Monday, August 22, 2011

In which our hero returns with much to say

So, a funny thinking happened recently, I chanced to overhear a conversation between two coworkers that led me to come to know of the existence of actual human beings who play actual wargames in my actual vicinity. Rare indeed.

So, the good news is that I am now engaged in playing some actual games on actual tables against actual people for the first time in far too long.

The bad news is that I got completely distracted from everything I was doing on this blog. Pretty pointless actually as this wasn't supposed to be about my weird little solo projects in the first place, but it turns out that much as the games I was writing about here were being played solo, I was soliloquizing about my painting work as well. Still, I did eventually remember that I had a place to put pictures of things and long-winded rambles about them, so on this, the occasion of the completion of my first army for Flames of War, I return with photos and rambling explanation.

Flames of War indeed. Observant, or perhaps psychic readers will recall that I did attempt to get into FoW once before several years ago. at the time I had decided to go with 1/285 miniatures rather than the official 15mm game scale. I expected to play alone and wanted to maximize my limited tablespace and reduce my costs a bit. I also have a deep fondness for 1/285 microarmor minis running back to some of my first gaming experiences.

Though I eventually did finish (less some bases) British and Italian forces for North Africa, I did not as it turns out stick with FoW for the project. After reading though the rules I just didn't feel like it was the type of game I was looking for at the time - I wanted something that either prioritized command and control a bit more or a very light, fastplay game. To that end, I would up looking to Blitzkrieg Commander for the detailed games and an Ogre/G.E.V. to WW2 port for the quick and dirty gaming - which would turn out to be the only one I ever bothered to play, truth be told.

The biggest difference between solo gaming and group gaming is that you don't get to make all the choices.

So, now I am laying FoW, and I am doing it in 15mm. These things happen.

Despite having only played one actual game of FoW (wherein my borrowed Italian Carri got mauled) and being entirely unready to decide what sort of army to build, the call of new metal is indeed a powerful siren and I hastily decided that I was going to play a mid-war Sikh army.

I tend to be drawn toward the road less travelled anyway and while the British Indian Army is hardly obscure, they are at least somewhat uncommon for gaming purposes. Plus, I've been wanting to do a Sikh force for Victorian/pulp gaming for a long time, so this was a chance to scratch that itch.

Sadly, I am yet to finish my Indians. As I began to get deeper into the rules and tactics I soon realized that I could not yet wrap my head around how to play infantry in FoW. I also quickly realized that I needed a whole lot of stands to wrap up a 1500pt rifle company. Taken together, these two facts pushed me in another direction - big huge (expensive) tanks.

Turns out, my first FoW army would be infantry... tanks, and for good reason.

First, the Churchills in Tunisia are fairly pricey tanks, points-wise, but not so expensive that you can't field a viable force. This meant that there just wasn't as much to paint and I was able to maximize my hour or so a night of painting time to get a force painted to a standard I was happy with in just a few weeks. The list has just 16 vehicles in it, which was very achievable as a short-term project.

Second, I understand big, hard tanks. I might not be quite ready for the intricacies of movement and positioning for maximum effectiveness or dealing with swarming opponents, but I can at least see what to do with a pack of rolling pillboxes. As I am learning the game, the ability to just concentrate on the vehicle side of the game lets me chop off a lot of rules for y first forays, which will let me get past basic concepts faster.

Third, they're Churchills. I love Churchills. They are some of my favorite tanks from the war. I like that they're British tanks for my British army (lend-lease stuff lacks that national differentiation). They're huge, they are heavy in your hand, and they are unmistakably rooted in the trench-crossing origins of tank warfare.

And this is what I have to show for my efforts - one Infantry Tank (Tunisia) company. The math looks like this:

Headquarters - CiC in Churchill III, 2iC in Churchill III (275) plus 2x Churchill I (210)
Churchill Platoon - 3x Churchill III (410)
Churchill Platoon - 3x Churchill III (410)
Recon Platoon - 2x Carrier Patrols w/ 2x extra MGs, 1x 0.50 MG each. (190)

I decided to base my company on the 25th Armoured Brigade in Tunisia, and the brigade's senior regiment, the North Irish Horse in particular after finding a wealth of history and modelling information on a website kept by a veteran of that unit in the war. I prefer to build forces for historical games that reference historical units - even when I am playing them in a-historic contexts. Mainly, I just enjoy the research and rivet-counting side of the model collecting. I do not extend that detail-driven compulsion to the actual game though.

Here we have the Fighting Headquarters with two Churchill III and two Churchill I tanks. The earlier marks give me direct and bombardment smoke which I wouldn't otherwise get with these tanks, as well as a small artillery capability.

The first combat platoon. I decided to go with the C company because I am self-deprecating in all things.
The otherwise identical 2nd Platoon. My stowage is all from the Command Decision (Old Glory) general stowage pack. What it lacks in variation over hand-sculpted canvas bundles it makes up for in speed-to-completion.
Finally, my carrier patrols. I differentiated the lead/upgunned carriers by adding both a third crewman and an AT gun through the forward gun port. The patrols have slightly different markings to tell them apart as well. Carriers are some of those vehicles from the war that I just love. They're likely to find their way into my companies regardless of actual gameplay utility as a result.

And there we have it. I really don't know what they'll do on the table yet, or what to do with them on the table yet, but they're painted, they look pretty cool, and I have an army. Huzzah!

(Any tips on how to play them are welcome.)

Moving forward, I do expect to finish the Indian rifle company, as I expect I will eventually figure out infantry. Interestingly, due to the perfect confluence of the upcharge on Veteran units over Trained against the reduced prices of late war units, I am able to use the exact same set of models in mid-war Italy and Cassino lists. Paint once, play twice - sounds like a good deal.

I'm also expecting to sort out the Indian infantry in an early war list once I get ahold of Hellfire and Back, plus I have an order in for a mess of Stuarts to build an early/mid light tank force as well. Once I have the British forces painted and ready for all three FoW stages I might look to do something new, but I'll buy that bridge when I come to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment