Category: 1/72

Painting Miniatures: Priming

Now that you’ve gotten your miniatures glued and assembled, you’re ready for painting right? Nope. Simply put, there is no point in painting your miniatures if you are not using primer. Primer is formulated to bond tightly to a surface. Alternately paint has some similar properties, but is mainly designed to provide a uniform color. Especially for metal miniatures, it’s possible to rub off paint that is coated directly on the figure. To ensure a better and more uniform bond of paint to the model, you need to prime it first. Priming will also allow for more consistent color over the entire figure, particularly in open and smooth surfaces of the miniature.

So using a primer is important, but what color should you use? It will depend on the overall base colors you are using. Generally white is good if predominantly the model will be painted using bright colors. Black primer is good for darker or more muted, neutral tones. While gray primer is a good middle ground if wanting an all purpose primer color.

Black primer can also be used for speed painting miniatures. You can cut corners using black primer as it can accentuate the details of the figure (by leaving a trace about of black between sections of the miniature). This can be expanded by using colored primers to help reduce painting times. Companies like Army Painter have a variety of shaded primers which essentially work as a base hue for the figure and is great if painting a lot of miniatures using a similar color scheme. While there are plenty of miniature paint primers out there, Krylon also offers good primer sprays which work well and are easy on the wallet.

Working with primer spray cans, you want a well ventilated area and in weather that is dry and not exceedingly cold. Make sure to mix the primer well. I hold the spray can upside down initially hitting it against the flat of my hand, and then continue shaking upside down letting the ball bearing inside mix the paint. Don’t skim on shaking time, you want to shake for a good minute or so at least.

While spraying primer you want to shoot for an even coat, spraying about a foot away from the miniatures. Spray in short even bursts, about 1-2 seconds using a smooth sweeping action. You want to avoid a static position while applying spray as this can cause too much primer to pool up on parts of a model. I like to placing figures on an old pizza box, so I can angle the primer at lower angles to ensure good coverage. Once primed, as you’d expect, let the primer dry completely (most spray primer will dry in an hour or so). If you’ve found areas that aren’t covered, you can position them with the exposed area up and give a quick primer touch up.

Alternately you may want to use paint on primer such as Reaper’s paint on primer. I would consider at least investing in a bottle to have handy. You might see a spot on a model that didn’t quite get any spray primer and need a quick touch up. The other plus is you aren’t dependent on the weather if wanting to prime a model. But between a paint on primer and spray, I would use spray primers to save time and get more uniform results.

Mind you, some figures may not need to be primed. Reaper Bones are created with a particular plastic which the manufacturers claim primer is unnecessary. However using a primer won’t hurt, and can provide a better foundation for certain colors.

Painting Miniatures: Assembly, glues, and filling gaps

Plastic has become more popular and accessible for miniatures which I love, but man you can end up with a pile of plastic bits. Now that you’ve trimmed and cut them from sprues, how do you go about assembling them? Generally you want to invest in two types of glue: cyanoacrylate, instant curing glue (super glue) and plastic cement (model glue).

Instant curing glue is pretty much an all purpose glue for your miniatures. They can instantly bond to a variety of materials and are great for metal figures as well as soft plastics. If you dabble in 1/72 scale wargaming, commonly the plastic miniatures you get are ‘soft’ plastic. As RPG miniatures go, Reaper Miniatures Bones is another similar type of soft plastic that instant glue will work well on.

Super glue cement will form a quick bond. Apply a little to each joint and then set the pieces together holding with gentle pressure for 10-15 seconds. Even though you will get the parts to hold, you want to let the glue completely dry for an hour or so. A small tip, be mindful that too much instant curing glue can seep out, filling in gaps and obscure details on your miniature. Use the glue sparingly and if you’ve added too much you can draw up the excess using a paper towel. Simply twist an end to a fine point and dab it into the glue. Through adsorption the towel can quickly draw up the excess if working quickly. Don’t let the paper towel set in the glue for 10 seconds or so, otherwise you’ll end up with a chunk of paper towel on your mini!

Plastic cement is made specifically for polystyrene miniatures or your ‘hard’ plastics. This glue will essentially melt the plastic and once dry, create a bond that mixes the plastic from each part together. For plastic miniatures I prefer using model cement as it makes the bond unbreakable. You can also really go to town kitbashing and altering figures, as the cement will create a rock solid bond with the parts you use. A small tip, if in doubt that plastic cement can be used for the miniatures you are working with, glue two pieces of the plastic sprues together. That way you can determine if the bond that forms is good enough before trying it out on your minis.

When working with plastic cement use gentle pressure and hold parts together for around 15 seconds. Like with superglue, you can get the pieces forming a bond quickly but be sure to let the miniature dry for at least an hour before painting. You also want to use the glue sparingly and dab up any excess that might spill out. I personally like working with plastic cement when I can. Instant curing glue can be tricky to work with and you can easily get fingers stuck to the miniature or glued together. With plastic cement this isn’t an issue.

Another tool for your bench worth having is a pair of tweezers or forceps. Especially with plastic models, you can get some small parts that are difficult to handle with just your fingers. Using tweezers allows for more precision in placing that part just so on a miniature.

Some other tips with assembling miniatures. Take the time to look through the sprue and/or assembly instructions. Many manufacturers will have labels on the sprue indicating with a letter or number the part and which piece they line up with. Once cut from the sprue, take care to line up your pieces with the figure you are working with. It can be too easy to slip into assembly line mode cutting tons of bits from sprues only to end up with a pile of hopelessly mixed up arms and legs.

Many miniatures will also come with bases. Most are textured, but you might have some that have a smooth surface. This can be difficult to get a solid bond with the figure. To get around this, I would score the surface of the smooth plastic with sandpaper or a hobby knife. This will create a rough texture allowing more surface area that the glue can seep into, creating a stronger bond. If you look at the bases of the figures below you can see the score marks I put on the bases for my hard plastic miniatures.

Some bases might have slots which need to be filled in. Similarly, you may have joints that don’t quite fit snugly leaving a gap. Even a small thin crack can become an unsightly detail once painted up. Another hobby supply you should invest in is green stuff putty. This is a two part epoxy that comes as a clay material. Through kneading the two colors together in roughly equal ratios, eventually you will get a uniform green color. The putty can easily be worked with and once dried overnight, you get a solid material that will take up paint well. The material can also be sanded if needed.

If you have a lot of open gaps like certain bases, you might want to invest in squadron or white putty. This is more a serious scale modelers tool. Like green stuff epoxy putty it can easily fill in gaps. Once dry it can be painted or sanded down. Some types are a little toxic to work with though. However if you’ve got a ton of gaps to fill in (like with these slotted miniature bases pictured below), it’s far easier to use squadron putty than green stuff.

Painting Miniatures: Cleaning, cutting from sprues, and prep work

Last post was an introduction of sorts. I’m going to kick off this series talking about miniature preparation. The things you should do to get your miniatures cleaned and prepped before putting any coats of paint on them. I’ll be splitting this into two separate posts, one will be assembly and this one will deal with cleaning up your miniature.

Lead miniatures of old have molds split into two halves. In order to ensure an even distribution of molten metal and being able to pop cleanly out of the mold, a small amount of mold release agent is added during the manufacturing process. This is also quite common for resin miniatures and plastic model kits. It’s not quite common for modern plastic miniatures, but that can vary depending on the production process.

If left on the figure, essentially you have this material that forms a barrier between the miniature and your primer or paint. With enough handling, you can rub off sections of that grand paint job you applied. So a way to avoid this is to give your miniatures a bath and a scrub.

Get a container of warm water and add a few drops of dish detergent, just enough to be able to work up some suds. Using an old toothbrush, place your miniature sprue into the soapy water, and give the figures a light scrub. Nothing too frantic or vigorous just a gentle brushing, focusing especially on the nooks and grooves as these recesses in a figure can capture a lot of mold release agent. Once you’ve gone over the entire sprue, give the models a final rinse of water and let them dry.

Cutting plastic parts from the sprues can be tedious. You will want to invest in a quality craft/hobby knife (Xacto knife) with plenty of spare blades. Be sure to cut on a good work surface. I use old plastic kitchen cutting boards. And also be sure to cut away from you and from fingers holding the figure or sprue. Sharp knife blades cut safer. If you are getting a lot of resistance when you cut, you likely have worn down the edge of the blade. Consider switching it out for a new one and use the ‘duller’ blade for work that doesn’t require a lot of force like removing flash (more on that later). You might even want to have 2 sets of knife blade handles. One for removing figures from sprues, and another for other general hobby work and cleaning mold lines from figures.

I would recommend investing in special cutter pliers. You can purchase cutters for plastic model kits like from Tamiya. However you can also hit up your local hardware store and buy electrical cutting wire cable cutter pliers. These pliers have both a flat and angled edge. With the flat edge towards the miniature part, you can quickly snip plastic parts off their sprues. It’s much easier (and safer) compared to using a hobby knife as occasionally there can be thick plastic parts which can require a lot of force when cutting

Once you’ve cut pieces from the sprue, you will want to clean up any flash from the miniature. As mentioned before, molds of miniatures come in two sections. Occasionally the seal of the mold can allow some of the figure material to seep out during the casting process. This forms a thin line on some sections of the miniature. With this Russian AT rifle figure below, you can make out a faint line on the profile of the figure that goes from the head all the way down to the base. If left alone, this can add a jarring detail to the miniature when it gets painted, accentuating the flash line.

You want to clean that up by carefully removing the excess. A hobby knife can be sufficient but some care is needed. You want to avoid gouging into the figure cutting too much material from the model. With a deft touch you can gently scrape away any flash lines. Alternately for really tight sections or areas that have a curved surface, you will want to use sandpaper or an emery board.

Obviously for metal miniatures you can’t use sandpaper. So if frequently working with metal figures, you might want to invest in a precision needle file set. These can be bought at hardware stores and typically come in sets with files of different types. Aside from flat or triangular faces, these sets may also have rat tail files (circular files) which are great for those odd curved surfaces.

I also would invest in a brass wire brush. After using a file, you can gently brush along the teeth of the file head (make sure to match the angle and not go against the ‘grain’ of the file teeth). With plastic this isn’t an issue however with metal eventually you will ‘fill in’ the surface teeth of the file. Essentially making the file’s teeth no longer able to scrape away any material. Occasionally cleaning out any excess can keep those file edges in good form.

Depending on the amount of flash and intricacies of miniature pieces, you might want to assemble your mini first and then clean up the figure. Next post will cover points on glue and figure assembly. One last tip, save your bits. I typically cut all the excess pieces from a sprue and squirrel them away in a ziplock bag. You never know when you might want to do some kitbashing, need an extra weapon, or a particular angled arm or leg.

Painting Miniatures: Focus of series

I see a lot of people asking for help and information on painting miniatures, be it for those dipping their toe into wargames, or folks looking to add some bling to their board games. Honestly I’ve found most recommended sources offering advice that’s all over the place. To be fair miniature painting as a hobby can throw you down a geek rabbit hole.

You’ve got folks out there that focus on speed painting, cranking out tons of rank and file figures in the shortest time possible. You’ve got people presenting high end talent, geared towards those looking to get into competition class painting. You’ve got fans of airbrush painting. You’ve got military history folks talking about that elusive mixture to produce accurate dunkelgelb. Trying to wade through all that content as a painting neophyte can be daunting.

I’ve been into miniature wargaming for a while. I am not even close to a high skill, Golden Demon class type of painter (hats off to you, Ansel Elgort!). Nope. I’m pretty much at the ‘one foot rule’ skill level (looks good enough if you hold it 1 foot away). But I’ve been around the miniature painting block a bit and over the years picked up some tricks and tools of the hobby.

Throughout the next few months I’m going to put up a series of posts walking through the basics of miniature painting. First off, as any long time reader of my blog will know, I’ll be discussing how to paint up your figures to a tabletop standard. That is, figures looking decent enough to place on the game table. These will not be tutorials on techniques to produce phenomenal painted miniatures suitable for Games Workshop-type competitions.

It will however cover the basics and touch on what I call the ‘big three’ techniques of painting. Using these 3 painting techniques, you can produce some nice paint jobs. Nothing fancy, but enough to add some zing to those unpainted figures you might usually push around the tabletop. It will also go through every step of the process, from cutting plastic bits from the sprue (the ‘frame’ for plastic figures which are channels that plastic flows through when poured into a mold), to that final finish of matte spray. I hope folks find the information useful.

Alien vegetation terrain using straws

I dabble in 15mm sci-fi gaming and lately been using my models as proxies for Beyond the Gates of Antares. Getting terrain together can always be a bit of a chore and at times heavy on the wallet. You can get lots of railroad, medieval, and WW2 terrain easily, but sci-fi stuff is somewhat of a niche market. So inevitably I get to tinkering around making my own.

Vegetation is always something tricky. A really good source is simply aquarium plastic plants, but I decided to try and go the full craft route and thought of working with straws. By melting them partially, they fold open and get this weird pitcher plant type of look. I used a lighter and carefully melted the plastic passing it over the flame. I would also put a little heat on sections of the straw and carefully bend it some to give them a few kinks. Be mindful not to apply too much heat, otherwise you’ll end up burning another hole into the main section of the straw. StrawB

StrawA

A word of warning, too much heat and your plastic straw will catch fire. Not to mention the fumes are toxic as hell, so do this in a well ventilated area (I also had a fan behind me blowing the air away). After melting the ends of the straws, I used hot glue to mount them to some plastic card as bases. I then gave them a coat of primer. I tend to have trees and the like on individual bases so I can move them around. When painting them up I used primarily a green base coat along with some highlights of bright colors to draw out a lot of contrast.

StrawC

Thrown on some felt, they make for some decent vegetation that is a little different from your typical plant foliage. A pretty easy project and if given a more diligent paint job (compared to what I did), you can get some great looking plants.

StrawE

StrawD

Side Note: For 15mm terrain, straws can make for some decent obstacles too. Stacked and lined up, they can serve as large metal or concrete culvert pipes.

Quick painting Russians – Contrast highlights and single wash

I’ve been plugging away at my russians making pretty good progression on them. I have a lot of figures to paint however. One of the nation rules for russians is you can get a free inexperienced 12 man rifle squad. That’s in addition to the three other squads I’m painting up. I’ve got a horde of comrades to paint.

Sadly, don’t have the space and set up to use an air compressor. That’s certainly something I want to dabble around with in the future. For now I’m stuck with hand painting everything. So I wanted to see about cutting corners some given I’ve have 50+ infantry to paint up.

Rather than put a lot of time into drybrushing highlights, I ended up using high contrast highlighting. The trick is to pick a lighter hue paint color and just touch on the clothing and parts that would catch most of the light. So you end up painting the folds and not the creases of jackets and tunics, lighten the top shoulders, highlight pant material around bent knees, etc. It will look a little off putting with the stark contrast, but that’s the result you want.
RussianA
You will end up following the highlight contrast with a wash. This is another trick I used to speed up painting some by sticking with one basic wash for the entire miniature. I use Vallejo paints and inks mostly. So I’ve got a nice selection of shades. However, for my russians I stuck with a single sepia ink wash for the entire figure. It’s a nice general wash that adds some tone to the figure and looks good over everything. More importantly, it helps blend in the high contrast highlights I gave to the miniature.
RussianB
One important bit is to soak up some of the excess wash that pools on the mini (particularly the feet). I used a paper towel corner that I twisted into a sharp point. Dabbing the end onto areas that have a lot of wash will draw up much of the excess, but leave enough behind to bring out the detail.

Some touch ups on the base, drybrush the boots some with a light grey, and a final sealing with a matte spray. Done. You get a nice effect by mixing the wash over the two colors of the tunic and pants. It’s quick and helps give some texture to figures that have a full uniform of a single color. A great technique if needing to speed paint a bunch of miniatures.RussianFinal

Review: Bolt Action – Armies of Germany 2nd edition

germanarmy2ndOne nice thing that Osprey and Warlord Games is doing with the new edition of Bolt Action is pretty much keeping all the older army books usable. No updates will be made to them. The exception though would be the german army. When Bolt Action first hit, the germans seemed to have gotten stuck with the first army book curse.

A hallmark of 40K was that with each new edition, there would be several new codex books released updating all the races. Commonly the first book would end up being ‘underpowered’ compared to the other armies that were released later. More cool ideas and better balancing (or imbalances) would come out after a new edition was released. Typically the first army book would have point costs and choices that seemed ideal on paper, but after a few years of essentially further playtesting from the community at large, later releases of army books would have better options and point costs more in line with their relative value on the tabletop. Sadly, this was viewed from many the same for Bolt Action regarding the germans.

I’ll start off and cover stuff that hasn’t much changed from the first edition. You still get a nice product that covers the german army and various units that were seen throughout the war. There is a brief historical overview of the conflicts and different theaters the german army participated in, then a breakdown of the force organization and options for a reinforced platoon, followed up by theater specific force lists. The layout follows the new format seen in the force lists of the 2nd edition book, which I think is a little easier to read and digest. I haven’t gotten too deep in the lists, but for the most part it seems the costs and unit options are the same as the first version.

The german army has a few new nation rules though. The replacement of fallen NCOs and Hitler’s buzzsaw (LMG and MMGs get an extra d6 shooting) are still in place. One big change is that all german officers get an extra die for giving orders to other units. In effect a 2nd Lt. acts like a 1st Lt., and a 1st Lt. pulls 3 dice like a captain, etc. which is a big change. With the right deployment you can get very effective turns activating several units within command range. I like this new rule for the german army and it’s something that somewhat reflects the discipline and leadership much of the army had in WW2.

The other new nation rule which is a little more flaky is Tiger Fear. Every enemy unit that sees a vehicle with this special rule acts as if it has an additional pin except for orders to fire on that vehicle. Now for a Panther or an actual Tiger, I could see this as a nice flavor rule. But this also applies to the Panzer IV which to me sort of pushes that into OP territory. You suddenly have a medium tank that can make it difficult for enemy units being able to advance and take objectives, simply by seeing it on the table. I expect Tiger Fear to be heavily house-ruled for many people.

You have a scattering of a few new units. Ambulance vehicles can now be chosen which operate as both a transport and as a medic unit, which is interesting. Additionally there is a special section at the end which covers units and vehicles that had night vision gear for those night fight games.

The Good – This is a fairly comprehensive book for players that want to field a german army for Bolt Action. You get a lot of options including several special units and theater lists that cover much of the war including a few that have some special rules for engagements at certain time periods (such as limited fuel for the end of the war, or unreliable new production panther tanks that were mid-war). I like that the german army also has a few extra nation-specific rules which can bolster their force some. As typical for these books there is a lot of great Osprey artwork and photographs, along with a comfortable layout to read the unit choices and costs.

The Bad – Aside from the few extra paragraphs for the nation specific rules, you aren’t going to find much different from the first edition. There are a few minor changes here and there (such as light infantry mortars no longer being able to fire smoke rounds). But essentially the point costs and unit selections are just about the same. On one hand you might be pleased with this, meaning you don’t have to alter up the composition of your platoons much. But on the other hand, if you think there were glaring imbalances with point costs for certain units, they are likely still there.

The Verdict – If you are a new Bolt Action player and fancy fielding a german platoon, this is a must buy. You get so many options and choices, along with lots of theater-specific lists to let you dabble in more historic TOE forces, it’s worth getting. It’s also an attractive book with a lot of material to offer a decent source of information for both painting and modelling, as well as a touch of history.

If you are an older player of german forces, this might be worth picking up. You could likely take a pencil to the older edition and mark down the few special rules and changes to some key units. Other than that, you could simply commit the new nation rules to memory and work with your old book. You aren’t going to find much here that is new or different from the first edition. In fact, I’d say embrace a more environmentally sound choice and possibly get the PDF version and alter the few special rules in your old print edition manually.

It’s an attractive book and the new nation rules are worth noting. However it’s likely not something you absolutely need to have a print version of if you’ve got the older edition (just use the new nation rules). Yet for new players, the 2nd edition is certainly something to buy if playing a german army. A pleasant book with some more material other than just unit profiles and force selectors to serve as an enjoyable light read for a german army enthusiast.

Wargaming supplies in Seoul: Neighbor Hobby

Scouring around for places to pick up paints and supplies I stumbled across likely the new Mecca for hobby supplies for me, Neighbor Hobby. It’s nestled away unassumingly in the lower floor of an office building. But despite it’s location, they have a pretty amazing stock of model kits of all sorts.
neighborhobbya
There is a great selection of military models. Unfortunately for fans of Bolt Action, they carry only Tamiya 1/48 kits, but they seem to have a full selection from that line. As 1/72 and 1/76 scale kits go though, they have a great choice of tanks, soldiers, and terrain. With buildings I usually use 20 mm, even for 28mm stuff as it keeps a smaller footprint on the table and looks okay. I find true 28mm scale buildings just a little too big and even the smallest 2 story house seems to dwarf the rest of the table terrain. So having a lot of building model kits for sale was a pleasant surprise.
neighborhobbyc
Now for paints, brushes, and other supplies you are set. There is a great selection of paints from Testors, Tamiya, AK Interactive, MIG, as well as my go to for painting, Vallejo. It’s a wonderful amount of choices and stock for both brush and airbrush painters. They also carry a complete selection of Testors and Tamiya sprays. Well worth checking out.
neighborhobbyb
To get there isn’t too difficult. Take subway line 2 to Hongik University and get off exit number 3. You need to cross the street and footpath park and take a side street, then go right. Once you hit a main street go left and it will be in an office building.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

neighborhobbymapb

The entrance is actually a bit odd. Going behind the building from the parking lot you enter on the first floor. You will follow a long hall towards the elevator, and can find the shop directly.
nhobbyparking

However if you enter the front of the building you are actually on the 2nd floor and have to take the lift down to the 1st floor.

neighborhobbyd
All in all Neighbor Hobby is a fantastic place to pick up military models, paints, and modeling supplies. It certainly is one of the top places to get wargaming model supplies in the city. It’s also in the same neighborhood as Rolling Dice so a great stop to get a double scoop of geek supplies while in Seoul.

Review: Bolt Action Second Edition

I am a long time fan of Bolt Action and enjoy the game immensely. It’s a bit Hollywood but for skirmish WW2 gaming it gets a lot right. Another bonus for me is that it’s small enough in scale to offer some narrative potential with scenarios.

I’m not going to go much into the mechanisms of the game as my first review pretty much carries the same opinions as before. You instead for the most part have some refinement with the rules with the new edition. The game still has some parts that are a tad gamey, but some of the more glaring rules and wonky tactics that were in the first edition are curbed some.

This won’t be an exhaustive list but I thought I’d highlight a few changes focusing on some of the more notable ones. Likely the biggest change regards officers. Leaders now can potentially have multiple units to activate under their command. Most allow for 1-2 units within 6”, but higher ranking officers increase this to 12” and up to 4 different units.

If an officer successfully passes their order test (note the Down order is exempt from this), they can pull and assign extra order dice. The assigned units still have to pass their orders, but you can get quite a few units getting that extra boost to act while in the presence of an officer. This is a really great rule. Before the benefits of officers were minor unless working with a lot of inexperienced troops. Plus there was not much incentive to take higher ranked officers. This rule completely changes that and makes leadership have a greater impact on the game.

bolt-action-2-coverSome other notable changes to orders were also made. Rally now is not subject to pin modifiers to see if the order is passed, but the unit still only removes D6+1 pin markers. There is a small change to Ambush. If at the end of a turn you want to return a unit’s order die, on a 4+ the unit can immediately execute a Fire order before doing so. Just a little way to get something out of taking a unit off Ambush, if nothing ever presented itself during a turn to trigger it.

Another big change is that the Down order provides at -2 penalty to shooting at infantry and artillery units. This is a pretty hefty defensive bonus. Likely this will make the option of just hitting the dirt due to excessive fire more enticing for units and a solid tactical option. Not to mention those pesky air and artillery observers being able to evade fire.

Assaults no longer take off pins automatically for units fighting in hand to hand. Also target units can return fire automatically if they have not been given an order. Veteran units still have a heavy advantage in assaults, but at least it emphasizes Rally orders for removing pins. Another change is that assault weapons (like pistols and SMGs) get one additional attack if they successfully inflict a casualty, not automatically double the number of attacks. This lowers the effectiveness of these weapons in assaults (units that are Tough Fighters get this too), trimming down their ability to tear through units as before.

As weapons go, there are a few key changes. I always felt LMGs were lacking in the game and it seems that Warlord has listened to the community. Both LMGs and MMGs now throw an extra die when shooting. Another tweak for fixed weapons is that they can make a special Assault move, rotating in place towards any facing, and still be able to fire (with a -1 penalty to hit). These slight changes now make units like MMG teams a little more fearsome.

Flamethrowers were always a bit of a divisive weapon, especially vehicle flamethrowers. Now they don’t automatically hit and instead hit on a basic 3+ ignoring any modifiers for cover or units that are Down. Vehicle flamethrowers now only inflict D6+1 hits instead of 2D6. The plus side is that all flamethrowers now only run out of fuel on a 1 (instead of a 1-2 for man-packed flamethrowers).

Likely the biggest weapon change is in regards to HE as templates are used to determine the number of hits. I’m on the fence some with this. One aspect I cringe about is that the game now can get a little finicky with a player maneuvering templates around. The basic rules are that a player must always try and place a template to hit as many enemy models as possible, and they cannot also target friendly troops.

This limits the number of potential hits, especially for light mortars but it does add some consistency with the number of possible casualties. The plus is that across the board all HE weapons can potentially inflict more pins. Also there were some weird instances in the first edition where you might target a small weapons team and only be able to hit that unit, despite it being positioned close to other enemy troops. This certainly adds some tactical value to spreading different squads out to avoid being hit by large HE rounds.

There are a couple of notable changes to vehicles too. Empty transport vehicles can now fire one weapon. I love this change as it encourages armored transports to be used and having more importance on the battlefield other than just carting troops around. Mind you, the same rule for empty transports being destroyed if ending a turn closer to enemy units is still a thing.

Another change is that a player decides to fire either a main weapon or the co-axial MG, not both. This really cuts down the firepower of tanks. There is also a pretty big change with recce vehicles. They can only make an escape move if they have not been given an order die. It certainly makes using these vehicles for scouting more difficult, but also reduces the abuse some players had with these vehicles taking pop shots and scooting behind buildings to avoid return fire.

Additionally if opting to fire pintle-mounted weapons the tank is considered open topped. This is a small change to differentiate them from tanks with just co-axial weapons. However likely the pintle mounted guns are also flak weapons, and that now has some greater use on the table.

Certain weapons can now provide flak support. When a plane comes in due to an air observer, each flak unit can try to attack it, rolling to hit on a 5+. If scored total hits are 3 or more the plane is either shot down or sent away. I love this rule. It makes using air support a bit trickier to use (and possibly encourages the more expensive artillery observers instead). Lastly, it gives a greater role to flak weapons and encourages a player to add a few as a potential counter to air attacks.

There are some more small bits and tinkered rules (dense terrain, reduced assault rifle ranges, changes to sniper teams, etc.). Overall they are pretty much a refinement and incorporation of a lot of popular community house rules. Some of them shift away from truisms of the past editions. Now you have a reason to take a higher ranking officer. Now full infantry squads can re-roll failed order tests until they suffer a casualty, meaning investing in a large squad can get some tangible benefit other than just being able to suck up a lot of hits (which works especially well with inexperienced troops).

The book has a total of 12 new scenarios. Six of which are more meeting engagements, where the other 6 have clear attackers and defenders. Unfortunately, three of the scenarios are still a Maximum Attrition type of game, where you just have to kill as much of the enemy as possible. But the wrinkles in setup and some scenario specific rules shake them up some.

Much like the previous book, a truncated army force list is provided for each major nation. This time Japan is also included. Fans of a particular nation will eventually want to pick up the army books, but the lists in the book are serviceable and provide options to field a robust platoon. Lastly there are some other supplemental rules for night fighting, rules to incorporate more players, larger forces with multiple activations, and even multi-national forces.

The Good – The second edition is more an assembling of tweaks and house rules than a full blown rework of the game. For the most part this is great news. Some of the changes likely will mean players have to adjust their tactics (leaders with multiple activations, and units no longer automatically removing pins in assaults are a few). There is still that random order activation. Pinning units to degrade morale and effectiveness is still there. In short it’s still Bolt Action.

I like that more scenarios are presented. I’m especially glad to see them mine other games for some fun scenarios (like a classic 40K cleanse mission).The sprinkling of scenario specific rules also helps reinforce that Bolt Action can be very much a narrative historical game, and also an enjoyable tourney game.

The artwork and layout is pleasant, with each section having a nice heading on the outer edges of the page. There are more examples and more diagrams. And typical of Osprey books, lots of great art and pictures including a concise timeline of key historical campaigns and engagements to spur on ideas for possible battles in different theaters of the war.

The Bad – This isn’t a simulation game. There is still some abstract mechanics and you are going to get some pretty shifty tactics from players. With the addition of officers being able to allow multiple activations, some might feel the random initiative is simply too chaotic for their tastes over an IGOUGO system. And lastly, it’s still point based. You are going to get those guys making cheese platoons and trying to game as much out of the force lists as possible.

Another minor quibble is that the background of the pages have this stressed border graphic that appears like flock. All the pages on the right have what appears to be a smudge of gunk. While for a page with a sparse layout of figures and pictures, it doesn’t stand out. But for me it gets a little distracting having it among paragraphs of text.

The Verdict – I love Bolt Action and the 2nd Edition is certainly an improvement of the former rules. There are a lot of small changes and enough so that I would consider picking up the new edition. However if you only play the game once in awhile, likely you could get away with just sticking with the old rules and try to scoop up a new QRS/player aid.

It’s still a great, robust set of rules. It doesn’t lend itself too much towards being a staunch historical game. There are plenty of opportunities to play out those ‘what if’ games, and a few of the mechanics might be too abstract for die hard WW2 wargamers. Not to mention some platoon force lists that will likely make someone well versed in historical TOEs tear out their hair. But it gets so much right.

Bolt Action is chaotic and the concept of throwing a lot of fire at a threat to force it to hit the dirt, so your troops can maneuver, is still there. It’s just such a fun set of skirmish rules. And I particularly enjoy how the game encourages players to dig into historical books and fish out odd units. If you want to field a platoon of Moroccan Goumiers that fought in the Italian campaign, you can do that. That to me demonstrates how pliable the rules can be.

So like with my original review, Bolt Action is still a fun, WW2 skirmish game. And if a die hard fan or a new player interested in getting into historical gaming, the second edition is very much a great book to pick up.

Armourfast Sherman M4A2 75mm

Anyone that’s been reading my blog for a while will know I am a fan of the 1/72 scale Armourfast kits. These are not high quality models. However for 20mm wargaming they are excellent. Cheap, pretty easy to put together, and they come 2 vehicles per kit. If you are going for building up an armor platoon, they are an especially a good buy.

I finally finished up my 20mm Pacific US Marines and wanted to get a tank for my list. I recognize that Stuarts are likely the most popular choice but I wanted something a bit more fearsome, so I went the M4 route.ShermanA

The Armourfast Sherman kit was a snap to put together. I would say one hiccup was fitting the turret peg into the hull. The turret peg isn’t molded into the turret and instead you’ve got to assemble it. Not an issue, but I found the hull hole where the peg fit into was a bit tight. Filing it down and putting a tad too much pressure meant twisting the turret peg some. I pulled it apart quick enough, straightened everything out, and filed the hole some more for an easier fit. However fair warning and ensure that the peg fits well into the hull before assembling (rookie modeler mistake from me as usual).ShermanB

The details of the tank are okay. The pintle mounted 50 cal fits well. As per other Armourfast kits the inside tread wheels are more to be desired and are empty molded plastic without any details whatsoever. The plus is that you can’t readily notice them unless looking at the tank from a lower angle. Another plus is that as a single model peice it’s easy to assemble the tread wheels to the hull.

There are no stowage options and if wanting to add some personality to the model, you’ll have to go the route of pillaging other model kits for that. There are also no decals for the kit, so that is another thing I’ll have to pilfer from other kits.

The details of the tank hull stand up to painting well enough. Yet I’m a bit miffed with my choice of a wash. My original base coat had a nice dark shade for the tank treads but the difference between the hull became quite muddled after a wash coat. Still it’s a serviceable tank model for tabletop wargaming and good enough for 20 mm Bolt Action.
ShermanC