Chris’ 2020 Reflections and 2021 Objectives…

Wow, what a year! Pretty much sums it up really.

Thinking about the Big Four Of Late War project I’ve both achieved more and less than I expected, which is probably how a lot of us are looking back on the year.

Looking back, I managed to paint quite a lot this year:

  • A full-strength Cromwell Squadron (less the 3-4 tanks I painted in advance for the D-Day: British book photography.
  • A mid-sized Churchill Company with AVRE support.
  • A pair of Daimler and Dingo Recon Platoons (and HQ)
  • A Motor Platoon (will have photos of this up next year along with some of the other infantry and 6-pdrs… assuming I finish them over Christmas)
  • Two Universal Carrier Platoons.
  • And a pair of Objectives!

Strangely, it is the last item on the list that I am most pleased to have completed this year. I love painting objectives for my armies, even simple ones like these, but they always get pushed to the bottom of the list, or forgotten in favour of another project.

So, what is in store for next year? I am hoping to get some time over Christmas to work on a few projects including a little Big Four Of Late War action. In a perfect world I would get my 3” Mortars, Vickers HMGs, 6-pdr AT guns, Bofors AA guns and a second Motor Platoon finished. The reality of it is I think this might be a little too hopeful, but I do love a good stretch goal! I’ll update you in the new year on my progress and with any luck I’ll convince Casey or Victor to take some photos of my completed Cromwells as I just realised there aren’t any images of these bad boys on the blog yet.

Thinking longer term next year means the release of the 2nd Late War British book and it is pretty safe to assume (if you have played one of the previous editions) that we are likely to see Comets (will be needing a Squadron of those!), Challengers (big guns = big yes from me!) and presumably  some other “late” British toys like Archers! Sounds like another big year on the brushes for me!

I hope you have enjoyed keeping up with our collective progress this year and ask you all to stay safe over the coming festive season. Catch you on the next Live Stream in 2021!

~Chris

Detour: Wayne vs Chris, a WWIII: Team Yankee Battle Report

For the launch of the WWIII: Soviet book, Wayne and Chris went head to head in a nail biting game. Wayne’s latest army (a Soviet T-80 based force) took on the Studio West German army.

The first half of the game was played and shot in advance, with the exciting conclusion live streamed over on the Battlefront Twitch channel. Check out the two halves below…

(sorry about the low audio levels in the first part…)

We’ve already started discussing how we can put a few more of our games up on Twitch in the future. Stay tuned…

~The Big Four Of Late War

Churchill By Name, Churchill By Nature!

Very early on in the Big Four Project I painted up a platoon of Crocodiles for my British army. They were a great model to practice my technique on but ever since they have been crying out for some friends. After our first Lockdown period I managed to squeeze in a little garage time and get these big boys painted. With an HQ and two platoons, along with the obligatory AVREs (and Crocodiles) I feel like I have the start of a decent Churchill based force. For completeness sake I would like to paint a third Platoon and a Company of the earlier Churchill III tanks, but that’s something to aspire too….

The “Army”

The HQ Platoon

First Platoon

Second Platoon

AVRE Platoon

One of the things I really enjoyed, and you may not be able to see it from the photos, is that each tank is different in the two platoons – one uparmoured “late” Churchill, one 6pdr armed Churchill and one 75mm armed Churchill. This means I can run the platoon with all the options, but I don’t feel like the complexity I can keep it to myself and not worry my opponent. I will say though, if you plan on doing the same thing, to be very diligent with your planning and assembly… lets just say I may have gotten mixed up at least once and had to remove parts and glue new ones on…

~Chris

 

 

Daimlers and Dingos Lead The Way

What can I say… these are truly one of my favourite units in Flames Of War, both on the tabletop and as a painting experience. I couldn’t be happier with how this unit came out. What are they? Daimler and Dingo Armoured Cars and I love ’em!

So why do I love them so much? First things first, assembling them was super easy and they just look cool once built. Painting was easy –  I love not having to paint tracks! Plus the abundance of cool decals that just add colour and interest to the model. Then there is their performance (and points cost) on the table top. They are cheap, pack machine-guns for hunting infantry, and some little pop guns (on the Daimlers) that let them harass enemy armour. Throw in Scout and Spearhead and you have a perfect little package. They really are so much fun I am tempted to paint a 3rd Platoon for my Armoured Car Company (a Command Card option in D-Day: British).

1st Platoon (with yellow Air Recognition Panels)

2nd Platoon (with Allied Stars)

The Complete Company

Are there any downsides to the unit? Probably… having to ride in to battle would be one of them, but commanding them from the back of the table seems like a pretty good deal to me!.

Left – The Company Commander

~Chris

FlamesCon 2020: Chris’ Weekend

Rolling in to FlamesCon this year I was very excited to be getting out to spend some time with the wider gaming community, put some figures on the table, and have a great weekend with friends. I had been painting like a mad man (even taking a week off work to complete some elements for this army and a WWIII: Team Yankee force that has been on a slow burn) and was keen to see how the force went.

As Wayne mentioned in his article, a friend of ours, Phil Petry, had passed away just days before the event and for many it was still quite raw. Coming together as group, laughing and sharing some thoughts no doubt helped with the process. In his honour his friends Ian and John ran his army during the tournament and it was nice to see his latest army on the table.

Most of the elements in my army had never hit the tabletop before and I was looking forward to seeing how the various elements would perform – more on this later…

Round 1 was verses my old mate Ray and his Soviet assault guns. It was a bit of an odd match up as my recce was able to pin his forces in place lest the they sneak in and take the objective. Combined with both of us having units in reserve meant he had to play quite defensively, allowing me to pick off units one-by-one. My M10’s proved the value of 17pdr guns by knocking out everything from a captured Tiger to an SU-100 platoon and his commander in a T-34. 8-1 to me.

Round 2 I found myself up against Brent in a game of Breakthrough. He found himself attacking whilst my recce were pushed back and on to the defensive, dashing around the table trying to stop him from breaking through. He aggressively pushed a big group of armoured PanzerGrenadiers, supported by mortars and SP guns up through the middle of the table, along with his recce. This forced me to counter them with my 6pdrs and M10’s, effectively removing them from the upcoming fight for the rear objective. Luckily it paid off for me with the push being blunted thanks to massed firepower. On the back objective the Panthers came on and took control of the game, whilst having to keep a wary out for flanking recon units with their 2pdrs. I managed to whittle down the Panthers and Crocodile flamethrower his second infantry unit, but couldn’t seal the deal… 3 all for a mutual loss.

Round 3 and another first-time opponent with Andrew and his Beach Defenders in Dust Up. Now I’d like to say I had a plan in this game but his Pak40s and Pakfront 88s combined with an open-ish table threw me. I YOLO’ed forward and rushed the near objective with my recce and M10s, putting him under enormous pressure. With no German forces near the objective and elements of 3 units (and my HQ) now contesting it, I challenged him to shoot me off. Unfortunately, thanks to a combination of poor planning by me and some reasonable dice he managed to kill or bail everything, before finishing off the survivors in the next turn. We ground out a few more turns for VPs before I conceded. 6-3 to Andrew.

Round 4, a new day but an old friend, Scott, with his FE German Grenadiers supported by a Ferdinand, Marders and range of guns. Despite feeling fresh I was struggling to come up with a plan for Scott’s army and decided to split my force a little, to keep control of my objectives and then push the rest in through the centre of the table, allowing me to pivot left or right and strike an objective from there. That is where the plan and the actual result parted ways. Taking a serious of calculated chances I found that the dice just didn’t want to go my way with Scott’s PaK40s earning the player of the day award – not for performing better than average, but for consistently doing what was asked of them – need 3 hits, get 3 hits, need 1 kill, get 1 kill. The Ferdinand that scared me ended up with (possibly) one Dingo kill, whilst the rest of the force just got the job done! In the end I couldn’t even count on my air support (which had earned the “Rare As Fairies” title across the weekend) to help me finish off anything. A disappointing, but very fun 8-1 to Scott.

I still blame Simon McBeth whom I later realised was the source of my terrible dice. Each time he passed by during the day they would roll badly!

Round 5, and whilst I was keen to finish the weekend, I was still feeling energised for my final game. I found myself up against Julian and his Soviet Engineer Sappers, IS-2s, captured Panthers and SU-76s. Defending in a game of Breakthrough I pushed a unit of recce with infantry towards the back objective, whilst I focussed everything I had on his initial infantry, SU’s and Panthers, knocking everything out over a couple of turns. The risk I was taking was that I would have too much invested in blunting his initial push and not enough to stop the IS-2s when they turned up almost proved too much. Julian’s IS’s came on at the first opportunity and cleaned out the objective, pushing the few surviving infantry teams away. Luckily for me the long-range firing of the M10s meant he was under some pressure and the slowly advancing 6pdrs eventually gained a line of sight to the tanks, and the Typhoons even made a few appearances. Thanks to a little luck and a lot of firepower I neutralised the tanks and with the infantry under mortar MG fire he was unable to secure the objective. 8-1 to me.

With the weekend finished I found myself somewhere in the bottom half, but with a strong sense of satisfaction that I had really enjoyed myself, played people that I rarely get to play, or have never played, and managed to get a lot of fresh models on the tabletop.

I did learn a few things about my force.

  1. Daimlers and Dingos – yeah boy! These are golden and I will be painting up a 3rd platoon in the future!
  2. .50cal Carriers – I think that the Command Card upgrade will be on my “to try out” list as I could have done with a little heavier firepower in these platoons.
  3. Typhoons – look great… not sure they were worth the 8 points, but will persevere. Luckily with our local meta (only 3 players using air support at the event I think) there was virtually no AA.
  4. Churchill Crocodiles – great when they actually hit.
  5. 3” Mortars – invaluable, but better in 4’s or 6’s

If I were to rock the list out tomorrow at 100 points I might try something like this:

And with that in mind… back to the brushes!

~Chris

Road To FlamesCon 2020: Chris

It probably comes as no great surprise but I am going a little stir crazy. I don’t make it to as many events these days as I used too – things like kids, work and just “grown-up life” seem to get in the way. This means that when I go, I am always excited to be out of the house and playing. Needless to say, this year has been filled with disappointment and disruption for everyone, with events, tournaments and outings cancelled. That is why I am so excited to be heading out to FlamesCon this weekend with Wayne!

The event is clocking in at 80 points rather than my preferred 100 points but I guess variety is the spice of life. Since I strongly believe that a fast game is a good game, I’ve compiled a list that is aggressive, mobile and with a couple of exceptions, fully painted as part of my Big Four Project.

Starting out the list is my British Recce Squadron. The Daimler and Dingo armoured cars were finished over the lockdown and are yet to see the tabletop (more photos of them next week) but should be a lot of fun, zooming around the table and causing mischief. Backing them up are Universal Carrier Patrols, Motor Platoon (still on my painting table as I write this!), 6pdr anti-tank guns and 3-inch mortars. The last two are being borrowed from our Studio collection as my models were lost by DHL on the way down from the factory….
To support this velvet glove, I have the steel fist – 3 Crocodiles, 4 M10s with 17pdrs and a pair of Tiffies (Typhoons). Hopefully they bring enough tank-busting goodness that I can smash my way through enemy armour. With the exception of the M10s none of these models have found their way to a battlefield yet so round one is likely to be a learning experience!

Stay tuned during the weekend for some more images from the event over on our Instagram page, along with an event report next week.

~Chris

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.

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.

Everyone Needs A Stretch Goal…

With two companies of tanks already planned, as well as a pile of support options, I thought it might be fun to add an extra company to the mix, if for no other reason than I like the new plastic Daimler and Dingo models, but also because all the cool kids are running Armoured Car Formations I thought I might give one a go too!

There is no dedicated Armoured Car Formation in the book, but thanks to Command Cards we have the option for one and to my eye it looks pretty interesting. Haven’t played it myself but why let that get in the way of a little enthusiasm.

The Formation has an HQ Daimler, 2-3 platoons of Armoured Cars, more Universal Carriers than you can shake a stick at, and a small portion of ground pounders – a Motor Platoon, 6pdr anti-tank guns and a Mortar Platoon. The way I see it, there are Armoured Cars for some flash and dash, Carriers for sneaky-sneaky, whilst the units with legs can do a pretty decent job of holding an objective. It also gives a me a good reason to actually get my infantry painted (bonus points!). For around 30-35 points, depending on options and upgrades, I can get a Formation that has all the minimums, along with the guns, infantry and mortars. This still leaves me with plenty of points to run a second Formation, or a few “Black Box” support platoons (Shermans, Cromwells, Churchills etc) and some Divisional level assets too.

A quick bit of Google-foo led me to another reason why I need to build and paint this Formation… the 11th Armoured Division was supported by the Inns of Court Regiment, also known as the Devils Own. Where did they get the nickname, I hear you saying? Well, and this is where I turn to Wikipedia and just pull a “copy-and-paste”.

The Bloomsbury and Inns of Court Volunteers was reformed in 1797 during the Napoleonic Wars. It was shortly afterwards that the regiment gained its enduring nickname. During a review by King George III in Hyde Park in 1803, the King used his dislike for lawyers – particularly ones carrying arms – to name the massed ranks of the Law Association as “The Devil’s Own”. “It is understood that the King was in high health and excellent spirits at the time. When the ‘Temple companies’ had defiled before him, his Majesty enquired of Lord David Erskine, who commanded them, as lieutenant colonel, what was the composition of that corps? ‘They are all lawyers, Sire,’ said Erskine. ‘What! What! ‘exclaimed the King, ‘all lawyers? all lawyers? Call them the Devil’s Own, call them the Devil’s Own!” “And the Devil’s Own they were called accordingly.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inns_of_Court_Regiment

There is something appealing about unleashing an army of lawyers on an unsuspecting opponent!

So that makes three Formations from the new book that I am very keen to paint – each one gets to look different from the others, and each one will give me a very different gaming experience, even if I keep the supporting elements largely the same.

At this point I should probably stop digging through the book and Command Cards in case I find anything else interesting, and just starting painting some models…. Hmmm, some M5 half-tracks are awfully tempting to add as a Command Card to my Motor Platoon or 6pdrs!

~Chris