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.

Old School Space Marines

Space Marines are celebrating 30 years this week-end. Blimey!

To mark the occasion I dug into the Faith and Steel vaults for the oldest space marines I could find. My own date from the starter set with the Black Templars on the box and dark eldar on in inside, plus a few of the (now out of production) metal figures from the time.

These are fine miniatures but I came across a box of something older. I have on long-term loan from a friend some seriously old marines. A mix of plastic and metal, I would love to hear from anyone who can identify them, because all I know is that they are OLD!

Of course, marines never really retire and these veterans still get the occasional run in Apocalypse games.

What’s hiding in your cupboard?
D.

 

Fear the Big Bunny

A change of pace from Bolt Action. I found some samurai rabbits from Eureka Miniatures in a box. I mean, who doesn’t have some sword wielding rabbits in their cupboard?

One day I will get around to adding something to their banners. And, I found that while I was painting them I’m missing horns from some of their helmets. I have a dim memory of thinking, “Gee they’re small, I’ll but those here for safe keeping …”

Their most likely use would be to make up a war band for Osprey’s A Fist Full of Kung Fu. I have a Japanese princess that would work nicely as a sorcerer to lead some magical minions. That is yet another one of those games on the shelf that I will get around to playing one day. And when I do, I have a warband ready to go.

And, just like sword wielding rabbits, who doesn’t have a game (or three) on their shelf that they will get around to playing, one day.

Sayonara,
D.

MG- you’re doing it wrong

This has been a topic of conversation in Bolt Action circles for a while, and with format season 3 not long released and BA edition two apparently about to be a thing, debate around what to do with LMG continues.

And the debate is around is what should be done to alter the squad support LMG (and to a lesser extent MMG). Remarkably for gamers, there is broad consensus that the rules surrounding these weapons require some tweaks. I tend to agree but won’t weep if no official changes occur. Of course, being gamers, we all have different ideas on what to do.heer03At this point US players just shrug their shoulders and pick up their BAR! The rest of us need to think about this.

Playing Germans, I found the change in the season format rules reducing the points cost from 20 points to 5 points, combined with Hitler’s Buzz-Saw rule, made the decision to include LMG in my squads an easy one. Although, truth be told, it didn’t change my build much as I already took LMG. What did happen is that I had extra points that avoided a decision on medic or kubelwagon. Under season 3 I can take both.

I have also heard some folk argue to not alter the points but instead increase the LMG rate of fire so the cost “makes sense”. The usual calculation is shots fired per regular dude. For 40 points you can have 4 regular guys with rifles: 4 wounds and 4 shots. Under RAW, your 40 points for an LMG  is two guys (wounds) and 3 shots. Two wounds and one shot down. To balance this at least one extra shot seems to be required. There is even some temptation to go to five shots as base, but with the risk of making the Germans too good.

Applying this sort of maths to 5 point LMG sees them now compare much more favourably, with an LMG team getting one more shot over the same two guys armed with rifles. A rate of fire increase not dramatically different to arming one of the dudes with an SMG.

Variations are possible, of course, 10 or 15 points and 4 shots, etc.

So far I have also ignored MMG, which perhaps would need to move to be suitably more dangerous than LMG. Changing rules is not for the faint-hearted.

Perhaps a more profitable way to approach any change is to consider the effect and role of squad based LMG and supporting MMG. They were common in WWII, basic squad structure was often little more than a delivery mechanism for LMG. They were feared. Squad based assault relied on a fire base built around the LMG and an assault group that pushed forward under its cover. Support weapons were also central to defence. I think any set of rules for a WWII game played at squad/platoon level needs to allow this to occur.

To a large extent Bolt Action already does this. A modest tweak may help bring this out.

However, a fundamental complaint would remain: people feel that LMG and MMG should be more common on the table. Clearly the rules writers also feel this, LMG are a near ubiquitous support option and the standard reinforced platoon selector – and nearly all theatre selectors – include an MMG choice. They want, and expect, us to take them.

Just take the LMG. They are historical and integral to the period.

In some ways it is that simple.

Commanders rarely had exactly the equipment they wanted. What they were issued with were LMG. The other stuff is cool. The other stuff may lever the rule set better. Use it by all means. But take the LMG, consider it a history tax.

IMG_0875

Table supplied by Battlefield Accessories

If I get a call from Warlord asking my advice, I’m tempted to say use season three format, but with this added rule: give hits from LMG added pins. Given medium mortars are the smallest weapons to potentially generate additional pins, instead of D2 pins I suggest that LMG cause 2 pins on a 6 (and one otherwise) and MMG 2 pins on a 5+.

What do you think, do machine guns need to change? Do we see them often enough?

 

 

 

Into the Woods

It is very rare that a project is ever actually finished, but this little group of figures from Black Tree Designs is pretty close. I’m calling it done, as I’m unlikely to add to this particular group, a band of brave members of a home army somewhere in occupied Europe.

partisan03

An ambush about to be unleashed

From their dress and weapons they seem to be based on Soviet or some other eastern European partisans. I like the character of BTD miniatures. No Hollywood poster-boys, but ordinary, I-don’t-have-a-dental plan people doing their best.

partisan06

As civilians I tried to avoid too much uniformity

partisan07

The poses are varied and dynamic – I don’t think any repeat

partisan04

SMG get stuck in

I experimented with eyes, something I don’t always do. Some more practice is required, but I guess we all start somewhere.

In addition to LMG for the squads, I also have some sniper teams as support.

partisan01partisan02

And, by way of some veterans, I have an escaped tank crew. Not sure what these GI are doing so far east. Perhaps they got lost on a drunken binge and didn’t know where to stop. I’m sure there is a comic with a plot like that.

partisan05

I don’t ever see myself fielding a partisan force in a conventional Bolt Action game. To make them into a competitive force I would need to add quite a bit of material that partisans only rarely had access to. Moreover few pitched battles were ever fought (outside Yugoslavia, perhaps). I know about Warsaw. Awe inspiring and aweful but not a modelling project for me.

I do think that partisans will be great for smaller games, especially with a dedicated scenario: a demolition gone wrong, a hideout being attacked or an ambush.

Deep in the forest, tanks, artillery and planes are rare, but I think playing some games where an LMG is the heaviest weapon the table might be interesting.

D.

Airfix Bedford Truck

Man, life can really get in the way of hobby sometimes. So in an attempt to get my mini-mojo back I picked up an Airfix kit I bought a couple of months ago in a moment of nostalgia. It is a Bedford truck. As I don’t collect the British (in 28mm) I figured I could use it with my Germans, reasoning that it was left behind in 1940 and subsequently found its way into the Wehrmacht service.

I have not built an Airfix kit in a long long time, so I got a bit of a shock when I opened the box. There are a lot of parts for such a little vehicle.

IMG_0900

Forty steps! What had I got myself into?

IMG_0901

Actually, the kit is a pleasure. The molding is crisp, the plastic well behaved and the instructions clear. I did get a reminder on why you should read the instructions first. I’m mumbling along at the many tiny parts that create the engine when I realise that I can just glue the hood shut and not have to do any of those bits!

I realise as I type this I’m a windscreen short of finished, but even without it I’m pleased with the result:

IMG_1088IMG_1090

Brrm! Brrm!
D.

Stuff I like II

How freakin’ cool!

About a month ago I made a post of stuff I like with links to two things.

Well, the issue two of The Golden D6 has landed. It is so cool it even has an interview with Andy Chambers. Get on board.

And, the comic I mentioned, Old England Grown New, well Warlord Games reckon it is pretty cool too. They’re right, of course, it is a ripper.

cheers.

D.

Operation Cleanslate

I attended Operation Cleanslate, a one day Bolt Action tournament held at Games Laboratory in Melbourne. One day, three 1,250 point games and 15 players is a recipe for a top day.

I took a Tiger supported by a lot of mid-war grenadiers (and a squad of SMG armed fallschirmjager). A minor bum note was although I had Germans, I played against Germans in all three rounds. My opponents more than made up for this historical aberration. And, it was interesting to be on the receiving end of Hitler’s Buzz-Saw for once.

For once I remembered to take photos.

Game one: Demolition, against Garret who had a German armoured company. No tanks though, it was all half-tracks with various gadgets and just two infantry squads, both veterans. Garret is a gentleman but he knows Bolt Action and I had my work cut out right from the start. It didn’t help that my Tiger got lost on the way and didn’t arrive until turn 6! Just in time to take out his command vehicle and his most expensive unit, but too late to help defend my objective or destroy his.

IMG_0871

Garret advances behind smoke

IMG_0873

Contemplating the long run to the objective

IMG_0872

Vets well dug behind a hill

I did OK, and thought I might get a draw but with pins piling on I couldn’t get forward as my squads went to ground. An 8-16 Loss.

Game two: Point Defence. Off to the ruins of Stalingrad for a fight against Robert’s DAK (man, they must have really pissed Rommel off to get posted to the Volga!) A wonderful board to fight over, I thought I played it well keeping the DAK at bay and keeping my units alive in depth on two of the three objectives.

IMG_0875

Table supplied by Battlefield Accessories

IMG_0876

Tiger hunts in the ruins

IMG_0878

MVP: Rober’s lieutenant siezes the 3rd objective

Lesson this game: read the mission. Point Defence defender only wins if they hold all three objectives. I chose to  defend two objectives in depth, largely ignoring the other one, which left me playing for a draw right from turn one. Doh! 12-11 Draw.

Game three: Kittyhawk Down! Another German armoured list, against Aaron on a very open board. While there was some line of sight blocking, there was nowhere to hide.

Kittyhawk down really starts at turn 4, when a Kittyhawk crashes at a random spot along the centre line of the table and becomes the objective. It comes down with a bang, exploding with the effect of a medium howitzer. I lost an entire squad in the wreckage and went from being in a good place to being on the back foot as truck loads of (opposing) vets poured onto the objective.

The end result was a draw, 12-13 Aaron’s way, but if we had gone to turn 7 it would have been all his.

Tigers are ace. They can take a lot of damage and they are a one hit one kill unit. But they take a lot of points and will still accumulate pin-markers. This means that the rest of your army needs to work hard to take and hold objectives.

To win with a Tiger list you need to stay focused on the mission and know your army. Actually, that is really just advice for winning with any list.

And some of the other armies:

IMG_0892

Tristan’s Finns (winner of best army)

IMG_0894

(Another) DAK army; with added 88

IMG_0893

I love these biker dudes

See you on the battlefield. Maybe even the next BA event.

D.

 

Dwarves. Present Arms!

I took some time to take a few shots of my entire Games Workshop dwarf muster that is otherwise scattered across a years worth of blog; filed under the category of fantasy if you’re keen to chase more detail.

The army is themed around the War of the Beard, so no guns or cannons.
Old Skool, just the way our dwarf elders like it.

IMG_0857

Close up of General, leading the Longbeards

I suspect they may find out that things really weren’t better in the old days. We shall see.

IMG_0851

IMG_0854

Longbeards with army standard

IMG_0855

Warriors

IMG_0853

Bolt throwers, protected by a dwarf slayer (aka The White Dwarf)

IMG_0852

Some cross-bows on the right (left?) flank

IMG_0856

Dwarf Thane – possibly my favourite dwarf miniature

Now it’s off for a wee bevvy or three.
D.