Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fantasy Interlude

I bet that title made you wonder what I have planned for this post. Well, I hate to disappoint, but it's just a few figures I painted to break the monotony of military themes. While I'm waiting for the final month of the the Bolt Action challenge to roll around, I've pulled out some fantasy figures.

These are all Reaper Bones, and are not included in the Bones Kickstarter that I'm expecting soon. Again, I don't really have specific plans for these models, but I enjoy collecting them. It reminds me of the "good ol' days of D&D" where I had a collection of random monsters to use in games. However, I almost never had the right model for the game.

I really dig this Bugbear. He looks seriously mean, and he fits in with the gnoll model I have as well. Maybe they're working together for an evil wizard?  Could it be?!

I didn't want another brown giant spider, so I went with green. He hangs out in forest and jungles. Of course you can't get a sense of scale from the picture, but he's on a 50mm base. The funny thing is on the side of his abdomen, toward the bottom it says "Made in China." I didn't see it until too late!

Ah ha! So these bad guys are all actually working for an evil Mind Flayer! I just knew it. I love those crazy octopus-headed dudes. This one came out pretty good.

That's all for now. On the workbench: Infinity!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Blitzkrieg Commander Test Game

I had a chance to play Blitzkrieg Commander with a friend this weekend. So at last my WW2 micro armor got to the game table. Last year I got the bug to play in this scale, and promptly acquired a force of US mechanized infantry from GHQ models.

My attempt to blog this game didn't really pan out as hoped. My camera took absolutely poor photos and the lighting situation wasn't helping. You will see from the pictures that there was a strong directional light that blew out a lot of my pictures. Still it gives a good general view of the action.

We played a 2,000 point game from the Tunisia list, which allowed my opponent to match his German models to mine. We laughed about this, because we didn't have suitable terrain. So we ended up fighting in the rolling green fields and verdant forests of Tunisia!  Oh well. Flex those imagination muscles. We didn't pick a scenario other than a straight up meat grinder. That's always easier for learning the combat rules.

For those unfamiliar with "the Commander" series, these books focus on combined arms forces on a large scale. The rules were written for 12mm, but work in 6mm and can go as high as 20mm with adjustments. The rules are fairly straightforward, and most of the books are made of a myriad of detailed force lists. Blitzkrieg Commander is WW2 specific and covers all theaters in all times.

So we sat down to our test game, and I really didn't know the rules that well. The book is rather dull, and I just wasn't getting the concepts. Once we started playing, things caught on. The key feature of this game is the order structure.  Each unit is assigned to a formation, which is controlled by an HQ unit. The HQ issues orders to move, shoot, etc, to units in its formation by rolling under is leadership value. Every additional order gives a minus, but you can keep pushing until either you are too low to succeed or have failed. A failed order stops that formation's activation for the turn. 

I lined up my force in a neat line. I had 7 Sherman tanks, 8 rifle squads with M3 halftracks, a mortar carrier, and some recce troops with an armored car. Three HQ units followed behind. I didn't have the HQs modeled yet, and so they're empty bases behind the units. The HQs are very abstract in this game anyway. I'll be building real models soon enough.

My opponent had a similar force of Germans, almost a complete mirror of my force.  However, his was unpainted, and so victory was assured! Everyone knows unpainted models die faster.  Also, we didn't have a lot of terrain in this scale either. So you will see some unpainted terrain bits here and there. It was a very open board, which is not a good thing in this game.

US strategy (if I ever had any strategy) was to get my tanks on a hill on the left flank for better LOS (which it did not provide as I later discovered) and have my infantry take and hold the center of the board. I issued a few move orders and the Germans sped up to meet me.  Below are the M3s with their infantry stands behind them, making for the center. We kept the infantry bases behind their rides so we knew which vehicles held which units. I had two bazooka teams mixed in there, so it was important to know.

As a foretaste of things to come, my tank formation failed its first order and just sat there behind the hill.  Crap!
Stalling out in the open was a very bad thing. As the Germans, with their better leadership and flexible command doctrine, were speeding around to catch me sitting on my hands. They got off a few shots, but fortunately the Shermans made armor saves.
By this point, after pushing hard, both sides had lined up to what would become a static firing line. This is just a function of the scenario (or lack thereof) and the distinct lack of terrain of any consequence. All of that is easily solved, but it did make this game a bit of a dice rolling exercise. The Germans seized the hill at the center and disembarked from their half-tracks. Lo and behold, there were two MG teams up on that hill. Ouch.

I got to see a command failure in action, where the Germans ended up firing on their own HQ. They almost killed it too. But the worm would turn soon enough. We traded shots, and the Germans were infinitely more effective, destroying one unit and suppressing three others. Suppression in the open is a disaster to say the least. Then I flubbed a command roll and my third formation of recce teams and mortar carrier ran away.  Ugh!  This picture is so blurry probably because I was crying too hard at the time I took it.

On the left flank things were marginally better. The Shermans finally got in gear and mounted the hill. They took out a German tank and celebrated for a bit.  That party was short-lived.

As my center was crushed, the armor on my left flank crumbled. I got to see a "command critical" in action. This basically awarded the German player a free action, which proved devastating. The Germans passed order after order to fire, and in one turn destroyed everything they could see.

Back in the center the Germans blew up my M3s, suppressed all my units (effectively taking them out of the game) and the recce units and mortar carrier hadn't even had a chance to move back up after their command failure. The German infantry remounted their half-tracks to prepare to sweep behind my stunned infantry. We called the game, since I was flattened.
I haven't been so roundly beaten in such a short time as I was for this game. I will admit, it soured my enthusiasm a bit, since I was like a man on the ground with a rhino stomping on his head. In one turn I had no more army. I'm not sure if that's due to hot rolling or what, but it was overwhelming. I really hope that was a fluke.

Overall, the game mechanics were easy to understand and modeled the units well. Despite getting my ass kicked, I'm planning to invest further in this game. I see a lot of potential for this rules set. The only down side is getting enough terrain in this scale to provide protection and some maneuver opportunities.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bolt Action Painting Challenge, Part Three

So, more Russians. As the third installment in the 1,000 point Bolt Action painting challenge, I'm now in the home stretch. The bulk of the painting is done with this batch. Russians have been surprisingly easy and fast to paint. In fact, I had these completed last Sunday, but only had time to take pictures today.

For the month of March, I've got an 11 man rifle squad with LMG and on SMG, a medic, AT rifle team, and a Maxim MMG team.  That totals to 248 points. I've got carry over from last month as well, and that will all go toward next month.

Here's the group shot for everything.

I took a few individual shots. The medic came out too blurry, but you can see her well enough if you enlarge the picture above.  First, here is the third rifle squad.
Next is a Maxim MMG team.  These are from Plastic Soldier Company. They don't have a ton of detail, but for uniform style and size  they mix nicely with the Crusader models.

Here's an Anti-Tank Rifle team. These are also Plastic Soldier Company models.

You've probably noticed that I painted the base edges of the rifle team.  This is to help me identify which squad they belong to.  I find once  I start pulling models, I get everything screwed up. I had tried hash marks, but they weren't obvious enough for me. I thought the edging looked fine and was not too distracting. I've done it for all my rifle squads.

Here's the collection in the box as it stands now. The Russians are still sharing space with my Dark Ages models for the time being.  Next month, they'll have to move out.

So that's it for now. Next month finishes this army at 1,000 points. I'll be doing a tank, a mortar team, and the free rifle squad. I'll have four rifle squads and an SMG squad, quite a lot of soldiers!