Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tales from the Front (Part 1)

Weeks spent making  the terrain,  basing figures, and  working into the wee hours in an effort to assemble and paint the vehicles in time for the game.  In fact just generally making an unholy mess both of my sleep patterns and my hobby room.  And all this, just for the sake of one afternoon's worth of gaming.  Was it worth it? 


Saturday marked the first time the West Tokyo Wargamers were able to hold a meeting at our new home in the local community centre; a great facility and conveniently located next to the train station and a major shopping area.  The room we used was big enough to set up two large tables, and we had two games going; a very pretty Renaissance naval game pitting Genoese and Spanish galleys against one another, and of course our WW2 Manchurian game using the first edition of Blitzkrieg Commander.

I was able to get almost everything done that I set out to do in preparation for the game.  This included:
1)  Finishing the trench works, although in the end I decided to make the pillboxes detachable until I decide if I really want to have them permanently fixed on the board.
2)  Finishing the Japanese armour.  I quite like the models- a lot in fact. But in the end I settled for just spraying on a couple of coats of Gunze-Sangyo Dark Armour Yellow without bothering to add any camouflage. 
This was in part due to time (and sanity!) constraints, but the biggest factor was that I am still unsure of the paint scheme used on late-war Japanese armour in the Manchurian campaign- and on how to apply it. 
Most schemes I've come across in my books and online seemed to cover only the Pacific theatre or Burma rather than the Manchurian front.   More research needed, and I might use my airbrush for these rather than go mad trying to paint camo on road wheels!
Here they are; the Ha-Go light tanks are rather cute- although basically "road kill" for the T-34's.  As it transpires, they didn't end up doing much in the game.

3) Basing up a mortar stand and SMG company for my Soviet tank brigade.  I didn't do much on these beyond just sticking them on bases.  They still need work, but they met the minimum requirements for the tabletop, i.e. they weren't unpainted!
If I don't say so myself, the terrain and figures looked really good on the table.  I had actually been harbouring some doubts concerning whether or not I had overdone the shading and the intensity of the colour palette on my Soviets, especially when seen close up or on top of my painting desk.  What with the bold brown shading in the uniforms and faces, and the contrasting colours for the equipment and webbing, were the figures looking too "fussy" for WW2 miniatures?

Come gaming day however, and when seen from a proper distance on the large "canvas" that was the gaming table, I realized they looked just fine.  If I had gone for  more subtle shading and kept everything khaki, they would not have been "swallowed up" visually by the terrain.  No doubt that is what the original uniform colours were meant to do, but wargaming is a visual hobby, so for me some artistic license is desirable to make the figures stand out.

And they just looked right, especially with the occasional red flag!

Giovanni provided the Japanese infantry; Plastic figures from Esci for the most part, with a few old Atlantic figures thrown in.  I just contributed the armour and a mortar team from SHQ.  He did a great job on the painting, and the basing he used really set them off well.  All in all, a very attractive game for WW2, although we could have used more terrain pieces as we shall see! 

In my next post I'll be talking about the game itself.  Hopefully someone (Daniel?) will send me some better pictures of the game than the ones I was able to take using my cellphone camera.

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