Monday, May 22, 2017

Final Work for Enfilade

With the Enfilade 2017 game convention less than a week away, I've been spending time making sure I have everything ready to go for my games. While most of my work was focused on the ships for my Harpoon: Captain's Edition game, I also had to finish up some F-4B Phantoms for the Cuban Missile crisis game.

A little bit of research gave me a list of the F-4 squadrons that were on the carriers that were part of the blockade. After that I searched around for photos and images of the squadron markings to find something that looked good, but would be easy to paint. I settled on VF-102 Diamondbacks.
Here is one of the images I used for painting up my planes.
VF-102 in the early 60s while aboard USS Enterprise (CVAN-65)
And here is how my planes turned out.   
VF-102 F-4B Phantoms
I really like the aircraft extra squadron colors and marking that American planes used in the 60s. The planes are 1/285 Raiden F-4Bs, the Navy decals are from I-94 Enterprises, and the national insignia decals are from Doms Decals. Here they are from a slightly different angle.
A lower angle view
I really like how they turned out. The only thing I might have changed is the canopy color, which seems a little off in the photos.

While I had finished up the ships for my Harpoon project last month, I still needed to finish up the operational level playing surface for the game. The game map needed to cover the Norwegian Sea and Greenland - Iceland - United Kingdom (GIUK) gap. For this part of the project, I started out with the blue hex mat I've used in the past for air games. Then I cut out some felt for the different land masses (Iceland, northern UK, Norway, etc.), painted them up and added a hex grid. The final result was good, but there are a few things that didn't quite turn out as planned. Because the mat is so big, it is hard to get a photo showing all of it. But here are some selected areas.
Iceland and the the G - I part of the gap
For some reason, I couldn't get the white (representing mountains and snow) to turn out quite right.
Northern UK, looking north west
But most of the colors turned out well.
Norway, looking south west toward Iceland
The northwest part of the map is mostly ice, which means no ships moving through. So, I'm going to use that area to hold the task forces and air base displays.

Overall, it should give a good enough representation of the Norwegian Sea and GUIK gap.

Now I just have to finish up the last bits of paperwork and charts. Then it will be time to pack it up for the trip to the convention.

The reports from the Enfilade staff are good and it sounds like there will be a lot of games and gamers. I expect my next post will be photos from the convention.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

More Update for Enfilde Projects

My work for Enfilade got a little side-tracked by some real work projects and a few other around the house. I have been making progress, but slower than last month.

I showed off the Soviet and US ships in my previous posts, but I wanted include non-US ships in the NATO force, so I pulled out some Royal Navy ships. These were originally done for a Falklands game, but, with a little cleaning up, will fit well with the late 80's scenario.
The Royal Navy task group centered around and Invincible class carrier
The Royal Navy Task Group will include an Invincible class carrier, A Type 42 (Sheffield) class destroyer for air defense, a couple Type 22 (Broadsword) class frigates for close defense, and a Type 21 (Amazon) class frigate for ASW. The Royal Navy will also contribute another Type 21 to an optional NATO ASW group.

In addition to the ships, the game will feature a lot of aircraft. The Harpoon Captain's Edition game used counters for air units, with aircraft being put into groups of four for tracking. I wanted to use a similar system, but didn't want to spend a lot of time and effort on painting up small aircraft. I came up with the idea of using square wooden blocks with different values, so player could just rotate the blocks as planes are shot down.
Aircraft blocks
While not as visually appealing as miniatures, they should be much more functional and easier to identify. Tactical aircraft (fighters and bombers) are on 3/4" blocks, while patrol aircraft are on 1" blocks. That will help players more easily distinguish between the mission types.

That takes care of most of the ships and planes I'll need. Next up was the task group markers for the operational map. For those of you not familiar with Harpoon Captain's Edition, all the movement and detection takes place on the operation map (in this case covering the GIUK Gap and Norwegian Sea) using task group markers and patrol plane markers. The ships in the task groups and tactical aircraft are kept off the map and only get used for combat actions. The task group markers need to be somewhat generic, but show an ID, speed, and radar status for the group. Here is what I came up with.
Task Group markers and a patrol plane marker on the map
The task groups are 50mm x 60mm bases with three generic ships and a holder for a die. The die is used to show the speed (max speed is 3) and color of the die shows the radar status for the group. The group ID will be added to the side of the die holder.
Task Group markers with temporary IDs
My next effort is finishing up the operational map with Iceland, Norway and the upper tip of the UK.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

U.S. Ships for Enfilade Game

I'm continuing to work on my Enfilade 2017 projects. This week I completed the 1/6000 scale American ships for the Captain’s Edition Harpoon game.

The US ships came together and painted up quickly (I know it isn’t really that hard to paint dark gray on light gray, but it does take time). So, as of right now, I would say the project is ahead of schedule.

I painted up a couple Nimitz class carriers, some modernized Iowa class battleships, some amphibious ships, along with lots of escorting cruisers, destroyers, and frigates. I painted up all the ships in the packs, even though most won't make it into the game, which works out to 2 carriers, 40 other ships, and 8 subs. After taking the photos, I realize that I need to improve my camera work, since I was having a little trouble getting the camera to focus in on the ships. Here are a few photos of the different task groups.
A Nimitz class carrier (center) with (from left around the top in a circle) a Spruance class destroyer, Bunker Hill class cruiser, Knox class frigate, O.H. Perry class frigate, and A Burke destroyer
A Surface Action Group with an Iowa class battleship, a cruiser, destroyer and pair of frigates
The Amphibious Group with two Whidbey Island class LSDs and a couple Newport class LSTs with destroyer and frigate escorts.
U.S. subs to round out the force
I also painted up some air bases for the operational-level map. These are 2 inch modern airfields from Fight’s On.
Fight's On Modern Airfields

Next up is work on the task force, aircraft, and missile markers.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More Soviet Ships

Work on my Enfilade 2017 games continues with the completion of the Soviet ships for the Captain’s Edition Harpoon game.

Since my last post, I completed the Kiev and Kirov classes, along with completing the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, some Ivan Rogov amphibious ships, and a lot of escorting cruisers, destroyers, and frigates.
Here are some photos of the projected Soviet battlegroups for the game.
Kuznetsov battlegroup
With a penny for size comparison
Kiev battlegroup with a Slava cruiser
Kirov battlegroup with a Udaloy DD (right), Sovremennyy DDG (left) and Krivak II frigate (forward)
Amphibious battlegroup with a couple Ivan Rogov LSDs (center and rear), led by a Krivak I frigate (forward) and escorted by two Kresta I cruisers.
The 1/6000 Figurehead carrier pack with Admiral Kuznetsov comes with two carriers. But since the Soviets/Russians only finished one, I’ll follow their lead and convert the other into the Chinese carrier Liaoning.

I also painted up some Soviet subs, but the black on ocean blue just isn’t that impressive to look at.
Silent (and hard to see) but deadly
With the Soviets done, I’ll move on to working on the Americans next. I’m also working on some terrain for the operational-level map (airbases and coastlines) and thinking about how to work with the aircraft needed for the game. There will be a few other odds and ends for this game, but everything seems to be coming along.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Work in Progress and more

I've been getting together the miniatures I need for my Enfilade 2017 games. I'm starting off with the Figurehead 1/6000 scale ships for the Cold War naval game. I've got almost all the ships I need for the game (the rest are on order) and I thought I would start with some Soviet ships.

I decided to start with the bigger ships and picked out the Kiev class carriers (or heavy aviation cruisers) and Kirov class nuclear-powered cruisers. The Figurehead packs for these come with four ships in each pack and I decided to do them all, so that I don't have unpainted ships hanging around. I've got the basic colors for all the ships done, now I just need to do some touch-up work and do a light wash to bring out some details.
Four Kiev class, with the modified Baku (later Adm Gorshkov) in front
I think the decks on the Kiev class turned out okay. The lines aren't perfectly straight and there are places where the deck brown gets onto stuff that should be grey, but overall they should work. Especially considering each ship is only about 1 3/4" in length. You should be able to make out some of the aircraft on the deck too. Stuff like this makes me wish I was a little better at painted details, but my friends tell me that no one will be able to see (or notice) the details anyway.
Kirov class large cruisers
The Kirov class ships are much less interesting colorwise. They are just a basic medium grey with a deck brown deck. The miniatures are really well detailed though and you can make out the different missile hatches for on the forward launchers, which should really pop out after the wash.
Kiev and Kirov class for size comparison
Most of the remaining Soviet ships will be pretty boring from a visual aspect. But I have the other Soviet carriers to finish too, which will be a little more interesting to look at.

Over the weekend I stopped by the annual model show at the Museum of Flight. They usually have a good turnout and I always enjoy looking at the completed models that show up there. There is a fair share of aircraft, armored vehicles and cars, but there are usually a few ships and other interesting models. I grabbed some photos while I was there (none of these models are mine).
1/72 scale Gato Class submarine
A close-up view of the bridge
A P-8 Poseidon ASW plane with a target
A nice diorama of Tigercat converted for firefighting
A Kilo class sub
A nicely done model of the starship Enterprise with real lights
An interesting model of Robbie the Robot from the Forbidden Planet movie
I'm hoping to get into more of a flow with painting the 1/6000 scale ships, so I should be posting photos more regularly.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

First (mis)Steps into 2017

The first thing I wanted to do this year was figure out what projects to focus on for the first few months of 2017. I had listed several in my previous post and wanted to talk with others about some joint Enfilade projects too before making any decisions.

While contemplating what I was going to do, I got in my first game of the year. Which was a playtest of a scenario Kevin and David are planning to run at Drumbeat on February 4. It was an Aztecs vs. Conquistadors game using their Quetzalcoatl Rampant variant for Dan Mersey's Lion Rampant rules.

The scenario seemed good, with the Spanish and their Tlaxcalan allies raiding an Aztec village to grab food and trying to get out before the inevitable Aztec counterattack. I was helping to run the Spanish/Tlaxcalan side. We made planned to get some Tlaxcalan units out front to act a speed bumps, while the Spanish would act as "Fire-Brigades" to fill any gaps and cover the retreat.

As often happens, our plans didn't survive contact with the enemy. The plan probably wasn't too bad, but our die rolling to activate units was pretty bad. On my half of the table, by the end of turn 4 I had only been able to move 5 units.
Slow moving for the Spanish
I was able to get one Tlaxcalan unit into the planned position, but it was quickly overwhelmed by counterattacking Aztecs.
My high-water mark as one of my Tlaxcalan units makes a stand in front of one of the grain stores
Overall, it was pretty much a fiasco. You can read a little more about this action, and see some better photos, over on David's blog. I will point out that David's post will back up my claims of the bad die rolls:
"Dave and Bailey were plagued throughout the game by the most abysmal die rolling in the history of dice."

Which was followed up by:
"I'm not sure how to figure the Spanish/Tlaxcalan loss. Their die-rolls were legendarily bad. In the hall of shame for all-time poor rolling, they'd be on Mount Rushmore. They just couldn't get their units to do anything."

I'm just hoping I've gotten all (or a really large percentage) of my bad die rolls out of the way for the year.

I was able to come up with my plans for Enfilade, which will be my main focus for the next few months.
  • First up, Kevin and I will do a joint "what if" air game on the Cuban Missile Crisis covering a U.S. Navy airstrike on a Cuban/Russian missile site. It will be similar to the one we ran at the Museum of Flight, but with more options. I'll be painting up some Navy F-4Bs for this and handling the scenario set up, while Kevin takes care of the other aircraft. 
MiGs, missiles, and Skyhawks from the Museum of Flight game
  • I'm also going to do a "Cold War goes Hot" naval game. This will be a solo project and I'm going to use a variation of the Captain's Edition Harpoon rules with 1/6000 miniatures. For those of you that know the game, the rules are pretty simple and I think it should work pretty well in a convention setting.
On another note, between Christmas and New Year's I ordered some more submarine models from OKB Grigorov and they arrived not long after my Spanish got trounced. I ordered four American subs (most of which will just be used as display models) and a Russian Delta IV SSBN (which will be used with my submarine rules).
Cold War subs USS Tang, USS Barracuda, USS Cavalla (a long-hull Sturgeon) and USS Thresher
Soviet Delta IV (Project 667 BDRM)
I probably won't work on these until after my Enfilade projects are well underway, but it was nice to get them.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcome 2017 - Good-Bye 2016

Following others, I’ll jump on the end of year – beginning of year blog post bandwagon. First up, I want to thank all of you that read my blog. I really have no idea how many people I reach (especially since Blogger's tracking stats seems to be pretty messed up for my site), but it is always nice to get comments from people about what I'm doing. So, thanks for reading.

Next, I'll do a quick review of the projects I wanted to get done in 2016.
1) Channel Dash project for Enfilade 2016.

This was a successful project. We got in the two games at Enfilade, one involving the air attacks and one involving the MTB attack. The air attack game went better than the MTB attack, but it was still a fun little project.

2) Finish the modern submarine rules.
Not completed. I’ve been toying around with these and it is time to do some serious work. I did some work on this and did paint up some more Cold War American subs. So I moved forward a little, but there is still work to be done.

3) Work on the Japanese opponents for my 28mm Bolt Action Aussies.
Successfully completed. The only things I didn’t do were add up the Bolt Action points to see if I have “balanced” forces (I'm not sure how much that matters) and add metal washers to the bases for the magnetic sheet storage container I’m using.

Odds and Ends: I did a few of these project in 2016. I painted up (and bought more of) the figures from Fantasy Flight’s Imperial Assault game. I’m hoping to get someone to try out the game with me or I might use the figures with Osprey’s Rogue Stars rules.
I painted up my Avarian ships for Galactic Knights and even got in a game against Kevin’s Terrans (although there are no photos of the battle to show my stunning victory).
On a non-miniatures front, I played a campaign of Silent Victory as my summer solo game. It was a fun game and I’ve run a couple more patrols for fun since summer. I would recommend this game or it’s sister, The Hunters, if you are interested in solo World War II submarine games.

So 2 out of 3 complete, with a couple side projects too.

Looking to 2017 
I haven’t really thought too far ahead for 2017. I need to come up with some games for Enfilade and there are some other projects I’d like to look at. As usual, DANG will take up the last quarter of the year and since I let the gamers vote on the project, it is hard to know what it will be.

For Enfilade, here are a few things I’m thinking about:
  • A game using 1/6000 scale modern naval miniatures using the Harpoon Captain’s Edition rules (with some modifications). I think this has real potential as a convention game. 
  • An air-sea game with PB4Y Privateers defending a US sub from Japanese ASW planes while the sub rescues a downed pilot (this is a historical event and you can look it up). 
  • Whatever Kevin and I can come up with as a joint project. This might be Cuban Missile Crisis stuff or something different. Let me know if any of these ideas sound particularly interesting. 
For my non-Enfilade projects, I’m looking at:
1) Get my modern submarine rules to beta and let a few people look at and comment on the rules. Although I’m not sure how far I will really cast my net for comments and testers. Stay tuned on this one.

2) Finish my Chinese Navy Type 054A frigate and some Japanese missile boats. I’ve had these models sitting around for a year now, so it is time to finish them up! This could even turn into an Enfilade project, depending on when I finish them and what else I can come up with.

Odds and Ends: These are mostly non-naval projects. I’d still like to do up some Crusades era armies for Lion Rampant, get some figures for the En Garde rules, and even some Cavalry – Indian figures for The Men Who Would be Kings rules. A lot of Osprey rules there, but it is what people in my area are playing. As usual, I expect that some other bright shiny game project will draw my attention. So I’ll keep my other options open for now.

On a personal note (and please feel free to skip this part), 2016 was a down year for me. I was unhappy most of the year and ended up switching jobs in November. While it might not be evident from my posts, my gloomy outlook impacted my projects and gaming (along with other things in my life) a lot more than I would like to admit. I’m really hoping that 2017 is a much better year and that I can pull myself out of the doldrums.