Thursday, 15 March 2018

635 - More Scenery: Sarissa Box Girder Bridge and Blacksmithy

Hullo All,

I've made some more flatpack scenery for a friend. In this case, two 28mm kits from Sarissa Precision: their 20th Century 'Box Girder Bridge' and the 'Blacksmith's Forge' from their 'Old West' range.

Both are supplied unpainted, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to (a) tart them up a bit, and (b) try out some techniques for painting Sarissa buildings, as I'm going to be putting together a bunch of them soon...

Here they are, then. I've deliberately over-exposed most of the pics in order to show the details in the crummy March light..:
I textured the road with fine sand, then painted it, the general superstructure and the concrete walkway. Then I just went round most of the bolts and joins with some dots and streaks of rust.
The ramps at either end detach, and are spaced (and braced, I suppose) by a thin strip of board running along at tabletop level. It's not very robust, to be honest.
Honestly, I was surprised and pleased with how this paint job turned out. Like I say, it was a chance to try out some new ideas...

Onto the forge, then:
Again, the floor is textured with sand : it seemed appropriate, I guess.

Unlike the gorgeous pre-painted '4-Ground' buildings from a few posts ago, these look very different all the same colour: the rafters in the shot below are the basic wood colour, and I just couldn't leave the brickwork unpainted. Having done that, I couldn't then leave the rest of it ALL blank. Still, I only used 5-ish colours. Next time, I'll do all the colouring on the sprues. Y'see?  - I'm learning stuff!
With more time, I would've taken more care over the name board (named here for a great man) but it's really just a placeholder for a better, less anachronistic one.
My last words here have to be in terms of a brief review of the kit. Sarissa kits are a LOT cheaper than the 4-Ground ones, and you can see why: the instructions are more basic, the materials themselves are more flimsy and there is far less internal detail...but they are fantastic value for gaming purposes, and now I've had a play with them I'm looking forward to experimenting more!


- D.

PS: these pics pretty much sum up my last two weeks here in the village:

Saturday, 10 March 2018

634 - 'Gangs of Rome' and 'Blood Red Skies'

This week, I got to try two interesting new games, both of which I was most excited to experience!
This won't be a review so much as my personal reflections. Put simply - both were very clever...

Gangs of Rome
NB: these are extant Roman figures -
NOT the (as-yet unassembled) official
GoR minis, but they ARE on the proper
GoR jigsaw bases.
I've looked into this quite a lot, and I'm pleased to say that it played much as I had anticipated it would: it's a cracking little game and really characterful with a brilliant range of possibilities and some very clever ideas. We played it without added layers of complexity (like blessings, fighter origins or the gods of the underworld) and it was still enjoyably challenging.
My hapless band advance...
The storytelling element, the use of the [Roman numeric] dice, the interplay with the Mobs and the way in which equipment can be changed around. Also, the random elements: those who know me know that I love randomness in games. The '3D' element is very cool too, although we didn't get to use it.
My gracious opponent was
disgustingly lucky throughout.
Less keen on:
The fiddliness of the jigsaw bases: they really are very fiddly, and I honestly think that the health score could be tracked more efficiently on the card - keep the bases for tracking who's who. Also, the confusion of which value is used for which thing (I kept thinking my fighter with a health score of 7 also had an attack score of 7 -this proved costly!)...but that's something I'd get used to in time.
A great internal balance to the mechanic, and I'll be amazed if I don't invest in a gang. Amazed.
"Infamy! Infamy!"
- all is lost as Lurcio's house
is burnt to the ground.

Blood Red Skies

This game hasn't shipped yet, so I was very lucky to be able to play one of the advance copies. The box and books are presented in a lovingly '40s aesthetic and the tokens etc. are attractive and robust.
Not so photogenic, I'm afraid.
The brilliantly simple 'advantaged/neutral/disadvantaged' mechanism and the flight stands designed to show this really, really clearly. Very clever. Also, the quick-reference guide to the sequence of play is excellent. The miniature planes were certainly fit for purpose (if not super exciting), and it's a good tactical game - like X-Wing, you really really need to think ahead [something I'm not great at!].
The game is also really swift, as you don't fight to the death!
"Tally ho!" Mixin' it up
Less keen on:
The name. Seriously? - Blood Red Skies? C'mon.  
Also, the stands - whilst both cool and robust - lack heft: they're moved and nudged waaaay too easily, especially if you're used to the relative solidity of X-Wing. A pity. The rules are maybe not as crystal clear as they could be, either - visually very stylish, but not super intuitive at times. That said, I didn't get much beyond an in-game glance at them.
Oh, and I think the cost for buy-in is pretty steep.
Squiffy's gone for a Burton!
He's in the drink!
I can't see myself ever buying this, but it's really good fun to play.

Well then. I played two new games and lost both of them, but what a blast! Also, how pleasing to plough through two games...of an evening!

Until next time,

- D.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

633 - Drax's Painting Charts - Now Available in Print!

Hullo All,

Great news! I've had an article published in the latest edition of 'Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy' magazine! 
WSS 95 - I'm there, baby!
Long-term readers will be aware of the way in which I track the progress of my modelling and painting: the fabled Draxian Paint Chart [there's usually a link on the right sidebar], which uses simple colour-coding on a basic Excel spreadsheet.

It's a self-explanatory system, but rather pleasingly I've been able to share it with the wider wargaming world through my article - here's a link to the entirely excellent magazine [link here] ...and here are the rest of my painting charts, as they stand in March 2018:
My Main Guys!

Their Late-War Foes (and the key again)

The Early-War Germans (late-1940/Sealion theme)
My Rock Apes, for Italy/NW Europe
And of course, my (recently expanded) Desert Rats
...and in 15mm, the discovery of Battlegroup has led me to revisit and start to slightly expand my old Flames of War models - also 4KSLI:

It should be noted that I do also have a small15mm Bolt Action reinforced platoon, with the troops on separate (fivepence) bases, but they've not got their own chart yet.

Until next time, then...

- Chris

Saturday, 3 March 2018

632 - Bolt Action: Heer Vs USA 1500pts

Last week I got to play against my pal Alex again, and it was a beautiful game!

Neither of us really knew what the other would bring, but we ended up with two well-matched forces and the 'table quarters' mission - whatever it's called.

I'll keep this as short as I can and stick to captions only, but there are at least some nice pics in amongst all the bluriness!
Alex set out a gorgeous table - his corner was bottom-left in this pic; mine top-right. Most of the other pics are from my side. 
Alex's Americans. Mostly regs with a few vets. Scary things included a sniper, two bazooka teams, a hellcat and a squad of Rangers. Their rules are awesome, and all Alex's toy soldiers are beautiful.
My blurry Germans. Two veteran squads, an assault engineer squad (with a flamethrower) and a regular squad at the back. In the front: Nebelwerfer, medium mortar, a Panzerschreck  and a sniper. 
My deployment. Spaced out with the double-MMG Hanomags as an AA screen. It worked, thank goodness: they blew the "Jabo" out of the sky!
US deployment - and I've just realised that we completely forgot to roll for preliminary bombardments!
Sneaky Pz.IV does sneaky Pz.IV-type-stuff...
...and after rolling forward in turn 2, blows the US air observer out of his high-up vantage point!
On the left flank, having shot down the airstrike, my units tentatively push forward, to bring the fight to the Rangers (right).
The Veterans, tucked behind the wall on the left, kill a couple of the Rangers before getting shot to death by the squad edging down toward them on the left. Boo. However, they were soon avenged by my brand new regular squad (in the centre here, with the prone MG34), who charged in and finished the Rangers
By this point (turn 4, I think), vet squad 2 has trundled forward, gunned down the nasty Americans who killed their mates and claimed their half-track. Woop! [If you're wondering what happened to the regular guys who polished off the Rangers, they got blasted by a very lucky hellcat shot. Boom!]
After their earlier success, vet squad 2 then charged and killed the sniper in the building before exiting and finishing off both the regular bazooka team AND the pinned Hellcat with a damned good Fausting! Most valuable unit, I reckon!
(Oh, and that M3 halftrack was blown up by my sneaky hiding 'Schreck, putting a lot of hurt on the officer, bazooka and engineers within it! Tee-hee!)
This is on the right flank, at the end (with my table edge top-left). Those are my assault engineers on the road: they killed the squad who earlier abandoned this other halftrack, with their flamethrower failing to hit and then running out of juice, and then themselves got roasted by the US engineers, whose last desperate act was a perfectly-timed 'Hail Mary' move and their own nasty gout of flame! Luckily, they only hit one(!) and my veterans passed their test. Whew! Dud flamethrowers in this game!
By the end, with the Americans on their last legs, my vehicles converged to FINALLY kill off the veteran bazooka team (the Pz.IV's MGs did the job) and all the Americans were left with was (I think) two officers and 3 engineers (whose flamethrower had ALSO) run out of juice!
As always, the butcher's bill. The green dice are also US, so it was 11-3 to the Germans, who also controlled three of the four quarters (although not - as it happens - the US home quarter!). My losses included my 1st vet squad, the regular squad and my USELESS sniper, who failed two tests to act and then ran away.

This was a thoroughly fun and very pretty game. Alex was a real gent, as always, and although the sides were fairly well matched in theory, he dealt with the turn of the tide with commendable grace and good humour! 

Honestly, I'm amazed at the antics of my second veteran squad. Having helped to gun down a Thunderbolt, they went on to destroy the following:
- a squad of GIs,
- their halftrack,
- a sniper team,
- a bazooka gunner and
- a hellcat tank destroyer! 

Not too shabby, eh, for 165 points!?


- Drax.

PS: Originally, that second image - the overview of the table layout - was the first one on this post, but folks seeing a link on Facebook quickly and kindly pointed out that it looked rather too much like a swastika. Noted and edited. Thanks, Internets!