18 September 2017

The Battle of Sourpuss Plain: ECW battle with Baroque

My Royalist left Brigade deploys under the command of Sir Percival Utterly-Barkinge
Over the weekend gaming club buddy Aled walked me through my first game using the Baroque tules set, released last year by the authors of Impetus.  It was a great opportunity to thrown down for some long overdue 6mm ECW action.
Royalist Horse deploys on the right flank near the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt
Overall, I found the mechanics easy to pick up (I had a good tutor!) but it took me awhile to get my head around the damage system.  Once I did, I realised how elegant they are - adding and subtracting combat dice is easy to do, but damage impact is non linear.  That is, its how badly a unit fails a coherence test that matters - not the number of hits it takes.  But naturally, its easier too fail badly when hit a number of times.  So like real life, some units kept taking punishment volley after volley, while others evaporated much more quickly.
Foote Brigades engaged on Sourpuss Plain
Royalist Foot anchor the line behind the stone walls of the cultivated fields and engage the Roundheads
I also found that the Cavalry engagements on the wings was fast, strong and decisive (possibly because I had all those lovely Cavalier gallopers).  The melee combat system is the same as firing, but charging home adds dice as an impetus bonus and catching an enemy on the flank is brutally effective.  On the other hand, the infantry brigades in the centre were slow and difficult to adjust once committed (as you would expect).
A palpable hit indeed! Take that Roundheads!
I also quite liked the Army morale system: once reduced to half strength a unit is exhausted and its VPs are removed from the Force Morale.  However, if it is eliminated then double its VPs are taken.  Thus, withdrawing spent units before they die (and having reserves available to take their place) is not only sensible but essential in keeping your Army together.  But being able to withdraw the unit is not a given either...
Cavalier gallopers sweep away the Parliament horse on the right flank and penetrate into the enemy rear 

I felt like I was a General commanding the battle, though not everything was going to go the way I had planned it and there were certainly points of friction occurring around me.  Overall, a really fun experience and I'm looking forward to my next game.
And here is the WI review of the rules:

17 September 2017

Scout Troop

Delighted to report that I have been so busy playing and painting lately that I haven't had time to blog  :-)
Details to follow but here is a little of bit of fun I had along the way: Boy Scouts!
These lads are visiting Bexhill-on-Sea to work on their Batter pudding hurling badges (confused? You poor soul - see here) when the dreaded Hun dropped in.  Apart from the fun of painting them up, they are to be used as a recon team in OP SEALION
Lovely figures by 1st Corps with heaps of character, including all the meet badges etc.  They come with a range of hand/equipment options, but I liked the idea of the two boys also doing their archery and mechanic badges. I've done them up as my Dad's old Leicester scout group, including the scarf colours.

02 September 2017

Squadron Leader "Topper" Redfern

Presenting RAF Squadron Leader "Topper" Redfern, who was a Warlord special figure back in July 2015 for the anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I acquired him recently and after my recent efforts with Winston Churchill figure (here), was inspired to slap some paint on him right away. Yes that is a pipe he is holding - it must have been a tough scrap he just bailed out from!

Along with the special figure, Warlord posted this special mission to use him on the table (copied below from http://www.warlordgames.com/special-mission-downed-raf-pilot/ )


The Squadron Leader is sculpted having just bailed out of his Spitfire after taking a hit from a lucky German pilot. On landing he’s immediately been beset by Jerry and has pulled his service revolver out as soon as his feet have touched the ground.
Don’t worry though, Topper! We’ll get to you before the dastardly Hun!
Cost: Free!
Team: 1 ‘Topper’ Redfearn
Weapons: Pistol.
Special Rules: A hard landing
Just before beginning the first turn of the game, after all deployment is finished (including snipers, spotters and observers), the player places Topper on the table, following the same set-up instructions for the objective in the Hold Until Relieved scenario on page 114 of the Bolt Action rulebook.
Topper has exactly the same rules as a Veteran Captain, except that he cannot Run in the first turn of the game, because he has to dispose of his parachute first.
Back to Blighty!
If Topper manages to leave the table by moving into contact with the player’s own table edge, when the game ends the player treats a defeat result in the scenario being played as a draw, and a draw result as a victory (and, I suppose, a victory result as a ‘glorious victory’…).
On the other hand, if Topper is killed before he leaves the table, when the game ends the opponent treats a defeat result in the scenario being played as a draw, and a draw result as a victory (and, I suppose, a victory result as an ‘über-victory’…).
2015-07-07 15.57.33
Can you aid in his rescue before the vital information he has falls into enemy hands? Perfect for adding that extra layer of story detail to your battles in Bolt Action!

28 August 2017

5 Men at Kursk

Having enjoyed 5 Men in Normandy (5MiN) we decided to progress to the next game in the Nordic Weasel skirmish series, 5 Men at Kursk (5MaK).  A rare Sunday gaming session ensued and I'm glad it did.

First impressions:

- Where 5 NiM is a fun and almost freeplay game, 5MaK is more tactical and I was concerned about employing a squad rather than 5 guys doing their own thing

- While based on the 5MiN system (with the excellent shock/kill dice mechanic), 5MaK has more refined mechanics.  This means more ranges and a few other things which do slow the game down a little bit, but not excessively at all

- There is enough randomisation that you dont have full control of your guys, but not at all to a chaotic extent.  Instead, I felt like a Squad Leader managing the chaos.

- We played 10 with man squads easily, which didn't work well with 5MiN.  It also has vehicle rules which we will try out soon.

- Quite an enjoyable game
Kriegsmarine Squad awaits the Allied advance in the ruins of a German city
Here are a few pics of the action as we played a scenario where a 10 man British Infantry section advanced to a smaller German Squad manning an MG42 in heavy cover.

Scottish infantry advance through the forest 

Rushing up, the tommy lobbed a grenade over the wall only to find out it was a dud!
The German tossed a potato masher back, only to have it scatter back, resulting in him killing himself!

This German ended up on the wrong end of 8 inches of razor sharp Sheffield steel... 

Bringing out the big Guns - Red Skull and his StG
Find 5MaK here: https://sites.google.com/site/nordicweaselgames/home/five-men-at-kursk
and a neat support site here: http://zak965.it/fivemen/hq.html

Covered by their mates, two of the lads close in to finish off the last German defenders.

26 August 2017

28mm Winston Churchill

Normally when I get a special release figure it gets 2 mins of examination before being added to the lead pile, and thats what happened with Warlord Winston here when he arrived with my OPERATION SEALION book.  Then the other week we played the Capture Churchill scenario using Herr Flick of the Gestapo (see here) and a discussion on how to paint pin stripes ensued.  The challenge was on!

German leaflet "Sniper"
The figure is based on this iconic photo of Winston while visiting defences in Hartlepool on 21 July 1940.

Reputedly, the Tommy Gun was Winston's favourite weapon of all time.

The image was used by propagandists on both sides and clearly endures today.

Anyhow, here is my homage to the great man.  I think the trick with patterns like pinstripes or camo is not to copy it exactly but to give the impression. So less and neater stripes was likely to work better than lots of very thin one.

I went with a Black undercoat, dry brush with GW Skavenblight Dinge and then applied the stripes in GW Codex Grey.  I started with a thin brush but found it was easier to use a slightly larger one and do each stripe in one continuous stroke.

Overall, it works well but is one of those schemes that looks better at a distance than up close. The black lipped based helps tie in all the dark colours, as does the white flowers on the base, and I finished off with a glowing cigar end for a small splash of colour.

But is this the PM or Actor/Impersonator George Fowler sent to decoy Colonel Stenier?
Ether way he 'will fight them on the beaches'...

24 August 2017

Another 5 Men in Normandy

Scene of Action -  French village of Bouzeville, somewhere in Normandy
This week at the club we played another game of 5 Men In Normandy - but this time we had 4 players each with 5 man units.  It was a lot of fun and I got to put a bunch of stuff on the table that hadn't been used in action before, which was really cool.
Red devils cautiously probe the ruin
But the Green Devils await them eagerly!
Here are some pics of the action as Brit Paras, Fallshirmjaeger and Kriegsmarine hunted each other in the burned out ruins of Bouzeville..
The Bren team moves up in support
but the MG42 in the ruins is covering the approach
Like all sailors, these Kriegsmarine chaps are looking for the pub!

It was a lot of fun, but I think we passed the sweet spot for these rules and broke them a little with our 4 player game.  Next week we will try the expanded 5 Men at Kursk which is a little less freeplay but suits larger games better.  Just enjoying trying out some new and different rules for a change.
Move up!
This didn't end so well.  The hunting horn is now hanging in a Luftwaffe mess as a trophy

20 August 2017

Wrecked House terrain

A few months back Warlord held their annual sprue sale so I grabbed a few thing, amongst them this wrecked house.  I am slowly building up my urban terrain collection for some Arnhem/Fall of the Reich styled tables, and this will join the ruined walls and rubble that I did last year (see here)

I really enjoyed building this and followed the paint scheme on the cover to keep it brighter than my typical dull black and grey ruin.  As usual, I faced my dilemma of compromising diorama detail for wargaming utility: I don't want a clean ruin, but too much detail and detritus and the figs don't fit properly during a game.  The balance is one of personal preference of course.

Note that this kit is actually a repackaged 1/72 scale Italeri kit so it will be out of proportion to your 28mm figs.  That said, I think it works well without taking up too much space on the table and for 8 pounds for the sprue its great value.
Overall a good outcome and useful as a fortified house to hold a section of infantry or a field HQ.  I'll be looking to get another of these in next years sprue sale and build it a bit differently.
The Warlord Kit in the box, but you'll get it much cheaper waiting for the next sprue sale

18 August 2017

5 Men in Normandy

Encouraged by our recent forays into smaller Bolt Action games, some of the lads wanted to go further and play some squad level skirmish gaming - 10 figs a side or so. We decided to start with "5 men in Normandy" by indie game designer Ivan of Nordic Weasel games (here). Ivan produces a range of rules and this is the basic WW2 version.

Bottom Line up front - really liked them and will be trying the more expansive "5 Men at Kursk" next week. For this intro game, we dropped 5 figs per side on the table and played with the rules (yes, Brit Paras and Brit infantry- we waved it way as a Pre D-Day training exercise :-) Here are our observations of the game system.

  • There is a random generator for force design, with a different one for each Nation. Could be a little unbalancing but adds a lot more variety to a '5 men with rifles' concept.
  • All die rolls are a d6 - 1s and 6s have outcomes while 2-5 have no effect. Very simple but effective.
  • There are no Turns per se and Activation is alternating - roll a die. on a 1 all your guys can move (but not fire) and on a 6 they all fire (but not move).  Anything else and you activate 2 guys only. You can activate the same chaps over and over again if you wish, there are no restrictions (other than the enemy that is!)
  • In terms of weapons, everything has unlimited range except pistols and SMGs which are restricted to 12".
  • I really liked the innovative firing mechanic. Two types of d6s are rolled - shock and kill. Shock dice deliver 'flinch' and 'bail' morale type effects on while damage results from 1 and 6 on the Kill dice ("Knocked down" and "ineffective" respectively). So the morale and the physical impacts of shooting are split, and different weapon types have throw different dice during a firing - eg a Rifle is 1 of each, while a magazine fed LMG (eg Bren) has 2 shock and 1 kill
  • Here is the neat bit - with some weapons you can choose to reduce kill dice for shock dice, usually disproportionately -so I can instead decide that my Bren gun will supress an area with fire and use 4 shock dice instead. Excess hits are spread to targets in the immediate vicinity. So I can use my LMG realistically to keep the bad guys' heads down as my assault team closes in from the flank. Very neat.
  • Unless they just fired in your immediate turn, all figs can reaction fire against movement in their front arc.  No need for "overwatch" or "ambush" orders and no watching chaps run right at you firing without doing anything.  BUT, they fire only the shock dice, not the kill dice, so its less effective. This reflects the hail of bullets everywhere concept.

Putting it all together, we had a fun and action packed game. In fact, my newly painted and Dux controlled Highland Division Sergeant Bruce McAndrews was a stellar performer in the best traditions of Commando Comics. While the Squad's Bren was used as described above, McAndrews closed in from the flank, unleashed a grenade attack, closed in to eliminate the now cowering opponent, survived a subsequent enemy close assault in return, shot the blighter that tried to stab him dead, then to top it all off he ran around the corner and bayoneted the last enemy in the position. Top stuff! A Mention in Dispatches for that man...or would have been if it wasn't just a training exercise in Surrey :-)
Sgt McAndrews gets a bee in his Tan-o-shanter and gets busy!
Overall 5MiN is a basic but enjoyable game. 5 Men at Kursk adds more meat on the bones in terms of troop quality and basic vehicles etc. It is a measure of our enjoyment of the system that we are planning to play it next week.

12 August 2017

Bolt Action - Force Adjustments for 500 point games

Our club has recently developed a real taste for smaller 500 point BA games on club nights.  This allow a game to be very leisurely played and placed up inside 90 mins - important as we play at a pub so this allows additional eating, drinking and chatting time in the evening  :-)

But more importantly, the smaller game is giving very intense gaming experiences.  With only 5 or 6 units, every activation is important and every casualty has an effect.  Its quite a different experience than a 100+ point game.  However, the smaller scale means that means that some game effects are unbalancing.  For example, the Free US Air Controller or Brit Artillery FO can be utterly devastating.  We also didn't want to allow players to come along with an unbalanced force of say one big tank and 1 squad to capture objectives. So we are using these rules to adjust the force .  I offer them here for comment and use as desired (and so I can find them easily!):

* 500 point games are generally played on 4 x 4 sized board
* At least 4 units must be taken

* No Hvy Guns can be taken including Mortars, Howitzers, AA and AT (unless its a specific scenario)
* National Characteristics Adjustments (because their impact is overly influential at the lower scale)
  • German - no changes
  • British - no free artillery observer. +50 points
  • US - no free forward air observer. +50 points
  • Russian - Free squad reduced to 6 men.
  • French (just for you Dave) - Free Light Howitzer

* Note - I was also tempted to limit vehicles to a max armour value of 8, but with a minimum 4 units and 500 point ceiling this should generally be self limiting (noting tanks cant capture objectives)

In addition to Bolt Action this will work equally well for smaller Konflikt 47 games too (we we hope to try out soon)

Feedback welcome!