Saturday, 27 May 2017

WiP - 15mm British Infantry, Engineers and Medics

Hi folks,

A bit of a gap since my last update, but not for any reason other than not having anything really finished to show.

Since I finished my Rebel 10mm Cavalry I've been working on updating and adding to my available 15mm British infantry. The Battle for Noyers games showed me that I needed to have more infantry platoons available for games of that size. I've been slowly building up a stash of infantry figs over the last year or so, so the plan is to start adding a platoon here and there.

The plan had also been to take one of my original infantry platoons (which were some of the first FoW models I bought and painted) and update them with a highlight and new basing.

This part of the project came a bit undone. I decided to remove them from the bases, then that I would go for 4 men on a base rather than 5, then was unhappy because at some point after basing I had varnished them and static grass was stuck all over them.... The long and the short of all that is that the entire platoon went into the paint stripper last week and I will be painting them from scratch! They were some of the first 15mm models I had painted and I just would not have been happy with an update to them. The static grass issue was just a killer!

So as far as painted infantry platoons goes, I'm almost 1 up and 1 down score wise!

Here are the current batch - just one infantry team and the HQ to finish before the platoon is all done. 6 x 4 man teams (3 of the teams with Brens), 1 x 2 man PIAT and 1 x 2 man 2" Mortar, 1 x 3 man command team.

There is a poorly converted wire laying team included, for Battlegroup/scenario games. I've tried to put the Highland Division patch on the chaps arms as well, but no other markings. The sculpts are a mix of newer and older models.

Then I have 4 squads of engineers - I wanted some more mine clearing assets, again for larger scenario games. these will be a small detachment or Royal Engineers:

Another mix of older and newer models. Each strip will be one base worth. Forgot I would need an HQ for these!

And lastly, I have some medics, wounder and stretcher bearers I am updating - along with a couple of  bailed out tankers:

These are for Battlegroup/scenario FoW games as well. These guys just need the final details and varnishing.

So all of this lot should be based up shortly, and I'm going to move on to repainting the original guys. Hopefully this won't take long!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

10mm Pendraken ACW Confederate Cavalry - Finished!

Hi folks,

So this week I've been working on finishing off my Confederate cavalry unit - and tonight I managed to get it all wrapped up!

This is the first 10mm Cavalry unit I've painted and the first horses I've ever painted at any scale. I've still to base up the standing horses for my horse holder stands, which I'll hopefully get done once the dismounted cavalry figures are painted.

I'm happy with how these look, but not too happy with how they look in the photos! Zooming in obviously isn't doing me favours, as they start to look really scruffy. So I've kept the images small!

Since I was painting the horses, I also got my infantry brigade commander done. As a Brigadier of a South Carolina brigade, I've given him the state flag on his base.

The next batch of models will be a new platoon of WW2 British infantry, and updating one of my older platoons. Then back to ACW I think!

Monday, 8 May 2017

10mm ACW: Confederate Cavalry and Command WiP + Other projects

Hi Folks,

Just a quick update from me. While I'm still working on my 15mm WW2 terrain - specifically working through my pile of cut up door mat/wheat fields, I have also started working on my 10mm ACW again, along with sorting out some 15mm WW2 bits.

I'd gotten all my infantry done previously, but hadn't based them due to a cunning plan involving using casualty figures to pad out the basing a little. I've still the casualties to paint, but moved on to one of the things that had been daunting me a bit - the cavalry.

I've never painted a horse in any scale. But I figured if I could paint a Lion, how hard could some horses be...

Anyway, I've been making some progress over the last few days, with some base coated and washed figures to show for it:

Washed and highlighted standing horses - for my horse holder/dismounted cavalry makers

Figures on the left are awaiting highlight/varnish - I'm still working on the ones on the right. 

Close up of the WiP minis
WW2 wise, I am going to be working with two aims. Firstly, to get some more infantry painted. Secondly, to revisit the painting on my original infantry models, and update the basing. After much soul searching I have also decided to switch from 5 man teams to 4 man teams, to better reflect the squad sizes during Totalize and also make my available infantry go a little further.

I have also prepared some of my 'other' 15mm FoW infantry teams - including mine sweeping Royal Engineers and medic teams to be based and finished. Some of this only requires a quick highlight and ultra matt varnishing, along with basing. Unfortunately later batches will involve a lot more painting from scratch!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Team Yankee - Red Thunder news

Hi Folks,

Saw this posted on Facebook, so thought it would be worth repeating. Coming in July and August 2017 apparently, we have:

- Red Thunder Briefing Book (Early July)

This contains, according to the Battlefront website:

The Soviet Union’s most powerful forces are stationed in East Germany and Czechoslovakia poised on the border with West Germany ready to strike at a moment’s notice. They are equipped with the very best Soviet industry has to offer, from sophisticated missile firing T-64 tanks and powerful T-72 tanks to versatile BMP infantry fighting vehicles, as well as plentiful BTR-60 armoured personnel carriers.

Supported by elite Afgansty Air Assault troops, powerful self-propelled artillery, and effective and numerous antitank and anti-aircraft weapons, there will be little that the corrupt capitalist armies of NATO can do to stop them. Soon the western workers will be free and the dawn of a new socialist age will begin.

• Background on the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, 94th Guards Motor Rifle Division, 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division, and Yuri Volkov’s Tank Battalion.
• Instructions on how to build a T-64 Tank Battalion, BTR-60 Motor Rifle Battalion, BMP Motor Rifle Battalion, T-72 Tank Battalion, or Afgantsy Air Assault Battalion.
• Three Scenarios to test your skills with your Soviet force.

• A detailed painting guide to help you prepare your Soviets for combat.

- Yuri's Wolves Starter Army (Early July, 5 x T-64's and 2 x BMP-2's + rules)

Potecknov's Bears (Early July, revised original Russian starter set with 5 T-72's and 2 Hinds + rules). 
- T-64 Tankovy Company (Early August, Plastic)
- BTR-60 Company (Late August, Plastic)
- 2S3 Acacia 152mm Heavy Battery (Late August)
- SA-8 Gecko SAM Platoon (Early August)
- Storm Anti-Tank Platoon (Early August)
- Motor Rifle Company (Late July, Plastic)
- Motor Rifle Platoon (Late July, Plastic)
- Motor Rifle Heavy Weapons (Late July, Plastic)
- Afghantsy Heavy Weapons (Plastic - not mentioned on Battlefront website)

Along with some pictures of the kits (better images taken from the pre-order section of the Battlefront website - use to show whats available, the pictures are not mine!):

Monday, 1 May 2017

FoW AAR v4: The Battle for Noyers, Phase II

Hi Folks,

Two weeks ago, I posted about a game I had played using the 4th Edition Flames of War rules (with a few home made bolt-ons) to re-fight a Normandy battle (first post here). The first game had been a bit of a test, and the idea was run something as an introduction to Flames of War for the guys at the club. StiG and Stu were my test subjects, and the game had gone pretty well. So now it was time for the main event - Phase II of the battle and a multi player game for 6 players...

The player handout briefing document can be found here. Martin's blog post on the battle, with more pics, can be found here.

Now, I want to highlight that I did add some stuff to the game - but that had I been playing Flames of War version 3, nothing I added would have changed. I would have had to do exactly the same work as I did under v4. There is no hidden deployment or movement in Flames of War aside from the Ambush rules. There is no 'normal' off table artillery, or random events tables. No matter what version of the game I played, even if I was playing Battlegroup or any other rules set I am aware of, I would have had to add many of these things myself.

One major change was the way I deployed the Germans - to fit the history of the battle, they were deployed in a way I viewed would be more appropriate, rather than being clustered together. Otherwise they followed the same morale rules as the book.

What I can tell you about v4 of Flames of War from my experience of running these two game is that the games flow smoothly, the new players (who had never played FoW) picked it up really quickly, it gave outcomes that a lot of the gamers round the table found to be "what you would expect to happen", it was fast (for a 6 player game...), smooth and in more than 12 turns of my second game I had to consult the rule book only once. And that would about how the recce and scout rules interacted.

Now, I'm not saying I got the rules perfectly correct, but I was happy with how everything went. Accepting that no game is perfect, I'm of the opinion that this is a really nice set of rules. It can most definitely be used to play 'traditional' historical games. Hopefully our game on Sunday proved that to some of the guys!

Anyway, on with the show.

The table was 11' by 5' (I think) and a mix of peoples terrain was used. 

The first allied 'phase line' was the capture of point 126 - the small cluster of buildings in the centre of this picture. The second 'phase line' was the railway station, seen on the left. 

The town of Noyers Bocage lay at the far end of the table - the rather ambitious 3rd phase line. 

The whole setup, with the allies starting to arrive in the bottom right. 

We played on a 11' by 5' table, and with contributions from other club members we managed to get a reasonably dense table. I was a bit concerned with the amount of players and the number of units that things would get a bit 'busy' - and I think at times things did look a bit bunched, but the railway line and the forests also contributed to that. Playing width wise would have given more room, but less depth to the German defences, so I'm not sure what the answer to that would have been.

The allies entered on the right of the photo above. With a nice, long, empty table in front of them.

They had a preparatory bombardment of 2 artillery templates to use at the start, which they places and I noted (in secret) the results from. These also left ranged in markers for future artillery calls. Objectives were the first cluster of small buildings (Point126), the railway station and then the town of Noyers.

I had adapted the artillery system from the last game. Now, the random events were triggered by allied units being within 6" of a counter. There were a couple of entries which effected the artillery options, but the actual artillery availability was dealt with separately. Once a green counter had been used, it switched to a black one. The formation Artillery Spotter could pick these up by moving over them. The player controlling him could then 'spend' a token to roll on an artillery table. There were 8 options on this random table, with 5 Allied and 3 German types of bombardment.

The system worked pretty well, but I think I will adapt it some more for the next time!

The allies advance - 4 players had one platoon of infantry and one troop of Shermans (3 x 75mm, 1 x 17 pdr). One player had the 'funnies' - a Flail troop, AVRE troop and Crocodile troop. The last player had the infantry command, with commanders, OP, MG's and Mortars. 

First blood went to StiGs tanks, I believe. I used the same random event system as last time, which resulted in the StuG being spotted early on. Once the green event markers were activated, they turned to black ones which could be collected by the OP and cashed in to roll on the artillery table. 

The German forward line of defence is slowly whittled down and driven back. It took a little while to learn that the way to get rid of dug in infantry is to assault. Shooting just won't do it!

The assault about to go in! These troops had been too far away to assault, but had gotten a 'lost' event which moved them 2d6 in a random direction - which put them within assault range!

The South Staffs clear out the German recce platoon. 

A couple of close assaults later and the area is cleared up to the railway line... spot the Panther behind the train station!
Once things got moving, they moved quite quickly, with the players working together to overcome the tactical puzzle they had been set. The Panther proved to be a huge nuisance, not being destroyed to the end of the game as it kept falling back and slowing everything up. I found out this evening I had the front armour rating wrong, so it shouldn't have been such a big deal. However, the error actually made for a really great story and I thing the Panthers escapades will live on for some time. As will the 'bypassed' PaK40 that the players kept parking vehicles near...

Encountering HMG's, this beat up platoon decides the cornfields are a better place to wait while armour support is brought up. In the background, a StuG and Panther slow the armour down. 

Panther eye view... the Panther was StiGs and was a lovely model. 

Allied infantry get ready to attack the next objective. 

The Panther starts to get swamped... but keeps being missed (and bouncing shots... oops)

Elsewhere the allies surge forward. Special mention goes to StiG for his aggressive use of his infantry, which must have assaulted over half the German units on the board, and kept getting smaller and smaller as a result!
Allied armour moves up - the terrain funnelling them and the Panthers presence slowing them down. 

The German counter attack begins - 4 x Panzer IV's (with hidden support) start to advance. The Panther holds the gap...

Some of StiGs lovely Panzer IV's. 

Eventually, a plucky move by one of StiGs Shermans gets a flank shot on the Pather, and it is 'brewed up'. A great cheer went up from all the players at this! In the background StiGs infantry platoon moved over a minefield and assaulted/knocked out a Pak40!
Allied materiel advantage making itself known, while the infantry starts to get thin on the ground. Half of the infantry platoons were at half strength or worse. A/T assets were moving forward to dig and and help protect the gains against the inevitable German counter attack... Note also the breached minefields!

Another shot - there had been a '88' and some HMGs defending this hedge line. 

Looking down the table towards the starting table edge. 

A StuG and Grenadiers in the tree line. This was the high water mark and the point we called the game. 

Reinforcements move past the detritus of war...
Lessons learnt from this game included that fact that the events table worked really well. I changed it up from last time, making a lot of the 'negative' entries have options - basically for a lot of them the triggering player could chose a friendly unit to effect. The feedback from the players was overwhelmingly positive - they enjoyed the impact the events had and actively sought to trigger the events - which in turn helped keep them moving up the table. I think, due to the way the deployment went, some of the players didn't trigger any themselves, but all of them interacted with the results.

I learnt that I need more terrain! Especially for tables this size. I've a few more buildings to do, but the whole town concept needs a lot more work. I need to paint up some more infantry, especially for this size of games. Although historically this was a infantry company and armoured squadron attack! I think one of the lessons from Normandy was the lack of infantry assets, and the players were very aware of this, especially as they started to take losses in their 'first wave' of platoons. They became a resource to carefully husband - while the availability of armour led to tactics which favoured the tanks 'bashing on' - just as my reading of the WW2 material on this battle suggests was the actual attitude of many infantry commanders.

Changes for next time will be to increase the options on the artillery table. As controller of the German forces, I felt it was unfair for me to have direct control of the German artillery. So it was on the same table as the British artillery. This also added a consideration to the allies - risk spending a counter in order to get friendly arty, and you might get enemy arty incoming. Next time I'm going to go to a D12 rather than a D8 and have some options where both allied AND German fires arrive. That should keep things a bit interesting. Otherwise, I am also going to allow unit commanders to pick up the artillery counters - but delay the use of counters picked up this way for a turn.

I really enjoyed umpiring this game. It helped that the guys approached it seriously as the tactical problem it was, and they were planning and talking and interacting. Not to say we didn't all have a laugh, but it was nice that they kept it 'real' and didn't try any silly tactics in order to game the scenario.

There is already talk of following up with a Phase III game some time this year. The defence against the incoming German counter attack and then the assault on the town. I'm up for that!