Tuesday, 24 December 2013

End of year roundup!

A relatively boring seasonal greetings post from me today. I've been looking back over my progress so far this year, and I'm feeling pretty good about the amount I've done - although at the same time I know I could have done more.

One of the things this year has been good for has been not just me learning new techniques and generally just improving my ability through practice, but also learning what I don't know. That's a good thing for me as it's only through knowing I'm doing something wrong or missing something that I can improve.

Things I know need practise or corrected:

-  painting faces (improved a bit, aided by paints I got from Paul)
-  pigments/weathering of vehicles
-  thick paint. I think I need to start making more of an effort with layering. Vallejo paints are pretty thin, but I don't think I really use it the way it should be used (multiple thin layers).

I've managed to keep the blog posts going for nearly nine months, which I think is pretty positive. The feedback from the community has really been great and I appreciate it  massively, so thanks guys!

In addition to the painting stuff I need to learn, there are a few things I need to improve on for my painting and pictures. Lighting is a big one, I hope to pick up a decent fluorescent light this year. I also need to sort out army transport. Magnetic bases seem to be the way to go, and I had ordered some through Knightly Gaming, but apparently Battlefront and Gale Force 9 are having supply issues.

So, up to this point what have I done?

-  one full infantry company (three platoons)
-  MG platoon with transport
-  3" Mortar platoon with transport
-  4 gun 25pdr battery with transport and command teams (including a couple of mini dioramas)
-  4 defrocked priests
-  4 gun 6pdr platoon with transport
-  3 Sherman I's and 1 Sherman Firefly
-  4 gun 17pdr battery
-  pioneer platoon with transport
-  Hawker Typhoon air support
-  2 Sherman Crab Flail tanks

In the painting pile, base coated and ready to go:

-  4 Sherman I's and 1 Sherman Firefly
-  3 Daimler armoured cars
-  2 Humber LRC's
-  5 M5 half tracks
-  2 6pdr anti tank guns
-  2 Loyds carriers
-  4 Bofors 40mm anti aircraft guns
-  2 AVRE Churchills
-  2 defrocked priests

In the 'bloody hell, I've bought more stuff' pile:

-  2 Sherman V
-  1 Sherman I
-  1 Sherman ARV
-  3 Jeeps (still to be paid for and collected)
-  3 Humber armoured cars (still to be paid for and collected)
-  1 Sherman Firefly
-  4.2" Heavy Mortar platoon
-  3 Daimler dingos (on order)
-  12 (!!!) universal carriers
-  Sherman II's (currently under conversion to Sherman I Hybrids)

All these should allow me to field a armoured list as well as my infantry and mech infantry. I also aim to have the the base units avail to make a recce company list.

So a lot of work done, a lot of work still to do. Thanks everyone for their support and helpful comments over the year. I hope you all have a great festive season, and a happy and productive 2014 to us all!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Carluke Wargames Club 14/12/13 - Battlegroup Overlord trial game (20mm Battlegroup Overlord Review)

Earlier in the year I had picked up a copy of the Battlegroup series of rules from The Plastic Soldier Company.  I was interested in this set of rules as they are designed for 15 - 20mm, and allow for the use of Flames of War based infantry. I have a copy of the small rule book and the larger hardback Battlegroup Overlord campaign book.

Me and YD have talked about trying a game of this and last Saturday decided to give it a shot. Given that we would be learning the rules and that to start off with using individually based infantry would probably help, we decided to use some of YD's collection of 20mm figures.

So, what did we think?

Wow. A really really nice gaming system. Quick, simple but did exactly what we thought things should do. Granular with out being overcomplicated and we both picked it up really quickly. The orders system really forces you to make choices each turn, pinning adds a whole new element to the game and ammo tracking on the tanks ammo added something as well.

Just to get a feel for the game, we went for a villers bocage style game. I had 2 Cromwell platoons (2 x Cromwells and 1 x Firefly) in the town, all starting the game as pinned (dismounted). I also had a platoon of infantry (2 squads and a vickers MG team) in the town.

YD had a Tiger and a platoon of German Infantry (3 squads, command squad and 3 MG teams).

Normally with the Battlegroup games your army selection details not just your unit points but also the Battle Rating each unit has. You total this Battle Rating (BR) up and keep track of it during the game. In our case we decided we should both start with a BR of 15 since it was a test game - although mine should have been around 29 (YD's was about right).

YD started with 2 officers - one Infantry commander and the Tiger commander. I started with 3 - one Infantry and two tank platoon leaders.

Each turn starts with a random number of orders being generated. In this sized game we went for 1 D6 per turn. You also get +1 order per officer you have active (not dead). Orders are pretty simple - the main ones being Move and fire, Fire and move, double time (move twice) and Open fire (fire twice). There are also options for ambush fire (fire in the enemy turn) or reactionary moves (move in opponents turn). Senior officers (in this case our infantry officers) can also issue an order that allows you to try and unpin one unit in your actual turn - rather than at the end of the turn. This involves drawing a random morale counter (increasing your force tally for the game) and then passing morale check for the pinned unit.

Morale (or stress) counters are drawn whenever a unit is pinned or destroyed. In addition a destroyed unit's BR is taken away from your BR rating. This means as you lose units your morale (stress) total goes up and your BR goes down. When your morale tally is higher than your BR, you lose. The stress tally is kept secret from the other player, and some of the counters you draw have special effects. Like mine strikes on enemy vehicles, friendly air support turning up or making a enemy unit short on ammo.

You also get morale chits when your enemy captures a objective, uses a flamethrower or you are subject to an air attack. You can also choose to draw a chit at the end of your turn in order to unpin 1D6 units. You can draw more than one chit to increase the number of dice.

The number of orders being random really makes you have to think about what your doing. Sometimes we had more orders than units to move, other times we were desperate for orders and rolled low.

The game saw YD advancing and me sitting still on ambush and unpinning some of my tanks. YD managed to knock out one Cromwell before one of my Fireflys took out the tiger.

This actually happened 3 times before my Firefly died... we decided just to rewind and keep playing as it was a test game. Funnily enough, the numbers and the dice rolls seems right. that might seem odd given the number of times the Tiger died - but we both felt the stats and the number needed on the dice roll were correct. They were what we, as gamers, expected.

We also brought a Panther on to help the Germans, as well as a mortar team to test out the artillery rules.

Ignoring the Tigers death allowed it to get pinged a lot of times with 75mm shells and kill my first Firefly - while it slowly killed Cromwells. Eventually my 2nd Firefly unpinned and killed the Tiger.

One of YD's infantry squads with 2 sub machine guns and a rifle got into a firefight with a Bren team. The rifleman was the only German in range and he proceeded to knock out the whole Bren team with some good rolls and poor cover saves. In the game there are two types of fire. Direct fire and area fire. Direct fire requires you to pass an observation test to spot the enemy and then rolls to hit based on distance, cover etc.

Area fire is more abstract but covers suppressive fire. It rarely causes wounds but often pins the squad that's being shot at. A very interesting mechanic and useful in allowing units to advance where ambush fire is a danger. Direct fire only causes pinning on a morale check, whereas area fire causes pinning on a failed cover check. A roll of 1 on the cover check sees a casualty inflicted as well.

As things worked out I reached my BR limit before YD did, so he technically won. However we kept playing for a bit just to try the infantry assault mechanics (very simple and satisfying). The length of the game saw many of my surviving tanks out of AP ammo while YD's Panther was out of HE. It became apparent that the supply trucks and the likes in the rules would actually be useful. The rules also include stuff like wire teams, ambulances, dispatch riders, Forward Air controllers, etc.

All in all this was one of the best (if not the best) WW2 game I have played. Simpler and yet more accurate and tactical than Flames of War, more granular and realistic than Rapid Fire. I can see me playing a lot more of this game, hopefully using my existing FoW model collection. I think YD liked it a lot and hopefully we can let some of the other guys get a shot (and convert them!).

I would give this game a 9 out of 10 (the rulebook and army book were a bit oddly laid out). Well worth a shot for anyone with a 15mm collection. Turns played really quickly and we both picked it up really quickly.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Finished! Sherman Crab Flails in 15mm

After far too many weeks of little progress I finally got the final touches done to my 15mm Flames of War British Sherman Crab Flail tanks!

Battlefront BR132 Sherman Crab - with alternative chains

I'm quite pleased with how the two of them have turned out, although I do really need to work on my weathering techniques.
Just to recap, when I first set out I used a 20mm (1:72) scale model as a base for how I thought a flail should look. I then tried to put this into 15mm scale. Here's a comparison with a 20mm model.

15mm Sherman Crab alongside 20mm Sherman I Hybrid Firefly

Sooo... the model I started looking at was this one:

Picture from http://rctlittlesoldiers.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/sherman-flail-on-d-day.html - a fantastic blog and I only wish I could get my models to this standard! - I claim no ownership of the picture!
Alterations I have made to the basic FoW model (which looks like this):

Picture from the Flames of War website - again, I claim no ownership of the photo.
First I added the canvas cover around the gun mantlet (the cover between the turret and the main gun). I also added the storage box onto the back of the turret as it was missing from both the models. This came from some metal sprue parts I had laying around.

I added my own stowage, a mix of mine and Skytrex. I also was unhappy with the scale of the chains that came with the model (as seen above). So I purchased some costume jewellery with thinner chains and cut that up.

I did try weathering effect with pigments but failed miserably. I think I might use one of my as yet unused StuG models just to try out different effects.

Decals were care of Doms Decals.

Large (elongated) base came from Warbases who did a custom order for me for very little cash and with no issues.

Radio aerial is some 0.3mm fishing line painted black. I decided to do both of these tanks 'buttoned up' with no crew figures, as I guess sitting outside the tank might not be a good place to be when those drums start spinning!

I tried the yellow turret decals before realising they should have been red. Also these are pre basing.

Again, sorry for the poor lighting. One of the things still on my 'to be fixed' list. I still have the 'gun tank' Sherman for this platoon to do, and then it will be all done. Hopefully it doesn't take anywhere near as long.

The bases for these tanks were special orders from Warbases that were cheap and easy to order.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Carluke Wargames club Napoleonic battle, 7/12/13

Today at the club we had a large battle of General de Brigade with YD's 15mm French and Paul's 15mm Prussians (also to be seen here).

I'm basically stealing blog hits by posting pics of Pauls superbly painted minis!

The battle was a hectic affair with both sides fighting over two villages. It quickly became apparent that on our side of the table there was a bit of a knowledge gap with regards to the rules, so we were running very slowly. In the end the two ends of the table basically became two different battles.

On our side the French infantry brigade on the far right (led by John P) was pinned in place by my light cavalry while my horse artillery wheeled up and started battering at the infantry squares. This resulted in one square being shattered later in the game and my cavalry routing one full battalion from the table.

In the centre Bill's French brigade took the village only to be assaulted by my and Pauls infantry. This fight saw my infantry grab the village and then hold it for the rest of the game, repulsing all attempts to eject them. To the right of our village a cavalry duel developed with the Prussians getting the upper hand.

So a nice game with some amazing mini's. Really nice to see all this stuff on the table.

Carluke Wargame club 10mm Rapid fire 30/11/13

Been a while between posts again. I've been waiting on a couple of things to get my flails finished and after a couple of weeks wait my decals from Doms Decals have arrived. Not too happy with the wait this time round, but hey ho.

Hopefully the correct decals can be applied tonight and the matt varnish done tomorrow (weather permitting).

Last weekend I was at the Carluke club and we played a large game of Rapid Fire in 10mm. Myself and YD played and Germans and were pretty soundly defeated. Unfortunately this game brought forward my earlier issues with Rapid Fire. I understand there were a few people on both sides felt the same and consequently another add on for Rapid Fire has been found that fixes some of us had been unhappy about.

Some pics of that game:

We made use of blinds in our defense, but it didn't make too much of a difference. Even YD's Tiger was singularly unable to kill anything and died surprisingly easily!