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.

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.

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.

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.

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Garret advances behind smoke

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Contemplating the long run to the objective

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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.

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Table supplied by Battlefield Accessories

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Tiger hunts in the ruins

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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:

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Tristan’s Finns (winner of best army)

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(Another) DAK army; with added 88

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I love these biker dudes

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

D.

 

Here be Tigers

Well, just one.

I plan on attending another tournament shortly, this time Bolt Action.

Because they are the only painted WWII I own I will be taking my Germans. But, because I have a recently assembled and painted Tiger (well, almost painted: decals and weathering to go), I plan on including it in my force.

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The tournament is 1,250 points, so at 395, the Tiger is a big bite out of the budget. Collective wisdom seems to be that it will be hard to make it pay. But Tiger.

The rest of the army will be squads of Heer grenadiers (four of them, I think), plus one of SMG armed Fallschirmjager. Support will include teams of snipers, MMG, mortars and I think a panzerschreck. All led by a second lieutenant.

A pretty standard German list, except for the Tiger and, probably lack of a forward observer. Perhaps more troops some, but I find plenty of units that can take and hold objectives are often very important in tournament type missions.

Plus, a Tiger.

Vroom. Vroom.

Camo Evolution

I now have three different uniform schemes going on with my Germans: garden variety german field grey for most of the heer grenadiers; fallschirmjager camo jump suits (mid-war, rather than the late war splinter); and SS pea-dot camouflage.

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I felt quite daunted by the prospect of painting camo schemes but I thought I would give it a go as I wanted to be able to tell my snipers apart without having to buy new models. Hearted by how that turned out (basically I used the SS scheme), I moved onto the paratroopers. I used the same technique for both, but with a different base colour.

I have used the same colour pallet across the three schemes, which helps tie the army together. Rumours that I was too lazy or cheap to buy more paint are unfounded.

D.

More Germans

I’ve added an SS unit, from Warlord Games. I have been fielding Fallschirmjager for my veterans, but with a recent partisan purchase, the addition of some of these bastards will make for a well themed game.

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Armed with assault rifles, and with the possibility of taking the fanatic special rule, this squad could be a game changer. In a truck getting up close and personal or hiding on an objective they will be tough to deal with.

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D.