Sunday, 15 January 2017

Italian Campaign - The Grand Finale

It's game six of our campaign to recreate the allied advance in to Sicily and north across Italy. With three Axis wins and two Allied wins so far it was all to play for. This scenario represents the Allied attack on a section of the formidable Gothic Line.
The Allied High Command debate their strategy... or wait for some tea!
The field of battle
The above pic shows the field of battle. There are three distinct lines of Axis defence, each with a bunker. This scenario has three 1,000pt reinforced Allied platoons, commanded by Orange Dave, Mike and Steve, facing a single 1,000pt reinforced Axis platoon that has had the opportunity to dig in and lay some minefields.

The Germans (me) were mainly an infantry force with plenty of LMGs backed up by a tank and some light artillery. The Germans deploy first then the Allies attack in a series of waves. The objective was simple... breach all three lines by capturing the bunker in each line. The Allies have 10 turns to do this.

What a fine bunch of fellows, L-R, Steve, Mike, Me and Dave.

The opening couple of turns were fairly quiet with the Allies bringing on lots of transports (a total of 11 vehicles in all!) whilst the German front lines opened up but with relatively little effect.
The Allied convoy rolls on to the table and immediately engages the Germans

The heavy Churchill gets ready to clear the wire for the lighter vehicles

Turn 3 was where the action began... The Churchill fired at the distant Panzer IV but missed, the return fire was deadly accurate! The Churchill brewed up in fine style. This had the effect of delaying the advance by several wheeled vehicles on that flank due to the barbed wire.
The Panzer IV takes careful aim at the Churchill...

... Boom!! Scratch one Churchill

Mike had brought his AEC up to support his advancing infantry and it could now draw a bead on the Panzer. One carefully aimed shot later and the Panzer was toast and the Allies heaved a sigh of relief as the problem of “Tiger Fear” was gone. But… just a few dice later and Mike threw his arms up with a shout, realising that he’d got slightly muddled with the stats for the AEC. Being a thorough gentleman he explained his peccadillo; the shot would not have penetrated the Panzer’s armour. So off came the blast marker and back went the turret – along with a groan from the Allies as they realised Tiger Fear was still in effect!

Turn 3 also saw the first line of German defences fall as Orange Dave’s super tough Maori troops effortlessly slaughtered the Grenadiers in the bunker.
The German first line has all but collapsed

Dave had previously deployed his 25lb-er so now set his sights on the restored Panzer… and promptly rolled a six! The weaker top armour of the mighty fighting vehicle was no problem for the shell and the tank was blown to pieces (again). Once again the Allies heaved a sigh of relief.
Now the 25lb-er takes careful aim at the entrenched Panzer IV...

... Boom!! Scratch one Panzer IV

The second line of German defences had a machine gun team in the bunker but they were soon wiped out by some very concentrated fire on the bunkers. The Allied vehicles (which the Maxim couldn’t damage) rolled up to almost point blank range and hammered the bunker. It's worth pointing out here that the bunkers had the special rue "shoddy construction". They were made by forced labour and were not as tough as conventional bunkers; offering -3 cover rather than -4, so at point-blank range and no other modifiers, attackers could hit on a natural 6.
The first line is breached in several places and the Allies pour in!

There was a veteran Grenadier squad in the sandbagged emplacement next to the bunker so they re-deployed in to the bunker to avoid it falling uncontested in to allied hands.
The second line comes under heavy attack

Again Dave sent in his Maori troops – with predictable results. Although my very shonky dice rolls at the point were probably the real issue!
C-h-a-r-g-e-!-!-! (again)

In the shot above you can just see some of the AFVs that had been hammering the bunker prior to Dave's assault.

Over on the other flank Steve was rolling forwards, using his tracked Bren carriers to clear the wire and allow his Jeeps to bring an MMG forward to pour fire on the third line.
Boom!! The minefield takes out a troop transport.

By turn 6 the second line was firmly in Allied hands and they were bringing pressure to bear on the third and final line. I was down to three units by this point so the dice bag had about 25+ Allied dice and just 3 of mine… It was only going to go one way. I had two slightly battered squads of Veteran Grenadiers and one piece of light artillery left.

The Allies rolled inexorably forward, letting rip with just about everything they could. A combo of Steve and Dave took the final bunker with one turn to spare! Victory to the Allies – the Gothic Line had fallen.
Victory in their grasp!

Well, that was an absolute corker!! A splendid game played in fine gentlemanly spirit and providing plenty of entertainment too. A fitting end to what has been a superb campaign. My thanks to Dave for organising the campaign and also my thanks to Steve and Mike for joining in with the finale. Here’s to many more excellent BA campaigns in the future!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Tis the season

It’s that time of year when we as gamers tend to look back at what we’ve achieved and then waffle on about future plans for new armies, grand scenery projects and glorious conquests!!! Well, I’m no exception ;o) so here we go...

What have I achieved this year?
  • Attended my first Bolt Action tournament and had a blast! Competitive? Yes it was, but in a very open and friendly way.
  • Played Kings of War – some superb games especially in Steve’s man-shed and with the Cornish crowd :-D
  • Participated in a superb Bolt Action campaign with Orange Dave (ok, the finale is still to play but the five games we’ve had so far have been awesome!)
  • Completed a number of very enjoyable scenery projects, e.g. the Charlie Foxtrot Brasserie, the CFM Signal Box and a scratch built railway, etc.
  • Took part in several gaming weekends with friends – always great fun!
  • Kept my painting ticking along by completing a WW2 British Para force plus added a few more units to both the Panzergrenadiers and British Regulars.
  • Attended a number of brilliant shows (often posing as Colin’s “glamorous” assistant!) such as Penarth and Bovington.

For 2017...

I’d definitely like to get some more regular gaming in (although Jan and Feb are already looking busy!) with Dave, Steve, Mike, Rob, Paul, Colin, etc. This is going to require quite a bit of careful planning and time management.

Completing Ongoing Projects
Inspired by Steve’s sterling efforts this year in getting projects finished I think I may try to do something similar. I don’t really need to buy much – except maybe some more paint & brushes.
  • EIR – finally complete this army (I only started it in 2007!) but there’s still quite a bit to paint.
  • WW2 Germans – more support weapons and an armoured car.
  • WW2 British Regulars/Paras – some armour!
  • WW1 British LW army – more infantry and some artillery. Maybe align a few games with some of the battle centenaries.
This will be high up on the list too! I have some items to paint for others (I will get them done Paul, honest!). Plus, there are several CFM kits that I plan to add to my collection.

Increase my painting rate (but c’mon we all say that don’t we?) – this ties in nicely with getting projects completed.

A couple of friendly competition/tournament weekends would be ideal!

Go along to Penarth, Plymouth, Legionary (maybe) and Bovington – others too I expect.

And finally...

Merry Christmas!!

Best wishes to you all for a peaceful and joyous Festive Season!!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Building the Brasserie - Part 2

My Charlie Foxtrot Models Brasserie kit is complete! As I mentioned before, my intention was to make a 'tile' with outbuildings, etc. Here it is. The back garden even has a little fruit & veg patch.

I've added some signs to both the café and the outbuilding. I've also placed some of the bits and bobs I posted recently.

The basic idea is that the tile can be placed on a corner or junction.

The tiled area is just good quality printed card with a nice matte finish.

Here are a few shots of some of the extra components. First the large shed or outbuilding.

Pics of my brasserie can be found here. A couple of signs/adverts give a nice French theme.

Add a bit of mould and lichen on the roof!

Every café needs a suitable convenience... an outside w/c.

Here's the tile without the buildings or clutter. The brick piers and gate are from Charlie Foxtrot but pretty much everything else was scratch built. The walls are foam-core with individually carved tiles made from plasticard.

A closer look at the garden. The paths are just old masonry paint given a sandy/gritty paint scheme.

A couple of pics without the scenic clutter.

I've tried to strike a balance between a truly realistic looking model and a good piece of wargaming scenery. I could have added all sorts of extra scenic items and clutter but then I'd have struggled to place my miniatures in the terrain.

I hope you've enjoyed these couple of articles!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Reveille - Show Report

Sunday 27th November saw the LBWS stage the Reveille wargames show in Bristol. Colin of Charlie Foxtrot Models kindly asked me to help out on the stall for the day... So here we are... The "CFM Twins" :-D
Handsome... Dashing... What more can you say? ;o)

The venue and thus the show is a relatively small affair but everything was well organised with plenty of friendly people to help out. The traders included a few bigger names (always good to see!) such as Warlord Games, Magister Militum and Colonel Bill.

Scarab Miniatures were there too (good to catch up with you Rob!) with a demo game of the excellent Zero Hour rules run by Alan and Nigel. Here the Germans have a lightly defended trench with plenty of Stormtroopers waiting off table ready to counter-attack.

The British (with some French help) begin to take the trenches!

More British move up to consolidate the gains made by the first wave

The game concluded with a solid win for the British as the Stormtroopers were smashed by overwhelming British artillery.

Sean from Little Ninja Painting was there too (Hi buddy!). Here's a couple of pics of his superb work!

This table caught my eye in a very nostalgic way... The history of wargaming project showed a game played with 'flats'. The game generated plenty of interest through the day.

All in all a lovely day out catching up with friends, chatting with gamers and generally relaxing at a very friendly local wargames show.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Bolt Action Templates from Charlie Foxtrot

The new second edition of Bolt Action sees the addition of templates for things like HE, so Colin has produced a superb set of templates and tokens (available here) to aid smooth game play. Here's my (slightly customised) set :o)

Here are the 'turret jammed' and 'vehicle immobilised' tokens.

These are the 'snap to action', 'air strike' and 'hidden' tokens. The snap to action token allows you to clearly note which units are being commanded by putting the newly drawn order dice in the token. No danger of muddling them up with units that have already been given a dice.

Here is the blast marker template. Note the double 1" token in the centre, just like it's shown in the diagrams for HE in the book.

The set also includes dice holders for continuing fire weapons such as mortars - helps to avoid the dice being picked up during play.

All that for the very reasonable sum of just £7.50, so why not grab yourself a set?

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Scenic Bits and Bobs

I like to be able to decorate my tables with a few extra little scenic items to help give the impression that the buildings are 'lived in'. Here are a few I completed very recently.
Boxes and a crate of tomatoes.
They're a mix of resin (Ainsty and Grand Manner), plastic (Tamiya 1:48) and metal (Foundry) figures.
Lettuces and apples... fancy a fruit salad, Sir?
The paint scheme was simple block colours, a bit of wash then some highlights. The oil drums were just VMC Russian Green. I may base these as a little vignette. Think I might get some more too! They'd make a great little objective marker.
Oil drums and fuel cans... perhaps not ideal cover?
A couple of my buildings have proper gardens so I thought a wheelbarrow for the gardener might be a good idea. Clearly the owner of this one enjoys a glass or two whilst trimming the hedges!!

I've based it to match the paths on the buildings with gardens. Nice little figure I thought. That Tommy has his eye on the crate!

I've almost finished the Charlie Foxtrot Brasserie so will post that up soon!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Bolt Action Second Edition

At last I've finally got my grubby paws on a copy of the new rulebook!! So I thought I'd publish a few of my thoughts on the latest incarnation of what has become pretty much my favourite game.

There's a superb video from Chris Harris on YouTube channel here: (well worth subscribing too!!)

There's also a demo game from Beasts of War here: not the most exciting viewing ;o) but quite instructive.

Warlord have some articles too:-

The production quality of this hardback book is exactly what you'd expect from Warlord & Osprey. Sumptuous colour photos, superb artwork and top-notch graphic design; it's a pleasure simply to browse through it.

In no particular order, here are some highlights of the new rules:-

Rally - Troops can now rally on their basic morale rather than including the effect of the pins they're trying to shake off. This is a good move as troops with many pins were effectively out of the game most of the time. Now you have a chance to get them back in the fight - they might miss a turn or two whilst they sort themselves out though - fair enough.

Down - Troops going down are now -2 to hit plus if they keep the Down order through to the next turn they lose D3 pin markers.

Ambush - At the end of the turn, if your ambushing unit still has its dice then you can either keep it in ambush (as per v1) or flip it to a fire order and take shot. Nice.

Officers can now activate the men around them. For example, a 2nd Lt is activated so he can immediately draw a dice for a unit (within 6") and activate them too. The more senior the officer the more units can be activated. This is a brilliant improvement! All to often I'd felt that officers in v1 were of too little use, occasionally offering a morale boost. Now they can actually lead their men and directly influence the battle.

These oft overlooked vehicles are now going to become more attractive I'm sure now that they can fire one weapon after moving - the rules assume that one the crew man the gun. So your SdKfz 251 can now drive forward, the squad can de-bus, then the vehicle LMG can pour shots in to any nearby enemy. All very cinematic and in keeping with the spirit of the game.

Tanks & Flak
Like putting a 50 cal on your Sherman to help hose down enemy units? Well think again, doing so will make your tank 'open topped' for that turn - after all some poor guy has to climb out of the turret and operate the weapon. Beware of then getting pinned by small arms fire!

HE & Templates
When templates for HE weapons were first hinted at there was quite a bit of whining on the interweb. Frankly I think this is a good move. I've never had issues with templates in other games and I don't foresee any issues with Bolt Action. A big bonus of templates is that it will encourage players to use more historical deployment and formations. I've often seen (and done it myself too!) troops bunched up in mobs rather than being dispersed in more linear formations.

HE & Buildings
In v1 how often did you look at your Sherman parked near a building occupied by the enemy and think "I'd really like to put a shell through that wall and give those naughty Germans a jolly big headache!" (feel free to insert your own aphorism there ;o)) Well... rejoice for now you can do exactly that! No 'to hit' penalty (aside from range/movement) and the troops inside no longer get the 6's to wound. Oh... and gun shields are a bit less effective too so I think we'll see more players putting their artillery in more cover - another nod towards improved 'realism'.

MMGs and LMGs
More shots and a greater range, what's not to like? Now paying 20pts seems a bit fairer for these weapons. The Hitler's buzz saw rule still applies so those MG42s will pack a whopping 5 shots.

All in all I think the changes add up to a much improved game that better incorporates historical details, but it's still a game though. There's plenty more so grab yourself a copy and give it a thorough read! Also make sure you check the weapons tables, etc otherwise you may carry on using v1 details.

Happy gaming :o)