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Friday, May 18, 2018

Operation Nordwind

My buddy Fritz just finished painting up a Jagdtiger, one of those impractical and unreliable late-war German tanks, or rather tank killers, and we both wanted to see it in action.

Time for a little CoC, now that the new PC game is scratching my Battletech itch so well...

Sadly my 17 pounder AT gun was not enough to save my British platoon, but it was a very close and very intense game.  Here are some pictures!

Friday, March 30, 2018

How long to paint a model?

Some of my friends outside the hobby have asked me just how long it takes to paint a single model.  The usual answer is "I don't really know", as I rarely paint just a single model, and when I do, it usually is not a very intense project and I usually spread the work out over weeks or even months. When I'm painting Battletech, which is much of what I've been working on lately, I tend to paint several units at once, so it's hard to break it down.

So when I decided on a last minute addition to my Smoke Jaguar force (I swore I was done with them...), I thought it would be an interesting experience to time each part of the process.

I'm not sure how accurate it is as an indicator of my usual time per model, as this particular piece is a bit bigger than most of my Battletech stuff, and it had some additional challenges (those propellers) that took more work than usual. Further, this wasn't "rush a model to a table-ready state" either, but an attempt to make it about as good as I'm currently capable of, in as long a time as needed.  Further, many of the steps involved stuff that would take the same amount of time whether I was doing one model or ten, and so my "average" time must be significantly lower than this. Further, I spent a lot of time on this one with unnecessary experimentation, so most of my models must have been a good bit faster. At least, that's what I tell myself in the cold watches of the night.

Here's the breakdown:

Day 1:
Filing and trimming, washing:  10 mins
Drilling: 10 mins
Assembly: 10 mins
Priming: 3 mins
Total for Day: 33 minutes

Day 2:
Airbrushing preshade, base coats: 26 minutes (incl cleaning between colors)  preshade black, dunkelgrau, barley grey highlight, us grey camo stripes, dunkelgrau corrections).
Airbrush cleaning: 3 mins (light cleaning)
Total for day: 29 minutes

Day 3:
Detailing: (base coat for all details – US light grey and gory red) 60 mins
Wash: “pin wash”, black into cracks only. 35 mins.
Total for day: 95 minutes

Day 4:
Glazing (part 1): red details and blue cockpit glazing – 30 mins

Day 5:
Glazing (part 2): grey/white, propellers – 25 mins.

Day 6:
Repair after unfortunate feline encounter – 5 mins
Shading correction on propellers – 10 mins (blending highlights more neatly)
Adding missed details: 10 mins (armaments) due to mistake and fix.
Reapply wash to propeller and a few details to deepen the shadows for contrast: 10 mins
Paint base: brown craft paint – 2 mins
Total for day: 37 minutes

Day 7:
Final blending on propellers and obsessive unnecessary corrections and highlights: 30 mins
Drybrush (white): 23 mins
Drybrush (steel): 2 mins
Stupid obsessing over the propellers: 15 mins
Basing: 5 mins (if that). Just flocking, a little bush and some pebbles.
Total for day: 45 minutes

Day 8:
Satin varnish applied via airbrush: 7 minutes
Gloss Varnish brushed on cockpit: 1 minute
Total for day: 8 mins

Grand Total: 302 minutes or just over 5 hours.

Based on this, I'd venture to guess that a Battletech model takes me about 4 hours if I go all out.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Trial of Possession

Clan Smoke Jaguar vs. Clan Jade Falcon - at stake, the rights to invade a particularly valuable Inner Sphere world.  For Fritz and I, a chance to try out some new clan hardware, including this Carnivore Tank and assorted battle armor.

The enemy is sighted! Jade Falcon mechwarriors supported by Elementals.

Long range shots mostly fail to connect as the Madcat tries to flank the concentrated enemy.

Relying on its heavy armor, the Carnivore leads the way, dropping battle armor into cover. 

The Dragonfly, carrying Salamander battle armor, bides its time. 

Meanwhile the Carnivore proves unlucky.  Damage concentrates almost exclusively on the left side, eventually wearing through the armor and knocking the tank out. Unfortunate!  I was counting on that tank to sit there for another round or two...

Meanwhile the Madcat gets into it.  Things get hot as the Falcons disregard Zellbrigen rules and go for back shots.

The Jade Falcon Warhawk takes a pounding but somehow hangs on...

As the Jaguar's Daishi advances supported by Battle armor, it's forced to back off in the face of enemy Elementals it can't cope with on its own.

Meanwhile the Dragonfly makes its move, dropping its Salamander riders into the forest the enemy is using for cover. They immediately turn the whole forest into an inferno.

The Dragonfly tries in vain to keep the enemy off the Madcat.

With the forest ablaze, the Salamanders turn their flamers on the two units of elementals, wiping them out.

Meanwhile, the other elementals supporting the Daishi tear up the enemy trying to transverse the open plain.

Damn that Daishi is pretty!  Some of my best work if I do say so myself...

With this, the enemy Elementals are wiped out to a man.

The enemy is finally falling before the Jaguar advance, but at some price. The Warhawk finally goes down in the face of the Madcat, but the Madcat isn't long for this world either. It's taken damage everywhere.

Finally, it's Gyros give out and it falls to the ground.  But dropping the mech isn't enough to save the Jade Falcons, which are forced to surrender in the face of the nearly undamaged Daishi with is now free to approach. The Jaguars have earned the right to take the offensive to the Inner Sphere!  Stay tuned to see how that goes.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Holding the Line against the Jade Falcons

They're here:   The Clans, those fascist vat-born pubescent fantasies of power and honor - they've come for your basic human rights and genetic legacies!  But fear not, gentle reader, the 1st Argyle Rangers are here to defend you and the Four Freedoms that make the Federated Suns the light of civilization in the Inner Sphere!

Let's have a look at our heroic defenders in action against the dreaded Jade Falcon Clan.

Wow, 12k BV sure does buy a lot of toys!
Here we see the 1st Argyle Rangers, an elite battalion loyal to le Comte de Laval, commanded by his son, Colonel Julien Laval.   Colonel Laval has commanded the unit for over 20 years, and despite being near 50 years old, he has taken the field for a battle of importance.  Riding his rare mech, a Marauder II, he is an intimidating presence on the battlefield.

The Jade Falcon force looks small in comparison, but they should not be underestimated.  Reports of what a single 5-mech "Star" was able to do to well armed Kurita mercenaries show what only a handful of these powerful mechs are capable of. 

The Rangers hunker down behind their defenses and await the coming storm.

The Jade Falcons make a cautious approach, threatening the Rangers' right flank, using a large hill as cover.

Meanwhile the Rangers' VTOL element makes a wide flanking motion of their own, getting around the rear of the enemy quickly.

Col. Laval redeploys his forces to blunt the expected attack.

"Visual Contact!"  A Summoner takes a cautious step around the hill and is met by 8 volleys of LRM 20 packs, sending it scurrying back behind cover once more.  Some of the younger members of the Davion force openly mock the Clans on their radios, but Laval quickly tamps that down.  This was not the time for overconfidence.

He orders his light mechs to flank the enemy on the left, hoping to draw them out of formation.

Meanwhile the VTOLs are in position directly behind the enemy, staying carefully out of sight and awaiting their moment.  In one of the transports waits two platoons of highly trained anti-mech infantry.  The other... well, let's just say some modifications have been made to the underbelly to offer the Clans a bit of a surprise.

Indecision on the part of the Clan commander sees the Star continually redeploying behind the hill, trying to find a way to threaten the Rangers' tight defensive formation. They seem to consider cresting the hill or rounding it on the right and left simultaneously... but only a few shots have been fired thus far.

Finally, they make their decision and divide into three groups. One mech alone against the heavily defended right, two mechs (including the Star Commander in his Warhawk) at center, and the two Summoners trying to chase the lights around the mountain to the left. 

Outrunning the chasing mechs, the lights make their move, followed up by VTOL support and some jump infantry that took advance positions on the hill. The VTOLs, infantry and light mechs rush the rear of the two lead mechs.

Before they connect the Star Commander challenges Col. Laval  to personal combat according to the Clan's absurd honor rules. Laval, despite a reputation for disdaining duels, gleefully accepts.  If he can personally tie up the Star's commander the rest of the company can focus on the other mechs.  The Colonel holds strictly to the dueling rules, forcing the commander to keep them as well, while his Light mechs and vehicles utterly disregard the rules and seek for rear armor shots.

Ignoring the Star Commander's Warhawk, the lights fire everything into the rear armor of the leading NovaCat.  The infantry however fire on the Star Commander.  Lucky shot to the head sees him black out for a full turn.  Yet Col. Laval orders no one to fire on the unconscious pilot.  He's playing the long game - even if the Rangers win here, he wants them to do it with a reputation for accepting Clan honor.  Not for reasons of respect (who can respect a fascist?), but for future exploitation.

Meanwhile the Blackhawk moves up rapidly into range, facing an incredible amount of incoming fire.

...and the two Summoners finally round the mountain to see their light mech targets tearing apart their friends.  Wait, did that Karnov VTOL just fire an AC-20 into the back of that NovaCat?  You bet your ass it did.  #DuctTapeSolutions.

With his dueling target briefly unconscious, Col. Laval takes a look around for a quick mid-battle assessment.  The two Summoners on the left are playing catch up, the Blackhawk on the right is getting torn apart by heavy armor, a Hunchback and a Stalker, and the center... the center is a glorious mess of back-shotting lights and VTOLs and front shotting LRM-20s.  Things are looking pretty good for the Rangers!

An infantry platoon takes advantage of the unconscious commander and climbs on board.

The NovaCat... oh poor Cat.  He's charging the LRMs of the Bombadier, while three lights pluck away at its rear armor.  Engine hits soon accumulate... from the front isn't any better.

The modified Karnov VTOL drops more AC-20 cannon shots into the Summoners as they finally arrive at the party.

Infantry swarm the commander as he tries to continue his duel with the Colonel, and jump infantry harass him at his heels, tearing up his rear torso armor.

The Blackhawk is down, landing a Gyro hit on the Hunchback as he drops. The Hunchback's pilot soon rights his mech and starts to pull back for repairs (Inners are fighting under Forced Withdrawal rules).

As the enemy nears the walls, it's a constant barrage of missiles from the carriers and infantry both.  The NovaCat goes down to engine hits.  That means at least one captured Clanner.

Summoners are dropping fast, as the Warhawk takes engine hits from the infantry. The mech shuts down where it stands.  The pilot, helpless against two platoons of infantry, still takes a several gunshots before surrendering.  A captured Star Commander is going to play very well at court for Col. Laval.

A single Summoner remains, and charges Laval. His PPCs connect with the Clan mech, shaking but not stopping it...

It is at last put down by a rear armor shot from that VTOL with the AC-20 duct taped to the hull.

And with that, the day belongs to the Rangers and Colonel Laval's victory is complete.  Unbelievably, not a single FedSuns soldier died in the fighting.  Three mechs saw significant damage (both Jenners and the Hunchback), and one of the VTOLs will need repair on its rotors, but otherwise this battle was about as one-sided as any force commander could have hoped for.  With no deaths, few repairs, and a pile of incredibly valuable Clan salvage, Colonel Laval may make his final dreamed of promotion to the AFFS General Staff.  Especially with several captured Clanners to bring before the First Prince.

Hurrah!  Victory for the Federated Suns and Freedom!