Saturday, August 24, 2013

Through Jungle and Desert...

As I promised, I´m following up on my last post with more African Forces. I´ve been building these up quickly during the last days to get both the Desert Camo and Bushland Camo groups to roughly platoon strength. With the casts of my sculpts at hands and using some remaining unpainted figs from my Christmas Calender, I have a good supply of manpower for them. I´m planning to use them for Chain of Command, which got released on Wednesday. I´ve already read the pdf and so far it sounds very good and is exactly what I´ve been missing for infantry combat in Force on Force. Firepower causes more shock than kills, with shock/suppression increasingly impeding your units. You can now actually pin units in place (or force them to rout if you put even more firepower on pinned units to break them) and maneuver your assault groups into position to attack. Also, flanking has some real effect as men can´t fire through friendlies in their own unit, which enforces some kind of linear formation to bring their whole firepower to bear.
The rules also supplement all that is needed for a post-war infantry skirmish. Generic stats for Assault Rifles are in the rules (though I´ll probably count Battle-rifles such as the FN FAL as semi-automatic rifles / self loading rifles like the M1 Garand, as controlled autofire with those is pretty much impossible and even disabled on some models of the FAL.) and MGs haven´t changed much since. I´ll handle underbarrel grenades like rifle grenades for now and won´t include vehicles for my first playthrough - other than that I should be set to play with the Africans. Must think about their platoon organisation / squad structure though. But my rulebook hasn´t arrived yet anyway and I´ll probably need that to start my first game - referring to the pdf to check things is not the most convenient way to play the first game.

Anyway, back to the Africans. I´ve almost finished the first Platoon of Desert Camo troops:

24 soldiers at the ready. I´ve noticed that I´ll need another RPG-gunner or two though. And I´ll have to add a few riflemen to get the squads to 9-10 man strength, as they should be operating as completely dismounted troops for the lack of any APCs in my collection.

The Jungle Division in woodland camo has a longer way to go. 8 Soldiers are ready as part of the christmas calendar, which isn´t even a full squad. But they also got some reinforcements, and I´ll have to add more very soon for my first game of Chain of Command!

For the woodland troops, I added some helmet camouflage on  some of the troops and filled the base with more green undergrowth, which looks really cool in conjunction with their camouflage.

Apart from that, I´ve also started work on completing my two german squads. As stated earlier, I´ve 8 rifleman done and enough casts of my MG3-gunners, Panzerfaust and Grenadiers ready to bring up their strength sufficiently, so combining these into two 6-man Panzergrenadier Gruppen is most feasable for me at the moment. I´m missing some plain Riflemen to use them as Jäger Infantry.
As Panzergrenadiers operate in combined arms warfare with their AFVs, I´ve also ordered two diecast Marder (German IFVs) to complete the squads. This will add awesome firepower to the units on the ground, as both are armed with a 20mm cannon. O_O
With two 6-man squads (1 MG, 1 Grenadier, 1 Panzerfaust, 2 Rifleman + Leader) I´ll even have two Riflemen left over for a third squad, but will have to look for a leader - maybe I´ll sculpt another one real quick to bring them up to strength. And then I´ll need a Platoon HQ to get them to full strength.

 But more on that later...More Africans first

Friday, August 23, 2013

More Afghan Freedom Fighters!

Hey there,

painting offensive has come along very well, I´ve painted almost a platoon size force of different allegiances and nationalities in the last two/three days. Unfortunately, I haven´t had any enthusiasm left for sculpting, seems like this is a either/or-thing, impossible to do both the same day.

I´ve now managed to take some photos after it was already too dark yesterday to do it properly. I´ll split up the post though, with one entry for the Taliban (this) and following very soon my next batch of NAM-soldiers.

So, these are my Wartime Taliban:

This is the first cell, painted together with the first two NAM-soldiers I presented a few days ago. These are the better results, as I washed them pretty heavily and somehow the lighter colors didn´t like that much dark color flowing into the cracks. As I thought this left the deeper parts very dark, I thought I could drybrush the lighter parts to highlight, but that ruined the result even more and forced me to redo the lighter parts. Somehow I got it to look decent, as you can see below on the second cell.

And finally, a group shot:

Coming very soon (minis & photos are ready, all I have to do is post it here):  More NAM-soldiers, desert and bushland camo!

Stay tuned, or even better, subscribe with your google account to miss no updates!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August Offensive

Hey folks,

my great August offensive has started. No, it has nothing to do with the Battle of Sari Bair in 1915 on the Gallipoli Front, nor does it have any connection to the Soviet Invasion of Manchuko, another great August Offensive.

As I´ve told you in my birthday blog, my new forces have arrived after being cast. This means my tin mountain has become a little larger again, meaning its time to resume painting. I´ve got some stuff lying around including:
-Some Wartime Miniatures Taliban from November last year... somehow they got neglected
-US Marines, two squads + Support Remaining
-Urban Terrorists (Plastic, hate painting these, but want to try something new there..)
-Some very few Afghan Civilians and some minor stuff

And of course, my new detachment of self-made minis.

As I have holidays now, I´ve enough time to tackle this pile of stuff. Yesterday & Today, I started with the Wartime Taliban, three US Marines and some of my Africans. I base-painted them, washed them and tried something new, achieving mixed results. Some of the Afghans are looking superb (will finish these tomorrow to show off), while some are mediocre at best. I´ve been struggling to make the brighter colored figures look good - I´ll have to change something for the next batch.

Anyway, here are the first Africans finished (somehow got hooked on these and wanted to get them done). I´m not 100% pleased, but on the pictures they actually look okay:

I´ll be trying to finish more Africans in the next few days, as I need some regular forces. I´ve actually preordered Chain of Command yesterday, but don´t want to start WW2 as a sideshow just to play the game. So, I´ll probably start off with some low-tech engagements with the African Forces that I still marshal. Old self-loading rifles and GPMGs shouldn´t have much different firepower than what was available in WW2. The basics are still the same, should be alright for infantry combat.

The major element is command & control anyway, with weaponry probably taking a secondary role, as far as I could see in the previews. What could be detrimental is the lack of national bonuses. We´ll see how that plays out. Anyway, I need more Africans to get two roughly Platoon-sized Forces ready and see which support-elements I could add. Right now, I got 26 Africans (including the two I just paitned), which is roughly half of what I need.

Most importantly, I got some Machineguns now that my own casts are ready. RPKs, PKMs and FN MAGs, even though only 1 pose of each, should add enough firepower to the squads. In the end, I should have one yellowish-team and one in woodland camo, in order to comply with the schemes of the National Army of Malongo ;)

Maybe I´ll also resort to painting my own Germans for some variety - with my own sculpts I could fill up my 8 Elhiem Germans to form two Panzergrenadier Squads. Unfortunately, I got no Marder IFVs, but using them as Jägers of any kind would result in understrength groups if operating completely dismounted (which Panzergrenadiers usually don´t do, as far as I know).

By the way -  I´m really proud of the photos today! No blur, no shaky camera, no mediocre lighting... :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Blog

Hey all!

Sorry for the eerie quiet around this place during the last few weeks. I´ve been off to holiday (technically, still am, but returning tomorrow) and didn´t have much opportunity or reason to update the blog. However, noticing that it is the middle of August already, I´ve realized that my Blog has now been around for more than a year - so, time to say happy birthday with this entry, even though I´m late. I guess the blog won´t mind.

So, time to recap - what´s happened during the last year and what lies ahead?
If you look back to my very first entries, you´ll notice that I started my comeback into the world of wargaming with very limited means, focusing on a playable playing field, ready to add the eye-candy later. I had to paint a lot of figures to start off at all, and almost no time and budget for terrain, so that part looked utterly terrible:

Terrain, a year ago...

I´ve since managed to upgrade the most crucial parts, though I´m still in need of a proper desert-mat to play...

...and Terrain today
Yeah, things look decent now ;)

I´ve also painted a lot more minis, adding to my arsenal of available figures for Afghanistan, and some more for urban operations, with metropolitan insurgents. The campaign system is still work in progress and some things didn´t work out as planned. We had a long break, and we´re in a long break again with stuff in need to be implemented. Once the most important mechanisms are implemented and tested, we´ll probably restart the campaign to start from a clean sheet and look if there´s need for more adjustments.
For those interested: We need to rework Unit depletion (what happens to units who suffer from too many losses in combat), develop a suitable scenario generator (what we have right now is basic and has caused some trouble), we need to adress supply issues and finish implementing our Fog of War-mechanism.

Furthermore, I stumbled upon an opportunity to purchase some African soldiers, which lead to my little Christmas Calendar, with one Mini painted per day. The troops where supposed to be a present for my best friend, who has tasked me to store and use them until he is ready with his own little project. As he is still lagging behind, I still administer his Africans and use them once in a while as ANA/ANP-Proxies and to play an African Scenario once in a while...

After Christmas, where I got the Fallujah-supplement for FoF, things took a strange turn...
My original intention was to build up an urban insurgency and additional US troops to play some Fallujah-esque scenarios, using some heavier vehicles and more irregular troops (as in FoF-irregularity). However, due to the limited set of available poses, I decided to convert some of them to add some diversity. For this, I ordered some sculpting putty and started experimenting with it, which lead to me experimenting with the putty, building my own stuff - I said to myself: Hey, if you can paint stuff, why can´t you sculpt stuff?
Quite happy with the first results and encouraged by the positive feedback on the forums and this blog, I delved deeper into this matter, bought better tools and spent more time pursuing this part of the hobby... which caused my to drift away from the Urban Insurgency I had originally planned for this year. But that´s the way of things, you never know where your next steps take you ;)

Speaking of drifting away...  This blog still carries the name "Rifles and Muskets" - well, the rifles part is well covered, but if you followed from the start, you might have noticed that the original intention was to built up a renaissance army in parallel. There are two distinct reasons why I didn´t proceed much:
1.) I focused on the modern stuff
2.) I moved to my new place last fall and have been playing with our local club, which has a group very dedicated to playing Field of Glory-Renaissance, who have a collection of stuff to bring and play - which means I get to play renaissance stuff once a month without the need of building up my own collection. Instead, I´ve used my time and money to built up on the modern part of the blog.

That covers pretty much what has happened during the last year, as I spent most of this year commited to sculpting, trying to improve my skill there.

So, what´s ahead from that point? I´ve sent off my first few sculpts to be cast before going into holiday and the casts should be waiting for me at home when I come back tomorrow. My plan is to paint some of them very soon and post some pics of the final looks for you. I will also continue working on sculpting some new minis, using the supplies that will arrive with the cast stuff (you´ll see very soon...)

 I´ll probably also take a look on Chain of Command, as I´m becoming more critical regarding Force on Force the more I read and research about the nature of modern combat. You somehow notice that FoF was designed with Actions like those in Black Hawk Down (Ambush Alley), with lots of absolutely incapable insurgents pitted against first rate troops in very very close quarters. From this basis, the rest of the system was developed, leading to some distortions that I´ve grown to dislike. FoF lacks a proper suppression mechanic to depict the nature of firefights in better cover or over longer distance. The rules on suppressive fire are not thought through and the tendency to explain things away with the system being "outcome oriented" and abstracted are not helpful either - Using FoF in a symmetric engagement usually leads to way more casualties by infantry fire than appropriate, which reduces the need for realistic use of tactics. Also, the defense mechanic is skewed in favour of larger units. I´ve been on the fence on this matter for a long time, but it is true that larger troops pack a lot more punch combined with a larger resilience that make them much harder to kill than smaller units. It also leads to some strange situations where airstrikes are more deadly against two small (dispersed) units than one large combined mass.
 Initiative is determined in a very strange way and often has nothing to do with what happens on the tabletop - it´s determined not by the game, but used as an input factor that has dramatic outcome for the other elements of the game!
This does not necessarily mean that its a bad system or bad game, but I´ll probably be using it for more assymmetric engagements, the stuff it was designed for, while looking for alternatives for similar force size. Chain of Command is one of these alternatives and looks like it could be worth a try, even if its designed for WW2 and symmetric engagements, not so much for modern combat. However, as the principles are still the same as back then, an adaption for modern combat should be possible. I don´t know if I´ll dabble more into WW2 wargaming as a result of these rules or convert them straight away... we´ll see.

Think that´s it for now...

Cheers and happy birthday to my blog! ;)