Marder III M’s

Four new Marder III Ms are fresh to the front, ready to brew up a few Shermans. Playing these glass-jawed, heavy-hitting hunters should be fun. They will require some careful handling, positioning, movement, and coordination. They will also provide opportunities for some cinematic heroics for my opponents–how long until I lose one to a hand grenade in the crew compartment?Painting Wargame Tanks

I painted these using some new techniques learned from the recently released book Painting Wargame Tanks by Ruben Torregrosa and Mig Jimenez. The book contains great visual guides and tips, especially for using the Mig paint products. The book is not super-intuitively laid out (an index or by-technique table of contents would have been nice), but I learned a few new techniques nonetheless. The authors push a super-weathered, lived-in look for their AFVs. I usually prefer moderate weathering on my table…pure taste, I suppose. What that means, however, is that I did not do a lot of chipping or mud splattering this time around.

Inspired by the book, I bought and used some Mig washes, rust effect, and streaking grime. The book may have been of mixed (balancing on the side of positive) quality, but I can report that the washes and effects were excellent! All are enamel based, a big change for me because I have traditionally used acrylic-based washes from Vallejo or GW. The enamels were fantastic. They allowed for nice pin washes (again, a new technique for me), blending, and controlled application. They flowed amazingly well through capillary action. Highly recommended!

The painting process also saw my new airbrush’s first outing. Using it was a major learning experience. I achieved some subtle, perhaps too subtle, camouflage shading that does not turn up well in the pictures or to the naked eye! I look forward to experimenting some more with the airbrush. If you have any tips for a beginner, please comment!

Marder III M

Marders in the Farm Yard Not the best picture quality, but maybe it works to my benefit? I can imagine the look on my wife’s face if I tell her I need a new camera for this…

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Ukraine ’43 and Chain of Command

Having the house to myself this weekend, I chose to geek out on gaming. I chose the sort of game I can’t afford to do with children in the house, namely table-sized, day-long hex-and-counter affairs.

First up, Ukraine ’43!

This is the new, second edition release from GMT. We had played Ardennes ’44 before, another game from the same family by Simonitch, so we were vaguely familiar with a few of the core mechanics. Ukraine ’43 has a different feel, in part because of the enormously larger scope of operations. Units move and behave slightly differently to account for their larger sizes (mostly divisions instead of regiments), larger hex-to-ground ratio, and extended time scale (each turn represents 5 days). For our first outing we decided to play scenario #1, a seven-turn opportunity to re-enact Zhukov’s August (Operation Rumyantsev) assaults on the German southern front focused on the capture of Kharkov.

Ukraine 43 Overview

The Game Board

I took on the role of Soviet commander, flush with patriotic spirit and a desire to crush the fascist invaders. After a promising initial turn, however, my lightning offensive ground down in to something resembling a WWI action….and not even of Brusilov Offensive quality. Uncle Joe was not pleased. I struggled to amass sufficient force to drive opponents out of key areas and lost the momentum within a few turns, freeing my opponent to create some uber-stacks of elite armored and panzergrenadier units. We did get some “cinematic” moments, like a Tiger-led counterattack to rescue a pocketed infantry division, the GrossDeutchland’s timely ride from reserve to reestablish the German northern shoulder, and repeated (and costly) frontal assaults by some brave Soviet infantry divisions.

Tigers to the Rescue

Tigers to the Rescue!

Would I play again? Definitely! I am excited to have another go at it, especially now that I better understand some of the mechanics and can “read” the map more effectively. We realized on turn six that we had not been utilizing mobile assaults–using them would have changed the game significantly and made gameplay more fluid. Once I started applying them I made better progress, but then again some especially nasty German armored units also started to realize the joy of mobile assaulting, much to my consternation…

GD to the Rescue

GD Saves the Day

Lessons Learned for Next Time: Plan offensives 2-3 turns out in order to concentrate artillery (key to Soviet success!) and make better use of mobile assaults.


The weekend continued with some Chain of Command action, the Too Fat Lardies (TFL) game that has been my sole miniatures focus for the past year or more. This time we played the second game in a generic campaign we are using to experiment with the excellent TFL campaign supplement At the Sharp End. The action is vaguely set somewhere southwest of Carentan and follows the efforts of a platoon of American paratroopers attempting to blunt a German counterattack in the early days of the Normandy campaign. In our first game, the German attackers pushed back to the US outposts. Today, the plucky paratroopers attempt to delay the German advance to give the main line of resistance time to prepare.

We set up a board with high hedges (not exactly hedgerows) and the main road down which the German attack progressed. We played scenario four, a delaying action. The attacking panzergrenadiers needed to capture the paratrooper jump off point near their table edge (conveniently barricaded in a segregated field). The paratroopers had to prevent that from happening.

CoC Endgame

Patrol Phase – Notice US JOPs concentrated in the center…their left begged for a flank attack

The patrol phase started well for the paras. They rapidly pinned the advancing German patrol markers and forced sub-optimal JOP deployments. On the other hand, the US markers were clustered in the center–the resulting jump off points were divided by the main road and unable to facilitate the rapid deployment of troops to cover flanks.

Base of Fire

Fire!

I was able to exploit this by pinning the paras in the center, then loading my left side to move up and make the position untenable. Viewers may have thought they were watching an early modern maneuver campaign. Elements moved very cautiously, the paras afraid to come in to anyone’s line of sight, but also unable to deal any damage. A late game effort to check the German flanking attack bungled on awkward terrain utilization…the resulting firefight was short, sharp, and deadly. A para sniper did put two kills an overwatching German squad, but heavy LMG return fire knocked the sniper out along with three squaddies. At that point, an approaching StuG convinced the second para squad that they had delayed the enemy long enough. Sensing trouble, the para platoon leader ordered a voluntary withdrawal to the main line of resistance.

StuG Beast

The Big Scary StuG…Also known by the paras as “time to go”

The campaign system is great fun and adds a lot of character, tension, and additional considerations to an ordinary game. The paras, for example, were probably a little too sensitive to potential casualties and ended up playing it too safe. Neither force suffered much and force morale on both sides ended at a high 10. Needless to say, the paratrooper’s CO was not happy. One more performance like that and resources will be allocated elsewhere. The German CO, meanwhile, was very satisfied with the rate of advance and will be reinforcing success next game. The men from both platoons remained neutral, though rumors are circulating among the paras that Tigers are on the loose…

Engaging the Gaming Community

Hello, world!

The infrequently updated hobby blog seems to be a trope among wargamers. Doesn’t everyone have one? For years I wondered why, struggled to decide if I was missing out on something. After much denial, I realized I was missing out. This blog is intended to remedy that gap in my life as a hobbyist.

So, what made me realize I should start a blog? Mostly it was my realization of the blog’s purpose, which I perceive as connecting hobbyists to a larger community. Let’s face it, miniatures wargaming is not exactly the modern world’s most popular pastime. Most of us are fortunate to have a few like-minded hobbyists nearby, perhaps a (dis)organized club to call home. What bloggers and forum posters have demonstrated, though, is an opportunity to transcend the confines of a local gaming scene and tap into the opinions, perspectives, talents, interests, support, and enthusiasm of a much larger global community. Here’s to joining that community.

What will follow is a casual presentation of my wide-ranging interests, not in the name of narcissism but in hopes of participating in and contributing to the global wargaming community. I hope that maybe I can inspire someone. More realistically, I hope like-minded enthusiasts will encourage me.

My miniatures gaming domain is World War II, so readers will see a lot of that. Like others, though, I stray frequently. I often diverge into other periods, scales, miscellaneous passing fascinations, and board gaming. All will see some airtime here. My interests also carry me into the realms of physical culture, beer, history, and BBQ, so those may see some play too. Exercise discussion on a wargaming blog? Sounds like a niche to me.

Enough with the wheezy introduction–welcome to the blog! I hope you enjoy!