Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Another New Game and Stuff

Club night and I was joining yet another new game bought by our club magpie Stuart, who actually brought two, but we only played one, Battlestar Galactica. This game is produced by the same people who now own Wings of Glory (aka Wings of War) and it involves small model spaceships in dogfights where no one can hear you scream. Can I just say here that some of the players know more about these spaceships than is healthy, you know who you are, I couldn't tell a Viper MkI from a Mars Bar, I could but you get the idea.

Anyway on to the game, it is far more complex than Wings and in our 'training' game I got the impression I needed a degree to fly the thing, you have a small control box and you have to take in speed, kinetic energy, heading, height and other stuff, the cards are also way different from the one dimensional WWI cards and give all sorts of manoeuvers, speed and difficulty on the one card. It became apparent that the space equivalent of the hand brake turn is the way to go. You play two cards at a time and can even play a blank to fool your opponents, you can only shoot once and you choose during the first card or the second. If damaged you pick up a chit, once you hit the structure rating of your ship you die, you can also suffer special damage to parts of the ship. Unlike Wings where you can handle three or four biplanes I think you would be hard put to pilot two of these spaceships in a game.

There is talk of expansions, new ships, special pilots and all sorts of other things, I don't know who exactly this game is aimed at apart from people who can tell a Viper MkI from a Viper MkIIa, it is too complex for a simple pick up game and needs commitment.

I have another Chain of Command game tomorrow and have quite a few things coming my way to compliment my WWII forces, I have barbed wire for minefields and entrenchments, clump foliage for explosions and more Really Useful Boxes. A little white van just brought me some sticky stuff to line the boxes and a spiffing, expensive looking dice tray, I used one of these last week while battling Stuart and was impressed. I am looking at getting some cobbled roads despite not needing them, I may jump this afternoon.

I am at a bit of a loose end just now and am catching up on all those things I have put on the back burner, the farm for the SYW is complete, I have rebased some Dark Age scatter and added some stowage to the odd British vehicle, I looked over the Germans and they are fine at the moment. I also dug out some British I had in my lead anthill, so I managed to get another 2" mortar, a PIAT team and some engineers, these will be flocked tonight.

 I am also going to have to get more troops shortly, probably SYW infantry battalions, I must admit I am myself beginning to wonder where all this stuff is going to live until I close the PO.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

A Puff of Smoke

As you know I have gone back and took another look at Chain of Command, also, as usual I have jumped in with two feet. I sorted out patrol makers and tactical markers last week, I have also searched out a QRS and other information pertaining to playing the game and stats on the weapons, all printed and laminated of course, oh, and I also bought the rules. Like a madman I am also on the cusp of buying some Russian campaigns although I do not even have Russians, I already have one.

When playing Stuart last week I managed eventually to plonk some smoke down, we had to use some small cotton wool tufts which we had to imagine were 3" in diameter. This of course wouldn't do for Casa Anderson, I sent off for some cushion material, not expensive but I was a bit surprised at the size of the bag, at the same time I got some 3" round bases from Warbases. I have a can of spray carpet glue and simply sprayed the bases with this and stuck a handful of the cushion material on, another spray and I whacked on some more, you can't tease this stuff out too much as it breaks up easily, the spray glue however held it well. Once everything had glued I gave them all a 'haircut', this still leaves fairly big blobs but the actual base is 3" so there should be no argument where the actual smoke is. Too finish I gave them a light spray of Citadel Grey Seer primer, just to take the white edge off. This leaves explosions to do for barrages, I have some bases in the MDF pile, cocktail and BBQ sticks with the clump foliage needed on the way, perhaps another half dozen of these.

Also completed today was some scatter terrain for the SYW and one piece for WWII along with a British artillery ammunition wagon, I used blue contrast paint on the peasant, I am very impressed with the Talassar Blue.

I have my small farm based, so I need to paint that and grass it next, after that I will be looking at rebasing some farmyard animals if I can get them off their bases and looking at doing some stowage for my WWII vehicles during the upcoming week, a short week as I have a game on Thursday and we are off south for the weekend. I have my Tiger Moth flight next Sunday, the Tartan Baron.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Yes, Martlet again.......

I set off early this morning in rising heat to genteel Grange-over-Sands and the Keg and Kitchen pub where Stuart runs the micro brewery and hence is allowed to use their large upstairs room for wargaming purposes. Stuart had already got my parking ticket so I got all day for £1 and that is a bargain you won't get in many places, he had also set up the table and very nice it looked too, I had brought a couple of buildings if needed and the hedges he requested.

I had read the rules and the campaign booklet but I don't think a lot of it stuck, you really need to play rules before you understand them completely and I get confused at times, as I did with the turns and phases, Stuart had to patiently explain the whole thing to me and I am still not sure I understand it, my homework for tonight.

My new Patrol markers.
 How did the games go, well I won't bore you with the details of Probe into Fontenoy but once again the British got nowhere while my Sherman and the Panzer IV spent most of the turns trading shots, I failed to get most of my troops on the table due to the mist so felt I could do nothing but withdraw. I then of course brought two Shermans but one failed to turn up and again I was quickly under pressure so again I bailed. The next turn saw the PzIV backed up by a Pak 40, my tanks did not flame up but lost their guns, run away!

The fields of no return.
  I failed to get anywhere on 25 June, the first campaign day, I have to say I was getting more than a bit disheartened by this campaign. Things looked up on the morning of the 26th and eventually I got that annoying Panzer, the first time I have ever killed it in all my efforts to play this campaign. I had also managed to get a few sections on and one could have perhaps made a run for the objective, the enemy table edge, it was now that Stuart made a mistake, because of (eventually) my smoke he moved an MG team out and it promptly broke, his Force Morale fell to 4, at last the Germans decided to abandon the outskirts of Fontenay.

According to my notes I think I withdrew three times before I got Stuart to withdraw, but we fought seven turns. The butchers bill was not as bad as when son Stewart and I played using Bolt Action, this time I lost six dead and Stuart 4, my officer is still full of himself despite the setbacks but the men will need a bit more convincing. I am hoping for good things now that damn tank has gone.

I actually had no problems with double turns and I think we also got three sixes at one point to end a turn. My only bugbear which it has been in every game I have played is that I have great difficultly rolling a 1 to get my teams on. I can hear the chorus of 'use smoke' ringing in my ear, but if you cannot get the damn mortar on the table it is a useless noise. On reflection it was no slower than my BA games on the same table, it was also not as bloody as BA, I wonder how a simple pick up game would work, I shall have to try this as well. Due to both the British barrage and the morning mist there was not a lot of troops on the table, thankfully once the mist dissipated I could rely on my forces turning up.

I think no matter what rule set you used this is a tough nut to crack for the British, however I am feeling slightly more confident as we move into Fontenay and the Jerries lack a tank.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Rebels and Patriots

Fairly quiet at the club last night, one RPG game, one Age of Sigmar and Rebels and Patriots run by Stuart, I volunteered for the latter, it has been played a couple of times at the club but I was still in Saga mode then, I have since escaped from that.

The game was a continuation of a campaign I think or a linked series of games, loosely involving the same characters if not players, this gives a kind of narrative to the players efforts and seems to be de rigueur these days with skirmish games, either this or a whole series of events triggered by dice rolls. Did I like it, it was fine, I can only compare it to Muskets and Tomahawks which I really enjoy. It is very easy to play, all of us picked up the mechanics within a turn or so, when shooting you have to score so many hits to kill, for instance if your target is in open ground every two hits kills one man, in cover every three. Like M&T shooting and combat can be brutal and deadly, shooting is to me strange, you can fire through woods, visibility seems to count for naught, there are no saves which I have gotten used to, five dead is five dead and hence this level of lethality tends to put your unit out of action very quickly. You also have to roll to activate each unit, a six with two D6 is required, it may not seem too hard but see below. One thing which struck me as strange is that line and militia infantry have a range of 18" while elites, like Grenadiers get 12", Stuart opined that this was to force players to use these elites in hand to hand combat rather than a firefight, nonetheless it seems daft to me. A very simple, quick game, with almost no learning curve and perfect perhaps for a club night, but without the bells and whistles of the 'campaign' and events perhaps too simple.

What about the game, well I was commanding two Provincial, one Light and one Highland (elite) battalions these were all twelve men strong. The figures used were as usual very nice and a pleasure to play with and observe. Simon had a motley crew on my right with some regulars and Indians along with six Rangers. We all had different objectives, mine was simply to clear the French from the area. No sooner had my men set off, well some of them, than the Jocks decided they did not like their officer of the moment and shot him in the back thus depriving me of his command incentive, this played havoc with my plan of advancing and shooting down Rob's Frenchies. I then fell foul of the range mechanic and my Highlanders began to be shot down without being able to reply, it would also be suicide to advance them so I was left with no alternative but to withdraw them.

Every player rolls a die at the start of the turn and the highest goes first, it then follows clockwise, although this was to my advantage initially I could not profit from it as turn after turn my units refused to do anything while all the time under a galling fire from the enemy. Simon meanwhile had disturbed a Grizzly with his Rangers and the beast killed most of the unit, he also ran into some quicksand later, Rob was set upon by a swarm of lethal wasps and lost a man to their stings. The events are not all bad and Simon got at least one extra unit. Meanwhile I began to lose units without inflicting any damage, I lost over half my force and the rest decided to go home. Although Simon had managed to remove Ian's men from the table he now had to contend with Rob's almost complete brigade, it was over.

As a bit of fun it played well enough, but as a serious wargame no, for me it joins a long list of perfectly playable games based on history, I know M&T is not serious either but it feels better to me. You will notice I am trying to shrug off my deplorable die luck, Chain of Command on Thursday, a real test for my Karma.

I have a pile of bits and pieces primed and might start them today, I am in no particular hurry at the moment with anything having just finished another map project, I do have a toy cat to paint red today, long story. I admit it is warm but looking out the window it is damp, misty and grey, what a combination.

Monday, 22 July 2019

The Elusive WIn

I am not superstitious but I am beginning to wonder when my inherent military genius will enable me to climb out of the trench of defeat or at best a draw. I was humbled at the weekend at Risk by Mrs A jubilantly conquering Australia, South America, Africa etc. and leaving me with a ragged rearguard in Kamchatka, a Scotswoman quite happy to put the boot into a man who is down and she is from the genteel side of the country.

No matter, I have completed the next of my SYW troops, another battery each for the French and British, I got a Front Rank piece but in future I will stick with Eagle Miniatures as they are very nice castings, I also got a small ammunition wagon for a small vignette and it will be primed today. I am a bit stuck for artillery crews because they will obviously all begin to look the same as I only use Front Rank at the moment, I shall have to use some ingenuity if I can find some. Foundry are too big and others are too small while other SYW manufacturers simply do not do gunners. I did look at Perry but their gunners are in a completely different uniform, no matter it will be a bit before I get back to artillery. I have tried without success really to lighten the blue on the British carriages so have bought a grey/blue for the next lot.

I have also completed my little farmstead buildings, they turned out very presentable, I used Charlie Foxtrot tiles on the roof of the farmhouse, before I base them I have to do some scatter, barrels, boxes, sacks etc. so a wee while yet before they are complete.

I don't have any urgent map projects on the go at the moment so I spent Friday afternoon sorting out some markers for Chain of Command, I had plenty of 40mm round bases, some people have a lead mountain, I have an MDF mountain. I originally looked online for something to buy then thought I could do better and make them more personal, so I chose division signs used in Normandy as my forces reflect this period. I managed to get some of them and with a bit of cut and paste got them to fit my bases, I simply drew the others, I could have drawn them all but it would have taken more time and as you know my patience has limits these days. The divisions are, in no particular order, 15th Scottish (natch), 43rd Wessex, 7th and 11th Armoured for the British and 2nd, 21st, Lehr Panzer Divisions along with 12th SS for the bad guys. If you like these then contact me and I'll send you the .jpg file.

So, how is my new interest in CoC going, I have watched even more videos and have realised that my foray into Operation Martlet using a blend of rules was pretty rubbish, it is either one or the other to be honest. Stuart from the club got in touch and asked me if I would like to do Martlett with CoC, he thought someone was impersonating me on the CoC FB page due to my past comments, so I agreed and we kick off on Thursday hopefully, so I shall have to buckle down over the next few days and read the rules again. I also have a large Napoleonic game organised by Rob and Julian on the 28th coming up as well, Quatre Bras I believe, or part of it.

On the paint tray for now is the bits and pieces for the farm and some other table scatter, I have no large body of troops to paint, next up is another look at stowage for my vehicles then back to more troops, maybe next month.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

End of a Saga

Another Saga game last night at the club, as the Saxon lord I was being invaded by Alex's Carolingians, at least I didn't have the Byzantines. After the preliminaries to win the game we had to kill the opposing leader, fair enough. I had thought the Saxons would have the option for javelin armed levy, but no, all bows, these have been completely useless in my battles so far and very often do not even get to loose a volley.

Alex did not do anything in the first round apart from load up his 'board' for the coming battle, the Carolingians have a certain Saga thing, along with others armies, which can give them a large advantage in battle but it needs three dice. This suited me as I managed at last to move and shoot my archers, they dealt out death from above to the Carolingian Warriors, five out of eight hit the deck, great start.

Alex responded by charging the archers, these guys bravely held off the Hearthguard by not dying in droves but merely retreated a short distance. There now followed some back and forth fighting which resulted in more horrendous Carolingian losses and one of my small Hearthguard units being wiped out. I was still in a good place, Alex was having a dice crises and I almost felt sorry for him, but I have had it rough myself for the past several games. Things now came down to an even fight between both Warlords, what the hell we decided to end things one way or another, Alex won by one hit, my man fell with a mortal wound, the game was over.

We then had a chat about the game, Alex has played the first edition but is not keen on the second, for me I am sure it is great as a game but it does not have any real historical flavour and the differences in the armies feels contrived simply to be different rather than being based on historical precedents. So it's a no from me Simon. If it is possible and I am not required to keep the numbers up I will resign from the campaign, I don't like doing it but my heart is not in it.

Elsewhere we had Age of Sigmar, a boardgame and a Battlegroup WWII game with Andy's excellent 20mm collection, every time I see this I wish I had gone for 20mm. His Waffen SS despite the size also look better than mine, great work. I was pleasantly surprised to see two King Tigers on the table, I will get the Rubicon one when it makes it to the shops.

My stowage and other stuff arrived this afternoon from Debris of War, so I have plenty to do over the next few weeks before buying more troops.

I have now picked up the book I bought recently on the AWI, it is well written and easy to read, I also now understand the beginnings of the war (militarily) far better than I did before. Bunker Hill (Breed's Hill) was a disaster for the British and a pointless battle, I used to think we got something out of it but we didn't. We were cooped up in Boston without a clue what to do, at least so far, the initial commanders have just been relieved so maybe things will improve, don't spoil it for me. 'The British are Coming' by Rick Atkinson, I recommend it.

One of my own Bunker Hill maps for the Atlas

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.