Tuesday, 30 April 2013

German Town Hall Pt.1

This kit has been sitting around in my to build pile for a while now, it was a gift for my war chest by Ninjasaurus Rex, so I thought I'd have a crack at it. I usually make ruins which are quite easy and Ninjasaurus thinks I should challenge myself, so whom am I to argue?

The kit is a HO scale railway model building of a German Town Hall or similar public building by Faller (I think) and it will fit nicely within an eastern German or western Russian town. As is usual with second hand railway model buildings it appeared that it had been put together by a chimp with particularly large sausage fingers. So a little patience and a craft knife was needed. Here it is in its constituent parts:

I cleaned up all the blobs of glue and removed the window frames (which will be cut to size later), took off all the extra bits like drain pipes and guttering and generally cleaned the thing up. I cut a base of plasticard for it to stand on on the table top. This is how it looks without the roof, I used sellotape to hold it together for now:

Then I turned my attention to the interior. The model had no inside detail as it was only intended to be seen from outside, therefore in the first instance the building needed a floor. This needed to be scratch built and raised by about 5mm to match the entranceway if I was to use it to put figures in during a game. I cut a piece of plasticard to the correct dimensions of the inside walls and added a few layers of off cuts of plasticard struts to increase the level to the required height.

As that dried I cut out a piece of embossed plasticard to go on the base. This is embossed with brick work to make it look like a pavement.

This was then trimmed down to size and generally cleaned up and I returned to the interior. I cut a rectangle of embossed plasticard that looks like the kind of large floor tiles you get in public type buildings. Upstairs will probably have varnished floor boards, but we will see how that turns out...

Anyway, I then cut the floor surface piece of plasticard in half where I wanted the interior wall to go. This wall will have a dual purpose of separating the interior into two rooms but also providing a support for the upper floor that I will deal with later. I also checked at this point to see if I could actually get figures in the spaces between the interior walls. With a sigh of relief, they fitted! So on the longer piece of plasticard I cut out the thin space where the wall is going to sit and glued the two halves together thus:

And here is the wall in place. This is made from a piece of plasticard with the door cut out and the door frames added from a U shaped rod of plasticard that Ninjasaurus gifted me. It's amazing the amount of stuff he has dumped on me in the hope that I actually get around to building things out of it...

Here is the interior wall up against the front wall of the building. The black lines show where the first floor will go (second floor to our American cousins...). You'll notice I've also cut the tower off, this will be made as part of the roof so won't impede access when I'm using the house in a game.

The next thing I am currently puzzling is what to do with the recesses that are around the windows. These are a feature of the original kit to aid the cack handed modeller when putting the window frames in but they need filling in for my use. I may use plasticard to clad the interior in the same way that Ninjasaurus Rex did on his Chechen house, but the amount of windows is really off putting, I'd have to cut 22 holes in the plasticard and then deck them out with window sills and the like, which may be a step too far for my delicate constitution...

This is as far as I have got as I have to think about the window recesses and do some reading for my dissertation. This will be updated as I continue the build but I hope you enjoyed it so far and thanks for reading!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Square Bashing 2nd Edition First Play

This afternoon Ninjasaurus Rex and myself played our first game of Square Bashing 2nd Edition. I'd been looking forward to playing it as I really enjoyed the first edition so much, so I was hoping for an improvement. In the end though, I was left disappointed by what I felt was an under par set of rules. I'll explain why I thought this as I describe the game.

As it was our first game we played to the Quick Game rules, so that meant there was no artillery or other assets which would only add a layer of complexity. The British attackers had a 620 point army against the German defenders with a 450 point army. This translated as 4 Professional Battalions and 4 Regular Battalions of infantry, 5 Machine Guns, 6 Field Guns and 2 Heavy Tanks for the Brits, with 6 Regular Battalions of infantry, 6 Machine Guns and 6 Field Guns for the Germans.
This was the initial set up for the scenery. The red dots are the objectives and the yellow dots are to indicate the squares that the game is based on, each one being 6" square

And here is the initial set up for the forces. The Germans only lost a couple of bases to depletions (which can be seen in the top row of the board), so it was still a strong force facing the attackers.The British are at the bottom of the picture.

The first turn went well, my left flank advanced across the fields into the woods, ready to assault the following turn.

I had four battalions of infantry (two regular, two professional) in the woods facing the Germans holding the ruin and their supporting units.

The following turn my Higher Command issued the fighting bonus command to the assaulting units and I hoped for the best as the whistles were blown:

In the mean time other units advanced up the centre road with armour support:

The assault on the left flank went badly for me, mainly due to the fact that some of my troops couldn't leave the woods to attack so it was a pretty poor effort overall. This is where the first problems arose with the rules. Each successful hit on a unit warrants the removal of 1/2 a base of infantry. This really made little sense to us because the half base is indicated by the removal of a base and the placing of a casualty figure, the same marker which is also used in morale purposes! It led to a bit of confusion and discussion until we decided to mark the distinctions with different markers, red tabs for damaged units and casualties for morale.

As you can see from the state of my casualties above I failed to take my objectives in the first rush...
The situation was similar on my right flank as I tried to break through the German line.

With grim determination I had managed to get one of my tanks into a position to attack the ruin objective from the right flank. But time was against me and Ninjasaurus Rex had been summoned by his wife to go swimming! I bet this kind of outrage never happened to Henry Rawlinson...

So the final chapter of the action looked like this, I was assaulting with little effect on the left flank but looked like I had a better chance on the right against the Germans in the open.

And the most fought over area dealt two of my battalions devastating casualties, morale affected the units on the right so that they couldn't advance any further than the woods.

It would have been interesting to see what would have happened beyond this turn. The game only lasted for four or five moves before we had to abandon, but took over three hours to play. This was partially due to the confusion that we found with the new rules. For instance, the morale phase of play is at the start of the turn rather than the usual end, which totally threw us. Plus we spent a lot of time discussing the 1/2 a base removal and the resulting confusion with the casualty markers.

Our main problem was that because the game is abstract and aimed at battalion level then the damage rule felt pretty superfluous as the game is more about operational manoeuvre than individual damage on units. Things I liked about the game included the combat system which was based on numbers of dice being added to a pool to roll for casualties, simple and easy to use. I also liked the fact that the squares have been reduced to 6", it gave greater continuity to a good defence than the original sized 12" squares. Plus I really liked that the Higher Command had more to do than just help units move out of terrain squares. I will play it again with some of our changes implemented and see how it flows. It just felt clunky and not very smooth, but that might be because it's the first time we've played the new rules so I was flicking back and forth through the rulebook. I don't want to damn it too soon as I like Peter Pig's games and know at their core is a great set of rules, so I think some perseverance may be in order. I just have to convince Ninjasaurus...

It felt a little like it was an uphill struggle, but I think that was mostly due to the copious amount of rum and sloe vodka I'd consumed the night before and was paying for all day...

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Tank, Tank, Burning Bright

After I posted this AAR a couple of people on TMP asked me how I made the burning tank markers. As I now have more tanks than markers I thought I'd best make some more for the next game so it was a perfect opportunity for a quick tutorial. First of all, get some cotton wool, available in any high street chemists. Pull some small sections of it off and pull these into lengths. Mine are about 10cm long. Here they are in the spray tray:

Then spray them all black. Any spray will do, I used some from a DIY store that I bought when I bought two picture clip frames, one of which shattered on arrival at my home, but that is another story... I found I had to hold the cotton wool down with a pencil otherwise the force of the spray blew them all over the room. Leave them to dry and they should look like this:

Don't worry if white bits show through or it's not a completely even covering, smoke is never like that in real life anyway. After they've dried the last stage is to paint the bottom of each length in red paint first, then yellow over the top. I painted the yellow before the red had time to dry so there was a bit of mixing with the two colours:

And that's it, as easy as setting a Sherman on fire! When they are dry you'll find that they are quite stiff so the bottom can be flattened and are able to be positioned easily:

I use them for Wings of War as well, as burning engine markers:

I hope this was of some help to someone!

Thursday, 25 April 2013


Lest We Forget

Also remember the other men who fought at Gallipoli, like the Irish Royal Dublin Fusiliers who made the first landings on V Beach on the 25th April 1915.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Oh! The Futility!

Since buying the new Square Bashing 2nd Edition I decided to make these new Casualty markers for the game. The new edition of the rules sees casualties being placed next to individual battalions as they suffer from the effects of fire and it all plays a larger part of the morale. I had made a set of casualty markers for the first edition rules, you can see them here, but the bases were just too big to be of much use in the new edition of the rules. Whilst moving house I found a lot of unused WW1 casualty figures from Peter Pig in a box, so got to work on these chaps...  They didn't take so long to make, each figures is glued to half a Peter Pig 30mm square base and I like them, I hope you do too!

I have been writing this blog since before October last year, so over six months now. I thought I'd better tell you a little bit about myself, so you don't think I am some sad robot sat painting tanks and figures all day long.

My name is Alex, I live in Rotherham in the UK and am 38 years old. I have been wargaming since the age of about twelve and making model kits for longer than I can remember. I have gone through several phases of gaming, including, Napoleonics, Microtanks, fantasy, Franco-Prussian War, ACW etc, but have finally settled on World War One, World War Two, Wings of War, Bloodbowl and a few other select board games. My regular opponent and chum from school, Ninjasaurus Rex makes me play Sci-Fi games, much to my distaste, but a game is a game.

About five years ago I had a massive clear out of my old wargaming stuff, which included, 15mm and 28mm Vikings, 20mm WW2 Romanians, 1/300th WW1 aircraft, 1/300th WW2 tanks, 28mm Call of Cthulhu RPG figures, 25mm Star Wars Miniatures Battles figures, 15mm WW2 German and Russians and reduced everything to one scale and one period; 15mm WW2 (along with the 28mm Vikings I was convinced to keep by Ninjasaurus Rex who claimed we'd use them in a skirmish game which has never materialised...). I like 15mm because it has a great and cheap range for World War Two and you can have a lot of gear on the tabletop with little loss in detail. In recent years, however, the sickness rose in me again and I expanded the periods I play to the ones mentioned above.

A game of Square Bashing in progress

In my personal life, I am a field archaeologist and have been since 2001, when I graduated from the University of York with a BA in Archaeology. I currently work for a company which I helped create three years ago and we are a community archaeology company who deal with students and volunteers in providing courses and training in archaeology. I am currently undertaking an MA in British First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham and expect to finish this course in September (if I don't end it all under the stress of the dissertation...). I have also had the fortune of working as a Battlefield archaeologist in France and Belgium over the past ten years on First World War battlefields, which has had some of the most amazing and rewarding moments of my life.

Excavating a rather wet German WW1 Trench line outside Ypres

During that time I have also featured in television shows, such as Finding the Fallen and the BBC's Ancestors. As an archaeologist I have worked in such diverse places as Ireland, Iceland, Japan, Tanzania, Singapore, France, Belgium and Germany. Want to know any more? Just ask...

What cho lookin' at?

Friday, 19 April 2013

Zvezda BA-10

This weekend saw me finishing off these BA-10s by Zvezda, instead of writing an essay, I bought them as an experiment as I have some BA-10s by Command Decision already, but I wanted to see how the Zvezda ones matched up against them. They are quite nice little models, go together well and look the part. I am a bit disappointed with the gaps in the bodywork, it's something I could have fixed if I had the inclination. Also I found the headlamps incredibly fiddly to put in place so I did away with them altogether. It's OK, my opponent will never notice...

Also, the other day I was working in the office when one of the people we teach brought in his collection of militaria, I thought I'd share it here. Sometimes there are perks to knowing weidros...

From the left; Lee Enfield, Springfield, Gras, Lebelle, and Mauser bayonets

Thanks for looking!!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Second 1/35th Scale King Tiger

I have finally finished my latest Dragon 1/35th King Tiger. As I previously mentioned this one was bought for me as a present last Summer and I stumbled at the hurdle of building the tracks. After I manned up and got over this the rest was plain sailing! I decided on painting it as though it had come straight out of a factory without being sprayed and with bits of other tanks fitted to it during the last days of fighting in late April/early May '45. To replicate this the hull was painted in its original red primer and the other parts painted in the usual three tone camo scheme. Well, enjoy the pictures:

Looking at the base, I thought that it could do with something to break up the starkness of it, so I thought I'd spread a bit of rubble across, but just enough to contrast against the pavement. I started with a set of Tamya's Brick Wall and cut bricks up, whilst getting a massive blister on my thumb...

These were then glued down and covered in railway modeller's ballast and sand:

Finally, several types of paint added and dry brushed and ink washed and the model was finally finished!

I hope you like is as much as I enjoyed making it! Thanks for stopping by! I have also had to put a captcha on the comments as this blog is starting to attract too many spam comments, I'm sorry about that!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

49 Year Old Models

These two model kits came up on EBay for a low price, so I bought them as I fancied making a couple of World War One aircraft. When they arrived the boxes said they were made by Revel in 1964 so as I write, they are 49 years old! Most collectors would keep them in pristine condition and covet them as things of beauty. But, I'm not a collector, so I built them.

The Albatros D-III

The De Havilland DH.2

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