Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

First 6mm vehicles

I've done a test run of the painting technique for the winter verdant MERDC camouflage scheme I'm aiming to perfect for my '70s and '80s Americans.  I picked out five of the M113s, safe in the knowledge that there are forty more to go, so if these paint jobs turn out to be duds I should be able to hide them amongst the masses!

First off, I base-coated them with  Mr. Hobby Color Spray No. 70, Dark Green.

I then added the field drab, for which I used Grayish Brown from the Turner Acryle Gouache range.   I've been reliably informed that the colour should be more of a yellow stone, but the only suitable match I have for this is a Gunze Sangyo (Mr. Color) paint (H71), and I struggle to get good results with these in summer so preferred to err slightly with the colour in order to gain with the coverage.

Next up was the sand.  I used the Mr. Color Off White (69) for this and it went on so badly in the humidity here that it confirmed going with the Turner for the field drab was the smart move.  I think next round I'll use a Turner white in place of the Mr. Color, or else really go to town with the retarder.  The white came out quite blobby and patchy and it doesn't have the sharp edges the Turner allowed me to get.

I then used a Gundam marker to put on a little black here and there.  I don't expect it to show up, but it makes the nerd in me feel better to have put some on...

Next was a very light dry brush using Tamiya Buff  (XF-57) and an ink wash mix of about two parts Devlan Mud to three parts water.

Last, I used Tamiya Flat Earth (XF-52) on the tracks.  I'm not happy with this and think I probably need to give the tracks a wash of Tamiya Smoke and then drybrush on a lighter colour for the mud effect, as the flat earth is a bit too close to the colour I'm using for field drab.

Anyway, that's where we are up to now.  After the tracks are fixed up these will have a coat of matt varnish to seal the models and get rid of the gloss patches.

So there we are.  Any comments, criticisms or advice readers care to give would be much appreciated!

Monday, July 16, 2012

6mm prepping underway

Well, I can report a little progress with the 6mm moderns prep.  44 M113s done, and now 24 M60A3s.  Still quite a few more vehicles to do, but a start is a start!

This picture shows the current state of the tank park.  The miniatures, incidentally, are by Heroics and Ros.

These M60s were very easy to prepare, with no nasty flash to speak of.  The M113s were generally OK, but each one had a hunk of excess metal that needed to be cut and then filed off the back, so they quite a lot more work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Preparing to paint my Americans

With a large bunch of 6mm Americans sitting here to be painted up as the 3rd Infantry Division (kindly organised for me late last year by Luke Ueda-Sarson) I've started doing a bit of research on how to go about the task.

The first thing I need to look at is colour schemes.

The infantry wore OG-107 utilities at this period, so they will be undercoated an appropriate drab green and washed and highlighted as needed.  The colour should look something like this, though there would be variation due to wear and tear, exposure to sunlight, etc.

Image from this website:

The vehicles however used the MERDC patterning - a much tougher proposition.  I will need a forest green, field drab, and black camouflage design, as described here, in proportions of 45%, 45%, 5% and 5% respectively.  Colours are from the Urban's Colour charts site.

 This is the forest green.

And this one is also mentioned in some sources.
 This is the field drab.

 This is Rhys Batchelor's recommendation for the field drab colour.

 This is the sand colour...
...and another variation on the sand colour.

And of course, the black.

The panzerbaer website here is a great resource for Cold War vehicles, as this image taken from the site shows:

Image URL:

As are these sites recommended by chaps on the Spearhead yahoo group: merdccamo and armouredacorn.

Thanks to tips from various websites I also managed to track down a very useful PDF which gives paint patterning details for most of the vehicles I'll be needing to do, so there's no excuse now; I just need to match colours to locally available paints and get cracking!

Hopefully there will be more to follow on this in the not-too-distant future...

Monday, July 9, 2012

How to make a quick and nasty hex mat for miniatures

A visitor to the blog, Sean, recently asked how I'd made my hex mat for the Commands and Colors:Ancients games I occasionally play, so I promised to put up a few pictures.

First, the materials.  I got the largest cork bulletin board you could find at the hardware store.  This one is 1200 x 800mm.  If you have a table of the correct size you can just use that instead.

Get some cheap, thin, non-patterned carpet.  Make sure it has a matted rather than ridged texture.  You can use any beige, green or brown colour that takes your fancy, but as you're going to spray paint it the closer it is to the colour you want the more economical it will be.  You can get loads of this type of carpet in Japan.

Cut it to the size of your bulletin board (or tabletop).

Pick up some spray paint in suitable colours to create a patchy effect.  I used about seven different sprays on a very light coloured carpet.

Note: these are not the exact colours I used.  There were about two more shades of brown...

Finally, get a dark green stain (I used wood stain) to use for the border.  This step is optional.

Next, the process.

1) Make up a hex template.  I did this by printing out hexes to the specifications I wanted (87mm from flat to flat) on paper, taping these to a piece of scrap plywood, and then drilling out the hex intersections to create the template.

2) Use a brown marker to dot the hex corners on the carpet itself and use a straight rule to mark in the hex sides.

3) Spraypaint the carpet to create whichever mottled colour effect pleases you.  I quite like the 'start out light and build up to dark' method but it uses a lot of paint - so much in fact that it would probably have been just as economical to buy a mat from Hotz.  If I were doing it again I'd use a light green base carpet and just add browns, yellows, and darker green.  It's possibly cheaper in paint to start out darker and lighten it with yellows and lighter greens.  However you do it, once you are happy with the look, you may have to redraw some hexsides that got lost under the paint.

4) [Optional] Paint in the border areas using stain.  This takes a few coats as the carpet doesn't like taking the stain very much and - depending on how picky you are - you may find yourself wanting to touch it up again after a few plays as well.

For storage, clip it to your bulletin board to prevent creases forming and simply stand it up against a wall somewhere.  If you use your bulletin board during play like I do, be aware that the frame will not support the cork very well under the weight of the lead so put some magazines between the cork and the table top during play to ward off disaster.  Slingshot journals are perfect...

So there it is.  It's not the cheapest way to do it, but I found it to be enjoyable to make, and I'm reasonably satisfied with the results.  It makes for a tough, hard-wearing surface that looks OK and unlike more sophisticatedly modelled boards which use sand, small stones, flock and so on it won't scratch the backs of your C&C:A cards (which is a very important consideration for C&C players!).

All told, I'd say it took about five or six hours to make and - give or take a spray can or two - about $100 US at the current exchange rate.  As I said earlier, if you compare that to the price of a Hotz mat you might find them to be a better option.  That said, you won't get your hotz mat next day, and spray paint may be cheaper where you are than it is in Japanese hobby shops. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Commands and Colors: Ancients - Ipsus in 15mm

 I pulled out the 15mm figures last night for a refight of the battle of Ipsus pitting Antigonus and his son Demetrius against Seleucus, Antiochus and friends in Phrygia.  As for who is who, you can tell the Seleucids by their large number of elephants and their scythed chariots.

The battle began with skirmishing from both sides as they attempted to drive off the enemy light troops and get in some shots against elephants, heavy chariots or cavalry.

Overview from the Seleucid side.

The Antigonid phalanx.
Both sides jockeyed for position for a number of turns, but it was the Seleucids who made the first big move with a line command.

This was followed by prolonged skirmishing.  Order lights, darken the sky, co-ordinated attacks and outflanked being cards of choice.  Both sides took minor casualties, but the lines were unbroken.

The Seleucids lose a chariot to missile fire...

...and promptly withdraw the remaining one to safety.

More shooting from Antigonus' army...

... and more from Seleucus'.
Tension rises as Antigonus plays a line command to close the gap between the opposed phalanxes.  There is still, however, very little in the way of movement from the cavalry or elephants.

Seleucus advances for a shot against the elephants.

After another couple of turns of shooting Antigonus orders the advance, and his men slam into Seleucus himself.  Two hits are scored in close combat but Seleucus falls from his horse and is killed in the melee.  Antigonus goes two banners up.

Seleucus is slain!

The Seleucid right eyes up a charge...

...and prosecutes it.

The light troops flee before the onslaught, but do not break.

Antigonus beseeches the aid of fortune and advances the phalanx with a little help from a double time card.

The centres clash.

Antigonus forces the breakthrough.

Antigonus stretches his advantage to five banners while the Seleucids still have none.  The counterattack is desperate, but it is only a local response.

The only elephant unit not hampered by skirmishers in its way charges in....

...and is destroyed!  The heavy infantry, however, finish what the elephants started and score a banner for the cause.

The scythed chariots drive off the enemy but cannot kill them and are left in an exposed position themselves.  Five banners to one is the score.

Over the next two turns a series of desperate attacks by the Seleucids are met calmly by Antigonus' men.  The Seleucid phalanx succeeds in beating off the Antigonids, but they are unable to bring their elephants to bear.

The fight continues in the Seleucid right centre.

The phalanx is victorious - but at horrific cost.

With the banner totals at six to three the peltasts - led by Pyrrhus and Antigonus - and the elephants charge in against the depleted Seleucid right.

Antigonus leads from the front again.

The last unit of phalangites is destroyed in the charge, Lysimachus dies in the rout, and Antigonus has defied history to emerge victorious, eight banners to three, having made virtually all of the decisive attacks himself.  It is a brilliant performance from the octogenarian.

*Elsewhere, the youthful Antiochus and Demetrius still remain in pretty much the same spots that they started.  Perhaps if the historical Demetrius had sat on his hands instead of pursuing the Seleucid left off the field the real result might also have been different...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Band of Brothers: day of days scenario.

This scenario sees six squads - including three reduced - of the 101st clearing a path through hedgerow country on June 6th, 1944.  To win the game the Americans must exit four squads off the eastern portion of the board.

The Germans have only four squads of their own, but their possessing an equal number of decoy markers means that the American player is faced with a race against time to find which areas are defended and which aren't, and to then exploit the gaps in the defensive line.  There are only five turns in this scenario, and as it takes three turns just to get from one end of the board to the other, there is no time to waste.

German set up:

The Germans deploy in two lines, and as this was a solo game I randomised the real and dummy units so that I (as the American player) would not know what I was facing.

Turn one:

The German defensive line looks forbidding - but there must be a way through!  The Americans enter from the western edge, moving into cover behind the hedgerows and firing in an attempt to suppress the enemy.

A lucky shot suppresses one forward position...

...which turns out to be a dummy marker.  There is an opening! 

The lone German defender on the right responds to the American advance with a burst of fire, but does no harm.

The forward squad on the left is given an opportunity fire marker to discourage the Americans from racing too precipitately down the road (opportunity fire markers give defenders a better chance of shooting up enemy squads which enter their line of sight).

The Americans elect to press on their right to see what they are facing there, but as they do not manage any suppression hits it turns out that they are none the wiser.

Time is ticking, so the last American squad elects to do a hail Mary move forward down the road and try to hit the remaining defender on the German right.   They move and cross the hedgerow but the Germans use their one command point (command points can be used to alter the normal turn sequence in particular ways) to attempt to activate their used unit and take a shot.  The units shoots and hits, in so doing losing its conceal marker.  The squad on opportunity fire duty now attempts to takes a shot of its own, but it does not react well to the pressure (it fails its proficiency test and cannot shoot.  On the positive side, this means that it retains its concealed marker).   The suppressed American squad fails its morale roll and stops in its tracks.

The Germans advance one of their rear squads to try to finish off the Americans, who hit the dirt, hold on to their helmets for dear life, and - for the moment - survive.

In the end of turn phase the forward American squad pulls back to the safety of the baseline, where it recovers to full morale.

Turn two:

The Americans try to suppress the squad facing their left, but have no success.  The Germans place Op Fire markers in return.  A shooting match ensues, which reveals the forward squad on the German left to be dummy.

The Americans now advance into the dead ground,taking a shot at the exposed flank of the German squad on the road.  Their shooting is deadly: the Germans take a casualty hit and are left fully suppressed.

The German rearguard now attempts to shoot at the advanced American unit but only succeed in revealing itself to be a dummy marker.  For the Americans, who now know where three of the enemy squads are, this is great news; but it is not so good for the Germans. 

There is sporadic shooting, but no more damage is done.

In the rout phase the German squad that took casualties retreats to safer ground and regains a level of morale in due course.

Turn three:

The Americans open up on the forward squad on the German right, inflicting casualties and a double suppression.  Seizing the moment, the Americans rush down the road, only for one unit to be suppressed by German opportunity fire. 

This latest firefight has revealed the position of the fourth German squad, which makes the American tactics fairly obvious from this point on.

Accordingly, the Americans on the far left take the chance to scamper past the disoriented Germans in the front line and outflank the rear squad (the fully suppressed Germans will only have a one in ten chance of being able to fire at the Yanks as they pass).  The Germans are in a panic and have no idea what to do as the squad sprints past them (they don't roll the 1 they need!).

Now in the German rear area, the plucky chaps open fire on the German squad overlooking the road, killing them all and clearing the roadway.  The units on the German left are already used, and are unable to effectively react to the resultant American advance.

Another burst of fire sees the last of the German right cut down by fire from behind.

The end of the turn obliges the last two German squads - which now have their flanks turned and positions exposed - to take a voluntary retreat towards the south edge of the board.

Turn four:

With the road east open, the Americans hie themselves off.  The Germans are unable or unwilling to do much about it (they fail their proficiency rolls and are unable to fire). 


Thanks to a mixture of inexperience, bad luck, and the limitations of playing solitaire, the Germans managed to lose this one.  A real German player would been able to keep his squads hidden longer and thereby force the Americans to take more risks in manoeuvre to get their men east before time was up. 

I made what was in retrospect a bad decision in advancing the German second line squad on turn one to make a very low odds attack on the exposed Americans.  This saw them in a hex which, although protected frontally, was vulnerable to attack from  hex D3, and as the two German squads covering D3 turned out to be dummies, it left a gap in the line that the Americans were able to exploit to win the game.

The game was interesting and fast paced, and required some thought.  I'm still assimilating the rules and did not play optimally, but I'm starting to see how fire and movement fit together, how important correct use of terrain is, and the kinds of things I'm going to need to learn to do to play well.

This is the third time I've mucked around with this scenario, and when playing the attacker I'm going to have to get past my unwillingness to take risks with my men.  I've discovered that in this game I genuinely dislike exposing troops to unnecessary danger - why this is is perhaps an interesting question, if one for another time! - but clearly I'm going to have to get used to seeing friendly casualties if I'm going to be able to 'get the job done'.

As I come to understand it better, BoB is getting more interesting, and I haven't even got to the point of using MGs yet, much less mortars, bazooka teams, artillery, guns and armoured vehicles.  There's a lot more to get to grips with.  I'm looking forward to it!

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