If you go into the woods today

This last Sunday saw Operation Bear, the largest Bolt Action tournament held in Melbourne so far. Thirty players assembled at Good Games for a cracking day of gaming. The hook of the day was 1,111 points using a single reinforced platoon (and no theater selectors) extended to allow one additional 0-1 choice provided nothing was repeated. So, you couldn’t take two Panzer III, but you could, for example, take a Tiger I and a Wirblewind. A silly example, of course, because that is almost 600 points, more than half of your budget.

So, of course, that’s what I did.

42429818054_809bf58e12_k

There is a theme to the list. After the fall of Monte Cassino and the breakout from ANZIO, the 508 Heavy Panzer Battalion was used in penny-packets in support of 10th Army as they retreated to new defensive positions north of Rome. My force contained Heer Grenadiers, a unit of Fallschirmjager and a Tiger I accompanied by its anti-air asset, a Wirblewind.
28279657787_8d9caf3a0a_k
This is somewhat of fudge, since while Tigers were often defended by flak units, I don’t think Wirblewinds were deployed in Italy, or even available in June/July 1944. But I’ve got the model and I had never deployed it before.

It was a fun day. There were three games, two with objectives and one for kill points.
I feel this mix is pretty much optimal for three-game tournaments and encourages a more balanced approach to list building (or at least discouraging single-trick lists).
By the luck of the draw I faced two other German Players (who I beat), and a Polish Airborne list (who carried the day). Three fun opponents, three good games, a generally good buzz and lots of beautiful armies to look at on the day. It is hard to ask for much more.

If you want to hear more about Operation Bear and things Bolt Action, I’m one of the guests on the Cast Dice Podcast discussing the day in more detail.

Maybe I’ll see you at tournament sometime.

D.

Advertisements

They’re here!

Last post I mentioned I was working on some US infantry from Crusader Miniatures. Well, I’ve managed to complete them and in what is record time for me. The box had 24 dudes, and included several models with sub-machine guns, two officers and two with BAR. So enough for three smaller squads or two larger depending on what is needed.

I still need to get my photography fixed up. I’ve been using my phone, but I am not as happy with the results. Back to the SLR, I guess, even though it is a bit more fiddling to upload the photos. I think my main problem is lighting, but the SLR seems more forgiving of the less than perfect light and focus combination required.

The models on the other hand, I am pleased with.

An added bonus is that these 2 or 3 squads, depending on how their counted, also mean I’ve completed the June It challenge. Yay me!

Next up is back to the Germans, I’m a tank short of a list I submitted for a tournament this weekend. But after that, I think it will be onto the some support options for the US.

See you on the battlefield.

 

The Yanks Are Coming

Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming
The Yanks are coming
The drums rum-tumming
Everywhere
So prepare, say a prayer
Send the word, send the word to beware
We’ll be over, we’re coming over
And we won’t come back till it’s over
Over there

I’m not sure if it’s derogatory to refer to US citizens as yanks, but these are the lyrics from the 1942 classic Yankee Doodle Dandy, so I’m guessing it’s OK in the context.

Clearing my desk of the fallschirmjager has made room to start on some US infantry from Crusader Miniatures. I have had these in the cupboard from before Bolt Action was released, so it is high-time they got a chance to get some paint on. Still to be based but I’m pretty happy with the result. Here is a sample of the first 20 odd.

Next up will be to add a couple of 30 cal machine guns, a mortar and a bazooka team. Together with a few vehicles, including the walker I’ve nearly finished, and I will have a small force versatile enough for a reinforced or armoured platoon for both Bolt Action and Konflikt 47.

26230694_2003910316523430_7240938856272203465_n

Mudskipper, Medium Jump Walker

Huzzah! (Or whatever it is that Americans yell when they’re happy.)

D.

Fallschirmjager Fire Support

Another paint job that has been hanging around for months is finally finished, some support teams for my Fallschirmjager. it is lovely to have a somewhere to paint once again. I’m probably a squad and a sniper team short of a full FJ force, but as elite options for a German force in Bolt Action they may well do very nicely. All of the models are by Black Tree Designs.

First is a medium mortar.

A medium machine gun (which is good fun with the Hitler’s Buzz-saw rule, even if a bit fragile in play).42033066214_96b553b5a5_k

An LMG to add some firepower to one of the squads.42033065954_961c82167e_h

And a couple of random models I found in the same box.

I’m done with FJ for now. The cammo-smocks were an interesting challenge, but I’m not keen to return to 28mm camouflage patterns in the near future.

A last little observation: I know the blue helmets are anachronistic. OK, probably just plain wrong. But I like the silly touch as they remind me of my Airfix toys as a child.

D.

Smash fascism (and the patriarchy)

The representation of women in wargaming is an ongoing discussion. That women of all ages, and children and older people (of all genders), have been victims of war is a fact that can only be disputed through a narrow interpretation of facts. However, gaming (overwhelmingly) focuses on the soldiers, the majority of who have been male.

Fantasy and science fiction have an easy fix available: create worlds where the patriarchy is consigned to the dustbin. Creations like this cannot be disputed for inaccuracy. That we do not is a reflection of our communities’ biases.

rohan-riders-2

Historical gaming has a genuine challenge here, since overwhelmingly combatants were (and are) male. There are companies that are seeking to shift this balance, and being companies I guess they are doing so in response to demand. Good on them. Bad Squiddo Games come to mind as doing a particularly good job of making women warriors available, consciously rejecting the pernicious sexualisation that mars so many female figures (Games Workshop is an easy source of examples, but are typical rather than especially poor in representing women).

Given there were only ever around 1500 tiger tanks produced and I suspect far more than this in service on wargame tables, I have no particular problem with female soldiers appearing more frequently than they did (or even stretching some of their roles). For WWII gaming, the Soviet Union and Partizan forces both provide historical basis for creating armies with female combatants.

female partisan

Black Tree Design

Konflikt 47 has a wonderful opportunity, being a fantasy (diesel-punk) extension to the second world war. The background story has nuclear weapons tearing strange holes in space though which the competing nations receive information about how to build new (and terrible) weapons. The new technology see the Germans hold the allies east and west, extending the war into 1947. Part of the story extends real world events and strains: the Soviet Union splits from the allies, making the war three-way in Europe and the Middle East.

A real world shift not emphasized in the story to date is the role of women in the war. In every country, women stepped into roles dominated by men: particularly in factories, on farms, transport and planning. The access to the new rift-tech still requires soldiers to wield the new weapons.

The trend in the Soviet Union was to include women, and with two potential new fronts (Japan and Iraq) and the ending of US Lend Lease, this trend will be accelerated.

The United Kingdom, except for possibly India, were under enormous pressure after six continuous years of war. Given the opportunities given to women in the quirky Operation Sealion expansion for Bolt Action, I think getting a few into khaki for K-47 makes sense.

The United States still had a lot of man-power, but the rising affluence (and influence) of women could plausibly see them not just building the tanks but operating them.

French women took up arms when they could to liberate their country. I think they would not shirk their duty given the chance in 1947.

The case for the axis is less clear. While Germany faced acute shortages of combat fit soldiers, the deeply dysfunctional and conservative regime seems to me to be unlikely to recruit women (outside of home defense units). Unlike the other nations, the role of women as mother and wife was central to the nazi regime’s view of itself. I think it is plausible that Osttruppen, Hitler Youth, and Volksturm could all include women. And armed BDM seem to be more likely than flying vampires.

The Italians have less opportunity given their lack of resources and constraints from allies, but I think for different reasons the rump of the fascists in the north (desperation), and the newly liberated nation of the south (revenge) would both allow women into their fighting units.

rocketeers

Rocketeers from Eureka Minatures

New possibilities for armies, miniatures and expanding representation on the table top. I can see no downside here. So how about it Warlord?

 

I’m in a pod cast!

Not a lot of painting and just a bit of gaming in recent weeks.

However, I have now appeared in a podcast for the first time. Long-time friend Brad hosts LRDG II, a show about gaming in general and often Bolt Action in particular.

First half is a discussion about Games Workshop new one: Armageddon; I’m in the second half speaking with Leigh and Brad about a recent trial run for a Bolt Action tournament with a slight twist.

cheers,
D.

PAKing heat

Anti-tank guns were deployed far more frequently on the battlefields of the second world war than you sometimes see on the battlefields of Bolt Action. I’ve got no data to back this claim up, but I suspect that the changes to HE in version 2 may the mix move back to a more historic mix. Again, no data. Anyway, I’ve decided to do my bit by finally assembling and painting a PAK-40 I picked up many months ago from Black Tree Design in one of their frequent sales.

I didn’t enjoy putting this model together – usually the lack of assembly instructions for BTD models is not a major hurdle, but I suspect that I’m not alone in muttering as I build some arty.Anyway, Google was an ally and I ended up without too many pieces left over and the model undercoated.32717942200_9ebb1562c0_k

I got as far as a base coat (with a can of german looking yellow I found in the shed), and lost interest again for a while. I considered leaving it at this stage.
32944026252_d6e3bbfbd6_kNor were the crew in a good state:33058483646_fd3102adf4_k

They even had a Dwarf along for advice. My hobby mojo was missing. I was saved by my nephew. He showed me some of the Germans he was painting. And they were good. I got inspired, and picked up a brush again.

Not my best work, but table ready. Phew.

Now, back to the lead mountain.

D.

VBAL May

Life can really get in the way of your hobby at times. I did managed to sign up for a tour of duty for the May Victorian Bolt Action League event. Three games in a day, held at the excellent House of War in Ringwood. I liked how Tristan organised the day. Rather than the usual swiss chess sort of thing, we were divided into axis and allies, so no blue on blue. He had also appointed overall commanders, who (in consultation with their team) allocated people to tables. Each table had a different mission, so the terrain matched the mission. Both terrific things to bring to an event, and greatly lowered the stress levels because there was no “top-table”.

I took my Germans, of course. They are still my only painted 28mm WWII. At 1,000 points I left my Tiger at home and gave my Stug III a run instead.

I faced Soviets twice and the US once. I didn’t win a sausage all day, but had a cracking good time.

Round 1 Loss to Rick Vaveliuk’s Soviets. I ran out of momentum (and men) in the centre, while a T34 demolished my supply dump on turn 7 to turn a draw into a good win.
It is always a pleasure to fight Rick and was a nice way to start the day

Round 2 Another loss. Soviets again. Having trouble keeping the Bolshevik hoards back today. Kittyhawk Down and a great game.
Thanks Tim, and nice to see the citizens’ militia on the table

Round 3 Loss to Chris in hold until relieved. Turn 3 just saw my Germans taking too many pins and I failed order tests across the board.
Clear victory to the marines.

D.

I<3BA

Bolt Action is a cracking little game and I think that is one reason why changes like the format rules (up to season 3 now) have been embraced by many players. It is a game that is almost there, it just feels like it needs a few tweaks to really make it sing, and the community of players are willing to invest the time in creating these changes. Now that edition 2 of the rules themselves are at the printers, if not already in warehouses waiting on H-Hour, any community changes are moot until we see what the authors themselves have in mind.

I’m looking forward to the new rules, although like most I could do without buying another rule book (and leaving the current one redundant). However, even without the format rules or a second edition, I would still happily play Bolt Action. I would love to see more LMG being fielded, and can see the merit of many of the suggested changes. I’ve written on that before. However, just taking LMG still works as a solution, between consenting adults, even if no changes are made.

13086854_1712900632291068_3786758336784081812_o

Another topic of conversation is tough fighters compared with other options like SMG.
My problem is not with tough fighter per se but with how they are routinely fielded. Tough fighter can be brutal, but I think it comes into play too often because units get a taxi service around the battlefield way to easily.

Units did not stay in trucks under fire. Trucks may have transported units to the battle space, but once there units had to walk (crouch, crawl, run). I think tough fighter would be less extreme if you had to use fire and manoeuvre more frequently to close with your enemy. To this end, I would like to see units receiving fire while embarked penalised even more than they are now. Pins, wounds and the risk of entanglement or cohesion (forced going down) could all come to play. There needs to be a signficant trade-off for arriving in a truck.

heer10

Truck, for the Fallschirmjagers

I like trucks, but they appear too often, I think they are better used in specific scenarios over generic missions. Using a transport to outflank should come with risk of pins to reflect hazard elsewhere on the battlefield, and again to force a trade-off for outflanking in a vehicle. Outflank on foot by all means, your trusty sargeant has led the way.

This allows for the introduction of special rules, either for particular lists (say to represent a dominance of transports, say Normandy US or early Russian campaign Germans) or be mission specific. Flavour as well as crunch. It is also a chance to differentiate armoured personal carriers a bit, where armoured assault and a bit of protection from small arms fire was a thing (Germans put petrol in the Hanomags, they might finally get a run).

As I write this another post topic comes to mind: I don’t actually like army books very much. But boy, I do enjoy the theatre books.

cheers,
D.