Shermans, Shermans, and maybe a pinch more Shermans

With a plan firmly in place around some painting and modelling inspiration, it is now time to start thinking about the Army and what I will paint first. Like the rest of the Big Four I have grabbed one of the new Late War Starter Armies. With a great mix of models it can either be a complete legal army, or the foundation for one (or more).

My plan is to use it as the later – everything in the Army Deal has a place in my painting list, it is just the order that I am going to play around with. For Fortress Europe I have decided to base my Force around a Sherman Armored Squadron with as many Firefly tanks as I can fit in. That means a Squadron HQ of 2 Sherman (75mm) tanks, and 4 Troops, each containing 2 Sherman (75mm) tanks and 1 Firefly (17pdr). With 10 Sherman tanks that gives me plenty of Anti-tank 10 (which can deal with pesky T-34 and Panzer IV tanks) and high explosive rounds to knock out guns or infantry. The four Firefly tanks pack a massive wallop with Anti-tank 14 – that’s enough to punch through a Tiger or Panther. Best of all, it only comes in at 60 points.

Knowing that the other guys have plenty of armour in their forces it would be silly of me to not use the four M10 (17pdr) tank destroyers that is also in the Army Deal. These vehicles have the same gun as the Firefly, but I get four of them for only 18 points!

Painting infantry is certainly my least favourite part of the painting process, but I have been assured that the plastic British figures are both quick to paint and look really good so this is enough for me to add an under-strength Motor Platoon of 3 Bren Gun teams, a PIAT and 2-inch mortar. These will be hard-pressed to achieve much on the table, however it is a manageable figure count for me to punch out. At 6 points they are cheap and being Careful (Hit on 4+) if they hunker down they will stick around. Where there are infantry, there are Carriers… so I’ll be adding a Patrol of 3 – for 2 points they give me a cheap Scout and Spearhead unit.

Alternatively… 3 Stuarts is also 6 points (and coincidentally the number that come in the Army Deal) so I might knock these out initially as a good “test paint” platoon and then do the Motor Platoon later.

Rounding out the force is my battery of four 25 pdr guns. These are fantastic as they can lob HE rounds across the table knocking out dug-in troops (and guns) with ease, plus they have a handy AT rating of 9. Put them on an Objective, dig them in and they will defend it till they die thanks to their Fearless Motivation rating of 3+.

This leaves me with a few things left over from the Army Deal, mainly some extra infantry and Churchills. Assuming I get the understrength platoon painted, the remainder of the figures will be part of my second wave – painting the extra figures so that I have either 2 full-strength Motor Platoons, or 1 maxed out Rifle Platoon. Last, but not least, are the Churchill tanks. I have a plan for these, but it can wait a little while…

The Painting Plan: I don’t want to have to revisit things where possible so I am planning on doing some future proofing. I’ll start with the Stuarts as these are a tidy little platoon where I can knock out a small number of tanks in one go, testing out my paint colours and decal plan to make sure that the finished platoon looks good before tackling the rest. I should do a single test model but I’d rather just dive on in…

The Shermans will be my next port of call and I intend on doing some extras so that I can chop and change the list, as well as doing some extra Firefly tanks on the presumption that in later years we will get to add more. I also have some thoughts about decals and stowage, but more on this later…

Next on the shopping list will be the M10 tank destroyers, partially because they are great! And partially because the crew will give me a chance to experiment on painting infantry and gun crew, whilst still being able to hide any mistakes (since 90% of the figure is inside the turret).

The infantry and 25 pdr crews will probably be last on the painting list, simply because they will use similar colours and techniques and I enjoy painting tanks more than people.

Time to get building…

~Chris

Sherman Tanks: Advance!

Motivation and Skill are two of the most important stats in Flames Of War, determining how keen your troops are to do scary things, and how good they are at doing them. Selecting a Nation and an Army for the Big Four Project (for me at least) tapped in to the same two things…

Motivation: what drives us to do something. In the case of the Big Four we all wanted to go on the Late War Journey as a group of friends, whilst sharing it with a community of (hopefully) interested Flames Of War players. Drilling down further we see that:

  • Victor: wants to build a great looking, visually thematic American force that he can plug in new units into.
  • Casey: also wants a visually themed force, but one that challenges his ability (Skill) but working on a different painting style.
  • Wayne: is planning a historically themed force that fought throughout Late War.
  • Chris: well….

I am drawing on a few different areas, TV and Movies, Gaming, and a desire to finish a project that I have failed to complete previously…

TV, Movies and the Internet – if you haven’t watched A Bridge Too Far, then go to your favourite streaming service or movie rental and watch it… now!

Obviously ABTF isn’t the only reference that I am drawing from but there is just something about that movie and its portrayal of not just the Paras, but also the Irish Guards and their columns of Sherman tanks pushing up the road to Arnhem that has really stuck with me.

Then, just do a search on the internet for images of the British army in Normandy – from images of troops fighting in the hedgerows to Shermans covered in stowage and track links, there is plenty to draw inspiration from.

Gaming – I enjoy playing the mix of models that a British Army can run in Late War – middle of the road Sherman tanks, very shooty Firefly tanks, resilient Rifle Platoons, nippy (fast) Carriers, all rounders like the 25pdr gun, and heavily armoured Churchills. There is something for everyone, and in a game where you can field a good mix of models this means I am not short of options in my Army Building Toolbox. A balanced force can deal with anything…

Finishing Something – I’ve started British forces three times since I started at Battlefront… a Cromwell Company not long after I started, inspired by the individually sculpted resin models that Jeremy and James built and painted. A British Guards Sherman Company when we were working on the Bridge Too Far Firestorm Campaign – a terrible paint job left me too grumpy to complete the project. The final false start was my Comet Company, still sitting in a box, assembled and ready for painting, relegated to a box in the garage. Spoiler Alert – year four of the Journey it will be coming back to the painting table!

This brings me to Skill – I am the least capable painter/hobbyist of the group. I am handy with a paintbrush but my painting ability is not what brings me to the hobby. However, I have a plan here as I work alongside some pretty clever guys. I will be picking their brains to come up with a painting plan that means I can complete a nice looking (hopefully) tabletop army using some of the tips and tricks from Colours Of War, along with a few of the skills I have picked up along the way.

On the good side, British vehicles can have a lot of colourful markings on them and there is nothing like a pile of decals and a couple of interesting pieces of stowage to really help finish off a tank and make it look good.

Where I am backing myself is the gaming side of things. I feel like I have a very solid list to build initially that will let me dish out some hurt on the tabletop. Casey, Wayne and Victor’s tanks will all burn the same colour after my Firefly tanks brew them up…

So with the Late War Journey just beginning I feel like have the basis of solid plan put together – time to sort out an initial painting list and get it assembled.

~ Chris

Who Are The Big Four?

Four Nations. Four People. Four Army Deals. Welcome to the Big Four Of Late War…

Victor “el Presidente” Pesch is the ring leader of Big Four, having come up with the entire concept of embarking on the Journey alongside our players. Known in the Studio for his painting prowess he spends his days wrangling Photoshop and InDesign working as a Graphic Designer, whilst his nights are spent working on whatever new project takes his fancy. He has his eyes set on an American force filled with Sherman tanks. For now…

Wayne “the Veteran” Turner is one of the longest serving employees in the company, having worked in almost every department of the company from Game Design to Production. These days he finds himself primarily working on Team Yankee, but a return to Late War has him excited to return to World War II and the chance to build his first Panzer IV based German army.

Casey “Comrade” Davies has built more Soviet models than anyone can count, with an astounding seven complete Strelkovy Companies to his name. After some debate he grabbed the new Soviet Army Deal whilst making noises about wanting to try his hand at building a new Hero Company. Like Victor he spends his days creating the books, cards and imagery that you see whenever you play a game of Flames Of War (or Team Yankee).

Chris “The Magpie” Townley is always looking forward to the next project, even before he has finished whatever is currently sitting on the painting table. He spends his time pouring over spreadsheets and planning documents, all the while looking over the writers shoulders trying to noodle his “next big project”. For Chris, the Late War Journey is a chance to finally build that British Sherman company that he has been planning for almost 10 years…

To follow their individual progress you can click on the handy icons over on the right hand menu, as well as checking out the groups Instagram feed to see plenty of behind-the-scenes activity. Over the next few years there will also be plenty of great content coming from the rest of the Battlefront family so don’t forget to keep an eye on the Flames Of War website for this, as well as all the latest news and information on what is happening.

~The Big Four Of Late War

The Big Four Of Late War – A Flames Of War Journey

On June 6, 1944, thousands of men were nervously waiting in landing craft, transport aircraft and bunkers as the fate of the world rested on their shoulders. The liberation of Europe was about to begin.

75 years later, across the world, thousands of gamers are preparing to embark on a journey of their own as Flames Of War returns to Late War. Starting with Fortress Europe and the D-Day series of books Battlefront will spend the next four years extensively covering the fighting in Europe through 1944 to 1945.

For gamers this is an amazing opportunity to grow a new army from nothing, starting by choosing a nation, a theme and then selecting the models that they want to use as the basis for their army. Then, over the next four years as each new theatre is explored, they will be able to add new units to their force, just like the real armies of World War II.

At the beginning of the journey, the humble Sherman will be fighting head to head versus the dreaded Tiger tank, whilst as the war progresses the King Tiger, Pershing and IS tanks will change the shape and nature of the battlefield. These changes will make the shared journey through Late War that much more interesting and dynamic as we, the commanders of the battlefield, pick the best forces available to us on the day, whilst looking forward to the next “wonder weapon” that will ensure that we will be victorious in tomorrows battles.

Collectively we (the “Big Four” – more on who we are later) have been playing Flames Of War for around 50 years and we think that the Late War Journey is the one of the most exciting things to happen to the game since its original release back in 2001. Now, with people all around the world taking their first look at Late War and building new armies, we wanted to come on the journey with you and take a fresh look at our favourite period of Flames Of War.

This will be like no “Tale of Four Gamers” series of articles that you might have seen in the past. Instead it will be an epic journey (one with Tanks instead of Ringwraiths) that will take part over four years…

Starting with the release of Fortress Europe we will be creating armies using our new Army Deals as the basis, building and painting from scratch, and then getting them on the tabletop to play some games.

During the course of the first year, we (just like you) will be able to access new units and Formations as the D-Day series of books is released. This will give us the chance to tweak our armies by selecting new organisations or building and painting new models. On the Big Four Of Late War website you will be able to see our finished efforts, as well finding out what we are planning on working on next.

If you want to keep up with what we are up to on a day-by-day basis you can also follow our Instagram feed where we will be showing off progress photos as we build and paint the models.

At the conclusion of the Journey we will have built entire new armies, filled with great new models, as well as having played a pile of games as we try to find out who is the biggest of the Big Four.

We look forward to you coming on the trip with us…

~The Big Four Of Late War