Blog discription

What will you find here? Ramblings from an aging gamer-miniature painter. When I first started out in this hobby computers were in their infancy and finding other gamers could only be done by going to conventions or as in my case bumping into somebody who happened to see me reading "Panzer Leader" on the school bus. Look how far we have come! The internet has allowed our small community to be able to connect on a level I never dreamed of when I was but a small lad. What I do hope you will find here is something interesting from one wargamer/miniature painter to another. I paint miniatures somewhat decently, so I will be posting some pictures of my work, and perhaps a review or two of games and/or miniatures. Most of all this is just about having fun and anything I post here is meant to be for that reason.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thirty Years War - Europe in Agony 1618 - 1648 by GMT games

I picked up GMT's game "Thirty Years War" a few years ago. I remember that a friend and I played it two days in a row (Holiday weekend) and I tend to remember we had fun. Well for some reason we haven't played it for a few years now, playing other games etc. and just plain forgot about it.

That all changed this past weekend. Looking through my bookshelf of games we were trying to decide what game we should try and relearn. We just needed a break from Command & Colors Ancients (which is our favorite game at the moment). We were also looking for a game we could play by email using vassal. I was trying to push my friend into GMT's "Elusive Victory" as we had played "Downtown" before but he felt it too complicated for the moment. My friend has always had a love for Pike and Musket period and happened to see "Thirty Years War" on the shelf and said let's play that. At first I tried to talk him out of it but was not successful and I am glad I did not.

This is a strategic point to point movement game using strategy cards to resolve your movements. The map is colorful and it comes with both 1/2' (leaders and game markers) & 5/8' counters (troops), and each side gets it's own draw deck that are nicely designed. Basically the componets and map are what you have come to expect from GMT games. The rules are 32 pages, but really about 20 is what needs to be read and the print is of moderate size so takes up more pages. We basically set the game up and read the rules on the fly. I was really surprised at how easy they were to pick up on, but this could have something to do with us having played other point to point movement card driven games. The game box rates complexity at 4 (out of 10, being hardest) and I would have to agree. The rules are simple and well written for understanding. In about 3 hours we had muddled through about 6 turns (a turn represents two years of real time, and is sub divided into 6 activation phases, each player getting 6 activations with Protestant player going before Catholic player). I believe once you have an understanding of how to play, you could expect to play all 15 turns in 3 to 4 hours. You have three choices on how to play. Early War Turns 1 through 5. Intervention Turns 6 through 8. Apocalypse Turns 10 through 14. Each with a clearly defined setup and special rules (like what cards to take out of the deck etc.). Finally you can play the campaign game which is all 15 Turns.

We had a blast playing the game, so much so we are currently playing by email through vassal. So mission accomplished. I believe that the game has a lot of replayablity with you being able to try out different strategies. Lastly the grognard player of the Thirty Years War may not like it for lacking more in depth rules, but that's not what this game is about.

Simple to play, gets you into the flavor of the period. So much so I went out and picked up GMT's Musket and Pike series game "Nothing Gained but Glory". While not directly about the 30 years war, it will be a good stepping stone to a tactical game on how warfare was carried out for the period. If it's a good system there are several other games in the series that cover the English civil war, and several about the 30 years war. I shall give a review of the system in the near future.

Below is a picture of the game Early War setup.

I should also mention that I found myself wanting to read more about the period. Looking at the games sources I found a recommended book on the period called "The Thirty Years War, by C.V. Wedgwood" and plan on picking that one up. I'll let you know what I like or don't like about it.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Project Cassino paints & things

I have been amateur painting for a while now and throughout the years my style has slowly evolved. When I first started painting I was using enamels like Humbrul and Testor's and when you are a kid you think your stuff is pretty awesome. Now I look back and realize that it was just the beginning of a long learning process for me. Some people are born artists and others (me in particular) struggle to make the figures come alive or jump out at you. When acrylics came out I was really excited because, 1; no longer get that painters thinner high, 2; I could actually work better with water based products.

I won't go into the acrylics I use other than what I am using for this project. I use Vallejo Model Color's. I like the paints for a couple of reasons. If properly taken care of the eye dropper bottles allow you measure out exactly what you want. The paint also thins nicely with water (I use distilled water because tap water has minerals and other impurities that can affect the mixture and flow). Most importantly they have a very fine selection of WWII colors and this just happens to be what this project is about.

The above is what I am going to be using just on my Fallschirmjager which includes shading paint etc. Notice I paint the tops of my caps to make it easier for me to find what I am looking for without having to pick up every bottle when grouped together.

The brushes I am using are anywhere from 10/0 all the way up to a 0 (size). I don't use the cheap brushes you can get from a typical hobby store. I go to an Art store and pick out good brushes made of hair. You can wash these with shampoo and use conditioner to take care of the brushes so not only will they keep there point longer but last longer. Most art stores have cleaning liquids and other things to help take care of your brushes but they are usually way more expensive than what you already have on hand in your shower.

One thing I do is keep a small diary of the paints I use on my soldiers. This way I if I need to add more in the future I can match the paints exactly without taking a huge toll on my brain.

I also use two different kinds of lighting (one fluorescent, and one candescent)  in my work area, both attach to the table and have swinging arms so I can adjust how close to the figures or angle for shade effect (still learning this). This greatly helps with eye strain and simply helps you see the colors going on the figure that much better. Of course this goes hand in hand with the magnifying visor I use. Now a days I can not paint without one. It takes a little getting used to but once you do you'll kick yourself for not having gotten one sooner. Really, it makes that big of a difference.

Lastly I am trying something new that I have never used in painting before, a Wet Palette. I am kind of excited about learning how to use this, from what I hear, handy tool. I should be able to mix my paints in the wet palette and after my allotted time for painting is up come back the next day and not have to worry about matching the mixture all over again. We will see how this serves me.

The beginnings of my wet palette.

The one thing I have learned is "Setup" is really important. Your work will go a lot smoother if you think things through before you start and have all your supplies and stuff ready to go when you start to paint. Keep it simple, know your direction you want to follow, and have fun.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Project Cassino Models picked out

Howdy folks! Real life threw me a curve ball this past week and I just haven't had a chance to sit down and relax with the toys. I have picked out a few model kits I am going to use for the project and have posted a picture of them below:

Model number 6515 Allied Assault Monte Cassino 1944 from Dragon. The set can be adapted to suit New Zealanders, Poles, Indians or Gurkhas. It features three head options for each of the four figures. They include Caucasians, Sikhs and Gurkhas. I really, really like this kit! Dragon has impressed me not only with quality in detail but very light mold lines that are easily sanded away. Though I have not built this one yet, every kit that I have so far from Dragon have fit together smoothly. I also like the fact that they can be easily modified.

Model number 6409 German Fallschirmjager Monte Cassino 1944. This is an older kit that I believe is no longer in production but can still be had on Ebay or still on a local Hobby Store shelf. Nice poses and tons of weapon options come with this kit. You also get some photo etch parts like rifle slings and sites. Will see if I get that carried away, I don't think anyone gaming would notice me not putting them on, but hey you never know.

Model number 6514 Monte Cassino Defenders 1944 Fallschirmjagers. This is Dragon latest kit and has some slightly different poses. Nothing fancy but you do get some nice weapon choices.

Model number 6127 Hedgerow Tank Hunters Fallschirmjager Normandy 1944. Yes it doesn't say Cassino but that doesn't matter. The uniforms are the same and I am only using a couple of figures from the box for different poses.

I have a list of wants and this will include Mortar teams, Mule teams (yes mules), etc. to fill out what I will need for small unit skirmish action. I am especially looking forward to getting some of those kits with mules as the terrain and weather in this theater was just atrocious. Supplies had to be carried by mule or porter to the front line troops as there were no roads, we are talking paths or none at all and having to climb. Grenades especially were in high demand and the troops went through them in this type of terrain like crazy.

My next post will discuss the paints and some of the ideas/methods I will be using to build and paint the figures. Then the assembly line will begin in earnest and hopefully I will have the focus and drive that will be needed to carry through.

Until then...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Project Cassino research material

First of all I'd like to mention that I have a hard time staying with a project. I'll do some of the project, move on to another one, or simply get bored and put it away until I feel like it one day again. To try and keep myself motivated and stay with it I keep my painting session short. I set goals and try to sit down and accomplish this. I also try and listen to mood music (for whatever mood I happen to be in). But most of all I have found that if I am reading a good book or watch some movies, etc. on the period that this helps the most. I bring this up because I found a most excellent book called "Monte Cassino - The hardest fought battle of WWII" by Matthew Parker. Now that's a pretty big statement to make when there were so many hard fought battles, but let me say if it wasn't then it's in the top ten. I have really enjoyed this book and have found it to be an easy read, and his facts seem to be on target. Well I am not here to give it a review but if your a WWII buff and love to read about the battles then this is a must book.

I have decided that I will paint up units of the 1st Fallschirmjager Division, 4th Indian Division, and later in the project the 2nd New Zealand Division. This is the only battlefield in WWII that has such diversity in units that where involved. Not just Americans, and the British, but French, Polish, Brazilian, but this is another story. Here are just some of the books I will use to help with my painting them up properly.

I recommend getting the four above as they show actual uniforms, weapons, etc. and they are loaded with good information and lot's of color pictures.
 The above book is another good one for unit badges and the like. Not really hot on the color drawings but it's still worth having. I will use other sources that I have (like some of the Osprey books), but mostly I will adhere to the above.

Well that will cover my post for today, until next time.


Friday, October 8, 2010

What is a Zhodani Commando?

When the role playing game "Traveler" first came out all those years ago, there was an alien race called the Zhodani (pronounced zho-day-nee, or zho-dah-nee either way is fine though I use the first). Traveler, for those who don't know, would be the equivalent of "Dungeon's and Dragon's" only in space. A Zhodani Commando was that race's elite soldier who had the ability to use telekinesis and other such mind powers. Imagine a squad of these bad boys being deployed behind enemy lines and using their powers to pull the pins on the enemy soldiers hand grenades and such (when I was a kid I thought this was pretty darn cool and you can tell it has stuck with me, lol). Board gaming I should mention led me into painting miniature soldiers and one of the first 15mm science fiction  figures I picked up where from (if I remember correctly) Martian Metals. They made the coolest zhodani commandos and I painted up a bunch that sadly I no longer have. I also remember that Martian Metals had the contract to make Traveler miniatures and unfortunately they had a fire and I heard the molds where destroyed. This leads me into the picture I am using for my blog. No it's not a Zhodani, but another science fiction love I have for S.A.F.S. or Super Armored Fighting Suites (also known as SF3D and Ma.K. which is short for Maschinen Krieger) from the creative mind of Kow Yokoyama.

Not that you asked, but now you know.