About This Blog

Xenophon's Ghost covers military history and wargaming from the ancient period to modern times.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bolt Action in Action

I finally have completed enough miniatures to play Bolt Action.  My goal was to complete two basic Armies by March, but life interfered.  Ryan and I have played two games now: a 500 point game and an 830 point game.

Last night, my Heer army was crushed by the M4 Sherman.  I think bad luck on the dice contributed, along with some deployment choices that left me in the open. We played the Envelopment scenario, with Ryan playing the Ammies on defense.

American List Basics

2d Lt and 1 man
4 infantry squads (three with 7 men and BARs, one squad with 6 men and ATGs, but no BAR)
Light Mortar
HMG Team
Sniper Team
Air Force Observer
75MM M4 Sherman

All US units were regular, except the Observer who was Veteran.

German List Basics

2d Lt (Regular)
2 Heer Regular Grenadier Squads (LMGs, 2 Panzerfausts in each squad)

Capt +1 man (Veteran)
1 Veteran Grenadier Squad (LMG, 2 Panzerfausts)
1 Veteran Grenadier Squad (LMG)

Light Artillery (Reg)
MMG Team (Reg)
Sd.Kfz.231 Armored Car (Reg)


Ryan brought his Sherman on to the table with his first move and proceeded to chew up my infantry with the two MGs and main gun.  I also lost soldiers to his two infantry squads on his right flank. 
I tried to get my Panzerfausts in close, losing one entire squad to the HMG and infantry.  I did get two of the weapons within 6 inches of the Sherman…both missed.

We played four turns before I threw in the towel having lost five entire units.  I was disheartened to learn that my light artillery can only pin his tank; there is no chance of a penetration.  I did score a hit at the end of the game with the arty, but it didn't make a difference.  We will play a few more times before I start altering the lists.  I suspect some of my misfortune reflects playing skill and an exceptionally bad day of dice throwing.  If not, I'll build the Panther model that is in the closet!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bolt Action - US Army Infantry

Since I have last posted, I finished my US Army infantry for Bolt Action, and I have made significant progress on the Germans. The leg infantry are Wargames Factory figures; the crew-served weapons are Warlord Games products.


For the crew-served weapons, I based the units on chipboard, using South Korean 100 Won coins for the figure bases.  I used wood filler for the terrain base.


As noted previously, I built the Wargames Factory figures in my hotel on a busy trip, with no reference to the Army lists.  Having spent time developing several force options, I decided to modify several figures to create an Air Forward Observer unit.  The Americans receive two air strikes per game with this unit.  I carved up a backpack, included as stowage in the M4 Sherman kit, to create a radio base and handset.  I melted and stretched sprue for the radio cable and antenna. The radio isn't accurate enough to win a modeling competition, but it looks fine on the war-game table.

Finished Platoon

My Americans are ready for battle, but I eventually need to add an aircraft model. I used a mixture of Vallejo, Tamiya, and craft acrylics on the models.  I applied a base coat, used Citadel Earth shade wash for shading, and applied highlights. 

Once my German force is complete, I plan to add the aircraft, a scout vehicle, and possible some trucks to round out this Late War platoon.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

M4 Sherman for Bolt Action

M4 Sherman (75mm gun)

Catching a sale on www.squadron.com, I picked up a 1/48 scale Hobby Boss M4 Sherman for Bolt Action. At $14.00, the cost was less than half the going rate for other manufacturers.

The Hobby Boss kit brought back memories of my scale modeling projects; however, I didn't feel obligated to worry too much about the smallest bits.  This tank will be handled on the gaming table.  I also worried much less about the painting results, but I am very pleased with the final result.

Warning - Instructions are Wanting

I have one major gripe about the Hobby Boss kit: the instructions.  I was merrily following them step-by-step, and I fortunately realized that the instructions directed construction of two options for the suspension bogles as sequential steps.  At several points, construction options are not explained well.  Web reviews mentioned that the angle on the front glacis is incorrect; I'm not too worried about this flaw in a wargaming model.

Breaking Out the Airbrush

I have the cheapest airbrush known to man - a Testors model purchased at the Post Exchange toy section.  It is a simple sprayer; anything resembling nozzle control isn't optional.  One of my phobias in scale modeling was ruining a model during the painting process.  Since the model will be used for gaming, I was liberated from worry.  I also sprayed with acrylic paints for the first time.  Given the winter temperatures here, I set up a spray booth of sorts using a plastic bin in the washroom: I never would have attempted this with toxic enamels.  

Using Vallejo Olive Drab, I sprayed thinned OD as an initial layer.  I screened off the bottom half of the tank with paper, and lightened the top half with a blend of olive drab and white.  I should have made it even lighter since the weathering washes made the model too dark.

Weathering and Lightening

While working on my Warmachines project, I ended up with left-over Armor wash and applied it liberally to the tank.  It didn't flow into the recesses too well, so the wash darkened the panels too much. Now I know why modelers paint a gloss coat before using washes.  I also used an ink wash, carefully applying it to the recessed areas.  I then lightened the panels up significantly with a wet brush of an Olive Drab and White mix.  The machine guns were painted black and dry-brushed with gun-metal.

For weathering, I used three different brown tones of craft paint, heavily thinned as a wash as well as applied with a dry brush.  I tried to mimic mud splashes along the sides and front of the vehicle.  To finish up, I added a small amount of white glue to the darkest brown, using it to fix small amounts of ground cover to the track areas and front.

The overall build time wasn't too bad, and I'm sure this M4 will see a lot of gaming action.  I won't worry too much if it gets dinged up given the price point.  Great local prices on Tamiya 1/48 scale models have shifted my initial Bolt Action plans from the Pacific to the Late War in Europe. I eventually will get back to the Pacific, but I want to try out this modeling scale and game at a lower cost given my limited budget and varied interest.  I bought several Warlord Games German units, the Germany Army supplement, and Wargames Factory Infantry after New Years. My US infantry is on the paint table.  Hopefully, I'll be playing 1000 point games by March!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Protectorate Army

Protectorate of Menoth

I finally finished the Protectorate of Menoth battle group from the Warmachines starter set.  The project took a long time - I hit burnout with painting at the midway point.  I did have the chance to try several new techniques.

High Exemplar Kreoss

Scale Change

This was my first project in a scale larger than 15mm.  These steam-powered warriors were huge.  It took a lot more time, and paint, to get this small group completed.  The miniature quality was top-notch, but I could improve my clean up skills on resin models.  The close-up shots reveal mold lines that I didn't noticed during clean-up.  I started painting 28mm WW II infantry figures last night, and they were small in comparison!

Crusader and Repenter 

Paint Change

I started modeling with Craft Paints from the local hobby store.  They work okay on 15mm figs in my opinion, but the paint quality tells.  Having purchased Tamiya acrylics for some of the metallic colors and Privateer Press paints for the maroon sections, I was impressed with the paint flow and quality.  I won't be tossing all of the craft paint out, but I'm switching to higher quality paints from here on.  Vallejo paints are similarly great to use.

Crusader Close Up


I followed the three layer painting approach outlined in the Warmachines rulebook.  I'm not happy with the white areas, partially because of the paint quality.  The whites are Craft Paints, and they didn't layer as well.

For shading, I used Privateer Press Armor wash for the steel areas.  I mixed Citadel Agrax Earth Shade with the Armor Wash for the gold sections.

Exemplar Cinerators Unit
As noted in my previous post (documenting a failure), I used Sculpey clay to make rocks for the bases.  I'm pleased with how the bases turned out.  I also tried Gale Force 9 for the ground cover for the first time.  Finally, I tried to fix the sand on the base, mixing white glue into the paint when coloring it.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone is enjoying the New Year.  I haven't blogged in months, but I have recently made progress on several projects.  I'll be posting several articles soon on Warmachine and Bolt Action figures.

Ryan and I did get in a quick DBA game last week - Thessalians versus Ptolemaic.  Unusually, I actually won - 4 to 1.  The Thessalians were bunched up, and my Knights finally took a toll on the units. We played about four rounds of Knights pursuing deeper into enemy territory, and fortunately none of them were schwacked.

Ryan killed off my Elephant in the first turn with his Psiloi - rolled a six for his PIPs and did well on the attack.  After that, he had a rough time of it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halfway Hill


I have not blogged in awhile, but I have been making progress on several projects.  I have also been significantly distracted by World of Tanks, an online game that I play with my son.  I'm not a video game fan normally, but the game is quite fun.  The historical aspect has also pulled me in.

Halfway Hill

I have several ongoing modeling efforts at the "halfway point"


Ryan and I are halfway done with painting up two Warmachine Armies from the starter box. 

Painting is also complete on a Convergence of Cyriss battlegroup, but the basing work is only halfway done.

This hasn't stopped us from playing.  

Ryan once again quickly defeated me this morning - taking out my Warcaster early in the game.

Bolt Action

I have my US infantry primed up.  I also have started work on the bases for the HMG and 60mm Mortar.  I'm planning a separate post on this project once it is complete.

I scored a good deal on a Squadron sale of 1/48 Hobby Boss Shermans.  I couldn't resist starting the model build.  

A warning for anyone building Hobby Boss tanks - watch out for needless steps.  The mid-production 75mm Sherman has several options for road wheels, but the instructions are not clear.  I almost built extra road wheels....a tedious effort.

As a secondary distraction, I discovered that the Tamiya 1/48 models can be bought significantly cheaper here in Korea than from US websites.  I'm tempted to shift my BA plans from the Japanese to a  German opponent to keep costs down.


I have MDF-based road and river pieces ready for finishing.  This project has been on hold since the BA and Warmachine bugs bit.


I haven't touched my 15mm Napoleonic project in almost a year.  This isn't a priority since I don't really  have an opponent. Ryan likes DBA and skirmish games.

Lots of fun ahead!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Minor Mods

My desire for variety overcame trepidation about attempting figure conversions.  Carving up a few Wargames Factory figures turned out to be easy.  I kept it simple.

I would rather not have several "guy throwing grenade" figures, but I could not find another arm configuration that worked for this torso. To change up the pose slightly, I cut off the "finger pointing hand" on the straightest arm in the pack, replacing with a gripping hand. I used an M1 rifle with ammo pouches on the stock as the weapon. The pose looks a bit stiff, but I can live with it.

I also wanted to model a standing figure with the anti-tank grenade equipped rifle, but the arm angle would not work. Cutting off and repositioning the hand proved very easy.

Overall, I am happy with the results. I am looking forward to getting home next week with figures ready for painting. I ordered some Warlord Games units yesterday for my American force, so I should be playing pretty soon.

In closing, it has been a somber day here in Washington, DC, as I reflect on the losses on 9/11 and afterward.