With Panzerschreck well and truly done for the year I figured I should stop being a softie, put on my comfy pants and head out to the (fairly cold) garage and finish off my Romanian half-tracks and recon elements.
With everything that is going on at our factory in Malaysia right now I don’t have my infantry so the half-tracks are looking a little bare – I’ll go back later and add one or two figures to each one just to give them a little more life. But even without some figures I like how they are looking!
My Sd Kfz 222 recon platoon is my only non-plastic unit (so far) but is an absolute no-brainer. Cheap machine-gun carriers that can also take out other armoured cars and light armour.
On both units the use of the Michael’s Cross really adds some colour and pop to the vehicles which have other been airbrushed Vallejo Olive Grey (888) with some drybrushing to help the colour pop a little more.
I can’t wait to see how they look on a table alongside my German Yellow Panzers!
Next up on my list are the HS-129s and (maybe) a pair of Stukas for when I want bombs. I figure that if I am painting two planes, then four can’t be that much extra work…
The ability (and freedom) to travel to a tournament, hang out with friends and play some games has been something that most gamers have been able to take for granted. After a year (or more) of lockdowns, cancelled events, and the need to maintain some sort of social distance here in New Zealand, things are returning to normal and events are happening with a little more regularity. One of our favourite events of the year is always Panzerschreck – the oldest Flames Of War tournament in the world. There is no one reason as to why it is great, it really is the combination; the road trip down with friends, the short stops to shop, climbing over tanks at the National Army Museum, hanging out with resident sculptor Evan, catching up with friends, too much eating, winning (or losing) some games, and then finishing it with a post-tournament “what went wrong, what are we doing next year” cathartic road trip back home!
Road Trips, Shopping, Eating and Tanks!
This year the four of us crammed in to a rental Jeep Cherokee, which should have been big enough but thanks to a small pile of orders we were taking down for customers we ended up filling every available space with gear, miniatures, or clothes. I think next year we are going to need a bigger boat… I mean car! The road trip really is all about hanging out, talking about work, gaming, life and everything else going on. There is also time for a fair amount of pre-tournament smack talk! Our trips each year take a similar course (unless snow gets in the way) with a stop in Hamilton (about 90 minutes in to our journey) to swing by one of our favourite gaming shops (Games Centre) for a chat and to pick up any “essentials”. Short on space this year some of those essentials kept falling from their precarious perch in the back of the car on to Victors head… Hamilton is also a good spot for a coffee and sausage roll (an NZ delicacy!).
Back on the road we then have a quick 2 hour sprint down to Taupo in the middle of the North Island. Marking the halfway point it is a great chance to have lunch (yes we do always stop at the same Turkish restaurant each year!) and swing by our next hobby shop; Taupo Hobbies. We didn’t end up adding to the load this time (which was a surprise) but it didn’t stop us having a really good look and contemplating the idea of building some rather larger World War II naval models!
Next stop is Waiouru and the home of the New Zealand Army Museum. We normally arrive too late to hit the gift/book shop but we are always prepared to brave the cold to check out some of New Zealand’s tank history parked out the front. There is nothing like climbing up on a Centurion (or even the Scorpion) to give the models that we play with a real sense of scale. With this taken care of it is the final push to Palmerston North and Evan’s house… A total trip of around 512km (318 miles) in a very leisurely 11 hours!
Stalin Approved – Casey and Chris’ Experience
The weekend turned in to a glorious mess of dice, explosions (some on the table and some in our heads), great opponents and fun games so I can’t give a breakdown of the individual games… and based on our performance I am not sure anyone wants my tactical advice. So what went right or wrong? Casey’s army was fantastic to play with, not only was it really well painted but it was a great combination of models. In hindsight though we really could have dropped one of our infantry units and replaced it with a template delivery device. Any sort would have done; Katyushas or SU-76 assault guns being my preference, but anything would have been useful. The IS-2s were great at knocking out dug-in troops IF they hit. I spent most of the weekend looking for 5’s and often 6’s to hit. In one game I literally got 2 hits in 6 turns, with 10 tanks. The IS-2’s did excel in surviving however with their armour allowing them to stand up to any opposition and hang around, and what they hit generally stayed hit!
Casey’s T-34/85 company found itself doing a lot of the heavy lifting over the weekend, rushing flanks, having gun-fights, being assaulted (and counter-attacking) and generally being in the mix. Of course this meant that they didn’t tend to survive! Casey may have wished once or twice over the weekend that they still had the front armour 7 of the “good old days!”
Favourite Game: Too hard to pick… our loss to Tom and Alex with their Elefants was a hard fought game of manoeuvre and thrust that could have gone either way, whilst our narrow victory vs Bob and Steve could have just as easily been
a loss if not for the resilience of the IS-2 and their ability to go head-to-head with Tigers.
Hungarian Hooves and Howitzers a.k.a. Triple H – Victor and Wayne’s Weekend
Wayne has always been a fan of Hungarians in Flames Of War, and I’ve caught the bug too, especially with the Zrínyi. The release of Bagration: Axis-Allies was going to fall shortly before Panzerschreck, so it made sense to take my new Zrínyi force, and Wayne being my usual team mate, I knew he would have plenty of Hungarian units to build a force to go with mine. Then Wayne said “But I want to paint something new for the tournament”, and I said something silly like “You should paint a full Huszar Squadron!” Thus our team was formed. We knew it wasn’t going to dominate the tabletop, but we were hoping for some funny moments and glorious cavalry charges.
Unfortunately when it came to the games, we found ourselves defending against heavy tanks, or attacking elite MG infantry. This isn’t to say the games weren’t fun, just that there weren’t as many chances for a good cavalry charge as we would’ve liked. It’s lucky Wayne painted the dismounted versions of his platoons too, as they were great in defence. The Zrínyi’s on the other hand did great work, and their bombardments were quite effective. The Panthers kept our opponent’s tanks cautious, which kept our Zrínyi’s alive in most of our games.
Overall the tournament was a lot of fun, and was great seeing familiar faces that we missed out on last year.
The Long Road Home
With the weekend’s gaming over and done with (and after a good nights rest) we headed home on the Monday morning, stopping for a coffee and a tank of gas. Based on the comments from the back seat the coffee may have been made by Baldrick during World War I so next year we might find somewhere better than going with “hey Google, where can we get a coffee?”
The drive north is a lot like the drive south, just with different stops (the Army Museum book shop which is now open, Subway, since everything else was busy in Taupo, and Gaming DNA in Hamilton) and conversation that revolves around what went right, what went wrong, and what we are taking next year (140 points, Mid War, doubles! Oh yeah!). Stay tuned for some initial thoughts over the coming months on what we might like to build.
As always Panzerschreck is a blast and this year was no different. Roll on 2022!
Over the past 8 weeks I’ve been working hard to finish the army that Chris and I are going to take to Panzerschreck, and they are finally ready to show off.
The bulk of this was 10 IS-2s. I actually painted up an extra Platoon of IS-85s as well for a total of 13 (you can never have enough IS tanks painted). I also painted a mix of early and late hulls so I’m covered for when the next Soviet book comes out.
The last two units in the army were the Lend-lease ZSU Quad .50 cals and the captured Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks that go with my reconnaissance platoon. I’m especially happy with how the Sd Kfz 251s came out. I chose to paint the mid war versions just because I think they look cool.
I think the different vehicle colours look quite cool and adds a bit of colour variety, at the same time the whitewash helps tie everything together.
It’s a bit of a shame that I didn’t think to add Valentines to the list, then the force would have equipment from all four of the main nations.
All I have left to do before next weekend’s tournament is finish the objective markers.
I liked the idea of doing a winter table but didn’t want to make a completely white table, as it would make the table too specific, so I decided to make it in a transitional period, either autumn or early spring, so quite arid but with a scattering of snow. This added a lot of extra work though.
I’ve always felt that railways are a significant feature, but tend to get lost, or just slapped down on a table as decoration, which is why I decided to build them up and have a junction worth fighting over.
I wanted the hills to represent undulating terrain, rather than slab sided hills, so when I was designing them I started with quite large pieces of MDF, glued some polystyrene to it and then shaped it so that the highest point wasn’t much taller that a large tank. Since they are representing undulating terrain rather than just hills, I also decided to build forests/woods onto the hills to make them more dynamic, and because I don’t think area terrain should only be one thing.
It’s taken a lot of short bursts over more than a decade to make… but I think it has been worth it, and I’ve learnt a lot along the way and intend on taking that experience on board and starting a summer table next year to go with it.
I’m looking forward to christening the table against Victor’s Hungarians on Monday. I’ve chosen to take a relatively balanced list that I would be happy to take to a tournament for our battle, rather than design a list to counter his force… given that I know exactly what he has painted and available.
Tomorrow we will take a look at our forces!
In the meantime you can enjoy a few close up shots of the table from some of our recent books!
I got into the office late one day and Victor ambushed me and said “Chris and I have been talking, and we’re doing an Axis-Allies detour… and by the way, you’re doing the Finns… all you need to paint is 11 Sturmis”, and just like that I had another army to paint.
Everyone has or needs a gaming friend like Victor ‘The Enabler’ Pesch.
As it so happens, I was actually already tempted to do a Finnish army at some point anyway, this just moved it up the schedule. Finns are an often romanticized army, reflecting their David versus Goliath struggle that we all love, which is why they’ve always been a popular and requested army in Flames Of War. I’ve personally been interested in them since watching Talvisota (The Winter War) about 15 years ago, I’ve just never had the time to paint the army.
As Victor said when he pitched the detour, all I need to paint for the army to start with is 11 Sturmi assault-guns. I’ll bulk the rest of the army out with the whitewashed Soviets that I have been painting lately, but will probably paint more T-34s for the army later anyway. Sure, they don’t have Finnish markings, but I’m ok with that. The only other thing I have to paint is an ISU-152, but I’m planning on painting a unit of those at some point for my Soviets anyway. but this list comes out to roughly 100 points. I’m going to paint these in their traditional 3 colour camo.
The Sturmi assault-guns are nice models. They combine Battlefront’s awesome StuG kit with log and concrete armour add-ons, as well as the iconic stowage bin. All that is required is a little bit of clipping to remove the Schurzen mounts.
The other way I could go with the Finns is to go Soviet tank heavy with a mix of T-34s (76mm and 85mm) and KV tanks, supported by some Sturmi assault-guns, with a few points left over for command cards. The great thing about this army is that it’s Soviet gear in competent hands. I’ll be interested to see how they perform.
While the others are racing along to get their armies done by the Axis-Allies launch, I’m going to take a bit longer because I still have some Soviets to finish for our Panzerschreck tournament in 6 weeks, and I’m also trying to finish my winter gaming table in time to have a battle report and take on Victors Hungarians with my Soviets soon, so that’s going to be my immediate goal.
The Big Four of Late-War are getting excited about Bagration: Axis-Allies. We’re preparing new armies, add-ons to old forces, and even some terrain. Join us over the next few weeks to see our progress on Instagram, and stay tuned for some live content on Twitch.
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.
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.
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.
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