Personal Blog and Miniature Game Journal

How I got more paint on my thumb than on the figure and learned to love it!

A blog about miniature wargames, miniature painting and related geeky topics.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

LotR/Hobbit SBG Tournament

Not a whole lot to post this week. I'm starting on the late war elements of my US Rifles list. This will be used at the next FoWSA tournament.  More about that in a later post.

Back in June, the local Lord of the Rings/Hobbit SBG group held a tournament. Most of the players have moved on to play more Bolt Action but we all wanted to get together again for some fun in Middle Earth. I brought my venerable Wood Elf army, led by Legolas and Thranduil. I really love those guys!

The new Hobbit rules have not been kind to the Wood Elves. They have weak armor ratings (3) but are supposed to be balanced with a strong ranged attack from massed archery. Most of the players are bringing armies with much higher armor ratings (5 minimum, 6-7 for many heroes) such as Easterlings and Dwarves. Monsters such as Trolls and Dragons have new special attacks that are even more effective to the squishy elves. Given the style of play that has developed, the Wood Elves just really aren't a competitive force anymore.

Here is my list
Warband#1
Thranduil, King of Mirkwood
8x Wood Elf Warrior w/ spear
3x Wood Elf Warrior w/ elf bows
Wood Elf Sentinel

Warband#2
Legolas w/ armor
6x Wood Elf Warrior w/ spear
3x Wood Elf Warrior w/ elf bows
1x Wood Elf Warrior w/ banner

Warband#3
Wood Elf Captain w/ bow
8x Wood Elf Warrior w/ elf blades and throwing knives
3x Wood Elf Warrior w/ elf bow
Wood Elf Sentinel


The tournament included three rounds. Each scenario was a variation of capture the objective. Strategies are simple, move to the objectives as fast as possible, hold it, and push the enemy off if necessary. My Wood Elves got squashed each round. Here is a short recap of each round

Round 1 vs. Cave Drake
Chris brought lots of cavalry and a nasty Cave Drake



Story of the game in one photo; "Cave Drake eats Wood Elves"
Round 2 vs. (surprise!) More Easterlings
Elves with throwing daggers did more damage than the elves with bows


The throwing elves managed to eliminate one of the Easterling cav warbands!
Round 3 vs. Dwarves
Dain Ironfoot showed up. Fortunately, the Dwarves don't have any calvary.





Any Wood Elf players out there?  How do you handle opponents with lots of cavalry and heavy armor?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thirty One bags

Most miniature gamers know that storing and transporting your minis can be a challenge. The ubiquitous Battle Foam trays are nice but spendy. They can also be bulky, and you still need to carry your books, dice and extras in a separate container. I'd rather spend that money on more miniatures!

So, I built my own custom miniature transport container that is affordable and functional.

Back when I started this hobby, my wife's friend was selling Thirty-One bags. You might have heard of them. The wife bought me a bunch of the open top bags in the very manly color of slate grey. They have a box shape with a square metal frame at the top and some long handles to carry over my shoulder. I got a few in different sizes. They work great for transporting most of my gaming equipment. Their big drawback is that they don't have rigid sides which is a problem when you're hauling around your fragile little soldiers. Another drawback is the typical cheap plastic "shoebox" just aren't the right size for the bag.

Luckily, I found a good tutorial on YouTube by Doctor Faust. He gives a short instructional video on how to build little wooden shelves that can be customized to fit into any container. The video is here.

I customized his design so it would fit nicely into one of the smaller Thirty-One bags and ended up with a great storage system for hauling around the figs. The materials are very inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores. The one I built is large enough to hold 8 platoons of 15mm Americans for Flames of War with plenty of room for more figs. Rulebooks and accessories fit in there too. Another nice thing about it, is I can make more shelves and permanently store figs from a different game system. That way I can switch out the shelves whenever needed and reuse the same bag.
I bought a large sheet of 1/8" plywood and cut them down to size
glued on some poplar wood strips
Added a rubber non-slip cabinet liner (cheap!) and loaded the units
put them in the bag with books and gear.  Ready to go!

Anyone else come up with some inexpensive transport solutions?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mid-War FoWSA Tournament AAR

The Mid-War FoWSA (Flames of War-San Antonio) tournament was held on July 9th. I was very happy to participate with a complete army list! I lost every game but still had a blast!
The Competitors

The list I used was a US Rifle Company from the North Africa book. FoWSA requires a list of 1700pts for rounds 3-4, and a half-size 850pt list for rounds 1-2. Rounds 1-2 are played on a half table 3'x4'

My 850 point list:
HQ Command Carbine team w/ 2 bazookas
Rifle Platoon w/ 6 teams, 1 bazooka
Weapons Platoon w/ 4 M1919 LMGs, 3 60mm mortar teams
Anti-Tank Platoon w/ 3 57mm AT guns
Armored Platoon w/ 4 M4A1 Shermans

My 1700 point list:
HQ Command Carbine team w/ 2 bazookas
Rifle Platoon w/ 9 teams, 1 bazooka
Rifle Platoon w/ 9 teams, 1 bazooka
Weapons Platoon w/ 4 M1919 LMGs, 3 60mm mortar teams
Mortar Platoon w/ 4 mortar teams, 2 bazookas
Anti-Tank Platoon w/ 3 57mm AT guns
Armored Platoon w/ 4 M4A1 Shermans
Parachute Rifle platoon w/ 8 teams, 1 bazooka, 1 60mm mortar
Field Artillery Battery w/ 4 M2A1 105mm howitzers, staff team, observer w/ jeep.

This is an infantry heavy list with 5 infantry platoons. I was expecting to meet plenty of tank companies so I invested in as many bazookas as the rules allowed.


First Round: 850 point list vs. W. Silliman - German Afrika Schutzen
Scenario: No Retreat
First up was a typical German infantry list with lots of MGs and a stolen Soviet KV-1 tank. I thought the tank was kinda gimmicky and didn't expect to see another one all day. He defended. I approached one objective with my troops and pushed against the second objective with the tanks. He had AT guns left in ambush and popped them out on my Shermans. Once those were dead, my infantry had no chance to assault the massed MG fire.
Loss: 6-1

The objectives were too close together

Yours truly, assembling the formation
I attempted to assault the multiple MG teams by running over the hill.

Second Round: 850 point list vs. C. Jackson - Italian Paracadutisti
Scenario: Free-for-All
Next opponent was an experienced player running Italians. Those crazy Italians decide how hard they want to fight each morning. This is reflected in a die roll that determines his units' quality before the game started. Most of them ended up confident trained. I popped my tanks over a ridge and fired on the units that were guarding the objective. They fired back with AT guns and forced most of my tanks to bail. He charged the other objective with his little Marder III platoon. He contested the objective and I was forced to assault.  The assault succeeded and his Marders were driven off the battlefield. but he was able to pull up his best troops behind the tanks and take the objective.
Loss: 5-2

A long line of Italians


Third Round: 1700 point list vs. C. McKenzie - Finland Jaakarikompania
Scenario: Hasty Attack
This round I faced the Finnish player on a desert table. Not exactly historical. Strangely, he also had two stolen Soviet KV-1 tanks and some stolen T-28. I defended and left one of the objectives lightly defended hoping that my reinforcements would arrive on turn 3. They arrived on turn 5 but just in time to stop his elite troops from taking the objective. He pushed his tanks toward the other objective and took that one.
Loss: 6-1

Fourth Round: 1700 point list vs. A. Douglas - German Grenadiers
Scenario: Surrounded
I faced my friend A. In this scenario, the defender(me) sets up in the middle of the table and the attacker comes from both sides. I dropped the artillery on the objective and setup my AT guns and Shermans to point in opposite directions. This was a problem because they could not support each other. He defeated my AT guns with a surprise! Another stolen KV-1! He wiped out the artillery easily and won the game.
Loss: 6-1






Saturday, July 16, 2016

US Parachute Mortars

One of my goals for 2016 is to complete a Mid-War US Rifle Company in time for the Mid-War FoWSA tournament on July 9th. My list will be a 1700pt US Rifle Company from the North Africa book. I've been documenting my progress as I've been painting and assembling each unit.

I've completed the 81mm Mortar Platoon. The figs came from a Parachute Mortar blister pack. The paratrooper version has a different org chart than the army regulars. Fortunately, there are enough teams so the platoon can proxy as a standard mortar platoon.

I purchased a pre-painted Parachute Rifle platoon and that will be part of my list. Eventually, they along with the mortars and other units, will become a straight paratrooper list. They needed to be painted with a similar color scheme. David B., the original painter, was able to remember the colors he used and sold the leftover paint to me. David is a much better painter than I am so the two platoons wont match perfectly on the table. But the mortar teams turned out well enough.

This was the last platoon to be painted before the tournament. I was running out of time with just a few days left. My lovely wife was willing to help put basing materials on all the stands and she did a tremendously great job! She was stunned by the sheer number of stands in my infantry-heavy army. And there were accusations of slave driving during the process. Nevertheless, the whole army was painted and based in time.




Completed units
Rifle Company HQ
Rifle Platoon (1 command team, 1 bazooka team, 9 rifle teams)
Rifle Platoon (1 command team, 1 bazooka team, 9 rifle teams)
5 M4 Sherman tanks
Parachute Rifle Platoon
Field Artillery Battery (w/ M2A1 105mm Howitzers)
Weapons Platoon
57mm Anti-Tank platoon
Mortar Platoon

Note: This post was written after the July 9th Tournament. I had a great time at Mid-War FoWSA 2016 and I'll post a short AAR about it very soon.

Friday, July 1, 2016

57mm Gun Show

One of my goals for 2016 is to complete a Mid-War US Rifle Company in time for the Mid-War FoWSA tournament on July 9th. My list will be a 1700pt US Rifle Company from the North Africa book. I've been documenting my progress as I've been painting and assembling each unit.

This week I completed three 57mm Anti-Tank guns. The guns and crews are from Old Glory. Again, I had to straighten out the barrels but placing them on the 1" grid.


The crews were also a bit limited in choice of poses. The detail was not the best and there seemed to be far too many guys lying prone on the ground.



However, the price was a bargain. I got 6 guns and 50 crew figures. Typical guns have 4-man crews so there were plenty of figures available for other purposes.

I think this unit will provide some much needed AT support for my infantry-heavy list. We will see how it performs the tournament.




Completed units:
Rifle Company HQ
Rifle Platoon (1 command team, 1 bazooka team, 9 rifle teams)
Rifle Platoon (1 command team, 1 bazooka team, 9 rifle teams)
5 M4 Sherman tanks
Parachute Rifle Platoon
Field Artillery Battery (w/ M2A1 105mm Howitzers)
Weapons Platoon
Anti-Tank platoon

In progress:
Mortar Platoon
Basing for the entire list
Storage and transport solution



Next up on the workbench...
Mortar Platoon.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Support Weapons for the Infantry

One of my goals for 2016 is to complete a Mid-War US Rifle Company in time for the Mid-War FoWSA tournament on July 6th. My list will be a 1700pt US Rifle Company from the North Africa book. I've been documenting my progress as I've been painting and assembling each unit.



This week I completed a small unit. It is the Weapons Platoon that provides four light machine gun stands and small mortars. While it can operate as a separate platoon with its own command team, it is usually attached to a regular US Rifle Platoon. The figures are from the Battlefront blister pack.


Since my infantry combat platoons are all painted with the green M1942 uniform, I painted this platoon with the same uniform.

60mm Mortars
LMG Team


Completed units
Rifle Company HQ
Rifle Platoon (1 command team, 1 bazooka team, 9 rifle teams)
Rifle Platoon (1 command team, 1 bazooka team, 9 rifle teams)
5 M4 Sherman tanks
Parachute Rifle Platoon (purchased painted and based)
Field Artillery Battery (w/ M2A1 105mm Howitzers)
Weapons Platoon (LMG w/ 60mm mortars)


In progress

Anti-Tank platoon
Mortar Platoon


Next up on the workbench...
57mm Anti-tank guns

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Is the Hobby Just Too Old?

Phil Dutre' has written a nice post concerning the ability to recruit new players into the miniature wargaming hobby. It follows that without new players the hobby will eventually disappear. I encourage you to check it out in his blog here Tiny Tin Men. He has a hopeful attitude and encourages other players to feel the same. I would like to hear what any of you think of this issue. Is the hobby 'greying' or has it got room to grow?

I'm personally worried a bit. I don't think the hobby will disappear completely. I expect it to change to meet the expectations of new players. But change does not always translate into improvement. It is already at a point where hex-n-counter games have almost disappeared completely. And I've seen some excellent games fade away.

Take for example Steve Jackson Games. Ogre and Car Wars were both excellent game systems. Fortunately, SJG was able to reprint them with Kickstarter campaigns. But, are they catching on like they did when the games were originally produced. I have fond memories of my teenage years when my buddies and I would stay up until dawn playing Car Wars, Advanced D&D, or Star Fleet Battles. Kids don't seem to do that anymore. The new versions of these games look much different. They have fewer look-up tables, glossier and shorter rulebooks, overly decorated maps, stat cards and proprietary dice.

I am personally going to try to recruit some of my nieces to play Battlesworn and I mentioned my plans in a previous post. Looks like some of them are visiting grandparents for the summer so this project may get pushed up in my priority list.

I'd like to hear your thoughts about the state of the hobby.