Monday, February 28, 2011

Off Topic - Travel to Netherlands

I am getting ready to take the family to the Netherlands in April.  I am told that flowers are big there that time of year.  : - )

Anyway, if anyone knows of some good sights to hit - especially Arnhem, drop a comment.  My son and I are big history "guys", so go nuts.  My wife would also appreciate anything related to Amsterdam for her and my daughter.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Etiquette Question

I was stealing, err reading a post on "The Dads" about etiquette and how you play a friendly game.  This really got me thinking because of a few situations that happened during the most recent tournament.

Question #1:

How do you treat a rules mistake after the game is completely over?

Situation - In my first game, I moved my Stewies At The Double to get them within 4" of an objective in the 2nd Turn.  When my 3rd Turn started, I "held" the objective and ended the game.  After posting my AAR on the flames of war site, someone pointed out that this is not legal.  The rules state that a platoon that moved At The Double cannot contest an objective the next turn.  I totally forgot / did not know and neither did my opponent.  So what do you do?  Since the game is over, is that it?  I will state that I believe I would have still won the game, but you never know how the fickle dice will roll.

Question #2:

Do you remind an opponent of a rule, even when it is absolutely NOT in your favor to do so?

Situation - In my second game, I had closed in on the objective and wiped out my opponent's KVs.  The only thing he had left was infantry that he had to use in an assault.  I have 3 Shermans and 4 Stewies crowded in the area.  There was area terrain (woods) that his infantry were hiding out in.  As I was positioning my Stewies, my opponent (Dave) reminded me that if I have a vehicle within 4" of the woods, he would be able to assault and I would not get defensive fire.  While I knew that (kind of - wink, wink), it jostled my memory and I made sure I was just beyond 4".  Now, he absolutely did NOT need to do that and it was completely NOT in his favor.  Would you have done this?  That is why I think he was the best sport in the tournament.  Now, I still think he loses the game, but maybe not as bad, had he assaulted and I did not have Defensive Fire.

Situation - In my third game, I was channeling the spirit of "stupid placements of platoon leaders" and left my Stewie's platton leader out on the end.  Bye bye.  Now one of the problems fielding Americans is that when the platoon leader goes, they can't move.  But there is a rule where the CiC or the 2iC can move within command distance and appoint another leader.  I admit that I DID NOT KNOW this rule.  I also admit that knowing the rules is my responsibility.  Got it.  But my opponent knew (or thought it might be) and did not say anything.  He only mentioned it after the game and even then, he said the he was not too sure.  That is the benefit of playing Germans!  If you were my opponent and you knew the rule, what would you have done?

I have decided that if I know a rule and even if it is not to my benefit, I will remind my opponent.  And I will do so before it is too late for them to do anything.  That is a little different than the answer I posted on "The Dads" site.  But as I reflect, I think that the spirit of the game - even in competition - should weigh more.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

As promised - Explosion Markers

Here are a few pictures that show the finished work.

Remembering that this is my first attempt at them, I can see a few "areas for improvement":

1) Don't spread the hot glue everywhere.  You can see in a few pictures that they glue is visible as globs and strands.  Painting won't hide it, so cleanup is necessary prior to painting - like putting more foliage over the exposed area.

2) Use another coat of grey.  I went black twice, then grey twice.  I am thinking another grey and maybe even a lighter grey on that third coat.

But I really do like the effect and look of the marker.  In one of my games, there was a conversation about concealment through a destroyed tank.  I had to remind my opponent about the 2" rule (sorry, don't know the cm measurement).  The marker helped illustrate that.

So without further ado, here are the pictures:

You can see the glob of glue and a strand.  The strands should be easy enough to cut out.  From an artistic view, I think a heavier airbrush at the top and lighter on the bottom would be a better look to the explosion.  In other words, show more color of the foliage at the bottom and not the top.

While the focus is a little off, I like this marker very much.  The trick is to make the marker look a little asymetical.  Of course, the marker completely overtakes my little Stewie.  But again, it does help to illustrate the 2" rule on the detroyed tank.

Final thoughts:

Ok, so they don't look like Shawn's (The Terrain Guy), but then what mere mortal's work does?!?  I have to admit I really like the look and effect.  I did see another player that had an LED flashing under his marker.  That made me think...  nahhh.  Or did it?!?!  :-)

Simple to make, but remember the hot glue!  White glue, terrain glue and even super glue will work, but I found the hot glue to be much, much easier to handle.

Good luck!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

AAR - FoW Mid War Tournament - The Last Square, Madison, WI

Just finished up my second tournament ever and make a good showing.

So let me set the stage:

Mid war - 1,500 points, split into 3 task groups.  White is 1,000 points and must be a legal build.  Red and Blue are 250 points each.  No splitting of points across each task group.  3 games, random missions chosen from Encounter, Free for All, Fighting Withdrawl and one other that we didn't use and I don't remember.

I brought American armor, which is CT.

2 75mm Shermans (CiC and 2iC)
4 75mm Shermans
4 M5 Stuarts
1 Recon Section (Tank), which is 2 rifle teams, command carbine, M2 Half track and 2 unarmed jeeps)

1 Recon Section (Tank) mirrored exactly like above
1 Armored Field Artillery Battery - 3 M7 Priests

1 Armored Rifle Platoon - normal with 3 rifle teams and bazooka swapping out for 37mm gun
1 Sporadic air from Warhawks (I proxied my P-47s)

Round One:

Played Ben, who is a young player in our normal league.  He fielded a german grenadier company.  The mission was Encounter.  Ugg.  But we had all 1,500 points on the table.  I was defender, he was attacker.  He could only bring in 2 platoons and I could field 3.  He ended up putting down a platoon of 3 Marders, a Tiger e and grenadier platoon (Tiger was the CiC).  I put down armored rifle, Stuarts and Shermans.  Recons (both) and Priests were in reserve.  From my view, he went Marders on the left objective, grenadiers in the middle protecting the other objective and the Tiger on a slope with a line right down the road.  I didn't realize it then, but Tiger had a shot on my Shermans.  I had placed an objective on my end behind a river and put the armored rifles on it.  Stewies were on the other side of the river and the Shermans were in the middle.  Picture below shows the end.

Turn 1:

He moved his Marders up on a hill and killed a Stewie.  Uh oh.  His Tiger had a shot at a Sherman due to poor placement (recurring theme) and killed it.  Stormtroopered his Marders back, but due to an aggressive first move, he could only get one below the hill.

On my turn, I rolled for air and got 2 planes.  I rushed the Marders with the Stewies and I was able to get a shot in.  My CiC came along for the ride too.  I ended up bailing one of the Marders.  I moved the Shermans into the village and hid from the "big kitty."  Planes came in and...  wiped out the Marders.  Literally.  That was pivotal because the whole left side was empty.  Now it was a race to the objective and the Tiger had to pivot over.  Could I get there before reserves on 3?

Turn 2:

Race is on.  Tiger moved over.  Somewhere, he bailed my CiC from a Tiger shot by missing FP to kill.

On my turn I double timed the Stewies to contest.  I then had to aggressively move the Shermans towards the Tiger, including putting my 2iC 1 inch away.

Turn 3:

Big roll - his reserves.  No!  He took the shots at the Stewies and only managed one hit.  Bye bye Stewie.  But he could not get to the objective and he could not get enough hits on the Stewies to force a morale check.

My turn 3, I have an objective and the game is over.

6-1 Victory, but I only killed one platoon and lost zero.

End of the game

Round 2:

Up against Dave from Chicago playing Finns.  I can't tell you the specifics, but he had nasty troops with super deadly Anti-Tank rating, 2 mortar platoons (122 and 80 somethings) and 2 KV-1 or 2s.  Can't remember.

Mission was Fighting Withdrawl and we could field White group and either Red or Blue.  I went with Priest / Recon task force and kept the planes and the armored rifle platoon out of the game.  I was the attacker.

I spread out the objectives as much as possible.  He decided to place all of his infantry in the woods.  He had his nasty anti-tank infantry on my left and his KVs on my right.  What was key to this game is that he decided to defend the table length that we had placed our stuff on while getting ready.  Afterward we both agreed that he should have switched sides with me.  His second mistake was that due to terrain, I actually had a path to the KVs that limited his vision.

Start - after Recon

I don't remember the details of the game too much, but I did an "American Sherman Bull Rush" up the right flank and sent the Stewies up the middle to keep his infantry in the woods.  After two turns, I was able to close in on the KVs.  Untimely rolls (good for me) on his armor saves and by turn 4, I had both KVs destroyed.  He tried a last ditch assault, but the Sherman's and Stewie's machine guns were just too much and the resulting pin ended the game.

Another 6-1 Victory, but I only killed 1 platoon and zero lost

I do have to say that Dave was one of the nicest, most sporting people I have played against.  He made the game a pleasure.

End of Game - pinned on the assault, we did not move them back

Round 3:

Mission was Free for All and only used the White (1,000) group.  I drew Caleb from MN.  He was the best of the 7-7 group.  Since I had killed 2 platoons and lost 0 in 2 games, I was in 3rd.  Two other players were 12-2, but they had killed more platoons.  Joe made a comment that I was "too efficient in winning."  Darn!

Caleb had 2 platoons of german pioneers and a platoon of various Panzer IIIs.  By the way, how do you German players keep up with the 267 different types of tanks!!

Turned out to be a great game, but I made two massively stupid mistakes and I wish we could go again.  I had to play for the 6-1 win to stand any chance of getting the tourney win and qualify for USA Nationals.

Mistake 1:  I placed my Stewies where the Panzers could see on a long range shot.  Dorkus that I am hung my Platoon Leader out on the edge.  Gone.  Destroyed.  Now I can't move them.

Mistake 2: I am an idiot and did not remember the rule about CiC or 2iC "choosing" a new platoon leader.

So because of those two mistakes, my Stewies are pill boxes.  My Shermans made a game of it and caught 3 of the 4 panzers in the open with side shots.  All 3 gone.  Caleb failed the Platoon morale check, but the darn Company Commander saved him.  I was unable to get the last panzer.  Since I was playing for the win, I had to get aggressive with the tanks.  His pioneers were sitting on the objectives and dug in.  I got too close and learned how nasty flame throwers can be.  3 Shermans gone in the assault, but the Platoon Leader passed the Platoon morale check.  I lost the 2iC earlier in the game and by Turn 8, he was shifting the pioneer teams across the board to get his objective and along the way took out my last Shermans.  With stationary Stewies, we shook hands.

1-6 Loss.

I did not get a picture of the last game.

So, 13-8 after being at 12-2.  But not bad for my second tourney.

On a related note, I did win best painted army!!

I want to thank Joe for setting up the tourney and for Bev & Karl at The Last Square for hosting the event.

Here are a few pictures!

Mike (right) who did qualify for USA Nationals this past Fall.

Joe (center right) - Thanks for being the host and ref!!

Best painted.  Explosion markers will be on the post tomorrow!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I like Homer Simpson.  He keeps it honest and real when he makes a stupid mistake.

So please, call me Homer.

After my "issues" with the clump foliage and explosion markers, I went back to my notes.  You see, there has been a demo online for many months on a 40k site.  I have reviewed my notes and I missed something so very simple:

Hot Glue.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Explosion Markers - not so fast!

Wow - what a bad evening of making explosion markers.  Here is the story:

Heading home from curling (yes, I curl), I stopped at my LGS (The Last Square in Madison, WI - GREAT STORE!!!) to pickup some VMA Black.  I grabbed that, some glue and two bags of green clump foliage.  In speaking with the owner Karl, I mentioned that I was really looking for autumn clump foliage.  He was able to reach into his bag of tricks as supplied me with the needed materials.  THANKS KARL!!

So all excited, I headed home to make explosion markers.  And that basically ends the highlight of the evening.

Everyting went wrong.  I could not get the clump foliage to glue onto the pipe cleaner.  I ended up with a blob of clump foliage and glue everywhere.  I think in retrospect I simply did not take my time.  I was rushed, so the results were, well...  suboptimal.

I did manage a few to kind of look like explosion markers.  The real trick will be tonight.  I am playing a warmup game for this weekend's FoW Tournament (also at The Last Square) and when I get home, I hope to see how well the materials held together.

I know hope is not a stratgey, but I tend to use it in all things FoW related.  Example:  I hope that Sherman 75mm can take out that Panther!

As they say, "results vary".

Monday, February 14, 2011

Explosion Markers Updated (no pictures yet)

I have finished my first two markers as a test.  I liked the way they turned out, so I am now starting 6 more.

The idea is simple enough and the details have been posted in the forums at

I took a washer and glued about 6 inches of pipe cleaner to the washer, with the pipe cleaner extending straight up as the washer is resting on the desk.  The best way to describe the way the way teh pip cleaner looks is that it should resemble the wire egg holder you get in the PAS egg dying kits for Easter in the States.  I then saturated the pipe cleaner with a water / white glue mixture, then dunked it in a mixture of red and yellow (fall) coarse turf.  I did not have any clump foliage, but the coarse turf works ok.  It won't be as "full" as you would get with clump foliage.  I then remove the pipe cleaner and let it rest for a little bit - about 30 minutes.  I should state that I do not do the entire length of the cleaner because I need something to hold it with.  Then I spray the "marker" with something called wet water.  That is just water and dish detergent mixed together.  The detergent allows the water to flow easier.  Once the marker is damp, I then add more of the water glue mixture and another dunk.  Let it stand, then repeat the wet water and the glue step.  Let it dry for 24 hours, then airbrush the marker with black.  And you now have an explosion marker.

I think I will try several with clump foliage if I ever see clump foliage.  But I am in a tournament this weekend and I hope to have 8 markers ready for the table by Saturday.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fruitful Weekend

Between clearing the driveway, chasing Elvis (my Bernese Mountain Dog) and family time, I was able to get some quality painting work done this weekend. I am basically finished with my 105mm American Field Artillery and my Fire Direction Center. I also tried a "do it yourself" foam insert and came to the conclusion that $10 from Battlefoam is a STEAL! The foam works, but the time to cut each section is crazy. Now it will work for my son's 40k vehicles, but 15mm is just too many cuts.

I am also trying my hand at the explosion markers that have become all the rage. I am in the middle of those, but when I am finished I will post some pictures.

Speaking of which, I need to pickup some kind of photo booth thing. I saw something at think I have seen the same thing on other sites and catalogs, so that might be the way to go. Otherwise we are stuck with my painting table!

Next on the table will be the M1 American Heavy Antiaircraft Artillery. That should be interesting!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flames of Math Part 2:

So as I beat my brain in coming up with all sorts of numbers (and also that phone app!), here is my biggest challenge:

Trained vs. Veteran

I consider this question to be the "Holy Grail" in FoW as an American player.  Think Cobra, then ask yourself do you want the 2nd Armored or the 3rd Armored?

I am still working on the calculations on this.

[EDITORIAL NOTE:  I am NOT this nerdy.  Really.  I promise.]

The competing interest here has to do with the point differences in the two forces and the fact that you are now 16.5% more likely to get hit by those pesky Germans.  I am referring to the fact that the "to hit" on trained is 3+ and veteran is 4+.  You then weigh that against the "but I can get more attack dice by having more units" argument.

In a tournament several months ago, I went CT instead of CV.  The results were mixed.  What I really noticed is that my AOP had a tougher time ranging in artillery.  In fact, I would argue that the biggest difference in trained v. veteran comes in on artillery.

But our "guts" can be wrong.  Just see the math on the one chance at a 5+ versus two chances at a 6.  My gut says if you are running Cobra and you are using armored which will force you to almost always attack, go for the attack dice.  But I could be wrong.  So I am still trying to get the calculations correct.

Of course, any and all feedback is welcome here!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Flames of Math" Part 1

Ok, I admit to being a 40k refugee.  My son is a very good 40k player and when he first started, I thought I would learn along with him.  Plus I became the "neat" dad because I could play!

Being a "systems" guy, I immediately was drawn into the black hole known as "Math Hammer".  That is the derogitory term used to describe people like me who throw numbers into a spreadsheet.  I personally do it to speed up the learning curve.

When I started Flames of War over a year ago, I thought I would do the same thing.  I quickly learned that Math Hammer did not translate to FoW.  The main reason has to do with a core belief in the gaming system used - that the skill of the target is what determines the criteria or number to hit.  Due to this, you can have numerous complexities on the formula to calculate kills.  Is that German panzer trained?  vet?  How far away is the target?  Is it concealed?  Gone to Ground?  Shurzen?  I guess I could write a phone app (memo to self - write a phone app) that would take all that into account.

Or I could play 200 games.

So what I have done is simply play with the numbers on simple examples.  My favorite right now?


As an American player, we have the luxury of stabilizers.  Too bad they are attached to Shermans.  The question is always "do I use them and take the +1 to hit penalty?"  Now, THAT is a question I can get my head around.  And debate my friends endlessly.  Like last night.


A platoon of 76mm Shermans (4 active tanks - the 5th decided to get blown up a turn earlier) facing 2 Tigers.  Late war.  Everyone are vets (go 2nd Armored!!).  Without too much details, I have a choice:  4 dice at a 4+ to hit or 8 at a 5+ to hit.

What do you do?

I will always argue to take the 8 chances - regardless of the to hit.  Here is the math -

4 x .5 = 2 "hits" at the 4 chances at a 4+
8 x .3333 = 2.6 "hits" at the 8 chances at a 5+

Change it to a 5+ v. a 6 and the math is:

4 x .3333 = 1.3333 "hits" at the 5+
8 x .1666 = 1.3333 "hits" at the 6

One shot at a 5+ or 2 at a 6?

1 x .3333 = .3333 or 33% chance of a hit
2 x .1666 = .3333 or 33% chance of a hit

But by rolling two dice I also get a chance (small, but still at chance at 8.3%) of getting TWO hits by rolling double sixes.

But does it play this way?  Last night - heck yes!  I had a great roll and scored 5 hits.  German rolled and failed 3 armor checks.  Awesome!  I just need 3+ on the firepower to kill!  Two dice showed a "two" and one showed a "one."  AAAAHHHHHHH!!

So I now must admit that I cannot see the need to NOT use stabilizers - unless using them causes an impossible shot (i.e. 7 to hit).

How does the nickname of "Captain Stabilizers" sound?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Current and Future Forces

I currently field a USA Tank Company, usually the 2nd or 3rd Armored as found in Cobra.  I have just completed a full company of First Special Services Forces (Devil's Brigade) and I have British Airlanding about to enter the painting table.  My personal criteria for units in Flames of War is based on very personal experience and family relationships.  My wife's uncle was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the Devil's Bridage.  I have had the honor of visiting the Normandy Beaches twice, including Pont du Hoc, Pegasus Bridge and St. Mare Eglise.  It is a trip that I encourage all to take.  So that should explain my force selections.  And I will be busy painting for the next 12 months.

Already completed:

11 M4 Shermans (75mm) to serve as CiC, 2iC, Platoons
7 M4 Shermans (76mm)
1 Armored Rifle Platoon
1 Armored Mortar Platoon
1 Full Section of P-47s
1 M12 155mm SP Platoon
10 Jeeps (recon, mortar, etc.)
1 M10 Tank Destroyer Platoon (full)
10 M3 Half tracks
5 M5 Stewarts
1 Armored Field Battery (M7) Platoon

In process:

1 105mm Field Artillery Battery
1 M1 Heavy Anti-aircraft Artillery Platoon
1 Armored Rifle Platoon
1 Dismounted MG crews
1 Fire Direction Center
2 2 1/2 Ton Trucks
1 DUKW Section (with a twist)

Awaiting Work:

1 Typhoon Section
1 British Airlanding Artillery
1 British Airlanding Heavy Anti-Tank Platoon
1 British Airlanding Company (Pegasus Bridge)
1 British Armored Platoon (Shermans)
Various objectives, terrain, buildings, etc.

Here are some pictures:

Armored Company

Tank Destroyers!

I admit that I have challenges getting all the mold lines off the tank barrels.  Of course, I hope no one is looking from 3 inches away during a game!


Since it seems like the cool thing to do, I am starting a Flames of War blog.  My picture taking skills are substandard, so I have no idea how they will turn out.

But keep on coming back for updates!