TFL Painting Challenge 2018 Now Closed, 2019 Now Open

So the 2018 TooFatLardies Painting Challenge is now closed…and it has been a very quiet year.

Only thirty-four Lardies have participated, as opposed to forty-seven in 2017. On top of this, of those that had competed before, twenty scored less than last year’s total and only ten scored more.

On the plus side, however, eighteen people have now participated for all of the five years that the Challenge has run, with four more only missing the first year i.e. completing four years in a row.

The good news is, as I mentioned in yesterday’s New Year’s Day post, that I will run the Challenge again in 2019, and declare the competition officially open as from…now! Details are up on the site as usual but, as a quick reminder, send your entries to the usual address (with the photos clearly labelled please!) and I’ll open your gallery with your first entry.

We did have a few last minute entries, listed below:

  • Mr Hodge took a break from painting from early September to mid-December, but finished the year with a 238-point bang

  • Sapper popped in a quick unit of 7YW Carabiniers

  • Some last minute re-basing from Mervyn

  • And finally Ken admits that he’s been dragging his painting heels for a bit, but also ends the year of a high: a 90-point high to be exact

Clicking on the names highlighted above will take you straight to their individual 2018 Galleries (opens in a new window).

Good luck with 2019…and here’s a couple of picks from the above to encourage you to begin your new year at your painting table rather than in front of the TV!

Spearmen from Ken

The rather magnificently named Schaumburg-Lippe Carabiniers from Sapper

Some of Derek’s final entry for 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my visitors, both old and new!

2018 was quite a year for me, with plenty of major changes in my life. In September I was made redundant after seventeen years with the same company. A nice pay-off meant that I didn’t really need to find a job very quickly, but the latest news is that I start a new role next Monday, Jan 7th: about a week after the end of my gardening leave. That means that I have had a rather pleasant, just about four months not working, which has meant plenty of time for wargaming!

A fearsome opponent!

A fearsome opponent!

I also switched from one martial arts association to another, so after 35 years studying one sort of jujitsu, I’m now (along with my wing chun kung fu) studying another, along with the six traditional Japanese weapons: sword, ‘chucks, bo, sai, tonfa, kama.

This meant wearing a white belt again for the first time in some twenty-five years, and standing way at the back of the class with a bunch of strangers rather than out at the front with loads of people I know: an interesting experience. I’m pleased to say those strangers are now friends, and I’m currently standing in the middle of the class, rapidly moving towards the front again!

Gaming

All this training means that I’ve never been part of a regular wargaming club (there are only so many evenings and weekends you can be out and remain married and a father!) so have some years only managed an average of one game a month. Redundancy, however, has mean that this year I have had more wargames than any other since my records began. Most have been I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum! or one of its variants (especially Arab-Israeli) or one of the other company-sized games from the TooFatLardies (Charlie Don’t Surf, Quadrant 13), but I have recently got back into Ancients playing To The Strongest, rather than my own Vis Bellica, which definitely needs a new edition and a lot of love.

Painting

Redundancy also meant I had plenty of time to paint figures, and my score in this year’s Painting Challenge reflects that: 1,859 versus my previous best of 1,219. These have been mostly sci-fi for Quadrant 13 or Arab-Israeli, but the last couple of months have seen a sudden influx of Ancients, and there is also a steady trickle of WW2 kit as well.

The time off meant that, before the Ancients fix took hold of me, I could make a sizeable dent in my lead mountain, which seemed to have accumulated vast amounts of sci-fi armies: major forces for the Astagar, Hive, Invaders and Space Dwarves have all been completed.

Writing

2018 was also a big year for my wargaming writing. The major project for the Jan-May period was the preparation and publication of the four Blitzkrieg in the West theatre supplements for IABSM. This was a major project that took over my life for about six months. It was really fun to do, even if a bit frustrating at times: the exact composition of some of the Belgian and Dutch units especially. Big Rich and I scratched our heads many times on those ones. And, one day, I will find out how the squadrons of 3RTR rolled off the docks at Calais!

If you do game the early war period, I cannot but recommend these. I’m still referring back to them myself on a regular basis, and regularly come across a little snippet of information that I’d forgotten that I’d found out. Or I see a query about unit composition on a wargaming website and think “well, that’s in the French theatre book” and wonder whether or not to answer the query or just put a link to the TFL shop!

The cover pics below, btw, do all link to the shop…

The Year Ahead

So what will 2019 bring wargaming-wise?

Well I’m not making any resolutions, as this is supposed to be fun not a chore, but what I am hoping for is:

  • Plenty more games, focusing on I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum! and To The Strongest

  • Getting all my Ancients armies up to To The Strongest strengths, and then adding a couple of new ones

  • Photographing my entire collection with my new camera

  • Writing another theatre supplement for IABSM to follow on from the four Blitzkrieg in the West editions.

  • Seeing the Painting Challenge continue for its sixth year

  • And, of course, keeping this blog updated on a regular, if not daily, basis

Your AAR concerning the company-sized games from the TooFatLardies (IABSM, CDS, Q13) are vital content for this blog (and the enormous archive of battle reports the site contains: some 500+ now) so do keep sending them in.

Otherwise, I wish you all the very best in 2019.

Check back soon.

Cheers

R

TFL Painting Challenge: Penultimate Post!

Today is the last day for submissions to the TooFatLardies 2018 Painting Challenge, and to encourage you all to pop that last entry through, we have an enormous penultimate update.

So, in no particular order, today we have:

  • Kev sends in a host of American Civil War figures in 15mm

  • There are some Hessians from Ed Bowen

  • Hardy perennial Andrew Helliwell submits his usual assortment of 7YW and medieval figures

  • John de Terre Neuve has been reading his early war theatre handbooks: sending in a very nice Belgian force along with a few Napoleonics and buildings

  • There are some nice modern African militia and their compound HQ from Andy Duffell

  • The Hat is back with a huge submission comprising a full company of WW2 US infantry and supports

  • Steve Burt is still working his way through his Salute freebies!

  • Another huge submission from Fred Bloggs. An ironic statement as they are all 6mm figures.

  • And last, but by no means least, there are four WW2 vehicles from Travis.

As usual, clicking on the name of the person in the above list will take you straight to their gallery (opens in a new window).

Today’s pictures are below:

Painting Challenge 2019

The good news is that I have decided to run the Challenge for its sixth year i.e. Jan-Dec 2019.

Details will be posted in due course, but the format will effectively be the same as the last five years…unless anyone has any ideas that they think I should implement to make it better.

No need for a formal e-mail letting me know you’re entering: just send in your first submissions in the new year to the usual e-mail address (admin@vislardica.com), clearing stating what you’ve sent me in a way that means I don’t have to spend time working out which unit are the grenadiers, which are the line etc!

One question. The website is creaking at the seams a bit with the number of pages. Before I started using Blogs properly, each AAR had its own page, so I’m quite close to the maximum 1,000 pages allowed. Each person’s Gallery uses one page: so for 2019, I’m either going to need to transfer previous AAR-on-a-page content to AAR-on-a-blog, which is not difficult but a bit tedious, or delete the 2014 Painting Challenge galleries. What do you want me to do? Not sure anyone ever looks at the past galleries (well the page stats say they don’t do it very often) but then it is nice to have an archive of entries if one ever does want to look back at what one has achieved. I don’t really mind either way: your thoughts by Comment please.

IABSM French Photographed

One of the ‘toys’ I got for Christmas was a new digital camera. I’d had the old one for some seventeen years, and it had really started to give up the ghost. Batteries were drained with one shot, it hated anything but the brightest of sunlight, and the cover to the compartment for the batteries had developed the annoying habit of popping open at the slightest touch.

The new one came from the post-Christmas sale from John Lewis. This was another first from me, as I actually stood and queued outside for half an hour, and then rushed in with the tsunami of other shoppers to try and get a bargain: not something I have done before, as I usually avoid the whole “Sales” madness. It seems to have been worth it, however, as once I had actually worked out where the sale items were (in their own special area) I picked up the camera I wanted for £30 less than the sale price on Amazon.

New camera means an excuse to photograph some figures, so I re-shot all my 1940’s French. Still haven’t got exactly the results I was looking for, but they look a lot better than my previous gallery.

Some rather colourful R-35’s from a supporting GBC (Groupe de Bataillons de Chars)

I’ve got a lot more figures, especially Somua and Char B1 tanks, and some of the more esoteric portee vehicles that Battlefront was pushing during their Blitzkrieg phase, but I’ve tried to avoid cheese and stick to the official OB’s from the TFL Blitzkrieg in the West: the French handbook.

Reading the lists and building the gallery is a great way of seeing where the gaps are in my collection.

Must be time to get some more French: I wonder if I can find any of them on sale anywhere…

 


Christmas Painting

I always seem to get a lot of painting done over Christmas.

I think it’s because there’s nothing else to do apart from eating and drinking heavily (check), watching tv (check), arguing with the family (check), snoozing (check)!

Anyhow, three more units for my Ancients refurbishment completed:

Another four bases of Celtic light cavalry to pad out my chariot units

Another three Celtic chariot bases, meaning I can now field the minimum number required

Four Sassanid Persian elephant bases, so one full unit in To The Strongest, four units in Vis Bellica.

IABSM AAR: Blenneville or Bust #4G: Belle Maison

Bruce Romanick posted another IABSM AAR on the IABSM Facebook page.

Following on from their last game using the Blenneville or Bust! scenario pack (scenario #3D: Saint Melotte) this time the SAGE group played scenario #4G: Belle Maison, where both the Germans and the Americans are aiming to the occupy the same village in the valley.

According to Bruce’s post, which I hope he doesn’t mind that I reproduce here, the Yanks managed to push the German out of the village, with an opportune air strike taking out a Panther. A minor US win after 3+ hours.

Christmas Games - Militaria

Many years ago, there was what we would now call a Kickstarter for a military version of Trivial Pursuit.

I signed up and received the first of what was due to be several boxes of questions…and that unfortunately ended up being just the one. No money lost, I hasten to add, as you only paid for each box as they were produced.

20181225_110341.jpg

The one box has, however, given many hours of fun. Whilst the kids, when they were kids, answered the Kids questions; and now, as (young) adults, answer the Adult questions, or Harry Potter questions or some other specialisation, I attempt to answer the Militaria questions.

Here’s an example of one card: one of the easiest!

As I said, that’s one of the easiest. This is me yesterday trying to remember some obscure bit of military trivia…

IMG-20181223-WA0001.jpg

IABSM AAR: Cymru Am Byth #13: Swanning Up To Brussels

Tim Whitworth and the lads from the Like A Stone Wall wargames group played another game of I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum the other day, this time using the Cymru Am Byth scenario pack.

The scenario pack covers the operations of the Welsh Guards during WW2, and includes sixteen unique scenarios and a mini-campaign.

The LASW chaps played scenario #13: Swanning Up To Brussels: a German heroic rearguard action versus 1st and 2nd Battalion elements of the Welsh Guards Group that took place on 2nd September 1944.

Tim’s general comment was: “I'll just say the British found it hard going. In these rules the tactics that you employ certainly matter!”

TFL Painting Challenge: Christmas Eve Update

The wheels of the Painting Challenge turn even on Christmas Eve!

A good septet of entries into the Challenge today, although three of you claim that this will be your last entry for the year. Errrr…do you not realise that the Xmas and New Year period is suppose to be when you paint more miniatures than normal. It’s either that or spend time with the family or watch Die Hard for the 45th time!

Anyway, in no particular order, today’s entries are:

As per usual, clicking on the name of the person in the list above will take you straight to their gallery, which will open in a new window. Highly recommended: as there are some lovely paint-jobs on show.

In the meantime, keep painting: plenty of time before the New Year’s Eve deadline.

Today’s pictures are below:

IABSM AAR: Normandy Breakout

A few pictures from the Like a Stone Wall wargaming group playing a Normandy 1944 break out game. The British are defending against a German counter attack. 

Note the use of the Lardage measurement sticks. The LASW chaps have swapped from using inches to Lards, with one Lard being equivalent to 1½ inches.  This allows them to play on their rather swanky 12 foot long table!

TFL "Lard Magazine" Now Available

Those of you familiar with Lardy products will know that it’s usual for Big Rich and the team to produce two “Specials” each year: pdf publications packed with Lard content.

All the new products, travelling and demonstrating has taken its toll, however, and the plan is now to produce one Lard Magazine each year…and this year’s magazine is now available.

This very first edition is crammed with high quality articles, scenarios, interviews and even a complete campaign inside its 170 pages. Ideal for reading on iPad or Tablet in conjunction with Adobe Reader.

Here’s a list of the contents:

  • Nassauers for Sharp Practice. Fat Nicholas regales us with tales of brave Germans and how he recreated them for our best selling skirmish rules.

  • Review of the Year. We take a stroll through 2018 and look at its highs, lows and the bits in the middle that were pretty much alright.

  • There are Many Rivers to Cross. A complete 1940 Pint Sized campaign for Chain of Command with complimentary wet patch.

  • IABSM Lite. Wargaming celebrity and all round good egg Mike Whittaker looks at how to strip down IABSM for action along with a scenario for said rules

  • Fifth Column. A new column by new Lardy convert Alister Campbell-Grieve looking at what drew him to the pleasures of Lard

  • Achtung Indianer. Regular Lardy contributor James Crate looks at spotting and pre-game manoeuvre in Bag the Hun

  • Are You a Complete Tanker? Rotund Nick talks tank tactics for top tanking times with What a Tanker.

  • Blitzkrieg Shortcut. Robert Avery gives some tips on using the Blitzkrieg in the West supplement series for I AIn’t Been Shot Mum along with a scenario

  • Where there is Discord May we Bring Kriegsspiel. Nick Skinner discuses using social media to run kriegsspiel games from afar.

  • Kazemat. Richard looks at Dutch and Belgian bunker types for 1940. How they were organised, used and how to build them

  • The Green Wolves meet the Fox. Belgian Chasseur Ardennais encounter 7 Panzer in 1940. A Scenario for Chain of Command

  • What an Ambush! Wargames celebrity and Wizard to the Stars, Mike Hobbs, presents some ideas on how to add ambushes in What a Tanker.

  • Apache Attack. A scenario for Bag the Hun with US dive bombers attacking a German rail yards.

  • Up Amongst the Pandies. Simon Walker presents an Indian Mutiny scenario for Sharp Practice. Watch out for those baboons!

  • Guards on the Escaut. A 1940 Chain of Command scenario for the first VC action of WWII

  • Cold War. Jeremy Ratcliffe brings I AIn’t Been Shot Mum forward to the Cold War with rule amendments and Army Lists

  • Lard America. Team Lard is Go in the US of A. Here Lard Magazine discovers what’s happening on the Lard scene across the pond

  • Kriegsspiel Cocktail. Charles Eckart shakes and stirs Lardy classic If the Lord Spares Us in with Kriegsspiel to get a cocktail with a big kick.

  • Command & Control at Chickamauga. Godfather of wargaming, Dave Brown, considers events at Chickamauga with a scenario for Pickett’s Charge

  • Aubergine Autos. Nick has the decorators in with this build article using a Charlie Foxtrot model to build a garage fit for a Frenchman.

  • Barkmann Corner Overdrive. This classic scenario for What a Tanker has wowed the crowds around the shows, now you can play it at home. Or elsewhere..

  • And Now the Weather… Weather ideas in Bag the Hun from the pen of James Crate.

  • Dear Johnny. Squadron Leader Johnny Danger signs off with a letter from an admirer.

You can buy the magazine from here.

The Sassanids Are Go!

With the below, my Sassanid army in 15mm for To The Strongest is now finally legitimate i.e. fulfils the minimums required by the army lists.

So, here are two units of Heavy Cavalry - armoured men on unarmoured horses - plus a couple of heroes.

Naturally I haven’t quite finished yet: a unit of elephants and another unit of levy foot are sitting on the painting table waiting for a bit of attention. They’ll have to wait for the Ancient Brits to be finished first, and I’ve got that final unit of Hoplites to finish, and don’t even mention the Macedonians! So much painting, so little time!

6th Game of To The Strongest

This game was a replay of the last i.e. a clash between two homogeneous Sengoku Samurai forces. You can see the sides in the post from December 12th.

The Battle is about to begin

I deployed half my foot samurai on each of the left and right flanks, with my Ashigaru right-centre and my mounted cavalry left-centre. As before, my plan was to hold the centre and then loop around whichever flank opened up first.

Neil, as last game, deployed quite in depth. He placed his “mobs” on his left; his big Ashigaru command mixed in with his cavalry in the centre; and his main samurai command on his right.

This was a much closer game than last time. On the right, I pushed forward quickly with one Samurai command and an Ashigaru command, leaving the other Ashigaru command in reserve. Over the course of the battle, this wing would hit the enemy line several times , but not quite manage to gain a significant advantage. In fact, towards the end of the battle, I had to commit my reserves to prop up this section of my line or risk being pushed back.

My right wing advances

In the centre/left-centre, my cavalry moved forward and managed to get a positional advantage on the Ashigaru facing them. Again, however, no mater how much I tried, I couldn’t quite get in a blow hard enough to crack Neil’s line and, again, towards the end of the battle, my troops began to look a bit “thin”. Fortunately I had a spare unit of foot Samurai from the left that I could move right in order to cover my camps against enemy breakthrough, so the situation remained at least stable.

My left flank moves forward

On my left flank, I advanced strongly and, again, had mixed success. Although, as above, I couldn’t break through Neil’s line, my command of three foot samurai units managed to kill three of the four foot samurai units in front of them for the loss of only one of their own. This left me with two units, one of which I used to reinforce the centre, the other managing to manoeuvre around a rocky outcrop and get behind the enemy line.

At this point, both sides were down to around four to six Victory Coins, and each side had three to four units disordered i.e. about to break at a cost of two Victory Coins per unit: so it was definitely turning out to be a very close run thing.

As it happened, in the endgame, the cards fell my way. My unit of foot samurai that had managed to get around the end of Neil’s line had a series of activations that allowed them to take one of his camps, and one of my reserve Ashigaru Teppo units, firing for the first time, blew a unit of disordered mounted samurai away. With that, Neil’s Victory Coins were all gone, and he was forced to retreat. The day was mine!

Analysis

Another cracking game of To The Strongest. Again, the maxims of trying to break your opponents line and making sure you have a reserve held true, with flank charges and taking camps being very successful routes to victory.

Back to painting the 15mm Ancients now: loving the Samurai armies, but they are very small!

First go at Blood Red Skies

Blood Red Skies is the WW2 aerial combat game from Warlord Games. It’s played with 1/200th scale miniatures on a mat showing the ground beneath…and quite a fun game it is too.

A 109 climbs towards a flight of Spitfires

The first big question, of course, is how do you represent the three dimensions of air combat using models and flight stands? Are the flight stands extendable? And, if so, how high do they go: 40,000 feet?

Well, BRS abstracts all question of height into “advantage”. A ‘plane is either Advantaged (i.e. has managed to get to a height at which is can dive down onto its target), Neutral, or Disadvantaged (i.e. the pilot has let the enemy get above him). The different states are shown by how the model is tilted: up for Advantaged, flat for neutral, down for Disadvantaged. You can only shoot another ‘plane that is at a worse advantage than you so, quite rightly, half the battle is getting into an advantaged position on your enemy.

The top 109 is at a Disadvantage

The other half of the equation is positioning: and how you can move depends partly on your ‘plane (some come with cards that you can play e.g. the Spitfires I was using came with a Tight Turn card, meaning I could turn at any point in my turn rather than just at the end); partly on your skill level and dice rolls (pilots can attempt to outmanoeuvre their opponents); and partly on what you choose to do during your turn: you can “burn off” one level of advantage by doing an extra manouevre.

This makes the game a bit like a game of chess: you have to think ahead at least one move and make sure you don’t leave your aircraft where it is vulnerable to what the enemy pilots will do when its their turn.

There are also rules for Aces, clouds, home field advantage, radar advantage etc. Games are pretty quick: about an hour for a decent-sized dogfight.

Dogfight!

You win the game mainly by driving off the opposition by putting holes into their aircraft, although would just like to point out that I did shoot down two Jerry crates for no loss during my successful defense of Blighty!

As I said above, all in all it’s quite a fun game: although you will need to shell out around £40 for a starter set (giving you two six-plane forces, the stands, the cards, the counters, the dice etc) and then the same amount again if you want a nice mat to play on (4’ by 4’ will do for dogfighting).

It’s not a game that I’ll invest in - aerial combat not being my thing - but it is something I’d be happy to play if on offer.

TFL Painting Challenge: Another Big Update

The entries are still flooding in as people try to beat the midnight on 31st December deadline.

And if you think I’m joking about how keen people are to get their scores as high as possible, two years ago, I had the final entry at 11.58pm…and the first entry into the next year’s challenge at 12.01am!

Here, in no particular order, are today’s entries:

  • Joe McGinn gets the rest of his WW2 US infantry platoon completed

  • David Scott, still on his second wind, sends in loads of WW2 Italians and the some Soviet armour

  • There’s more LOTR from Mervyn, along with some 20mm buildings and some 15mm re-basing

  • Travis has the last of his Colonial Militia. Travis will learn that we never say “the Last” on Vis Lardica: there’s always more figures to buy!

  • More 7YW figures from Mr Helliwell, who never knows when to stop

  • Mark Luther is continuing to paint up figures for his 15mm Spice Islands campaign

  • There’s a welcome return for the Fat Wally, who finally manages to leave his professional painting alone for long enough to paint up some ACW figures for himself

As usual, clicking on the name of the person above will take you straight to their gallery (opens in a new window). Still plenty of time to get your entries in this year: I’m certainly still painting like mad!

Here are today’s pictures:

IABSM AAR: Blenneville or Bust! #3D: Saint Melotte

Bruce Romanick has been learning the IABSM ropes whilst playing some of the scenarios from the Blenneville or Bust! scenario pack.

He’s posted a few photos of his latest game, scenario #3D Saint Melotte (where the British are defending a small French village against German armoured attack) on the IABSM Facebook page, which (and I hope he doesn’t mind) I reproduce here.

Apparently the plucky Brits managed to hold off the Germans…

And Now The Sassanids

Another ancients army that I need to bulk out for To The Strongest is my Sassanid Persians.

Fortunately, I had plenty of cataphracts already painted, so all I need to add to bring the force up to regulation ratios is some of the heavy cavalry that supported the superheavies.

That requires four heavy horse units, which I have decided to field as two units of what I would call Clibanarii (armoured men on felt-armoured covered horses) and two units of Heavy Cavalry (armoured men on unarmoured horses). They have exactly the same stats in TTS, but it’s nice to have the variety should I ever need it.

Here are the Clibanarii:

Lovely 15mm figures from Forged in Battle’s Empires range. Highly recommended.

The grey Clibanarii at the back have come out beautifully, but the turquoise lot at the front haven’t quite worked the way I wanted. I think the contrast between the white and turquoise is just too great to look good at this scale. No matter: I’ll know better for next time!

Looking good!

Not looking too bad!

Bulking Out The Ancient British Panzer Division

Updating all my Vis Bellica-based armies for To The Strongest means doubling the size of all my forces, or at least it does the way that I’m doing it. Vis Bellica has element bases that are (for 15mm figures) 6cm wide, so when I switched systems, it seemed obvious to use two VB elements to represent one TTS unit using the recommended 15cm TTS grid. That also means that I can show disorder in TTS merely by moving the two elements apart at an angle i.e. no need for additional markers.

That’s fine for standard units, but we’ve already seen how TTS deep units (such as Hoplites, Pikes, some Warriors) need four VB bases per TTS unit…and the same is unfortunately true for light chariots as well. In VB, they are based on a 3cm frontage: so four VB light chariot units are needed to make one TTS light chariot unit.

That was fine for the Egyptians, as I already had loads of light chariots in a double-size VB army. It is not so fine, however, for my Ancient British. The VB version has six light chariot bases - just about the right number - but that only makes 1½ TTS light chariot bases. Time to paint lots of chariots!

Reading the TTS army lists, however, the Ancient British have light chariots up to AD211 and light cavalry after that, so the author recommends mixing light cavalry and light chariots in a TTS Ancient British light unit that can count as both. Good idea: time, then, to paint loads of light cavalry rather than light chariots!

Xyston have some very nice Ancient British Unarmoured Cavalry, so that’s what I went for: painting up six four-horse bases’ worth and, controversially, mounting them to match the chariots rather than the more normal four-across-6cm for light cavalry.

This means that the ABPD currently looks like this:

Which looks really good.

So all I need now is another two chariots and another eight cavalry to hit the minimum number of light chariot units required.

Oh, and if I wanted to keep my chariots together, here’s what a light cavalry unit would look like too: