Tuesday 31 December 2013

2013 in Review

It's that time of year again – time to look back and reflect on what's passed, on projects planned and followed through (or abandoned!) during the year.

Overall it's been a very nice year hobby-wise for me, although my colossal workload during the last two months meant it did in practice end somewhat prematurely. However, during other periods I managed to play games once a week for over a month and I've also completed several projects, some of which I hadn't even planned. And as I wrote in my half-time report, I've joined a club which further fueled my drive to game and complete projects, although I do feel it's very easy to get distracted and jump aboard new projects which can lead to painter's burnout or fatigue.

I set a goal of playing a game every two weeks, or 26 games in total over the year. Well, I lost track of all the games played after my half-time report (were the count was 16) which is a good sign I think. When I tried recalling these, I counted at least 10, which means the goal was most likely achieved!

The year started with a nice mix of mainly Muskets&Tomahawks and playtesting of the forthcoming Osprey wargame Lion Rampant, by Dux Bellorum designer Dan Mersey. Speaking of this game – during the summer we did our impromptu testing of three rule sets for the Dark Ages, apart from Dux Bellorum, Hail Caesar and Dux Britanniarum. It was nice to finally get to do some Dark Ages gaming (it's after all my favourite period) and to field my Welsh army.

However, the real focus for the last part of the year was our club project, A Very Moderate Swedish Conflict, and the development of our own rules – were the absolute majority of the work has been done by the ever industrious Dalauppror. We've now taken a much needed break in the campaign, and may pick it up again in the spring.

In between all this Swedish interwar gaming, we managed to get some games in the Kalmar Union War campaign, and also another chance to field my Novgorodians against the Swedish crusaders and finally a short, but sweet, test of the much hyped Chain of Command WW2 rules.

Of course, there's always the feeling of "I wish I've had time to play this game/period more" but overall I'm very happy about the games played during 2013. Well, apart from a game of Saga which I still feel is a rather boring rules set ...

Moving on to the actual painting, I had three projects planned: FIW French for Muskets&Tomahawks, Novgorodians for Lion Rampant, and Picts for Dux Britanniarum. All of these were finished (and two of them even before half the year was over). In addition I managed to paint a unit for the club's A Very Moderate Swedish Conflict project, a mounted warlord for my Welsh army, four Landsknechts casualty markers and most of a Saxon force for Dux Britanniarum (I'm not counting the four or five 15 mm models I added to my Panzergrenadiers for our test game of Chain of Command).

In total: 137 28 mm miniatures, including 17 mounted models. Of these, 73 were painted in the second half of the year, which meant I did meet (and exceed) my goal of painting at least as many models finished up to and including June (which was 64 models).

Compared to last year, when I finished 171 miniatures, this is of course a bit on the low side, but last year was an exception in that I was on paternity leave and had more time to paint. And these last two months really had a huge negative impact on my output – I had planned to have the Saxons finished by the first week of December and then do another Red unit for A Very Moderate Swedish Conflict before the year was over. But, as I said, this year is perhaps more of a realistic gauge of what I actually can manage.

Of the finished projects, I fielded the French FIW force in four games, the Novgorodians in two, Röda nävar in one and the Picts in zero games (still waiting for the Raiders expansion for Dux Brit to be published). A pretty decent result all things considered.

I had some vague plans for painting some steampunk models when I got my delivery of the Empire of the Dead Kickstarter miniatures, but I simply haven't had the time. And to be honest, my interests have moved away from this project and era – much like the Wild West project from last year. Maybe it's time to rethink these "fringe" projects and my investment in them ...

As for the blog, I had my usual goal of updating once a week, and this I think I managed for most of the year. Again, with the exception of these last two months of course. I had some sketchy plans for shaking things up a bit, and not only post my weekly updates, but these came to nothing.

Well, there you have it – another year in the books! Thank you all for reading my ramblings during 2013 and I hope you join me again next year.

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday 30 December 2013

Landsknechts Casualty Markers

As some of you might have seen, the only thing I managed to finish during my involuntary absence was a Christmas gift for Dalauppror in the form of some casualty markers for his splendid German mercenaries. There were four miniatures in the pack and as I have ... let's say "future plans", I decided to paint the other two for myself.

The miniatures are from Artizan and the bases are from the clever folks at Warbases.

As I was in a bit of a hurry, I tried to cut some corners with the finishing of the basing. Unfortunately, I don't think it worked very well and I'm not entirely happy with how the bases turned out. Another lessoned learned!

This was my final regular update for 2013. Tomorrow I will post some thoughts of the year that has passed, and then in a couple of days my plans for 2014.

Until then!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish you all a Merry Christmas – or God jul as we say in Sweden – and to show that yes, indeed, I am still here. The past month-month and a half has been pretty crazy at work, to say the least, and consequently I've had very little time and energy for hobby stuff. I've managed a couple of hours here and there, but work on the Saxons has slowed to a crawl.

With all that behind me, I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and getting back to some serious painting. I really want to finish those Saxons before I start my new projects for 2014.

So once again, I wish you all a God jul wherever you are, and however you choose to celebrate it!

Sunday 17 November 2013

Dark Ages Saxons 4

Here is the final group of warriors for my Saxon warband for Dux Britanniarum.

The miniatures are from Musketeer and West Wind (the second mini from the right, in the picture above), and the shield transfers are from Little Big Men Studios.

And a final look at these hairy fellas.

With the rabble done, I can now concentrate on the elite gedriht and the characters. My plan is to use a bit more colour on these, and with more patterns on their clothes, to make them stand out against the muted palette of the skirmishers and common warriors.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday 10 November 2013

Dark Ages Saxons 3

This past week has been crazy busy at work and as a consequence I've come home most nights feeling utterly knackered. Despite this I've still found the time and energy to press on with the Saxon horde through sheer force of will (well, almost!), and here is the result of that feat: another unit of warriors.

L to R: Musketeer, West Wind, WW, M, M, M

The miniatures are the usual mix of Musketeer and West Wind, with shield transfers from Little Big Men Studios.

As you can see, I'm still experimenting with my photo setup. I think the daylight bulbs I'm using may be a bit too bright, as they kill some of the more subtle tones. It's most noticeable on the blue cloak in the picture above – it doesn't look quite as flat in reality!

Unfortunately, it looks like the situation at work will continue for a couple of more weeks, maybe even as long a until Christmas, and I'm not sure if I'll able to keep up the desired pace in this project during this time. We shall have to see I guess ...

Thanks for reading and have a great week everyone!

Sunday 3 November 2013

Dark Ages Saxons 2

The Saxon horde continues to grow this week with the addition of the first group of warriors. These are a mix of duguth (older and more experienced warriors) and geoguth (younger up and comers). This bunch of hairy raiders is little more colourful than the skirmishers – but not by much and mainly thanks to their shields!

L to R: Musketeer Miniatures (MM), MM, MM, West Wind, MM, MM

The miniatures are from West Wind and Musketeer and the shield transfers are from Little Big Men Studios. The Musketeer models are quite nice, but I would have liked some even more menacing looking types. Also, there were quite a bit of flash and mold lines on the miniatures, which made cleaning them up a bit of a chore. I really don't like cleaning up models ...

I've been experimenting with my new daylight bulbs and an improvised lightbox. It think the photos came out all right for a first try, but it will take some more trial and error before I'm satisfied.

Finally, a warm welcome to the new followers Panzer Kaput and Legion Games (do you have a blog, I couldn't see one linked from your profile?).

Thanks for looking everyone, there will be more Saxons in a week or so!

Sunday 27 October 2013

Dark Ages Saxons 1

By now I think most of you know that despite occasional detours into other periods, my real passion lies in the so called "dark ages" and especially the British Isles during the 5-7th centuries. So unsurprisingly, for my next trick ... ahem, I mean project I will paint up a force of everyone's favourite Germanic raiders for Dux Britanniarum: yes, finally it's Saxon time!

This is the standard starting-force straight out of the rulebook and consists of:

1 Lord
1 Champion
2 Nobles
12 Elites
18 Warriors
4 Skirmishers with bows

The miniatures will be a mix of Musketeer and West Wind, as well as a couple from Gripping Beast.

I have decided to forego the smaller bucklers and instead use regular-sized shields as I just think it looks much better. Also, I've read somewhere that the historical evidence for bucklers is somewhat ambiguous. But mainly, as I said, I just think the large shields look better.

Anyway, here is the first unit to be finished – the skirmishers.

I've gone for a very muted palette on these, as I like to do for my skirmishers. It makes their job of hiding in the bushes to surprise the enemy easier.

The miniatures are from West Wind, and very nice they are too.

Have a nice week everyone, and thanks for reading!

Sunday 20 October 2013

Sabot Command Bases

In the last post for my Pictish raiders, I showed one of my custom made sabot command bases and said I would get back to those in a later post. Well, here is that post!

First, some background may be in order: I prefer to keep my models single based, as it's much more flexible – with single based minis you can easily switch to multi based units using movement trays like the ones from Warbases, but obviously not the other way around. But I do like these mini-dioramas you can do with multi based units. Especially command bases benefit from this I think, becoming nice centerpieces for your forces.

I've had this idea of doing sabot command stands for a while – I suspect I've seen it on someone else's blog, but can't remember where. I knew I wanted a couple of variants, for fun at least, and started to play around with different layouts.

In the end I decided on four variants, and made blueprints in Adobe Illustrator, saved them as a pdf file and sent it off to Warbases, asking for a quote. They responded quickly and had some suggestions to make the production better, which was very helpful. I ordered 5 of each variant, not that I needed that many right away but I thought they would come in handy for future (unplanned) projects. Delivery were quick as usual when ordering from Warbases, even though this was a special order and not something from their regular ranges.

As I base all my infantry on 25 mm round bases, the round holes were made to fit these. They are made much like the regular movement trays from Warbases, ie 2 mm mdf for both the layers.

As you can see, I drafted some miniatures from my Welsh army to act as models ...

The first base has a diameter of 40 mm. The idea is to use it with rules were the commander should have a strict base-size, for example games such as Saga. I could also see it being used for marking out nobles in Dux Britanniarum.

The second one you've already seen in the Pict post. The diameter is 70 mm, and it has place for two round bases. This is probably the largest size I would use for Dux Britanniarum, and then only in battles as I think it would look a bit silly for a simple raid.

This one has a diameter of 80 mm and has place for a 25 mm round base and a 25x50 mm rectangle base, which I now use for all my cavalry.

The final one has place for two round bases and one 25x50 mm rectangle base. The diameter is 100 mm. This base would suit the supreme commander of a large army – maybe even a king!

In hindsight I think I could have tweaked the positions a bit more, but overall I'm pretty happy with these. I don't think they will see use every week, but they're certainly a nice addition to the look of an army.

As a sidenote, after having once again struggled with the photos I have reached the conclusion that I need a lightbox. I rely on natural light when taking pictures, which is somewhat stupid as natural light is, by nature, very fickle and during this time of the year in Sweden, in short supply – and it will soon be even shorter. So, yeah, I will have to bite the bullet and build myself a lightbox. I'll do a post about this later, when I've got something to show you.

Finally, a warm welcome to the new followers Tomsche and Paul of the Man Cave. I hope you'll like the blog and find much inspiration here.

Thanks for reading, have a great week everyone!

Sunday 13 October 2013

Welsh Warlord

This week I took a break from the "modern" Swedes and painted up a mounted warlord for my Welsh army. I've had this Gripping Beast miniature for a while and thought I'd paint it up as a quick diversion. I do love me some dark ages!

It's a great, dynamic sculpt – and a one piece casting which was nice for a change. I deliberately kept his clothing very plain, without any patterns or frills as I thought it would only clutter up the model. Instead I spent a little extra time on the base.

Seeing the close-ups you notice all the sloppy mistakes you've made which can be a bit disheartening, but it's also useful as you can identify which parts of your painting you need to improve.

Painting this warlord up made me think about adding some mounted teulus to give the army that extra punch. This will be a project for the future though, as I've got enough on my plate as it is right now.

I'd also like to say a long overdue welcome to all the new followers: Alex Yakaitis, Mateusz Żbikowsk, qazbnm, John Shoemark, Chris, Flo, Mi7, GranTurismo Driver, Itinerant, Rens van Vliet, Black Powder, JP and commissarmoody.

Apparently, if you don't have an avatar you get pushed to the last page in the list of followers – this has unfortunately caused me to fail to notice a couple of you even if you have been a follower for a while. I'm terribly sorry for taking such a long time to welcome you!

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday 6 October 2013

Röda nävar

Right then, last week I was away on holiday on sunny Mallorca so not much got done hobby-wise and consequently no update on the blog. I didn't get to do any historical sightseeing, apart from walking past the impressive cathedral in Palma. But this, coupled with the sight of the arid landscape, was enough to give me much inspiration for one of my "could-be" projects. As a result I'm 99% sure I will actually do the project, and it will probably be one of the first for next year. I'll let you know more when I post my plans for projects for 2014 around New Year.

It was a bit of a shock coming home though, as it apparently autumn has arrived while I was away. I went from 28 C and sun to 8 C and rain! However, the good thing is it's now perfectly acceptable to stay indoors and work away on my hobby-stuff.

Well, that's enough of my ramblings for now – on to the miniatures. This week I have finally managed to finish the miniatures for my own faction for our A Very Moderate Swedish Conflict project, the Röda nävar communist militia.

Röda nävar (Red fists) is one of the most well known of the many smaller Red militia bands formed during the battle for Gothenburg. Mostly drafted from the workers of the city's shipyards, they made a name for themselves after capturing the Pripps' Brewery, an important strategic victory and a major symbol for the Red's resistance.

After the battle, they have fought in a number of defenses against White forces trying to re-capture the city but mostly they have been on guard duty – a boring mission which they fail to see how it will further the cause of the people's revolution. As a result, they have answered the urgent call for help from the Red forces on the new front line in Bergslagen, and are now ready to bring their fighting selves into the fire once more!

The whole force, ready to bring the White scum to their knees in the name of the people:

Röda nävar is led by Karl Weiron Ottosson, a former foreman and staunch union activist of the Götaverken shipyard. He is charismatic and well-liked by his men, but lately he's been getting a bit paranoid, looking for possible traitors in his own ranks. Maybe it is time for a purge to root out those without the true revolutionary spirit? Good thing he has The Book to help him in his struggles.

The miniatures are all from Musketeer Miniatures' Interwar range. The leader's head is from a plastic Warhammer Empire flagellant, his hands and the rifle are from the WW2 German Infantry plastic boxed set from Warlord Games, and the book was made from a piece of plasticard.

There are some minor conversions, like headswaps, on some of the other models as well. And all the miniatures have armbands made from grey stuff.

Some more pictures:


  And a parting shot for good measure:

So there you have it. I hope you like them.

Thanks for looking – have a great week everyone!

Friday 20 September 2013

First Game of Chain of Command – AAR and some thoughts

We had our first game of Chain of Command on Sunday. Dalauppror commanded a platoon of US Armoured Rifles while I took my German Panzergrenadiers. As it was a test-game and we were a bit short on space, we played it using 15 mm models on a small table (approximately 90x60 cm) using cm instead of inches. The models were multi-based, which isn't optimal as you need to be able to remove individual casualties, as well as split off teams from sections any way you might need. But with some common sense it worked without any problems.

We decided beforehand to play the Patrol scenario and to simplify things we ruled that both would get a 2 on the roll for support, which meant that the US force would get 2 points of support, while the Germans would get 5 points. I thought long and hard about what to choose, but in the end decided on an off-table 81 mm mortar battery with a Forward Observer, as I thought it would help me to pin down those large US squads, and an Adjutant to help me deploy my troops on the table (senior leaders being in short supply for the Germans). Dalauppror choose two jeeps as rides for one of his squads.

We got so caught up in the game that we didn't take too many pictures, but between us we managed to cover most of the action. So thanks to Dalauppror for most of the photos below!

Here is the table before the game started:

The battlefield from the American side.

We started off the Patrol Phase, trying to figure out the best tactics to use. I think we both quickly realized that most of the time you'd be better off advancing slowly to get a more flexible movement – if you advance too fast with one or two patrol markers, you'll be more limited in your choice of movement paths – before rushing ahead to lock down your opponent's markers.

Patrol markers and Jump-off Points.

Above is the table at the end of the Patrol Phase. As you can see we have started to place our Jump-off Points: the US have pretty much consolidated them in the centre of the board, in or around the village, while the Germans' are a bit more spread out with only one in the village itself, one just outside the village, and one a long way off to the left. I thought it would be a good place to deploy a flanking force, or maybe to stop the US troops from flanking me.

The action started with the US deploying a rifle squad in the building in the middle of the town. The Germans deployed one of their squads in cover of the hedges just outside the village and opened fire on the soldiers in the building, killing one man and applying some shock.

German Panzergrenadiers putting up a hard fight.

The US squad returned the fire, and also managed to kill one man and apply some shock. They continued by deploying a mortar team on the outskirts of the village, and using the rifle squad as spotters, targeted the Germans, who took another couple of points of shock.

Over the next couple of phases the Germans were content to sit back and continue to fire on the US soldiers in the building, slowly picking them off. After a while, it became apparent that the US rifles weren't going to win the shooting match with the two MG42s. And so while a new rifle squad was deployed in the village and sent out to try and outflank the Germans, the first squad retreated from the building and instead the .50 cals MMGs were brought into place.

US Mortar team, a badly beaten rife team and a fresh squad
sent on a flanking maneuver.

Now the Germans sent in their second team, a Forward Observer in the building on their right. He immediately put the call in for a barrage – the German mortars (off table) adjusted their sights to their new target ...

And they were going to be needed as the US MMGs began their work of taking out the German team. But still, the Panzergrenadiers held their ground.

In their next phase, the German FO called down a barrage on the amassed US troops in the village. As my troops weren't in the immediate area, I decided to call a full barrage from the start – and rolled a direct hit! That really hurt the US troops, as all of the units in the village were pinned, and the crews for the MMGs were severely decimated.

Meanwhile, the US flanking force advanced cautiously out of the village along the bocage. At the same time, US reinforcements arrived by the road in the two jeeps.

US Reinforcements arrive.

Despite being being hard pressed, the US MMGs managed to wound the German squad leader, putting him out of action for the rest of the Turn. Coupled with some more shock from the US mortars, the German squad was now in danger of being pinned and later broken.

So when it was my turn, another barrage was called down (I got lucky on the "availability" roll), and the FO moved the aiming point a bit to also cover the US mortar team, with the result of them being pinned. This would at least give me some time to try and rally the nearly broken squad.

The US jeeps turned off the road and continued on their way to try and flank the German squad outside the village.

The lurking German FO who called down some heavy mortar fire
on the US forces in the village.

The German answer was to deploy another squad in the same building as the FO, waiting for a chance to attack the jeeps. Yet another mortar barrage (and another lucky "availability roll") and things were beginning to look bleak indeed for the US troops in the village.

The US squad on a flanking mission continued the advance, but the Germans had a surprise in store for them – they deployed from their Jump Off Point and immediately opened fire on the squad. However, despite catching the enemy in the open the German fire proved ineffective and the result was limited to one US soldier down and a single point of Shock.

And there we called it a night. While the US platoon was shaken and slightly pressed at the moment, none of the forces had taken any hits on their Morale, and the game could have gone either way. For example, we both held a CoC dice each. In the next phase the US could have ended the turn and removed the pinned status from most of their troops, which would have given them time to consolidate their forces in the village, and pour some serious fire onto the Germans. Also, the two US flanking forces were going to cause some serious problems for the Germans.

On the other hand, with my CoC dice I could have kept the mortar barrage going through the next turn, which would once again pin most of the US centre, and give me time to concentrate on the threats of the flanking forces.

We had been playing for about three hours. There was some flipping back-and-forth in the rulebook, as is expected during the first game. The offical QRS, while not perfect (it's a WIP I think), was a great help though. 

All in all, a great game and a very entertaining session! During your phase, there are lots of decisions to make, and it feels like all of them matter, which leads to a very tense game. There was a lot to digest after our first session, and it's certainly a game that rewards the use of good (period) tactics. Which I personally find very interesting but it means I need to read up on some WW2 combat!

Some random thoughts:
We used the official Patrol markers but they are too big for our taste. As you measure from the centre of the marker and no LOS is applied, it means they could be any size. Using smaller markers will make them easier to place and they won't wobble or slide around on terrain features.

While being more "tightly" written than previous rules from TooFatLardies, there are still areas that could be more clearly explained and/or expanded. There is an FAQ/Errata posted but I think some stuff should have been in the rulebook, eg how to handle splitting off and re-joining teams/squads in more detail.

My overall tactics were rather successful, I think: keep my forces off the table for as long a possible, sit back and let the twin MG42s do their work (and my, those are nasty). Only deploy when necessary to avoid being flanked or overrun. Though, perhaps I should have kept my JoPs a little tighter together.

So, as I said, a lot to digest. Fun stuff indeed!

We both liked the game a lot, and will definitely play more in the future but using 28 mm miniatures. We will use Dalauppror's LW Germans and US Airborne, while I try to decide what I want to paint up: I have an unpainted Soviet platoon from Black Tree Design (bought in of their very nice 50% off sales) but after this game I'm seriously considering doing some LW Germans myself – they certainly are and interesting challenge to play.

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday 15 September 2013

German Panzergrenadiers for Chain of Command

Dalauppror and I have been talking about trying out Chain of Command, the new WW2 platoon level game from Too Fat Lardies. Suddenly an opportunity presented itself on this Sunday (today!), and so we schedueled in a test-game. On Monday night, after coming home from another game in our A Very Moderate Swedish Conflict campaign, I rummaged through my old 15 mm WW2 stuff and dug up my Late War Germans. These were used for playing Crossfire and I Ain't Been Shot Mum! around four or five years ago, and haven't been used since. The paint jobs are not the best to be honest, and the basing is a mixed bag, but they will have to do.

After checking the German list in Chain of Command, I had a good idea of what I needed to do to bring my force up to the required strength: a whole 5 new miniatures were in required in total – a senior leader, a Panzerschreck team and two regular riflemen (although the miniatures are armed with panzerfausts). I also had to rebase about 10 miniatures, eg pairing off some of the LMG teams that weren't on separate bases and doing some singel based miniatures for casualty removal.

So after some frantic painting and (re-)basing this is my new(ish) Panzergrenadier platoon with support:

The miniatures are from Battlefront. However, the senior leader and the panzerschreck team are from Peter Pig, as well as most of the support.

The old bases got a quick facelift with some tufts. Hopefully this also took the edge off the garish static grass used ...

I had some support options painted up from earlier as you can see below. Some tripod mounted MG42s and a 81 mm mortar team, as well as a forward observer and a PAK 40.

Tripod mounted MG42s (PP).
Foward Observer (BF).
Platoon commander in front of the PAK 40 (PP).
81 mm mortar and Panzerschreck team (all PP).
It was certainly interesting to go back to painting 15 mm after having painted 28 mm exclusively for the last 2 years or so. For one thing, I think my eyesight is getting worse – I don't remember them being this small ... Still, they're certainly quicker to paint than the larger scale! If the test game goes well, we'll probably go the 28 mm route though.

However, all this 15 mm painting has unfortunately meant that I've not had the time to work on the miniatures for Röda nävar. Consequently, they've been pushed back a couple of weeks. I'm still determined to get them finished though.