Monday, February 28, 2011

Ri-co-la!



Over the weekend I finished off some more stuff to go with the ongoing Napoleonic project - some Austrian Jaegers, based individually as a skirmish unit. The models are from Foundry, and they are based on 25mm washers.

I love the Austrian Jaegers - with their high, folded mountain caps, stubby rifles, lacing for the powderhorns, french horns for the musicians, big-time mustaches etc. it's a bit like a Ricola commercial with guns.



The Jaegers, armed with rifles, fought as either skrimishers or formed units for the Austrians. For the scenario that has driven my original list of units for the Black Powder challenge, the roster calls for one skirmish unit, so I did the Jaegers that way to fit the bill.


I was also limited by my collection - you might notice how quite a few of the models in this unit are in a particular loading pose, biting off a charge. Well, that is courtesy of Foundry. I had two packs of Jaegers - one of command, and one of "loading/firing". These packs were from a long time ago, when Foundry had 12 figures in the pack (for less money too). Well, all 12 of the "loading/firing" figures turned out to be loading. Thanks Foundry.

The command pack had some alternative poses (including one more guy loading - ARGH!), but it gives some variety (at least one guy firing, two guys running, the officer, and the musician). Overall, I think there is just enough variety to break up the monotony of the dudes chewing on the rounds.

I do want to have a formed unit in the collection, as Jaeger battalions were often present in the advance-guard-type columns that I think will make for some great 25mm-scale Napoleonic scenarios. A formed unit would call for about 32 models, and with Foundry looking for $22.50 US per 8 figures (plus shipping), I will opt instead for some Alban miniatures. I have never painted Alban before, but they look pretty sharp, so watch the blog for more on these in the future.

Meanwhile, I have finally started Napoleonic cavalry. Up first is a Regiment of Austrian Dragoons - a beefy one with 24 castings. I've never painted Napoleonic cavalary in 25mm scale before, so it will be slow going until I get a bit more confidence with the horses, sadles, bridles etc. But the Austrian Dragoon uniform is very close to that of the infantry (helmet, yellow and black pom-pom or whatever on the top, white coat, coloured facings etc) so that should help me get some momentum.

Friday, February 25, 2011

And back to Napoleonics...

Well, it's been a while since I last added some stuff as part of my Napoleonic Challenge, but given that Curt C has fired up a Napoleonic spring thaw painting challenge, it was time to get back at it. My goal-list for this project still stood on the blog, and I finished off a pair of 6-pounder guns with crew this week.

The figures are all from Wargames Foundry.



As Curt notes in his blog, I absolutely hate painting artillery. Consistent with many of my views on the hobby, there is no rational reason for this. I just find the effort/reward ratio really low on the guns. While the Black Powder game still hews to what I call the "get-over-yourself-re:artillery" school of thinking and lets one gun and crew represent a battery, other new "grand manner" style rules we are looking at need several guns for a battery. Forty infantry models can represent a 500 man battalion, but to abstract 10 guns I need eight guns and crews? The amount of painting an modelling needed just to get a damn gun battery on the table is totally out of whack to my impatient pea-sized brain.



There are all sorts of "rules" reasons for having the big batteries which I'm sure are quite sound (the gun batteries actually took a lot of space on the battlefield, the other rule sets like Shako are too casual in letting units maneuver near them, it makes you as a player think a lot more about where to lay the guns etc.)I still can't stand it, but if we are going to blast Napoleon's lackies, I'll have to get over it and pile in several more pieces and crews! A fresh order for more figs is already going out today...

Meanwhile, to keep up some momentum, a skirmish unit of Jaegers is up next. These are Foundry as well. Here is a picture of the first "test" figures...

Ride above it all

Another bit from the Rogue Trader nostalgia retro pile - a jet-bike mounted Imperial Guard Lieutenant.



The Imperial jet-bike is a Rogue Trader favourite! I was pretty chuffed to acquire a couple of these things. The only downside is the rank of the officer - the Lieutenant is the lowest rung on the commissioned officer ladder of the Rogue Trader-era Imperial Guard. A pimped-out ride like this is much better suited to a Captain or, even better, the Imperial Commander - jetting around while the foot-sloggers march off to get gunned-down in the latest Imperial Guard offensive.



In terms of the strict technicalities, the Lieutenant needs to "always" have a command section with him. Of course, you could, in Rogue Trader, mount the whole lot on jet bikes (a medic, sergeant, standard carrier and a pair of guys with lascannons), but those figs are just not going to be around to acquire. So screw that - this Lieutentant will simply jet hover above his measly command section, if he uses one at all.

I do, however, have a Commissar with a jet-bike in the pending pile...so while this Lieutenant will be free of his command section, the local voice of the Emperor will be able to keep up with him no problem...

I, Robot

A few quick updates for today. First, in the continuing Rogue Trader buzz, I painted up an RT-era robot.




This model came in an OOP blister pack from E-bay, and it was cheap! OOOH!!! But when I got the blister, I saw why - the arms and body did not match. The body was a "Conqueror", and the arms were from some other model ("Cataphract" or something). Oh well. A robot is a robot. The Rogue Trader robot rules are a byzantine suck-fest regardless, so this thing will just end up counting as some kind of dreadnought in a game, and the technicalities of which arms it has won't matter.



The robot is armed with a bolter, a flamer and a melta-gun. That thing on its back might be a jump pack too.



Being an Imperial construct, it probably runs Windows XP. I would imagine the Adeptus Mechanicus geeks would also have built a wi-fi hotspot into it somewhere, so nearby officers can use their Ipads without have to pay cellular data overage and roaming charges to Imperial Telecom Services...

Bad Kitties

My friend CurtisK, a FOW aficionado (see his blog), came Thursday for a "training game" as he plans to participate in an officially sanctioned FOW Late War tournament in Saskatoon this weekend. His army list includes 3 King Tigers, a battery of 3 Wespe, a platoon of infantry and... that's it! His units are very well painted,especially the camouflaged ones.

I chose my army list as if I was myself to participate in a tournament, with some of the iconic units I cherish most in the Soviet army:
- 2 companies of infantry (1 platoon each) reinforced with flamethrowers and sappers.
- 1 artillery battalion
- 1 company of T-70
- 1 platoon of SU-152
- 1 flight of Sturmovik

The scenario, randomly chosen, was "Fighting Withdrawal". I set up the Winter boards, that I haven't used in a while, and we prepared for battle.

The German Bad Kitties are up there, on the upper corner. The Soviets deployed around the three objectives, two of them were to be removed as the withdrawal is progressing.

The Soviets had a fun time at first. The artillery was pounding the infantry platoon while the Sturmovik gloriously hammered a King Tiger...

... then a second one!

Things were not looking too good for the Germans as the clock was ticking. Two objectives were already removed, and the Germans launched a desperate assault to seize the last objective: a turretless Tiger I hull full of Zecret Dokuments hidden under the driver's seat.

The flamethrower teams came out of the wood to greet and grill the King Tiger. Somehow, the bad kitty survived. But the real threat for the Soviet, from the beginning, happened not to be the King Tigers but...

... it was the infantry platoon!!! In a dramatic dénouement, the German grenadiers were able to overcome the more numerous Soviet defenders around the remaining objective, thanks to incredibly low dice rolls from the Soviet side. A last minute unexpected victory for the Germans.

It was a very intense as well as very interesting engagement done within the 2 hour time limit of a tournament game.

You can read CurtisK's own version of the battle here, as well as compare his pictures with mine.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tools of the Trade

I'm a person that enjoys minutiae and detail.  I'm all about trivia and such.  I'm kind of a brand fiend too.  Sadly, this extends to hobby stuff as well.
Years ago, I used Krylon Clear Matte spray as a varnish for my models.  I really liked the smell (!), plus the slightly satin finish it created.  Then came The Incident.  I bought a can of Krylon at Michael's and used it to varnish some models.  The spray dried to a weird frosty textured coating.  Temperature and humidity were normal, so I assumed it was a bum can and bought another.  Same thing... so I swore off Krylon forever.

This extended to paint for priming as well.  For the longest time I've advocated using the cheapest flat black spray you can find.  Here in Winnipeg, this is "Colour Place" available at Wal-Mart for less than $2.50 a can.  I've used it for a few years but in the last six months or so have noticed that it seems to be getting less pigmented, if that's possible.  It's taking several coats just to build up a primer surface, and that's annoying.  I'd find I was always running to Wal-Mart to buy more paint.
     
Enter Krylon... last time I was at Wal-Mart I saw this can of Krylon flat black for about $4.50... and in a moment of weakness decided to try it.  What a revelation.  Wide spray pattern, great for priming larger models like vehicles.  Great coverage in one pass.  A nice flat finish with plenty of tooth for the basecoat to latch on to.  The can seems to be lasting a long time too, I've primed two Rhinos, a Vindicator and six Tyranid warriors so far and probably used less than half a can.

Recommended!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

???


Just got back from the parcel place in Pembina, ND.  The border was mental on the way down, but a breeze on the way back 35 minutes later.  Weather was a little sketchy with blowing snow on the way back but we made it fine.  The car was filled to the brim with boxes...


So what was in the boxes??? (other than 10 jillion styrofoam peanuts...)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"It's (yet another) Trap!!"

Last Thursday I put on a game using a variant of WotC's "Star Wars Starship Battles" rules and Imperial and Rebel fleets.  The scenario was an excellent Battlefleet Gothic scenario called "Escalating Engagement".  Basically each side divides its fleet into five divisions, and the game begins with one random division from each fleet on the table.  Each turn there is the potential for another division to arrive at a random table edge.  It makes for a pretty interesting and tense game.
Each side divided its fleet into five more-or-less equivalent divisions.  The Rebels (me and Wes) had a superiority in numbers of ships with divisions composed of one capital ship and a cruiser or two corvettes.  The Imperial fleet (Brian and Indo) had a division with two Victory-class Star Destroyers and an Interdictor, one with an Imperial-class SD and a carrier, and three composed of a single Imperial SD.
The capital ships were mostly all carrying fighters too, of course!  (these would prove their worth later)
The scenario ran very smoothly.  All of the Rebel divisions but one warped in right on time and in good positions, beating up on the single Imperial division on the table - the two Victorys and the Interdictor.  But as soon as that division was comprehensively atomized, the remaining Star Destroyers all arrived, surrounding the Rebel fleet... "it's a trap!!"
The X-wings were initially quite effective against the SDs - their proton torpedoes are awesome!  But once the TIE fighter swarms became fully engaged it was bye-bye Gold squadron... and Red Squadron... and Green Squadron...
In the end, the Imperial fleet had been all but eliminated with just the carrier remaining... however the Rebels had nothing left nearby to hurt the Imperials.  There was an untouched Mon Cal cruiser and a Nebulon B that had arrived late to the party but they couldn't reach the fight in time to make a difference.

The game ran very slickly, I like the WotC rules with the additions we use for ranged weaponry.  Due to the size of the fleets and the number of players, we didn't use our usual additions for "shields".  The result was a faster playing game where stuff blew up real good and real fast.
I also love the aesthetic of the game.  The "Titanium" Imperial SDs mix well with the Micro Machines Victory-class and Interdictor conversions, and the MM Mon Cal ships.  The Nebulon Bs and Corvettes as well as the Imperial Carrier are from the most excellent Odyssey Slipways firm, available through Starship Modeller.  The fighters are Stringvest's snub fighters made by Drew of Studio Bergstrom and although they are of course grossly overscale, I think they look good on squadron bases mixed with the fleet scale models.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Statistical Analysis


I thought it might be neat to pause for a moment and reflect on this thing we call the Conscripts blog.

We've been at this now since December 2008.  Since then we've put up over 400 posts (that's about one every two days) - battle reports, game announcements, painting projects, rants, etc., and speaking personally, this outlet has really increased my enjoyment of our silly shared hobby.

Earlier this year, our blog passed 40,000 individual page views (that's "40K" page views ;-) and we just reached 50 followers.  That's pretty cool.  So thanks to everyone who checks out our blog, and special thanks to those who leave comments.  We really appreciate that.  Also, if you think your friends might like this blog, please share it with them, and above all, enjoy your gaming, painting, and collecting!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rogue Trader Bonus Content!

Just wanted to add some bonus content to Greg's excellent RT battle report.  Above is a group portrait of my "Red Star" Ork army, prominently featuring the Red Barun, of course ;-)

Here are Greg's very well done Guardsmen.  I particularly like the conversion to "new style" lasguns.  The old flashlights never did it for me but the new ones look fantastic.

Here's a manky old wreck of a Predator I picked up on the weekend from a local shop.  I had some plans to incorporate it into my Ork army as a "looted vehicle".

And after an evening's work... the corrugated stuff is some textured plasticard I had laying around from a previous project.

And lastly... a video walk-around of the table from last week's game, filmed from a conveniently placed flying servitor skull of the Adeptus Mechanicus...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rogue Trader battle report



Last week Dallas hosted a game of Rogue Trader, featuring my Imperial Guardsmen against his excellent "Red Star" Orks. The plot was fairly basic - the Orks were coming to capture an Imperial Governor (you never really know who owns those payday loan outfits), and his Imperial Guard escort was trying to get him to the Valkyrie landing platform in one piece.

The Imperial Guard force was a platoon of three tactical squads, a command section, two Thudd guns and two Sentinel walkers. The Ork force included "boyz", two "super-slaughterer" dreadnoughts, a war-track, two "skorchas", a crazy traktor cannon, and the debut of the Red Barun!

The last time the Imperial Guard and Orks tangled, the Imperials lit up the enemy. It did not work out so well for the Imperials this time. While our lascannon gunners had fun picking off individual Ork boyz, the Ork dreads put the boots to us. The Red Barun was shot down, but not before he mowed down a tactical squad. Our Rhino was knocked out. Both Sentinels were knocked out. We comforted ourselves by wrecking most of the Ork bikes, but by the end of the game, that Governor was destined to be captured!

Here are a few pictures from the game:























I absolutely love playing Rogue Trader. I'm sure a lot of that is just nostalgia - after all, Rogue Trader was the first tabletop game I started playing. The RT-era figures were the first ones I started collecting. So it's a hoot to get the stuff out on to the table.

For certain, the weaknesses of Rogue Trader are numerous - starting with the perplexing (to put it politely) vehicle rules. We simply ignored them as convenient -- "folding" into 5th edition 40k as needed to deal with the flyer, for example. The Rogue Trader army lists, such as they are, are often contradictory and incomplete. The deviation rules are terrible. In general, there are many small, special rules to know. Power fields are unkillable. These are just a few examples.

No question the evolution into the third edition of 40k transformed the game into something that was more playable, more quickly, for more players.

At the same time, Rogue Trader has a lot to recommend it beyond nostalgia. It actually captures that plot-driven, platoon-level skirmish feel which the current version of 40k has utterly lost. The game is not over on the first turn. Opponents do not cover the entire table in one move. Squads do not have to shoot at the same target. Your entire force does not unravel at the very first instant of close combat (close combat is actually quite the slog). And my ultimate bugaboo - you can shoot opponents that charge you! In short, it is a skirmish game, and a lot of fun.

Do the special rules slow the game? You bet. At the same time, I would conservatively estimate that 60-75% of units/vehicles in any 5th edition game are covered by a special rule of some kind. A 5th edition 40k game only proceeds quickly with an exhaustive understanding of the rules.

Rogue Trader is no-doubt ill-suited to unplanned pickup games, and not practical at all for any kind of tournament situation. But a fun, planned-out scenario with friends? One Rogue Trader game will capture the spirit and setting of 40k more than 100 5th edition games. We will play 5th edition 40k again I am sure - and that will be fun too - but I am looking forward to our next Rogue Trader game very much.

Thanks to Dallas for hosting, and to everyone who came out to play!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

More vehicles for the 2nd Canadian Division Motor Pool


I have added four jeeps and crews to my 2nd Canadian Division. The vehicles are Corgi 1/50 scale and the crews are Bolt Action Miniatures from several years ago that were sculpted to specifically fit into the Corgi Jeeps. Two of the jeeps originally had red crosses on the hood while the other two had the white star, which I did not paint over. All the vehicles were re-painted in British/Canadian colours and appropriate divisional and unit markings added.


One of the drivers that I had was wearing a field service cap rather than a helmet, so I put Artillery markings on it for the 4th Regiment RCA.



The rest were done up with the markings of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada. Now my company commanders don't have to walk to the battlefield any longer.