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Panzer Day

Boy meets Panzer…

I finally got to use some of that Microarmor I’ve been working on the past few weeks, as we had our first game of Jim Day’s Panzer this weekend. I will do a full review of the rules once we’ve played a few games, but my first impression is quite favorable. The game has lots of chrome, but moves along at a decent clip, and both players are fully involved at every step of the game (which is SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT, YOU MINIATURES RULES WRITERS. Seriously).

I’ve complained in previous blog posts about slow moving, overly detailed games, but I really don’t mind a detailed game, if I feel like I’m being rewarded for engaging with the detail. Well, I felt rewarded! We didn’t use all of the advanced rules, and didn’t have any infantry, indirect fire, towed guns, or air support (can’t wait to paint a couple of Hurricanes or P40s up in a desert scheme!), so I certainly haven’t gotten the full broadside of Panzer goodness, yet. In the state we were playing the game, I’d say it’s about 80% of the complexity of the basic infantry portion of Squad Leader. Which is a very sweet spot for me, as long as my caveat about detail being rewarded is applied.

As stated above, I’ll do a full review at a later date, but I feel like I should give a little background on the rules. Panzer was originally developed as a miniatures game, but was published in 1978 as a hex and counter board game set on the East Front, because the publishers (Yaquinto) weren’t complete idiots, and wanted to make a little money. 88 followed Panzer, and moved the action to the North African desert. These two games are made of unobtanium, and go for ridiculous money on Ebay. Fortunately The Scarlet J has a copy of Panzer, and has a good assortment of the useful bits and pieces of 88.

Fast forward to 2004, and Jim Day published a new version of Panzer, known as Panzer Miniatures. Which was, obviously, intended as a miniatures game. Panzer Miniatures was set on the East Front, and has a multitude of supplements. Two of the supplements cover various aspects of the campaigns on the Eastern Front, another two cover from Normandy to the end of the war from a UK/Commonwealth, and US perspective, respectively, and I think there’s even a supplement for ’39-’40.

Moving on to 2012, Panzer was published AGAIN, this time by GMT, in the form of a boardgame with their typical high quality components. This version of Panzer, following pattern, was set in the Eastern Front. There are several supplements out for the GMT version, which add additional detail for the Eastern Front, and late war on the Western Front. The base game is currently out of print, but is on GMTs P500 list for reprint. Notice that I didn’t mention the desert after talking about 88? That’s because the desert hasn’t been covered since! There are plans for a North African expansion for the GMT version. I kind of doubt it will ever happen for the miniatures game, but I’d love to be proved wrong. Panzer’s miniatures roots run quite strongly through all three versions, so conversion shouldn’t be all that difficult, but if you’re interested in giving Panzer a try, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to develop your project for the Eastern Front.

You can pick up the miniatures rules in PDF and Print-on-demand form from Wargames Vault.

Boy plays Panzer…

On to the game. I’ve been working on some desert terrain, and have twenty, or so, feet of roads done, but I haven’t made a desert mat, yet. I tried laying out the desert roads on my existing mat, but it just looked totally crazy and wrong. So…instead of being in the serious desert outside of El Alamein, we take you to some lovely not-so-desolate portion of Tunisia, where there are fragrant olive groves, and funny looking evergreens. And, for some reason, the locals have built their homes from stone and stucco, rather than mud brick. And they have pitched roofs. And it looks a lot like France in 1944. Ok. The terrain is completely wrong, but I wanted to give the game a shot, so I rolled with what I had. Note that I’ve hacked up my usual roads for ACW and Chain of Command to work with 1/285 scale. It’s ok, I never really liked those roads, anyway.

This battle is a meeting engagement at a crossroads (how many times have I typed that sentence over the past couple of years? Sheesh!), which is occupied by a sleepy village of olive tree farmers. Coming to disturb this idyllic scene are tons upon tons of fire breathing armor.

I fielded.

10 Sherman IIs
3 Crusader IIIs
3 Daimler Armo(u)red Cars (portrayed by Humber IIs)

The Scarlet J had

5 PzIIIs of some variety. Js, maybe?
5 PzIVf1s
5 PzIVf2s

The observant among you will note that the TSJ cleverly decided to bring 15 real tanks against 13 British tanks and a handful of armored cars, which have tin foil mantlets and paper hulls. No comment from me on this, though!

The terrain setup. I forgot to notate the 'scrub' area, which is indicated by the scattered clump foliage on the front slope of the level 1 hill at the upper left corner.

The terrain setup. I forgot to notate the ‘scrub’ area, which is indicated by the scattered clump foliage on the front slope of the level 1 hill at the upper left corner. The fields don’t cause any trouble for tanks. Obviously.

My current mat is roughly 6’x4′, and we ran this game long-ways, so that we’d have room to maneuver a little. When I make the desert mat, I will make it 6’x8′, because 4′ was too narrow for the amount of equipment we had on the table (about a company of armor each).

Shermans roll out...The red pennant is supposed to be the squadron commander. The yellow pendants indicate troop command tanks. I need to do some more research, but I don't believe that Panzer really deals with chain of command in detail.

Sherman IIs roll out…The red pennant is supposed to be the squadron commander. The yellow pendants indicate troop command tanks. I need to do some more research, but I don’t believe that Panzer really deals with chain of command in detail.

Panzer uses order markers to get units to move, fire, fire and move, go on overwatch, and so on. Limited command and control is modeled by the fact that you don’t have enough order markers for every unit in your force. For instance, I had 16 vehicles, but only 10 order markers. Tanks within 3″ of each other can share command markers, so this encourages the player to use formations. Recon units have tremendous initiative, and their orders do not count against the total number of orders. Which is pretty cool, I think!

The Scarlet J's assortment of panzers take advantage of road movement...

The Scarlet J’s assortment of panzers take advantage of road movement…My next game mat will NOT have all of these undulations and wrinkles. They’re infuriating, at this scale.

Moving to contact...

Moving to contact…

blahblahblah

The squadron command tank, plus one of the three Sherman troops takes up position on a hill on my right flank, while the rest of the squadron moves into position at the olive grove.

Perhaps I’ve been playing too many infantry games, because the very first thing I did was send 3/4 of my Shermans straight for the olive tree grove, and the cover contained therein. One troop actually moved into this grove, which slowed them way down. Moving through a grove/orchard/light woods costs double movement points. I also moved some Shermans up onto a hilltop, which wasn’t really all that great of a move…everything on the board, practically, can see you, and the MkIV tanks that are armed with the long 75mm gun can easily punch through a Sherman’s armor at long range.

Crusaders move to the crest of the level 2 hill, where they'll attempt to control the left flank with shots from their 6lbers.

Crusaders move to the crest of the level 2 hill, where they’ll attempt to control the left flank with shots from their 6lbers.

My Crusaders, however, had the advantage, at least in terms of guns, of the PzIIIs they were facing. So the hill strategy wasn’t such a bad idea, in that case.

Crusaders do some damage and get the first kill of the game. That's The Scarlet J placing a cotton ball to indicate a KOd tank. There are also brew-ups which cause a column of smoke, which can affect line-of-sight.

Crusaders do some damage and get the first kill of the game. That’s The Scarlet J placing a cotton ball to indicate a KOd tank. There are also brew-ups which cause a column of smoke, which can affect line-of-sight.

Which is proved by me getting the first kill! <does a little happy dance>

I advance my Daimlers (played by my Humber MkIIs) in the face of a bunch of PZIIIs and start to pay the price. Even moving at top speed, armored cars are quite vulnerable.

I advance my Daimlers (played by my Humber MkIIs) in the face of a bunch of PZIIIs and start to pay the price. Even moving at top speed, armored cars are quite vulnerable. I’ve had one armored car knocked out, and the other has take a track (wheel) hit, which immobilizes it.

Using armored cars in a responsible manner (responsible meaning in a manner which encourages their survival) is going to take some work on my part. I’m not really sure what to DO with them. They move fast, and have tremendous initiative advantages, which makes them really good for spotting enemy units, but tanks have a tough time killing anything at 24″, or more, in this game. ACs that are way out front aren’t going to survive contact with the enemy’s tanks. Maybe they’re more useful when you have off-board artillery, some serious AT guns, or other long range assets. Or maybe I’m just an idiot. The latter is the most likely answer.

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My last Daimler makes a suicide run to try and get a flanking shot on one of the German tanks. I don’t quite have the movement to get a REAL flanking shot, though. The Armored Car is immobilized by the PZIII, but seconds later manages to return the favor. If we had been using the morale rules, there’s no way this little guy would have thrown himself to the wolves. I admit, it was very unrealistic play. But, hey, first time out with a ‘new’ set of rules!

asdfsdf

The engagement is heating up. One troop of Shermans has advanced to the edge of the olive grove, only to be met by a platoon of PZIVfs. I’ve come off of the hill with my Shermans on the right flank, as those panzers way up there in the upper right corner of PZIVF2s, and they can really reach out and touch someone with their high velocity 75mm guns. Fortunately TSJ rolled really poorly for them the entire game. Poor Scarlet J.

idunno

Knocked out tanks everywhere! The point blank fight in the olive grove is going badly for me, but in the meantime, my flock of Shermans there at the bottom of the orchard have killed three German tanks.

We ended up with some quite close range engagements, especially in the now-infamous Olive Grove. Ranges in the Grove were down around 150′. The Sherman vs. MKIVf2 fight was taking place at ranges of around 1500′, which is also quite close. Predictably, the casualties began to mount. I’m pretty sure gung-ho charging Shermans is NOT the best tactic for WWII armored combat, though it worked out ok, in this instance. I’ll work on it.

hmmmmm

Meanwhile over on the left, a PZIV takes advantage of road movement to try and come up on the flank of my hill-topping Crusaders. He puts a round through the compartment of one Crusader, damaging it, but then pays the ultimate price when two of the three Crusaders turn their attention his way. Not sure why The Scarlet J didn’t take advantage of the little village, and use it to screen his advancing tank and get into a 1 on 1 situation with a Crusader. I CERTAINLY wouldn’t be so sloppy with my tactics. No. Never.

this is it?

Looking back into the olive grove from the German side. Those IVf2s are sitting on top of a hill, and taking falling shots at my Shermans. This increases the chance of getting a top of hull hit. Which is very bad for the shottee. Almost as bad as TSJs luck when firing with his IVf2s!

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State of the game at end of play looked something like this, minus my left flank. We had killed an equal number of each other’s vehicles. I lost 4 Shermans and 3 Daimler armored cars, and TSJ lost 7 panzers of various flavors. We called it a draw. We certainly could have finished this game, had it not been our first time playing the rules.

Boy likes Panzer…

So….yes to more Panzer. I had a great time playing the game, and am looking forward to more of it. I’ve got a lot of work to do on terrain. Goodness me.

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I’ll Grant You That…

I have just set a new landspeed record for altering New Year’s plans, having diverged from mine before the new year has even started! The Scarlet J has lured me into cranking out a few MicroArmor (1/285 scale) tanks for some upcoming North Africa, armor-centric gaming.  If nothing else, these little guys provide a nice palette cleanser from having been painting 28mm Napoleonics for the last month.

Advancing Grants

Advancing Grants

The Scarlet J is going to be fielding portions of the Afrika Corps, while my force will be loosely based on elements of the 8th Armoured Brigade, 10th Armoured Division around the time of the Second Battle of El Alamein. I hope I spelled El Alamein correctly, for once. The core of the force will be Sherman Is of the Nottinghamshire Yeomenry, but in my typical bass-ackwards way, I’ve started out with a platoon of Grants from their buddies in the 3rd Royal Tanks.

The view from a bold Storch?

The view from a bold, low-flying, Storch?

I have yet to decide if I’ll be attempting to add squadron, regiment, and divisional markings. I have decals for the squadron markings, so that wouldn’t be too tough, but things could go VERY badly trying to free-hand the other stuff.

Parting shot (sorry for the pun)

Parting shot (sorry for the pun). I really did a poor job of cleaning up the turrets.

As is typical for my microarmor painting, I more or less follow the method outlined in the excellent Fritzkrieg tutorial. I think his method produces a decent result, in a modest amount of time. I think I have around 3 hours into these 5 tanks, not counting drying time. Maybe less.

I have a pair of 6lber AT guns, scout cars, a few Crusaders, and then the main body of the force, 10 Sherman tanks, yet to paint. Oh, and I’ll need to make a desert gaming mat. And I ordered a few buildings. Yep. Seriously off the rails, here in Arkiegamer land.

I still don’t know the name of the rules we’re using. Something ancient (that means anything pre-1984) from TSJ’s archives of rules, but he assures me they’re fast and fun.

Addendum:

This Wikipedia article has a TO&E for 8th Armoured Brigade during the attack on the Mareth line in Tunisia. Apparently the Sherwood Rangers had Grants, Shermans, AND Crusaders during this operation, as well as an attached company of infantry from The Buffs. Which is way cool.

Addendum 2:

Great information from The Miniatures Page. Note to self: grab a copy of Bevis. Eschew Butthead.

Pip, pip.

It is done!

I have both ‘core’ sides for British vs. German conflicts using IABSM v3 in Normandy. Basically this means a company of infantry each, plus 10 Shermans (including a pair of Fireflies), five Stugs, and a couple of Pak 40 ATGs. I suspect I may be fielding Shermans that didn’t exist in the immediate aftermath of the Normandy invasion, but I won’t tell, if you don’t.

Here are some shots of my freshly painted and based Brits, as the German side has been well documented here.

Somewhere in there is a company of British infantry and 10 Sherman tanks.

Somewhere in there is a company of British infantry and 10 Sherman tanks.

Platoon, forward! I'll probably end up color coding the bases, at some point, to make identifying units easier. Let's face it, 6mm WWII infantry are pretty difficult to identify from more than a few inches away.

Platoon, forward! I’ll probably end up color coding the bases, at some point, to make identifying units easier. Let’s face it, 6mm WWII infantry are pretty difficult to identify from more than a few inches away.

Droopy barrels are a hazard of 1/285 armor. If I were less lazy, I'd replace them with brass. But I'm not.

Droopy barrels are a hazard of 1/285 armor. If I were less lazy, I’d replace them with brass. But I’m not.

Badly lit Shermans. Ironic, for the disparagingly named Ronsons, eh?

Badly lit Shermans. Ironic, for the disparagingly named Ronsons, eh? I went  a little wild with the decals on that Firefly in front of the manorhouse.

Now all I need to do is learn the rules and shanghai some of my friends into playing.

The Campaign(s) Continues

No big news, but there’s been positive movement on both the ACW and 6mm WW2 fronts. Unfortunately, I’m fighting a four or five front ‘war,’ but there’s no one to blame for that, except myself.

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First up, some terrain progress with the 6mm WWII IABSM 3 (that’s a lot of acronyms. TALOA, everyone!) project. I painted up two small houses, a barn, a cottage, and a manor house, all by GHQ. These buildings paint up so easily, and so nicely-a little paint, drybrush, a sepia ink wash, and you’re set! They look even better in person, where every little flaw isn’t exaggerated by zoomed in digital camera. By the way, I discovered that if you use future floor wax as a component of your ink wash, applying Vallejo matt varnish by brush afterwards reactivates the wash, and swirls it around in a not-unpleasing, but still alarming and unintended, manner.

Cottage and Villa

Cottage and Villa

This is the Villa de GHQ

This is the Villa de GHQ

Dilapidated barn and two small houses

Dilapidated barn and two small houses. Here’s where you see how incredibly lazy I am about cleaning up flash and mold slippage. It’s a little annoying that GHQ puts their trademark on the outside of the buildings (grey house, right side), but I’ll forgive them.

Houses and barn from above. My road is way out of scale.

Houses and barn from above. My road is way out of scale.

I have 10 Sherman tanks about 80% done, crops to plant on the terrain board, and a few British infantry to paint up, and this puppy will be ready to go. Unless I decide to base the buildings and make little vignettes out of them. Which I might.

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On the ACW front, I’m still mired in the long process of finishing up my Confederates. I completed a couple of limbers, disored/silenced markers, wrecked gun markers, and out-of-ammo markers, but still need to paint up an ammo wagon and an ambulance. It’s neverending! I also need to base up a brigade of the famous Danish volunteers of Texas. Oh, and I have a regiment of cavalry to paint. Woe is me! Our next scheduled game is the 15th.

Is it strange that these dead horses and wounded men make me feel a little uncomfortable?

Is it strange that these dead horses and wounded men make me feel a little uncomfortable?

These wounded Confederates are the first Blue Moon figures I’ve ever painted, and I have to say, I really love them. The anatomy isn’t quite as good as the best of the AB, but the poses are just fantastic. The wrecked gun markers (dead horses with caisson wheels) are all Blue Moon, as well. The wrecked gun ‘diorama’ style bases are kind of bugging me, now that I’ve done them. They don’t look particularly naturalistic. I’m sure it’s a skill that will develop with application and time, though.

A better shot of the wounded.

A better shot of the wounded.

The Blue Moon casualty pack includes a few accessory muskets, which is a really nice touch. Really, those figures made enough of an impression on me, that I plan to do quite a few Blue Moon figures when I switch over to paining Union troops. Oh, that unpainted 15mm resin house in the background is by JR Miniatures. Cheap, but it’s a real pig-bad flashing and pock marks everywhere. Maybe it will look ok painted.

Ok, that’s all for now. I’m going to try to finish up my Brits for IABSM in 6mm next week. Also, there’s some new stuff coming down the pike, that may be of interest.

A Quick Tip for Painting Microarmor

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If you plan on painting Microarmor, start saving those plastic pizza box spacer stands (the ones that keep the lids from being crushed). The legs are the perfect size for slipping into the hull cavity of a 1/285 tank.

Progress!

Is that a full reinforced company of Panzergrenadiers (well, minus their transport) with a bit of armor and gun support? Why, yes it is! 6mm, I love you and your quick-to-paint ways.

Adler infantry, GHQ armor and guns

Adler infantry, GHQ armor and guns

Now I need to get cracking on my Brits and some terrain.

More MicroArmor

In my last microarmor post, I was hoping that I could paint up a platoon of tanks (or self-propelled guns, in this case) in under an hour, but those hopes proved to be ill-founded.

I did manage to finish my platoon of Stug IIIgs, a couple of Sdkfz 11 prime movers, and two more Pak40s in an evening’s time, though. That’s  unparalleled speed, in my miniatures painting history! I’m pleased.

I got a little overzealous with the balkenkreuz on a couple of these guys.

I thought this was a nice touch: a pack of GHQ micro-armor (at least this pack of Stug IIIg’s) includes a couple of variations on the unit contained therein-notice the sections of track mounted on two of the Stug turrets (well, they’re not really turrets…fighting compartment?).

For now, I’m planning on going with un-based vehicles. We’ll see how that works out as a gaming solution. I’m a bit worried about bent barrels during games, as they’re quite fragile.

These Sdkfz 11s come with full body-length canopies, and I was going to do one of the miniatures with the canopy deployed. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any test fits, or I would have realized that having the deployed canopy would require trimming the collapsed canopy from the base model.

No way I was diving into that after finishing painting. These guys will drive in the weather.

Incomplete, but not forgotten

Here are the two deployed Pak 40s, based on pennies with tinted matte medium serving as basing material and adhesive.

We’ll see how the basing turns out. None of my normal ground materials are going to work in their usual manner. My model railroad ballast that I typically use for ground texture looks like boulders strewn across the face of Mt. Doom at 6mm scale.

The gunners were fun to paint. Three colors (skin, uniform, and helmet and boots) and an ink wash, and you’re done.

1/285 MicroArmor

The Gamer ADD is bad with me. Very bad. At least it’s WW2, I suppose.

I’ve been testing out some 1/285 GHQ microarmor, after being inspired by Mr. Luther’s stunning 6mm I Ain’t Been Shot Mum games over on Flickr. You really shouldn’t click this link, unless you want to start spending money on microarmor. If you do, though, you can take solace in the fact that it’s cheap cheap cheap.

Without further rambling, here are my first efforts at 1/285 microarmor: a StuH 42, and a couple of PAK 40s.

This scale is proving to be a blast to paint. You don’t really have to sweat the details, because the models are incredibly well cast, considering their size, and a quick drybrush and ink wash really makes them pop. I’d be really upset with myself if I’d neglected to blacken these barrels on a 1/72 piece of armor, but who cares at this scale?

I believe the pencil is German, as well. This scale is fun and very quick to paint.

Proof of the tinyness is above.