Friday 29 June 2012

Stronghold Terrain: Normandy Stable review

One bit of scenery that keeps cropping up in all of the scenarios I want to play from the Skirmish Campaigns book I'm working through is a Normandy-style barn. I had been looking for a while to find a model I liked, with no luck, and had essentially given up when a new kit from Stronghold Terrain popped up on The Miniatures Page. The photo looked decent, but the company is in Germany and I wasn't super keen on ordering something from that far away. Still, having a proper barn would be better than just using a random, not-at-all-barnlike building from my Mordheim box, so I went for it.

The kit arrived in 7 pieces: a base, 4 walls, and a 2-part roof. The base and walls are cast in what they call "hard stone plaster." It is a heavy, strong, almost cement-like material that feels like stone and is a bit porous, with really nice detail and no casting flaws that I could find. The roof is fairly thick and strong resin, with no casting flaws either. It is detailed on five sides, with the underside just smooth, but nobody is going to look at the underside anyway so who cares.

I should add that the stable arrived with a hand-written thank you note and a little baggie of barrels and crates for my "bitsbox." It was a really nice touch.

The stable assembled easily, though gluing the two pieces of the roof together at the correct angle took a bit of patience. The walls didn't quite fit perfectly... there's a small gap visible in the corner of the last photo. I don't know if that's a result of the model or my building skills, though.

I primed it with black spray paint and got to work with my regular craft acrylics:

I decided to experiment a bit and tried to get a gray, weathered effect out of the wall boards, rather than the usual brown that I usually paint wood. It felt wrong painting the wood gray, but after a couple of washes I think it turned out really well. There is a lot of detail on the walls, with cracked plaster, bricks, and even a little shrub molded in. The windows and doors are molded in, without actual apertures, but if I was really keen it wouldn't take much to drill / saw / file them out. For my purposes I'm happy to leave them as-is.

Likewise, there is no internal detail in the stable, but again I don't really care about that. It wouldn't take much to build individual stables out of coffee stir sticks if you needed that.

Overall, I am really happy with the Stronghold stable. Good detail, nice materials, a very robust-feeling final product, and great service.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Space 1889

My game group decided to take a break from Dark Sun, and we are now playing a campaign of Space: 1889, with the Savage Worlds rules (which is probably my favourite RPG rule set). My character is an orphaned boy genius from Calcutta. I have two figures for him, one in his street clothes and one in his survival suit.

The be-robed boy figure is pretty vanilla, but I'm happy with the survival suit guy, especially the goggles. And I think the Martian red rock bases worked out pretty nicely as well.

Flames Of War - An Even More Half-Assed AAR

I had a game of FoW with my buddy last weekend. I had planned to photograph the game and write a report, but I got too busy machine-gunning Nazis and forgot to take pics. So, here are a few views of the battle, at the two points in the game when I remembered to shoot pics.

The scenario was Breakthrough, with me playing Canadian 4th Armoured and my friend playing an infantry company of the 2nd SS Panzer Division. These are all my minis and terrain.

SS deployed on the hill, guarding the objectives. PaKs on the right, a platoon of infantry behind a minefield in the midground, with Shermans of the Canadian 4th Armoured sort-of visible beyond.

A better view of the Shermans. On the hill behind them is the company 2iC, and on the hill behind him (just out of frame) is one of the OP Shermans.

SS PaKs. These guys were deployed to cover the objectives, but I was able to keep my tanks out of their LOS for the whole game, so they were pretty ineffective.

The other Sherman platoon advances across the draw towards the other SS infantry platoon and the Grilles. The one Canadian infantry platoon in my force sneaks along the edge of the board in Defrocked Priest Kangaroos.

One of the Grilles supporting the SS infantry. This one bogged the first time it tried to move and died without firing a shot. The other one got off a single round and burned a Sherman Firefly, but got killed by return fire.

Close to the end of the game. With things looking good on the far hill, the Sherman platoon that had been picking away at the SS behind the minefield decided that the SS infantry was pretty much irrelevant at this point and crossed through the village to engage a pair of 88s dug in on the far side (out of frame, unfortunately, because I think they are nice models!!)

Looking from the Canadians' board edge, we can see two burning Grilles, a burning Firefly, and not much SS Infantry... at this point, they had been mostly wiped out on this side. Meanwhile, my delayed-reserve Stuarts and Wasps were wreaking lumberjack havoc at the objectives, and the other Sherman platoon had wiped out the Luftwaffe-crewed 88s (super guns, but terrible crews) so the SS conceded. Chalk one up for the good guys!

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Disposable Heroes Not-Really AAR

I hosted a game of Disposable Heroes at the last Trumpeter Society meeting on June 1. We played a scenario from Iron Ivan's scenario book on Market Garden.

The game went fairly well, but seemed to be largely decided by dice rolls. The Germans were also caught out in the open by a Para ambush, and a whole squad was wiped out... bad news for a force that only comprises two squads plus support!

Special thanks to Thomas Robson for helping me muddle my way through the rules. The rules are quite simple to use and seem like a good choice for club games, but I had a few quibbles. There is no provision for fog of war or command and control, which really eliminates any sense of reconnaissance or suspense. Aside from the single ambush, which is not dealt with especially elegantly in the rules, there is no suspense or surprise.

So, I'm still undecided whether DH or Troops, Weapons and Tactics are going to be my rules of choice. Or possibly some frankenrules stitched together with parts of both.

Anyway, on with the interesting part: the photos!

The calm before the storm: Paras may deploy in any building or wood on the board, and the Germans enter from the north street (the street at the end of which you see them parked, awaiting their turn)

Several turns in, and not a lot has happened. The Paras have laid a small smoke screen in the centre of the board, and the Germans have all advanced onto the board, but don't get far before they start trading fire with the Paras.

The Paras' Vickers MMG sprays lead at the Germans as they try to advance through the buildings on the East side of their entry street.

On the West side of the street, Germans occupy the buildings and make some cautious advances towards a British fire team in the South-West park.

The StuG only ever got this far onto the board, then spent the rest of its turns trying to get acquisition on the Paras' Vickers. It finally achieved acquisition, but to very little effect. I think I may have been using the wrong stats for the StuG, but it likely would have made very little difference to the game, considering how long it took to get its bearings, and that the deciding fights were happening elsewhere.

Massacre in the courtyard! The Paras' ambush team deployed in the building fuzzily visible on the right of the photo as the Germans tried to run across the open space of the courtyard, and absolutely reamed them, then moved on to the Germans' HMG, wiping them out as well.

By this time, the game was pretty much decided. A German team and a Para team destroyed each other in the West, but by this time it was pretty clear that the Germans would just be throwing their lives away if they continued pursuing the advance, and they withdrew.

Late update: German HMG and Stug

These pics have been sitting on my camera for more than a week, but better late than never I suppose!

I ran a game of Disposable Heroes at the last Trumpeter Society meeting, British Paras defending against a hard German push in Arnhem on Day 2 of Operation Market Garden. It seems that no matter how much I paint, there's always one or two more things that need to get done before I can fill the rosters for the scenarios I want to run, so I was busy the week leading up to game night. This time it was some German support.

HMG team:

I decided with this team, unlike my mortars and other HMG teams, to dispense with futzing around with blue-tacking the minis to the base on the off chance that I want to put them somewhere too restricted for the full team base. These guys are permanently welded on.


This one was a bit of a rush job (as rush a job as an airbrushed model with pigment dust can be), but I'm really happy with the result, especially when sitting in a light box and viewed through the magic eye of my camera. It's another really nice Bolt Action model. I'm impressed at how solid the schurtzen feel, so much better than my 15mm FoW Panzer IVs, which feel like they are going to crumble to dust in your hand. They are way, way too thick to be properly in-scale, but they need to be able to withstand the rigors of game night.

I have been reading a lot of AFV modeling websites lately in advance of starting on my 1/35th Tiger, so there are a lot of places where I could have poured my life into more detail and better weathering, but it's a game model and most of that disappears at game-viewing distance anyway.