Monday, 18 September 2017

War and Conquest Weekend (with some Bolt Action too)

The recent weekend saw a number of us gather at the Bristol Big'uns club venue in Iron Acton for a weekend of War & Conquest gaming organised by Scarab supremo, Rob Broom. Now, rather than try to give you a blow by blow account of all the games, I've taken a few pics so that you can get a flavour of the fun had by all. There were several EIR forces, Dave's Carthaginians (who thrashed my EIR in a warm up game on Friday evening), plus several Successors forces.

My first opponent was Barry, a relative newcomer to WaC, fielding his own EIR force. The figures were lovely old Citadel Romans.
Our Roman armies close for battle
That's a lot of Romans!
We had a great game! Neither of us achieved our objectives but Barry edged a win.

After a superb lunch (thanks to Barbara :o)) we set to again. And again I was facing more EIR, led this time by Nick.
Deployed for battle
Nick's Foundry Roman army
My EIR decide to take the fight to Nick's men
The pic below shows the result of the roll off at a decisive point in the battle. I threw in three strategy points, Nick added just one. Grrr! :-D
The lines grind against each other
Our very evenly matched armies slogged it out against each other for several turns with the advantage switching back and forth. However, one of my cohorts managed to rout their opponents, smashing a hole in Nick's line and swept away a nearby unit of Auxilia too. These men carried on to occupy to Nick's deployment zone and gain me a victory by achieving my objective.
Fighting almost to the last man
An absolute belter of a game! My thanks to Nick (and Barry) for two great games.

On Sunday, the WaC fun continued but a few of us wanted to squeeze in some WW2 action too. Rob was very accommodating and allowed a whole corner of the room ;o)

Orange Dave organised the games; he and I would be the plucky British whilst Nigel led the German war machine. Dave picked D-Day as the theme so the first game would be Commandos landing on Sword beach.
The landing craft head for the shore

Dave couldn't find the sea that he'd made previously, however he did find a roll of blue wrapping paper that made for a very effective stand in!
The ramp goes down and here come our heroic men!
Needless to say the Germans had prepared a warm welcome. Nigel landed a mortar round in one of the landing craft which left is stranded in deeper water for several turns before the men aboard regained control.
More British reach the shore
Things were looking pretty grim for the Allies until the artillery finally arrived in spectacular style! The Germans took an enormous beating so we agreed that the surviving Allied troops on the beach would be able to get inland, giving a narrow victory to Dave and me.

On to game two... Staying with the D-Day theme what else could we do but our own version of the daring glider landing to capture the Orne bridges! Dave folded the paper to make a very effective canal.
Dave's glider template came in quite handy!
The troops have safely exited the glider and prepare to tackle the Germans
We're on the bridge but the Germans are more than ready
A vicious close range fire-fight ensues!
Bayonets, knives, pistols and grenades!
A tense and thrilling game with some real moments of drama! The night fighting rules really add to the atmosphere of the game - highly recommended. However, as we shook hands it was a draw, the Germans were still vigorously contesting the bridge.

My thanks to Nigel for being a superb opponent and also to Dave for organising the scenarios and being a staunch ally. We still have game three to play; ideal material for a future blog post.

All round an excellent weekend of gaming. It's great to meet up with old friends, make some new friends and play some very enjoyable games of toy soldiers. Looking forward to the next event.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Roman Casualty Markers

Various rules require a way to track the status of units during the battle e.g. Casualties, Fatigue, Push & Shove, Shock, Momentum ... whatever! Anyway, I decided to make some dial counters to represent this for my EIR and here they are.

The casualty figures are from Black Tree Miniatures; a mix of Auxiliaries and Legionaries.

As they're casualties I decided to skip my usual layered painting style and instead opted for a block colour and wash effect, followed by some basic highlights. Here they are with the armour painted black and given a dry-brush of GW Leadbelcher, the rest of figure is just one colour, i.e. Foundry Flesh B, Foundry Boneyard B, GW Mephiston Red, VMC Leather Brown, etc.

Now for the wash... GW Agrax Earthshade of course! I'm sure something like Army Painter wash or ink would be just as effective.

After that I simply applied a few highlights of the original 'block' colours. The completed figures were matt varnished - you might like to add a little final highlight to the armour as some matt varnishes can leave the metal looking a little dull - it's up to you.

I picked the numbered dials up at a show some years ago but many styles are available. Tip - use a little bit of blu-tak to block the window in the top dial when applying texture as this helps to avoid getting any bits in the dial itself. The dials were then based, flocked, etc to match the rest of my army. I may add some discarded weapons or shields at later date but I think they're fine for now.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Normandy D-Day Campaign - Game Four

Our D-Day campaign marches on! Game Four is loosely based on scenario three from the Chain of Command supplement Kampfgruppe von Luck, entitled "Attacking the Corridor of Death". The Germans have gained the upper hand after driving in the Paras forward positions during game three of our campaign. For this game Orange Dave would be starching his upper lip, waxing his moustache and commanding the Paras. The Germans would soon be heading in to the heart of Le Bas de Ranville.

Here's the map from TFL's supplement.

My own take on it is slightly different; mainly because it was easier to find the church than dig out other buildings! Anyway, I think it looks okay.
Dave has deployed half his force on the table, although (very sensibly) you can only see the odd figure. He placed his mortar behind the church with the spotter in the stone barn.

As they lost the last game, the Paras could only fortify one building rather than two, so Dave chose the old cafe. This meant the building took on 'bunker' status. This was beefed up with a Vickers MMG.

Here's the mortar, plus the sniper in the top right corner of the church yard.

The barn had the spotter and a section of Paras.

Downstairs in the cafe was another section.

Here come the Germans, throwing almost everything in to the attack! That's two veteran squads, two regular squads and one inexperienced squad supported by an MMG, a sniper, a flame-thrower and ... a Stug. This is the first time armour has appeared in this campaign - it's mid-afternoon and the Germans are beginning to get some more significant support in this sector.

An early German dice allowed me to activate the Stug and it promptly put a round in to the barn. The Spotter wasn't in the least bothered but the section of Paras took a beating. Had they won the previous game then I expect that the barn would also have been fortified - then it would have been a very formidable position indeed!

Apart from the Stug's shot it was a pretty quiet first turn. In turn 2 the Germans pushed forward quickly to try to overwhelm the troops in the barn and the right-flank farmhouse before more Paras could come forward. Again the Stug hammers the section in the farmhouse with some astonishingly well aimed HE.

The Paras respond by moving the section in the cafe out towards the orchard, whilst behind them the light mortar and the CO also dash forward.

Turn three and the forces are starting to get within small arms range as the Germans really push their luck (or should that be their "von Luck"? - sorry) and dash forward. The Stug has put a second HE round in to the farmhouse which has all but destroyed the Para section - only one Para and the Sergeant remain. Those tankers will get an extra ration of Schnapps!
You can also see that the flame-thrower team were getting ready to leap the hedge and roast the Paras but the Stug has almost beaten them to it!

On the left flank the Germans are using their numerical advantage to good effect - one squad lays down fire whilst the other two dash forward. The Paras in the house fire away but the pins they've accumulated (2 or 3 , I think) mean that their shooting is pretty ineffective.

During turns 2 and 3 Dave has tried to drop a mortar shell on the top of the Stug. To avoid the -1 to hit penalty I've left the AFV in place and kept firing - after all it's only a 3" mortar ... !? He also used the free artillery observer for the same - 'so what' I thought - it's great for pinning infantry but I have a Stug ... bwah-ha-ha-hah!

Turn 4 - Another run of German dice meant that they could go on the offensive yet again. The regulars move along the lane (shaking off a pin from earlier Para sniper shooting) whilst the flame-thrower team light up the building. They do this in spectacular style, wiping out the inhabitants and setting the building ablaze.

You recall me mentioning how I didn't think the mortar would be an issue for the Stug? Well - it wasn't ;o) But what I hadn't considered was how effective the 'freebie' artillery spotter might be! At last - after many delays the big guns delivered.

Dave's recent zombie-like dice rolling suddenly came alive! He produced a series of fantastic dice rolls. The squads near the Stug took a real beating in terms of pins but clearly the Stug commander had momentarily opened the hatch only for the shelling to land plum on top. Scratch one AFV! We both had a bl**dy good laugh about this I can tell you!

Turn 5 and the Paras are suddenly resurgent. With the threat of the Stug removed and some of the more exposed German squads taking pins it seemed that the Germans might be repulsed. The barn continues to be a tough nut to crack - two Germans squads pour fire in to it whilst a third seeks to outflank it. However, British reserves are moving up to the church yard and cafe. It's all in the balance.

Here you can see Paras in the cafe courtyard. In the orchard are a small Para section with a Bren who have been picking off Germans advancing on the other flank towards the barn, plus the light mortar (using smoke to obscure German long range shooting from the MG42) along with the PIAT team - no doubt relieved that the Navy's big guns have sorted out the Stug.

Last turn or two now and the Germans hold the advantage in terms of casualties caused (i.e. dice removed from the bag) but it's still not "in the bag" so to speak. The two German squads in front of the barn have finally dislodged the Paras although they've taken frightful casualties doing so and are no longer effective squads. However, this has allowed the squad of regulars on the far left to take up a position behind the church yard walls ready for another Para section coming forward.

A slightly better view of things. The Germans continue to have the advantage of numbers but those veteran Paras are as hard as nails!

A mini-battle for the church yard begins with the Germans (regulars) fluffing up their shooting as the SMG armed Paras blaze their way between the headstones.

Amazingly, this combat went to second round before the Germans were annihilated. But the remaining Paras were few in number indeed.

As the last shots were fired the embattled Paras were forced to withdraw. It was a narrow victory for the Germans. What a game! In the early turns the Germans were awesome but the loss of the Stug and mounting casualties/pins meant that the Paras were firmly back in the running for a couple of turns before yet again the Germans gained the upper hand.

Another superbly entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable game of Bolt Action with Orange Dave. Thanks buddy! :o)

So... Our campaign sees the 6th Airborne's bridgehead in real peril. More German armour is heading for this area and it's still some hours until the second 'big lift' for the Allies. Perhaps the Paras will launch a daring counter-attack to try to halt the German steam-roller?

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Painting and Basing Romans

Yes, the re-basing continues. Here's a couple of officer types (Curteys Miniatures) riding through the desert.

It's not all re-basing though! Here's the next batch of Legion ready for some varnish. Wanted to post these as with the holiday season fast approaching they'll have to wait a little while for their shields ;o)


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Romans Re-based (part 2)

A while back I looked at re-basing my Romans to give them a more sandy-based theme. I've now also decided to give them magnetic bases to make storage easier. So I needed to add suitable movement trays. Here's the next unit, 14 Auxiliaries.

I'd like to offer a little tip about making movement trays... In the past I've bough them ready assembled and then trimmed steel 'paper' to fit inside, then added texture to the edge. However, sometimes this has resulted in a badly fitting, slightly wonky, piece of steel 'paper' (which just annoys me) or perhaps the texture has strayed within the bounds of the tray. Not a big deal to fix but here's my new approach.

Buy the trays unassembled, that is (as shown below) the rim is left unglued.

If you already have the trays then it's simple to slide a modelling knife between the rim and base - just take it steady!

Next, cut a piece of steel 'paper' that is slightly larger than the tray base. I get mine from Tiny Tin Troops - highly recommended.

Peel off the backing paper and firm press the base on. Take care to leave a little overlap around the edge. Give it a minute or two to properly adhere, then trim off the excess with a modelling knife. This gives you a very neat finish.

Next, decorate the rim. I use PVA glue with some fine grit. Paint to match the bases. You may also want to add a little static grass or some tufts. Both the grass and the tufts can be dry-brushed with a light cream colour (e.g. Foundry Boneyard light) to enhance the arid look of the bases and movement trays.

Then it's just a matter of gluing the rim on to the base. I used a few tiny dabs of super glue. Hope that's a useful tip.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Normandy D-Day Campaign - Game Three

Game three of our Normandy campaign sees the action switch back to the airborne bridgehead east of the Orne river. British 12 Para hold Ranville as the German 125th Panzergrenadiers begin their counter-attack on the village. It is late morning on D-Day now and the Germans are pushing through orchards and along a sunken lane on the southern edge of Ranville.

As I’ve mentioned before, some of the campaign games are inspired by the Chain of Command supplement “Kampfgruppe von Luck” (KGvL) – this time it’s “Probe Amongst the Hedgerows”. Whilst Chain of Command is not quite my cup of tea, the supplements are well worth a read. Anyway, here’s a map of the table

And here's my take on it.


In the game I would be leading the German forces; basically a reinforced platoon comprised of regulars and inexperienced troops. I wanted to reflect the fact that a good number of the German troops stationed in Normandy were not exactly first rate!

That's five squads, two of which were inexperienced, the rest are regulars, all with an LMG, plus an MMG, a medium mortar and a sniper team for support, led by a Leutnant.

Top Wargames Table chum Dave Howes (visiting with another top chum Paul) would be commanding the Paras.

The Paras were, as you would expect, all veterans: a second Lieutenant, a medic, one full strength section of 10 men with a Bren team, a second section with 9 men and a Bren, the third section of 9 men with a total of 5 SMGs, plus an MMG and a light mortar.

Here's the table at the end of turn 1. Both Dave and I have committed our entire forces!

I've put two squads (In-ex & Reg) on the left flank and in the centre, with only the regulars on the right flank. My MMG and mortar were, on reflection, not well sited.

Dave placed his Bren-equipped sections on either flank with the SMG section moving up to the farmhouse in the centre. His MMG was perfectly deployed making excellent use of the cover provided by the gated field entrance (upper right in pic), giving them a clear view along the narrow lane.

That clear view was used to good effect in turn 2. The Vickers opened up on the MG42 team, killing two of the three crew. The remaining chap kept his cool, passed his morale test and got ready to return fire. But before he could, his mates crewing the mortar lobbed a shell neatly on to the Vickers (I rolled a six!) and killed all three crew in the blast! "You cheeky b*****d!", exclaimed Dave ;o)

At the end of turn two both of us are carefully pushing our troops forward. I've moved my in-ex squad on the left flank forwards in the hope that it might tempt Dave's paras in to a slightly more open position. All the other sections have advanced to take better shelter behind the hedges.

Dave's SMG section makes good use of the cover afforded by the farmhouse's stone walls and both his flanking sections advance to get better lines of sight on the advancing Germans.

Turn three had the numerically superior Germans in good positions and the combined fire-power of 4-5 LMGs really started to punish the Paras, although you need to roll a 5+ to hurt these elite soldiers.
Sorry about the shonky pic - tablet was having a 'moment'!

Even when the shots weren't knocking over the Paras, they were racking up 'pins' on them. Having more units meant more opportunity to cause 'pins', which in turn mean that whilst the Paras usually passed their morale test they were also usually firing back at -1 or -2 to hit. Some more incredible shooting by the mortar only added to Dave's problems. That was slightly evened out by the fact that my sniper couldn't seem to hit a pig's bum with a shovel!
More shonky photography!
Some coordinated German fire-power on the left flank (Paul - thanks for the tip ;o)) saw the remaining troops in Dave's right-flank section cut to shreds. The chaps in his left flank section were also getting hammered by a mix of rifle, LMG and mortar shots. Still, they went down fighting and the German casualties were also rising.

In the final turn of the game the Germans could turn their attention to the SMG section and the Lieutenant in the farmhouse.

Squads were poised to move in from both flanks.

And the mortar was still in a position to provide support... along with my cross-eyed sniper!

With time pressing we shook hands and called it a day. What a thoroughly enjoyable game! Dave is always a fantastic person to play toy soldiers with and the win was a bonus for me.

The Allied perimeter south of Ranville has been driven in so the next game will see the Panzergrenadiers pushing deeper in to the town and no doubt facing some well prepared resistance from the men of 12 Para.

Lessons Learned:-
  • More units = more opportunities to shoot = more potential pins on an enemy.
  • Coordinate your shooting, have two or three units pick the same target.
  • Advancing with one unit whilst another provides support really works. If both advance then both units are at -1 to hit

EDIT: Just realised that I've been running this blog for over ten years now... Thank you for joining me along the way. Happy days! :o)