Friday 22 December 2023

What's been going on?

The blog has been quiet for the last few weeks for no other reason than I haven't had anything I felt worthy of a new post. With the rise of social media much of what was once the staple of blogging, the 'what I painted' or 'what I played' this week type of posts are now to be found on Twitter (X), Facebook or somewhere similar. 

I tend to think the blog is for posts that would be too long for social or even the forums. The lifeblood of this one has been the After Action Reports for my Chain of Command games but a number of factors have played havoc with our gaming schedule. First off, Dave took a long break to visit France and the week we planned to recommence the Operation Martlet campaign I came down with a bout of Covid. My recovery coincided with Dave undergoing minor surgery that then took him out of action for a couple of weeks. Now of course we run into the Australian summer and Christmas with both of us having commitments and holiday plans. I suspect it will be mid January before games recommence.

My gaming didn't stop in Dave's absence as I've been teaching a friend Chain of Command. We've managed to make Saturday mornings a regular slot for games and been working our way through a few of the campaigns. Given I'm teaching the game I don't have the time to take pictures and make notes to the extent that I would normally do when playing Dave, which means those games are going unrecorded here. We are also playing at my house where the lighting for photography is not as good. Regardless, here are a few pictures from various games.

We started earlier in the year and have managed to play through Kampfgruppe Von Luck; Operation Martlet; Storming the Citadel, and recently started The Road to Bremen. We've set a cracking pace and he's picked up the rules very quickly.

As you'll have gathered from earlier posts I've also spent time refreshing my 20mm collection for Crossfire and playing games at the club. That's been very enjoyable and it has been good to find a game that works for a club night. While Dave and I have tried to be the ambassadors for CoC at the club we've realised its not a rule set others are willing to embrace. Finding a Second World War set that will be played is pleasing, even if it might not be our first choice.

Working on the Crossfire collection and starting the Road to Bremen campaign inspired me to finally set to painting a Fallschirmjager platoon for Chain of Command. I bought the figures almost 12 months ago. They were based and primed and ready for paint but then sat in boxes for the rest of the year. I had picked up the AK set of paints and the ubiquitous Osprey book for reference, so I was all set to go.

I suspect the prospect of painting splinter camouflage played a part in my reluctance to finish them but there's nothing like a prospective campaign to give you the impetus to complete a project.

I wasn't quite fast enough for our first game in the campaign and so, much like the time Dave and I played The Road to Bremen, my SS platoon proxied for the Fallschirmjager in our very first game. 

I decided to do these in one batch, not something I usually do. I find batches of ten or so work well and once completed they become the incentive to finish the next batch. For some reason this time around I was happy to do the lot in one go with the bulk of time spent on the camouflage smocks and helmet covers.

However I'm pleased to report the Fallschirmjager are now finished. As it turned out the camouflage was not as daunting as I expected nor did it take as long as I imagined it might.

Overall I was happy with the way these came out and they are a great new addition to the collection. Given their service on so many fronts of the war I'm expecting these should see a fair bit of game time.

The bulk of the miniatures are from AB Figures but their squad size sets include only a single LMG team and so I added extra teams from Simon's Soldiers (the former Wartime Miniatures range). Those figures vary slightly from the AB range which are on the smaller size of AB sculpts while the Simons Soldiers range can be bulkier. 

When each range's figures are grouped together, like the teams below, I don't think that's much of an issue.

However, when standing side by side I think it becomes more noticeable (and frankly, more than I would like to see). While variations in physical size of figures is fine, after all men vary in size, the problem lies with the variation in helmet size and other items of equipment which should remain the same in size even if the human dimensions differ. When comparing the two LMG teams below (Simons Soldiers on the left, AB Figures on the right), it is noticeable but not that significant.

It's a different matter with the two below who don't match up well at all. I will live with the difference for now but I don't expect that sentiment to last. I'm a hopeless case.

While the Fallshchirmager remained unpainted I had been reluctant to acquire many more 20mm figures for the Second World War collection. I had bought a few here and there, but that was mainly to fill gaps in existing units. With the paratroopers completed now this gave me an opportunity to think about what I'd like to do next. Eureka Miniatures included a free sample of one of their 20mm US Marines in an order I made several years ago. While they were not at the forefront of my mind at the time I did base and prime the lone figure thinking I'd give him a trial paint at some stage. Well, that figure remains unpainted but it's a very nice looking figure and I think those Eureka marines would be a perfect addition given my Japanese collection includes nearly everything I would need to oppose them.

So these are the latest arrivals and will be my first project for 2024. In preparation I've been cleaning them up and basing them ready for priming.

Part of my pre-Christmas activities was a quick road trip to the NSW north coast to visit my grandson as we won't be able to join my daughter and her family for Christmas day. They live in a beautiful part of the world on a lovely property bisected by a running creek with water clean enough to pump up straight to the house and drink. There can be worse places for a child to grow up.

He is my first grandchild and an absolute joy (although I've spared his blushes and any complications for the blog with child nudity by making a discrete edit to the picture!). He's a bit too young for any gaming related presents (but I'm sure that day will come!) although I'm hopefully starting an interest in modelling even if it is only a Duplo set. Well, you have to start somewhere, don't you?

The return journey to Sydney included a stop at the fabulous Frontline Hobbies in Newcastle, a massive and well stocked shop with a great collection of models kits and painting supplies. It was a scorching hot day with the temperature at 40C when I left the shop. Fortunately it is well air conditioned but I think the sense of the searing heat is conveyed in the picture. 

I picked up a few odds and ends including a couple of models for the US Marine project including an M4A3 Sherman and the Airfix Higgins Boat. 

I already own one of the Cigar Box Battle beachhead mats, although I must confess, I am yet to use it. Hopefully that's a situation I'll correct in 2024 when the Higgins boat (or boats, by then) will make an appearance.

Naturally there are other additions I want to make for the marines and I'll no doubt be posting more about those next year.

My eldest son, who lives in central Australia, is visiting us for Christmas and so we managed to return to one of our favourite historical boardgames - Wilderness War from GMT Games. We've been playing this since he was in his mid teens and we always return to it, playing two games in quick succession within days of his arrival.

At the other end of the gaming scale I also introduced my eight year old nephew to Memoir 44. He's a very quick learner and embraced the game with great enthusiasm. In fact his parents noted that he rarely will sit this long doing anything, a sure sign he was fully engaged. It was a joy for me to see how much enjoyment he was having. 

Although I do have a confession to make. In our third game I pulled off a crushing armoured assault on one of his flanks that not only broke his defending force but also his personal morale. Ooops, that was a step too far. Having had three kids of my own and carefully tried to nurture an interest in gaming I should know better. Fortunately I was able to rescue the situation. After a break I suggested we continue the game but this time he takes my side, that seemed to do the trick. With a strong position it wasn't long before he crushed me. Just the medicine he needed to restore his morale and rekindle his enthusiasm. There are times when kids need to learn life lessons but this wasn't one of them.