Saturday, 27 February 2016

Bolt Action Club Game

Managed to get along to the club last Sunday for a game of Bolt Action with Orange Dave. He had his early/mid war desert British and I had my Late War Germans - not quite historical I know - but good fun all the same :o)

First, here's a few pics of some of Dave's most recent brushwork. This is the OQF 2lb Portee. Lovely isn't it!

Another view.
What I hadn't realised is that this particular model had been equipped with an experimental "temporal displacement reactor" which allowed it to zip about the battlefield with frightening speed ... definitely not Cricket!?! Or rather it was a case of both players not quite knowing what the rules are!! :o)

Here are some of Dave's infantry, mainly Perry's I think.

Right ... on to the game. Just 500pts per side for the Maximum Attrition scenario. I threw some of my scenery on to the table and we set to. Here's the end of turn 1 - we both put most of our forces on to the table in turn one keeping only a small amount in reserve.

The early game shooting from the German lines was frankly shocking - clearly the ammo was being sabotaged by POWs. Whereas the British were more like "Arnie" ... fire one shot and two Jerries fall dead!

What also didn't help my cause was that (yet again) I'd hurriedly cobbled a list together without any AT capability whatsoever ... Doh!? ... this only became apparent when Dave put the Bren carrier on the road and hosed down an infantry squad. If I could get men close enough they could assault it with grenades (probably quite effectively - dice permitting) but I doubted Dave would be so obliging as to drive it very close to my lines.

Dave's Portee proved highly effective with its 2lb gun and an MMG - plus the "enhanced" manoeuvrability ;o) but by turn 4 it was still only one unit wiped out each.

Turn 6 and in this pic you can see that on the left, by the fence, two of my 9 man squads were down to just one man each (plus they were badly pinned) yet somehow the dice let me keep them in play?!?

In a last ditch attempt to gain victory Dave threw everything against the shattered squads and the sniper and light mortar teams ... but all of his early shooting had clearly depleted his ammo stores and the Germans hung on grimly for a draw one VP each!

A good fun game with some crazy dice rolling and a few proper comedy moments. What more could you ask for eh? (Well, a win would have been nice but I'll settle for a draw this time ;o))

I'm pleased to report that several other club-goers are interested in either getting back in to Bolt Action or giving it a whirl for the first time. Plus Dave has been inspired to write up a rather good ladder campaign! So hopefully plenty more action to follow! :o)

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Charlie Foxtrot - Building and Painting the Signal Box

Wargames Table chum Colin has produced yet another superb building – the Signal Box – so I’d like to show you how it all goes together and offer some suggestions for painting it. Here’s the kit, all 79 pieces of it!

This is Colin’s. Lovely!

In this picture I’ve labelled the ‘groups’ of pieces. Note – the rectangular piece in the bottom left of the upper floor group is actually the base for the signal levers – Doh!?

Because (a) the upper floor has two layers of wall and (b) the balcony and stairs could be a bit fiddly to paint in situ, it makes sense to spray/paint some of the components before building the complete model, I'll mention this later. Tip - always dry fit any pieces before gluing and use good quality wood glue.

Lower Floor
This just a straight-forward box, four walls and a base, plus the comb shaped balcony supports – make sure you get them level. Now for the base colours. Grey primer spray; the supports are blocked out in black.

I applied a very thin wash of black/dark brown ink to help pick out the blocks.

Then I just highlighted the concrete blocks with Foundry Slate Grey mid 32B then light 32C. The window frame and doors are painted then glued in position. I used GW Khorne Red followed by GW Mephiston Red - that's the same for all the red items.

Paint the lower section in black as a lot of these buildings seem to have a 'bitumen-like' paint applied. I also added a couple of grass tufts to make it look like weeds are sprouting.

Upper Floor
Here's the inner layer of the upper section built and undercoated. Grey makes for a good general purpose base. The gable ends are also shown.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the components are best undercoated before construction. These pieces are the outer layer of timber framework. They'll be red but again I started with a grey undercoat - this is because raw MDF can be quite thirsty for paint.

The 'white' panels are first sprayed with white (GW White spray) - don't overdo it as the result can be a funny speckled finish. Then just paint the central area of each panel with white, taking care not to obscure the fine lines.

The window frames are just blocked in white. As with Colin's example I've glued some of the windows as though they've been slid open.

I've glued the door slightly ajar too.

After painting the white 'planks', the red panels are painted then glued in place. I'll look at the roof and gables in more detail a little later.

Steps & Balcony
I thought these might be a bit fiddly but Colin's crafty design makes it easy – best tip I can offer is not to rush! Three of the steps act a locating ‘pins’ (an instruction sheet is included showing these) which allow you to build the basic structure. When the glue is dry you simply pop each of the remaining steps in to place.

When you glue in the railings to the L-shaped balcony section make sure you dry-fit them first just to make sure you’ve got them all lining up nicely.

The balcony railings and stair rails are painted in exactly the same way as the panels for the upper storey.

The balcony floor and steps were painted black then just roughly highlighted with Foundry Charcoal Black 34B. Again do the painting before attaching the balcony and steps to the base. Tip - the bare ends of tabs on the lower section (that plug in to the balcony) can absorb the spray/paint and expand very slightly so you may need to trim or sand them a little.

The first thing to do is spray the roof tile sections with matt black – a dark grey would be good too. Then spray the gable wall ends with mid-grey followed by white.

Next, paint the gable end planks white then the timbers - same red scheme as before. The roof section can now be assembled. Trim the capping tile strip to the right length, spray it and attach. Here's the gable end.

I have a quick method for painting roofs. Using Foundry Slate Grey shade 32A, Stone shade 57A and Granite shade 31A, I pick out half a dozen or so individual tiles on each side of the roof, including some sections on the capping strip. Then I just drybrush with Slate Grey mid 32B. Finally apply some clumps of moss (mini-natur).

A signal box needs the levers that operate the points and this kit doesn't disappoint! Two slots are left empty as these levers will be pulled forward. I've propped them against the wall whilst the glue dries to make sure they are all at the same angle.

Again the grey undercoat.

The completed levers!

The Finished Article
Here it is!


The track is a work in progress - more on that in future. Hope you found that interesting and/or useful.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Charlie Foxtrot Fences - Painting Them Quickly

Now... I'm supposed to be doing an article on the new Signal Box but what with one thing and another it's taking me a bit longer to complete - so in the mean time here's a little article on how to quickly get Charlie Foxtrot's Wooden Post and Rail Fencing on to the table. It comes as a pack of 12 pieces, each 6" long, including two gate sections - all for the very reasonable price of £12.

Step 1: Take the raw MDF and very lightly spray with matt black - just a dusting really so that some of the wood colour shows through. Hopefully this pic shows what I mean.

Step 2: Drybrush with any dark brown. I used VMC Leather Brown.

Step 3: Drybrush (very lightly!) with a light cream colour. Here I've used VMC Dark Sand.

That's it! All 12 sections took me less than an hour.

Step 4: Glue the fences to the bases.

The gate sections have subtly different bases and I like my gates to be slightly open as it makes them easier to spot at a glance.

Step 5: Apply sand and grit to suit your basing preferences.

Step 6: Paint the bases. I bought a tester pot of emulsion as it's way cheaper than using VMC etc. I think it was called 'coffee shop' but was fairly similar to GW Graveyard Earth.

Then I highlighted it up using my usual VMC Flat Earth, Gold Brown and Dark Sand colours.

Step 7: Finally, decorate them - I always really enjoy this bit - in fact I probably spent more time on the flock and foliage than the painting.

That's 6 feet of fencing done in double quick time. Now back to that Signal Box :o)

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Bolt Action Tournament AARs

Well that was good! Five very enjoyable games of Bolt Action. My thanks to Gary, Ian, Andrew, Steve and Jason.

All of my opponents were great fun to play against, plus they were jolly helpful in terms of the rules, explaining what they were doing and why, plus offering me suggestions and options as to how I might use my forces - all good when you're very new to a set of rules. It may have been a tournament but the approach to the games was just friendly competition.

Day One featured three 500pt games and each game used the Maximum Attrition scenario and was limited to 90 minutes. Day Two was two 1,000pt games and the scenarios would be announced just before the start. Anyway, on to the games themselves.

Day One... Game 1: Gary Rich - Germans
A good way to start - with an enemy force I know something about.

This turned out to be a fairly cautious affair with both of us being quite cagey about committing to the attack. Another factor was me still being a bit vague about the rules, but Gary kept things moving nicely.

My Recce Jeep took a pin, then when I tried to activate it they FUBAR-ed and started blazing away at a nearby Para section in the wood - thankfully only one friendly fire casualty was inflicted however it meant at that early point in the game I had killed more of my own men than the enemy!?! The Jeep went on to partly redeem itself by taking out a small enemy squad.

The game ended as a draw, just 3 VPs each. However, it was a good 'warm up' for the tournament.

Game 2: Ian Crosswaite - Japanese
I don't think the Paras ever fought the Japs in WW2 (I may be wrong?) and certainly not in a French village! But we won't let that get in the way of a good game.

Ian's force consisted of two officers, two large inexperienced squads and two tanks! As they were lighter tanks my light mortar stood a tiny chance of damaging them - but nothing else in my force could get them.

With both tanks on one flank I tried to focus my efforts on destroying the two squads and the officers. I bagged one of the squads and both the officers but those tanks (being light and thus quite manoeuvrable) were able to hunt down a number of my chaps. So a  win for Ian's men.

Game 3: Andrew Banks - Japanese
Yet more dangerous eastern types (in Normandy again!) and led by the reigning champ too!

This proved to be an hilarious game. Both Andy and I wasted no time in getting to grips with each other. The focus of the fighting was in and around the farm complex.

The Recce jeep drew a huge amount of fire throughout the game as it raced around letting rip with its twin Vickers. At one point I rushed a section of Paras around the left side of the farmhouse confident that the Japs inside wouldn't be able to see them ... but what I hadn't realised is that the model has a small window next to the extension (couldn't see it from my side of the table!) thus allowing them to spot the bold Paras... so the fanatical warriors poured out of the building and cut my chaps to ribbons.

Aside from that fluff-up, I felt more confident with the rules and my army and to be honest I think I played a bit better in this game. That was reflected in the scores too, still a win for Andy but I definitely played better.

That brought day one to a close. The evening was spent at Charlie Foxtrot HQ with a bunch of good friends merrily drinking beer and talking rubbish about wargaming, history and a variety of other topics that I'm definitely *not* going to blog about! ;o)

Day Two... Game 4: Steve Jones - Hungarians
Another force I know relatively little about, however they were partly equipped by Germany so a number of the items across the table were familiar. The Scenario was Demolition, so my plan was to use the Recce jeep on a wide flanking move to appear on turn 4, use the twin Vickers to suppress any enemy troops around the objective then race up and destroy it ... what I didn't know (until turn 4) was that wheeled vehicles (even jeeps) cannot enter rough terrain ... Ooops!

An Eastern Front themed table this time. Paras on the left in the pic.

This game had a number of dramatic/cinematic moments - such as my Paras surviving a close range blast of LMG and then assaulting the light tank with just their bare hands, and managing to set it ablaze. There was also the vicious fighting in and around the buildings in the centre of the table. On my left flank the Para sections flushed out the snipers and AT rifle and hunted them down.

Another great moment was when the other Jeep roared on to the table carrying the PIAT team. They survived a hail of bullets and raced forward again allowing the PIAT team to disembark and take a shot at the assault gun that had been pounding my lines. I called out the obligatory "Boing!" but clearly I didn't get the incantation quite right and rolled just one pip less than I need to punch through the armour.

The Paras on my left flank raced towards the Hungarian objective with grenades at the ready, but they would have needed an extra turn to be able to reach it. This was a close game right up until the last turn when Steve's flanking force destroyed my objective and bagged a couple of small units to win by just 2 VPs. Again I felt I played better - apart from the fluff up with the terrain rules!?

Game 5: Jason Gorringe - Finns
Game two of day two and I must admit to feeling a little 'gamed out' at this point. This game saw the very odd match up of my Normandy/Market Garden Paras fighting Jason's winter themed Finns on a jungle table?!?

This time it was Point Defence and Jason took on the role of defender. My preliminary bombardment took out two observer teams and put a heap of pins on some of his units, so a good start! But I got a bit distracted and my attacks were poorly co-ordinated so it quickly started going wrong.

The Finnish tank proved to be a nightmare and was quickly nick-named the death star as it's turret mounted howitzer blew whole sections to smithereens. The Jeep/PIAT combo trick had much the same result as the previous game. I clawed back a few vital VPs towards the end of the game but it was too little too late and the game ended as a win for the Finns.

The results: I don't have a full listing of everyone's results yet but I didn't win any trophies and I didn't get the wooden spoon - so I'll settle for mid table somewhere. Not bad for a 'noob' ;o)

Hopefully I'll be back next year, perhaps with a new army - I quite fancy US Paras. Anyway, a Big Thank You to Big Ron for organising the tournament which went very smoothly indeed.

Finally, my own observations on my army and tactics...
  • Lack of any armour, indeed it was probably the only force with no armour. However the jeeps definitely caused tactical problems for my opponents being so mobile and packing quite a punch versus infantry.
  • Limited Anti-tank capability, i.e. only a PIAT team in the larger force (the 500pt list effectively had none).
  • Doing the right things but in the wrong order - not taking in to account enemy activations. Sometimes it's better to delay a 'good idea' until you see what the enemy are doing. If they've already been activated that turn then they can't go down on you.
  • Being somewhat 'reckless' and 'gung ho' when attacking, perhaps a little too bold at times! That also applies to co-ordinating attacks by several units.
  • Having a lot of small units or teams made it easier for my opponents to score VPs by wiping them out.
  • Forgetting key special rules - e.g. Rushing my Recce Jeep towards an enemy artillery piece only to be reminded that it has a gun shield so all those shots will need 6's to wound instead of 4's. Another example would be forgetting to use the medic to patch up chaps wounded by enemy shooting.
  • The force was perhaps a bit too all-round and too historical for its own good. When you're playing in a tournament you have to balance historical accuracy with practicality, particularly as you'll probably be fighting at least some a-historical match ups.
  • A lack of knowledge of the rules and especially the opposing forces - but that will be fixed with practice.