Saturday, 31 March 2012

Great Dystopian Wars Batrep on the New Spartan Games Forums

Just a quick heads-up about a great Dystopian Wars batrep I found on the new Spartan Games forum. I'm getting my DW stuff in about 10 days, so I've been having a look at various sites for a few tips, and this batrep is a great walkthru of a scenario. It has lots of informative diagrams of each activation and was easy to follow. Hopefully they'll do more like this one.

Quick Review: Zvezda Pz II

I needed some Pz II's for my DAK force so placed an order with The Plastic Soldier Company for some of their Zvezda snap together kits on Monday. They arrived Thursday morning and I decided to do a quick unboxing.

There's a nice picture on the front of the box, reminiscent of the old action paintings you used to get on Airfix kits.

The back of the box shows shots of the assembled model & the assembly instructions.

The contents are what you would expect. A sprue with five parts to clip out and the instruction sheet. There is also quite a nice stat card allowing the model to be used in a game system called Art of Tactic "Operation Barbarossa 1941" which I'm assuming is a Russian WWII game.

The kit is incredibly easy to assemble. It took me 4 minutes 15 seconds to clip and trim the parts from the sprues and assemble the model. Here's a couple of shots of the assembled model.

The amount of detail isn't bad. From some comments I'd seen about Zvezda kits I wasn't expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised. What did surprise me was how tiny the Pz II was in comparison to the PSC Panthers I'd been doing. I suppose in the back of my mind I'd assumed that most tanks were roughly the same size. Looking at this kit gave me a better appreciation of what it must have been like to bounce around in these 'tiny' tanks at the start of the war and also the increases in tank technology as the war went continued. However the model is not true 1/100 scale. A Pz II was 4.81m long which equates to 48.1mm at 1/100 but the model is only 43.0mm long, well off scale.

So what do I think of the kit? Overall I like it, the only downside I have is that the turret is on very tight so almost impossible to remove to show the tank destroyed and difficult to traverse with it being so small. I imagine that will only get worse once I get paint on the model. I'd give it 7/10 and great value at £2.99 each.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Just found a great review of the new 'Maurice' rules.

Just a quick post to point you in the direction of a great review I found of 'Maurice', Sam Mustafa's new rules for warfare in the 18th century.

It can be found on the 'Glory Eagles De L'Empereur!' blog.

Work in Progress

I'm in the middle of sorting out my 1750pt Panzerkampfgruppe force to play Ben on the 9th April. My Panthers are assembled and awaiting paint so I've moved on to sorting out the Nebelwerfers. I went with Battlefront for the figures as they are the only manufacturer that really covers the full range of options available to WWII forces.

The pack contains three Nebelwerfers, each with five crew, an SMG command stand and an observer stand, plus the bases for all the models. The contents can be seen set out below.

Before opening the pack I was a bit concerned about the casting quality as I've found that Battlefront figures often need a lot of clean-up. But I was pleasantly surprised. There was no flash and all that needed doing was a bit of trimming on the bases as usual. I was a bit unsure of how the Nebelwerfers went together and what some of the parts were for, but a quick trip to Google sorted that out.

Mystery parts!

Everything went together ok and they're now on the pile awaiting a trip to the garage for priming. I'll put some photos up of the finished force later. All I need now is my order from Maelstrom to arrive. I'm waiting on some Forged in Battle PaK 40's and some paint. The Forged in Battle stuff is still on order and has been for over two weeks now. I hope it arrives in time to get painted up.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Hello, My Name is Ferb & I'm a Wargameaholic.

I started the new year with the best of intentions. I wasn't going to buy any new systems to play. I'd found the previous year that I didn't get to play the systems I already had often enough and this made remembering the rules difficult.

I was only playing once a week with the occasional extra game. So I'd decided to stick with Impetus for ancients in 15 & 28mm, Malifaux for skirmish gaming, Gruntz for 15mm SciFi fun & Saga for skirmish gaming as it had become popular at the club. I also had FoW & 40K, but I'd gone off 40K and no one at the club seemed to play FoW any more.

These good intentions didn't last long. I started the year with a few games of Impetus then hit a wall as I couldn't find anyone to play my chosen systems who didn't already have games arranged. ( we tend to book up games a couple of weeks in advance). So I looked around and decided to add Infinity to the list. I had a look at the game and it seemed interesting plus there seemed to be a few people playing it so I bought a Combined Army starter set and painted it up. In the meantime I'd managed to book up a few games of Saga to keep me going.

The starter set I bought.

While this was happening the Battletech 25th Anniverary box set came back into the shops. I'd always loved the Battletech universe and had wanted this set for ages plus I could also use the mechs for Gruntz. So I bought my second extra system for the year. But that's not all! January saw lots of sales at various retailers and I noticed that Triple Helix Wargames were selling the Warmachine 2-Player Battlebox at 20% off so I ordered a set. I justified this by telling myself there were lots of Warmachine players at the club so I could get games. Plus it was such a good deal I could sell one set of figures and have a 20pt force plus rules for about £20-£30. My mind conveniently left out that I'd tried Hordes with Trollbloods last year and hated it. I'd even sold all my figures, rules, cards etc on eBay. But hey Warmachine will be different right.

So end of January and I've already bought three new systems and not managed a game with any of them. February would be different though, I had enough systems to ensure finding a game each week so no need to buy any more.

Except that I'd been reading about the Lasalle rules on various blogs. Now I love historical wargaming and I used to have loads of Napoleonic stuff and was a bit of an expert on Waterloo (sadly mostly forgotten now). So, since they sounded fun, I decided to buy the rules and as they were only about a tenner as a downloadable pdf it wasn't a big expenditure. Although if I wanted a game I would need to buy and paint some figures plus I would need to buy two armies so I would have an army for my opponent to use. I decided to go with Pendraken 10mm figures as I could buy an army for about £30 plus they should be quick to paint. So I bought £10 of figures & bases to get started. Extra system number four! Then version 3 of the FoW rules came out.

Lasalle rules from Sam Mustafa

For March I told myself I wasn't going to spend anything on wargaming for the whole month. But that lasted about two weeks. I'd got fed up with Saga and decided it wasn't for me and sold my figures and rules. So at least some money was coming in for a change. I also got my first FoW game for nearly a year and enjoyed it a lot. This led me to spend time on various FoW blogs and I saw a post saying a good way to learn the rules was to use a tank only force. So I bought access to found a 'cheap' force and bought two boxes of PSC Panthers. Of course it didn't stop there. I added Nebelwerfers and PaK40's to the list to get to 1750pts. Then I signed up for an El-Alamein campaign so I've started buying forces for that.

Then the Maurice rules and cards came out and they intrigued me so I bought them and started looking at 10mm figures for armies. For some reason I forget I also got interested in Dystopian Wars, mentioning them in the blog got me a good offer on a Blazing Sun fleet from Ben so I took him up on it.

Now I'm looking at Kerr & King terrain sets, new gaming table felt cloths for sea and desert use and out of the blue I started looking at ACW with the Fire & Fury rules. At least I've managed to hold off buying any of this for now.

Kerr & King Large Adobe building

So far this year I've managed
8 games of Basic Impetus
7 games of Saga
1 game of Battletech
1 game of Gruntz
4 games of FoW
2 games of Warmachine
3 games of Malifaux

So of the five new systems I've added I've only played with two of them. This also doesn't include 28mm plastic Saxons, Vikings, Normans and Romans that I bought before christmas and hardly started painting or the 28mm plastic ECW army which is still in the unopened box

So there you have it, I'm a hopeless addict with no self-control. To try and rein in my spending I've decided to add everything I buy and sell to a spreadsheet in the hope it will frighten me into some restraint. In case you're interested my spending so far since I started recording it on 23rd March is £35.41.

Hopefully this will be a warning to anyone thinking that they might like to try wargaming. If anyone offers you a box of Space Marines cheap JUST SAY NO!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Malifaux Monday, or Why Leviticus Should be Nerfed!

Joe came round on Monday for a couple of 25 SS games of Malifaux. He'd been buying a ton of crews from eBay recently and decided to have a break from playing his usual Ressers and try his new Leviticus crew. I hadn't played Perdita in ages so I thought I'd give her a run out in the first game. I took:

Perdita Ortega and 3 SS
Francisco Ortega
Nino Ortega
& 3 Death Marshals

While Joe took:

Leviticus & 5 SS
Rusty Alice
Canine Remains
& 2 Punk Zombies

I hadn't played with the Death Marshals before (in fact I had to paint up two of them about an hour before the game to get them ready!) and looked forward to trying them out as they seem to have some nice abilities.

My Ortegas crew in their Starting positions.

We rolled for strategies and Joe got 'Claim Jump' while I got 'Destroy the Evidence'.
The terrain was set out as shown below. We both announced schemes. Joe took 'Bodyguard' on Leviticus and 'Soulless Life' (which it turns out is illegal when taken with Bodyguard, but it didn't matter in the end). I took 'Bodyguard' on Perdita and 'Breakthrough' as I was already going to have to get into his deployment area anyway to destroy the evidence. The various objective markers can be seen below. We set up our crews on the same sides as our objectives with the exception that I had Nino near Joe's Objective to try and thin out the herd as he tried to claim it. We both decided then that the most likely outcome was going to be an 8-8 draw as we could achieve both our strategies & schemes without coming into contact. But that's not how it turned out!

Joe went first and brought on his free Hollow Waif and then slaughtered the Canine Remains to get a corpse counter that he could use to bring on a second waif. (I must just say here that Joe's poor Canine Remains must have severe psychological problems. In every game Joe plays he takes his faithful Canine Remains only to slaughter it in increasingly horrible ways to get whatever counters he needs. Poor doggy.) He also did various things to ensure he died at the end of the turn. (Leviticus has some weird mechanics!) The rest of his crew did a general advance.
Perdita ran forward to the first evidence marker while the rest of the crew also advanced. The situation at the end of turn one is shown below.

End of turn 1

Turn two saw Levi move round the wood and attack Nino. This was a big surprise for me as I knew little about Levi and his offensive abilities. He successfully cast Unnatural Wasting on Nino, which does half the models remaining wounds plus one. Very nasty! So Nino got the hell out of dodge as there was no point killing Levi as he always comes back anyway. Joe's models moved up as did mine except I ran Perdita across to threaten the Hollow Waifs. (This is the move that would cost me the game.) Rusty Alice tried to kill Perdita but her high defence and SS's prevented this. Francisco then destroyed the first evidence marker.
End of Turn 2

Turn 3 saw Perdita attack Rusty Alice but her cover and bad flips saved her. I grabbed the remaining evidence counters and repositioned the rest of my crew. Levi moved forward to attack Perdita with that damn 'Unnatural Wasting'. I was just lucky that Joe was poor at estimating distances otherwise he could have hit me three times for certain death.
End of turn 3

Turn 4 saw Levi get iniative and a couple of casts of 'Unnatural Wasting ' saw Perdita dead. We called the game then as the most points I could get now would be 6 and we agreed that Levi could easily get all his. So an 8-6 win to Joe.

The Final Showdown

So onto game 2. We both changed crews but left the terrain the same. I went with Von Schill this time taking:

Von Schill & 3 SS
Freikorps Librarian
Freikorps Specialist
Freikorps Trapper
and 2 Freikorpsman

My starting positions

While Joe stayed with Levi but with a different crew. He took:

Leviticus & 4 SS
Canine Remains
Dead Rider
& 3 Steampunk Arachnids

Joe's starting postions

Joe rolled Slaughter for his strategy, while I got Claim Jump. The marker can be seen below. For schemes Joe took Soulless Life again but this time with Holdout. I took Holdout and Thwart. We set up facing each other as shown below.
Levi did his usual antics killing the Canine remains and summoning waifs. His crew moving up behind the saloon. He also moved his SPA's up out of the wood which was a surprise as they would now be in range of Von Schill. I'd moved most of my crew slightly foward for a rush to the objective near the end of the game and to keep them safe. But I now moved Von Schill forward and shot the lead SPA. But a bad flip and 'Armor 1' saw it survive. I use a trigger to move Von Schill back slightly and moved up the Librarian for support & healing if needed.

End of turn 1

Turn 2 saw me win the initiative for the only turn in either game. Wanting to finish off the SPA's before they could form up I moved Von Schill forward and blew apart two of them. Joe then moved up the Dead Rider into melee range with Von Schill, looking to take him apart next turn. Joe moved up the rest of his models a bit while I fired into the melee. I managed to put a few points of damage on the Dead Rider and when I did hit VS I cheated low to avoid hurting him. 

End of turn 2
 Turn 3 saw Joe win initiative so he Flurried with the Dead Rider and took VS down to 1 health. To try and make sure VS didn't die I activated the Librarian first and made three healing flips on VS but the cards were against me and I only healed 3 wounds. On my next activation I had to take a Terryfying test with VS first which I passed. VS then used his first zero action to Slow the Dead Rider for next turn in case he survived and then his second zero ability to 'Leap' out of melee range and allow him to attack with his pistol. Luckily VS has abilities which give him a positive flip against undead as well as being able to ignore 'Hard to Wound'. As the Dead Rider is Undead  this was not good for him as his Hard to Wound 2 was wasted. Sure enough two shots later the Dead Rider was dead or destroyed or whatever happens to undead dead things. Levi then moved over to the scrap counters from the SPA's to collect them for later use.

End of turn 3

Turn 4 saw Joe win iniative again! So Levi came forward and cast Unnatural Wasting on VS killing him. Time to move my crew into cover from Levi's awesome killing power (and Joe's epic flips). I did move the Specialist near to one of the waifs and did 'Detonate Tanks' hoping to kill it but a poor flip let it escape damage. At this point we decided that Levi wasn't going to be able to prevent me from getting 4 points from Claim Jump as he only had one non-insignificant model and his Slaughter wasn't going to happen so we call it a win for me. I hadn't got Thwart but I did get Holdout as did Joe. He also got Soulless Life so the final score was 6-4 to me.

 End of turn 4

So final thoughts. Honours even but Leviticus is a monster to play against. His free move and Casting Expert mean his threat range is huge and Unnatural Wasting deals massive damage. You really  have to try & kill both Waifs in one turn to stand a chance. Which means some of your models are going to die trying to do it. Not easy. But as usual fun and challenging games against Joe. Time to read up on tactics vs Levi I think.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Quick Review: Dave Graffam 'Low Ruins' Papercraft Buildings

I made up some more papercraft terrain today. This time it was from Dave Graffam's 'Low Ruins' set. They come as a pdf with 'layers' you can select to get the 'look' you want. So you can choose the texture of the inside & outside walls as well as the flooring. In addition to that you can add things like windows & doors, air vents & battle damage.
There are also four different sizes of floorplan which give different 'looks' to the walls of the ruins. If you want to use them for 28mm as well as for 15mm gaming you can. You just print them out at whatever scale you like by using the scaling option in your printer properties (the ratios for the different scales are included in the instructions).

The two ruins in the above photo show some of the options available. They are the same model except the one on the left has the same texture inside and out on the walls. While the other has brick outside and plaster inside. You can also change the floor texture as shown below.

The options for textures include various types of wood, brick & stone and give you literally hundreds of different possible combinations. The ones I printed out I scaled for 15mm which gives a 3" x 3" size. The picture below includes some figures to give you an idea of scale.

They are fairly quick & easy to make (about 20 minutes) and give you lots of very cheap terrain. The Dave Graffam range is extensive covering all kinds of period & genre. Overall I would rate the 'Low Ruins' set at 7/10. The collapsed walls are a bit of a pain to cut out & match up as you print out the outside & inside pieces separately and then have to glue them together.

Monday, 26 March 2012

FearNaught - El Alamein

In my 'How to Waste a Day' post last week I wrote about my problems in choosing a force for the upcoming 1500pt 'Fear Naught - El Alamein' campaign weekend in June. I've now narrowed my choice down to two forces, both from the 15th Panzer Division. As the organiser likes to keep Artillery and Air Support controlled by a central command you can't have any in your lists so I've had to comply with that limitation.
The first is a 1490 pt Panzerspähkompanie (15.) Armoured Car Company comprising:

Company HQ
1 x Sd Kfz 223 (radio)

Light Panzerspäh Platoon (15.)
1 x Sd Kfz 223 (radio)
4 x Sd Kfz 222 (2cm)

Light Panzerspäh Platoon (15.)
1 x Sd Kfz 223 (radio)
4 x Sd Kfz 222 (2cm)

Heavy Panzerspäh Platoon
6 x Sd Kfz 231 (8-rad)

Anti-tank Gun Platoon
1 x Cmd SMG team
3 x 7.5cm PaK40 gun

Light Anti-aircraft Gun Platoon
3 x Sd Kfz 10/5 (2cm)

Panzer Platoon
5 x Panzer III G or H or J (early)

I've gone for this option because I like the idea of an armoured car force as it's something different from the norm. However I do have a plan (of sorts) on how I would use it.
The tactics are a variant on a medium tank swarm approach from WWPD. The aim would be to use the Light Panzerspäh platoons to either advance quickly to grab objectives or to try and flank enemy forces splitting their attention. Maybe even getting into the enemy's support units. These would be backed up by the Heavy Panzerspäh platoon to provide fire support and to exploit openings. The Pz III's would sit back with the PaK 40's to snipe long range targets flushed out by the armoured cars. Hopefully the armoured cars will be able to remove 'Gone to Ground' from some of the targets to aid the long range shooting. The Pz III's would also be able to move up to deliver a coup de gras when needed. The Pak 40's can also provide static defence near any objectives that happen to be in my deployment area.  The AA I have is in addition to that mounted on the vehicles so that should be more than enough. Plus they can also provide some anti infantry fire if no planes appear as well so that's a bonus. The only thing I don't like about the list is the lack of a 2iC now they have become much more useful, but you can't have everything.

The second list is a more standard 1475 pt Panzerkompanie (15.) Armoured Company comprising:

Company HQ
2 x Panzer III G or H or J (early)

Panzer Platoon
5 x Panzer III G or H or J (early)

Panzer Platoon
5 x Panzer III G or H or J (early)

Light Panzer Platoon
5 x Panzer II F

Rocket Launcher Battery
Cmd SMG team
Observer Rifle team
2 x 15cm NW41

Light Anti-aircraft Gun Platoon
2 x Sd Kfz 10/5 (2cm)

This is a more straightforward list with all the punch coming from the Pz III's. The Pz II's are classed as a Recon platoon so I would send them forward first to flush out ambushes and remove 'Gone to Ground' where possible. The anti-air support with this list isn't great but they can also provide some anti infantry fire if no planes appear. I'm not sure if the Nebelwerfers are classed as artillery by the organiser so I may have to drop them and go with something else, probably Pak 38's. This list is ok if a little uninspiring. It does have the benefit that the models can be reused in lots of different forces, albeit with the wrong camo.

Sadly the deciding factor in my choice will probably be cost. The armoured car force will cost twice as much as the Pz III force as I can get most of what I need for it from The Plastic Soldier Company. Of course wargamers are not noted for being rational. Who knows I may even end up buying both, plus that Italian Squadrone Esplorante Reconnaissance Squadron looked nice......

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Plastic Soldier Company German Infantry

I got a box of the Late War German Infantry from Graham of Simple Miniature Games on Thursday night. So I thought I do a quick review.

The box itself has a clear plastic window on the back so you can see the models without having to open the box (which I imagine is a boon for retailers). It also has the usual painting guide.

The box itself contains 10 junior officers/NCO's, 90 grenadiers & 15 lmg teams. They are moulded in grey plastic and come on five identical sprues.

Mine had no flash anywhere and the mould lines are minimal. Certainly less than on most metal miniatures. The casting is crisp & clean, again better than a lot of metal miniatures. On each sprue you get 26 figures, the breakdown as  follows:

3 standing firing
1 kneeling firing
2 kneeling pointing w left arm
2 standing throwing grenades
3 advancing weapon low
2 walking carrying ammo boxes
13 multi-part figures that need assembling (includes lmg, radio op, & inf with various weapons)

It's these multi-part figures that I don't like. You can see the poses you get in the picture below of the assembly sheet.

I assume that they are done this way because of casting issues. But the contact areas are tiny. I don't see why I need to glue the heads on two prone figures for example. I guess you get more variety in poses. But I'd rather have less variety in poses to get one piece mouldings than have to fiddle around trying to glue one tiny piece to another tiny piece.
Anyway what do I think of them. First off they are great value for money. Quality of moulding is great but having to assemble some is a pain. Overall 8/10 I would buy more if I needed them.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

FoW: Hasty Attack

Took another trip down to Christchurch Crusaders on Thursday to play FoW with Alex. We didn't have a lot of time so we went with 1000pt forces. I took my US Rifle Co. (Italy) & Alex went German with a Fortress Company. I fielded the following:
2 Rifle Platoons
Mortar Plt
105mm Cannon Plt
Tank Plt of 3 Shermans
Priority Air Support

Alex had
3 Inf Plt with attached ATG's
2 Mortar Plt
Tank Destroyer Plt of 3 Jagdpanzer IV's

We rolled for scenario & got Hasty Attack with me as defender. Alex deployed three infantry platoons in a line across the table. While I went with my cannon plt and the Shermans. The rest of our forces were in reserve.

The club was very busy and we got relegated to the table in the kitchen area.
(Sorry about the poor picture quality, lighting in there is awful)
If your eyesight is good you can see our initial deployment above. Alex moved first and was successful with his roll for reserves, bringing on a mortar plt on his left. The rest of his forces did a general advance, keeping  well spread out against artillery & air attack. On my turn the P-47's dove in on the mortars on Alex's left flank but did no damage. My artillery fired on his centre infantry pinning them. As I had delayed & scattered reserves I had to wait till turn 3 to roll for them.

Close up of the objectives and my forces.
Turn 2 saw Alex succeed again in rolling for reserves and he brought on his JagdPanzers. These he placed near his right flank. The rest of his troops continued their advance. On my turn to P-47's arrived again destroying one of the newly arrived JagdPanzers. My artillery continued firing at the centre platoon pinning them again.

Alex's centre with the now depleted JagdPanzers

Turn 3 saw Alex get the last of his reserves, the mortar plt, which he placed on his right flank. One of the JagdPanzers fired on my Shermans but missed. The infantry continued their advance.
I could now roll for reserves and got lucky bringing on one of my infantry platoons which I brought on near the houses on my right flank. Most of the houses were occupied by Alex's infantry and he had an ATG preparing to fire on the Shermans next turn. But luckily my newly arrived platoon killed the crew with rifle fire. The rest of the platoon occupied those empty houses that they could reach and enter. My P-47's arrived again and killed one of the right flank mortars while my artillery tried to damage the ATG and infantry in the wood to my left flank. But to no avail. My Shermans did have some success bailing one of the panzers but Alex passed the morale check.

My right flank just after the destruction of the enemy ATG.

Turn 4 saw Alex get his right flank ATG in a position to shoot at the Shermans. The JagdPanzers remounted successfully and shot again at the Shermans bailing one. His ATG then brewed up the bailed out Sherman. His left flank infantry raked my recently arrived infantry with MG and MG42 fire from the houses killing one base and pinning the unit. On my turn the Shermans machine gunned some of the approaching infantry killing one base. But my artillery fire was ineffectual.
Turn 5 saw Alex attack my left flank killing my artillery observer and moving his infantry into a position to threaten my guns. The panzer's fire bailed another Sherman but I passed the morale check. And on my right flank Alex's infantry continued their exchange of fire with my infantry but doing no damage. In my turn I remounted the Sherman but the fire from all my units was ineefective. The game had to end their as time ran out and we had to pack up.
Not a good scenario for two infantry heavy forces. Slow movement meant the result was always going to be inconclusive. But another fun game with V3 and I learnt more about the rules.
Here are a few more shots of the other games that were taking place at the club.

Early stages of a Beastman vs Skaven Warhammer game.

Covenant vs U.S. Dystopian Wars starter box game.
Another Warhammer game.
Phil & his brother with their Saga match-up

A 70pt!! Khador vs Circle game

The third Warhammer game of the night. This one a three sided game.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Coming this weekend

Just got a box of the Plastic Soldier Company Late War German Infantry. Look for a quick unboxing this weekend.

'The Ansible' Issue 14 is out.

Just come across 'The Ansible' pdf magazine and I'm impressed by what I have read to date. The magazine is available as a free download  with an optional Donate button (do the right thing and send them some cash if you enjoy it). The magazine specialises in Science Fiction and fantasy wargaming. As well as it's regular columns the latest issue has articles on
  • Dystopian Wars
  • Gears of War
  • Carnevale
  • Dystopian Wars, Painting the Kingdom of Britannia
  • Firestorm Armada Battle Report

I was particularly interested in it as I'm thinking of moving into Dystopian Wars in a small way. I found the article on starting Dystopian Wars helpful, informative and unbiased. The regular painting column covers painting various Dystopian Wars models in some depth (10 pages) something you won't see in traditional paper magazines.
I also enjoyed their product review section, particularly their review of Hirst Arts moulds. I've thought about buying some moulds & casting my own terrain in the past. So this review and their look at how to cast terrain using them was most useful.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Malifaux Resources

Ben over at Breakthrough Assault is thinking about starting Malifaux so I pointed him in the direction of some useful sites and I thought I'd post them here as well for anyone else looking to start playing or improve their game.

Tactica: Pull My Finger is a great resource with tips and tactics for the various masters. A Must Read!

Ratty's Crew Creator:  This is a great utility to help you pick a legal crew. It also shows you all the models you can use with your chosen master.

V2 cards plus accessories:  Some people bought models when Malifaux was first released and the cards have since changed. If you think your cards might be out of date check for new cards here. This site has pdf downloads for all the V2 cards so you can update yours if they are V1. It also has great pdf game counters, reference sheets & more.

Errata & Clarifications: These are the offical errata & clarifications from Wyrd.

The Malifaux forums 'Nuff said.

Lastly but definately not least The Aethervox podcast. This is a great podcast with some fantastic fiction plus lots of other interesting bits & pieces. But the main thing it has is interviews with recognised experts on various masters. These are one to two hour long interviews where the expert goes through all the models for a particular master and covers how good or otherwise they are as well as in-depth tips & tactics. Masters covered so far are Pandora, Lilith, Lady Justice, Lucius, Ramos, Nicodem, Von Schill, Zoraida & Ophelia.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Monday's Basic Impetus Games

Monday night at Wessex Wyverns saw a return to Basic Impetus. I was playing Steve, an experienced ancients player but using FoG:Ancients, so this was his first time with Basic Impetus. I had brought down a few armies to choose from & Syeve picked Warring States Chinese & I went with Arab Conquest.

Wei (Warring States) (VDT=14/7)

1CGP(*)8643Heavy Chariots – Various Weapons
2CL12301Light Cavalry – Composite Bow B
2FP5522Heavy Infantry
3T6301Crossbow B

Arab Conquest (VDT=21/11) 
1T6302Short Bow A
2S8201Short Bow B

After a quick explanation of the basics we got started. I got so caught up in explaining things to Steve that I forgot all about taking pictures, again.
Anyway on to the battle. I was the defender and set up 3 hills, two of which were in my deployment area. Steve then moved one of those into his deployment area and I then deployed my troops. Nothing fancy for me, just a line of spear with skirmishers in front, archers on the left flank & LH on the right. Steve deployed his crossbows on his right then the HI & chariot and on his left flank he had his cavalry & LH. I did a general advance with all my figures the skirmishers shot but did no damage. Steve also did a general advance his LH shot but did no damage & his crossbows were out of range. I decided to see if I could get rid of one of his LH and charged my jav armed into contact with his bow armed LH.
At this point I should have packed up my stuff and gone home. I rolled badly Steve didn't, and my LH were gone. You see I did something I always try to avoid. I loaned Steve some of my dice. Whenever I do this they always roll really well for my opponent, much better than they ever do for me. And so it proved for the rest of the night I couldn't get a hit and Steve was rolling 3 or 4 hits each time. He spent most of the night apologising for his dice rolling!
Anyway back to the battle. My advance continued and my shooting did nothing. I turned a Spearman to protect my right flank. Then Steve fired his crossbows and started doing serious damage to my left flank. To cut a long story short his crossbows soon wiped out my left flank and his cavalry finished off my right. Game over.

Game two saw me use the Chinese and Steve took my Samurai.

Early Samurai  (VDT=15/8) 
3CM(*)10633Mounted Samurai
1T6301Ashigaru with Bow – Composite Bow A
1FL8422Angry Peasants

I was the defender again and set up first with the cavalry & crossbowmen on my left, the chariot & HI in the middle and the LH on my right. He set up his Ashigaru on his right and massed his cavalry on his left.
I went first and left my X-bow where they were and started to redploy the cavalry to support my right. The chariot & HI advanced to get the attention of the cavalry while my LH swept round his flank. All Steve's forces advanced. Next turn I managed to do some damage to his endmost cavalry with the LH as they continued to sweep round to his rear. My chariot manoevered to intercept his cavalry. His general advance continued and his cavalry charged home on my chariot & one of the HI. Again the dice went his way causing heavy casualties to the chariot and forcing it back. The other melee was a stalemate. The position is shown below, with proof of his excellent dice rolling! (6's & double 5's are all hits).

Never, ever let your opponent borrow your dice!
Both of us encountered a spell of bad dice rolling and melees continued with no outcome. The ashigaru charged my cavalry but entually were defeated. The other ashigaru attacked the x-bows and prevailled after more epic dice rolling (needed to roll a 1 on two occasions to avoid breaking and achieved both). Steve's cavalry entually got round to the rear of the HI seeing them lost. My LH shot the Angry Peasants to pieces in the middle but the game was lost.
Steve enjoyed the games but found them a bit brutal (thats what happens with epic dice rolling!). But said he'd play again but would like to try the full rules next time.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

How to waste a day.

I was checking through the various blogs I read when I saw that Ben had posted about a 2-day FoW event taking place near me in June. It sounded interesting so I contacted the organiser asking for a spot. The event is FearNaught - El Alamein and obviously all forces have to be relevant to the campaign setting. And this is how I came to waste a day.
You see I don't have any North African campaign models, so off to EasyArmy I go. I'm assuming anything from the 'North Africa' book is allowed so I bought access to that on EasyArmy and started perusing. The first problem was what type of force did I want to take? A British tank force was an option because I love the look of the of the Cruiser & Crusader tanks. I found Brit tank units with Matilda's (too cheesy) & Shermans (too boring) then I saw the 8th Army Light Armoured Squadron.

8 Crusaders
3 Shermans (to longe range kill & smoke barrage)
3 Grants (to longe range kill & smoke barrage)
9 universal carrier w .50cals (to flush out ambushes etc)

Battlefront BR210 Universal Carrier

A nice force but over £130 retail. Hmmm maybe there's a cheaper option.

I'd didn't really want to take an infantry force as they don't particularly appeal to me. But I had a look around anyway and then I saw the British Commando (Tunisia) force.

Commando HQ w 2 Piats
3 Commando Platoons
3 Churchills for support

Battlefront BR072 Churchill III

Lots of nice options to change out sections for mortars, Piats or SMG's, plus Fearless Vets and cheap to buy. A definate possibility. But not sure what figures I would be able to use. Would they wear tin hats or do they have to wear berets?

But I didn't stop there. The doubt over figure availablity kept me looking. I'd had a fancy for an armoured car force for a while so I had a look at those next. The British forces were nice but again cost was a factor, lots of models so very expensive if I went that route. So I looked at German and found Panzerspähkompanie (15.)

5 Sd Kfz 223 (radio)
8 Sd Kfz 222 (2cm)
6 Sd Kfz 231 (8-rad)
3 7.5cm PaK40 gun (which I already have)
5 Panzer III

Some nice models although I'd have to fudge the 223's with 222's & build the antenna, and I'd use 234/1's for the 231's as there's not a lot of difference. All these from Forged in Battle or PSC because of the good prices so a middling cost overall and another option to consider.

But I didn't stop there I looked at various variants on various forces and that combined with finding models to suit & checking prices & totalling them up took ages. So that is how I ended up wasting a day and not doing anything that I'd planned to do. But of course it wasn't a waste as I'd enjoyed every minute of it and as I'm retired all I have is free time :-)

P.S. I still haven't made up my mind. :-)

Monday, 19 March 2012

'Gazumped!' or should it be 'Scooped!'

I had this blog all planned out about the PSC Panthers I got last week. I had the build pictures & a review etc. Then I spot Ben's latest blog post and he's done exactly the same thing and beat me to the punch! As Ben's is a great review and says pretty much what I was going to say there's not much point in my saying the same things.
So I'm now left without a topic for todays post. After a bit of scrabbling about I remembered that back in January a number of blogs had a topic called Playing Favourites. This was a list of your favourite things in various wargame related categories. So I've decided to list mine. In case you missed them here are some of the others  Trouble At T'Mill, Mylardiesgames, Big Lee's Miniature Adventures, Too Much Lead and Steve's Random Musings.

Wargames Period
This is an easy one to pick. It has to be Ancients. Loved the period for years. All the different armies to build & play, with all the different tactics and some great uniforms.

15mm. I've always seen this as the best compromise between cost & quality of casting. Plus the massive range of figures available means someone somewhere makes whatever figure you're looking for. Although I'm now seriously considering moving into 10mm, certainly for Napoleonic at least.

This is a tough one. When you've been wargaming since the late '60s you've played a lot of different rulesets. In the 60s & early 70s I had lots of fun with rulesets that I'd written myself (there wasn't the plethora of rules available then that we have today). But I guess if it's the rules I played the most and the ones whose games I enjoyed the most then it will have to be DBM Ancients. Yes they weren't particularly well written or presented and there were lots of fiddly mechanics which endeared them to rules lawyers, but I loved playing DBM.

Figure Manufacturer
There's some great figure manufacturers out there today but when I want some new 15mm figures I always check out Essex first. Great range, good price & pretty quick delivery. Although I'm pretty impressed by Pendraken (10mm) their delivery time can be weeks as they usually have a backlog of orders.

This is getting harder to choose. 28mm is plastic definately, some great makers and growing range of figures available. 15mm WWII plastic, other periods metal still. The Plastic Soldier Company does such great WWII stuff that the only time you need to go metal is when you need something they don't have which is getting less often each month. Other periods there's just not the range of figures available.

I love reading and have hundreds of books so choosing a favourite is difficult. But I'm going to go with the 'Belisarius' series by Eric Flint & David Drake. There are six books in the series and they are now available in three omnibus volumes, Belisarius: Thunder at Dawn, Belisarius II: Storm at Noontide, Belisarius III: The Flames of Sunset. It's the story of Roman general Belisarius & his conflict with the evil Malwa empire based in India. Although Belisarius was a famous Roman general this is an alternate history that goes along at a great pace. It has lots of action both on the battlefield and off and the characters are well written and likeable. Do yourself a favour and read them.

Skirmish Game
Although there's a ton out there now it has to be Malifaux. Great setting & fluff, great figures and innovative rule mechanisms. The use of cards for combat adds a new level of tactical opportunites and this combined with massive number of scenario combinations via the 'Schemes' & 'Strategies' sets it apart from the rest. As games are decided on points gained for completing schemes & strategies this allows you to have a game where all your models are killed and still crush your opponent on points scored by completing objectives.

I havn't played any boardgames for years but the one that sticks in my mind is 'Machiavelli' This was a sort of 'Diplomacy' type game set in renaissance Italy with the board's areas representing the various city states. As well as having the usual player interaction like 'Diplomacy' it also had money with which you could buy armies and, the fun part for me, bribe your opponents armies to do nothing or to change sides at the critical moment therby thwarting his plans. The possibilities for backstabbing and dirty dealing were endless, it was a game you could lose friends playing! I loved it.

There's loads of films I love but when it comes to lists like these I always forget them. So although it's not a war film I'm going to go with 'Leon' starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and a young Natalie Portman. This is a great take on the action film genre and Natalie Portman gives an outstanding performance although she must be only about 13.

Internet site
There's so many I visit that it's almost impossible to choose. But the one I find most useful is my club's website Wessex Wyverns because here is where I keep in touch with my opponents, arrange games, answer & ask questions about various games etc. Makes me wonder how we managed before the internet :-)

So that's it, back to normal content tomorrow which will be some batreps on my Basic Impetus games Monday night with Steve. As I'll be writing the post Tuesday morning look for it to be up a little later than usual.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Book Review: Temeraire by Naomi Novik

I came across this book recently while I was browsing the Pendraken forums (which incidently is a great community worth visiting even if you're not into 10mm). It sounded interesting so I bought a copy from Amazon. It arrived a couple of days ago & I enjoyed it so much that I read it through in one sitting. So I thought I'd let you know about it..
It is set in Napoleonic times and is the story of Will Laurence, a Captain in the Royal Navy. The story starts with a battle at sea in which a French frigate is captured and found to be carrying an unusual cargo, a dragon egg. Yes, in this world dragons exist and have done for hundreds if not thousands of years. They are used by all the major powers, although they are not common, and the capture of the egg is a major coup for Britain & Captain Laurence. However the egg hatches while they are at sea and the young dragon bonds with Will meaning he must give up his position as a ship's captain and join the Dragon Corps devoting his life to flying & caring for the dragon.
I won't go into details of the story so as not to spoil it for you but it covers the training of both Will & the dragon, their growing relationship and finally their combat experiences culminating in the usual climactic battle. The main characters are well written & likable, the plot has twists and turns and the use of dragons in combat is interesting & presented in a way I've never seen before. All in all I have no problem in recommending it to you. It is also the first book in a series, which I will also be buying. In case you're interested I've listed the other books in the series below.

Temeraire: The Throne of Jade
Black Powder War
Empire of Ivory
Victory of Eagles
Tongues of Serpents

Rating: 4 Stars
A good but not great book which is an easy and enjoyable read. The innovative use of dragons in combat & some of the plot twists set it apart from the crowd.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

FoW Escalation Campaign: First Battle

I had my first battle in Christchurch Crusader's FoW escalation campaign on Thursday. It was a 750pt match up between my LW US Rifle Co. (Italy) & Graham's Germans. My forces were:
2 x Rifle Platoons (2 squads each)
1 x 105mm Cannon Plt
1 x Plt of 3 Shermans

While Graham's were
3 x Inf Platoons
1 x Plt of 3 Mortars
1 x Plt of 3 PaK40's

The game was fought lengthways on a 4'x3' board & was a 'Fair fight' scenario with the winner being the one who held 2 of the 3 objectives for a full turn. Graham set up first with his PaK40's in a wood on his right, the mortars in a gully on his left & the infantry were strung out across his front. I deployed with my artillery spread out along my base edge, the infantry deployed on the flanks with the Shermans in the centre.
Graham moved first & quickly deployed his mortar observer behind the ruin in the centre of the board while his infantry advanced cautiously. His mortars opened up on my right flank infantry killing one squad & pinning them. On my turn I successfully unpinned my plt and advanced both infantry plts. Now here's is where I made mistake number 1 (of many). I had planned to advance my Shermans along the gully to keep them out of sight of the PaK40's. But I got distracted by the mortar spotter and advanced to machine gun him, but to no effect. This now left me exposed to the PaK40's, not good as we will see.  Meanwhile the artillery observer headed into the ruined church tower on my left & called in a barrage on Graham's mortars & also caught some of his infantry. The subsequent fire killed one of the mortar sections and one infantry base, pinning both. The situation is shown below.

The objectives can also be seen in the above photo. One near the church on the left, one to the left of the ruin in the middle & the third behind the woods on the right.
Graham failed to unpin his centre infantry so only the two flank comanies moved forward into cover. As predicted the PaK40's made short work of my exposed Sherman, leaving it a flaming ruin. His mortars were already ranged in on my right side infantry but merely pinned them again. At the start of my turn I failed to unpin the infantry despite the 2iC being with them. I was happy with the position of my infantry on the left so left them where they were. I did however move the Shermans out of LoS of the PaK 40s. My artillery was already ranged in on his mortars and took out two more stands causing a morale check, which they failed.
Turn 3 saw Graham move up his centre company and take the middle objective. As he already had the objective in the woods this put him in a winning position. Having few targets other than the observer in the church Graham proceeded to blast the the church with many, many dice rolls but all to no effect. However he did have a panzerfaust in range of my Shermans and bailed one of them, thankfully I passed the morale check. His mg armed infantry also killed 2 stands on my infantry.  In my turn I again failed to unpin the infantry on my right but did move my last Sherman back out of range, but was unable to get the other to remount. I targetted my artillery on Graham's centre plt needing to do enough casualties to force a morale check which they hopefully would fail clearing them off the objective. If I failed it would be game over. Luckily the dice gods were smiling on me & took a dislike to Graham. The casualties I caused were enough to force a check and Graham failed his roll!
The situation near the end of turn 3 can be seen below.

Turn 4 saw Graham expand the frontage of his remaining infantry to get them near the centre objective. Then the dice gods decided they hated me and loved Graham. His panzerfaust brewed up the bailed out Sherman causing a check, which I failed. Then his fire on my right flank infantry killed 2 more stands forcing a check which they also failed. Things were coming to a head so I moved my remaining infantry forward to take the left side objective. All my fire this turn was inffective. The situation at the end of turn 4 is shown below.

Turn 5 saw Graham move his infantry onto the middle objective and into a winning position again. He again peppered the church with fire and again with no effect. It was time to do or die. I advanced my remaining infantry into firing position and opened up with them and the artillery. But was unable to shift Graham from the objective. Game over and a win for Graham. The final positions are shown below.

Final thoughts. Well I had fun which has to be good. I need to think more about the capabilities of my troops & my opponents. My RoF 1 infantry were no match for Graham's RoF 3 infantry meaning I was always going to struggle to get the centre objective. Maybe I should have gone for an HMG platoon or mortars instead of the Shermans. All part of the learning process :-)

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