Friday, Friday, Gotta Get Down On Friday

It is Friday morning here in NZ and as usual there are a few odd jobs that need to be taken care of before we get fully in to the swing of the launch. The guys have been busy though…

  • Mike continues to live the StuG life, making good progress. He may have been heard mentioning that assembly lining 10 of them was taking a toll on his sanity,
  • Phil is chipping away at his T-34 turrets,
  • Andrew has gotten distracted by something shiny,
  • Chris has started his pin washing (in between trying to cough up a lung),
  • Victor is experimenting some some seriously high contrast highlighting, and
  • Evan quickly spray can painted some buildings for our Sniper game.

Almost time for lunch…

~Chris

M3 Lees with Yellow Stars?

with Chris Townley

As I mentioned in a previous article I don’t have much to do for my Soviets under Enemy at the Gates so I’ve chosen to use the Live Launch as an opportunity to chip away at my M3 Lee Tank Company from Fighting First.Like a number of my colleagues I was quite taken with the US forces in Fighting First and there is something appealing about applying a large number of yellow decals to a tank. I am sure Soviet players get the same feeling when adding big red stars to their tanks.

My army is completely painted, excluding detail work like stowage, tools, wheels and vehicle interiors – so using the term completely is probably a little misleading? Over the launch I’m working in finishing up the decals – each Lee has something like eight different decals that need to be carefully attached. Next up is tools and stowage. I can never be sure how much I’ll actually achieve during one of our Live Launches as I seem to spend more time behind a computer screen than behind a paint brush.

I am really excited to get the army finished and on the table. It has been spending too much time sitting in limbo slowly being painted rather than running around the table shooting up Panzer IIIs (or whatever else my friends choose to throw at me).

~Chris

Tanks at the Door (Part 1)

with Phil Yates

(or, Phil talks about his On Again, Off Again Relationship with the Red Army’s Tanks)

One of the great things about Enemy of the Gates is that it’s finally given me the impetus to finish a tank force for the Red Army!

Long Long Ago…
My first Soviet tanks were five Valentines – the original sculpt from very long ago. I don’t recall the reason for painting them (it might have been a game against Pete using Battlefront’s infantry to bulk out the force), but for a long time they remained my only Soviet tanks, in fact my only Soviet forces at all.

Then, about five years ago, I built a bunch of the brand new plastic T-34 tanks in a big rush for a Kursk campaign at CanCon – during which I seem to recall I lost an entire tank brigade’s worth of tanks!

This was never really a complete force, as I borrowed bits and pieces to make up the numbers whenever I used them.

A New Beginning
With the arrival of Enemy at the Gates, it was time to finally commit to the Red Army and the liberation of the Motherland from the hated Fascists! I’ve always had a fascination with the odd mixed tank brigades that formed the Soviet Union’s tank forces in the darkest days of 1942. Each battalion combined KV heavy tanks with T-34 medium tanks and T-60 or Valentine light tanks in an attempt to simplify the assignment of tanks as the Red Army relearned how to conduct sophisticated operations after the disasters that had destroyed the pre-war army in 1941. With every battalion essentially the same, there was no need to decide what type of tank should go where!

KV-1
The new KV-1 kit made that part of the force and easy decision – this just so big and ugly, I had to have as many as possible! While personally, I have a preference for the later, sleeker, and faster KV-1s, I decided to make mine the earlier KV-1 themed for the fighting around Rzhev. 

The KV-1 has plenty of armour and a deadly 76mm gun, so it’s a bit of a beast. My only concern is that they are so slow that they need to keep rolling forward as fast as possible if they are going to get anywhere, and even then, they will be out-paced by my light and medium tanks, making coordination tricky.

When Red Banner (the Kursk-era Soviet book) comes out, I think I’ll make some KV-1s as an alternative choice to my KV-1s for a later version of the force (I don’t need many, and they are an easy kit to put together and paint, so it won’t be any drama). The KV-1s is much faster (it’s speedier than the German Panzer III or the American Sherman!), but still has thick armour and the same 76mm gun, with improved layout giving it a better Cross rating and more accurate shooting on the move.

T-34
Since the early T-34 differs from the later ones I already have, I just painted the turrets of the new ones to go with my existing hulls to get my force into action quickly. Once everything else is done, I’ll paint up the hulls as well to double the size of the T-34 force!

I really like the T-34. It looks sleek and fast, and it is. It has the same 76mm gun as the KV-1, and almost as much armour as the KV-1s. This combination gives it plenty of options. Against light tanks (up to and including the short-barrelled Panzer III!), they can shrug off the enemy shooting while sitting in an advantageous position and blowing them away. Against heavier opposition, they can use their speed to overwhelm a part of the enemy force, flanking them if necessary to punch through their thinner side armour!

T-60
The final part of my force was planned to be the T-60 light tanks. These are an amazing piece of engineering. They are the size of a British Universal Carrier, and like them are powered by a truck engine (based on the famous Ford Model A!). Unlike the open-topped Universal Carrier, they are a proper tank with a turret mounting a 20mm gun and co-axial machine-gun, and for something so small, quite decent armour.

The role I have in mind for the T-60 is similar to how I use my Universal Carriers with my British. They’ll probe where the enemy is weak, either drawing enemy forces away from the main battle, or potentially taking an objective and winning the game!

Help! I Can’t Stop!
At this point, I should have moved on to painting my force, but the new Valentine models are so great that I just had to replace my old Valentines as well to give me more options.

The first tank I ever saw and climbed inside was a Valentine, and I’ve always had a soft spot for them. NZ had 255 Valentines, and used them to equip its Territorial armoured regiments until 1960, as well as using them in the Pacific during WWII, so there’s a connection there too.

With the Valentines, I can either replace any other the other types. While the idea of replacing the T-34s to create a mix of KV-1 heavy tanks and lots of light tanks is popular, it doesn’t appeal to me as I view the T-34 as the mainstay of my force. Replacing the T-60s with Valentines is a better idea, but the increased cost means that I have to reduce the number of heavy and medium tanks to do this. The trade off is good in some ways, as the Valentines can stand up to a lot more punishment (their armour is thicker than a T-34!), but it changes their role as they have to achieve more to justify their points.

My personal preference is to replace the KV-1s with the Valentines. This gives me more tanks and frees up some points for a bit of support.

Stay tuned for part two….

~Phil

From Ostfront With Love!

with Casey Davies

One of the lists that I loved from Ostfront (that was the old Eastern Front Compilation from V2 ~editor), but never got around to making, was the Mixed Tankovy Battalion. The main reason I never built the list was that I was always too busy painting infantry. Since I don’t need to paint any infantry for this release, this is definately an army that I’m going to collect and add to my painting queue.

This formation gives you a way of fielding a little bit of everything, which is how I like to field tank armies. It helps that all of the tanks in the army are tough as nails as well. Its an unusual formation, in that it doesn’t have a Battalion HQ, however what it does have are some of the toughest tanks in the game.

KV-1 Tank Company
5x KV-1 tanks 40 points
Running total 40 points
The KV-1 is one of the toughest heavy tanks in Mid-War. With front armour 9 it is almost immune to all but the heaviest dedicated anti-tank guns. This comes at the cost of some speed, as its also one of the slowest tanks as well.
The other option is the KV-1s, which gives up some armour to gain a bit more speed, making it a heavily armoured medium tank, rather than a heavy tank. It also has a better designed turret, meaning that it shoots better on the move than the KV-1.

Either way you go, the KV is an assault monster. With top armour 2, an assault buff (due to its turret rear machine gun), and a good morale rating, this tank is going to roll over any infantry it comes up against. I’ve chosen to go with the KV-1 as I prefer armour over speed.

T-34 (early) Tank Company
7x T-34 tanks 37 points
Running total 77 points
The T-34 is the workhorse of the Soviet army. They have good mobility, motivation, and armour. The only drawback is that it has a two man turret, so has the overworked special rule, making its shooting less effective on the move. The plan for these tanks is to move them into position and blaze away with them.

Valentine Tank Company
7x Valentine tanks 17 points
Running total 94 points
The third option box has Valentines, Stuarts, and T-60s. While the T-60s might be the most common option historically, I’ve gone with the Valentines. The main reason I have gone with the Valentine over the T-60s or the Stuarts is the armour. Those tanks are cheaper, however, the lighter armoured vehicles just become a soft target for the weapons systems that can’t hurt the KV or T-34 tanks. It also means that the lowest armour in my force is the 5 side armour of the T-34s. I’ll be using the Valentines as dedicated assault tanks rather than as gun tanks. I’d actually like to take more than 7 Valentines, however the points are adding up quickly.

Hero SMG Company
7x SMG teams 6 points
1x Komissar team
Total 100 points
I like to include infantry in every army for flexibility. In this army their main purpose is to dig in on an objective to free the tanks up for attacking.

Like all paper lists, it will be interesting to see how the theory plays out on the table. I’d like to add some artillery or anti-tank guns, that would mean dropping one of the KV-1 tanks. The other thing to concider is missions with reserves. The easiest thin to do in this situation would be to have the KV tanks in reserve, at which point it may be better to replace them with the KV-1s tanks that will get into action faster once they arrive on the table.

Food for thought.

~Casey

Hauptmann Lonnie of the Panzer Korps

with Lonnie Mullins

I’ve always wanted to paint up a German army for WWII but never really got around to it until Iron Cross hit my desk.  I wanted something with a lot of units, not too many infantry, and the ability to kill off any Soviets that came my way.  Going through both Iron Cross and Enemy at the Gates, I gambled that in most 75 to 100-point games I probably wouldn’t run into too many KV tanks (larger games would make me rethink this) and I banked on my opponents showing up with loads of T-34 and/or Valentines, or hordes of infantry. So I decided to build my army around the Panzer III.

Units
My first unit consists of 1 up-armored company HQ (2 tanks) giving me the ability to at least penetrate both the Valentines and T-34s I was sure my opponents would field and even affect KV-1s tanks to a lesser degree.  KV-1 tanks were still a concern though.

For units 2 and 3 I went with mixed platoons of 4 short and 1 long up-armored tanks.  I figured I could use the Mistaken Target rule to keep my longs in the game as long as possible and my bulked up numbers (5 tanks in each platoon) ensures that I don’t go running off the board if a tank or three brew up.

My next unit is a sacrificial platoon of 4 Panzer II tanks.  While all but useless as an offensive element unless my opponent brings Stuarts, I figured they’d be good at screening, sucking up damage for a turn or two but, most importantly, giving me a spearhead and allow deeper deployment of my other units.

My fifth unit is a small (2-vehicle) platoon of light AA.  Honestly I don’t think that most opponents will take any aircraft in a 75 to 100-point game but one never knows.  But, having the ability to throw 3-dice each against light armor and infantry made them a must for me to have.

The sixth and last unit in my army is my Artillery Battery and Panzer II OP (I had to do something with that last Panzer II).  I chose the 10.5cm artillery for its range, firepower and ability to lay down a smoke screen.  In my past battles I’ve used smoke to great effect in keeping the enemy from engaging and keeping my own force alive.

Painting
Painting was dead easy.  After a black primer on everything, I did a quick (and thick) drybrush of Panzer grey over all of the vehicles.  Normally I keep my treads separate from the hulls of my plastic tanks for ease of painting and this was no exception.  A quick gunmetal drybrush did the trick and, after taking the masking tape off so I could glue the treads to the hulls, my Panzer III’s were ready for a light drybrush of dust to pick out the details even more.  My 12 Panzer III’s it took me just 2 hours to completely paint.  I spent another hour with the Panzer II’s and the AA with very pleasing results.

I’ve yet to start my artillery but I’ll give them a similar treatment while I’m on my 1-week holiday (between time with my son at the water park and visiting historical sites in Williamsburg).  I should be fully up and running by launch day.

Painting the Black Death

with Ed Sales

Hello all, and welcome to this article on how to paint Soviet Naval Infantry, also known as The Black Death.

With the Eastern Front Books approaching, I was approached by Brian Sullivan to paint an army for him. He really liked how the Black Death fought in area surrounding the Black Sea, and wanted to field a Strelkovy Company painted up as Naval Infantry. Some plastic Strelkovy were added to beef up the Naval Infantry’s numbers.

The Naval Infantry have a fairly basic uniform. It’s black with a white brim on their sailor caps. I started off color priming with the black from the Quartermaster Paint Set.

For the face and hands I used the European skin from the new Quartermaster paint set.

Next, I painted the weapons. I used Battlefield Brown for the wooden stocks and Dark Gun Metal for the rest.

I used Boot Brown for the belts and rifle slings.

Next I painted the white brim around the cap.

In this photo, you can see 2 Naval Infantry, and 2 Strelkovy painted as Naval Infantry. Apparently the Naval Infantry had a variety of different colored helmets, with Black, Dark Green, and Olive Green being used.

For the basing, Brian wanted an autumn basing since the color makes it stand out. Gale Force 9 Marsh Blend and Autumn Flocking were mixed to a 50/50 ratio, and I based the stand with that mixture.

And here is the end result. It really stands out from the normal sea of Brown that Strelkovy are usually painted. It’s also a different take on Russian Infantry, and being able to field them with a Command Card, only adds to the excitement of seeing them in Enemy at the Gates.~Ed

Fighting For Mother Russia! The Debrief

with Chris Potter

So now that I have fully completed painting my 100pt Mid-War Soviet force, I figured it was time to sit down and have a little look over what happened to me in my terrifying journey of hordes of infantry and tanks.

I say terrifying as I have never played Soviets before so had no idea what I was doing from the off. My thesis for building the army was ‘What looks cool? And how much cool can I take?’

Well a lot for my money it turns out…
I had to have T-34s as they epitomise Russian armies for me, especially in Mid-War. Before the big guns such as the KV1 really came into their own and the mobile assault guns became prevalent in the Late-War (Kursk) period, T-34s were the one trick Soviet battlegroups had up their sleeve. From the initial battles at the start of Operation Barbarossa when German commanders were shocked at the hitherto unseen T-34 and it’s revolutionary armour design, to the victory at Stalingrad the T-34 was there and fighting for the Motherland.

Initially I wanted as many as possible. LOTS and LOTS of tanks! Theoretically I could have taken 21 T-34s, although points wise this would have put me severely over the limit we were working toward. So regrettably, I had to reduce the amount, as also having just one formation with 2 platoons would have been fairly unworkable in a gaming sense. I still managed to fit 14 into my list however, split between the HQ and two companies, one of 6 tanks and one of 7 tanks.

At the start when we were building our lists, whilst looking at the support options and what was allowed as optional platoons in the T-34 list, I was planning on taking a full SMG company of 22 stands of infantry in true Soviet Horde fashion. Added to this was going to be x2 Flamethrower teams for maximum attack in assaults.

It was only after fixing together the first 9 stands that I realised the enormity of the task before me. I quite wisely chickened out and reduce my options to a Hero SMG platoon at 7 stands and a Kommissar stand. By using the command card to upgrade them to being a Soviet Naval Battalion, this gave them better stats as regards to motivation (with the Kommissar’s motivation secondary bonus not unlike the 6 million bayonets for Avanti forces).

By doing this, I managed to reduce my model count considerably which overall meant that I was able to speed up the painting process from a few months to a little under a week. Further, I now had 17 points to play with (after taking out the 4pts for the Naval Command Card) What perfect way to round out my list with more tanks? And rather than a third platoon of T-34s, I went for the ‘more bang for your buck’ Lend-Lease tanks in the form of a platoon of Valentines, 7 strong. Although slower than the T-34s after looking at the stats they can form a much better screen for my SMG troops who will be holding objectives and generally assaulting buildings and dug in infantry that the tanks haven’t managed to squash.

So although the list wasn’t quite as I earlier envisaged, I did manage to take a total of 21 tanks (yippee) as well as infantry, that although wont be game winning against certain other lists, is thematic and looks cool as they stream toward the enemy. AND with the Kursk books slated for release soon, all I have to do is add a few more cool tanks and a platoon or two and drop the valentines to have a (probably) game winning force in the future.

Plus for the first time in 2 years I have a fully painted army that I am proud of and is ready to take on the enemy in 100pt games (and could be reduced if needed for 80pt games if required).

Za Stalina to Enemy at the Gates

with Wayne Turner

Enemy at the Gates has arrived and I thought I’d have a go at making a force from models I’ve already painted from my previous spin on the mid-war Eastern Front roundabout.

Over the years I’d built up a reasonable collection of Soviet models I’ve used in various forces for mid-war. So having a look through them I thought I’d make a Mixed Tank Battalion (see page 19 of Enemy at the Gates).

The Mixed Tank Battalion does not have a Formation Commander, so it’s straight on to selecting my Formation’s Units. This unusual formation consists of three tank companies, each of a different type of tank. The first compulsory option (black) contains either a KV-1 Tank Company or a KV-1S Tank Company. I’ve gone with the KV-1 Tank Company because I prefer the higher armour of the older KV-1 model and feel I don’t require the extra speed offered by the KV-1S tank. Another reason to take the KV-1 is that I have a box of about 10 of them painted (don’t ask me why, I don’t want to talk about it). I can take 3-5 KV-1 heavy tanks. I’ve gone with 5x KV-1 for 40 points.

The second compulsory (black) choice is either a T-34 (early) Tank Company or a Valentine Tank Company. I’m not a fan of lend-lease stuff, I feel if you are going to do a Soviet force, take Soviet equipment. I’ll be going with the T-34s. The option is for 3-10 T-34 (76mm) tanks. I’ll go with 6x T-34 (76mm) for 31 points.

The Formation has three other unit boxes, all shaded grey as optional. One more tank option, an infantry option, and a mortar option. For the last tank option you can take either a Valentine Tank Company, a M3 Stuart Tank Company, or a T-60 Tank Company. I’m taking the T-60s because they are Soviet and I have all but one painted. I’ll take 7x T-60 for 6 points.
I will take one more formation unit. I’ve decided to go for the infantry option with a SMG Company. I’ll get the smaller option with 15x PPSh SMG Teams and 1x Komissar Team for 15 points. My last Unit will be from support. I’ll take a 122mm Artillery Battery with 4x 122mm howitzers for 8 points.My Expectations
With the only modelling require to field this force being to paint one T-60 to go with the six I already have I will get this on the table top quite quickly. I think the T-34s and KV-1s will prove pretty resilient against most forces. However, my key problem may be my lack of air defence and an observer. The Mixed Tank Battalion does not have a formation commander, so no one to spot for the artillery other than the artillery themselves. This is the reason I went with the 122mm howitzers rather than the Katyusha rocket launchers, as the howitzers are a bit less vulnerable to enemy direct fire. To observe their fire the howitzers will have to have direct line-of-sight to their targets, I just hope I can occupy the enemy enough with my infantry and tanks to allow the artillery to bombard uninterrupted. As for enemy aircraft, I’ll just have to hope they don’t turn up too often.

~Wayne

Eastern Front on the Flames Of War Website

with Chris Townley

Over the past few weeks it might seem like that we have been bombarding you on the Flames Of War website with a lot of Eastern Front content. In case you haven’t been able to keep up I thought I would put a quick summary up of the content thus far…

Stalingrad is our new Starter Set, designed to help new players get straight in to Flames Of War. It contains:

  • five tanks,
  • dice,
  • cardboard terrain,
  • a complete mini rulebook, and to really help new players get started,
  • an intro guide that will help people assemble their models and play their first few games.

Veteran Flames Of War players might think that a Starter or Intro Set isn’t really for them, but if you are coming back to Flames Of War after a break this might be a great way to get straight back into the action without having to read the whole rulebook before putting some models on the table.
Battle of Stalingrad: War on the Eastern Front…

Mike Haught (the author of Iron Cross) has put together his notes on what you can expect to find in the book. If you are looking for some in-depth information then this is a great place to start.
Iron Cross Spotlight…

Phil Yates (you guessed it, he wrote Enemy at the Gates) has shared his extensive thoughts on the book in this article.
Enemy at the Gates Spotlight…

Command Cards allow Flames Of War generals to field iconic warriors, build new types of units, field new types of equipment, enhance your commander’s capabilities, and bring new tactics and stratagems to the battlefield.

Reading through some of the staff army articles during the Live Launch you might have spotted a few of the guys mentioning Command Cards. Andrew has written a pair of preview articles (one for each pack) to help introduce you to Command Cards and show off a few specific ones.
Iron Cross Command Cards…
Enemy at the Gates Command Cards…

For a limited time only boxes of Unit Cards will be available for each Flames Of War Mid War book. The packs will contain one of each Unit Card that relates to their book. The packs have been designed to assist existing players that have already bought our miniatures and built their armies under previous editions and want cards to help transition to V4.

Enemy at the Gates and Iron Cross come with a complete new range of releases. From the new KV tank and Katyusha Rocket Launcher for the Soviets, to the Tiger tank and Nebelwerfer for the Germans, there is plenty of great new plastic models to get your hands on.

There is also some outstanding new terrain being added to the Battlefield in a Box range that will help you really capture the flavour of fighting on the Eastern Front.
Enemy at the Gates and Iron Cross Pre-orders…

Don’t forget to head down to your local gaming store this weekend to check out the new books in person…

~Chris

Casey’s Eastern Front Table

with Casey Davies

I’ve made a lot of terrain for Battlefront in my time here, but over the past 3-4 years I’ve been building a terrain table for myself as a slow burn project. Since a lot of my armies are Eastern Front themed I decided to make it represent the steppes of the Eastern Front.

I liked the idea of doing a winter table but didn’t want to make a completely white table, as it would make the table too specific, so decided to make it in a transition period, either autumn or early spring, so quite arid but with a scattering of snow.

As it so happens every year on the way to Panzerschreck we travel via the Central Plateau which is as close to the Russian steppes as we get in NZ, so I’ve been using that as an example. In the sample photos here there is no snow, however in previous years there has been a light scattering of snow that has collected in small drifts around the bases of the tall grasses. Originally, I was going to populate the hills and railways with more tufts and snow, but decided not too as a compromise to make it slightly easier to photograph and play on.

I wanted the hills to represent undulating terrain, rather than slab sided hills, so when I was designing them I started with quite large pieces of MDF, glued some polystyrene to it and then shaped it so that the highest point wasn’t much taller that a large tank. Since they are representing undulating terrain I also decided to build forests/woods onto the hills to make them more dynamic, and because I don’t think area terrain should only be one thing.

I want to add 50% more terrain, but most of that will just be enhancing pre-painted Battlefield in a Box Terrain, so it won’t take that long to finish it off. When the city mat comes out I’m going to get one and cut a section out of it to put under my buildings. I’m also going to paint up a third building to finish off the city corner. The other thing I’m going to do is flock up a whole lot of fields and fences to add in a bit more concealing terrain. Eventually I want to be able to make an 8’ x 4’ table.

Click on the images below for larger versions…

~Casey