Now with AAR: The One Week Army: From Bag to Base in Five Days | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Don paints up "Lori's Lads", the Webmistress' first army between Monday when they were delivered and Saturday's game.

Introduction



The goods, in opened and rummaged through bags

As those of you who are regulars here or at TMP likely know, The Webmistress, once she agreed to play Poor Bloody Infantry, decided she loves it. But she didn't want to play with my armies, because I don't have a complete 15mm American force, and that is what she wants to play.

So we found the specs for a PBI late-war American army, and then ordered the bits from WarWeb.com. Since there were no late-war infantry with BARs that we could find at WarWeb, we substituted some marines, but otherwise they're a pretty consistent force. Checking out what she would need for three variants of her army (Shermans, M3 w/105s, Flame throwing Sherman variant), we ordered the infantry to support all of those, and also enough to round out my American force. Trying to fulfill so many purposes meant either buying a whole lot of bags, or buying a few Command Decision bags and fleshing out the smaller groups with other vendors. So for our first requirement � her force with three Shermans (the Shermans come from our M4A3 review), we ordered 375 figures, mostly Command Decision, with one pack of Battle Honors/Quality Casting to fill out the flamethrowers.

In the future we will supplement with quite a bit of QRF and a little Peter Pig, but this article will focus on the first run of CD/BH figures.

The order was delivered on Monday � exactly as ordered � from WarWeb/Grandiosity. Of course The Webmistress, after waiting longer than she would have liked for the order to be filled, wants to play with them, and not anyone else's army for our Saturday game. So she turned to me to crank them out for her. Those of you worried about how cheap people are willing to paint figures will be angry � I'm doing it for free. Oh yeah, she's my wife, what's your point?


Lori's Lads, trimmed but unprimed

Day 1: Clean and Prime

I set simple goals for Monday night, get the figures cleaned up and give them a quick coat of primer. First, Lori had to go through and pick out the figures she wanted to use � after all, the core aremy is about 80 figures and we ordered 352 that fit the core army. So we sat for a while going through them and getting her set up just the way she wanted.

Of course, I forgot about the Command Decision Flash Factor� I spent more hours than I'd planned on trimming the flash off of the pieces. Thankfully, nothing untoward happened when I washed and primed them. As is usual with miniatures, the detail shows up much better under primer than it did on the raw figures, and at this point I'm starting to look forward to painting them.

We chose all of the figures required to make Lori's Lads � ten rifle teams, four command teams, two flamethrower teams, two bazooka teams, three .30 caliber teams, three mortar teams and a bunch of SMG teams.


Lori's Lads, trimmed and primed

Total time invested in day 1: 4 hours

Day 2: Pants and Shirts

For day two I wanted to get through all of the pants and shirts. Americans are middle-of-the-road for painting time because they use different colors for pants and shirts, but at least they're not wearing camouflage. This requires two passes through the miniatures, one for each color, but since they're the core uniform, it's not so bad. Unlike some painters, I don't get overly worked up about slopping a little on the unpainted areas, as at 15mm some figures you aren't even certain what some pieces are supposed to be until you've got them partially painted. Overlapping a little bit helps ensure that there are no tell-tale black spots between colors and reduces touch-ups that are going on at the end where you can really mess up a lot.

I normally take more time than I am with this army, doing a pass a night, but I can do both in one slightly elongated evening, and I'll save a day. So I go for it.

First, the pants:

Lori's Lads in pants but no shirts

Next, I paint up the tunics. It is interesting that the figures are supplied with the tunics in and out, so some of them will overlap the pants by a wide margin and others will not. Those that do not overlap generally have suspenders over the shirt.

Due to the timeline, and the fact that I use a black-paint Magic Wash on the figures at the end to highlight, for the first time in a long time I will not be drybrushing lighter colors onto the main uniform. This should turn out okay, and will help with the fact that the colors are close, and the last time I dry-brushed a lightened version onto 15mm Americans it was tough to tell the difference between the lightened pants and shirt.

And the pants and shirts are done:

Lori's Lads with both pants and shirts completed

Day 3: Webbing and Gear

...And boots!


Day three's results � finally starting to look like soldiers, but the important details yet to go.

Today we're going to try and paint in all of the web gear that Lori's Lads are using. This takes longer than the first two days because I'm more careful � there is now a lot of paint there that I do not want to mess up. So I take my time.

But there is a twist in there too. Wednesday nights are the local HMGS painting nights, and though I attend, I don't normally paint there due to the traffic and jostling (it's a good sized club, if you're in the NE Wisconsin area it's worth checking out). But with only five days to make an entire army ready, I can't loose that couple of hours, so I pack them up along with some basic paints and head down there. I didn't get much done, but it's more than I would normally get done while there. Then it's home for some time with the family, and after putting them all to bed, it's time to break out Lori's Lads and meet my quota for the evening. No rest for the wicked. I did mention that I'm enjoying this, right?


Two samples close-up. Excuse the quality, it's on my painting table, not in the studio

Well, Thursday night is going to be the weapons, helmets, and flesh, that will make them look like real soldiers. The one negative is that I forgot to include the clean-up pass to fix the places where I glommed on paint like a newbie. That will have to be either Thursday or Friday right before washing them.

Day 4: Weapons, Boots, and Flesh


The army after Thursday night's marathon. Yes, those are 6mm Panzer IIIs and 15mm German MG34 teams in the background � parts of other articles that are on hold while I focus on finishing up Lori's Lads

This one-week plan was a good one, and made sense in terms of timelines, but I forgot one little thing � that I'm hosting a "learn to play FoW" game at Major Mini Con Saturday afternoon (before our Saturday evening home game of PBI), and I have some terrain that needs finishing before then. Major oversight on my part, so I took Friday off to make up for it, and sat down Thursday night with a "I'm not stopping until all painting but the final touchup and was are done" attitude.

It took me much longer than I had planned. I did not account for the difficulties introduced by miniatures without crisp clear demarcation lines. When you have to invent the location of the barrel on an M1 Carbine, it tends to slow you down. So I went from midnight to seven AM, painting four passes on these bad boys to get them solidly finished. The only things not in place are the camo netting on some soldiers' helmets and binoculars on a couple of figures.

It was a long but rewarding night, leaving me touch-up, wash, and base for Friday night. As near as I can tell, Lori's Lads will be ready to hit the table come Saturday evening. We may even drag them along Saturday Afternoon to play in the "open gaming" space at Major Mini Con.

In retrospect, if I ever commit to painting an entire army in that timeframe again before I'm retired and have nothing better to do, I will likely insist that they be miniatures that are better defined than those in Lori's Army. I thought we were working things out well to cover all the bases at an affordable price � and we were � but the slowdown caused by trying to identify poorly defined details or recreate details that are worn out in the molds is enough to ensure that I won't do a hurry job with cheaper product again.

But they're coming along fine, and now it's time to gear up for the Friday Night clean-up, wash, and Base.


One of the supporting mortar teams after Day Four.

Days 5&6: Wash, Finish, and Base


The army with all painting and coating completed

Well, I didn't get to the mount part. Finishing the figures took longer than expected, and after my seven AM marathon I wasn't terribly motivated to get started. I waited until Lori went to bed at midnight to even start touch-up, and taking a pass through eighty figures with each color can be tedious. Then the wash went on, taking me to 3:30 in the morning. I had cut the bases earlier in the evening (before everyone went to bed � cutting is noisy). So they were washed and bases cut, but they didn't get the final coat or the basing.

All in all, they looked good, and I hopped on them first thing in the morning, giving them the final spray with dullcoat (Testors this time), and then left for Major Mini Con, which was a blast. We didn't have a lot of people stop by wanting to play, but three did, that was enough for The Ninja and I to run a game, but with in-and-out, it ended up being Mitch vs. a team of two. He lost, but the dice were horribly fickle on him too.

When we got back to the house, and it came to be time for us to play PBI, I had temporarily glued the men onto their bases, but Lori didn't really want to play tonight, and Mitch and I had already put in six hours of playing, so instead I started working on the bases.

I am currently waiting for the bases to dry, so you'll have to wait at least until tomorrow to see the completely finished product, depending upon how carried away I get with trees and logs and such, it could be longer.

Anyway, here are some close-ups of the final look before basing:


One of the mortar teams. Note that the mortar doesn't go together well � I opted to leave that clean-up to basing time rather than carve it out of the misfit pieces


One rifleman. Not the best of the crowd, but the best picture I came through with

And day six - finish basing and adding little bits



The entire army from the front. The tanks are her choices from the Sherman Review (one CD, one BH, one BF).
The layout in this picture is (front to back) Command, Support Platoon, First Platoon, Second Platoon.

Well, except for some static grass, casualty markers, and decals for the tanks, the army was finished up last night. The army came out looking good for table-top purposes, and Lori is pleased with it, so I assume I'm doing okay.


The same picture, other direction.

The pictures aren't the best � lighting just isn't the same at my work area as it is in the studio � but they do show the army, and a couple even show it without washed out detail. I did use more density in the wash than normal, and it's not bad at tabletop, but a little overpowering (not a lot, but noticeable) close-up.

Some close-ups of selected units.

The Mortar teams from her support platoon


Completed Bazooka, LMG, and part of a rifle team from First Platoon.


Most of the support platoon from the back. Note that I hadn't glued the logs down yet and one had rolled around

This is my last entry for this article� Painting up the casualty markers and putting the unit markings on the tanks is not a big deal in relation to the rest of the work. The white strips at the back of each stand are for label-maker generated team designations that Lori will add when she gets the label-maker working correctly.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave commentary in the forums or drop me a line.
Don.


Addendum 1: In the Studio



Just popping in to show some better pictures. They're still not perfect, but here you go:

Lori's Lads with all but the Casualty figures




Platoon 1, Platoon 2, and the Support Platoon.



The Bazooka Team from Platoon 1.


The flamethrower from Platoon 1.



One of the BAR teams from Platoon 2.



One of the support Platoon Mortar teams.

That's it, gives you an idea of the finished product. All that will be done from here on out is completion of casualty markers � they're painted and being mounted as I type this � and decals on the tanks, which will be marked for 2nd Armored Division.

Lori is going to miss our next wargaming weekend, so we'll have to find an alternate time for her to play them.



17 MAR 07 - First Combat Report

Lori's Lads debut in Tunisia.
As soon as they were painted and based, Lori's Lads were shipped out to Tunisia to wreak some havoc with the 21st Panzer Division. After a long sea voyage and some hard fighting to get into position, they arrived in the vicinity of Kasserine Pass just in time to participate in the counter-attacks. They had enough experience to be blooded, not so much that they were veterans. But they're US airborne, and their training more than compensated for lack of combat experience.

At a village so small that it is not on any map, They found Germans advancing in force - a reinforced infantry company was headed for the village and prepared to fight. The Americans gathered their forces and made their plan to defend the village from the advancing German forces.

American Forces - The WidowMakers101st Airborne Division, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, C Company
(Note: The 502nd PIR did not participate in Tunisia, so sue us.)

Stance: reactive (3)

Company Commander - Captain Don (Lori's name, gimme a break)

Command team 1x SMG

First Platoon1x Platoon leader - Garand Armed, gifted platoon leader
4x Garand
4x BAR rifle
1x Flame thrower
1x Bazooka
1x Medic

Second Platoon
1x Platoon leader - Garand Armed
4x Garand
4x BAR rifle
1x Flame thrower
1x Bazooka
1x Medic

Support Platoon
1x Platoon leader - Garand Armed
3x Light Mortar
3x Light Machine Gun

Armor Support
3x Sherman M4A3

German 21st Panzer Division, 22 Panzer Regiment, II Panzer Battalion, 2nd Company
(from memory, sheet is at our tournament center)

Stance: Reactive (3)

Company Commander - Hauptmann Gerhardt

Command Team
1x SMG
2x Rifle

First Platoon
1x Platoon leader - SMG Armed, gifted platoon leader
4x Rifle
5x LMG

Second Platoon
1x Platoon leader - SMG Armed
5x Rifle
4x LMG

Machine Gun Platoon
1x Platoon leader - SMG Armed
5x HMG

Armor Support3x Panzer IIIJ

The recon came out with the Americans defending the town. The Germans managed to field all but all but second platoon and the command team for the inital assault. The Americans are able to field all but their command team for the defense.

The Webmistress deployed her company on a broad front to limit the amount of damage from the mass of machine guns that she believes will be entering the village. She also spreads her tanks out so that they can support the defense of her infantry by heading to the hot spots. Her one off-board unit is 2nd platoon.

Captain Don orders a cautious defense of the village in a spread out formation further back - except for the armor.


Hauptman Gerhardt watches the the town and then orders his Germans to advance, and after the headlong advance into Tunisia and the victory at Kasserine Pass, he is certain this will be easy pickings. He orders his Machine Gun team to set up in a building and the yard around it, then open on the Americans, but after moving and setting up, they fail to score any significant damage - a portent of the coming battle, or was he just too eager?

He looked over his shoulder, and his supporting Panzer IIIJ platoon was entering the field. Spotting a lone Sherman, they pulled through some woods for the easy pickings. All three tanks opened up on the Sherman, two scoring hits - but the blows were all glancing. The Sherman crew, realizing they were in trouble, fired back and knocked out one Panzer. One down, two to go!


A bad start for the German assault


Then the Americans started advancing across open ground to tackle the HMGs in the center of town before they could cause any serious damage. Spotting the enemy running across a street, the leader of the machine gun platoon ordered the entire platoon to open fire. Four American teams went down in a hail of bullets.This made the Americans a little more cautious, willing to let the Germans advance to them. Meanwhile, the Sherman already engaged opened fire at the Panzer IIIJ's while another Sherman advanced from the midddle of the village to support his buddies. The first shot takes out another Panzer. Two panzers down, one to go! But the next shot glanced off the final Panzer's armor, and the Panzer crew, realizing they were in mortal danger, fired back, destroying the Sherman. The Sherman that was rushing to suppor this tank arrived, and opened fire on the remaining Panzer, hitting it with a a direct hit and lighting it up.

Burning Panzers and a street full of American casualties


"Hauptman! Our armor is gone! We must break off the attack!" Shouted Feldwebel Trolden.

The tank duel ends


"We are to take this town. Tell the men to dig in, and let them come to us while we wait for reinforcements," Gerhardt replied calmly.

"Javholl, herr Hauptman!" the Feldwebel replied before running off to give the order.

Meanwhile, the third Sherman and the bulk of first platoon opened fire on the German positions in the woods on the north end of the village. With skill and careful shooting, nearly the entire German platton in the woods was wiped out. Hauptman Gerhard sucked air between his teeth. This was going to be harder than he'd thought!

The German first platoon is practically wiped out


His troops spent their next turn digging in and finding cover, with the exception of the HMG support platoon, which continued to rain a hail of bullets on the Americans foolish enough to stick their heads up. Unfortunately, the loss of their armor and approach of a Sherman on their position unnerved the HMG platoon, and they caused only minor damage.

Hauptman Gerhardt watched in misery as the remaining members of first platoon lost their nerve and ran back through the woods and out of the village.

He was down to just his HMG squad, and they were clearly shaken. He looked back the way he had come and wondered where second platoon had gotten off to.

Captain Don, sensing the German resolve to attack was waning, took the battle into his own hands and ordered all of his teams to advance. He ordered his tanks to pin down the HMG team so that his infantry could assault the team. Advancing from both sides, the Shermans sprayed a hail of MG and HE fire on the HMG position, causing some damage but not pinning them down. Taking his command team, Captain Don entered the village and advanced under cover of the buildings toward the HMG teams while he ordered first platoon to ignore the broken Germans in the wood, and use the woods as cover to get closer to the German HMG platoon. Finally, Captain Don ordered a sniper in the top of a temple right across the street from the German HMG team. The sniper pinned the Germans down, and Hauptman Gerhardt knew despair.

The American sniper arrives, and the US first platoon advances through the woods


The HMG platton opened fire on the infantry advancing through the woods, and scored some hits, but not as many as it should have, considering they were in plain sight.Captain Don ordered an all-out effort, and when the two Sherman tanks opened fire, the HMG platoon was not well enough hidden in the rubble of the building they were inhabiting. Wiped out nearly to the man, and second platoon was nowhere to be seen...


With no reinforcements and his HMG platoon over-run, the Hauptman concedes the field


With a heavy heart, he ordered a general retreat. Not that anyone listened, they were already running from the force of the American counter-attack.

Summation
This was a fast-and-furious game that started with the Germans all set to teach this American unit a lesson, but running from the field with nearly no one left alive and no sign of reinforcements.

It was an excellent first outing for the WidowMakers, and set the standard for how they would fight in the future. They have lost only once and won three times thus far, and The Webmistres is very happy with them.There was nothing wrong with the attack, but dice just weren't with The Ninja that night, and the attack that promised so much quickly devolved to a fight to stay alive for the Germans.

Never fear though, after a sound thrashing by the Oberst, Hauptman Gerhardt was given more chances to redeem himself.


The Ninja curses his dice


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