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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bolt Action - Using the AK Interactive Enamel Washes to improve your vehicles

A short time ago I discovered the AK Interactive range of enamel washes, prior to this I had been using oil paints thinned down to the consistency of a wash to create a filter and provide depth to my vehicles. On a whim I purchased the three pack for green vehicles which came with a dark brown wash,  dark streaking grime and a light rust wash for around $20 Australian.

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Conquest Warlord Focus: Ragnar Blackmane

Ragnar Blackmane. The warlord with a name that sounds like it came from an intermarriage between a Norse god and a Game of Thrones character. With a name like that you know this guy isn't going to be diplomatic with his enemies.

This warlord can definitely bring the pain in the Conquest card game. With a superb warlord ability and access to the best that the Space Marine faction has to offer, he's truly a force to be reckoned with. Let's dive into what makes him so great!
Ragnar was the first warlord to be released after the initial introduction of the core set warlords, and he immediately made an impact by opening an avenue for victory that had previously been difficult to achieve: warlord assassination.

Ragnar's ability can really get into an opponent's head when they're deciding where to commit their warlord every turn. Warlord commitment is already the most stressful part of the game, but Ragnar raises the stakes to a huge degree. Most of the time, that two damage will be assigned to an enemy warlord, but it can just as easily be used to snipe hard-hitting but fragile units, such as Honored Librarians and Wraithguards

Wherever you decide to send Ragnar, help will never be far behind with these guys. They're an excellent signature unit, even more so because they only cost 2 resources. They're extremely flexible, and synergise very well with their warlord. Not much more to say: they're great!

Frostfang is a very interesting attachment. It's a relic, so it precludes a Ragnar player from using Iron Halo. The attack bonus is obviously nice, but not exactly unprecedented. However, the HP bonus is very important. Both the attack and HP boost will only occur so long as Ragnar is at a planet with an enemy warlord, which means that while it's possible for Ragnar to remain unbloodied with 8 damage for a time, as soon as he or the enemy warlord retreats to HQ then he will become bloodied.

The game designers made it abundantly clear what Frostfang is meant to do: kill warlords.

In case you still haven't gotten the hint, Ragnar's signature support essentially tolls the death knell for enemy warlords. Even the lowly Sentinels will be swinging for 4 attack against an enemy warlord! That said, this location costs 3 resources, and is probably not a good play early on in the game.

There is no escape from Ragnar. You may be able to hide for a time, but eventually he will find you and, Liam Neeson-style, he'll kill you. This card is a game-winner, especially late in the game when there simply aren't enough planets for an enemy to choose from. This leads well into my overall summary of Ragnar...

He can, if needed, win a game on his own. Now, before you misinterpret that, you can't just throw him down and expect to win every battle for the entire game. What I mean is that, even if you have a bad turn, even if your forces are wiped out in a bad battle, Ragnar can still lead you to victory. His attachment and support cards turn him into a one-man wrecking crew, while also boosting his signature units.

On top of that, he has access to the normal might of the Space Marines faction. I'm talking about Drop Pod Assaults, Honored Librarians, Crushing Blows, Indomitables... and on and on. Plus, allying him with Astra Militarum will allow you to further boost the attack strength of your units with Catachan Outpost.

He's versatile, powerful, and looks like a wolf... what more do you want?

For more gaming content and updates, follow me on twitter @PIflamesofwar

Want to join the conversation? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!
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Bolt Action - New Unit: Hungarian Medical Toldi

  In 1942, the Hungarian Toldi I tank was severely outclassed by the Soviet T-34s it was coming up against.  Most of them were relegated to a reconnaisse role, but 4 were re-purposed into medical vehicles, with another 9 rebuilt in 1944.  Today we look into the oddity that is the Hungarian Medical Toldi and how you can use them in your games.

Captain Dr. Bela Ringelhann of the 30/I. Tank Battalion in a Medical Toldi in 1942 (photo from Magyar Steel).

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Star Wars Armada - Battle Report: Contest The Outpost

The small Rebel strike force consisting of the CR90 Corvette "Dodonna's Pride", and the Nebulon B Escort Frigate "Redemption" was not expecting trouble. The listening station "Outpost Zero" was presumed abandoned, and was thus easy pickings for a quick raid. The Rebels hoped to scavenge any equipment they could get their hands on- particularly sensitive long-range sensor equipment which would help alert them to the approach of any Imperial task forces. When the fleet dropped from hyperspace, they were not expecting what they saw through the asteroid fields and debris from long-ago battles: A Victory Star Destroyer. Was it a random patrol? Were they detected on approach? Was it a trap? General Dodonna gave a concise, bold order: "Attack!"

We used the fleet featured here for this game, since we only have one core set... for now.

Hoping to catch the Star Destroyer flat-footed, Dodonna positioned the strike-force such that some debris and asteroids were between them and the Star Destroyer to screen their attack.

 The Redemption accelerates to attack speed, hoping to flank the Star Destroyer.

A screen of TIE fighters led by Howlrunner screens the Star Destroyer. Grand Moff Tarkin himself is aboard, and orders the ship to plot a course to the station, despite the asteroid field directly ahead!

Red Squadron, led by Luke Skywalker zips past the Station, and locks S-Foils in attack position.

"Fighters, coming in!" TIEs get into a furball with the X-Wings, but Luke and his group are able to break free, readying Proton Torpedoes for the Star Destroyer.

The Decimator commands the Station, earning multiple Victory Points for doing so, at the cost of predictable movement. Dodonna's Pride and Luke Skywalker both tear into the ship, punching through the deflector shields and inflicting heavy wounds on the Dominator!

The rest of Red Squadron with some assistance from the Redemption's excellent fighter-defense gunners KO Howlrunner and another TIE squadron. The Rebel ships pound the Star Destroyer...

"Abandon Ship!" Suddenly the Dominator unleashes hell- despite the obstructed shot from the Station, Tarkin redirects power from the shields. "Intesify forward firepower!" Dodonna's pride suffers crippling hit after crippling hit. Leia Organa, Dodonna, and many others are forced to abandon ship!
As the game approaches turn 6, the situation is dire! The Imperials are way ahead with multiple victory tokens, and the kill of "Dodonna's Pride" to their name. But the Victory II is suffering from heavy damage, and the last of her TIE screens have been eliminated, leaving the X-Wings to focus on the ailing vessel.

The Nebulon B crosses to the rear, where the shields are weak- in a volley of turbolasers and proton torpedoes, the ship begins to list heavily to the side...

But the Star Destroyer does not go down easily- all hands focus on repair operations to keep the vessel from breaking apart. The game is very nearly over!
The Nebulon B plows into some debris, taking tremendous damage, but continues to pummel the Star Destroyer.
Finally, flashes beneath the hull plating of the Star Destroyer betray her internal condition. As she breaks apart- barely missing the Station, an Imperial Shuttle slips into the asteroids and gets away. The Rebel fleet allows a momentary celebration- the victory was minor, but complete.

After recovering the survivors, and what materials they could from the station and the wreckages of the Decimator and Dodonna's Pride, the Rebel strike force regroups and enters hyperspace en route to rejoin the main Rebel fleet.

Want to join the conversation? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!
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It's Still Fun to Me!

By "Dirty" Jon Baber

I was reflecting on the last year or so in Flames of War gaming, and more and more talk feels like it is sliding toward the negative.  This is a shame, as we are generally trying to keep it positive here in WWPD Land.  Recognizing this, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect back on all the cool things that I still like about my involvement in this hobby.

All My Friends

The best thing is hanging out with (in person or virtually) all the great friends I have made.  The only person in the FoW scene I knew before playing this game was Luke.  I won't even try to list all the cool folks I have met, but it is a TON.  I now have a whole new group of people all around the world that I could grab lunch and a beer with.  These folks have also gotten me in to a load of other fun games and experiences.  Some stuff I got into because of these friends: BSG, LOTR LCG, Netrunner LCG, Eclipse, Saga, Bolt Action, Wings of War, X-Wing, Descent.  Come to think of it, that's a lot of money - is this a good thing?  Heh.

It is also super cool to head out to Historicon or GenCon and see people that we are familiar with.  We talk, we argue, we discuss, we learn.  All these years later, I am still meeting new folks and having fun with them.  I can definitely say that I have friends all over the world, and that is a very fine thing, indeed.

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Bolt Action - Review - German Veteran Grenadiers Squad from Warlord Games

I recently had a box of Metal Veteran Late War Germans arrive at my door courtesy of Warlord Games. The presentation of the box as always was eye catching with the description indicating that there were 10 metal miniatures within wielding the ever favourite STG44.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Behind Enemy Lines Episode 4

The Behind Enemy Lines team are back with all your gaming news delivered in their own special way! They even have a special guest!

Download the file here

Act 1 sees the guys going through n00b news, all the best tidbits they've gleaned from around the interwebs. Act 2 the guys talk about what's been happening at their local club with some short AAR action and a bit of fun. Act 3 is all about Kings of War, Mantic's fantasy battle system. Gameplay details, changes with the new version 2 rules hitting soon stuff!!! Take a listen!

Want to join the conversation? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Interview with Artist Anthony Devine

Today we continue our series of artist interviews with Anthony Devine, whose work has been featured prominently in several recent LotR: LCG quests. The Fog on the Barrow Downs quest, in particular, has drawn praise from my player circle. 


In addition to his work on LotR projects, Anthony has also been conscripted into FFG's burgeoning Star Wars endeavors. He was gracious enough to answer a few basic questions that give some insight into the world of professional artistry.

What was your earliest introduction to Middle Earth? 

The films actually! I was more of a sci-fi nut growing up. I had heard about LOTR before the films came out, but only through what some of my friends had mentioned about the books. FFG doesn't have copyright permission to use New Line Cinemas 'version' of middle earth, so I need to use the books to reference when I'm painting. Irony!

Do you have a favorite character or setting from Middle Earth? 

Sean Bean ;)

And what's not to love?

How did you come to work on FFG's games? Was there an application/audition process?

No - I just emailed my portfolio at the time, which was only 4 or 5 pieces strong to [ed: redacted to keep this person from having their inbox flooded].  I got some work around 4 months later.

Do you play any of the games that you work on?

FFG keeps me busy painting artwork for their games which doesn't give me much time to play them, unfortunately.  

What other games do you work on for FFG besides LotR? Are there any games of theirs that you'd like to do some work for?

I've worked on pretty much all of their Star Wars titles which has been great fun.  Their IG-2000 Expansion Pack for X-Wing: Miniatures, was just released which I worked on for both the cover art and majority of card art inside!  That was a blast!  Call of Cthulhu has been a great game to work on.  I love doing all the research that's required for the game as it's set in 1920's America.  I would love to work on their Warhammer 40k series eventually (ed: I'd love that as well!).  

What is your preferred medium for your art?

Primarily, I'm a Digital Artist & Illustrator, but I wouldn't say that it's my preferred medium. It's just what I understand more so at this moment in time, particularly with the type of work I'm being commissioned for. I still very much begin all of my work as little thumbnail scribbles on paper before taking them into photoshop. As a hobby, at least for the moment anyway, I've just started teaching myself how to oil paint. So who knows, maybe in the not so distant future I'll be mostly painting with oils.

Did you study art in any organized way? Or are you mostly self-taught?

No, I'm completely self taught. I did study Graphic Design at college for 2 years & became fairly good at it, enough so to be offered full time employment as a Graphic Designer at a studio before graduating, but designing labels, logo-types & creating magazine layouts for a living all day just didn't appeal to me in the end.  

Eventually, after about 6 months of being nothing and doing nothing, I decided to teach myself Art Foundation. I used my timetable from college and timetables found online from other art colleges as models on how to arrange and prioritize my time and what kind of "classes" to teach myself. I spent a solid year building up my foundation skills before moving on to paint and experiment with my own stuff.

Can you take us through your personal process; from concept to finished product? 

Everything begins by reading the brief and checking to see if there's any template that I need to use which determines the format of the painting. From there I'll do some quick black & white thumbnails to generate possible solutions for my painting. I'll choose a couple of thumbnails to take into sketch phase and will also begin looking at reference material. I like to make my sketches look quite solid nowadays so that there's no guess work during the final detail pass. Once I get feedback from my Art Director on what sketch to follow through with, it's just a simple case of detailing everything now and making it look complete!

Any advice for artists who want a career like yours?

Leave 'Talent' behind! It's only a word that people use to describe you after the fact and not before you've become good at something. You don't become good at what you're learning because of some mystical "gift"! You become good at something simply because you've repeated and practiced it more times than you can count, not to mention the amount of times you've failed trying. That's how we grow as humans and that's how you can become good at anything really. Of course, it does help to have an active interest in that some thing or things!

Where can we view more of your work?

You can find more of my work or simply drop by to say 'Hi' at

Big thanks to Anthony for taking the time to answer our questions!

Want to join the conversation? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!
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Treasure Trove - The Combined Arms Research Library (CARL)

If you are REALLY in to World War Two military history, there is a lot of information on the web.  One of the best places for free, primary source information is the Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) hosted by the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  This institution hosts a huge volume of information that is vital to training up the next generation of US Army staff officers.  It really is amazing that this material is offered free of charge to the general public, and you should take advantage of it.

The Digital Library is where you want to be for your WWII fix.  If you visit often, pay attention to the Recent Additions section to the right of the page - this will show the latest scanned documents that have been entered into the collection.

When searching, you will be searching through the scanned PDFs in the collection.  My experience is that you have to be fairly specific in your search, and rarely get what you want back by putting in one word.  If your specific search isn't found, go WAY general - like "3rd Infantry Division" - and just page through the results.  The search is very fiddly, but it is worth browsing until you find what you want.

I have used CARL's digital library many times when researching articles, scenario games and just for fun.  I will warn you - you can lose hours of time browsing the catalog.  Below, I will list some of my favorite things in CARL.

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Bolt Action - Bolt Action Radio Episode 34

In Bolt Action Radio episode 34, David (UberGruber) joins Judson for the first segment, this time lending voice to walls of text they would normally otherwise post on the forum. David has some format questions, and the two bat current Bolt Action events back and forth from across the Atlantic. Following this, Dano and Judson sidle up to The BAR to review their experiences at Cold Wars 2015 and toss around their usual shop talk. Mentioned in the episode is (thanks again for the huge tournament support) and several other notables! Pull up a stool and have a shop talk with the boys in episode 34!

If you would like the  direct link to this episode... You can find it here.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bolt Action - French Armoured Carriers

I've recently added some armoured transports to my French Foreign Legion platoon. The Berliet VUDB carriers were manufactured in the 1930's by France to help police it's North African Colonies, with a limited number fighting in the Second World War. Today they are manufactured by by Mad Bob miniatures in 1:56 scale resin. I'll give you a review of the kit as well as a step by step painting guide.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LOTR LCG - Resource Smoothing: Heroes, Attachments, Allies, and Events!

By Grant "pfcamygrant" Ellis

Resource smoothing is the technique used to pay for events, allies, and attachments beyond the native sphere of a hero. A prime example of this is  Bifur, a Dwarf hero right out of Khazad-Dum with an innate ability to once per round add a resource to his pool as long as a hero is willing to give him one. With respect to the lore, many of the artifacts and items of legends were of great importance; they were held and passed from the greatest and valiant inhabitants of Middle-Earth and while seem may be less than impressed with their overall effects, we must remember that this is a game that comes down to a single phase; the value of a single resource is great. Thus the ability to add a sphere of influence is seen as rare and great. Likewise, fortuitous events that occur can turn the tide of a battle.

 If you are going to sacrifice a Hero slot to a character that can smooth resources, either innately or through Attachment effects, you have options. We have mentioned Bifur and his ability to add one resource to his pool. The Lore-sphere hero Elrond is capable of paying for allies of any sphere, and when his ring of power, Vilya, attaches to him he gains the Spirit Resource icon (and the ability to pay for cards at no cost when triggering the card effect). Likewise, Galadriel gains the Lore resource icon when her ring, Nenya, attaches to her. Aragorn (who comes in Leadership, Lore, Tactics, and Fellowship spheres) gains spheres through artifacts that pertain to him, such as the Ring of Barahir, Celebrian’s Stone, and The Sword That Was Broken. As an outlier, the Neutral Hero Gandalf can pay for the card on top of the deck (which he constantly has the ability to scry and manipulate through the use of his pipe) as if he has the icon of any sphere.  Some of the cons when using heroes in conjunction with unique attachments is the reliance on drawing the cards that enable the smoothing to occur.

Outside of the artifact attachments, other Attachment cards that provide resource smoothing are the Neutral-sphere Songs that can add an additional sphere to a hero character, useful in tri-sphere or to even out the odds of being able to pay for a particular card. Sometimes these cards can help ease the stress of a tri-sphere group of Noldor elves or pay for additional dwarf allies that Dain can give bonuses to. Additionally, heroes that bear the Dwarf-trait can utilize the Leadership attachment Narvi’s Belt and pay for cards of any sphere during the phase in which the effect is triggered.

As we look to the Ally cards, the previously mentioned Errand-Rider is a bargain at 1 resource cost and two hit points, with the ability to smooth resources. Within the Leadership Sphere, we also see the 2-cost Pelargir Ship Captain smooth resources upon entering play, while contributing modest Willpower, Questing, and HP to the party. A Neutral Ally, the Envoy of Pelargir, can add a resource (effectively accelerating) the resource pool of a Gondor or Noble hero. In multiplayer games, the Blue Mountain Trader can be sent to another player should the player elect to move a resource to the pool of a hero you control.

A pair of zero cost event cards also help smooth resources during a game, Parting Gifts can be utilized to move resources from a Leadership hero to any other hero’s pool. The Neutral card A Good Harvest can be used to allow any resources to pay for cards of a named sphere during a phase.

Over the course of this article we have examined many different ways to smooth resources, whether it is through Unique Attachments that add a resource icon to a character, a low-cost Ally, or a neutral Event that lasts for the duration of a phase. We can conclude through examining the cards that the bulk pertain to the Leadership-sphere. How does this work practically in a deck?

This week I assembled a deck that emphasized Resource Smoothing, making use of Elrond’s ability to pay for Allies of any sphere or at no cost through his ring, unique attachments that mention Aragorn by name, and the resource smoothing Dwarf Bifur.

Check out this Resource Smoothing Deck on CardGameDB

Hero: (3)
Aragorn (Core Set)
Bifur (Khazad-dum)
Elrond (Shadow and Flame)

Starting Threat: 32

Ally: (20)
3x Arwen Undomiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Errand-rider (Heirs of Numenor)
2x Faramir (Core Set)
2x Henamarth Riversong (Core Set)
2x Erebor Hammersmith (Core Set)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)
2x Descendant of Thorondor (The Hills of Emyn Muil)

Attachment: (17)
3x Sword that was Broken (The Watcher in the Water)
2x Ring of Barahir (The Steward's Fear)
3x A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock)
2x Narvi's Belt (Khazad-dum)
3x Vilya (Shadow and Flame)
2x Celebrian's Stone (Core Set)
2x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event: (13)
2x A Good Harvest (The Steward's Fear)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elrond's Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Gaining Strength (The Steward's Fear)
2x Hasty Stroke (Core Set)

Want to join the conversation? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!
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