Tanksgiving 2011

About three years ago, the Flames of War gaming group that I play with regularly started playing an annual, large format scenario called Tanksgiving. Its a giant team slug-fest featuring tank-heavy 2000 point armies for each player. In years prior I had brought to the field large Tiger units or US 2nd Armor. This year I am going back to the force that I started FoW with, the German Panzerkompanie.

This year’s list is built from Fortress Europe, and goes for quantity, more than quality. In contrast to some of the other lists I was tinkering with, what I am bringing to the table will be primarily older model medium tanks, StuGs, Panzer IVh, and Panzer IILs for example. This will be supported by a large battery of Hornisse  15cm self propelled artillery! I am taking advantage of the scenario’s employment of the ‘Across the Volga’ rule (Artillery units do not deploy on the board, but can still deliver a bombardment) to try out some artillery units that I have never used before. The high point value is also allowing me to a battery that would be difficult to fit in a smaller list.

Below are some pictures of the force that I am bringing to tomorrow’s game!

StuG Platoon Work In Progress
StuG Platoon Work In Progress

I have been working on some new StuG assault guns for my Panzergrenadier army.  These guys are the only models in the force that I am fielding tomorrow which aren’t complete.  I owe them some more highlighting, some detail work, and weathering.  I have 3 StuGs that I painted up several years ago as well.  I am trying to take this set of 5 a bit past where I had the previous 3.

My force includes 8 StuGs in total.  This is in addition to 5 Panzer IVh tanks.  The PzIVh platoon was also painted over a year ago.  Check out images here.

Panzer IIL image
Panzer II L recon tanks

I painted these Panzer IIL tanks about a year ago.  I have fielded them a couple of times with mixed results.  I really dig these models, and I think their paint job turned out great!  I have been trying to learn how to use recce in FoW, so tomorrows game will hopefully be a positive learning experience.  I am not sure how many tanks are going to be gone to ground (a platoon that is concealed, did not shoot, and did not move is harder to detect, but recce units can try to spot them and radio their location to friendly platoons), but their ability to prevent ambushes nearby may prove useful.

Tanksgiving 2011 Army
Tanksgiving 2011 Army

Above is a shot of my entire army (sans SP artillery battery) ready to go into the miniature bag.  I think this will be entertaining to run.  The VAST amount of Soviet T34s that I will inevitably encounter are going to be a hassle.  My plan is to have my units stay relatively hidden, and strike at whatever unit the artillery can break up with either smoke, or actual destruction.

I am going to attempt to take pictures and create some kind of simple battle report to illustrate how the game went.  If that works out I will post it here!

Gamer’s expectations

One thing that I have noticed about gamers over the last several years is that their perception of what is fair, or right in terms of gaming vendors has become pretty dramatic.  If you frequent forums dedicated to GW games, you will find wailing and gnashing of teeth posts about everything from miniatures not being produced fast enough, to miniatures being produced too fast, and any number of conspiracy theories about how a particular faction is being given the shaft for whatever reason.  Anytime there is a new release, there seem to be as many comments that are negative about what isn’t being made, not updated, or how it was updated as there are displaying enthusiasm about the new release.

I’ve been noticing this in communities dedicated to other game systems as well.  Privateer Press’s forums were quite a sight when Hordes, and then MkII (which I think was an improvement to an already great game) were released.  I think that this happens when a game reaches a certain threshold in popularity, as is happening right now with Battlefront’s Flames of War.  BF recently released, as a magazine supplement to Wargames Illustrated, a booklet with forces for playing FoW in Vietnam.  In addition to this they have also released 18ish different items for the new time-period.  It seems that some of the people who play WW2 FoW aren’t too happy about this.  There is an impression that new releases for a different time period will limit how much is created for FoW’s traditional subject, the 2nd world war.  This is probably quite accurate.

I think it is important to point out that these complaints have been growing on the BF forums for some time now prior to FoW:Vietnam.  If it wasn’t Early War releases getting in the way of Late War stuff, than it was Market Garden-centric items holding up stuff for the Eastern Front.

Sometimes people’s issues don’t have anything to do with a certain time period, faction, race, or product.  They just want to have the marketing itch scratched, and to have something new to drool over, whether or not they will buy it.  I get as excited by NEW as much as the next person, but I don’t feel that anyone owes it to me.

At the risk of getting tangential, this all ties in with the way that gamers/hobbyists love to critique the business moves of the companies that they patronize.  It seems like every change that happens that isn’t directly related to a person getting shiny new stuff, is considered a bad case of falling-sky.  Recently there was a debate at Black Sun Games over the ethics of GW producing plastic models, considering that there are some people who like metals.  Despite the fact that plastic models are vastly more popular with average gamers, the individual who brought this up determined that GW ‘screwed’ the people who liked collecting metal models, especially ones that went out of print.  His perception seemed to be that GW had an obligation to keep producing models in metal, and not to stop casting older designs.  Usually these sorts of comments are relegated to the safety of the internet, where the consequences of ones comments are significantly less severe, so I was a bit surprised to have this conversation in flesh and blood.

This hobby gets people excited, and I understand that.  We invest a great deal of time, energy, money, and love into it.  There are occasions where game companies do some bone-headed things that drastically affect the ability of gamers to continue with their investment in that companies product (Chris at Garagehammer brought up a nasty example with the way that GW changed, for some reason, the way that units had to be based in Epic 40k, which caused some serious trouble for gamers with older armies).

My own rant about my expectations will end now, but I really wonder what some people would say if they could hear themselves while crying over their keyboards, several months down the road when the new shiny has become considerably more dull.

Upcoming Projects…

New WoC pics, and PAVN/VC for FoW coming soon!

Midwest Rampage is right around the corner!  I have two items to resolve before this event, wrapping up key units for my Warriors of Chaos army (Hellcannon), and to finish up some terrain pieces that I am creating for the tournament.  Some previously started models will be making an appearance at this tournament, such as the… nope… its a secret.

In addition to collecting a PAVN/VC force for Flames of War:Vietnam, I also decided to build an air-mobile force as well.  One of the options that the US can take in Vietnam is a UH-1 Huey ‘Slick’ which acts as an observer for off-board US artillery.  It occurred to me that it would be cool to have this unit represented as an OH-6 ‘Loach’ helicopter instead of a UH-1.  I have not been able to locate a suitable 15mm (or even 1:100 scale) model of the flying egg, so I think it may be interesting, and educational to try to make my own.  I have a pretty solid plan as to how to accomplish this, and it will be interesting to try to model a vehicle, and to do so accurately.  The vast majority of my sculpting experience has been limited to fantasy subjects, which are very organic, and have less need for precision.  Watch this space!

Adepticon, Viet Cong, and Vegetation

With Adepticon mere days away, I am putting the polish on my Warriors of Chaos army for the Championship.  It is pretty nice to get units knocked out.  While these are coming along well, I find myself needing the occasional break, so I have also been working on some terrain.  The terrain has been 15mm jungle terrain for Flames of War.  So far I’ve made some area terrain filler, jungle plants for big areas of elephant grass, and a prototype of a palm-tree.  These didn’t turn out too shabby.  I will have to post some images as well as some details as to how they were made.

I hope to also put some images up of the Viet Cong models I have painted.  So far its some AK47 stands, a B40 rocket team, and 3 HMG bunkers.  Once Adepticon is over, I am going to get into gear a bit more with this project.

What Would Patton Do?

In addition to being a big fan of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, I am also an avid Flames of War player. My friend Jason let me know about a pretty good podcast about Flames of War located at www.whatwouldpattondo.net. They discuss tactics, tournaments, painting, and whatever else comes up that is vaguely World War 2 themed. Check it out!

…in the other man’s shoes.

It had been a while since Jason and I had played any Flames of War, so we picked up a game at Black Sun Games this evening. Originally, I had hoped to get in a game with the local Soviet Tankovy commander, but he was busy taking it to some poor Brits who were mistaken for Germans (that’s what ‘appens when you have yor tea in a stein, ya toss-pot).

Jason asked if I wanted a game, and if I were up for switching armies with him. So, we played cauldron with me commanding the ever-plucky US airborne, while Jason quickly learned to drive stick, and hopped into the commander’s cupola to take control of the panzerkompanie. He fielded an interesting force that he and I had discussed in the past… 12 panzer IVs, with a pair of motorized AA guns. I went with a force that more or less resembled that which Jason usually fields, and gives me fits nearly every game. Two beefy paratrooper platoons, motars, 57mm AT guns, and some 105mm arty, on loan from the regular army.

During the game, I did what paras do best during this sort of situation, dug in and sat there. At first Jason was having a blast driving the tanks around, but quickly realized how daunting digging out all the yanks was actually going to be. He decided to make a go for it, and did a right-hook with nearly all of his tanks. The first several rounds of shooting, and the following assault didn’t do as much damage as Jason needed it to, and my counter attack cracked a lot of armor. In the end Jason lost too many tanks, and I too few paratroopers, and we called it a game. The objectives were safely in my hands.

I feel a little bad, but now we both can see both sides of the fence. Attacking dug in paratroopers is a very hard task to pull off. Jason now can see what I have to go through when we play. He mad no real tactical blunders, but a brutal matchup and some crappy dice got him in the end. The only thing that he could have done differently would have been to soften the target area some more before the assault, and to maybe have brought some infantry in to support his tanks. It’s tough to say, that is how I tend to tackle that situation. The thing you have going for you in a situation like that, as the panzer commander, is that you get to dictate the pace of the battle, and where the fight happens.

Neither of us had played for a bit, so we messed up some of the rules which affected the game some. Jason could have focused on my 105s, which would have weakened my flank a lot, whereas his attack pretty much went into the strongest part of ‘fortress paratrooper’. If the opposite was true, and I had to manuver to repulse his attack, I would have been on the back foot for the rest of the game.

It was very enlightening to both of us to run each others armies, and to get a feeling for the strengths and weaknesses first hand. I for one am a bit more aware of the challanges that defending infantry have to deal with in their setup, and will have to keep an eye peeled for weak points in the defense of hunker downed infantry. I think Jason got an idea about the versitility of armor, as well as it’s weaknesses when in close proximity to the opposing force when it’s in such a strong position. We decided to switch things up in the future, and that I will start running my Falschirmjager for a while. The games should be more dynamic, and less one sided. I’m still going to bring tanks dammit!!

Panzer IV Platoon Finished

These have been done for about a week, and have seen several games already. I am only now getting around to posting images because of a painting tutorial that I am working on at the moment (stay tuned!) (Note: I discontinued this tutorial because I realized that there were a million tutorials online about how to paint late war German camo. Check out the painting section of the community forum at http://www.flamesofwar.com for some great examples). I am pleased with the way that these came together. The methods that I used on my StuG IIIs worked well here too.

Full Platoon

Command Tank

Panzer IVh

Panzer IVh

Panzer IVh

Flames of War page reorganization

One of the first posts that was created for this blog was a page that had a tutorial on painting DAK vehicles for the WWII table top game Flames of War. I have decided to use this page as a holding area for any articles that I create regarding painting, modeling for, or playing Flames of War. The original Painting Afrikakorps article is the first entry into this section of the site. Future articles will include more painting step by steps, as well as tutorials on sculpting, and making terrain.

Work in progress : Panzer IVh platoon

With a bunch of time off of work for Thanksgiving, I actually had some time to make progress on several of my projects. In addition to the Tiger tank in the previous post, I also was able to make some headway on a platoon of Panzer IV tanks.

Flames of War Panzer IV tank by Xenite

I used these very effectively in a recent game, and I think that they will be common when I run panzer companies in Flames of War. It will be nice to have them fully painted the next time that they see the field.

Flames of War Panzer IV tank by Xenite

The scheme that am using for these is essentially the same as the Tiger, and the StuG III tanks. I tried some different ways to layer the camo, and really came to the conclusion that whatever gives me the best pattern, and simplifies the process of painting is the best method. After painting the camo shapes, the next coat of dry-brushed Vallejo Middlestone paint really ties the paint work together.

Flames of War Panzer IV tank by Xenite

The next step with these tanks is to give the highlights a final pass to pick out detail. This is done by painting over detail areas with slightly watered down Middlestone + White. Less is more with this, and thin lines get the edges of the vehicle, and its detail to pop. Thicker lines tend to look sloppy.

Following highlights, the tracks, details, and possibly some camo-netting will be next!