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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Memoirs of a boardgame!

I picked up Memoir '44 a while ago and it's become my 'go to' game for evenings where my brother comes round, so I thought I'd post some thoughts about it. There are a couple of reasons Memoir '44 has bubbled to the top. First, the box is nice and light and smaller than Battlecry. It's a small detail, but it matters when you're reaching up into a cupboard. Second, it's a bit quicker to play than CC:Ancients. Like BC, it's more lightweight than CC:A and therefore each turn is a bit more straightforward. And last, I think it's a bit more flavoursome than Battlecry. Perhaps it's just that WW2 appeals a bit more, but the synergy of the artillery, armour and infantry seems to suit this game a bit better. It also seems that infantry firefights can be a bit more protracted in dense terrain, due to the fewer dice thrown, which makes infantry a touch more durable than in Battlecry.

As far as components go, this is right up there with Battlecry. The box is nicely organised and the pieces are very nice. I had a slight issue with some barricades that were missing, but Days of Wonder provided them quickly and without fuss. A couple of the terrain tiles also have a slight printing error, but I can live with that. All in, a good quality set. The rules are well laid out and you get some nice touches, like cards that summarise all terrain penalties and such. The Command Cards are of a decent stock and feel like they'll last well. Overall, I'm happy with this game and so far it's given some pretty good, tense battles. The scenarios are well thought out and ones that you might think would give this system a hard time, like Omaha Beach, actually deliver a tight and plausible game. The other plus is that there are plentiful expansions that are mostly in print and cover the major theatres - the Pacific, the Med and the Ostfront. I've asked Santa for the Pacific one as it should provide some pretty interesting scenarios and it gives me a fix of the Pacific ground warfare without a high entry cost.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Umm Qasr Redux

Tuesday saw George and I refight the Umm Qasr scenario from Road to Baghdad, this time switching sides. I was quite looking forward to trying my hand at the insurgents in this scenario, as I think the tactics they need to use are a bit different than in most asymmetric engagements. Normally, the irregular player gets lots of reinforcements during the game and you can be somewhat callous with your forces, but in this scenario the victory conditions hinge on there being Iraqi (or Murdistani in our case) elements left on the table. The rule that the British can't fire heavy weapons towards the port also means that maneouver is more important than usual, too.
George lined the British up quite similarly to the first game and my Murdistani cells were also deployed very closely to his last time. Actually, the deployment zone is a little restricted in this scenario, and you have a fair few cells to pack in, so the deployment is a little predictable. However, I was well aware of the devastating fire that the British can put down and the Challenger turning up at Turn 4 means a standup fight is not an option. So I decided to only use 2 or 3 cells to ambush the British and move at least one backwards at the start to create a bit more depth to my position and make it harder for the Brits to penetrate through the restricted fire lanes. And so we began!
The British have a difficult time getting started, despite heavy Murdistani casualties
The first couple of turns saw the British probe their centre and  left flank to gauge the strength of the defenders in and around the Administration building. I decided to be bold and hold my first ambush until they were at optimum range and, thankfully, they weren't spotted first. The crackle of AK-47 fire left 2 Brits seriously wounded and George immediately pulled them back. The overwatch fire decimated the Murdistani cell in return, though. The second Brit fireteam to go received similar punishment as they crossed the berm and they were withdraw, too. The large cell of 10 irregulars was soon down to half strength, though. Even a few D8s can seriously beat up a D6 quality unit in FoF. As I said, this shouldn't be a standup fight. Yes, the Murdistani side gets VPs for killing or wounding the enemy, but you will suffer in this scenario if you leave your troops exposed to the British quality and this showed here as the Murdistani casualties quickly mounted. At last, though, the British right flank gained a foothold in the buildings and started to push towards the Murdistani table edge, where I had moved one cell in the very first turn. This cell was actually quite potent with 2 RPGs and I chose them specifically to pose a threat to the tank which I hoped would have to move into the restricted terrain of the buildings. 
The British clear a way through on the right flank.
The Murdistani irregulars fall back to catch the infidels as they try to envelop.
And the tank arrives...
...and makes it's presence felt!
So now there were only two cells left to face the tank, but I had managed to get them back so that the tank couldn't risk firing it's main gun and damage the port infrastructure. In fact, in the earlier firefight, the British GPMG had already inflicted damage and gifted me with 3 VPs so doing it again would create a bit of a mountain to climb. So the Challenger began moving down the road and my cell duly popped up to try their hand with the RPGs. George proved a wily tank commander, though, and only ever presented his front armour which meant I only had a slim chance of damaging it. Essentially I was rolling 4D6 to beat his armour of 5D12!! The first shot gave George a bit of a sweat, though, as he only rolled 2 successes and I began shaking my D6 with glee. I only managed 2 successes, however, and the armour held. It's these moments that make FoF, and most wargames for that matter, a total blast! 

The final moves of the game saw more British troops advance and I decided to concentrate my fire on them instead. I reckoned I couldn't harm the tank, but I had a reasonable chance of wounding or killing the soldiers. A couple of rounds of fire saw more expensive British casualties being dragged to safety, at the cost of the entire Murdistani cell. All that remained was the remnants of a single cell cowering behind the berm with the railway track on it.
The British seize the last building before the port is open to them. In the background is the huge pile of Murdistani KIA.

Prepare to sell your lives dearly!!
But time ran out! George managed one more round of fire and took out two of the five survivors, but it was not enough. There was still an active cell on board at the end which gave me 3 VPs and robbed George of 3 VPs. Coupled with the infrastructure damage and about eight seriously wounded British, the Murdistani side won with 14 VPs to 8 VPs. Crucially, if the British had managed to finish off those three irregulars it would have been a draw, which shows how finely balanced this scenario is. Brilliant stuff!! :)

I'm not sure what the next scenario will be as George is still working on the vehicles for some, but I've no doubt we'll get another done soon and I'll post that AAR here, too! 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Varnish test

Quickly painted up a figure the other night and gloss varnished it ready for a proper test of the W&N Galeria Matt Varnish. So, without further ado, I present my findings:

First of all, here are pictures of the painted miniature without any varnish:

And now, here's the figure with a coat of Humbrol Gloss Cote gloss varnish:

And, finally, the figure after the Galeria Matt Varnish has been applied.

As you can see, the result is extremely satisfactory! There's a wee sheen on his leg where I must have missed a bit, but I am a very happy with the finish! With this stuff, and the gesso, I never need to deal with the evils of a spray can again! Which is especially good news as winter descends on us. Oh...and did I mention that it's water based, too? The 75ml that I got in Millers art store only cost £4.50 and it will last a very long time, so it gets better and better!

Like any proper experiment, I must finish with a conclusion. This varnish is great! I heartily recommend Galeria Matt Varnish to anyone that is even remotely dissatisfied with their current varnish.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Multi-part metal - is it worth it?

Last night I finished off the first figure of my new Infinity project, although I'll need to go back and do some touching up in places. After some research I decided that I wasn't all that fussed on Ariadna, but the Nomads really caught my eye. So, the first figures I managed to get my hands on were the Bakunin Uberfallkommando set, which looks really cool. Here's the Chimera (the team leader) as I finished up last night:

Nomad Uberfallkommando Chimera
However, each and every figure in the pack is multi-part. The Chimera above was actually in 4 parts!! The main body, the left arm from shoulder to wrist, the CC weapon (and hands) and the tail. I had to pin pretty much every joint due to the thin nature of the pieces and it was a real pain! And then there's the filling of any gaps. Yes, the figure looks really nice with parts that sit clean away from the body, but it took me ages and was really frustrating. And then the next guy:

Nomad Uberfallkommando Pupnik
He was in six pieces no less! Including the horns!! So, the question I ask is, are multi-part metal figures worth the hassle of pinning and gluing etc? Or would you prefer to sacrifice some of the nice posing for the ability to just get painting? Personally, I don't mind one or two pieces when it makes sense, but sometimes bits just seem to be separate for no apparent reason. Take the Ram Pupnik above. Did his head and lower hand really have to be separate?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

W&N Galeria Matt Varnish - the Holy Grail?

I was in an art store over the weekend and I thought I'd give an artists acrylic varnish a try since I've been struggling to find a varnish that I'm entirely happy with. I've tried both brush on and spray Humbrol Matt Cote, Vallejo Matt Varnish and Miniature Paints Matt Varnish to name a few, but none have really made the grade. They're either too satin for my liking or they frost up (in the case of spray varnish). All i want is a good varnish that doesn't need absolutely perfect environmental conditions to go matt! So I gave this stuff a punt:

So far I've only tried it on the face of an Orc I had sitting around, but it turned out very satisfactory! I'll paint up a test figure soon (a rank and file type) and give it a proper test by gloss varnishing first. I'll make sure to post the results, but I'm hoping that the initial indications hold true and this stuff will turn out to be my matt varnish Holy Grail!!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

USMC for Road to Baghdad

Here's my first squad of US Marines for the FoF Raod to Baghdad book. George has actually got enough British troops that we don't really need these, but they've been sitting around for ages and I just wanted them painted and out the way. Also, they're close enough to US Rangers for Mogadishu that they'll do. I'm not particularly fussy about having the exact figures. Close enough is fine by me. I have some more unpainted fire teams that I need to do, but once done they're done I'll have enough to start putting on some of the scenarios from Day of the Ranger. All figures are 20mm from Elheim.

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