Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009


Warlord Games

This will be the first of a number of reviews of the new plastic wargaming figures available now – more reviews will follow. I must say that I was initially skeptical when it came to plastic figures – they would be too difficult to clean, they would be too time consuming to build (they looked like old fashioned models) and they would lack the comforting weighty feel of metal figures. I am writing now to say that I was completely mistaken about plastic figures – they are every bit as good as any other line of figures available!

Warlord Games is producing an excellent line of plastic miniatures to include the English Civil War and Ancients. They come out with new figures regularly to supplement all lines – cavalry, infantry, artillery and some very cool personality figures. The ECW free giveaway is a 28M on the Barrett Scale and comes with two sets of arms and hats. The detail is crisp and the sculpting shows a realistic looking running/advancing figure. Cleaning the plastic figures was dead easy, far easier and quicker than cleaning lead. I like to use a beat up old drybrushing paintbrush around to dust off the figures after cleaning. Putting the figures together was remarkably easy and brought back old memories as I used good old airplane model glue to fix the arms and hat (scoring both parts of the glued surfaces first to allow better attachment); this, too, proved very quick and easy – after preparing a few figures it was impossible to tell the difference between preparing metal and plastic. The clincher came when the figures were finally based and mounted - avoiding plastic bases and using my standard square bases, they felt suprizing good to me. Another set of myths down the drain.

The figures I had were fun to paint – the only challenge is, due to the separate arms structures, these miniatures can be like no other single cast figure would be and getting paint into tight spaces takes care. Still, it is a minor thing to do when you consider the wide range of poses that can be made and are available. My first foray into the realm of plastics using Warlord miniatures was completely successful – look for more reviews of their figures here.

I finally got some decent photos made of the free give away English Civil War figures available from Warlord Games. The combination of three types of headgear (he can always be hatless!) and two arm styles allows for six different figures. Not being contented with that and being the tinkerer that I am, I tried to do a quick conversion figure using the unused, spare arms from the first two kits. I removed the musket from one hand for the right arm and the right arm for the musket carrying left arm (I chose the left arm from the pair that appeared to hold the musket more in the middle). I severed the left hand/musket just above the wrist in the seam of the cuff to turn the musket a bit more forwards instead of across the body. Using an old spare pin (I had removed the round top to make a set of stacked cannonballs), it was a simple task to drill in the plastic to reinforce this new seam. I used old fashioned model glue to put the figure together.

Another small change I made to these figures was to include seams at the top of the Montero style hat. I used a sharp dental tool, though any type of scribing tool will work, to etch six lines into the top of the hat. I liked the extra detail it gave and made the Montero look even better (it is my favorite style of ECW era hat!)

These figures are beautifully sculpted and are great for beginning armies or as additions to existing forces. I am looking forward to more of their releases – please check out their website, listed below – their entire line is worth checking out!


The Army Painter

When I first got a package of Army Painter products and saw the Super Glue, I thought that I would use up the cheapo glue I already had and wait for something important on which to demonstrate it. What a dope I was for waiting – this glue has been nothing less than a sleeper product! While I have been impressed with all the products available from Army Painter the quality of their glue has surprised me the most!

I know what you must be thinking: “It is only glue. What is so special about it?” I can tell you that it is the best super glue I have ever used. I have used brand name to the dollar store bulk products and this glue surpasses them all – I have been using is for about three months now as I have been building my Russian Civil War Train and converting some Ford Model T vehicles, both available from Company B. Despite frequent use, the glue has clogged only twice and the simple screw off top made it too simple to clean without loss of any glue. With the “Army Sized” bottle (20ml), I still have tons of glue left that flows as nicely as it did the first day I used it – the photo posted shows my actual bottle after use – it still looks sharp! Compared to name brand super glues, this bottle is 10 times the size but only 3.6 times the cost – a real bargain.

The glue flows very smoothly from the tip of the applicator. The larger sized bottle allows for more control when squeezing so that large globs of glue bursting forth from the container are a thing of the past. The pin type cap did not work with the snap on cap but I found this was not necessary. I, unfortunately, accidentally removed the very thin applicator attachment that allows pin point precision of very small amounts of glue (likely where the pin cap is used) and the glue dried inside it. When I did use it, I had even better control; I was able to place the precise amount of glue exactly where I wanted it to go.

Army Painter Super Glue is an amazing product and a “gotta have” product. I know I will be using this as my primary glue from now on!

Price: $8.99 for 20ml

The Army Painter

Like the black primer, Army Painter Blue and Green primers are excellent spray paints, covering figures quite well with a very smooth and gentle spray. It was very easy to cover the sample figures (that I purchased specifically to show off these paints!) completely with only one coat of spray. I was able to spray these paints directly onto the miniatures (both plastic and metal parts) without any problems, drips or bare patches. It should also be easy to alter the shades of blue and green with the choice of base primer – black offering a darker shade and white, a lighter shade of the base color.

In painting the figures, it is very easy to see how these shades can speed up the entire painting process. Considerable time can be saved by being able to place the basic primer and shade for an entire army in one spray for each side – for the base painting of the figures I used for this example, I was finished drybrushing the shades I wanted in only minutes. This saves not just time but sanity as getting the base color into all the nooks and crannies of every single figure can be tedious and boring, as well! You can well imagine how quickly large armies can be painted using these shades – painting large armies will LOTS quicker!I have included the initial look of these primed figures in these pictures. I am currently putting the finishing touches on the final figures and will upload those pictures at a later date. The paints were just too good to keep a secret! There are a dozen different base color primer color, so definitely check them out – any aid to help speed my painting is a bonus!

Price: $13.49

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Army Painter

In the package sent to me from the Army Painter were three bags of 12 brushes each -their Hobby Series (Red) Basecoating, Highlighting and Precise Detail brushes. The top of their line in brushes, the “finest quality Toray synthetic hair”, each brush tip was protected by a tube of plastic to preserve the tips. Each type of brush is designed with longer bristles, a significant advantage over shorter bristled brushes – over time, paint build up on shorter brushes appears to more easily disrupt the integrity of the brush, thus ruining the sharp tip.
The Basecoating brushes are BIG and I used mine for the large area of color. The big brush gave great coverage with very good control. Despite being big, they did not miss any spots on the miniature. I did notice that I used these brushes less than the other two, however, they were a necessary part of the brushes I used (well, now, use!) Using smaller brushes is time consuming, inefficient and a waste of their small, well formed pointed tips.
The Highlighting brushes were very useful for putting paint on more specific areas that required more detail. They also did an excellent job. I did not use them for “highlighting” as the Precise Detail brushes served that purpose best.
The Precise Detail brushes were just right for painting face detail, highlights on clothing, buttons, firearms, epaulettes, etc. I was able to substitute the regular brushes I use without a hitch. They held just the right amount of paint on the tip to add the specific details that I needed on the figures.
In spite of the brushes looking bigger than those I normally use, the tips, when wet, come to a remarkable point – and that is the main thing for which I am looking when it comes to paint brushes. These brushes held their tips well and the results I got were just the same as compared to the brushes I normally use. The packs of 12 bring the costs down considerably, as well. Having seen the Toray synthetic hair described as “high quality” synthetic hair, “almost as good as sable”, $3 for an almost sable brush is well worth the purchase. When you see the final, painted figure, you will appreciate the quality of the Army Painter brushes. Now, I wonder just how “insane” their Insane Detail brushes are – I have got to get one of them to try out!
Price: $35.70 for packages of 12 – about $3 each (as advertized on the War Store)
I have included picures of the brushes I have been using for some time to give an idea of how well the tips are holding up. Because photos of paint brush tips are boring, I have included some shots of figures painted with these brushes: Warlord Games' free giveaway ECW figure and Brigade Games' Trotsky's Guard.

By Mike Kirby
This initial publication from Miniatures Wargames does an excellent job providing background information and scenarios for recreating battles in India during the first truly global conflict between Britain and France. 40 pages, with table of contents, maps for all the battles and color pictures on the front and back pages only.
This book is very well researched and, as the author states, the scenarios are not intended for use with any specific set of rules. It begins by offering small paragraphs describing the different type of Indian and European infantry, cavalry and artillery troop types (as well as two “private” armies: the East India Company and the Compagnie des Indes). This is well written and essential reading for a novice yet interesting enough for those experienced with this period. Part 2 discusses the historical background of the period in general and, more specifically, describes the major battles (8) spanning the entire period. Each scenario has its own map and order of battle for the opposing sides. Part 3 describes the makeup of individual Indian, British and French armies so that gamers can set up their own, “what if” battles and campaigns. There are sections for figure availability in 25mm, 15mm and 6mm figures as well as a section on painting and basing. Finally, there are special rules to help recreate the specific fighting for this period and region.
This book is well researched and interesting to read. The scenario battles and their results are well organized and presented. The historical information is very useful and the scenarios offer something really different for gamers who enjoy horse and musket wargames. This book is a “must” in the libraries of everyone who is interested in the Seven Years War.
Price: appx. $14.00 (£9.95)

Fast Action Rules for the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars and Warfare in Other Theatres Between 1790 and 1860 AD
By Trevor Halsall

Esprit de Corps is written by the same author who wrote the Newbury Fast Play rules for Napoleonic and Crimean Warfare. They are intended to be comprehensive rules for “fast moving table-top battles” to cover a wide range of eras from Napoleon, through the AWI, the Crimea and the Franco-Austrian Wars. 94 pages, additional rules, rules for alternate scales, army lists and an index/glossary.
I have to admit that I found 82 pages of rules for a set of “quick play” rules a bit long. Unfortunately, my review copy did not come with the quick play sheets described. however, each page has an extra column on its edge that has references to other specific chapters where important, supporting information can be found. This, along with the index at the back of the book, does help speed up searching for information. Troop types are classified by Morale (A-E), Training (veteran, experienced, raw), and Dressing Order (open, closed). Infantry can be line or light; cavalry can be light and heavy (the latter may be dragoons or cuirassiers). Basic troop points for each type, experience and morale as well as additional points for equipment are available to help design scenarios.
The game turn consists of Command and Control, movement, firing, determining the effects of fire, melee and miscellaneous activities (routs, pursuits, movement of fugitives, etc.) The first seven chapters of the rules (20 pages) explain concepts specific to the game. The section on command, key to how the game is organized and each turn played, covers a full 10 pages, however, I cannot understand how units are rallied – this is just not clear, despite searching every reference and searching the index. Each leader has Personal Command Points that allow him to move units each turn, depending on other circumstances (routed units, isolated units, etc.) and a die roll. The moving side then fires; defensive fire is allowed only when receiving a charge or supporting another unit that is the subject of a charge. Calculating fire combat is a little tricky but carefully reading the section helps. Unfortunately, there are no examples of play to help explain new concepts or the more complex aspects of the rules, a significant drawback, in my opinion. Unit losses are not represented by removing stands but by replacing them with stands that are specific “wounded” or “killed” figures on it – time to paint extra figures. Charges/countercharges and melee followed by the miscellaneous actions finishes one side’s phases; the other side now takes its phases in the turn.
The book is full of tables and modifiers, something that may have been much clearer on the quick reference charts. Seeing this game in play would be interesting and useful before deciding if these rules are the ones for you.
Price: appx. $17.95 (£12.50)

John Lambshead and John Treadaway

The Hammer’s Slammers “universe” takes the Viet Nam/Cambodia experiences of John Drake and turns them into futuristic science fiction military adventures featuring Colonel Alois Hammer and the 3rd Millennium. This book is intended to be the basic rules set with vehicle design and technical specifications. 48 pages with a bibliography related to Mr. Drake’s writings, multiple well done color and black and white photos of figures and vehicles; the black and white drawings are amateurish. A description of the color drawings is found at the back of the book along with addresses where figures can be found for the game.
The game is centered around each side’s leadership value and a 2d6 dice roll (to get their Leadership Points – LP) to determine how many Tactical Units (TU) can move during their turn. Once one side has finished all movement or has expended all their LPs all available units may fire and close assault enemy forces; there is no defensive fire. After one side is done, the other side gets to go. The game appears to be two dimensional as advanced automatic targeting systems and artificial intelligence has made life very difficult for airmen. There are long tables describing the types of weapons strengths and target defense factors. To compute a hit takes into account the troops quality, the firing weapon and the roll of a d6. If this equals or exceeds the target defense rating, then a “hit” is sustained. Infantry that are hit are removed from play; vehicles roll on a separate table and suffer results from “stunned” to “blown up”.
The book has extensive background information that includes a brief description of the coming of the 3rd Millennium, description of Col Hammer and many of his top officers, a detail of the campaigns in which he has fought, his order of battle and the orders of battle of the many Mercenary Companies. In fact, the actual game rules do not begin until page 23! There are very nice color drawings of vehicles and descriptions, however, these are described in “real life” instead of “game terms”; they are nice looking pictures but are so spread out in the book that it makes it difficult to follow.
It is interesting to note that Col Hammer hails from Friesland, a small region in the Netherlands (akin to Catalonia with their own distinctive dialect). Thus, tiny Friesland has become a galaxy superpower!
Price: appx. $15.60 (£10.95)

The Battle for Minsk, Operation Bagration, June-July 1944
Flames of War/Battlefront
Hammer and Sickle (H&S) is the newest supplement from Battlefront and provides forces for German and Soviet players to recreate the destruction of Army Group Center during the summer of 1944. It follows the same new organizational format established by the new Fortress Europe. The Red steamroller is now in full gear as it drives the hated Fascists from Mother Russia. The Wehrmacht must throw whatever it can in the way of the advancing red hordes from veteran blocking units to less than enthusiastic Luftwaffe ground troops. 72 pages, multiple color photos, painting guide for captured German tanks.
H&S is chock full of wargaming data for both sides on the Eastern Front with a whopping 52 pages (72%) devoted to specific battalions/companies and heroes! There are a few pages that describe the battle, Soviet “hammer and sickle” strategy, tactics and forces involved in Operation Bagration; German panzer tactics (in attack and defense), support and blocking force tactics are also described. Special rules for this period and area are explained for both Germans (pioneers, blocking forces, the new flak nests and veteran tank-hunters) and Soviets (forward detachment, volley fire, exploitation, heavy breakthrough gun and decoys). The special rule for Decoys is especially cool, allowing Soviet players to use captured German tanks to fool and surprise the German defenders! Other special Soviet rules allow for more guile and more punch! German special rules are primarily defensive which is appropriate given the nature of this battle, though add some very nice ability to the usually overwhelmed troops.
Forces available to the Soviets include a motor rifle and recon infantry battalions and lend-lease, armored and guards tank battalions. The motor rifle and recon battalions can be Red Army or Guards; the lend-lease tank battalion is a Guards unit. Weapons and corps support companies offer the traditional wide array of fairly inexpensive Soviet weaponry (12x76mm artillery pieces for 275 points, 10xT-34/76 for 415 points) from BA-64 light ACs to the powerful IS-2 heavy tank. Two special units worth mentioning are the Spetnaz platoon (may attempt to infiltrate German positions) and the Decoy Tank Company that can be made up of StuGs, Pz IVHs, Panthers and even a Tiger! Two new heroes are introduced: Kapitan Nevsky (tanker) and Brigade Komissar Dedov.
German forces allow choices of the Sperrverband company (Blocking Force) given the “grim task of hold while the rest of the division escapes”, reserve pioneer and heavy tank companies. The weapons and corps support, with fewer choices than the Soviets, offers a challenge to the German player to build a force capable of holding ground or repelling the Red Army. They are no pushover as choices include 75mm AT guns, Panthers, Tigers and pioneers – if the latter can channel the Soviet attacks, the defensive blocking forces can blunt the Red attacks. Two additional heroes make their entrance: General von Saucken (a monocle wearing tanker of the “old school”) and Feldwebel Windgruber, a pioneer.
This supplement gets right to the point and puts the onus of attack squarely on the Soviets. The Germans may find being primarily on the defensive against the swarms of Soviets difficult but not untenable: the forces available, their special rules and two heroes will make this a fun challenge to overcome. H&S offer new adventures and challenges to the very popular Flames of War community – check it out!
Price: $25

Uniforms, Equipment and Personal Items of the German Soldier 1939-45
Augustin Saiz
Mr. Saiz has produced a beautiful book that shows multiple color photos with incredible details of the clothing worn (from helmets to underwear!), weapons fired and the neat little personal effects used by the German infantry soldiers of WWII. When I first thumbed through the book I was a little surprised not to find photos of an MG42 or panzerfaust until I realized that every article in the book was from the author’s personal collection! Holy cow – the collection Mr. Saiz has amassed is as thorough and wide as it is impressive! (note: Casemate representatives told me this is only one of his MANY collections!) Countless color photos, 312 pages including bibliography.
This collection is truly amazing as is comprises highly detailed photos of many different items that were essential to the German soldier of WWII. There are, for example, over 30 close up photos of the details and inside of the standard “stahlhelme”; there are close up pictures of a dozen different types breast national emblems. Beyond standard views of clothing, equipment and headgear, all essential for choosing the correct colors for painting (especially those tricky camouflage schemes), close up photos show the details of each, often to include the underside/inside of opened items. Another section shows off the multiple weapons used by the Wehrmacht during WWII. As in the other sections, close up photos help show off the details of many firearms, grenades and mines. One of the most interesting parts of the book is the section devoted to personal items used by the German soldiers – pens, stamps, money, goggles, cameras, flashlights, tobacco, identification cards, first aid, some medals, mess kit and health/morale items including condoms and pin up post cards!
The author starts the book by introducing Anton Imgrund (b1906) to briefly tell the reader a brief history leading up to the start of WWII and his enlistment into the Wehrmacht in 1938; it ends with a description of the destruction of Army Group Center in Russia and Obergefreiter Imgrund’s death there. The text of the book is a little flowery and PC: “we discover what the misguided, yet courageous German infantryman did in his spare time”. I found photos and collection are incredibly impressive!
Price: $55

The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863
Eric J. Wittenberg, J. David Petruzzi and Michael F. Nugent
Every historical buff and wargamers knows how the three-day battles of Gettysburg turned out. Little, however, is discussed about what happened after the battle until the start of the start of the 1864 campaign. What happened after Gettysburg? How did Lee escape? How did Meade follow up his great victory in southern Pennsylvania? What routes did the opposing armies take? This book could be considered the definitive text as it describes the events of 4-14 July 1863 and offers incredibly detailed instructions on how to actually drive the paths taken by both armies after the battle. Over 60 pictures/drawings interspersed in the book, 12 battle maps, 348 pages; appendices to include instructions to allow a driving tour of the retreat, a driving tour of the Confederate wounded and orders of battle, 60 pages; notes, 55 pages; bibliography, 50 pages; index; 16 pages.
The authors do an outstanding job of presenting the story of the Confederate retreat. They discuss the travails of the miles and miles of hundreds of wagons containing the Rebel wounded as they escape from Pennsylvania and have to fight off raiding Union cavalry and local townsfolk. Other chapters are devoted to the retreat of the main Confederate army and the difficulties encountered by the Union army. Despite having won a great victory, much of the army was worn out with reinforcements coming from green untried forces. The most interesting parts of the book included the many smaller actions that were fought throughout these 11 days, which were mostly cavalry actions.
Beyond being an excellent read, wargamers will find this book is a GOLDMINE for potential scenarios. Have you got Union and Confederate cavalry figures that have collecting dust? It is time to dust them off and get them ready for the gaming table. There are several small unit actions for skirmish games and a few larger battles for full table games. The desperate Confederate defense of Williamsport is most intriguing – as Union cavalry attempts to block the southern retreat, the Rebels resort to gathering up wounded soldiers to form a hasty defense. There is also an awesome “what if” battle pitting Meade’s forces that have caught Lee’s entrenched Confederates at Williamsport and Falling Waters. I would be very interested in replaying these battles on the gaming table!
The authors do an excellent job of writing a book that is easy to follow and fun to read. Their conclusions offer insight about the problems encountered by the Union army in their pursuit of Lee and an objective discussion about where the blame should lay for not “ending the rebellion by destroying Lee’s army north of the Potomac”. This is an excellent book and one that should be in the library of every American Civil War buff - one of my favorite books this past year!
Price: $34.95

Flames of War/Battlefront
This book is more than merely an updated edition of the original Festung Europa – it represents a wholesale re-organization of how each company is presented in an effort to make the book more organized, bring it in line with their other new books and make it easier to construct forces. The army lists contained in this intelligence handbook also represent a significant change in how forces can be constructed, offering far more choices and unit combinations than in the previous book of the same name (albeit in German!) Company lists are available for US, British, German and Soviet forces; beautifully illustrated with color drawings and photos 160 pages.
While many of the usual aspects the previous book are included such as descriptions of each army and the fighting on both Western and Eastern fronts and special rules for each nation, Fortress Europe represents a major change in both organization and company composition. Full page organizational charts make it easier to pick and choose the individual platoons to support the base unit combat platoons – there are separate boxes of potential units that allow gamers to more easily pick and choose their favorite platoons from those available. The most significant change from Festung Europa is the lifting of the “one Support platoon chosen for every Combat platoon selected” restriction. The sky is now the limit (well, almost!) regarding company composition – the only limiting factor may be the 1500-point restriction. Due to the increased size of the new organizational tables, this book is only able to support the basic units for each nation – a total of 16 different companies, down from 29 in the initial text. The missing units are scheduled to be a part of future books – fortunately, the introduction of Fortress Europe does not make Festung Europa obsolete and useless. Gamers are recommended to pick companies from the same book when playing as some point values have been altered. One neat new section covers air reconnaissance for the US and British armies.
This book really opens up the opportunity to field a vast array of unique and individualized companies, limited only by imagination and predetermined army maximum point values. If you enjoy the Flames of War system and possess units/figures that have not been able to get on the table because of previous rules restrictions, this book is definitely for you!
Price: $40

Flames of War/Battlefront
This represents Battlefront’s second book on painting tips and covers what appears to be the most popular army of WWII, the Wehrmacht. Given the wide range of uniform styles, colors and accoutrements, the German ground forces (Army, SS and Luftwaffe) are really lots of fun to paint. 76 pages.
The book starts off with half a dozen interviews of specific painters and one “gallery” to show off their painted figures. A nice plus to this text is more “meat” to many of the interviews as they contain brief discussions about the details of how they painted, prepared, made special bases, etc. for their figures. These neat tips really are interesting. The next section discusses German uniforms of the Wehrmacht, the SS, Fallschirmjäger, Africa and the Mediterranean (with specific details for different theatres and years in the war). The reference to the suggested Vallejo paints for uniforms, splinter and three SS camouflage schemes will definitely help gamers recreate these very cool uniforms. Six pages are devoted to the Luftwaffe and its aircraft giving Vallejo equivalents to the RLM shades. Another half dozen pages are devoted to the transition of painting/camouflage schemes for armor; like the infantry uniform colors, a summary of the paint/colors is included to assist wargamers/painters. One of the best parts is the table on suggested three-color paint shades for shadow/base/highlights (blending shades will be useful to eliminate stark color differences). Sections follow to discuss the numbering system and divisional systems of tanks, painting shoulder boards/cool extra touches (e.g. SS collar runes, unit cuff titles, etc.) and rank detail for the ground forces of Germany. It is difficult not to admire camouflaged German units on the gaming table. Interspersed between sections are photo galleries and excellent single page details of how to do specific painting techniques (painting three color camouflage on tanks without an airbrush, painting tank treads, winterizing vehicles and an incredibly detailed discussion about painting a battle worn tank!) The depth of each section on these specific painting tips is very good and marks a vast improvement on the first book where some techniques were less well described (e.g. wet brushing); the use of progressive photos really helps show off each technique well. The book finishes with suggested tools and scenics from Gale Force Nine – I cannot tell how often I have needed to use similar tools like a hand drill, razor saw and files. Scenics really do help make a good base/fig into a great one.
The Art of War – Wehrmacht Edition! is an excellent text for painting WWII German units. While the colors and camouflage are specific to Germany, the tips and techniques can be used for any wargaming armies.
Price: $14

Italian General’s Handbook 1935-45
Hoplite Research
“With all of the heart”, this module written by Alex T. Bagosy details the forces of the nation of Italy during WWII with specific guidelines for army lists for the “Panzer Korps” rules. Table of contents, lists for almost 80 different types of divisions, vehicle/unit/weapon lists/tables, bibliography, 120 pages.
Historically much maligned, recent evaluations of the Italian fighting man have shown that the common soldier of WWII could be as good a fighter as other nations. This book describes the types of forces fielded by Italy in the mid 20th century. Each different campaign or year is described briefly in a few pages to give the reader a feel for the flavor of the period. Special instructions are included to allow the gamer to recreate the type/style of Italian command, units and theater specific rules to recreate the Italian army typical of the particular era/campaign. Multiple suggested divisions are provided for each campaign to allow gamers a wide selection – infantry, armor, “Blackshirt”, Alpini, Airborne and different units that faced off against each other after Italy officially surrendered are among the many choices available to wargamers. Each division has a short blurb describing it, a helpful touch.
Poorly supplied, poorly armored tanks and often ineptly led, the Italian soldier has earned an undeserved less than stellar reputation. With the limited time we have to paint, why choose to build and play Italian armies? An easy, initial stock answer is “for the challenge” but an even better answer is the ability to fight in an incredible amount of different places: Abyssinia, Spain, France, Albania, Greece, North Africa, the Soviet Union and Italy itself – a fascinating range of places in which to field armies!
This module is better written, with more detail and text, than the Soviet General’s Handbook. If you like to play division type WWII games, this is an excellent text to allow you to recreate the Regio Esercito. Avanti!
Price: $29.95

Desperata Ferro!, Wargaming Guides Series #1
By Lluis Vilalta
The Catalan Wargames Resource has produced a fantastic publication on the War of the Spanish Succession (WSS) Catalonia Stands Alone (CSA). The text describes how, despite the WSS having also been fought in Spain, the armies of Spain are among the least well known, especially in Spain herself! This is an all inclusive article, intended as a comprehensive guide, and has sections on uniforms colors, vexillography (flags – when I first saw this word I had to look it up!) with three separate files for flag plates and information about wargaming the era. Best of all, the entire project is available as a free download from their website! Multiple color drawings, maps, three flag plates, 47 pages total, with extensive bibliography.
A link to CSA can be found on the home page of the website. It is an excellent addition to the knowledge base for those of us who really enjoy gaming the WSS and is an impressive introduction to the Wargames Guides Series. The pages are easily translated with the Google Translator that is clearly visible on the front page. The article is very well written and the sections on uniform clothing show generic drawing of foot and horse to easily show off the uniform, facings, trouser and sock colors. Headgear and musicians uniforms for the units are also included. Sections for foot, horse (cuirassiers and dragoons), mountain fusiliers, artillery, volunteer/militia and irregular units are included. Foot and horse flags, as well as tips for wargaming the period really round out the presentation. The authors achieved their goal of producing a comprehensive study of the period.
While the entire download is free, a donation of 20Euros ($12.75) will grant the donor the perpetual rights to obtain new upgrades or reissues of the article, sent directly to the home e-mail address. This is an outstanding article on a fascinating period of warfare in the early 18th century. Figures specific to the armies of Spain are available through Editions Brokaw (to get a list of the available armies and figures, please contact Pat at: Catalonia Stands Alone is an all-inclusive publication for those gamers who enjoy the WSS in general or for those who want to try to wargame something out of the ordinary. It is a “must have” article!
Price: Free!

The Battles of the French and Greek Intervention in the Ukraine 1919
By Mark Plant, Tom Hillman and Alexis Mehtidis

Following the collapse of Russia after WWI, France and Greece (Romanian troops were primarily involved with the defense of Bessarabia) sent troops to the Ukraine for multiple reasons of varied forethought. The French reasons were primarily to control the evacuation of German troops, support local governments and ensure the protection of Allied interests and could have been encouraged when the Bolsheviks renounced all debts of Imperial Russia. Greece was not very active during WWI and wanted to show the Allies it could be a supportive partner in order to angle for larger territorial concessions. The book does an excellent job of describing the various factions in the Western Ukraine at this time – besides the interventionist armies there were the armies of the Directory and the Volunteer Army, Red Bolsheviks from Moscow and the Ukraine, Poles, Czechs and Germans (add to this the anarchist Makhnovists farther east and you can see what a mess it all was!) all in fighting each other. 10 maps, 1 color photo, appendices for further reading, definition of terms and proper names. Spiral bound, quality paper stock, plastic cover, 125 pages.
This book begins by discussing why the intervention took place It then describes all the factions involved by giving some background for each, detailed information of the troops available, organization and a real boon to wargamers, a description of the uniforms worn by each. There is a section on technical arms that discusses tanks, armored cars, armored trains and planes. In the third section the different campaigns are described from the initial landings in Odessa to battles against Red factions; the battles were essentially a series of fighting withdrawals for the Allies. Never really achieving popular support, backing the wrong anti-Bolshevik faction, unclear military goals and inadequate supply doomed the Allied efforts.
What makes this book a real find for those interested in the Russian Civil War is the final section of the book where it specifically describes how to wargame the campaign! Terrain, weather and climate – even the hours of daylight – are presented for the gamer eager to play new games. Despite the short length of the entire campaign (Jan – Apr 1919) there are lots of interesting wargaming possibilities: different White and Red factions that do not get along (and the Bolsheviks were very happy to stab any ally in the back when it suited them), stranded Chinese laborers fighting for the Reds, Cossacks, armies with very different morale and motivation – imagine a WWI type game where French and German troops fought on the same side! The different battles fought are discussed in terms of wargaming to include “what if” options. Suggestions are made for available wargaming figures in different scales form 6 to 25mm to help wargamers find figures in their preferred scale to recreate this campaign.
This book is a must for wargamers who would like some guidance to game a very fascinating period of the Russian Civil War. The book was fun to read and really increased my desire to complete more of my RCW army project! This book, and others formerly available from Gauntlet International, are now available from "Military History Books" in the UK.
Price: $48.00 with free shipping

Flames of War/Battlefront
Battlefront’s newest army supplement covers Operation Bagration, the destruction of Army Group Center in 1944. The army lists allow players with Soviet armies more options to construct elite forces – several different Guards units are available. German players can field a very highly specialized 78th Sturmdivision with large anti-tank weapons (guns and panzerfausts) and assault rifles. As always, the large number of weapons and division support companies makes the choice of the actual forces almost limitless. Countless beautiful color photos, maps and drawing; 73 pages.
Soviet forces can now field powerful Guards Rifle companies with far more options available; the flexibility of and improved choices of forces make these companies very interesting – and deadly! Their “Hardened Veterans” (fearless trained) now hit on a +3 in an assault! Hordes of infantry, the IS-II tank, guns – big guns – flame tanks, mine roller tanks and rocket artillery are but a few of the options available to the Soviets. German formations remain flexible with the same options as previous supplements, though it appears that there are far more panzerfausts than ever before! Special rules allow the construction of field fortifications – no longer are the Normandy beaches the only place to find large bunkers. Everything is bigger, badder and cooler! With each of the different forces, each company, weapons and divisional support company choice is identified by a page number, making it easier to find them when building your army.
Along with the usual brief history of the campaign, unit introductions, tactics, advice on how to handle the book’s forces, descriptions of the weapons involved and the actual unit choices, this supplement has two scenarios that can be linked into a mini campaign – the Reconnaissance in Force followed by the Breakthrough Assault. In both the Germans are defending prepared positions (but is that not what they were doing all over by 1944?!) Two new warriors are included: Lieutenant A. V. Pyl’cyn who is not an independent team but an integral part of a company command team and Feldwebel Dietrich Uthoff, a tank hunter specialist.
With each publication Battlefront tries to outdo themselves and how was this accomplished with this supplement? The inclusion of a FREE Feldwebel Uthoff figure, complete with base, a kneeling figure holding a panzerfaust (the awards for killing tanks have been sculpted onto the figure’s arm!), an open box and two loose panzerfausts and a damaged wall from which to hide, just waiting to dispatch his next victim. And did I mention the FREE part?
Stalin’s Onslaught helps continue the awesome tradition of well-designed supplements for Flames of War. Gamers who want to recreate the bitter fighting of the Eastern Front will definitely want to get this book as well as the free Feldwebel warrior.
Price: $25.00

L'Armee Francaise Series/Age of Eagles
By COL (ret) Bill Gray
I freely admit that I am a huge fan of both the Fire and Fury (F&F) rules and the period of the Lace Wars so this supplement was bound to be a hit. Available as a free download from the Age of Eagles (AoR) website, the rules are about 17 pages, include two scenarios, an appendix for unit data charts and two easy to read color two sided quick reference charts. Ownership of the original Fire and Fury rules and Age of Eagles are required in order to use this free supplement correctly.
There was no need to rebase our figures to play a game in 6mm – the large battle looked spectacular! The modified rules were very similar to the original F&F rules and were a breeze to play as everyone already was familiar with F&F – knowledge of the AoR helps interpret some of the charge rules interpretations and multiple melee resolution. One major departure from the original F&F rules is “Reserve Movement” – units outside of 15 inches of enemy units are considered to be in the “Reserve Zone”. The author explains that use of “Reserve Movement… replaces Order Systems to simulate Grand Tactical Command & Control (C2), which in this period was accomplished by extensive, detailed preplanning and the personal attention of the Army Commander when adjustments had to be made. Rare was the subordinate who would rise to the occasion and confront the unexpected himself. In AoH this battle management style manifests itself by making decisions to withdraw from combat, move reserve formations or similar situations the direct responsibility of the King-Commander, as the efficient staff system of the Napoleonic Wars was not yet developed.” In game terms, a special roll must be made in order for reserves to move forward – in the game we played, the failure of one section of one army to move forward in reserve movement severely hampered their forces when the critical part of the battle occurred.
The rules/supplement plays as easily as the original F&F rules. For those gamers who like the ease of F&F and the beauty of 18th Century linear warfare, this supplement is very worthwhile.
Price: Free!

By Tod Kershner

The author of the very popular Warfare in the Age of Reason (AoR) has produced a new set of rules to wargame the epic battles of the Napoleonic era. These rules were originally available only from Mr. Kershner on line but were recently professionally produced for release by “On Military Matters” and look great! Army lists included 1815 French, British and Prussians, however, it is a very simple task to make new lists for different armies or periods of the war. 32 pages, black and white drawings, two scenarios, examples of play, diagrams, basing recommendations and an easy to read one sided quick reference charts.
For those familiar with the AoR rules, the transition to this new set is not difficult. The basic game mechanics remain the same with the general “rally, move, fire and melee” phases. Players move cavalry and horse artillery units first (one side, then the other) followed by infantry and artillery. Artillery fire precedes infantry fire followed by melee. The game mechanics are very easy to follow and new players to the game catch on very quickly – by turn 3 of the game I recently ran, all of the players were handling the game with only a minimum of assistance from me.
Aside from the obvious differences and rules for handling armies of a new military era, the biggest departure from the original rules deals with causing fire casualties. Instead of rolling X number of d6 to score hits on multiples of 6, each type of unit has a “to hit” number that permit ALL dice to have the potential to score hits (e.g. a French line unit has a “to hit” of 2 and is rolling 4 d6 – all dice rolling a 1 or 2 will score a hit!) Following the order of calculating the dice available for shooting or melee is important and certain circumstances can multiply the dice! Inherent skirmishers are another change from the original rules. Everything is described clearly with multiple examples of play; the rules reward proper handling of combined arms and linear tactics – the side that managed this better in our game came out ahead.
While having experience with the original AoR rules helps, it is not necessary as these rules are very well written, easy to learn and play. The extensive use of examples, a significant plus for these rules, makes learning the new concepts much easier to understand. My friends and I all had a great time “taking these rules out for a spin” and they could easily interest me in gaming the Napoleonic period.
Price: $22.00

Duel in the Dark Expansion
By Friedemann de Pedro
Baby Blitz, the second expansion represents the January 1944 return of the Luftwaffe to the night skies over England. This expansion offers significantly more options to both the British and German players. The RAF now sports a second, spoof raid and a second Mosquito. The Luftwaffe can now strike back at England with three V1s and the He177 Greif (Griffon), however, careful planning is essential in order to ensure positive points are scored!
Five nachtjägers now defend the night skies and introduces the He219 Uhu (Owl) – the Germans now have a weapon to strike back at the elusive Mosquito! The He 219 can also fly two hexes like the Mosquito but, unlike the Mosquito, has to pay fuel costs for each hex traveled.
The game also includes a new map section for England and eastern Ireland, British GRM and completely updated weather cards that can also be used in the original Duel in the Dark.
The expansion is more than just the addition of some new flying pieces. Game mechanics are altered a bit to add more “fog of war” for both sides. The new weather cards offer some real challenges to each side’s missions. There is also a new phase of the moon, the “Quarter Moon”, where no advantages or penalties are afforded to players – appropriate as the full and new moon phases only account for 50% of the month! In addition to the basic rules, there are many optional rules for those who like to “tinker” with the basic rules (and isn’t that almost everyone?!)
The game is designed at this time for 2-4 players, but it is possible for up to 7 players to enjoy the game – as an aside, local gamers, Dave Flatray, Mike McClellan and I did most of the playtesting for this game! This expansion was also released at “Spiel”, the huge gaming convention in Essen, Germany. Watch for this soon at (USA distributor) and
Price: $34.99

Duel in the Dark Expansion
By Friedemann de Pedro
This game simulates the 1940 RAF bombing campaign over occupied Europe. It is the first expansion game of the innovative “Duel in the Dark” (winner of Dice Tower’s Best New Game Designer award and nominated for four other Origin Awards). Instead of pre-plotted flight paths, the British player has the ability to plot the moves for his Wellington each turn in an effort to avoid contact with the Luftwaffe. The Nachtjägd now has only 20 ground resource markers (GRM), with fewer choices and two Me110s to intercept the British bomber. With reduced values for bombing the target cities, this game offers new challenges for 2-3 players. Play testing revealed the historical Kammhuber Line style defense was actually a fairly effective method of protecting Festung Europa. With each game lasting only about 30 minutes, a series of games can be played each evening. This was released at “Spiel”, the huge gaming convention in Essen, Germany this October and I was informed it should be available around Thanksgiving 2008. The short playing time allows several games to be played in a sitting – the changes from the original game make this game a fun and exciting challenge for both sides.
Price: $20

While the conversion contest “officially” ended 20 Feb 09, there are still significantly cheaper models are available from Company B specifically for vehicle conversions – the main difference is in the style of road wheels. There used to be a link for lots of extras that could be purchased but I cannot find it at this time. Interesting examples of what people have been able to accomplish have been posted on the official website!
My experience is that Category 1 is far simpler than Category 2 – the Italian armed truck (based on trucks from the movie “Lion of the Desert”) was completed in far less time than the Jeffrey-Poplavko armored car. Hand gluing almost 400 little rivets could have had something to do with that, of course, however, the satisfaction of having the only 28mm Poplavko armored car in the world is quite rewarding. The amount of time placed into completing this project is as little or great as you would like but the results are very cool and incredibly fun – I never thought that I could do anything like this. I had a blast despite the challenges I encountered.
The models I received were factory seconds but it made no difference as most parts were removed or covered by thin sheet styrene. The sheet styrene, plastic square rods or rectangles cost about $10 total; I now have lots of extra parts just in case I wish to do yet another car or other conversions. The only thing getting in my way is the all the other cool projects I want to do!
Update: I got some more bits and pieces from Company B to try to create another car. The pictures on the right show the pre and post model changes. This vehicle is based on a German Freikorps vehicle (see the Osprey Freikorps book or the Gauntlet book, now available from Military History Books in the UK - see the "How Odessa Became Red" blog here - on RCW armored cars); I made a gun from loose lead I purchased from Monday Knight Productions at Enfilade. More pics top follow. I submitted this car to Company B so it might actually get turned into something for purchase!
Price: $7.50

By Gareth C. Sampson
Casemate Publishing
In the second book presented to the magazine for review by Casemate Publishing, Gareth Sampson’s “The Defeat of Rome in the East” is an excellent book that discusses Rome’s disastrous Carrhae campaign in 53 BC. No longer should the battle be viewed as a defeat by Marcus Crassus but as a spectacular victory by Surenas. Appendices cover the fate of the Roman prisoners, sources for Roman, Parthian history, notes/references, bibliography and index. 4 strategic maps, 4 battle maps, 8 pages of black and white photos, 224 pages.
The author sets the stage for the battle and war with several well written chapters describing the progressive Roman eastern expansions over several centuries and the rise of the Roman and Parthian “superpowers” and their inevitable clash. A large portion of the first part of the book discusses the political and military experience of the Roman general involved, Marcus Licinius Crassus. The second half of the book not only covers the actual invasion (55-53BC) and Carrhae itself (53BC) but the aftermath of battle with the failure of the Parthian invasion of Roman held Syria.
The book does an outstanding job of dispelling many myths about the stunning Roman defeat – Marcus Crassus, while making mistakes during the actual campaign, is not an incompetent politician who led thousands of Roman soldiers to their doom but a consummate politician with significant military experience. The true genius of the Parthian victory, Surenas, fashioned an army and strategy to eliminate the advantages of the Roman military machine and accentuate its weaknesses. Unfortunately, poor Parthian decisions and shortsightedness failed to take advantage of their victory.
Mr. Sampson’s excellent examination of the political fallout of the battle is thought provoking. The resulting battle ended the further eastward expansion of the Roman Empire and sounded the death knell of the Republic. He examines the results of the battle on Rome, Parthia, the east and the two generals involved.
This book is excellent, well written, easy and fun to read. It should definitely be a part of the library of anyone who is interested in the Roman and Parthian Empires.
Price: $32.95

Thoroughbred Miniatures
These are the two newest ships produced by Thoroughbred Miniatures – so new, in fact, that they have not been listed on their website! Cast in white metal, both of these ships are precision made so that all the parts fit perfectly. 1/600 scale.
The Tuscumbia is one of the wider Union casemate ironclads and packs quite a punch with three 11” Dahlgren smoothbores in the forward casemate (the port and starboard guns possibly on pivots) and two 9” Dahlgren smoothbores in the rear casemate (stern facing only). Additional information shows three additional 11” Dahlgrens were added, though where these weapons were placed is not discussed. It is protected by 2” of iron plate over 12” of wood. Speed – 10 knots.
The Missouri is a VERY interesting ship – she is one of very few Confederate paddlewheel ironclads and her six gun ports sport only three guns! An 11”Dahlgren smoothbore fired ahead and to starboard, a 32-pound siege gun ahead and to port and a 9” Dahlgren smoothbore shot from either of the aft broadside gun ports. The middle broadside gun ports, sculpted on the model (and on the actual ship) do not support a gun at all! The mix of weaponry came from a captured Union ship. She has 4.5” of armor on her sides. Like almost all Confederate ironclads, she is hampered by poor engines, able to attain 6 knots.
These figures are a breeze to prepare and paint. Everything fits so nicely – at times I had to remove some primer to allow the pieces to slip into place. Cleaning, priming and painting can be accomplished in one sitting in the evening. Even with my pathetically slow painting skills, I got both of these ships done in a about an evening. Best of all, with ironclads you need only one to play the game - they are ready to put on the table and go overnight! Neither vessel has ship stats, but this is quite easy to do (please refer to Issue #10 of the HMG for three examples).
Price: USS Tuscumbia $20, CSS Missouri $15
p.s. I picked up even more ships at the recent Historicon convention so keep looking here to see my "fleets" expand! Look for a scenario using Thoroughbred ships as well - most likely on the Citadel, the e-magazine for the Northwest Historical Miniature Gaming Society!

Osprey Publishing, Essential Histories #69
One of the newest books released from Osprey, does an excellent job of describing the whirlwind of politics and fighting in the Russian Civil War. The book is full of period color and black and white photos as well as very cool looking color paintings of the era; the extensive maps make it easy to follow the written text of the campaigns on each front. 144 pages with index.
The book begins with a very useful chronology of the war from revolts in March 1917 (according to the Western, Gregorian calendar for simplicity) to the collapse of all counter-revolutionary factions and the annexation of the Far East by the Bolsheviks in November 1922. A description of the events leading to the war, the October Revolution (which, according to the Gregorian calendar occurred in November 1917!) is the introductory chapter. The next chapter discusses the primary and some secondary opponents in the civil war –Whites, Reds, Greens (local nationalists, outcast Socialist Revolutionaries, anarchists or simple bandits) and Blacks (anarchists), describing their political, military and ideological backgrounds. The basis for the strength of the Reds and inherent weakness/poor coordination of the Whites is laid in this chapter. This complicated war, actually a series of different, unrelated conflicts in North/Northwest Russia, South Russia and the Far East/Siberia is clearly presented in chapters according to chronological years. In each of these chapters, the conflicts in each of these major areas are described in clearly marked sub sections. Maps accompany each section to show the ebb and flow of the fighting.
Extra chapters cover cool sub-segments of the war – the confusing and, essentially, ineffective interventionist incursions in all sections of the war, women in the war and anarchists. The intervention of the Allies was doomed to failure – poor coordination, lack of vision and coming on the heels of four years of fighting in the Great War all hampered its effectiveness. The latter two chapters are very interesting and offer a glimpse into aspects of the conflict that are not well covered or documented (unless you can understand Russian to follow the series available on line: “The Nine Lives of Nestor Makhno”!) These three chapters form an “intermission” before the final chapters that cover the final Red Victory and the impact the Russian Civil War had on the 20th century.
This is an excellent book, one very well written and fun to read. The period paintings really are beautiful, the maps well done and the organization of the book makes this complicated conflict a little easier to understand. It is a must for those interested in the Russian Civil War and I highly recommend it. God Save the Tsar!
Price: $18.95

Osprey Publishing, Men at Arms Series #445

The second book specifically chosen for its interest outside of the 20th century, this book follows the more traditional layout of MAA books. This book shows off the progression of Polish army uniforms from the 10th through early 16th centuries. 8 color plates, 35 black and white drawings/photos, 5 maps, extensive bibliography and index; 48 pages.
Starting with the establishment of Catholic Poland in 966 under Prince Mieszko I, Medieval Polish Armies provides a large amount of different information about the Polish armies of the period. While the book title states “1500” the actual period covered extends through 1525. The book provides a brief history followed by a chronology of the period and is supported by three maps showing the areas of influence/territory ruled by particular kings over a 500-year period. A description of Polish army organization describes the principal troops fielded during different eras; the initial “druzhina” or household troops gave way to traditional knights over time. In wargaming terms, be prepared to paint LOTS of cavalry figures as these troops made up a large part of the armies. If the reasons remain the same as during the Commonwealth two centuries later, this is likely due to the vastness of the Kingdom and the need to traverse the distances swiftly. In depth discussions about arms and armor are divided into three sections: the early (10th-12th centuries) middle (12th-14th centuries) and later periods (14th-16th centuries) with descriptions of the development of different weapons, armor and specific units. The plates are supported by very detailed descriptions of the weaponry and armor of the color drawings.
This book covers a large timeline of medieval Polish armies and military period. Gamers interested in armies that are something different than the traditional Teutonic knights, English, French and Knights Templar will find this book very interesting and useful.
Price: $17.95

Osprey Publishing, Men at Arms Series #444
In an effort to show off more than items related to periods other than the 20th century, this book, one of the newest books published by Osprey, is presented here. It chronicles the war exploits of one of the most famous of Napoleon’s cavalry units. 28 black and white drawings/photos, 8 color plates, 48 pages with index.
The book appears to be a slight departure from Osprey books I have previously owned. The text, almost in its entirety, deals with the combat experiences of the Mounted Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard also known as Napoleon’s “Guides”. Until the description of the plates, the book essentially is devoted to a discussion of battles and campaigns in which the Guides participated from Italy in 1796 through the “Hundred Days” and the final battle of Waterloo. These horsemen appear to have fought everywhere on the continent – in Spain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and France – a very versatile and useful unit for wargamers who would like units that can be used in more countries or campaigns than one! The color plates show a progression of the uniforms from 1796 to 1815 with a single page devoted to musician’s uniforms.
I must admit that I know less than I should about this period, one of the most popular periods of wargaming. As such, the book left me often confused because I did not know the references to specific pieces of uniform or clothing – I would have benefited from a list describing this. With the text primarily devoted to a summary of fighting and campaigns (a single paragraph talks about uniforms), the final three pages that relate to the color plates do a good job of offering a detailed description of uniforms and colors, one of the main strengths of Osprey books and a primary reason why I use them.
I still do not think I am intelligent enough to paint Napoleonic figures but feel I could do a good job using this book as a reference. The history of the Chasseurs is interesting to read; the uniforms, like almost all of this era, are stunning in their presentation and color.
Price: $17.95

Osprey Publishing, Duel Series
The last of the WWII Osprey books discussed here are from one of their newest style – a comparison of two different vehicles that fought each other: the M3 Medium Tank vs. the Panzer III and the Panther vs. the Sherman; these are my first experiences with this series. Each book details both tanks; the M3/PzIII features fighting in the Kasserine Pass and the Panther/Sherman book discusses fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. 80 pages, with multiple black and white photos, over 10 color drawings, 2-3 color maps, bibliography and index.
Each book switches back and forth from one chapter to the next discussing the design and development of each tank (with neat drawings of the different rounds or internal turret design for each AFV) before giving an overview of the strategic situation in Tunisia or Belgium – just enough to whet your appetite for more information! The book then goes back to reporting about each tank’s specifications, training, tactics and organization (even detailing the daily life of a WWII tanker) before getting back to the respective battles. In M3/PzIII there are even two personal viewpoints from two living combatants on each side – a very cool touch; Panther/Sherman compares the concept of “tank aces”. The final chapters of the books review the outcome of the battles, compares the two tanks, tactics and battle outcome. The final analysis of the M3 and PzIII was that the two were very closely matched, with their specific advantages and limitations – in the end, it was the skills of the individual crews that made the difference and at this stage of the war, likely giving the advantage to the more seasoned German crews. The analysis of the comparison of Panther vs. Sherman was much more complicated with the clear advantage going to the tank that spotted, engaged and hit the other. The myth that it took 5 Shermans to knock out a Panther was clearly debunked (though if anyone has seen the difference in size between these two tanks, they could understand the mistake – the Panther is truly an impressive and BIG tank!)
Because of the specific book focus, there are no color plates that show the tanks and camouflage colors, traditionally found in Osprey books (there are several New Vanguard books for each tank). Each book has a little for every reader – technical nuts and bolts, design and development, tactics, the actual fighting and neat stories. They were fun to read and I am looking forward to reading more of this new series.
Price: $17.95

Field of Glory Gaming Companion Army List Books
Osprey and Slitherine Publishing

Two army lists for the very popular Field of Glory (FoG) rules cover armies from the Greek, Persian, Macedonian wars and the Crusades. Like the first two Gaming Companion books, they are beautifully illustrated with drawings from Osprey books and individually painted miniatures. Every army has a brief history, brief notes on troop types and customized notes for each army/allies. Immortal Fire has lists for 11 different armies and 12 allies (not all have the option for allied armies). The armies in the book include classical, Hellenistic and Kryrean Greeks, Achaemenid Persians, Egyptians, Indian, Alexandrian Macedonian and Successor armies, to name only a few – with the many allied contingents available, the possible army combinations are almost limitless. These armies encompass forces from three continents and span about 600 years from the 7th to the 1st centuries BC. It is a must for those who wish to recreate the armies and campaigns of Alexander or Darius! The army that really catches my eye as “cool” is the classical Indian army with the choice of elephants, chariots, disciplined cavalry and clubmen with heavy weapons. 64 pages with index.
Swords and Scimitars, as the name suggests, covers the armies of the Crusades from the 11th through 13th centuries. There are 18 different Crusader and Muslim armies with 20 possible allies and every army has the option to construct allied contingents. Besides the traditional early and late Crusader armies there are many other Christian crusader armies available from which to choose. Armies from Egypt through the Caspian Sea are but a few of the Muslim army choices. I admit a personal preference for the later Crusader armies because of the uniforms of the mounted knights. Another very interesting army is the Sryian States as it represents an army of convenience of Christians and Muslims! 64 pages with index.
These two new books, with many more already published and more to come, help gamers wargame ancient and medieval battles. The specific composition of each army is up to the individual gamer and allows for a myriad of unique forces!
Price: Immortal Fire, Swords and Scimitars - $19.95 each

Osprey Masterclass
This Osprey Masterclass book discusses the fundamentals, getting started, basic techniques and over 100 pages of specific examples of aviation, armor and other vehicles. There are nearly 400 color photos throughout the book. 192 pages, spiral bound so the book can be easily left open to the desired page, 9 chapters with a bibliography of written and online information and index.
The chapters of airbrushing basics and fundamentals are very clearly written and provide a good fund of information about airbrushes in general and, specifically, getting started using an airbrush. The two largest chapters offer LOTS of photos to show exactly what the author is discussing. There are start to finish examples of airbrushing a Blackburn Firebrand, Lancaster, LaGG-3, Skua, B-25J, Me110E (love those night fighter paint schemes!), Me109G2, Meteor F (an example of painting silver), P51B (painting natural metal finishes), KV-85, Hetzer and Renault Alpine! There are examples of just about every possible technique. I particularly liked how the author showed his own “painting disasters” and how he dealt with them – painting the colors in reverse order on the Lanc’s wings and damage caused by paint coming off when removing the masking tape. It is nice to know that even experts have hiccups.
Why airbrush miniatures at all? It is just not possible to get the proper look to many vehicles using a brush and paint – the camouflage schemes of many tanks and planes had “soft edges” that only a airbrushing can reproduce. The results can be stunning and very realistic looking. Airbrush beginners and experts can learn lots from this book.
Price: $39.95

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Army Painter

I received a large selection of products from Army Painter but do not want to wait until I have tried them all out before telling everyone how much I like their products. The spray paints come in 400ml/13.5oz bottles (larger than other US spray products) and easy to identify caps (I did mix up sprays for a project for my ex once but, fortunately, never for my own projects!)
The black primer is the best black primer I have tried. It gave a very nice, smooth and complete coat with the first spray that required very little touching up. I really liked the gentle way the spray came out of the nozzle – finally, a black primer that did not shoot my figures across my priming area. This was especially important when priming the new plastic figures I got from Warlord – their lighter weight would have caused them to become projectiles when using my usual black primer.
The matt protection also produced very nice results with a single round of spraying (I prefer four light coats from each dial of the compass.) The spray produced a very dry finish that did not alter the color of the figures at all (some popular matt finishes produce a very wet spray; others alter the finished colors and leaves a dusty coat on the figures.) The sprayed figures were almost immediately dry and ready to pick up and put away.
I was very impressed by these two sprays. They are definitely worth trying to see if the results fit your painting needs! I have included photos of primed "Old Glory" Nuns; please refer to the post related to "Army Painter Paint Brushes" to see finished figures that used the black primer and matt protection!
Price: $5.99 (as advertized in “”)


Monday, December 03, 2007

Battlefront/Flames of War

The newest release from Battlefront is a book devoted to painting entitled “The Art of War”. It discusses techniques, includes tips and briefly touches on practically all aspects of painting (and even photography!) As with all other Flames of War supplement, it is supported with beautiful photography of individually painted miniatures to entire armies. Soft cover, 84 pages.
The book starts off with several interviews of different painters from around the world. The painters discuss the techniques they use, why and how they use them. They also give specifics regarding what they actually use for priming, basing, painting and finishing (protecting) to give the reader specific ideas of what is being used by some of the better painters. Battlefront has done an particularly outstanding job of selecting painters that produce figures in a wide range of painting styles – the photos that accompany the interviews lets readers to see their finished figures. This allows readers the opportunity to decide if they like the particular results and apply the techniques themselves.
There are brief discussions of suggested tools for painting, cleaning and assembly with more in depth descriptions of head swaps and the use of “green stuff”. The book then describes step by step painting process from basecoating to sealing, briefly highlighting two different and popular painting styles: block painting, wet brushing and black lining. Step by step photo displays would have been very useful here. Another very sharp brand new addition is the inclusion of suggestions of Vallejo paints for “shadow, base color and highlights” for those who like the “three color” painting style (like me!) for eight colors. Five pages each are devoted to weathering and basing. The photo examples of each are truly excellent – another nice feature of this book is how the authors, when discussing techniques, refer back to examples of the different techniques in the original painter interviews. The book finishes with sections of painting camouflage, photography, a review of techniques and airbrushing. Interspersed between sections of the book are photo galleries, displays of full armies and specific examples that compliment the sections they follow.
I enjoyed reading this book from cover to cover. While I have been painting for several years, have tried almost every style available and read whatever I can about painting, I found several new ideas and tips I had never considered before. The close up photos (my personal favorite) are available for those of us who like to “borrow” others’ techniques! As always, the book is very professionally produced and offers useful tips for both the novice and expert. I will look for their next book, an in depth study of the Wehrmacht, with great anticipation!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

60mm “ODIN”
Dragon Models, LTD

O.K. so this one is not specifically a review item but I thought it was pretty cool. I found this Dragon 60cm super heavy self propelled mortar “Odin” after getting a haircut in the PX and it was too neat to pass up (the roll of paper towel is to help position the loading mechanism while the glue dries). While 1:144 scale is too small to actually be used in the 15mm scale games used to play WWII, it will be a very cool looking objective marker for some Flames of War games. When I get to that stage of this project, I will post those photos, as well.

Old Glory MiniaturesHere is a small teaser of a project that I have been working on for some time for the Russian Civil War. This is a unit of General Alekseev’s Partisan Regiment with an overall command figure (sky blue was the traditional color for cadets and students in Imperial Russia and symbolized the youth of their soldiers). For other units and conversion projects please look in future issues of the Historical Miniature Gamer magazine. Note the White, Blue and Red chevrons on the figures’ left arms are prototypes from Company B. More to come…

Battlefront/Flames of War
The campaign for Villers-Bocage 12-16 June 1944 is presented in the Flames of War supplement of the same name. This supplement, like all the others in the Flames of War library, is beautifully illustrated in full color, another of the very professionally produced supplements for their popular rules system. 70 pages.
The forces that can be constructed from Villers-Bocage are among the “coolest” of all the supplements: SS units, Panzer Lehr and the famed Desert Rats! For the Germans you can choose from among armored, heavy SS tank (schwere), panzer grenadier and pioneer companies with neat divisional support weapons like radio controlled “Borgward” carriers, Nebelwerfer rocket batteries and the mammoth Kingtiger! The special hero Hauptmann Michael Wittman and his Tiger I crewmates are very dangerous combination!
All the British selections come from the 7th Armored Division, tough veterans from the North African campaign. Choices include armored, motor and rifle companies. There are special rules for the Royal Irish Hussars, the Tyne and Tees division and their own special hero, Sargeant Tom Stanley. Both sides, as with all the Flames of War rules, have almost endless options available to allow the construction of a wide variety of forces.
The heart of this supplement is the rules that allow the replay the Villers-Bocage campaign. Starting with Wittman’s Wild Ride that can be used to set up Pointe 213 that can be used to influence the set up of the final scenario, Villers-Bocage, 13 June 1944. Neat little rules like “The Commander is Away”, “Tea Time” and “Other Places, Other Times”, painting guides for Panzer Lehr, the Desert Rats and stunning photos to help set up the terrain for each of the scenarios make this another supplement that fans of Flames of War will want to have!

BLOCKADE RUNNER (BANSHEE I) Thoroughbred Figures Ironclad
The newest model available from Thoroughbred miniatures is a Blockade Runner based on the Banshee I. As a part of Thoroughbred’s flagship Ironclads line, the Banshee I is a 1/600 scale ship that continues the tradition of extremely well molded ships. This miniature consists of 13 pieces that all fit perfectly together or with only some very minor filing. The precision of Thoroughbred ship construction is only surpassed by the sculpting of the ship designs.
The hull and paddlewheels of the Banshee is molded from a single piece of white metal. This is a major advantage over previous designs as cleaning the separate paddlewheels and then gluing them to the model could be a very tricky proposition. The paddlewheel houses have the letters “S” and “P” molded into the underside to aid in construction. The railing that goes on the walkway between the two paddlewheel houses actually glues in place quite easily. The masts are supposed to be tilted back and the support holes appear designed to guide this angle. The small winches, that are used to haul the contraband smuggles in its holds, are best placed with a pair of tweezers. The wheel slips very smoothly into the hole at the stern – a perfect fit. There are no guns on this ship, but, hey, it is a blockade runner!
Like all of the other ships in the Ironclad line, you need only purchase and paint one of these beauties in order to play a game. This ship was painted in shades of black/charcoal for anything that would be seen from a level view and browns/tans for the deck items. Thoroughbred ships are very fun and easy to prepare and paint – this model was completed, from start to finish, in one evening!