Big Four: Big Cats!

The release of Bulge: German has resulted in much “list-noodling” here at Big Four, so we decided why don’t we all commit to a list each and see what we can achieve in a month. We also thought we should all include some of the new Tiger II or Jagdtiger plastic tanks. Some of us have gone for full Formations of these beasts, while others are being more subtle.

I was already planning to paint a whole lot of tanks from Bulge: German (to the point that I had already managed to scavenge, assemble and prime some King Tigers), so when Victor suggested Big Four: Big Cats I was all onboard (and already ahead).

My list is based around five Tiger II tanks, although I’ll be painting six for those extra big games. Since they are in Formation I’m also going to paint up a Fallschirmjager Platoon. Despite them being hit on 3+ they are such a large unit that they will be scary on attack and difficult to move on defence. I’m rounding out the army with some Pumas.

This is the first time in a while painting and German armour, and recently I got a new airbrush which I haven’t had much practice with yet. I started painting the camouflage on one of the Tiger II tanks, but wasn’t happy with either the colours or paint application. Luckily I had a few old metal and resin Hetzers lying around already base coated, which I sacrificed to do a bit of colour and paint consistency experiments, and to use to practice my camo on.

Happy with the colours, but not wanting to wreck any of my Kingtigers (since they are in short supply in the office), I have started painting a test Panzer IV/70 platoon, to make sure that I’m happy with the end result before I start the army (Victor thinks I’m crazy for painting a test platoon before starting my army).

At first I was worried that my Dunkelgelb was too light, but it’s interesting how a little bit of streaking and chipping changes the overall tone of the paint, despite the base colour not changing.

~Casey

Big Cats = Big Fun! When it comes to Flames Of War I feel like that is a moto to live by.

Over the years I have painted my fair share of Jagdtigers and King Tigers (not to mention Tigers and Panthers) so when Victor proposed this little detour I was a little on the fence… till I got the new plastics in hand and decided that 7 new plastic Jagdtigers would weigh about as much as one of my old metal and resin models.

I didn’t want to over think my list as I really wanted to do something straight forward and simple, and something that I could use as a springboard for future expansion or to integrate some old models I already had painted from my existing Jagdtiger Company.

So how do you make a simple Jagdtiger Company with no real thoughts about how it will compete? Simple, you just put in ALL the Jadgtigers… 7 to be precise, and then flavour with 4 Wirbelwinds to deal with pesky infantry, planes and light vehicles.

How am I going to fit 118 points of models in a 100 point list I hear you saying? Simple… you make them “less-good” through the use of the 512. Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 2nd Company Command Card. With this card I reduce my Motivation and Skill, but save quite a few points.

I did initially think about only doing 5 or 6 Jagdtigers so I would have some points for something a bit more useful in a competitive situation – some Panzer IV’s and/or Panzergrenadiers for example – but these are all things I can do later and right now I just wanted to paint some cool models and with 7 Jagdtigers and 4 Wirbelwinds I ‘never’ need to paint any more in the future.

~Chris

 

The idea of a Big Four: Big Cats detour wasn’t as simple for me as the other guys as I am already painting Germans. I umm’ed and ahh’ed about what to do, not out of indecision, but which to one to pick for this particular force. I have bunch of plans for all of them as part of my general Big Four German plan. In the end I decided to some of the new Tiger II heavy tanks. This is an impressive and easy to put together tank kit.

I went with SS just to get a little more in the force, but I will probably paint them so they can be used as Waffen-SS or Heer heavy tanks.

So that’s five Tiger II tanks, but I have assembled six, so I will paint all six. The other new plastic I’m building is the new Hummel self-propelled 15cm howitzer. This adds some heavy punch to my supporting fire. Me being weird and contrary again, I modelled up a Panzer IV OP out of spare Panzer IV bits I had. This is modelled as a Panzer IV J with bits from the Panzer IV F, Panzer IV H and some Panzer IV J bits from our old resin and plastic Panzer IV J model. Added the periscope made from plastic rod and some metal wire radio aerials and shaved off the Zimmerit.

I’m also going to paint up a Volksgrenadier Rifle Platoon. The list has five teams, but I’ll paint up all seven teams and maybe a Panzerschreck.

This should keep me busy over the next few weeks.

~Wayne

 

There’s plenty to be excited about in Bulge: German, it’s hard to choose where to start. When we decided to do this little 100 point challenge, I came up with many different lists. Most of them were my usual “max out on big tanks and then see how many points are left”. Instead I wanted to push myself to do something more varied that will also give me the building blocks for many lists later. So I settled on this:

Down the road I’ll have ways to expand it; add halftracks and mobile mortars, make a Panther or Tiger II company, add artillery, etc to further expand out the whole Kampfgruppe.

For now though this will be a fun little force to paint if I can get it all done in time. I’m lagging behind the others and haven’t started assembly, but I’ve got everything purchased…

As for painting, I did a quick test model to see if the scheme I had in my head would work. It uses blu-tac for the camo pattern, and relies on some simple chipping to act as highlights. I’m happy with the general look, and it’s actually quite fast to do.

Plus now I have a Panzer III OP ready for some Hummels later!

The one hurdle I see in my plan is that I’m not very fast at painting infantry. Luckily it’s not a lot of teams and I think I’ve got a nice quick way of doing German field grey, based on the commander of my panzer III OP.

Wish me luck!

~Victor

Stay tuned to see how we all progress with our armies over the coming weeks…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAK Detour Complete

An army that started life 7 years ago as a small Panzer force has now grown to 140 points with lots of options to bring to the battlefield.

I’m really proud of this army as it showcases all the painting techniques and tricks I’ve accrued over the years, in contrast to my Late-War American force which was more of a “get the models on the table” paint job.

Each unit has a lot of care put in to it, and seeing all 35 models together makes it all worth it.

Complete Panzer Tank Company

Check out the all units below (click on the images for larger versions).

Panzer III Tank Company HQ
Panzer III Tank Platoon
Panzer IV Tank Platoon
Panzer II Light Tank Platoon
Sd Kfz 221 and 222 Light Scout Troop
Sd Kfz 231 Heavy Scout Troop
Diana Tank-hunter Platoon
8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon
15cm Bison Infantry Gun Platoon
15cm (Sf) Lorraine Schlepper Artillery Battery
Tiger (P) Heavy Tank

Like Chris said there’s always more that could be added (Infantry, Captured 25 pdrs, long barrelled Panzer IV’s) but for now it’s time to move on to the next “Big” project…

~Victor

Detour to the Desert

Chris and Victor are heading to the desert!

They’ve both started armies a while ago, and hot on the heels of ‘North Africa’ they’ve decided to dig them out and breath new life into their forces.

Victor’s Afrikakorps

About 7 years ago I started an Early-War DAK army. It began as just 6 Panzer III’s (and a captured Stuart…) which allied with Waynes Italians for a doubles tournament.

Check out the coverage of the Panzerchreck 2016 event over on the Flames Of War website…

The following year I added Panzer IV’s, Panzer II’s, 88’s, and 222 armoured cars. The plan was to have units that could swing between early-war and mid-war, so the Panzers were all earlier versions.

This left me with a good mix of units, but it never really felt like a complete army. The release of North Africa gave me the motivation to move this force into Version 4, and skew it more towards mid-war by adding some cool new units.

Apart from a few touch ups due to showing their age, here’s what I’ve currently got painted from years ago:

6x Panzer III J
4x Panzer IV D
5x Panzer II C
4x SdKfz 221 & 222
2x 8.8cm FlaK36
2x Objectives!

And here’s what I’m planning to add, which will give me 140 points to work with!

3x Dianas
2x Bison
4x Lorraine Schlepper
2x SdKfz 231 8-rad
1x Tiger

One day I’d like to do some infantry, captured 25 pdrs, and long barrelled Panzer IV’s, but for now I’ve got a lot to keep me busy!

~Victor

Chris’s Fighting First

When we released Fighting First I, for some reason, fell in love with the idea of a full company of M3 Lee tanks. I guess it was just a combination of a wierd looking tank, a decent stat line, and a points cost that let me field a lot of them and still have room to pack some extra units in.

As is often the case, the army started with a hiss and a roar, getting most of it built, painted and decal’ed. But like so many projects I hit a point where army stalled… when I had to paint a massive pile of vehicle crew.

Part of my reticence was that not only did I have a full company of Lee’s in the force, but also a (for me) massive number of halftracks with M4 Mortar Carriers, converted T19 105mm HMC’s, M3 75mm GMC’s, and T30 75mm HMC’s. Each of these vehicles needed crews painted up and I failed my last stand test and retreated…

Fast forward a few years and I’m in my peak painting condition having done so many models as part of the Big Four project that finishing this army actually seemed like a holiday from everything else!

My baseline list looks pretty straight forward.

But for some variation, and for the ability to add a few extra points I have the T19’s and M3 GMC’s that I can add. These are both Community Cards that have been created by players out in the world so whilst there aren’t models for them currently I managed to convert them using existing halftracks and guns.

You can find out more about them on the Flames Of War website.
M3 75mm GMC…
T19 105mm HMC…

I’ll be finishing off everything that I started (way back when) and then moving on to a few new units, like the Stuarts and T28E1 SP AA… I might even set myself a stretch goal of some infantry and Shermans but we will see how everything else progresses

~Chris

Follow along with us on Instagram as we finish our units, and who knows, we may have a battle to decide who’s king of the desert!

 

 

German Supplied Hun’ Fun

Here’s the last of my AFV’s I plan to do for my Hungarian force. These are all the German supplied vehicles, so it was fun to do a mix of different looking units to go along side my Zrinyi’s.

The Panthers were the first ones I painted, and I’d say the ones I’m least happy with. I applied too much green camo, as I was trying to tie them in with the Zrinyis. I think this was a mistake and made them too dark, but otherwise they turned out ok.

I’m much happier with the StuGs. They’re very simple, but I find the plain dunkelgelb suits the models.

For the big numbers on the shurtzen, I used the Gulf War number decals from the WWIII: Britsh pack. I made the “7” using part of an “A” trimmed down and painted the top line.

Lastly was the Hetzers, which I went for a mix of the above two, using a simple green camo but with plenty of dunkelgelb still showing.

I now have a lot of options for running different assault gun formations (or even two at once!). Later down the road I will add infantry to this army, as well as some recon. But for now, it’s time to get back to my Americans…

~Victor

Panzerschreck 2021: There And Back Again…

The ability (and freedom) to travel to a tournament, hang out with friends and play some games has been something that most gamers have been able to take for granted. After a year (or more) of lockdowns, cancelled events, and the need to maintain some sort of social distance here in New Zealand, things are returning to normal and events are happening with a little more regularity. One of our favourite events of the year is always Panzerschreck – the oldest Flames Of War tournament in the world. There is no one reason as to why it is great, it really is the combination; the road trip down with friends, the short stops to shop, climbing over tanks at the National Army Museum, hanging out with resident sculptor Evan, catching up with friends, too much eating, winning (or losing) some games, and then finishing it with a post-tournament “what went wrong, what are we doing next year” cathartic road trip back home!

Road Trips, Shopping, Eating and Tanks!
This year the four of us crammed in to a rental Jeep Cherokee, which should have been big enough but thanks to a small pile of orders we were taking down for customers we ended up filling every available space with gear, miniatures, or clothes. I think next year we are going to need a bigger boat… I mean car! The road trip really is all about hanging out, talking about work, gaming, life and everything else going on. There is also time for a fair amount of pre-tournament smack talk! Our trips each year take a similar course (unless snow gets in the way) with a stop in Hamilton (about 90 minutes in to our journey) to swing by one of our favourite gaming shops (Games Centre) for a chat and to pick up any “essentials”. Short on space this year some of those essentials kept falling from their precarious perch in the back of the car on to Victors head… Hamilton is also a good spot for a coffee and sausage roll (an NZ delicacy!).

Back on the road we then have a quick 2 hour sprint down to Taupo in the middle of the North Island. Marking the halfway point it is a great chance to have lunch (yes we do always stop at the same Turkish restaurant each year!) and swing by our next hobby shop; Taupo Hobbies. We didn’t end up adding to the load this time (which was a surprise) but it didn’t stop us having a really good look and contemplating the idea of building some rather larger World War II naval models!

Next stop is Waiouru and the home of the New Zealand Army Museum. We normally arrive too late to hit the gift/book shop but we are always prepared to brave the cold to check out some of New Zealand’s tank history parked out the front. There is nothing like climbing up on a Centurion (or even the Scorpion) to give the models that we play with a real sense of scale. With this taken care of it is the final push to Palmerston North and Evan’s house… A total trip of around 512km (318 miles) in a very leisurely 11 hours!

Stalin Approved – Casey and Chris’ Experience


The weekend turned in to a glorious mess of dice, explosions (some on the table and some in our heads), great opponents and fun games so I can’t give a breakdown of the individual games… and based on our performance I am not sure anyone wants my tactical advice. So what went right or wrong? Casey’s army was fantastic to play with, not only was it really well painted but it was a great combination of models. In hindsight though we really could have dropped one of our infantry units and replaced it with a template delivery device. Any sort would have done; Katyushas or SU-76 assault guns being my preference, but anything would have been useful. The IS-2s were great at knocking out dug-in troops IF they hit. I spent most of the weekend looking for 5’s and often 6’s to hit. In one game I literally got 2 hits in 6 turns, with 10 tanks. The IS-2’s did excel in surviving however with their armour allowing them to stand up to any opposition and hang around, and what they hit generally stayed hit!

Casey’s T-34/85 company found itself doing a lot of the heavy lifting over the weekend, rushing flanks, having gun-fights, being assaulted (and counter-attacking) and generally being in the mix. Of course this meant that they didn’t tend to survive! Casey may have wished once or twice over the weekend that they still had the front armour 7 of the “good old days!”

Favourite Game: Too hard to pick… our loss to Tom and Alex with their Elefants was a hard fought game of manoeuvre and thrust that could have gone either way, whilst our narrow victory vs Bob and Steve could have just as easily been

a loss if not for the resilience of the IS-2 and their ability to go head-to-head with Tigers.

~Chris

Hungarian Hooves and Howitzers a.k.a. Triple H – Victor and Wayne’s Weekend


Wayne has always been a fan of Hungarians in Flames Of War, and I’ve caught the bug too, especially with the Zrínyi. The release of Bagration: Axis-Allies was going to fall shortly before Panzerschreck, so it made sense to take my new Zrínyi force, and Wayne being my usual team mate, I knew he would have plenty of Hungarian units to build a force to go with mine. Then Wayne said “But I want to paint something new for the tournament”, and I said something silly like “You should paint a full Huszar Squadron!” Thus our team was formed. We knew it wasn’t going to dominate the tabletop, but we were hoping for some funny moments and glorious cavalry charges.

Unfortunately when it came to the games, we found ourselves defending against heavy tanks, or attacking elite MG infantry. This isn’t to say the games weren’t fun, just that there weren’t as many chances for a good cavalry charge as we would’ve liked. It’s lucky Wayne painted the dismounted versions of his platoons too, as they were great in defence. The Zrínyi’s on the other hand did great work, and their bombardments were quite effective. The Panthers kept our opponent’s tanks cautious, which kept our Zrínyi’s alive in most of our games.

Overall the tournament was a lot of fun, and was great seeing familiar faces that we missed out on last year.

~Victor

The Long Road Home
With the weekend’s gaming over and done with (and after a good nights rest) we headed home on the Monday morning, stopping for a coffee and a tank of gas. Based on the comments from the back seat the coffee may have been made by Baldrick during World War I so next year we might find somewhere better than going with “hey Google, where can we get a coffee?”

Casey’s Best Painted Medal

The drive north is a lot like the drive south, just with different stops (the Army Museum book shop which is now open, Subway, since everything else was busy in Taupo, and Gaming DNA in Hamilton) and conversation that revolves around what went right, what went wrong, and what we are taking next year (140 points, Mid War, doubles! Oh yeah!). Stay tuned for some initial thoughts over the coming months on what we might like to build.

As always Panzerschreck is a blast and this year was no different. Roll on 2022!

~The Big Four Of Late War

Autumn Snows – A Twitch Battle Report

Casey, using his Big Four Soviet army, and Victor, with his brand new Hungarians, threw down in a game of Free For All on Casey’s freshly finished table.

Can the Hungarians hold back the tide?

 

Rohamágyús Üteg

Here’s my finished Zrínyi Assault Gun Battery. I love this little assault gun. It’s like a Semovente on steroids, or a StuG trying to hide behind a wall…

I chose to go with plain green as I thought the shape and details of the kits are interesting enough (glorious rivets!), and I think it helps the markings stand out. However, part of me is still tempted to do a second formation one day in 3 colour camo…

I’ll do a future article about some of the research I did, and some of the unique markings and details on the Zrínyi, but for now, here are each of my units.

Formation HQs (see text below)

I’ve painted two HQ options, one with the long 75mm barrel. There was only one prototype built, but I’m glad we included it in the kit. It’s a cool option for the HQ to have an extra direct fire threat.

44M Zrínyi Prototype

 

1st Platoon
2nd Platoon
3rd Platoon

 

You can see some work in progress pictures on our Instagram. My next step is to add some Panthers and either Hetzers or StuGs, and challenge Casey to a game!

~Victor

Another Trip Around The Hun

My first book as a Graphic Designer at Battlefront was ‘Stalin’s Europe’ back in 2010. This was the first book to introduce Hungarians to Late War, and they were my first Flames Of War army.

That army has since left my collection, so with the new Bagration: Axis-Allies book, my painting improving, and models now being in plastic, there’s 3 good reasons to recreate a similar army.

Victors first Hungarian army from over 10 years ago!

The new plastic Zrinyi is a great plastic kit, and the Zrinyi formation is the most flexible of the assault gun formations in the book.

I want a full allotment of 10 Zrinyi’s, and I’ll also paint an extra one with the 75mm barrel option. This will give me a second HQ when I choose to run two formations.

As for what to add next, I’ll repeat history and go with Panthers and StuGs again. Panthers are always good and give me some decent guns, while the StuGs add a good direct fire option when I want to use the Zrinyis as artillery.

With those two black box units added to my Zrinyi formation, I end up at this as my first 100 point list, and if I want a little more anti-tank, I can add the 75mm barrel to the HQ, and swap the 3 StuGs for 4x Hetzers.

If I want to go all in with assault guns, I can drop the Panthers and run two Zrinyi formations. It might not have the punch to deal with some lists, but it looks like a lot of fun!

This means my first batch of painting will be:
11x Zrinyi assault guns
5x Hetzer assault guns
3x StuG assault guns
3x Panther tanks

Later down the road I want to paint 3 PaK40’s, and also a rifle platoon to give me the option to swap them into a Zrinyi formation using the ‘Assault Artillery Rifle Platoon’ command card. I’d also like to do Csaba armoured cars, but maybe not in blue this time…

~ Victor

Big Four Bagration: Axis Allies Detour…

The Big Four of Late-War are getting excited about Bagration: Axis-Allies. We’re preparing new armies, add-ons to old forces, and even some terrain. Join us over the next few weeks to see our progress on Instagram, and stay tuned for some live content on Twitch.

Victor’s Plans for 2021

It probably sounds like a broken record by now, but good riddance 2020! I have a lot to be thankful for, but on the flip side this has been a really trying year for me personally, and I’m sure many of you out there. This has affected my Big Four painting output, so I’ll be using the new year to get back on track. There was some assembly and painting going on in the background, but here is the only platoon I manage to complete for my Americans; some M12’s.

The painting project from the year I am most proud of is my WWIII: Soviet army. This was done very quickly by my standards, but it turned out well and gave me almost 150 points. Although it’s not my Big Four army, I’m still calling it a win for this year.

I have big plans for the first half of 2021. It’s no surprise that Bulge: American will be released next year, and I’m currently doing the graphic design and photography for it. Of course in my downtime there’s been some list noodling, and I’ve come up with a bit of a shopping list of what I’d paint from the new book, and what I still need to tick off from D-Day.

D-Day: American

  • Complete my Cavalry Recon Troop
  • Complete my Armoured Rifle Platoon
  • 6x M4A3 105mm

Bulge: American

  • 7x M4A3E8 Easy Eight
  • 4x M4A3E2 Jumbo
  • 4x M26 Pershing
  • 1x Super Pershing
  • 5x M24 Chaffees
  • 5x Calliope Turrets (as an option to upgrade my existing Sherman 105’s)
  • 4x M15/M16AAA halftracks
  • 4x M36 Jacksons
  • 8x M18 Hellcats

I’m excited about this list, as they’re all new plastics and just so cool. I should give me a solid core to build many different lists with. The Easy Eight is one of my favourite tanks, and I know the Hellcats will be popular. I think American players will get a kick out of the new book.

See you all next year and I hope you stay safe over the holidays.

~ Victor