Friday, 15 June 2018

Bolt Action - Hold Until Relieved!

You know how sometimes you play a game and it just epitomises everything that is great about wargaming?  Well, this game was exactly that and more!  Thrilling action, high drama and heroic bravery in spades along with fine sportsmanship and moments of utter comedy.  What an absolute blast and a great inaugural game at my new place - yes, The Wargames Table has moved.

This game follows on from the game Mike and I played at Bristol Independent Gaming, here...

   It was long after midnight but an exhausted Hauptmann Müller began another tour of the sentries.  They had to stay alert, he couldn’t possibly let Allied forces sneak up on his small, battered command.  It had been a long day; his men had reached the bombed out SdKfz 251 at the same time as an American patrol.  In the ensuing maelstrom he had just got away with the secret plans but it had been a tough fight.

   Low on ammunition, carrying wounded men and with the light fading fast he knew he had to find cover quickly.  The isolated signal box was almost perfect.  It was a solid building with good views of the surrounding countryside.  The old signalman had fled leaving hot coffee on the stove.  He doubted there would be any rail traffic to disturb what little rest they might get.  In days since the landings on the Normandy beaches allied air power had reduced much of the rail network to twisted iron.  What they missed the hated partisans had finished off.

   Müller counted himself fortunate though, Dietrich had got the radio going and his call to headquarters had resulted in a promise of reinforcements early the next day.  Clearly the sheaf of papers with their odd symbols and pages of coded text were of vital importance to the Reich.  His orders were crystal clear... Hold Until Relieved!

This game sees the remains of the German force holed up in a signal box awaiting relief.  However the Allies are hot on their heels!  We swapped sides just for the variety, so I brought out my British Regulars to take over the pursuit from Mike's US Paras.  Mike fielded his lovely late war Germans.

The scenario is "Hold Until Relieved", but to add a bit more character and fit in with our narrative we agreed that the Allies could not target the signal box with any HE weapons in case the secret papers were destroyed.  This would have to be settled at the point of the bayonet!  This turned out to have a very interesting (and positive) effect on the game.

Here's the table ready to go.

As I set up the table, Mike chose sides.  He picked the right hand side with a couple of squads set up in and near the signal box.  Both buildings and tree bases by Charlie Foxtrot Models.

Turn 1 saw all the Allied force deployed as per the scenario with around half of the German relief force arriving.  I knew Mike had a Stug in reserve but as I had to deploy my AEC MkIII it would be up to the dice who got the first shot.
Tommies in the orchard and on the flank
The woods provide excellent cover
The Germans are spread thinly
The Jerries in the signal box let rip at the Vickers killing all but one of the crew!
Hidden counters by Charlie Foxtrot ;o)
I was feeling fairly cautious; I didn't want to launch the attack on the signal box too early as I would then have to hold it until the battle finished.  Timing, I thought, would be everything!

On to turn 2 then.  Mike brings on some more chaps plus the dreaded Stug!  Thankfully Mike has an amazing ability to roll precisely one less than is required to hit a target (or indeed make a morale test) and this was exactly what happened when he opened fire against my AEC.

The return shot from the plucky British crew was plum on target!  Rolling to penetrate I scored a hefty 10 ... then proceeded to roll "crew stunned".  Still, the extra pins on the Stug might be handy ... and indeed they were!
Most of my chaps continue to remain hidden
A German squad, medium mortar and a light howitzer bolster the line
My sniper did well and took out the MG42 in the squad in that last pic, which probably saved his life! However, apart from a few pins, that was all he did in the battle.  My Forward Observer has called in the artillery - look for the little skull marker in the pic above.

Turn three began with a big bang as the artillery support came in.  Just some pins but given how Mike was rolling for morale tests I knew these would be handy.  Plus the observer is a freebie so you can hardly grumble!
BANG! In comes the artillery support
These brave chaps burst from the wood blazing away
The advance begins

The German squad behind the signal box had been targeted by the British mortar, so to avoid another round (requiring a 4 to hit) they moved across the field.  However the spotter had keen eyes and relayed the movement ... A natural 6 saw the round land right on target!  The few dazed survivors staggered off in random directions!

This turn was also the point where I decided I needed to begin the advance on the signal box - hoping I hadn't left it too late.  I mean, how long could a few Hun hold out in there?  Quite a while as it turned out.

The chaps advancing on the farmhouse burst from the wood and blazed away at the sniper team in the upper floor.  To my utter astonishment (and Mike's dismay) one shot found its target and the sniper's mate fell dead.  Take that Fritzy!

Over by the signal box the British First Lieutenant ordered his Bren carrier forward and they hosed the signal box with bullets but those chaps were well hidden.

Turn 4 got off to a flyer with the British CO leading the charge by further advancing in his Bren carrier and turning the two LMGs towards the MG42 team by the farmhouse.  Eight shots and six hits!  Scratch one MG42 team.
Crikey chaps! Six hits
Closing in on the signal box

The Stug failed to activate (two pins causing so much confusion!) and the AEC's shot whistled past the German beast.  The section near the farmhouse decided to ignore the sniper and ran along the train lines towards the signal box.  They would block any shots from the AEC towards the Stug but I was confident that I could get them out of the way before it was a problem.  I am an idiot.  An over-confident idiot :-D

All the while I had been keeping a steady stream of bullets heading towards the German squad in the signal box but they were proving terribly hard to dislodge!  Still, their casualties were mounting.

On to turn 5 and this was the turn that Mike found his groove!  He brought up a squad to dispute the objective so, with a small SMG armed veteran squad nearby I decided to get up close and personal.  In they went and it was carnage.  My veterans tore the German regulars to shreds.
British veterans with SMGs versus German Regulars... Ouch!
Even better... I decided that with just one German (the NCO) now left in the signal box, my observer team would get stuck in and claim the prize!  Their charge in was beyond six inches so the NCO could react... After a brief discussion we bent the rules and agreed that he could wield the MG42, as that would simply be more heroic!  My brave lads ran up the stairs waving their trusty Webley revolvers so the dastardly Feldwebel opened up with the MG42... dakka dakka!
Two heroic (but dead) observers tumble down the steps
The duel between the Stug and the AEC came to a conclusion.  With a section (who'd failed their morale check - see "idiot" comment above) blocking the shot to the Stug, I'd trained the little tank's machine gun on the signal box (to no effect).  The Stug commander took the opportunity to blow his opponent to smithereens!
Stug 1 - AEC 0 (final score)
Mike also managed to shred two of the British sections near the signal box with stunning shots from his mortar and the light howitzer.  Those shots really shifted the balance of things.  However, in a moment of pure comedy, my own mortar fired the final shot of the turn to land a shell plum on his mortar!  Take that Fritzy (again).

Turn 6 and both sides are now getting a little punch drunk.  Mike has very sensibly moved his HQ team up to the signal box.  To claim victory one side must have troops in or within 3" and no enemy nearby.  I tried to activate the section on the railway so they could tackle the German CO but they stubbornly stayed in cover.

However, I was able to get the battered remnant of a squad of regulars in to the signal box where they dispatched the brave German NCO.

As the turn ended we rolled for turn 7 but the dice decreed that the battle was over.  Phew - what a belter of a game!  Both sides had troops in or on the objective so the result was a draw.  Honours even then.  What does this mean for our little narrative campaign though? Wait and see ;o)

Not being able to blast the signal box with HE had quite an interesting effect.  I had to supress the enemy with weight of fire, which led to some tough tactical choices.  Then get my chaps close enough to take the objective in close combat.  Proper heroic stuff for both sides.

Anyway, I hope I've been able to convey some of the splendid fun that this game provided.  Mike was, as always, a superb opponent and true gentleman wargamer.  My thanks sir.  Looking forward to the next game.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

British AEC Mk III

We tend to play games with relatively little armour (most of the time), however I couldn't resist this marvellous armoured car from Blitzkreig miniatures.

The kit was easy to build, consisting of a chassis, four wheels, a turret, barrel and machine gun. That's it! Oddly the pic in the web store shows a few extra bits like smoke launchers (I think) but they're not supplied? My only real grumble was that Blitzkreig took quite a while to deliver and I had to chase them up. But I do appreciate that like many gaming outfits, it's possibly a "hobby business".

I have yet to sort out the transfers/decals as they're not supplied with the kit, but the painting recipe is:
  • Undercoat with grey primer
  • Base coat of VMC Russian Green
  • Another base coat of 50/50 mix of Foundry Forest Green shade and VMC Russian Green
  • A good wash of GW Agrax Earthshade
  • Highlight with the base colour mix, then VMC Russian Green.
  • Weathering is Foundry Bay Brown mid, VMC Tan Yellow, VMC Dark Sand - I wanted a dusty rather than muddy finish.

Have a look here for more information about the AEC Mk III if you're interested. A superb bit of good old fashioned British engineering!

This little chap (the armoured car, not the bloke with the rifle!) packs quite a punch. That's a QF 75mm gun in the turret, with a co-axial machine gun for good measure! Must have been quite 'cosy' for the four man crew.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Kings of War with Steve

Sunday night is club night for the Bristol Big’Uns so Steve and I recently met up for a game of Kings of War. He very kindly loaned me the use of his splendid Ogre army whilst he fielded his Samurai themed Kingdoms of Men.

Now, I’ve played a few games of ‘Kings’ over the last couple of years (may be half a dozen in total) and generally had quite a lot of fun, so I was looking forward to this game plus it’s always good to catch up with Steve, Rob, Alan, Simon, Dave, Nigel, etc.

We rolled for the scenario and got ‘control’ whereby at the end of the game we would divide the table in to 2 foot squares and work out who had the most troops and thus controlled the area.

Deployment was by alternating unit and was quite funny for me because I had very little idea of what my troops stats and abilities were, so I just deployed them to ‘look good’ :o)

Steve got the first go and began a fairly cautious advance; he had plenty of missile troops so a few turns of bows, arquebus and cannon fire were to be expected. My lads would just have to weather it! Anyway ... the most of the photos I took have blurred quite badly which is very annoying! So rather than give you a turn by turn account I’ll show some “random” pics of what turned out to be a thrilling and highly entertaining game.

Deployed and ready to go!

A closer shot of Steve's smashing Ogres

This mammoth is absolutely splendid (it did well in the game too)

The Ogre line wastes no time and steams across the table

Bang! Steve's cannon blasts a hole in my Siege-breakers

My General, Army Banner and the Seige-breakers deal it out to Steve's elites

At the end of turn 6 we rolled to see if there would be a turn 7, but the dice decreed that was it. Both sides had taken quite a pounding but I had a feeling I might just edge this for a win. Steve totted up the points in each of the areas and to my utter astonishment I had gained control of 5 of them! So it was a very solid victory for the Ogres. Another thoroughly enjoyable game against a fine gentleman, thanks Steve. Now I want my own Ogre army ... perhaps this was Steve’s plan all along?

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Scatter Terrain for Sharp Practice

I like my battlefields to look a little 'lived in' so adding a few items of scatter terrain is nice way to achieve this aim... and these items from Grand Manner are just the ticket! First is a kiln, so my Portuguese farmer is also quite handy as a potter.

The kiln is actually from GM's Ancient Greek range but I reckon that the design of such things was probably fairly similar right around the Mediterranean and also didn't change that much between Greek times and the 1800s. Obviously I am now going to meet someone who has a PhD entitled "Kiln Construction & Pottery Manufacture in the Mediterranean from Antiquity to the Modern Day" :-D

Painting - basically the same as the Church and Grain Store. Light brown spray to prime the resin, then a base of Americana Honey Brown, then highlights of Americana Fawn, VMC Dark Sand and then finally Foundry Boneyard Light. The base is Americana Honey brown followed by highlights of VMC Tan Yellow and VMC Dark Sand. The foliage is Colonel Bill's Winter static grass with tufts, etc.

Next, from the same range, is a wooden table covered in urns and pots. I thought that this would accompany the kiln rather nicely.

Painting - The wood is Foundry Bay shade highlighted with VMC Dark Sand and Foundry Boneyard light. The pots are a base of GW Scorched Brown, highlighted with the Foundry Conker Brown triad. The base is the same as above.

Now we're on to safer ground with a few barrels and a pile of round shot, again from GM. This can either be scatter scenery, an objective marker or perhaps a Sharp Practice deployment point.

Painting - the wood is as above with the additional step of washing the brown with GW Agrax Earthshade to give it a slightly warmer look. The barrel hoops are GW Black, GW Tin Bitz then a highlight of GW Leadbelcher. The shot are just GW Black and GW Leadbelcher.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Partisans for Sharpe Practice

My first full group of painted figures for my Anlgo-Portuguese army! Six Portuguese Partisans armed to the teeth and ready to hunt the French.

They're all from Front Rank's superb partisan/guerrilla range. Movement tray by Charlie Foxtrot.

They're all painted in a range of mainly Foundry colours; the complimentary triads make it far easier than messing about mixing shades.

I've painted each of them with an item (usually a sash around the waist) in Foundry Royal Purple as this is the colour of their partisan band.

The basing is a mix of small stones and grit/sand given a base of Americana Honey Brown then highlighted with VMC 847 Dark Sand then Foundry Boneyard light. Colonel Bill's Winter Grass along with a few arid looking tufts of longer grass and some small pieces of Woodland Scenics clump foliage finish it off nicely.

Next will be their leader, the infamous Açougueiro - "The Butcher" and an irascible little holy man on a donkey!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Bristol War and Conquest Weekend

It's been a while since I last took part in a WaC event (Aug '17 I think!) so I was anticipating an enjoyable day of battling it out in the ancient world with a few good chums. I was especially looking forward to my game with good chum George; the last game was far too long ago! For logistical reasons I could only attend on the Saturday, however this turned out to be the same for a number of other players due to the suddenly inclement weather, the so called mini “beast from the east”.

Game One – Saxon Civil War!

This game was against Steve, a newcomer to WaC and this was to literally be his first game. Thankfully Rob was on hand to help us with the rules as I was decidedly rusty in places :o)
Steve has a lovely Saxon army so I’ve posted a couple of pics here.

I dusted off my own Saxons but, as I hadn't used them for three years, I couldn’t quite find all of the figures so we were limited to 2,000pts a side.
The forces deploy for battle!
My Saxons prepare the Shieldwall as Steve's advance
Battle is joined!

This was all of the pics I took as I was engrossed in the game. It was a good dark age tussle as the lines clashed. I quickly formed shieldwall and used my few missile troops to whittle away at Steve’s formations. Rather than be peppered with slingshot and javelins, he dashed forward – perhaps a little too hastily with his Mounted Thegns who charged a unit of mercenary Vikings! Funnily enough we both managed to achieve our objectives in the final turn of the game - although I edged a win on points ;o) I moved several units off Steve’s side of the table and he got a unit in to my deployment zone. A really fun game played with good humour and gentlemanly spirit.

Game Two – Rome vs Celts!

Ooh I was so looking forward to this! Steve had kindly loaned me his beautiful Celt army so that George could use his Thunderbolts for this classic ancient battle.

My plan was to hit one flank hard with a combination of chariots and elite cavalry supported by light cavalry and skirmishers whilst the rest of the line advanced, paused for a turn or two to allow the skirmishers to thin out the legions a little, then the warbands would get stuck in to overwhelm Rome’s finest with sheer frothing hairy madness. I’d like to point out here that the bulk of my warbands were just “ordinary” Celt warriors with only the one ‘elite’ warband accompanying my Warlord ;o)
Steve's splendid Celts

George’s army (lovely paint-jobs sir!) was, as you might expect, largely composed of heavy infantry. However, I was intrigued by his choice of three “recruit” legionary formations... would they hold the line? Here are a couple of pics of his lovely cohorts.
George's Veteran Legion Cohort
More Legion - love those weathered, dirty shields!

We both agreed to ignore the prescribed deployment for game 2 of the weekend and drew our forces up in two long lines.
A sight to warm any gamer's heart!

2,500pts per side doesn't leave much room for manoeuvre.

The Celts had some success early on; the Lancarii were routed by a hail of slingshot, the chariots swept over a unit of Roman skirmishers and my own skirmishers proved the worth of all their javelin practice. This swiftly encouraged George to form up his precious Legions in Testudo.
Rome's left flank wavers...

... her right flank wobbles ...

... and legs it!

The Roman Auxilliary cavalry head for home

The shooting prowess was not all Celtic. The Auxiliary archers massacred my light cavalry – I had expected a few casualties... but not 11 out of the 12 in the unit!
Ouch! Take that you hairy what-nots

With the Roman flanks trembling I turned my attention to the centre – the warbands faced off the Legionary cohorts. The testudo formations meant standing off and pelting them with sharp sticks would be a waste of time. So the horns brayed loud, a roar went up from the warriors and they pounded forward right across the line.
Fighting all along the line

No quarter asked ... none given!

It's swords & boards all the way!

The Roman line heaved and buckled at the onslaught but all that drill paid off! Centurions fell, shields splintered and men died but, by the narrowest of margins, the line held. What ensued was a vicious struggle that ebbed and flowed right across the battlefield. First Celts would have the upper hand then Rome. Eventually one of my warbands broke but then so did the Roman General’s cohort and the fleeing Romans were chopped to shreds in a welter of blood and gore!
Rome flees!

Alas this victory was short-lived and the battle ground on, gradually swinging further in favour of Rome's finest. My Celts had fought with incredible bravery but that was matched by the fearsome tenacity of George's Cohorts. A hard fought and well deserved win for the Thunderbolts. What a superb game!

Indeed, what a splendid day of gaming. My thanks to my opponents, gentleman both in every regard. My thanks also to Rob and Barbara for a great event. When's the next one Rob? ;o)