Sunday, 15 November 2015

A Much Needed Update

I have been incredibly quiet on the hobby front of late and the reason is simply a combination of the summer and a massive career change. The summer is nothing new, I have always expressed the belief on this blog that the fine weather of the summer is meant to be enjoyed, and so I do. 

However, a glorious summer is now very much behind us. The cold, rainy, windy nights have set in, and nothing has really happened here on the blog. This is because in September I became a student once more. The change was rather abrupt and I was the last one onto the course, so much so that I only sorted out accommodation three days before my enrolment and arrival.

Conisburgh Castle
You see, once upon a time, when I was a young man, I made the somewhat "interesting" decision to read a degree in Latin and Classical Greek, which was made in those heady days when university was affordable and learning for the sake of learning was still something people did. Graduating with a first, I tried my hand at postgraduate study, but the financial side of it proved ruinous, for by this time the fee structures had changed, and so I headed into the real world of work. More recently I was working in engineering and thinking hard about my future, when it occurred to me that what I really wanted was to use my degree daily. My Latin and Greek were fading and I yearned for the joy I got from constantly engaging with the Classical world. And so, I decided to become a teacher. 

Back to University this autumn, a leafy Homerton College, Cambridge, awaited me.
And so I have embarked upon that career and am currently engaged in a PGCE in Latin and Classics at the University of Cambridge. The course is, by all accounts, intense and thus far I found this to be the case. My days are long and my downtime divided between planning lessons and studying for essays. Naturally, painting has fallen by the wayside, more so because I don't have a dedicated workspace. I had to move to Cambridge for the Christmas term and won't return to Oxfordshire and my painting desk until January. So in the meantime, I am very much dissuaded from putting paint to model by the lack of decent light and my familiar painting desk. 

Homerton College, Cambridge.
That said, everything is not lost! I am reading voraciously, mainly around the Polish campaign of 1939. And that naturally informs the continuing project, even if there isn't any movement on the miniature front. My most recent addition is Polish Armour of the Blitzkrieg, a lovely gift from Lady K, who seems to indulge my historical researches with alacrity. So I am working on it all, promise. Hopefully as the days grow even more miserable and cold I will be driven indoors and huddle around my bedside lamp to paint.

A good read with loads of pictoral information.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

My First Game of Warmachine

A fortnight ago I made my way to Wargames Workshop in Kingston, Milton Keynes, on a Monday evening after work to play my first game of Warmachine. I had made contact with a really nicely fellow called Rob (Rangerbob on the Privateer Press forums) and he had agreed to run me through it. I did my level best to get pain to my Protectorate of Menoth miniatures before the game, ignoring the unit since we were going to play the "Mangled Metal" scenario which is a Warjack and Warcaster death-match. Rob and Glenn, who was a helpful observer/guide, giving me advice and clarifying queries I had.

In the end I didn't get everything painted, but there was paint on the models, and that is what matters. I've made a short little YouTube video with some thoughts on the game and on my paint scheme going forward.

In short, it is a really tight game, with a solid community and "scene". The chaps who were teaching me were really nice and are keen to foster a larger community. In fact, I was so enthused by the game that I immediately arranged to teach my local wargaming opponent, Taff, how to play, and last Thursday evening we ran through a quick Mangled Metal game, with Taff taking command of Kommander Sorscha. His impression was positive, so that bodes well. I am hoping to get involved in the Milton Keynes Journeyman league when that begins in September with my Protectorate of Menoth stuff. Whilst I was initially attracted to Khador's Tzarist/Soviet aesthetic, I really like the Protectorate of Menoth playing style. so I think that for now I will continue to build upon those things which are already painted.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

My Summer Campaign

This year many wargamers will play a summer campaign. At my local club there is currently a Warhammer 40k summer campaign underway which forms the backbone, the fighting season if you will, of our gaming year. I must confess that my life is far too haphazard to allow for the planning required for such things, hence my predilection for solo wargaming. Frankly, between trips to Cardiff to play with the Dark Pact and painting my Poland 1939 Campaign figures I find myself with precious little time for much else. Life has this way of making itself busy.

I am, however, confronted with a stretch of stability up ahead as the long summer days lull us into that wonderful sense of ease that makes one tend toward leisure. So, I sat myself down and decided that what I really needed to do was make a list of what I aimed to achieve this summer. My campaign is to be fought with the brush against the ever-present foe, unpainted miniatures, and I am hoping to sweep the field.

Ravenwing & Dark Angels Vehicles: I still have a tonne of Dark Angels to paint. The Ravenwing contingent is coming along nicely and I am keen to have a sizable Ravenwing element that has the capacity to be fielded separately. Furthermore, as I have said before, the black scheme makes the painting a real treat and eminently doable.

Additionally, I have a dreadnought and a Vindicator to finish. I've ordered the washes and oil paints I need to achieve this. I have also acquired a Razorback and a Rhino. I feel as though I need to give my Dark Angels greater mobility, especially my command squad. The only snag here is the fact that I would very much like the Dark Angel doors from Forgeworld from my command vehicle, which necessitates an order. Of course, with the imminent release of Horus Heresy Ultramarines I will be placing an order soon, but it is very much a case of trying to consolidate my order and not spend too much on postage costs, which are still off-putting with Forgeworld.

Ultramarines: The Dark Pact Horus Heresy project continues apace. With the release of resin shoulder pads for the various marks of armour I am in a position to push on with it. However, I am in a little bit of a limbo as I wait out a little longer to see what is coming. What is clear, though, is that I need some character figures. Praetors, that sort of thing. Again, this leads into that Forgeworld order I mentioned above, so at this point I must content myself with hurrying-up and waiting.

The aim is to get the Ultramarines playable as a Zone Mortalis force, for small games of combat patrol and that sort of thing. The Dark Pact chaps haven't really achieved much more that our initial push, but I think we should all have enough for small patrols.

15mm American Infantry Company: Lady K is now over from the States for good, and we spent last weekend in London. While over at Waterloo waiting for our Duck Tour (Highly recommended, very entertaining, and doesn't cost a fortune), we were next to Dark Sphere, who were moving and had a 50% sale on. Lady K doesn't really understand "The Hobby", so it was a good way to introduce her. Needless to say, she was affronted when she found out that I didn't collect Americans in 15mm for World War II. Her remedy was to buy me a Rifle Company, insisting that the Company commander be called "Buck", and be from Texas (She is from California, so I think it has more to do with the fact that apparently Texans are often named "Buck"). It was a sweet gesture, and now joins the pile of painting.

Vikings: I now have a largish mob of hairy chaps. The only things missing are bannermen and leaders. I am keen to get some gaming done with them in the near future as I want to try Dux Britanniarum (modded for Vikings) and Saga with them, so the number of figures needed isn't prohibitive. I have also added quite a lot to my collection of terrain so the table is unlikely to be sparsely decked out. I am rather excited. So to that end I have a few character figures that need painting up. I have my Erik Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good miniatures primed and ready for painting. Beyond that I just want a few champions and a banner bearer for each leader, so that they look the business.

Poland 1939: I'm still plugging away at my Poles. With the arrival of Black Tree Design reinforcements and their German counterparts, I am in a position to crack on in earnest. I'm thinking that I could get two small scouting parties done in short order for a few border skirmishes that opened the war.

Warmachine: I still have contents of the starter set to complete, and am quite keen to get them done so that I can learn the rules and get playing. I went so far as to purchase the sleeves for my cards today.

So, clearly I have much to do. However, with my airbrush in hand I am confident that the 40k bits are going to be much expedited. The Dark Pact is keen to meet again, either in July or August, and I would very much like to head over to Cardiff with swollen ranks. I'll be working on these projects a little bit every night, and posting my progress as it happens.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A Wee Update from the Painting Desk

The last few months have been largely unproductive. My painting queue has stalled while I have been all over the place. First California, then Northern Ireland, and it seems that every spare moment in between has been spent with the Army Reserve. I also had a slight health setback in the last week and half that has put me back some.

So, I finally got a chance to sort my life out on the Bank Holiday (first day off in a month, much needed) and have finally got stuck in on the hobby space. I found, amidst the piles of stuff, Black Tree Design Gebirgsjäger, an Artizan German platoon, and more Poles, Black Tree Design again. I am still working away on my first lot of Warlord Games Poles, so the rest of the gang shall have to wait, but at least I know where they are now!

However, I have made some progress. Today I finished off a few more figures, in between cleaning and tidying. Ten more Vikings, and two more 30k Ultramarines, one of whom is a Sergeant. With the release of the Ultramarine specific bits from Forgeworld, I am holding off on any more building on that front until I can gather up the bits I need to make my Ultramarines look their best.

The painted for 2015 tally takes a leap up by Twelve, not a bad show! Hopefully with a more sorted workspace and life settling down a little I may get more done.

Friday, 10 April 2015

A Voice in the Wilderness

Where have I been you might ask?

Well, in truth I simply have not had a moment for the hobby in the last month or so. This is due both to being inordinately busy, but also due to a lack of priority. In the last two months I have been on one hell of a fitness kick, and as a result have lost two stone. So rather than sitting and painting I have been exercising. Furthermore, I've been on courses on my weekends so time hasn't been an abundant commodity.

That said, I haven't given up on the hobby by any means. The Ravenwing miniatures I was working on are still patiently waiting for me, as are my World War II Polish Infantry. I suppose what I really need to do is set aside an hour or two per night to get things done, but competition for my time is only getting fiercer.

What I have been doing, though, is trying to sell some of my old bits and pieces that I have no need for. Firstly to liberate space, and secondly to generate a little money. I'm looking to offload a bunch of classic Eldar stuff over the next while, including some metal Harlequins. If anyone is interested, do let me know.

This weekend I will be delving further into the boxes and trying to shift some Lord of the Rings stuff too, if time allows after a weekend on the ranges, see what I mean? Recently I have been thinking about the viability of "holding on things", and in all honesty, I need to downsize my collection. Obviously we all dream of hoarding all our bits and then one day getting around to doing x, but sometimes the smart thing to do is just cut and run.

I'll be advertising things on here first for a few days before listing them on eBay, so that readers get the opportunity for a bargain first.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Cardiff Challenge

So. I made my way West to Cardiff for a weekend with the Dark Pact on Thursday morning. Apologies for not getting my "mini project" updates up, between work and painting in the evenings, I just didn't get a chance to write up anything, or film it for YouTube. In any event, I didn't achieve everything I set out to do, but I did achieve a lot.

Firstly, I managed to finish the Vindicator and Dreadnought. Well, I say finished. They still need their washes and varnishes and all that other good stuff, but I didn't have the materials to do those processes anyway, so at the moment they are being used in their less fancy guise. Though they are functionally done. I'll get the washes and things done this month. 

Secondly, the Ravenwing are almost complete. What this means is that the bikes are done, but that the riders still quite aren't. For the most part this just means a quick edge highlight in grey, and finally gluing the together with polycement. 

The upshot is that everything on the table "looks" painted. No unsightly plastic or metal for us this weekend! Craig, fellow Dark Pact member Craig painted an entire 2000 points Grey Knights army in two months, and the results are exceptional. 

Jim's already nicely painted Tyranids received further reinforcements, and these were also painted as I showed on a previous post. So it was nice to see beautiful tables, with well painted figures upon them. I think it makes all the difference. 

As I said at the start, I didn't achieve as much as I wanted to, but I certainly got more done than I thought I might. Battle Reports to follow. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015


As the title of this post suggests, I am only seventeen days away from my next epic gaming weekend with the Dark Pact in Cardiff. We will be making use of Firestorm Games' excellent new venue, and enjoying their excellent tables and terrain.

I set myself the task of getting as many Dark Angels reinforcements as I could for that weekend done as it looms, and there is some progress to report. Firstly, I have had to assemble a lot. I suppose since I paint primarily metal historical miniatures, I always find that assembly is a massive chore, but with some thought it can pay enormous dividends. As my the first element of my reinforcements I assembled a squad of six Ravenwing bikers and an attack bike. One of these bikes is already done, and the rest are merrily on their way. 

Bikes awaiting paint.
Work in progress bikers.
I started with the riders first, as you can see above, I have opted to balance the black with a preponderance of bone, and worked some more colour in by including some company markings, since many of these marines would have been in other companies prior to being assigned to the Ravenwing. This squad is going to have a flamer and a meltagun in order to give it some anti-armour and anti-personal capabilities. The attack bike is going to be equipped with a multi-melta to vaporise enemy armour assets. 

I also decided to work on a Vindicator and a Dreadnought. Neither of these figures are Dark Angel specific, but using the Ravenwing vehicle accessory sprues, I have managed to tart them up a little. I also broke out the airbrush to get these done in super quick time. The effect is that the highlighting is much softer than I normally get from using my brush. 

I am far from proficient in the use of my airbrush, but I got the effect I wanted. I am keen to gloss varnish both the miniatures, and then apply some enamel wash to tone the green down, as well as make the rivets and recesses pop once they are painted, I've seen this done a lot on YouTube, and I quite fancy giving it a go. The Vindicator, above, is a very old kit I had lying around. The side panels are metal, as are many of the details, so it is a very heavy kit. I am not enamoured of it, but it will do, and I had it lying around anyway. I added a few Dark Angel bits to make it look like a part of the army. When it is done I'll post some close up shots of those details. 

The Dreadnought above is from the old Black Reach boxed set. It came with a Multi-Melta, which I also have, but I found an assault cannon in my bits box and decided that I liked that more. So I drilled out the barrels and added some iconography and scrolls. I also hacked off the original shin guard pieces, and replaced them with Dark Angel specific ones from the Ravenwing sprue. I also mounted another sarcophagus plate over the moulded on one, since this one is a Dark Angel one, and it bulked the miniature out a little more. I'd quite like to add a Venerable Dreadnought one day, painted in bone, using the Forgeworld figure, but that can wait. 

So there is some movement on the desk. I'm hoping to get these done over the next seventeen days by working on them at night after work. I'm trying to get an hour in a night, which is often not possible. However, I do have next weekend off, so I am hoping to put a dent in the project then. Once Cardiff is behind me I'll be returning to the Poland project. That is all for now. 


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Review: Tabletop Workshop's 28mm Medieval Barn

The last of my Tabletop Workshop reviews for now. I still have a Stable in the post, and I might look at getting the double storey buildings in time. The more I look at the foundation line of the buildings, the more I am convinced that they need an MDF base and some filler to hide that line of stones along the base. Some shrubby things would also make the buildings look a little more natural. But this is all time dependent. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Look Forward

As frequent readers will have noticed, there has been a veritable Drang nach Osten on the blog of late as I work on my Polish Chain of Command campaign. However, as is usually the case, this isn't the only thing on the boil. There are various Frenchmen from 1809 on the desk, Celts from the fringe of the Roman Empire, and genetically engineered super soldiers from the 41st millennium. As much as it might not seem that I have any hard and fast plans, and usually I don't, every now and then a priority raises its head. 

Polish uniforms are almost done. A battalion of Frenchmen lurk out of camera shot. 
The end of February will see the 5th Company of the Dark Angels descend once more upon Cardiff, for a Dark Pact gaming weekend, to do battle with an ever growing horde of gribbly, nasty things from the fringes of the galaxy. Jim's Tyranids, which have ever been a thorn in my side, continue to grow. Recon pictors have returned the following images of a new biomorph that must soon die at the hands of the Emperor's Angels:

Excellently painted miniatures from the brush of Jim. Worthy, and well painted, enemies.

With this in mind, I am going to try and push for an expansion of my Dark Angels force to meet the growing Xenos threat. The Company Standard Bearer is almost complete, and his completion will mean that I will have a full command squad to join Interrogator-Chaplain Seraphicus. Additionally, I am going to try and get some more Ravenwing painted up in time. Their simple black colour scheme should speed the painting process somewhat. I also have a Vindicator that would come in handy against the tides of smaller creatures. So the current priority, as I continue to paint up my Polish soldiers, will be the Dark Angels.

The first of my Ravenwing reinforcements.
As of today I have 37 days to get this arms race under way. Therefore I am going to set myself a challenge, how much can I get done in those 37 days, starting this evening. In real terms I haven't got the full complement of days available, I am visiting Paris for four days over the next weekend, and then there are my Reserve weekends. If I exclude these days from the calculation, I in fact only have 27 days before hostilities commence. 

Naturally I will document my efforts on this blog, and possibly on YouTube as well. No promises are made, but I do think it will be interesting to see what I can achieve in a month. Wish me luck.


Sunday, 18 January 2015

BEF 1914: Rifle Brigade Corporal

Here is a Woodbine Design NCO that I painted up as a Corporal from the Rifle Brigade. The Rifle Brigade had slightly different kit from the rest of the British Expeditionary Force; the hat strap was black instead of brown, the buttons of the tunic black, and the chevrons Rifle Green on a black background. The Rifles, the descendant regiment of the Rifle Brigade and many of the Light Infantry regiments, still maintain these details in their No. 1 and No. 2 uniforms. 

I tried painting the chevrons on this fellow, and they came out okay. In order to get the black and green in I oversized them somewhat, which is okay when painting miniatures in my mind.

The painting scheme I have followed is Mark Hargreaves' excellent guide. This is available from Mark directly at his website Over Open Sights. You will need to e-mail Mark to get these excellent guides, he is a top fellow and incredibly helpful. He certainly helped me with extra information.

Mark's scheme results in a nice greenish khaki which is exactly what I wanted. His blog is also inspirational, and I find myself visiting it frequently to check out some detail or other.

This chap will be leading his brave fighting lads through the low countries one day, holding back the tide of Kaiser Bill's Hunnish hordes. However, as of now this is very much a "paint as I fancy" project.

Basing wise, I have gone for a Burnt Umber - Ochre - Ivory three tone scheme, which I will finish off with a liberal amount of grass and some of those little flowers that everyone seems to be using these days. I think the flowers will add some colour to an otherwise drab miniature and give it the feel of the Belgian countryside.

Poland 1939: Polish Test Figure Done

I finished my first Polish Infantryman today. The scheme largely consists of browns, greens, and greys of various hue, so I feel that my decision to paint the coloured collar tabs brought some much needed colour to the figure. These collar tabs vary based upon the wearers arm of service. Infantry wore dark blue, with a white zig zag trim. I lightened the blue based upon personal taste. 

Keen eyed observers will notice that I have painted the eyes on this figure, which is something I never bother with. Normally the eyes are shadowed by the helmet, or other headwear, but this chap's helmet is slightly back, so the eyes had to be done.  

The colours I used are as follows, Vallejo Model Color unless otherwise stated. I painted almost everything in a three step highlight, directions below:

  • Clothing: Russian Uniform Green -> Green Brown -> 50/50 White & Green Brown
  • Helmet: Camo Olive Green -> Brown Violet -> Green Grey
  • Webbing: German Field Grey -> Green Grey -> 50/50 White & Green Grey
  • Ankle Puttees: Steel Legion Drab (GW) -> Karak Stone (GW)
  • Ammo Pouches, Entrenching Tool Cover & Back Pack Straps: German Camo Medium Brown -> Flat Earth -> Green Brown
  • Boots: German Camo Medium Brown -> Flat Earth -> 50/50 White & Flat Earth
  • Backpack: English Uniform -> Khaki -> Stone Grey
  • Bedroll: Rhinox Hide (GW) -> German Camo Medium Brown -> Flat Earth
  • Gasmask Container & Mess Tin: Camo Olive Green -> Russian Uniform Green
  • Bayonet Hilt & Entrenching Tool Handle: Foundry Spearshaft triad. 
  • Rifle Body: Rhinox Hide (GW) -> Doombull Brown (GW) -> Skrag Brown (GW)
  • Metal bits: Black -> Charcoal Black B (Foundry) -> Gunmetal Grey
  • Collar Tabs: Foundry Royal Blue triad.

Basing wise, I did the two tone scheme as shown in the last post. I then added some grass and winter grass tufts. I want to add some scale bricks later on, as I think it will add a little more colour to an otherwise brownish-greenish scheme. 

I've avoided using metals to a large extent, since rifle parts are usually dull, except the working parts. This is due to mechanical wear and the cleaning process. So the metallic parts of the rifle are dark grey with a touch of gunmetal in the appropriate places. 

Now all that remains is for me to repeat this a bazillion times. 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Poland 1939: Die Polen sind hier

Yesterday evening I arrived home from work to find a package waiting for me from Element Games. It contained a boxed set of Polish Infantry made by Warlord Games, which I picked up from Element Games as I was ordering some paints from them anyway, and they offer a small saving over Warlord prices. I made a little video about it for YouTube:

The boxed set contains 24 metal miniatures, which suffered from some pretty intense flashing. Most notably on their helmets and, rather frustratingly, their rifle barrels. Many of the rifle barrels were bent quite severely, and furthermore, a combination of very thin metal and flashing at the end of the rifle barrel meant that clean up was fraught with the danger of losing the end of many of the rifles. In the end, I only lost one, so it isn't the end of the world. Mould lines were minimal, though I have a knack of missing them until they have paint on them, at which point they appear to grow in size, meaning I end up scraping them off only to have to repaint again. Nonetheless, I am confident I got most of the mould lines. 

In terms of detail, I am quite impressed. These are  Paul Hicks style sculpts, and I suspect that he may have sculpted these. They don't have that caricatured look that newer Warlord figures seem to have. As my first purchase of Bolt Action miniatures, I am going to declare myself satisfied. The bulk of the box is made up of rifleman, which is useful since a Polish section was huge, consisting of 17 rifleman, a BAR (Polish made wz 28) gunner, led by a Plutonowy (Corporal). I'll need three of these for a full platoon.

This is the only item from the Polish Bolt Action line that Element Games sell, so I shall be picking up the rest of the Bolt Action Polish range as the project continues. I am still awaiting delivery of some Poles I ordered from Black Tree Design during their generous January sale. 

Today I based and primed the entire boxed set. I am currently working on my test miniature. Both the Flames of War website and Warlord Games have a painting guide as part of their paint set that set out the base colours required, as well as a series of photos and plates. However, since I favour a three colour shade-middle-highlight system I need to figure out the colours to either side of the colours suggested by Warlord or Battlefront. 

I decided to paint the core colours I wasn't familiar with onto a sheet of paper, and then surrounding them with possible choices for shades and highlights. As seen below.

Using the above coupled with the painting guides from Warlord and Flames of War I wrote up one of my patented painting cards. It is more or less complete; as I work on my test miniature I'll complete the card.

Finally, I decided to try a different basing scheme for this collection. Since much of the fighting for the Polish campaign takes place in villages, towns, and finally Lwow, I wanted something a little more urban. I therefore decided to mimic Sidney Roundwood's excellent World War I basing scheme. I read his article on it, and I just had to try it. I haven't got any miniature bricks yet, but I shall try and pick some up soon, so for now I am only doing the two tone colouring on the bases.

I quite like the effect, with a few red bricks it will look really sharp. As you can see the flesh is done, though I still need to finish the eyes. I've also decided to paint my Poles with their collar tabs on, since it adds a little colour. The infantry will have Blue collar tabs, and the officer's hat band will also be blue. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review: Tabletop Workshop 28mm Medieval Chapel

Another kit review. A couple more to go from Tabletop Workshop. I hope this helps prospective buyers of said terrain make an informed decision. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Poland 1939: Getting to Grips with a Campaign

In my last Poland 1939 post I mentioned that I had picked up Osprey's Poland 1939: The Birth of Blitzkrieg, which I have now read and digested it. The book is rather general in its approach to the campaign, naturally, and does not really go into any depth on the actions in and around Lwow (Lviv) or the actions of 1. Gebirgsdivision, which are the focus of my campaign. I have realized that there are actually multiple discrete facets to the campaign, which I have rendered thus:
  • The campaign as a whole: No element occurs in a vacuum or isolation from the other parts, therefore an understanding of the broader campaign is necessary, it provides a context for the actions which I am focused on. This is true of any campaign, and in this regard the Osprey campaign book has proved valuable.
  • 1. Gebirgsdivision: I need to come to grips with the organisation, disposition, and actions of the formation throughout the Polish campaign since it is the primary "Player Character" (to borrow from Role-playing nomenclature).
  • Supporting German forces: What other German formations operated close to the Mountain Division during their movements? This could define the types of support available to them. Again, using the nomenclature of RPGs, these would constitute this a German "Non-Player Character."
  • Polish Forces in the region of Lwow: Since the narrative is following the movement of the Germans, I am more interested in those units along the way than any Polish units specifically. Again, an NPC of sorts. Who do the Mountain Division "bump" into on the movements towards Lwow?
  • 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade: The exception to the above point. These chaps count as a Player Character and therefore need to be fleshed out in the manner of the German Mountain Division. 
So, as you can see, gentle reader, there are five discrete elements that require researching. The first is well under way, and is in some ways the easiest. I suspect that the real challenge will be in learning about the movements of the Mountain Division, and the Polish forces that they come up against. The 10th Motorised Cavalry are quite well documented, so this should be less problematic. I have found an excellent source online, a website which hosts vast amounts of information about units and campaigns, but in truth, the real value lies in their forums which abound with nuggets of information. A quick search for Gebirgsjäger and Poland has already resulted in some incredibly useful maps and narrative points. Whilst Osprey books tend to be great for pictures and neat maps, there is something to be said for the dearth of free data out there that rewards a little bit of careful searching. 

The campaign is a solo affair, though the actions are likely to fought by people. On the strategic level the German player is 1. Gebirgsdivision, or more likely a part thereof, as part of Army Group South. Orders are therefore filtered down from Field Marshal Rundstedt. Additional assets are made available through the same chain. On a tactical level, the player is in charge of a platoon of Gebirgsjager, the characters will all be fictional though. It is on the tactical level that the player will be able to exercise the greatest degree of control, though orders will be issued by strategic command.

The Polish player is Army Karpaty under General Fabrycy on a strategic level. Central command in Warsaw (this later moved), will issue orders from high. On a tactical level the Polish player will assume the role of defending Polish formations, most likely to be 2 & 3 Mountain Brigades due to geography, but I can't be certain of this yet. However, as the campaign progresses this is likely to become messier and by the time our campaign reaches the streets of Lwow, armed civilians start appearing. Once the 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade enter the area of operations, the Polish player will assume control of them in addition to other forces. 

Polish Aims

The Polish campaign is a very one sided affair. Poland can't win the broader campaign, so the Polish player needs to focus on other goals, how successful can they be in delaying German movements? Remember, Poland is trying to hold out until France and Britain can start agitating in the West. Can they inflict stunning victories that will be a testament to their genius and resolve? Specifically to our area of operations, can they secure the Romanian bridgehead? And finally, as the campaign ends, can they break out and into neighbouring Hungary, hoping to make it still further abroad and continue the fight against the fascists?

"To arms! Save the fatherland! Remember well our future fate." 1920 recruitment poster. Notice the Polish soldiers square topped Czapka. 
German Aims

The German campaign aim is to conclude the conquest of Poland with as little loss of life and material as possible, and as quickly as possible, since there is the very real threat of a French offensive in the West which that front is ill suited to repulse. After the shame of 1918, the German soldier is keen to prove his mettle in combat once more and restore his country's honour, taking back the lands dished out to others at Versailles.

Propaganda of the new "Drang nacht Osten". In this poster the German is cast as a Teutonic night, the figure in front wears a what appears to be a Polish lancer's Czapka. 
The information above is a brief sketch, and is likely to change as I learn more, but what I am looking to do here is document how I build the wargaming campaign, so hopefully readers will find this useful. I have been inspired in large part by Sidney Roundwood's excellent World War I Jetty Wood linked game campaign, do go and have a read. Right, and now I have some more reading to do...

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Review: Tabletop Workshops 28mm Medieval Cottage

I did a video review of this kit that I purchased from Northstar Figures. There are several more videos to come as I review more of the kits. I hope this will prove helpful to those in the market for terrain. 

Poland 1939 Campaign

Black Tree Design recently had one of their incredibly generous sales, and I took the opportunity to pick up a (roughly) platoon's worth of Gebirgsjäger. The Gebirgsjäger were mountain infantry who were an elite element of the Wehrmacht and fought with great valour in every theatre of the Second World War. My particular interest in them is due to their actions in North East Finland, holding back the Red tide.

Gebirgsjäger in Poland, 1939. Notice the Edelweiss on the right shoulder and the fact that these troops are wearing their helmets rather than field caps. 
These troops are particularly famous for their Edelweiss emblem, which was worn on both their right sleeves and the left hand side of their field caps. So in terms of painting that is certainly something I will be looking to highlight, just to make these troops look distinct from other German troops. In a similar vein, many of these figures are wearing their field caps, when in reality they would wear their helmets in combat, but much like fielding Napoleonic troops in their parade uniforms on the battlefield, this is a liberty I am willing to take. Call it artistic license if you must.

The more common image of the Gebirgsjäger in his field cap. 
I've decided to play out the opening campaign of the Second World War, Poland September 1939, following the movements of the Gebirgsjäger in the South of that country. The Gebirgsjäger fought their first engagements in this campaign as part of Army Group South under Field Marshal Rundstedt as part of 1st Gebirgs Division. Their part in this campaign was not nearly as spectacular as the rapid advances in the West, but culminates in the battle of Lviv (Lwow/Lemberg) in what is now Ukraine. In broad strokes, the division descended from the Slovakian Carpathians (with Slovak Army Bernolak in support) towards Lviv. The advance was hampered by stubborn Polish resistance, before Lviv was besieged. German attempts to take the city met with failure in the face of intense resistance. Citizen militias were armed for the defence, and eventually the famous 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade broke into the city to aid in its defence. 

A map detailing the general lines of advance into Poland. I will be focussed on the South East around Lwow.
As the Germans awaited reinforcements, the Soviet invasion of Poland began. And in a few days Soviet forces met German forces on the outskirts of Lviv completing its encirclement. With this, the Polish forces in the town negotiated a surrender with the Soviets, which was naturally dishonoured by the perfidious Russians, and many of the Polish officers taken were later murdered in the Katyn massacre of 1940.

1. Gebirgsdivision
The scope of this campaign is incredibly brief as it only covers the events of the 1st of September through to the surrender of Lviv on the 22nd. The two forces opposing each other are the 1st Gebirgs Division and Polish forces under General Franciszek Sikorski, with the 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade under Colonel Maczek arriving on around the 13th of September.

One of the most iconic units of World War II, the Polish "Black Brigade" or 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade. 
A large part of this campaign will be played solo, using a combination of ideas from Donald Featherstone's Solo Wargaming, scenarios from Joseph Legan's Platoon Forward, and Rich Clarke's At the Sharp End campaign rules for Chain of Command, and of course, the rules will be the excellent platoon level game Chain of Command. I will keep a campaign diary to track the events of the campaign, which might diverge from history depending on the outcome of the actions. I hope that this will both amuse me, and be of interest to readers. I must admit that I have been recently inspired by the English Civil War campaign diary of Ian (TheDiomedef16) who keeps a blog to this end, have a look at this very entertaining campaign diary.

I'll need to paint up the opposing forces in 28mm, which should be achievable in almost no time. As mentioned above, I'll be using Black Tree Design for the Gebirgsjäger, and chances are I will pick up some Gorgon Studios Gebirgsjäger for support weapons and variety. Polish miniatures will be largely Warlord Games, with some Black Tree Design Polish, and Gorgon Studios for the 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade. Expect to see review videos and painting tutorials popping up on the blog over the next while. 

Part of the enjoyment of this campaign is the learning aspect. I'll be doing a lot of reading and staring at maps over the period of the campaign and I'll no doubt share this experience and any interesting tidbits of information I come across. My first bit of reading is underway:

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Building a Deathwatch Kill Team

My Dark Angels Command Squad is now almost complete. The Champion is coming along nicely, and I've slowly been working on the banner. I want to continue on with the Dark Angels throughout 2015, there is even the possibility that I'll be heading over to Cardiff in February for another Dark Pact gaming weekend. It would be nice to have a few more painted toys to take the fight to Jim's (as yet) undefeated Tyranids. I have a whole pile of Ravenwing to go, in addition to a Vindicator and what not. But in the meantime, I am feeling the need for something that isn't Dark Angels, which I can work on in bits in the manner of my Ultramarines, which are now going to take a break as I try and sort out a character figure for them. And so I have decided to put together a Deathwatch Kill Team, which will be both playable in the main 40k game, but will be particularly good for Kill Team games.

I have always wanted a Deathwatch Kill Team. The notion of a Inquisitorial militant chamber made up of marines from various chapters has always appealed to me, especially fielded alongside an Inquisitor and his retinue in a small-scale skirmish narrative. With the dearth of cast shoulder pads knocking around my bitz box at the moment, there has never been a better chance for me to make a ten man Kill Team. I already have the conversion set, which includes heads, some special bolters and their cool shoulder pads, here they are with some other bits I'll be using.

Some bionic legs and a Mk. III helmet alongside the other parts I plan to use.
Close up of the heads and bolters.

Close ups of the left shoulder pads.
These are the chapter shoulder pads I am going to combine in the squad:

Running from top left to bottom right: Praetors of Orpheus, Iron Hands, Genesis Chapter, Aurora Chapter, Dark Angels, Ultramarines, Silver Skulls, and Blood Angels.
Sadly there isn't much by way of background information on the Deathwatch, save for an old White Dwarf article and the Fantasy Flight RPG books. The 40k Wiki and Lexicanum seem to sum up most of the additional information from the RPG books, so it saves me having to pay for an RPG book I will never use. From the look of it, the Deathwatch are more extensive that I had imagined, leaving me some room for cool conversions. An Epistolary, Keeper or Apothecary would be nice additions to the squad to make it a little more varied.

I also have several figures which I am going to use as the basis for some of the Kill Team marines. I will use some old metal Blood Angels, Space Wolves and Dark Angels figures, painted in the Deathwatch livery of course, but I hope the little extra details on them will make them a little more individualistic and really highlight their chapter origins. The basic colour scheme is black, with a silver left arm and shoulder pad. The right shoulder pad is the chapter of origin shoulder pad.

Thus far the following chapters will be represented:

  • Ultramarines
  • Praetors of Orpheus
  • Genesis Chapter
  • Iron Hands
  • Aurora Chapter
  • Dark Angels
  • Silver Skulls
  • Blood Angels
  • Space Wolves
There is still one more spot on the team, which could go to a "blackshield" or another chapter affiliated marine, any suggestions would be appreciated.

Finally of course, no Ordo Xenos militant arm would be complete without an Inquisitor to lead them, and Forgeworld's Solomon Lok is the chap for me. He looks like an Ordo Xenos inquisitor, whilst most of the Games Workshop produced Inquisitors are Ordo Malleus types to my eye, except for one who looks like a Witchunter.

I will get started on this and post my progress as it unfolds. As for rules, I reckon Sternguard Veterans from Codex: Space Marines will do the job nicely since they get the fancy bolter ammunition for which the Deathwatch as famous. 

+ The Emperor Protects +

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Terrain Haul from Northstar Figures

Northstar Figures are currently having a very generous sale, do yourself a favour and pay their website a visit, Nick is fantastic chap so spend you money freely. (Disclaimer: I get nothing from Northstar beyond exceptional service.)

I made a video of the things I bought...

In addition, Black Tree Design are still holding their January sale. 50% off infantry and 20% off cavalry. I took advantage of the sale to buy some medieval civilians, Anglo-Saxons, and German Gebirgsjager. Go have a look for yourself.

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014 in Review, some statistics

As is often the case at the end of the year we take stock of all that has happened and try and make sense of it all. This year has been tumultuous to say the least, starting, as it did with a move to Australia that quickly went South, and followed by a swift retreat back to Britain. Since then it has been a case of working hard to reestablish myself, and also a return to my Reserve duties after a near six month absence. Naturally this has had an impact on my miniature painting. Oddly enough my time in Australia was particularly productive, mainly because I was essentially unemployed and found myself with a lot of spare time. The big one for me was the Independent Characters Hobby Progress Challenge which started with zeal and incredibly swift progress before foundering on the rocks of reality back in Britain. So whilst it ultimately failed to produce the result of a 2000 point army, the fact that I made it to July and past the Zone Mortalis phase was a small victory. 

My Zone Mortalis force, 1000 points.
Life always gets in the way, but I am chuffed that at the end of the year I have most of a Dark Angel army to show for it, and have actually had a chance to play. Among the real positives of the year were the Dark Pact gaming weekends in Cardiff, which furnished me with an opportunity to use my nicely painted Dark Angels against Jim's beautifully painted Tyranids. These weekends of gaming and fellowship have only galvanised my desire to paint and also reinvigorated my enjoyment of Warhammer 40,000. It may not be the tight rule set that some people wish it was, but it certainly is a great game for a group of friends.

One of my favourite Ultramarines I painted this year. 
I have also more recently begun to attend Ambrosden Gaming Club with my old wargaming chum Taff, and they have given us a warm welcome. I can only hope that the new year gives us more opportunities to get together and play with toy soldiers. There are rumblings of a 40k campaign, or perhaps even something more esoteric like Necromunda. I am optimistic. As this blog documents, the bulk of my painting efforts have been 40k orientated, but I have been ploughing through other projects. My Viking fix up project is now almost complete, which has left me with a Saga force of decent proportions. Indeed, I had a look in a mystery box over the weekend only to find that I had even more of those lovely Foundry Vikings secreted away awaiting paint. 

In the realm of 15mm, I finished my Soviet Strelkovy Company which took over decade to complete. I'll cover them in a separate post, but suffice to say they are done. Hot on their heels is a Finnish platoon which as been painted in rapid time, and finished just this side of 2015.

I must also add that on the quiet I have also finished my first 15mm American Civil War Confederates. Again this was a project that had its genesis over a decade ago when I was far more into the gaming side of the hobby and which has languished in the queue. These are now done, all based up for Fire & Fury, and ready for action against the Yankees. 

I've also managed to get two more battalions of French troops ready for my 28mm Napoleonic project, bringing me up to three infantry battalions and a handful of individually based miniatures for Sharpe Practice. I have another two battalions of Ligne to add, and then a cannon and some hussars from the Perrys. Reviews and photos to follow. 

Back at the start of the year I purchased the Warmachine starter box, and in the intervening months I have only managed to paint up one Warjack and my Protectorate of Menoth Warcaster Kreoss. Work continues on the other Protectorate bits, as well as pottering along with the Khador parts. Sorscha should be ready for the camera soon. 

High Exemplar Kreoss and his Crusader.
When I reflect on what has been achieved this year it appears to be quite substantial and I must declare myself satisfied. Certainly I could have done more, but on balance, and considering the relative tumult of my life this year, it feels good. 

Figures Completed (painted, based, and varnished)
  • 30k Ultramarines - 8
  • Imperial Guard - 1
  • Orks - 4
  • Dark Angels - 45
  • Chaos - 1
  • Warmachine - 2
  • Vikings - 18
  • French Napoleonic - 53
  • 15mm Soviets - 104
  • 15mm Confederates - 63
Games Played
  • Warhammer 40k: 1 Win, 1 Draw, 4 Losses.
  • Battlefleet Gothic: 1 Loss.
As you can see, gentle reader, not so many games, but plenty more on the horizon.