Friday, 6 November 2015

U.S. List for 1750 point tournament

Marc, my opponent in the first game of last weekend's tournament, has put together an AAR of his experience over at He has a number of great pictures and a nice report of our game together. I just hope I can beat him next time!

I've also put together a list for the 1750 point tournament next weekend. I realized that I (a) really didn't want to paint much more for my Americans right now and (b) needed 6 platoons.

Here is what I'm currently thinking for the U.S. side of the 2 list tournament:

I will need to buy an armoured artillery box, but I figure I can paint 4 vehicles and 2 bases of infantry in the next week or so.

I hope the artillery will allow me to put pressure on the units of Panthers that I dread with this force while allowing me a better chance to get a smoke bombardment up. The armoured mortars lose a tube, but they weren't bombarding anyone anyways. With so many MGs in the army, I doubt that a bombardment would be too necessary at AT2 FP6+.

I had to drop a single sherman to free up points. It was only a 75mm tank and it honestly didn't do much last game. It's started to make me think about the things I could do with 80 points by making the other platoon into a 3 tank platoon. A platoon of AA would probably be useful or even more recon, but more painting seems like a chore right now.

I would like to find a way to shave 5 points off the list and, together with dropping the mortar 50 cals, make my recon veteran.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

PanOceania Fusilier

I finished my first Infinity figure from Operation: Icestorm a couple of nights ago and I thought I'd share. 

He is placed on a MicroArtsStudios urban base. I painted the base and the miniature separately and then joined them as the last step. He still hasn't been matte varnished, but that will come soon. 

I thought that super clean would be the best look for Pan-O as they are the "boys in blue". I really love the new sculpts for fusiliers, especially the new bullpup combi rifle design. I'm very tempted to get the SWC box and use them for a neo-terra link team. 

 On the table he will likely be a fusilier forward observer to gain that all important "specialist" status.

I hope you enjoy and I will be posting more pictures as I finish additional models. 

Tournament Results and painted US Armor

I didn’t post during the last week because I was on holiday for half-term, but a lot happened hobbywise.

My wife and I traveled to Glasgow to watch the women’s team finals in the World Gymnastics Championships. The goal was the watch the Romanians (her team) and the USA (my team) battle it out. However, the Romanians failed to qualify for the finals for the first time in 40 years, so it was all USA for us.

This is what the Romanian girls were doing instead of qualifying. 

If you've never seen gymnastics live, it is worth doing. This was my first time and I was blown away by the spectacle and the talent. I’d only ever watched on TV during the Olympics but I'm for sure going to go to more events.

Also, the USA blew out the competition without a single fall or mistake to win their third straight world championship. USA! USA! As a bonus, we got to watch Russia have an epic collapse. Simone Biles, the American star, was awe inspiring. She was performing some of the most difficult combinations in the world but made it look as easy as walking down the street. 

3 time world champion all-around, 3 time team champion and first women every to win 10 World Gold Medals. Can't wait to see her tear up the Olympics!

When I returned to London, it was time to get my army ready for the tournament I had on Saturday.

The tournament was my first Flames of War tournament since I was a sophomore in college (8 years ago). The tournament was an 8 player, 3 game 1675 one-day tournament run held at the Ibuywargames store in Woking. Fez, one of the Breakthroughassault guys, did a fantastic job keeping the tournament moving quickly and smoothly. Great job Fez!

After debating army choices, I decided to finish my American armor. I worked hard throughout the latter half of the week to get the army done and by 11:30 on Friday night I was spraying matte varnish on the force (and missing some spots, I've discovered).

Company commander and his 2ic

I realized I didn't have enough 105mm Sherman turrets to run my original list and had to switch a few things up.

Here is the list I took:

I think it may have been a little too much list for the casual nature of the tournament, and I probably should have taken air instead of Patton (Fez was sure to give me an well earned amount of grief for taking such a strong list).

George C. Scott in all his glory

The 8 lists taken were:
My Patton 7th armored
Panzer Lehr from Panzers to the Meuse
Tiger company with Otto Carius
7th armoured Cromwells
Desperate measures panzers with panthers, tigers and Rudel
American paras with Guards Armored support
Hero Tankovy
31 T-34 Tankovy

There were lots of tanks. My 105s only shot at infantry once (Volksrockets in the first game) and were mainly relegated to flanking tanks. They did kill 2 SU-100s, 1 Panther and bailed 2 more!

These fellers missed every shot and bombardment in the game while fleeing from the only time they were shot at all day

After 3 games, I ended up placing 2nd with 42 battle points and a record of 2-1-0. The winner played the Otto Carius tiger company and was able to earn 43 battle points. In third place came my usual opponent (and third game opponent) Alex running his fiendishly fast Cromwell tanks.

Marc from Breakthrough Assault was able to capitalize on some bad tactics and rolling on my part of take the objective and beat my 4-3 in the first game. He ran 4 Panthers, 4 Panzer IV, 2 units of 2 pumas, Volks rockets and an aufklarung platoon. I was able to pull off a first turn assault to threaten the objective, but great shooting from his Panzer IVs destroyed my unit on the objective and I couldn't hit the pumas who were capturing the objective to save the game. Great guy to play against and I learned a lot during the game.

In the second game, Fez’s Hero Tankovy defended in Cauldron in what was basically a terrible matchup for him. He ran 2 IS-2s with bedspring and tankodesantniki, a unit of 4 T-34s with 2 T-34/85, 3 SU-100s, another unit of T-34/76, a unit of 3 T-34/76 and some heavy rockets. He only had the IS-2s, SU-100s and the T-34/85 platoon. On turn one he forgot I had detroits finest and doubled his T-34s. I was able to move 14 and kill most of the unit. The IS-2s went down to flanking Easy-8s while the SU-100s got taken out by the 105s on the flanks (after he failed 5 of 6 bogging checks over 2 turns). I believe I had one tank bailed during the entire game, but that was more a factor of bad match up than anything I did.

These guys never fired a bombardment and only killed one stand of infantry.

The last game was against my usual nemesis Alex. The mission was fighting withdrawl and I thought it was going to be easy. He had an objective hung out on the left flank with a train track keeping the rest of his army from rescue. I ran my entire force to kill his one platoon and capture the objective. My recon was able to block off all ambush positions on that flank. However, awful dice meant I didn’t kill his platoon quickly, and when I finally did, he made the 5+ morale to save the game. By the time I killed all of his tanks and break him, I was down 2 platoons (one to air, one to being foolish and letting him hit the 105s alone) for a 4-3.

The tank platoons (which need more matte varnish)

The Tiger player who won needed a 6-1 in the final game to win and unfortunately his opponent wasn't able to take anything out. 

As my 2nd place prize, I won a “medium” box of FoW. Since I have too many armies right now waiting to get painted, I found another player who would swap the prize for an infinity box they had at the store. I was able to get some new Janissiaries for my Haqqislam. The models are so beautiful and what list doesn't benefit from an Akbar Doctor?

I can't wait to paint these. I think the missile launcher will become an HMG tho.

 I had a really fun time and enjoyed a low pressure tournament environment. I did notice I got more competitive as the day went on and that concerned me. I got out of the tournament game because I hated how I felt competitive and it stopped being fun. I think if I keep the right attitude, I could get back to loving tournaments.

Some of the guys were talking about the tournament at Warfare in Reading in mid-November. I've decided to play in that and bought my ticket yesterday. It is a 2 army tournament (one Axis, one Allies), so I will have another opportunity to finish a late-war army (this time Wiking SS). 

Friday, 23 October 2015

IBuyWargames tournament

A number of months ago one of the guys I game with let me know about a 1675 late-war one-day tournament being hosted by Ibuywargames on Halloween this year. I haven’t played a Flames of War tournament since North Afrika (the original) was a new and exciting book, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to get a few games in and motivate myself to finish one of my late war armies.

I have a completed grenadier army, but I find it somewhat uninspiring. I’ve started to update the paint jobs from the rushed work I did previously, but although complete, I knew I didn’t want to bring it to the tournament.

I do have two late-war forces that would be able to be finished in time and that I’ve really enjoyed playing with thus far. One force is an American tank company, freshly reinforced with Patton and a full load of easy eights. The other is my 5th SS Wiking company that I’ve been using quite a bit recently.
My usual panthers, to be replaced by fresh SS ambush pattern panthers
One thing I picked up from the Mad Tin Hatter blog (absolutely 100% worth checking out at is the use of color coded progress diagrams for armies I’m working on. Using powerpoint, I’m able to put together an easy to reference report of where things stand in a force I want to build.

Here is the progress chart that I’ve put together to compare what I would have to do with each army to get it ready for the tournament:

There is far too much yellow there. 

As you can see, there is some work to be done on either force.

The Wiking need to have the Panthers, SS Scouts and artillery painted before they hit the table. The artillery is nearly done and the Panthers would be nice and quick to do in an ambush pattern. I'm still working with the list, but if I end up doing my normal 3 panther/5 panzer IV list, I don't need to paint any panthers. If I'm very unproductive this weekend, I may default to that plan so I only have SS scouts and some wespes to paint. 

The Americans are in similar shape. Most of the tanks are completed and decaled. They only need some weathering and mud. The easy 8s need their decals before weathering. The serious work is with the halftracks. They are basecoated and drybrushed, but will need to have their tracks painted, wheels painted, crew painted and decaling before weathering and sealing.
The 3 tanks in the 105 platoon need to have their turrets assembled, painted and decaled (they will be mated to the hulls of the former M4A3 76mm tanks I used before the E8s were purchased).
First unit of U.S. tanks I completed awhile ago. The 76mm tanks are being replaced by E8s, however.
Either army may seem like quite the task for a tournament that takes place in 8 days. However, I had to spend some holiday so I’m taking off Tuesday-Friday next week with the goal of completing whichever force I decide to play. Additionally, my wife is in Romania for the weekend to surprise her mother for her birthday (La multi ani, Soacra!). I should have plenty of time to get painting and decaling the armies.

Here are the lists I put together for each force:

Wiking SS (Fearless/Trained)

I’m a little worried about this list. I’ve played it plenty against my friend Alex’s 7th armoured division Cromwell list and it’s done fine. However, I’m worried that heavy tanks or strong infantry will be difficult to root out.

It is a trained list and does tend to shed platoons. However, re-rolling skill tests makes stormtroop and assault quite effective (better than veterans) and if I roll well the command tanks can become beasts. Additionally, the artillery is cheap and bombards like vets.

It’s a very fun list to play, but I’m worried it doesn’t have the mass of a trained army and may be quite vulnerable to late-late lists.

US Armor (Confident/Trained)

This is a Patton list that is meant to auto-attack, spearhead and be in your face. It’s not a particularly original list, but in theory it’s quite good. I’ve had a great deal of fun with the non-Patton variety.

The heavy hitter in the list if the 6 tank 105 battery. With the CiC and Jumbo attached, it is an 8 tank, heavy breakthrough gun assault nightmare. It is supported by 2 move 6 and shoot Sherman platoons protected by their own Jumbo, while smoke is taken care of by the mortars. I’m worried the recon platoon is far too tiny for its own good, but that’s all I could afford.

I’m worried about Westphalia lists or having to defend against another auto-attack list like one of the Meuse lists. I also have no idea how I’ll keep Patton alive so that may also bleed VPs.

Right now I’m edging towards the Americans as I feel it’s a nicer looking army, a force I want to make myself finish (once American tanks are done, support units are easy to add in). I think that going all out on attack could be really enjoyable and it’ll go against my usual nature to play defensively.

Tournament Goals

I have thought about my expectations for the tournament and they are not high. It is a 3 game, 1 day tournament with the missions provided on the day of the tournament.

Here are some goals:
I would like win at least one game
I don’t want to give up a 7-0 (if I go Americans) or a 6-1 (Germans) during the tournament.
I would like to kill at least 1 heavy tank
I want to get off one successful assault. I’ve found I’m too reluctant to assault with tanks and I want to learn how to do it well.

I hope to decide on a force before close of business today and start on whichever army I decide on tonight. With 8 days to go, I think I can still get everything ready to go. I will try to post the units I complete and once the army is done I’ll make sure to do an “army showcase” post. 

As a final note, I want to give a shout out to my amazing wife for letting me play in the tournament. We got legally married 5 years ago on Halloween and we've always celebrated it as a secondary anniversary (the main one being when we had our wedding in May). She wasn't super happy about the tournament but is always supportive of my gaming, so thank you to her. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Trading Toys: What, Where and How?

Trading toys

On a day to day basis I spend more time trading or doing trading related tasks than any other aspect of the hobby. I usually find some time to paint or model every day and sometimes I’m lucky enough to get a game in, but not a day goes by without me doing some trading.
Does your basement look like this? You might want to trade. 
I have written about it before, but trading really opened the hobby up for me. It made getting new armies and models easier and turned the excitement of shopping for miniatures a constant thing. I didn’t have to have money in the bank when I could turn my toys into new toys and I could search out deals to get that “winner” feeling.

I have realized, however, that many people don’t know how to trade or are worried about trading because of its many risks. While there are some risks and initial trades may, depending on the forum, be a pain, it is well worth trying out for players who maybe haven’t experienced this side of the hobby.

Where to trade?

Outside of conventional trading at shows and conventions, the internet is your place to connect to fellow gamers who want your stuff.
On the internet, every day is the Toy Fair!
The online venue is very much a factor of where you are located and what you are trying to trade. For example, an Infinity trading forum probably isn’t the best place for 6mm historicals and an Australian site might be a bad place to sell single miniatures from the UK.
This Aussie tried to sell an Aquila Stronghold on a German trade site.
Here are some of my favorites: This is my absolute favorite place to trade. It is a forum based trading site with a large number of specialized trading forums (for GW futuristic, historical, Non-GW Fantasy, terrain, etc). The key to the site is the robust feedback system. Rather than use a feedback post or similar like many sites, Bartertown uses a feedback system that displays your numerical feedback (with a link to written reviews). This is your “number”.

When you buy, sell or trade, you rate the other person on a standard positive/neutral/negative system. However, rather than using a percentage positive rating, any negative feedback turns your number red and makes it negative. You can have 500 positive and one negative, and your number will be a big fat red negative 500.
This system may seem harsh, but it forces users to look at the review and see why it’s negative. The mods are also phenomenal at making sure negative reviews are only for serious things.

Your number also has a tangible effect on your trading. Although not forum rules, practice dictates that the person with a lower number ships their items first (so the more “trusted” person can open it up, see its all there and then ship). Some people apply this to payments also (I do not due to paypal protection). What this means is that as you trade more and become more trusted, you lessen your risk of getting burnt.

There is a huge trading community that I find to be responsive and always active. I’ve done my best trading there and almost never had a bad experience with anyone on there.

However, there are some negatives. The community is mainly American and I’ve had no success trying to trade on it since I’ve come to the UK. Shipping is too high and there aren’t enough Europeans. Also, you can only post once per forum every 7 days (4 if you donate 25 dollars a year to them) and bumping is not allowed. This can be annoying when you switch wants.

Overall, a great site to check out and one I promise will give you a good experience.
The only place to get better deals than on Bartertown. The Dakka swap shop is what I view as the internet equivalent of the Mos Eisley Cantina. You never know who is there, what they might sell or how your experience will be. I’ve had some of my biggest sales on Dakka but also had many disappointments. The feedback system is iffy and not universally used. I really like their location tags that make it clear where people are from and where they will ship. Overall, it’s been hit or miss, but somewhere I’d look if you want to pick up random stuff.
I think I bought a landspeeder on Dakkadakka off the guy on the left once. 
Facebook groups: (Groups include Flames of War Swap Shop, Wargame Trading UK, Tabletop Trading UK and others). These groups have been pretty good to me. I find they have more non-responsive buyers and sellers than others and there is generally no great feedback system, but I’ve generally had wonderful experiences. Most groups seems to have a core of mature, responsible traders who are great to trade with and who can be invaluable as you try to find certain items.

I particularly want to call out the Flames of War Swap Shop (2014). I’ve been trading there for a number of months and have met some fantastic traders that I consistently do business with. When I am looking for an army, they’ll notice and direct me to people who are selling the same. In the same vein, I’ve had an individual notice something I wanted was at their FLGS and purchase it to re-sell to me after asking if I still wanted it. It is great to find people who are equally jumpy in their army selection and who you know you always have something they could use and vice versa.

Types of Trading

Searching for the deal:
Whatever you are looking for, there is probably some poor sap who bought on and doesn’t want it anymore. You can usually find better deals than at online stores if you dig hard enough. The hobby dollar doesn’t go that far anymore, so trading is a way to find deals.

Buying and splitting:
People will often want to sell their army in one go. Everyone knows someone who bought 10,000 points of Space Marines on a whim and now can’t be bothered to sell them piece by piece. You can often get 45-50% (or more) off of retail value on huge lots. Most people don’t have hundreds of dollars/pounds sitting around, but if you do, buying huge lots can be lucrative.

Once you buy the giant lot, you can keep what you like and sell the rest piecemeal. If you do it right and the army is popular enough, you can have a brand new army that was paid for by what you sold.

I used to do this a lot when I was still in school. I would buy an army at less than half price, keep some choice units and then slowly regain my initial investment by smaller sales. Sales of small lots and units would often get my 70-75% of retail, so each model was giving me back 1.5 times what I paid for it. If you can sell 2/3rds of the army, you’ve gotten a free force.

One thing to look out for here is LIQUIDITY. Some models sell better than others. No one wants plastic space marine scouts, vespids or kradschutzen models while models like riptides, terminators and panthers will almost always find a buyer. Make sure the models are in good shape or new. Weird color scheme reduce resale value. However, if it’s something you think would strip off nicely, you can find a diamond in the rough. Just be smart about what you buy for resale.

Sometimes you buy an army and are super excited by it. Sometimes that excitement dies a quick death. You could sell your army (see above), but then you’ve just thrown away a bunch of value. Instead, you might think about swapping.

Most swapping is done by trading something you have for something someone else has at an equal or close retail value. I have 5 Panzer IVs, you have 5 Shermans, bam, we swap. If models are less popular, in less good shape or whatever, the 1:1 ratio in value may change. In any case, you get something new for your old at the smallest loss possible.

My “rules” for trading:
Follow the rules or you know who is coming...
Here are some of the things I think are important for a new trader to know :
  • -        Always describe your items as much as you can. It’s not a Space Marine Captain. It’s a Space Marine Captain with storm bolter and power sword, bare metal, on base with head option 1.
  • -        Pictures are always a plus. More pictures are better. If you can’t take them then, make sure you can if anyone wants to see them. Use a lot of light. Value goes up when you can show off the great condition of your toys.
  • -        Disclose ANY problem early. Sometimes something is broken or you’re worried about something breaking when you ship. Let the person know. Don’t let them open up something missing a piece. No one enjoys that.
  • -        If you missed that something was missing, fix it immediately. Call up customer service, troll ebay, just fix it. The time and money it’ll cost you to fix your mistake is nothing compared to losing your reputation as a trader. You wouldn’t want someone to dump incomplete junk on you, so don’t do it to them.
  • -        If something breaks in shipping or isn’t perfect for the other person, fix it immediately. You wouldn’t want broken things. In the same way you want to be satisfied with your trade, so does the other guy. If it’s a partial refund or whatever, make sure your customer is happy every single time.
  • -        Never trade models you don’t own. I’ve known traders (usually young, usually iffy traders) who would float trades. You may know you have that unit of X coming this week from a guy, but that doesn’t mean you should offer to trade that unit until it is in your hand and has been inspected. You don’t know if it’ll get lost, be in bad shape, not as described or anything. Don’t trade what you don’t have.
  • -        If you can’t send the money for a purchase promptly, make sure you tell the person when you are offering them. Sometimes I’d rather have the $50 today rather than your $90 in two weeks when you get paid. If you don’t have the money now, say it. “I can give you $90 in two weeks if you hold onto it”. Don’t negotiate and then drop the “I can’t pay” bomb on someone.
  • -        If you say you’ll ship on a certain day, do so. If you said you can and can’t, communicate. I’m guilty of thinking I can ship quickly when I really shouldn’t be thinking that. I’ve been a slow trader sometimes. However, I always communicate. If it’s going to take longer, I’ll let you know. Also, if you drag your feet for too long, make sure you toss in a little extra for the guy on the other side.
  • -        If you ship and you haven’t gotten insurance/tracking, it’s on you. If you do it that way and it fails to show, make sure you have the money to pony up. Don’t make the person do the whole paypal dispute thing. Once it’s apparent your stuff never arrived and you decided not to pay for knowing where it is, refund and apologize.
  • -        Don’t ask someone who you don’t know to send money “friends and family” on paypal. They will have no protection. I don’t care I’m trading with the pope, if it’s the first time (or few times), I want protection. As you get to know traders and trust them, you can think about getting out of the fees. Until then, be safe and don’t ask them to not be safe.
  • -        The key is for everyone to be happy. Don’t agree to a deal where you’ll be unhappy. Don’t push a deal where the other guy will be unhappy. Make sure everyone loves what they got and try to fix any problems. This hobby is about having a good time with other gamers. You’re a gamer. You know what it is to be a gamer. Don’t be the guy who fucks over another gamer.

I hope that if you haven’t tried trading, you’ll give it a shot. It’s great fun and you can meet some wonderful folks doing so. After all, anything that gets toys in your hands cheaper can’t be so bad, can it? 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Back after far too long...

As I feared would happen, it has been a few months since my last blog post. A hobby slowdown, few games and some ups and downs at work left me out of the habit of putting something together or spending a few minutes a day thinking about what to post. I've gotten some neat hobby stuff done, but haven't much written about it. 
Captured British tank for FoW:Great War
I thought I’d give it another shot and try to keep it up for longer this time. There’s always a new idea or topic that I can write about and while my updates will likely be shorter than before, I hope to make them more consistent.

Today I wanted to write about getting back into a game after you haven’t played it in awhile. Like most gamers, I tend to cycle through games from time to time. Sometimes I’ll see a movie that reminds me of an old game or I’ll see it being played at the gaming store. Whatever the reason, a little flame of excitement is reignited.  
Painted this after playing some World of Warships.
I think, “wouldn’t it be neat to play some more of X or paint a model of Y?” and next thing you know I’m sitting on website of the game maker seeing what toys they’ve come up with.

Sometimes, it all feels comfortable and it’s easy to get back into things. I stopped playing Flames of War for nearly three years before picking it back up a year ago. During that time a lot had happened to Flames of War. I’d stopped in version 2 when the only plastic models were from PSC. Coming back to the game in version 3 wasn’t that difficult, however. The rules were relatively the same, World War II isn’t going to change and the models were basically the same. Things were a bit better here and there, but it felt like I was playing Flames of War.

Recently I got the 28mm bug. I have some 40k and Infinity sitting on my gaming shelves and I thought how nice it would be to paint something big (not 15mm) that I could put amazing detail into. My first thought was to Warhammer 40k.
I made the mistake of watching a throwaway Starship Troopers film on Netflix. Now I want to paint futuristic stuff!

I looked on the GW website at the shiny new models and read dakkadakka to see how the game was going. As much as various obligations have pushed me into being more of a hobbyist than a gamer these days, I wanted to make sure I could enjoy the few games I might play. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much I would enjoy.
A few of my Ultramarines.
It has become a game of huge monster and robots rather than of armies. I had seen wraithknights and knights around before and had even fielded a knight from time to time. However, there was always an army behind it. Now I saw games with a handful of giant models that the heroic footsoldiers I wanted to play with couldn't even hurt.
What Warhammer 40k feels like these days.
Worse even, but 40k had just gotten too expensive. I know all games are expensive and I didn’t get into the hobby to be cheap about my toys, but I’ve found myself increasingly at the breaking point. I can’t justify GW prices to myself or my wife. There is too much out there at too high a quality for me to want to pay what is being asked.
My knight.

Since 40k just wouldn’t work out, Infinity was the next candidate. I find myself saying to this day that infinity is the best ruleset I’ve ever played. Even if I'm terrible at the game, I have a good time and it always feels right to me. It feels like I’m running and gunning with a spec-ops team on some futuristic mission far more. I also love some of the models. They are individual works of art with fantastic theme and futuristic but not silly design.

An added bonus for infinity is that I held onto two painted forces from when I used to play, so I would have models to strip and repaint rather than only buying new toys. My painting has gotten much more patient and my technique better since I painted them before, so it would be fun to re-invent my old force.
Some of my Ariadna Caledonians
I went on the Infinity website and started looking around. I know there’s a new rulebook, but luckily Corvis Belli has their rules (and army maker) free to download. Score! However, when I got to the online store and looked at what they had come out with in the year or two since I stopped playing, I got worried.

Rather than release too many new models, they had updated so many models from the armies I played. Don’t get me wrong, my old models were still usable. It’s just that the new designs were so impressive. CB has done an amazing job on their new models.
Corvis Belli's old Naffatuns compared to....
Corvis Belli's new Naffatuns
I went to the miniatures room and took out my Haqqislam. I divided the force into two piles: models that were up to date and those that weren’t. It was about 50:50. CB’s re-do of the Ghulams meant that all of my fodder was looking tired and old while my heavy infantry just got an exceptional makeover.

I still had enough “up to date” stuff to make an interesting force, so in the stripping solution that pile is going. I hope that I can satisfy my 28mm desire with these models and limit the amount of new items I buy. I’m still neck deep in Flames of War miniatures and don’t exactly have the spare hobby funds for a new game.

This may be my favorite "time" in the hobby. I have a new rulebook to digest and ponder. Favorite weapons and tactics have to change and the fluff surrounding my force has evolved. I can catch up on a year of discussion and gallery posts on the forums. I can connect with a few new gaming guys and play more games than when I'm bogged down into a game. I get to paint something new, try new techniques and create a force I can be proud of. At the same time, it still feels comfortable. I know the basics, the forces, the missions and generally what to expect. Rather than the mystery and uncertainty of a new game, it's like I'm connecting again with an old friend. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

On the road again...

One of my recent terrain projects has been to upgrade my desert table with some roads. Roads are fantastic in Flames of War v.3, providing speed to many units such as halftracks and most armored cars. They can tie areas of the battlefield together and bring a table full of random terrain together. I love playing on a table that has interesting terrain but that looks like something a person could find in the real world. Roads really help make that happen.

I needed these on my table

I had built roads for a previous table that I had in Romania, but I’d sold them to my FLGS when I moved. I thought I would build a new set, and explain step by step how I created them.

Acrylic roads:

The roads that I build are flexible, textured and modular. When I first looked at road techniques, I wanted something that could float up one side of a hill and down the other, while looking attractive. Most of all they had to be cheap and expandable. These criteria excluded most of the premade roads that I could find online. They tended to be rigid. Cloth also was excluded. It never looks like a road, and I want my tables to seem somewhat realistic. Buying online looked extremely expensive, and I didn’t want to have to wait for the company to come up with curves or other accessories.

I found an online tutorial on using caulking solution to make roads, and that is the route that I went.

Step 1: Materials

To build these, I used the following:
  • 2 tubes of brown acrylic caulking filler
  • A caulking gun
  • Knitters backing cloth
  • Baking paper
  • Bluetac
  • Various cheap artstore paints
  • Putty knife
  • Cheap paintbrushes
  • Blunt pencil
Note, if you ever do any window sealing or anything of the sort, you should have most of these things.

Step 2: Preparing the materials
The next step was to bluetac the baking paper down to a table I have. The acrylic caulking filler comes off of the baking paper when dry, so this step provided  for a nice base from which I could lay down some caulk.

I cut the knitters cloth in rough strips of about 2 inches wide. I wasn’t too careful about them being straight or consistant as I thought these would be desert roads that weren’t properly engineered or planned well. This also meant I could pump out many lengths of cloth.

I ended up cutting out 8 strips of cloth, which I laid out parallel to eachother on the table.

Step 3: Filler
I used the caulking gun to put caulking filler over the strips in sufficient amounts to be able to be spread over the entire cloth. I messed up in some areas and added too much, but the smoothing step takes care of this.

Once there was caulking filler on the cloth, I used the putty knife to smooth it down and leave only a thin layer of caulk on the cloth. I used the putty knife to provide some minor texture through little twists and turns.
Now smoothish, I took the blunt pencil and made 2 long, uninterrupted flowing lines down the cloth (now covered in caulking solution). These were roughly parallel and represented the ruts caused by cars, carts and other wheels. If you want tracks from tanks, you can wait until the caulking solution is somewhat dry and press tracks into the road. I chose not to given the desert nature.
I had some sand sitting around and I lightly sprinkled it on the roads for additional texture. I used VERY little sand. I hate overly textured terrain for its roughness and sandpaper quality. No one wants to use their miniatures on a damaging piece of terrain, so I kept the sand quite light.

Leave overnight for the caulking solution to fully dry.


Step 3: Painting
The basecoat is the most important step. You must paint the entire road, front and back. The bottom (back) of the road will never see the light of day, but it needs to have a coat of paint as thick as the topside basecoat (if not a bit more). If you only paint the top of the road, it will warp when the paint dries. Painting both sides results in flat roads. Make sure you paint BOTH SIDES.

Once the basecoat was put on, I gave the roads several lighter drybrush layers to bring out the texture. These were rough and were focused on just getting many layers on the road.

Step 4: Cutting to size
My strips were 3 feet long. I cut them at various lengths. I have several 18 inch sections, some 9 inch and some 6 inch sections. Places together they can form any number of shapes and roadway systems.

The entire project (20 feet of roads) took me a few hours of my time, along with a table being messy overnight.  The overall costs were quite low as none of the supplies are that expensive. The roads that came out are nice looking, easy to arrange and in the right scale.
I am thinking I will use the same technique to make the 12 inch by 18 inch landing zones for Vietnam. I can make a large, textured area with nice detail on the cheap.


  • Get the right backing material. I have used plastic mesh for this, and now knitters cloth. Anything that will let the caulking solution soak in and is heavy enough to lay flat will do.
  • Paint both sides. Avoid warping by painting both sides of the road.
  • Don’t make them too wide. Too many roads are like 6 lane highways on the battlefield. Keep them skinny.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with textures, putty knife motions and roadway designs