Saturday, December 26, 2009

Musings on Mother-in-law and the Eastern Front.... I was scheduled to take my Mother in law back home after her Christmas visit.  She lives around 200 miles away.   I was going to drop her off while my wife whipped the house into shape after yesterday's Christmas celebration.   One small problem....

We were on the road early....and I mean EARLY (4:45 AM).  I figured I'd be back home, 400 miles later, by around 11:30 AM or so.

But nooooooooo.....

The incompetent Denver weather forecasters neglected to mention a massive winter storm ravaging the eastern plains of Colorado.  We hit snow within the first 10 miles leaving home.  No problem, I thought - we'll drive out of it.

After averaging 50 miles an hour for the first hour or so (exceedingly slow for this drive - I usually average somewhere around 75 mph) through light snow in the dark.   Before you wonder if I'm a madman...I've literally driven this particular road (all 200 miles) a couple of hundred times.  I know it so well that I can tell you when a rancher has added livestock or when farmers are planting....

Soooo.   I get to Wiggins Colorado...and notice a sign that says "US34 closed at Otis".  What?  That can't be!  The blowtorch of the Rocky Mountains, KOA 850 AM has only mentioned a highway closure at a small town around 100 miles south of my destination and never mentioned any other highway closures....surely the sign hadn't been updated???

We forged on.   Still dark.  Wind started to howl.  Snow started to come down.   Took 30 minutes to go 10 miles.  Stopped for a few while the wind let up, decided to go for it and make the last 90 miles or so.  Surely US34 at Otis wasn't closed? 

By this time it was light out.  This is where the Eastern Front reference comes in.  Remember all those Eastern Front shots in "World at War" where the camera man captured snow blowing, sifting and drifting across the plains?  Well, eastern Colorado bears a distinct resemblance to the steppes of Mother Russia. 

While light, that doesn't imply visibility.  Made it to Akron...visibility down to around 100 yards.   Still kept pressing on....visibility down to around 2 car lengths when we made it to Otis.

Did I mention I have a 4WD?



That means - the road is blocked, no passage allowed due to dangerous conditions.   Just wonderful.  By this time, I'd been driving for around 6 hours through increasingly deteriorating weather.  All that stood between me and returning my Mother in law home was around 50 miles of bad visibility highway.

While I love my Mother in law, she's been at our house for a week.   Only 50 miles!!!!!  I'd have driven through the snow drifts off road to get her home if they would have allowed it!!!

So.  That's my story.  Stopped at Otis, Colorado.  Turned around and came home.   I get to be on the road at 4:45 AM tomorrow and do it all over again.  The Broncos play at 2 PM tomorrow.   I'm getting her home NO MATTER WHAT.

Hitler's Panzers couldn't make it to Moscow.   I couldn't make it past Otis.  I'm not planning on doing any winter snow scenery for my wargames.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Quick Post

First of all - Merry Christmas to everyone!

I haven't had a chance to post as often as I'd like in December.  It always seems that a variety of family events takes up the month before you know what happened.

I've been working away on Austrian Napoleonics.  I'll post some individual unit shots over the next few posts.  For now - here's a shot of a just completed Hungarian infantry battalion still on their painting nails.  I super glue each figure onto a 10d nail, and then use the nail to hold and spin the figure as I paint it.  Nothing new, I'm sure.  The figure/nail holders are just 2x4 segments drilled out to hold the nails.

Up next on the painting list is an Austrian grenadier battalion.  After that?  Probably a Jaeger battalion, and then artillery and some officers.  For some reason, I always seem to do cavalry last.  I'm not sure why - I enjoy painting cavalry.  Maybe I just get psyched out by the perceived additional time to complete the unit.  As my cavalry units are 8 figures vs. 12 foot figure units, I'm not sure the total elapsed time is any different for painting the different unit types. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Raiders? The Raiders????

Broncos lose to the Raiders 20-19.

Really?   Is this some alternate universe?  Lose to the Raiders?  With the 3rd string QB?  With Tom Cable as head coach?  The Raiders? 

This was one tremendously frustrating game to watch.  I can't fault the Broncos players for lack of effort.  They seemed to be "into" the game.

I can't recall a more conservative, mundane game plan on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball for the Broncos...ever.  The Broncos' "braintrust" can't seem to figure out how to score if they get inside the 5 yard line...nor can they ever get creative enough to get a first down on 3rd and 1.  The decision to play LaMont Jordan as the 2nd RB is truly baffling....this guy hasn't done anything to be on the team, let alone get playing time.  Defensively, the coaches seemed content to play soft and not pressure the QB....why?  WHY?  You've got a 3rd string stiff QB that automatically rolled to his right in a panic anytime things went bad, and a fat JaMarcus Russell in the 4th quarter that totally falls apart when under pressure.  So naturally, the defensive calls featured lots of 3 and 4 man rushes.  WHAT???   Sometimes I wonder what coaches look at when they make game plans and calls in game. 

The most discouraging thing is that this isn't a loss due to player motivation, or being overmatched in a position or two.  This is a loss that goes squarely on the coaching staff...and a leopard isn't going to change its spots.  "They are who we thought the were" in the words of the immortal Dennis Green.  I'm afraid that this overly conservative, unimaginative mess that the Broncos now are is really who they are, and who they will be...with this coaching staff.  Pretty sad.

This year's team is 8-6.  Last year's team was 8-6 at this point.  Last year's team lost the last 2 and Coach Shanahan got fired.   3 years from now Josh McDaniels will have been fired, and Mike Shanahan will be coaching the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl.

I hate the Raiders.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Stug from Hell...and Other Things

John Mumby had mentioned "The Stug from Hell" in his comment to my previous blog post.  Surely such a nickname requires further explanation?

And there it is (above)....the "Stug from Hell".  This valiant vehicle received that nickname during an early playtest of a squad level WW2 game using FoB mechanics.  During the game, this Stug destroyed all the US armor on the table, moved from one end of the table to the other, destroyed US infantry units, destroyed some Greyhound armored cars...took some hits...shrugged them off...the US players commented that they couldn't "kill the Stug from Hell".   And now you know.....the rest of the story.

I need to get back to that squad level game.  It was a fun game, but I put it on the backburner to write FoBWW2.  If I worked on that game before doing FoBAncients, I'd probably get lynched.

I'm currently working away on my Austrian Napoleonic army.  I'll post some pictures as it nears completion.  In the meantime, here's a variety of different things....

German Regimental Command Stand

SS Infantry Battalion Command Stand

Work In Progress!  WW1 Russian Infantry Battalion

The Broncos play the Raiders this Sunday.  The Raiders are a shadow of their once proud organization...but I still hate 'em.  I hope the Broncos hang a whippin' on 'em.   Talk about dysfunctional - the Raiders have the first pick in the draft a couple of years ago and pick JaMarcus Russell for their QB of the future.  What a total bust.  He's now 3rd string and Charlie Frye (WHO???) is starting against the Broncos.  Blowing a pick like that and getting saddled with the #1 pick salary in a capped sport is the quick way to a decade of incompetence.   Way to go Raiders!  

Monday, December 7, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different....

Well, after a 4 game losing streak, the Denver Broncos have righted the ship and are now 8-4.  The undefeated Colts are next.  Surely a Bronco can beat a Colt???

On a somewhat related note, my wife and I were having dinner at a local restaraunt last Friday night.  An older couple was seated next to us - I didn't really pay attention.  I looked over later and was surprised to see that it was Red Miller - the Denver Broncos head coach when they went to their first Super Bowl after the 1977 season.  Very cool!

I'm currently painting Napoleonic Austrians, with a Hungarian infantry battalion underway.  I thought I'd switch it up a bit with some photos of some of my WWII stuff I use for FoB:  WW2.  Just armor and AT Gun this time...

Panther  (1/60th Scale WestWind)

M10 Tank Destroyer (WestWind 1/60th)

Sherman (WW 1/60th)

German PaK 40 (WestWind)

How about some feedback?  I haven't put stars/crosses on my tanks...part is because I don't have a 1/60 source of decals, part is because most photos I've seen show that tankers didn't really want easily observed markings on their tanks (nice aiming points!).  Any opinion out there?  To mark or leave unmarked??

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Battle of Wartenburg Part 3

Prussians start to pour across the river and over the bridge

French General looks on

Prussians clear the berm and close on the French

French battery valiantly defends the berm.  This lone battery was a thorn in the Prussian's side throughout the battle. 

The mess on the Prussian left flank...Bavarian cavalry routing, Bavarian infantry falling back, Prussian infantry facing the flank instead of advancing on the main French line...a total bogging of the Prussian assault


The French line stabilizes and the Prussian attack stalls

The French line steadies and finishes off any hope for the Prussians

The French won the battle - the Prussians suffered enough losses to run out of AMPs and failed their first Army Morale test by a significant amount.  All in all, a very intriguing many games have seen a Napoleonic army assault through a swamp!  Great game, great figures, great group.  

Monday, November 16, 2009

Battle of Wartenburg 1813 - More!

The battle of Wartenburg continues...

A mass of Prussians slog through the marsh in the center

The Prussians march across the marsh, toward the river and the Italians sheltering behind the flank of the berm.

Bavarians move toward the left flank of the Prussian assault through the marsh

Closeup of the Prussians...Beautiful!

Bavarian cavalry thunders into the flank of the Prussian assault!

The Prussian infantry defeats the Bavarian cavalry in the initial melee, faces the cavalry and routs them!  Note the 2 Bavarian infantry battalions pitching into the Prussian left flank.

The Italian Guard! (moved up from reserve to fill the gap at the open flank of the berm)

French (Italians?) move forward under inspiring leadership to blunt the Prussian assault.  Errr...wait a minute - that French (Italian?) unit has 3 UI loss!  This looks grim...

More to follow in a subsequent post.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Battle of Wartenburg 1813

Our game Saturday night featured a scenario of the Battle of Wartenburg 1813 - scenario details provided by Greg C and Eric.  The historical action had Yorck's 1st Prussian Corps defeating Bertrand's IV Corps composed of a mix of French, Italian, and Wurttemberg  troops.  I won't go into detail of the actual battle...check out "Napoleon at Leipzig", page 50+, by George Nafziger.  Or...Google it.

Rather than give a blow by blow account, I'll post a series of photos from the game.  As there are a lot of photos, I'll post over more than one posting.

The battlefield.  The French are deployed behind a berm, marked by the line of trees to the left of the river at the top of the photo.  The "Wurttemberg" contingent has been replaced by Bavarians in our game - they're deployed beind the river at the bottom right of the photo.  The Prussians arrive on the right of the table...with the bulk of the middle of their area filled with Class III marsh.   Slosh, slosh, slosh.

The French command "brain trust".  Don't they look confident?  From left to right - John, Greg R, Greg C.

The Prussians...looking very serious.  From left to right - Terry, Greg S, Eric, Chris.

Bavarians deployed in village on Prussian left flank.  Is that smoke?  Yes!  The Bavarian artillery makes a nuisance of itself, distracting the Prussians.

The remainder of the Bavarian regiments poised menacingly in reserve.

French on the left flank look up on the top of the berm in horror as the French advance much faster than anticipated.  Can the Prussians crack the French left and unhinge the line?

French infantry confront the dark Prussian horde.

More in the next post....

Prussians were provided by Eric; French by Greg C; the Bavarians were mine, painted by Eric.

Broncos lose to Redskins.  For those who thought that Kyle "Ocho" Orton shouldn't be starting as Broncos QB...the pathetic, paniced, incompetent display by backup Simms in the 2nd half (after Orton injured his ankle) should stop any call for Simms to be the starter.  I think the Broncos would easily have won that game with Orton playing the entire game...but with Simms?  Pleeeeeeze.  That guy is a S-T-I-F-F.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bavarian Napoleonics

We're playing a Napoleonic game tomorrow night.  I think it will be the debut of my Bavarians, painted by Eric Miller.  Its been a busy week getting them based and the flags done.   Here's the lot of them:

Command Group Officer

The first battalion in the first regiment.  Eric hand painted the flag.  Insane!

The 2nd battalion of the 1st regiment.  Being goofy, and not insane, I modified a flag downloaded from

The artillery....

I'll post the other 2 infantry battalions and the cavalry in a post to follow later.   I love Eric's style.  I also have a "lot" of Macedonians and Greeks that he painted that are working their way into my FoB Ancients armies.

I'll post details and photos of our Saturday night game ....really looking forward to a nice Napoleonic bash.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

That's So Base

My basing method isn't unique, but I thought I'd post a few "how to" photos of a Napoleonic Austrian infantry battalion I'm finishing.  First step is to thin some yellow glue and paint the base and figure bases, and then dip into a plastic shoebox filled with coarse sand and ballast.

The bases are then painted with thinned brown paint.  I use Americana Dark Chocolate.  The key is to thin the paint enough that it flows into the ballast/sand mixture without having to paint every tiny bit.  The result is even coverage with a minimum of work/time.

After the brown dries, the next step is a quick drybrush of Americana Mississippi Mud (above).

Next step (above) is a lighter drybrush of the next lighter earth shade, in this case for me - Americana Driftwood.

Next step (above) is to thin some black paint and "blob" it onto rocks and coarser rough areas that I want to highlight in a grayish stone color.  This isn't too precise...just blob black where it looks like you'll want the gray highlights.

Then a drybrush of dark gray onto the black areas - in this case Ceramcoat Hippo Gray.

Followed by a final gray highlight of Apple Barrel Dolphin Gray.

The base colors are now done, and all that remains is to add some vegetation texture.

While I'm sure that there are plenty of commercial products to use for grass clumps, I use my old stand by of cutting short sections of jute twine (packaging string, essentially) and gluing it to the stands.  I use 2 or 3 clumps per stand.  Just put a blob of yellow glue on the stand where you want the tall grass and then stick the jute into the blob.  Then just splay out the ends to make it look more like a grass clump...I just use the back end of an old paint brush to press against the jute clump.

The above photo shows the stands with all steps complete except for the final application and highlight of dark green static grass.  I just use a small plastic sculpting spatula and smear yellow glue where I want the green grass to appear.

Once the glue has dried, I brush the static grass areas briskly with a small stippling brush to "wake up" the static grass fibers and dislodge the loose fragments.  I then finish off the static grass areas with a drybrush of yellow to highlight and give a bit more texture.  Another photo below for a further example....

And that's it!  It's pretty easy to do, and it adds a lot more texture than a simple flock will.  The colors are my personal choice; you can select any combination that fits your terrain better.

Friday, November 6, 2009

That Takes a Lot of Gaul

Its been a busy week at work, so I've been unable to do any blogging.  I thought I'd post some photos of my Gaul units for FoB Ancients.  The figures are all Old Glory

That's all the FoBA for now.  I'm currently basing up several Bavarian Napoleonic units that I purchased from a brilliant painter in our group, Eric Miller.  I'll post photos after they're all based to match my collection.  They'll get their battle initiation next Saturday in a Napoleonic bash on my table.