Monday, September 15, 2014

My Winning Miniatures from the NOVA Open Capital Palette

This Northumbrian Earl took bronze in the Historical Single Miniature category

And these Orks took silver in the Sci-Fi Collection category

Many thanks to Mike Schaefer for running a great event.  Huge congratulations to John Stiening for his awesome Best in Show.  Oh hell, screw the link, just look at this thing:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

WIP Late War German Infantry, A Cautionary Tale

I'm starting work on my Bolt Action models with the hope that I can get some of the guys together for a demo game in a couple of weeks.  I have been talking up the game in a big way, so I am excited to get some models on the tabletop.

I started with German infantry.  After cleaning and assembling the models, I primed them using P3 white spray primer.  I can say that this is the best spray primer I have used so far.

Because these will be late war Germans, I wanted to ensure that I got the right shade for their uniforms.  Late war German field grey uniforms generally had a more brownish appearance than the blue grey uniforms of the early war period.  To capture this I mixed 1.5 parts Secret Weapon Blue Black Wash with 1 part Secret Weapon Concrete Wash and painted the uniforms with the wash mix.
I then mixed 3 parts Vallejo Sombre Grey Game Color acrylic paint with 1 part Vallejo Heavy Charcoal Game Color acrylic paint and then diluted that mix 2:1 with water.  I then painted the helmets with this mix.
So far so good.

The next step was to apply a black oil wash over the base coat uniform.  I prefer oil washes to acrylic washes because the capillary action seems more even (acrylic washes succumb to gravity more than oils) and pooling is easier to clean up.  Here is how the technique works: I put a dime-sized dollop of Rembrandt Ivory Black paint in the bottom of a shot glass and thin it with about an ounce of mineral spirits.  It takes a lot of stirring to dissolve the paint in the thinner-several minutes-so make sure you get all the lumps of paint out.  I then put another splash of thinner in a second shot glass.  I wash the basecoat and then use a paintbrush or q-tip dipped in the clean thinner to clean the pooling wash off high points (and any other places I don't want it). The result is more even blacklining, less gross pooling in low spots, and subtle shading. 

Except things didn't go so well this time.  I have used this technique before to good effect, but this time things went wrong.  When I applied the wash, it became clear that the acrylic was was either not completely dry, or did not completely bond with or cover the enamel primer.  The thinner started to dissolve the primer, causing a faint milkiness to seep through the basecoat in a couple of places.  I wasn't too concerned about this, as these are army pieces, not show pieces, and I hoped that the milky wash would darken and blend with the field gray/black wash as it dried.  I finished washing the models, being careful to dab the wash onto the surface (instead of painting the wash across the surface) and then then turned to the clear thinner to clean up the high points.  Here's how things looked at this point:

I should have anticipated the ensuing catastrophe.  I'm sure you astute artists out there already know what I am about to write.

Because the thinner had already started to soften the primer underneath the basecoat, the first time I swiped the brush loaded with clean thinner across a model, it took the primer and basecoat off with it.  You can see my handiwork in the picture below.  The model in the upper left has a huge gouge in the top of his helmet, while the model on the lower right has lost a large chunk of paint from the top of his outstretched arm. The model on the upper right shows some of the primer bleeding through the basecoat of his tunic on his left hip.

Brushes down.  Walk away.  Take stock.  Make a recovery plan.  Prevent a repeat.

I have used this technique before, but with acrylic paint, not washes.  That said, I painted the helmets with paint, and they were affected just like the basecoat of wash.  The one thing that is different this time is that I only waited about an hour (maybe less) between applying the basecoats and then the oil wash.  When I have used this technique in the past, I have adhered to my hard and fast rule of waiting 24 hours for an acrylic layer to bond and dry fully before painting any effects over the top.  This time, I am speculating that the acrylic had not bonded to the enamel primer, allowing the thinner to seep through and dissolve the primer.  For the next batch of soldiers, I will repeat the process with a full day between acrylic basecoat and oil wash.

As for repairing the damage to these guys, I will try to remove the basecoat and primer from the affected areas (helmet and arm) and then re-paint them.  If the milky areas don't blend I will probably just reapply a field gray wash over them to darken them sufficiently so that they won't stand out in a crowd.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Bolt Action Battle Report...sort of

Welcome to the first Bolt Action Battle Report from Cheatin' Steve's.

OK, so this isn't exactly a Bolt Action battle report.  Because I do not have any WW2 miniatures painted, my Son, Connor, and I decided to use IG Steel Legion models as Germans (mainly because of the sweet heavy bolter models) and Orks as US infantry.  This is pretty appropriate because the US special rule in Bolt Action allows rifle/BAR models to advance and fire without penalty-pretty Orky.


Steel Legion (Late War German)
3 Squads: NCO with Submachine Gun, MG42 team, 3 riflemen
1 Officer with Veteran (2x submachine guns)

Orks (Late War US Army)
2 BAR Squads: NCO with submachine gun, BAR, 6 riflemen
1 Sniper team (2 models)
1 Officer with Veteran (2x submachine guns)

Mission: Maximum Attrition

For referencing the pictures, I'm at the top of the board, Connor is on the bottom.

Turn 1:  Our forces move onto the board.  Connor moves one MG42 squad onto each flank.  I place a sniper on my far right flank (on top of the tall building in the upper left corner of the photo) and run one BAR squad 12" onto the board.

Turn 2: Connor moves his third MG42 squad and HQ into the center of his line.  I give my snipers an ambush order and move my HQ up behind the BAR squad on my right.  My second BAR squad ignores my orders to advance onto the table.  Insubordinate fucks.

MG42 Heavy Bolter team set:

Ork Sniper team (YES, I SAID THAT) has commanding fields of fire

MG squad moves into position

Orks skulking behind cover

Turn 3: Connor inches his squads forward, positioning them to establish an engagement area when the time is right (while staying out of sight from my sniper team).  I move my BAR squad and HQ forward on my right flank, keeping behind cover.

Turn 4: Connor establishes his engagement area by moving his MG42 squads into the open and onto rooftops.  My sniper fires at the MG42 in the center but fails to cause a casualty.  I consolidated the BAR squad and HQ behind cover on my right, while the second BAR squad finally obeys orders and moves up behind the first squad and HQ.

Turn 5:  Connor stays put, waiting for me to enter his engagement area.  My sniper team refuses my order to fire, but the BAR squad on my far right advances and destroys the MG42 team on Connor's left flank.  This launched an extensive rules review which determined that Connor could have removed non-MG42 models that were out of line of sight from my units, though he opted to remove the MG team.  It ended up a moot point because of what will happen in Turn 6, but I get ahead of myself.  Throwing caution and tactical acumen to the wind I race my second BAR squad forward into Connor's engagement area in a vain attempt to gain the cover of the building in the lower left. I'm  banking everything that I will get first draw next turn and move the squad safely into the cover of that building.

Turn 6:  Connor totally catches me with my pants down.  He draws the first two orders, meaning that he can fire at my vulnerable BAR squad with two MG42 squads.  The MG42 squad on the right does its job and kills two models from the BAR squad.  But then the MG42 squad in the center rolls a FUBAR (double 6's), panics, and fires on Connor's own squad on the left, annihilating it.  This gives me an assailable flank, and I press my advantage.

Connor's MG squads sight-in on my defenseless Orks

Avoid this:

Turn 7: Connor's left flank is turned, so the outcome is pretty academic at this point.  Being a hardcore gamer, he keeps his Steel Legion troopers firing at the BAR squad in his engagement area, piling on casualties and pin markers, but the Orks manage to pass their morale roll and stay in the game.  I fire at the MG 42 squad in the center with my sniper and with my BAR squad that is advancing on the left.

Turn 8:  We keep playing because we can, though the outcome is already decided.  Connor's MG42 squad on the right causes a casualty on my advancing squad, but not before the BAR squad annihilates the MG42 squad in the center.  My snipers manage to kill a soldier in the remaining MG42 squad, but fail to disable the machine gun itself.

Turn 9: To the bitter end.  I get the drop on activations this turn and complete my sweep of Connor's line.  He is left with his HQ sheltering behind cover in the center.

Reactions.  This was a very rudimentary game, with my Son and I getting a feel for the mechanics using small forces.  Big thanks to Connor for sticking with it after his panic-stricken squad in the center lost the game for him.

Our first impression is that this game responds very well to real tactics (unlike Warhammer 40k).  The alternating activation is awesome, the prohibition on pre-measuring any distances, along with the FUBAR rule (which caused catastrophic panic in Connor's force and lost him the game), represent the fog of war really well.  Competitive/strategic gamers will not like this game due to its unpredictability and lack of control (though one does have the opportunity to construct douchy, optimized lists if one wishes to depart from historical reality).  Narrative/tactical gamers will enjoy Bolt Action for its entertaining flow and tactical realism.


I'm looking forward to more.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Won Silver!

I've always felt that there was something special about these models, and, apparently, so did the judges at the NOVA Open Capital Palette painting competition this weekend.

My Ork Warboss and his retinue earned me a Silver in the Science Fiction Collection category.  My first ever painting award!  Thanks to the Capital Palette and the judges for a great competition and a huge honor.

I also took home a bronze in the Historical Single Miniature category.  More photos will follow.

Already planning for next year....