DanCon 2017

Dan, also know as El Presidente of TCOW, runs an annual Flames of War event called “DanCon”. It’s basically a bunch of the TCOW club members and a few other folks playing several rounds of Flames of War over a long weekend with some crazy tournament rules. Update: The official TCOW blog post is online.

You build a 1000pt army list and get partnered with a random partner each game, from the same side (Axis if you’re Axis, Allies if you’re Allies). You play normal Flames rules, except if either partner leaves the table because of morale failure, or because they get wiped out – the whole side loses. There’s some nice prizes sponsored by Mighty Ape and Battle Kiwi this year.

It has been running for several years, but they typically play Late War lists, so I’ve never attended. Both because I don’t have a Flames Late War army in any decent standing, and because I generally prefer Flames Mid War as it feels more balanced to me. However 2017 DanCon was a MidWar tourney, and Dan was looking for numbers so twisted my arm.

I dusted off my old New Zealanders, who haven’t seen the light of day since Flames 2nd Edition and sped read the mini 3rd Edition rulebook. I took a cut down version of my normal list because that’s all I had figures for. Updating them for V3 only required pretending a Quad Gun Tractor was a Jeep for the Portee command:

British Rifle (Africa) (New Zealand)
Infantry Company, from North Africa, page 142

Compulsory Rifle Company HQ (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.143)
– CinC Rifle, 2iC Rifle (30 pts)

Compulsory Rifle Platoon (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.143)
– Command Rifle/MG, 4x Rifle/MG (115 pts)
– Light Mortar (20 pts)

Compulsory Rifle Platoon (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.143)
– Command Rifle/MG, 4x Rifle/MG (115 pts)
– Light Mortar (20 pts)

Compulsory Rifle Platoon (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.143)
– Command Rifle/MG, 4x Rifle/MG (115 pts)

Heavy Armoured Platoon (Africa) (p.133)
– Command Sherman, 2x Sherman (340 pts)

Light Armoured Platoon (Africa) (p.135)
– Command Honey, 2x Honey (140 pts)

Anti-tank Platoon, Royal Artillery (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.153)
– Command Rifle, Jeep, 2x 6 pdr portee (105 pts)

1000 Points, 6 Platoons

Over the course of the day we played three games:

Game 1:
Italian and German Armored vs NZ Rifle and British Paras
Counterattack (Defender)

Lots of armor rushing at bunch of NZers and British Paras trying to hold a few bridges. My partner fortunately knew what the heck they were doing and guided me with wise suggestions through the game (thanks Damian C), while I struggled to remember basic rules. Several rounds of Sherman reserves clashed with the German Panzers while the Paras largely dealt with Italian armor rushing at them from one end of the bridge. NZ infantry ran through a hail of bullets to contest the second objective. Portees ambushed from the bridge road as well, to prang up a bunch of Italian Semoventes and relieve the Paras somewhat. A quick game that left us with 20-30 minutes of free time.

Result: 6-1 win.

Game 2:
German Armored and Rifle vs NZ Rifle and British Armored
No Retreat (Defender)

Fortunately we ended up defender on this table, because I recall this scenario being a pig on attack. Allied generalship was a little wishy washy as I think we were both a little nervous on set up. Things were looking shaky from the outset as a bunch of Pak 40’s and Panzers caused havoc in the British armored ranks. Mid game was looking shaky as well because by then the dug-in veteran NZers had been repelled from one objective by equally ferocious Germans. Sporadic British air support from a Hurricane was largely ineffective and armored reserves took their time arriving, but that combined with another Portee ambush saw the German armor break just before we were out of time.

Result: 5-2 win.

Game 3:
German Armored and German Rifle vs NZ Rifle and Soviet Armored
Free for All (Defender)

Absolute mayhem down the right flank as a horde of Soviet tanks ground towards an objective through a narrow valley, with much flag waving and a terrible traffic jam. Fortunately there was no artillery around. On the left flank I got involved in a horrible drawn out long range duel between my three Shermans, two Stugs (with better armor, and better guns) and a Panzer IV. Thank goodness for the British ‘semi-indirect’ rule, and a lucky shot (and poor armor save) that resulted in one Stug falling. The Portees skulking around on the central road managed to kill a second Stug. Then it was largely a game of “hide your tanks from the Pak 40’s on the hills” while trying to pick off German armor that was distracted sorting out the burning T-34’s from those that were still mobile near the right objective. This game dragged on for 7 turns, and on our side was really two generals fighting two games until the final few turns where we applied enough pressure on the right side to break the German armor and win the game. It’s just as well the Germans broke, because the Russians were about to do the same in the next turn!

Result: 3-2 win.

Thanks largely to that great first game, and three wins overall with lucky scenarios, lucky partners that seemed to work well with my force, and just plain lucky dice – I somehow managed to secure the first place prize. Yeah I was as surprised as anybody. Picked up a sweet picture (the Paras on the bridge above), some nice loot from Battle Kiwi and a gift voucher from Mighty Ape. Alas the boss indoors doesn’t like Paras, so those gents will have to live in the garage!

Sculpting a 15mm Building Finished – Tutorial

15mm Building Facade Painted Here’s the second 15mm facade, based and painted. The base is an old CD which has been vigorously sanded for texture and then had the facade glued down to it with PVA. DAS air-drying clay was used to build up some ground around the building, and to help secure it to the CD somewhat.

Once dried the DAS was covered over with a mixture of various different Woodland Scenics model railway ‘ballast’ sizes, with a few pieces of broken balsa wood thrown in for variety. More balsa wood was used to detail the flat back of the cast facade, and build up some ruined floors. The small portion of brick wall you see is from a Linka mold which has been snapped and carved with a Dremel too.

15mm Building Facade Rear Painted The whole lot was then sprayed with a cheap black enamel spray can. This works nicely to seal the porous plaster of the cast facade. The ground and facade were drybrushed with acrylic house paint test pots and then lightly varnished with Army Painter matt varnish.

The German Panzer MK IV ‘Long’ shows you the scale is a little more Flames of War friendly than my previous facade which was three stories tall.

Sculpting a 15mm Building III – Tutorial

This post continues from the previous Sculpting a 15mm Building Tutorial post.

15mm Building Facade Mold Almost the end of January 2013! This year I resolved to knock some of the multitude of incomplete projects lurking in my garage on the head. This particular building facade was started as a tutorial back in late 2011. I made the mold and several casts back then but haven’t got around to doing anything with them until recently.

In the last post, you saw the completed master made from a plaster body with resin parts attached. Here’s the ‘Ultrasil’ RTV mold made from that master, using the one sided molding technique I’ve discussed here before.

15mm Building Facades Compared Once I’ve got a mold created and tidied up, the rest is really downhill. Large one sided molds like this are easy to cast with ‘Ultracal 30’, a hard casting plaster which will pick up the flat surface details nicely, with no shrinkage. I cast these molds using the ‘wet water’ technique and covered with a sheet of glass from cheap photo frames to ensure the back side of the cast is flat.

Here’s a cast of the mold standing next to my earlier, larger 15mm Facade which now looks a little over scale for a 15mm building. The older building is three stories, but I can’t see myself putting more than a couple of buildings this tall on a wargaming table as they’d probably be a liability while you’re gaming around them. The newer facade is a much more reasonable size for a Flames of War table.

I’ve based and painted a damaged cast of the new facade, which I’ll show in the final post of this tutorial.

Flames of War: Third Edition

Weathered DAK Panzers Goodness, are we up to third edition already? I picked up one of the last copies of the Third Edition mini rulebook from Modelair in Newmarket this weekend and have been browsing it ever since. I have to say the new layout is fantastic, they’ve really tidied up the rulebook very nicely. The official Flames of War site has a nice ‘what’s changed’ summary for the folks that have been around since first edition. There’s a lot of minor tweaks to the rules, although it mostly seems like fine tuning and streamlining. Nothing really stands out for me yet, except there’s now a special rule for hitting tank turrets which might make you try your hand a bit more as a tank commander. I’m enjoying reading the new mini rules so much that it inspired me to finish off some of the DAK Panzers I started years ago!

Sculpting a 15mm Building II – Tutorial

This post continues from the previous Sculpting a 15mm Building Tutorial post.

Create Details

Early 20th century buildings typically include a lot of surface detail they’re built from brick with added stucco or concrete rendered details over the top. Building details are fairly repeatative so I usually create a few simple masters for pillars and panels, and then cast them in resin to add to the basic flat wall described in the previous post.

15mm Facade Details The masters for these building details are small and constructed from various thicknesses of plastic card, super glue and green stuff. You should be able to create these detail pieces in an evening of sculpting. The photo shows the only masters I created for this second facade, apart from my generic 15mm windows. There’s a basic pillar which is made from plastic card strips, green stuff and some resin details I cut off an earlier pillar I made for my first 15mm facade. There’s also a left and right decorative bracket which adds to the roofline. Again this is constructed from the swirl piece cut from an earlier pillar, a scrap of plastic card and some green stuff.

Mold and Cast Details

Once these details are mastered I mold them, using the technique I’ve discussed in another tutorial and cast them in resin enough times to cover the facade. Be aware that casting in resin with some molding rubbers tends to destroy the mold as it leaches silicone from the rubber, eventually making it brittle and your mold prone to tearing and losing detail. That’s ok though because for this facade I only needed around 10 casts of the pillar.

You can see the RTV rubber mold in the photo as well. For resin molding I typically dust the entire mold with an un-scented baby talcum powder which acts as a mold release for the set resin pieces. The talcum powder will also help the resin flow into small details and corners. I use a 1:1 clear mix resin product from TopMark here in New Zealand. For European and US visitors I’m sure you can find an equivalent resin product from a local supplier. I mix the resin and pour it into the mold, and use a toothpick to lift and air bubbles trapped in corners before the resin starts to cure and turn opaque. The mold is then covered with an old CD jewel case cover, which has also been liberally dusted with baby talcum powder. This is because you want the detail casts to have a flat back, but you don’t want them to stick to the CD cover.

Cast enough resin details, clean them up with some light triming and filing and you can start applying them to the basic wall. It’s often worth casting a few extra parts and storing them for later re-molding (if your original mold has perished from the resin casting), or for use in creating new master pieces.

Applying Details

15mm Facade Master Here’s the finished master for the 15mm facade. You can see I’ve applied a set of the cast resin pillars and added the roof bracket details as well. Two resin pillars were cut down to make the smaller pillars flanking the top window. The rest of the building detailing has been added using a variety of thicknesses of plastic card cut into strips. This is where the faded pen guide lines the basic wall picked during casting come in handy to keep everything fairly straight. It’s worth taking the time to make sure everything is straight because you want to cast a set of these. For example several of the pillars were glued down and then pried up and reseated to get them straight.

Unfortunately I can see several parts of this facade that are crooked, can you spot them? The bottom left pillar is crooked, the middle row far left window isn’t straight and some of the plastic card trim has a noticeable bend in it. However chances are you won’t notice these issues once the buildings are on the gaming table and you’re standing 2-3 feet away from them.

Also take some time to make sure everything is well sealed. You can see above I’ve used a grey epoxy resin to seal the tops and bottoms of the resin pillars against the plastic card strips. I’ve also brushed on a water based DIY gap filler product to seal the gaps around the resin window frames and seat them into the basic wall more smoothly. This step is important because you want to get a clean mold of the whole facade, and having gaps between parts will allow the RTV to sneak behind details, leaving you with some fiddly mold trimming to do.

In the final post, I’ll cover molding, casting and creating terrain with the complete 15mm facade.

Sculpting a 15mm Building I – Tutorial

15mm WWII Building Facade

I’ve created a couple of 15mm building facades for European style 19th century buildings for war games like Flames of War. The first of which you see to the left. I’ve just completed the second after a three year gap so thought I’d document the process here for future reference.


InspirationThe first step is to find a building that you want to render in 15mm scale. There’s plenty of World War II photos on the internet and a Google image search will find you a bunch. Unfortunately these are typically either aerial reconnaissance photos taken from great height, or street level photos taken after terrible bombing has occurred. At any rate they typically lack enough detail to work from. I just wandered around my local city (Auckland, NZ) looking for buildings that were built in the early 1900’s that I thought wouldn’t look out of place in a European city, or on a WWII war gaming table. My second 15mm facade was inspired by the building to the right. The roof line in particular looked European to me.

The Basic Wall

15mm Facade Basic Wall Mold I’ve created both the facades by starting with a plain 5mm thick wall of cast Ultracal 30 (a hard plaster) with voids for the doors and windows. Once I have a basic wall I’m happy with I add details with resin cast parts and green stuff patching.

So here’s the basic wall mold for my second facade. This has been created from a piece of white plastic which you can see has been measured up for 15mm scale high floors and gridded to indicate placement of the doors and windows. The important thing to remember here is that this mold is reversed. That’s because you want the smooth, face down side to become the outer facing surface on your final basic wall. The walls of the mold are build from cut plastic card and are held in place and sealed with masking tape. You can see a piece of foam board has been cut to act as a former for the curved roof detail. Cut foam board pieces have been glued to the backing plastic where the doors and window voids need to be.

Ultracal 30 is then mixed and poured carefully into this simple mold, making sure we go no thicker than the 5mm foam card door and window inserts. Once the whole mess has set you should be able to pop the backing plastic off the basic wall, push out the foam card voids and tidy it all up with some careful filing.

15mm Second Facade Basic Wall Here’s the de-molded basic wall, which has had the foam card spacers removed. You can see a bit of the foam card left around the large bottom window. Notice this is the face down side of the mold, and you can see where the Ultracal 30 has lifted the penned in grid lines from the mold above. That’s actually kind of handy as they can also act as guides while you’re apply details.

I’ve forced in some custom resin windows I’ve sculpted as well, unfortunately breaking the basic wall in half in the process. That’s why you can see a crack running across the bottom of each window pillar. Doesn’t look like much at the moment does it? That’s because it needs some details!

The next post I’ll cover sculpting, casting and applying resin details to the master.

FOW: New Zealand 6pdr Portees

NZ 6pdr Portee I’ve had this New Zealand 6pdr Portee unit half painted since July 2005, so felt it’s time to finish it!

You can spot the recently painted portee trucks in the foreground from their slightly different tone due to a flatter varnish, and five less years of aging in my gaming garage. I should also bust out my New Zealand North African Rifle Company for a few games of Flames of War, particularly now I’ve repriced the whole force to the latest army lists.

Next up I hope to finally finish my 15mm Ancient Carthaginian force too (which I planned to complete in 2008), and yes Griff, paint the last 11 Genestealers…

Tutorial: Cheap Flexible 15mm Roads

Cheap flexible 15mm road My gaming group has got back into Flames of War recently and I thought it was time to spruce up my North African gaming table a little more. I’ve noticed we tend to make a few little villages on my textured table with a set of 15mm Crescent Root buildings and my own homemade stone walls. So I thought it was probably time I got down to creating some roads through this rather barren desert.

A while back Jonathan mentioned he’d had some success using strips of weed mat and brown builder’s caulk to create flexible 15mm roads. I didn’t have any caulk handy but I did have half a tube of Selley’s Liquid Nails in the garage so tried it out myself. My test road features in the above photo. It’s nicely textured and takes paint well and is easily flexible enough to mold to the contours of my modular table set up. It worked so well I’ve put together this brief tutorial on how to create as much road strip as you need for negligble cost.

Cheap flexible 15mm road 1. Assemble the materials. Like Jonathan I used a cheap, porous, textured weed mat for the base of my roads. It’s thin and sturdy with a low cost of around $8nz for a 5m roll of the stuff. Cut it into strips, arcs and other shapes as you need for your table. For this tutorial I’ve glued a couple of scraps together to create a ‘T’ junction piece.

You also need something to texture your road. Jonathan used a brown builder’s caulk, however I opted for Selley’s Liquid Nails. This DIY product dries to a water-proof flexible rubber consistency and I suspect it’s simply an industrial strength PVA. The advantage of using porous textured weed matting as the base is that the Liquid Nails will have no problem adhering to the matting, and dries into a fairly robust piece of terrain.

To detail the roads I used a mixture of cheap kitty litter and mixture of Woodland Scenics model railway ballasts (that is what’s in the plastic container in this photo). Three bags of varying grades of model railway ballast mixed together with some kitty litter for larger boulders and you’ve got yourself and endless supply of texturing gravel. I’ve been using this same plastic container of gravel for seven years to detail my Mordheim table and buildings, my 15mm North African terrain, other random scenery pieces and various figure bases.

The roads were textured with a set of cheap Chinese hog bristle art brushes, which were also used to paint the roads with a mixture of several interior acrylic house paint test pots from a local paint manufacturer.
Continue reading Tutorial: Cheap Flexible 15mm Roads

FOW: Three Month Painting Challenge Long Gone

Flames of War DAK Panzers It’s June already! Time I posted about the three month painting challenge we kicked off in February then. No, your addition isn’t wrong, this challenge was supposed to finish at the end of April which was over a month ago. However for a variety of reasons much of late April and May was rather awful for my extended family and I simply had no time nor desire to do any hobby work.

I did start the challenge fairly strong, with the three DAK armored platoons I needed primed and ready to paint. It wasn’t long before I’d weathered all my DAK tanks with Marmite and the turrets were finished a week later!

Then things went on the back burner and here we are early June and all I’ve managed to finish and varnish is the two DAK panzers you see above – a IIIJ late and a IV F2. Still I feel a little more inspired now and will try and get some more of this army painted this year. How did everybody else go?

Flames of War Price Increase this week

Did I miss this news or not? I noticed a story posted on Tabletop Gaming News just yesterday so I’m assuming it is fairly short notice of a price increase?

Battlefront are increasing their prices on average 11% across their range of figures and vehicles in one week. Rulebooks and gaming accessories (dice, templates) are not increasing in price. It’s been over three years since our local New Zealand market has seen a price increase from Battlefront and I personally haven’t bought any Flames of War figures for almost exactly two years so I can’t really complain!

The good news is that while Battlefront are about to increase their prices, we’ve been promised those prices will stay in place for at least another two years, so once again we really have no grounds for complaint. The way Battlefront treat their customers still makes me glad I play their games, almost makes me wish I’d given them more of my money in fact! Which reminds me weren’t their vague rumors a while back about them starting a new period game system? Whatever happened to that? Daniel – you’re our resident Battlefront guru, any ideas?