Sunday, May 31, 2015

Gaming: Victory in Europe

Between kids soccer and the yard, the painting table has not seen much action. I did, however, get two games of Victory in Europe in with Bruce. The first game we played the 1939 scenario. Germany made a two pronged attack on France, feinting into the Netherlands and then punching through the Maginot Line and capturing Paris on an exploitation. This knocked France of the game

Things bogged down a bit in the desert and Poland, but a lucky diplomacy role brought Turkey in on the German side. Had The Russian block in Baku not been obscuring the production points, the German player would have pushed into souther Russia, hurting the Russian production and radically extending the Russian frontage. We called it in early 1941 with the Germans readying to attack Russian.

We also tried the 1944 scenario. A western landing in France was successful. Second landing was pushed back but the cost to the Germans was high and France quickly rolled over. The German played then abandoned Italy to shore up his defense.

In the east, an aggressive German attack in 1944 cost a lot of units and the Russians managed to push forward to seize Berlin (again, on an exploitation attack). Lucky dice helped and it was game over for the Germans in early 1945.

This system is pretty slick and gives 1945-quarterbacks an opportunity to try their master plan to win the war. What I keep being struck by is how any deviation from the historical has many unexpected consequences. Focus on France in 1939? Then the damned Russians gobble Poland and you have that much further to push them back plus a major headache shuttling troops. Arrgh.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Afrika Korp Matchbox tanks

Terry's crawlspace yielded up some lovely old Matchbox 1/76-scale kits. The Panzer 3 may have been my first solo model, although I recall my dad buying me an Airfix Fokker triplane which I glue-ily built and displayed until it fell into the laundry hamper. At least the Red Baron met a clean death.

Anyhow, a trip down memory lane. The only kits I could get in northern BC in 1980 were Matchbox and the odd Esci kit. But the selection was very hit and miss (army entirely of Esci Bishops, anyone?). Places like Little Generals in Calgary were Mecca. Lovely kit, went together like a dream.

On a roll, I opened the Panzer 2. Again, lovely kit but the treads were a grey poly (unlike the black ones on the Panzer 3) that had undergone some sort of chemical reaction. Oily sheen over the sprues (that washed off with some soap) but the treads themselves were withered and brittle.

The TMP brain trust suggested zip ties would be a suitable replacement. I had two types in the tool box but wished I had some that were thinner. Overall, the tread effect is nice. I had to carve some of the upper hull off as well as the top of the treads to get a tight hull fit as the zip ties were too thick.

Alas, the tread pattern is not the same on both sides of the zip tie (below). Grrr. Didn't see this until the wash was on (the pattern was hard to see on the raw zip ties). (sound of cursing in German). I am not fixing this!

I tried two approaches for the treads. On the Panzer 2, I bent the zip ties and joined them. A bit sloppy even with crazy glue and the bogies got knocked about pretty badly. On the Wespe (which had the same problem and is still underway), I sectioned the treads (top and bottom flat and curved sections in the front and back to reduce the tension on the zip tie).

I'll post a comparison when the Wespe is done. Both approaches were a real pain in the ass (thinner zipties is the ticket) but were better than tossing these models.

Up next: Working on some France 1940 German troops and a Panzer jaeger 1.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

British 8th Army

Terry's crawlspace yielded up a couple of boxes of British 8th Army troops. Some are Esci soft plastic and some are a harder plastic set. There are also a few Matchbox guys thrown in. All told, there are 63 of these guys--36 based in fours and the rest as singles.

I'd forgotten how good the Esci detail was and how frustrating the soft plastic's paint repelling qualities could be. These are sealed six ways to Sunday so I'm hopeful they will survive!

I recall that the fellow who introduced me into WW2 gaming in the mid-80s used green stuff to turn the hard plastic figures into NW Europe Canadians by adding pant legs and sleeves. This was impressive at the time (green stuff was a big city product you had to go to Edmonton to get!). In retrospect, I think using the Airfix bBitish army figures would have been a lot less work!

Up next: I have a Panzerjager 1 in France 1940 colours underway. Not sure If I will do more WW2 or maybe turn my attention back to some HO-scale buildings.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gaming: Victory in Europe

Last night Bruce set up his new Columbia game Victory in Europe. Oval map, 1939-1945, card driven, hidden units, step reduction. We played the first turn of the 1941 scenario in about two hours while learning the game. The map could stand to be a bit bigger but very interesting mechanics.

We had a real war in the Atlantic, Egypt was hard as hell to frigging capture for the Axis. Interesting strategic movement vs battles card mechanic. Incorporates strategic bombing, raw materials and manufacturing resources in a fairly simple mechanic. I look forward to trying the 1939 scenario.

Up next: Some 172-scale WW2 British 8th Army.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

1/72-scale French S-35s

This past week was crazy so all I managed to accomplish was to build and paint three 1/72-scale Somua S-35 from Heller. The kits were a mixed bag. Only 40 pieces each. The base was simple but tricky to get square.

The running gear was fantastic. The turrets were fine. The treads were vinyl with the nightmarish Esci-style pins and holes attachment. I'm happy with the paint but I see one of the centres of one of the rondals went south while I was dull coating. I will fix this the next time I have the decals out.

Up next: Likely some British 8th army troops and maybe a game with Bruce.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday Modelling: More 172-scale French Tanks

Kids' soccer and vacation schedules mean I will be gaming a bit less for the next few weeks. But I will keep pressing forward with the painting.

Terry delivered a bunch of early war stuff last week, including some built and painted tanks. There were a pair of Char B1s. The paint scheme was a but darker than I have been doing (see below) but very nice. So I gave them a wash, some decals and some varnish.

There were also two Hotchkiss H35s (I think). These are metal models. Again, a wash and decals and done. There are also three unbuilt Heller Somua S35s that look like simple builds.

There were also a pair of Renault FT-17s. Again, a more dramatic paint scheme that I decalled and washed. These look like Matchbox kits but the box contains two more unbuilt kits with way more detail!

Up next: I have (for no good reason) some British 8th army guys on the painting table.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday Modelling: 1/72 WW2 Germans

I made some more progress on my Memoir 40 game this week, with 40 German infantry and a gun rolling off the production line.

The troops are a mix of modern Zvezda and ancient Airfix. Above you can see the main bases of several units. The upright fellows are Zvezda and the prone gunners are old Airfix Africa Korp.

Most of the Africa Korp were useable with just a paint-job conversion. I'll supplement with some guys with helmets. The Africa Korp set comes with many guys in short-pants. Some you can fake up with some thick paint. Some you can't... .

The units for the game will look as below with a main base and then individuals for casualty removal.

I also completed an AA gun. No real reason--just an interesting Zvezda model I picked up. I see I have another 88 in a box.

Up next: I did shopping at Terry' Crawlspace where the answer to every query is "I don't think I have any of those, but let me look... oh, here are six huge boxes of it." So my French and Germans will be getting some reinforcements. There is also the start of desert war force here.