And we are back…. we gathered the team for another session live on Twitch. Watch whilst you hobby, and don’t miss the chance to join us on our next one by heading over to the Battlefront Twitch Channel…
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.
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
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.
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!)
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!
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!
I hope everyone has enjoyed the content so far. We don’t plan on stopping, and the late-war journey is only just beginning!
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
~ The Big Four
Every year there are a few events on the New Zealand gaming calendar of ‘historical significance’ that we love to attend if we can – FlamesCon is one of those events! FlamesCon started out, many years ago, as the Battlefront organised Flames Of War tournament. These days the guys from the local club TCOW have taken over the organisation leaving us free to go along and play!
This year 75% of the Big Four, along with Phil, will be making the short trip along with our new Late War armies.
When this years FlamesCon was announced, and the four of us decided we would take our Big Four armies, we knew that our list selection would be limited to what we have painted rather than trying to noodle the most competitive list. In a years time that might be different as we all will have a lot more options painted, but for now I knew I’d be running some sort of Sherman company.
I turned to Chris for advice, as he’s a bit more tactically minded than me. He suggested the following list:
I liked it because I had a bit of everything I like. A solid tank formation, a spearhead unit, something to hold an objective, and a fun command card! It was also all mostly painted, only needing to do the Armoured Mortars and Cavalry Recon Patrol which were next in the queue anyway. We went with Veterans as the 4+ is needed I think if I’m being aggressive; my armour won’t save me so I’d rather get hit less!
The Sherman company I’ve used a few times now so it’s the part I’m most familiar with. We went with 5x 76mm as they’re the real threat of the army, 4x 75mm, and the 3x Stuarts are mostly there to bolster the formation but can go and harass lighter targets. I would normally bring 4, but dropping one freed up points for the Cavalry Recon Patrol.
The Armoured Mortars give me a fifth formation unit, and they’re cheap artillery if I need it. One thing I hadn’t used before was smoke, but in two practice games I’ve learned its value, if I can use it at the right time and place.
The Cavalry Recon Patrol is a nice cheap unit that can get around quickly, and help me put the pressure on my opponent early. I plan to attack most of the time and I like the idea of using Spearhead to get my Paras onto an enemy objective, something I was able to achieve in my practice game with Chris…
The Parachute Rifle Platoon should be tough as nails defending an objective, or at least make people think twice about assault them. They’re also great to go assault something that my Shermans have weakened.
So far I’ve struggled using the M10’s, so I’ll have to remind myself during the tournament “THESE ARE NOT TANKS!”, and be a little more patient with them. If I do find myself defending in a mission they will be my go to ambush unit.
The last piece of the puzzle is the ‘French Resistance Raid’ command card. Chris suggested this too, and I wasn’t sure of it’s value until my practice game with Wayne…
The tournament will be using the Battle Plans Mission Selector. As I mentioned earlier I plan to choose attack. This is in part because I enjoy moving models more than setting up a good defensive position, and also because I think it’s worth making the most of stabilisers on the Shermans. I’m my formation is solid enough that I won’t break too often, so my biggest challenge will be finding away to crack heavy armour (aka Tiger and Panthers). Maybe I can create a pincer with the 76mm Shermans and M10’s, or perhaps get aggressive with the Paras. Wish me luck!
FlamesCon has long been one of my favorite events in the gaming calendar, going back to the early years, long before I ever worked for Battlefront. It was the type of event where people “came of out the woods” to play – people you only saw once per year would be there and for a weekend you could catch up, talking gaming, and have some fun.
This year I am really looking forward to the event as we have been working so hard on the Big Four project, this feels like one of the great milestones that I can tick off – finish the first platoon, finish the first 100 points, play the first game, attend the first tournament…
My list is exactly the same as the one featured in the Carentan Clash battle report verses Wayne and features a mix of mobile tank killers (M10s and Firefly tanks) and infantry killers (25 pdrs, Stuart and Sherman tanks).
As I’ve mentioned previously, I am heavily reliant on the mix of 17 pdr guns on M10 and Firefly tanks to get the job done verses any armour that I come across. These have been the cornerstone of my army planning from day one.
Between the two practice games I’ve played, one against Wayne and one verses Victor (shown here on the Flames Of War D-Day OnTableTop Campaign site) I’ve been reminded of some valuable lessons; use my Spearheading troops better, and don’t stand in the open… Sherman tanks don’t have the armour of a Jagdtiger!
I’m not really going in to this weekends gaming action with a solid plan for how to use my army. My primary goal is to have five fun games and ideally, not get blasted off the table. With a highly mobile army I expect to play aggressively – a fast game is a good game – but not recklessly! This means pushing up fast, isolating units where possible, and hitting them as hard as I can and then moving on to the next target. Right now, there are no lists that I am worried about facing, of course I might be singing a different tune in a few days!
FlamesCon is on this weekend (9 to 10 November) and I’ll be taking my initial Big Four Of Late-war 100 points I finished building a month or so ago. I’ve painted more since, but with the need to submit an Army composition before a certain day I thought I’d play it safe an enter something I wouldn’t have to rush to get finished in time.
Well, um, there isn’t really anything concrete. The tournament is using the Battle Plans system, so I will try and attack when I can. I feel choosing defence and trying to hold off an enemy in a defensive battle with deep (whether they are delayed or not) reserves with my force would be tantamount to giving my opponent a free victory. It will be mostly Attack, but with the occasional Manoeuvre if I feel my opponent has a defensively orientated army.
I will use the 8.8cm AA Platoon to hold down an Objective in meeting engagements like Free-for-All, Dust Up, or Encounter. In these battles my attack is likely to swing from the other objective. If I’m forced to switch flanks, either during the battle or if out-deployed by a larger force, I can drop the Panzergrenadier on the other objective and use the 88s as a backstop for the tanks.
In the Manoeuvre missions where there is a clear attacker and defender I will endeavour to attack using my mobility to seize objectives, backed up by the Panzergrenadier who will defend them from counterattacks if the mission objectives don’t go live by a certain turn (usually Turn 6).
If I end up defending, I’ll attempt to take the battle to the enemy with my tanks, leaving the Panzergrenadiers and 88s to cover the objectives while I attempt to break the opposing force.
Large infantry forces may cause me some trouble, but hopefully most of these will be choosing defence and we will be playing Manoeuvre missions like Breakthrough, Bridgehead, Contact and Rearguard. If I end up attacking in a No Retreat I will focus on seizing an objective while no exposing my force to too much of the enemy’s front to minimise fire.
The Tigers will probably be the stars as they can take and handout the punishment. The Panzer IVs will provide the bulk of my strike force, with good mobility and an effective gun. Their biggest weakness will be their armour as I’m sure I’ll see a lot of US 3-inch and 76mm, Soviet 85mm, and British 17 pdr armed tanks.
Having said all that, I still have to roll dice, and I’m not very good at that.
I used the camo template found in the camouflage field manual (see all my camo research here…). It uses desert colours as an example, but I figured the same pattern would apply for the western front.
Click on the thumbnail to the right for a bigger version.
I’ve had a few requests on Instagram for a painting guide on how I do my American armour and camo. I was holding off until I had a chance to take step-by-step photos of the process, and the M8 Greyhounds seemed like a good candidate for that.
There’s so many ways to paint your tanks, and none of them are right or wrong. This here is my a way of achieving a fast paint job and easy camo, that I think is true to the historical subjects while still popping on the tabletop.
After priming with a flat black rattle can from a DIY store, I airbrush all over with Olive Drab. I then spray from the top with some Buff added to the Olive Drab (about 60/40 OD/Buff). This leaves the lower surfaces quite dark which I like. To finish the airbrushing, I panel fade (focus on the centres of surfaces) with a little more Buff added (about 40/60 OD/Buff). This ends up being quite light and pale, but it gets toned down by the wash later and creates a nice contrast for the black camo.
To bring out the details I do a heavy drybrush of German Camo Beige. I tested out a few drybrush colours when I was working out this scheme, and the beige seemed to work best. I think drybrush colour choice can often be the most important step when painting FOW tanks.
Next I applied an all over wash of Athonian Camoshade. This ties the previous shading together and also adds some vibrancy to the colour while shading the recesses.
I go back with a second drybrush of German Camo Beige, this time a little lighter. I find doing a drybrush before and after a wash with the same colour helps to create smooth edge highlights and lessen some of the pitfalls of the drybrushing techniques (brush strokes).
This is where the fun begins. Using temples a could find (in my article “Would you like to know more?“) I create a camo pattern using a medium brush and Nuln Oil. The reason I do this instead of black or grey paint is because it allows the previous shading and highlight work to show through and be consistent between the camo and non-camo areas. I try to move quickly so as not to get any pooling or drying marks.
I now apply a second coat of Nuln Oil over the camo patches to darken them further. This is to taste, but I found 2 coats works well and gets close to the contrast in black and white photos of the real camo. If you like it more subtle stick to one coat, or try a third coat for darker patches.
Lastly I ‘tickle’ some edges with a very light dry brush of Deck Tan. This just adds some pop and definition.
There you have it! Simple but effective. It of course starts to really come together with decals, tools, and wheels/tracks completed, so I’ll hope to show you the finished M8’s soon. In the meantime here’s some examples of the same scheme on some of my Shermans.
As with most historical painting projects I tackle, I first spend a lot of time in Google image search. I hadn’t looked into American WW2 aircraft much before, and only really had the Flames Of War box cover examples to go by. I wanted to see what else was out there, and found quite a few examples with a simple yellow canard and not many other markings.
I did however learn that the anti reflective strip down the top of the fuselage was sometimes olive drab instead of black, so this was a nice way of tying them in to the rest of my force.
I’ve never used aircraft in a game before so I’m looking forward to trying them out and seeing if they can help me deal with those pesky Tigers!
Here’s how I did it.
I decided to use plasticard rod as it’s easy to cut to the length I need. You could instead use brass rod. This would have advantage of being the right colour so wouldn’t require painting, but the downside is it’s a lot harder to cut (especially when doing a lot of shells!) and the cuts will often need to be filed smooth.
I used the loader figure that comes with the guns to approximate the thickness of the rod I’d need, and how long to make them. You could be extra expert and convert the real world measurements to 1/100!
To make them easy to paint, I mounted them to a popsicle stick with double sided tape. This holds them fairly well along as you don’t go too heavy with the brush work.
To paint them I brushed on black primer (but you could spray them) and then did two coats of Vallejo Brass.
Once dry I removed them from the mounting, and painted the end that was stuck down with black, to emulate the hollow end of a spent shell. I also went around the edge with brass again.
Hopefully this helps you get your artillery teams looking the part on the table. You could also use this method for spent shells on mobile artillery engine decks!
Click on the image to the left for a much bigger version…
At the beginning of our Late-War Journey Wayne and I split a Hit The Beach box to give us extras to add to our Starter Army boxes. I’ve slowly been chipping away at the plastic Paratroopers and I can finally show them off!
I had a lot of fun painting these Paras, even though it took me a long time. I’ve accepted that my infantry painting speed is lacking but the end result makes me happy.
Since my American army is being planned to cover all of the Late-War period, I decided to go with the more green uniform introduced after Normandy. This means they’ll look at home for battles during Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, and the push across the Elbe River. I used Vallejo US Dark Green and added Buff for highlights.
Painting the flag and unit patches was a fun challenge, but actually easier than I anticipated. I spent a while debating whether to go with ‘Screaming Eagles’ or ‘All American’. After polling the fine folks following us on our Instagram account, I went with the 82nd Airborne Division. The added bonus is that their patch uses the same colours as the flag on the opposite shoulder. I used Vallejo Deck Tan, Flat Red, and Dark Blue.
The basing was done using the plastic Rural bases, and a combination of Gamer Grass tufts, and GF9 Winter/Dead Static Grass.
With a basing style established I already have plans of doing an Armoured Rifle Company, but for now I need go paint something other than infantry to cleanse the palette.