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

We Shall Be Worthy*

When I think about the British in Late War, I group their tanks in to (generally speaking) three different types; Shermans, Churchills, and Cruisers (Cromwells/Comets). With a Sherman force completed, and the Churchills underway and on the painting table, I am already starting to think about how I would build a force based around Cromwells.

I initially thought about painting up a Desert Rats force. Phil has had some success in the past running Cromwells with little red Jerboas on them, so they must be good. However, with the strong 11th Armoured Division feel to my army, and their distinctive yellow and black divisional markings looking so good on the tanks I didn’t want to break the colour/markings scheme. Luckily for me, the 11th were supported by the 2nd Northhampton-Shire Yeomanry and then the 15th/19th The King’s Royal Hussars, working as their Divisional Reconnaissance Regiments, so I could keep the theme running through all the models I paint!

Looking at the Cromwell Armoured Recce Squadron list, it will be easy to start painting up the basics and building upon the models I already have! Starting with the HQ, much like the Churchill force, I can have a pair of Cromwell CS (95mm) tanks, along with a single Cromwell (75mm). This will give me some nice light artillery, and a small amount of painting variety.

I can then fill out the Squadron with four (or five) more platoons of three Cromwells, alongside a platoon of Stuarts and the always useful, Crusader AA platoon. All of this comes to 96 points, so doesn’t leave much left for Divisional Support, assuming I want to run LOTS of Cromwells!

Keeping my options open and looking back to the Desert Rats Cromwell Armoured Squadron you can build and HQ with two 75mm tanks and two CS tanks, and then up to four platoons of Cromwells, each with a Firefly included! A full-strength HQ, and four platoons, plus the Stuarts and Crusader AA do come in at an unfortunate 101 points, but by dropping a platoon you pick up enough points for a variety of support options. Sounds interesting!

I’ve already painted up a couple of test models for the book and unit card photography.

So, where does that leave me now? Well, I am definitely going to paint up enough models for a full HQ and four platoons of three Cromwells, each with a Firefly. Here however (please don’t judge me) is where I am going to diverge from history, for the sake of having a nice looking and thematic force. I’ll paint the whole force in my usual way, but when it comes to the markings I am going to go a little rogue – the Cromwells will have 11th Armoured Division and 15th/19th The King’s Royal Hussars markings, with white triangles for the Armoured Recce Squadron. My Firefly tanks will get the usual 11th Armoured Bull markings (along with bridge weights and serial numbers), but that may be where I leave it, with no Regimental Flash or Squadron markings…

It is all a little hinky and the purists may not like it, but with this plan I get the best of all worlds. I can field them as the his historically accurate 15th/19th The King’s Royal Hussars, but I will also have the extra models so I can field them as a different Formation from the book – and when I have a painting plan for the D-Day: British book that is around 60+ models, what’s the problem with adding another four!

~ Chris

 

*Merebimur (We shall be Worthy) – the moto of the 15th/19th The King’s Royal Hussars

Touch Me, And You Burn*

The upcoming release of the D-Day: British book has me looking over some lists I’ve never really thought about running before and the Churchill force, in Late War, is definitely at the top of that list. Looking at it, I’ve no idea why it’s never appealed to me in the past – the tanks have great armour, a reasonable gun and have that tendency to strike fear into their opponents.

A Churchill Armoured Squadron can field plenty of Churchills, and at 18 points per platoon, or 20 if you upgrade one to a (late 75mm) version, you can easily fit 4 platoons in a Force whilst still having a few points left over for some supporting elements. I’m thinking that in this particular case that is a bit of overkill and I’ll just paint two platoons, I can always paint up a 3rd one later after I’ve played a few games. This also means I have plenty of points available for a full-strength HQ platoon along with a couple of Churchill CS (95mm) tanks, and one Churchill (late 75mm).

With so many models of Churchills available in the list, it’s easy to get confused what each one is for…. The CS tanks give me some light artillery and can also still knock out Panzer IVs and guns with direct fire. The Churchill (late 75mm) tanks in the HQ and platoons have the advantage of 2 extra points of front armour taking the tanks up to FA11 – my whole plan for these is to try and move hits over to these tanks where possible, thereby minimising casualties, hopefully. There are also Churchill (75mm) tanks and Churchill (6 pdr) tanks – these are the same tank, they just change their guns – the 75mm gives AT 10, FP 3+ and Smoke, whilst the 6 pdr has an extra point of AT, but drops the Firepower by a point and looses smoke. I’m going to paint up one of each in my platoons mainly for looks, but how I choose to field them will be something I need to figure out after playing a few games.

Inside the Formation I’ll also take Stuarts and Crusader AA tanks. They are both useful, cheap and help fill out the Formation making it a little more durable. Rounding out the army will of course be M10s (don’t leave home without them!), Carriers (gives me another Scout and Spearhead unit, and I only just finished painting them!) and a Rifle Platoon (hold your laughter, I am going to get around to them!).

On paper I feel like this list has a bit of everything, it can defend (if forced too), should be strong on attack, can deal with infantry and tanks and has enough models to let it hang around even once it starts taking a few casualties.

If I feel like adding more Churchill based goodness to the force, I can always drop out the infantry, M10s and Carriers, and replace them with some Crocodiles and maybe even AVREs!

~Chris

*Fear Naught Qui s’y frotte, s’y brule (Touch me, and you burn) – the moto of the 9th Royal Tank Regiment

Upgrading from Fortress Europe to D-Day: British

With the D-Day: British book due out shortly, I thought I’d take a quick look back at my original painting plan and then have a quick review of what the next few months might hold for me.

My original list was simple, lots of Shermans along with some supporting elements. You can find the list here… With the Universal Carriers finished recently I can happily say that I actually managed to get the whole 100-point force painted. I even managed to paint up the Churchills that came in the army box and whilst they have been pretending to be earlier models, with the release of D-Day: British they will be able to hook up their trailers and turn into Crocodiles. The Typhoons weren’t on my original plan either, but the idea of painting something different (i.e. not green) really appealed.

Where I did fail was the infantry – whilst these were not in my initial painting plan, I had good intentions to paint up a couple of Motor Platoons. Painting the artillery crew for the 25 pdrs I wasn’t entirely happy with how they came out, so I kept putting the infantry further down my to-do list. This is something I will have to rectify.

From a gaming perspective also realised that my 3 tank platoons were just too fragile. Part of me thinks I should grab another 4 Shermans so I can max out the platoons, but the other part of thinks that with Cromwells and Churchills coming in the D-Day book, I should just paint those instead.

So now that I have opened the door, what am I likely to be painting from the D-Day: British book, other than some infantry!

First up will be Churchills. A small company of these, along with some AVREs, will look really interesting, play quite differently from my Shermans, and be a nice self-contained project that works alongside everything else I already have.

Next will be the Cromwells. In my mind I think of them as fast Shermans, but I am sure that once I get them on the table the differences in stat lines will make me have to play them quite differently. I’ve also wanted to build a Cromwell force ever since James upgraded the old resin and metal models with individually sculpted versions. I’ll need to look into how to replicate his hessian strips!

After this I should probably work on the infantry… but it is highly likely I’ll be doing some more vehicles. A Daimler / Dingo Recce company (Command Card) is really appealing, perhaps a support Churchill Formation from Fortress Europe, or some 6 pdr AT guns, definitely some Crusader AA, maybe some Bofors too, and perhaps another platoon of Carriers… Of course, there are also Paras!

So many choices!

~Chris

Carry On Sergeant

It feels like it has been a very long time since I’ve put up a post talking about what I’ve been painting and with such a big gap it would make sense that whatever I’m showing today should be impressive, have lots of models, and be very complex!

Yeah… well… about that. Today I am happy to share that I have finally finished my Universal Carrier Platoon. Yep, that’s right, a whole Universal Carrier Platoon of three vehicles. Now it isn’t that these were hard models to build or paint (quite the opposite in fact) but rather I’ve kept having other projects pushing in front.

These three models are a definite must have in any British force so I really should have knocked them out a bit sooner but I was getting distracted by all the tanks.

Now that they are done I can look forward to painting some more Churchills – everyone needs a company of them right. Of course I will need to paint up another Platoon of Carriers at some point because the D-Day: British book and Command Cards have some interesting options that mean I will want another unit.

~ Chris

Two (or Three Days) In The Hutt

Last year at the New Zealand National Wargaming Convention, I spent most of the weekend hanging out with “the boys from the Hutt Club”. A number of us were playing Team Yankee and over a few drinks I found myself asking what they were planning to do for ValleyCon (their flagship event they organise each year) and Team Yankee.

To my pleasure, the idea of 100 point games on 8’x4’ tables was thrown in to the ring. With a cry of “let me ask my wife, but I am definitely coming” I found myself committed to heading down!

Fast forward 10 months and I was frantically painting 60 points of Czechoslovakians to take my Panzerschreck army and grow it into a full-size force.

Needless to say, I haven’t completed much in the way of Big Four models recently. Thankfully I had the Battlefront collection to leverage as I failed to get my Hinds painted in time, but I did complete the rest, including a flight of the new plastic SU-25 Frogfoot (who knows what the plural for the Frogfoot would be? Frogfoots, Frogfeet?) aircraft.

My next problem was that the army was too big for the Battlefront figure case! Luckily, I had another case option up my sleeve but the painting and transport hurdles were only going to be the first issues with taking such a large army, especially when you are flying to the event!

We were lucky to be at the Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club for the weekend – a great venue with food and drink onsite and just a generally great atmosphere. I won’t go into the individual games as such but I did learn a heck of a lot about my army and how to play it over the weekend.

  • Always make sure you send enough assaulting teams to count as a large company – don’t be lazy about pushing those extra few models in, even if you don’t think their defensive fire will stop you.
  • Autoloaders are the best! I was planning on painting some artillery for my French but my experience with the Dana has reiterated it for me.
  • Su-25 Frogfoot + Kh-25 missile = much fun for me. If I could have two flights I would…
  • Aggression and fast play is the key to winning (or losing).

What I found really difficult over the weekend was getting a result (a win or loss, rather than timing out). I am a huge fan of the “if no-one wins we both loose” approach to missions. I want to have a fun game where we both manoeuvre and play to win so a “sitskrieg” style of game is not for me. However, pushing 90 (yes, ninety) models around the table takes a lot of time and effort, combined with my lack of familiarity with the new models I had just built and painted, and a lack of practice games, meant that the army was just too much for me to handle at the start of the weekend. By the end things were starting to come together but let’s be honest, I picked an army that was enormously fun to build, paint and play, but was not a good choice given the “rules” of the event.

Click on the image to the right to see my list…

Knowing my personal limitations, I should have chosen more wisely.

If you would like to see more pictures of the armies at ValleyCon 2020, click here…

So, where does this leave me and my Czechoslovakians now? I love the army, I love the paint job, and I love how it plays, so I’ve figured out a painting list of what I need to do to complete the army which includes more tanks (yes, more T-72 and T-55 tanks), my unfinished Hinds, some BMP-2s as well as a few other bits and pieces. This will give me the option of fielding a more ‘elite’ version of the army (with T-72 tanks, supported by BMP-2 infantry and about 60 models), as well as a even bigger horde for social games.

However, I will be giving the army a rest from Tournaments for a little while and perhaps building a tight list from the WW3: British book. The test shot (pre-production) of the Challenger sitting on my desk keeps calling me. I also have a company of Churchill and Cromwell tanks sitting on the shelf that need some hobby time as part of the Big Four.

Other than some bad luck with fog at the Wellington Airport (yep, my return flight was cancelled) and an unplanned extra night stay it was an excellent trip, with great games and opponents. Massive thank you to all the Hutt boys, and especially Chris O (and family) for being host, taxi and all-round good bloke during my visit.

ValleyCon 2020 Results
1st – Simon McB
2nd – Richard
3rd – Tom
4th – Chris P
5th – Adam
6th – Bob
6th – Brian
6th – Sofia
6th – Russell
10th – Simon S
11th – Chris T
12th – Regan
13th – Connor
14th – Steve
15th – Lauchie
16th – Chris O

Best Sport – Simon S
Excellent Sports – Chris O & Regan

Best Army – Russell
Excellent Painting – Bob & Adam

Christmas Is Coming…

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

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

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

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

~ The Big Four

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Casey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Wayne

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Victor

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

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

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

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

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

~ Chris

Dreaming of Churchill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Chris

FlamesCon 2019 Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A++ Will game again next year!

– Victor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Chris

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

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

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

Next year I shall have my revenge!

~Wayne

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

~ The Big Four