Allies Defeat Germans at Fort Devens Game Day

On October 19th, 2019, the Fort Devens Gaming Day was held at the Fort Devens Museum.  This was our monthly gaming day as an “away” game day for the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  Our club sponsored two games as Scott Howland ran a pulp game in another room which was very well-received. I believe it was similar to this one.

This was my second time attending this small convention and my first time as a game master there.  For nostalgia alone, I really looked forward to the event as I was stationed at the old Fort Devens before it was closed in the 1990’s.   It has since been converted to commercial uses and some US Army Reserve functions.  Running a game here was fun.

10192019 Normandy Breakout with contact info

Mike Morgan graciously helped me set up my game in the museum among the exhibits (as you will see below)).  Thanks so much Mike!  Mike also supported Scott as a player in his game, and that was very cool.  I ran my Normandy Breakout game for What a Tanker©.  We had seven players – including several from the Mass Pikemen.  On the German side were Chris, Peter, and Steve.  On the Allied side were Leif and Walter (US), and Evan and Alex (UK).

Both sides started with 150 points/chips to use during the game.  The Allies started with a 40 points worth of vehicles.  For the UK, they bought a Dingo scout car and a Churchill “TIM” (nicknamed for theimperfectmodeler aka TIM), along with an M5 Stuart, and an M8 Greyhound for the US.  The Germans spent slightly less, choosing to buy an SdKfz 231 scout car, a StuG IIIG, and a Panzer IVH for 36 points.

1 Set up
The players prepare for battle among the museum exhibits.

The Germans took up very good ambush positions – especially the Panzer IVH, which was hull-down behind a stone wall.  The M5 Stuart successfully reconned it, and the German fired point-blank at the light tank, missing it.  The Stuart then prudently backed up behind the hedgerow.  The Churchill “TIM” then moved up the road, to be also shot at, and again missed by the Panzer IVH.  Amazingly, the Churchill immediately reversed the bad German die rolls, and miraculously hit and knocked out the Panzer IVH for its first kill ring of the day.

2 Churchill takes out Pzkw IVH
The first exchange goes badly for the Germans as the Panzer IVH missed its first two targets (the M5 Stuart and the Churchill).  The retreating M5 is at top behind the hedgerow.  The Churchill “TIM” drives past the knocked out (with crew surviving) Panzer IVH.

The Allies then successfully reconned nine possible German positions at 2 points apiece, adding to their score.  They also successfully crossed the tabletop with an M8 Greyhound, gained the points, and respawned as another M8.  The Germans spent some points and respawned the destroyed Panzer IVH crew into a Panther D which drove up next to the burning Panzer IVH.  The Churchill “TIM” went Panther hunting.

Meanwhile, the Germans tried to put an end to the Allied reconnaissance successes.  The StuG IIIG ambushed both the M5 and the Dingo gaining them crucial points, which they used to buy a Marder III.  The Allies respawned both losses with similar models.

3 StuG IIIG takes out M5, while Churchill moves around Panther
The Churchill “TIM” at top maneuvers to attack a Panther in the rear.  In the foreground, The StuG IIIG takes out the M5…  

The Allies spent some chips to respawn the Dingo as a Cromwell IV nicknamed “IRO” aka imperialrebelork.  The Germans dropped some obscuring smoke in front of the Cromwell.

4 StuG IIIG takes out Dingo, while Churchill moves around Panther
…and then the Dingo.  The Germans dropped smoke to protect the StuG from the Cromwell IV “IRO”.  The Churchill “TIM” at top hunts the Panther D.

“TIM” continued its winning ways and managed a flank shot on the Panther D.  Its good dice rolling (and the German bad dice rolling) yielded a second kill ring for “TIM”.

5 Churchill gets second kill ring against Panther
The Churchill “TIM” takes out the Panther D.

The Germans were aghast at this expensive loss and vowed revenge.  The SdKfz 231 managed to call in a rare Luftwaffe air strike on the Churchill, which destroyed “TIM” after it had been so effective.

The British mourned this loss, and respawned it as an Achilles 17-pounder nicknamed “Per”.  The British also bought another Dingo and a Cromwell IV nicknamed “JNV” or justneedsvarnish.  The US bought an M10 Wolverine.  The Germans went for broke and bought a Jagdpanther and an SdKfz 233.

The StuG IIIG went head-to-head with the Cromwell “IRO”, and took it out.  The Jagdpanther caught the Achilles “Per” in the open and made short work of it.  In the meantime, the Allies successfully crossed a Dingo and an M8 Greyhound.  This resulted in denying the Germans any end of game bonus points for preventing more than two Allied vehicles crossing the table.

To make matters worse for the Germans, the respawned M5 Stuart knocked out a well-hidden Marder III with some help from a supporting infantry assault (see how I use bonus attack cards here) and well-placed 37mm rounds.  As the game was winding down, and it was clear the Allies had a commanding edge in the score, The Germans bought a Tiger I and converged all vehicles on the plucky M5.

6 Marder III taken out and other Germans seek vengeance
The Marder III burns, and the Tiger I and SdKfz 233 hunt the M5 Stuart… 
7 Stuart will not die
…and are joined by the Jagdpanther!
8 Traffic jam
This traffic jam at game’s end yielded no damage on the M5 Stuart – the dice had completely deserted the Germans.

At games end, the final score was Allies 193, Germans 142.  This game yet again delivered a different result.  Player choices, and player luck all made this game fun and unique.

This is my 12th post about my development and running of this scenario and the models that went into making it.  I started back in May 2019, so it’s been a lot of work, but one project that I really am proud of now.

I wanted to honor the history and the struggle of the Allies in the days after the D-Day landing 75 years ago.  I will continue to run the game, and at this point I really only need to add a StuG IV to be really complete vehicle-wise (and I have one to build!).  To read about previous games and related posts, see the following:

Thanks to the Fort Devens Museum, Peter Lowitt. and the guys at Fencing Frog Gaming Adventures for running the event.  I hope to see you next year, if not sooner.  I also hope that some of the players join us at The Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.

I hope you enjoyed this post and would love to read your feedback!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Barrage 2019 Recap

The wonderful Barrage wargaming convention was held back on September 27-28 in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  It is run by the Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielers (HAWKS), and I have attended the last few years and run a few games there as well as a GM.  This year marked the 25th Anniversary of the convention.

The trip was enjoyable – and even though it’s been over a month since the event – I wanted to share some of the pics and details of the event from my perspective.  It’s not an all-encompassing review – but hopefully it will give you a flavor of the event and some nice views of some worthwhile and visually interesting tabletop games.

29 My badges

1 Old Grads
Three only slightly aging West Pointers – Dave Wood (’84), me (’84), and Buck Surdu (’85).  Dave and Buck are in the HAWKS and going to the convention doubles as a mini-reunion for us.  Plus I get to see how much better in shape they are than I am.

I drove down from Massachusetts and arrived Thursday night (the night before the convention) to help the HAWKS set up.  As a bonus, we got to play a few turns of Eric Schlegel’s Antietam: The Cornfield game using the A Union So Tested rules set.  It was a fun start.

The convention started in earnest on Friday – and I got a chance to check out some amazing tabletops.  Bill Molyneaux had a brilliant Boxer Rebellion game that had incredible terrain.  I did not get to play this game, but would have loved to try it.

I walked around Friday’s game and took some pics of a few games I loved seeing (but did not get to play) before I got into playing a Feudal Patrol™ game.  Here you can see a Napoleonic game (run by Dave Wood), a Gundam game, and a really neat G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.  Sherlock Holmes themed game (run by Sam Fuson).   There was a Flames of War Tournament.  I have not played that game despite having (as regular readers know) a TON of FoW models.  The games looked a bit crowded figure-wise – and maybe that’s normal for that game.  Note the US TIE fighter (the gamer said he did not have a proper US plane so he painted this model)…not sure about that particular add personally.

I really wanted to try another game of Feudal Patrol™.  I had played one at HUZZAH! run by Duncan Adams earlier this year.  Feudal Patrol™ is a novel skirmish game (yet unpublished) and is similar to Combat Patrol™ – except it is for pike and shot periods and earlier.  I am hoping to write an Aztec supplement for it for Buck.

Chris Palmer ran a War of the Roses scenario involving securing an abandoned supply train of three wagons.   It was just the two of us, but as Buck came available, he joined in on Chris’ side.  I started off well, but in due course I got my ass handed to me by Buck and Chris!  Still, I was glad to try it and I feel confident that this will be another great system by Buck.

16 Feudal Patrol
Not the greatest sign up!  Too bad as it was fun.

17 Feudal Patrol

18 Feudal Patrol
My forces, with the enemy Yorkists across the table.  The abandoned wagon train (the objective) is in the center.
19 Feudal Patrol
The Lancastrians.
20 Feudal Patrol
Wagon train objective.
20a Feudal Patrol
Buck confers with Chris (off-camera) as the two forces cavalry converge.
20b Feudal Patrol
Chris moves his Yorkists up and takes two wagons.
20c Feudal Patrol
I moved a leader on top of the remaining wagon to seize it.  Unfortunately, the Yorkist crossbowmen ended that effort by turning him into a pin cushion, and pinning his subordinates in the process.

20d Feudal Patrol

After this game, I walked around and took some more shots of some cool tables.  There was a 54mm scale ACW game, and a 54mm medieval mayhem game.  Greg Priebe had a Poland 1940 Combat Patrol™  game for replete with an armored train.  Lastly, there was an Aliens-inspired scratch built table that was impressive.  These shots are below.

28 ACW2
Another ACW game, in larger scale.

The last game that I played on Friday was with Dave Wood and another player.  It recreated the scenario made famous by the events portrayed in the movie Black Hawk Down.  The rules were Force on Force, which had an interesting set of mechanics, but very complicated for a short game.  We actually ran the game twice, with Dave and I as the Americans.  All agreed that the scenario was impossible to win for the US.  Still, the GM Carl Olsen made the experience enjoyable.

26aa Blackhawk down

26 Blackhawk down
The tabletop for the scenario.
27 Blackhawk down
Even with air support, the mission was too difficult for the US.

That finished off Friday.  Saturday presented an opportunity to play the massive Combat Patrol™ Star Wars Battle of Hoth scenario (from The Empire Strikes Back) of the Battle of Hoth that Buck and Greg Priebe ran at Historicon.  It was pure eye-candy (as you’ll see below), and a blast to play.  We had a full table of 10-12 players.  The Combat Patrol™ Star Wars supplement was used – and was easily picked up by the players who were new.  Buck and Greg did an outstanding job of running this massive game.

I played with several other players on the Imperial side with the goal of destroying the Millennium Falcon before it could fly out of the cave it was hiding in with the other rebel ships.  We succeeded in eventually knocking out the shield generator with an AT-AT.  Subsequently the Millennium Falcon was destroyed when our forces could get a clear shot.  A strategic victory was had for the Empire!

32 Buck Surdu and Greg Priebe Battle of Hoth
Scenario designers and GM’s Buck Surdu and Greg Priebe
30 Battle of Hoth
A view from the attacking Imperial forces side – the rebels and their spacecraft were in the cave on the far side.  The shield generator is on the far right.  The rebel trenches and positions were beautiful.  All the models were so fun.
31 Battle of Hoth
Imperial set up before the game.
32 Battle of Hoth
Rebel spaceships getting positioned in cave.  The Millennium Falcon was not yet set up on the top corner.
33 Battle of Hoth Speeders
Imperial speeders storm anti-vehicle weapons positions.
34 Battle of Hoth Inf carriers
A bloody affair.
35 Battle of Hoth
The advance continues.
36 Battle of Hoth
A very unique set of walker positions.
37 Battle of Hoth Shield Generator blows
Bye bye shield generator!

After the victory, I had some time before I needed to set up and run my Normandy Breakout scenario for What a Tanker© that I have previously run a few times.  I took a few more shots of some interesting games.  One of these was a Dungeon Crawl run by a gentleman (sorry as I forgot his name) who makes his own miniatures out of small bits of wood and paints them really well – check them out below.

After this, it was on to setting up and running my Normandy Breakout game.  I have really gotten this game to be a great gaming experience – based on both my opinion and consistent feedback from the players.  This time, I had between 9 and 11 different players as some came and went.

The Germans made some very good decisions on terrain use and vehicle selection.  The Allies did not choose enough reconnaissance vehicles, and were less effective using terrain as a whole.  The Allies did not do a good job at crossing the table – with only a M10 Wolverine (by Dave Wood) and an M5 Stuart (by Buck Surdu) crossing the board.  To be fair, the dice abandoned the Allies at a few critical junctures.

The Germans chose expensive vehicles, such as the Panther D (Greg Priebe), Jadgpanther (Andrew) and Tiger II (run by a woman known as April or “Queen Tiger” in the game), but used them effectively to stop the Allies.   This put them in a points disadvantage, that they made up with their kills.  Don Hogge’s used his SdKfz 233 very well to delay and harass the Allies.  The Germans lost no vehicles, and the Allies lost a total of 5: a Dingo scout car, an M3A1 Stuart, an M10 Wolverine, and two 17-pounder Achilles.  The Allies vehicle choices hurt them (not enough tanks and reconnaissance versus tank destroyers). This had not happened in previous runs, and is a testament to the German players having a good plan.  The final score was 160-123 in favor of the Germans.  I will continue to run this game – it has never been the same twice.

00 Chris Palmer pic of my game
I GM the mid game action (photo by Chris Palmer)
41 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
Players on the Allied side get ready to play.
42 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
Here the Americans smashed an M3A1 Stuart through a hedgerow – where it discovered a Panther D.  It took the flank shot and managed to do some temporary and permanent damage.
43 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
The Panther then turned and knocked the Stuart out – the black smoke indicates that the crew lived and bailed out, but the tank was destroyed.
44 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
With a burning Dingo behind him, a Jagdpanther confronts the Achilles “Tabitha” (named after my granddaughter).  German artillery-delivered smoke dissipates in the top of this photo.
46 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
The poor Achilles “Tabitha” is no match for the Jagdpanther, and is brewed up on the next activation.
45 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
An American M10 Wolverine gets a rear shot on the Greg Priebe’s damaged Panther, but not enough damage is inflicted… 
47 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
…and on the next activation, the Panther turned and knocked out the Wolverine.

After picking up, the last game I played in was a Roman Circus Chariot game with rules by DeWitt.  My chariot flipped and I lost – but it was fun!

And the flea market was outstanding!

Thanks to the HAWKS for a great weekend!

And thanks to you, dear reader, for looking – feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Diorama with Classic Movie Monsters from 1970’s Ral Partha

When I was young boy, the local TV station would show an old monster or horror movie on Saturday afternoon.  Sometimes these were the of the 1960’s Japanese Godzilla et. al. genre, other times they were the B-movie sci-fi stuff from the 1950’s.  Even the British Hammer remakes would be shown.  Those were all cool, but the best ones were the classic 1930’s and 1940’s films like “Dracula” (1931), “Frankenstein” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932), and “The Wolf Man” (1941).

My dad would enthusiastically watch these films with us and I have really special memories of those occasions.  Now of course every movie ever made can be had immediately, but back then you had to wait and hope that they would be coming on – and that made their rare showings quite eventful.  The subjects of those movies have seen numerous remakes, but the originals remain classics and have had a huge impact on popular culture.

One of those influences was in the creation of games with monsters, such as Dungeons and Dragons (and others) – and the miniatures that were used with them – such as 25mm scale figures from Ral Partha.  For US folks unfamiliar with 25mm scale – this is the common Ral Partha scale in the 1970’s and 1980’s and it means that each figure is only about 1″ tall.

I first was exposed to Ral Partha miniatures in 1982 – and have loved them ever since.  Sculptors such as Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, and Dennis Mize made fantastic creations that were true scale, not “hero scale” as many of today’s miniatures are.  Ral Partha figures are still made today in Cincinnati by Iron Winds Metals.  When I returned to the hobby in 2014, I acquired many of the old figures in various lots of figures on eBay.  Among these of which I came into possession were several of the old classic movie monsters.  They often were encrusted with the types of thick enamel hobby paint that was commonly used back then.  I stripped many (with some damage), and put them away for future consideration.

That future consideration arrived this month.  A local hobby store, Great Stories in Uxbridge, MA, has gaming and other hobby events that you can read about here.   One of these events was “The Great Pumpkin Halloween Hobby Challenge”.  The store had a pumpkin patch for figures to be displayed – and the only rules were that there needed to be a pumpkin (provided for $5 as entry) as part of the figure – and that it needed to be submitted by October 28th.  I decided that my filed-somewhere Ral Partha monsters would make a nice diorama for the challenge.  I dug into my stash, and found that I had 5 suitable figures, two werewolves, one mummy, one Dracula, and one Frankenstein’s Monster.  I wanted to push myself with the mini-diorama – as I have been admiring many of those by theimperfectmodeler for years (check one of his recent dioramas here).  I am nowhere near his creative league (he is award-winning) – but his work is inspiring and I wanted to see if I could accomplish something of which I could be proud.  I decided to use an old DVD and card as a base and a Woodlands Scenics rock as elevation.  The edge of the pumpkin patch would be on the DVD so I could line it up on the display at the store.

The effect that I wanted was that of having these classic monsters coming from off the pumpkin patch and moving to prey upon the unwary townsfolk beyond.

1 4 bases
1976 and 1979 figures’ bases.  From left to right is Frankenstein’s Monster (1979), Dracula (1976), The Mummy (1976), and one of the two werewolves (both were 1979).
2 cd and stone and card
The base was an old DVD sanded down – and a Woodland Scenics resin stone.
3 cd and stone and card painted
I decided to brush paint the base with primer to keep the stone pristine (and away from any airbrush mistakes).  I also wanted to have a great bond between the stone and the DVD so I affixed it prior to painting along with a piece of polystyrene card to cover the hole.

Again, these are 25mm figures so they don’t stand out like larger models.  This is what we had back in the day!  I will share details of each of the five models, and then the completed piece.  As is my custom, I will list the paints and materials I used at the end of this post for those interested.  I did use many Citadel Contrast paints as base paints.

Dracula

The Dracula/vampire model was #01-014, a Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  The base had “Ral Partha 1976” on it.  I probably over-cleaned it – but the details on it – especially the face – were not great.  Trying to get the right skin tone for Dracula was a challenge – and the lack of detail did not help.  I wanted Dracula to be the highest model on the diorama – like he was sending his evil minions forth.  The rock had a nice place for me to place Dracula’s base as its size and shape were considerations as well (it was not a removable base).

1 Dracula unpainted
Dracula after cleaning – I probably got aggressive trying to remove the old enamel (note the scratches).
2 Dracula mounted for painting
Dracula mounted and ready for airbrush priming and traditional brush painting thereafter.  I did use many of the new GW Contrast Paints on all of these models, but ended up needing other paints and products as well.
3 Dracula painted
Dracula painted and varnished.
4 Dracula mounted
Dracula mounted on the diorama.

The Mummy

The Mummy model was #01-020, another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  It was also from 1976.  This was the easiest to paint and I thought it came out as desired.

1 Mummy unpainted
After cleaning and stripping, there were still remnants of the old paint job, but these were not an issue.
2 Mummy prepped for painting
The Mummy, mounted for painting.
3 Mummy painted
After painting and varnish – looking very old school Egyptian.
4 Mummy mounted
The Mummy mounted on the diorama.

The Were Wolf (crouching model)

The were two werewolf models that I used.  The first werewolf was in a crouch.  This model was “Were Wolf” #01-061, (two words) – yet another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  However this one was from 1979.  I wanted to have this one climbing up the back slope of the rock, giving a little more depth to the piece.

1 Werewolf crouching unpainted
Some of the original paint can still be seen.
2 Werewolf crouching prepped for painting
The Were Wolf mounted for painting.  The detail on this model was still in good shape.
3 Werewolf crouching painted
A close-up shot of the model after I painted and varnished it.
4 Werewolf crouching mounted
The mounted monster climbs the back of the rock.  Here again, I needed to deal with the base.

The Werewolf (standing model)

This is the second of the two werewolf models that I used.  This model is standing (and this one is wearing pants).  It is “Werewolf” #98-003, (one word).  This could have been sculpted by Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, or Dennis Mize, as the Lost Minis Wiki is not clear on that.  The sculpt is from the The Adventurers line and has 1979 on the base.  I wanted this beast standing in the front of the diorama.

1 Werewolf standing unpainted
The Werewolf cleanup up – I do not think this model was previously painted.
2 Werewolf standing prepped for painting
The Werewolf mounted for painting.  The size of the small base was helpful in mounting to the diorama.
3 Werewolf standing painted
The figure after completion.
4 Werewolf standing mounted
The Werewolf moves forward on the diorama.

Frankenstein’s Monster

Often called “Frankenstein”, this is actually Frankenstein’s Monster (created of course by Dr. Victor Frankenstein.  The model is another one from The Adventurers line and has the designation #98-003.  The detail on this was also fairly good for a model from 1979.

1 Frankenstein's Monster unpainted
The model after I cleaned it as best as I could – some old paint remnants remain.
2 Frankenstein's Monster mounted for painting
The Monster mounted for painting – I did not want to take away any detail here as I thought it was pretty good.
3 Frankenstein's Monster painted
The painted Monster.  I went with heavy eyebrows as before I did the effect of the brow was not what I wanted.  Close up it has a little Groucho Marx look – but at a distance it worked – at least for me.
4 Frankenstein's Monster mounted
Moving to the attack!

The Pumpkin

The pumpkin was a from a Reaper sprue -and had to be part of the contest submission.

Basing the models after painting them required a bit of landscaping.  To fit better on the hobby challenge table, I made a field edge with Citadel “Stirland Battlefield” on the field and “Agrellan Badlands” on the rest of the ground.  I added autumn leaves from 4Ground (now available from Warlord Games here) to the still-wet texture paints and some matte varnish droplets on the rock.  These were placed as how I thought they would naturally collect – as well as to break up the form of the flat mini bases that were mounted on the rock.  Then, I used a handheld hair dryer to dry the terrain (and crack the Agrellan Badlands a bit).    I added some grasses from Shadow’s Edge Miniatures.  These also helped to hide Dracula’s base a bit.

6 Dracula and crouching Werewolf mounted
The Dracula figure and the crouching Were Wolf are mounted on the rock here with Gorilla Glue.  For better adhesion, I scraped away the black primer where I was going to mount the other three figures.  This also allowed me to mount them sequentially.  Doing this made it easier to paint and hide the figures’ bases with the texture paint products.
7 figures mounted, front side
The texture paints are still wet here.  I created the pumpkin patch edge with “Stirland Battlefield”, the rest with “Agrellan Badlands”.  I put a few dots of matte varnish on the low spots on top of the rock for the leaves.  While the paints were still wet, I sprinkled the autumn leaves about as you see here, then used a hair dryer to dry and crack the ground.
8 figures mounted, left side
A right side view of the same as previous.
9 figures mounted, rear side
A rear view of the previous.
10 figures mounted, right side
A left side view of the previous.

Once it all had dried, I removed the piece from the poster tack.

11 finished
Finished piece.

I then drove down to Great Stories to get it entered.  There are a lot of nice pieces there, so we’ll see how it does – and of course most folks who will vote are not used to wee 25mm scale!  It did mesh well with the edge of the pumpkin patch.  At the least, I’ll have a Halloween decoration for many years!

12 on Hobby Challenge table
The Pumpkin Patch is alive with creatures!
12a on Hobby Challenge table
Side view of the previous shot.

Thanks for looking – and I always love getting feedback and any opinions in the comments section, so feel free to post there.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE FIGURES:

On the base:

  1. Gorilla Glue gel
  2. Poster tack
  3. Used DVD
  4. Polystyrene card
  5. Woodland Scenics resin rock
  6. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  7. Citadel “Stirland Battlemire” (texture)
  8. Citadel “Agrellan Badlands” (texture)
  9. 4Ground Loose Copper Foliage
  10. Shadow’s Edge Static Grass Tufts
  11. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Commonly used on all figures for mounting, priming, and varnishing:

  1. Poster tack
  2. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  3. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  4. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  5. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

On the Dracula figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gulliman Flesh”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  3. Vallejo “Light Flesh”
  4. Army Painter “Flesh Wash”
  5. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  7. Vallejo “Black”
  8. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  9. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”
  10. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)

On The Mummy figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  2. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  3. Citadel “Longbeard Grey” (dry)
  4. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”

On the Were Wolf figure (crouching):

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  4. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  5. Citadel “Prayeti White” (dry)
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  7. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  8. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  9. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  10. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  11. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”
  12. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)

On the Werewolf figure (standing)

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  4. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Dark Angels Green”
  5. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  6. Citadel “Prayeti White” (dry)
  7. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  8. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  9. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  10. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”

On Frankenstein’s Monster figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Plaguebearer Flesh”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Ork Flesh”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  4. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Militarum Green”
  5. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Wyldwood”
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Dark Angels Green”
  7. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  8. Vallejo “Black”

On the pumpkin:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gryph-Hound Orange”
  2. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)
  3. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Ork Flesh”
  4. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)

Thanks for looking!

 

 

 

 

Remembrances etc. from my 35th West Point Class of ’84 Reunion

This blog has the subtitle Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions.  Mostly it has been focused on hobby stuff- notably miniatures and gaming – and less on the other – and often more important – aspects of Life.  This post will be a bit different for some of you regular readers and I hope that you find it interesting.  As of this writing I am happy to say that this blog has had nearly 25,000 visitors and over 100 followers from dozens of countries.  It’s an enjoyable aspect of my blogging, and I have been able to connect with many like-minded people all over the planet.  Here, I aim to give a limited view into my alma mater and a bit into my own related history.  It’s a personal glimpse to a large extent, and by no means complete, but one I decided to share some thoughts and photos.  Hopefully it’s not overly self-indulgent, but I wanted to write this up.  If you are my classmate, or fellow USMA grad, and reading this, I hope that you get that, and of course GO ARMY!   BEAT NAVY!

Last month I had the privilege of attending my 35th college reunion.

Thirty-five years – wow.

I am a proud member of the United States Military Academy Class of 1984.  Our class motto is “Best of the Corps” – which we chose while just fledgling members of the USMA Corps of Cadets.  That motto certainly did not endear us to the upper classmen from the classes of 1981, 1982, and 1983 at the time.  Some of you may be more familiar with USMA’s more common name – West Point.  We were all commissioned into the US Army in May 1984 as second lieutenants.  Only a handful are still wearing the uniform on active duty.

Regrettably, I had not attended any previous class reunions – something “always came up” with family or work.  Our class of 985 people has now lost 32 brothers and sisters.  Four of the lost are even former roommates of mine, and many more were friends I knew well.  Some of course I only knew from seeing their faces in obituaries.  No matter what, I was never going to see these fallen comrades again, and that really stuck in my craw.  This time, I was determined to attend, honor the fallen, and share some camaraderie with my classmates while it was still possible.  I fervently hope to attend more class events in the future, and hope that we all grow old well.  As for the lost – I also wanted to honor my late classmates by attending the Memorial Service for them.  Below is the program booklet from that service.

1 Page 1 Memorial2 Pages 2-3 Memorial3 Page 4 Memorial

The service was very classy and moving – and those who participated as lectors and speakers (noted above) all did an outstanding job.  I’ll always remember how Craig Bohn sat next to me in the pew and sang “The Corps” and “The Alma Mater” like an angel (really impressive).  On the list of the lost above, many I called friends.  I knew most, and roomed with four – Craig Hogan, Bill Fallon, Troy Overton, and Mike Wooley.  Too soon for all of them, and honoring them was a major motivation for my attendance this year.  God rest their souls.

After the service, which happened on Thursday, we had several activities through the weekend which I will share some shots of as well.

4 Memorial Service F-4
Mark Morin, Bruce Bruno, and Angie Gaston – all company F-4 Frogs – after the Memorial service.

The first reunion event was actually a class golf outing at the West Point Golf Course on Wednesday (the day before the Memorial Service).  I did not want to start with describing it here, as the Memorial Service, in my view, was more important.  I played with Glenn Goldman and Matt Johnson and we had a blast.  I did not play up to my desired level, but hey, we had fun.  I only wish that I had some shots of us playing.  I had not played the course since the early 2000’s – and the hole markers were awesome.  Each described a war/campaign/battle in a lot of detail (especially for a hole marker) and referred to the West Pointers involved.  They covered the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts.  I really liked them and thought I’d share them below.

The Thursday golf was a nice start to the weekend.  Much catching up occurred that night back at the Park Ridge, NJ Marriott – to continue all weekend.  Things started well with a few beers with Tom Eisiminger.  There was certainly a lot of socializing over the weekend – ending up with a class dinner on Friday night, a parade on Saturday, revisiting West Point, and of course an Army football game against Morgan State.  It was great to be among fellow classmates and graduates.

For those who are not USMA grads or classmates, some background.  As a start, I was in company F-4 (company F, 4th Regiment) for my last three years.  I was in C-1 during my plebe (freshman) year.  My yearbook photo was fine – well sort of.  Fellow F-4 Frog Bruce Bruno (from photo above) wrote my blurb underneath.  Only by the time it went to press the girl I was involved with (and had at the time planned to marry) had broken it off!  I also had Aviation branch listed (the wings).  I started after graduation as a helicopter pilot, but decided to leave flight school.  As I had failed a simulator check-ride in instruments, I was told that I’d have no chance to get into Apaches or Blackhawks as a result, only Hueys.  So, I changed branches, became a combat engineer officer, and enjoyed that greatly until I left the Army in 1992.

1 Me back in the day

5 Michie on Friday
At Michie Stadium on Friday after the Memorial Service.  I reported here on July 1st, 1980 and my parents left me in the loving arms of the US Army.  On May 23, 1984, we graduated at on this very field.
16a BOTC Beast squad
My “Beast” (Cadet Basic Training) Squad shot, summer 1980.  We got a ride in a UH-1 Huey which was awesome.  I am in the middle row on the far right.  Standing behind me is Pat Scanlan from Chicago – and we got to catch up a lot at the reunion which was nice.
6 Class Dinner Bruno, Morin, Sgro
Fellow Frogs Bruce Bruno, me, and Jeff Sgro.
7 Class Dinner Ray and Morin
One of the most fun classmates I ever hung out with – Kyle Ray.   Great dude!
8 Parade Cabacungan and Morin
Fellow Frog Gil Cabacungan and me at the parade.
9 Parade Cabacungans (Alec and Gil) and Morin
Gil’s son Alec has raised millions for Shriner’s Hospital for Children – and it was an honor to meet the fine young man.  He has been on TV nationwide for them, and is very inpiring.
10 Parade Line view
The view of The Plain from our place on the parade field.  Third and Fourth Regiments would march by our reviewing position.  The Plain is where we in our class all took our first oath to the Constitution.

You can see multiple pieces of equipment in some of these shots – helicopters, tanks, artillery, and more.  They were there to show the First Class as they decided which branch of the Army they might want to choose to enter after graduation next May.

11 Parade Line view
Third and Fourth Regiments in formation.
12 Parade Line view
A view down our reviewing line.

One of my classmates who has really served the nation well  (and there are many who have) is one hell of an impressive dude.  H.R. McMaster is a retired three-star general, the author of Dereliction of Duty, and formerly President Trump’s National Security Advisor.  We got a chance for a photo together on the Plain after the parade.  Today he’s at Stanford University.

13 HR McMaster and Mark Morin
H.R. McMaster with me…
13a HR McMaster and President Trump
…and H.R. McMaster with his previous boss…

At the parade in the reviewing stand was also the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, USMA Class of 1986.  With him was the current and Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, LTG Darryl A. Williams.   He is a member of the USMA Class of 1983, and was in my company F-4.  He was also a very tough football player.  More importantly, he was smart, decent, a true leader, and funny as hell.  He has had a stellar career.  My first semester Firstie (senior) year (1983),  he was assigned to my platoon as he was a December grad – so I was his last platoon leader – and the late Mike Wooley (from above) was with me as roommate and platoon sergeant.  It is very gratifying to see him as Superintendent developing new leaders for the US Army.  He was swamped with people after the parade, but we F-4 folks snuck in for a photo and that was great!

18b F-4 1984 in 2019
Gil Cabacungan, Bruce Bruno, LTG Darryl Williams, Angie Gaston, and me

 

14 LTG Darryl Williams and Mark Morin
A very impressive soldier and me

After the parade, we hit the old officers club for a pre-game tailgate and to change into more suitable game for an Army football game.  Angie Gaston and I took a stroll along the Plain to our old barracks, checked out the equipment, and watched the helicopters take off.

15 Chinook
CH-47
16 Scout, Apache, Blackhawk
Apache’s and Blackhawks – still serving!
17 Helicopters departing and equipment in front of barracks
You can see the aircraft moving away over the barracks and the other equipment on display.

17a Helicopters departingAngie Gaston and I then made a visit to our old home – that being the 43rd, 44th, and 45th Divisions – our old barracks, Scott Barracks, which dates from 1938.  The Divisions are very different from the other barracks.  Think of them as stacked milk cartons  put side-by-side with no connections horizontally (except occasionally on the first floors).  Divisions are thus arranged vertically – with four cadet rooms and a restroom per stacked floor (with 5 or 6 floors per Division) – if fading memory serves.  Again, as opposed to long dormitory hallways there are no horizontal connections between the Divisions.  It was a fun environment, though if you were on the top floor you got a workout going back and forth to class.  A current G-4 cadet was nice enough to take our pictures – and now this is part of G-4 as F-4’s current barracks is located elsewhere.

18 Angie and me in front of 43rd Division
Angie Gaston and I on the 43rd Division landing…
18a F-4 1984
…and our F-4 class 35 years ago.  GO FROGS!  I’m on the the top row second from the left.  Angie Gaston, Bruce Bruno, Gil Cabacungan, and even Darryl Williams are in this shot.  Jim Kelly and Larry Carroll attended the reunion but I did not get pictures of them for this post.  Of note, the late Bill Fallon and Mike Wooley can be seen here too.

19 Angie Gaston and me in front of 43rd Division

20 Morin and M1A2
Those who follow this blog know I love tanks – so here’s a shot of me and an M1A2 in 2019…
20a Morin and M1
…and one of me and an M1 in 1981 in Fort Knox, KY.  I’m happy I went Engineer, but part of me always wishes I’d gone Armor (and that I weighed the same now as here).
21 Artillery
Artillery and movers
21a Artillery
Self-propelled howitzer (155mm)

Then on the way to Michie Stadium, we got some shots of LTG Williams current home!

22 Supe's house

23 Supe's house
Angie Gaston on the front porch avoiding detection.
24 Supe's house
She wanted this shot for our friend Darryl!

The game was a blast – and it was a very warm and sunny day.  Hung out with Pat Scanlan and Kyle Ray – and even got some Steve Kreipe and Shamus Hanlon time in!

25 At the game
And on to Michie Stadium for the game!
26 Army's got this!
Army defeats Morgan State 52-21!

It was a great weekend, and one that I will cherish the memories of for a long time.  We are all getting older and a 35-year gap is frankly way too long between catching up.  That’s on me – I will do better.

Classmates Jack Picciuto and Curt Cozart did an outstanding job in organizing the reunion – and great thanks to them.   Also, a shout out to Steve Epling, Randy Lee, and Meg Gordon who keep us all connected on the world wide web.  Lastly, I want to thank all of my fellow classmates who I got to catch up with and who thankfully retained a memory (mostly good) of me.  I definitely was thrilled to relive memories with you.

As always, I appreciate any feedback you may have in the comments section – thanks for looking!

Until we meet again, GO ARMY!  BEAT NAVY!

 

Normandy Breakout Game at Mass Pikemen

Last Saturday (August 24th) we had a very action-packed game of What a Tanker© using my Normandy Breakout scenario at the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  I have been tweaking the scenario, some rules, and improving the terrain and markers – and I believe the gamers who played really noticed all of the upgrades and changes.  I have been fortunate to get valuable feedback from the gamers which has been invaluable, and this game was no exception.  I have acted as a Game Master for this game a couple of times (discussed here), and this, the third iteration, was another great game that had the players highly engaged.

For this post, I will show some of the photos that tell the story – though simultaneously being a photographer and a GM are not always easy.  I appreciate the generosity of both Chris Rett and Ted Salonich helping with some photos – as well as playing of course!

The game scenario is:

After a successful D-Day landing and consolidation, the tanks of the Americans and the British are stymied in the hedgerows of Normandy. German armor has set up effective defensive positions in favorable terrain. However, the Allies do not know the exact locations of the German tanks, and the Germans have limited knowledge of where the Allied armor will be coming from and the direction to which they will try to break out. New rules that allow reconnaissance and the effects of other combat forces will challenge both sides in this action-packed game.

The Germans are in secret positions (basically ambush positions) that they choose in advance of the Allies arrival – which is also secret in terms of the exact vehicles that the Allies choose.  Both sides get to secretly select their vehicles (with some restrictions), and poker chips are used for the scoring.  The Germans here did stop the Allies from breaking out – though the Allies were able to gain more points by both effectively recon of enough blind positions and knocking out enough valuable German vehicles.  The final score was 117-109 in favor of the Allies – with the game score turning on the Allies knocking out a Jagdpanther on the last turn.  The casualties were:

  • Allies – 5 vehicles:
    • UK – 3 vehicles:
      • 2 Daimler Dingoes
      • 1 Firefly
      • 1 M10 Achilles
    • US – 2 vehicles:
      • 1 M3A1 Stuart
      • 1 M10 Wolverine
  • Germany – 3 vehicles:
    • 1 Sdkfz 233
    • 1 Panther D
    • 1 Jagdpanther

Let’s see what the day looked like!

4 map at session
The Allies moved on from here.  The British had the far left road, and the Americans had the far right road.  The middle road could be used by both Allies.  The wooden discs are possible German positions to be reconned.
5 map at session
A side view of the tabletop that better shows some of the (blind) possible German positions.
6 map at session
The view from the German side of the board that the Allies needed to cross.
1 Me as GM
Your properly attired GM.  (Photo by Chris Rett)

The Germans effectively used a Bonus Attack card to draw first blood – calling in a rare Luftwaffe attack on a Daimler Dingo.

7 Dingo hit by Luftwaffe
The Daimler Dingo hit by the Luftwaffe – my new blast/knocked out tank markers looked pretty amazing (and I am biased of course).
4 Jagdpanther hunts Stuart
A Jagdpanther prepares to engage an M3A1 Stuart from an excellent ambush position.  The Stuart decided to run around the corner and recon the disc on the left…(Photo by Chris Rett)
5 Surprise!
… and the Stuart “successfully” reconned the position – it went around the bocage to find the Elefant in the room. (Photo by Ted Salonich)
5a Surrprise
The Stuart fired its 37mm at the frontal armor of the Elefant.  No effect.  The Elefant returned fire, and blew away the Stuart.
9 Firefly knocked out by StuG G
A Panther D and a StuG G combine forces to knock out a Firefly near the burning Dingo.
10 Panther D knocked out by Achilles
An M10 Achilles fires at and knocks the Panther D into a ruined building, damaging it.  It gets a second shot, and rolls well enough to torch the Panther.
11 M18 Hellcat moves up to help British
The Americans move up an M18 Hellcat to help the Brits – it ended up moving behind the Jagdpanther and was able to destroy it.
8 Gamers
The gamers ponder their moves.
13 Last shot
The Allies called in a lot of artillery-delivered smoke to protect their vehicles.  It was effective.
6 Panther burns and Tiger I arrives
Here comes the Tiger!  Note the StuG G that ambushed the M10 Wolverine.  The crew of the M10 survived – as denoted by the black smoke versus the fiery smoke.  Also shows the Allied smoke screen in front of the Jagdpanther.

As the German vehicles are worth, in general, much more points, the loss of their expensive vehicles made a big difference.  Both sides played well, but I have to say the Germans were not very lucky with their dice at times.  

I will be tweaking the game scenario in a couple of ways:

  • Adding stopping bonuses for the Germans:
    • A 20-point bonus for the Germans if no Allied vehicles are able to breakout across the tabletop.
    • A 10-point bonus for the Germans if only one Allied vehicle is able to breakout across the tabletop.  If 2 or more cross, no German bonus.
    • Award the Germans 2 points for each unreconned point.  This will incentivize recon, but force the Allies to choose what is most important.  (The Allies already get 2 points for each reconned point.)
  • Allow a “banked 6” to be used for either an advantage on the next activation (per the rules) or as an automatic “6” on the next activation roll (determined by the player on the turn he banks it). Thanks Ted Salonich!

Thanks again to the all of the players.  And for those who follow this blog who wondered if their named vehicle got fried, only one Cromwell (“IRO”) deployed and did not get into action.  However, the M10 Achilles “Per” (named for Per from Roll a One) did get knocked out by one of the StuG G’s.   Sorry my Swedish friend!

Hope that you enjoyed this – and I will be running this game on Saturday at BARRAGE in Maryland (September 28th) and at the Fort Devens Game Day on October 19th.  I may also run it at other upcoming gaming cons if possible.  Thanks for looking!

 

 

Knocked-Out Tank Markers for What a Tanker

With my having committed to multiple upcoming games of my What a Tanker© Normandy Breakout scenario, I wanted to have everything as good as possible.  I made smoke/blast markers with tea lights in the past that I have used in multiple games.  They are great as mortar and artillery, especially with 28mm scale stuff, but not suitably-sized for use on 15mm scale tanks as markers.  In the game, I wanted to be able to designate a knocked out tank better – and if possible – differentiate between a tank that was just knocked out (where the crew survives) and one that was both knocked out and brewed up (where the crew does not live).  These are important distinctions in the game, as I allow crews that survive to get another tank and keep their training and experience (and bonuses) as they reenter the game.

I also wanted to have a better looking tabletop where the tank wrecks are more visible and frankly more realistic smoke-wise.  My older smoke markers are good for artillery-delivered smoke screens, but as you see below, I needed an improvement.

4 painted smoke markers lit up in dark
My tea light blast markers look great here…
1 current smoke markers
…but are way too big here – especially on even smaller vehicles.  Additionally, they do not stay easily on the vehicles due to their size.

I set out to create a new set of markers that would look better, stay on the vehicles, and differentiate between brewed up and just knocked out tanks.  As I use neodymium magnets in most of my tanks’ turrets and they are all similarly oriented in polarity, it was easy to devise a marker using a ceramic magnet as a base.  The magnets I used were small enough and heavy enough to stay on the tanks – even those without magnetic properties.  I used ½” ceramic magnets, #10-24 steel machine screw nuts, and more used ¼” (approximately) steel ball bearings from Jeff Smith’s broken fairway mower to build the core of the marker.  Making sure that the polarity was correct (markers that would be pushed off the vehicles would serve little purpose!), I used Gorilla Glue to fuse the magnet to the nut, and the nut to the bearing.    Then, I mounted the cores on screws and primed them.  I planned for 20 to be black and grey smoke for disabled tanks, and for 20 to be full-on flames.

After the primer had dried, I painted the flaming cores red, orange, and yellow with cheap craft paints to simulate a ball of fire.  Lastly, I applied gloss varnish to the cores to give more reflection.  The smoke ones just got painted black.  If interested, you can see a list of the materials I used at the end of this post.

2 materials
The ball bearings, nuts, and ceramic magnets I used.
3 magnet, nut, and ball bearing
The core.
5 mounted cores for painting
The flaming cores mounted here after red paint was applied.  Later coats would be yellow and orange to simulate a fireball.

For surface smoke, I went with pillow batting cut off in thin strips of 1-1½”.  As each core needed 4-6 strips, I cut nearly 240 strips.  I hot glued the strips in a flower pattern on the cores.

2a materials (batting)
“Limited only by your imagination” indeed!
4 cut up batting
Batting strips cut before hot gluing to the cores.
6 after batting glued
Here are the cores after hot gluing the batting.

Now, I used a different product to connect the batting in a smoky shape.  As I have built tanks, I have used decals.  The best way to revitalize decals is to coat them with Microscale’s Liquid Decal Film.  However, using this product on the decals as they are on your tanks themselves can ruin the underlying paint (unless used over varnish).  But, this stuff makes a solid protective and nicely tacky coat – as I learned making placards for my Attack of the Warbots game.  I applied the Liquid Decal Film to the strips, forming the small smoke shapes around the cores.  I let these set up and dry.  The stuff worked well, and I got the effect I wanted where you can see the cores on the flaming ones.

7 after batting assembled with liquid decal film
After the Liquid Decal film formed the smoky shapes.
8 close up of ready to paint marker
Close up of the core after the smoky shape was formed.

When I paint fire, I like to go from bottom to top with yellow, orange and red.  Here, I decided to use glazes and inks for these colors with my Iwata Micron airbrush at 28 psi.  This allowed me to really blend the colors –  which were Citadel “Lamenters Yellow” (a glaze), P3 “Blazing Ink”, and P3 “Red Ink”.  I then used two Vallejo Game Air paints –  “Black” and “Wolf Grey” – to create a smoky effect.  I also used these latter two on the smoky black/grey cores.

9 completed markers
A view of the flaming markers and 3/4 of the smoky ones as they dried.  
10 using magnetic tacky sheets for transport
The new markers with one of the older (previously made) larger ones in back that I will only use as smoke now.
10a using magnetic tacky sheets for transport
These fit nice and snug on 4 Aleene’s tacky sheets in a 4-liter Really Useful Box.
11 Sherman comparisons
For comparison, these three Shermans have (l-r) a new smoky marker, a flaming marker, and the old large blast marker.  What you cannot see is how well the magnetic ones stay on the vehicles – and these are plastic.  The neodymium turret-mounted magnets and ceramic magnets attract well and effectively, which the larger one does not.
12 M10 comparisons
The M10 (Battlefront) on the left has a turret magnet, while the Old Glory type on the right is lead/tin.  The weight of the magnet keeps the marker on the Old Glory M10 very effectively.
13 light US vehicles
Even on smaller vehicles, these work well.  Here an M3A1 Stuart, an M8 Greyhound, and an M24 Chaffee are all well-marked.  The M8 has no magnetic turret, yet this works well here as well.
14 StuG G and Panzer IVH with knocked out markers
Some vehicles have no turrets like these plastic StuG G’s  – but the markers work great on the deck or the top.  The plastic Panzer IV H magnetic turret holds the smoke marker well. 
15 Tiger II burning
Last but not least, a Tiger II is brewing up.

I also participate in my Australian blogging buddy Azazel’s mothly painting challenges.  This month is “Awesome August” – and submissions were to be HUGE…or… as he wrote:

“If you really prefer to skip the biggies – that normal sized model that you’ve (ideally) done a job that you’re proud of converting or kitbashing, painted to the best of your ability. Remember, it’s not a competition – it’s a showcase – so your only competitor is yourself.  So, the TL:DR is that August’s challenge is to complete something big. Ideally, really big. Or something small that’s ideally converted – and painted really well by your own standards.”

I think that converting ceramic magnets, nuts, used ball bearings, and pillow batting counts as a conversion!  And not for nothing, I really like the paint jobs on these markers.  So, this is my entry for Azazel’s Awesome August ’19 Community Painting Challenge .

I hope that you enjoyed this and maybe got some ideas – please share your thoughts in the comments section, and look you can forward to seeing these used in my after-action battle reports!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE MARKERS:

  1. Magnet Source ½” “Ceramic Disc Magnets”
  2. Everbilt #10-24 Steel nuts
  3. Used ~¼” steel ball bearings from Jeff Smith’s fairway mower
  4. Gorilla Glue
  5. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  6. Reaper MSP “Black Primer”
  7. Americana “Primary Red”
  8. Craftsmart “Orange” (satin)
  9. Martha Stewart Crafts “Duckling Pearl”
  10. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  11. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish
  12. Loops & Threads “Classic Loft Batting”
  13. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  14. Citadel “Lamenters Yellow” (glaze)
  15. P3 “Blazing Ink”
  16. P3 “Red Ink”
  17. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  18. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  19. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”

Always love to get your feedback and read your thoughts?  See you next time!

US Tanks and Tank Destroyers for Normandy Breakout Scenario

Welcome back dear reader for the latest installment on my US armored forces!  I needed to add more US vehicles for my Normandy Breakout scenario which uses the What a Tanker© rules by the UK-based company Too Fat Lardies.  I do modify these rules for the scenario.  For those who missed them (like some of the HAWKS did because I used the wrong hashtag!), the posts about the other vehicles and playtests for this scenario can be found at these links:

Vehicle Posts:

Playtest and related gaming posts:

I am planning on running this scenario at three upcoming events:

  • August 24th at the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club in East Brookfield, MA
  • September 28th at BARRAGE in Havre de Grace Maryland
  • October 19th at the Fort Devens Game Day at the former Fort Devens, MA

This project, with the possible exception of an additional stray German vehicle or two, completes the list of vehicles I need for the scenario.  In looking for vehicles, I wanted to add some Shermans, another M10 Wolverine, and an M18 Hellcat.  I found a deal on a box of 5 plastic British Shermans M4A1’s with cast hulls that would work.  I would have preferred getting models like my M4A2 – but that one is OOP and even the American Shermans that Battlefront is selling now are basically M4A1’s.  So these British ones, properly assembled, at 15mm scale, is just fine.

For an M10, I converted an Old Glory M10 Achilles by using a leftover gun to make it look like an original version.  Technically, is that a conversion of a conversion?  After seeing how John at Just Needs Varnish! added a plastic card underneath his models to make them easier to paint, I was inspired to add a small steel base under my M10 chassis.

The M18 Hellcat I found was really nice – and I wish I had another as well.  This one had a slightly broken front fender, but its hardly noticeable.  In any case, I used enough mud and dirt to obscure that problem.

I also decided to use the Battlefront naming decals on all of these to help differentiate them on the tabletop – as well as by adding spare road wheels, spare tracks, and other accouterments to all of the vehicles.  Thanks to my good friend Jeff Smith, the Shermans got some real steel in them by means of ball bearings in the chassis.

I decided to weather these slightly differently by adding pigments – inspired by Pete’s blog and a Merkava he built.

After a few in-progress shots, I will describe the vehicles alphabetically by name and type.

M4A1 “Betty”

1 M4 Betty, left side, crosses a field
“Betty” crossing a field.  

2 M4 Betty, right side, in a field

M4A1 “Blood ‘N Guts”

1 Blood N Guts completed, left side
“Blood ‘N Guts” crossing an opening in the bocage.

2 Blood N Guts completed, left side, crossing the opening in the bocage

M4A1 “Destruction”

1 Destruction after decals
“Destruction” early in the weathering process right after decal application.
2 Destruction after pigments
“Destruction’s” chassis after weathering
3 Destruction in the hedgerows
“Destruction” moving down the road between the hedgerows.
4 Destruction completed, left side
“Destruction” left side – as an experiment I used Citadel contrast paint on the tarp.

M4A1 “Let ‘Er Buck”

1 Let 'Er Buck after decals and some weathering
“Let ‘Er Buck” chassis early in weathering.  I chose this name/decal in honor of Buck Surdu, though as an infantryman he may object…

2 Let 'Er Buck finished, left side3 Let 'Er Buck finished, front side

4 Let 'Er Buck finished, right side
Note on all these that I used different gear in different stowage to differentiate the tanks.

M4A1 “Polly”

1 Polly completed, left side
“Polly” by some ruins.  As I have a pet cockatiel named Caesar, this is as close as he gets to an avatar tank.

2 Polly completed, right side3 Polly completed, right side, at crossroads

M10 Wolverine “Demon”

1 M10 Demon after weathering
“Demon” getting dirtied up.
2 M10 Demon crosses field, left side
“Demon” crossing a field.  I did not buy crew for this one.

3 M10 Demon crosses field, right side

4 M10 Demon crosses field, front side
Nice view of “Demon’s” front showing the replacement gun.
5 M10 Demon and other Battlefront M10
On the left, “Demon” from Old Glory, on the right, my previously built M10 from Battlefront for comparison.  I used more mud and dirt on “Demon” as it was a much less detailed casting.

M18 Hellcat “Lucky Tiger”

1 M18 Hellcat Lucky Tiger after some weathering
M18 Hellcat “Lucky Tiger” chassis all dirtied up.  I chose the name/decal as I am sure sometime it will face a Tiger I or Tiger II, and it will need to be lucky!
2 M18 Hellcat Lucky Tiger right side on road
“Lucky Tiger” completed and moving down the road.

3 M18 Hellcat Lucky Tiger right side on road4 M18 Hellcat Lucky Tiger left side on road

5 M18 Hellcat Lucky Tiger aerial view on road
Aerial view of “Lucky Tiger” showing the ID decal to keep away friendly air attacks.

6 M18 Hellcat Lucky Tiger front view on road

Group Shots

1 Shermans aerial view
Shermans in convoy on road.

2 Shermans aerial and side view

3 Shermans front shot
Frontal view of the five Shermans.
4 All US front shot
My complete American armored troops (currently) for the ETO.  Front row left to right: two M4’s (Wargame Models in Ohio); the five Sherman M4A1’s of this blog post (Battlefront); one M4A2 (Battlefront).  Second row l-r: M10 Wolverine of this post (Old Glory); M10 Wolverine (Battlefront); M18 Hellcat of this post (Battlefront); three M8 Greyhounds (Old Glory).  Third row l-r: two M5 Shermans (Wargame Models in Ohio); one M3A1 Stuart (Battlefront); two M24 Chaffee’s (eBay 3D printed acquisition).  I built and painted all but the Wargame Models in Ohio models.

5 All US side shot

The US vehicle menu for the scenario looks like this now.

US Army Menu

I hope that you enjoyed this post – and thanks in advance for your feedback in the comments section!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. E6000 epoxy
  3. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  4. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  5. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  6. Vallejo Model Air “US Olive Drab”
  7. Extra .50 cal machine guns from Battlefront kits for the M10 and the M18
  8. Extra 3″ gun from Battlefront kit for the M10
  9. ½” steel base from Wargame accessories for the M10
  10. Steel ball bearings from Jeff Smith’s fairway mower
  11. Daisy Air Rifle BB’s
  12. Reaper MSP “Black Primer”
  13. Vallejo Model Air “Dark Brown”
  14. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  15. Army Painter “Military Shader” (wash)
  16. Battlefront “European Skin”
  17. Battlefront “Skin Shade” (wash)
  18. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  19. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Militarum Green”
  20. Battlefront “Oxide Red”
  21. Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash”
  22. Microscale Micro-Set
  23. Microscale Micro-Sol
  24. Microscale Micro-Satin
  25. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  26. Vallejo Game Air “Satin” (varnish)
  27. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  28. Appropriate decals from Armorcast
  29. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  30. Vallejo “White”
  31. Vallejo “European Mud” (Thick Mud)
  32. Vallejo “European Slash Mud” (Splash Mud)
  33. Vallejo Weathering Effects “Crushed Grass”
  34. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  35. Vallejo “Light Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  36. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish