Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Hex Debate Continues

We no actually it doesn't, I've come to believe that the hexes are in fact needed. Yes it does look prettier without the hexes but we spent an awful amount of time measuring maneavours last night at BADGA (AAR to come). So hexes will go on the maps today some time, which also opens the forum again on hex size, either: 1.25 or 1.5.

Bag The Hun AAR: Bob's Your Heinkel

Played my first non-solo of Bag the Hun last night and I have to day it was an absolute blast. We played the Bob's Your Heinkel scenario from the Too Fat Lardies Summer 2006 Special with one minor modification, we reduced the German Schwarms to 3 planes to give the Brits a fighting chance. Toby played the Luftwaffe while Brendan and I took turns playing the RAF.

The objective of the scenario for the Axis is to get the Heinkel off the south edge of the map while the Allies have to stop it from doing so.

Remember to click on the images for a bigger version.

Laid out on the table it all looks something like this:

It went slow at first as we spent a lot of time flipping back and forth through the rules. Pretty soon though things started to move along nicely and we got into some action. We learned pretty quickly that taking shots at long range only lead to wastng ammo. You really had the wait until you saw the whites of their eyes before firing.

Not too long into the game the Heinkel (played by a stand in He111) was getting dastardly close to the edge of the map. Something had to be done and so Red one piloted by Alan (Al) Deere broke formation and started chasing it down. One of the great things about playing historical games is that you learn things about the period, such as the fact the Alan Deere once survived a mid air crash with a German fighter (one of many such incidents throughout his long career).

Al Deere fired and hit the Heikel yet the biplane kept edging it's way off the map.

With only two seconds of ammo left things started to look desperate. Another hit and the pilot almost blacked out... but kept flying.

Out of ammo and on his own there was only one way that Al Deere could stop that Heinkel from leaving the map: colliding with it. Since we weren't using hexes and we couldn't have two planes in the same hex we used the ruling that if you were in base to base contact and on the same altitude band and moved through the base in which you are in contact with then the collision rule came into play. This was a desperate attempt at best but after executing a loop to slow down and then manevouring into position things started to fall into place. All we needed was for the 109's cards, move and then shoot in that order, not to come up before the Bombers Move card. Luck was on the Allies side that day as a few cards later the Heinkel had to move, now for a collision to occur all the conditions above had to be met and double six rolled on two dice. I mean you couldn't attempt something like is and actually expect it to work... right?
Well have a look at this.
Al's planes broke up with critical structural damage while the Heinkel lost it's pilot.
Just another day in the life of a Spitfire pilot.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ixnay On The Ex-Hay

I got my game mat for Bag the Hun today. I decided against the hexes as I wanted to use the mat for other games. Bag the Hun should play alright without the hexes, it will just require a little more work using rulers and such rather than just counting hexes.

The mat itself is a huge 41 x 58 inches and I had to get it cut in half to make it fit in the laminating machine. It was a little dissapointing but it should make it a whole lot easier to store. The planes look good on the mat and don't "get lost" in all the detail.

Remember to click on the images to see a larger version.

A couple shots to show how big the two pieces are when joined up. The three BF109's are in the lower left corner of the mat.

I'm so happy with the results, it honestly turned out better than I could have hoped for. I think it should get quite a bit of attention tomorrow night when I lay it down on the table.

To Hex or Not to Hex... That Is The Question

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be picking up my game mat for Bag the Hun and I'm still torn between hexes or no. I like the idea of no hexes and just use inches for all distances and templates to help with the maneuvers. However the hexes would speed up play and simplify everything. I'm torn between the two as each appeals to me. I may have to get the mat done without hexes and then decide whether to draw them on myself, as if I choose to go with hexes then the next obvious question is 'how big?'. The flight stand bases are approximatley 1" so I'm thinking maybe 1.5" hexes, maybe even 2" to give the bombers a bit more room. That would mean less hexes on the mat though, *sigh*... too many choices.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Action Stations!

I picked up a copy of Action Stations! from A and A Games today and the rules look good from my first read through. The main attraction to me for these rules is that they cover aircraft, boats, submarines and shore defences all on the table at the same time.
I'm still undecided if I'll got 1/600 for the sea craft or if I'll go down to 1/1200 or 1/2400. I think I'll play a few bigger games of Bag the Hun and see how a 6x4 table feels with that before I make any big decisions. Besides I still have more than a few 1/600 aircraft to paint.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Heinkel He111's

I'm getting the hang of painting these little guys now. They're still a little glossy from the coating of Tamiya Smoke, once I've done a few more I'll give them all a coat of matt varnish to dull them down and protect the decals.

I should do the Spitfires or the Hurricanes next but the Stukas just look too cool.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

BF109Es Part Three: Decals at 12 O'Clock!

I got a little too eager an put some decals on the 109s before giving them an initial coat of varnish. I hope they don't silver, but at this scale I'm not too sure if you would even notice if they did. I've used the 36" 1/600 scale Balkan crosses for these planes and they look incredible.

Six decals per plane is a lot of very fiddly, but suprisingly not dificult, work. I'm seriously thinking about dropping the crosses on the underside of the wings... just for now, I could do them later after I've done everything else (read as: never). I'm really glad I got these decals as they just make the planes look right. Best of all is that the decals draw your attention away from the average paint job and actually add some nice detail to the mini. I will be buying some more of these for my US and Japanese minis.
I simply cannot wait to get these on the table at the next club meet.

BF109Es Take Two

I wasn't really happy with how the Messerchmitts came out, the colour scheme looked good and everything but they just didn't look quite right. They needed to be more grey-er, grey-ish... ahh I decided to give the dappled blue/grey camo pattern a try. The results aren't 100% but the minis at least have that 'schmitt factor now. The first photo below shows the pattern effect quite well but the flash really makes the colours look way too bright and harsh.

Remember to click on the photos to see a bigger version.

Another shot with the flash turned off shows the colours as you would see them on the table.

The next step is to get the decals on these things, which reminds me, I bought some of this:

I figure that trying to put very small decals onto a very small and curved surface is going to be tricky to say the least, anything that helps is going to be welcomed. I've never used this sort of stuff before so I think I might do some tests first.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dom's Decals

The decals I ordered from Dom's Decals were waiting for me when I got home tonight. After I opened the envelope and peeled away the protective card I was left with these. They look great, the colours are spots on and the detail is just amazing.

Remember to click on the photos to see a bigger version.

It's going to be fiddly getting these things on the planes but I think it's goimg to be a case of taking it slow and steady. Here's a shot of the decals up against a 5c piece to show the size of the smaller ones (I tried using a ruler but mine is clear plastic and didn't come out too well in the photos).

If you're looking around for 1/600 or 1/300 decals then I don't think you can go past Dom's Decals. The price is great £2 for a sheet of between 400-800 decals and postage is a flat £1 world wide if you order is only decals. My order came with a FAQ/instruction sheet and a hand written with compliments note.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Messerscmitt BF109Es

After spending so much time sorting out the flight stands and painting, repainting and then stripping the Spitfires I figured I needed to get some planes painted and ready for when the decals arrive. I'm not sure how long regular post takes to get from the UK to here in Oz but I'm guessing a week would put them here in the next day or two.

So after a few hours work today I present the first half of the BF109E's. Looking at them now I realise that 24 of these is probably too many but I might paint the next 12 up in a winter scheme or possibly even in a middle east scheme.

I have to apologise to all the history buffs out there: I know the colours aren't technically correct and I know the camo patterns aren't wuite right. In my defence though I think at such a small scale you need to simplify things and use brighter more contrasting colours just to help the planes stand out on the table.
I've base coated the Stukas and some D17's so with a bit of luck I'll have them up tomorrow night.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back To The Drawing Board

Well after all my procrastination and eventual hard work pinning my 1/600 Tumbling Dice planes it turns out there was a slight flaw. A plane on it's own sat still and didn't shift when you picked it up and moved it around. Put it on a table with a dozen other planes (and magnets) and some planes would always turn to face the largest group of magnets. This amused my youngest no end but it wasn't something I wanted to have happen in a game. So I went back to my original plan of magnets on the stands and on the planes themselves.

To do so required two things:
  1. I had to remove the pins that I had put into most of my planes as they stopped the magnets from sitting flush with the plane.
  2. The bombers required that I carve out a flat area for the magnets to sit on. Not so easy to do on a small mini, especially while keeping my fingers safe.
It took a lot of time, effort and fricking around. But what I ended up with was this.

I'm really happy with the results. I'm even thinking of making a small goose neck to go between the magnets for the Stuka's to show when they're dive bombing. I also need to strip the paint on the Spitfires as it's too thick from too many test coats. I'll spray them next time to keep the base coat nice and thin.

Oh and yeah I know I should have had most of the planes painted by now but I've been sidetracked again, with these little fellas.

I just love Epic but sadly had to let mine all go. A friend and I are planning an epic game of... Epic... and this is the start of the Squat forces. I'll blog the progress of the army and put up an AAR of the eventual battle.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This is Base, Come In... Over... Pssshhk.

I came home tonight to find my order from em4miniatures was waiting for me in the letter box. Everything had arrived and suprisingly nothing was missing, broken or miscast (you should be taking note Black Tree Design). The stands themselves are almost exactly the same size as the hex based flight stands GW had been putting our for years before they switched to the circular ones.

Well I'd been debating back and forth about how I was going to attach the minis to the stands and I was convinced that drilling a hole in the stand and using wire would be the simplest way. And simple it would have been, but man oh man it was not easy. Using a pinvice and a 1mm drillbit took around 2-3 minutes to drill the hole, drilling too quickly made those sickly sounding I'm-about-to-snap noises. So in the end I decided that even with all the mucking around that using the magnet approach would be easy. Snip of the tip, sand it smooth, dab of superglue and drop the magnet on. 10 minuites later I had all 30 done:

Here's better shot of the magnets glued on top.

For the planes I drilled a 2mm hole in the plane and glued in a tiny piece of galvanised tie wire. It fits flush with the bottom of the plane but still offers enough attraction for the magnet.

As you can see the magnet fits quite well under even the smallest plane. Best of all the magnet pretty much stops stops the spinning on the stand too.

My order also included a pair of average dice (numbered 2,3,3,4,4,5) which I need to play IABSM. All up the order came to 6.50GBP including postage which equates to roughly $12.95 Australian which all in all I think is a pretty good deal considering that postage was 3.50GBP.
So now I've just got to paint up a dozen each of the Messerschmits and Spitfires and I'll see if I can get any of the guys at BADGA interested in a sortie or two.
Vrooooow... dakka dakka dakka.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Return to Base

Now that I have all my aircraft for Bag the Hun there's the matter of how to base them. I've bought some of these (the clear ones) from em4miniatures. The base size is 25mm across which I think will be stable enough for the planes but the matter of how to attach the planes has me looking at two options.

Fighters and Small Bombers
I'm thinking of using 1mm wire in the planes and drilling a hole in the shaft of the flight stands. It's cheap and relativley easy to do. Being small models I don't think there's going to be much chance of the plane wanting to spind around when handled. To avoid any confusion it should just be a simple matter of marking one face of the stand to show the true front.

Bombers and other Large Aircraft
For these guys I'm going to use magnets. I have some 3.5mm rare earth magnets which should be strong enough without looking out of place.

I'll get photos up once they arrive. Now I just need to sort out a hex map.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stout Hearts & Iron Troopers

Stout Hearts and Iron Troopers is the first supplement from Too Fat Lardies for their WW1 rule set Through The Mud & The Blood.

After a quick read through today all I can say is wow. The content is top notch as ever but the layout and design of this book really stands above their other offerings. The scenario maps are the most improved part of the book and they look fantastic. The colours and are nice and vibrant and all of the terrain, objectives and setup markers are clearly defined.

As for the scenarios themselves there are 20 scenarios spanning the entire war, but the most interesting part of the book, for me at least is the first six scenarios. These scenarios have been taken right from the pages of historical training manuals and also provide the "text book solutions". This is just fantastic for someone (like myself) who is keen on playing the period but knows only a little outside of what I've seen in movies and on the History Channel. This is something that should be done more often with historical games.

I also have to give Rich a big "beauty mate" for the rather nice surprise on page 78: a scenario with Australian troops (Tasmanians to boot!). No, not just a scenario with Aussie troops thrown in the mix but a real true-blue bloody-dinkum case of the boys from Oz mixing it up with Jerry. This will be the first scenario I play.

Also the title of scenario 17 is just great (sorry to just leave everyone hanging but you'll just have to buy the book).

I have to say that the guys at Lard Island have done it again, a great supplement for a great game and the training scenarios are almost worth the cover charge on their own.

So if you're looking for a WW1 rule set then forget about all that historical hammer stuff (you know what I mean) and have to have a look at Mud and Blood I promise you won't regret it. Oh and tell Rich that Tim sent you.

Monday, May 4, 2009

So How Many Planes Do You Actually Need?

So How Many Planes Do You Actually Need? Asked my wife when she inspected the newly arrived order from Tumbling Dice.

I had to be careful with my answer, I began to panic when I saw my out: I could technically play a game with just two aircraft but that wouldn't be much fun, and I play wargames to have fun. So the more aircraft I had the more fun I could have. I reject that answer too as it would show my desire to want to buy more aircraft. No I needed an answer that would show my purchase being an achievement of sorts. I had it, "That right there is enough aircraft to play pretty much any Battle of Britain scenario I could come up with, even with 5 or 6 of us playing".

Thankfully she never asked about the Zeroes or the Hellcats. I would definatley need to get some more of those.
These things are tiny and it took some time to work out the Do17E's from the Do17P's. The casting of the minis is good and the detail is just about right for something so small.
Just to give you an idea of scale here is a Supermarine Spitfire up against a 28mm Black Tree mini.

So now I need to sort out a hex mat, flight stands and get painting. At least they should be quick and easy to paint. I'm tempted to get some decals from Doms Decals, it'll set me back another $20-25 but at least I won't have to paint a couple hundred roundels and crosses.

Once I get a couple painted I'll post some photos.