Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FOW Summer Project: US GMC Trucks

The Stug G IIIs have been sprayed with primer, disassembled by dropping, and brushed with thin coats of black. More on these tough guys later...

In the meantime, the US GMC trucks have gone pretty smooth. I did a little online research to see the colors used on the vehicles. The drab olive/dark olive green for the metal and wood parts was easy enough, but I was curious about the color of the canvas tarps. I found examples that included dark green, khaki, and olive shades. I also took a look at the example from the FOW site.

I used yellow olive (Vallejo Game Color) for the truck bodies. On one truck I used catachan green (GW) for the tarp, but it looked too much like the yellow olive, so I painted dark gray (Folk Art) over it; Folk Art's dark gray has quite a bit of dark olive in it. I put the dark gray directly on the other truck. The undercoat of catachan green made a big difference between the two vehicle tarps. 

I tried - with some success - of using the 'block technique' found in several of the FOW vehicle and artillery painting guides. I think this looks a lot better than if I had just spray painted the trucks in olive and then touched up on the canvas and wheels. The block technique simply means not painting over the black primer at joints and lines; this helps define the parts and might even contribute to the illusion of wearing. Probably depends on how loose or precise you do it. With all the straight lines of the trucks' wooden slats, the blocking really stands out.

The trucks are not finished, but here's some photos of the works-in-progress. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Update: Hannibal and The Fall of Carthage

I previously reviewed the game Hannibal: Rome v. Carthage here, and a little bit of Andrian Goldworthy's The Fall of Carthage here. Here's some updates concerning both. 

The new edition of Hannibal has some new rules that make it a somewhat different and better game. In the old edition the game immediately ended with the capture of Hannibal or Scipio Africanus. This is no longer the case. If Hannibal is lost, Carthage loses major prestige (5 political control markers, which is about the equivalent of a province) in addition to any political losses from simply suffering defeat in a field battle. This occurred while we played a game recently and it greatly hampered the Carthaginians, as you might expect. What we think we learned is that losing Hannibal might not necessarily spell defeat for Carthage if they are already in a decent position. It seemed incredible that Carthage lasted 4 or more turns after losing their best general by the third turn. For a change, I did not play Hannibal...but I could have used this rule back in the 90s.

I finished reading The Fall of Carthage and I am please to see such harmony between its contextual political, social, and military review of the Second Punic War and how the Hannibal game plays. The concept of losing political ground based on battlefield defeats rings true. The reluctance of the armies and their commanders to commit to battle - and even their lack of ability to force their enemy to engage - also rings true with the game mechanics for activating army commanders. If it seems hard to get things done sometimes, that's because it was that way. Don't forget how the limits of communication affected the ability to gather intelligence and make decisions. The players get to view a game board map of the western Mediterranean and at least see what forces are currently in the field. The real commanders did well to know what was happening in the nearest provinces. 

Again, I highly recommend both the game and book. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Project: FOW

I mentioned in a previous post that I was interested in building the Hermann Goring Division and the US 3rd Division forces for an Italian campaign. I have purchased some platoon packs of infantry, but before I start painting them I thought I would work on some vehicles that have been waiting too long in box on a shelf in my home office. I'm sure some of you know the kind of thing I'm talking about here.

Anyway, I am working on a platoon of Stug G IIIs, a couple of US trucks, a couple of Flak Panzers, and a couple of SdKfz 251/9s. The Stug Gs will have a spot in one HG panzergrenadierkompanie, as might the US trucks. I thought I would paint one of them to look like it was captured and redone in dunkenkelb. I'll probably leave the canvas in US Army olive or dark green. 

I'll post some pictures later of the finished models, but in the meantime I thought I would show a picture of resin models soaking in mildly soapy water. I'm pretty sure the blue-gray color is not just the liquid soap; I'm pretty sure that is the reagent or whatever it is that sticks the miniature after the molding process. As the Battlefront folks suggest, clean the resin models before painting!

I'll be up front here - my miniatures and my photos of them probably won't knock you out. But I think I can say that I'm probably one of the few hobbyists who will show you a picture of miniatures taking a good soak after a good toothbrush scrubbing. 

Also, here's a picture of the Stug G IIIs and US trucks drying.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Missionary Ridge: WI Online Bonus

I submitted some guidelines for playing Missionary Ridge to Wargames Illustrated, with the intent that the bonus material might appear somewhere in the magazine or as an online bonus. It has the hallmarks of a tricky battle to portray, even if you have enough troops for the tabletop: lots of terrain that will make a different game based on ground scales and movement rates.

Take a look at the online article and see what you think. You can also download a PDF of the article there.

Of course, there's some good gaming still in the magazine article for the siege of Chattanooga - and that focuses on Sherman's less than orderly attack against Cleburne's position on the right flank of Missionary Ridge. I think that part of the battle often gets overlooked in light of the heroic Union actions that took place along the main line. In actuality, Sherman's assault was supposed to be the big victory.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Free RPG Day 2010

I wrote a news story for the Chattanooga Times Free Press about the fourth annual Free RPG Day. You can read the online version here.

My thanks to Erik Mona and Wes Schneider of Paizo Publishing for taking time to offer comments for the article. Also, my thanks to Katie Page of Porter Novelli who commented on behalf of Wizards of the Coast.

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Paizo's Pathfinder adventure module, "Master of the Fallen Fortress." The new Legend of the Five Rings quickstart offering looks interesting too.  
Pictured Above: The cover of "Master of the Fallen Fortress. Paizo advises that if you miss a free hard copy at the local gaming store, you can order a copy from them for $5 (plus shipping) or download a free pdf. Well, you can read all about that by going to its link posted above the picture.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Preview: Wargames Illustrated 273: Campaign For Chattanooga

I pitched the 'Campaign For Chattanooga' as a theme to Wargames Illustrated back in January; Dave and Dan gave it the greenlight and we did a fairly quick turnaround. As it turns out, I also wrote most of the articles for the theme, too. I am looking forward to seeing the Chickamauga piece - it's my understanding that it evolved from a very nice game presented at Cold Wars or Fall In. You can see a preview on the FOW site here.

I believe this is my first venture into a historical period outside of Antiquity and the Middle Ages. I'd love to see your comments on the issue.

The issue also includes Part Two of 'Wargaming the Roman Army'. I'm eager to see how it turned out. I relied a lot on Guy Halsall's Barbarian Migrations, which I have reviewed in prior posts, to bring out some subtle points on the nature/character of the Late Roman Army.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Living History at Chickamauga Battlefield

I got to do a news story on the 37th Georgia Living History Regiment while they appeared at Chickamauga Battlefield Park last weekend. They gave interesting talks on camp life, equipment, and recruiting. They also performed a number of different musket-firing drills. 

You can follow a link to the online version of the Chattanooga Times Free Press here.

The above photo is one I took with my old digital camera. A much cooler slide show of images taken by the staff photographer may be found at the bottom of the online article.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fort Christmas

While in Florida, I visited Fort Christmas, which is at the southeastern edge of Orange County (Orlando). The park contains a replica of Fort Christmas, built as part of the United States' campaigns against the Seminole Indians in the nation's second war with them.

The original fort was abandoned within three months, its purpose ended by the army's southern advances. The replica has two 20' x 20' blockhouses and a few buildings. The original is long gone. I'm sure it didn't have central air conditioning in the blockhouses, as the modern version, but no complaints from me on that point. 

The replica was built as part of an initiative to celebrate the nation's bicentennial.

If time had allowed, I would have visited some of the other prominent Seminole War sites, especially the replica of Fort Foster and the Dade Battlefield.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Reading: The Fall of Carthage

The blog took another break last week while I spent some time in Florida visiting relatives, playing on beaches, and lazing about. I took some time to put some paint on some Late Roman infantry and some fantasy miniatures. I may post some pics when I have completed those small projects.

I have been reading Adrian Goldworthy's The Fall of Carthage in my spare time. The author attempts to place the three Punic wars in context with each other and the wider Mediterranean world, and not solely in juxtaposition to Rome. He defaults to Polybios whenever he presents differences in evidence or traditions. Even then, he is careful to point out the limitations of the ancient historical accounts. Furthermore, Goldsworthy does his best to put the reader in the frame of mind of the ancient world and not let the modern thoughts on political and military motivations drive the narratives.

From a gaming perspective, I think there's plenty of material here for creating and modifying Carthaginian army lists. For that matter, its probably worth a look for its review of the naval aspects of the First Punic War.

I highly recommend this book. It's a good introductory to the period. Even if Goldworthy has made errors - and I am no expert who can say what's right and what's wrong with it - I still think the reader will come away with a better understanding of the big and little pictures of Rome's wars with Carthage.