Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mamluks, Mongols, Maoris, and More in Wargames Illustrated 274

I have to say this issue is a knockout. Even if you do not bother to read any of the Flames of War material, you get plenty of solid articles that cover a lot of historical periods and places around the globe. The writers were really doing great work here. Plenty of depth to be found in conflicts that don't come readily to mind when we think of military history items, and the authors back them up with good advice on collecting figures and wargaming scenarios and campaigns. I think anyone not intimately familiar with the subjects covered in this issue will learn something.

You can follow this link to the WI website to read the summary of articles in the issue. 

This issue includes contributions from some of my favorite authors:

John Bianchi - Ain Jalut, 1260 (Mongols v. Mamluks)

Jim Graham - Marathon, 490 BC

Neil Smith - Churubusco, 1847 (US-Mexican War)

Barry Hilton - First Contact on the Sambre (Napoleonic 100 Days)

Highly recommended.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What God Hath Wrought

In my spare time I've been reading the military-related items in Daniel Walker Howe's What God Hath Wrought, a history of the United States from 1815 to 1848.

Lots on incredible things in this book, especially if you only accepted the sanitized version of US history they teach in elementary and high school. They tend to get a little more realistic in college level courses in American history, thank goodness - but back to the subject at hand. Expect a lot of myth-busting, not just of any beloved or despised personalities (Andrew Jackson comes to mind), but of the ideals and attitudes we cherish about our country's growth into a true nation. One thing really helped my understanding of the period, and that's how the earliest period of the industrial revolution outweighed the "frontier spirit" of volunteer-supported armed conflicts of the period - and Howe makes the case for it at The Battle of New Orleans and 30 years later in the Mexican War. 

It took a book like this to really make me understand how Spain's dwindling interest in its New World territories really gave the United States the opportunities it needed to expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific. There's no big coordinated 30-year plan to conquer North America - it happens in fits and starts.

While this book doesn't specialize in the Seminole Wars, the Texas War of Independence, or the US-Mexican War, the material in it gives the reader a good insight into the military-political perspectives of their origins, prosecutions, and resolutions. I picked up a softcover copy of the book pretty cheap from an online retailer (less than $15) - not a bad price for all the above, when compared to the price of an Osprey. Now if you really, really dig the era's zeitgeist, then this book is a fantastic value - there's got to be 800+ pages in it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

FOW Project: Stug III Gs

Time to post some words and pictures about the Flames of War summer project. I've had some odd success with my Stugs. They have turned about better than expected and a lot of that I can attribute to happenstance. 

I initially sprayed them in black primer, but had to get in close with diluted paint and ink; I was afraid I was going to end up globbing too much spray primer. I encountered some problems with my bottle of Model Master dunkengelb - it seemed to still be too thin even after a second coat. It could very well have to do with the age of the paint. So I painted over the assault guns with Valejo desert yellow, which looks pretty close. I used the blocking method again and purposely avoided an all-covering coat. This left hatch areas and decks with what appears to be worn areas. 

My next step is to attach the schurzen, do camouflage, and paint some more details.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More Flip Mat Goodness from Paizo

I have been very pleased with Paizo's Gamemastery Flip-Mat line. I recently picked up a copy of the Dungeon (see right). In a lot of ways, this makes me think of the sample dungeon from the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide from about 30 years ago.

You can read more about the Dungeon flip-mat on Paizo's website

The blog posts will occur less frequently over the next few weeks. I have some major deadlines that will require a lot of my attention. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wilder's Brigade in Wargames Illustrated 273

My thanks to the WI team for believing in my vision for the 1863 campaigns for Chattanooga, which included the Battle of Chickamauga and the siege-breaking battles on Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain, and Missionary Ridge. 

One of my favorite pieces is the review of Wilder's Lightning Brigade. The brigade was mostly armed with Spencer repeating rifles and had an over-sized battery (commanded by Eli Lilly, whose pharmaceutical company exists to this day). The article also includes some guidelines for choosing and converting figures for these soldiers. Frankly, they look more like Confederate troopers than Union cavalrymen. They will stand out one the tabletop. The article backs up the conversions with some great black & white photos. I highly recommend Richard A. Baumgartner's Blue Lightning, which I used a primary source for the article.

Luftwaffe Field Divisions

Years ago I took an interest in the Luftwaffe Field Divisions, Goring's answer to the manpower shortage on the Eastern Front. The ranks of the Luftwaffe field formations were filled by ground crews and other personnel that could be spared at the moment. They lacked comprehensive training, weaponry, and heavy support, at least in comparison to regular troops. I had to admire their determination in the face of the odds they were up against.

[Pictured Right: Osprey Luftwaffe Field Division title, which I found quite useful]

It looks like I may be able to use some of my mid/late war Luftwaffe Field Division troops to help fill the company ranks of my Flames of War HG panzergrenadiers, as a number of them also wear the 3/4 camo jacket. As far as that goes, some of the LFD miniatures might also look right in late war paratroop formations as well.