Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blitzkrieg Book Photos

A friend's buddy brought over a copy of the new Blitzkrieg book. I'm not sure how he got a copy a week early but none of us were complaining as we crowded around to take a look.

I went Mission Impossible and snapped a few photos of the pages. Click READ MORE to see full view of the picture. I made them larger size then normal so it'd be easier to read.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Great Price Increase Debate

Trailer Park Boys

BF customers are as mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore!

Amiss much hang wringing, swearing, outrage, and sworn vows to boycott, the world isn’t about to end because Battlefront announced a price increase to coincide with the release of EW: Blitzkrieg.

Or so the theory goes...

On the FOW Forum, there is a thread with 21 pages (and growing) of debate. Many posters suggest the price increase is a comet, heralding the doom of Mankind and Battlefront. They see a nefarious plot. They think Phil of Battlefront spent hours upon hours in a dungeon below Battlefront headquarters, sacrificing cute hamsters to the god of Early War, to conjure up what we all wanted - - Early War. Ah, but everything has its cost and the Unknown god demanded price increase before he would yield up the secrets of EW in time for its August release date.

Still others see nothing but corporate greed. BF sneak peaked EW in June and there was much rejoicing, seeing all the army lists and new models. Boom! Price increase announcement right before EW arrives like a ball peen hammer between the eyes. Foul! Foul! “Oh, Phil, why do you torment us?” Diabolical Phil is greedily his hands, laughing and cackling knowing we can’t resist the siren call of EW and will still slap down our money to buy $200 box sets and $12.50 blister packs.

I did some calculating, basing my idea on what a Mittlere Panzerkompanie will look like by the time Barbarossa arrives in 2012. From all the EW articles on the FOW site, 3x Pz III E’s will cost 390 points (130 pts per tank). I know this cost will go down in Barbarossa because FA 3, AT 6 isn’t the world killer when facing down T-34’s and KV-I/II’s. With reduced cost, a platoon of 4 Pz III E/F’s is doable (and a 5th Pz III will be the HQ).

I’m not sure on the number of Pz II’s. I know one will be part of the HQ section (along with a Pz III. I imagine another 4 Pz II’s will be a light platoon, providing a substantial number of machine gun dice. So perhaps 5 Pz II’s is an option. Or I could just get another 4 Pz III E’s and 1 Pz II for the HQ.

Assuming BF doesn’t put two Pz II’s in a blister, that’s 10 blisters @ $12.50 a pop or $125.00 (not counting any local taxes or VAT). Ouch!

Guess what. You don't have to buy EW minis from BF.

Old Glory has a large variety of vehicles for EW and they come in packs of 3 for $13.20 at Warweb. Let’s do the math, 4 packs of 3 @ $13.20 is $52.80 before shipping and local taxes. Wow, what’s an $80 savings!

Peter Pig offers another choice from BF.

Here’s a look a the Old Glory EW minis from Little Lead Heroes here and here.

Old Glory minis are good quality. The knock on them is that they are slightly smaller than BF’s resin models and sometimes lack detail (like tools and spare tracks). I own Lend Lease Shermans and ISU-122’s. They are all metal and have good weight to them. There's something to be said about a mini that can be used as a throwing weapon in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse.

However, I’m not a fan of thin, metal guns that can easily bend. That’s my problem with the Old Glory Shermans along with the turret design. The turret looks like the “hand of god” squashed it flat, giving it a much lower profile compared to a BF M4A2. I may eventually replace my 9 Old Glory Shermans with BF ones.

On the table, the differences between BF, Old Glory and Peter Pig are very little. At arms' length, the models all look the same and you still roll the same number of dice when shooting or armor saves regardless if its a BF, Old Glory or Peter Pig tank.

It comes down to personal preference. I LIKE how the M4A2 of BF looks compared to Old Glory. I like Old Glory’s ISU-122. In the end, you are still putting bailed out and cotton on the vehicles during the game.

What am I going to do then for EW?

I have 4 BF Pz IV D/E’s painted and ready. I want to keep my force all BF. I may be willing to pay more for the detail and because I have German stowage from BF that I can add. The stowage won’t fit on the smaller Old Glory minis. I don't know though.

Now to counterbalance the higher costs of minis, I will likely NOT buy Blitzkrieg for $50. There’s only one army list that I want to know about and that’s the Mittlere Panzerkompanie. I don’t plan on starting a British, French or Polish list, despite how fun I think they will be to play. I made the plan to do the 11.PD in 1941 for Barbarossa. I’m missing out on the cool French tanks. Check out WWPD and see how much fun indie is having with his Char-1b’s. GeekEGuy's of GeekEGuy's Military Models told me awhile ago he’s angling to do a French list too. Before you know it they’ll both want croissants for breakfast and talking with a French accent and grow mustaches.

Also, I have to take into account my budget with the Stalin’s Europe (or the Budapest) book due out this Fall (see link). It will contain M4A2 (76mm) army lists, I hope. The money not spent on Blitzkrieg will go to the book and however many 76mm Shermans (likely 8) and SU-100’s (3’s a good number) I will be buying.

Those are my choices.

You have options. You, as the consumer and player, will make the choice on where to put your hard earned money. Everyone is different. BF is a business. They are allowed to raise prices. We also don’t have to buy from them.

To EW or not to EW. To buy BF minis or not buy BF minis. Those are your options. It doesn't take reading 21 pages of postings on a message board to come to that conclusion.

I'm stepping off the soap box. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Review: Dan Abnett's The Lost Omnibus


Work is ramping up and again the school bus known as "Dad" starts making the rounds anew tomorrow. I wanted to get a post in before the busy week sets in.

I'm an unabashed new found fan of Dan Abnett's writings, in case I haven't mentioned it before -- and I have. I needed more reading material last month and picked up the Omnibus collection of The Lost, which is the newer of the Gaunt's Ghosts novels. The Omnibus contains the latest books 8-12 (we're talking 900+ pages). Normally I don't start reading the last books in a series. However, I liked the titles of the Omnibus: Traitor General, His Last Command, Armor of Contempt and wanted to jump ahead in the mythology of Tanith's First-and-Only.

Even though I'm introduced to characters, already well established in the first 7 books, I had no trouble growing attached to them and figuring out their individual quirks and idiosyncrasies that Abnett uses to bring the characters to life. Any references to dead characters wasn't completely lost on me because the characters still have a sense of terrible loss that their companions and friends are gone from earlier books.

In the Omnibus, you get varied flavors of military sci-fi. Traitor General is a special ops story with most of the major characters. His Last Command adds a little intrigue to what happened in the first book before the big battles start. Finally, Armor of Contempt centers on one of the newer members of the Tanith First and we see epic scale battles through his eyes.

I think the strength of Dan Abnett's writings is his imagery. The opening few pages describing the assault on Gereon, in Armor of Contempt, is amazing. I pictured everything that was described and at times my head hurt thinking about the noise, confusion, the smells, and the fear the men and women of the Imperial Guard were experiencing at that moment.

I've read recently that the Gaunt's Ghost series of novels is very similar to the HBO Band of Brothers. I agree 100%. In Band of Brothers, you follow the exploits of E Company and the men of there is continuity with the men who make up that unit. It's the same thing that Abnett achieves.

Abnett writes some of the best military sci-fiction. He's now right up there with David Drake's Hammer's Slammers. Good stuff. Great stuff. Incredible stuff.

If you have never read Dan Abnett, pick up a novel about the Tanith 1st. You'll be hooked.

Mr. Abnett has a blog. You can find an excerpt to his next book, Propsero Burns, in the July 2010 archive.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Flames of War Army Bag


At the cost of $99, the Flames of War bag isn't cheap. However, I can say with confidence it is well worth the price. The good folks over at Battlefoam were contracted by Battlefront to produce the bags. Battlefront made a good choice. I had a chance to meet the Battlefoam folks over at 2009 GAMA convention in Las Vegas. They are fun, nice and listen to the gaming community. Rather than create generic foam trays, they wanted to cater to specific miniatures for each game system.

What follows are pics of my bag (currently housing the 229th Sep Tank Regiment and the 3rd Gv Mech Corps).

Side pocket for FOW dice tin.

Large, front pocket for rule books and army books and misc. charts.

Bag unzipped. What's nice is that the side of the bag folds down when unzipped instead of unzipping the top. I had a Sobol zip top bag and I was dreading lifting the foam tray out. The foam trays usually "bowed" in the middle as I lifted, causing nervousness and tension until the tray was free. Here, the side of the bag unzips and folds down, granting easy access to the trays.

You get two foam toppers to protect the rest of the trays.

My one and only complaint about the FOW Army bag is that one tray is specifically dedicated to HQ stands (tray in foreground). It would have been better if Battlefoam had done a combo of HQ stands and regular infantry stands for a tray, rather than separate trays.

8x Large slots and 8x Medium slots. 5 large slots holding ISU-122 and SU-152. The ISU-122 gun barrel pokes into the side of the tray walls. The gun is that long. Here is where Panthers, King Tigers, IS-2 and other large vehicles will go.

17 Shermans fit nicely into the medium-sized tank tray. BA-64's take the last slot. Nevsky is underneath the armored cars and his two platoon leaders are in two slots to his right.

You get another large tank tray and 5 small slots for cars and smaller vehicles.

A Panther with commander in a large slot. Look at the next picture...

The trays are 1.5" deep. The Panther commander just barely peeks above the top. King Tigers and IS-2 commanders will definitely poke above the top of the trays. Tigers with commanders are okay. Panthers, as you can see, should be fine. I spoke with Pete at our FLGS (The Realm), and he puts his King Tiger and Panther tank turrets and hulls into separate tray slots for his FOW Army bag.

I should mention the front of the bag has velcro space in front and on top to put a name and army badges which can be ordered from Battlefront. Also, I want to point out that the sides of the bags have hard inserts, giving the bag strength and also protecting the foam trays inside. Lastly, I really like the carrying handle on top. Other bags lack this. There's also straps loops on each side. I have my strap detached because I just use the top handle.

Well, that's the FOW Army Bag. I'm very happy with it. I purchased an airplane tray and a Rota Ravedki tray from Battlefoam, which just arrived today. I'll mix and match trays depending on the army I bring to play and keep the extra trays on a bookshelf or in plastic drawers to keep them safe. Budget allowing, maybe one day I'll get another bag for my German forces.

Painting credit: Panther is painted by GeekEGuy and can be found in earlier posts to this blog under "Better Painters than Me". He also painted Nevsky and two Sherman platoon leaders.

Thanks for reading. I hope you the reader found this review of the Army Bag useful.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pilgrimage to the Chino Air Museum

Every year the nephew and I head to the Chino Air Museum, located in San Bernardino County. It's out in the middle of cow country, but most of the cow farms have picked up stakes and moved out because housing developers want the land for more houses (meaning, more money). The smell isn't as bad as it used to be a few years ago.

Most of the planes on display are flyable. They have pans underneath the planes because of oil leaks. Panels are removed on planes undergoing repairs or engine refits. All the work is done by volunteers; some of the volunteers are the men who flew the actual planes. It's a nice treat to meet and talk with them if you're lucky enough to be there on a day when they are working on the aircraft.

The museum also has tanks!


I think this is a Type 95 Ha-Go Japanese tank.





The Yak-3 is scheduled for a demonstration flight on the first weekend of September.

This Bf109 is scheduled for restoration, which will take several years and $$$.


If you are ever in the area, visit the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, CA. It's great.