In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Blooding the Soviets

Had a couple of games of I Ain't Been Shot Mum lately, because 1. Scott is available (being temporarily free from mandatory overtime) and he likes WW2 and 2. I want to play with my new Soviet tanks.

Two weeks ago it was a Sept 1941 game; a German light panzer company (Pz IIs and Pz IIIs) with some panzer grenadiers and attached panzer jaeger 1s is rolling towards Moscow or Leningrad or something. In their way is a scratch force of infantry, 45mm AT guns and a KV2. A platoon of T34s and a mixed platoon of BT7s and the T26 are coming on to reinforce.

Mike and Dick were waaaay too cautious to be running the Germans. They sent one armour platoon to their left against a wooded hill to uncover a section of 45mm AT guns. A platoon of panzer grenadiers got bogged down in a fight for the village (featuring the spiffy Eastern European church Mike found for me at Fall-In last year). Dick went to the more open ground on the right and put a panzer zug in overwatch on the hill while his panzer grenadiers rolled forward under blind. The supporting Stuka missed anything of importance. Scott rolled his KV2 out to demolish Mike's lead panzer zug, causing the following one to hide behind some trees. The panzer jeager Is could've hurt it, but they were no where to be seen (Mike doesn't get the idea of overwatch or fire and maneuver or that maybe a wooded hill isn't the best objective for some tanks). When we called time, Scott was all set to unveil his second position behind the village, where the rest of the 45mm AT guns and the Maxim guns were ready to shred Dick's advancing grenadier zug.

The Soviet tanks were still coming up the road. I'd hoped for a nice armoured duel in the open ground on the German right. But no.

So pictures:

Fascist invaders

Defenders of the Motherland

View from German end. Mike went left and Dick went to the right. Scott had infantry in the village, infantry and AT guns in the wooded hill on the left and AT guns and Maxims in the woods behind the village covering the open flank where Dick was maneuvering.

New Soviet AT guns look great while drawing first blood

Panzer grenadiers looking very photogenic doing what panzer grenadiers do

KV2 unleashes 152mm worth of whoop ass and then breaks down in a nice position to shell the panzer grenadiers
Onto the second game. I was thinking mid-war and putting the recently repainted PzIVs and my neglected Marders on table, but Scott suggested late war and using the King Tigers. Well the King Tigers haven't been out of the box either so, sure, why not? So surprisingly similar layout, except the bigger town was more thoroughly smashed. Desperate German rearguard holding back a Soviet advance somewhere in Eastern Europe in the fall of 1944. The Soviets have a company of 9x T34s (to Scott's chagrin the T34/85s aren't painted yet), a platoon of T70s and two companies of infantry, each of two weak platoons. One is rifle troops and the second is SMG armed assault troops. The company commander can call in support from a battery of 120mm mortars.

German view. Two infantry platoons hold the ruins. Coy HQ with the MG42s, FOO and two Pak 40s are dug in on the hill to the right. King Tigers behind on blind. Third Pak40 covering the left of the town from the wooded hill.

Wall of Soviet blinds. Infantry on the right. Tanks on the left.

Scott's main attack is revealed

This causes me to unleash my Pak40s (shot from late in the game when they've been taking hits from Soviet mortars and HE from the T34s)

And the King Tigers roll out from behind the hill to look menacing and then spend the rest of the game waiting for their card to turn over

Meanwhile the Soviet infantry get cut down in the open advancing on the ruins

SMG troops close assault and get a foot hold

Soviet armour advances using the tank platoon orders (indicated by the green dice). A T70 (foreground) has fallen victim to a panzerschrek in the town.

After spending a lot of time shelling the Pak40s Scott turns on the King Tigers. 6 hits, only one is effective. The Soviets claim a moral victory. The King Tiger card doesn't come up all game....

T34s getting bashed up but only two kills from the Pak40s.
When we decided to call it we flipped quickly through the card deck to see that the German Paks and the until now idle King Tiger cards would come up before the T34s got to move or fire again. Some quick die rolling had all but two T34s now burning. So this Soviet advance was blunted.

Very similar games in retrospect except the Germans and Soviets traded places of terms of mission and quantity vs. quality. Although I suppose the second game was the more classic match up. I find the early lighter German armour a lot of fun and makes you think. It also shocks the heck out of players more used to 1943 or later German forces. I've noticed that many gamers, even when playing 1940-41 games still leave out the ubiquitous Panzer II.

But good to play with some, until now, unplayed with toys.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Tanks, Old and New

Knocked off a couple of things this icy weekend.

First a platoon of Battlefront PzIVGs that I've had painted plain dunkelgelb for years, erroneously thinking mid-war a lot didn't have the green brown camo added.

Sponging the camo on my Brumbars last year inspired me so I took advantage of a clear workspace to camo these up, ready for Italy or the Kursk salient.

I also finished up that second hand T62 I bought last month, turning it into a derelict reminder of the Soviet invasion and following civil war that still littered the countryside even during Operation Medusa.

I broke open the hatches and reglued them into place. Removed the IR light and machine gun.  Broke some tracks. Broke the barrel and reset it at a depressed angle. Scrounged the fuel tanks from some spares and glued them on at an angle to look damaged.
 Dry brushed on some black scorch marks around the engine and turret. Then gave it a good ink wash for rust. Lastly a bit of dry brushed dust over all.
 The tufts are Woodland Scenics "Harvest Gold" field grass glued down with gel superglue.

So some older tanks, painted up new and a new tank, painted up old.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sorting out my gangsters

Looking back in my blog, I realize that I haven't touched my gangsters and cops in 10 years! With The Chicago Way I hope to change that, and come up with a boisterous game for 6 or so friends who can happily back stab, shoot and trash talk each other for an evening.

So this past weekend I started digging into boxes and sorting bits to keep and bits to reject. There's a lot to get rid of, but I'm pleased to find a lot that will do quite nicely with only a minimal effort.

I also renovated the bases on the figures. The grey caulking didn't really do it for me. On some figures it worked great and others it went on rather lumpy. Not feeling up to carving paving stones I opted for sand.
Original grey caulk bases

Junk yard gang showing new basing. I also did a Google image search and discovered from old photographs that some gas pumps really were that tall!

I did a test layout and determined that I need more buildings, sidewalks, and roads that aren't lumpy. But I do have lots of fire hydrants and trash cans.

Here is a 4x4 mat with intersecting streets (note the big empty quarter):

The green structure on the roof of the right most building is going to be removed.
Retrieving the HO scale corner cafe from the reject box is a start, but not by much:

I think I'll base up the Ertl toy pony barn, add some junk leaning against the walls (for light cover) and have the roof removable. 
The pony barn also got a back door added with a Dremel tool and some scrap MDF 

Need more boxes

The gals spot trouble coming!

Goons try to hijack a hootch shipment

G-Men raid Canoli Construction

I'm tempted to make dedicated boards with set streets, sidewalks and alleys, and flat spots for the buildings. Then I could maybe add a ditch, or a section of river with a bridge. I could certainly have some grass and weeds in addition to the gravel at any rate.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Hotlead 2018 AAR

The Haul

The above picture encapsulates my Hotlead 2018 quite nicely; friends and gaming combining into one perfect weekend of awesome. We'll start in the upper left and work our way clockwise. Everyone was pretty excited that my long time friend Don (almost 40 years, jeez we're old) was able to make it this year, flying in from Las Vegas, where he lives now.
"How are your 15mm Canadians doing?" he says. He's building 15mm WW2 Canadians as well for Flames of War.
"Fine, I guess. Why?"
"I think they need these" he says and pulls a box of Plastic Soldier Company M5 halftracks from behind his back. "Got them in the Bring and Buy. They were too good a price to pass up. But I already have 2 boxes and don't need a third."

Next is the book. Another Red Shirt (Hotlead staffers wear red shirts), Dave, hands me a grocery bag wrapped around a book. "This is for  you."
Inside is a first edition of Flashman and the Mountain of Light which he found at Attic Books, very excellent used bookstore in his home town. He already has a copy. I think he has a full set of first edition Flashman's actually.
But Mountain of Light is one of my favourites, having read it many times. It was the first Flashman adventure I owned.

Then the jar. It contains sweet pickled baby corn, a Waterloo County delicacy which is impossible to find anywhere else. My paternal grandparents were Waterloo County German stock and it is a taste of Grandma's house. I made this observation at the funeral for my uncle, who had been Red Shirt Dan's (aka Pasha Dan) Graduate Advisor. The funeral being held at a very old world traditional Catholic church (same one I'd been baptised in) featured sweet pickled baby corn along with the Catholic Women's League egg and tuna salad sandwiches. So Dan got me a jar at a very nice deli near where his daughter works.

The cool Legio XX Valeria Victrix tee shirt was also a gift from Don, who bought two for himself. These were being sold by a new vendor at Hotlead. A young man who'd been tagging along with his dad, one of our regular GMs for many years.

Finally we have my own purchases. On top of the shirt are three nice Hirst Arts pieces; two barrels and one tub. All three cast in dental plaster and nicely painted with water effect added. Got all three for $5. Another small dealer, who is selling off a large collection of stuff had a 1/72nd scale T-62 going for $5. It wasn't in great shape but that's OK. I've been looking for a used T-55 or T-62 to turn into a wreck for  my Afghanistan terrain for a few years.

Underneath the tank is an Osprey Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan. It might give me some scenario ideas at least. But holy acronyms Sergeant Major! Every sentence is stuffed full of letters which aren't all covered in the glossary at the front and sometimes leave me flipping back through pages to find the first usage. "The AFO and CAG met with ODA 567 and AMF to conduct SSEs on the AOR. Meanwhile SASR conducted SR ops in the Pokara area." Get the idea? But the thought of my SF operators storming an opium factory sounds kinda fun.

Finally, a rule book. The Chicago Way by Great Escape Games. Saturday night I played an uproariously fun game put on by Matthew (see his blog Oldenhammer in Toronto) using Dead Man's Hand. Well The Chicago Way is just Dead Man's Hand with cars and tommy guns. So I thought maybe I could resurrect my neglected gangsters and G-Men instead of selling them off, and like Matthew, create a nice tight game for 4-6 players. Matthew has posted a very nice write up of it, with many pictures here on his excellent blog. I'm going to steal his blackjack activation too.

This year went stupendously well thanks to Mrs Rabbitman on Registration and Admin, and Michelle on Event Coordinating. Records were broken in attendance, games played and dollars moved at the Bring and Buy. The team of Red Shirted Minions are now just doing their thing with minimal direction and I'm not sure what I do anymore except look good and act as ring master.
An album of photos and relevant stats will soon be up at

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor
The hard working Bring & Buy team. $16000 in sales in 7 hours raising $1600 towards charities.

But there are various posts already up on the web:
Hot Dice Miniatures
A YouTube video (you will see Mrs. Rabbitman hard at work on the sign in desk in the opening seconds):

Must Contain Minis did several posts about his time at Hotlead including one featuring my friend Mikey's old school ACW ironclad game (in 15mm with scratch build ironclads) and the Hobbit SBG tournament which featured really amazing terrain boards.

Now for some pictures:
Charlie Company

B. of Lundy's Lane using Black Powder

Halo fleet battle

Friday night crowds- we saw a huge growth in Friday attendance this year

Chickens in Cremation!

Incas vs. Conquistadors using Hail Caesar rules. 

When your army consists of one miniature

Bring & Buy feeding frenzy

Tarawa Red Beach 1 by Mike Manning and Nick Wesson using Rapid Fire! rules.

Pasha Dan's Afghanistan game. JTF2 trying to exfil while being chased by angry Taliban

Mikey in his zone, leading a terrain building workshop

Finns in a pick up Bolt Action game. Dave Mattison and Ross Cossar coordinated uniting lonely Bolt Action players for pickup BA games to fill in any empty tables

Keith's tiny airplanes. I think it's the Polish air force valiantly giving the Luftwaffe a boop on the nose in the first days of WW2.

Polish armoured cars vs. a lot of Russian tanks. 20mm Rapid Fire! by Mike Manning and Nick Wesson again

some shots of Matthew's table show casing the details he's put into it

note weeds growing along boardwalks and sides of buildings

potted plants by doors, there was furniture in the rooms too

Saturday night, still super busy

Dan's silly hats pulp adventure game. Always a high demand to get into this one

a super impressive Moro River/prelude to Ortona table. 28mm. Bolt Action. By Ross Cossar

Flint & Feather demonstration games

Star Wars fleet battle

Sunday morning. Still lots of folks.

The Hobbit SBG tournament guys put on a participation game Sunday morning with their super cool Edoras board
There were many more games obviouslybut I'm trying not to repeat some of the already excellent coverage out there (like the links to blogs above). Plus it is a chore posting a large volume of pictures from my phone, since my tablet seems to have packed it in Friday night while I was trying to take pictures. If you do Facebook there are a ton of pctures posted to the Hotlead Facebook Group.