Eureka Rocketeers

I always enjoy visiting Eureka Miniatures, there is always something new to have a look at, often just before it appears on the web. Nic has a lovely way of getting you to walk away with more than you meant to when you walked in.  The team create some lovely, quirky and characterful miniatures. A nice example is the Pulpitations range by the crazy talent of Kosta Heristandis. I picked up a unit of the Rocketeers back in August last year:

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Some of the rocketeers prior to clean-up; there isn’t a lot to do, some minimal flash and mould lines

Other projects were in the queue, so they joined the rest of my US army in the cupboard:

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Eventually these guys will get to invade Italy

So, with a vague idea that I won’t buy anything new until I paint the stuff I have – hah, like we all know how well that works! – I did make a start on the Rocketeers:

In part I used it as an opportunity to test some green colours for the US. (Or is that green color, when you do the USA?)  I bought a selection of women with caps and helmets. All of the figures come with either.

They are nearly done, the bases mostly, but I think the US need to come forward in the queue so I can have an excuse to get these girls on the table. K-47 has jump troops, so I think they will work nicely to add a touch of weird science to what I intend to be mostly a Bolt Action force:

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Just noticed googles and some other bits and pieces still to do. So, nearly there, but not quite

Catch you around the battle fields of 1947 one day.

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.
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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.

Daughters of the revolution

Scott bought over his growing Soviet force for Konflikt 47, the joint Warlord Games-Clockwork Goblin game of weird world war. The rules are similar but distinct from Bolt Action and bring new challenges to the table along with the opportunity to field some of your more esoteric units. The fictional diesel-punk background gives motivation for the weird-science that changes the course of the war and extends the fighting into 1947.

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Armoured SS-Shocktroopers take cover in a barn as their truck brews up

What lifts K-47 above a mere campaign book for BA, with a bit of fiction and a collection of special rules that add walking-armour, flying-troops and horror-elements, is that the core mechanics also change. The main shift is adding more complexity to the assault phase, which gives room for specialist close-combat troops to participate on equal footing in the game. Close combat is still lethal, as is shooting at a distance, but the changes mean that both types of units can compete without the game being unbalanced.  The added complexity works in this milieu because of the expanded range of abilities – it allows werewolves to exist on a battlefield full of machine-guns; handled well either can win.

Players of Gates of Antares will recognise the ability to react to enemy orders. This also brings new dimensions to game and is a welcome tweak, keeping both players engaged at the table in ways the IGYG rarely can. Reactions can be great, but while they can save a unit it still surrenders the initiative somewhat to your opponent. It is not always clear what is the best decision, which is what makes it a fun addition. I think the complexity of reaction-orders could be bought into Bolt Action too, although the ability of officers to order units when they activate does fill this niche in a simpler way.

 

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The Soviet first wave emerges from the morning mist

I pretty much took my standard Bolt Action Germans, adding some Games Workshop zombies as totenkorps, and a unit of sci-fi stormtroopers as ersatz SS-shocktroopers. We played 1,000 points, so while I usually take a Tiger in the late war (not because they’re ace, but because, well Tiger), I fielded a Stug III.

Scott’s army has more of the new units, with lots of walkers, a sonic-armed tank and a unit of daughters of the motherland. His painting skills are top-notch, let down by snaps with my phone-camera. We played the maximum attrition mission from the book.

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The Germans push forward to take up firing positions

The game was evenly balanced until turn 3. The Soviet advance was beginning to stall, with the Germans taking up good positions to take advantage of their better squad based shooting, and the Stug III was giving grief to the Soviet light walkers. It felt like to me like the Germans were about to take the upper hand and start not just laying pins but start to destroy Soviet units. Sensing the weakening resolve of their inexperienced brothers, the daughters of motherland broke cover and charged towards the not one but three LMG nests. Their rush forward left them in the open and taking fire from all sides they went to ground. However their enhanced DNA saw them survive, and by absorbing fire that would have destroyed most other units, allowed the other Soviets to push forward. The Germans found their own attack falter, and break.

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Mentioned in dispatches: daughters of the motherland

The Soviets took the field with a major victory over the fascist invaders.

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Totenkorps have yet to have a big impact in any game, but they do receive a lot of firepower

If you don’t mind a bit of weird in your world war, Konflikt 47 may well work for you. It adds lots of modelling opportunities and new challenges for your gaming pleasure.

Drop me a line if you want a game and happen to be near the Republic of Northcote.

It’s war but not as we know it

The safe route for Warlord Games would have been to release a weird war source book for Bolt Action. Add some rules for flying infantry, some new units and weapons, and a few scenarios, and they could have had a viable and fun vehicle for their diesel punk alternative history and the associated miniatures. Instead Warlord, in a joint venture with Clockwork Goblin,  did something much more brave: they created a whole new game, Konflikt ’47.

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Yep, these are GW zombies. But they’re in a truck, which tots makes them totenkorps

Anyone familiar with Bolt Action or its stablemate Beyond the Gates of Antares will recognise the core mechanics of order dice and random turns. But Konflikt ’47 has some distinct mechanics that really help bring this kooky new world to the table in a fun, balanced way.

It is a very clever and rather fun addition to the range. The two largest rules changes are to the assault rules and adding reaction orders. Close combat is still brutal, but the addition of a shooting round as units close to assault means that specialist close combat units like Totenkorp and Shrekwulfen do not automatically dominate this part of the game. Similarly, highly mobile flying units don’t get it all their own way as units can now deliver reaction fire and make other reaction type orders that keep generals at the table and making decisions all the time. All these rules interact in elegant and subtle ways that open up interesting new gaming possibilities.

Existing army books also work with the Konflikt rules. My friend Brad and I tried this out one evening at Games Laboratory. I took a Tiger, some SS vets in armour and a truck load of zombies. Brad took a Japanese list with no weird stuff. The game was compelling (albeit with some page flipping as we took in the new rules), and the Japanese won the day. Turns out medium howitzers can really mess up your day whether you start the day living or already dead!

It was nice to be rolling some dice again, and I think Konflikt 47 is a fun edition to the Warlord Games universe.
D.

It’s blogging but not as we know it

As I suspected, work and family really got in the way of my hobby mojo this winter. I have been blogging, just not here. During the footy season, and my wife and I have been recording the ups and downs of the Fitzroy Youth Girls. Great fun, but not relevant to gaming.

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I have been getting some gaming and painting done, but I’ve been posting to instagram (using the handle @dave2718). I like instagram, the ease of posting straight from your phone is a very attractive. As a mainly a visual platform I find instagram crosses borders and language more than other social media, so I find myself in a wider and more diverse circle than on other platforms. However, just using the phone often means the photos are a bit dodgy. The phone camera is OK, but shots taken without due care for lighting or a bit of hand-held shake are just not as good in general.

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The many groups on FaceBook can also be engaging but can feel a bit too transient.
Most blog posts are a bit more thought out compared to FB, and I like that.

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With Bolt Action version 2 on the way and Konflikt ’47 just released and Arcanacon not that far away (by my slow painting pace), there is plenty of hobby in the pipeline.

So, here’s hoping to a bit more blogging, painting and playing in the near future.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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As civilians I tried to avoid too much uniformity

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Forty steps! What had I got myself into?

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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:

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Brrm! Brrm!
D.