delayed action

Are you sitting down folks? Actual gaming happened! As part of the Conquest gaming convention over Easter in Melbourne there was a Bolt Action Tank Wars event. Ten players participated, so it was only a modest gathering but it was so nice to see some friends again irl and roll dice together.

Tanks Wars is not a form of Bolt Action I have much experience with. I played a few games when it first game out, but it was long enough ago I didn’t remember any of the lessons I may have learnt. It was however an ace opportunity to get my Hetzer assault guns all on the table at the same time.

Led by a Stuart light tank, Chris’ US force heads straight down the middle 50cals blazing. Just the way it should be.
A Hetzer holds the cross road: hull down it stalls an enemy probe on the right flank
Chris’ Marines push forward. Vets or not they couldn’t take the objective in the face machine gun fire from the Hetzers
Last game of the day, and Django’s Soviets withstood my initial shooting to surge forward and sweep me for the table.
This IS2 didn’t do a lot of damage, but I couldn’t stop it either. In the end my guns couldn’t position themselves to pierce its thick frontal armour

I don’t think I managed my assets very well on the day. Aggressive early, I didn’t leave enough in reserve to hold on in the final turns and drew or lost every game.

Thanks to my opponents: Pedro (Soviets), Chris (US Marines), and Django (Soviets), for three fun games.

build a wall between us

No, not the southern end of the USA. I’m thinking about the lovely Crowded House song that includes a line about building a wall. This week I completed one of those projects that has been in the cupboard for a long time. Which is odd, because assembling and painting these Rubicon walls was pretty quick once I started.

A brave member of the resistance moves between the two kits: city and industrial walls

Like most of Rubicon’s work they are lovely to build and look great. Perhaps a wee bit expensive to build a whole table, but I think they will do a cracking job to add some cover and line-of-sight blocking.

I don’t know about your town, but in Melbourne it is just about a law to paint ironwork green

Nearly all of my urban terrain was collected for a grim dark future. So I am (slowly) adding some buildings more suitable for a WW2 battle. These walls look central or western european to me, but bricks and ironwork are pretty universal, so think they will be fine.

I feel the green-brown wash captures that slightly moldy way concrete seems to go

I used the biggest brush I own and slapped a layer of some sort of GW camo-green on the top. I reckon they came up OK.

I can’t find my comrades because this wall is so high

These two kits both pre-date the pandemic, so they qualify for Ann’s Neglected But Not Forgotten challenge.

See you over a table sometime soon.

D.

Mission Rules

There are heaps of missions in Bolt Action including a dozen in the main rule book. Despite this choice missions can start to feel a bit stale. Tournaments especially carry this risk as organizers seem to focus on the most balanced of the missions. I understand why, but it can make things start to feel a bit same same.

A simple way to mix this up is to add a mission special rule. Some players hate this, as some random rule messes with their carefully crafted list. I’m not one of them. I like adding a little twist. Not too many. I don’t want too much extra to remember during a game. Here are a few ideas on adding a little something new to existing Bolt Action missions.

New officer: A new officer has arrived; he seems OK but he doesn’t know anyone’s name yet and it is causing some confusion.

The commanding officer begins the game with a pin.

O-Group: There is an O-Group meeting, and the old man is back at company HQ when the battle starts.

All officers (lieutenants, captains, etc.) must start the game in reserve and cannot be deployed on the table or come on as part of a first wave.

Supply problems: Supplies have been delayed causing fuel shortages.

After deployment but before turn one, roll for each vehicle in your list. On a 1 it gains the Fuel Shortage rule. Vehicles that start in reserve may re-roll the supply problem check.

Last day of the war. The war is nearly over, and nobody wants to be the last person to die. Even experienced troops are reluctant to press home attacks.

After deployment but before the first die is drawn roll for each unit in your list. On a 4+ it gains a pin. Vet and/or fanatics may re-roll. Units in reserve roll when they first move onto the table.

Dutch Courage A cache of liquor has been discovered and drunk. The unit is still under the influence when the battle starts.

To represent their drunk condition, a single unit receives both the Shirker and Fanatic special rules.

New Orders Local commanders can’t always see the big picture. Assets must be redeployed to a more critical mission.

A support asset is being reassigned. Randomly (and secretly) select one unit in your list from the following: tank, armoured car, or artillery. Following from turn 4 onwards it must be withdrawn from the battle by moving off the board from your table edge. If successfully withdrawn this unit is worth 1VP at the end of the game to the owning player.

What do you think? Are extra rules the road to tears and unnecessary complexity or can they help build a fun narrative?

Aussie Home Guard

This is another of those projects where the minis have come first. These Australian Home Guard are a recent release from Eureka Miniatures, so new I’m not sure they’re even listed yet. They join a growing number of civilian/partisan style figures I have. A project will present itself no doubt. In the mean time check some of the lovely, characterful sculpts by the very talented Kosta Heristanidis.

Squad of armed civilians with red arm bands
Civilian in shirt sleeves with a red arm band, holding a bolt action rifle
I used different coloured arm-bands to keep the squads distinct
Probably my favourite unit: beer bottle molotovs! Good on ya!
A Vickers MMG as their support option.

Having put all the models together for the first time, I think I’ve made too many of the suits blue. Maybe there was a Peter Jackson sale on. Anyway, I think they have come up OK. They certainly look ready to give any assigned task a red hot go, and you can’t ask more than that from any Home Guard force.

Cheers.

echo base

On a remote relay station, battle brothers of the Ultramarines stand ready to defend against desert raiders.

A nostalgia post today, I haven’t played any 40K since early 2019 and not much in the couple years before that. I still like the lore and I think my Ultramarine army are among the best models I have painted over the years. It was a solid force in 5th ed, and worked OK in 6th, but army structure has moved on.

Scouts with Sniper rifles and rocket launcher
Scouts with closer combat weapons and bolt pistols
An Imperial Shrine
A drone’s eye view of Echo Base
Razorback in the sights of the enemy targeting system
A landspeeder scout

I think it is time for these lads to head to a buy swap sell forum or eBay. I am unlikely to lead them into battle in the foreseeable future, maybe someone else will can bring them into the modern game. In the meantime, enjoy the pics.

Huzzah!

random book reviews

I don’t know about you, but reading a new book often sees me thinking about a new project or three. It works the other direction too, where a project has me reading heaps on a topic. Korea for example. So watch out! Here is a collection of some of the more interesting military history books I have read recently.

Now a photo of a book isn’t much use to anyone, so here are some mini-reviews too. Watch out! You might pick up a few ideas too.

Hungary In World War II by Deborah Cornelius (2011) is a social and political history of Hungary from the end of the first world war to the creation of the communist state in 1948, with a focus on the second world war. Given the only thing I read about the war in Hungary was the Bolt Action campaign book, Fortress Budapest I found this wide ranging book fascinating. Not short at over 400 pages, it is a terrific overview Hungary and her people.

Flashpoint Trieste by Christian Jennings (2017) looks at the events in and near Trieste on the Border of Italy, Austrian and (then) Yugoslavia in 1945. It was a complex and fast moving environment, where the Yugoslav Liberation Army, local anti-fascists, and the Anglo-American Allies competed to liberate and control Trieste. Fleeing Nazis and Italian Fascists, conflicting priorities and the needs of locals and refugees (returning and fleeing) all come together in a microcosm of events being played out across Europe at the time. The author desperately wanted a neat story arc, but history is messier than that and the book does just peter out in the end. The the first three quarters of the book is well worth the ride. And it’s a history book, you don’t have to read to the end (spoilers: the fascists loose).

Spearhead of the Fifth Army by Frank Van Lunteren (2016). The 504 Parachute Infantry Regiment is more famous for its participation in the Battle of the Bulge. Less well known are the hard fought campaigns in Italy. This is a well researched book, part of a longer series on the 504 PIR, with lots of quotes from the time. Not great if you want an overview of fighting in Italy but lots of great detail if you want to zoom in on smaller actions.

Armies of Empire by Allan Converse (2011) is an unusual book, comparing the experience to two divisions during the second world war, the 9 Australian and 50th British Divisions. The divisions had similar equipment and training and both fought in multiple theaters. The book is a rich discussion on training, leadership and morale. For wargamers this is a really thought provoking look at unit morale. Many rule sets have clear distinctions between green, regular and experienced troops. This books helps you see that while useful, life is more complex and nuanced.

Australia’s War with France by Richard James (2017). Overshadowed by Tobruk and other Western Desert battles, the British campaign to liberate Syria and Lebanon 1941 is fascinating. That the combatants included Australians, English, Indians, and Free and Vichy French is part of the fascination. The geography saw the fighting at company and smaller level, often with limited artillery or air support. The politics and complexity of the campaign are well explored. Nationalism, colonialism, anti-fascism, and (near) civil war all blend into a compelling narrative. If I start another desert army it will be two armies! Australians invading Lebanon and Vichy French defending them.

What books have you ready recently?

Limbering Up

It is surprising that horses and other pack animals were a significant part of transport and logistics for many armies across multiple theaters. This is particularly true of the German army. Or perhaps it isn’t surprising when you consider the challenges around building and supplying vehicles. The struggle to source, make, transport and store material like fuel and rubber was ongoing and were key considerations at the strategic level. All of which is a long way to say that I made a horse limber to tow my artillery. I don’t have a particular army list in mind, it is more for tournaments, where the cheapest tow available is sometimes exactly the right choice to free up a few points for another toy.

I haven’t painted many horses but I’m reasonably pleased with the pair. They are from a Perry ACW cavalry box bought for projects like this but otherwise not touched. The limber itself is also from the Perry ACW range.

The attending soldiers are from Artizan, a couple of those random fellows who seem to lurk at the bottom of boxes with no guidance of how they got there.

The traces are not quite right, but overall the effect is OK. And for a model that will be used for a single turn as the gun is delivered I think it will work fine.

Onwards!

Hezters gonna Hetz

I spoke too soon that my Budapest Defenders were ready to go. And also that I hadn’t bought anything for the army, that all the models I used had come from my lead and plastic backlog. Well, there were just too many sales on recently, and I ordered a set of three Hetzers from Warlord Games.

The Budapest campaign book has an armoured list with a core of three assault guns, which comes with some fun special rules, or one will fit nicely into to my existing pocket defenders list. The Wirblewind will remain an option, so it is good to have choices.

Hetzers are great support choice in BA. The weak sides rule does make them more vulnerable but also cheaper, and it pretty easy to negate with some decent deployment.

The Hungarian late war paint scheme is pretty easy. Dunkelgelb and some weathering and they’re ready for the front. The Warlord models are OK, although the wheel sections do feel unnecessarily fiddly. The kit is very flexible, coming with the options to make anti-tank, flame or flak versions all in the same kit, and decals for either German or Hungarian forces. Nice.

That means my little Hungarian project is out to around 1,800 points, which is actually quite a large force. It may not be complete yet …

Budapest Defense

Together at last. Basing done and ready to hit the table. A couple of months ago I started on a new project, a Budapest Pocket Defender list for Bolt Action. One of the nice things about this army is that I did not buy anything new for it. All of the models have come from the cupboard. It is an eclectic little group, with models from Black Tree Design, Artizan and Warlord Games, and contains both Hungarian and German units making for something that looks a little different on a WW2 table.

Pioneers (Black Tree Design) in their Hanomag (Warlord Games)
Grenadiers, mix of Black Tree Design and Artizan
Warlord Games MMG
Medium Mortar (Artizan)
The whole force is led by these German officers (Black Tree Design)
Hungarian sniper team made from Warlord plastic Germans
Hungarians with an anti-tank rifle; useful against soft-skins (Warlord Games)
Hungarians from Warlord Games

This force may grow yet, but with the addition of a tank, maybe a Wirblewind (painted but never really had a part in my mid-war Italian theatre themed army), I think we are good to go. And that is a nice feeling.

D.