No Business Like Snow Business…

It’s been a bit quiet on the Flames Of War Soviet front over the past few months with other hobby projects taking priority. Those of you following the Fig Four Of Late-War Instagram account will have seen some of the photos of my expanding winter terrain table, and of course Victor, Wayne, and I took a detour late last year to paint up some WWIII Soviets.

I’ve got quite a few units on the for my Soviets at the moment (IS-2s, Rota Razvedki, Captured Panthers, SU-76’s, and ZS M15’s) so I thought I’d start clearing some of these off my table starting with my SMG company. This is a useful infantry company for any Soviet player to have as it’s an infantry unit inside most tank formations, so is good at giving you tanks some staying power, looking after an objective, or dealing with enemy infantry on an objective. They are even scarier if you have a spare point to give them the RPG-6 Anti-tank grenade command card.

For this company I’m using some old Soviet Scouts that I’ve had hiding in my hobby space for over 10 years. Originally, I had intended not to do any new infantry for my Big Four of Late War army, but when I found these I was hit by a wave of nostalgia, as these were the first Flames Of War miniatures I ever painted (I painted an entire infantry battalion in 6 weeks, so they were pretty bad), I decided to actually spend some time on them to do them justice.

The paint job on these is pretty simple. Since the rest of the army is in whitewash the obvious thing was to paint the overalls in white camo. This was achieved by base coating in Deck Tan followed by a white dry-brush and black and grey washes. The overalls were then tidied up by block-painting some white over the top. I used my basic flesh recipe on them, and their sidecaps are painted in a standard Khaki Grey, black wash, Khaki highlights scheme.
I spent a bit more time on the basing than usual. Since it’s a Hero unit I wanted to show that they’d taken casualties, so I’d only enough to do a mix of 3- and 4-man teams. I used Battlefronts Rural bases because I wanted the fence elements there to add some structure to the bases and to make it not look like I’d just been lazy. The bases were then flocked to match the terrain table that I’m making. I found some German casualties that I had already painted and left-over from my previous Soviet army and added those to the bases as well.

The last thing I did was fashion some dead branches from some twigs and autumnal Heki leaf foliage. They are probably a little orange for my liking, but I think they add a bit more interest to the bases and make them pop. I might make some more of these branches and add them to My IS-2s as camouflage later, but on those I might give them a light airbrush of a dark brown to tone them down a bit.

The next half-finished project I’m going to work on are my IS-2s. I have 13 of them ready for pin washing and want to make sure that I get them done in time for our next tournament.

~Casey

Casey’s Reflections and Intentions

What a year we’ve had!

Looking back I’m quite happy with what I’ve achieved given all the disruptions we’ve had. Like Chris I’ve achieved both more and less than I wanted with Covid, work, and other projects getting in the way.

I’m quite pleased that I managed to finish the core of my army, my 13 T-34s, as well as add some BA-64 and Katyusha support units. I also managed to paint a Captured Tiger, which was also my favorite model that I painted this year.

My plan for next year is simply more.  I started more projects this year than I actually finished. Sitting on my painting desk in various states are;
10x IS-2’s (half finished)
3x IS-85’s (half finished)
8x Captured Half-tracks (assembled and base-coated)
2x Captured Panthers (assembled and base-coated)
3x ZSU-M17 AA Half-tracks (assembled)
5x SU-76’s (assembled)
1x Hero SMG Company (half finished)

My priority is going to be the IS-2’s as Chris and I are planning on teaming up again for Panzerschreck (tournament) and I’m going to paint both halves of the army. This also means that I’ll need to paint up a couple of objectives as well.

One of the benefits of working in the Battlefront Studio is that I get to see books and lists as they are being developed, and there are some exciting things in the pipeline that may cause me to detour and paint a few thing for other nations…cough…King Tiger…cough

The other big news for 2020 was that the NZ office moved to a new, larger building that has a dedicated gaming area, so I’m looking forward to being able to play more games in the new year.

I hope you all stay safe and that Santa brings you plenty of Flames Of War (and WWIII: Team Yankee) joy this Christmas.

~Casey

Catching Up With Casey’s Backlog

You are probably sick of hearing about how much Covid has really made a mess of schedules this year but how about hearing it one more time…

Because of Covid lockdowns I havent been able to take photos of everything that I have finished over the past year, as our photo studio has been super busy playing catchup, so here are some photos of my recently finished Katyushas and, BA-64s and T-34s.

~Casey

 

Detour: Casey’s WWIII: Soviet T-80 Battalion

Like most of the Big Four Of Late War I was super-jazzed with the T-80 arriving in the WWIII: Soviet book, and decided to join in the fun and paint up a new army for the launch (evil glares at Chris for not participating).

Now I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to painting which means I’m normally a slow painter, so I thought I would just this as an opportunity to challenge myself to pump out an army quickly.

Rather than noodling an army list to build my army around I decided to just paint some of the new models that I thought looked cool, points and army composition didn’t really make me decide what to paint.

The core of my force are some T-80s. I figure 10 should be enough to cover me for most situations. Next up are some BMP-3 Scouts, again because they are new plastic and look super cool.

One of my favourite new units in the book is the TOS-1. I have been badgering Wayne, Phil, Chris, Evan, and Pete to make the TOS-1 since the start of our WWIII journey, so now that we have it I thought it would be rude not to paint some. As well as looking cool, game-wise I think it will be a good choice to have available to my Soviets since I tend to run tank heavy armies and struggle to deal with infantry. Their Brutal bombardment will certainly help with that.

Lastly, I’m painting a platoon of 2S6 Tunguska AA tanks, mainly due to rule of cool, I just think they look awesome.

Plugging this into Forces it comes out to an inconvenient 101 points, so I’d probably have to drop a BMP-3 if I were to take it to a tournament.

Amongst the Big Four Of Late War we have been discussing playing big boy games of 150 points using the more modern equipment that has started appearing (T-80s, M1A1 Abrams, Challenger I’s, Leopard 2’s etc). Luckily I can make this a 150 point list just by making them Heroes and adding the Mi-24 Hinds that I have already painted, a few infantry stands, and a pair of Gophers for a bit more AA. The TOS-1s are probably a suboptimal option given that none of the guys are going to go particularly infantry heavy for these games, but sometimes you don’t always get given the tools that you need to do a job and just have to make do with what you have available.

As far as the fast paint challenge has gone, I’m about 3 weeks in and I’ve managed to finish the T-80s apart from the tracks and the rest of the army is not far behind. With another week I think I’ll have the army completely finished. The army is definitely not painted as well as I would usually paint, but I’m pretty happy with it, and I think looking at effort vs reward it’s pretty good. I’m just looking forward to putting it on the table for a few games.

~Casey

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