Christmas Is Coming…

With Christmas and the end of the year coming up so fast, we each took the opportunity to look back at what we have achieved and what is in store for us next year…

Merry Christmas from the Big Four, and of course the whole Battlefront Team.

Look after yourselves, friends and loved ones, and if Santa doesn’t bring you a nice big box of tanks, well it is safe to say he wouldn’t mind if you went out and picked up one yourself – you deserve it!

And of course, stay tuned to the Big Four Of Late War here and on Instagram, because 2020 is going to be full of cool stuff, new plastics, and more fun and frivolity that you won’t want to miss out on…

~ The Big Four

Its been an interesting few months working on my Big Four army.

I’ve been quite excited about the project as its given me the excuse to paint an army that I would otherwise never do.

I haven’t been as prolific as the rest of the Big Four, only having finished 3 platoons, while everyone else has managed well over 100 points. In atypical fashion for soviets, its about quality not quantity, and I’m very happy with how my tanks are turning out, as they are looking better than I expected.

There is actually something quite cathartic about painting whitewash, I just wish I had a bit more hobby time so I could get the army painted a bit faster.

The most frustrating thing about the army was taking 3 months to finish my first unit, but a lot of that was due to having to work out my painting process, since then everything has gone a bit faster. I also had to delay starting the project as I had to finish a Team Yankee army for a tournament first.

Over the holiday I’m going to take a break at the beach so I wont be getting anything done, but in the new year I want to get 13 T-34s painted to finish off my 100 point before moving onto some of the new kit from Bagration: Soviets. (I’m currently laying the book up and IS-2s are looking awesome!)

~ Casey

The Big Four of Late-war project this year has been pretty good for my production. It gave me a focus for my Flames Of War painting, with some deadlines to aim for, and to have at least something progressed each week. This kept me at my painting desk more often, even spilling over into a couple of other projects.

So what have I actually finished?
Hopefully you have seen my first 100 points of my D-Day: German Panzer IV tank company I painted for the Big Four project (10x Panzer IV, 2x Tiger, 4x Sd Kfz 251, 1x Panzergrenadier Platoon, 2x 8.8cm AA gun, 3x 15cm Nebelwerfers). In process on my desk is another 4x Panzer IV, and 3x Panther. I’ve also assembled 4x Sd Kfz 250 half-tracks that I’ll paint after the Panzer IVs are done. One Sd Kfz 250 will be an artillery observer, while the other three will be Scout Platoon. The Panthers are complete except for the tank commander and varnish.

In addition I also painted three German StuGs and a Machine-gun Platoon for other FOW projects, as well as a M113 OP and M113 Panzermörser Zug for my World War III: Team Yankee West Germans, plus about 20x 28mm miniatures.

Lessons learned from my painting this year
I think my painting improved a bit this year, if only by virtue of realising my eyesight needed a little help. I got myself some reading glasses and an Optivisor. This has improved what I can see immensely. Seeing what you are painting is surprisingly useful.

For my Panzer IVs I applied quite a thin lined camouflage and for this had my airbrush turned down to produce as thin a line as it could, but I was getting some peripheral specks. I was using a 0.3mm needle, so I have now brought a 0.2mm needle and nozzle kit. I will try this soon and see if it improves the speckling.

What are my Big Four goals for the Christmas break?
Not sure as yet as I’ll be heading down to my parents for Christmas at the other end of the North Island. I might take some preparatory work with me. When I get back to Auckland I hope to finish my third Tank Platoon of Panzer IVs, with camouflage applied with the smaller airbrush needle setup.

What Big Four hobby am I planning for the first quarter (Jan-March) of 2020?
There are so many options. It is likely January will be taken up with the Sd Kfz 250s, after that I might paint some more Panzergrenadiers. From other side projects I have another three StuG on my desk that have been half completed for a while, so I should finish them.

Have a great holiday break and I will see you all in the New Year!

~ Wayne

It has been a great year for Flames Of War Late-War, and I’m proud of us here at Big Four. We’ve raised four armies from scratch (although Casey is slacking) and fully embraced the late-war journey.

I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made and the American force I’ve ended up with. The painting process has been really fun, working out a process that is easy to repeat, and using quick techniques that still produce a result I’m proud of. It’s also been rewarding learning about American equipment; most of my knowledge before starting this army had been about German kit.

I’ve got a lot of list building options now, but there’s always more to do! This past month has been a bit chaotic for me in my home life (for good reasons) which means painting progress halted temporarily. Over the X-mas break I plan to get my Cavalry Recon Troop finished, and start painting my M12’s.

After that, I have a plan to prepare for Panzerschreck in July. I’ll be teaming up with Wayne and convincing him to play Americans, which means I’ll provide the full 140 points. One of us can run a Sherman company, and so I’d like to get a second formation ready. I think I’ll choose Armoured Rifles. That will give us a different tool to compliment the tanks, and I’ve got plenty of time to get them done, which I’ll need for all those infantry teams!

Another goal for me is to get more games in. I find playing inspires me to add new support units and try new things.

I hope everyone has enjoyed the content so far. We don’t plan on stopping, and the late-war journey is only just beginning!

~ Victor

What a year, what a year, what a mighty good year (sung to the tune of Salt-N-Pepa’s song “Whatta Man”)…

This has been one heck of a hobby year for me, and certainly Big Four has played an important part. One of the running jokes around the office is that I never met a project that I couldn’t be talked into picking up some figures for, but over the past couple of years I have found myself painting more and more each year. Big Four aside, this year I have broken the back of my World War III / Team Yankee Czechoslovakians having painted a pile of infantry, APCs and T-55s, made great progress on a French army filled with AMX-10 RCs and infantry, and taken care of a few other odds and ends.

As for the Big Four project, it has been a year of two halves – I started the project with a hiss and roar, completing a lot of models in a relatively short period of time, huddled in a cold garage, next to a heater, in the middle of the New Zealand winter. The great start had led me to become a little complacent and over the past few months I haven’t achieved a whole lot – there are a lot of started models, but not much to share.

The Good; I love my paint scheme, it is quick and simple, and gives a good result. The Bad; I have fallen badly behind in my self-imposed schedule with Carriers, 6pdrs and Churchills all in various partially finished states. The Ugly; I haven’t painted any infantry or 6pdr gun crews yet and I am not good at painting infantry, and I don’t enjoy it as much as painting tanks.

However, Christmas is coming… we will be shutting down the offices for a couple of weeks and my family will be heading away for a few days so I’ll be left at home by myself to play a bit of catch-up. I am also venturing south to ValleyCon (a local tournament near Wellington, where they grow the Hobbits before releasing them out in to the wild) in mid-January where I’ll be taking my WWIII Czechoslovakians which need some (a lot) of painting completed to make them ready. I may find myself having to divide my time between projects but with D-Day: British due out in a few months I will have to get my mojo back and make the most out of the break!

~ Chris

Dreaming of Churchill

Round the office we are still discussing our games at FlamesCon, even though it was almost two weeks ago. These discussions often turn to looking at what armies our opponents fielded and what we thought of them. One of the themes of the weekend, for Wayne and Victor at least, were “how many Churchills can I face over the course of the weekend?”

This lead us to taking a second look at the trusty Churchill tank. Whilst a fan favourite here in the office, none of us had been excited enough to build an army featuring this heavily armoured beast – yet that is…

Since I’ve been working on the British, I thought it might be a good time to start looking at whether or not I should amend my painting plans and add a few of these in to the schedule. The way the Churchill stands under Fortress Europe, I only have the Italy Churchill Squadron as an option. This is not a problem though as the list looks pretty rock solid on paper with a nice mix of Churchill and Sherman (with Firefly) tanks, along with Stuarts, inside the basic Formation. The Churchill packs a useful 6pdr that is AT 10, Firepower 4+, but where it really shines is Front Armour 8. This means it can duel it out with Panzer IVs with a slight advantage (PzIV shooting at the Churchill is AT 11 vs FA8, whereas the Churchill shooting at the PzIV is AT 10 vs FA 6).

So on paper, it looks like an option, however before I start painting or assembling anything I thought I should draft a list as a starting point for some Theory-Flames discussion round the office.

The list looks great at first glance. Plenty of Churchills to do the heavy lifting, pushing towards the enemy and soaking up fire, as well as 17 pdrs on the Firefly and M10s to do the tank killing. Best of all the Sherman platoons are full strength as I still feel I underestimated the importance of this when it came to casualties and loosing platoons after a single kill and bail result.

This still leaves a few points to give me an all important Spearhead platoon in the form of some Universal Carriers, and a utility unit- 9 stand Rifle Platoon  – that can dig in and defend, or move up and assault.

Looking forward to D-Day: British there will still be plenty of uses for the Churchill, after all the plastic kit makes a whole variety of models that saw service in Normandy and beyond so it is safe to say that I will get plenty of gaming value out of the company if I do choose to paint it up.

So at this point the question really is… should I stop pontificating and finish my Carriers (which only need some crew painted) or should I get distracted and start assembling Churchills?

With no deadlines to currently aim for I guess the answer will be “whatever I feel like” the next time I head out to the garage to do a little Big Four hobby time.

~Chris

FlamesCon 2019 Report

Well, what a weekend that was… 28 Flames Of War players, 6 games, and a whole lot of “if only” comments!

Like most wargamers at the conclusion of each round there was a fair amount of discussion about their previous battle so we asked Chris, Victor and Wayne to share a few of their thoughts about the weekend, the games, their opponents and if they learnt anything from the experience.

It is safe to say that all three walked about with a desire to paint something new or tweak their lists a little in preparation for the next outing!

To find out about their lists and plans at the start of the weekend, check out the preparation article here…

My FlamesCon experience was great. Gav and Greg always do a great job running the event, and the group of gamers was friendly and respectful.

Over the 6 games I ended up facing 5 Churchill based armies; 4 British, 1 Soviet. My last game of the weekend was against Damien’s Fallschirmjager StuG company, which was cool because I got to play against Germans finally, and it’s a list I’m actually building for myself when not working on my Americans.

My list actually performed fairly well, despite only racking up 2 wins. In most of the games I felt like I was right in it ’till the end. The 76mm Shermans were probably my most reliable unit. Facing so many Churchills, I really needed that AT12. The M10s also helped, before they evaporated.

I would’ve liked to face some more German lists, but all my opponents were top notch and each game was very different thanks to terrain and missions.

I’m already thinking about ways to tweak my list and what to paint next. Playing a weekend of games is always a good way to learn what works and what tactics other people are using.

Lastly I was fortunate enough to have my army voted as best painted! There were plenty of really great armies on show and any of them could’ve won it really.

A++ Will game again next year!

– Victor

Tournaments are one of the things I really look forward to as I am very goal orientated when it comes to my hobby time. If I don’t have a deadline to meet, I will generally just muck about and paint whatever I feel like (or just watch TV / play on the computer). I need the deadline to push me… This of course means I love coming up with slightly different lists each time I attend an event so I get a new unit painted. For FlamesCon this year I was effectively painting everything in preparation for the event, and I most certainly walked away with some inspiration of what do next (more on that later).

Did I Win…?
Well… no! I won two out of my six games – so not a great result by a long stretch. Looking at back at all of them I think my strategy for each game was sound and either my opponents simply played better than me, or the dice (OH THE DICE!) stabbed me in the back at an inopportune time, or my list had flaws that I didn’t see at the time.

What Did I Learn?
Three tank platoons are just super fragile unless your Company HQ is nearby. Now I had already learnt this from my game verses Wayne, but this weekend really reinforced that opinion.

M10s are great! But they cannot be everywhere and if the enemy can throw some sixes they die quickly

Movement Orders are key! A well timed Blitz or Shoot and Scoot can make a massive difference. Especially if your German opponent is using it well to pop out, shoot up a tank and then disappear again.

Lastly, I really need to paint some more Churchills, maybe a Rifle Platoon, and maybe an Allied Armoured Rifle Platoon!

The Last Word
Overall I had a great weekend, learnt a lot, played Counterattack three times, fought people I have never played before and definitely found myself wanting to hit the brushes and paint up some new models.

~Chris

FlamesCon was pretty intense this year with six games of Flames Of War with my German Force. I was hoping to get a variety of opponents and armies to face, and I did. A good mix of opponents, some I knew well, and others I’d never had the pleasure of playing before.

In my six games I faced a mixed US/British forces, a US Force, three German tank armies and a German infantry force. I manged three wins from my six games, and even had a good chance of a decent finish in my last game, which I blew big time (lost 1-8) and tumbled down to 14th Place. My opponent in that last game (Ben Fouche) did come third. I think if the result was reversed I would have be about 5th equal.

I think my army went pretty well despite my lack of artillery and recon, and my usual terrible luck (for example, in my last game I missed out of halting his highly effective assault by one hit on his large 13 team Fallschirmjäger Platoon, which eventually won him the game despite only have four teams remaining).

Next year I shall have my revenge!

~Wayne

Thanks to everyone that attended FlamesCon this year, and a big thank you to Gavin and Greg for all of their organisational efforts, as well as everyone else that assisted them!

~ The Big Four

Big Four Of FlamesCon

Every year there are a few events on the New Zealand gaming calendar of ‘historical significance’ that we love to attend if we can – FlamesCon is one of those events! FlamesCon started out, many years ago, as the Battlefront organised Flames Of War tournament. These days the guys from the local club TCOW have taken over the organisation leaving us free to go along and play!

This year 75% of the Big Four, along with Phil, will be making the short trip along with our new Late War armies.

When this years FlamesCon was announced, and the four of us decided we would take our Big Four armies, we knew that our list selection would be limited to what we have painted rather than trying to noodle the most competitive list. In a years time that might be different as we all will have a lot more options painted, but for now I knew I’d be running some sort of Sherman company.

THE ARMY
I turned to Chris for advice, as he’s a bit more tactically minded than me. He suggested the following list:


I liked it because I had a bit of everything I like. A solid tank formation, a spearhead unit, something to hold an objective, and a fun command card! It was also all mostly painted, only needing to do the Armoured Mortars and Cavalry Recon Patrol which were next in the queue anyway. We went with Veterans as the 4+ is needed I think if I’m being aggressive; my armour won’t save me so I’d rather get hit less!

The Sherman company I’ve used a few times now so it’s the part I’m most familiar with. We went with 5x 76mm as they’re the real threat of the army, 4x 75mm, and the 3x Stuarts are mostly there to bolster the formation but can go and harass lighter targets. I would normally bring 4, but dropping one freed up points for the Cavalry Recon Patrol.

The Armoured Mortars give me a fifth formation unit, and they’re cheap artillery if I need it. One thing I hadn’t used before was smoke, but in two practice games I’ve learned its value, if I can use it at the right time and place.

The Cavalry Recon Patrol is a nice cheap unit that can get around quickly, and help me put the pressure on my opponent early. I plan to attack most of the time and I like the idea of using Spearhead to get my Paras onto an enemy objective, something I was able to achieve in my practice game with Chris…

The Parachute Rifle Platoon should be tough as nails defending an objective, or at least make people think twice about assault them. They’re also great to go assault something that my Shermans have weakened.

So far I’ve struggled using the M10’s, so I’ll have to remind myself during the tournament “THESE ARE NOT TANKS!”, and be a little more patient with them. If I do find myself defending in a mission they will be my go to ambush unit.

The last piece of the puzzle is the ‘French Resistance Raid’ command card. Chris suggested this too, and I wasn’t sure of it’s value until my practice game with Wayne…

THE PLAN
The tournament will be using the Battle Plans Mission Selector. As I mentioned earlier I plan to choose attack. This is in part because I enjoy moving models more than setting up a good defensive position, and also because I think it’s worth making the most of stabilisers on the Shermans. I’m my formation is solid enough that I won’t break too often, so my biggest challenge will be finding away to crack heavy armour (aka Tiger and Panthers). Maybe I can create a pincer with the 76mm Shermans and M10’s, or perhaps get aggressive with the Paras. Wish me luck!

– Victor

FlamesCon has long been one of my favorite events in the gaming calendar, going back to the early years, long before I ever worked for Battlefront. It was the type of event where people “came of out the woods” to play – people you only saw once per year would be there and for a weekend you could catch up, talking gaming, and have some fun.

This year I am really looking forward to the event as we have been working so hard on the Big Four project, this feels like one of the great milestones that I can tick off – finish the first platoon, finish the first 100 points, play the first game, attend the first tournament…

MY ARMY
My list is exactly the same as the one featured in the Carentan Clash battle report verses Wayne and features a mix of mobile tank killers (M10s and Firefly tanks) and infantry killers (25 pdrs, Stuart and Sherman tanks).

As I’ve mentioned previously, I am heavily reliant on the mix of 17 pdr guns on M10 and Firefly tanks to get the job done verses any armour that I come across. These have been the cornerstone of my army planning from day one.

Between the two practice games I’ve played, one against Wayne and one verses Victor (shown here on the Flames Of War D-Day OnTableTop Campaign site) I’ve been reminded of some valuable lessons; use my Spearheading troops better, and don’t stand in the open… Sherman tanks don’t have the armour of a Jagdtiger!

GAME TIME!
I’m not really going in to this weekends gaming action with a solid plan for how to use my army. My primary goal is to have five fun games and ideally, not get blasted off the table. With a highly mobile army I expect to play aggressively – a fast game is a good game – but not recklessly! This means pushing up fast, isolating units where possible, and hitting them as hard as I can and then moving on to the next target. Right now, there are no lists that I am worried about facing, of course I might be singing a different tune in a few days!

~Chris

FlamesCon is on this weekend (9 to 10 November) and I’ll be taking my initial Big Four Of Late-war 100 points I finished building a month or so ago. I’ve painted more since, but with the need to submit an Army composition before a certain day I thought I’d play it safe an enter something I wouldn’t have to rush to get finished in time.

THE PLAN!
Well, um, there isn’t really anything concrete. The tournament is using the Battle Plans system, so I will try and attack when I can. I feel choosing defence and trying to hold off an enemy in a defensive battle with deep (whether they are delayed or not) reserves with my force would be tantamount to giving my opponent a free victory. It will be mostly Attack, but with the occasional Manoeuvre if I feel my opponent has a defensively orientated army.

I will use the 8.8cm AA Platoon to hold down an Objective in meeting engagements like Free-for-All, Dust Up, or Encounter. In these battles my attack is likely to swing from the other objective. If I’m forced to switch flanks, either during the battle or if out-deployed by a larger force, I can drop the Panzergrenadier on the other objective and use the 88s as a backstop for the tanks.

In the Manoeuvre missions where there is a clear attacker and defender I will endeavour to attack using my mobility to seize objectives, backed up by the Panzergrenadier who will defend them from counterattacks if the mission objectives don’t go live by a certain turn (usually Turn 6).

If I end up defending, I’ll attempt to take the battle to the enemy with my tanks, leaving the Panzergrenadiers and 88s to cover the objectives while I attempt to break the opposing force.

Large infantry forces may cause me some trouble, but hopefully most of these will be choosing defence and we will be playing Manoeuvre missions like Breakthrough, Bridgehead, Contact and Rearguard. If I end up attacking in a No Retreat I will focus on seizing an objective while no exposing my force to too much of the enemy’s front to minimise fire.

The Tigers will probably be the stars as they can take and handout the punishment. The Panzer IVs will provide the bulk of my strike force, with good mobility and an effective gun. Their biggest weakness will be their armour as I’m sure I’ll see a lot of US 3-inch and 76mm, Soviet 85mm, and British 17 pdr armed tanks.

Having said all that, I still have to roll dice, and I’m not very good at that.

~Wayne

Tiffies vs Kittyhawks

Over the past couple of years I have been playing a lot of Team Yankee and one of the things that I’ve found quite fun, is building and painting aircraft / helicopters. They give you a chance to paint something quite different, use (generally speaking) a new colour pallete, and try out some different techniques.

For the British, the aircraft of choice in Fortress Europe is the good old P-40 Warhawk. For me, this did not feel like an iconic aircraft choice (for the British) which meant I could either, paint something else in the short term, or, paint something in advance…

I decided to paint something a little early, grabbing a pair of Typhoons (which are in D-Day: British) and putting my much delayed Carriers on hold for a bit longer. The Typhoons (or Tiffy / Tiffies) pack a lot of firepower with 20mm cannons as well as rockets that are more than capable of taking care of heavy  armour.

The models were fun to paint, especially since I was able to play around with some masking tapes to try and get the invasion stripes on the wings and fuselage vaguely straight. Having painted them there are a few things I would do differently if I were to paint some more, but overall I think they add a really interesting unit to my army.

~Chris

The Carentan Clash Battle Report

Here in the Battlefront Studio we have been counting down to a couple of very exciting events, first up is the Global Online Campaign. This is being run in conjunction with the guys at OnTableTop (formally known as Beasts of War) and is a chance to play games over 6 weeks and recreate the fighting on D-Day and beyond. The other is FlamesCon, the annual Flames Of War tournament. This year the Big Four are making a big push, with Victor, Wayne and I (Chris) taking our armies along for a weekend of fun gaming. With all of this going on Wayne and I thought it would be a great opportunity to play a practice game, at the same time getting a battle for the Campaign under our belts.

The Forces:
We both used the first 100 points that we painted during the Big Four Journey, with Wayne’s army based around a Panzer IV Company with Tigers, Panzer Grenadiers and 88s in support.

I used my Sherman Company, packed with Firefly tanks and their excellent 17pdr guns. In support are Stuarts (for their Spearhead), 25pdrs and (of course) M10s.

Setup and Deployment:
We decided to play Outflanked, one of the new missions in the D-Day: German book. This meant Wayne’s forces would start in a corner of the battlefield, trying to hold out till his reserves arrived. My forces would come on from my side of the table, as well as a little dog-leg section up to the middle of the table near No-Man’s Land.

The table had a raised road and small village, each splitting the table into thirds. Wayne chose the corner where the village would help shield him from my flanking forces and deployed in concealed positions. I spread my forces out along the deployment area, wanting to push across a broad front, as well as taking a small Spearhead on the side to give my flanking troops a head start.

Turn 1:
I aggressively pushed up, hoping that the dice would help me to overcome Wayne’s concealed and gone-to-ground status. I, of course, regretted that decision as the fire from my entire army only knocked out a single Panzer IV inside the town. Wayne ambushed his 88s in a small forest, but failed to get reserves, and then proceeded to fail his Blitz on the Panzer IV platoon. Undaunted by these setbacks his fire was accurate and deadly, knocking out 6 tanks and bailing 1 more. A lesson for new players – don’t get caught in the open, especially at close range!

Turn 2:
The surviving British tanks pushed up and took cover where possible, whilst the M10s lined up some Panzers, only killing one for their troubles. The 25pdrs dropped a barrage on the 88’s, pinning them down. Wayne, feeling pretty happy coming through the turn with relatively few casualties failed to get reserves, or unpin his 88’s, rethought his levels of happiness! He proceeded to dash his flanking Panzer IV platoon around the back of the table to reinforce the middle, and then managed to knock out another Sherman with the combined fire of his units.

Turn 3:

The remaining Sherman in the village found itself in Bad Spirits and ran off the table – three-tank platoons can get a little dicey under heavy fire! The flanking Shermans and Stuarts pushed up aggressively, with the Stuarts parking themselves on the objective (not live yet, but it was still a threat that Wayne needed to plan for), managing to knock out a Panzer IV in the side. The M10s continued moving up, knocking out another Panzer, whilst the repeat bombardment from the 25pdrs accounted for an 88. Wayne’s reserves finally turned up, with a Panzer IV Platoon and Tiger Platoon making an appearance. Being forced to fire on the move they only managed to knock a Stuart and M10 with their collective fire.

Turn 4:

The Stuarts decided to continue their advance, driving up the escarpment to flank the newly arrived Panzers, knocking out one, whilst the M10s killed another and bailed a Tiger. The ever reliable 25pdrs knocked out the remaining 88. The few remaining Sherman (and Firefly) tanks also accounted for another Panzer IV. Faced with such heavy firepower the Panzer IVs ran off the table, leaving the Panzer Grenadiers (newly arrived from reserve) and Tigers to hold down the middle.

Wayne managed his first Blitz move of the game with the Tigers, allowing them to kill an M10, whilst the Panzer IVs make it a double and knocked out a second. The infantry conducted a stunning assault, after losing three teams (!) to defensive fire, bailing a Stuart and killing a second one. With no way for the British to continue the assault, the infantry finished off the second Stuart and retreated back.

Turn 5:

The remaining M10 decided that discretion is the better part of valour and ran away, but the remaining Sherman tanks were up to the job, killing Wayne’s Company HQ.

With no way to pass his Company morale test, the remaining forces quietly retreated off the table, leaving the very battered British troops in control of the battlefield.

Closing Thoughts:
This was really a battle of two halves – some poor planning on my part meant that I lost a lot of troops in the first couple of turns, whilst Wayne’s dice were uncharacteristically average (normally Waynes dice can be counted on to stab him in the back), allowing him to land a decent number of hits. The second half was a little different as the slow accumulation of German casualties took effect and allowed the more numerous British to close (and flank) the Germans.

Based on tactics I think Wayne was a little hard done by, but I’ll take the win!

Murder, Stonk and Mike Target!

For many years these terms have struck fear in to Flames Of War opponents as British artillery pounded them in to submission – I even recall a play test game around 10 years ago where my artillery gun line spent 90 minutes plastering the opposition. Oh what fun we had – “we” being me, and a couple of people watching!

The 25 pdr battery represents the last models I need to paint for FlamesCon, as well as the first 100 points of my official list!

I’d be lying if I said I was 100 percent happy with how these turned out – the guns and limbers look great (if I do say so myself), but of course they are not that different to tanks and I’m really happy with how my process is working for those.

The bases has come out better than expected. Combining two of the the plastic Rural bases together to make gun bases worked out well, and thanks to some thin plastic card and milliput they are nice and durable. I really like all the cool details on them (tree stumps, tire marks, fences etc), and they made the detailing of the bases very simple.

I was initially a bit unsure about my selection of flocks – I like to mix up custom mix for armies and I was going for a darker tone to represent the coming winter months at the end of 1944. In the light of day though I was quite happy with how the colours (a dark green static grass, and a couple of GF9 flock blends) all came together.

The weak point is certainly my painting ability when it comes to the gun crews. Ales, our sculptor, did a lovely job on them and I don’t think I have really done them justice. However I am very happy with the overall result and think that the whole army will look great on the table.

Time to get my Universal Carrier crews painted and I’ll be able to put another unit in the “Done” column…

~Chris

British Sherman Tactics – 101

With FlamesCon coming up in about a month my army is going to have its first intensive gaming weekend, so in preparation I’ve been thinking a bit about how the various parts will worth together on the battlefield. It should come as no surprise that the key unit(s) in the army all have Sherman (or Firefly) tanks!

I’ve decided to maximise my number of Firefly tanks and their precious tank-busting 17pdr guns by taking four platoons of minimum strength Sherman Platoons, each with 2 Sherman tanks, and a single Firefly. Between these platoons and my M10 platoon, this gives me a good number of specialist tank killers that can be spread around the table.

If there is a downside to the Firefly (and M10) is that their 17pdr guns, whilst excellent at killing tanks, are not as good at killing infantry teams thanks to the “No HE” rule – A weapon with No HE targeting an Infantry or Gun Team, adds +1 to the score needed To Hit. This means it is important to keep some of the 75mm armed Sherman tanks around in case you run in to a dug-in infantry platoon, or anti-tank gun line, defending an objective.

My intention is to ensure that the M10s and (depending on the opponent) two platoons of Shermans are working together to attack an objective, or blunt an enemy armoured thrust. This gives me 10-12 tanks (if I include the HQ) working together with a mix of guns. This should be able to overcome most opposition forces.

One of the tactics that has crossed my mind, but I am not convinced is a good idea, is leaving the Firefly tanks behind as the Shermans advance on the objective. This means that they can provide covering fire without a loss of rate of fire, assuming they do not move. On paper this sounds good, but it does mean that the Shermans (and therefore the Firefly that is in the platoon) can find themselves not in Good Spirits if either of them are destroyed or bailed out. All it would take is for one Sherman to be bailed and not get back in, and then the Firefly and remaining Sherman will run for the hills. Maybe I will keep this tactic in reserve if I need it and let you know how it works out for me.

Alpha Strike or Firefight

I’ve included Stuarts in my army because, one they are cheap machine-gun carrier that can knock out small tanks, and two, the wonderful Spearhead rule. Spearhead will (in certain missions) let me significantly expand my deployment area and allow me to put a lot of tanks, close to the enemy in preparation for first turn rush. I am confident I can pack in most (if not all) of my Shermans inside the 8” bubble.

If I choose not to use the extra space for a rush, I can also use it to ensure my tanks are in a good defensive position in turn 1, potentially allowing them to be concealed and gone-to-ground.

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

One of the tactics that I am terrible at remembering to use is… Smoke! I tend to think about killing the enemy, rather than making their life more difficult. Why lob a Smoke round across the table when you can drop High Explosive on someones head? With the Shermans relatively average armour, placing a 16” / 40cm long smoke screen across the table can shield them for one valuable turn as they push up, or isolate part of the battlefield. This would be especially useful if I am planning on running head first in to an enemy gun line, or stopping a second line of defensive troops from shooting me up if I am more than 6” / 15cm away.

The worst outcome is that it forces the enemy to move, dropping their rate of fire and potentially exposing them to my other models.

There you have it, my basic plan for how the army will work. It is going to be fun to see if my armchair generalship will transfer to the tabletop – perhaps I had better arrange a game in the next couple of weeks with Wayne or Victor just to be safe.

~Chris

Time For A Cup Of Tea, and British Tank Markings

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but one of the things that I think really makes my British army pop on the tabletop (and in photos) is the use of decals. I always feel that the application of decals to a tank is that final step that really helps to make a difference – much like good basing on infantry.

I am quite lucky as the British army went to great lengths to mark their tanks, from Divisional, Regiment and Squadron Markings, to Bridge Weights and Serial Numbers, and of course Allied Stars. With so many options I found most vehicles having around 10-or-so markings for me to apply.

First things first, what are all the decals on the Late War British Decal Sheet? Casey has written a great article (which I have relied on heavily and you absolutely should read) but if you want the basic TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) version here you go…

Looking at the tanks below you can see where I have chosen to apply the decals.

One of the things I learnt whilst doing a little reading through our guides on the website and Colours Of War, is that there was a “mandated” way to apply the markings.

Of course, this doesn’t always match up with what happens in real life as crews will often find ingenious places to put stowage or extra armour, which necessitates the moving of markings. Sometimes they just don’t want a great big white star on the side of the tank as a target for enemy gunners, and sometimes they just don’t get the memo. This means you can either follow the guides on the site like a definitive list, which is perfectly fine, or use a bit of artistic license (which is what I did).

If you don’t have a lot of experience adding decals to models, give it a go, they really make a huge difference. If you want to know more about how to do it, then check out Blake’s guide on our YouTube channel here…

~Chris

 

Step-By-Step British Painting Guide

Over the past couple of months I have had a few requests on our Instagram for a step-by-step painting or colour guide for how I painted my British armour. The steps are all fairly straight forward. The key was spending a little time trialing colours and talking about the process with the rest of the team, looking for their thoughts on how to achieve a fast, but striking looking army.

Step 1: I primed the model Black, and then airbrushed my base colour, Tamiya Dark Green 2, over the whole model. I took time to make sure that I applied a couple of light coats first, building up the colour over the black, and focusing on certain areas where I wanted the coverage to be opaque, and therefore brighter.Step 2: I then gave the model an overall drybrush with Colours Of War Firefly Green. I wasn’t trying to  completely cover the base coat, but rather highlight all the raised points and edges. The difference in colour between the two steps is quite striking however.Step 3 should really be two steps…

Step 3a: I tidied up the tracks by painting black over any areas that were accidentally drybrushed in the previous step, then painted them with a mix of Vallejo Black Grey and Oily Steel. I also picked out the chain (with just Oily Steel) on the side of the hull, and spare tracks.Step 3b: Next I airbrushed the entire model with a Gloss Varnish. This seals in all the work I had done up to this point and protects it during the Oil Wash. I normally create my own wash using artists oil paints and some white spirits. This is carefully applied in any recesses and along panel lines. Using a Q-tip or Cotton Bud I cleaned up any excess.

Step 4: Next I carefully applied some Gloss Varnish to the areas I was going to decal. Once the decals were applied I used a little Micro Sol (Decal Setting Solution)  just to help them look painted on. Once these completely dried I then gave the whole model a very light drybrush of Iraqi Sand, just to give some subtle edge highlights and add a little dust to the whole model.I hope that this has been useful, it is a really straight forward process that was quite quick to apply.

~Chris