Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bring out Your Dead Man's Hand!

I keep Dead Man's Hand in regular rotation. Win, lose or draw, there's nothing I play that generates quite as much color or laughter at the tabletop. Great Escape Games upped the ante this spring with Dead Man's Hand Down Under. This installment takes us to the Australian frontier, along with Ned Kelly, the State Police and Bushrangers.

The Ned Kelly gang are, no surprise, my favorites!  Their cobbled together armor is modeled perfectly with dings and holes throughout. I touched it up with a bit of rust weathering.  

The real deal.
The Bushrangers are tough lot.  In a game that models Hollywood's version of The Western, I love having a tough moll in my gang. Life is tough for a bushranger and they have the worn out clothes to prove it!
The State Police are all about the business.  Looks like a few of them rolled out of bed for the big showdown.
To round out the drop, I finished the prisoner set and Rogue's Gallery characters.
And a small painter's note, I've finally switched over to gray as my primer color.  It's true what they say.  Over time, everyone goes gray.  ;-)

On the gaming front, John S and I got in our annual game of DMH "Dead Again."  Once a year right around Halloween, the dead come back to haunt Coyote Gulch.  For a time, it looked like the Dead had the town in hand.  After two failed Big Nerve tests, both sides fled the town and the game ended in a bloody draw!

If you're celebrating, have a great Halloween tonight.  Game and paint on!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Monty's Method for painting 15mms

Months ago, my friend Hugh started painting a Carthaginian army for L'Art de la Guerre.  He asked me how I paint 15mm ancients and we began trading emails. Hugh edited our emails into a painting guide for me to share out.  Great work, Hugh and thanks!

Before you start, it's important to map out what you need at the finish line.  I don't always do this and I invariably regret skipping this important step.  It's faster to paint an army in one go rather than in dribbles and drabs.  For big projects, you might even drop your plan into a table like this one.

So, onto The Method:

1. Clean up mold lines and flash. If shields are separate, attach using the “Ticky Tack Stick" method. Zip Kicker or similar CA glue accelerator is highly recommended for this. 

2. Group similar figured poses together and mount 4-6 figures on a craft or ‘popsicle’ stick using white glue. Similar poses on the same stick speeds up painting. Leave enough space between figures so you can get at each one with a brush.

3. Prime with Army Painter Leather Brown spray primer. This is a time saver as you'll see later on.  

4. Block paint in your base colors:

A.  Flesh on faces (not arms, hands or legs yet!)
B.  Brass or bronze on metal helmets, greaves, shield boss, breast plates.
C.  Black on metal parts of weapons—spear heads, pilum shafts, sword blades—and plumes too.
D.  Shield base color (can also do after wash step if you want a brighter shield color)

5. Paint on a heavy brown wash. I recommend Vallejo's Game Color Sepia Wash or Army Painter Strong Tone. In 15mm, I don’t mind the wash pooling as the shadows will help your highlight colors pop.  Let the wash dry completely before proceeding. 

6.  Apply highlights:

A.  Flesh on hands, arms, legs, and highlight face if you think it's too dark from the wash. You can highlight the forehead, cheeks, and chin if you'd like. For sandals, hit the toes with touch of flesh and it’ll pop nicely.

B.  Metal on swords, spear points, and pilum shafts.I like to leave a little bit of black showing between the metal and wood on spear shafts for contrast.  

C. White/linen tunics or other tunic color. Leave wash/primer color in the recesses for shading and just paint the raised areas of the tunic.

D. Paint neatly and the AP Leather Brown primer can be left 'as is' on boots/sandals, belts, and backs of shields as a time saver!

E. Lighter brown (or red leather brown) on leather belts/straps highlights leaving darker brown wash in borders and recesses.

F. Highlights on helmet plumes or other decorations in appropriate color.

G. Paint shields your chosen base color then highlight with a brighter color with ‘dots’, ‘wiggles’ or ‘arcs.' Leave the base color showing through and a bit of the wash in the deepest recesses/borders to get three colors for depth—base, wash and highlight. Detail with patterns/symbols appropriate to army. You can also use shield transfers but in 15mm, I find it's quite time consuming. Take your time on the shields as they are the most visible part of  your ‘ranked up’ ancient infantry.

H. If the brown sepia wash dulled the bronze colors too much, you can give them a quick highlight to along the tops and edges to make them pop.

I hope this method might help you paint your armies in a reasonable amount of time and to good effect.  Good luck and good gaming!  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bolt Action-Opening day of Operation Epsom

Bolt Action has an active following in the Twin Cities. A Facebook group started over the summer quickly grew to 50+ members with multiple posts a day.  The energy and excitement of this group nudged Hugh and I to finally give it a go.  Hugh drew up a scenario based on the fight for St Manieu in Normandy using the book Over the Battlefield - Operation Epsom as inspiration. With low altitude battlefield pictures taken by Spitfires, it's ideal for designing scenarios.   
Hugh used the BA 'Point Defense' scenario for the basic structure and added an OOB of 1000 points per side. It featured the untested 15th Scottish infantry vs. the heavily depleted 12th SS HitlerJügend. The Scots got a flame throwing Crocodile (historically commanded by a LT Harvey) and the HJ got a Pz IV and some Panzerfausts. 

How did our first foray into BA go? Splendidly!  The table was gorgeous as were Hugh's figures. BA is simple enough that I picked up the basics our first time out and we were able to play two games in just over 5 hours.  The British preparatory bombardment was effective, leaving most of my German units pinned.  However, their veteran status allowed them to recover from pinned status fairly quickly.  

In the early game, Hugh was very effective in pushing up the middle and seizing the ruined house. The Crocodile is a heavy tank so it was slow in approaching my position. Thank goodness for that as I was in fear of its flamethrower.

Hugh was making good progress when his Forward Observer called in artillery strike that went awry. It dropped onto his right wing traversing a farm field.  The results were devastating, taking two squads out of the game.  The loss of momentum on this wing doomed the offensive.

My Panzer IV couldn't damage or slow the Crocodile.  When hit by the flamethrower, the crew panicked and were useless the rest of the game. At games end, the Scots failed to capture the 3 objectives. First victory was notched by the Germans.

In the second game, our fortunes were dramatically reversed.  The Allied preparatory bombardment was effective as was their follow-up artillery strikes, taking out my 2nd Lieutenant.   This loss meant my units had difficulty rallying up. My pinned units were much less effective in holding up the British advance.  

The Croc's first blast of flame took out most of my squad covering the road, with only my squad leader surviving.  In one of the more memorable moments of the game, Hugh sent in a 7 man squad to finish off my squad leader and clear the building. Against all odds, he inflicted more hits on the British squad and the Scots were destroyed. Apparently, Sgt. Steiner was in that house! Despite this temporary setback, Hugh secured 2 of the 3 objectives and quickly sealed a victory.  

Bolt Action gets a big thumbs up from both of us.  It's a fast and fun gaming experience.   The dice draw for activating units shatters "IGOUGO" in a brilliant way and leads to many tense moments in the game.  Bolt Action and Chain of Command give you two very different takes on WW II skirmish combat.  Bolt Action is first and foremost a game, easy to pick up and play. Chain of Command has more complexity and depth with an emphasis on simulating command friction.  They each have much to recommend and give you two different gaming experiences.  Trailape's Wargame blog has a fabulous side by side comparison of these two systems you can read here. Click and read it now!

Historically, the opening day of Epsom, June 26, 1944, was a rough one for both sides. Rifle companies were reduced to weak platoons lead by NCOs and junior lieutenants.  It ended poorly for the Scots as well as LT Harvey. His Croc burst through a high wall during the attack only to be knocked out by a Panzerfaust on the other side.  Taken prisoner, the crew was not seen alive again. Their sad fate was never far from my mind during our game.