Hobby and Paint Live – 23 April

The Big Four Of Late War, otherwise known as Battlefront Miniatures Studio Members Victor, Casey, Wayne and Chris sat down to hobby together on a Twitch Live Stream, answer your questions, and just talk a little smack. Hobby along with them.

Casey’s Tank Killers

I’ve had my SU-85’s almost finished for a few weeks now, and managed to spend some time last week doing the finishing touches like the saws and exhausts.

I’m very happy with these have come out. When I was painting them I though I had gone a little bit heavy with the final white oil paint step and thought that I had lost a lot of the colour depth that the earlier stages added, but the matt varnish brought it all together and darkened out greener areas and added some of the contrast back in.

For those of you with eyes for details, you’ll notice that there is a mix of SU-85s and SU-85M tank killers here. I deliberately painted a mix of models for 2 reasons.

1. I thought it would be more interesting to paint slightly different models.

2. It fit my overall theme of a cobbled together regiment of whatever was found at the depot.

Besides, they look so similar that I feel comfortable fielding them as either/or and will just tell my opponent what they are on the day. With these completed I’ve now started working on the core of my force, my T-34s, and should have the first platoon finished in a couple of weeks.

~ Casey

The Heavy Hitters Battle Report

With the D-Day: British Live Launch coming up tomorrow, it seemed like a perfect excuse to hang around one afternoon and play a game. Needless to say Chris was anxious to get his Churchill Armoured Squadron of the tabletop for its first game. Casey quickly volunteered to play against him as they have a long running gaming rivalry / partnership that stretches back about 15 years. Casey also saw it as a great change to dust off an old German army that had been sitting on the shelf and take it out for a spin!

The Forces:
Chris had just finished his Churchill army the week before so it was no surprise that the core of the force was based around an HQ and two platoons of Churchills. Since he never leaves home without some M10s they were an obvious choice, especially since he knew Casey would have Tigers. Rounding out the force were Stuarts, Infantry, Carriers and Crusader AA (a cheap option to pad out the Formation and a useful way to cut down infantry).

Casey went for a Panzergrenadier force, painted in an SS scheme, but using the normal D-Day: German book. The list was packed with heavy hitting guns including 75mm Anti-tank guns (PaK40s), 88s and Tigers, as well as a local favourite, the Sd Kfz 251 with 75mm cannon.

Setup and Deployment:
The table was set up with a small, rather ruined village off set from the middle of the table, surrounded by roads, woods and hedges. This meant that there were plenty of fields of fire, but they were often limited, and advancing troops could generally rely on some cover.

The mission selected was Dust Up, so Chris deployed in the left corner, whilst Casey had the right corner.

Casey’s Plan:
Normally I’m quite a defensive player, but against Chris’ Churchill list I think I’ll need to be more aggressive and push towards the far objective before Chris gets too many reserves. Hopefully this will disrupt his plans so he has to not attack one of my objectives with the majority of his force.

My plan is to hold my back objective with the Panzergrenadier Platoon. On the other flank I plan to push up through the ruined houses with the Armoured Panzergrenadier platoon, use the Sd Kfz 251 (7.5cm) half-tracks to cover them, and ready to hit the objective once my Tigers turn up.

Chris’ Plan:
My plan was simple. Hold the rear objective with my HQ platoon as the CS tanks and their 90mm guns can engage targets anywhere on the board (with indirect fire). In the centre, my infantry will push up to try and take the church to split the board in to two halves and make it difficult for Casey to send troops back to defend the objectives.

Whilst this is happening my tanks will hook around to hit the back objective. Any reserves that turn up will be well placed to support, or with a quick dash, could head over to reinforce my objectives.

Turn 1:
Casey’s force dashed laterally along the table, seeking the cover of the fields and ruined village, whilst his guns went to ground and waited for targets. His Panzergrenadier Platoon advanced on foot to secure the back objective.

Chris pushed up his Stuarts to start heading for the same objective, hoping to catch the infantry in the open and not dug-in, whilst the infantry dashed up the hedge planning to head for the Church next turn. The Churchills supporting them engaged the 7.5cm halftracks, managing to bail one, whilst the HQ bombarded the dismounted Armoured Panzergrenadiers, killing two teams.

First blood to the Churchills!

Turn 2:

Casey’s Armoured Panzergrenadiers un-pinned and continued their advance up the road, using the ruins for cover. In the middle, the halftracks opened up on the advancing Rifle Platoon with everything they had, but only managed a single kill. The 88s and PaKs tried to knock out some tanks, but found the Churchill armour too tough to penetrate at long range. Meanwhile on the other flank the Panzergrenadiers found themselves too concerned with the advancing Stuarts and failed to dig in…

With infantry in the open the Stuarts blazed away… and only got one hit (which was saved). The Churchills failed their Blitz move so moved up to the hedge line but failed to achieve anything with their fire, whilst the infantry pushed up to the Church, planning to push forward and hit the anti-tank gun line in a couple of turns.

All round it was a fairly unspectacular turn, but did the ground work for both sides to keep the pressure on.

Turn 3:

With no sign of Reserves, Casey decided to be a little cautious this turn, finally digging in his Panzergrenadiers, advancing his other platoon further up the table and absolutely hosing down the infantry in the Churchill, killing two and pinning the Platoon.

Failing to unpin his infantry, Chris found himself with limited offensive options, especially since he too failed to get Reserves. The Churchills pushed up and engaged the 7.5cm halftracks, knocking out three of them, reducing Casey’s options to defend his PaKs if the Rifle Platoon decided to move forward and hit the PaKs, or flank the infantry via the Train Station. The Stuarts kept threatening the back objective but failed to actually do anything substantial.

Turn 4:

Tigers! Casey looked visibly relieved as he moved the Tigers on to the table. They failed to penetrate the tough armour of the Churchills – or more accurately Chris shifted the single hit on to the late Churchill and chuckled as he rolled yet another save. The PaKs and 7.5cm halftracks continued turning the church into rubble, killing another infantry team.

Chris brazenly left his Churchills in the centre of table, confident that the armour that had kept them safe would continue to do so. Their fire knocked out yet another cannon halftrack but failed to hit any of the PaKs. The HQ Platoon decided to advance and harass the infantry and Sd Kfz 251 halftracks, as well as securing the all important forward objective, but otherwise failed to achieve anything. The Stuarts shuffled around and continued to fire their MGs as fast as possible, but other than raining some brass on the ground they failed to even pin the Panzergrenadiers in front of them.

Turn 5:

BOOM goes the Churchill! Good dice can only keep your tanks alive for so long and eventually a high speed 88mm round (or two) punch through, killing one and bailing another.  Casey also found his Pumas coming in from reserve and they quickly pushed up the road to distract the HQ Churchill Platoon, and prepare to threaten both objectives simultaneously. It wasn’t all bad news for Chris though as the late Churchill continued to find fire being moved onto it where its armour could easily stop PaK 40 rounds.

They say it is always darkest before the dawn and it was certainly feeling that way for Chris, but luckily a platoon of Churchills arrived to support the Stuarts, considerably changing the odds at that end of the table. Their combined fire knocked out an 88 (Casey would comment later that perhaps that platoon had been under utilised but hindsight is 20/20). In the centre the Rifle Platoon continued to hide behind the solid brick walls of the church and remained pinned down, the Churchills decided that Tigers would win any gun-fight and attempted to withdraw back over the hedge, although one did fail it’s cross check.

Turn 6:

The arrival of Chris’ Reserves pushed Casey into action, knowing that he was running out of time to overrun the defending forces. The Pumas stalked the Crusader AA tanks, knocking them out, whilst the Tigers tried (and failed) to finish off the Churchills in the centre. On the other side of the table things went from bad to worse as the 88 ran off, forcing the PaKs to try to push their way through the small woods to put fire down on the Stuarts and Churchills.

Chris was certainly feeling the pressure on the far flank (especially since he failed to kill anything with the combined fire of the two platoons) but he knew he had Casey on ropes on the other side as M10s and Carriers turned up to really double down on the poor Panzergrenadier Platoon sitting lonely and isolated around the objective. Despite all the fire they only managed to kill a single team, but with the stage now set for an epic Turn 7 assault, time was running out for Casey unless he could kill the Stuarts that were now within 4″ of the objective!

Turn 7:

Knowing that it was now or never, Casey launched a desperate attack on the HQ Platoon guarding the objective. The Tigers failed to kill anything, but the Armoured Panzergrenadiers still went in for the assault (after both of their flank shot Panzerfausts bounced off the Churchills armour!). Chris looked excited at the opportunity to gun down the infantry in the open, but was less enthusiastic when he only got three (yes 3!) hits. The infantry knocked out the two CS tanks with their ‘fausts and forced the remaining tank to back off. The objective was now in Casey’s hands, assuming he could keep it for a turn.

Of course it wasn’t all roses and chocolates for Casey down the other end of the table… Yes, he had managed to knock out a Stuart with the fire from the PaK 40s, but with so much incoming fire, and then a pair of assaults from the Churchills and Stuarts there was only so much the Panzergrenadier Platoon could do. They found themselves pushed back, leaving the Stuarts contesting the Objective at the start of the turn, and holding it at the end…

Chris (and the Churchills) Win!

Casey’s Thoughts:
Churchills are really tough, especially if your opponent only rolls 5s and 6s for armour saves (Chris literally chuckled as he read this comment by Casey). If the Tigers had done a bit more damage on turn 4 or 5 I would have been able to launch my assault on the objective a turn earlier.

One thing I was pleasantly surprised about was how good Panzerfausts are!

All in all it was a close, fun game to play. I think I’ll have to paint some Churchills up for myself at some stage.

Chris’ Thoughts:
I was probably (definitely) quite lucky with a few of my dice rolls here. I think Casey’s comments about being a defensive player probably cost him the win here. A bit more aggression, or just pushing up a team a bit further to contest the objective prior to the assault could have made all the difference.

Not sure I used my infantry particularly well, I had a plan for them, but in hindsight I could have just parked them on the objective and really lowered my mid-game stress levels!

I will say though… Churchills for the win! They really were awesome, and the ability to upgrade one model per platoon to the late version was excellent. Front Armour 11 leading the way definitely saved me a couple of casualties during the course of the game.

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

Stalin’s Little Tank – T-70 Showcase

Since I finished my first platoon and finalised my painting process, my painting has become a bit quicker.

I really enjoyed painting these T-70s, they are a beautiful kit to but together and have lots of detail, with some nice large areas for streaking and weather effects for such a small tank.

Game-wise the T-70s fill the same role in the Soviet army as Stuarts do in American Armies, they are there to harass light armour and infantry. With Front Armour 4 the enemy has to dedicate some decent anti-tank to take them out, which means that they aren’t shooting my T-34s. With Side Armour 2 they will also be okay in assaults as well as long as I’m careful.

At only one point each its quite easy to fit a small platoon into an army.

In my list I’m going to take a Hero T-70 Platoon of three as support. I would take them in my formation except that I am going to fill out all of my tank options in my formation with Hero T-34 Tank Platoons.

Hero T-70 platoons only have the option for three tanks, but I ended up painting four as that’s what came in the Soviet Starter Set. I’ll probably make the fourth tank into an objective at some point.

Next up on the painting block are some SU-85s

~ Casey

Painting Winter Whitewash.

I’ll start out by saying that this is not the fastest method to paint Whitewash, but to me the outcome is worth the time and effort.

At the start of this project I thought it would be a good chance to challenge everything I’ve ever assumed about painting Soviets, starting with the base colour.

As an experiment took some spare IS-2 hull tops and painted them in some different Tamiya greens to give me a set of colour swatches:
1. XF13 JA Green
2. XF67 NATO Green
3. XF58 Olive Green
4. 50% XF13 JA Green, 50% XF88 Dark Yellow.

Click on the image to the right for a bigger version…

I then gave these a wash of GW Athonian Camoshade, which is basically a dark green wash. The main reason for using this rather than a black wash is that a black wash desaturated the colour a bit to much.

My favorite colour here was number 4, the 50% XF13 JA Green, 50% XF88 Dark Yellow. If I was going to be painting my tanks Green I’d use this colour, but since the tanks are going to be whitewashed the NATO Green is close enough and it means I didn’t have to add in an extra step to mix up a batch of base paint.

With the base green chosen its time to move onto the whitewash. I’ve had limited success with painting whitewash in the past, so these early steps are simple building on that experience. There are a lot of steps here, and while some of them could probably be left out, I feel that since the paints are semi-opaque it all adds to the overall effect and helps achieve a good depth of colour.

Step 1. Basecoat with Tamiya NATO Green, then, using an airbrush, panel fade with Deck Tan. This is basically dirty off-white that makes a good undercoat for white.

Step 2. Wash with Athonian Camoshade. This adds some of the rich green back onto the tank and adds contrast into the panel lines.

Step 3. Panel fade again with Deck Tan, but not quite as much as the first layer.

Step 4. Panel fade with White. I made this layer of paint quite patchy to let the previous layers of paint show through.

Step 5. I give the tank a coat of X35 Tamiya Semi-gloss clear to prep the tank for pin washing. A lot of people use a gloss varnish instead, but I like the Tamiya Semi-gloss clear as its basically a clear paint that gives the pinwash and streaking effects something to key into, while still protecting the paint beneath.

I then panel faded and did some streaking with a dark green oil wash.

Step 6. I do a bit of sponge chipping with Vallejo Camo Olive Green.

Step 7a. The next thing to work on is some streaking. The first layer of streaking is to represent general dirt. I start by applying single dots of Dark Streaking Grime.

Step 7b. I let the Streaking Grime dry for a few minutes then work it with a brush and white spirits to feather it a bit.

Step 8a & 8b. I repeat step 7a and 7b with a rusty colour. This step is to simulate a brighter rust streak effect. With all of the streaking effects don’t be afraid to add it to some of the flat surfaces where water would pool and corrode the metal.

Step 9a. This is where the real magic happens. Using some white oil paint I dabbed spots all over the tank, concentrating on the flat surfaces and upper parts of the vertical surfaces.

Step 9b. After letting the paint dry for a few minutes I start working the oil paint into the top surfaces and streaking it down the vertical surfaces with a brush dampened with white spirits.

Below is a bit of a time lapse montage to give you an idea of how this works.

Overall, I know that this is a long convoluted process, but I’m all about quality over quantity at the moment (the complete opposite to Soviets), and I’m actually quite enjoying the process, despite getting hassled by the rest of the Big Four about my painting speed.

~Casey

Red Steel Rising

It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally finished my first platoon.

As I said one of my previous posts, I’ve decided to tackle my own personal white whale – a winter washed army. I’m really happy with the results (despite the rest of the Big Four painting 100 points in the same time) and I think that it sets a really good standard for me to keep whilst I work on the rest of my army.

For me though its all about the journey, and I don’t mind spending a lot of time on a few models.

I had a lot of fun painting these and learnt a lot, which should make painting the rest of the army faster.

I’ve put together a painting guide for how I completed the whole whitewash effect and will post it up later this week.

The next platoon on my painting table will be some T-70s.

~ Casey

The Big Four Detour: Panzerschreck 2019 Report

Every year members of the New Zealand Studio travel down to sunny(ish) Palmerston North for the worlds longest running Flames Of War / Team Yankee tournament. This year the Big Four embarked on a road trip whilst other members of the team took the expedient option and flew.

The road trip down featured the customary stops at various model and gaming shops along the way, where some mistakes were made! At least there were no road closures resulting in 2-hour detours (unlike the last two years!).

Panzerschreck is normally a doubles event and under Team Yankee it was decided a force should contain a minimum of two Formations, using one Force diagram as the basis for the army. Wayne and Victor paired up, using West Germans and Israelis, whilst Casey and Chris teamed up with their Soviet and Czechoslovakian armies. The combined forces could be up to 140 points with no prescribed way as to how they are split.

Over the weekend we were fortunate enough to play some really great opponents, as well has facing off against some tough armies. Of course, Panzerschreck is known for being a hard but friendly event so this was no surprise.

In addition to the gaming activities during the day, in the evening we would retreat back to Evan’s (our NZ based sculptor) house for some post game debriefs and some boardgames.

Before we knew it the weekend was over and it was time to return to Auckland… of course we made time for a few more stops, including a quick visit to the New Zealand Army Museum at Waiouru.

To check out some of the armies and games, click on the thumbnails below

The Big Four Detour: Panzerschreck 2019

The Big Four have been working on a secret (or not so secret in some cases) project to get armies ready for this weeks Panzerschreck tournament. Panzerschreck is the longest running Flames Of War tournament in the world and this year it has been hijacked to run a Team Yankee doubles event.

The Big Four paired up along traditional lines, with Wayne and Victor (Bratwurst and Bagels) and Casey and Chris (Chalk and Cheese) each joining forces.

Wayne had most of his army already painted having taken his West Germans to a number of events over the past couple of years. His Panzergrenadier Company has a mix of Panzergrenadiers (no surprises there), Leopard 2 tanks and some support vehicles.

Victor painted (most) of his rather homogeneous force as part of the Oil War launch, having just completed the extra stowage and tank commander this week to complete the Company. He is bringing 11 Merkava 2 tanks to the battlefield and expects to be leading from the front, thanks to their heavy armour.

Casey, finally, finished his first Soviet army for Team Yankee after a couple of years – he did paint a pretty massive Soviet army for someone else during the time as well. His force consists of 15 T-64 tanks, as well as anti-aircraft launchers, anti-tank launchers and some recon.

Last, but certainly not least, Chris has been gagging to do a Czechoslovakian force for some time now and has used this as a chance to get the first part of it finished and ready for battle. Of course, his pile of T-55 tanks, support vehicles and infantry only come out to 35 points, so he has quite a bit more work ahead of him (once he has finished his Big Four project) to complete it as a stand-alone army!

Stay tuned to the Big Four Instagram feed over the next few days to keep up with all of their progress and road trip activities!