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!

10 August 2017

Bolt Action Patrol Scenario - Roadblock!

Brit Paras defend a roadblock, aided by the thematic dice bag
That wily Herr Flick of the Gestapo is a cunning chap!  Last week he was bagged by the Red Devils before he could divulge the information he obtained from interrogating General Urquart regarding the tea and biscuit supply caches supporting Monty’s 21st Army Group.  

Now it seems that the wily Boche agent, seeing that his capture was imminent, scrawled the details of at least one of the supply dumps on the wall of the villa in which he was ensconced. A rag-tag Kampfgruppe has been dispatched to destroy it, but the men of the Airborne Brigade once again stand in their way...

This was another 500 point Patrol game - the Roadblock Scenario from OP SEALION.  I took my standard 3 vet squad British Airborne list against club buddy Steve’s German list.  This was the first time I had played BA with Steve and his list was quite atypical from what I have faced before.  He had a Veteran 5 man squad with Assault Rifles, 2 Regular Heer Squads, a wonderfully characterful though inexperienced Kriegsmarine Squad and an inexperienced MMG team in support.  It was a lot of targets to shoot at.
Stephen's wonderful Kriegsmarine squad - I had a morale dilemma shooting at them (at first)
I was set up with 2 veteran squads in position at the barricade and they would prove typically difficult to dislodge. Steve pushed hard down my right flank, leading with his cannon fodder sailor squad (which it pained me to shoot at), followed by his better troops. From the start my dice were very good, the sniper taking out the MMG and the LMG from another squad the next turn, and my medium mortar was devastating once it ranged in on Turn 3.  The handfuls of dice that the four SMGs in each of my squads threw out once in range were most useful too (very useful of the smaller 4 x 4 playing area).
Jerry grabs the road block - but can he hold onto it?
Nevertheless, Steve cleverly used the available cover (including his less valuable troops!) and in Turn 6 assaulted the roadblock, eliminating the Paras holding it to contest the objective and draw the game.  Unfortunately for him, a Turn 7 then ensued and my reserves eliminated his forward elements, while my mortar dropped a final salvo on his beleaguered regulars and routed the last Germans from the field.

A fun game but perhaps the scenario was a little unbalanced by our use of open force selection – those Brit Paras were just too tough for Steve to dislodge in an equal points game.  Perhaps another 20% of force to the Germans to account for the scenario would balance it better.
Love love LOVE this model and how Stephen painted him.
He is the ginger Captain Haddock of the Third Reich!
A lot more comfortable in his U-Boat than the trenches though :-)
While my dashing Red Devils are serving me well, I have been playing them since 2014 and I need to change it up a bit and get some variety.  I am going to play about with some lists now to do something different, drop some points and get an armoured car into the mix.  At the same time, one of the other club guys is going to try a Hanomag focused force which at 500 points will be challenging to counter.  

Overall, its an interesting shift in gaming approach for me - I have always gone with historical ORBATs and this is the first time I have ever tried to optimise a force within a point limits disregarding that entirely.  In any event, it demonstrates the utility of the BA system and simply dropping to 500 points is giving this game an entirely new feel and lease of life with us.  More to follow!

06 August 2017

Guards Brigade on the move!

With the upcoming release of Battlegroup: Market Garden later this year I thought I would expend my British Army a bit from the Airborne and start some new vehicles to represent the XXX Corps drive north to Arnhem.  Here are the first few completed.

I've always been a fan of the Cromwell Tank so when I spied Warlord's resin version with burlap camo I was in and the Guards Brigade used them as Recon vehicles.  Actually, painting the burlap drew me crazy - I went first with hessian colour but against the tank's green it look really dumb.  So I picked out the cloth strips in different colours and it looked a bit circus like.  Anyway, this was the final result with lashings of mud, dirt and dust to show its off-road recce role.

Insignia is for the Guards Brigade

I also did something different, painting the Tank Commander's goggles and all the periscope optics with a gem effect - not sure if I like it yet but they add a bit of colour and match each other nicely .

Naturally, one cant recreate A Bridge Too Far without having Michael Caine (playing Col Vandelur, CO of the Irish Guards) and his Humber Scout Car on the Table.  I got the Warlord resin boxed set which is nice, and then added lashings of stowage and bits to the outside.

Lots of mud, dust and grime were added to again demonstrate the hard work of the recon forces ahead of the main body.
Big Joe directs the column from his spiffy ride 
I might have gone a little overboard on the Olive green highlights, but it is the Irish Guards you know!
Not sure what I will use it for  yet (its a very expensive mobile LMG in Bolt Action terms) but its an iconic vehicle so I had to have one in my force :-)
Forget Jerry's big cats - Odin is the biggest threat in this garden!

03 August 2017

Bolt Action Patrol Scenario - Capture Herr Flick!

Odin's Night at the pub in action!
Last week we saw British General Urquart captured by the Germans, interrogated by the vile Herr Flick of the Gestapo and subsequently rescued by the dapper Red Devils of the Airborne Brigade.  However, before his rescue the General was subjected to unspeakable torture (some of their operas last for days you know) and forced to reveal the location of all the tea and biscuit dumps supporting the British invasion forces.  

Herr Flick is racing to his masters to hand over this key information; if the Luftwaffe can bomb the pivotal tea logistics nodes, the invasion will undoubtedly grind to a halt - Herr Flick must be stopped at all costs!
Herr Flick loiters with friends in the Gestapo safe house
Time to call in the men of the...

This was a 500 point patrol game using the Capture Churchill scenario from OP SEALION. Defending Gestapo HQ was Slowpainter John and his Gebirgsjager.  This was their first tabletop outing after being painted rather wonderfully by Patch of WWPD fame.
John's lovely Gebirgsjagers
Her Flick started in a small building in the centre of the table, covered by a sniper team and with an infantry squad outside.  The first two gliders dropped in and two British para teams took up station on the North and South sides of the house.  Gunfire was exchanged, eliminating the sniper team, and decimating the German infantry in the open.

As the next two British gliders dropped in, the paras dashed into the building to take Herr Flick prisoner, but he would not go so quietly as that.  His chattering schmisser gunned down all the tommies as he laughed maniacally but with Teutonic poise (John rolled a double six for 2 kills, while I only managed one).  Herr Flick was obviously considered a top agent for a reason, and not a man to be trifled with!
"Think you can take me Tommies? Dummkof!"
As the British support team set up to the West of the house, German reinforcements put pressure on the para security, wiping out the sniper and mortar teams without breaking a sweat
John's Mountain troops roll up my left flank, but will they get to the cottage in time to save Herr Flick?
It was all down to Corporal ‘Squizzy’ Taylor’s third section.  Stepping over the still warm corpses of their brethren from No 1 section, Squizzy’s boys were able to put Herr Flick ‘into the bag’ before scarpering out the back door.  More Gebirgsjager appeared from the west, mopping up the para support elements, but Squizzy and his mean were able to move off sharpish before the German mountain troops could catch them.
"Right - lets try this again, shall we?"
"Home in time for tea and medals lads!"

"Unfortunately, this means the Russian Front for us Kommeraden..."

A fun and quick game – I was lucky to get away when I did, having taken more casualties than John but being in a better position to achieve the scenario objectives.  We were playing on a a slightly small table too (3.5 x 3.5) which likely helped me a bit too.  Really loving these small games for club night.  I think a small vehicle (recon jeep, motorcycle with sidecar and LMG) would be a great next step.