Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Operation Overlord Campaign Battle Report 2

Operation Overlord grinds on and Panzer Lehr is sent to dig elements of the 6th airborne out of a swamp, a decision German strategic planners would come to regret.

The choice of board was dictated mostly by what was available. It was the swamp board or the desert board. Aiming for verisimilitude, we decided to go for the swamp, deciding it was a shelled out area after some heavy rain. Unfortunately, the full implications of a complete board of slow going for Alex's mechanised infantry didn't sink in until after we'd started.

The one change we did make, even before kickoff was to increase the length of the game by a turn, meaning that I'd roll for delayed reserves a turn later and Alex would have another turn before I could claim the 'no enemy troops on my side of the board' victory condition.

The first losses of the game came when Alex's magic nebelwerfers (srsly, those guys manage to range in every time, despite often needing 6's to do so) wiped out half of red platoon.

Right after the armoured column encountered the remains of the crossroads...

The centre was where all the real action happened. The semi-dismounted Panzer Grenadier platoon on my right flank got a bit knocked about by my 8-gun 75mm battery and the Tigers on my left remained largely irrelevant, no doubt wary of my reserves turning up from the side and assaulting straight away, given that we were playing Pincer (an oddly named mission as it is the defender who gets the reserves coming on from the sides...).

After crawling across the big central crater, getting pounded by my ambushing 6pdrs and the ineffectual yet persistent RAF, the grenadiers dismounted and proceeded on foot, to support the Jagdpanzers. The 6pdrs and the Jagdpanzers then engaged in something of slap fight, both failing to do anything to the other. This continued until the Grenadiers got into range and killed two of the guns, in one turn, with small arms...

Things get dicey
With the remnant of the 6pdr platoon pinned Alex was in an excellent position to assault my guns. However, the two shots I had at my disposal hit home, driving the Jagdpanzers back with one destroyed and one bailed.

Red platoon made itself scarce after taking some concentrated fire.

Both my reserves turned up in turn 5 but played no significant part in the game, other than to block the - now fully mounted - grenadier platoon on the right. The 6pounders failed to unpin but still managed to rout the remaining tank hunters.

Then the RAF decided to be effective and blew up both of the trailing Flame halftracks.

With his force thinly spread, and half of mine still to turn up, Alex conceded.

I'm still glad I played this board 'properly' but I can understand Alex's frustration at having his mechanised moving slower, and having less troops per cost than an an equivalent infantry company. In any case, I've promised to be the attacker next time.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Operation Overlord Campaign Battle Report

Things aren't going so well for the Allies over at Vanguard Wargaming. Currently, of the four games played in the opening phase all of them are losses. I believe three of them are mine. (Although there are rumours of a rampaging French Sherman company whose victories haven't been counted yet). My para's comprehensively failed to establish a bridgehead, although I did enjoy playing the Airborne Assault mission, it really mixes up the usual formula.

One of Vanguards Flames membership, Alex, has put together an Overlord campaign in the style of Infantry Aces - only without the Aces, abilities or XP. What it borrows is the victory location structure which we have to fight over, with the victors earning victory points for their side.

The campaign has now passed into phase two, and I have managed to wrack up a couple of victories, both against Alex, and both by cheating shamelessly!

I'm not a huge fan of Fighting Withdrawl, at least while attacking; I never seem to have enough momentum to carry my assault through, especially as an all infantry force. On the defensive at least, I stand more of a chance. I'd probably have sympathised more with Alex after both his Panzer Grenadier platoons spent most of the game pinned down in the open, and in once case - not dug in, if he hadn't had some SS Tigers and a trio of Jagdpanzers (right?) backing them up.

The game opened with my Assault Platoon valiantly pointlessly sacrificing themselves to achieve a few casualties nothing of value.

The greenery clashing somewhat incongruously with Vanguard's grey cityfight table in in fact bocage, which somewhat limited our troops visibility and manoeuvrability. To counter the advancing halftrack mounted grenadiers on my right flank, my Cromwell's advanced and after providing covering fire of limited effectiveness, my infantry managed to drive them off in assault.

Putting the Jagdpanzers in the perfect position to wreck my shit - but not as badly as Alex had hoped

The left flank was where the controversy happened. My ambushing 6 pounders managed to drive off the advancing halftracks and the surviving grenadiers hit the dirt hard, staying there for the rest of the game. The Tigers and the Pumas held their ground and did not advance. I still thought I was in a fairly poor position as I'd purposely left it undermanned as I was going to remove it on turn 5. Of course you don't remove your first objective on turn 5, you remove it on turn 6.

We only realised this after Alex had  andstarted his 5th turn and although we took everything back, you could easily argue that the tactical thinking required for a turn 5 withdrawal de-legitimised the result.

Quantum Tigers, by Lynx
After driving off the platoon guarding the objective, only the 6 pounders were left contesting it with the Tigers, but it was enough and the left flank became a moot point.

On the right flank the Grenadiers murdered the spotter who'd been causing them so much trouble and made an attempt at the platoon guarding the far right objective, but were driven off by defensive fire.

The final action before  Alex conceded, involved the central para platoon taking the unsupported Jagdpanzers apart with Gammon bombs and PIATS.

Bocage by Jono
Overall not too proud of this one.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Playing with myself

I seem to have isolated the root cause of my lack of productivity over the past week. The offender is pictured below.

Viva la Revolution!

Tropico 4 is insanely addictive. It's a bit like the Anno games, only less obsessed with building delicate production lines and more about stopping rebels blowing up your palace while stamping out enough quality housing to stop people whining about having to live in their own filth.

But I digress. This post is not about single player city builders. I recently downloaded and printed a copy of Wasteland 3 from the Post Apoc Wargames forum. It seems to be something of an institution there, and I can sort of see why as I recently waded through 4 sets of indie rules for post apocalyptic gaming.

Scavenge, Skirmish, Survive (also from PAW) deserve it's own post to comment on.

The other two - Mayhem: Wasteland Warriors and a ruleset whose title page is missing - I found some time ago and have only just got around to reading. Unfortunately, they're both stodgy, poorly laid out and, at times, incomprehensible. The latter could have spent a little less time bitching about an unnamed international wargames company.

Wasteland 3 was a pleasure to read after the last two, it has a nice Action Point mechanic for handling a figures actions and a seamless way for integrating mutations that seem neither overpowered nor worthless.

What really got my attention, however, was the extensive section dedicated to the Single Player Campaign. Now, I've always been more than a little suspicious about people who play wargames by themselves (obviously playing them on a computer is completely different...) but the thing that really caught my attention was the strategic section which adds a little procedural worldbuilding and non-linearity that I haven’t seen in a strategy game before. It seems to bridge the gap between strategy game and RPG.

So in a way it's a bit like Kenshi, a 'free roaming squad based RPG' available in a very Alpha state on Steam, where you can build a functioning settlement or just roam the wastes being a badass...

It's all right lads, we'll build our own city. With hookers. And blackjack. In fact, forget the city...
All right, enough digital distractions. There is another benefit to the single player campaign aspect of Wasteland 3. Scenarios are generated randomly whenever the player tries to expand their territory, as are the enemies within those scenarios. This gives me an excellent bit of motivation to work through the old lead pile whenever I roll up a new scenario. This I like, as short bursts of motivation are clearly my thing.

I'll keep you updated.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Taking Stock

I appear to have been receiving a respectable amount of hits - albeit probably from confused Google users searching for something completely different - and I've noticed that I've fallen behind quite substantially with my posts.

It happens. After the initial burst of enthusiasm these things tend to lose a little steam. I intend to keep on going, however, and to assist in this I decided to write a list of my wargaming projects, mostly for my own advantage, to keep track of things.

The only game I actually have forces assembled and painted for is Flames of War and unsurprisingly this is also where most of my attention is concentrated.

British Paras - Both for Mid and Late war. This is my 'flagship army' and the one I intend to complete all options for. I just received some Commandos for Late War and I'm really looking forward to fielding them with their 2+ to kill in melee and German Mission Tactics rule. They'll fill out one of my only remaining missing slots from Turning Tides.

French Early War Compagnie de Combat - I ordered the constituent units for this army in something of a rush, for a competition that I ended up not going to, which was probably just as well as this was when Battlefront's ongoing supply line problems kicked in. Half of the order - including the core units - is still to arrive, so I think I can safely leave this one on the back burner.

British (Cromwell) Armour Squadron - I started putting this force together for a Tank Aces campaign that is yet to materialise, which is, again, just as well, as the remaining elements of my 900pt force have also been delayed by Battlefronts supply problems. This is what I am working on right now. I've decided that after I've reached the requirements for Tank Aces I'm going to build it up to a minimum size legal force (which it doesn't have to be under Tank Aces rules) and leave it at that.

Every other system in my lead pile is from a third party supplier rather than one of the big three (GW, Battlefront or Privateer) so its all rather fragmented. I've got a starter box from Urban Mammoth's Urban War - which no one else plays (future post on that methinks) as well as another starter force for the Kickstarter-ed Deep War - again something no one seems to play despite the excitement it caused when it was floated.

Back in the WW2 milieu, I have a box of 28mm Commandos originally bought for Operations Squad. The moment for that particular system seems to have passed, however, I'm pretty sure there are a couple of people in the club who could be persuaded to give it another go. I have Bolt Action's 'Bolt Action' rule set as well (what can I say, I'm a sucker for rulebooks) but I have no desire to build up a platoon sized WW2 28mm army. I also heard that the rules were rather uninspiring. I'm torn between selling the lot, and building them for the hell of it. I'm sure a small group of commandos might be useful at some point in Lincomb Barn.

I have a 6mm Soviet Combat group - for use with Modern War Commander or whatever - to complement the metric ton of 6mm British stuff I bought some time ago.

The bulk of the pile is random 28mm goodness; a lot of it post apocalyptic or post apocalyptic convertible. I recently discovered that I have 4 rules sets of varying quality for post-apocalyptic games, and I'm writing one myself (aren't we all). I really need to get cracking with them.

Anyway, here's what I hope to paint this weekend; a Firefly for the Armoured Squadron and a test paint of a genestealer for the cope of spacehulk I acquired. There's loads of these bastards so I think I've going to go the Alien inspired route. Lots of glossy, highlighted black. But mostly black.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Vanguard Wargaming hits the big leagues

So you'd better check this out before it slips off the page or something, but Vanguard Wargaming - my gaming watering hole - got itself mentioned in dispatches for the FOW tournament held over the Easter period. Check out the write up on All Quiet on the Easter Front.


Right, that's my 'attention to the Bristol area' quota fulfilled. What's next?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Thing a Week 1

So I did promise you, my putative readers, and myself, that I would paint a Thing a Week, so here we have it.

For your delectation I present two M10 Tank Destroyers and a Cromwell armed with a 95mm CS howitzer.

The flap camouflage on the Cromwell could do with being darker. I picked it out in Iraqi sand, and hoped that the wash would darken it, but apparently not enough. I'll know for next time.

From a gameplay point of view, the CS Cromwell is a bit of a write off. At 50pts for an attachment to the HQ which is worse than a standard Cromwell I don't think I'd ever take it in a real list. It's really just here to make up the points for a long overdue Tank Aces Campaign.

I'm thinking of being lazy and simply painting up a Cromwell turret to replace it, rather than paint up a whole new vehicle, given that I'd probably never field it outside a 700pt Tank Aces list.

The models are all from Battlefronts range.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Company of Heroes 2

Just got my beta code from my pre-order on Amazon. Pretty excited right now, even though I won't have time to play until Friday.

If I can get the software together and it doesn't violate the licence I'll post a lets play sometime over the weekend... We really are going multimedia. If I can't - for whatever reason - I'll at least post some screenshots.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Flames of War Typhoons - Cannons vs Rockets

Ever summoned in an airstrike in Flames of War from a Typhoon?

Then you'll have noticed that while both it's cannons and rockets hit on a 3+ they have differing firepower and anti-tank.

The cannons weigh in at AT8 and FP5+ while the rockets have the lesser AT6 but a better FP at 3+.

This probably stopped you for a while, especially if you were strafing enemy armour (and to be honest, why would you be wasting your air support on enemy infantry) as you wondered about whether it would be better to fire your cannons or rockets, especially given your targets varying top and side armour.

It was while pondering this mystery, book in hand, midway through my turn for the umpteenth time that I decided I'd had enough, and was going to run the variables through Excel.

The answer to the question, "When should a Typhoon fire its cannons?" is surprisingly, never...

Excel never lies...

If you ever run up against an enemy vehicle with the top armour of a Panther and the side armour of a Tetrarch, then go to town (and send me a photo, because I don't know what bizarre hybrid that would be) statistically speaking it doesn't matter which weapon you fire. Also infantry that aren't in bulletproof cover are legitimate targets for either weapon, but in all other cases the Typhoons rockets are clearly superior.

If in doubt, fire rockets!


So, I thought it was about time I got in on this wargaming blog scene, seeing as everyone and their (game playing) mum already has.

As a form of mission statement, this foray will serve three purposes.

Firstly, it will give me an outlet for writing beyond what I do for RPG's, which tends to focus on the short term and the mechanistic. Admittedly I wont be writing prose here, but at least it will be (directly) for an audience.

Secondly, it will force me to get through my lead pile, as I will be trying to do a Thing a Week! even if it's as simple as a single 28mm figure or a single stand of Flames of War Infantry.

Thirdly, I'll be attempting to report on the Bristol gaming scene in all of its diversity. I may not be the best placed person to do so, but I'll certainly give it a shot. The shear diversity of the gaming scene in Bristol deserves one. With a bit of luck I'll be able to get some contributors to report on events which I don't attend or from the point of view of a player of a system I don't play.

With that said, I wish you all goodnight. Hopefully I'll have some real content up later this week.