Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of miniatures wargaming with an emphasis on 15mm World War II and Flames of War.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

New BF Plastics - Rommel's Afrika Korps

Before I get started I wanted to leave this little code here: [/rant]

For those of you not versed in HTML, that's "end rant" as in "rant officially over." I've said publicly all that needs to be said on the current state of the V4 MW lists, and now it is time to move on.

This past week I went out and picked up the new books, including the new Afrika Korps and Desert Rats army books, and the Rommel's Afrika Korps (GEAB14) boxed set.


So why is a veteran player like myself picking up what is marketed as essentially a starter set? There is one very simple answer - the MINIATURES! I'd gotten a sneak peak at these, and I knew that the model support for V4 was going to be absolutely spectacular, and this first set of miniatures absolutely doesn't disappoint. For roughly $80 U.S. you get a total of ten miniatures and a starter book. I really didn't need the starter book, but I really did need the miniatures. No really. I NEEDED them.


The Panzer IV features both short and long gun versions of the tank and is designed along the lines of the very nice Panzer IV Ausrf H (GBX79) previously released by Battlefront. In the Afrika Korps lists, the Panzer IV is separated into short 7.5cm and long 7.5cm models. For fans of German armor, this may seem to be a step backwards, as previous editions of the game referred to Panzers according to their Ausführung (Model or Type) designation. However, in German tactical documents - the official OKW Type designation was rarely used instead referring to tanks with variable armament as (l) or (k) for lang and kurz which translate to long and short respectively. So the new designations are technically correct, if not exactly what we're used to. 

Based on the upper hull configuration, This version of the Panzer IV represents an Ausf F (with the short 7.5cm gun) and Ausf F2 (with the long 7.5cm gun with the globular muzzle brake) or an Ausf G (with the long 7.5cm gun with the more familiar double baffle muzzle brake). I hope that we'll see a version of this miniature with the added armor to represent later Ausf G with Schurtzen as a future release. That being said, if you're feeling ambitious you should be able to kitbash one from the existing Ausf H version (which I may try just for fun - yes I know, I'm a sick man).


The Panzer III miniature contains part for several versions of this workhorse of the desert including a short 5.0cm, long 5.0cm, short 7.5cm, and up-armored versions of the vehicle. One very clever thing that Battlefront did was to mold the engine deck as a separate reversible piece, expanding the number of Marks which can be delivered from a single sprue. The short 7.5cm version should be modeled as up-armored and represents the Panzer III Ausf. N tank. The long 5.0cm up-armored version represents the late Panzer III Ausf L tank (the Ausf M had a different exhaust as did some Ausf N types). 

The short and long 5.0cm gunned versions without additional armor generally represent the Ausf J and early Ausf L models. The rear engine covers on these last variants are ever so slightly smaller than the later ones (at least in 1/100th scale), but the difference is barely noticeable unless you're an extreme rivet counter. If you're particularly ambitious you could alter them - which is easier than it used to be given these are plastic miniatures, but purely optional.

Finally, the 8.8cm guns. Yeah, these are nice. I miss the rolling carriages, but the detail on the gun mechanism is amazing. There is also a very nice plastic crew provided as well along with appropriate bases. Having cleaned up many of the old white metal versions, I'm honestly looking forward putting these together.

Honestly in terms of the new miniatures for the V4 Mid War release, Battlefront has completely outdone themselves. These new all-plastic Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks are nothing short of spectacular. Sure, I could come out with some fairly esoteric inaccuracies, but nothing that is going to even decrease this grognard's enjoyment of putting these babies together and painting them. I may decide to superdetail or convert some, but then again, I may not. Buy these with confidence and enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Flames of War V4 Lists - Where's the Beef!?!?!?

Mitch over at WWPD recently posted a review of the new Afrika Korps book from Battlefront, and suffice it to say that his impression is not positive. The new lists "streamline" your choices greatly (translation - you can't take most of the historical kit you previously could - you know, the very things that made the North African theater so interesting to play in the first place). I dug up an image of a previous edition Panzergrenadier Company (below).

This is the Afrika Korps

I've now gone through and edited the above army deal based on what you can actually use in V4 as presented in the Afrika Korps list:

This is the Afrika Korps on V4

As a veteran player this isn't a pretty sight.  Sure, the powers that be will chime in and say that there are rules for transports in the main rulebook, but based on what we've seen given the new dash speed of infantry, there is no longer a gaming reason to use them, so the red Xs stay put.

I've been a long time Battlefront customer, playtester, proofreader, writer, and contributor. I haven't always agreed 100% with every decision that Battlefront has made in the past, but none of those decisions bothered me so much that I couldn't simply agree to disagree and move forward. The neutered V4 lists change all of that for me.

I had truly been looking forward to jumping back into Mid-War with the new rules, but the new lists are simply atrocious and over-simplified, and the miniatures I'd purchased and set aside to build my new forces will simply stay in the containers unassembled, unpainted, and unused as as often as not the lists simply don't support the miniatures any longer.  In the forums, BF has indicated that they will fill the gaps, but they have also indicated that some will be open a long time. I believe that this is a huge mistake that will cost Battlefront customers.

I understand that Battlefront needs to update the Flames of War game to keep up with current trends in the industry, and honestly I don't have major heartburn with most of the V4 rules. That being said, going after the new dollar at the expense of the veteran players and long-term customers has seldom been a winning strategy. Games Workshop tried that route and it cost them greatly. Wizards of the Coast tried the same thing with V4 of Dungeons and Dragons and it cost them the top spot in role playing games to Pathfinder - which was essentially the previous version with some streamlining.

I wish Battlefront continued success in the wargaming hobby, but believe they need honest feedback from all players on the direction of the game. As of today, my FoW purchases are pretty much "on hold" pending developments. There are several Early War, Late War, and Pacific lists I can paint on in the meantime, though honestly my enthusiasm for even doing that has been greatly dampened if MW is the template for all future Flames of War lists... and I truly never foresaw a day where I'd actually utter those words.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

State of the Blog and Hobby

So it's been a while since I posted here. In terms of getting miniatures done, unfortunately what you see is what you get, I've gotten effectively nothing done in the past three months. There is a simple reason for that, I've been spending literally all of my time getting the new house ready for habitation. Our part of the process seemed fairly simple - emphasis on the word "seemed" - but interior painting (which we did sign up for) also involved all of the interior caulking on the trim (which we didn't realize we'd signed up for), so schedules and timelines sort of went out the window. However, we just recently got the keys, so now the move-in process begins! I'll have photos of the new work-room once I get moved in.


Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely seen that Flames of War is getting ready to release its Fourth Edition in the next few weeks. Unlike previous edition changes, 4th Edition appears to be a major revamp of the rule set with many similarities to the Team Yankee ruleset. Several recent podcasts over at WWPD have detailed some of the rules, and as usual with any rules changes the reviews have been mixed, though the camps seem fairly polarized at this point. I honestly haven't digested the scope of the changes yet, so I'll have to play through several games to understand the impact


Speaking of Team Yankee, the first new Warsaw Pact nation has been released for the mid-80's World War III gaming system. I'd already started building some Soviet forces for TY, but when I found out the East Germans were going to be released I decided to wait on painting them up until the NVA rules were released. I'm still working on finding the right colors to use for the three tone East German paint scheme (which technically wasn't used until the late-80's - but this is a hypothetical game anyway!), and I'll post a painting guide once I have it together.

I've also been writing up a little something fun for the WWPD blog - keep an eye out toward the end of the week for some great photos. I've been doing some writing in the background, and I'll let you know when those start getting close to hitting the wild!