs volunteer to fight Nazis to liberate France, their motherland. We follow Saïd, a volunteer and orderly for sergeant, Martinez, a pied noir (referring to people of French and other European ancestry who lived in French North Africa),  Messaoud, a marksmen, and Abdelkader, a corporal and a budding intellectual seeing the prejudices against his himself and his fellow native troops. The men fight with courage against a backdrop of small and large indignities: French soldiers get better food, time for leave, and promotions. Is the famous  promise of liberty, equality, and fraternity hollow? or only good when it suits. I do not want to give too much of the plot away, just pick it up, enjoy it.

Goum Fact - Four Moroccan groups (regimental sized units, about 12 000 men in total) served with the Allied forces during the Second World War.
There are some good battle scenes in the movie, taking a hill in Italy, down to a great skirmish in a French village. The film is worth seeing if your a war fan, it takes a subject not well known and opens your eyes to it.  After watching it I wanted to do an army of these guys! Which is fortunate since those lovely people at Battlefront do models!

And they have lists as well! Those models in such striking tribal dress would look stunning on the table
Goum Fact - the word originated in the Maghrebi-Arabic word Koum (قوم), which means "people". The non-specific designation "Goumi" (French version "Goumier") was used to circumvent tribal distinctions and enable volunteers from different regions to serve together in mixed units for a "common" cause.

Goum Fact - The total of Goumier casualties in World War II from 1942 to 1945 was 8,018 of which 1,625 were killed in action.

Morgan Says - What a stupendous film! The subject of how the Goum were treated during and after the war is rather poignant. This isn't a film just to entertain, it's to inform. One of my favorite moments: when they loot the body of a German soldier and they pull out his wallet, which is a sublime touch. Day of Glory isn't an action-thriller, even though there is a fair amount of fighting with the Germans. Most of the film, however, is character development and exploration of how the French saw their colonial troops. Not bad for an independent film. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Battlefront Plastic T-34 T34-85 Flames of War Soviet SBX30

I was lucky enough to get a close up and personal look and play with the latest Battlefront plastic set SBX30. Plastic T-34's.

First, a little about the T-34. It was a Soviet medium tank first produced in 1940, though was only available in limited numbers during Barbarossa. At its introduction, the T-34 possessed the best balance of firepower, mobility, protection, and ruggedness of any tank, but was let down by a lack of radio communications, and poor layout with the commander doubling as gunner as well. When in 1944 the up-gunned T-34/85 was introduced it added an extra crewman freeing up the commander for his intended role.

The T-34 served from Barbarossa (in small numbers) to the fall of Berlin and far beyond that so its a good solid mainstay of any Soviet lists for Flames of War, and thus a fine choice for producing in plastic. So what do you get? firstly some rather nice box art...
...which tells you there are 5 tanks. Whats in the box? Well, the back shows that and also some handy parts guides.
You get 5 of the large sprue, 5 of the smaller sprue, 5 track sprues, and a set of metal tank commanders, some rare earth magnets (enough for all the tanks and both turrets [C: This is my favorite part of the kit]) and some decals. If you look at the sprue there is even the option for a hull mounted flame thrower too! A nice touch, and a 57mm barrel to boot.

Now you may noticed I said BOTH the turrets, thats right, you get the full parts to make the 76nn armed turret, and the 85 turret, with enough magnets to just swap over any time you feel like that. That alone makes this set well worth its value as it provides you with tanks that can be used throughout the whole war.
The 76 armed tank was the first used variant, and was still used up to the end of the war, though in diminishing numbers as its big brother came more into production.

I enjoyed building these models, building is my thing over painting, it reminds me to my youth of Airfix, at least my painting is slightly better than it was then!

There is no real cleanup required the parts are crisp and well detailed, the only minor thing i found was that the joins with the turret are quite thick where you clip them off, and due to the way they are positioned on the turret can leave a nasty gouge if clipped out too close. Though of course these being Soviet tanks its not a major problem as they were not well known for their quality workmanship on the T34.  On the 85mm Turret the way it clues together leaves the join as the weld marks seen on the tanks a really nice little touch which i liked a lot.  The tracks have pegs which line them up so they are always straight, another big plus.  They of course will take longer then resin to put together, but overall the quality is better, and the price as well, plus the option of being both kinds of tank.
I had never used magnets before, so finding these in the kit I was intrigued to find out what they are like, and frankly it blew me away, I love them! The top of the hole has a recess to glue the magnet in, the turret another, just make sure you check your polarity first. They stay on strong, you can pick the tank up by the turret and it won't fall off. These models will stand up to solid war gaming play.  Anyone out there still in doubt that resin is superior... go pick up a set of these, you will be pleasantly surprised for sure.

I did have one issue I have to admit, most of the transfers disintegrated on coming off the transfer paper. I am presuming this was just a bad sheet as i have researched and not found anyone with the same issue. Alas no red stars?? Come on guys! though I did like the Slogans, pity mine disintegrated though.
Though like any self respecting Red army Tank man, I didn't let that worry me,  There are many accounts of the tanks having numbers hand painted on them s they reached their units, due to quick losses and the factory just churning them out, so i thought hand painted wouldn't be out of place on the 85s and I rather like the look of it, hand painted and dirty off to give the enemies of the motherland a good steel smack without worrying about such niceties as stencils and fancy symbols.
 T-34 FACT - They where captured and used by the Finns and the Germans against the Soviets, adding even more used for this kit, you don't just have to be a Soviet player to enjoy them.
The additional track pieces included on the sprues made great ways to personalize your tank.
The detail level is high, even at the rear.
T-34 FACT - In May 1995, a Serb T-34-85 attacked an UNPROFOR outpost manned by the 21st Regiment of the Royal Engineers in Bosnia, maiming a British peacekeeper.  Croatia inherited 25 or 30 from Yugoslavia, but has since withdrawn them from service. T-34s were sporadically available in Afghanistan, but it is not known if T-34s were used against coalition troops, and Saddam Hussein had T-34s in the Iraqi army in the early 1990s.
T-34 FACT - A 1954 survey concluded that there were in all 119 tank vs. tank actions involving U.S. Army and Marine units during the Korean War, with 97 T-34-85 tanks knocked out and another 18 probable. The M4A3E8 was involved in 50% of the tank actions, the M26 in 32%, and the M46 in 10%.

T-34 FACT - During the winter of 1941–42, the T-34 had a marked advantage over German tanks through its ability to move over deep mud or snow without bogging down; German tanks could not move over terrain the T-34 could handle. The Panzer IV, its main German opponent at that time, used an inferior leaf-spring suspension and narrow track, and tended to sink in deep mud or snow.

 Overall the kit is well detailed, smooth and easy to put together with no hassle, paints well, looks great on the tabletop, is super value, flexible and a worthy addition to your collection as a Soviet, German or Finn player looking for captured goodies, or anyone who just enjoys a fine model to add to their collection

5 out of 5 guys, you smashed this one out of the park Battlefront, I can't wait to see the next plastic bits! If they are this good the future is going to be fantastic!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Zvezda Stug III AUSF. B

I may have mentioned I liked Stugs before, so of course when I saw this in my local store I couldn't help myself again!