Thursday, June 28, 2012

Warlord Games Celtic Cavalry

I finished up a box of Warlord Games Celtic Cavalry and posted a few pics and thoughts after the jump.

Warlord Games Celtic Cavalry Tips

The Warlord Games Cavalry box comes with 10 horses and riders. I wanted to use 12 figures in the unit, and rather than buying an entire extra box of cavalry I searched for a pair of cavalry I could add.  After looking at a number of possibilities I thought Crusader's German Cavalry (with a head swap) would fit.  I liked the horse sculpts in the Crusader figures and really like Crusader's figures. Sadly I discovered Warlord Games Celtic Cavalry and Crusader do NOT mix.  The Crusader horse is ginourmous compared to WG. Yikes!

Warlord Games and Crusader cavalry don't mix!

Reevaluating I decided to simply move forward with 10 figures. I like Hail Caesar and don't plan on playing and rules that require figure removal so the actual number of figures per unit isn't a matter of life and death.  Two of the 50mm x 50mm bases wound up with one (rather than two) mounted figures.  To  create more visual weight to the understaffed bases I added a bit of mulch bark painted up as a rock outcropping.

I also decided to avoid placing the horses nose to tail, offsetting them, tilting them and generally adding a sense of disorder to the figures. I know in reality it's likely all of the horses would fall in line (being herd animals), but I wanted to add a sense of chaos and fury to these Celt horsemen to match the wild and wooly foot troops they'd be fighting alongside.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Black Tree Designs Ancient Germans

I finally managed to polish off a number of projects that had been lingering on my workbench for months, the biggest of which were fleshing out a pair of ancient German warbands for Hail Caesar. Thanks to the Black Tree Designs big Summer sale I was able to pick up two dozen barbarians and sped through painting them to table standard. Despite the rush, I think they turned out well (more a credit to the sculpts than my paint job). More pics and thoughts after the jump.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Want a kubelwagan? Maybe Toyota can help.

Toyota released some photos of their new concept car, the Camatte.

The first thing I thought of when I saw it:

I must have too much WWII on the brain...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Getting Started with WWII Eastern Front Wargaming

My World of Tanks addiction succeeded in pushing me to getting started with my Eastern Front project.  I binged on the first season of Greatest Tank Battles , picked up a few Perrin 10mm tanks to practice on as well as a pair of books about the battle for Kursk: FIFTH GUARDS TANK ARMY AT KURSK: 12 July 1943 (Visual Battle Guide) and Das Reich Division at Kursk: 12 July 1943 (Visual Battle Guide)

They are both a bit like super-sized Ospreys.  Although they focus on Kursk, there's some introductory material about the lead up to the battle, and tons of info on the actual regiments, their equipment and tactics involved in the battle.  I've only flipped through and read a few bits, but it's looks to be the type of nitty gritty wargamey minutia that most folks wouldn't care about ("how many reconnaissance motorcycles did the flakpanzer battalion have at Kursk?") but I really dig.

After asking on TMP I also got a number of other recommendations for books and films to check out to get a handle on everything from the Winter War to the fall of Berlin.

Eastern Front Book and Film Recommendations

Winter In Wartime

The Winter War (TALVISOTA)

The World at War [Blu-ray]

Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-45

When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler (Modern War Studies)

Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943

The Fall of Berlin 1945

Last Battle: The Classic History of the Battle for Berlin

Monday, June 18, 2012

Basing Romans for Hail Caesar

When I started with ancients in 28mm I wasn't sure which rules system I'd be using: DBA, Impetus or Hail Caesar.  To maintain flexibility I based my Romans in a combination of two 60mm and one 40mm wide bases. With that combination I thought I'd be able to flip between the different rules system easily.

DBA: one 60mm base = 1 DBA element.
Impetus: four 60mm bases = 1 Impetus unit
Hail Caesar: two 60mm bases + one 40mm base = 1 HC unit, with the option of adding a third 60mm base in the future.

Basing for Hail Caesar

After playing a few games of Hail Caesar though, I was sold and I decided to move ahead with HC as my rules of choice. I had been working on a Punic Wars era Roman army (despite starting with late republican figures), but hadn't anticipated the basing suggested in the Punic Wars army list that was released in the Biblical and Classical book. I know that the underlying ethos of HC is "do whatever you'd like", but as this is my first foray into the period I've decided to stick with their suggestions for the time being. The basing system for republican Romans is many small bases to model the checkerboard formations of the Romans during the Punic Wars. My 60+40+60 system didn't map very well to the 80mm wide small units I'd need to field, so I decided to switch to a mixture of 80mm and 40mm bases to more easily switch between normal and small sized units.

Until I can get some proper Polybian Romans painted these late Republican units will be subbing in as proxies, but with my revised basing they should fit in seamlessly with my hastati, princeps and triarii once I get them ready.

Checkerboard pattern of small units (80mm and 40mm+40mm bases)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ancient German Shield Assembly Line

Shields seem to be my bane. I seem to spend more time on an individual shields than I do on the figure holding it. With about 20 more ancient germans to go to finish off a pair of understrength warbands I decided to attack their shields with a painting system to churn them out as quickly as possible. My system after the jump.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Revisting World War Two

I was cleaning up my painting table and came across a "World of Tanks" promo card that was part of the goody bag from Historicon 2011.  I'd forgotten about World of Tanks , but after giving it a try I've become totally addicted.  World of Tanks is a free-to-play online World War II tank shooter.  Games are quick, controls are easy, and there's some fun had in "leveling up" your tanks to outfit with upgraded engines, weapons, and radios.  It's not historically accurate in the least - all makes, models and countries tanks appear on each team - but it is a heck of a lot of fun. Playing it also finally got something that's bugged me about WW2 wargaming to click.

My first historical wargame was Crossfire, a company level WWII set of rules.  I painted up a few platoons of Americans and Germans, built gobs of terrain and tanks and had quite a few fun games.  After a while though Crossfire failed to scratch my WWII itch and I moved on to ancients which I've been happily plugging away at for years now. Crossfire works beautifully with a few platoons of infantry per side, backed up with heavy machine guns, mortars and the occasional tank.  Tanks are rightly neutered in Crossfire to keep the focus on the low level infantry actions it models so well, but that's precisely what was bugging me about the rules. The big draw of World War 2 to me is the staggering variety of forces that each nation threw at each other. Certainly the common grunt was integral, but not since the 40's have such a broad collection of armored cars, motorcycles, cavalry, tanks, tank destroyers, artillery, planes, and field guns been involved in such  evenly matched fighting.  I think modeling that mind boggling array is really a key to my interest in wargaming the period, but Crossfire, Flames of War, IABSM and other squad / platoon / company level rules don't seem to be set up to handle a lot of hardware on the table.

With my interest in WWII rekindled by World of Tanks, I'm poking around the internet looking for a scale and rules set that might allow me to field dozens of tanks per side, without the table looking like a bumper car ride of panzers jostling each other cheek to cheek.  Currently I'm leaning towards 10/12mm using Blitzkrieg Commander, but doing some small skirmishes with another rules set in 28mm occasionally.  I've found a lite version of the Blitzkrieg Commander rules and I'm hoping to try them out with my older 20mm figures in the next month or so.  Flames of War also has a series of demo videos to teach the rules, which I might give a whirl if I can glean enough info from them to run a short game.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Podcasts for Gamers: Norman Centuries

After wrapping up Brownsworth's "12 Byzantine Rulers" I jumped into his "Norman Centuries" series, another set of podcasts that act as an abridged version of one of his books.  I had become familiar with the Normans while reading up on William the Conqueror, but having a soft spot for Harold I didn't follow up on their history post Conquest. I was really surprised by their arrival in Italy a few decades later and the numerous wars they got involved in as mercenaries and conquerors.  The rag tag collection of Normans, Italians, Greeks and Muslims squabbling over Italy and getting into open conflict with the Pope(!) was fascinating.

I really dig armies with diverse troop types and the Normans seem to touch everything from the end of the dark ages, to the Byzantine Emire to the beginning of the Crusades. I'm looking forward to reading up more on the Normans in Italy with an eye to getting some of these weird mixes of troops and ethnicities on the table. I'm already toying with the idea of a Norman SAGA warband, and fleshing it out into a full Norman army for Hail Caesar.

Also, it looks like he's allowed the podcast to be included in a straight up iPhone app from the iTunes store. If you wanted to purchase the podcasts instead of downloading them for free.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Tips for Wargames Factory Romans

Wargames Factory's Romans were one of the first historical miniatures plastic kits to hit the market. Although their tooling is fairly basic compared to some of the really fine sets that are being released currently, they are still an affordable way of building up a Roman army quickly.  Until Warlord Games and Victrix release their early and late Republican Roman sets, Wargames Factory's seems to be the cheapest method of getting mail armored legionnaires on the table.

I've built a few boxes over the last year, and found Scott McPhee's tips invaluable before starting on my own. I won't reiterate his great advice, but I've posted a few items of my own I think I can offer after the jump.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Warlord Games Celt Cavalry WIP

Just a quick update on some celt cavalry I've been working on.  I have very little experience painting horses so this project has been a lot of experimentation in figuring out the best approach.  I used a base coat of Vallejo Desert Yellow, coated the horses coat with an oil based burnt umber and then wiped it away from all raised surfaces leaving the burnt umber only in depressions.  The final effect was a little darker than I had hoped, and the oil paint took ages to dry, but I still think it provides a better effect than a wash would.

The Warlord Games cavalry have the rider's legs sculpted as part of the horse.  When I've painted cavalry in the past I always finished the horse and rider separately and then assembled them.  I tried finishing the horse first, then assembling the rider and attempting to paint the rider, which lead to some difficulty in painting the fronts of any tunics, especially with those celtic plaid patterns. For the remaining celt cavalry I'll be finishing off the rider's torsos before final assembly.