Saturday, 17 May 2014

The little T-34 who dreamt of something else...

Once upon a time, There was a little T-34 Revell kit laying unfinished in it`s box. It has layed untouched for many many years. One day, it`s Owner discovered a wonderful rules set for world war II gaming; Chain of Command (link). Thus was sparked a renewed interest for the period. It was a golden age of modelling; Germans were completed, Russians were too, and many many figures were converted to represent the myriad devices playable in this new game.

But the little T-34 remained in it`s box. Until the day where three more T-34 came in the house. Three superb kits from Plastic Soldier Company, all new and resplendent in their simplicity. Those kits were built rapidly, without any problem, and wonderful they were.

Our Little T-34 was then taken out from it`s box, and layed down on the table, in it`s current state.
The other three T-34 laughed at him, because of his huge gaps and crooked tracks.

-"Look! this old kit has separated links for his tracks!!! hahaha! they can never be assembled right", said the tank with the commander assembled unbuttoned, who obviously was the leader of the group.
-"And look at the gap in the front of it`s hull! I think it is the best that can be done with this obsolete kit!", laughed the second tank, who had the privilege of having a tarp sculpted on it`s hull in putty.

The little T-34 looked down, and cried silently... "it`s true", he said, "I can never be assembled properly. I am doomed to be confined to my box for all time, or worse... be converted to scenery".

-"OH!! Guys!!! look at that!!!" said the third tank.
The little tank looked on the ground, next to him, and his eyes widened in shock. Still on the sprue was one tiny bit of detailing that Revell had kept separated, probably to increase the pieces count on the box. It was one of the strips that adorned the side of all T-34 hulls... his strips were not sculpted on the main body... they were separate. 

"This is it", the little tank though, "that will be the last drop... I am doomed".

It`s owner probably had reached the same conclusion, because at that point he roughly thrown the little T-34 back in it`s box, along with nearly all his plastic sprues. But when he was handling the last of the sprues, the owner paused. He put back his glasses on, and inspected a piece that had been unnoticed before. he cliped it from the sprue.
His eyes bright with excitement, the Owner jumped from his chair and went to the computer, where he spent the next few minutes researching the piece he had just discovered. It was the gun mount of something else. It was not a piece that was anywhere in the plan for the T-34. It was a piece that was meant to another kit, but was left on by Revell for budget reasons!!!

The owner jumped back in his chair, and grabbed the little tank, and much to the little one`s surprise, started to cut him and chop him, until only part of his body remained.
The Owner continued to work, with a larger and larger smile. He even got out the remaining pieces of three plastic soldier company tanks, and lovingly applied them to the little tank. And in the end, not for any historical accuracy, but only for the act itself, purely for the sake of it, the Owner detached two of the detailing strips that had angered him earlier and applied them to the side of the little tank`s new hull.
And there he was; the little ugly tank had turned into a magnificent SU-85, using the spare 85mm gun that came in it`s original box. The three T-34/76 looked in amazement at his huge weapon, and dared not say anything else, not even the leader. The same night, the four Russian vehicles were painted buy the Owner; and are now sitting on his shelf. 

The little T-34; now SU-85 is still different from the other tanks, but now he embrace his difference, and is proud of it!
The End.

No plastic tank were hurt during the making of this story. The only real victim has been the English language. Seriously guys, I apologise to all English speaker, I really struggle with the "fairy tale past tense", among other grammatical subjects...

I will publish a lot more pictures of my venture into WWII in 1/72 in the next few days/weeks.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

DBA on Hex mat

Hi Everyone!

These days, my professional life is very complicated and complex. This creates in me a real need for simplicity. In my eye, everything can be simplified. Is it a good idea? Not always. Applied to DBA, my new found love in the wargaming world? It seems to work! My goal was to find the simplest point where the qualities and enjoyment of the game are still intact. Let's look at what I tried:

This game is already very simple. To cite the very words of Phil Barker in DBA's intoduction:
"Our intent was to provide the simplest possible set of wargames rules that retain the feel and generalship requirements of ancient or medieval battle."

I think M. Barker could have made a step further along the realism/simplicity axis; the movement rules in DBA are the only thing, in my mind that are complex or difficult to address during play. Not to say that they are wrong in any way, but they are in my opinion, too complex to meet the requirements mentioned above, and too complex for what my tired brain can cope with these days. I tried to take that step forward. I am certainly not the first to do it, but still, here is what I did:

  • I used a hotz mat (link) with 4" grid arrayed in the length direction.
  • Units face the corners of hexes.
  • I assigned a scale of one hex = 200 paces. every distances were rounded up. (500 paces = 3 hex).
  • A group is formed of adjacent units (all units on the left can be grouped in the following picture).

  • Two enemy units in adjacent squares are NOT in contact, they are 200 paces apart.
  • contacting units move INTO the enemy unit's hex by assaulting an hex edge.

  • The winning unit remains in the hex (left combat: blue unit destroyed, red wins the hex)
  • Recoil is made along the assaulting unit's edge direction (center combat: blue unit recoil, red wins the hex ; right combat: red unit recoils)
  • Pushback is also made along the axis of the assault (Cv unit charge and wins combat, recoiling red into a friend facing the same way, which is pushed back)

  • A unit's Control area is the two hexes in front of a unit (dark hexes in the left example below)
  • A unit can support a friend's combat if it faces the same direction and if the combat takes place in one of the four hex in it's front and sides (lightened hexes in the center example below)
  • A unit is flaking if it is assaulting the side of the hex of an enemy unit contacted to the front. (right example below)
  • Units capable of providing rear support must enter the same Hex as the supported unit to give the support bonus.
  • Units can change facing after any move(left example below); provided they are not in the area of control of an enemy (ILLEGAL MOVE; center example below)
  • a group can perform a wheel, by moving each unit up to it`s movement allowance, and keeping one flank anchored in it`s Hex (right example). The group must all face in the same direction. The group don`t form a "neat" line any more, but they are still a group, and they are still supporting one another.

  • The battlefield I used has 12x14 hexes; which is bigger than the usual battlefield (2800 paces wide instead of 2250), but this still gives the right "feel" because units have a larger front (200paces intead of 150).
  • terrain occupy contiguous hexes, 3, 4 or 5 hexes (max total width + length = 4.5 hexes)
That's about it! It seems like a lot of text for a SIMPLE solution, but in the end, it really is more simple to play. For the moment, I have found no loopholes in the "rules"; and I think that both the tactical aspect of the game and the gut wrenching decision making (roll a "1" on your PIP die...) are completely intact. 

I'll admit that I only tried solo. I should be able to try it out in the next few days with a friend; we'll see how it fares then!

Please feel free to leave comments and/or questions

Saturday, 1 February 2014


This time, I've completed the Iberian army. 

Here is the result:

First the group shot;

Then the camp; Mountain folk herders. Really like how this one turned out. For the camps, there is always a "white page" syndrome at the begining, but once the Idea is there, it's nothing but creativity! fun.

General Cavalry and a light horse unit.

Three unit of Scutarii, Auxiliaries.

Three units of Caetrati, Auxiliaries.

Baelaric sligners; Psiloi.

This is one of the cheapest army I have done yet; I only bought one box of each HAT spanish infantry and cavalry. The miniatures are superb; tunic with visible (so easy to paint) border on sleeves, collar and hem. also the Scutarii and caetrati both have nicely done sinew helmets. 

The only down side for me on this finished army is how the "Spaniards in short tunics bordered with purple" turned out... RED... I even mixed the colour to have a nice reddish purple... but once complete... there is nothing there but red... ha, well... 

Monday, 20 January 2014


hi again!
It seems that I am on fire...I spent every night painting during last week, and I still want to paint some more. So here is last week's result; Cartaginians:

The Camp; Paper tissue on styrene block for the tent. Had a bug with the soldier holding the horse: I had to bend them into shape to get this pose, and, after the paint job, the plastic bent back to it's original shape a little, thus the space between hand and bridle... next time; pose the plastic minis long before painting them...
 Cartaginian Cavalry; with the general holding a sword. By the way, I do not like the open hands... it never look like the general is actually holding the sword.
 Cartage/libyan spearmen; Hand painted shields, far from award winning, but they look good from 4 feet away!  had fun doing those. I saw the design for the shields on the net; not sure where... google image...
 Same spearmen, from the other angle.
 Same soldiers, this time, as auxiliary. Not sure about that figure choice; see comments below.
 Libyan warband. Again not sure about the figure choice. See below.
 Numidian elephants; with skirmishing escort...
 Numidian light cavalry; very nice miniatures.
 Numidian psiloi, again superb miniatures, if we exclude the single weird pose of the guy twisting his shield arm...
 Group shoot.

I am very satisfied with these. The colour choice was limited, and gives a unified look, which I like. I got this idea from this guy; who is VERY good with colours...

There are a few difficult choices when it came down to figures; specifically the warband and the auxiliary. As I am building armies for many major players of the punic wars, to use in a campaign, I did not want to include allies into the national armies... that meant no gauls nor spanish miniatures in the Cartaginian army. I then used some figures identified as libyan spearmen with a very dynamic and agressive pose to make my warbands, and I used three guys in lose formation to represent auxiliaries...

hope you like it!

next in line:

Monday, 13 January 2014

Bitten by the bug... two times!

Here is my second army; Gauls.

The army is a mix of Italeri, Caesar and the venerable Airfix. I did not bother to make chariots, because I don't think that the gauls used them that much, or even at all during and after the Punic wars. I did most of the painting for this army a long time ago, and only recently based them for DBA. This army, like the romans, was also speed painted. But while the romans received an army painter DIP (which was really fast, I have to admit), the gauls received a more traditional basecoat, heavy brown wash, and then highlight... 

The camp was super-fun to do... I was inspired by the bovine merchant in the first Asterix movie:
"Je suis un marchand de boeufs, et vraiment très malheureux... "

Ok, then the Idea kind of drifted to a more serious version of a poor guy trying to convince his beast to obey... the fun thing is that particular figure began it's life as the wounded gaul from the airfix kit... poor guy has no luck...

Sunday, 12 January 2014

bitten by the bug!

Hi There!

That's it. I've been bitten. I read everywhere that DBA armies were immensely fun to collect and paint, and after two complete ones, I understand why... hard to put words to it without simply repeating what have been said before; but the basic is that it is a small size project, perfectly suited to my easily turned mind.

Without any more comments, here are my republican romans (polybian romans):

Velites : Psiloi elements

Hastati : Blades

Princepes : Blades

Triarii : Spears

Equites; including the general : cavalry

the camp

The miniatures are mostly HAT 1/72, with about half the cavalry Italeri roman cavalry. I have mostly speed painted that army, simply to have quick playing pieces. When I began, my goal was to build a large army, to play "bigger" rules set than DBA. I still based my army with the DBA standards, just in case... and it turns out I was right, this is how they finally ended!

I found the "need" for a camp to be tedious at first, until I actually built one! THAT is where all the creativity goes in a DBA army. so. much. fun !!!

I also have a Gauls army paintd up, that I will present next time, and I am currently painting Cartaginians (and numidians as a byproduct), and I am also assembling Iberians... and Campanians... and Syracusans... and probably much more after that!

I am going to take the next few armies a bit more slowly, as a nice looking DBA army is easily achievable!