Tag Archives: microarmor

Thunder at Cassino!

I had the opportunity to playtest one of Grady West’s fantastic 1/285 adaptations of old Avalon Hill board games this past weekend. This one was Thunder at Cassino-a project he’s been working on for at least a year (and, to me, that’s a LOT of progress in a year’s time). Thunder at Cassino covers the campaign to break through the German defenses at Monte Cassino, and the particular scenario we played covered the third battle. Click here to look at the previous game I played in, covering Turning Point Stalingrad.

The Germans were fielding panzergrenadiers and fallschirmjagers, while the allies were a British and British Commonwealth force consisting of British regulars, New Zealanders, Indians and Ghurkas (GHURKAS!!)

I was on the allied side, and was nominated (read forced) to be the overall commander. My fellow allied commander was Ralph, and he took the New Zealander force, which would do the hard slogging through the town below the Monte Cassino monastery, while I took the British regulars, Indians, and GHURKAS!!

This game is platoon level, meaning that each counter/stand of infantry represents a platoon. There are rules encouraging company cohesion, but nothing addressing higher levels of command.


The Avalon Hill box cover art

The allies had the numbers, while the Germans had the edge in troop quality and a big advantage on the defense, due to the heavily rubbled terrain. The next couple of photos cover the preliminary allied bombardment, and illustrate why the terrain is so heavily rubbled!



Grady painted many a B-17 and B-25 to illustrate the rubble generating preliminary bombardment. This is a man dedicated to his art, as the bombers go away after the preliminary bombardment, never to return!


The allies do have another air asset, though…a fighter bomber group (or maybe it’s just a squadron…not sure on the scale of the air assets) that definitely got its licks in over the course of the game.


Hurricane in action


Ralph’s New Zealanders spread out into the town, watched over by Nazis in the castle above. There was a little armor on the table, but this was decidedly NOT tank country. Hard fighting ensued.


Many a bloody close combat was fought in the zones below the monastery…

This entire battle went really well for the allies. The Germans made a huge blunder in not moving to immediately occupy the monastery…instead they focused on counterattacking the New Zealanders down in the town. On turn two, my fast moving mountain climbing Ghurkas were able to sweep into the monastery virtually unopposed. Ghurkas are extremely good at close combat, and there was no way that even highly trained fallschirmjager engineers were going to dislodge them.


How sweet it is!

I’d like to claim that it was my tactical acumen that lead to our landslide of a victory, but really it was a mixture of the players not knowing the gaming system, and not fully grasping the vulnerabilities inherent in the initial setup. I will give us allies a little credit for fully exploiting them, though.


Not only did we take the monastery, but Ralph’s New Zealanders were able to storm the castle after a particularly heavy bombardment from his corps artillery tubes. This position had a commanding view of the town below, perfect for calling down artillery, but the Germans never really exploited it.


Just because I needed to show the Union Jack flying ‘over’ Monte Cassino.

This is an excellent set of rules, and Grady’s miniatures adaptation is top notch. We didn’t finish our game, but we had some extremely slow moving players, particularly in the first couple of turns. I don’t think the open-flanked Ghurka attack will be a problem again-Grady has stated that he will make certain the defenders are aware of the danger in the future.

If you get a chance to play this game at one of the conventions Grady will bring it to, I HIGHLY recommend it.


The End of the Beginning

I’m about halfway through my little Microarmor project for North Afric(k)a. We’re playing this weekend, so I’d better get an un-Montyesque move on!

Here’s what I’ve got, so far.

Grants, Humber MkIIs, and good 'ol Shermans in disruptive camo. Sorry about the droopy barrels...I'll straighten them out before the next photo shoot!

Grants, Humber MkIIs, and good ‘ol Shermans in disruptive camo. Sorry about the droopy barrels…I’ll straighten them out before the next photo shoot!

I’m not so sure pennants were attached to aerials like this, historically, though I have seen photos on the internet that suggest they were. They sure will be handy for me to identify command units on the table, though.

More of the same, at a different angle. More flattering for the droopy-barreled. Next I'll be painting Crusaders, more Shermans, and a couple of 6 lber guns. Fun stuff!

More of the same, at a different angle. More flattering for the droopy-barreled. Next I’ll be painting Crusaders, more Shermans, and a couple of 6 lber guns. Fun stuff!

I finally figured out/remembered/asked what rules we are using, and they are Jim Day’s “Panzer.” This game was originally published in 1978 (and is about as crunchy as that date would lead you to believe), but there’s a version (Panzer II) from 2012, that was published by GMT. Of course, this being the wargaming world, even this recent version of the game is currently out of print. It’s on GMTs P500 list, which is a pre-order system they use to gauge interest (and reach a certain minimal level of sales).

The Scarlet J PROMISES me this is a fast playing game. We’ll see.

Looking at these photos, I have to get another lamp so I can get better lighting. That’s a constant refrain of mine. A lamp is, like, $7.99. I don’t know why I haven’t taken care of this, yet.

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.


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.

Turning Point Stalingrad-Better than Cats!

Well, this was a real treat. Local wargaming luminary, Grady (and his gracious (even if she fought for the wrong side) wife) put on a game of Turning Point Stalingrad for a group of us. TPS is an Avalon Hill area/impulse wargame from 1989, and I have to say it’s one heck of an elegant system, with plenty of interesting and  tough choices (even if you’re playing the Russians). I must say that I had a great time commanding the southern front for the Soviets. To top it all off, my side was declared the winner.

I’ll let the pictures of the exquisite 1/285 terrain and miniatures speak for themselves. (I pretty much have to, as I’m posting on lunch break from work)

Grady is going to be running this game at Nashcon, and if you have the opportunity to attend, you should definitely play!

The very definition of monster game!

The very definition of monster game!

Nervous German Commanders

Nervous German Commanders

The famous grain elevators. The Germans never reached them, in our game.

The famous grain elevators. The Germans never reached them, in our game.


Custom made (locally) barges ready to cross the Volga

Custom made (locally) barges ready to cross the Volga

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The smoke markers are actually rubble markers, which give great terrain bonuses to defenders.

The smoke markers are actually rubble markers, which give great terrain bonuses to defenders.


A vicious street fight raged here for most of the game, thanks to some lucky die rolling thanks to yours truly.

A vicious  fight raged at the Kuibyshev Sawmill for most of the game, thanks to some lucky die rolling by yours truly.


Guards prepare to cross the Volga during the night.

Guards prepare to cross the Volga during the night.

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.