Sunday, April 28, 2013

15mm WW2 Terrain and Campaign

I've been working on a side project for the last month that has really turned into a much larger undertaking. It began one day with just an itch to paint a few of my 15mm WW2 figures that I have hanging around. These are individually based 15mm, not Flames of War stuff. After painting a few MG teams for my Germans, I felt like playing a game with them, and that's where things took off.

I've long had my eye on Britton Publishing's excellent scenario books. I stumbled across one called Solitary Soldiers, and knew I had found what I wanted. These are 10 scenarios for squad level action taking place over three months, starting from D-Day. The book provides you with a squad, all the background stories of the men, and a good historical background for the setting.  While meant to be a solo game, with the Germans being played by an "AI" (really, just 4-5 options for German tactics, and you play the rest), I convinced my son to play cooperatively.  He's played all the missions with me so far, but hasn't finished every one of them. Baby steps!

What this has done is caused me to get all the scenery and troop types that I need to put on a good game in 15mm.  With Battlefront's excellent range of terrain, and a little poking around the Net for deals, I've been able to get together some nice looking tables.

There's room to grow, but so far I'm pleased with what I've been able to do. The Battlefront houses are excellent, and I found great deals on ChaosOrc's Superstore. I snapped up all six they had there, since the price was a fraction of retail. Other stuff I've been adding over time. I made about another 14 trees to cover the ground.

We've been having some excellent WW2 adventures, going through these scenarios with characters that are PCs, so they can improve between missions. We completed the fourth scenario last night, which was a scary encounter with an 88mm Flak 36 supported by two MG42 teams that overlooked the whole town from a hill.
The rules we are using is Savage Worlds Showdown, with Weird War Two as the source book. The Weird Wars book is highly recommended, since the weird parts are totally isolated in the rules. This means you can use it as a purely historical RPG. The concepts are good and the game plays fast. Sure, it's not a perfect simulation of WW2 combat, but those games are tremendously dull. This is just a fast-playing, uncomplicated game that needed a few tweaks to make it work as we wanted.

I've been taking pictures of the games and keeping records of everything in a campaign diary. It's a lot of fun for me to do this. I even keep track of the "story" and write sections of it in POV of one of the PCs. Hopefully it will be a good memory for us one day.  I may even post the completed campaign diary online when the campaign is over.

So far most of the scenarios have revolved around taking a strategic location usually held by an MG team with a security section. The D-Day scenario was particularly brutal, assaulting a bunker via a trench holding a full squad of Germans. We lost a good chunk of the squad on that mission. Future missions are going to become more involved, with armored vehicles and larger numbers of enemies. For the next mission I've got to get a StuH 42 and a halftrack together. The scenario should be a challenge, unless we get some good heavy weapons reinforcements.

That's it for now. I'll post up pictures of all my completed 15mm "reinforcements" once I finish them.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Russians Hit the Table!

My Russians, ostensibly painted for Bolt Action but useable for any WW2 game, made their debut on my game table Friday night. As you might guess from that introduction, I did not play Bolt Action.  Nope, in typical ADD fashion I chose a different game to play. Oh the horror! Oh the deplorable lack of focus! Whatever.

I played Disposable Heroes: Point Blank. It's a squad level game based on the Disposable Heroes rules set from Iron Ivan Games. I read a lot of hype about this game, and the battle reports I reviewed were glowing. So I got a copy of the rulebook, looked it over, and organized a game.

We played a generic encounter, just two squads encountering each other in a small hamlet somewhere on the Eastern Front. I played Germans, and my opponent played the Russians. We took basic troops and a basic squad of NCO, LMG team, and 7 riflemen.  Determining the list and points was a breeze, and we were playing in minutes.

The game mechanics are pretty slick, and you don't have to check a lot of different charts or memorize bizarre rules. A very interesting mechanic is the activation pool.  You have a limited number of activations, and any soldier can be activated any number of times up to that max. Though you have 9-10 men, you only get your leader's "guts +1" in activations. So in our case there were always one or two guys who couldn't be activated each turn. Once activated, you get three actions, which could be three moves, three shots, wetting your pants, etc. 

To make a long story short, we started activating men and moving around. The Germans were moving and firing, trying to stay together. The Russians were fanning out and relying on a few riflemen to keep the Germans at bay.

Very soon we realized models don't die easily.The game is a lot like Bolt Action, where there's a heavy focus on pinning. So most shots add suppression markers rather than kill.  The trouble is, it is too easy to get rid of a suppression marker. This is really problematic when you have a bolt action rifle firing one shot. If the shot doesn't kill (1 in 10 chance) then basically nothing is going to happen. You can remove one suppression marker for every 3" you fall back, up to 9". So that single shot of suppression is nullified if I drop back 3". Big whoop.

So soon we began to realize that nothing gets suppressed for long either. We were literally pouring shots onto single models and nothing happened.  The mechanics made all bad things go away, and no one could roll a one to kill anything.  Imagine that?

Point Blank... I get it now. You can only kill things if you run up and bash them to death. Or there are blanks in the guns. Either way, the game turns out to be all about assaulting into close combat and shooting is just there to force soldiers to hunker down. I did some poking around online and have basically verified that to be the intent of the rules.  So while that's cool, it's not what I was hoping for.

So we played two hours and basically moved our soliders back and forth. Getting suppressed, falling back, moving back up, getting suppressed, falling back, moving back up. I rolled a d10 to see if I died of boredom. We called it and just figured we had screwed up some key rule. However, we actually were fairly correct in most of what we did.

I think this game does a great job of modelling an assault into close combat. But unfortunately, in my opinion that's all you're ever going to be able to do.  Every game would have to play that way, otherwise you're just wasting your time. There are modifications to make it more deadly, but then it either is not enough or the mods make things too deadly. So I think I'm going to pass on this one.

I would give a very guarded recommendation for this game. I was expecting some cool squad on squad action, moving into cover and sniping away at targets. But even soldiers sitting behind a fence about 3" away from a MG won't get hurt under theses rules. You've got to fix bayonets and charge, every time. Every game. Sounds repetitive. And we all know I can't stand repetition.

I did take some pictures of the game in progress, and the table looked nice and I enjoyed seeing both of my armies on the table. We basically shot at each other over the fence for two hours, and you can see that in the pictures. We tried some maneuvering, but coherency rules ruin that fun.

So that wraps up Attention Deficit Theater for this weekend. I'll be involved in more sacrilegious gaming activities in the near future. I've got a Savage Worlds WW2 co-op game I'm playing with my son (on and off, at least). After that, I'll probably be on to some board games and then maybe back to Infinity.  Right now I've got some 15mm WW2 stuff on the painting table. I sure hope you can keep up with me.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bolt Action Painting Challenge, Part Four

Here is the final installment for the Bolt Action painting challenge. Despite this being the smallest installment of the whole challenge, I was worried I might not make it this month. I had forgotten to order my tank, and since it came direct from Warlord the shipping took a long time. I received the tank earlier this week, thank goodness.

Here's the last of the points. It's about 285 points, which catches up all the carry over from prior months. You're looking at a T34/85 medium tank and a medium mortar team. The rifle squad is my free squad for playing Russians in this game. I lined their bases with green, since that made good sense for inexperienced troops.

I didn't bother taking pictures of the rifles, since they're the same models you've seen for the last three months. Also, they show up fine in the enlarged picture.  Here are a few more details of the other units.

The plastic tank went together like a dream. I really enjoyed putting it together. The decal sheet was a nice touch. The slogans actually come with translations. The one I chose reads, "For Stalin!"  I have no idea if the other numbers or markings I used are historically accurate. If they're not, sue me.

I was going to place the whole army on the table for a nice group shot, then I got lazy. Since I've been showing them in their storage box, I snapped a picture of that instead.

So my Dark Age models moved out and I have plenty of space to store a few more models in the box. I have multiples of the heavy weapons left over. I plan on painting those one day. For now, I'm plenty tired of painting Russians every month. Time to put the lid on this and stick the army in mothballs until it's ready to hit the table.  This completes my fourth army for Bolt Action and other WWII games, and probably completes the 28mm WWII armies I want to own. At least for now....

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Infinity: Nomads

Infinity is a game I've long wanted to get into, but just never found the time or motivation. I played several demonstration games over a year ago, liked it, but it has taken me this long to decide to make the jump.  In fact, I bought an Aleph starter box years ago when I thought my game group at the time was getting into it. We never did and I never sold the box. I've finally assembled it just recently.

I like all the models for Infinity, and, while I liked Aleph, the Nomads caught my eye as well. I decided to get their starter box as well, and jump in with two forces.  Here's a small starter force of the Nomad's Bakunin Jurisdictional Command.

Rather than copy the color scheme on the box, I came up with my own. The game as a very "anime" look to it, and I wanted to preserve that in the model colors. I used lots of clean, flat colors. Each model has about eight different colors on it, not including metals. So it's a colorful force!

I had photographed individual close-ups of these models, but discovered they were out of focus. I really need to learn how to use my camera. It looked focused when I shot the pictures and on the small preview screen. Yet when I loaded them up, they were fuzzy.  Oh well, you get the idea here.

The models are very delicate, but I was surprised at how easy they went together. This was true for my other models as well, though they do have lots of silly little bits to glue on. I just skipped those.

I was excited to get these to the table last night. I played two games, won one and lost one. We were really just walking through the rules. It's definitely a fun game and I'll be playing it more, especially as I acquire more models!