Friday, 26 July 2013

372 Auster AOP - Scratchbuilt!

Hullo, All!

Just as it says above, I've been and gone and scratchbuilt me an Auster AOP for my 25pdrs [see forthcoming post]:
To be honest, I'm both fairly proud(!) and rather surprised by this, because I actually had no real intention to make it. It's made of card from a cornflakes packet, sellotape and glue, and was only ever supposed to be a mock-up to see if it was possible to make one out of plasticard.

Brief Version

Here is the development in 3 photos; all the details and many more pics -for those who are interested - are below:
Stage 1: cornflakes card covered in PVA to stiffen it and varnished to seal it and even-out the texture.
Stage 2: basecoated with old GW flying base too.
Stage 3: painted - all painted bar the insignia and maybe a little wash on the canopy. Sadly, I don't have any decals, and there's no way I'll chance doing it freehand.

Long Version -

I embarked upon this project on Tuesday night whilst Mrs Drax had the computer. This meant that I had no pictures to use for reference other than the first useful one from a quick google search. I should point out that the image blow is a PHOTO of that image, because I'd be unable to view it on the screen. I therefore was using the digital camera screen from my point of reference, and it was from this that I took all my measurements, too!

Here are my sketches, to map out the various component parts. Remember - this was only supposed to be a vague mock-up:

A bunch more shots of the construction itself, varnished.  You can see the dimensions scribbled on bits of it too. Please note that the wing is actually shaped into a basic aerofoil (scored and raised up between the layers, as annotated in the sketch):

Basecoated again:

...and finished (or as near as damnit):

The only non-cardboard component is the prop spinner, which is made from the very tip of an old-style GW Hunter-Killer missile held in place with a 1mm plastic pin.

Flaws and Issues
  1. The struts are way too chunky. In fairness, I didn't decide to commit to the build until after they were in place; and besides, they'd've been too weak had the card been any thinner...
  2. The scale. I have NO IDEA how big the actual models are, so this was based on a vague combination of my memory of other Flames of War planes 18months ago and a rough scaling from the image on the camera...
  3. The wings and tailplane are not flush - were I building this again, I'd build in a recess to allow for this
  4. The tailplane itself is a little shoddy and rushed. Again - not done with any sense of permanence.
  5. The texture is WAY too bumpy. Inevitable with the rough side of card - less of a problem with plasticard. The remnants of sellotape would go, too. It looks fine at a distance(!).
Storage and Carriage

Hmm...we'll see, eh?

Thanks for making it this far, friends! A bit more Flames-y stuff over the next few days, and then we'll be back once more to 40K.

- Chris.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

371 'Difficult Terrain' - The Weirdness of Tabletop Hills

Hullo, All.

Here's something which has been nagging me for a while now: why are terrain hills in tabletop battles usually so very 'unrealistic'?

[image used without permission from Kallistra, with no implication intended about their hills, which look beautifully crafted.]

This was brought to my attention by three things. Firstly, my attempts at 'imagining' line-of-sight when I played on very makeshift, mostly 2D terrain, here. Secondly, my recent realisation that I have pretty much no terrain that is not 40K cityfight stuff; and thirdly, I read an excellent and intriguing set of exploratory rules for cover on hills over at The M42 Project.

I was also re-watching 'Band of Brothers' for the umpteenth time, and when I saw them studying the D-Day sand tables I got very jealous.

I suppoe what I wondered was, 'can natural undulation be better represented in tabletop wargames?'.

I know that the simple answer here is no. For most practical purposes, normal terrain hills are fine...they're just not very realistic.
Obviously, the smaller your figures the better hills work, and there's always bound to be an element of silliness and abstraction when a 28mm figure is 'hiding' whilst standing up on a reverse slope (again see M42's ideas here) - but even in the reasonably small-scale Flames of War the hills seem a necessary yet unconvincing add-on.

No doubt a board of gently rolling downland or stark, rocky valleys would be beautiful, but a pain in the jacksie ruleswise and an absolute bugger to store too...but has anyone ever played on a more 'realistic' board like that? Did it work okay? Do please share.

That's enough from me - my brain has stopped functioning. Anyway, you get the idea.

Stay well,

- D.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

370 Flames of War - First Proper Game!

At last!

Today - after only a couple of years of very patiently building up my Flame of War force - I finally got in a game!

The very helpful guys at Plymouth Association of Wargamers set me up for a friendly introductory game with a chap called Gary who pitched the game pretty perfectly for my requirements. This isn't a battle report - just a collection of a few pictures and a few musings. And many thanks to Gary.

Here's my lot - most of a rifle company from [old] 11 Armoured Division with attached support; about 1650pts:
This was my first time putting all my units down at once [I've very very nearly finished basing the wretched 25pdrs: there'll be a post for them later this week] and it gave me great joy to see them all deployed. We didn't play a scenario from the book - instead I just went for an all-out assault to try to push Gary's fearless US Airborne back from the village.
And what a pretty village it was: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE these laser-cut buildings from the excellent 4ground - and they lift off at every floor too!
Essentially - inevitably - I lurched into action and started to slowly surge forward toward the village:
Ever too cautious, I took my time moving up across the very open ground, and Gary almost beat me to the buildings on my side of the village (which would've been dire) but luckily as the game ground slowly on (lots of rule-checking) I just managed to get a toe-hold that looked as if it might just be enough. Time forced us to call it a day at the end of turn 4, but without further reinforcements for the Airborne it was starting to look a little less rosy.

To my utter, utter surprise, my Shermans did quite well! Here you can see them pootling up my left flank, where they were ambushed by four M10 tank destroyers which rolled poorly enough to do no real damage before being utterly cooked-up by the Shermans' return volley: 
I lost only two vehicles in the four turns, and that was only because I stupidly (hey - it's a learning curve, right?) charged a machine gun platoon in a copse with the Shermans on my right.
Apparently tanks really are vulnerable in woods. I didn't fully realise that they have to keep taking bloomin' bogging checks...or that they might run away for no real reason.
When the two remaining tanks got back in the fight, I then wasted the opportunity to send them trundling through the main road blowing defenceless units to smithereens. Stupido! 
You may note that my units are pretty widely spaced. I am petrified of artillery templates:
Apparently it works okay though: by the end of turn 4 the only other units I'd lost were two infantry stands and a 4.2" mortar tube.
I was lucky that the dice gods weren't rolling with Gary, but during my final turn I suddenly realised that his soddingly-annoying-and-impossible-to-shift mortar platoon was in fact...firing from within a wood:
 Oh well - we were both rusty with the rules! Far more annoying to me is the fact that I didnt take advantage of the opportunity to smoke the buggers out of usefulness!
Overall I had an absolutely great time! There are all sorts of rules I need to check up on now, but essentially, I'm pleased to have got to play a really smashing game against a patient, welcoming and very sporting opponent!
- Drax.
PS: That's one game in 10 months. Jeepers. Time to up the stakes, methinks...

Friday, 19 July 2013

369 Sound Advice Please: New Paintbrushes!

*Must be hardwearing*

Hullo Friends,

Just a the title suggests, I'd like some advice please on getting a replacement brush, as it's struck me that I haven't bought a new one for almost five years now, and I've been using some of these for twelve years or more. My budget is minimal, if that helps, so this really must be a solid investment for me.
Any suggestions very gratefully received!
Oh, and pens were recently discussed on somebody's blog - here's the one I use for fine black details:

Keep well,

- D.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

368 Cadian Rough Riders - More from the Vaults

Hullo All.

Just thought I'd delve briefly into the vaults again! 

This one is entirely self-explanatory: some very old conversions of Cadian Rough Riders. Apparently they did not survive the journey across the UK five years ago when we moved down here to Devon... I do still have the bitz at least:

I know they look dreadful - I honestly don't really know just what to do with them! Just thought someone might enjoy them, maybe...

Stay well,

- D.

Friday, 5 July 2013

367 Building Houses

I'm slowly getting some more houses made for Flames of War, and I'd thought I'd breifly share both the progress and the actual process They're turning out well, as far as I'm concerned:

I particulrly like how the beams have turned out - that one'll be fun to paint!

...And an even more fun idea to come with these soon, to...

Take care,

- Drax.