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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hetzers Gonna Hetz!

Long have I wanted some Hetzers for my German forces in Flames of War. Finally, with the release of Grey Wolf, the Hetzers became much more widely available! I originally planned to order 14 to run the full company, but talked myself out of it and only grabbed 4.

This is a relatively new sculpt from Battlefront, and honestly it's one of the best pieces I've ever purchased.  Cleanup was a cinch, and the detail level is just right.  I had a blast painting them, all the while making little engine noises.  I really have absolutely zero complaints about these sculpts- everything is great from the tracks to the small remote-controlled machine guns.  Seriously phenomenal sculpts- if you've been on the fence about picking these guys up, trust me and take the plunge!  

 I knocked these guys out relatively quickly, and didn't have a single problem.  After spraying them black, I base coated the vehicle in Dunkelgelb (Vallejo Middlestone).  After that, I did a google search for Hetzer Camouflage and found a great modeling site to use as inspiration for my camo.  I didn't tape anything off or anything like that, just painted carefully by hand, planning ahead.  I did the green first (Vallejo Olive Camo Green) followed by the brown (Vallejo Flat Brown).  After that it was just a matter of picking out the details and applying my divisive blacklining techniques using a Pitt/Faber-Castell Artist Series Superfine Pen

The Jagdpanzer 38(t) (Sd.Kfz. 138/2), later known as Hetzer ("baiter"), was a German light tank destroyer of the Second World War based on a modified Czechoslovakian Panzer 38(t) chassis. The project was inspired by the Romanian "Mareşal" tank destroyer.[1][2]

The Jagdpanzer 38(t) was intended to be more cost-effective than the much more ambitious Jagdpanther and Jagdtiger designs of the same period. Using a proven chassis, it avoided the mechanical problems of the larger armoured vehicles.
It was better armored than the lightly armoured earlier Panzerjäger Marder and Nashorn with a sloped armour front plate of 60 mm sloped back at 60 degrees from the vertical (equivalent in protection to about 120 mm), carried a reasonably powerful gun, was mechanically reliable, small and easily concealed. It was also cheap to build.

Hetzer. (2011, December 8). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from

Equipment and Notes
Jagdpanzer 38(t) (Hetzer)
 7.5cm PaK39 gun
Standard Tank
Overloaded.  Hull MG.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Dirty Jon's Basing Technique Video

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Model Review: Battlefront's Panzer II F

Model Review: Battlefront's Panzer IIF
by Max

In this review I'll go over the building and painting of Battlefronts Panzer IIF.

This kit is one of Battlefronts older kits in their line. The model represents the “F” version that was produced between March 1941 and February 1942. It was designed as a reconnaissance tank and was the last version build on this chassis. It had a crew of three (commander, gunner, and driver) and mounted a 20mm auto cannon and a co-ax 7.92 MG.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Point of Contact Sd Kfz 251/1C Review

By Chris Miller

I recently bought a package of  Point of Contact German Halftrack Sd Kfz 251/1Cs. POC also makes the Tiger 1E , Sherman M4A1 and the US M3A1 Halftrack. What makes POC different from other plastic miniatures is that they come 5 to a pack, pre-assembled and pre-painted. German vehicles have 4 paint jobs to choose from. Grey ,Dunklegelb .Dunklegelb with Green stripes and Dunklegelb with Green and Brown stripes.  The US vehicles paint jobs are Brown Violet, Olive Drab/ Dark Green , Olive Drab with Brown Splotches. Now on to the halfracks

  As you can see that paint job is as basic as you can get. That suited me fine as  I bought these expecting to do touch up work. 

Looking over the model itself you can see that this is actually a Sd Kfz 251/2 with the mortar inside.  I used a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the mortar from one of the models. It came out fairly neatly by tugging on it. The two MGs are in a little pack. I used super glue to ensure they stayed put. 

Here is a picture of a Zvezda model on the left, a Battlefront model in the middle and the POC model on the right.  Zvezda is my least favorite of the 3.  The Battlefront model is tops in quality with good detail and a solid feel.  You can probably see on the POC model that there is a slight gap between the top and bottom of the hull right above the drive wheel.  This is present on three of the five models in the pack I received.   I do like the detail work on the POC model as compared to the Zvezda model.  

This was a pleasant surprise. These are the same decals that Battlefront uses and you get all three included on one sheet with your 5 pack of models. 

If you're looking for a cheaper way to go when starting out these are an option. With some touch up painting you can have some decent German transports or Mortar carriers. 
I'd give then 6 out of 8 schwarzen zauberstab
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Guards Motorstrelkovy vs Finn Pioneers (Blind Domination)

This battle is Game two in our Operation Bagration Campaign. I didn't take a picture of the board but you can consult the bottom of this post to see a map. In this game, Sean attempted to relieve his surrounded forces by counter attacking from Lepel to the recently captured Berezino.

Train Tracks, bridge, and swamps by Battlefront Miniatures
Roads and Creek by JR Miniatures

We rolled for the mission and came up with Blind Domination- we both agree that this is one of our absolute favorite missions. The first three movement steps are pre-planned out for you, and we love how this makes for a really smooth transition from deployment to playing.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Battlefront's German 12.8cm K81 Guns (GBX61)

- by Dirty Jon

These guns are 'UGE! You get everything you need in the package to make a full battery of 4 guns with Command, Staff and 2 Observer teams - just right for your Flames of War German Artillery! I whipped these guys out pretty quick -- sticking with my table-top painting standard.

Did I say that these were HUGE? They are amazingly big. The cost of materials in this box must be some of the highest of any Battlefront box - the value here is nice. The guns went together in a snap -- very easy to assemble.
Bigger than a Tiger:

There was a ton of flash on these models. I think I set myself up for some disappointment though - I figured that these were all new models and would have very little flash - wrong. Some of the flash lines are in between rivets too - I wasn't cleaning that out, so I just dealt with it. If you are a fanatic about such things (I usually am), then plan to spend some extra time with these. From 2 feet out, don't worry about it.

Ugly for your opponent! These guys are AT 17 AND can bombard with a staff team! Checking in at 530 points makes these guys very expensive - but there is nothing like carving up tanks on the Eastern Front from 48" away, baby! This battery does double-duty: great AT assets and great arty!

17 out of 20 "WTF? AT17 ?!?!?"s


Equipment and Notes
12.8cm K81 Gun
  Firing Bombardments
Breakthrough Gun

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List Dissection: The German Tank Swarm Pt 2

Continuing on from Tom's first part posted earlier.
Mid War
Mid war is the period for which it is most difficult to assemble a German tank swarm. The mainstay tank of the period, the Panzer three, is pricey, especially in its more useful later variants like the IIIM or IIIN.  It is difficult to achieve the critical mass needed with Panzer IIIM/Ns. There are a few other options. You could try taking only the earlier cheaper Panzer IIIs or you could try to maximize light tanks such as the Panzer II or the 38t. For this example, I'm going to use the 38t.

The 38t is pretty much useless against other tanks. By mid war AT 6 is a mere pop gun. However you can get a lot of 38ts which are still really good at machine-gunning infantry, assaulting dug in troops, and blowing up guns. The trick with this list is to increase the number of support tanks to deal with enemy armor, without ending up with too few 38Ts for use against infantry.
A Lot of Tanks

In good news, by Mid War the Germans have a wide selection of awesome anti-tank vehicles.  My favorite is the Panzer IV f2. It combines decent armor, FA 5, with a superior AT 11 gun. A Panzer IV f2 standing at long range and cover, properly handled, can destroy an almost infinite number of opposing Shermans or Soviet T-34s.  Panzer IVf2s are expensive, though. So I usually take three and a second unit of something else cheaper, like Marders.

I took this list to either guns of August or the Williamsburg muster last year.  (I can't remember which.)  It performed quite well against infantry lists, but against a Tankovy list of mostly T-34s, my support tanks were simply overwhelmed.

ConfidentVeteranCzech Panzerkompanie
Armoured Company
German Mid-War
Czech Panzerkompanie HQ p.31
2Panzer 38(t)120
Combat Platoons
Czech Panzer Platoon p.31
4Panzer 38(t)240
Czech Panzer Platoon p.31
5Panzer 38(t)300
Czech Panzer Platoon p.31
4Panzer 38(t)240
Czech Panzer Platoon p.31
3Panzer 38(t)180
Weapons Platoon
Mittlere Panzer Platoon(up to 4 IV F1,F2, G)(Heer) p.34
3Panzer IV F2 or G435
Divisional Support
Tank-hunter Platoon (PzJag I or Marder)(Heer) p.86
3Marder I220
Company Points:1735
Source document: Eastern Front
More Easy Army!

Late War
Late war returns us to more familiar and more effective territory for the German tank swarm.  The price to performance ratio of a Panzer IVH to a Panther or Tiger is almost exactly the same as that a Panzer IIC and a Panzer IVD.

In late war natural mainstay tank is the Panzer 4-H.  You could also use the Stug or perhaps mix in some Panzer threes. The Panzer 4-H and the Stug are to my mind interchangeable: the Panzer IV sports an extra machine gun and a turret, the Stug has a fixed gun but slightly better armor.  Six of one, half-dozen of the other.  The important thing is to get a critical mass of AT11 guns, at long-range undercover so that the enemy will need 6s to hit them, if they can see them at all.

In most builds you will end up with around a dozen mainstay tanks. 15 or so is a more desirable number but often hard to squeeze in once you have purchased your support vehicles. I prefer to keep my tanks in large platoons of 4 or five and only Kampfgroup them if I need to reach an even number of platoons.  If you attach your headquarters tanks to an already large platoon of five, you get a really beefy assault unit.

In late war the Germans are spoiled for choice of support units. Against the Western Allies, I usually take two Tiger ones. The Tigers main gun can punch through almost any Allied armor. (Except for Churchill variants.)  Their top armor of two grants them extra protection against plentiful, nasty Allied artillery. I'm not even sure the Tigers are necessary; you could just take more mainstay tanks instead.

Against Soviets, I prefer the Panther or its variants. Ideally the German tank swarm will stay at range against a foe, and the mainstay tanks will protect the flanks of the snipers.  Therefore the Panthers heavier from armor and slightly more powerful gun render it a better choice for destroying Soviet heavies. Sometimes I take two Jägdpanthers. They cost slightly less than three Panthers, and they have a ludicrously powerful gun for destroying IS-2s and the like.

You really want to smoke for this Army.  In Late War, the Allies can outnumber you with some pretty good tanks.  Smoke blocking line of sight can cut the enemy numbers into smaller segments for you to concentrate fire.

The Late War German tank swarm usually plays more cautiously than its early war or mid war counterpart. It's mainstay tanks have a longer range and there are usually fewer of them in the Army. Infantry anti-tank weapons can be markedly more plentiful than in earlier eras, especially you are facing Americans. Ideally you want to play all of your tanks as long-range snipers, closing with the enemy only when you need flanks shots or enemy ranged antitank capacity has been neutralized. This, of course, is easier said than done.

ConfidentVeteranPanzerkompanieGerman Late-War
Panzerkompanie HQ p.21
2Panzer IV H190
Combat Platoons
Panzer Platoon p.21
5Panzer IV H475
Panzer Platoon p.21
5Panzer IV H475
Divisional Support
Tank-Hunter Platoon p.50
Rocket Launcher Battery   p.53
Cmd SMG team
Observer Rifle team
15cm NW41
Company Points:1735
Source document: Fortress Europe

Yet More Easy Army 

The German tank swarm maximizes inexpensive tanks and mixes them with a few heavy hitters.  I find them quite enjoyable lists to play; each move you make with such a highly mobile army has a powerful effect on whether you win or lose. Unlike with an infantry Army where you spend a lot of time dug into a hole, you feel in charge of your own battlefield destiny.  Unlike with an elite tank army, you have enough numbers to make a few mistakes or suffer some bad luck and still come out on top.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Battlefront's Train Tracks

For a long time, my battlefields have sorely lacked any sort of rail road tracks.  Why is this?  Because I am lazy.  I hate making terrain, and if I have to go above and beyond to do some custom modeling- forget it.  Battlefront's pre-painted train tracks came like mana from heaven, descending triumphantly while a voice boomed "THESE TRACKLESS BOARDS WILL NOT STAND!"

The box itself is much smaller than the picture implies.  The foam inside is sturdy, which was great- it means I can keep the box for storing the tracks when not in use.  As for the contents, it's pretty straightforward (no pun intended): 8 12" straight track pieces.

Honestly there's not much to say about the pre-paints that the pictures don't already say.  The pre-painting is very nice.  Up to a high painting standard (especially for pre-paints).  The quality of the material is great- flexible yet sturdy.  There's truly nothing not to like about the tracks themselves- they look great.  For our first game with them I literally ripped the cellophane off the box, pulled them out, admired them for a second, then laid them down before rolling dice 2 minutes later.

Alright I know what you're thinking.  Get "straight" to the point.  Sorry for the puns, I'm feeling saucy!  No curved sections?  So the obvious major drawback here is that there is no variety in the set.  This is pretty serious considering the rules for laying train tracks absolutely require the ability to curve around certain terrain features.  I do like these tracks a lot, but until curved pieces come out they're just terrain.

So to round out the review, I just can't find anything not to like about the tracks themselves.  Taken for what they are the tracks are very good and a good value.  But the lack of any curved sections, or even a promise that curved sections are to come, is a pretty big detriment to these guys.  I do really like the look of them and the price is right, so hopefully curved sections are quick to follow.  But in game terms, the main reason I'd want these tracks are to fit my armored train.  But They don't really fit that bill with no ability to curve around hills.  So, for now I'll say these are great terrain, but not yet a good game option.  Once curved sections come out, there won't be any reason for armored train owners not to own these- so hopefully those are on the short to do list!

update 1/26: There are quite a few alternatives to this track that come pre-painted, usually all resin, that have a more robust offering.  Until BF release curved sections, it's hard to buy into these when using the Flames of War Rules.  I do like them, and I like how sturdy they are, but I think it's worth investigating some places like Armaments in Miniature, and Total System Scenics.

8/10 BP44 Trains
In a recent game
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List Dissection: The German Tank Swarm pt I

By Tom
The German Tank Swarm

The German tank swarm is one of my favorite list builds for Flames of War.  It maximizes the natural strengths of medium German tanks: their Veteran rating and their ability to Stormtrooper. When you consider that the enemies will need a 6 to hit German tanks in concealment at range, and that the German tanks can simply stormtrooper in and out of cover two thirds of the time, German tanks have a natural advantage over other nations, even if their armor and armament aren't really any better than their foes.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Soviet Support: Scouts and Flame Throwers

Just a brief photo post here!  Some recent soviets done.  My Soviet infantry is really starting to fill out!

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List Dissection: Panzer Lehr Panzergrenadiers

Before the price break, I never considered armored Panzergrenadiers all that great.  7 Stands, expensive, and mechanized?  That means you have to try to attack infantry forces with small units.  It also means your MG teams are next to useless on the attack!  But then, in their wisdom, Battlefront reduced the price of MG teams, making their inclusion a possibility.  That, combined with Panzer Lehr's large platoons and integral AT, meant that this list immediately spoke to me.

With expensive combat platoons, I've decided to only go with 2 core combat platoons to be the brunt of my fighting strength.  That's 22 (including the HQ + 2iC) CV teams bristling with MG and AT fire, excellent assault capabilities, and 10 halftracks for mobility/Machine gunnery.  I'll take it!

I give my 2iC a panzerfaust (I decide to save the 10 points from my CO.. for now) and 2 full combat units with a panzerfaust upgrade.  That's 75+290+290 = 655.

Here- I chose to Panther.
1095 Remaining.
In my mind, the next big question is "To Panther?  Or Not to Panther".  I rarely take those big cats.  I'm a knife fighter by nature- I'd rather be in your deployment zone making you sweat than worrying about protecting my weak side armor.  So, for this build, I am going to leave the Panthers at home.  I know this is a big decision point, and I may have lost many of you.  Suffice it to say, I think Panthers are an okay option for Lehr, but I'm a Panzer IV Man.

In fact, I love Panzer IVs so much, I'm going to go with 8 of the beasts in 2 platoons of 4.  Let me say this, however.  If I knew I was going to an open late war tournament where I may run into lots of KV-85s, IS-2s, heavy assault guns or the like, I would probably think long and hard about those Panthers.  But, as I am a huge proponent of themed tournaments, for the rest of this write up I am going to assume that we're facing Western allies.

335 Remaining.
Alright so we're at 4 platoons, and getting into slim pickings now.  At this point, knowing we may have to attack dug in infantry, I'm going to opt for some recon.  3 Pumas, you say?  Absolutely.  Those things are reliably awesome, and cheap to boot.  With a decent gun if they get into a scrape, good mobility, and killer looks I just can't pass them up.  That leaves us with 185.  My first reaction is to grab some Panzerwerfers, but looking back over the list I notice that not a single platoon of ours is "immobile".  If we're forced to defend in Breakthrough or Breakout, we're going to have to leave a lot of stuff off the table.

So, I opt for the cheaper Nebelwerfer option (3 15cm tubes), and beef up my HQ a bit more by adding in the CO panzerfaust, and a tank hunter section with 2 panzerschreck teams.

That brings us to 1745.  We have 6 tank hunter teams, 2 panzerschreck teams, 4 panzerfausts, 11 half tracks, 8 Panzer IVs, nebelwerfers, and Pumas.  Bring it on!

You have to love Easy Army.  Seriously, you have to.

Those big infantry platoons have some real staying power!
I have never played this exact list in a tournament, but I've played similar builds.  In general, an enemy armored company doesn't scare me all that much.  We have enough integral AT with big platoons to hold the line until we can form a nice counter punch.  In No Retreat I'd probably start with both Lehr platoons on the board with Panzer IVs in ambush.  In a mobile battle vs infantry I've had great success driving boldly forward in the halftracks, overwhelming my opponents.  2 big infantry platoons + 8 Panzer IVs + Pumas is a lot to throw at someone, and it's easy to overload them with targets.  Lay down some smoke with werfers to cover you're advance, and now you're really cooking!

I usually keep my halftracks around for a long time (and come V3- I'll keep them even longer!), as the ability to summon 11 halftracks worth of MG fire is enough to discourage infantry units from making counter attacks- or really from doing anything at all besides hiding in their foxholes.  Keep them in concealment, and enemy tanks will rarely go after them- especially if it means ignoring those Panzer IVs (German Sherman baby!)  Don't be afraid to stay in your halftracks!  That extra movement and mobility is huge- you'd be surprised at how survivable they can be when you have other things (like 8 panzer IVs) backing them up!  Being impervious to small arms fire is a big deal for infantry platoons.

I've included SS Tigers and 3 Panzer Lehr Panzergrenadier platoons in variant lists- I was happy with the list in both cases.  SS Tigers add some back bone over a 2nd platoon of Panzer IVs.  The 3rd infantry platoon has been slightly less impressive, since it comes at the cost of some much needed support options.

So, in closing- Lehr is a really great and flexible list that really plays more like US Armored Rifles than any other German list.  It's aggressive, capable, and highly mobile.  Again, all things that appeal to me.

Make sure to check out some Panzer Lehr Battle Reports!

How have you guys run Panzer Lehr?  What has worked for you?  To Panther or not to Panther?
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Stevograd Progress!

Just a quick update on some Stevograd progress here.  4 new pieces added!  The big one is a JR Miniarures terrain piece painted by new WWPD writer Tom.  Thanks again Tom!  I really liked the way it turned out, and can't wait to get it on the battlefield!

The 3 smaller buildings are part of the Miniature Building Authority Line.  I can't find the specific pieces on their site anymore, but I know they used to be part of their 15mm Eastern Front line.  They have some big apartment building blocks that look pretty nice, but are priced fairly high.  They DO come pre-painted, and the paint job is decent.

Anyhow, less talk more show:

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