29 July 2017

Bolt Action Patrol Scenario - Rescue the General!

My second BA game this week was at our usual club/pub night, trying out a smaller 500 point Patrol scenario from OP SEALION (with a few adjustments).  After James’s Germans captured my Para General on Monday night (here), it was time to free him from his dreaded Gestapo interrogators!  And this time the Red Devils would face the Lions of Carentan; Vets on Vets…
Herr Flick and Helga interrogate the captured General Urquhart 
500 points gave a really different game to the larger games I am used to, and perfect for a more narrative focused club night.  I took a Lt, 3 x 6 man squads (each with a Bren and 4 SMGs, noting the smaller board), a Mdm Mortar and the free FO. 6 dice total.

So what happened in the game? Well…

Corporal “Spider” Webb quickly moved his team up into a commanding position behind a hedge near the captured General – one that he would hold throughout the game, soaking up a lot of enemy attention (and fire).  
Corporal Webb's team move up with verve and vigour
Then my forward observer muffed up his call for fire and my artillery dropped short, putting pins on most of my forward units (but no direct hits thank goodness) More happily, my Medium mortar ranged in quickly, crippling the enemy infantry squad. One of my Para infantry teams closed in to eliminate the remnants, only to be wiped out to a man when they failed all their attack rolls.  Oh dear!
This Red Devil assault did not end well for our heroes...
On my right flank Corporal “Tommy” Atkins got his team into an uneven fire fight against a larger Fallshirmjaeger squad and stood up to a hail of fire to keep a major portion of the enemy busy.  
Corporal "Squizzy" Taylor and his men  get stuck into the Bosche
When the Jerries got bored with that they went for the decisive action – charging the stubborn Corporal Webb’s position in the centre.  The Germans took some fire on the way in and were ultimately eliminated in the resulting close combat.
The Green Devils charge Corporal Webb's position and pay dearly
At this point my 1LT decided the time to win medals was upon him – with a hearty bellow of “Follow me Lads, its time to take Jerry a cup of tea” he leapt forward to save the General.  Unfortunately for him, Corporal Webb’s team FUBARed, mistook the movement on their left as the enemy, and poured a devastating volley of fire into the young officer.  Oops.
"Right Lads - up and at 'em!"

FUBAR! "Sorry Sir, we thought you was a Jerry..."
At this point the red faced Forward Observer decided he should do something and leapt forward  to secure the General.  However, he did so alone as both infantry teams next to him failed their activation rolls and decided instead to yell encouraging words as they brewed up behind the hedge.  Happily, the provision of hot tea went a long way to restoring the General’s morale once he was freed from Herr Flick. A British Victory and thanks Marty for a very enjoyable game!
"No thanks Sir, me and the lads are staying put!"
I really enjoyed the smaller Patrol game style as a change of pace. Apart from its speed (2 unhurried hours, including adult beverage breaks), the smaller game (on a 4 x 4 table) felt much more personal – every decision counted, every casualty hurt and each dice draw was important.  I really want to explore this more and am thinking of adapting some of the 40k “Kill Team” missions for this purpose.  With some specific formation requirements (eg no Heavy Tanks, no Heavy artillery etc) I think this has some legs. 

One final observation is that in a smaller game, the effects of good and bad die rolls are far more pronounced – the artillery dropping short, the mortar ranging in etc – that doesn’t just impact one of your squads, it cripples 1/3 to half of your units.  So you can blame Lady Luck with far more justification when the SNAFUs happen!

27 July 2017

BA "Sectors" Scenario

Not one but two games of BA2 this week – what a treat after a few weeks’ dry spell!  First up was a 1000 point game in Canberra with my tabletop buddy of 20+ years, Comrade James.  We played the Scenario 12 'Sectors' which was new to me and very interesting with lots of tactical decision making.
The imposing “Düsseldorf Triangle” - Hvy Mortar off to the right
I was up against James's infamous “Düsseldorf Triangle” list (aka “das Großen Käse”!), in which he fields a Heavy Mortar, a Nebelwerfer and the dreaded 88 (in 2 platoons).  He sets them up on his backline in a triangle with a LT in the centre of them – then he “snaps to action” the officer and fires all three heavy weapons as his first action of the turn.  Brutal!  He can also recrew between them as required to account for casualties.  Very interesting and rather daunting to face up to (I decided to leave my tanks in the box as a result!)
German Spotter (for the 88), and Veteran SS squad.

Noting the scenario scoring I reorganised my paras from their traditional 10 man sections to smaller, 5 man teams each with a Bren gun and 1 SMG, hoping this would give me more unit scoring options.  This worked well and the 5 man teams were relatively resilient (being vets) but 2 of them struggled on with only a single man left so perhaps 5 was too small.  I also tried a 5 man all SMG squad but sadly they got caught and wiped out before I could try them out in practice.
SS Veterans assault the British positions in the closing moments of the game

A very interesting see-saw game evolved.  With my own Light HOW and Mdm Mortar focusing on enemy infantry, I tried some unconventional counter battery fire against James’s big guns.  My sniper took out the 88 observer on turn 1 (doubling his career kill tally – well done that man!) and I rushed up and destroyed the Nebelwerfer in close combat.
Unconventional Counter Battery fire!

The final turn 6 saw me in a relatively good position after some lucky die rolls (like a squad brassing up a loaded halftrack at long range, destroying it , and killing 5 of the 6 occupants and routing the last chap) and ahead on VPs, but a Turn 7 then ensued.  James took me apart and it was only a lucky last activation of the game in which my sniper took out a German officer that made the game a draw. 
A pivotal end to the battle: Airborne General Urquhart pours hot tea on the cheeky SS blighters disturbing his elevenses, 
scalding one rather badly before the rest broke in and broke all the good china.
Lots of fun in a very dynamic scenario which I enjoyed and look forward to trying out again.  Thanks for the game Comrade! Bad luck on the draw; you definitely deserved a win after outplaying me throughout the evening.

23 July 2017

I did it again...

Yes I've done it again (see here).  I honestly went in just for a paint pot (the one perched precariously on the bog pile of awesome). But a 50% off sale? A man can only do so much...
Happily, mistakes were made...

10 July 2017

GW Photography Article

Another useful article on how to photograph your minis. I have reproduced it here in full because I find GW articles seems to disappear or become hard to find over time, but the original can be found here:

The Model Photo – How to photograph models for display

We love featuring pictures of miniatures painted by you, our readers. But taking good pictures can be quite a challenge. To help you out, we’ve come up with a few photography tips and tricks to help you get the best photos of your models possible.

Setting the Scene
Before you even take out your camera, it’s important to set the scene for your pictures. We suggest a simple set-up with a plain background – a piece of paper stuck to a sturdy backdrop is a quick and easy solution and perfectly suitable for the job, providing a neutral backdrop for your models (1).
We normally use a white background behind our miniatures as it really helps show off the model, though any colour that contrasts with the miniature will work. A White Scars Space Marine, for example, will show up better on a black background (2), while an Iron Hands Space Marine would struggle to be seen at all (3).
If in doubt, stick with plain white paper – a chequered tablecloth, wooden table, fur rug or grassy lawn (yes, those are all real examples) will just confuse the outline of the model.
Top tip: If you’re really serious about photographing miniatures, look at investing in a light box. You can find them in most camera shops and online.

Lighting your Picture
When taking pictures of miniatures, you need a consistent, even light. The best way to achieve this is with lamps and, specifically, daylight bulbs (1).
Daylight bulbs provide a neutral light, not too yellow, not too blue, but just right for taking pictures of models. You can find them in most supermarkets and they’ll fit most standard desk lamps. While one lamp aimed directly at the model will work, two lamps are even better, enabling you to light your model from both sides and eliminate shadows from overhanging weapons, equipment and whatnots (4).
It’s important that no other light affects your picture, so make sure you turn off the room lights and shut the curtains or blinds before taking your picture. To the right you can see what a picture with consistent, even lighting from two lamps looks like (5), while next to it you can see the same model with just one lamp aimed at it (6).
It’s worth noting that natural daylight is not a good substitute for a light set-up, even if it is really sunny. Natural daylight varies constantly, making it hard to get the same level and colour of light in your pictures. A cloudless day, for example, will often make your pictures come out too yellow, while an overcast day will leave them blue.
Avoid using the flash setting on your camera, too. The flash is used to saturate an area with light and will often result in really harsh highlights and deep shadows.
Top tip: If you want to take lighting your pictures to the next step, look into purchasing a set of softboxes and flash lights.

The Golden Angle
Every miniature has a golden angle, a viewpoint that best captures the essence of the model. This will almost always be the front of the model, where you can see its weapons, face and body clearly (7). If you take a picture and these key areas aren’t visible (8), turn the model round a little and try another angle.
Some miniatures, like the assassin Shadowblade, can be pretty hard to photograph. If you’re ever unsure of a model’s golden angle, just have a look at how it’s been photographed on the Games Workshop webstore or in the new releases section of White Dwarf. If you match that angle, you can’t go wrong!
Another important factor to consider is the height of the camera. Looking back at the set-up in picture (1), you’ll notice the camera is level with the model, not angled down at it. We refer to this angle as a model’s-eye-view, the camera lens at the same height as the model’s eyes. If your camera is positioned too high, you’ll get a lovely shot of the model’s shoulders and the top of its head, but little else.

Image Size and Getting in Focus
Miniatures are, by their nature, pretty small, so you need to make sure your camera is close enough so they fill the frame. If the camera’s too far away (9) your models will appear tiny and the picture will be useless. Instead, move the camera in nice and close so the miniature fills the viewfinder or viewscreen.
Be careful not to cut the ends off weapons and banner poles (10), you want a picture of the whole model, not most of it. There is a down side to moving the camera too close, though – it may struggle to focus on such a close subject (11). If this happens, move the camera back from the model and try another shot. If it’s still out of focus, move the camera back and try again.
There’s a lot of trial and error involved in photographing miniatures, so don’t worry if it takes a few goes to get it right.
Top tip: If you have to pull the camera back so far that the model appears tiny again, don’t forget that your camera probably has a zoom function (12).
Putting all of this together should help get a good picture. But we can still do better…

Taking the Picture
There are four important settings on a camera to consider when taking pictures of miniatures: aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. To alter these settings, you will need to take your camera out of its automatic setting and put it in manual.
Aperture: Use the highest setting
The aperture controls how much light comes through the lens and how much of the model you will be able to get in focus. It is often referred to as the f-number or f-stop. The higher you can set the f-stop, the better. Most DSLR cameras will have an f-stop up to 22, while compact cameras reach around 8. We recommend using a high f-stop to help get more of your model in focus (13), as a low one will leave parts of it fuzzy and out of focus (14).

Shutter speed: The longer the better
The longer the camera’s shutter stays open while taking the picture, the more light will be let in. Start with a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second (15). You can then reduce the shutter speed to let more light into the camera and brighten your photo (16). Be wary of leaving the shutter open too long, though, as this can lead to image blur if you’re holding the camera when you take the picture.
Top tip: Invest in a tripod to keep the camera steady. Use the camera’s timer function, too, so you’re not touching the camera at all when the picture is taken.

ISO: Set it low
The ISO controls how sensitive the camera is to light. A high ISO puts more light into the picture, but runs the risk of making the image grainy (17). Set the ISO as low as possible and only increase it if you need a brighter photo. (18).

White Balance
White Balance controls the colour of your photo. As we recommend daylight bulbs, you should change your white balance setting to ‘Daylight’. This should give you consistent colour in your photos. If you are using a different light source, adjust your settings to match.

06 July 2017

A quick game of BA

2 v 2 game down the pub - good fun!
Back from holidays just in time to catch up with the lads for a 4 player late war BA game.
This saw a German Heer and FSJ counterattack on a Brit Airborne and US Army position in a small village.
Having taken the town, the lads wait for the inevitable Jerry counterattack!
A fun, quick game introducing a new young player to the game (who did remarkably well too - good job!), it saw two notable events; the first time EVER that my sniper has taken out a target and the first time EVER that my medic has saved anyone.  And they have played in every game since I built the Army, so thats a lot of attempts! 'Bout time they started to pull their weight too I must say!
Cor blimey - they've got a Panzer! 
FSJ advance on the right flank in strength
Right lads, skip round behind the cottage sharpish!
Dont worry our tank'll take care of that mess, unless he misses (which he did twice!)
The game ended up in some nasty hand to hand in the big building, which saw the FSJ firmly in control by game end.  Lots of fun!