Monday, 15 July 2019

Bits and Pieces

Some of you out there are going to roll your eyes to the heavens in a mo, I am thinking of giving Chain of Command another shot, there I have said it. Why, well I am not sure, I watched a couple of videos the other night and what went on looked a lot easier and less horrendous than all my other attempts to like this game. Now I could just have been utterly useless and stunned by my previous attempts and I will admit to not being the best WWII player around, but I am a wargamer of some experience and the situations I found myself in were terrible and not a lot of fun. They were also multiplayer games and like Bolt Action at the end of the day these are designed for 1v1 play, maybe that was a problem, maybe not.

I also cannot get away from the fact that I think the Patrol Phase is one of the best mechanisms I have ever not used, in fact I am surprised it has not been adapted for other periods, maybe with a bit of tweaking but it must have potential. When, now I have to read the rules first then either sort out an opponent or give it a solo trial, we will see.

I also think I now have enough troops to fight one of the scenarios from the Honours of War rulebook, again not sure whether this will be a solo run or against a human being, maybe even a run through at the club. I have just finished the second squadron of the Apchon Dragoons and am now half way through two artillery pieces for each side. I found out what the second gun barrel was on the Front Rank model, it would seem the 6lb cannon had two barrels one fired a more powerful shot at short range thus they were changed for use, I should have wrote it down.

I have several little projects to complete at the moment, some terrain scatter for both the SYW and WWII, not a lot but the odd piece. I have also built a couple of buildings and a small cart to provide a 'built up area' for the SYW, this will be a farm, I am not convinced I shall need a huge town for my games so will probably keep things rural. These are from Warbases Prussian range.

I have had a bad attack of Wargamers OCD lately, when finishing the Apchon second squadron I realised I had not painted the shoulder tab on the first squadron, so I brought them up this afternoon and sorted it, I am sure they will repay me with courage and fortitude on the field of battle. The next was my artillery, having picked up the rules again for a quick look the author recommended not gluing the carriages down so that when a crew ran the gun was left behind, this seemed eminently sensible so I pried the artillery off their bases, repaired them and now all my guns and crews are separate. I am not out of the woods yet, one of the British squadrons has a flag which the spray varnish has diminished and although I tried to wash it off I know it is not right, and I have another flag in the drawer, so that will be next so that I can sleep peacefully of an evening.

What else, well I have a shed full of WWII stowage heading my way so most of my vehicles will be getting another facelift, I am even toying with the idea of getting some tank riders and putting the odd one or two on the tanks instead of covering a tank with a whole squad.

Oh, I have used the blue Contrast paints on the artillery crews for the new guns, they have to be used with the grey undercoat, this changes them completely from the horrible white examples. For my purposes they do not save me time but I will use them again now. These guys are not completely ready yet but you can see them at the bottom of the picture above.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Shoot Out

A cool evening last night for the club but I still braved the weather in my shorts, too lazy to change. After being all campaigned out with Bolt Action I decided to drop the first campaign and instead learn from the second. There are things which were wrong and having now fought five games I think I need to use the Patrol Phase from Chain of Command, although I do not like CoC this part has always seemed like a good idea. So instead of a campaign game I took along the Cowboys.

A simple shoot out was on the cards, the back story being two mining outfits are at each others throats and one decides to hijack the others latest consignment of gold on its way to the Wells Fargo office, as the escorted wagon arrives in town the boys in Rogan's Bar get all het up and decide to throw down on Main Street.

As the Newby Co. men move along the street two Anderson men climb on to the roof of Rogan's and open fire, all hell then breaks loose as the rest of the Anderson men exit the bar the better to take down their opponents. The Newby men are almost all armed with repeating rifles but the Anderson men close the range to negate this, neither side wants to withdraw but neither can manage any kills. Things get more ferocious as the pistoleers close in and the men on the roof find their range, several Newby men hit the dirt. Things turn around very quickly and it is the turn of the Anderson boys to eat lead. With both gangs having lost more than half of their numbers incredibly each side decides to back off and call it a day. This is a shame as the wagon had actually driven through the mayhem and made it to the Wells Fargo Office, but the driver alone could not unload, should the Anderson men have retained the ground they could also have picked up the gold, but no, that would have been asking too much of Fate.

A great little game and a lot of action, I was doing very well right up until the last minute when Simon evened up the losses and we both lost out morale checks. So the way things are going a draw is a triumph for me.

Elsewhere Rob, Andy and Patrick were involved in an AWI 15mm game which looked very good, Julian and Ryan still in beautiful fantasy land, X-Wing and a boardgame were also in evidence. I have another Saga game next week so no doubt I will be back in the doldrums although I think I am using the Saxons rather than the useless Byzantines.

I have managed to get a hardback copy of the Combat History of the 21st Panzer Division for which I drew the maps for back in 2014, it was a hefty price but nothing like the ludicrous cost on Amazon. It is a heavy tome with everything you wanted to know about the new, reconstituted armoured division but were afraid to ask. Looking at the maps now I would do them different as I have learned a lot since then and the map book to accompany 'Bloody Streets' later in the year will reflect this.

I have received two more artillery pieces for my SYW armies, one Front Rank and one Eagle Miniatures, both are nice but the latter is the best, I think I got the former gun as they have a different 6lb gun from Eagle and wanted a change, they give you two barrels for the gun, one which I suspect is a howitzer, I shall have to email them. Anyway these are up next and will complete the forces for my first game. I have also got a couple of SYW MDF buildings for a  small farm (built up area) from Warbases, not sure about these but I need a couple for the game and these will have to do for now.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Lady Luck Continues Her Game

Stewart turned up yesterday for the start of my second go at Two Fat Lardies Operation Martlet but using Bolt Action to fight the battles. Fortified by a lunch of champions, Scottish bridie and beans we set to.

I tried before as I said with these TFL campaigns and didn't get very far blending them with Bolt Action but I wanted to fight something with a plot and they seemed the easiest option, for anyone just visiting I do not like Chain of Command so have defaulted to Bolt Action.

In this particular campaign the Allies (me) have eleven days to take the town of Rauray, their victory or otherwise will depend on when and if they get there, both sides are almost even at the start albeit the German squads have slightly less men, not a huge disadvantage as they are defending, they also get a tank. The British on the other hand get so many points to bolster their forces, you can get two Shermans or one and some other additions. In the first game the British are attacking over a long coverless front. There is a patrol phase in CoC which means you can start fairly close to each other but for Bolt Action I had to compromise and they started their attack a foot from their table edge, the Germans the same, but of course the Germans were almost on top of the decent defensive cover. The game is a Probe and if the British can exit infantry off the German table edge the Germans will withdraw.

So, I turned up with a Sherman, a 2" mortar and a 3" mortar, the plan of course was to stonk the Germans out of their positions. A preparatory bombardment fell on the Germans but really did not cause a lot of harm apart from on the PzIV, as they tried to shake off some pins they panicked and retreated off table, a great start thought I. As my infantry advanced the 3" mortar started firing and missing, my guys still had a way to go so I didn't make much of the retreating Panzer and the crew recovered and came back almost immediately. As the casualties mounted and my men were almost upon the German front line my Sherman got hit and brewed up, it had already hit the German tank twice and failed to penetrate, the German got it with his second shot. I had lost a fair amount of men and with no armoured support and no help from my mortars I decided to retreat. I had lost 8 dead and 4 slightly wounded who would miss the next game, Stewart had lost 5 dead and 3 wounded.

On the second day I took two tanks (the Firefly pretending to be a Sherman, I'm not made of money) and a 2" mortar, it became a dark day indeed, both British tanks went up within a turn of each other, I had again hit the damn Panzer only for the shells to bounce off. We had both lost the same number of men and I didn't want to push it so once again retreated, more than a tad irate with the performance of my armour. We both had 4 dead and 3 slightly wounded. We had dinner and retired to the pub.

Sunday morning I was back in the kitchen to fortify the German with a full English, or fullish, then back into the Post Office, a gorgeous day and the sun pouring through the windows. This turned into the same old story, once again my armour was gone within a couple of moves one knocked out and the other immobilized, this useless piece of metal continued to refuse orders and have no effect on the game, I had kept my infantry back so they had even more ground to cover, shattered I again shouted 'Run Away'. I had managed at last to get some smoke down but it didn't help apart from saving the scrap from brewing up. I had 3 dead and 2 wounded, Stewart 1 dead and 1 missing. I did not push this game with my depleted infantry. We had also both used up one of our replacements rolls, I did better than Stewart with this.

We decided to have another, I pulled up my chin from the floor and again went with two Shermans and a 3" mortar this time. I went hell for leather up the left hand side of the table. My mortar made a surprising opening round hit on the PzIV and again the crew panicked and reversed from their central position, my infantry had made good speed. One German squad poked its head out and managed to wipe out one of mine and I thought I was going to get away almost Scot Free as I knew Stewart was getting worried about his tank, again it got hit at least twice and the rounds bounced off. I managed to get even against the rash squad while the rest of the Germans at last retired from the field. Maybe now Montgomery will get off my back while I have a strong word with 11th Armoured's commander. Oh, the bill this time was 3 dead and 2 wounded for me with 2 dead and 1 missing for the Germans.

So who is to blame, TFL, Bolt Action, the dice or me? I think a combination of them all, the meshing of the first two needs more work, my dice were just abysmal and despite at least half a dozen hits on that bloody tank they all failed to kill it, while my own armour seemed to be paper thin, Stewart says I am exaggerating, but I am not that demented. I have no doubt I could have played better and made some hooters but that's war(gaming). I go into the next game very depleted in infantry so morale in the British camp is not great and my expectations are low and the Jerries still have that damn tank.

No matter, I got my scenery on the table along with some nice wee sojers and we had some laughs, I might need some R+R before the next game.

Some pictures from all four games, in no particular order.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

It Can't be the Dice

Saga campaign game again at the club, one of my two defending games, Saxons had invaded the empire and I had to sort them out, they had obviously heard of the fabled wealth of Byzantium and came to grab their share.

Once the preliminaries were out of the way we had five turns to play, in a line I had Hearthguard, Warriors, Warlord, Hearthguard and archers, I cannot not take archers as far as I know, I had decided this time to plonk them in some terrain which helped their defence if attacked. The Saxons (Dan) put most of his men on my left and at when it looked like his hearthguard might suffer from some archery (yeah right) he turned these towards his right as well. So I moved the archers forward as you would do, but this was a mistake, back came the Hearthguard at the trot and smashed into the archers, shades of Manzikert again.

 But this time the archers did not die in droves, well they did but enough remained to fall back, this opened up some opportunities for me, I ran my cavalry into the Saxon Hearthguard and killed all but one, who legged it, on my left I threw more cavalry into the Saxon Levy. Now with elite Byzantine heavy cavalry coming at them these should have been a mere speed bump, but no, they managed to survive in large numbers and fell back, leaving my cavalry open to being shot to death next turn. Surely having been beaten by cavalry these guys would have ran as fast as they could, not merely dawdle back and prepare a killing storm in the next turn, but, it is Saga not history.


Shortly after this I had another chance to wipe out the one remaining Hearthguard and take a control dice off the Saxons, a miserable dice throw ruined this perfect opportunity. I had shot my bolt, the Saxons recovered and I was left with all my units but with only one or two men in each. The game ended and I had narrowly lost although looking at the table is seemed to be a mini Manzikert. I felt I had a slightly better grasp of the game but I get caught out by how many initiatives you can give one unit and hence how far it can travel, one minute it looks safe next you are getting hammered. Low grade javelinmen in numbers seem to be the way forward, to hell with bows, or is it just me.

My third British cavalry squadron is complete, the 4th Horse later the 7th Dragoon Guards, I enjoyed painting these and have now jumped right in with the second squadron for the French Apchon Dragoons. I am almost there for the forces I want to play one of the Honours of War scenarios, I ordered up two more cannon, one for each side so the artillery is also now covered. This leaves a couple of built up areas and I still cannot decide on which buildings to get, one possible set are MDF and a decent price, the other is resin and far more expensive, I cannot leave the decision much longer.

I got two pots of contrast blue paint at Phoenix last week, the light blue is Talassar and the other Ultramarine, I applied them to two spare figures with a white undercoat, I think they would have been better with grey. I will get a chance to try them out in the coming months once I get back on to painting more SYW infantry, I am already sold on the red.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Phoenix, Penrith

While the rest of Britain, from the Midlands south, basks in the hottest summer since Rorke's Drift oop here in't North it is grey, windy and on occasion rain falls, so what better to do than take in a wargame show, especially as the Morecambe Kite Festival of yesterday robbed me of two hours of my life.

Phoenix is only 45 minutes away at the Rheged Centre in Cumbria, a strange kind of place which holds all sorts of events and has a cinema, a grass roof and a very strange car park, I think it is supposed to be environmentally friendly but it confuses me, I am never sure which part I am in. This is very much a local show albeit some big names were there, Sarissa, Warlord and Colonel Bill's, the rest of the traders were much smaller outfits but there was a decent range of products if not huge. There was a small but brisk bring and buy where you buy a space and some time and then showcase your wares, most of this was GW stuff which seems to be very popular in these here parts. I thought GW and Victrix from Kendal would have been here but they were not. So for a local show not a bad turn out from traders.

Now the games, there were a few participation games, an ACW Rebels and Patriots with some very nice terrain and figures and a coastal naval game, not Cruel Seas which also had some lovely models involved. I think there was also a fantasy table of some sorts but that would be it. One of my reasons for popping along was that there was a Seven Years War game advertised, this turned out to be based on the British in India, the figures were 28mm and very nice, the terrain did not do justice to them as it was uninspiring, but maybe this is what it was. I eventually managed to ask someone who the manufacturer of some of the figures was but the gent did not know, others looked on frightened it seemed that I would ask them. I could return later when the owner was back, I said I would. Half an hour later I did get a word with the owner but it was a quick one and he then turned his back on me to converse with some other guys. I did get a good talk with the ACW guy and especially Jim from the Dumfries club who was running the naval game. I hate to say it but the 'game' side of things was not great, I feel a bit guilty saying that as we have a club 45 minutes away and no presence.

Yes I did buy some stuff, I got some blue Contrast paints, some battlefield bits from Colonel Bill and a few paintbrushes from ABC Brushes. I usually buy the horrendously expensive Winsor and Newton brushes but have found recently that some have not been up to scratch, I think they will be my last, I used ProArte years ago and I think I am going back there.

I also ran into David Bickley (Tales from GHQ) and Phil Robinson (News from the Front) up here on their hols and taking some time to bag a wargame show before heading home