30 November 2013

Rangers all the way....to Turn 7!

Hello all, Comrade James here with another Bolt Action AAR. This one was performed under top secret conditions, as Blair (Qman) was trying out his new list of US Rangers for the Warlord Games sponsored GT in Sydney. Sworn to secrecy, I have only just released this post on the very day the Rangers are unleashed on the unsuspecting GT participants...
The mission was Hold Until Relieved, and I was designated as the defender of the ammo dump in the centre of the table. I was allowed to deploy one infantry squad and one other (I chose my light howitzer...a poor choice upon reflection)
The attacking Rangers were allowed to deploy 18 inches from my forces anywhere on the table...in Bolt Action, US Rangers (besides being all veterans) are able to make a free run move before the game starts....so deploying 18 inches meant that before the first order dice was even pulled, they were only 6 inches from my forces.....
AT the end of Turn one, my howitzer was staring down an assaulting Ranger squad, and rolled a 1 to hit them at point blank.....well, miss...

As my gallant lone squad attempted to hold off the US horde, the rest of my force entered from my table edge, the infantry bolting for the ammo dump, and my Panzer II sweeping around the right flank. A lucky shot from the US Bazooka team stationed on a hill overlooking my right flank nailed the Panzer as it attempted to recce away behind some trees....
Meanwhile on my left flank, I decided the time had come to charge my flame throwing Pioneer team up the flank in their Horsch truck, to try and catch out the US squads before they could consolidate their newly won position...sadly, the US Flamethrower team had a similar idea, and by the grace of the dice bag, the US team got their dice first and managed to set the Horsch on fire, bailing my Pioneers with 5 pins.....
All was not disastrous however, as the US FAO called in the US air support, but the Rookie pilot mistook the US Command team for Germans and strafed up the platoon sergeant, and pinned the squads immediately around him....my heavy mortar also managed to range in on its first round onto a squad of Rangers about to seize the ammo dump, leaving 3 stunned survivors behind...as the sniper duel continued on my left flank , my heavy mortar switched targets to try and ruin the US Sniper team's day....
The US tried to reduce my mortar threat by sending the crackshot Bazooka team around my right flank to charge the Heavy Mortar team as it pumped round after round at the sniper team on the far side of the battlefield...2 SMG toting Rangers were no match for my Regular heavy mortar crew and their entrenching tools, and the US assault was stopped in its tracks.....
Despite my best efforts, the Rangers managed to clear the ammo dump of Germans, and began to establish a perimeter.A second attempt to call in US air support managed to bring in the classmate of the rookie pilot from before...this time, his rockets killed his own 2lt, causing no end of grief for the rapidly pinned down US forces attempting to move up....
As the game came to a critical close of Turn 5, my Heavy Mortars finally put a round right into the US Snipers position.....
Emboldened by the lack of incoming sniper fire, Hauptman Schnickelgruber, my Captain (+3 ld) raced forward to shoot up the US Flame thrower team threatening to BBQ my pinned Pioneer platoon....killing the attendant, Schnickelgruber was about to finish off the pinned flame team when two survivors of a mauled Ranger squad rushed down the hill and clubbed him to the ground..

At the same time, my Veteran squad armed to the teeth with assault rifles and SMGs over ran the closet US position and managed to get a toehold on the ammo dump at the end of Turn 6....
With victory snatched from them at the 11th hour, the US braced for one last final assault ....on a 4+ there would be a 7th and final turn....I rolled a 4....
With that, the US Engineer squad finally made it into action,flaming all but two of my Veteran squad out of their woods, and the US FAO, having moved up in shame of his previous two efforts, shot the second last man in the squad, forcing the NCO to take a morale test......and failed...
I would have to say that was one of the best games of BA I've played, in terms of excitement and building tension right up until the last dice...that FAO was literally Blair's last shot at my squad contesting the objective....
Despite my folly of losing my PzII in a reckless move and my Horsch over-enthusiasm, I managed to hang in by the skin of my teeth right to the end...helped in no small way by hideously unlucky die rolling by Blair for both his airstrikes....and 2 good hits with my heavy mortar.....the only support weapon in my army now with Close Combat Clasps....

28 November 2013

Above and Beyond

A sobering exhibit at the US National Veteran's Art Museum in Chicago: 58,000 dog tags of servicemen killed in Vietnam, suspended at the top of a two story atrium.  Titled "Above and Beyond", the 10 x 40 foot piece was unveiled on Veteran's day 2010.
The dog tags are set closely, so that air currents generate a wind chime effect.  From below, guides have a system to locate and identify the dog tags of any particular serviceman with a laser pointer.

26 November 2013

Bingo at the Painting Table

Need something to keep you amused through endless basecoating or basing?  Many gamers listen to a podcast or two, but last week the Dux and I decided that just wasn't enough - we needed Gamer Podcast Bingo!  We both enjoy Neil's "Meeples and Miniatures" podcast and thus was born...

The Rules!
1. Best played when painting, but play anywhere!
2. Any M&M episode will do
3. Some phrases/events appear on the card more than once, but you can only cross off one box each time you hear it
4. Using a brush loaded with paint to cross allows you to cross off a bonus box of your choice on the main grid game
5. Claim a tactical Victory by finishing a complete line in any direction
6. Full Strategic Victory is won by completing the whole grid
7. Wildcard! events can replace any other box on the grid
8. Be careful not to knock over your water jar when leaping up to yell BINGO!!

Meeples and Miniatures podcast

24 November 2013

Well Done Doctor!

Got up early with the Lass this morning to watch the most enjoyable 50th anniversary special - that's three generations of Whovians in my family who have grown up and loved his adventures.  Thanks for all the good times!

23 November 2013

Battlegroup Kursk

This week I had the opportunity to play Battlegroup Kursk with the Dux and Ian,and I really enjoyed it.

The fluid, escalatory nature of the game really fits my vision of WW2 combined arms action without it being formulaic.  The meeting engagements built from an empty table, starting with scouts engaging one another etc, and specific national rules make the nuances of C2 different on each side.  Clearly optimal to be played at the 15-20mm scale, it played very nicely and requires one to very carefully consider army building options - make an unbalanced force and you pay dearly by having a fragile, easily routed force which will be outmanoeuvred on the table.

In our game Ian and I commanded a 500 point German force comprising a 222 scout car, PzIVH platoon, a PzGrenadier Platoon in halftracks and a Tiger tank.  Hurtled against us was The Dux riding a company of 10(!) T-34s, some infantry and an SU122 I think it was.  The Germans moved up into the some wheat fields and commenced long range fire which turned out to be completely ineffective.  Alan in the meantime massed his armour, continuously pinned the Tiger, and rushed forward for a point blank duel, knocking out the 222 and a PzIV in exchange for a pair of T-34s as they ran through the German lines.  This seemed to galvanize the Germans who then remembered their ballistics lessons and dispatched four T-34s in quick succession the next turn, effectively breaking the Russian advance.  It was a down to the wire game and Ian and I thought we were off to the gulag until the last moment (when a pair of sequential 'box car' throws proved most timely).  Just goes to show how the tide can so quickly turn.

Tigers are clearly bollocks too - I've fielded 3 now and not scratched an enemy with any of them!  After charging in and making a T-34 crew bail out from a non penetrating flank hit, Hanomags with Pak36 'door knockers' fitted (Sd.Kfz 251/10) are obviously the secret weapon of choice!

BTW The Dux's collection of 15mm WW2 was just inspiring to play with - you can see them here but they are much, much better in real life.

The newly released rules in the series, Fall of the Reich, really interests me but the next installment covering Desert War has a great deal of appeal and is worth waiting for next year.  Its a theatre I know a bit about, but not lots.  I think I would enjoy the shift from big heavy tanks to scout cars and lighter tanks.  Plus the idea of fielding Italian tankettes really appeals to me for some masochistic reason! 

I can see an exciting new Winter '14 project on the horizon!  But for now its Bolt Action time...
Dux-Cam view of the Victors!

22 November 2013

Captain Johnnie Walker, RN

I read the biography of this famous Naval Captain recently and have been inspired to officially declare him a Man Cave 'Gentleman of Renown'!

Captain Frederick "Johnny" Walker, CB, DSO and three bars (yes 3!!!), RN

A career naval officer, he joined the RN as a young Midshipman during WW1, and loved serving in the smaller sloops and frigates vice Bettlcruisers and above.  After the war he started a family and specialised in Anti Submarine Warfare, but his career stagnated as a Commander, mostly because he wasn't interested in the political and social requirements for advancement after hostilities.
After serving as the Executive Officer in a Battlecruiser (where, ironically, he was assessed as lacking in leadership skills) he was passed over for promotion and that would have been the end of this story - except that the Germans started another war and as an Anti Submarine Specialist he soon became involved, initially with channel defences, and then at sea.

Commanding the sloops HMS Stork and later Starling, he was personally responsible for reinvigorating convoy defence mechanisms, and the developing the tactics of the ASW Hunter-Killer groups which later supported them.  He was personally responsible for more U-Boat kills than any other man.  But all this came at a cost and shortly after D-Day, he died during shore leave from over-strain and battle fatigue.
If you want to read a rather stirring tale of personal Leadership, and motivation of men in a desperate battle, see if you can find a copy of "Walker RN".  Its out of print but well worth the effort of finding...or its available for free electronically at the second link below.

Read more about 'Johnnie' Walker here: http://uboat.net/allies/commanders/1.html
and here: http://www.captainwalker.info/

See previous Man Cave 'Gentlemen of Renown and Infamy' here:

19 November 2013

A visit to Petra

No visit to Jordan would be complete without visiting the amazing ancient city of Petra, which I did as my first stop off the ship there in August. Built by the Nebataean Arabs around 300BC, it is just breathtaking in its scale.  One starts the adventure trekking down into a canyon, which gets tighter and tighter, darker and darker.  Up ahead, light becomes visible...

And then just a few steps on the canyon widens out to reveal...
The amazing Treasury building, which I'm sure you will recall starred in the final sequences of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
I didn't find any Crusader Knights or Holy Grails though!
Pictures just cant do this place justice - I'm rather amazing to see all the hand carved buildings right out of the rock face
After wandering around the intrepid visit can chill out or take the rugged climb up to the top of the mountain though.  Not being wimp out types, we climbed in the scorching heat to see the Monastery at the top of the mountain - easily as impressive as the Treasury building.
To give you a sense of scale, below is a pic is me at the door of the Monastery, which is the above pic is in line with my left elbow
Just a little further to the top, spectacular views beckon...
...and don't disappoint!

And at the end of the day its also comforting to see that Cheezyness is universal!


18 November 2013

I'm in!

Today I was confronted, nay accosted, by Dux Homunculorum who challenged me to duel.  The format? The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge!

After considering my poor modelling and painting output this year (for which I consider I have a somewhat reasonable excuse), I have agreed and matched his challenge of 500 points.  At this end of the challenge that seems like a shed load of figures, but with my Bolt Action Red Devils force taking shape this will be a good start and indeed a great incentive to follow through on the project.

So along with the list of blogosphere giants (or perhaps the simply infamous) of previous years - including the Angry Lurker, Ray, Tamsin the Wargamer Girl, Michael A, Alan H et al  - we now enter the fray!

Now to see what kind of a side wager the Dux and I can come up with...

No idea what I'm talking about?  Have a look here:

17 November 2013

Bolt Action Games Day

Yesterday the Man Cavers had our first expedition together in a long time , albeit briefly for Paul, to a local Bolt Action Gaming Day. I took my German 21st Panzer Division, a list I've been refining for some time now, and Paul came along to watch and soak up the BA goodness....
We managed to get 2 games in, my first was against a Dad's Army Brit list, 2 platoons with some very characterful figures...you may recognise a few...
LCPL Jones and his lads charged out of the truck to be met with a withering hail of fire on Turn 4...but more on that later....
The mission was Maximum Attrition, which is essentially 1 VP for every unit destroyed...my opponents list was numerous (18 dice) and each unit fairly brittle, being Home Guard after all...they managed to account for themselves though, and Jones got to prove they 'don't like it up 'em!' before his squad was wiped out...my opponent attempted to stop me shooting up his Pvt Godfrey Medic and accompanying Vicar, but war is hell, and they counted as a VP.....
Other highlights included my Panzer 11 running over and wiping out Sgt Wilson's squad, while my Flamethrower team accounted for a Regular army section that had earlier wiped out my sniper...not before he won the Sniper duel though....
My second game was against the dastardly French, with their two light tanks and two howitzers in an urban setting....in this game, Hold until Relieved, the French were defending a central objective in the town. I didm;t take many photos of that game, as it was at that stage that Paul arrived and I was too busy showing off to take pics (and receive rules reminders from a newly boffed-up Paul!)
The German Hauptman and Veteran Squad dash across an empty street in France.....
After sniping the French Heavy Howitzer observer on Turn 1, I proceeded to score a lucky first round hit with my heavy mortar on one of his 3 infantry squads, reducing it to 2 very scared Frenchmen, whilst my infantry moved house to house up the street towards the objective...an Ambush from one of my squads held back a truck filled with Sengalese shock troops , and they stayed in their truck the remainder of the game...this allowed my Flamethrower Pioneer squad to race up in their Horsch, leap out and flame the building housing the other French infantry unit, their Veterans...this squad all perished in the flames, allowing me to advance onto the objective which I held at game end.
Overall a great day, and good to be with Paul again surrounded by tables full of terrain and dice :-)

15 November 2013

Brit Paras: The Beginning

Having enjoyed a great game of Bolt Action with Dux last week I've taken the plunge and gotten some lead delivered.  I've gone for Brit Paras, given they they are completely different to anything else I've played before.  They also fit nicely with Comrade James already fielding US and German armies.

I've collected a mix of figs from Bolt Action and Crusader.  The Crusader figs are slightly larger but they mix fine.  So far my force consists of:

2 Plts, each with:
2Lt and 1 Assistant
2 Sections each of 9 men, including a Bren Gun and 3 SMGs
PIAT team of 2 men

Plus: Forward Observer, Medic, MMG team, and Mdm Mortar

Right on 1000pts.  Lots more I want in the mix (like a sniper team and a Flamethrower) but 4 Veteran Para squads seems like a good place to start!  If you have other suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Next week the paints start to go on!  Those Cam Denizen smocks are a bit daunting though...

14 November 2013

Darth Dux

Another fine evening with the Dux this week, catching up on more than a few beers and an uber-schnitzel at the local, plus a few games of course.  This week was X-Wing, for which Comrade James had kindly lent us his collection of goodies.

After a few slight fumbles from 9 odd months between games, I managed to show him the ropes.  Clearly delighting in the opportunity to say "You Rebel Scum!" every few minutes, he took the TIE fighters and with the Battle of Yavin playing in the background we had at it.  In the first game I cleaned up both his fighters, while he took me cleanly in the second.  At one match apiece we called it a night.

I had forgotten what fun this game it - thematic, quick, 'zippy' and full of flavour.
Thanks for a fun night fellah!

13 November 2013

First Impressions of Bolt Action

One of my small German squads lies in wait for Alan's British...
Last week Dux Homunculorum and I were treated to a demo game of Bolt Action by Ian of War and Peace Games fame, and a great evening it was indeed.  After a few refreshing libations and a scrumptious feed of lamb at the hands of The Dutchess, we settled down to get into the game.

Ian put together a wonderful table of terrain and pitted me a German player defending against Alan's advancing Brits.  You can find a wonderfully erudite write up of the encounter at the Dux's blog here, which details the action in factual and non emotional language.  Pretty remarkable noting the evening witnessed my first win over the previously undefeated Dux Victori.  I'll treasure the memory for the aberration it undoubtedly was!

Brit Paras advance on my right - this did not end well...
Overall I quite enjoyed the game and found it very intuitive.  Despite walking in cold, by turn 4 onward the game flowed quickly with us running it ourselves (a testament to Ian's tuition, not our intellect!).  There were a few abstractions I found a little strange initially, but they certainly do keep the game moving.

I very much liked the order/activation system and its element of randomness and uncertainty, which keeps everyone on their toes and involved in the game.  Looking forward to a few more games and to Comrade James showing me the nuances of the game as I get the mechanics weighed off.

Overall, a fantastic evening! Many thanks indeed to Dux familia for the wonderful hospitality, and to Ian for all his effort on putting on a cracking game for us.

12 November 2013

Sailor Lad!

No guided missile frigates this time - dingy racing on the lake!
On the weekend the Lad went out for the first set of races in the local Sea Scouts' Tri-Lakes sailing regatta.  In unseasonably damp and cold conditions he and another scout bagged third place line honours in their Division and first place overall on handicap  - Bravo Zulu!

09 November 2013

Box of Awesomeness!

Having drooled over online shops and catalogues for most of this year without being able to order anything, I splashed out this week to get myself a big box of goodies.  After much consideration (and the compulsory false promises to myself that I would paint everything before I order anything else) I got range of stuff for a few different projects, including: 

The lovely Renedra Ramshackle Barn set they released earlier this year for my generic 28mm scenery collection. The moulding is wonderfully detailed and crisp.  Cant wait to build this.  Also got another set of Renedra gravestones for my ongoing cemetery terrain project, which I am on track-ish to have completed in January for CanCon.

The new SAGA Expansion was a must for my Dark Ages gaming, though I am still completing my Irish Warband at the moment.    I have wanted a Russ styled warband ever since reading.....novels which are mostly set there, but Dux's fantastic Russ warband makes me gunshy! (see it here)

And I have taken the plunge into Bolt Action, grabbing the Rulebook and a few figures to go with my cunningly prepositioned British Army book.  Well done Comrade James, your evil plan has come to fruition!  Stand-by for the start of my Red Devils 'painting project'.

A March or Die! French Foreign legion boxed set (24 figs including Command figs) by Artizan.  I went for the iconic Kepi and greatcoat models because they are classic.  I figure I will use them in Pulp games, and In Her Majesty's Name - but really its just because I liked them!

I've also learned that there is not much point spending lots of time and effort acquiring, painting and basing figures only to have them damaged, especially when you move every few years like I do.  So I also invested in a new KR multi-case for all of the above.

Thanks once again to Ian Crabb from War and Peace Games for the awesome service and a great job lot!  Its just the first of a few 'welcome home' presents to myself :-)

Note to self - here is a nice video tutorial of how to paint the FFL: