Flames of War: Soviet DShK AA Truck


I recently completed an anti-aircraft platoon for my Soviet Army.  I have always been a fan of this model and when I had faced Soviet players in the past found that the AA gun mounted on the back of a truck really added a unique element to an otherwise rubber-stamped feeling army.

Defensive tactics

One thing that I like about this unit is that it is actually very versatile.  I have found that I really appreciate anything in FoW that can fill several roles or can be modified to fit a scenario before the game starts.  Obviously this platoon can be used to scare of aircraft… it’s an AA unit, but thanks to the mobility of the truck that it is mounted on and FoW’s ‘portee’ rules, this unit has some utility if there are no aircraft around.  The gun team can dismount and become a AA man packed gun team.  This feature of the unit allows AA gun teams to integrate with an infantry force nicely.  As man packed gun teams the dismounted DShKs can be dug in to a Strelkovy line to add defensive fire support, or help hold an objective.  The fact that one of the platoon’s gun teams is the platoon commander gives a small buff to the unit as the command team cannot be isolated by enemy fire (priority target: infantry teams).  The DShK is a a proper heavy machine-gun.  Being part of the .50 family it has an AT of 4 and a firepower of 5+.  This means that it can be a threat to armored cars, light tanks, and even medium tanks in defensive fire.


Offensive tactics

On the attack the DShK can contribute a bit to shooting out dug in infantry as well.  Its better than 6 firepower and it’s 4 rate of fire give it a slight edge over other infantry weapons for shooting teams in bulletproof cover.  If dismounted these guys can keep up with an infantry advance, or if kept on their trucks, they can act as an additional maneuver unit.  The platoon has only 3 teams, so they are very fragile and can be an easy kill for your opponent.  This shouldn’t be underestimated.  It would be easy to accidentially throw these guys away, and unless you are gaining the benefit of saving shots from something more critical by sacrificing the AA MG Platoon, getting them shot off the table for no reason really needs to be avoided (duh… easier said than done).


Great fit for all lists

Most AA units in FoW are very cheap, but this one is a bargain points-wise even by those standards.  At 60 points they are an easy fit to round out an army, bringing you up to an even amount of platoons.  If you can neutralize a light armored attack or an airstrike they quickly start earning those points in your list.  If you can use them to jump a target of opportunity, or support an attack on an objective then you really are seeing them prove their worth.


Building & painting the models

As I had mentioned before I like the way this unit adds a visual dimension to the rest of a Soviet Army.  Having a couple of trucks in an infantry or armored battalion really adds character.  I opted to employ the popular technique of magnetizing the gun to the base via a sub-base made with a bit of the plastic from the blister that the unit came in.   The sub base has a bit of metal in it which allows it to stick to magnets mounted in the base as well as the bed of the truck.  If I were to do this unit again, I would use larger magnet – the magnetization as is not isn’t very strong.  The 1/8th” magnets I used are adequate for the job, but it would be possible to shake the gunner loose from the base or truck with little effort.

I avoided adding grass to the sub-base, but did paint it brown and texture it with sand.  The goal here was to create a surface which wouldn’t be dramatically out of place on both the truck bed and the actual gun team base.  I may pull more highlights out of the greens in the truck paint scheme.  On the fence with that at the moment.  I opted to mount the truck to a base to give it a bit more stability.  I don’t usually do this with my vehicles, but I think that I will be from now one with the ones that have separate metal wheels.    It really helps the truck feel finished and keeps it stable on the gaming surface.


Open Fire

Battlefront is getting into the starter set game with ‘Open Fire!’  This seems to be a intro box with all the gear folks need to play the game.  In addition to miniatures, (I assume) dice, and hobby book, this box includes a new wave of plastic miniatures.


Para troopers supported by British Sherman tanks face off against the Wermacht infantry, guns, and Stug tanks.  There also appears to be a V-2 rocket launcher!  I am guessing that this is something of an objective, or mission plot point.

I like the idea of these starter sets.  They really give players a way to get into the game, and with Flames of War, that may seem like a daunting task.  The continued evolution of BF’s plastics is exciting as well.  These are some of the most appealing plastic infantry that I have seen to date, and are much cleaner, and effective than some of Battle Front’s metal line.

I’m a bigtime FoW fan-boy, so I am excited about this release, and I can’t wait to see where it leads!

Terrain for the new table: Urban Buildings

I firmly believe that complexity can be mitigated by efficient production in hobby projects.  The assembly line is your best friend.

A while ago I started tinkering with a system to create a series of urban buildings for Flames of War for city, or more dense sub-urban areas of Europe (perhaps including smallish cities such as Carentan, ect. ).  The premise of this terrain building methodology was to use foam-core to create the general form of the buildings (think a box with door, and window holes in it) and then add layers of applique detail as needed to achieve the results I wanted.

Today I stumbled across this article on TTGN.  I need to look into these buildings to see if they would fill the role that the foam-core would as described above.  They certainly would be more expensive, but would also be more sturdy, and would take a laborious step out of the process.

I am very interested in the laser-cut trend that is happening right now in gaming accessories.  These buildings may be a must have for my future terrain collection, or they may simply be the motivator for me to get off my ass and make my own buildings.


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!

Tiger Tank

My German Flames of War army is evolving in such a way that I have several units that I can use in different armies. This Tiger tank that I finished up last night is a good example of this. I can use it to add some muscle (and distraction) to either my Fallschirmjager force, or my Panzer company.

flames of war tiger tank painted by xenite

This model is also the test bed for several new techniques that weren’t used on the StuGs I had painted earlier. This started the same way with an undercoat of Vallejo Green Brown, and then a base coat of Middlestone. After this I added a wash of Middlestone (60%)/Black(10%) /gel medium(10%)/water(20%). Once this wash was dry, I picked out detail, and did some dry brushing.

flames of war tiger tank painted by xenite

flames of war tiger tank painted by xenite

Camo, and battle damage was done the same way as the StuGs. The camo brown is a bit different on this model.

This is essentially the method that I intend to use on my entire Panzer Company.

Fallshirmjager WIP quick shots

I am getting near the end of the work on the main body of my Fallshirmjager army. I have learned a lot from painting these models. If I were to have the opportunity to re-do this army, I would have made some color changes, and would have worked on fixing up some of the models that have casting issues. Painting 15mm infantry requires different techniques than larger models. Blocks of color that define the details are more important that getting tones to blend well for example. I think that I am going to try some new techniques when I paint my US troops. All things being equal, I am happy with the way that these turned out, especially for table-top use.

Here are some quick and dirty photos that show where the army is at the moment. I still have some basing to do, and some touchups on some of the paint. The 4th MG 42 team needs to be finished as well. I am excited to almost have this army wrapped up.

Combat Platoons

Whole army not including Armor Support

Light Artillery Unit with recoiless guns.

HMG platoon

Combat teams

Combat Platoons

There are a few units that I would like to add to this army in the not distant future. I have some Pak 38 (or 40… I can’t recall) guns, and I would like to expand the Light Artillery battery to 4 guns. Some Panzershreck teams for the command platoon are in the works as well.