No, that isn’t a typo, nor is this a post that’s way too late (or possibly way too early). If you’ve been following us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook lately, you might have seen a lot of tanks. Well, here’s the story behind that.
I have been interested in military history as long as I can remember. This was probably, in part, due to my dad’s interest in military history and war movies, particularly the WWII era. In my pre-teen and teen years I built models of, and collected books about, WWII aircraft. I thought tanks were kind of neat too, but they weren’t airplanes.
Of course, this very much intersects with my later discovery of wargaming, both through the old chit-based games like Squad Leader and such, and of course, through Warhammer 40,000. And when I worked at GW, I surrounded by history enthusiasts. This is where the modeling and painting aspect combined with the tactics and playing out of scenarios really set me on my life’s path, I think.
Anyway, I digress (but it won’t be the last time). One of these coworkers (and now close friend) branched out into many other games, some model-based and others not. Recently, he introduced me to Tanks, a game by Gale Force Nine, using miniatures by Battlefront who also do Flames of War. This friend, Andrew, showed me a quick game, and I loved it! The game was fun, and the rules were streamlined and not too detailed for a quick game, while also allowing for larger-scale battles if you had enough tanks. He was currently working on a Canadian force (but had a few German tanks already painted as well), and gave to me some tanks to get myself a British force started. (See picture above for assembled and painted tanks. See below for what they looked like when he gave them to me.)
To be honest, I hadn’t been doing much painting lately. Over the Christmas Break, I set myself the goal of painting a unit of Orc Boarboys for Warmaster. I did this, plus started a couple units of goblins (which still aren’t finished). So this seemed a bit of a daunting task. I tended to be over-fiddly in my painting of details, so I was worried about how I was going to go about this. I felt that I owed it to Andrew and to honour his gift to me by actually getting them painted. I just needed to get stuck and and start! Just do it! So naturally, the first thing I did was go to the internet and start researching colour schemes and unit markings. After 4 hours with 8 browser tabs and 2 Osprey books open, I found what I’d needed. I was going to do the 29th Brigade of the 11th Armoured Division. I learned about brigade organization and markings, I found out who was where in France, when, and when which regiments got new tanks. Although at times frustrating, ultimately it was very satisfying and with a great sense of accomplishment that I sat down to build and paint the tanks. And let me tell you, even that when more smoothly than I thought. At 1:100 scale, the tanks weren’t very large, so didn’t take long to paint. And after seeing how good Andrew’s tanks looked, I decided to forgo my usually technique of starting with a dark base coat and putting 6 layers of highlights on every model and tried the “base coat, drybrush, ink” method. And holy crap, to my pleasant surprise, didn’t they look fairly decent…
Assembled… then undercoated… then eventually…
I painted one! I’ll admit that I drybrushed this one a bit heavily and didn’t darken the ink enough, so it looks a bit different from my following ones. Also, my iPad doesn’t have the best camera and the light in the basement isn’t very good (the incandescent bulb in the lamp I’m shining on the tank here is quite yellow!) In spite of all that, I was pleased with how my Sherman V(c) Firefly turned out. This picture is still pre-decals for unit markings.
In addition to having tanks painted and playing games, one of the other things about this process that I enjoy, and I feel is beneficial in general, is the amount I’ve learned. But, is learning facts about tanks really an important life skill? Probably not, but the maintenance of research skills, and the very act of engaging the mind to learn new things is beneficial to the brain. I used my experience as a lesson to my students, explaining how good it felt to do that much depth of research and coming away with new knowledge, rather than the style of research I usually see in class, which is to google the exact question, word for word, that they need answering, then writing down the first text that appears under the first link on Google.
Now that this blog post has gotten to the length it has, I’ll have to hold the actual recap of Tanksgiving and the battle reports therein for another post. Hopefully, I’ll get to that one soon, because it was a lot of fun!
But wait… with all this focus on tanks, what happened to that Warmaster Orc army, and those Boarboys? Well, they tried to push back in, but it didn’t go so well for them. It was a daring attempt, though.