Monday, October 12, 2020

Going Out of Business Shopping Spree

I have a confession to make.

Despite the amount of money I spend on my wargaming hobby I can be a cheapskate thrifty.  There are lots and lots of games, miniatures, supplemental material and playing aids that I’d be interested in buying—I just don’t want to pay full retail price for them.

But in my defense, space is now a limiting factor.  When I buy something to add to my gaming collection, chances are I have to get rid of something else to make room for my new acquisitions.

Well, regardless of the excuses justifications of my buying habits, my fellow gamers and I were stunned and saddened to hear the The Panzer Depot was going out of business.

I’ve frequented the store often, but since it’s a bit of a drive for me, my visits weren’t often enough and I was never able to stay long enough to get involved in any of their gaming sessions.  Most of the times I was in the Kirkland, WA, area were on Sundays when the store was closed.

The only sliver of a silver lining was the Depot’s going-out-of-business sale.

So while the “angel on my right shoulder” is sad to see the store close, the “devil on my left shoulder” was all-to happy to take advantage of the 70%+ discounts on the remaining items. 

I made it up to the Depot last Monday and met up with my friend Jim, who was happy to purchase my collection of 25mm French and British Napoleonic figures, done-up by our mutual gaming buddy “Dean the Painting Machine.”

It was also great to catch up with him on personal topics we didn’t want to broadcast all over social media, away from the ability of the <insert name of nefarious group here> hackers to harvest.

Anyway, Jim & I spent nearly two hours wandering around the small store collecting small piles of goods.

Jim bought numerous miniatures along with all the shield and flag decals remaining—3 full boxes.

As for me, I’m still getting my remaining unpainted & unassembled Warhammer 40K figures worked on, plus plugging along at painting my Cruel Seas collection, 

So I wasn’t in the mood to buy any more items that needed to be cut, pasted, painted and assembled, and therefore “limited” myself to buy rulebooks and supplement books I was too cheap thrifty to buy at full price. 

Normally, my rule-of-thumb regarding boardgames and miniature rules, I don’t buy subsequent editions unless I’ve played the 1st edition game at least once.

However, proving there’s exceptions to every rule, the first thing I grabbed was the last remaining Bolt Action 2nd Edtion rulebook, despite having an unused 1st Edition copy.

Thanks to my frequent ventures to a nearby Half Price Books, I picked up the Rapid Fire core rulebook a few years ago for about $5, but haven't bought any supplement material since then.

There were several copies of various Rapid Fire books, and I scooped up the following rules supplements: Battle of the Bulge, NW Europe, Monty’s Desert Battles, Russian Tank Units ‘41-42, and German Tank Units ‘41-42.

I’ve always been intrigued by the Skirmish Campaigns booklets, but I usually found scores of them stuffed into vendor boxes at crowded game conventions with little or no time to make an impulse buy informed purchasing decision.  Plus there were other goodies to buy with my “convention budget.”

Now there were several books available for a fraction of their retail cost.  So I picked up the following titles:  Finland ‘39-‘40, Poland ‘39, Norway, France ‘40, Russia ‘41–Minsk, Russia ‘41--Ukraine, Russia ‘41–Smolensk, The Gross Deutschland Division at Kursk, Normandy—Red Devils and Normandy—The Firs Hours.

Continuing with what was evolving into my World War II-themed shopping spree, I picked up Nuts! The Final Edition by Two Hour Wargames...

...and Patrol: WWII by fellow NHMGS alum Damond Crump.

While I said I didn’t want to buy anything I needed to cut, paste, paint or assemble, I couldn’t pass up the remaining two copies of Panzer Digest, Issues 2 & 4, which are currently out of print but may be available in PDF format.

My final purchase, was a slight detour from historical World War II, and into the world of Two-Fisted Tales with Rattrap Productions Amazing War Stories (not listed on the website).

I haven’t played any pulp magazine—style games, my friend Peter just finished painting some modernwestern, and various other figures from Reaper Miniatures.

My total bill was $283 for $660 worth of goods, but at the risk of sounding like a credit card commercial, getting together with a fellow gaming buddy was priceless.

When I returned home with my ill-gotten gains, my shopping spree didn’t end thanks to on-line shopping.  I logged on to The Miniatures Market and Noble Night Games to “fill in the gaps” of game systems I bought during the last days of The Panzer Depot

Monday, September 28, 2020

Pass in Review: Shell Splashes and Explosions for Cruel Seas

(Image:  Sinking of the Robin Moor)

 I'm not sadistic, but but when it comes to wargaming, I like seeing clear indications that a vessel's been hit and damaged.

The Starter and Fleet Sets for Cruel Seas all come with plastic, blue plume markers.

These are fine for indicating shots fired by machine guns or light cannons.

But if you want to show hits and near-misses from larger caliber weapons, larger explosion and plume markers can be used.

For medium-size guns, there's the standard-size water plumes that come in two shapes (10 in a pack).  

Once again, my “Kobayashi Maru” will be used as target practice.

For large caliber guns, torpedo hits, or depth charge explosions, there's the large water plumes (2 in a pack).

I painted all the shell splashes with the remnants of some Craft Smart acrylic paint, specifically, a mixture of Dark Blue, Pool Blue and Aqua, followed by an overall coating of White.

But these Warlord Games products aren't the only hit indicators in my arsenal.

I’ve been a fan of pre-painted, cardboard terrain for years, and one of my favorite producers of such products is Paper Terrain.

A few years ago, I bought a package of blast markers for my land-based miniatures games.  Shortly after starting my spending spree on Cruel Seas, I bought another pack more appropriate for naval battles.  I glued the bases to pennies, or washers, then painted and flocked them either white or grey to indicate near misses or direct hits.

Here’s the Kobayashi Maru receiving a small near miss...

...and a direct hit.

Now the vessel’s subjected to a medium-size near miss...

...and a direct hit.

Finally, the Kobayashi Maru takes a large near miss...

...and a direct hit.

I don’t think even Captain Kirk and his time-traveling crew can save the ship from this one.

Speaking of ship crews, I haven’t mounted any of the crew figures on to any of my ships.  I want to keep my options open, so I’ll be looking for tiny washers I can mount the crews figures, and optional weapons onto.  This way I can move them around on-deck, or add and remove them as needed.

Here’s what I painted-up so far:

I’m not sure when my next post will be, because it’s back to the paint desk for me...

Monday, September 21, 2020

Pass in Review: Merchant Ships in Warlord Games' Cruel Seas

(Image of West Planter steam freighter by Steve Mayo)

I finally got around to assembling and painting some of the large vessels in my Cruel Seas collection.

I started with the few merchant vessels for a couple reasons:  
First, such vessels were often the targets of naval battles, so I needed have "objective vessels" ready.
Second, since this is my first time painting ship miniatures, I don't have to be concerned by my lack of skill if they don’t look "ship shape" like a warship would.

The Assembly and Painting Details:

This round of assembly and painting consisted of three ships.

I painted the first of my merchant tankers an overall Army Painter "Stone Golem Gray," using from my Army Painter set. Since I wanted the ship to look grungy and rusty, I splashed on a grey wash, followed by a rust-colored ink-wash.

I'm not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed by the result:

Since I wanted my second tanker to be distinct from the first one, I painted it an overall Army Painter "Electric Blue."  Only this time, I used a little less rust and grunge ink-wash.


Okay, maybe not so little.

The final ship I painted this round was the convoy freighter.  Instead of the basic black that's featured in the games' ads and data cards, I painted the hull Army Painter "Crystal Blue," and the metal deck "Spaceship Exterior."

The superstructure is suppose to be a basic white, but I still managed to splash-on more rust and grunge than I intended.  

The wooden decks on all the ships were painted with Reaper Miniatures "Leather" color.

Overall, I'm happy with the results, despite the excess of rust and grunge. 

For my photo shoot, I placed a model railroad backdrop in such a way that only the hilltops were exposed above the horizon.  The river mouth/coastline terrain was made by Wizard Kraft, who're regular vendors at our annual NHMGS Enfilade! convention. 

(Note:  The Wizard Kraft website was being revamped when I wrote this).

Comments About Warlord Games' Ship Figures:

These were the largest micro-scale-ish figures (1/300 scale) I've assembled and painted.  While these ships are solid resin, you still have handle them with care.  This is because extensions like masts, cranes and antennas are spindly, and are easy to bend and break.  I had to splice the forward crane of the convoy freighter with superglue.

I had some trouble assembling the ships.  The holes for the accessory items, like smoke stacks, masts, and lifeboat cranes were too small to mount them without a bit of work.  I used a dental pick I managed to acquire to widen the holes, and employed an excess amount of superglue to get items mounted securely.

Anyone with a Dremel Tool probably won't have any trouble at all widening the various holes.

Some of the ships came with large flanges as a result of emerging from their molds.  But unlike my lack of a power tool, my Army Painter precision side cutter made short work of the excess resin.

Ship and Skipper Names:

Despite playing miniature games since I was a teenager, I still feel like a padawan when it comes to actually painting figures.  Which is why I try to hire others to do my dirty work.  

What I had the most fun doing was concocting names for these ships and their captains.  

Here’s what I came up with...

Merchant Tanker #1:

Since the first one looked like it's barely seaworthy, I picked a name that could cause players the most headaches.

The only "logical" conclusion was to name the rust-bucket Kobayashi Maru.

(Starboard-side view of the Kobayashi Maru)

(Port-side view)

Now before I'm accused of "going full-Trekkie," there actually is a bulk carrier by this name.

(Image from Marine Traffic of the modern Kobayashi Maru at Westport, WA)

Now, who would dumb brave enough to skipper such a bucket of bolts? 

Since I derived the ship's name from the Star Trek Cinematic Universe, I naturally assumed a Star Trek-inspired character should be the Kobayashi Maru's captain.  

And who better to skipper a ship of questionable origins, seaworthiness and legal business dealings than Harcourt Fenton Mudd?  

Or more likely, one of Harry's scheming ancestors.

In my world of Cruel Seas, Harry Mudd claimed he found the Kobayashi Maru aground and abandoned on the Great Barrier Reef "sometime before the war started."  On the other hand, Imperial Japanese officials claimed Mudd stole the ship, but oddly enough didn't pursue the matter any further.

Merchant Tanker #2:

I was inspired to name the next ship after the oil tanker, SS Northern Star, from Action in the North Atlantic, because of it's icy-blue appearance.

(Northern Star port-side view)

(Northern Star starboard-side view)

True, the ship--spoiler alert--gets torpedoed by a U-boat in the beginning of the film.

But since wargaming can be about "re-writing history," why not re-write a war movie?

Of course, the Northern Star has to be skippered by a Humphrey Bogart character.  However, in this movie, Bogey was only the ship's First Officer, Joe Rossi, to Raymond Massey's Captain, Steve Jarvis.

Then I remembered the line in Casablanca:  Where Bogey's character, Rick Blaine, was reminded that" 1935, you ran guns to Ethiopia"

Now how did Rick get those guns to Ethiopia?

It "must" have been by ship.  

So by twisting movie plots, and characters to fit my Cruel Seas world, I have the Northern Star skippered by Rick Blaine.  Probably before he met Ilsa, for 1930s pulp adventures, and then is back on board as part of his "...beautiful friendship..." with Louis when the war gets into full-swing.

The Convoy Freighter:

I have to admit this is my favorite ship; not so much for it's looks, but for the backstory I concocted for it.

I couldn't resist christening this vessel the Bantu Wind, the freighter seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark

(Port-side view of the Bantu Wind)

(Starboard-side view)

(Oblique, starboard-side view)

I know the convoy freighter doesn't look exactly like the ship in the movie...

...but it's close enough for tabletop gaming purposes.

And unlike my previous mixing and matching of ships and characters, I couldn't have the Bantu Wind captained by anyone else but Simon Katanga

He's way too good of a character to "toss overboard."

All three vessels are now ready to put to sea for risky enterprises. 

As I get ready to begin painting warships for my Cruel Seas world, here's my version of the Bantu Wind, sailing off on another misadventure...

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Pass in Review: Fire Support for the 187th Dragoon Regiment

Lehman Russ Tanks and Chimera Infantry Fighting Vehicles aren’t the only means of support for the troopers of the 187th Dragoon Regiment (Composite) in the dystopian universe of .Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K).

For protection against air attacks, there’s at least one Hydra flak-tank available.

(Note:  All the vehicles featured in this post were painted by my friend Dan).

Right-side, in-transit view:

Left-side, in-transit view:

Ready-to-engage mode, left-oblique view:

Ready-to-engage-mode, right-oblique view:

For ground targets the regiment needs to pound, there’s the Wyvern Suppression Tank.

Left-side view:

Right-side view:

Front-oblique view:

Rear-oblique view:

In addition to vehicular fire support, the 187th Dragoon Regiment also has numerous dismounted heavy weapons squads.

These units come equipped with lascannons...

...or mortars:

I have a couple of autocannons, but no crews to man them.

When the regiment really needs to “reach out and touch someone,” the commander calls upon the temperamental Manticore Rocket Launcher

In-transit, right-side view:

In-transit, left-side view:

In-transite, front-oblique view:

Finally, the Manticore is in position to rain fire upon the enemies of Mankind holding the distant hill top:

So there you have it.  All the supporting firepower available to the 187th Dragoon Regiment—due to the limit of my collection and available storage space.

My next WH40K posts will feature the troopers and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) of the 187th’s